The world at a glance ... Americas
DetroitMayor indicted: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted for perjury this week after sexually charged text messages revealed that he lied to a grand jury about his affair with Christine Beatty, his chief of staff. Beatty, 37, was also indicted. Kilpatrick, 37, had denied the affair to a grand jury hearing evidence in a wrongful-termination suit brought by two Detroit police detectives; they claimed they’d been fired for looking into allegations that Kilpatrick enlisted city personnel to conceal the affair. The city settled the suit for $8.4 million before the text messages were entered as evidence, but the Detroit Free Press later published them. The married Kilpatrick, a Democrat, faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted of all charges. Despite mounting pressure to resign, he vowed to remain in office.
MinneapolisFailed bridge showed strain: Steel plates in the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed last August, killing 13 people, were visibly warped as far back as 2003, newly published photographs reveal. Investigators theorize that the so-called gusset plates, which connected the bridge’s beams at two points, failed under stress. State transportation officials wouldn’t say when they first became aware that the plates were bent, but lawyers for victims of the collapse are studying the photos, which were reportedly taken by URS, a consulting firm that had been hired to examine the bridge. “URS and the state both have got a lot of explaining to do,” said attorney James Schwebel. “How could it possibly have been missed?”
Washington, D.C. Candidates’ files breached: State Department employees snooped in the passport files of the three major-party presidential candidates, prompting an apology last week from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The passport records of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain were accessed by one low-level State Department employee and two private contractors, officials said. Two of the employees were fired and one was reprimanded. The files reportedly contained personal information about the candidates, including their birth dates and Social Security numbers, but not their travel records. The State Department learned of the security breaches as long ago as last summer but informed the candidates only last week. The delay may open the State Department to a lawsuit, since victims of security lapses are supposed to be informed immediately.
Floods ravage MidwestArkansas this week suffered its worst flooding in 25 years, after heavy rains caused rivers to overflow their banks and inundate low-lying farmland. Gov. Mike Beebe declared 35 counties disaster areas and warned those living along the White River to seek shelter before it crested midweek. Elsewhere in the Midwest, flooding knocked houses off their foundations near St. Louis and drove thousands of residents of Missouri and Illinois out of their homes to Red Cross shelters. Flooding and wet roads were blamed for at least 17 deaths. In areas where floodwaters have receded, residents returned to find their homes badly damaged or destroyed and their possessions scattered. “We found people’s family pictures in our yard,” said Missouri flood victim Jane Nantz. “It’s very hard.”
OttawaTop-secret plans revealed: Top-secret blueprints for Canada’s counterterrorism headquarters were found in a garbage can in Canada’s capital city this week, setting off a frantic investigation by Canadian authorities. The 26 blueprints, clearly marked as defense department documents, show everything from the location of the security fence at the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit to the floor plan of its main building. In a curious twist, the plans were found by the spouse of an analyst at a left-wing think tank that is frequently critical of Canadian defense policy. Opposition politicians demanded an immediate investigation. “Somebody should lose their job over this,” said Liberal parliament member Denis Coderre.
Rio de JaneiroFever outbreak: The Brazilian government rushed 600 public-health workers to Rio de Janeiro this week, after hospitals in the region were overwhelmed by an outbreak of dengue fever. Forty-nine people have died and more than 30,000 new cases of dengue fever have been reported in Rio state since the first of the year; new cases are now being reported at a rate of 80 an hour. Patients complained of waiting hours for treatment and said there weren’t enough doctors to assist them. “It’s absurd, many people are feeling terrible here and they do nothing for us,” one patient said. The mosquito-borne illness, also known as breakbone fever, can incapacitate sufferers for up to a week with headaches, nausea, and joint pain, but it is not usually fatal.