The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 1 - January 2002

 

 

What's in this issue?

January Events
Holidays -- National and International
This Day in History - January
January Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Honolulu, Hawaii
Obituaries -- December 2001
Special Feature: E-Day
Science in the News
Chronology -- Events of December 2001
Offbeat News Stories
75 Years Ago in the World Almanac: Chronology, January 1927
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

January Events

January 1 -- Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX; Fiesta Bowl, Tempe, AZ; Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL; Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, FL; Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL; Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
January 1 -- Mummers Parade, Philadelphia, PA; Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena, CA
January 2 -- Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
January 3 -- Congress Convenes
January 3 -- Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
January 5 -- Great Fruitcake Toss, Manitou Springs, CO
January 10-20 -- Sundance Film Festival, Park City, UT
January 13-19 -- International Printing Week
January 17-27 -- Florida Citrus Festival, Winter Haven, FL
January 18-20 -- Houston Health & Fitness Expo and Marathon
January 19-March 22 -- Longwood Gardens "Welcome Spring" display, Kennett Square, PA
January 22-27 -- International Snow Sculpting Competition, Milwaukee, WI
January 25-February 3 -- St. Paul Winter Carnival, St. Paul, MN
January 26-February 2 -- Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, NV

National Holidays

January 1 -- New Year's Day
January 5 -- Twelfth Night
January 6 -- Epiphany or Twelfth Day
January 6 -- Three Kings Day
January 16 -- Religious Freedom Day
January 21 -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (observed)
January 21 -- National Hugging Day
January 28 -- Tu B'Shvat

International Holidays

January 1 -- Independence Day, Haiti
January 6 -- Armenian Christmas
January 9 -- Martyrs' Day, Panama
January 11 -- Independence Day, Morocco
January 20 -- National Heroes Day, Guinea-Bissau; San Sebastian's Day, Brazil
January 26 -- Australia Day; National Holiday, Dominican Republic

This Day in History - January

Day

Year

Event

1

2000

Vladimir Putin takes office as acting president of Russia.

2

1974

Pres. Richard Nixon signs a measure setting highway speeds at a 55 mph maximum.

3

1959

Alaska is admitted to the Union as the 49th state.

4

1980

Pres. Jimmy Carter announces economic sanctions against the Soviet Union in retaliation for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

5

1987

Pres. Ronald Reagan produces the nation's first trillion-dollar budget.

6

1941

In a speech to Congress, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt promulgates the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear.

7

1989

Japan's Emperor Hirohito dies after ruling 62 years; he is succeeded by his son, Prince Akihito.

8

1815

In the Battle of New Orleans, U.S. forces led by Andrew Jackson crush the British. Neither side knew that the War of 1812 had officially ended 2 weeks earlier.

9

1968

The Surveyor 7 space probe makes a successful soft landing on the moon.

10

1920

The League of Nations is founded.

11

1964

Surgeon Gen. Luther Terry issues the first government report stating that smoking may be hazardous to one's health.

12

1990

Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas becomes the first woman elected to the Senate.

13

1990

Douglas Wilder is inaugurated in Virginia, becoming the nation's first African-American governor.

14

1794

Operating on his wife, Dr. Jesse Bennett of Virginia performs the first successful Caesarean section.

15

1895

The Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake premieres in St. Petersburg, Russia.

16

1945

The Battle of the Bulge ends in Allied victory.

17

1977

Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed in Utah in the first exercise of capital punishment in the United States since 1967.

18

1778

British Capt. James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands, which he calls the Sandwich Islands.

19

1977

Pres. Gerald Ford pardons Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who broadcast as Tokyo Rose in World War II.

20

1981

Minutes after Ronald Reagan's inauguration, the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days are released.

21

1950

Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury after denying that he'd passed secret documents to Whittaker Chambers.

22

1901

Britain's Queen Victoria dies after ruling for more than 63 years.

23

1997

Madeleine Albright is sworn in as secretary of state, becoming the first woman to head the State Dept.

24

1966

Indira Gandhi is sworn in as India's prime minister.

25

1915

Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson complete the first transcontinental telephone call, between New York and San Francisco.

26

1996

Responding to a subpoena, Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before a grand jury investigating Whitewater, the first time a first lady ever did so.

27

1973

The end of the military draft in the United States is announced.

28

1547

England's King Henry VIII dies and is succeeded by his 9-year-old son, Edward VI.

29

1993

Pres. Bill Clinton announces an easing of the ban against homosexuals in the military, a policy of "don't ask, don't tell."

30

1933

Adolf Hitler is named chancellor of Germany.

31

1950

Pres. Harry Truman authorizes production of the H-bomb.

