The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 9 - September 2002
What's in this issue?
September is Baby Safety Month and Self-Improvement Month
September 2 - Labor Day, U.S., Canada
This Day in History - September
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA
Location: Seat of Pennington County, SW South Dakota, on Rapid Creek (hence its name), at the base of the Black Hills; incorporated 1882. Rapid City is the center of a mining, ranching, grain-farming, and lumbering area. Ellsworth Air Force Base is nearby.
Population (2000 Census): 59,607
Mayor: Jerry Munson (Non-Partisan)
September Temperatures: Normal high of 74.4 degrees; Normal low of 45.5 degrees
Colleges & Universities: National American University; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; Western Dakota Technical Institute
Events (Rapid City area): Crazy Horse Memorial Night Blast (September 6); Dakota Polka Festival (September 6-7); Black Hills Great Quilt Escape & Outdoor Quilt Show (September 8-11); American Heart Association Heart Walk (September 9); Hill City Farmers Market (September 13); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Deadwood Jam (September 13-14); Hill City German Fest (September 13-14); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Center of the Nation Chili Cookoff and Car Show (September 14); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry Gathering (September 20-21); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Mickelson Trail Trek (September 20-22); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Wild West Days (September 21-22); Black Hills Autumn Expedition- Harvest Fest (September 26-29); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Custer State Park Arts Festival (September 28-30); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Mt. Rushmore National Memorial (September 28-October 6); Black Hills Autumn Expedition-Buffalo Roundup Chili Cookoff (September 29)
Places to visit: In Rapid City: Bear Country USA; Black Hills Caverns; Black Hills Maze; Crystal Cave Park; Dahl Fine Arts Center; Journey Museum; Museum of Geology; Old MacDonalds Farm; Reptile Gardens; Rushmore Waterslide Park; Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns; Storybook Island; Thunderhead Falls. Nearby: Badlands National Park; the Black Hills; Broken Boot Gold Mine; Crazy Horse Memorial; Custer State Park; Devils Tower National Park; Jewel Cave National Monument; Mammoth Site Museum; Mount Rushmore National Memorial, National Presidential Wax Museum; Petrified Forest of the Black Hills; South Dakota Air & Space Museum; Wind Cave National Park
History: Rapid City was founded in 1876 after the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, and it grew as a mining center. In 1972 a flash flood of Rapid Creek swept through the city, killing more than 225 people.
Birthplace of: U.S. Representative Karen L. Thurman (D, FL; 1951)
Obituaries in August 2002
Abu Nidal, 65, nom de guerre of radical Palestinian leader Sabri al-Banna, whose Fatah Revolutionary Council was linked to many terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 1980s; Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 16, 2002.
Ashley, Ted, 80, Hollywood studio boss credited with reviving the fortunes of Warner Bros. during his tenure as chairman and chief executive (1969-80); New York, NY, Aug. 24, 2002.
Lionel Hampton, 94, an American jazz icon who pioneered the vibraphone as a jazz instrument, and whose musical career began in 1920s and continued to the 1990s; New York, NY, Aug. 31, 2002.
Hearn, Chick, 85, longtime broadcaster for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team credited with coining such terms as "slam dunk" and "air ball"; Northridge, CA, Aug. 5, 2002.
Rivers, Larry, 78, painter and sculptor whose work helped usher in Pop Art and who was also a jazz saxophonist and an autobiographer of note; Southampton, NY, Aug. 14, 2002.
Scales, Junius, 82, only American ever to go to jail just for being a member of the Communist Party; New York, NY, Aug. 5, 2002.
Slaughter, Enos, 86, professional baseball Hall of Famer who scored the winning run for the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning of game seven of the 1946 World Series by dashing home from first base on a hit to short center field; Durham, NC, Aug. 12, 2002.
Warfield, William, 82, bass-baritone renowned for his interpretation of the role of Porgy in George Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess, in which he often performed opposite soprano Leontyne Price, to whom he was married for two decades; Chicago, IL, Aug. 25, 2002.
