The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 4 - April 2003
What's in this issue?
April 3-6 - Mule Day (Columbia, TN)
April 1 - April Fool's Day
This Day in History - April
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
Location: Also Nashville-Davidson; capital of Tennessee, coextensive with Davidson County, a port of entry on the Cumberland River, in the northern central part of the state; incorporated 1806. Since 1963 Nashville and Davidson County have had a single government.
Known worldwide as the center of country and western music, Nashville has been the site of the Grand Ole Opry radio show since 1925. Nashville is also known as the "Athens of the South."
Population (2000 Census): 569,891
Mayor: Bill Purcell (Non-Partisan)
April Temperatures: Normal high of 70.8 degrees Fahrenheit; Normal low of 47.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Colleges & Universities: Belmont University, Fisk University, Free Will Baptist Bible College, Lipscomb University, Meharry Medical College, Nashville State Technical Institute, Tennessee State University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Vanderbilt University
Events: Songwriter's Symposium 2003 (April 4-5); Big Boy Toy Show (April 5-6); GMA 2003 Gospel Music Association Week (April 6-10); Nashville Blues Extravaganza (April 6); 34th Annual Dove Awards (April 10); Pepsi 300, BGN Race (April 12); Swing into Spring! (April 18-20); Nashville's Earth Day Festival (April 19); Spring Art Hop (April 19); Eggstravaganzoo (Nashville Zoo introduction to Spring; April 19); 21st Annual Music City Square Dance Festival (April 25-26); Celebrate Air & Space (Adventure Science Center; April 26); Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon (April 26); 20th Annual Main Street Festival (April 26-27); Nashville Film Festival (April 29-May 4)
Sports Teams: Tennessee Titans (football); Nashville Predators (ice hockey)
Museums: Adventure Science Center; the Agricultural Museum; the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; the Cumberland Science Museum; the Grand Ole Opry Museum; Lane Motor Museum; the Music Valley Wax Museum; Nashville Toy Museum; the Tennessee State Museum; Willie Nelson and Friends Showcase Museum
Places to visit: the Grand Ole Opry House; the State Capitol (on the grounds of which is the tomb of President James K. Polk); the Georgian-style Governor's Mansion; Belle Meade Mansion; the Hermitage (the home of President Andrew Jackson); Travellers Rest (the home of John Overton, Jackson's law partner); Tulip Grove (the home of Andrew Donelson, Jackson's private secretary); Fort Nashborough (a replica of the city's original settlement); the Parthenon (the house of the Art Museum; named and modeled after the Parthenon, the Doric temple built for the goddess Athena in the 5th century BC in Athens, Greece); Ryman Auditorium (the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974); Frist Center for the Visual Arts; Nashville Farmers Market; Nashville Zoo
Tallest Building: BellSouth Tower (617 feet, 33 stories)
History: The Nashville area, used as a hunting ground by Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee Indians, attracted French fur traders, who about 1710 established a trading post, which became known as French Lick. In 1779, a group of pioneers, some from North Carolina, built Fort Nashborough, named for the American Revolution general Francis Nash. They soon drew up a document for self-government--the Cumberland Compact of 1780. In 1784 the community was renamed Nashville. Situated at the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, then a major commercial road, Nashville was, by the early 19th century, a bustling river port known for shipping cotton. In 1843 the city was made the permanent state capital, and in the 1850s it became a rail center.
Early in the American Civil War, Nashville was a strategic military post for the Confederacy, but in 1862 the city was captured by Union troops. The Confederates made an unsuccessful attempt to retake the city in the Battle of Nashville (December 1864). After the Civil War, Nashville grew as a trade center, and in the 1920s it became a center of country-and-western music (the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts from Nashville have been on the air since 1925). Beginning in the 1930s the city's industrial development was spurred by the availability of cheap electric power produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority
Birthplace of: musician Gregg Allman (1947); U.S. Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun (1908); civil rights leader Julian Bond (1940); singer/actress Rita Coolidge (1945); poet Randall Jarrell (1914); actress Annie Potts (1952); astronomer Harlow Shapley (1885); singer Kitty Wells (1919); actress Reese Witherspoon (1976)
Amies, Sir Hardy, 93, British fashion designer and dressmaker by appointment to Queen Elizabeth II; Langford, England, Mar. 5, 2003.
