The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 11 - November 2003
What's in this issue?
November 1-2 - Lovington (NM) Fall Arts and Crafts Festival
November 1 - All Saints' Day; Sadie Hawkins Day
This Day in History - November
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: MONTPELIER, VERMONT
Location: Capital of Vermont and seat of Washington County, on the Winooski River, in the Green Mountains, in the north central part of the state; incorporated as a city 1895.
Population (2002): 8,026
Mayor: Chuck Karparis (Non-Partisan)
November Temperatures: Normal high of 41.8 degrees Fahrenheit; normal low of 27.2 degrees Fahrenheit
Colleges & Universities: New England Culinary Institute; University of Vermont Continuing Education-Montpelier Regional Center; Vermont College (part of Norwich University); Woodbury College; Community College of Vermont
Events: The Bluegrass Gospel Project (November 1); An Edgar Allan Poe Halloween (November 1); Open Jazz Jam Session (November 2); An Italian Festival of Music Concert (November 2-3); A Weekend with the Raphael Trio (November 7-9); Artisans Hand 25th Birthday Party and Sale (November 14-16); Granite City Folk Series-Liz Carroll and John Doyle (November 22); Music of J.S. Bach (November 22)
Places to visit: Green Mount Cemetery; Hubbard Park and Tower; North Branch Park; USS Montpelier Museum; Vermont State Capitol; T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center
Tallest Building: Vermont State Capitol (136 feet)
History: The community, originally chartered in 1781 as a grant to settlers from Massachusetts, is named for Montpellier, France. It became the capital of the state in 1805 and a county seat in 1811. Montpelier has grown slowly since the mid-19th century, but it has remained a center for government, commerce, industry, and services.
Birthplace of: American naval officer George Dewey (1837); Senator Patrick Leahy (1940)
Asper, Izzy, 71, founder of the Canadian media conglomerate CanWest Global Communications; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Oct. 7, 2003.
Brockhouse, Bertram, 85, Canadian physicist who shared a 1994 Nobel Prize for his research on neutron scattering; Hamilton, Ontario, Oct. 13, 2003.
Chiang Kai-shek, Madame (Soong Mei-ling), 105, widow of Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek and one of the world's most powerful women in the 1930s and 1940s, when she mobilized U.S. support for her husband's regime; New York, NY, Oct. 24, 2003.
Corelli, Franco, 82, Italian tenor who dominated opera stages from the 1950s until his 1976 retirement; Milan, Italy, Oct. 29, 2003.
Daddah, Moktar Ould, 78, first president of the West African nation of Mauritania, serving from 1961 until 1978, when he was ousted in a bloodless coup; Paris, France, Oct. 14, 2003.
Dunlop, John T., 89, labor-management relations expert who advised every U.S. president from FDR to Bill Clinton and was secretary of labor during the Ford administration; Boston, MA, Oct. 2, 2003.
Elam, Jack, 82?, character actor with a dead left eye who played villains in such classic westerns as High Noon (1952) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) as well as comic roles in films like in Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971); Ashland, OR, Oct. 20, 2003.
Ferré, Luis A., 99, governor of the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 1969-73, and leading advocate of statehood for the island; San Juan, PR, Oct. 21, 2003.
Heilbrun, Carolyn, 77, feminist literary scholar and author of detective fiction under the name Amanda Cross; New York, NY, Oct. 9, 2003.
Hicks, Louise Day, 87, leader, for a bit more than a decade beginning in 1965, of the fight against busing to desegregate Boston's public schools; Boston, MA, Oct. 21, 2003.
Istomin, Eugene, 77, classical pianist who was part of a celebrated trio with violinist Isaac Stern and cellist Leonard Rose; Washington, DC, Oct. 10, 2003.
Izetbegovic, Alija, 78, leader of Bosnia's Muslims during Bosnia's 1992-95 war of independence from Yugoslavia; Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Oct. 19, 2003.
Kroc, Joan B., 75, billionaire widow of McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc and a leading philanthropist; Rancho Santa Fe, CA, Oct. 12, 2003.
Lambert, Eleanor, 100, publicist who from the 1940s on was instrumental in putting U.S. fashion on the international map; New York, NY, Oct. 7, 2003.
Papp, Laszlo, 77, Hungarian boxer who was the first boxer to win three Olympic gold medals-in 1948, 1952 and 1956-and then became the first boxer from a Soviet-bloc country to turn pro; Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 16, 2003.