January Birthdays

Day

Year

 

1

1940

Frank Langella, actor (Bayonne, NJ)

2

1915

John Hope Franklin, historian (Rentisville, OK)

3

1956

Mel Gibson, actor/director (Peekskill, NY)

4

1914

Jane Wyman, actress (St. Joseph, MO)

5

1938

King Juan Carlos I, king of Spain (Rome, Italy)

6

1931

E. L. Doctorow, novelist (New York, NY)

7

1952

Erin Gray, actress (Honolulu, HI)

8

1942

Stephen Hawking, physicist (Oxford, England)

9

1928

Judith Krantz, novelist (New York, NY)

10

1945

Rod Stewart, singer/musician (London, England)

11

1934

Jean Chrétien, Canadian prime minister (Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada)

12

1910

Luise Rainer, actress (Vienna, Austria)

13

1919

Robert Stack, actor (Los Angeles, CA)

14

1968

L. L. Cool J, singer (New York, NY)

15

1908

Edward Teller, physicist (Budapest, Hungary)

16

1934

Marilyn Horne, opera singer (Bradford, PA)

17

1942

Muhammad Ali, champion boxer (Louisville, KY)

18

1961

Mark Messier, hockey player (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

19

1946

Dolly Parton, singer (Sevierville, TN)

20

1948

Anatoly Shcharansky, expatriate Soviet dissident (Ukraine)

21

1963

Hakeem Olajuwon, basketball player (Lagos, Nigeria)

22

1953

Jim Jarmusch, director (Akron, OH)

23

1928

Jeanne Moreau, actress (Paris, France)

24

1918

Oral Roberts, evangelist and educator (near Ada, OK)

25

1933

Corazon Aquino, former Philippine president (Tarlac, Philippines)

26

1957

Eddie Van Halen, musician (Nijmegan, Netherlands)

27

1964

Bridget Fonda, actress (Los Angeles, CA)

28

1948

Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet dancer (Riga, Latvia)

29

1954

Oprah Winfrey, TV personality (Kosciusko, MS)

30

1930

Gene Hackman, actor (San Bernardino, CA)

31

1923

Norman Mailer, author (Long Branch, NJ)

Featured Location of the Month: Honolulu, Hawaii

Location: Capital of Hawaii and seat of Honolulu County, on the southeast coast of Oahu Island. The community is situated on a narrow plain extending east to west from Makapuu Point to Pearl Harbor and from the Pacific inland to the Koolau Mountains. Two famous extinct volcanic craters, Diamond Head and the Punchbowl, are in Honolulu, which is noted for its magnificent setting and equable climate.

Population (2000 Census): 371,657

Mayor: Jeremy Harris

January Temperatures: Normal high of 80.1° F; Normal low of 65.6° F

Colleges & Universities: Chaminade University of Honolulu; Hawaii Pacific University; Honolulu Community College; Kapiolani Community College; University of Hawaii at Manoa; University of Phoenix-Hawaii Campus

Events: Sail With the Stars-Quadrantids Meteor Shower (January 3); Sail With the Stars-No Moon Sail (January 4-10); Earth, Wind, and Fire in concert (January 5); Crazy Shirt Surf Series (January 5-13); Mid-Pacific oad Runners Club 2-mile races (January 6); "Sony Open in Hawaii 2002" PGA Tournament (January 7-13); Jim Gamble and His Puppets in Circus (January 12-13); Brunch on the Beach (January 13); Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club 3.1-mile race (January 13); Hawaii Legislature opens (January 16); Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade (January 21); 37th Annual Aloha State Square & Round Dance Festival (January 21-27); Moon Walk (January 25); Ho'okuku Hemeni song contest (January 25); Paws on the Path Evening Hike to Makapuu Lighthouse-hike for people and their dogs (January 26); Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club 3-mile race (January 27); The World Championship of Women's Bodyboarding (January 29-February 9)

Places to visit: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, containing an extensive collection of Pacific art and artifacts; the Honolulu Academy of Arts, with exhibits of Oriental and Western art, including the Kress Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; the Alice Cooke Spaulding House, displaying Asian works of art; The Contemporary Museum; the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, a complex containing an arena, an exhibition hall, and a theater-concert hall, which serves as the home of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra; the State Capitol (opened 1969); Iolani Palace State Monument, the official state residence of Hawaiian royalty until the monarchy was ended in 1893; Saint Andrew's (Episcopalian) Cathedral; the USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor, commemorating the men killed during the Japanese attack in 1941; the USS Missouri Memorial; the Honolulu Zoo; the Honolulu Botanical Gardens; Aloha Tower Marketplace; beaches

Tallest Building: First Hawaiian Bank Building (30 stories)

History: A Polynesian community was founded here early in the 2d millennium AD. Honolulu Harbor, bypassed by the British captain James Cook and other early explorers, was discovered in 1794 by the British captain William Brown. After 1820, European and American missionaries and traders arrived here, and Honolulu became the main residence of the Hawaiian royal family. In 1848, Honolulu and other parts of the Hawaiian Islands were annexed by the U.S. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the site of a big U.S. naval base. As a result, the U.S. entered World War II, and during the war Honolulu was an important staging area for U.S. forces in the Pacific. Honolulu became the state capital when Hawaii entered the Union in 1959. The name Honolulu is derived from a Hawaiian term for "sheltered harbor."

Birthplace of: Daniel K. Akaka (1924); Tia Carrere (1966); Steve Case (1958); Benjamin J. Cayetano (1939); Daniel K. Inouye (1924); Nicole Kidman (1967); Bette Midler (1945)

Websites: www.co.honolulu.hi.us; www.gohawaii.com

Obituaries in December 2001

Bécaud, Gilbert, 74, singer-songwriter, dubbed the "French Sinatra," whose 1962 song "Et maintenant" became a worldwide hit in English as "What Now My Love"; Paris, France, Dec. 18, 2001.