Brakhage, Stan, 70, prolific and influential avant-garde filmmaker; Victoria, British Columbia (Canada), Mar. 9, 2003.
Buchholz, Horst, 69, German actor who made his mark in Hollywood in such films as The Magnificent Seven (1960) and One, Two, Three (1961); Berlin, Germany, Mar. 3, 2003.
Coors, Joseph, 85, beer company magnate and financial backer of conservative political causes; Rancho Mirage, CA, Mar. 15, 2003.
Fast, Howard, 88, prolific author best known for such populist historical novels as Citizen Tom Paine (1943), Freedom Road (1944) and Spartacus (1961); Old Greenwich, CT, Mar. 12, 2003.
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, 76, academic, social policy formulator, diplomat and four-term Democratic senator from New York (1977-2001); Washington, DC, Mar. 26, 2003.
SPECIAL FEATURE: An Overview of the Department of Homeland Security
By Erik Gopel
The creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) represents the most significant reorganization of the United States government in over fifty years, since President Truman combined the War and Navy departments between 1947 and 1949 to form the Department of Defense. The new Department of Homeland Security comprises 22 pre-existing federal agencies from various executive departments, some of them transformed into brand new agencies, such as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Overall, the DHS employs about 170,000 people and is currently the third largest department in the executive office; only the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are larger. The DHS is the first new cabinet-level department since the Veterans Administration became the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989. The Secretary of Homeland Security is former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, and the Deputy Secretary is former Secretary of the Navy Gordon England.
Background and Formation
Throughout the summer of 2002, several intelligence-agency whistleblowers testified before Congress, revealing extensive CIA and FBI intelligence failures, and the problematic relations among the various intelligence-gathering agencies. It became apparent to many that a presidential advisory office alone could not handle the enormous job of coordinating all of the agencies engaged in terrorism prevention. As Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D, CT) submitted a proposal in May 2002 to transform the Homeland Security office into an official department of the United States cabinet. President George W. Bush demurred at first, but soon submitted his own proposal, delivering the Homeland Security Bill to Congress on June 18, 2002. A transitional office to oversee the consolidation of the future DHS components was created by an executive order on June 20.
Despite abundant bipartisan support in Congress for creating a homeland security department, lawmakers debated several provisions in the Homeland Security bill, delaying its passage until the very end of the lame-duck session. An initial version of the bill was passed by the House on July 26, 2002, but stalled in the Senate as Democrats protested the absence of any civil service protections for DHS employees. Unlike in most other federal agencies, the President believed that he should have the power to fire and hire DHS employees at will, maintaining that delays in these processes could compromise national security. Democrats and the labor lobby protested strongly, and the bill was amended after the November midterm election to provide for a mediation board that would arbitrate labor disputes. However, the Secretary of the department still retained the power to overrule these mediated decisions.
In the final hours its legislation, certain special-interest provisions were inserted. These granted limitations on vaccine liabilities to pharmaceutical companies, offered certain protections against defective-product lawsuits, and indemnified contractors that supplied security equipment for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Another intensely debated aspect of the Homeland Security bill involved whistleblower protections for DHS employees, which were initially excluded. Since whistleblowers had revealed the procedural lapses in the intelligence community that purportedly failed to detect the September 11 attacks, some in Congress felt that such protections were crucial to security. A provision for this protection in compliance with the 1989 Whistleblowers Protection Act was eventually included.
The Homeland Security Act that created the department was passed by the House of Representatives on November 13 and by the Senate on November 18. President Bush signed the bill into law November 25. Tom Ridge was confirmed by the Senate as the cabinet-level Secretary of the DHS on January 22, 2003, and sworn in two days later. The department began operations on January 24, with headquarters in the Nebraska Avenue Center, a Navy facility in northwest Washington, D.C. An amendment to strike seven contested special-interest provisions from the bill was passed as part of an omnibus spending bill in February 2003.
The 2004 fiscal year omnibus spending bill passed in February 2003 allocated a sum of $36 billion for the entire DHS budget. This is less than two percent of the $2.2 trillion federal budget for 2003. While it is close to the sum requested by the administration, many in congress have expressed a desire to supplement this budget in the coming months. Border security is receiving the most funds--about $18 billion, and the TSA will get $4.8 billion. Enhancements to increase the budget are being debated.
