The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 9 - September 2003
What's in this issue?
September is Baby Safety Month
August 25-September 7 - U.S. Open tennis tournament, Flushing, NY
September 1 - Labor Day (U.S., Canada)
This Day in History - September
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: Hartford, CT
Location: Capital of Connecticut, in Hartford County, at the head of navigation on the Connecticut River; incorporated 1784. Hartford has been one of the chief centers of the U.S. insurance business since the 1790s. The Hartford Courant, established in 1764, is one of the country's oldest newspapers.
Population (2002): 124,558
Mayor: Eddie A. Perez (Non-Partisan)
September Temperatures: Normal high of 74.3 degrees; normal low of 51.9 degrees
Colleges & Universities: Capital Community College; Hartford College for Women; Hartford Seminary; Rensselaer at Hartford; Trinity College
Events: Garden Tour, Elizabeth Park (September 2); Aetna First Thursday (events throughout downtown Hartford; September 4); Rose Garden Tour, Elizabeth Park (September 4); Gospel Festival at SummerWind (September 6); Guitar Under the Stars, Riverfront Plaza (September 6); Rhapsody in Blue, Hartford Symphony Orchestra at The Bushnell (September 12); Tales and Tunes, Great River Park, East Hartford (September 12); Asian Festival, Riverfront Plaza (September 20); African American Festival (September 27); Olmstead Summer Classics, Great River Park, East Hartford (September 27)
Places to visit: Bushnell Park Carousel; Connecticut Historical Society; Elizabeth Park; homes of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Noah Webster; Menczer Museum of Medicine & Dentistry; Old State House (1796), designed by Charles Bulfinch; State Capitol (1879); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Tallest Building: City Place I (38 stories; 535 feet)
History: Long inhabited by Saukiog Indians, the area was first visited by Europeans when Adriaen Block, a Dutch navigator, explored the Connecticut River in 1614. A trading post and fort, the House of Good Hope, was established by the Dutch in 1633, and in 1636 the Rev. Thomas Hooker and his assistant, Samuel Stone, brought most of their congregation here from New Towne (now Cambridge, MA). The following year the settlement was named for Hertford, England, Stone's birthplace. In 1639 Hartford became part of Connecticut Colony, governed under the Fundamental Orders, a noted early written constitution. In 1662 Charles II of England granted the colony a charter, and the capital was located in Hartford; from 1701 until 1873 both Hartford and New Haven served as the seats of Connecticut's government. In 1687 Sir Edmund Andros, governor of New England, attempted unsuccessfully to obtain the colony's charter, said to have been hidden in an oak tree by enterprising colonists led by Capt. Joseph Wadsworth. The site of the tree (called the Charter Oak), blown down in 1856, is marked by a plaque.
Hartford served as a vital supply depot during the American Revolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the Hartford (or Connecticut) Wits, a group of conservative Federalist writers, flourished here; in 1814 the city was the scene of the Hartford Convention, called by Federalist party leaders to protest the policies of President James Madison in the War of 1812. During the early 19th century Hartford's industries introduced numerous products to the American public; these included dental gold (1812), the revolver (1836), oilcloth (1837), and machine-made watches (1838). Late in the century the city enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth. For many years until his death in 1955 the poet Wallace Stevens lived in Hartford and worked in its insurance business. Tragedy struck here on July 6, 1944, when fire destroyed a circus tent, killing 168 people. Loss of life was averted in 1978 when the roof of the newly built arena in the Hartford Civic Center collapsed under the weight of snow and ice; it was reopened in 1980.
Birthplace of: educator Henry Barnard (1811); painter Frederick Church (1826); writer John Gregory Dunne (1932); actress Linda Evans (1942); philosopher and historian John Fiske (1842); actor and playwright William Gillette (1853); actress Katharine Hepburn (1907); actor Eriq LaSalle (1963); financier and philanthropist John Pierpont Morgan (1837); landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822); neurologist and Nobel laureate Roger Wolcott Sperry (1913)
Amin Dada, Idi, 78?, Ugandan military ruler, 1971-79, who presided over a reign of terror in which an estimated 300,000 people were killed, often being tortured to death; Jidda, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 16, 2003.
Bonds, Bobby, 57, multitalented baseball player who as a major leaguer from 1968 through 1981 hit at least 30 home runs and stole at least 30 bases in five seasons; he was the father of current baseball superstar Barry Bonds; San Carlos, CA, Aug. 23, 2003.
Bronson, Charles, 81, coal miner turned international action film actor, known for his "Death Wish," series; Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 31, 2003.
Brooks, Herb, 66, hockey coach who guided the U.S. Olympic hockey team's "miracle in ice" victory over the Soviet Union en route to a gold medal in the 1980 winter games in Lake Placid, NY; near Minneapolis, MN, Aug. 11, 2003.
Falkenburg, Jinx, 84, one of America's highest-paid cover-girl models during World War II and later a talk-show pioneer on radio and TV with her husband, public relations man Tex McCrary, who predeceased her by a month; Manhasset, NY, Aug. 27, 2003.