Wilhelm, Hoyt, 80, knuckleball-throwing pitcher who in 1985 became the first pitcher admitted to professional baseball's Hall of Fame mainly for his work as a reliever; Sarasota, FL, Aug. 23, 2002.
SPECIAL FEATURE: America's Bravest: Fighters Against Fire
By Joe Gustaitis
Fortunately, most of us never need the personal services of firefighters, and we may find it easy to take them for granted. Recent events, however, have made us painfully aware of how valuable they are and how hazardous is their job: Firefighters bravely responded heading into unknown dangers at the sacrifice of their lives, after commercial jets struck the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 343 firefighters were reported missing or identified among the dead in the terrorist attack, the worst single incident loss of firefighter lives in history. And, in the summer of 2002, wildfires raged across eight western U.S. states, taxing firefighters to the limit. By June 27, 17 huge blazes were burning on almost 800,000 acres and over 2.5 million acres had already gone up in flames. Since September 2001, Americans have come to respect and appreciate firefighters more than ever.
Firefighters Through the Ages
The history of fire fighting has been traced back at least to ancient Alexandria, where an inventor named Ctesibius is said to have invented a water pump for fighting fire some time before 200 B.C. Ancient Rome is known to have had a fire department consisting of some 7,000 paid professionals that was established by the emperor Augustus in 24 B.C. The technology behind Ctesibius's fire pump was lost during the Middle Ages, and for the most part firefighters relied on water buckets to extinguish flames and on axes and other tools to pull down buildings that were burning or in danger of catching fire.
Such equipment was completely inadequate in the face of serious conflagrations. The Great Fire of London, for example, raged for four days in 1666 leaving an area one and a half by half a mile wide in ashes, 373 acres inside the city wall, 63 acres outside, and 13,200 houses destroyed. Those attempting to fight the flames had only buckets and hand-pumps holding about two quarts of water each. That calamity, among others, stimulated the development of a piston-based water pump on wheels. Shortly after the London fire, a leather hose was also developed in the Netherlands. These devices allowed firefighters to apply more water with greater accuracy and from a safer distance.
The first public fire department in America was established in New Amsterdam (now New York City) by the Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1648. In 1679 the city of Boston ordered and imported to America the first fire engine. Until the mid-19th century, volunteers largely did fire fighting, because operating the hand-powered pumps required so many men. In New York City volunteer companies commonly competed with one another, and a blaze often drew rival crews who might devote as much time to fighting with each other as to putting out the fire. The volunteer fire companies frequently served as springboards for political ambition; for example, the celebrated political boss William M. "Boss" Tweed began his career as a fire company foreman.
The development of the steam-powered fire engine in the 1850s revolutionized fire fighting. Once steam power could be used to pump water, many fewer men were necessary, which meant that cities could afford to establish professional fire departments, which New York did in 1865. By using steam power, the city was able to cut its fire department from 3,421 firefighters in 1865 to only 599 by 1870.
In 1912, a Fire Prevention Bureau was begun, reflecting a growing awareness for fire prevention, and promoting safety codes. The prior year, 146 workers, mostly young immigrant woman, had died in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, within a "fireproof" building, in New York City. Locked doors leading to exits, as well as the Fire departments inability to reach beyond the 6th floor (of the 10-story building), compounded the horror of the day.
Responding to Terrorism in New York
Hundreds of New York City firefighters rushed to the World Trade Center only minutes after the first hijacked jetliner hit the north tower at 8:48 A.M. on September 11, 2001. Because the first attack occurred while the firefighters were changing shifts, an unusually large number were available. A command center was quickly set up outside the north tower, but it was destroyed when the building collapsed at 10:28 A.M. For many months, it was believed that no firefighters had been able to climb above about the 50th floor in either tower, but an audiotape was later discovered that showed that at least two men, Battalion Chief Orio J. Palmer and Fire Marshal Ronald P. Bucca, had reached the 78th-floor crash zone in the south tower where they tried without success to evacuate wounded workers before the building's collapse. It was also discovered that many firefighters in the north tower, which was the second to fall, probably did not know that the south tower had collapsed and were unaware of the urgent need to evacuate the building. Reports after the event noted that the fire department's radio equipment was not the most modern, that communications between firefighters and police were lacking, and that portable radios had cut off communications between commanders and firefighters in the towers.