Border and Transportation Security, Undersecretary: Asa Hutchinson
Emergency Preparedness and Response, Undersecretary: Mike Brown
Science and Technology, not yet confirmed
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, not yet confirmed
Management, Undersecretary: Janet Hale (Responsible for administration of DHS. No agencies were transferred here)
Coast Guard (Transportation): port and shore security, drug interdiction, and maritime law.
Previously, private security firms had been responsible for screening passengers and their luggage. Investigations following the 9/11 terrorist attacks revealed that many of those security workers had criminal backgrounds or were unqualified for the position. The TSA assumed complete control, hired approximately 54,000 workers, and nearly doubled the salaries for screeners. Random security inspections of both passengers and baggage are now routine at airports, and a note card placed inside luggage indicating an inspection has become commonplace. The head of the TSA, Under Secretary Admiral James M. Loy, was confirmed in November 2002. While legislation capped the number of employees at 45,000, the TSA hired about 9,000 more than the cap. After reviewing the effectiveness of the new workforce, Admiral Loy announced at the end of March that 3,000 of these employees, mostly temporary workers, would be let go in early April.
The reorganization that created the DHS also dissolved the INS, and absorbed most of its functions into several new agencies in the DHS. The most notable is the Bureau of Immigration and Citizenship, which handles all adjudications and benefits for immigration, asylum, and refugee petitions, as well as naturalization.
Public Awareness (The Ready Campaign)
Another important tool in the department's public awareness program is the Homeland Security Advisory System. This is a color-coded alert system with five distinct levels that indicates the degree of risk for possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. The levels are, from lowest to highest, Low (Green), Guarded (Blue), Elevated (Yellow), High (Orange), and Severe (Red).
Homeland Security Council
Security in Time of War: Operation Liberty Shield
As part of this operation, the federal government will detain all people residing in the United States who are seeking political asylum and are from one of the 34 countries that are known to have contained al-Qaeda operatives. The government will also interview about 10,000 of the 131,000 Iraqis who immigrated to the United States since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.
This applies even more to immigrants. The Bureau of Immigration and Citizenship has implemented a new immigrant tracking system called Special Registration. It compels all men and women above the age of 16, who are from 34 countries listed as possible areas of terrorist activity, to register with their local INS office or face arrest and possible deportation. Allegedly, many of these immigrants have not been allowed access to legal counsel during registration, and many individuals suspected of having terrorist connections may be detained indefinitely. The government is also allowed to listen in on conversations between detainees and their legal counsel. Some view the new government powers in immigration as violations of the right to due process granted by the Fifth Amendment.
Avoid Clumsy Kisses - Lean Right
Some couples gave dirty looks when they noticed Onur Gunturkun, a professor of biopsychology at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, watching them kiss. Little did they know, Gunturkun was simply carrying out a study on "Adult persistence of Head-Turning Asymmetry," the results of which were published in the February 13, 2003 issue of Nature.
Gunturkun observed more than 124 couples osculating (kissing) in public spaces such as airports and railway stations. To avoid an awkward bumping of noses, kissing couples generally tilt their heads in the same direction-that is, to the right or left, from the perspective of each individual. Of the pairs studied by Gunturkun, 80 (64.5%) tilted their heads to the right to kiss, while 44 (33.5%) engaged in left-leaning lip locking. This evidence suggests that kissers prefer tilting their heads to the right at a 2:1 ratio over tilting to the left.
Gunturkun only took note of each couple's directional preference at the first point of lip contact, disregarding any changes in head direction that occurred during "instances of multiple kissing." Also, to be included in the study, a kissing couple had to meet stringent criteria. They had to be facing each other; their hands needed to be free (as hand-held objects could contribute to a side preference); and their choice of direction had to be obvious to the observer. The data collection took over two years, because Gunturkun tended to carry out his research when traveling. As he explained to Bloomberg News, "I was sitting in the O'Hare airport for five hours with nothing to do, and this came to me. It was a good thing to do."
Although Gunturkun's work may portray him as a romantic, he told the New York Times, "I was never interested to study kissing because of kissing. I wanted to understand the rules that transform our brains into asymmetrically functioning entities," meaning that the brain and thus, the body, do not work the same on both sides. For example, he presents his study in terms of the fact that babies often turn their heads to the right, rather than to the left, during the final weeks of gestation and through the first six months after birth. Gunturkun asserts that his study proves this preference persists into adulthood.
