Dispatches > Human Race

Looking Ahead

Issue: "2011 Books of the Year," July 2, 2011

Thatcher sell-off

Auction house Christie's will sell off an important symbol of Great Britain's Iron Lady when it places Margaret Thatcher's famous handbag up for auction on June 27. The former British prime minister, who famously carried the bag to meetings with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, donated the bag to charity. Christie's says it could fetch as much as $164,000.

IMF decision

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund has a June 30 deadline to choose either French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde or Mexico's Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens as the new IMF managing director. The former leader of the IMF, France's Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned on May 18 and faces charges in New York of sexual assault.

German draft ends

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Beginning July 1, young German men will no longer be subject to the nation's forced conscription. The law was changed in March, so conscripts will no longer be forced to spend six months in the German military or in alternatives such as civil protection or civil service.

Tour de France begins

Just like in 1999, this year's Tour de France could be defined by a treacherous section in eastern France. In 1999, it was the second stage of the Tour de France that raced across the Passage du Gois, a slippery passageway near Beauvoir-sur-Mer that is submerged twice daily at high tide. A crash split up the lead peloton, ruining the hopes of a few lead contenders. This year's tour begins at Passage du Gois on July 2.

Final shuttle mission

Thirty years after the first space shuttle mission in 1981, NASA plans to launch a space shuttle on July 8 for the final time when Atlantis blasts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Unless Congress reverses course on the shuttle program, the United States will depend on Russia for transport to and from the International Space Station at a cost of $51 million per seat.

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