Entire squads of New York City firefighters, including all five of the fire department's elite rescue companies, perished in the collapse of the towers. One of the most poignant losses was that of 68-year-old Father Mychal Judge, the New York Fire Department's chaplain, who died soon after administering last rites to a firefighter and an office worker; his body was pulled from the wreckage after the first tower collapsed, becoming the first official fatality following the attack. Three months later, fires were still smoldering in parts of the site.
As the world remembers September 11, 2001 a year later, a story of heroism and success stands alongside the tragedy of New York. An enduring symbol of the firefighters' courage came from photographer Thomas E. Franklin, who took a picture of three of them--Dan McWilliams, George Johnson, and Billy Eisengrein--raising an American flag amid the rubble. Those who took part had aided in what was reportedly the largest rescue operation ever undertaken in the U.S.; some 25,000 people were safely evacuated from the scene.
Responding to Nature
The terrible western wildfires of 2002 came after very bad years in 2000 and 2001. In 2000 officials stated that they were seeing the worst fire season in a generation, and by mid-August of the 2001 season at least 33 major wildfires burned across the West. In Arizona in June 2002, two separate fires, the Rodeo fire and the Chediski fire, which both started on the Fort Apache Indian reservation, merged to create the largest wildfire in the state's history; it destroyed over 400 homes before it was declared under control on July 7. Nearly 4,000 firefighters were called in to battle the flames. In Colorado, a blaze dubbed the Hayman fire, which was the largest in Colorado's history, consumed over 130 homes and required some 2,000 firefighters to fight it.
The sparking of the Chediski blaze was attributed to Valinda Elliott, who said she had been lost in the wilderness and had started a fire to attract the notice of a passing TV helicopter. She was not charged with a crime. However, a part-time firefighter named Leonard Gregg was charged in federal court with deliberately setting the Rodeo fire. Prosecutors contended he had done so in order to earn money while fighting it. In Colorado, a federal grand jury indicted a U.S. Forest Service employee named Terry Lynn Barton for starting the Hayman fire.
These were only the most prominent fires of the 2002 season. Fires burned elsewhere in Colorado and in several other western states, and in California three firefighters died on June 17 when their air tanker crashed while attempting to contain a conflagration in Yosemite National Park. By late August, 6 million acres of forest had been destroyed -- more than twice the average acreage lost to forest fires each year. More than 20 firefighters had been killed fighting the blazes; several perished in helicopter crashes and three others died when their fire engine fell into a ravine. The fires destroyed more than 2,000 buildings.
Throughout history, firefighters have worked to protect human lives and property in the face of both natural and man-made disasters. While many memorials have been raised to honor these brave people over the centuries, there has rarely been a time when so many people recognized the commitment and courage fire fighters routinely display.
For more information on firefighters, go to http://www.firehouse.com. Two museums also offer information to those interested in the early days of firefighting: The American Museum of Firefighting in Hudson, New York ( www.artcom.com/museums/vs/af/12534-b.htm) and the New York City Fire Museum ( www.nycfiremuseum.org).
Ferocious Fish Handed Death Sentence
By Czarina AgojoOne man's meal is another man's monster. A pond behind a shopping center in a suburban Maryland town that is home to hundreds, or possibly thousands, of ravenous, air-breathing, ground-slithering fish has biologists and government officials worried. The whole fish fiasco started with a man with fish soup on his menu. The northern snakehead, a breed of fish native to the Yangtze River region of China, can survive freezing cold and swelteringly hot temperatures. They can live out of water for several days, with apparatuses that allow them to breath air and fins that enable them to slither across ground. They grow to be over 3 feet long, and they eat just about anything in sight. Snakehead populations have been found in California and Florida, but these mean fish did not receive much attention until an angler in Crofton, Maryland found them.
