The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 5 - May 2002
What's in this issue?
May 1-5 - Sunfest, West Palm Beach, FL
National and International HolidaysMay 1 - Lei Day, Hawaii; May Day
May 2 - National Day of Prayer; Sibling Appreciation Day
May 3 - Constitution Memorial Day, Japan; Constitution Day, Poland
May 5 - Orthodox Easter; Cinco de Mayo, Mexico; Children's Day, Japan, South Korea
May 9 - Ascension Day
May 12 - Mother's Day
May 15 - Independence Day, Paraguay
May 16 - Shavuot (begins at sundown)
May 17 - Constitution Day, Norway
May 18 - Armed Forces Day; International Museum Day
May 19 - Pentecost
May 20 - Victoria Day, Canada
May 24 - Mawlid
May 25 - International Jazz Day
May 27 - Memorial Day
May 28 - National Day, Ethiopia
This Day in History - May
Featured Location of the Month: Detroit, Michigan
Location: Seat of Wayne County, southeast Michigan, port of entry on the Detroit and Rouge rivers, opposite Windsor, Ontario; incorporated 1815.Population (2000 Census): 951,270
Mayor: Kwame M. Kilpatrick (Democrat)
May Temperatures: Normal high of 69.7 degrees; Normal low of 50 degrees
Colleges & Universities: Center for Creative Studies--College of Art & Design; Marygrove College; University of Detroit Mercy; University of Phoenix--Metro Detroit Campus; Wayne County Community College District; Wayne State University
Events: Asia Day, Detroit Institute of Arts (May 4); Budweiser 20th Annual Downtown Hoedown, Hart Plaza (May 17-19); Greektown Arts Festival (May 17-19); Tae Kwan Do Championships, Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center (May 23-26); Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Hart Plaza (May 25-27)
Sports teams: Detroit Tigers (baseball); Detroit Pistons (men's basketball); Detroit Shock (women's basketball); Detroit Lions (football); Detroit Red Wings (ice hockey)
Places to visit: Belle Isle (an island park in the Detroit River connected to the city by bridge and containing beaches, an aquarium, and a children's zoo); Blessed Sacrament Cathedral; the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; the Children's Museum; the Civic Center (with the City-County Building, Henry and Edsel Ford Auditorium, Cobo Hall and Arena, and Hart Plaza); Detroit Historical Museum; Detroit Institute of Arts; the Detroit Science Center; Detroit Zoological Park; Fort Wayne Military Museum; Greenfield Village (a collection of reconstructed early American houses and workshops); the Henry Ford Museum; Motown Historical Museum; the Renaissance Center; River Rouge Park; Saint Anne's Shrine; Temple Beth El
Tallest Building: Marriott Hotel, Renaissance Center I (73 stories; 725 feet)
History: Detroit was founded by the French in 1701. The British captured it in 1760 during the French and Indian War, and the U.S. acquired it in 1796 after the Revolutionary War. The city was destroyed by a fire in 1805. It was capital of Michigan from 1837 to 1847. Auto manufacturing began here in 1899.
The city reached a peak population in 1957 of about 1,850,000. In the succeeding years, Detroit experienced much social stress in the form of deteriorating neighborhoods, misguided renewal projects, racial tensions, city bankruptcy, and chaotic urban sprawl. The population in these years increased in the suburbs, but declined drastically in the city itself. In the summer of 1967 the city was the scene of severe race riots that left 43 people dead.
In the late 1990s there were signs of economic revitalization, including several major construction projects and the purchase of the Renaissance Center by GM as its new corporate headquarters. In 2001, Detroit celebrated its 300th anniversary.
Birthplace of: David Bonior (1945); Ralph Johnson Bunche (1904); Ellen Burstyn (1932); Alice Cooper (1948); Francis Ford Coppola (1939); Sherilyn Fenn (1965); Henry Ford II (1917); Berry Gordy (1929); David Alan Grier (1955); James P. Hoffa (1941); Kim Hunter (1922); Casey Kasem (1933); Michael Kinsley (1951); Christine Lahti (1950); Ruth Laredo (1937); Piper Laurie (1932); Joan Leslie (1925); Charles A. Lindbergh (1902); Dick Martin (1923); Ed McMahon (1923); Martin Milner (1927); John N. Mitchell (1913); Harry Morgan (1915); Michael Moriarty (1941); Denise Nicholas (1944); Marge Piercy (1936); Joyce Randolph (1925); Della Reese (1931); Smokey Robinson (1940); Sugar Ray Robinson (1921); Diana Ross (1944); Roz Ryan (1951); Tom Selleck (1945); Grant Show (1962); Tom Sizemore (1964); Tom Skerritt (1933); Richard Stahl (1932); Elaine Stritch (1926); Marlo Thomas (1938); Lily Tomlin (1939); Courtney B. Vance (1960); Robert Wagner (1930); Margaret Whiting (1924); Max Wright (1943)
Obituaries in April 2002
Boreman, Linda, 53, who, as Linda Lovelace, starred in the 1972 landmark pornographic film Deep Throat but later became an antiporn crusader; Denver, CO, April 22, 2002.