Shoemaker, Bill, 72, legendary jockey who in 41 years of racing won 8,833 races, including the 1986 Kentucky Derby at age 54; San Marino, CA, Oct. 12, 2003.
Smith, Elliott, 34, singer-songwriter whose dark, introspective songs-including 1998 Academy Award nominee "Miss Misery," from the film Good Will Hunting-were critically acclaimed; Los Angeles, CA, Oct. 21, 2003.
Steig, William, 95, New Yorker magazine cartoonist and author of Shrek! and other children's books; Boston, MA, Oct. 3, 2003.
Washington, Walter E., 88, Washington, D.C. housing official who, upon being appointed the city's mayor-commissioner in 1967, became the first black chief executive of a major U.S. city, and who, from 1975 to 1979, was Washington's first elected mayor in more than a century; Washington, DC, Oct. 27, 2003.
Its full name was the North American Free Trade Association, but just about everyone called it by its pronounceable acronym, NAFTA. This historic piece of legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress ten years ago this month (it was cleared by the House on November 17, 1993 and by the Senate three days later).
NAFTA was an agreement concluded by the United States, Canada, and Mexico that eliminated a variety of fees and other obstacles to free trade among the three nations and also launched a schedule for the phasing out of tariffs over a 15-year period. It went into effect on January 1, 1994, and was considered a great victory for policy makers who believed in free trade.
The idea of free trade centers around the belief that commerce between nations should be carried on without hindrances, which normally take the form of tariffs or import duties, trade quotas, export bounties, and the like. Believers in free trade argue that each country or region should concentrate on what it is best at producing and trade its products for others that they do not produce with comparable efficiency. At first, in most European countries free trade meant the elimination of trade barriers within a country, as when the French statesman Jean Baptiste Colbert unsuccessfully tried, in the 17th century, to obliterate obstacles to trade within France (on an international scope, Colbert strongly opposed free trade). A similar impetus lay behind the calling of the Constitutional Convention in the early days of the United States, as statesmen sought to do away with trade barriers among the recent colonies, now states.
The British took the lead in pushing for free trade on an international scale, and the concept became a tenet of such thinkers as the 18th-century economist Adam Smith, who generally (although not always) advocated free trade policies. The British economist David Ricardo expanded upon Smith's theories and developed the idea of "competitive advantage." In his renowned formulation, he pointed out that England should produce cloth and Portugal should produce wine and that the two countries would both be better off if they then traded those products without restriction. In 19th-century Britain, the most prominent victory for free traders came with the repeal in 1846 of the Corn Laws, which had restricted the export and import of grain.
Protection became once again in vogue in the years following World War I. As the Great Depression struck, panicky nations sought further to hide behind walls of protectionism, an action that many economists believe only prolonged and intensified the crisis. Probably because of protectionism's perceived failure, after World War II, many nations again promoted the ideals of free trade. One of the first manifestations of this new mood was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1948. According to this pact, which lasted until 1995, members vowed to work together to reduce tariffs and to negotiate extensions of tariff reductions by means of the Most-Favored-Nation Clause. Also in 1948, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg founded the Benelux Economic Union, the first completely free international labor market. That agreement was followed ten years later by the European Economic Community (EEC), more generally known as the Common Market.
Free trade became an international movement once again in the 1990s. The Southern Cone Common Market, better known as Mercosur, was founded in 1991 to increase economic cooperation among the nations of eastern South America, and fours years later the World Trade Organization (WTO) was set up to negotiate disputes, remove tariffs, reduce subsidies and quotas, and generally promote international agreement on trade policies. NAFTA can be seen as a part of this latest movement toward international cooperation on trade.
Although international sentiment in the 1990s was generally in favor of free trade, the road to NAFTA was not smooth. When, in August 1992, trade representatives, after over a year of negotiations, announced a draft of the agreement, reaction in the United States was mixed. Although the business community largely supported the plan, representatives of organized labor mostly opposed it, arguing that it would encourage U.S. businesses to set up operations in Mexico and thus cause potentially devastating job losses in the United States. Sentiment against the plan was especially strong in border states like California, which had recently experienced substantial job losses and where many feared that NAFTA would only aggravate that situation. Environmentalists, pointing to Mexico's lax environmental laws, feared that unless the pact forced Mexico to toughen its standards, companies would move to that country to escape environmental restrictions. Public support for NAFTA in Canada, which was in a recession, also was declining, according to polls. There, both the opposition New Democratic Party and the Canadian Labor Congress disparaged NAFTA. In Mexico, anti-NAFTA opinion was weaker and less organized, but even in that country some parties expressed concern that the pact forced greater concessions from Mexico than from the other two nations. Nevertheless, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, then some three months away from winning the presidential election, expressed his support of NAFTA.