Hines, Gregory, 57, tap dancer who had a major crossover career as a stage, screen and TV actor; Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 9, 2003.
Marinho, Roberto, 98, Brazilian media magnate the cornerstone of whose business empire was TV Globo, which penetrated nearly 100% of Brazilian households and produced telenovelas (soap operas) seen all around the world; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 6, 2003.
Momoh, Joseph, 63, president of Sierra Leone from 1985 until 1992, when he was ousted in a military coup; Conakry, Guinea, Aug. 2, 2003.
Mosley, Lady Diana, 93, one of Britain's celebrated Mitford sisters, who, after marrying Sir Oswald Mosley, Britain's fascist leader in the 1930s, was jailed as a Nazi sympathizer during part of World War II; Paris, France, Aug. 11, 2003.
Reina, Carlos, 77, Honduran law professor who served as president of his country from 1994 to 1998; Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 19, 2003.
Rhodes, John J., 86, 15-term U.S. representative from Arizona (1953-83) who was Arizona's first Republican congressman and who, as House minority leader in 1974, helped persuade President Richard Nixon to resign over the Watergate scandal; Mesa, AZ, Aug. 24, 2003.
Robbins, Frederick, 86, pediatrician who shared the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine with two other scientists with whom he had developed a tissue culture technique for producing the polio virus in large quantities; Cleveland, OH, Aug. 4, 2003.
Safar, Peter, 79, anesthesiologist and emergency-medicine specialist who developed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); Pittsburgh, PA, Aug. 3, 2003.
Thesiger, Sir Wilfred, 93, British explorer and travel writer who in the 1940s was the first westerner to thoroughly explore the Empty Quarter desert region of the Arabian Penisula; Croydon, England, Aug. 24, 2003.
Sixty-eight years ago, on September 30, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the massive Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The dam, named for his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, was a major engineering achievement; begun in 1931, it was not completed until 1936. At that time the nearby town of Las Vegas, Nevada, had a population of fewer than 8,000 people. By the 2000 Census, its population was more than 478,000 and it was the nation's fastest-growing city. It's been estimated that the population of the Las Vegas valley will be 2 million by 2005.
A Dam for its Time
Roosevelt and his Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, were eager builders of dams. They traveled around the nation opening massive constructions that were hailed for their improvements in electricity generation, irrigation, and flood control. "Pridefully, man acclaims his conquest of nature," remarked Ickes at Hoover Dam's dedication, and it became such a success symbol that it was later dubbed "America's Great Pyramid." Dams like it were built in hundreds of other communities and in foreign countries. The artificial lake created behind Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, is the nation's largest reservoir and became a National Recreation Area in 1936. Though only the world's 18th-highest dam, Hoover Dam is the second-highest in the U.S.
One of Roosevelt's most colossal achievements was the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal corporation that built 39 dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries. Such was the impact of dam building in the Great Depression that by 1944, 40% of electricity in the U.S. was coming from hydroelectric dams (now it's about 10%). Today, there are some 75,000 dams over 6 feet tall on rivers across the U.S. (and many smaller ones). We have more dams than any other country in the world except China.
As proud as Ickes was of Hoover Dam, he was not happy with its name. In 1933 he changed the name to Boulder Dam. However, Ickes resigned from his post in 1946 after a dispute with President Harry S. Truman. The following year both houses of Congress voted to restore the dam's original name.
Tide Turns Against Dams
By the 1990s, however, history had made an about-face. President Bill Clinton's Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, developed a reputation, not as a dam builder, but as a dam buster. He was proud to travel the nation taking a sledgehammer to obsolete dams. "America," he said, "overshot the mark in our dam building frenzy." He was not alone in opposing dams: in recent times, more than 450 have been dismantled in the United States.
This contrast points to two aspects of a great change in American life. On the one hand, the population in the West is growing at an amazing clip. But the West is technically a "desert," and those growing Western communities are finding themselves competing for ebbing supplies of water and the hydroelectric power that dams create. On the other hand, not only have we have learned a great deal about the environmental impact of such man-made constructions as dams, but also we have come to understand that the ecosystems in the West are fragile and are threatened by the encroachment of people, their automobiles, their homes, and their needs.
California has become a kind of microcosm for these emerging "water wars." Two-thirds of its rain falls in the north and two-thirds of the population lives in the south. Southern Californians want more of that northern water, and northern Californians feel that it's theirs. The situation has been complicated by a growing environmental consciousness. Environmentalists have been seeking greater water set-asides to protect wildlife habitats, and their success in having certain species, such as the Pacific salmon and the Delta smelt declared endangered or threatened, have led to stringent rules on how much water can be drawn from a particular area. Today, Californians speak of a "three-legged stool" of water interests consisting of urban water users, environmentalists, and farmers. The number of farmers in the state is not huge, but they use 70 percent of California's water, and agribusiness firms have been successful in achieving federal subsidies that allow them to purchase water at artificially low prices. Then, as in Nevada, there's the housing crunch. California's cities were once largely clustered along the Pacific coast. No longer. Today, farm after farm is being gobbled up for housing -- and the thirsty homeowners like green lawns.
