After three days of meetings for political conservatives, the Family Research Council's Values Voters Summit concludes Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C. Named after polling data in 2004 that showed voters who reelected George W. Bush voted on values rather than policy, the summit draws attention with its presidential straw poll. Republican candidates vying to be the GOP standard bearer in 2012 should be watching.
Foreign policy wonks will keep eyes on the International Atomic Energy Agency's yearly conference that begins on Sept. 20. Veteran Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano took over as director general of the international body in 2009, and experts are watching to see what he does about Iran's nuclear program. Dealing with Tehran was conspicuously absent from his written goals when he took over the agency, leading some to believe the IAEA may shy away from pressuring Iran.
Ig Nobel Prizes
Bona fide Nobel Laureates will be on hand at Harvard University on Sept. 30 to hand out the Ig Nobel Prizes, a mock award created by the scientific humor periodical Annals of Improbable Research. The publication created the awards 20 years ago to highlight zany research it said "cannot, or should not, be reproduced." Last year's winner for the Ig Nobel Peace Prize was a research team that studied whether it is more harmful to be struck in the head with a full or empty beer bottle. The prize for biology went to Fumiaki Taguchi, who concluded that bacteria found only in the feces of giant pandas could reduce kitchen waste by 90 percent.
Settlement ban lifted
Middle East peace gets no easier beginning Sept. 26 when a 10-month prohibition of Israeli settlement construction expires. Diplomats on the left and right of the political divide in the United States have criticized Israel for allowing settlers to build and develop portions of the West Bank, saying the construction unnecessarily undermines peace initiatives. Israel's Arab critics have alleged the settlements violate international law. Emotions stirred by the 10th anniversary of the Palestinians' second intifada against Israel certainly won't help to ease tensions, as some are suggesting that the anniversary could even spark a third intifada.
The race for the GOP nomination in Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District heads to a run-off on Oct. 2. In August's first round, Hunt Downer narrowly forced Jeff Landry into a runoff for the seat held by Democrat Charlie Melancon, who is running for a Senate seat. Landry or Downer will face off against Democrat Ravi Sangisetty on Nov. 2.