Despite Russia’s shrinking population, the Duma’s clampdown on immigrants continues today with a nationalist ban on foreign vendors in retail markets. To counteract effects of the ban, the government has ordered the markets to stay open and hold prices firm. Up to half of Russia’s 12 million illegal immigrants may be deported.
Today is the final chance for the public to weigh in on the FDA’s decision on whether to allow cloned animals to be served as dinner. Bad news for studs: Initial reports found no serious health risks from cloned animals’ milk and meat. A final decision is expected by the end of the year.
A little-discussed but far- reaching Commerce Department decision is due today regarding possible tariffs on paper imported from China, which may pave the way for a host of retaliatory duties on goods that the Chinese government subsidizes for export. The country is currently exempt.
Speculation has been building that John Paul II’s beatification (the first step toward sainthood) will be announced today, the second anniversary of the pontiff’s death. (Curing a French nun of Parkinson’s—which John Paul is reported to have done posthumously in 2005—should satisfy the requirement that candidates perform a miracle from the afterlife.) John Paul broke tradition when he fast-tracked Mother Teresa’s beatification after her death, in 1997.
The casual violence and suburban angst of The Sopranos, which lifted HBO atop the TV-drama renaissance, enters its final arc today. Some fans fear that the show, which has been plagued by a fits-and-starts production schedule (with as many as 21 months between seasons), will go out with a Godfather III–like whimper.
The International Monetary Fund opens its spring meeting with great expectations: near 5 percent global growth in 2007. But for the lender of last resort, boom times are often slow times. Finance ministers have suggested that the IMF busy itself by surveying larger countries’ financial health and sounding early warnings.
Like the Lord of the Rings films, J. R. R. Tolkien’s canon is taking its time in drawing to a close. Today, the late author’s Children of Húrin goes on sale. Set long before Lord and imbued with a more tragic tone, the tale was pieced together by Tolkien’s son, Christopher, from notes and fragments.
The calendar has aligned this year to give everyone a two-day extension on their taxes: With the dreaded April 15 falling on a Sunday and the District of Columbia’s precocious celebration of Emancipation Day—D.C.’s slaves were freed nearly nine months before the Proclamation—on Monday, Uncle Sam doesn’t collect until today.
Following last year’s Bush-skewering performance by comedian Stephen Colbert, the host of tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner will be the genial impressionist Rich Little.
In the first round of France’s presidential election, voters choose between Thatcherite tough guy Nicolas Sarkozy, who promises to restore the republic to glory and stand up to restive immigrants, and Ségolène Royal, whose personal charm and gauzy left-centrist platform recall Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.
The Supreme Court gets another whack at campaign finance reform today-surprising many who thought the landmark new restrictions, passed in 2002, had already passed constitutional muster. At issue is how to tell if a commercial (from a Wisconsin anti-abortion group in this case) is an election ad (banned under certain circumstances in the run-up to an election) or a general issue ad (which is permitted).
James Cameron begins shooting Avatar, a 3-D sci-fi flick with computer-generated actors and sets that promises to be a technological watershed. It’s Cameron’s first film since Titanic drew a box-office record $1.8 billion.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Japan, the first high-level trip there in more than six years. Sino-Japanese relations are the frostiest they’ve been in decades due to former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to a shrine commemorating Japanese veterans, including war criminals. The new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, hasn’t visited the memorial, but says he won’t rule out a trip.
Oil-rich Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and one of its most corrupt, chooses a new president for the first time since military rule ended eight years ago. The effect may not be dramatic, as Olusegun Obasanjo—the current president and oil minister, and former military leader—attempts to elevate his heir apparent, Umara Yar’Adua, but retain power behind the scenes.
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