Where is all this water going to come from? Back in Ickes's day -- and indeed right up until the 1970s -- the answer seemed to be dams and their reservoirs, from which water could be diverted into aqueducts and sent to the cities and farms that needed it. But in the Babbitt era and beyond, that solution doesn't seem so viable to everyone. The proliferation of dams has turned some once-mighty rivers into mere trickles -- the Colorado River, for example, now barely reaches the Gulf of California. Dams are not only very expensive, but have also been proven to have a detrimental effect on habitats that are home to many species of plants and animals. Then, too, dams slow water down; when water flows through penstocks or over spillways, river currents can be considerably slowed. Slow-moving water absorbs a lot of heat from sunlight, which causes the water's surface temperature to rise and can thus contribute to global warming. Dams can also damage river ecosystems by changing the amount of natural sediment that fills rivers. In January 2002, for example, the National Research Council, a research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, warned that the ecosystem of the Missouri River, the nation's longest, would continue to deteriorate unless its natural ebb and flow were significantly restored. The river's flow had been controlled by dams and channels over the years to improve navigation. Considerations such as these have led to the dam-busting movement.
One intriguing possible solution is the establishment of water markets in which water could be bought, sold, and traded just like oil and grain. Some environmentalists like the idea, reasoning that it would encourage water conservation. Farmers, however, predict that markets would cause the price of water to rise to such a point that farming would become too expensive to be viable. And since farming is such a major component of the economy of the West, the results, they maintain, would be disastrous.
There's no doubt that water conservation is an alternative that will have to be considered. People in Arizona, Nevada, and elsewhere, some observers say, will have to think twice about their need for swimming pools, golf courses, and green lawns. Already there is a developing movement toward desert gardening and landscaping (also known as "xeriscaping"), in which newcomers to the Southwest are encouraged to turn from lawns, flower beds and peach trees to the cultivation of less thirsty regional plants such as cacti, succulents, and native grasses.
Hydroelectric energy has been an important source of electricity wherever there are big rivers. In fact, of all the major rivers in the United States, only the Yellowstone has not been dammed for its energy. However, the same problems apply to dams used to produce electricity as to those whose water is used for farming and human consumption: destruction of fish and other aquatic life, choking off rivers, high costs.
Yet hydroelectric power has a major thing going for it. Unlike fossil fuels that release emissions into the air and that are not renewable, waterpower is clean and will last as long as a river flows. A study released in 1997 by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, a research organization that works under the U.S. Department of Energy, said that hydroelectric energy lowers carbon dioxide emissions (a key component of smog) by 142 million metric tons per year. This is a conundrum for environmentalists -- hydroelectric power is admirable in many ways, but the dams bring problems. Advocates of hydroelectric dams also point out that they help prevent major, costly damage from flooding and they provide jobs and recreation by creating user-friendly reservoirs that attract anglers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the hot-button issues currently being argued by both sides of the dams debate is the fate of four federally operated dams on the lower Snake River in Washington -- Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite. Environmentalists contend that unless these dams are removed, many species of Northwest salmon will become extinct within the next century. They also maintain that removing the dams would spare localities the steep costs of salmon-restoration efforts. But supporters of the dams contend that removing them would itself be a very expensive undertaking and would only result in higher electricity prices and a shortage of water for agriculture. Whatever the merits of either point of view, the dams don't seem to be going anywhere for a while. The Clinton administration did not act on calls for their removal, and President George W. Bush has repeatedly stated his belief that the Snake River dams are necessary for energy production. In December 2001 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would recommend that the dams not be removed.
It's extremely unlikely, in today's climate, that any major new dams will be constructed. The issues that will be contested in the future will be such things as water markets, conservation, subsidized water for farmers, and the raising of appropriate crops (does it really make sense, for example, to raise rice, a water-intensive crop, in the desert?). But ever since Willis Haviland Carrier invented air conditioning in the early years of the 20th century and thus made it possible for people to live comfortably in lands once considered too sultry for extended habitation, Americans have been flocking toward the Southwestern sunshine. As their numbers grow, so will their need for water and electricity.
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS
Scientists have developed a single injection vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus. The vaccine, which has only been tested in macaques so far, protected animals exposed to the virus one month after vaccination. An earlier vaccine required several injections and took over six months for efficacy, making it impractical for containing an epidemic.
Ebola is a deadly disease, killing up to 90% of those infected with the virus, causing blood vessels to break down, allowing massive hemorrhaging and dissolving their internal organs. It also acts extremely quickly. Generally symptoms appear between 2 and 21 days after infection. Most victims die within days, while others recover. There is no standard treatment--doctors try to keep a patient's fluids and electrolytes balanced, and treat any complicating infections. Thus, finding a vaccine is vital to preventing outbreaks from quickly consuming whole towns.
