Lake Powell rebounds: Lake Powell, a vast, man-made lake on the Utah-Arizona border, is at its highest level in six years, raising hopes that the drought that has plagued the Southwest since 1999 is finally abating. Snowmelt from the wettest winter in a decade is replenishing lakes and streams in the region, including the Colorado River, which feeds both Lake Powell and Nevada’s Lake Mead. The two lakes supply drinking water to much of the Western U.S. Lake Powell, however, is still at only two-thirds of capacity, 67 feet below the full mark. But that’s enough to lure back boaters and anglers. Local tourism officials say the lake’s resorts and marinas are enjoying their best season since 2005.
Prison break: Eight inmates, including a convicted murderer and another man charged with murder, escaped from a county jail this week after they used handmade tools to cut a hole in the jail’s roof. The escape from the Curry County Jail in rural northern New Mexico was discovered when police saw two men in orange jumpsuits running near the jail. One inmate was quickly chased down by police, and two others were captured nearby, after police received tips on their whereabouts. Five other inmates, all of whom have been either accused of or convicted of violent crimes, remained at large.
Possible assassination plot: Denver police this week said they arrested three “bigoted meth heads” who had high-powered rifles and voiced hatred for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. The arrests were made several miles from the site of the Democratic National Convention. Authorities say the men, ages 28 to 33, did not seem to have an actual plan to assassinate Obama, but that they spoke of wanting him dead. “Blacks don’t belong in political office,” suspect Nathan Johnson told a TV interviewer after his arrest. “He ought to be shot.” Police were alerted to the plot when one of the men was pulled over for driving erratically and led police to the others. When police picked them up, they found several rifles, ammunition, two-way radios, bulletproof vests, and disguises. U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said the men posed “no credible threat” to Obama, but police were still trying to sort out what they had planned to do with their arsenal. The first African-American presidential nominee, Obama has been the target of several threats and has been given extra Secret Service protection.
Raid nets hundreds: Federal immigration officials this week arrested nearly 600 workers in a massive raid on an electrical-equipment factory—part of a concerted crackdown on businesses suspected of employing illegal immigrants. The workers were “identified, fingerprinted, photographed, and processed for removal from the U.S.,” said Barbara Gonzalez of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigrant-rights groups complained that some workers’ rights had been violated because they couldn’t understand the charges against them. “They’re creating their own terrorism by going after workers,” said Bill Chandler of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. The detained men and women were from Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Computer glitch grounds flights: Air traffic around the country was snarled this week after a vital computer failed at an air-traffic control center in Atlanta. The computer processes the flight plans that all commercial airliners are required to file before takeoff. When it failed, its workload was transferred to another computer, in Salt Lake City, and Federal Aviation Administration officials suspended all takeoffs and landings for several hours until the second computer could process the backlog. The FAA stressed that the systems that track flights in the air and allow communication with pilots operated normally and that no planes were endangered. The computer system that failed is scheduled for replacement next year.
Fay leaves, finally: Floridians this week were engaged in a massive cleanup effort in the wake of Tropical Storm Fay, which zigzagged across the state last week causing widespread flooding and leaving 13 dead. The storm made landfall a record four times, causing an estimated $1 billion worth of damage to crops and infrastructure, mostly in central and northern Florida. At least 26 inches of rain fell on Melbourne, on the state’s central Atlantic coast. Remnants of Fay, downgraded to a tropical depression this week, also soaked Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Drought-stricken Lake Lanier, which supplies Atlanta with its drinking water, rose 4 feet.