Inventors & Inventions
Uziel Gal & Uzi
The UZI was developed (and hence its name) by Uziel Gal
(1924-2002) a captain in the Israeli army who won an internal
competition for the design of a new sub machine gun. The first
prototypes appeared in 1950 and soon after the first
production batches were issued to selected units for field
testing. An improved design appeared just before the Sinai
Campaign of 1956 and it was in this desert war that the UZI
emerged as a winner in the highly demanding surroundings.
The UZI turned out to be not only highly reliable, but also
surprisingly accurate for such type of weapon, and soon
caught the eye of the international firearms community.
During the 1960s a new folding metal stock replaced the
original wooden stock and the UZI was also
licensed to be produced by FN, the Belgian
The UZI's original
manufacturer - Israel
(IMI) - has not rested on its laurels and developed a number of
variants:- The Mini Uzi is shorter and lighter than the standard
model; The Micro Uzi is shorter still, almost the size of a large
handgun; Another version is the Uzi Pistol - a semi-automatic
version of the Micro. In addition there have been several more
customized versions in much smaller production scales.
The UZI gained its fame not only in combat, but also as a favorite
of elite forces and security services. During the attempted
assassination on U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981, the press cameras caught one of his
bodyguards pulling an UZI from his jacket. In subsequent years the UZI also became a
regular feature in dozens of actions movies where it was seen in the hands of Hollywood's
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Today, after more than half a century in service by the world's leading defense forces, the
UZI family has a place of honor in firearms history. The new company Israel Weapon
Industries (IWI) which was launched from a privatized spin-off of IMI's original small arms
division continues the production and development of the UZI.
7-Eleven Joe C. Thompson
7-Eleven is a worldwide chain of convenience stores, the
largest chain store in any category, beating McDonald's by
Its stores are located in eighteen countries, with its largest
markets being Japan, the United States, Taiwan, and Thailand.
7-Eleven is a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Co. of Japan.
Among 7-Eleven's offerings are private label products,
including Slurpee, a partially frozen beverage and the Big
Gulp that packaged soft drinks in large cups
The company has its origins in 1927 in Dallas, Texas, USA, when an employee of
Southland Ice Company, Joe C. Thompson, started selling milk, eggs and bread from
an ice dock.
Joe C. Thompson eventually bought the Southland Ice Company and turned it into the
Southland Corporation which oversaw several locations which opened up in the Dallas
area. Initially, these stores were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., hours unprecedented in
their length, hence the name.
The company began to use the 7-Eleven brand in 1946.
In the 1980s, the company ran into financial difficulties and was rescued from bankruptcy
by Ito-Yokado, its largest franchisee.
Ito-Yokado formed Seven & I Holdings Co. and 7-Eleven became its subsidiary in 2005.
In addition to Slurpee and the Big Gulp, 7-Eleven owns Movie Quik, an in-store videorental
service and gas brand Citgo.
News in Brief-World
Russia has agreed to a U.S. request to ship non-military supplies for its forces in
Afghanistan overland. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country activated an
agreement Russia and NATO signed last April for the transit across Russia of nonmilitary
supplies for the International Security Assistance Force.
Earlier Kyrgyzstan had shut down a U.S. airbase on its territory that was being used to
fly supplies to Afghanistan. In November 2008, Russia granted Germany permission to
ship weapons and equipment for its force in Afghanistan overland.
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The US Senate has passed a legislation that restricts hiring of foreign workers by banks
that receive government bailout money. The law will be in operation for two years and
would apply to more than 300 banks receiving money from the taxpayer-funded
Troubled Asset Relief Program.
TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson has been crowned the winner of Celebrity Big Brother
2008-an event won by Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in 2007.
Renowned US novelist John Updike, known for books like–'Rabbit, Run' (1960),
'Couples' (1968), 'Rabbit Redux' (1971) and 'The Witches of Eastwick' (1984) –has
died at the age of 76. Updike won many top literary prizes, including Pulitzers for two
volumes of his famous Rabbit series. His books are known for their vivid portrayal of life
in post-war America.