Dale, Alan, 73, crooner whose heyday was in the late 1940s and 1950s and whose hits included "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White" (1955) and "Heart o My Heart" (1956); New York, NY, April 20, 2002.
Felix, Maria, 87, one of the most glamorous actresses in the history of Mexican cinema, who also starred in films made in countries ranging from France to Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico, April 8, 2002.
Handler, Ruth, 85, Mattel toy company co-founder who in 1959 created the Barbie doll; Los Angeles, CA, April 27, 2002.
Heyerdahl, Thor, 87, Norwegian explorer whose chronicle of his 1947 trans-Pacific journey aboard a raft, the Kon-Tiki, became a huge international best-seller; near Colla Michari, Italy, April 18, 2002.
Lebed, Aleksandr, 52, ex-Russian general who helped foil a 1991 coup and in 1996 negotiated an end to Russia' s first war against Chechen separatists; near Abakan, Russia, April 28, 2002.
Lopes, Lisa, 30, rapper and songwriter who was the "L" in TLC, the rhythm-and-blues trio that was the most successful female group ever; Roma, Honduras, April 25, 2002.
Urich, Robert, 55, actor who starred on U.S. television in the detective series "Vega$" (1978-81) and "Spencer: For Hire" (1985-88); Thousand Oaks, CA, April 16, 2002.
White, Byron, 84, onetime college and professional football star (known as "Whizzer" White) who became a U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1962 and served for 31 years; Denver, CO, April 15, 2002.
Special Feature: Cinco de Mayo
By Rogene Fisher
If you find yourself in a community observing Cinco de Mayo, you might enjoy the music of mariachi bands, parades, and some delicious traditional Mexican foods and cerveza. However, if you raise your glass to toast Mexican independence on the fifth of May, you'll be mistaken.
Mexico's Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th. On that day, in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo, an influential Roman Catholic priest in the city of Dolores delivered a rousing speech in which he rallied his followers to unite in a single struggle for independence from their European colonial ruler - Spain. Hidalgo's speech, known as el Grito de Dolores, the "Cry of Dolores," sparked the Mexican War of Independence.
Mexico finally won its independence from Spain in 1821. Hidalgo didn't live to see an independent Mexico. He was captured and executed in 1811. Today, many Mexicans credit Hidalgo with inspiring the sense of patriotism needed to battle Spanish oppression, and Hidalgo is largely regarded as the father of the nation.
In fact, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an incident that occurred more than 50 years after Father Hidalgo's rallying cry. It marks the 1862 victory of Mexican troops over French forces at La Batalla de Puebla.
Mexico, as a young nation, was in dire financial crisis. In the first four decades of its existence, Mexico endured incursions from European forces, from American "Anglos," and a secessionist movement that led to the Mexican-American War (1846-48). Mexico suffered a withering defeat in that conflict, ultimately surrendering nearly half of its territory to the United States.
Struggling to steer the country through the financial instability caused by these difficulties, Mexican President Benito Juaréz, in 1861, declared a two-year moratorium on paying down its foreign debt. In response, England, Spain and France sent forces to Mexico to collect their debts. England and Spain eventually withdrew their forces, but French troops remained in Mexico.
Probably with the intention of establishing a monarchical government of Mexico, France's ruler, Napoleon III (Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew), installed a substantial military presence in the port city of Veracruz. The force's mission was to march from Veracruz to the capital, Mexico City.
But President Juaréz threw a wrench in Napoleon's plans. He sent General Ignacio Zaragosa and some 4,000 Mexican soldiers to fend off the French troops' advance. Zaragosa's troops faced a French battalion nearly twice their size and equipped with far more sophisticated weaponry. In a fierce, two-hour-long battle on May 5, 1862, the Mexican troops prevailed. Zaragosa's men had beaten back an incursion from the most powerful army in the world. The Cinco de Mayo victory spurred a sense of Mexican solidarity that had not yet existed in the fledgling nation and a source of pride that continues to this day.
Because General Zaragosa was born in Texas when it was a part of Mexico, he is viewed by many as the first Chicano hero.
A Victory for the United States As Well As Mexico
The news of the 1862 Mexican victory was well-received in Washington, D.C., by President Abraham Lincoln, who was struggling to bring an end to the American Civil War.