In the first five months of this year, Ebola has killed 128 people in an outbreak in the Republic of Congo, according to the World Health Organization. And, since the virus was discovered in 1976, more than 1,500 people have been infected with the virus and over 1,000 have died in Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Uganda and Zaire.
Prior to the creation of the new vaccine, the most promising Ebola vaccine in development was one that uses a two-part vaccine strategy known as "prime-boost." The first injection, the "prime," contains non-infectious genetic material from the pathogen, which prepares the body's immune system. The second injection, the "boost," is given several weeks later. It contains a modified adenovirus--the virus that causes the common cold--that contains key genes from the pathogen. The body's immune system aggressively fights the adenovirus and learns how to fight Ebola because the adenovirus produces Ebola proteins. The entire process takes several months to confer immunity.
But scientists at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center, where the "prime-boost" vaccine is being developed, recently designed a new Ebola vaccine that uses only the "boost" phase, producing a faster but weaker immune response. Eight macaques vaccinated as part of a trial, published in the August 7, 2003 issue of Nature, survived a lethal dose of Ebola virus given one month after vaccination.
"This research has enormous public health implications not only because it might be used to limit the spread of Ebola virus, which continues to emerge in central Africa, but also because this vaccine strategy may be applied to other highly lethal viruses, such as the Marburg and Lassa fever viruses and the SARS coronavirus, that cause acute disease outbreaks and require a rapid response," said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci.
While a multi-part Ebola vaccine is fine for health workers and researchers, a fast working vaccine is necessary to stop outbreaks of the disease. Ring vaccination, in which every person who has come into contact with an infected person is vaccinated, has been successfully used to halt smallpox outbreaks and scientists believe this new Ebola vaccine could be used in a similar way to stop Ebola outbreaks. In addition, the vaccine could be used to vaccinate great apes whose populations are now being devastated by the disease.
While scientists plan to begin testing the vaccine for safety in humans next year, there are a few problems they need to solve. Researchers do not know how long the immunity created by the vaccine may last. Also, many humans have protective antibodies against adenoviruses that might make them resistant to the vaccine. Furthermore, vaccines created using this new method may only work once, meaning that if someone were vaccinated for Ebola using this method, a similar SARS vaccine, for example, would not work. But a combination vaccine that would work against multiple pathogens with just one injection might solve this problem.
135 Californians Run for Governor - California's recall election campaign got underway in August, with 135 candidates meeting the state's modest legal requirements to be placed on the ballot. On Election Day, Oct. 7, voters would first be asked whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D), and then to select a new governor if Davis lost the recall. Davis needed a majority to avoid recall; if he did not obtain this, whatever candidate won a plurality on the 2nd part of the ballot would become governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a centrist Republican best known as a popular movie actor and former "Mr. Universe," announced his candidacy Aug. 6 on Jay Leno's NBC-TV Tonight show and was immediately seen as a leading contender. The large field of candidates boasted many figures who were obscure or unconventional, including Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine; former TV child star Gary Coleman; and porno film actress Mary Carey. Many prominent Democrats, including Sen. Diane Feinstein (D), declined to run. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente (D) had urged against recall but put himself forth as a candidate in case the recall went through. Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who had largely funded the recall, dropped out Aug. 7. Bill Simon (R), an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 2002, left the contest Aug. 23; State Sen. Tom McClintock remained as a leading conservative Republican candidate. Peter Ueberroth (R), the former baseball commissioner, was running as an independent, as was Arianna Huffington, a political columnist who had migrated from Republican circles to the political left.
The embattled Davis Aug. 1 had signed a compromise state budget agreement, approved by the Assembly, that slashed spending and borrowing in order to reduce a $38 bil deficit. Though widely unpopular, according to polls, he campaigned aggressively, charging Aug. 19 that the recall was part of a Republican plot to steal elections.
Blackout Leaves 50 Million in the Dark - A power failure spread rapidly through Ohio, Michigan, and the Northeast, as well as eastern Canada, on Aug. 14. As many as 50 million people in 8 states and the province of Ontario were left without electricity for as long as 2 days. Power went off shortly after 4 pm and the shutdown had spread to its limit in just 2 minutes, affecting homes and businesses, traffic lights and trains. In New York City, the most populous place affected, all power had been restored by Friday evening, Aug. 15, but subways could not resume operations until the next morning.
Many airports closed and 1,700 flights were canceled. Eleven nuclear reactors shut down, but without any problems. Looting and other criminal activity remained at a minimum. Fewer than 10 deaths were blackout-related. Water supplies were at risk in Cleveland and Detroit. On the other hand, a party atmosphere, illuminated by candles, flashlights, and headlights, prevailed in some areas.
Terrorism was ruled out, but the exact sequence of causes was less apparent. On Aug. 19, the U.S. and Canada agreed to conduct a joint investigation. Pres. George W. Bush said, Aug. 19, that the blackout was "a wake-up call for the need to modernize our electricity delivery systems."