In mid-December 1992, U.S. President George Bush, George Herbert Walker, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, each signed separate copies of the agreement, and it was thus sent on to their respective legislatures for approval. Although Clinton, now the president-elect, had supported NAFTA, he had also said that he would seek "supplemental agreements" to strengthen Mexican environmental and worker-safety standards-a policy that was expected to slow NAFTA's approval in Congress.
Even before his inauguration, Clinton met with Gortari to express his concerns; the Mexican president, who had already reshuffled his cabinet in an apparent signal that he was willing to reform Mexico's justice system, indicated that the meeting had been a constructive one.
In February 1993, however, the hostile sounds from organized labor began to get louder. The executive council of the AFL-CIO urged the new Clinton administration to renegotiate the pact, which the organization's president, Lane Kirkland, lambasted as "an agreement based solely on exploitation." In March, trade negotiators from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, met in Washington to discuss Clinton's supplemental amendments. At the time, Democratic Senator Donald W. Riegle of Michigan sent Clinton a letter, co-signed by 25 Democratic senators, that said, "NAFTA, as it currently stands, fails to promote fair trade or serve American interests in the areas of fair labor standards, environmental protection, and worker health and safety standards." The administration was also warned that support in the House was weak. Opposition there was especially strong from Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who warned that "the current NAFTA will do nothing to stem the tide of pollution that endangers the health, safety and welfare of citizens on both sides of our borders. Nor will it stem the hemorrhage of jobs to Mexico." By April, Leon Panetta, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, was telling reporters that he considered NAFTA politically "dead" and that it would not pass Congress.
As it turned out, however, NAFTA was far from dead. In September, Clinton signed three supplemental agreements to NAFTA and reiterated his fervent support for the pact. A turning point in the struggle over NAFTA came on November 9, 1993, when Vice President Al Gore, and 1992 independent presidential candidate Ross Perot heatedly contested NAFTA during a 90-minute televised debate. Gore's spirited defense of the pact was widely hailed, and a poll taken afterward showed that viewers, by a 59%-22% margin, thought the vice president had outshone his rival in the debate. Momentum was now swinging to the administration's side, and just eight days after the Gore-Perot debate the House passed NAFTA, 234-200. NAFTA's opponents resented what they saw as unfair tactics on the part of the administration, which had offered controversial concessions designed to sway hesitant legislators. Several representatives had said, for example, that they would back NAFTA only after getting promises from the administration to protect key industries within their own districts. The pact was passed only with solid Republican support, as most Democratic legislators rejected it. Three days after the House vote, the Senate passed the NAFTA agreement, 61-38. In this case, a greater percentage of Democrats were on board-27 approved NAFTA and 28 voted against it. Republican senators backed the agreement by 34-10. The Mexican Senate overwhelmingly approved NAFTA on November 22, and in December, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said that Canada was now prepared to commit to NAFTA, which the Canadian parliament had previously passed.
A decade after NAFTA was passed, observers are still in disagreement over its merit. Trade among the three countries has boomed, but there has also been a growing trade deficit between the United States and its two neighbors, which some attribute to NAFTA. That the U.S. economy flourished in the 1990s is indisputable-NAFTA's supporters contend that the agreement was at least partly responsible for that and point to statistics that employment rose in the 1990s and did not decline, as predicted. On the other hand, a report released in April 2001 by the Economic Policy Institute, an anti-NAFTA organization, said that NAFTA had cost the United States nearly 750,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing.