'4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' has been named as BBC Four World Cinema Award
winner for 2008. Cristian Mungiu's Romanian movie, set in dictator Ceausescu's
Romania during the 1980s, follows two female friends from his home country after one
becomes pregnant and wants an illegal abortion.
'Slumdog Millionaire,' the story of a Mumbai slum-dweller, has bagged five prizes,
including Best Composer award for music maestro A.R. Rahman, at the Broadcast Film
Critics Association's 14th annual Critics Choice Awards. It won Best Film, Best
Director for Danny Boyle, Best Writer for Simon Beaufoy, Best Young Actor for Dev
Patel and Best Composer for A.R. Rahman.
Foreign leaders and diplomats, including Barack Obama's newly appointed envoy to the
Middle East, George Mitchell, gathered in Egypt in an effort to consolidate a fragile
ceasefire after Israel's three-week war in Gaza, and to seek ways of fixing a more durable
peace between Israel and Palestine.
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, responded to an overture by Barack Obama
on an Arabic television channel by calling for an apology for past American "crimes"
against Iran. Obama, who offered during his inauguration to extend the hand of friendship
if Iran (and others) "unclench [their] fists", had aired the possibility of softening
America's policy to Iran.
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and the leader of the opposition, Morgan
Tsvangirai, agreed to implement a power-sharing deal, whereby the latter would become
prime minister and the former would remain president.
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The first trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague began. A former
Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, pleaded not guilty to charges that he recruited
and used child soldiers to kill and pillage.
Concerns mounted about the fate of an estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in fierce
fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
in the north of the country. The army announced the capture of Mullaitivu, the Tigers'
last big stronghold.
Japan has become the latest country to announce the deployment of its navy to protect
commercial ships from pirates off Somalia.
Afghanistan's election commission announced that the presidential election, due in
May, will not be held until August. A lack of security has prevented voters from
registering in parts of the country.
Politicians, businessmen and the press met in Davos for the annual World Economic
Forum, reflecting the global economic crisis. The Russian and Chinese prime ministers,
Vladimir Putin and Wen Jiabao, attacked the West for causing the trouble.
Iceland's government became the first to fall as a result of the financial crash. After
continued street protests over the government's handling of the banking crisis, the prime
minister, Geir Haarde, resigned.
Russia hinted that it would abandon its plans to station short-range missiles in
Kaliningrad. The move reflects a hope in the Kremlin that the Obama administration
may delay the deployment of missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russian bishops chose Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, an assertive figure in religious
diplomacy, to be the new patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a victory for Evo Morales, Bolivia's socialist president, 62% of voters backed a new
constitution that he hopes will give greater rights to Amerindians, tighten state control
over the economy and limit landholdings to 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres). But a majority
of voters in four resource-rich eastern departments that have declared their autonomy
rejected the constitution, which may presage future conflicts.
Around 100,000 anti-globalisation activists gathered in the Brazilian city of Belém for
the World Social Forum. The event takes place each year as an alternative to the more
business-friendly affair in Davos.
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Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, won his referendum to abolish term limits by
55% to 45%. He said it was a victory "for socialism, for revolution" and that he would be
a candidate in the next presidential election in 2012.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's prime minister under a power-sharing agreement with
President Robert Mugabe, said he would pay civil servants in foreign currency.
The latest edition of UK-based current affairs magazine the Economist has been banned
in Thailand, amid local anger over its coverage of the royal family. The edition contains
an article about Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, who was sentenced to three years in
a Thai jail for insulting the monarchy.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made the most thorough reshuffle of his government
since assuming the throne in 2005. He promoted reformers, sacked reactionaries and
appointed his first-ever female minister, Norah al-Fayez, for women's education. But
women are still not allowed to drive a car.
Barrack Obama said America would send a further 17,000 troops to join the 65,000
foreign soldiers already based in Afghanistan to combat the worsening insurgency.
Taro Aso, Japan's prime minister, visited the Russian island of Sakhalin for the opening
of a liquefied natural-gas plant. He met Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, for
talks on resolving the two countries' long-running dispute over four islands, Kuril
Islands, held by Russia and claimed by Japan.
Pakistan's government agreed a truce to end fighting with the Taleban Islamist
insurgents in the Swat valley in its North-West Frontier Province. As part of the
agreement, sharia law will be implemented in the district.
