The new president of the European Commission, Jose Barroso, takes office today for a five-year tenure. He will have a full plate that includes a contentious vote on the new European Union constitution, Turkey's potential entrance into the union, and the European response to terrorism. But his top priority—and, some would argue, his most difficult task—will be to carry out a set of stalled reforms intended to transform bloated EU welfare states into lean economic engines.
The theme of this election is vigilance. The Depart- ment of Homeland Security will be on guard against the terrorists who, according to innumerable summer press conferences, are determined to disrupt our democratic process. John Kerry, fearing a repeat of the 2000 Florida debacle, has a crack team of election lawyers on call nationwide. And thanks to some prodding by the Democrats, the State Department invited the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international election watchdog, to observe for the first time a U.S. presidential election, to keep everything free and fair. (The group has previously monitored elections in such places as Albania, Bosnia, and Uzbekistan.)
With federal funding for stem-cell research tangled up by a presidential order, several states and universities seek to sponsor the research themselves, in an effort to become the Silicon Valley of stem-cell research. A ballot initiative in California, if approved, would establish a $3 billion stem-cell-research program, essentially creating California's own National Institutes of Health.
Though the Federal Marriage Amendment was handily defeated in the Senate, gay-marriage opponents are optimistic about their chances on Election Day, when at least eight states will vote on state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. A referendum during the August primary in Missouri gave gay- marriage opponents a sweeping victory (71 percent of the vote) with a surprisingly high turnout—which bodes well for the national Republican strategy of using state gay-marriage referenda to mobilize social conservatives during the presidential election.
Normally it's difficult to implicate the CEO in a case like this, but the prosecution claims that the WorldCom executive's famous attention to detail has left evidence of his involvement in the minutiae of the crime. Lesson to those who would defraud investors of $11 billion: Don't micromanage. (Additional government charges could delay the trial.)
It's a clash of titans: New York, London, Paris, Madrid, and Moscow all made the short list for the 2012 Olympics. Paris, followed closely by London, is the early favorite, both for its history (two failed recent bids) and its plan: an inexpensive system featuring many temporary venues. The International Olympic Committee hopes to
trim costs on the increasingly
swollen games, with an eye to eventually allowing poorer cities in South America and Africa—continents that have never held an Olympiad—to serve as hosts.
In a fit monument to Bill Clinton's love-him-or-hate-him legacy, the forty-second President may actually have two presidential libraries in Little Rock—one in the typical official style and the other, down the street, a "Counter Clinton Library" sponsored by his critics. The latter will be dedicated to revealing what its backers deem the truth behind the official library's "propaganda." It is expected to feature a diorama of Clinton denials from the Lewinsky affair, multimedia exhibitions on Travelgate, and a look at the
"co-presidency" of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Counter Clinton Library is still at the planning and fundraising stage, with no Lincoln Bedroom to deploy.
If they can be brought off in the midst of the current uprising (they have already been pushed back twice since early summer, and could slip again), municipal elections could offer the Palestinian Authority a way to temper widespread allegations of local corruption and give Palestinians the chance to chip away at Yasir Arafat's monopoly on power. President Bush has supported the elections, which would be the first local ones since 1976, and the first of any kind since Arafat's 1996 victory. Hamas and other radical Islamist groups enjoy broad support as an alternative to Arafat, and could win roles as legitimate political players through the election—an outcome that some observers support as a way to moderate the groups' radicalism.