The 81st Academy Awards
February 22: The big winner at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., for the 81st annual Academy Awards could be Slumdog Millionaire, a surprise hit about an Indian game show contestant that could take home Best Picture honors. The Danny Boyle film was nominated for 10 Oscars in all. The race for best actor should draw attention too: Most consider the award to be a two-man race between Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) and Sean Penn (Milk).
Mine-Ban Treaty deadline
March 1: Even though nearly a dozen nations have indicated they will miss the deadline to destroy stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines under the requirements of the Ottawa Treaty on landmine usage, more than 41 million mines will have been destroyed across the world since 156 nations signed onto or agreed to the treaty beginning in 1997. The United States originally refused to sign onto the treaty, saying the agreement didn't allow for mines to help protect South Korea along its border with North Korea.
March 3: Residents of Illinois' predominantly Democratic 5th Congressional District will go to the polls to select party nominees ahead of an April 7 general election. The special primary is for the vacant seat once held by President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The crowded Democratic primary features a dozen candidates who are seeking to capture the prestigious seat once occupied by Chicago institutions Dan Rostenkowski and Rod Blagojevich.
March 6: January's numbers looked brutal. And on March 6, figures for February's unemployment levels should show if the economic downturn has leveled off or if the recession is deepening. Department of Labor statistics revealed employers shed 598,000 jobs in January alone. Forecasters say unemployment could reach 8 percent once the February figures are tabulated.
First leg of the Iditarod
March 7: Racers preparing for the famous Iditarod sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome would usually be worrying about the snow. But this year, they should be concerned about ash. Scientists expect the Redoubt volcano in southern Alaska to erupt soon, sending ash skyward and choking much of the southern part of the state. And even if the eruption occurs prior to the 1,161-mile race, it could force racers to interrupt training to prevent their dogs from breathing in the volcanic ash.