Thirty years after the downfall of Cambodia's Khmers Rouges, the first trial of one of
their leading members for crimes committed during their rule began in Phnom Penh. The
defendant is Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, who ran the notorious Tuol Sleng
Shoichi Nakagawa resigned as Japan's finance minister amid a row over whether he
was drunk at a recent G7 news conference. His replacement is Kaoru Yosano, the
minister for economic policy.
The former chief executive of eBay, a Republican, Meg Whitman took her first official
step towards running for governor of California by creating an exploratory campaign
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More than 180 people died in Australia's worst-ever forest fires. Heat and prolonged
drought provided conditions for fires to spread quickly, but some were set deliberately, or
relit after being extinguished by firefighters. Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, said those
responsible were guilty of "mass murder".
Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik admitted that "some part of the conspiracy"
leading to last year's terror attack on Mumbai had taken place in Pakistan. Since then,
Pakistan claims to have arrested 71 people allegedly linked to the plot.
Israel's centrist Kadima party, led by Tzipi Livni, emerged as the single largest party
with 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset in the general elections held recently. Binyamin
Netanyahu's right-wing Likud got 27. A far-right party, Yisrael Beitenu, led by Avigdor
Lieberman, won 15 seats. The once-dominant Labour Party got only 13.
America and Britain will not fully resume aid or lift travel bans and financial curbs on
Zimbabwe President Mugabe Robert Mugabe and his close colleagues until there is
evidence that the new government is functioning properly and that Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai is being allowed to govern.
The US Senate modified the "Buy American" part of the stimulus package (which
America's trade partners say is protectionist and could lead to a trade war) by inserting a
clause promising to abide by America's international obligations.
Barrack Obama chose a Republican, Judd Gregg, as commerce secretary.
Pat Quinn took over as the new governor of Illinois after Rod Blagojevich was removed
from office by the state Senate on January 29th after his impeachment.
Germany and France announced that German troops would be stationed on French soil
for the first time since the Second World War. A German battalion is likely to be based
in Alsace-Lorraine, a region repeatedly fought over by the two countries in the past.
The pope ordered a traditionalist bishop, Richard Williamson, whom he had recently
readmitted to the Catholic Church, to recant on his denials of the Holocaust. The aboutturn
by the pope, who is German, came after an intervention by the German chancellor,
Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations special envoy to Myanmar, visited the country
and met Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained opposition leader.
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North Korea said it was scrapping agreements made with South Korea to prevent
hostilities. There were fears of a clash over the maritime border, and reports that the
North was preparing to test-fire its longest-range missile.
America's House of Representatives voted by 244 to 188 in favour of Barack Obama's
$819 billion economic stimulus package. Not a single Republican supported the plan
(11 Democrats also voted against it). Obama detailed how some of the money would be
spent, such as adding 3,000 miles of electric transmission lines and doubling America's
use of wind and solar energy.
Barack Obama has signed a measure that restores funding for health groups that
perform abortions in developing countries (a ban that had been popular with
The Senate voted to confirm Tim Geithner as the US treasury secretary by 60-34. Most
Republican senators withheld their support because of Geithner's "careless" past failure
to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
The government of Kyrgyzstan asked parliament to approve the closure of an important
American air base, Manas, near the capital, Bishkek. The only American base in
Central Asia, Manas plays an important role in supporting American and NATO troops in
Iran's Omid communications satellite was launched aboard a Safir 2 rocket recently.
America viewed the launch with "great concern", fearing it could lead to the development
of longer-range ballistic missiles.
A Russian military satellite and US commercial communications satellite collided in
space recently, creating debris that poses a potential threat to other spacecraft including
the International Space Station.
The US Iridium satellite and Russian "Kosmos-2251" military satellite collided about
800 kilometers above Siberia in the lower earth atmosphere, in what is the first known
example of two satellites colliding in space.
Tim Geithner, America's treasury secretary, declared that executive pay at companies
that receive "exceptional assistance" from the government will be capped at $500,000
and that any additional compensation would have to be made in restricted stock that
won't vest until the public money is repaid.