What to watch for in the weeks ahead

Illustrations by Istvan Banyai

September 1

Thick in the Middle Kingdom
With great prosperity comes fat children, as China is learning. Beginning with the new school term today, China’s education ministry requires a regimen of daily dancing. A 2005 survey found that the health of Chinese children had been declining for the previous two decades, and about 25 percent of boys in urban areas were overweight or obese. The program culminates in high school, when seniors learn to waltz.

September 7

Bats and Rats
Kirk “Murdoch” Radomski, a former New York Mets batboy alleged to have supplied steroids to Major League Baseball players, is sentenced for drug dealing and money laundering today. After his steroid ring was broken up in 2005, Radomski struck a deal and investigators learned his clients’ names (they haven’t been made public). He faces up to 25 years and $500,000 in fines.

September 7

No Strings Attached

The Air Guitar World Championships, an orgy of heavy-metal camp, happen today in Oulu, Finland. Pantomime shredders perform one-minute frenzies before a panel of judges. Air roadies are permitted, but must leave the stage before the show. The winner gets a real guitar.

September 9

Our Man in Panama
Manuel Noriega was many things: CIA asset, Panamanian dictator, and then inmate #38699-079. Today, he’s free—at least for now. Initially sentenced to 40 years for drug trafficking and money laundering, he’ll leave his Miami prison after only 15 years (good behavior was a factor). But he’ll face an unwelcoming reception in Panama, where he was convicted in absentia of murder.

September 17

The Maestro's Memoir

Investors, buckle up. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman whose comments, even in retirement, can lower the Dow, publishes his memoir today, which reportedly fetched an $8 million-plus advance. The Age of Turbulence was planned as a straightforward autobiography, but instead Greenspan wrote an analysis of his career and the future of the economy. He promises lots of surprises—and already has delivered one, announcing that he wrote much of the book in the bathtub.

September 24

Diaper Dandy
Lisa Nowak, the allegedly bediapered astronaut who drove from Houston to Florida to confront a romantic rival, goes on trial in Orlando today for attempted kidnapping, and burglary with assault and battery.

September 25

Bodies and Ballots

Today’s presidential election in Lebanon will likely inflame ten­sions between the country’s pro- and anti-Syrian contingents. The latter has lost strength as its parliamentary members have been killed off. The vote could splinter the government, with both camps claiming power..

September 30

To the Viktors Go the Spoils

Ukraine’s bloodless pro-Western coup in 2004 has given way to a stalemate between President Viktor Yushchenko and Russia-aligned rival Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was defeated in 2004 but returned as prime minister and head of a parliamentary majority. Their camps vie for power in today’s parliamentary election.

September 30

Anglican Schism?

The last chance for the Anglican Church to avoid a schism could come today with a deadline for the American Episcopal Church to abandon its increasingly tolerant positions on gays—it has not recanted its support of gay unions and gay bishops or allowed conservative churches to break away.

Also in September

Osprey Leaves the Nest
After $20 billion and more than 20 years, the world’s first production tilt-rotor aircraft, the V-22 Osprey, will be deployed to Iraq this month. The project has suffered from massive cost overruns and casualties; 30 people died during testing. Critics predict that performance problems and design flaws will make the Osprey vulnerable or unfit for many battles. The military still likes it and plans to spend another $50 billion on the program.

Army of One?

With the Iraq War in its fifth year, President Bush and his supporters face an important milestone when General David Petraeus testifies before Congress this month on whether the troop “surge” has worked. Petraeus has hinted he’ll ask for more time to see results; a growing Republican contingent is threatening to abandon Bush and call for withdrawal.