He also suggests an association between head-turning preference and other instances in which one side of the body dominates. In fact, preferential use of the right foot, eye, and ear all occur at a 2:1 ratio. Though right-handedness occurs at the much higher rate of 8:1, social pressures are likely to persuade lefties to use their right hands, thus skewing our ability to measure the naturally-occurring ratio.
Gunturkun notes that his research fails to account for the possibility that left-leaning kissers may be subject to social pressures as well. Enough clumsy kisses with right-leaning people could reasonably persuade a lefty to join the majority.
Senate Ratifies Nuclear Agreement With Russia -The U.S. Senate, Mar. 6, approved, 95-0, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty signed in 2002 by Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Vladimir Putin of Russia. The treaty required the 2 countries to reduce the number of their deployed nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. Each country now had about 6,000 warheads deployed. Russia's parliament had not yet ratified the treaty.
Drilling for Oil in Wildlife Refuge Rejected Again - Consistent with previous votes, the Senate Mar. 19 rejected a proposal supported by the Bush administration to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was thought to contain huge oil reserves, but conservationists argued that drilling would degrade the wilderness that was home to wildlife herds. Supporters of drilling had thought that the war with Iraq might prompt the Senate to reverse its previous opposition. Eight Republicans went against the administration.
Senate Deals Setback to Bush Tax Cut Plan - The tax-cut proposal put forth by Pres. George W. Bush - the centerpiece of his economic-recovery program - lost ground in the Senate, Mar. 25. A day earlier, on Mar. 24, the administration said it would ask Congress for $74.7 billion to pay for the war in Iraq, plus additional funds for foreign aid and domestic security. Some Senators who had previously supported the tax-cut plan were apparently concerned by the cost of the war and supported an amendment Mar. 25 to the 2004 fiscal year tax and spending guidelines to reduce the 10-year, $726 billion tax-cut package to $350 billion. The amendment carried, 51-48, with 3 Republicans in the majority. A Senate-House conference committee could still restore the tax-cut package to something much closer to what the President proposed.
4 Air Force Academy Officers Fired in Rape Scandal - The Air Force announced Mar. 25 that it was replacing the 4 top officers at the U.S. Air Force Academy as a result of allegations by more than 50 women cadets and former cadets that they had been raped during the past decade. The women claimed that the academy failed to protect them from assault and had in fact investigated those filing complaints. The officers removed included the superintendent of cadets, Gen. John Dallager. An investigation was continuing.
Diplomacy Fails to Prevent Invasion of Iraq - Diplomatic efforts to continue inspections as a means of obtaining Iraqi compliance and averting military action proved unsuccessful. One of the chief inspectors, Hans Blix, reported to the United Nations Mar. 1 that Iraq, while not proven to be in violation of its obligations to divest itself of weapons of mass destruction, had not fully cooperated witjh inspectors. As directed by the U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq Mar. 1 did begin to destroy an arsenal of more than 100 al-Samoud 2 missiles, whose range exceeded the 150-km (93 mi) U.N.-imposed limit. The Arab League Mar. 1 opposed a U.S. attack on Iraq and called for a peaceful settlement. Turkey's parliament Mar. 1 refused to permit the stationing of 62,000 troops on its soil. Iraqi dissident groups, meeting in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, called Mar. 1 for a transition to a parliamentary system of government.
Blix said Mar. 5 that he wanted more time for inspections. France, Russia, and Germany indicated the same day that they would oppose a draft resolution submitted to the U.N. Security Council by the United States, Britain, and Spain declaring that Iraq had missed its last chance to disarm peacefully. China, Mar. 6, supported their position. Sec. of State Colin Powell said, Mar. 7, that if diplomatic efforts failed, the United States would lead a coalition of willing nations that would disarm Iraq with or without U.N. authority.
The 3 sponsors of the draft resolution proposed a compromise Mar. 7, setting a Mar. 17 deadline for Iraq to demonstrate cooperation in disarming, but France indicated it would veto such a resolution. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, and Premier Jose Maria Aznar of Spain met in the Azores Islands Mar. 16 and declared that their diplomatic efforts to avert war would end the next day. On Mar. 17, when it was apparent that the Security Council would not approve their resolution, the 3 co-sponsors withdrew it. Bush, the same day, warned that Pres. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours, an ultimatum that Hussein rejected. U.N. Secretary Gen. Kofi Annan Mar. 17 ordered all U.N. personnel, including weapons inspectors, to evacuate Iraq.
