Illustrations by Istvan Banyai
Not everyone will be hoping for a tame storm season in 2007. With hurricane season beginning today, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will offer ways to bet on gales. The options and futures will increase in value with the size, speed, and damage potential of a hurricane, expire when the storm makes landfall, and pay out two days later, giving insurers (who faced more than $50 billion in damages for the 2005 season, when Katrina and Rita hit) a new way to spread risk.
America’s “war on terror” clashes with Europe’s sovereignty today over the issue of “extraordinary rendition.” An Italian court will try 25 CIA agents and an Air Force officer in absentia for allegedly kidnapping a radical imam in Milan four years ago and sending him to Egypt to be tortured. The U.S. State Department has refused to extradite any of the accused.
Bill Gates, the world’s most successful college dropout, returns today to Harvard, the university he quit during his sophomore year to found Microsoft. Gates will deliver a commencement address and at last get a degree (albeit an honorary one).
The quest for the 32nd America’s Cup—at 156 years old, it’s the oldest trophy in international sports—starts today off the coast of Valencia, Spain. The unlikely defenders: the landlocked Swiss.
In response to revelations that wounded soldiers lived with mice, roaches, and mold at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a bipartisan panel delivers a report today reviewing veterans’ care. Critics argue the panel’s timeline was too brief to plumb the full problem.
The war-crimes trial of Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, is set to begin this month at The Hague. Taylor is accused of backing rebels who killed, raped, and mutilated thousands during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone that ended in 2002. The trial was moved from Freetown out of fear that Taylor loyalists might react violently.
This month is the deadline for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to push a measure through parliament to apportion the country’s oil revenues. Otherwise, aides to Maliki claim, U.S. officials threatened to give him the boot. Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s former prime minister and a fellow Shiite, and Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, are angling to replace him.