Hurricane futures; the Swiss at sea; Bill Gates finally graduates

Illustrations by Istvan Banyai

June 1

Windfall Profits

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.

June 1

Techie nirvana has arrived: Apple’s long-awaited iPhone—a stylish all-in-one media player, cell phone, and PDA—ships today, at $499 a pop. Apple has set an ambitious goal of selling some 10 million iPhones in 2008—and may reach it. A Harvard Business School professor declared the iPhone’s launch the most attention-grabbing rollout ever.
June 5

Pardon Me?
Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who in March was found guilty of lying to prosecutors during an investigation into a CIA leak scandal, receives his sentence today. Under federal sentencing guidelines, it will likely be between 21 and 27 months.
June 6 –8

Ich Bin Ein Polluter
This year’s G8 summit takes place on Germany’s Baltic Coast, and it’s expected to feature Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, pressuring nations—especially the United States—to cut emissions. The EU has announced plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 20 percent from their 1990 level by 2020 (30 percent if peer nations follow suit) as a model for moving beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
June 8


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.

June 7

Gates Finally Graduates

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).

June 23


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.

June 30

The Veterans’ Affair

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.

June 30

Like a bad actor, the Doha Round of global trade negotiations is taking a long time to die. Pascal Lamy, the head of the WTO, is pushing for an agreement by today, when President Bush’s authority to make deals without congressional nitpicking is set to expire— and this may be the last gasp for the trade talks.
Also This Month:

Royal Mess
Nepal’s bloody transformation from divine monarchy to secular republic nears resolution this month with elections that will help determine who controls the country. Years of populist uprisings against King Gyanendra (who assumed the throne in 2001 after his nephew, the heir apparent, slaughtered most of the royal family in a murder- suicide) may finally succeed in ending the monarchy.
Taylor on Trial

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.

Iraq in a Hard Place

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.