Some scholars say France used the excuse of debt recovery from Mexico as a pretext for maintaining a foothold in North America. Napoleon III, they argue, was trying to halt the continued expansion of the United States. Had Napoleon's troops initially defeated Mexico at Pueblo, France would likely have continued to provide aid to Confederate states in the U.S. Civil War. French assistance could have tilted the balance to the South in the Civil War and had a profound impact on the United States.
In 1864, France launched another attack on Mexican soil. This time, French troops succeeded - they captured Mexico City. In 1864, Maximillian of Hapsburg was installed as emperor of the Mexican Empire. Maximillian ruled until 1867, when he was overthrown and executed, and President Juaréz was reinstalled as president.
On-Again Off-Again Friendship
While the political relationship between the United States and Mexico has developed in fits and starts in the past several decades, the two countries now enjoy the most peaceful and cooperative relations in their history.
The first U.S. Cinco de Mayo celebration reportedly occurred in the mid-1960s, when California university students decided to observe the day and celebrate Chicano culture. Today, Cinco de Mayo is observed for the most part by Mexican-Americans in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Since the 1980s, Mexico has figured prominently on the U.S. political agenda. Illegal immigration, trade, and the importation of illegal narcotics, have been among the principal issues shaping U.S. policy toward Mexico. No U.S. politician on the national scene can escape addressing these issues.
Beyond the political arena, Hispanic art, music, and even food are now an integral part of American popular culture. The 2000 national census of the American population showed that the Hispanic segment of the population was exploding, rivaling blacks for the distinction of America's largest minority group.
This influence of Hispanic culture on America was particularly visible in the 2000 U.S. presidential race. The Hispanic vote was crucial in the extraordinarily tight race. Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore were characterized as "vying for votes with salsa" as they drifted between speaking English and Spanish in campaign speeches across the country. (Speaking of salsa, the condiment outpaced sales of ketchup for the first time in the United States by some $40 million in 1991.)
A Fresh Start
After Bush won the White House, he broke with tradition by making his first trip abroad to Mexico, rather than to Canada.
At the close of his one-day summit with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Bush said he had selected Mexico as the destination of his first foreign trip to highlight the important role the country would play in his administration's foreign policy.
Fox had taken office just months earlier in an election as historic as the Bush-Gore race.
In Mexico's July 2000 presidential election,Fox captured the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI). At the time, the PRI was the longest-ruling party in the world, having governed Mexico uninterrupted for more than seven decades. When it originally took power, the PRI brought stability to a country ravaged by civil strife, and introduced social and economic reforms. But over the decades the institutionalization of the revolution and of the party's rule led to political stagnation and corruption.
In a reflection of the increasing democratization of Mexican politics in recent years, Mexico's July 2000 election marked the first national vote in more than a century in which a PRI victory was not virtually certain. Following his victory, Fox said, "We are the first democratic government in Mexico. This gives us the moral authority, the democratic legitimacy."
Fox and Bush have maintained close ties through their first year in office. Bush regularly stresses his interest in strengthening America's bonds with Mexico.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo 2001 at the White House, Bush said, "The United States and Mexico now share ties of history, familia, values, commerce and culture. We are more united in friendship and common purpose than ever before. Cinco de Mayo is a day for special pride and remembrance . . . It's a reminder of the pride--of the proud heritage of many Americans and the warm and growing friendship between two great nations. It's a day worth celebrating."
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS
Sky Events - Early May
By Czarina Agojo
A once-in-a-lifetime show with plenty of celestial power, began April 20, and will continue through May 12, 2002. The planets in the solar system-Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn-are expected to form a rare alignment that will allow humans to view them all in one glance with the naked eye. Although this phenomenon has been popularly referred to as a planetary alignment, it is not quite an official one. In principle, an alignment requires all planets to arrange themselves within 90 degrees of each other on the same side of the Sun. The upcoming event only features the five planets that people could see.
Despite this less than stellar billing, however, this upcoming planetary performance is not expected to disappoint, for it highlights two main attractions. On May 5, Mars, Saturn and Venus will form an equilateral triangle in the sky for the world to enjoy. A few days later, on May 10, Mars and Venus will bypass each other, becoming seemingly fused into one. According to University of Michigan astronomer Robert C. Victor, this opportunity will not be repeated until September 2040, July 2060 and November 2100 within the next 100 years.
Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegrates
By Ari Goldstein
Scientists were stunned by recent reports of the rapid disintegration of a massive 12,000-year-old ice shelf in the Weddell Sea off the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The area is monitored by both the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder and the British Antarctic Survey. The northern part of the Larsen B shelf broke into thousands of drifting icebergs. The ice shelf had been about 3,250 square kilometers (2,020 square miles) in area - larger than the state of Rhode Island. The breakup occurred over a mere 35 days, startling researchers and renewing concerns over global warming. Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, and his colleagues Mark Fahnestock at the University of Maryland and Christine Hulbe of Portland State University, don't think the disintegration of the shelf is due to global warming linked to the greenhouse effect. They theorize that it stems instead from a localized warming period, which resulted in the formation of meltwater ponds, which in turn seeped into cracks in the shelf, destabilizing the structure and initiating the large-scale fracturing.