The U.S. State Dept. Mar. 18 listed 30 countries that were members of the "coalition of the willing" who supported military intervention. Fifteen other countries had asked not to be named. Only 3 countries in the coalition, the United States (225,000), Britain (45,000), and Australia (2,000) had provided troops. Canada had announced Mar. 17 that it would not participate in the war. Turkey's parliament Mar. 20 agreed to allow U.S. planes to cross Turkish airspace.
Mastermind of Sept. 11 Attacks Seized in Pakistan - On Mar. 1, Pakistani counter-terrorism officials seized Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was believed to be the 3d-ranking member of al-Qaeda and the principal planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. The United States had indicted him in 1995 in connection with a failed plot to bomb up to 12 airplanes over the Pacific Ocean. The FBI may have been instrumental in the seizure of Mohammed and 2 other men in Rawalpindi Mar. 1. According to an indictment in another case, one of the others arrested, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, had wired money from the United Arab Emirates to the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Tensions With North Korea Remain High - Four North Korean fighter planes Mar. 2 intercepted a U.S. surveillance plane over the Sea of Japan, in international waters. The North Koreans followed the U.S. plane for 22 minutes, approaching as close as 50 feet, before returning home. Pres. George W. Bush called for countries in the region to pursue diplomacy aimed at dealing with North Korea's resumption of a nuclear program. On Mar. 5, a number of Democratic Party leaders, including former secretaries of state and defense Madeleine Albright and William Perry, urged the administration to negotiate directly with North Korea, which it appeared reluctant to do. On Mar. 10, North Korea test-fired a 2d ground-to-ship missile over the Sea of Japan.
Bombings in Philippines Blamed on Terrorists - Two bombings on the Philippines island of Mindanao on Mar. 4 were blamed on Islamic separatists. One explosion killed 21, including an American Baptist missionary, and injured 150. The 2d claimed one life and injured 3. The Philippine military said Mar. 14 that it had killed almost 200 separatists in 3 days of fighting on Mindanao.
Under Pressure, Palestinians Name a Prime Minister - The Palestinian Legislative Council Mar. 10 created the position of prime minister, and gave the office control over internal affairs. However, peace talks with Israel would remain under control of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The latter had already said, Mar. 6, that he would appoint his ally Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister. Abbas had helped negotiate the 1993 Oslo peace agreement with Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel had said he would no longer have anything to do with Arafat.
On Mar. 5, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and 15 others on a bus in Haifa. On Mar. 6, Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a refugee camp. The Israelis, firing from 2 gunships, killed a Hamas leader and 3 bodyguards in a vehicle, Mar. 8. Israelis killed 10 Palestinians in the West Bank Mar. 13 and 14. On Mar. 16, an Israeli army bulldozer ran over and killed an American woman who sought to prevent it from destroying a Palestinian home. A suicide bomber Mar. 30 killed himself and wounded three dozen others in an attack outside a café in Netanya.
Premier of Serbia Assassinated - Premier Zoran Djindjic of Serbia died Mar. 12 after being struck by 2 bullets fired by assassins. Serbian leaders blamed the Zemun clan, an organized crime group. Its leader, Milorad Lukovic, had been angered by the premier's cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal and his support for government reforms. Sec. of State Colin Powell praised Djindjic, citing his "campaign to combat organized crime, which threatens every institution in Serbian society." Police Mar. 13 reported that 40 arrests had been made. On Mar. 18, the Serbian parliament approved Zoran Zivkovic as Djindjic's successor.
War-torn Ivory Coast Installs New Premier - Ivory Coast, torn by civil war for 6 months, got a new premier, Seydou Diarra, Mar. 10. The French, the country's former colonial rulers, had brokered an agreement that sought to arrange for a sharing of power among the government, opposition parties, and 3 rebel factions. A new cabinet was introduced Mar. 13. Some 3,000 people had died during the civil war. More than 100 died in a massacre in Bangolo Mar. 7.
Turkey Gets New Premier at Critical Moment - Even while controversy was swirling around Turkey's role in the prospective war in Iraq, the country got a new premier. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chairman of the ruling party, was chosen by parliament Mar. 14 to succeed Abdullah Gul. Although Erdogan's Justice and Development Party had won the November 2002 election, he was not a member of parliament and thus ineligible to be premier. However, he had just won a seat in a by-election. Gul was named foreign minister in the new cabinet.