Downes, Edward, 90, musicologist who from 1958 to 1996 hosted the radio quiz heard during nationwide broadcasts of performances from New York City's Metropolitan Opera; New York, NY, Dec. 26, 2001.

Hawthorne, Sir Nigel, 72, British actor who in the 1980s won global fame for his character Sir Humphrey Appleton, a conniving civil servant in the TV series "Yes, Minister" and its sequel "Yes, Prime Minister"; he was also an Academy Award nominee in 1995 for the role of the King in "The Madness of George III"; Hertfordshire, England, Dec. 26, 2001.

Heym, Stefan, 88, best-selling author of books in both German and English who for many years was a leading gadfly in communist East Germany; Jerusalem, Israel, Dec. 16, 2001.

Jovanovich, William, 81, U.S. book publisher who, beginning in the mid-1950s, transformed a small literary press into publishing giant Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego, CA, Dec. 4, 2001.

Schaap, Dick, 67, U.S. sports journalist, radio and TV broadcaster, and author or co-author of 33 books; New York, NY, Dec. 21, 2001.

Sebald, W.G., 57, German-born author, resident in England for more than half his life, who wrote acclaimed, hard-to-classify books blending dense, elegant prose with mysterious photographs; Norfolk, England, Dec 14, 2001.

Senghor, Léopold, 95, first president of post-colonial Senegal and a noted poet who was one of the founders of the négritude movement, which celebrated blackness; Normandy, France, Dec. 20, 2001

Special Feature: €-Day

By Russ Cobb

D-Day, June 6, 1944, the day the Allies began their massive invasion on the beaches of Normandy to retake Europe from the Axis powers, was a major turning point in European history.

E-Day, which will take place Jan. 1, 2002, will also represent a turning point in European history: it is the day on which 12 European countries--Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain--will changeover lire, pesetas, francs and the like to a single currency--the euro (€). The change affects 300 million Europeans--and many millions of tourists. It is the final stage of European Monetary Union section of the historic Maastricht Treaty of 1991, and an epochal step toward the long envisioned goal of European unity. For a brief period, consumers will be allowed to use either the local currency or the euro, but the majority of the countries plan to end use of their currencies as legal tender by Feb. 28, 2002.

Banks, shops, and cash machines throughout the so-called Eurozone will be stocked with the new currency as of E-Day. Consumers still using punts to buy a pint of Guinness or lire to buy an espresso before then will receive their change in euros.

To ease some of the anxiety associated with the changeover, the central banks of the participating countries irrevocably fixed their local currencies’ exchange rates with the euro in January 1999. Also, a "dual pricing system" has been used throughout Europe in stores, as well as on bank and credit card statements, in anticipation of January 1, 2002. This means that Europeans have had two years to learn the exchange rate of their currency with the euro. Authorities acknowledge that it may be difficult for many people--especially seniors--to adjust to a completely new currency at first, but hope that the psychological shock of the euro will quickly fade.

Meanwhile, however, the euro has gotten off to a rocky start in world financial markets. When it was introduced in January 1999, the euro’s exchange rate to the dollar was set at $1.17, but it quickly lost nearly 25% of its value, and by mid 2000, the rate was down to 84 cents. This prompted the European Central Bank, with some help from the central banks of the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Japan to spend somewhere between $2 and $10 billion to effectively bail out the fledgling currency. The rate has since stabilized at around 90 cents, but doubts remain. Denmark, one of the more prosperous countries in the EU, narrowly rejected giving up its krone to the euro in September 2000.

EU officials feel comfortable about E-Day and its aftermath--more of less. "It will be very important to win the battle for the first day," European Commission spokesman Gerassimos Thomas told The Guardian newspaper of London. "We are pretty confident that we will definitely have the situation under control by the second or third week of January, but we want to prevent bad personal experiences from happening at the start." Recent opinion polls across Europe reflected a widening acceptance and awareness of E-Day and the euro. A "Eurobarometer" poll in October 2001 showed that 94% of Europeans surveyed knew the changeover was going to happen and 82% were able to roughly calculate what the conversion rate would be for their currency. Another reassuring factor for EU officials is the ubiquitous use of cash cards throughout Europe, lessening the need for vast quantities of cash. These cards operate much like ATM debit cards in the U.S.; they can be used to pay for everything from a coffee at a café to a taxi ride.

The logistics of the conversion are mind-boggling in their dimensions. Hundreds of billions of banknotes from the 12 member countries will be shredded or burned as the new currency is introduced. In Germany alone--the biggest EU state--2.7 billion banknotes, or 262 billion deutschmarks, will be destroyed. The ever-practical Germans are claiming that all that out-of-date currency will be put to good use, however: it will be burned to fuel heating systems and cement-making furnaces! Mints across Europe have produced some 14.5 billion euro notes and 50 billion euro coins to replace local currencies; if the notes were attached end to end, they would stretch to the moon and back two and half times.