Global warming is still a concern for many scientists, however, who cite the Antarctic Peninsula's 50-year warming trend, with average temperatures having risen 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade. But temperature trends are difficult to generalize, with scientists often reporting conflicting findings for different regions of the Antarctic. Regardless of the cause, about 720 billion tons of ice were released from the 220-meter (720-foot) thick ice shelf in little more than a month, prompting scientists to declare it the largest event in a 30-year history of ice shelf retreats. Experts note, however, that this loss will not affect sea levels, just as melting ice cubes do not change the level in a glass of water. Although the sea level will not be affected, other aspects of the environment may change: ice shelves help to slow glaciers and moderate temperatures - without the shelves, glaciers speed up and deposit more ice into the ocean than they accumulate from snow. Scientists continue to monitor the activity in the Antarctic, keeping a wary eye on other ice shelves in the region, in particular the Larsen C shelf, where melt ponds have already been observed.
For more information, visit "Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses," at www.nsidc.org/iceshalves/larsenb2002. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) site details the breakup of the Antarctic ice shelf, and includes images and movies from the scene.
Chronology -- Events of April 2002
First Guilty Plea Entered in Enron Investigation--David Duncan, a former partner with Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm for the Enron Corp., pleaded guilty Apr. 9 to obstruction of justice. As investigations of Enron and Andersen moved forward on several fronts, Duncan, who admitted to having orchestrated an effort to destroy Enron's files at Andersen, became the first person to enter a guilty plea in the case. He acknowledged before Judge Melinda Harmon in U.S. District Court in Houston, TX, that he had sought to thwart an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ohio U.S. Representative Convicted of Racketeering--Rep. James Traficant (D, OH) was convicted Apr. 11 by a jury in Cleveland of racketeering and corruption. Though not a lawyer, the Youngstown congressman, known for being pugnacious, chose to act as his own attorney, and was convicted on all 10 counts. One ex-staff member testified that Traficant had demanded a $2,500-a-month kickback for hiring him. Other former staff members said he had demanded that they work on his farm and had coached them in destroying evidence and misleading a grand jury. Traficant said he would appeal.
Senate Rejects Oil Drilling in Arctic Refuge--The U.S. Senate Apr. 18 defeated a component of Pres. George W. Bush's energy program. On a procedural motion, the Senate voted 54-46 not to end debate on the issue, effectively killing the proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Eight Republicans and an independent joined 45 Democrats in the majority. Environmentalists had made protection of the refuge wilderness one of their top national priorities.
Terrorist Leader Captured in Pakistan--U.S. and Pakistani officials announced Apr. 1 that a top leader in the al-Qaeda terrorist organization had been seized Mar. 28. Raids by FBI agents and Pakistani police in Lahore and Faisalabad had rounded up about 20 suspected al-Qaeda figures and 40 Pakistanis. The al-Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah, was thought to have succeeded Muhammed Atef, as head of operations for the organization, after the latter was killed by U.S. bombing in November. Zubaydah, the highest-ranking al-Qaeda leader yet to be captured, was wounded before being seized. U.S. government officials said Apr. 19 that Zubaydah had told interrogators terrorists planned to attack U.S. financial institutions.
Bush Steps Up Efforts to Stop Mideast Bloodshed--Pres. George W. Bush became more involved in seeking to stop the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In early April, as more suicide bombings occurred, Israeli forces - determined to find and kill terrorists - expanded their incursion into Palestinian territory, raiding or occupying Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, and other West Bank cities. On Apr. 2, as Israel lifted a curfew in Ramallah, where Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and 200 staffers and supporters were surrounded, Prime Min. Ariel Sharon of Israel suggested that Arafat use a "one-way ticket" into exile. Israeli troops Apr. 2 surrounded the Church of the Nativity, at the site where Christians believe Christ was born and which some 250 Palestinian fighters now occupied. The militant Hezbollah Apr. 2 fired mortars and missiles from Lebanon into Israel. Hezbollah attacked Israeli border positions nearly every day. In retaliation, Israeli planes Apr. 2 attacked Lebanese villages. As thousands in Cairo and elsewhere in the Arab world demonstrated for the Palestinians, Egypt Apr. 3 suspended ties with Israel.