Alabama Justice Defies Courts on Ten Commandments - Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore lost a confrontation with state and federal courts over display of a rock inscribed with the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the State Supreme Court in Montgomery. A federal judge, finding a violation of separation of church and state, threatened to fine him $5,000 a day if he did not remove it. Moore's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected Aug. 20. He refused to comply and was buttressed by hundreds of supporters, who flocked to the building. On Aug. 21, the 8 associate justices of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the monument removed. The Court of the Judiciary of Alabama Aug. 22 suspended Moore for defying the court order, and the monument was removed Aug. 27.
Report on Shuttle Disaster Indicts NASA - The board that investigated the Feb. 1 Columbia shuttle disaster issued a report Aug. 26 that severely criticized the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board concluded that the immediate cause was a piece of insulating foam that broke off from the external fuel tank and, at a speed of 545 mph, hit the leading edge of the left wing 82 seconds into the flight, creating a 100-square-inch hole through which hot gases entered. The board, however, also looked to underlying problems related to a "broken safety culture" at NASA - including schedule pressures, insufficient funding, and competing priorities, The board learned that NASA engineers had been aware of the foam incident after takeoff and made known their concerns, but that management had disregarded them. The board suggested that a rescue mission could have been undertaken if NASA had moved quickly enough.
Suicide Bomber Kills 50 at Russian Hospital - A suicide bomber rammed a truck through the gates of a military hospital in Mozdok, in North Ossetia, in Russia, Aug. 1; the bomb he detonated killed 50 people; Russian officials blamed Chechen separatists.
Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Leader Warns U.S. - In a tape first heard publicly Aug. 3, a speaker believed to be Ayman al-Zawahiri, 2nd in command in al-Qaeda, warned the U.S. not to harm prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and threatened continuing attacks.
Bomb at Indonesia Hotel Kills 12, Wounds 150 - A bomb exploded in a car at the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta capital of Indonesia, Aug. 5, killing 12 and wounding 150. The hotel was frequented by Americans. Authorities said the bomb had been detonated with the use of a cellular phone.
On Aug. 7 a 2nd man, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, was convicted in the Oct. 2002 bombing of 2 nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia. He had confessed to buying explosives for one of the bombs and a van used to transport them. On Aug. 12, north of Bangkok, Thai police arrested Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, believed to be an architect of the Bali bombings. He was also thought to be involved in the 2001 terrorist attack, among others. On Aug. 19, Indonesian police named 16 suspects in the hotel bombing; 10 were in custody.
Irish Militant Convicted of Terrorism - The reputed leader of the Real Irish Republican Army, an offshoot of the Provisional IRA, was convicted in Dublin Aug. 6 of directing terrorism and belonging to an illegal group. The defendant, Michael McKevitt, convicted in a Special Criminal Court, was sentenced Aug. 7 to 20 years in prison.
Violence on the Rise in Afghanistan - Violence blamed on Taliban resistance fighters and rival warlords took a heavy death toll in Afghanistan in August. The UN suspended field work in S Afghanistan Aug. 10 after attacks on aid workers. More than 50 people were killed throughout the country Aug. 12 and 13, including 15 when a bomb exploded on a bus. Fifteen guerrillas and 5 soldiers died in a clash near the Pakistan border. Nine police officers were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 19.
British Investigate Suicide of Weapons Scientist - An official investigation into the suicide of an expert on Iraqi weapons got underway in Britain Aug. 11. The scientist, David Kelly, had provided information to Andrew Gilligan, who then wrote a BBC report suggesting that the government, prior to the 2003 Iraq war, had manipulated evidence concerning Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Gilligan Aug. 12 retracted one on-air statement, that the government had claimed that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in 45 minutes while knowing that was false. Alastair Campbell, a top aide to Prime Min. Tony Blair, testified Aug. 19 that he had not exaggerated intelligence information on Iraqi weapons in order to justify going to war. Blair, testifying Aug. 28, also denied that the government "sexed up" the dossier, and said the dossier was based on intelligence sources. On Aug. 29, Campbell resigned from the government.
Peacekeepers Enter Liberia as President Flees - The violent reign of Pres. Charles Taylor of Liberia ended Aug. 11 when he flew into exile in Nigeria. Peacekeepers seeking to stop fighting between government and rebel troops were already moving into the capital, Monrovia. The UN Security Council, Aug. 1, called for a multinational peacekeeping force. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) quickly put together a small force, mostly Nigerians. The first 200 arrived in Monrovia Aug. 4, and within 10 days the number had grown to nearly 800. They began patrolling, and kept the armed camps separate. Seven U.S. marines, arriving from 3 U.S. Navy ships offshore, entered Monrovia Aug. 6 to assess the situation.
Taylor, Aug. 7, said he would transfer power to Vice Pres. Moses Blah, and Congress approved Blah. In a parting shot, Aug. 10, Taylor said he was being "forced into exile by the world superpower" and vowed he would be back. Rebels Aug. 14 handed over to ECOWAS the port facilities, permitting delivery of food. In Ghana, Aug. 18, representatives of the Liberian government, 2 rebel armies, and unarmed opposition groups signed a peace agreement that provided for an interim government to be established in October.