Maryland state investigators determined that a man ordered two snakeheads from an Asian market to prepare a soup for his ill sister. By time the fish arrived from New York, the sister had recuperated, so the man kept the fish in a tank. When the fish outgrew their tank, the man, unaware of the possible legal and ecological repercussions, deposited his scrappy, scaly friends into a local pond. Now, two and a half years later, the two fish, which happened to be one male and one female, have spawned quite an extended family. The fish are eating all of the pond's living inhabitants, and wildlife officials fear that if nothing is done, the voracious villains might slither over to snack in a nearby river. State scientists determined that the best way to handle the feisty fish is to poison the entire pond with a chemical called rotenone on a date yet to be determined. Additionally, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior is proposing a ban on the importation of the 28 species of snakeheads to prevent any further fish fatalities.
Sex Ed for Chinese Pandas
By Erin RatzIn an effort to save a species on the brink of extinction, several Chinese panda reserves are going to unusual lengths. Pandas are known for having particularly weak libidos (sexual desire), but with diminishing natural habitats, they face a serious problem. Pandas are protected in zoos and nature reserves, but there they lack the learning experiences of living in the wild. "During mating season in the wild, young pandas watch the adults fight for their partners and perform copulation. That's how they learn all about producing offspring," Zhang Hermin, director of the China Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center, told Reuters. So the researchers have taken to showing the pandas videos of pandas mating.
For years, panda reserves have used artificial insemination, but this technique has not been successful enough to increase the species' population, which is reported to be about 1,000 in the wild. The China Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in Wolong, China and the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in Chengdu, China have started showing their pandas the inspiring videos when the pandas reach sexual maturity. "Through this kind of sex education, we expect to arouse the sexual instincts of giant pandas, enhance their natural mating ability and raise their reproductive capacity," said Hermin in a CNN News article.
CHRONOLOGY - Events of August 2002
Bush Gains Fast-Track Trade Power - Pres. George W. Bush Aug. 6 signed a fast-track trade bill that strengthened his hand in negotiating trade pacts with other countries. The measure, approved by the House, July 27, 215-212, and the Senate, Aug. 1, 64-34, limited Congress to up or down votes on trade agreements negotiated by the executive branch, with no modifications allowed. This arrangement had been in effect previously from 1975 to 1994. The new bill also provided $12 billion to help U.S. workers who lose jobs because of foreign competition related to a trade agreement.
U.S. House Members Face Tough Primaries - A number of U.S. House incumbents were challenged and defeated in primaries, especially in districts merged or redrawn following results of the 2000 census. John Dingell (D, MI), a U.S. representative for longer than any other current member, faced strong opposition from fellow incumbent Lynn Rivers, but defeated her in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary; Dingell won with strong support from the United Auto Workers and the National Rifle Assn. Two Republican House members were defeated in Georgia Aug. 20. Rep. Bob Barr, matched in the same district with Rep. John Lindner, lost to Lindner; Barr is a conservative especially known as a vehement critic of Pres. Bill Clinton. In another high-profile Georgia race, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, known for strong pro-Palestinian views, lost the Democratic primary to Denise Majette, a former state judge regarded as a moderate; both candidates are African-Americans.
In earlier primaries, Earl Hilliard (D, AL) lost June 25 to challenger Artur Davis; Hilliard's reported ethical lapses and support for pro-Arab causes were issues in the campaign. Two other House members had gone down May 7. In Indiana, in a redrawn district, Rep. Steven Buyer (R) defeated a freshman colleague, Brian Kerns. In Ohio, Rep. Thomas Sawyer (D) lost a bid for renomination in another redrawn district.