On Apr. 4, as Israel invaded Hebron, Bush demanded that Israel end its attacks and pull back, and also end construction of settlements in Palestinian territory. He asked Arafat, for his part, to denounce terrorism. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Apr. 5, called Israel's attacks on its vehicles and facilities "totally unacceptable," and the Red Cross and other agencies said that a humanitarian crisis was occurring in the occupied cities. On Apr. 7, Israel said it had detained 2,000 Palestinians. In Jenin, where Palestinian casualties were in the hundreds, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush Apr. 9. Heavy fighting occurred in Nablus and at the refugee camp in Jenin.
In Rabat, Morocco, on Apr. 7, the eve of the first stop on a peace mission by Sec. of State Colin Powell, 500,000 people demonstrated for the Palestinians. Powell met there Apr. 8 with King Mohammed VI and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud. In Bethlehem, the 2 sides exchanged fire at the Church of the Nativity Apr. 8. Sharon said the same day that he would not withdraw from the Palestinian areas, although a pullout from 2 towns did occur the day after. On Apr.10 a bomber killed himself and 8 Israelis near Haifa.
Powell met Apr. 10 in Madrid, Spain, with European foreign ministers, who demanded an immediate Israeli pullback. After a stop in Jordan Apr. 11, Powell met in Jerusalem Apr. 12 with Sharon, but they failed to agree on a timetable for the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. After a Palestinian woman blew herself up and killed 6 people in Jerusalem the same day, Powell postponed a meeting with Arafat. The meeting did take place Apr. 14, at Arafat's battered office in Ramallah, with Israeli soldiers close at hand. Arafat told Powell that no cease-fire was possible until Israel ended its military operation and pulled back.
In Ramallah Apr. 15, Israel arrested Marwan Barghouti, a top aide to Arafat, and charged him with planning terrorist attacks. Powell met with Arafat again Apr. 17, then said that no cease-fire was possible until Israel responded to the U.S. demand that it withdraw from Palestinian cities. In Cairo, Apr. 17, Pres. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt declined to meet with Powell. Some Arab leaders declared Powell's mission a failure and blamed Israel. When Israelis Apr. 17 allowed Palestinians to return to their refugee camp in Jenin, the residents dug frantically through the rubble in search of possible survivors of the army's attack. Bush Apr. 18 seemed to tilt toward Israel, calling Sharon "a man of peace."
The Israeli government said Apr. 23 that it would delay the arrival in Jenin of UN fact finders until Israel had approved the members of the delegation. Three Palestinian boys were shot dead by Israeli soldiers Apr. 23 as they prepared to attack an Israeli settlement near Gaza City. On Apr. 25, Bush met with Crown Prince Abdullah at the president's ranch in Crawford, TX. Abdullah reportedly told Bush that the United States had to more to stop Israeli incursions in Palestinian territory or it would lose credibility in the Middle East and contribute to the instability of the region. He presented a peace proposal to Bush; it called for U.S. help in reconstructing the Palestinian territories, a renunciation of violence by both sides, and an end to new Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. On Apr. 27, three gunmen fled--one was later killed--after killing 4 people, including a girl, 5, at the settlement of Adora.
On Apr. 28, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a Bush administration compromise in which 6 Palestinians wanted by the Israelis would be taken from Arafat's compound and confined under the observation of U.S. and British wardens. Israel wanted 5 of the 6 in connection with the 2001 assassination of the Israeli minister of tourism. Under the agreement, Arafat would be free to travel again.
At the same time, on Apr. 29 Israel launched an assault on Hebron, the largest West Bank city, in retaliation for the Palestinian attack on the nearby Adora settlement. On Apr. 30 the Israeli cabinet refused to allow a UN fact-finding mission to carry out an inquiry into alleged Israeli atrocities at the Jenin refugee camp, unless a series of stringent conditions could be met.
Angolan Government Signs Cease-fire With Rebels--The end of a 27-year civil war in Angola appeared at hand Apr. 4 when the government and the rebel leadership of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) signed a cease-fire. The death in battle in February of Jonas Savimbi, UNITA's leader, had opened the door to negotiations. Under the agreement, signed in Luanda, the capital, the government recognized UNITA as a legitimate political movement whose leaders could serve in the government. UNITA agreed to demobilize its 50,000 fighters.
Attack on Minister Linked to Plot to Topple Afghan Regime--Afghanistan's defense minister, Muhammad Qassim Fahim, escaped an assassination attempt Apr. 8, days after the government had sought to break up an alleged plot against it. On Apr. 3, officials said they had arrested hundreds for attempting to subvert the government; the next day they said they had released 140 of a total of 300 people arrested. The government Apr. 4 also announced an initiative, quite unpopular in some quarters, to eradicate cultivation of opium poppies. In Jalalabad Apr. 8, a bomb exploded on the route of Fahim's motorcade, killing 5 people but leaving the minister unscathed.