By now, however, the free-trade debate has moved on. Today, policy makers are discussing a new agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). This pact would eliminate trade barriers throughout the Western Hemisphere, and every western nation except Cuba is involved in the negotiations. The debate is being framed along familiar lines. Opponents of the FTAA (one has called in "NAFTA on steroids") warn that U.S. workers will pay a heavy price as U.S. companies move to countries with less stringent environmental and worker-safety laws. Supporters maintain that free trade will open up greater opportunities for U.S. products and lower prices on imports. President George W. Bush, customarily a committed free trader, backs the agreement, but he has a way to go to satisfy the opponents of the FTAA. Most analysts think that he will eventually win approval of the pact, but only, like his predecessor, after persuading doubters that he will not sacrifice the environment and worker's rights¾and maybe cutting a few political deals.
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS
The Way Cookies Crumble
British scientists have discovered why cookies fall apart: they develop tiny cracks as they cool after baking.
Biscuits are a popular item to dunk into tea in Great Britain. This might sound disgusting, but British biscuits are different from American ones-they are more like semi-sweet cookies. A group of researchers from Loughborough University and the Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association became intrigued by reports that low-fat biscuits, which have been gaining in popularity, were more likely to crack than traditional higher-fat biscuits.
In a study to be published in the December 2003 issue of the British Institute of Physics journal Measurement Science and Technology, the researchers trained a digital speckle pattern interferometer on the surface of "Rich Tea" brand biscuits as they cooled. The interferometer's laser beam illuminates the biscuit's surface and becomes scattered by the cracks. By studying the pattern of the scattered beam, the scientists could detect deformities in the surface that were too small to be seen with the naked eye.
As a biscuit cools, the researchers found, the rim picks up moisture, causing it to expand. At the same time, the center of the biscuit loses moisture, causing it to contract. The difference in motion in the two parts of the biscuit results in increasing strain that pulls the biscuit apart. The strain is released in the formation of cracks or the breakup of the biscuit.
The process is like "an earthquake running though the biscuit," Loughborough University mechanical engineer Ricky Wildman, one of the study's co-authors, told BBC Radio. "Certain parts are contracting, others are expanding. This sets up internal forces within the biscuit and it effectively self-destructs."
The higher fat biscuits do not crumble as often because the fat makes them more flexible and, therefore, less likely to crack.
The researchers have suggested that decreasing the difference in moisture content between the two parts of the biscuit could reduce cracking and breakage. Manufacturers could either cool their biscuits in more humid air or they could bake their biscuits at a lower temperature for a longer period of time so that they would dry more evenly before being removed from the oven.
"Our preference is to cook the biscuit longer," Wildman told the Washington Post. "If you raise the humidity, there's a danger of soggy biscuits."
National Judge Bars Death Penalty in Terrorism Trial - A federal judge ruled Oct. 2 that prosecutors of alleged terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui could not seek the death penalty or link Moussaoui to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because they had not allowed him to interview captured top al-Qaeda operatives held overseas who might provide helpful testimony.
Figures Show Job Growth, Record Deficit, Rising GDP - The Labor Dept. reported Oct. 3 that 57,000 new jobs had been created in September 0 the first job growth in 8 months. The unemployment rate, which had hit 6.4% in June, held steady with August's lower 6.1% figure. On Oct. 9, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the budget deficit for the 2003 fiscal year would be $374 bil, the largest-ever in dollar terms, although, at 3.5% of gross domestic product, a smaller fraction of the economy than some deficits of the 1980s and early 1990s. On Oct. 30, the Commerce Dept. said that preliminary figures showed a sharp 7.2% annual-rate jump in 3rd quarter gross domestic product. That would be more than double the 2nd-quarter increase, and the highest for any quarter since 1984.
Californians Recall Governor; Schwarzenegger Elected - In a political earthquake, California voters Oct. 7 voted to recall their governor from office and replace him with actor-turned-gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gov. Gray Davis (D), who had been elected to a 2nd term just 11 months earlier, was removed by a margin of 55% to 45%, in an election in which 8 mil Californians participated. From a huge field of 135 candidates, voters gave 49% of the vote to Schwarzenegger (R), an Austrian-born former bodybuilder who had won worldwide fame as an action movie star; his closest rival, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D), received 32%.
Davis had fallen into wide disfavor because of a $38 bil budget deficit and his perceived mishandling of the state's energy crisis. Schwarzenegger, considered a moderate conservative, vowed to work with Californians to resolve the budget crisis; in his campaign he said he would work to repeal a recent increase in the state vehicle tax and would avoid raising new taxes. He won easily, despite a Los Angeles Times story, Oct. 2, reporting claims by women that he had made unwanted sexual advances to them in years past. Schwarzenegger acknowledged he had often been on "rowdy movie sets," and apologized for having "behaved badly sometimes." His wife, Maria Shriver, a TV journalist and niece of former Pres. John F. Kennedy, had strongly defended Schwarzenegger's suitability for office.
