Not content with conquering the Web, Google is slowly digitizing the library collections of the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and the New York Public Library as well. Today, over publishers' protests, the company will begin scanning in even copyrighted material (it has given publishers the chance to opt out). Despite Google's pledge to display only snippets of copyrighted books (generally those published after 1922), many publishers want to halt the project, claiming that simply copying and storing the contents of protected works violates the law.
President Bush can expect a chilly reception today at the Summit of the Americas, in Argentina, where he'll attempt to revive his languishing pro-democracy, pro-free-trade agenda in Latin America. Hugo Chavez, the president of oil-rich Venezuela, is Bush's biggest Latin American headache—a populist who has made a name for himself by bashing the United States, flirting with China and Cuba, and accusing the Bush administration of plotting his assassination or ouster. He has also suggested publicly that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice harbors an unrequited crush on him.
Californians head to the polls today in yet another special election—this one widely viewed as a referendum on the agenda of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the product of the last one. The Governator's ambitious package of ballot initiatives aims to reform state government, in part by transferring the notoriously political process of drawing lawmakers' districts (not a single seat changed hands in the last general election) to a panel of retired judges. Also on the ballot: measures to cap the state budget, limit the considerable political clout of California's public-employee unions, and make it harder for teachers to earn tenure.
Today, as part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party unveils a set of amendments to the country's constitution, which has remained unchanged since U.S. forces helped draft it after World War II. The greatest controversy centers on Article 9, in which Japan revoked its sovereign right to the use of force except in self-defense. Some Japanese want to update the constitution to reflect the country's higher military profile in recent years—Japan has forces in Iraq, for instance.
But such changes would draw fire from Japanese pacifists and from neighboring countries, still wary of Japanese nationalism and mindful of atrocities committed in the 1930s.
The United States does—at least for now. In the late 1990s, when it established the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the U.S. government promised that it would slowly relinquish control of the servers underlying the Internet. That hasn't happened, and in June the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it won't. Critics of the current system have begun an effort to dislodge the United States as sole keeper of the master list of Web addresses and to give national governments sovereign control over their country-code domain names (such as .ca for Canada). Participants will try to hammer out a compromise at the UN's World Summit on the Information Society, which begins today in Tunis.
Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, today christens the new Georgia Aquarium—his $200 million gift to Atlanta, the city where he started his company. (Marcus, who made billions with his giant orange do-it-yourself temples, hit upon the idea because he often spent downtime in aquariums during business trips.) The aquarium will be America's largest, with 500 million gallons of water, a coral reef, and room for 100,000 fish—including Ralph and Norton, the first whale sharks (the world's largest fish) to be displayed in this hemisphere. It could be the city's biggest economic stimulus since the 1996 Olympics; Marcus expects it to bring Atlanta $1 billion in revenue over five years.
Signatories to the Kyoto Protocol meet today in Montreal to attempt to extend the pact past its current expiration date of 2012. The United States—the world's top polluter and the only G8 member that hasn't signed the treaty—looks to be stealing Kyoto's thunder. It has established its own climate-control pact (this one more lax: it contains no specific emissions cuts) with Japan, Australia, China, India, and South Korea; the first major meeting is scheduled for this month.
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