Following several high-profile exonerations of inmates, North Carolina introduces the country’s first “innocence commission” today: if five of the eight commission members rule that new evidence of innocence has emerged, a three-judge panel can exonerate an inmate by unanimous assent.
An Oklahoma law takes effect today banning the unauthorized use of a soldier’s name or likeness on T-shirts and other merchandise. Prompted by a grieving mother whose son appeared on a T-shirt listing the Iraq war dead, similar laws have been proposed in other states and in Congress.
Bolivia’s army has taken over the country’s natural gas reserves. Today, foreign companies must submit to state control or see their wells run dry under a nationalization program set up by the new president (and Hugo Chávez ally), Evo Morales.
When Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori becomes the world’s first woman primate in the Anglican Communion today, seven of the 100 or so American dioceses are planning to break away to protest her approval of gay relationships.
South Dakota residents vote today on a sweeping state abortion ban—a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Roe v. Wade that, if approved, would reignite the judicial battle over abortion.
An Arizona referendum aimed at increasing voter participation would, if approved today, award $1 million to a random voter in future elections. (Why didn’t Nevada think of this first?)
Beleaguered by the Atkins Diet craze, the bread industry is hoping to make a comeback. Today a winner will be crowned in the Sandwich Showdown, a national recipe contest that’s part of a promotional blitz by the Grain Foods Foundation. Per capita consumption of wheat flour is stuck at 133 pounds annually, down thirteen pounds since 2000.
Ground will be broken today on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, an arc of waterfalls and cherry trees along the National Mall’s Tidal Basin, between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials. It will be the first monument on the Mall to an individual who wasn’t a U.S. president.
In its ongoing bid to outdo Kubla Khan, Dubai today opens to the public the first of three man-made palm-tree-shaped islands, which are so large they’re visible from space. The smallest, the Palm Jumeirah, will support around 9,000 residences, along with hotels and entertainment venues. Matthew Quirk
Ségolène Royal is leading most national polls and poised to become France’s first female president—but first she’ll have to get her party’s nod, at this week’s Socialist Party convention. Among her more attractive qualities: Royal has had the temerity to criticize the thirty-five-hour French workweek, and the lad mag FHM voted her—a fifty-three-year-old mother of four—the sixth-sexiest woman in the world, behind Angelina Jolie but ahead of J-Lo.
In its forty-fourth year, the 007 film franchise “reboots” with a film version of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. From a crowded field of contenders, Daniel Craig— a blond Bond!—was chosen as the latest 007. Tougher looking than his predecessors, Craig fits the director Martin Campbell’s plan to highlight the gritty misogynist of Fleming’s early novels—and yes, the movie will include the book’s infamous rug-beater scene.
The power-sharing government of Northern Ireland, created by the 1998 Good Friday Accords and frozen for the past four years after an IRA spy scandal, is in jeopardy. The parties must choose new leaders by today or Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland respectively, will take over.
Nielsen unveils a new system this month to track how many viewers actually watch television ads. Ad buyers and sellers are miffed, worried that the new system will shake up their business. Possible upside: less-annoying commercials.
Major donors will meet late this month to hammer out a five-year economic and anticorruption plan for Iraq to satisfy the oil and financial markets. The last donor conference, in 2003 in Madrid, yielded pledges of $13.5 billion on top of U.S. commitments—only $3.5 billion of which has been paid.
Forget Yao Ming. China has gone the other way, with a nationwide call for coxswains, those tiny terrors who bark orders at rowers and steer the crew shell. The effort to stoke Olympic fever will (predictably) be televised this month as a reality show, with the two winners taking the helm of male and female crews at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
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