Corporate Executives Face Trouble - The founder and former CEO of ImClone, a biotechnology company, was indicted Aug. 7 on charges of insider trading. Prosecutors alleged that the executive, Samuel Waksal, had told relatives to sell their ImClone shares just before it became publicly known that the Food and Drug Administration was rejecting ImClone's application for a new cancer drug. TV personality-entrepreneur Martha Stewart, head of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., also came under congressional investigation for insider trading involving ImClone stock; she had sold off ImClone shares on Dec. 27, 2001, a day before the FDA decision became public.
A former Enron Corp. executive pleaded guilty in Houston Aug. 21 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Michael Kopper was the first employee of the bankrupt energy giant to plead guilty or be convicted in the case, still the subject of a broad federal investigation; he faced a potential prison sentence. In his plea bargain, Kopper agreed to cooperate with the investigation and pay the government $12 million obtained through criminal activity. He admitted having paid kickbacks to Andrew Fastow, then Enron's CFO, from money he got for managing a partnership created to conceal company debt and inflate profits.
On Aug. 28, two men were indicted in connection with the investigation into WorldCom. Scott Sullivan, its former CFO, and Buford Yates Jr., the former director of general accounting, were charged with conspiring to hide billions of dollars of losses at the company.
Scientist Denies Mailing Anthrax Letters - A prominent scientist specializing in germ weapons mainatined publicly on Aug. 11 that he had no involvement with any of the anthrax-laden letters sent out in the U.S. in late 2001 and responsible for 5 deaths. Dr. Steven Hatfill, who had worked at the Army's biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, MD, from 1997 to 1999, was one of about 2 dozen scientists described by government officials as "persons of interest" in their investigation. The FBI had searched his apartment twice, and Hatfill said they had ransacked his girlfriend's apartment.
US Airways Files for Bankruptcy - US Airways, the nation's 6th largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 11. Like other airlines, US Airways had been hard-hit by the terrorist attack of Sept. 11; the company lost $2 billion in 2001. The airline expected to continue flying, but with altered schedules.
Bush Convenes Economic Summit - At an economic forum he convened in Waco, TX, Aug. 13, Pres. George W. Bush said he was concerned but optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy; most of the 240 invited guests echoed his views. Democratic critics said the forum fell short of being a serious reexamination of economic policy. The same day, the Federal Reserve announced it was not cutting interest rates further but remained pessimistic about short-term economic recovery, citing a volatile stock market and reports of corporate malfeasance. The stock market did, however, appear to be recovering somewhat from its heavy losses in mid-July; the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed at 7702.34 on July 23, had risen about 1,000 points as of late August.
U.S. Indicts 5 on Terrorist-Related Charges - Four Arab men were indicted in federal court in Detroit, Aug. 28, on charges that they were part of a terrorist unit operating in the area. The indictment asserted that they constituted a "sleeper operational combat cell." Three of them worked at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. In Seattle, on Aug. 28, the government indicted a Muslim man, alleging that he had tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. The same day, German authorities charged a Moroccan man with supporting a cell of terrorists in Hamburg thought to have had a role in planning the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mideast Death Toll Continues to Climb - Retaliating for a bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Israeli army swept through Nablus, in the West Bank, Aug. 2, killing 3 Palestinians and arresting 50. The army, Aug. 4, blew up the homes of 9 suicide bombers. A bomb destroyed a bus near Safed, Israel, Aug. 4, killing the bomber and 9 others, and injuring more than 40. Violent incidents continued throughout the month. On Aug. 29, shells from an Israeli tank struck a house in Gaza, killing a woman, her 2 sons, and a cousin. On Aug. 1, the UN reported it had not found evidence that the Israeli army massacred Palestinian refugees in Jenin in April, as was charged by Palestinians. Israeli helicopter gunships ambushed a car in the West Bank on Aug. 31, killing 3 Palestinian militants and 2 children.