U.S. and British Forces Invade Iraq - The U.S.-led military offensive aimed at ousting the regime of Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq got underway Mar.19. The first strike occurred after dark Mar. 19, when about 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles descended on 3 targets in Baghdad, the capital, in response to intelligence information that Hussein was at a meeting with other top Iraqi leaders. Iraq fired 3 missiles at U.S. bases in Kuwait; one landed harmlessly, and 2 were knocked down by U.S. Patriot missiles. In a televised address Mar. 19, Pres. George W. Bush announced the onset of the military campaign, named Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In the first ground combat, Mar. 20, U.S. forces destroyed 2 Iraqi armored personnel carriers inside Kuwait. Units of the U.S. Army's 3d Infantry Division and Marine lst Expeditionary Force entered Iraq after dark Mar. 20. The division moved north toward Baghdad, while U.S. and British marines turned northeast toward Basra, Iraq's 2d city. In an aerial bombardment, the principal feature of what the Pentagon dubbed its "shock and awe" campaign, some 1,300 missiles and bombs rained down on military targets in Baghdad after dark on Mar. 21. The bombardment, which continued in succeeding days, was captured on live television, as news channels followed the war on a continuing basis, aided by reports from "embedded" journalists traveling with the troops
A U.S. supply vehicle, on the route to Baghdad, made a wrong turn in Nasiriyah Mar. 22, and 7 Americans were believed killed and 5, including a woman, were captured. Some U.S. soldiers were believed to have been executed after having been captured alive. Nine marines were killed in Nasiriyah Mar. 23. Marines found 3,000 chemical warfare suits and masks at a hospital in Nasiriyah Mar. 25. Third Infantry soldiers were within 50 miles of Baghdad by Mar. 24, but a sandstorm impeded progress Mar. 25 and 26. Hussein, on Iraqi television Mar. 24, appealed to his forces to hold firm against the coalition. The Iraqis shot down an Apache helicopter Mar. 24 and captured 2 U.S. pilots. The 7th Cavalry reportedly killed 1,000 Iraqis near Najav, another city leading to Baghdad, Mar. 25-26. The Pentagon reported Mar. 26 that 4,000 Iraqis had been taken prisoner.
British forces said Mar. 25 that they had captured the Gulf port city of Umm Qasr, but Basra, nearby, had not fallen, and its million residents were reported in desperate need of water. U.S. forces Mar. 21 had seized major oil fields near Basra.
More than 1,000 members of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into northern Iraq, Mar. 26, with the objective of uniting with anti-Hussein Kurds who enjoyed a semiautonomous status. The U.S. presence was apparently also designed to discourage Turkey, which was concerned about a Kurdish uprising that might spread to its own Kurdish population, from sending troops into northern Iraq. Bush, Mar. 23, had warned Turkey not to intervene.
The number of Iraqi military and civilian casualties was difficult to determine. The coalition forces, through Mar. 29, had suffered the following casualties: for the U.S., 42 dead, 7 captured and 17 missing, while the British had 25 dead. Some coalition deaths were due to accidents, friendly fire, or other causes not attributable to enemy fire. Eight British soldiers and 4 U.S. marines died Mar. 21 in a helicopter crash in Kuwait. Six British soldiers and one U.S. serviceman died Mar. 22 when 2 copters collided. A U.S. missile Mar. 23 mistakenly shot down a British fighter jet, killing the 2-man crew. A U.S. soldier was arrested Mar. 23 after he allegedly threw grenades into 3 U.S. officers' tents in Kuwait; 14 soldiers were wounded, 2 fatally. Among civilian casualties, an American bomb Mar. 24 hit a bus carrying mostly Syrians out of Iraq, killing 5 and wounding 10. Another bomb or missile, possibly of U.S. origin, killed 17 civilians in Baghdad, Mar. 26. Coalition forces stated that they did not target civilians and were seeking to minimize civilian casualties through precision bombing.
