Fraud, failure, and the free-fall
For much of July, the economy managed to push terrorism off the front page of many American newspapers. Telecom giant WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, eclipsing the Enron filing of 2002 as the biggest U.S. bankruptcy case ever. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers scrambled to make sure no more big American companies would disappear as a result of "accounting irregularities." Following earlier action by the House, the Senate unanimously passed a bill stripping the accounting industry of its self-policing powers and establishing instead an independent regulatory board under the auspices of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
That did little to reassure rattled investors, however. The Dow Jones Industrial Average went into free-fall, closing below the 8000 mark for the first time in four years. With stocks shedding an estimated $8 trillion in value since 2000, Democrats talked openly of a voter backlash in November, despite continued high marks for President Bush's handling of foreign affairs.
Never give up
For 77 hours, America was riveted by the drama of nine miners trapped 240 feet underground in a flooded Pennsylvania coal mine. The nine men were caught in a passageway just 50 inches high by 18 feet wide and filled with 55-degree water. Rescuers pumped fresh, warm air into the shaft through a six-inch pipe then began drilling through solid rock in a desperate rescue attempt. With no sound coming from the trapped miners after the first 24 hours, many concluded it was too late. But then, after more than three days of frenzied drilling, rescuers finally pierced the flooded shaft and lifted each miner to the surface, one by one.
The rockets' red glare
July 4th may have been the nation's birthday, but many Americans were in no mood to party. Security forces were on high alert, thanks to terrorist "chatter" intercepted around the world. Attendance was noticeably down at many big-city fireworks displays, as people stayed home in droves rather than face security hassles and uncertainty.
The day passed without any wide-scale terrorism, but it was not without tragedy. At Los Angeles International Airport, an Egyptian-born limousine driver named Hesham Hadayet drew a gun and opened fire at the ticket counter of Israel's national airline, El Al. He killed two and injured three others before he was shot dead by an airline security guard.