Libya to Pay Relatives of Plane-Bomb Victims - Libya said Aug. 15, in a letter to the UN Security Council, that it accepted responsibility for the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, that claimed 270 lives. Libya agreed to pay reparations that could total $2.7 bil. An initial $4 mil would go to each family when UN sanctions against Libya were lifted, another $4 mil if U.S. sanctions were lifted, and a final $2 mil if the U.S. State Dept. dropped Libya from it list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Diplomats from Libya, the U.S., and Britain had worked out the settlement.
Cycle of Violence Resumes in Middle East - Optimism about the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations was dimmed Aug. 19 when a bomb detonated on a bus in Jerusalem and killed 21, including the bomber. Another 100 people were wounded. No attack had occurred in Jerusalem since Palestinian militants had declared a cease-fire June 29. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, the latter as retaliation for Israel's killing Aug. 14 of Mohammed Sidr, the organization's military leader. Israel Aug. 19 halted efforts to advance the so-called road map to peace, and on Aug. 20 arrested 17 in Hebron in connection with the bombing. Palestinian Prime Min. Mahoud Abbas said Aug. 20 that he would arrest those militants responsible. An Israeli missile strike Aug. 21 killed a Hamas political leader and 2 bodyguards in Gaza City. Hamas and Islamic Jihad abandoned their declared cease-fire. Pres. George W. Bush Aug. 22 ordered a freeze on the assets of 6 top Hamas leaders and 5 charities that administration officials said supported Hamas. On Aug. 24, Israeli forces killed 4 Hamas members in Gaza City,
On Aug. 4, after an Israeli woman and her daughter were wounded, Israel said it would halt plans to pull its military out of some West Bank towns. Abbas Aug. 5 canceled a meeting with Prime Min. Ariel Sharon after Israel indicated it would release only a small portion of the Palestinian prisoners it was holding. The Israelis freed 330 Aug. 6, but Palestinian leaders dismissed it as a public relations exercise. Two suicide bombers killed themselves and 2 Israelis and wounded 17 Aug. 12 in Israel and Gaza. A Hamas leader said the attacks were in retaliation for the killing by Israeli forces of 2 Hamas militants in Nablus Aug. 8.
Bomb Wrecks UN Headquarters in Iraq - On Aug. 19, a suicide bomber driving a cement mixer loaded with up to 1,500 pounds of explosives dealt a severe blow to the international effort to aid Iraq. The explosives detonated next to the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, killing 23 and wounding more than 100. Those killed included Sergio Vieira de Mello, the senior UN representative in Iraq. The building, the former Canal Hotel, was only lightly guarded. The UN said Aug. 20 that it would continue its work but reduce its staff; the World Bank and International Monetary Fund began withdrawing staffs the same day. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier, on Aug. 7, 19 were killed and at least 65 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. Jordan had allowed the U.S. to station several thousand troops in Jordan during the war. In Basra, Aug. 9-10, British soldiers confronted Iraqis rioting in protest over shortages of power and fuel. The soldiers fired rubber bullets into one crowd Aug. 9. The UN Security Council Aug. 14 welcomed appointment of a governing council in Iraq but did not grant formal recognition. On Aug. 15 and 17, saboteurs blew up sections of a pipeline carrying oil to Turkey. A mortar attack on a prison outside Baghdad, Aug. 16, killed 6 prisoners and wounded 59. A U.S. soldier shot and killed a Reuters cameraman at the prison Aug. 17; he thought his camera was a rocket-propelled grenade. A bomb in Baghdad ruptured a water main in Baghdad, Aug. 17, cutting off water to 300,000 homes. U.S. officials said, Aug. 19, that former Vice Pres. Taha Yassin Ramadan, a close adviser to ex-Pres. Saddam Hussein, had been captured.
Three British soldiers were killed Aug. 23 while on patrol in Basra. By Aug. 29, 282 U.S. service personnel had died in Iraq from all causes. The number killed in combat since May 1, the day that Bush had proclaimed major combat over, now exceeded the number from before that date.
Car Bomb Targets Shiite Mosque in Iraq - A car bomb exploded Aug. 29 at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf during Friday prayers, killing many worshippers; reports put the number dead at from 80 to over 120. A leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, was among those killed; he had just delivered a sermon calling for Iraqi unity. Najaf, a holy city for Shiites, is located about 110 miles SW of Baghdad. Followers of al-Hakim blamed supporters of Saddam Hussein for the bombing.
Explosions Hit Mumbai - Two bombs, placed in taxis, exploded in a shopping district in Mumbai (Bombay), India, Aug. 25, killing 52 and wounding 130. Officials suspected Islamic militants.
North Korea Issues Nuclear Warning - On Aug. 28, during 6-nation talks in Beijing, a representative of North Korea said that Communist state would prove it had nuclear weapons by conducting a nuclear test. The talks, which involved representatives of the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, were aimed at defusing tensions in the region brought on by advances in North Korea's nuclear-weapons activities. The other nations hoped that North Korea would drop its nuclear plans in return for food and other aid from other countries; the summit concluded Aug. 29 with an agreement to hold more talks.