Shells in Colombia Kill 19 at Inauguration - Alvaro Uribe Vélez was sworn in Aug. 7 as president of Colombia, but the occasion in the capital, Bogota, was marred by mortar shells that landed nearby. Nineteen people were killed and more than 60 wounded. Authorities believed the attack came from the nation's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Uribe campaigned on a promise to defeat the rebels, who had been fighting the government for 38 years.
Terrorist Leader Dies of Gunshot Wounds - Abu Nidal, once one of the most feared of Palestinian terrorists, died of gunshot wounds in Baghdad, a Palestinian newspaper reported Aug. 19. Long at odds with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, he led an extremist organization, Fatah Revolutionary Council, which reportedly received backing from Iraq. Acts attributed to Nidal included the bombing of a TWA airliner over the Aegean Sea (1974; 88 killed), the hijacking of an Egyptian airliner (1985; 66 killed), and shootings at airline ticket desks in Rome and Vienna (1985; 18 killed). Iraqi Deputy Prime Mini, Tariq Aziz said Aug. 20 that Nidal had committed suicide. Agence France-Presse reported that Nidal had shot himself after officials came to arrest him on a charge of trying to overthrow the Iraqi government.
Russian Copter Crash in Chechnya Kills 117 - A Russian military helicopter crash-landed in a minefield near the main Russian military base in rebellious Chechnya, Aug. 19. The pilot of the Mi-26 transport had reported an engine fire moments before the crash. In all, 117 of the 147 aboard were killed in the crash or by mine explosions as they sought to flee. Most were soldiers. A missile attack was among several causes being investigated. Pres. Vladimir Putin blamed the military, Aug. 22, for the disaster, noting that in 1997 the Ministry of Defense had banned use of the Mi-26 for transporting troops.
Iraqi Opposition Group Takes Hostages in Berlin - Iraqis who opposed the regime of Pres. Saddam Hussein briefly seized control of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin Aug. 20. They held members of the staff hostage for 5 hours before German police broke into the compound, arrested 5 men, and freed their captives.
Bush Administration Supports "Regime Change" in Iraq - Pres. George W. Bush reiterated statements that the U.S. was considering an attack on Iraq but indicated that no final decision had been made. On Aug. 21, he said he was weighing all options on Iraq, while adding, "Regime change is in the interest of the world."
Sanctions imposed on Iraq after its defeat in the Gulf War in 1991 required Iraq to destroy any nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and allow arms inspection; U.S. administration officials have noted Iraq's failure to cooperate with UN arms inspection teams and have maintained that Iraq continues to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Foreign support for a military campaign appeared scant, while domestic opinion was divided on whether a case had yet been made. Some leading Republicans opposed intervention or urged caution, among them Rep. Dick Armey (TX), the House majority leader; Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under Bush's father; former Sec. of State Lawrence Eagleburger; and Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE). Hagel said the CIA had "absolutely no evidence" that Iraq would soon have nuclear weapons. Former Sec. of State Henry Kissinger counseled caution.
Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, in an Aug. 26 speech favoring U.S. military action, warned that the risks of inaction "are far greater than the risk of action." He said Iraq would have nuclear weapons "fairly soon."
Prime Minister of Canada to Retire - Prime Min. Jean Chrétien of Canada announced Aug. 21 that he would not seek a 4th term and would step down in February 2004. Leader of the country for 9 years, he had recently been embroiled in infighting within the ruling Liberal Party. The economy had done well, but scandals involving favors from corporations to cabinet ministers had surfaced, and polls indicated that his popularity was declining.
Heads of Siamese Twins Separated Surgically - Two one-year-old Siamese twin girls from Guatemala, who had been joined at their heads at birth, survived a 22-hour operation, Aug. 5 - 6. A team of 13 doctors performed the procedure at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California at Los Angeles. Their parents were at the hospital. The girls remained in critical but stable condition. Few who underwent similar procedures in the past survived without brain damage. On Aug. 15 the twins' condition was upgraded to serious.