The massive changeover will have to take place in the early morning hours of January 1. Some banks, however, began selling euro 'starter kits' so that people could get accustomed to the look and feel of the money before the euro actually becomes legal tender. As for the money itself, there will be eight denominations of coins and seven denominations of paper notes. The largest denomination, the 500 euro note, is worth about $500 U.S., and authorities at the EMU (the Economic and Monetary Union) have worried that its high value may prove to be a tempting target for counterfeiters. While the paper notes will be homogenous throughout the Eurozone, with abstract designs meant to reflect Europe’s common future of freedom and openness, each coin will have a side dedicated to a symbol of the individual country in which the coin was minted. Thus, coins minted in Ireland will feature a Celtic harp, while coins made in Spain will tout an image of Cervantes author of Don Quixote de la Mancha. You can still use both coins, however, as fare for the Paris Metro!

European Unification: History and Controversy

E-Day is the just the latest step in a trend towards a borderless, free-market Europe that began some 50 years ago--a trend that has sparked protests from the left and right of the political spectrum in the countries that make up the EU, as well as those countries surrounding the ever-expanding union. Detractors on the right believe that individual countries are losing their sovereignty and identity as borders disappear, while dissenters on the left point to deregulation of big business in a common market economy as a threat to workers’ rights and the environment. Indeed, much of the debate around the increasing power of the European Union parallels the larger debate regarding globalization, which has been the subject of massive protests since 1999 in Seattle, Quebec, and Genoa. The increasing economic clout of the single European market has also to led to quarrels with the US and Japan over trade policies.

The European Union grew out of the European Economic Community, which was founded in the wake of World War II with the ultimate goal of creating a broad political union that would maintain peace throughout Europe Journalist William Keegan writes in The Guardian, "The aim of the founding fathers--the French technocrat Jean Monnet and the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman--was to prevent France and Germany from ever going to war again." The first step in creating the EU was the Treaty of Rome, which was signed in 1957 and created the European Economic Community, the European Monetary System, and the Single European Act, leading to the formation of a single market in 1992. Since the 1950s the EU has expanded from its 12 original members to 15, and it may soon increase again as many former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have applied for membership. Three members of the EU--Great Britain, Denmark, and Sweden have demurred on the euro, but have indicated intentions of eventually adopting the currency.

A Brief History of Money

Money has been around as an alternative to the barter system since at least ancient Greece and paper money probably has its origins in 14th century China. Anytime a given community agrees to accept an item in trade for other commodities, that item can be called money. In fact, money does not have to appear in the form of a coin or a piece of paper; Native Americans used strings of beads called wampum as their money, and 18th century American farmers used "tobacco notes"--pieces of paper they could exchange for tobacco--as a form of money. Governments established confidence in these different forms of money only because they could be exchanged for a valuable commodity on demand. In the U.S. and many other countries, the valuable commodity that kept currency stable was gold. As the Gold Standard became harder to maintain, the U.S. moved to a system based on the concept of fiat money in the 1930s. In this system, a currency is worth a given value essentially because the government says it is. During the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, fiat money was used but led to high inflation. The Federal Reserve System controls and regulates the circulation of currency in the United States today.

SCIENCE IN THE NEWS

By Peter Falcier

Tiniest Lizard Sits on a Dime

On a tiny island off the coast of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, a new species of lizard has been discovered. Named Sphaerodactylus arissae, it is not only the smallest lizard but, at no more than sixteen milimeters (three quarters of an inch) from snout to tail, it is the tiniest of more than 23,000 species of reptiles, birds and mammals.

Evolutionary biologists point out that the discovery of these little lizards illustrates the gaps in our knowledge about the species that inhabit Earth and that deforestation and destruction of natural ecosystems may lead to the extinction of many species that were not even known to exist. This is especially true on islands, where extremely large and very, very small animals alike are able to flourish due to limited competition for niches in an isolated ecosystem.

These newly discovered lizards, that are able to curl up on a dime and stretch out on a quarter, are thought to be the smallest physiologically possible terrestrial vertebrates in existence. Animals can only become so small because of their surface-area-to-volume ratio. The skin of a lizard serves as an important barrier against the elements, but also as an essential organ for the exchange of gases and moisture. If the surface-area-to-volume ratio becomes too large (more surface area than volume), the species will be subject to desiccation (drying out). These lizards are extraordinarily sensitive to changes in humidity such that if they are taken out of a moist environment, they quickly die from desiccation. Hence, these lizards, and perhaps others of a similar magnitude that remain yet undiscovered, are very sensitive to changes to their environment.

Teens Kick Cigarette Butts

Teenagers are smoking less, according to a new study. Lloyd D. Johnston, the director of research, asserts that from 1996 to 2001, the proportion of teens that smoke in different grade levels has declined. The percentage of smokers in the eighth grade has decreased from 21% to 12%, in tenth grade from 30% to 21%, and in twelfth grade from 37% to 30%. This trend has been attributed to several factors, including the rising cost of cigarettes, campaigns that warn of the dangers associated with smoking, and the reduction in tobacco advertising. It seems that today’s youth are undergoing an attitudinal shift as well, with many of them disapproving of smoking and placing less glamour on this prevalent habit.

However, there are still teens that remain addicted to the habit. Therefore, despite the pattern documented by the study, funding must still be provided for anti-smoking education programs, states Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Cheryl Heaton, who presides over the American Legacy Truth Campaign, adds that the social norms around tobacco consumption need to change so that kids can maintain their shifted attitudes and translate them into behaviors.

