October 1

Massage Reform

Ten years after Bill Clinton signed the landmark welfare-reform bill, the Bush administration continues to squeeze. Though welfare rolls are down 57 percent, new rules take effect today to tighten work and job-training requirements. Likely out: bed rest, massage, and “personal journaling.”

October 2

Fall Term, Light Schedule

The Supreme Court returns today, though you’d hardly know it from the light case­load (due to stinginess in granting certiorari). Still, there are some doozies: cases involving greenhouse gases, abortion, and race-based school assignment all made the docket.

October 3

Border Casualties

Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, aid workers with the group No More Deaths, stand trial today for bringing three illegal immigrants from Mexico to a clinic for medical treatment. Each volunteer could get up to fifteen years in prison.

October 3

Former Philanthropist Faces the Music

Alberto Vilar, the dot-com Maecenas, stands trial for fraud and money laundering today, to the chagrin of the opera houses and other arts charities to which the businessman had pledged millions.

October 5 –7

The Final Frontier, Going Once …

Trekkies, cast adrift in the universe since last year when the latest Star Trek series ended, can own a piece of the show after this weekend, when Christie’s auctions off 678 items of Paramount Studios memorabilia (Kirk’s jumpsuit, Worf’s rifle, nymphomaniacal tribbles, etc.).

October 10

Cashed Out

Thomas Noe, an Ohio coin dealer and major GOP fundraiser who already pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions, stands trial today for a coin trick that flopped: after GOP appointees gave him $50 million in state workers’ compensation funds to invest in rare coins, millions of it disappeared.

October 22

Fast Lane Through Panama

Panamanians are likely to approve a referendum today to add a third set of locks to the Panama Canal, which would double the maximum ship size, cut wait times, and fend off stiff competition from the Suez Canal (which is a longer trip for most traffic to Asia, but has a wider and faster waterway). The work would be done by 2014.

October 22

Putting Green or Smoking Green?

Is golf becoming a muscle game? Beginning today, players at the world amateur championship in South Africa will be tested for doping. Officials probably needn’t worry about steroids, however: sporadic testing in the past has turned up mostly “social drugs.”

October 23

Weird Science

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wears many hats: statesman, kidnapper, bugbear. Add “scholar” (but keep it in quotes). During the Iranian month of Aban, which starts today, he’ll chair a conference aimed at “scientifically” ascertaining whether the Holocaust occurred. Previously, he’s called it a “myth” and said that Israel is “heading toward annihilation.”

October 23

Ken Lay’s Millions

Ken Lay’s recent death could protect his family financially: it will shield the former Enron CEO’s share of the $183 million the government had hoped to recoup at Jeffrey Skilling’s sentencing today.

October 24

Jeepers, Peeper

Anthony Pellicano may be heading back to the Big House. Reportedly the private eye for some of Hollywood’s highest-powered agents (like Michael Ovitz) and divorce lawyers (like Tom Cruise’s), he stands trial today for bugging stars’ phones and bribing cops on behalf of his clients.

October 24

Breaking the Pine Ceiling

Striking a latter-day blow for equal rights—possibly ten frames’ worth—Kelly Kulick, a receptionist and part-time fender mender at a New Jersey auto-body shop, bowls today at a tournament in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, making her the first woman ever to roll full-time on the PBA Tour (an outfit that retains an old-fashioned candor about gender differences).

Also This Month

Cowboy Diplomacy

Is a showdown looming at the UN? Led by George W. Bush’s squint-eyed archenemy Hugo Chávez, Venezuela may join the UN Security Council in one of ten nonpermanent positions. This month’s General Assembly vote is neck and neck, with the administration’s favorite, Guatemala, struggling for votes—precisely because of U.S. support.

300 Million Americans

At the current clip of one birth every eight seconds, a death every twelve, and an immigrant entering the country every thirty-one, the 300-millionth American should show up, one way or another, sometime this month. The 100- and 200- million marks were eclipsed in 1915 and 1967 respectively.

No Skin, Lots of Accessories

The women’s magazine Elle continues its Middle East crusade—to bring sassy to the Arab crescent! A new pan-Arabic edition that conforms to Islamic religious strictures launches this month. Safe bet for autumn: black is in.