A Rare and Lethal Cyclone Strikes
A hurricanelike storm struck the Middle Eastern nation of Oman last week, causing 20 deaths in that country. Cyclone Gonu is believed to be the strongest such storm to hit the region since record-keeping started in 1945.
The cyclone caused little damage to Oman's relatively small oil fields, but the raging seas effectively shut down the country's oil exports and flooded highways, trapping tractor-trailers on one of the world's most important crude oil tanker routes.
The diminished storm also made landfall in Iran. Gonu was blamed for at least three deaths there.
A Chaotic Start to a War Crimes Trial
Refusing to leave his jail cell to attend his own trial in The Hague, Netherlands, former Liberian President Charles Taylor plunged the start of his landmark war crimes trial into chaos last week. Facing 11 charges for acts he's accused of committing during the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leonewhich neighbors LiberiaTaylor says he is being denied enough time and money for an adequate defense. Prosecutors responded by saying the court has given Taylor up to $2 million to spend on his defense.
Though the trial did startthe prosecution's opening arguments alleging that Taylor shipped arms, ammunition, and drugs to rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamondsthe judges granted Taylor more time to prepare his defense and permitted another lawyer to fly from Sierra Leone to meet with Taylor.
Down Under, a Fatal Convergence
A collision involving a train and a semitrailer truck last week in Kerang, Australia, killed at least 11 of the train's passengers. The truck driver was hospitalized for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and charged in a bedside hearing with culpable driving. The accident happened in a small farming community about 175 miles northwest of Melbourne.
One Latin Nation Switches Sides
Costa Rica swapped diplomatic alliances last week, dropping Taiwan in favor of China. The move led Taiwan's foreign minister to order that "extreme precautions" be taken to retain the island's remaining allies in Latin America.
Since splitting in a civil war in 1949, Taiwan and China have fought to win the diplomatic allegiance of other nations. China refuses to have diplomatic ties with nations that recognize Taiwan, which it plans to eventually reunify with the mainland.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias acknowledged that the decision was based in part on his nation's desire to bolster its economy, though he made no mention of any special handouts. Analysts say Costa Rica's decision could cause a chain reaction among Taiwan's seven remaining Latin America allies.
Brits Say Give That Logo the Heave-Ho
It's based on graffiti art and resembles a jigsaw puzzle, so perhaps it was appropriate that residents of the United Kingdom were confused when the logo for the London 2012 Olympic Games was unveiled last week. Like a mass Rorschach test, the chunky, numeral logowhich cost $800,000 to developwas compared unfavorably to everything from cartoon character Lisa Simpson's hair to the Nazi SS insignia. An online petition urging that the emblem be scrapped quickly collected nearly 50,000 signatures. Organizers defended the design as "dynamic, modern, and flexible" and pledged fealty to it.
The bad vibes against the logo were reinforced when the organizing committee had to pull an animated version of the logo from its website after reports that it triggered 22 instances of epileptic seizures.
The flap threatens to sap public support for the games. Warns brand consultant Shailendra Kumar: "It distracts from its purpose if you've got to defend it." Much less explain it.
With Thomas K. Grose in London
This story appears in the June 18, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.