Jupiter Brightest on New Year's Day

New Year's Day will be Jupiter's opposition, when it reaches a point in the sky opposite that of the Sun. It will be relatively close to Earth -- a mere 395 million miles away -- which will make it appear bright, and it will be well placed for observing throughout the night, reaching its highest altitude at midnight. The planet will hang brilliantly among the stars of the constellation Gemini, near the twin bright suns Castor and Pollux, high in the southeast in the early evening sky. It will anchor the so-called ecliptic, the arc on the sky across which the planets appear to move, which will also host Saturn in Taurus (overhead in the evening), and Mars in Pisces, low in the west. On January 1, Jupiter will beam with brightness at magnitude -2.7, significantly outshining all other objects in the sky except for the Sun and Moon. On January 1 the planet's gaseous disk spans 45.5", about 1/40 the size of the full Moon, a testament to its great distance, since the planet's physical diameter is slightly less than 140,000 kilometers (90,000 miles). Even the smallest telescope can see the view of Jupiter that Galileo marveled at in 1610 when he became the first human to see its miniature solar system. For complete details on observing Jupiter during the current opposition and beyond, including data on observing satellite transits, see Astronomy magazine at www.astronomy.com.

Chronology -- Events of December 2001

NATIONAL

Enron Largest Firm Ever to File for Bankruptcy--Houston-based Enron, the 7th-largest U.S. corporation, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 2. The energy-trading company, whose stock, now nearly worthless, once traded for $90 a share, specializes in the buying and selling of natural gas and electricity. With assets of $50 billion, it was the largest company ever to seek bankruptcy protection. Dynegy, another Houston company, had agreed to buy Enron, then backed out. Enron sued Dynegy, saying that changing its mind damaged Enron. The latter also sought a court order preventing Dynegy from taking possession of a natural gas pipeline that Dynegy claimed it owned in return for a $1.5 billion investment in Enron. Dynegy said it pulled out of the buyout because of Enron’s abrupt decline and its misrepresentations.

Nearly a Million Jobs Lost in 3 Months--The Labor Dept. reported Dec. 7 that 300,000 jobs had been lost in November, bringing the 3-month total to nearly 1 million. The unemployment rate in November rose to 5.7% from 5.4% in October. In 13 months, the rate had climbed from 3.9%, a 30-year low, to its highest in 6 years.

U.S. Charges French Citizen in Sept. 11 Plot--The U.S. government Dec. 11 filed its first charges in connection with Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In an indictment, the government asserted that Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, conspired with others in carrying out the assault. Moussaoui had been arrested in Minnesota on Aug. 16 on immigration charges after raising suspicion while using a jet flight simulator at a flying school. The government said in its indictment that he had asked about a crop-dusting plane and had information on aerial application of pesticides. Alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the 19 hijackers killed Sept. 11, and 3 others were named unindicted co-conspirators. The indictment charged that Moussaoui had conspired to commit terrorist acts, steal airplanes and destroy them, use planes as weapons of mass destruction, and kill government employees. Officials believed he had been intended to be the 5th hijacker on the plane that crashed Sept. 11 near Pittsburgh with only 4 terrorists aboard.

House Majority Leader Announces Retirement--Rep. Dick Armey (R, TX), the majority leader of the U.S. House, announced Dec. 12 that he would not seek reelection in 2002. Armey, who had a Ph.D. in economics, had represented suburbs north of Dallas since 1985, and had been majority leader since 1995. He played a principal role in advancing the conservative proposals embodied in the Republican "Contract for America." Rep. Tom DeLay (R, TX), the House majority whip, immediately launched a bid to succeed Armey.

Sept. 11 Death Toll in New York Declines--New York City continued to issue figures that revised downward the death toll from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The total released Dec.19 dipped below 3,000, to 2,992, including 550 confirmed dead, 1,958 whose bodies had not been found but for whom death certificates had been issued, and 484 listed as missing.

INTERNATIONAL

Search for Bin Laden Continues--As the United States and its allies continued to crush the remnants of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the whereabouts of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden remained a mystery. One of the Taliban’s last stands was in Kandahar, their religious capital, which US B-52s pounded Dec. 1-2 in some of the heaviest attacks of the war. U.S. Marines, joined by forces from Britain and Australia, began to move toward Kandahar Dec. 4.

Three American soldiers were killed north of Kandahar Dec. 5 when an errant bomb from a B-52 struck their position. Five Afghan soldiers were killed, and 20 Americans and 18 Afghans were injured. The Americans were advising troops led by Hamid Karzai, newly chosen head of the interim Afghan government, who was slightly injured.

Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s spiritual leader, agreed Dec. 6 to hand over power in Kandahar to a local tribal chief. Fighting continued in the mountainous eastern region of Tora Bora, where Bin Laden was thought to be holed up in a cave. Anti-Taliban fighters occupied Kandahar Dec. 7, but Omar was not found. Some Taliban fighters continued to resist for a while, and 2 occupying Pashtun factions fought between themselves.

On Dec. 13, the U.S. government released a tape of Bin Laden and others believed to have been made Nov. 9 in Kandahar. It was found in Jalalabad in late November. On the hour-long tape, Bin Laden expressed surprise and pleasure at the number of "enemy" killed in the Sept. 11 attack. He said of the terrorists, "We asked each of them to go to America," but added that they did not have details of the attack until they arrived at the airports. The administration Dec. 14 began wide international distribution of the tape, offering it as proof of Bin Laden’s complicity in the terrorist attack and disregard for human life. Many Muslims abroad claimed the tape was a fabrication.

