What to watch for in the weeks ahead

Oct 1

Hair Today …

English civil- and family-court judges will ditch the more-than-300-year-old tradition of horsehair wigs and don updated robes (think Star Trek) today. Criminal judges chose to keep the curls, which provide dignity and a modicum of disguise when facing down criminals.

Oct 1

Remote Control

The newest U.S. military command, AFRICOM, begins operations today—in Stuttgart, Germany. Africa had been split among other commands, but humanitarian concerns and antiterrorist operations warranted the upgrade. Not everyone is thrilled. Wary of U.S. intentions, no African country has yet agreed to host the command.

Oct 11

A Big Stick

The International Monetary Fund faces a tough sell as it tries to persuade sovereign wealth funds—foreign-government-run investment vehicles that now control $2 to $3 trillion—to accept new guidelines by today that would keep the funds from being used as political tools.

Oct 12
The Holy (Wait and) See

Pope Benedict XVI elevates four Catholics to sainthood today, but the crowd favorites—John Paul II and Mother Teresa—will have to wait. Benedict has restored rigor to the process, easing his predecessor’s record-breaking pace of canonization.

Oct 3–18

Mind Games

Brains, not brawn, will predominate at the first World Mind Sports Games, in Beijing, as 3,000 competitors from 150 countries vie for gold in chess, bridge, checkers, go, and xiangqi (Chinese chess). As in other sports, some participants will be drug-tested. Players hope one day to be included in the Olympic Games.

Oct 17

Another Bush Campaign

Attention-seeking political films may be an election-year cliché, but that won’t stop Lions­gate, distributor of Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, from releasing Oliver Stone’s controversial Bush biopic, W., today. Stone has suggested that even Bushies will appreciate the movie’s candor; early peeks suggest that they probably won’t.

Oct 29

Nimrod Expedition

One hundred years to the day after Ernest Shackleton led an ill-fated mission to the South Pole aboard the Nimrod—turning back within 100 miles of the pole, and nearly starving to death—descendants of the original team embark on an identical mission, hoping to make it to the pole.

Oct 31
Now Departing

Tempelhof, the airport made famous during the Berlin airlift and originally intended to function as the gateway to Hitler’s Third Reich capital, “Germania,” is slated to close today, the victim of Berlin’s airport consolidation.

Oct 31

Fission Quest

North Korea has agreed to shut down its main nuclear facilities at Yongbyon by today, the first step in the tricky business of accounting for and monitoring the regime’s nuclear secrets.

Also In October:

Nano Tech

Tata Motors of India rolls out the diminutive Nano this month. At about $2,500, the world’s cheapest car could expand mass motorization—and create an environmental nightmare.

Hidden Incentives

America’s spies had better shape up. This month, a new grading system takes effect across all 16 spy agencies for use in determining merit pay. The old tenure-based system wasn’t attracting hotshot young spooks.