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While You Were Sleeping—August 

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On June 13, the latest Pew Global Attitudes Project poll was released, revealing significant drops in foreign opinions of the US. From 2005 to 2006, US approval percentages declined for 9 out of 11 countries that provided information. The greatest decrease for the year was seen in Spain, which went from 41 percent to just 23 percent last year. Turkey remained at the bottom of the list, with only 12 percent of the population's approval, while Japan topped the list with 63 percent. The poll also appraised citizen content with the state of their nation; only 29 percent of Americans compared to 81 percent of Chinese report satisfaction with their country, and a survey on the significance of global warming found a mere 19 percent of Americans believe it's “a great deal,” the lowest of all 15 countries analyzed. The poll is directed by Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Organization in Washington DC, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that supplies information about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world.
Source: The Pew Global Attitudes Project


The 2007 Failed States Index cites Iraq as the second most unstable country out of 177 studied, moving from its 2006 position as fourth. The report considers facts compiled from global and regional sources and bases rankings on 12 indicators such as a legacy of vengeance, severe economic decline, and the rise of factionalized elites. Sudan tops the list as the most unstable country, with Norway and Finland respectively as first and second most secure. The US ranks at 160, making it the 18th most stable, sandwiched between Chile and Singapore.

Source: The Fund for Peace, Failed States Index Scores 2007

According to information from the Apollo Moon landings, an abundance of helium 3, a rare gas that could be used to create pollution-free energy, exists in the moon's soil. Plans to exploit this resource are already underway in the US and Russia, and include mining the gas and bringing it back to Earth. Jerry Kulcinski, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said the moon could become “the Persian Gulf of the 21st century.” One of the only opposing voices is Edgar Mitchell, a member of the 1971 Apollo 14 mission, who cautions that the moon is a “rich scientific destination” that we still need to study and explore. In another lunar exploitation, Dennis Hope of Nevada has claimed ownership of the moon through loopholes in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, and has sold more than 400 million acres, earning him over $9 million. Property has been snapped up by the Hilton and Marriot hotel chains, celebrities, and even Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Hope additionally claims ownership of seven planets and their moons.

Source: BBC News

The Audubon Society released the State of the Birds Report for 2007, which draws upon 40 years of collected data by Audubon volunteers. The report shows that common bird species of the continental US are suffering a dramatic decline, with an overall 70 percent population drop from 17.6 million in 1967 to 5.35 million today. The society says that humans are to blame—encroaching development changes habitats, global warming affects breeding grounds, and pesticides and pollution kill food supplies. The northern bobwhite and evening grosbeak have suffered the largest loss, each with drops around 80 percent.

Source: The Audubon Society's A State of the Birds Report, Summer 2007



Kenneth D. Rice, the former chief of Enron's Internet unit, was the last Enron executive to be sentenced on June 18 for his part in falsifying the financial state of the company to investors. Rice was given only 27 months of his original 10 year sentence, due in part to his testifying against former chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling, who is serving 24 years in prison. He was also ordered to turn over cars, jewelry, and cash worth $14.7 million. Enron, a natural gas pipeline company, had evidence of financial misconduct by top executives as early as 1987, just two years after its inception. Years later the veiled debt, exaggerated profits, and off-the-books accounting prompted a criminal investigation and indictments including conspiracy, money laundering, fraud, and insider trading. Enron also had links to the White House; the large donations made to President Bush's 2000 campaign raised questions about the role of corporate donations in politics.

Source: Washington Post, New York Times, and BBC

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