By Dec. 15, U.S. and British commandos and local Afghan fighters believed they had the last remnants of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda force trapped in mountains near the Pakistan border, with Pakistani patrols blocking attempts to flee across the border. Sec. of State Colin Powell said Dec. 16, "We've destroyed Al Qaeda in Afghanistan." However, by Dec. 17, it appeared that hundreds of Bin Laden’s men were escaping through the mountains into Pakistan. U.S. officials said they had lost track of Bin Laden. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy building reopened in Kabul, the Afghan capital, Dec. 17 for the first time since 1989.

In a tape released Dec. 27, Bin laden called for the destruction of the U.S. economy as a way to bring down America.

American Fighting for Taliban Is Captured--John Walker, 20, a U.S. citizen who had converted to a radical brand of Islam and was fighting with the Taliban, was in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, it was reported Dec. 2. He was among those who survived a prison revolt in Mazar-i-Sharif. Walker, from San Anselmo, CA, near San Francisco, had studied at an Islamic school in Yemen, and then traveled to Pakistan before joining the Taliban and receiving military training. U.S. authorities were considering what charges might be brought against him and under what auspices he might be tried.

Arafat Pressured to Crack Down on Terrorists--Prime Min. Ariel Sharon of Israel and Pres. George W. Bush were among those demanding that Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat do more to stop Palestinians from committing terrorist acts. On Dec. 1, 2 suicide bombers killed themselves and 10 other people in Jerusalem. Another bomber in Haifa Dec. 2 killed himself and 15 others in an explosion on a bus. Arafat’s lieutenants said, Dec. 2, that they would move against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, 2 militant organizations, and began arresting suspects. The Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza and suspended due process.

Israel retaliated Dec. 3, striking into the West Bank with planes, helicopter gunships, tanks, and bulldozers. In Gaza City, Arafat’s helicopters were destroyed and his headquarters in Jenin bombed. In Ramallah, Dec. 4, Israeli soldiers moved to within 200 yards of Arafat’s headquarters, into which helicopters fired 3 missiles. Sheik Ahmad Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, which had claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, was put under house arrest by the Palestinian authority, Dec. 5. Killings continued almost daily. The Israelis, Dec. 10, killed 2 boys, 13 and 2, during an attempt in Hebron to kill a leader of Islamic Jihad. On Dec. 12, members of Hamas bombed a bus in the West Bank and shot at survivors who sought to flee; 10 were killed. On Dec. 13 the Israeli government decided to sever all communications with Arafat. The Palestinian Authority Dec. 13 suspended its crackdown on terrorists, saying the pounding by the Israeli military made police pursuit of the extremists impossible. On Palestinian TV Dec. 16, Arafat appealed for an end to all armed attacks on Israelis, while also charging that Sharon was waging a "brutal war" against the people in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel prevented Arafat Dec. 24, from participating in Christmas Eve services in Jerusalem. Defying Arafat’s appeals to halt attacks, Palestinians Dec. 31 vowed revenge for the killing of six on Dec. 30.

Afghan Factions Agree on Interim Government--After 9 days of intense negotiations in Bonn, Germany, representatives of 4 Afghan factions agreed on the makeup of an interim government. Hamid Karzai, wounded by a stray B-52 bomb on the day he was chosen, was a Pashtun tribal leader and relative of Zahir Shah, Afghanistan’s exiled king. The Northern Alliance, which did not include the Pashtun, would get 17 of 30 ministers in the new cabinet. Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, military leader of the Northern Alliance, said Dec. 6 that he would boycott the interim government.

14 Killed as Gunmen Attack Indian Parliament--A wild gunfight and flurry of explosions ended with 14 dead Dec. 13 outside the Parliament building in New Delhi, capital of India. Five men had driven onto the grounds and opened fire with rifles, plastic explosives, and grenades; police and security forces fired back, shooting 4 attackers dead. The 5th, who had explosives on his body, was blown up. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Indian police said Dec. 16 that they had arrested 4 suspects, who named Pakistan-based terrorist groups as responsible. On Dec. 20, Pres. George W. Bush moved to freeze the assets of one of these groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been linked to Al Qaeda. Conflict between India and Pakistan continued to escalate towards the end of the month, as each country began applying sanctions against the other country. Shelling between the two countries occurred Dec. 27 in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

U.S. Pulls Out of Antiballistic Missile Treaty--Pres. George W. Bush announced Dec. 13 that the United States was withdrawing from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which he dismissed as a relic of the Cold War. The withdrawal would open the way for the Defense Dept. to test and deploy a missile-defense system without restraints. Pres. Vladimir Putin, who had strenuously objected to the planned U.S. withdrawal but had conferred extensively with Bush prior to the final decision, issued a mild statement Dec. 13 calling the U.S. decision "erroneous." Meanwhile, Bush Dec. 13 phoned Pres. Jiang Zemin of China and offered to hold strategic talks; White House officials said he had agreed to do so.

