x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Golden goals and Endeavour's loss

There was drama on the high seas and in high orbit this week. Somalian pirates seized a Saudi supertanker, the UAE's Under-19 team was victorious in the Asia cup and the crew on board Nasa's space shuttle lost a tool bag and an orb spider. James Langton looks back

The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station after a successful launch.
The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station after a successful launch.

Leaders of the world's richest nations gathered in Washington to discuss the global financial crisis over a dinner of "fruitwood-smoked quail". Other dishes served at the White House for the G20 summit included "thyme-roasted rack of lamb, tomato, fennel" and "aubergine fondue chanterelle jus". Guests included heads of state from the UK, France, China, Russia, India, South Africa, Turkey and 11 developing countries.

American troops will leave Iraq within two years under a security pact with the US approved by the Iraqi cabinet. The agreement means all 150,000 US military personnel will be withdrawn from the streets next year and return home by the end of 2011. The deal still has to be approved by the Iraqi parliament and replaces the current UN mandate which expires at the end of December.

For the first time an ethnic Turk has been chosen as the leader of one of Germany's main political parties. Cem Ozdemir, 42, was born in southern Germany to parents who arrived as Gastarbeiter or guest workers, in the 1960s. He will lead the Green Party, one of the major opposition groups in the country. Although more than 2.6 million Turks live in Germany, they have often been treated as second class citizens.

The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station after a successful launch. Endeavour is carrying seven astronauts and 6,350kg of new fittings for the station that will double the current accommodation to house a crew of six. A tool bag was lost by the astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, who dropped it after she discovered a grease gun had burst inside. Later an orb spider that was part of a three-month experiment escaped from its tank and is missing inside the ISS.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, personally congratulated the Under-19 team which won the Asia Football Championship with a 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan. The team, including Ahmed Khalil, who scored both goals in the final, were given a reception at the Al Bateen Palace and Dh500,000 each (US $136,000). Khalil also won a place in the senior side in their World Cup qualifying game against Iran, a 1-1 draw that effectively ended hopes of qualifying for the finals.

A former bagel salesman who claimed two years ago that he would soon be richer than Bill Gates has emerged as one of the biggest losers in the global financial crisis. Sheldon Adelson, 72, was reported by Forbes magazine to have lost $4 billion from his personal fortune between Aug 29 and Oct 1. Mr Adelson is the owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, whose properties include the Venetian hotel and casino, and which is said to be close to bankruptcy. At the height of his success, Mr Adelson, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, was making $20m a day. His losses, said to be the worst by any billionaire in history, are now measured at $3.5m an hour.

A woman in Bristol, England, has been given a new windpipe created from stem cells from her own body. Claudia Castillo, a 30-year-old mother of two, is the first person in the world to receive a transplant of an organ grown in a laboratory. Because her own cells were used, scientists at Bristol University say she will not need drugs to prevent tissue rejection. Mrs Castillo lost her windpipe after suffering from tuberculosis but is now living normally five months after the operation.

Hundreds of thousands of people will miss the deadline to register for identity cards by the end of the year. Authorities estimate up to 400,000 people, including professional expatriates and Emiratis, have failed to make appointments for the cards. Registration centres are now fully booked until Dec 31, with the Emirates Identity Authority saying it will not extend opening hours during government holidays in December. Emiratis without cards will be fined Dh1,000 if they do not have cards by then. Expatriates may face the withdrawal of some services including health care and banking.

The Indian navy said it had sunk a pirate "mother ship" after it opened fire on the INS Tabar in the Gulf of Aden. The incident was the only setback for Somalian pirates in a week that saw the capture of a number of ships, including the Sirius Star, the biggest tanker ever hijacked, carrying $100m in oil from Saudi Arabia. With the 330m supertanker now moored off the coast of the pirate town of Eyl, negotiations have begun to free the ship and its 25 crew. Prince Saud al Faisal said: "We do not like to negotiate with either terrorists or hijackers." A Greek bulk carrier and a Thai fishing boat were also seized during the same period.

A UN report said a building in Syria destroyed in an Israeli air force attack last year resembled a nuclear reactor. "While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building, along with the connectivity of the site to adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site," the International Atomic Energy Agency said. IAEA inspectors had found "a significant number of natural uranium particles" in samples from the site. Syria claims the radioactive samples came from "Israeli residue" but has blocked further visits from IAEA inspectors.

Barack Obama has declared his family's enthusiasm for keeping fit. Mr Obama told the November issue of Men's Health magazine his habit was to exercise for 90 minutes before his working day started. Since his election, he has had to cut down, but is still able to "get in about 45 minutes, six days a week. I'll lift one day, do cardio the next." His wife, Michelle, likes to start her day with a 4.30am workout.

A new sculpture that spells out the word "Tolerance" was unveiled in Abu Dhabi. The work, by Guy Ferrer, was funded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and was inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. Each letter of the word is a different sculpture. Karim bin Matouk, the 2007 Prince of Poets champion, was commissioned to write a work for the unveiling of TOLERANCE, which took place near the diwan of the Crown Prince.

An air hostess helped to land a passenger aircraft after the co-pilot had an apparent mental breakdown over the Atlantic, an investigation revealed. After forcibly removing the officer from the Air Canada flight from Toronto to London, the pilot asked for anyone on board with flying experience to help him make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland. A female attendant with a commercial pilot's licence joined him in the cockpit to land the Boeing 767 without further incident. The co-pilot was reported to have become "rambling and disjointed" during the flight and was later taken back to Canada in an air ambulance.

jlangton@thenational.ae