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US, Japan Meet in Women's World Cup; 'Carmageddon' in Los Angeles

The United States' Abby Wambach, in white shirt, left, scores the second goal for her team in the semifinal. The United States defeated France 3-1.

Update: Japan won its first Women's World Cup, defeating the United States 3-1 on penalty kicks. And Los Angeles avoided "Carmageddon." Traffic was light, and the 405 Freeway reopened about 17 hours early. Another closure is set in 11 months to finish removing a bridge. An earlier story follows.

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Two of the world's favorite activities -- soccer and wordplay -- are in the news this week.

On Sunday, the United States plays Japan for the Women's World Cup championship. The game is in Frankfurt, Germany. This is the Americans' first time in the final in twelve years. They won against China in nineteen ninety-nine and against Norway in nineteen ninety-one. That was the first year of the Women's World Cup in football, or what Americans call soccer.

On Wednesday the United States defeated France to reach the final. Striker Abby Wambach gave her team a two to one lead with a header off Lauren Cheney's corner kick in the seventy-ninth minute. Cheney had given the United States an early lead, but she told ESPN television that she credits Wambach for her efforts.

LAUREN CHENEY: "Not only is she at the right place at the right time, but she has more heart than anybody that I've ever played with. And I know that in the last minute, she's going to get it done."

Alex Morgan added another goal in the eighty-second minute. At twenty-two, she is the youngest player on the American team.

Japan defeated Sweden in the other semifinal game. Host nation Germany, the two-time defending champion, lost to Japan in the quarterfinals.

So that was news from the playing field. Now to the wordplay.

Commentators and bloggers often use the word "gate" when a politician is accused of trying to hide the truth. A recent example: "Weinergate." Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York denied, then later admitted, that he sent sexually suggestive messages and pictures to women. He resigned in June.

Next June will be forty years since the very first "gate." Watergate is the name of a group of buildings in Washington. In June of nineteen seventy-two, police arrested five men who broke into Democratic Party offices there.

Two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, linked the break-in to the committee to re-elect Republican President Richard Nixon. He resigned because of Watergate.

Another place name is "Armageddon." The Christian Bible says there will be a final battle there between the forces of good and evil at the end of time.

President Obama even used the term on Friday to describe proposals to avoid a crisis over raising the government's borrowing limit.

BARACK OBAMA: "It is constructive to say that if Washington operates as usual and can’t get anything done, let’s at least avert Armageddon."

These days, people joke about events like "Snowmageddon," the huge snowstorms that hit the Washington area a year ago.

Right now, officials in Los Angeles are warning drivers to avoid "Carmageddon." Road work will close a major north-south link this weekend. The work is part of a project to widen Interstate 405, also called the San Diego Freeway. The 405 will close for sixteen kilometers between the city's Westside and the San Fernando Valley.

Workers will demolish one side of the Mulholland Drive bridge over Interstate 405, then the other side during another 53-hour closure in 11 months
Workers will demolish one side of the Mulholland Drive bridge over Interstate 405, then the other side during another 53-hour closure in 11 months

The closure is planned for fifty-three hours, until Monday morning at five. California transportation official Mike Miles told TV station KABC that people normally try to avoid the 405 anyway because of heavy traffic.

MIKE MILES: "The biggest thing that's going to help is if the public stays away and stays home on this weekend. Most of the people go through their lives trying to avoid the 405. This is the one weekend we want to tell you, you really need to avoid the 405."

But Carmageddon or not, local businesses are offering special deals to keep people from staying home and not spending money. That would be the biggest disaster of all.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Christopher Cruise.


Contributing: Avi Arditti and Parke Brewer