Murder of College Athlete Leads to Apparent Coverup - The unexplained murder of a member of the Baylor Univ. men's basketball team continued to make headlines. The player, Patrick Dennehy, had been reported missing June 19. His roommate, Carlton Dodson, a former teammate, was arrested for murder July 21, and a body was found near Waco, TX, July 25, with 2 bullet wounds was identified as Dennehy's. Tapes recorded on July 30-31 and Aug. 1 appeared to reveal that basketball coach Dave Bliss had advised assistant coaches and players to depict Dennehy as a drug dealer-an apparent attempt to conceal the fact that Bliss had paid money to Dennehy. Baylor Pres. Robert Sloan, after learning that players had used drugs and failed drug tests, Aug. 8 accepted the resignations of Bliss and Athletic Director Tom Stanton.
Election of Gay Bishop Roils Episcopalians - The election of the first openly homosexual bishop threatened to create a schism within the Episcopal Church in the United States and the international Anglican Communion. The House of Deputies, Aug. 3, and the House of Bishops, Aug. 5, approved the election of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the bishop of the New Hampshire diocese. The latter approval came after 2 last-minute accusations about Robinson's conduct failed to survive an investigation. Some delegates at the Minneapolis (MN) convention said they would appeal Robinson's election to the archbishop of Canterbury.
Heat Wave in Europe Kills Thousands - Record high temperatures were reported in some European countries in August, and thousands of heat-related deaths were reported, mostly in France. On Aug. 10, Britain recorded its hottest day ever, 100.6 degrees F. Switzerland reported a new all-time high, 107.6 degrees F, on Aug. 11. Prem. Jean-Pierre Raffarin of France declared a medical state of emergency Aug. 14, allowing hospitals to recall staff from vacations to assist patients suffering from heatstroke and dehydration. No firm death count could be determined, but the French government said Aug. 14 that a toll of 5,000 was plausible. Dr. Lucien Abenhaim, French director general of health, resigned Aug. 18 amid criticism of the handling of the crisis.
Abusive Ex-Priest Murdered in Prison - A former priest who had been in the forefront of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church was strangled in prison Aug. 23, apparently by another inmate, while under protective custody. The ex-priest, John Geoghan, who had been convicted of groping a 10-yar-old boy, had faced criminal and civil charges involving 130 people who claimed to be his victims. He was imprisoned at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, MA, Authorities said Joseph Druce, would be charged in the strangulation of Geoghan. Authorities had reportedly been warned that Druce could be planning to kill Geoghan; an investigation was under way.
Kevin Harvick became the 1st pole-winner ever to win NASCAR's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Aug. 3. The win was Harvick's 1st of the season and 4th of his career.
At Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in England, Sweden's Annika Sorenstam won the Women's British Open Aug. 3 to complete a career Grand Slam. It was the 2nd major of the year for Sorenstam, who won the LPGA in June. Sorenstam won by a stroke over 2001 winner Se Ri Pak (Korea). Defending champ and 3-time winner Karrie Webb (Australia) finished 2 strokes back.
At the World Gymnastic Championships, held in Anaheim, CA, Aug. 16-24, the U.S. women won their first-ever team gold medal. Americans Chellsie Memmel and Hollie Vise tied for the gold in the uneven bars. The U.S. men took the team silver behind China. For the U.S., Paul Hamm won the all-around title and tied for the gold in the floor exercise.
Golfer Shaun Micheel nearly eagled his final hole when his 175-yard shot with a 7-iron rolled to within inches of the cup. The tap-in birdie gave him a 2-stroke victory over Chad Campbell at the PGA Championship, Aug. 17, at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. It was Micheel's 1st win in 164 tries. He is the 45th golfer to win his 1st major at the PGA Championship, and the 7th to make it his 1st career tournament win.
In the WUSA Founder's Cup championship game, Aug. 24 in San Diego, CA, the Washington Freedom defeated the Atlanta Beat in overtime, 2-1. MVP Abby Wambach scored both goals for Washington, the 2nd 6 minutes into overtime.
Pitcher Yuutaro Tanaka hit a home run and struck out 14 batters to lead Japan's Tokyo Musashi-Fuchu team to a 10-1 win over East Boynton Beach (FL) in the Little League World Series final, Aug. 25 in Williamsport, PA. The 2003 series marked the 8th time a Florida team made it to the finals without winning. The championship was Japan's 3rd in 5 years.
OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES
- Kevin Seabrooke
The high prices of gasoline and college tuition seem to be the subject of annual public lament as summer comes to a close. Complaints about major league baseball ticket prices last through the year. In August 2003, as gas prices soared to record highs and the economy continued to struggle, a couple of admittedly small bright spots could be found:
THE "GRANDMA SCHOLARSHIP"
For a college student today, $325 might pay for books or lab fees. But for Rebecca Dupont, a check for that amount will cover her whole freshman year at Hood College. At a time when the average cost at a private university easily exceeds $15,000 a year, Dupont is paying exactly what her grandmother, a 1948 Hood graduate, paid. She is one of seven students awarded a "heritage scholarship" that allows them to pay the same first-year tuition as a parent or grandparent paid to matriculate at the college. Hood's president, Ronald J. Volpe, said he was inspired to create the scholarships when an alumnus complained to him that Hood's tuition ($19,940) was so high that her granddaughter could not afford to attend. While the heritage scholarships are good for the first year only, Volpe hopes that students that enter under the scholarship will choose to complete their education at Hood.
It's a Steal
According to the Fan Cost Index survey conducted by Team Marketing Report, a sports marketing group publication in Chicago, the average ticket price for a major league baseball game in 2003 was $18.69. Minor league teams, with tickets often in the $2-$7 range, offer a better bargain-with a possible glimpse at future stars thrown in for free. The New Haven Ravens, a double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, went a step farther on August 8 when they began offering free admission to their games at historic Yale Field as long as they remained in playoff contention. On Aug. 21 the Ravens made free playoff tickets available to the public. (The Ravens clinched a playoff spot on Aug. 24 and then won their division on Aug. 27.) Season ticket-holders had first dibs on the playoff seats. This fan-friendly move ended the Ravens' 10-year run in Connecticut (the team was scheduled to move to Manchester, NH) and closed a season full of attendance promotions that included 9 fireworks shows, numerous giveaway days, appearances by former NBA player Manute Bol and Blues Brothers impersonators, 3 live TV show tapings, and a skydive into the stadium.
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
What kind of mood are you in today? Planning on sending any e-mails to friends, and want a way to reflect your mood, without actually using words? At SmileyCentral, http://www.smileycentral.com, you can download up to 500 smiley faces to express how you are feeling, whether you're feeling great, are in a flirty mood, or just plain down in the dumps. Best of all, it's free.
Last Monday, I took the day off and spent it with some friends at an amusement park. You're never too old (I hope), to enjoy the thrill of a twisting and turning roller coaster. At the Ultimate Roller coaster, http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/, you can learn about all of the roller coasters at parks around the United States, and Canada. I was able to learn about the 4 coasters I rode; Superman Ultimate Flight (2003) where you fly headfirst at 60 mph, Nitro (2001) which at 230 feet, is the tallest coaster on the eastern seaboard, Medusa (1999) the world's first floorless roller coaster, and the older wooden coaster, Rolling Thunder (1979) with its drops of 85 feet. You can find additional information in our World Almanac for Kids 2004 book.
The phrases "Ketchup on hot dogs? I can hardly relish the thought," "The guard dog at the U.S. Mint caught the criminal's cent," and "I'm clueless when it comes to the life of Henry VIII. Someone needs to Tudor me," are all examples of puns. According to the Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary, a pun is defined as the humorous use of a word in a way that suggests two interpretations. At Big Puns, http://www.bigpuns.com/, you will be able to browse through hundreds of puns, as well as other versions of playing with words.
One of my favorite actresses, Katharine Hepburn, died this past July. In searching for a site that you could visit, that memorialized Miss Hepburn, I ran across something of interest. At TV Now.com http://www.tv-now.com/ you can put in the name of an actor, actress, or director, and you will be supplied with a list of when their movies will next be on television in the U.S. (you can choose time zones). As a result, I'll be able to set my VCR during the next month and catch some classics, such as "Bringing Up Baby," the 1938 madcap movie in which she co-starred with Cary Grant and a leopard, and "On Golden Pond," the 1982 film with Henry Fonda, which resulted in her winning an unprecedented 4th Academy Award.
I love to read books. While I do spend time on the Internet, I don't have any desire to read e-books, as it's just not the same as laying on a bed and touching paper, reading print, flipping pages. For me, jigsaw puzzles would be the same thing, however, this is a web column, and I'm here to offer places to visit, so those people who want to do puzzles online, can visit Jigsawland,http://www.jigsawland.com/, and actually work on easy, intermediate and advanced puzzles, with a click of your mouse.
During August, the planet Mars made its closest pass to Earth in over 60,000 years. None of us will be around in 2287, the next time it will be close (close is a relative term; usually it is about 140 million miles from Earth, and last week its orbit brought it about 34.6 million miles away). I got several pictures of the red planet with my digital camera, but if you want to see breathtaking shots, visit the Hubble Site at http://hubblesite.org.
When the electricity went out, here in New York, in the middle of August, some people were caught totally unprepared for such an event. I happened to have a flashlight in my office, and that helped us navigate the darkened staircases, when we left the building over an hour after the lights went off. I stayed with friends in the city, but we had no idea what was going on, since we didn't have a battery powered radio. The Red Cross offers lists of supplies, and actions you should take at home, or the workplace, in case of emergencies: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/.
Unusual collectors site: http://www.handcuffs.org/
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