Floods Slash Through Central Europe and Asia - More than a week of nearly constant rain sent floodwaters tearing through central Europe and southwestern Russia. By Aug. 12 the death toll in Russia was 58. The Vitava River inundated parts of central Prague, in the Czech Republic, forcing the evacuation of 50,000 and menacing the historic part of the city. Citizens built walls of sandbags. The autobahn between Munich, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria, was under up to 5 feet of water. By Aug. 14, 200,000 Czechs had fled their homes. In Dresden, Germany, the Elbe River jeopardized 4,000 paintings in the famed gallery of the Zwinger Palace (they were carried to the upper floors), and 3,000 hospital patients were evacuated. In Austria, the Danube River had overflowed in several places.
Meanwhile, in Asia, monsoon rains and resultant landslides took many lives. The death toll in China was put at 800 Aug. 14, and in Southeast Asia - Bangladesh, India, and Nepal - about 880 lives had been lost by that time.
Deadly Virus Carried by Mosquitoes Spreads in U.S. - During August the U.S. experienced its worst outbreak of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus since the virus first appeared in the nation (in New York City) in 1999. Most of those infected with the virus have only mild flu-like symptoms, but some cases involve serious, even life-threatening complications. By Aug. 27 there were 425 confirmed cases in 20 states and the District of Columbia, with 20 deaths.
Forty-six-year old Winston Cup veteran "Awesome" Bill Elliott dominated NASCAR's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Aug. 4, leading 93 of 160 laps. It was Elliott's 2nd victory in row. He won the Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on July 28.
At Turnberry Golf Club in Scotland, Australian Karrie Webb won the Women's British Open for the 3rd time, coming from 3 strokes back in the final round, Aug. 11 , to win by 2 strokes over fellow Australian Michelle Ellis and Spain's Paula Marti.
Golfer Rich Beem held off a charging Tiger Woods, who birdied the final 4 holes, by a stroke at the PGA Championship, Aug. 18, at Hazeltine National in Minnesota. It was Beem's 1st win in a major. He is the 12th golfer in the last 15 years to win his 1st major at the PGA Championship.
In the WUSA Founder's Cup championship game, Aug. 24 in Atlanta, GA, the Carolina Courage defeated the Washington Freedom, 3-2. Birgit Prinz, who scored the game-winning goal in the 58th minute, was named the game's MVP.
Pitcher Aaron Alvey hit a home run in the top of the 1st inning, and then struck out 11 batters to lead Louisville, KY, to a 1-0 win over Sendai, Japan, in the Little League World Series final, Aug. 25 in Williamsport, PA. Alvey's 44 strikeouts and 21 scoreless innings in the tournament were Little League World Series records. He also tied the mark for consecutive no-hit innings, with 12.
Major League Baseball owners and players agreed to a new contract, Aug. 30, averting what would have been the sport's 9th work stoppage since 1972. It was the 1st time the 2 sides settled their differences without a strike or a lockout. The deal, which runs through the 2006 season, stipulates that no teams will be eliminated.
Offbeat News Stories
Why Be Literal?
As part of the events around Pennsylvania this year marking the 225th anniversary of Revolutionary War battles in the region, the town of Downingtown, PA, known as Milltown in Revolutionary times, decided to stage a re-enactment August 17 of a skirmish in 1777 with British troops. One catch: the battle never happened. On one occasion, George Washington did order local militia into the town in case the British tried to use the road running through it, but no records exist of any battle. That didn't stop locals from dubbing the event "Washington's First Line of Defense." Luckily for the colonials, Milltown wasn't the last and only line, because it was a primarily Quaker settlement of about 100 people, and used mostly as a supply depot, that stored liquor, soap, candles, and cows.