Argentine President Resigns amid Economic Chaos and Riots--Fernando de la Rua resigned as president of Argentina, Dec. 20, as violent food riots and protests continued in Buenos Aires and other cities. By Dec. 20, more than 20 deaths had been reported. The president had failed in a last effort to form a unity government; the country remained plagued by heavy foreign debt and budget cuts. On Dec. 19, de la Rua had declared a state of siege, allowing him to suspend certain constitutional rights, after looting and rioting in 11 of Argentina’s provinces. On Dec. 21, Ramon Puerta took over as an interim president, and was quickly replaced by Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, Dec. 23, who in his inaugural address announced that he was suspending foreign debt payments. At least 12 police officers were injured Dec. 28, when protests against the governments handling of the economic crisis turned violent. Rodriquez Saa resigned Dec. 30 when his interim government collapsed. The Senate chief who would have succeeded Rodriquez Saa also resigned, leaving the country leaderless as the year ended.

Shoe Bomb Scare Diverts Flight--A passenger, later identified as Richard C. Reid, aboard an American Airlines jetliner bound for Miami, FL from Paris, France, tried to detonate a bomb in his shoe Dec. 22. Flight attendants and passengers overpowered the man, who officials report, had enough explosives to bring down the plane. The plane was diverted to Boston. It was confirmed Dec. 26, that Reid attended the same London mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, who is charged with conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington, D.C, however, U.S. officials still do not know if Reid acted alone or was part of an organized terrorist group.

Bush Grants Trade Status to China--George Bush, Dec. 28, granted trade status to China, after changing a twenty-five year policy of using access to U.S. markets as an annual enticement to China to expand political and economic freedoms. Bush said that this was "final step in normalizing U.S.-China trade relations."

Peru Fire Kills Over 260--A fire, Dec. 29, in the historic downtown of Lima, Peru, trapped holiday shoppers and vendors in a blaze sparked by a fireworks explosion. At least 122 people were found dead in the streets, and by Dec. 31, the official count was confirmed at 264.

SPORTS

On Dec. 6, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey won the Maxwell Award as the nation's top all-around player in college football. Eric Crouch, of Nebraska, won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback and the Walter Camp Award as the most outstanding player. Crouch was also awarded the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 8. Oklahoma safety Roy Williams won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy as college football's top defender on Dec. 10.

In the 2001 Div. I Women's Soccer Championship held Dec. 9 in Dallas, TX, Santa Clara took its 1st NCAA title with a 1-0 win over previously undefeated North Carolina. UNC has won 16 NCAA soccer championships.

Skier Bode Miller won 2 World Cup races on consecutive days (Dec. 9-10). The victories in giant slalom (Val d'Isere, France) and slalom (Madonna di Campiglio, Italy) were the first in either event by a U.S. man since 1983.

In the Div. I Men's NCAA Soccer Championships Dec. 16 in Columbus, OH, North Carolina defeated 5-time champ Indiana, 2-0, to win its first-ever men's NCAA title.

In the 2001 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo held Dec. 7-16 in Las Vegas, NV, Cody Ohl of Stephenville, TX, won the all-around world championship. Other world champions were Blue Stone, bull riding; Lan LaJeunesse, bareback; Rope Myers, steer roping; Speed Williams & Rich Skelton, team roping; Tom Reeves, saddle bronco; Cody Ohl, calf roping; Janet Stover, barrel racing.

In the inaugural New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 18, Colorado St. defeated North Texas, 45-20.

In the GMAC Bowl (formerly the Mobile Alabama Bowl) on Dec. 19, Marshall defeated East Carolina, 64-61, in two overtimes. The 125 total points were the most ever scored in a bowl game, eclipsing the former record of 96 points set by Texas Tech and Air Force in the 1995 Copper Bowl.

On Dec. 20, Pittsburgh defeated North Carolina St., 34-19, in the Tangerine Bowl (Orlando, FL).

Utah defeated USC, 10-6, in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 25.

Baseball player Barry Bonds was named male AP Athlete of the Year for 2001 on Dec. 26. The San Francisco outfielder hit a single-season record 73 home runs and won an unprecedented 4th MVP award. Bonds also set record for walks (177) and slugging percentage (.863) in the 2001 season. He hit .328 or the year with 137 RBI. He ranks 7th all-time with 567 career home runs. On Dec. 27, tennis player Jennifer Capriati was named female AP Athlete of the Year 2001. Capriati won the Australian and French Open singles titles in 2001, and was briefly No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

In the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) on Dec. 27, Alabama defeated Iowa St., 14-13. Also on Dec. 27, Georgia Tech topped Stanford, 24-14, at the Seattle Bowl (formerly the Oahu Bowl).

On Dec. 28, Boston College defeated Georgia, 20-16 in the Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN); Texas A &M defeated Texas Christian Univ., 28-9, in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl (Houston, TX); and Texas edged Washington, 47-43, in the Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA).

NCAA football bowl results for Dec. 29: Insight.com Bowl (Phoenix, AZ)-Syracuse 26, Kansas St. 3; Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)-Iowa 19, Texas Tech 16; Motor City Bowl (Pontiac, MI)-Toledo 23, Cincinnati 16.