Four American soldiers were killed Apr. 15 in the desert near Kandahar when a rocket exploded while they were in the process of destroying it and other captured weapons. Four Canadian soldiers were killed before dawn Apr. 18 when a laser-guided bomb from a U.S. plane was dropped on them unintentionally. The pilot reportedly said that he thought he had come under fire from below, where the Canadians were conducting a training exercise.
Irish Republican Army Decommissions More Weapons--The peace process moved forward Apr. 8 when it was announced that the Provisional Irish Republican Army had decommissioned a 2d set of weapons. The decommissioning, a requirement of the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, had gotten underway in October 2001. The announcement by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning said that the IRA had "put a varied and substantial quantity of ammunition, arms and explosive material beyond use."
Iraq Halts Oil Exports to Hurt U.S. Economy--Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq halted his country's oil exports Apr. 8 as a means, he said, of damaging the U.S. economy. The move, announced as temporary, was a protest against U.S. support for Israel in the Middle East crisis. Hussein called on other Middle East oil producers to follow his lead, but none did. After Iraq's move, oil prices rose. On Apr. 27, Iraq celebrated Hussein's 65th birthday.
Venezuela President Ousted and Then Restored--Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was overthrown in a military coup Apr. 12 but regained power Apr. 14, riding a wave of popular sentiment. His feud with the national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), heretofore largely autonomous, had angered many business, labor, and military leaders. Viewing PDVSA as a "state within a state" whose profits went disproportionately to the rich, Chavez in February had replaced its president and named 5 board members sympathetic to him. Groups opposed to Chavez initiated a nationwide strike Apr. 9 that turned into a push for his resignation. Brig. Gen. Nestor Gonzalez said Chavez was politicizing the armed forces and supporting leftists in Colombia.
On Apr. 11, hundreds of thousands of protestors marched on the presidential palace. Shots fired at the crowd killed 10 and wounded more than 100. Some top generals called for Chavez's resignation. Early on Apr. 12, Chavez stepped down at a meeting with 3 military officers. Later that day, a businessman, Pedro Carmono, was sworn in as interim president. Then it was the turn of Chavez's supporters to be heard, and an outpouring of protests from the poorer masses forced the military to back down. Chavez returned to his palace in triumph, resuming his duties Apr. 14. Latin American leaders had threatened sanctions over the ousting of a democratically elected president. Bush administration officials conceded Apr. 15 that they had met in recent months with opponents of Chavez and agreed that he should be removed from office. On Apr. 15, Mayor Alfredo Pena said that at least 40 people in all had been killed in the uprising. As part of his reorganization of the armed forces, Chavez, Apr. 17, named Gen. Luis Acevedo commander of the air force. However, on Apr. 19, Acevedo and 3 other generals were killed when their helicopter crashed.
Far-right Candidate Makes Runoff for President of France--National Front candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, a longtime crusader for right-wing causes, scored a major upset Apr. 21 when he qualified for the runoff to choose the next president of France. He was slated to oppose the incumbent president, Jacques Chirac, of the Rally for the Republic party (RPR). Le Pen, a foe of immigration who has also decried the alleged adverse economic impact of France's affiliation with the European Union, saw himself as a spokesman for "you little people." In the large field of candidates, Chirac received 20%, Le Pen 17%, and the Socialist candidate Prime Min. Lionel Jospin, who had been expected to easily make the runoff, 16%.
Pope, Cardinals Discuss Abuses by Priests--In extraordinary meetings at the Vatican Apr. 23-24, Pope John Paul II and U.S. cardinals discussed widespread reports of abuses of children and young people by Roman Catholic priests.
The Archdiocese of New York announced Apr. 3 that it had provided to the U.S. district attorney's office a list of priests accused over a 40-year period of sexually abusing minors. Documents released Apr. 8 revealed that high Church officials in Boston, including Cardinal Bernard Law, had known that a priest, Paul Shanley, was abusing boys for many years, but allowed him to continue to have contacts with children. Shanley reportedly had defended pedophilia at a meeting of the North American Man-Boy Love Association. By Apr. 9, calls were being heard for Law's resignation from priests, political leaders, and lay Catholics. Law said Apr. 12 that he would not resign.
Vatican officials announced Apr. 15 that Pope John Paul II had summoned all of the American cardinals to Rome to discuss the sex abuse scandal. On Apr. 20, the pope said bishops must "diligently investigate accusations" against priests who had broken their vows of celibacy. At his first meeting with the cardinals, Apr. 23, the pope expressed a strong apology to the victims of abuse, saying that what had happened to them was both a crime and "an appalling sin in the eyes of God." After meeting with the pope again on Apr. 24, the U.S. cardinals issued proposals for dealing with the removal of priests who abused minors. They appeared to make a distinction between "a priest who has become notorious and is guilty of the serial, predatory sexual abuse of minors" - and hence subject to zero tolerance - and another priest whose case "might be less clear-cut." The Associated Press reported Apr. 28 that at least 177 American priests had either resigned or been removed from their duties since the sexual abuse scandal gained wide attention in January. Bishops said that they had given law enforcement authorities information on claims against 260 priests.