Iraqi resistance, particularly by "fedayeen" paramilitary forces, was often heavy, and stretched-out supply lines came under frequent attacks, leading to what some observers characterized as delays in the progress of coalition forces toward entering Baghdad. Iraq introduced a new tactic Mar. 29: A suicide bomber blew up his taxi and killed 4 U.S. soldiers near Najaf. On Mar. 30 an Iraqi spokesman said that 4,000 volunteers from 23 countries were ready to carry out suicide attacks. U.S. and British officials complained that Iraqi forces were resorting to tactics that violated military codes of conduct, such as disguising themselves in civilian clothes, pretending to surrender and then fighting, forcing civilians to act as human shields, and threatening them with death to prevent them from welcoming or cooperating with coalition forces.
Britain's Blair Weathers Political Storm Over Iraq - Prime Minister Tony Blair, a strong advocate of military intervention in Iraq, won the support of Parliament for the war, Mar. 18, when the House of Commons voted 412-149 to use "all means necessary" against Hussein. Clare Short, the cabinet secretary for international development, who on Mar. 9 had threatened to resign if British troops invaded Iraq without a 2d U.N. resolution authorizing force, decided to stay on. However, Robin Cook, leader of Commons, resigned in protest, Mar. 17. Initial polls taken after war began showed a narrow majority of the British supporting Blair's position; however, polls in many other countries showed large majorities opposed to war, and there demonstrations in major cities.
Kidnapped Girl Found Alive in Utah - Elizabeth Smart, 15, who had been abducted from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June 2002 was found alive on Mar. 12. She was in the custody of Brian Mitchell, a panhandler and self-described prophet, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, in the nearby town of Sandy. Mitchell had worked for one day at the Smart home in November 2001. A polygamist, he had been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The girl's rescue, following reports from people who had seen Mitchell linked to the abduction in a television report, raised question about police competence. On Mar. 18, charges were filed against Mitchell and Barzee.
Mysterious Illness Seen as World-wide Threat - A strange new illness that caused pneumonia-like symptoms became a cause for alarm. On Mar. 15, the World Health Organization issued an alert on what it called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which had spread from Asia to Europe and North America. By Mar. 27, 1,408 people in 14 countries had been stricken, and 53 had died, including 34 in China. The condition, characterized by high fever, dry cough, and difficult breathing, was thought to spread by sneezes and coughs. Researchers came up with 2 different viruses that might be the cause.
Antiabortion Activist Found Guilty of Murder - James Kopp, an opponent of abortion, was found guilty of 2d-degree murder Mar. 18 in the shooting death of Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Admitting the crime in 2002, Kopp said he sought only to wound Slepian in order to prevent him from carrying out abortions. Kopp had waived a jury trial, and was found guilty by Judge Michael D'Amico in Erie County (NY) Court.
Hundreds Missing in Bolivia Landslide - A landslide Mar. 31 buried about 150 houses in the mining town of Chima in northern Bolivia. The toll of the disaster was not known, but several dozen people reportedly were missing.
'Chicago' Named Best Movie of 2002 - Chicago, a rousing musical set in the1920s, was named Mar. 23 as the best film of 2002 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The academy's annual awards ceremony in Hollywood was less flamboyant than usual because of the onset of the war against Iraq. In all, Chicago won 6 Oscars. Adrien Brody was named best actor for The Pianist, and Nicole Kidman best actress for The Hours. Roman Polanski was voted best director for The Pianist. Below is a list of the winners:
Robert Sorlie, of Norway, won his 1st Iditarod sled dog race, Mar. 13, in only his 2nd time racing the event (he finished 9th in 2002). The 1,100-mile course from Anchorage to Nome, AK , had to be rerouted several times due to lack of snow. Some 400 miles of trail were affected. Sorlie was the 1st non-American winner in race history. His winning time was 9 days, 15 hours, 47 minutes.
Russia's Evgeny Plushenko won his 2nd world title at the World Figure Skating Championships in Washington, DC, on Mar. 28. American Tim Goebel took the silver, followed by Japan's Takeshi Honda, with the bronze. In the women's final Mar. 29, Michelle Kwan won her 5th World Figure Skating Championship. Elena Sokolova, of Russia, was 2nd and Fumie Suguri, of Japan, finished 3rd.
In the 1st LPGA major tournament of 2003, France's Patricia Meunier-Lebouc defeated Sweden's Annika Sorenstam by a stroke on Mar. 31, to take the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, CA.
Davis Love III shot a final-round 64 to win The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, by 6 strokes over Jay Haas on Sunday, Mar. 31.
OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES
- Kevin Seabrooke
Hooters Air Takes Wing(s) - The Hooters restaurant chain, known as much for the short shorts and tight T-shirts of its "Hooters Girls" wait staff as it is for its Buffalo-style chicken wings, has taken on another kind of wing. Hooters Air One, a Boeing 737 painted in the restaurant's signature orange and white took off on March 6. Fitted with 112 leather seats, the airline boasts more leg room and a relaxed atmosphere. Two "Hooters Girls" will be on each flight -in addition to 2 pilots and 3 flight attendants. Initially, the only flights were between Atlanta, GA, and Myrtle Beach, SC, a popular golf resort destination. Flights to Myrtle Beach from Newark, NJ (via Atlanta), were to be added. The Atlanta-based chain, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has more than 300 restaurants in 43 states and 10 countries.
Veni, Vidi, Venti - The first free-standing Starbucks store in Arkansas is set to open in May 2003, in Little Rock. That leaves 45 states down, with only 5 to go, for the Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. (whose largest coffee cup size is known as a "venti"). While there are more than 6,200 Starbucks coffee shops worldwide, there are still no Starbucks in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota or West Virginia. For those five states, it seems only a matter of time. The company plans to open 1,200 new stores in 2003.
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Happy April Fool's Day! The origins of this day are a bit of a mystery, but it has evolved into a day of pranks, some as modest (though maybe not the best idea) as putting salt in the sugar container at home, others dramatic enough to make headlines. There was the time in 1996 when Taco Bell announced that it had bought the famed Liberty Bell from the federal government, and was going to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. Oh my, the reaction was swift, and many outraged citizens began to call the national site in Philadelphia. Adding to the humor of the day, White House press secretary Mike McCurry, when asked about the sale, responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold, though to a different corporation, and would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial! For a list of 100 top April Fool's Day hoaxes, visit http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/top100.html.
I can't wait for the NFL Draft here in New York on April 26-27. Okay, well, people who know me are probably thinking right now that this is my April Fool's Day joke for them. But really folks, there is a lot to learn about football at the official NFL site http://www.nfl.com/. You can learn about the teams, the players, stats, and about the draft. And for those of you who want to come to New York for the draft, there is a free contest to enter. I'm going to start studying up for this year's office football pool.
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea of daylight saving (not "savings" as I thought)? The British started implementing DST in 1916, and it was the cause of much confusion. By now people are more used to it. Daylight Savings Time starts in the U.S. on April 6th. The main purpose of DST is to make better use of daylight, and in the process, save energy. To learn everything you ever wanted to know about Daylight Saving Time, visit http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/index.html.
Wouldn't it just be nice today to play hooky and go to the zoo. Well, some of you are at work today, and I know that there is no chance that you'll be able to escape and go to see the polar bears at the Toledo (OH) zoo, so why not visit via the cyberworld. At the Discovery Channel http://dsc.discovery.com/cams/cams.html you can not only watch a cam of the polar bears, but watch a volcano in Mexico, see a skyscraper under construction, and (you might want to put your sunglasses on now) watch the sun.
For me, one of the highlights of the 75th annual Academy Awards show in March, was the tribute to past winners (in the acting categories), which included nearly 60 actors and actresses, on stage. Gee, it was great to see some old faces including Luise Rainer (93), Karl Malden (90), Olivia De Havilland (86), Jennifer Jones (84), and Teresa Wright (84). My World Almanac was getting a workout that night, checking everyone's ages out. Several days later I checked out a site I've recommended before, the Internet Movie Database http://us.imdb.com/, and I was able see all of the movies these stars had been in, some more current than I knew, and saw some wonderful pictures too. And at Classic Movies http://www.thegoldenyears.org/, you can read about film stars from the "golden era" of filmmaking, with hundreds of links to other sites.
The mysterious website of the month: The Flash Mind Reader: http://www.cyberglass.co.uk/FlashEx/mindreader.html
An Update: Remember the Nigerian Spam Scam Contest I mentioned last month? Well, I entered the contest as of April 1st, I am in 12th place with a total of $152.2 million dollars promised, from 24 e-mails. I have a ways to go to catch up to the leader, known as Susu; that person has $3.3285 billion dollars!
World Almanac E-Newsletter
Louise Bloomfield, Erik Gopel, Walter Kronenberg, Chris Larson, Bill McGeveran, Kevin Seabrooke and Lori Wiesenfeld
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