Offbeat News Stories

By Kevin Seabrooke

World's Most Famous Coffee Pot Retires: The Trojan Room Coffee Machine, after years of faithful brewing live online, has been retired and sold at auction. In 1991, computer science students at England's Cambridge University became frustrated after continually finding the coffeepot empty after climbing several flights of stairs to get a fresh cup. After about a day's worth of programming and wiring, the students had a camcorder relaying images of the coffee pot filling up directly to their computer screens. Two years later the pot appeared on the Internet via the world's first web-cam. The site achieved a sort of cult status and has had an estimated 2.5 million visitors. The university's computer department moved to a new building in 2001 and the students decided to put the old coffee maker up for auction-online, of course. In August, the pot sold on eBay to the German news magazine "Spiegel Online" for 3,350 pounds (about $4,771 U.S.). The students planned to buy a "shiny new espresso machine."

The Darker Side of Coffee: That morning cup of coffee and its jolt of caffeine on which so many people depend to start the day could prove deadly - especially for alien frogs. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that interferes with neurotransmitters in the brain, increases heart rate, and constricts blood vessels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Oct. 1, 2001, that it had approved the use of caffeine to combat coqui frog infestations in Hawaii. An overdose is lethal to the coqui frog. The non-native Caribbean amphibian has no natural predators in the islands and is breeding prolifically. Populations may exceed 10,000 frogs per acre, and the frogs eat as many as 50,000 insects a night, competing with native insect-eating birds. Though the EPA's approval was not granted for reasons of noise control, residents and visitors alike would welcome a relief from the frog's extraordinarily loud mating call. At dusk the frogs climb into the trees -- where they remain until dawn -- and begin emitting a two-note "chirp" that reaches noise levels comparable to a lawn mower or a helicopter.

Pop Question for Pop Star: Serbian pop singer Groca Trzan burst into tears when she walked out on stage to give a concert at a sold-out show in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and found the hall was empty - except for one man. An unidentified Serbian businessman living in Switzerland had purchased all 4,000 tickets to the November 2001 concert (at a cost of over $35,000). At first Trzan refused to sing, but began at her manager's urging. In the middle of the two-hour show, Trzan descended into the "audience," where her fan kissed her hand and then asked for it in marriage. In addition to the proposal, she also received 101 roses, a ring, and a one-way plane ticket to Geneva. Her answer was not reported.

75 Years Ago in the WORLD ALMANAC:
Chronology, January 1927

Jan 7 "Hello, London." These two words, spanning the Atlantic on electric waves, heralded the opening of the radiotelephone between New York and London. Mayor (Jimmy) Walker and the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Rowland Blades, spoke to each other in the afternoon through an arrangement made by the (New York) World. There were 31 calls despite static, which caused two long breaks and many short ones. Thousands of amateurs "listened in."

Jan 21 Fifteen microphones placed in the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago brought the garden scene from "Faust" to an audience that was estimated by radio officials at 10,000,000. Twenty-seven broadcasting stations, connected by wire in one of the most extensive chain tie-ups ever attempted, put the second act of Gounod's opera "on the air" with more than 3,641 spectators in the theatre auditorium were unaware, so far as physical appearance was concerned, that anything unusual was in progress.

Jan 21 All books of magic have been ordered burned by the Turkish government. Magicians and dervishes were banned last year. The Angora government has estimated that belief in magic is the principal cause of Turkey's high death rate.

Jan 25 The New Orleans Times-Picayune, daily newspaper, observed its 90th birthday (Editor's Note: It is still published, 75 years later).

Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Let's say that you are heading up to Cooperstown, New York, to visit its many attractions, such as the Farmers' Museum www.farmersmuseum.org, Fenimore Art Museum www.fenimoreartmuseum.org, the Baseball Hall of Fame www.baseballhalloffame.org, or the Glimmerglass Opera www.glimmerglass.org, and instead of staying at a motel, or hotel, you decide that you would prefer to a bed and breakfast, or inn, is the preferred choice. At I Love Inns, www.iloveinns.com you can type in locations throughout the Unites States, its territories, and Canada, and you will be offered a list of places to stay.

Did you know that Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plains of England, was built around 3500 B.C.? Or that the monuments on Easter Island are known as "moai"? If Easter Island or Stonehenge interests you, or you want to know more about Ancient Americans, a visit to mysteriousplaces.com is a must. This site explores the stories of these and other locations, looks into controversies surrounding the sites, and offers other interesting links.

There are old-age homes for cows in India. This was news to me. [Editor's note: Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita that one of the sacred duties (dharma) of the vaisyas (farmers and merchants) is cow protection (krsi-go-raksya)]. At Crazy for Cows, www.crazyforcows.com they celebrate all things bovine. The site is filled with everything you ever wanted to know about cows, plus a photo gallery, postcards to send, games, and other links.

Going to the movies is one of the pleasures of my life. I often base what I'm going to see next on previews I've seen or word of mouth, but recently I found a great resource for movie reviews. At Movie Review Query Engine www.mrqe.com you have the opportunity to read up to 25,000 reviews, from the most recent releases ("Lord of the Rings" has 119 reviews), to films from the 1990s. This is a great resource.

Amongst the e-mails I regularly receive from well-intentioned friends and family are virus warnings. Before you go and begin searching your computer for a virus, I would like to suggest you visit a site like Vmyths.com vmyths.com where you can learn about computer virus myths, hoaxes, and urban legends.


© 2002 World Almanac Education Group

World Almanac E-Newsletter
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Comments and suggestions can be sent to: editorinchief@waegroup.com

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