Plane Crashes Into Milan Skyscraper--A small plane crashed into the tallest building in Milan, Italy, Apr. 18, killing 3 people and injuring about 60. The pilot, who was the only person in the plane, was among the dead. He had taken off for Milan from Locarno, Switzerland, in the Rockwell Commander 112, and had reported having trouble lowering his wheels. The plane struck the 25th and 26th floors of the 30-floor Pirelli Tower. Almost everyone evacuated the building some with the help of firefighters. The government said the crash appeared to be an accident.
Actor Arrested in Wife's Murder--Police in Los Angeles Apr. 18 arrested actor Robert Blake in connection with the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. Baker's bodyguard and chauffeur, Earle Caldwell, was also arrested. Blake and his wife had dined in the Studio City neighborhood in May 2001. Blake claimed he had walked his wife to their car, then returned to the restaurant to retrieve a pistol that he said he carried to protect her. According to Blake, when he returned to the car he found her shot. On Apr. 22, Blake was formally charged with shooting his wife, and he and Caldwell were charged with conspiracy. They both pleaded not guilty.
Expelled German Student Kills 17 at School--A German youth who had been expelled from the Gutenberg school in Erfurt, Germany, returned to the school Apr. 26 and shot 17 people to death. The gunman, Robert Steinhauser, 19, who used a rifle and a handgun in his rampage, then shot himself to death. A policeman who rushed to the scene was among the victims. Most of the others who died were teachers.
In the women's NCAA Final Four on Mar. 29, Connecticut defeated Tennessee, 79-56, and Oklahoma won, 86-71, over Duke. In the championship game on Mar. 31, Connecticut defeated Oklahoma, 82-70. Swin Cash, of Connecticut, was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
On Mar. 30, in the Men's NCAA Final Four, Maryland defeated Kansas, 97-88, and Indiana beat Okalahoma, 73-64. Maryland topped Indiana, 64-52, for the national championship on April 1. Maryland's Juan Dixon was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
On Apr. 14, golfer Tiger Woods won his third Masters championship at Augusta National, finishing 3 strokes ahead of runner-up Retief Goosen of South Africa. It was the seventh major championship on the PGA Tour for Woods.
In the London Marathon on Apr. 14, Khalid Khannouchi of the U.S. lowered his own world best time by 4 seconds, winning in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 38 seconds. Paula Radcliffe, of Great Britain, just missed a world best by 9 seconds in her marathon debut. However, her time of 2:18:56 was a record for a first marathon, the fastest time ever run in an all-women's race, as well as a British and European record.
In the 106th Boston Marathon, Apr. 15, Rodgers Rop of Kenyan won in 2:09:02. Kenyans took the top four places and six out of the top 10. Last year's winner, Lee Bong-Ju of South Korea, finished fifth in 2:10:30. The first American finisher was Keith Dowling (VA) in 15th place, with a time of 2:13:28. In the women's race, Kenya's Margaret Okayo set a course record of 2:20:43. Kenyan Catherine Ndereba, the 2000 and 2001 Boston winner and former course record holder (2:23:53), finished 29 seconds back. The top American woman was Jill Gaitenby (MA) who finished 13th in 2:38:55.
With the franchise's first-ever draft pick, the Houston Texans made Fresno State quarterback David Carr the first overall selection in the NFL Draft on Apr. 20. Carr led all Div. I quarterbacks with 4,299 passing yards and 42 TD passes in 2001. The 2001 Heisman trophy winner, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the third round as the 95th pick overall.
Offbeat News Stories
By Edward A. Thomas
The Devil Didn't Make Her Do It!--Mayor Carolyn Risher, of Inglis, Florida, has banned Satan from visiting her town of 1,400 souls. Risher issued a proclamation, had it inserted into four hollowed-out wooden posts, and had them sunk into the ground at the four entrances to town. She believes Satan's presence in the town has been felt every time a child has been abused, or a house has burned. The newfound notoriety doesn't bother Risher, who has received a great deal of support from Christians in her area. The jokes, however, began immediately. And while some smile at the thought of the Satan ban, others have objected to it, arguing that it oversteps the separation of church and state.