Despite some controversy over the battle idea, the town was able to show folks a good time and also give them a look at the 1700s with period crafts and other exhibitions. And it happens, the people of Downingtown are also celebrating the 300th anniversary of the town's 1701 founding. The catch is, this being 2002, the town is actually 301 years old. Glenn Usher, chairman of the Downingtown Historical and Parks commission cleared the matter up for reporters: "To tell you the truth, the 300th anniversary was last year, but we forgot about it."
Manhattan Budget Mystery
Sometimes one little typo can make a big difference. You do not need to tell that to officials in Kansas's Riley County, where a house in the town of Manhattan, KS, valued at $59,000, was accidentally entered into the county database as being worth $200,059,000. That's a difference of $200 million! The error, discovered by the county appraiser in August, caused the town's overall property value to be overestimated by 6.5%. Riley County officials had based their budget on the tax revenue generated from those inflated figures; now they have a shortfall to make up. They will also be watching their keystrokes a little more carefully in the future.
Links of the Month
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
As the anniversary of September 11th approaches, there is still a sense of disbelief, over the events of that terrible day. Although I had a partial view of the towers from my office window, their absence really hits me at night, when my train departs Hoboken, NJ, and the new skyline appears through the windows. I am startled anew each time. Remembrances will certainly be the order of the day on the11th. For a view through the Internet, visit The September 11 Digital Archives http://911digitalarchive.org/, a source of electronic media which is collecting, preserving, and presenting the history of the September 11th attacks.
July 7, 2002, was the 100th birthday of legendary Negro Baseball League player Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. The oldest veteran of the Negro Leagues, he was a boyhood friend of Satchel Paige. Radcliffe began playing professional ball in 1920, and was a member of 40 teams, before retiring in the mid 1950s. Both a good catcher, and a good pitcher, he got his nickname in 1932, when he was catcher to a game Paige shutout, and later the same day, pitched a shutout himself. It was said at that time, that it was "worth the price of two admissions to see "Double Duty" Radcliffe play." To learn more about "Double Duty," and the Negro Baseball League, visit http://www.negroleaguebaseball.com/.
How many kids today have any idea what an LP is? Long playing records are becoming the dinosaurs of the 21st century, but if they are forgotten, how about those 8-Track tapes you have hidden away? A 1960s creation of portable music, 8-Track players found there way into vehicles of the 1970s, offering an alternative to the radio. At 8-Track Heaven http://www.8trackheaven.com/, learn about 8-Track technology, learn its history, and either buy more for your collection or find a place to unload them.
I can sometimes be easily amused. Visiting this next website provided that amusement for me this morning. Entitled "The People's Cam," http://www.indigo.org/webcam this webcam is aimed at a computer monitor running a text screensaver which YOU control. The site was begun by a couple, Terri and Matthew Pike, of Orlando, FL, on December 9, 2001, to provide a cam that would be interactive and fun for the viewer, and themselves. They originally envisioned the site as a place that people could make statements, like, "Save the Whales," or "I Love New York," but they find that many people use it as a chat machine.
Have you always thought you knew enough about a variety of subjects to go on the television show Jeopardy? Well, maybe you do, but a good test of the expanse of your knowledge, can be found on the Internet by playing Jeopardy Online http://jeopardy.station.sony.com/. There are six different versions -- standard, rock and roll, college, show biz, sports and technology, you can and play alone or against other trivia freaks. It's fun, and it's free.
When I was a kid, my mothers' cousins, Lydia and Enez, always supplied my sisters and me with an assortment of Peanuts products; whether it was Snoopy nightshirts, stationery, figure dolls, or an endless supply of greeting cards. They passed on their enjoyment for Charlie Brown and his friends. Creator Charles Schulz died in February 2000, but his achievements as a cartoonist, and his place in history, are being celebrated at the newly opened Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa, CA http://www.charlesmschulzmuseum.org/. At http://www.snoopy.com, the official Peanuts website, you can read today's strip, and learn everything you always wanted to know about Lucy, Marcie, and all the other characters.
Funny Website: How to Keep an Idiot Busy, at http://www.pagetutor.com/idiot/idiot.html
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