What to watch for in January and February


Made in China

The expiration of a long-standing World Trade Organization quota system is expected to trigger a violent shakeout in the global textile market. Probable winners: China (which will jump from a 16 percent to a 50 percent share of the U.S. clothing market), India, and Pakistan. Probable losers: Cambodia, Bangladesh, and other countries whose economies rely on filling niches in the quota system. U.S. manufacturers are pressing the White House to invoke an emer- gency measure that will limit the rate of growth in Chinese imports.


Missing Martha

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia launches its first TV venture without its star, whose legal woes put the company in the red for the first time in 2003. The new show, Everyday Food, is a spinoff of the eponymous magazine and features relatively young, unknown chefs, editors, and food testers. Like the finer rap-music moguls, Stewart—who awaits a march release from prison—will act as executive producer from her cell. A reality-TV deal with the creator of Survivor is also in the works.


Libya Opens for Business

Last year the United States lifted its eighteen-year-old sanctions on Libya after the North African nation scrapped its nuclear program. Now U.S. oil companies can bid for oil-and-gas-exploration contracts. Libya has the world's ninth largest oil reserves. The rush of foreign investment is expected to boost production capacity by a third.


Lynndie England's Court-Martial

Lynndie England, the Army reservist infamous worldwide as the "Leash Girl" in the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse photos, faces court-martial in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on nineteen counts, and a possible thirty-eight years in prison. Last October, England gave birth to a boy conceived with fellow reservist Charles Graner, also scheduled for a January court-martial.


Inauguration Day
From the archives:

"Norman Ornstein's Doomsday Scenario" (March 2001)
What would happen if a bomb wiped out the federal government? By Michelle Cottle

Terrorism experts fear that the inauguration is a ripe target. The latest report from the Continuity of Government Commission makes clear why: a hypothetical scenario has terrorists detonating a nuclear device on Pennsylvania Avenue just before the inauguration, destroying everything and everyone within a one-mile radius, including the president and vice-president, the Supreme Court, and most of Congress. Undaunted by the prospect of its own demise, the House of Representatives blocked $10 million for inauguration security and neglected to act on the commission's recommendations.


Elections in Iraq ... Maybe

Iraqis are slated to choose a national assembly to draft a permanent constitution. An elected government will take charge later this year. But violence threatens the proceedings. Dogged by insurgents, the United States has struggled to bring parts of the restive Sunni region of central Iraq under control. If they remain too hostile, elections will proceed without them. But experts fear that excluding the Sunnis could further inflame the insurgency.


"Jacko" Trial

Michael Jackson's trial on charges of child molestation is set to begin today, in a media circus to rival Martha Stewart's. The alleged victim is a twelve-year-old cancer patient who, his attorneys claim, was kidnapped by Jackson and held until he agreed to produce a video statement exonerating Jackson of the charges. Jackson settled two earlier accusations of child molestation for $2 million and $15 million respectively—payments his lawyers say he now regrets.


The Gay Channel Debuts

Move over, Will & Grace. Hoping to tap into an audience of 15 million gay Americans (and the $485 billion they spend annually), MTV Networks launches Logo, a gay-and-lesbian cable network. The network plans to feature original programming, including The Alan Cumming Experience (a cabaret); My Fabulous Gay Wedding (a reality series); The Big Gay 100 (a ranking of gay cultural icons); and Family Outing (a coming-out family show with Cher and her lesbian daughter, Chastity).


The Academy Awards
With no clear favorites for the top awards this year, Academy members can expect a huge ad blitz and plenty of controversy: the producers of The Passion of the Christ signaled their Oscar hopes by releasing the movie on DVD to coincide with the beginning of the awards season. And Michael Moore is competing for Best Picture—not Best Documentary—with his Fahrenheit 9/11.Matthew Quirk