I'm Going to the World Cup, Just for the Free Dog Meat!--Dog meat? Restaurateurs in South Korea want to overcome Westerners' resistance to this item of cuisine, and will be providing free dog meat at the World Cup games, May 31 to June 30. Stalls offering steamed meat, soup, sandwiches, and hamburgers, all made from dog meat, will be set up at the country's 10 World Cup stadiums. While animal rights activists, and others, may consider it barbaric to eat man's best friend for lunch or dinner, a statement from a group of 150 dog meat restaurant owners argues that dog meat is a tried and true element of Korean cuisine, just as horse meat, snails, and pigeon are delicacies of other countries. Do you suppose we can put mustard on these "dogs?"
Richard M. Nixon, the Ultimate Political Comeback?--Richard M Nixon has applied to run as a Republican candidate for the office of agriculture commissioner in the state of Alabama. That is, Richard Milton Nixon, who is well known in Pell City, Alabama. Nixon runs a restaurant, and used to be a golf pro. When his name was first presented to state Republican leaders, they suspected a prank. But Nixon's identity has been verified, and he has been added to the ballot to run against J. Lee Alley, a state veterinarian, in the June 4 party primary.
75 Years Ago in the WORLD ALMANAC:
Pola Negri (Appolinia Chalupec), film actress, was married to Prince Mdivani.
Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh, U.S. air mail pilot, left Roosevelt Field, L.I., N.Y., at 7:52 A.M., alone in a Ryan monoplane, "The Spirit of St. Louis," on his way to Paris, France, in an attempt to win the $25,000 prize offered by Raymond Orteig for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. At 7:45 P.M. his plane passed over St. Johns, Newfoundland, and headed out to sea. At 1:00 P.M., May 21, the plane flew over Tralee Bay, Ireland, and at 5:21 P.M., (10:21 P.M. Paris time), it landed safely at the Le Bourget flying field just outside of Paris, having gone 3610 miles in 33 hours, 29 minutes, 23 seconds.
Andrew W. Mellon, Secretary of Treasury, authorized a reduction in the size of paper money by about one-third, beginning with the dollar bill. The present size of the currency is 7-7/10 inches by 3-1/8 inches. The new bills will be 6-1/8 inches by 2-5/8 inches and will appear within a year.
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Anyone who surfs the net, knows that there are an awful lot of people who must have a lot of time on their hands. I found The Payphone Project, and well, somehow, it strikes my fancy. There are photographs of pay phones from places like the basement in the Vatican, to outside the Rex Motel, in Tampa, Florida. And there are articles about phones, such as "First Outdoor Internet Pay Phone to Debut in Manhattan," and "First-ever Submarine Phone Booth." But the most unusual part of the site are the phone numbers. Yes, phone numbers. There are thousands of pay phone, phone numbers published at this site for you to call. If you want to reach out and call someone on Hollywood Boulevard, or the Rheatown Food Store, in Rheatown, Tennessee, this is the site to visit: www.payphone-project.com/.
I'm sure you've seen old encyclopedia sets for sale at a lot of garage sales over the years, and you've thought, well, the information is outdated, who cares? But isn't there a glimmer of curiosity as to what appeared in those old sets? Encyclopedia Britannica has put all 29 volumes of its 1911 edition online. At www.1911encyclopedia.org you can read articles written by over 1,500 authors; that's over 44 million words written in the days when William Howard Taft was U.S. president, and George V had become king of England upon the death of his father Edward VII.
What did Beulah Bondi, Jane Darwell, Marjorie Main and Agnes Moorehead, have in common? Each of these great character actresses played famous mother roles in film and television; Beulah Bondi acted as Mrs. Bailey in "It's A Wonderful Life," Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," Marjorie Main as Ma Kettle in "Ma & Pa Kettle" films of the 1940s and 1950s, and Agnes Moorehead as Endora on television's "Bewitched." For more information on Great Character Actresses and Actors, visit: www.dougmacaulay.com/kingspud/ks_index_gca.html.
Want to send something to that special someone, which says, I'm thinking of you, and at the same time spend zero money? At Virtual Presents www.virtualpresents.com you'll have that opportunity. Here you can select photographs of almost anything, ranging from a briefcase filled with cash to an elephant; you can send it to your friends and loved ones, with a personalized message. Me, I prefer real gifts.
The phrase, "out of sight, out of mind" could certainly be used in reference to some celebrities. You know, the people you have not seen in ages in the media, whom you assume, have simply passed on. Is it possible that world heavyweight champion for 1930-1932 Max Schmeling, 1940s "Blondie" actress Penny Singleton, or Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal are still living? A visit to Who's Alive and Who's Dead www.whosaliveandwhosdead.com will answer these, and more questions. By the way, all of them are still living; Schmeling is 96, and both Singleton and Wiesenthal are 93. Oh, and by the way, not on the list, but still living is Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong Mai-ling) who recently turned 105!
Useless website of the month: Shoebox's Poorly-Drawn Lamp Page: www.flamingmayo.com/poorlydrawnlamps/.
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Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
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