Illustrations by Istvan Banyai
Military commissions at Guantánamo are scheduled to ramp up with today’s trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian national accused of killing a U.S. medic in Afghanistan with a grenade in 2002, when he was 15. Charges against 9/11 plotters, including accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, should follow soon.
R. Kelly, the Grammy-winning R&B crooner of such hits as “Feelin’ on Yo Booty,” goes on trial today on child-pornography charges stemming from his alleged appearance with an underage girl on a sexually explicit videotape.
Nintendo releases Wii Fit today, a health-themed game for the Wii video-game console that users control with a special “balance board.” Wii will tell players whether they’re obese and will track their movements while leading them through exercises, including yoga and push-ups. In addition to keeping Nintendo the king of the casual-gaming sphere, Wii Fit could challenge the stereotype of gamers as couch potatoes.
Representatives of more than 100 nations are scheduled to meet in Dublin today to hammer out a treaty banning cluster bombs. The controversial munitions scatter bomblets across a wide area and these can detonate years later, maiming civilians. Today’s summit is expected to include states that have produced and stockpiled the bombs. Organizers hope the treaty will help persuade holdouts—like China, Russia, and the U.S.—to eventually prohibit the weapons as well.
Movie theaters are illegal in Saudi Arabia, but that won’t stop the country’s first annual film festival. The five-day, government-approved event will feature selections from Saudi auteurs and their counterparts in other Arab states.
After a two-decade hiatus, Hollywood unearths its favorite swashbuckling archaeologist for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This time he’ll fight Soviets, not Nazis. Beyond that, details are thin. In an effort to keep the plot secret, executives have sued a loose-lipped extra and helped police launch a successful sting operation to recover photos stolen from the studio’s production office.
It’s the last day to benefit from a $336 million settlement with credit-card companies that, plaintiffs claim, imposed hidden exchange fees of 1 to 3 percent on purchases made in a foreign currency. Anyone who used a credit or debit card abroad between 1996 and 2006 may be eligible for a $25 refund—more if they can show how much they spent.
The World Bank gets a new chief economist today—from Communist China. Justin Yifu Lin, considered one of China’s premier economic minds, defected from Taiwan in 1979 (by swimming), before studying under the free-market idealists at the University of Chicago. The bank expects Lin to provide much-needed experience with developing countries.
Because of Warner Bros.’ decision to officially stop producing movies in HD DVD as of today, Blu-ray will be the last one standing in the high-definition-format wars. Toshiba, HD DVD’s developer, was forced to concede defeat after the studio opted to abandon the technology. Retailers hope that consumers who have been waiting for a winner to emerge will finally embrace high-definition discs.
Taxpayers should check their mailbox for a treat. As part of the economic-stimulus package Congress passed earlier this year, checks ranging from $300 to more than $1,200 should start arriving this month. Some economists worry that the money will come too late to head off a recession. Expect few complaints from recipients.
Burma holds a referendum on a new constitution that may help secure the ruling junta’s power. Multiparty elections are slated to be held in 2010; opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party clearly won the last election, in 1990, remains under house arrest.