Playing for all the marbles; the color of money; a slushier Iditarod; China's torch song

Illustrations by Istvan Banyai

March 1
The Iditarod kicks off in Alaska today. But global warming has made snow harder to find—in recent years, the race has gradually moved north from its traditional route.
March 2
Meet the New Boss

Vladimir Putin’s handpicked successor is favored in today’s presidential election, and has already declared that he’ll appoint Putin prime minister. You can bet Putin won’t be the typical weak Russian PM.

March 13
Honest Abes
The $5 bill gets a splash of color (yellow and light purple!) and some new watermarks today. Originally, the five-spot wasn’t going to be redone—until it was discovered that counterfeiters could bleach the bills and remake them as $100s.
March 14

Today’s legislative elections in Iran may take President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad down a peg. A broad spectrum of moderates have criticized his saber rattling and his dismal economic policies.

March 21
For Keeps
The British and World Marbles Championship, held annually on Good Friday, rolls into the Greyhound Pub in Sussex, England, today. Though it’s customarily considered bad form to shoot marbles past noon on Good Friday, the rules have been relaxed to accommodate all the mibsters.
March 22
Passing the Torch …
Taiwan chooses its president today, always a dicey proposition. Also, voters will consider a referendum seeking an independent UN seat for the island under the name Taiwan (rather than the current Republic of China), a move that many fear will provoke China.
March 24
… and Lighting It
The first of the controversies likely to engulf the 2008 Olympics in China could ignite with today’s lighting of the torch. Pro-Tibetan protesters will jeer the flame along its route, set to include a trip to the top of Everest. It won’t go through Taiwan, though, for fear that letting the torch pass from there to the mainland would reinforce China’s claim.
March 31
Trial Run

Proposed 60 years ago as a permanent world court to try crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court hears its first trial today. Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese rebel leader, is charged with conscripting child soldiers earlier this decade during a military campaign in which his forces allegedly raped, tortured, and murdered civilians.

Also In March
Upping the Drawdown
General David Petraeus delivers a report on progress in Iraq and further military withdrawals. Some 30,000 “surge” troops are already set to come home this summer. More could return later in the year, although President Bush has said he’d rather stick with the pre-surge level of 130,000 than risk the progress made since last year.
Taking Aim

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. The last time the Court made a Second Amendment decision was in 1939, when it banned sawed-off shotguns.

Strong Man, Weak Dollar

It’s election time in Zimbabwe, and despite the astonishing exchange rate (30,000 Zimbabwean dollars buys one U.S. dollar) and annual inflation rate (7,982 percent), Robert Mugabe is expected to extend his 28-year rule.