"Do Not Call" List Challenges Telemarketers - The national "do not call" list, aimed at blocking unwanted phone solicitations by telemarketers, Oct. 9 resumed accepting requests from people to add their numbers. The Federal Trade Commission had already received 52 mil requests to put numbers on the list. The future of the list was uncertain, however, because of legal challenges, on free-speech grounds.
Democratic Hopefuls Debate - Nine Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination met for a debate in Phoenix, AZ, Oct. 9. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the newest candidate, drew criticism from several rivals. They focused especially on recent apparently contradictory statements by Clark, who first said he would have supported a congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq, and then said he would not. The number of contenders dropped to 9 on Oct. 6, when Sen. Bob Graham (FL) withdrew. Polls had shown him getting only single-digit support. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH), who had been campaigning for months, officially declared Oct. 13. The 9 aspirants debated again in Detroit Oct. 26, generally denouncing administration policy in Iraq.
Congress Acts on Bush's $87 Bil Iraq Funding Request - The Senate, 87-12, and the House, 303-125, Oct. 17 approved measures to provide $87 bil for Iraq as requested by the Bush administration. Of that, about $20 bil was for the country's security and reconstruction, and the rest for U.S. military operations there. The Senate version required that $10 bil be treated as a loan to Iraq, but the White House Oct. 21 threatened to veto the final bill if it retained the loan provision, arguing that Iraq was already heavily in debt. On Oct. 29, members of the House-Senate conference committee agreed to drop the Senate provision, and the full House approved the conference committee version Oct. 31, with Senate approval and the president's signature expected to follow.
Senate Passes Bill Opposing Partial-Birth Abortion - The Senate Oct. 21 approved, 64-34, a bill that would ban a type of late-term abortion known as partial-birth abortion. The House had already approved the bill. Critics said they would challenge the law in court after Pres. George W. Bush signed it.
Search for Weapons in Iraq Continues - David Kay, the U.S. government's chief weapons inspector in Iraq, testified to Congress Oct. 2 that his team had yet to find conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction in that country, though he said Saddam Hussein's regime had sought to develop the weapons, forbidden to it under UN Security Council resolutions. Kay said that his team might need up to 9 months to complete its work.
Bomber Kills 19; Israel Retaliates in Syria - A suicide bomber set off an explosion at a restaurant in Haifa, in northern Israel, Oct. 4, killing herself and 19 others. Israel retaliated Oct. 5 with an air attack on a facility 10 miles northwest of Damascus, Syria. Israel said the site was a terrorist training camp used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad; Syria denied this and asked the Security Council to condemn Israel's attack, its first inside Syria since the 1973 war.
Israeli forces killed 8 Palestinians in fighting Oct. 10-11 during a raid into Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip; the Israelis were after tunnels that they claimed were used to smuggle weapons. 3 Americans were killed and 1 was wounded Oct. 15 when a bomb exploded under a diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip. Israeli planes and helicopter gunships struck in Gaza Oct. 20; 11 people died in the raid. The Israelis were targeting militants and weapon stores, but the number of civilian casualties drew criticism by some Israelis, including Interior Min. Avraham Poraz.
Insurgents Step Up Deadly Attacks In Iraq - Bombings and other attacks in Iraq rose significantly in October, with victims ranging from U.S. soldiers to Iraqi civilians and international aid workers. In 2 incidents on Oct. 6, 3 U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed and another soldier was wounded. On Oct. 9, a vehicle crashed through the gates of a police station in Baghdad and exploded, killing at least 8 others; the same day, a U.S. soldier was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade northeast of Baghdad, and a Spanish diplomat was shot dead outside his Baghdad home. A car bomb exploded near the Baghdad Hotel, Oct. 12, killing 8 and wounding 35. A bomb outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad Oct. 14 killed the bomber and one bystander. Three U.S. servicemen died in Karbala Oct. 16 in a fight with guards of a Shiite cleric.
An American colonel was killed Oct. 26 when missiles struck Baghdad's Rashid Hotel, where he was staying. The barrage wounded 16 others; Deputy Defense Sec. Paul Wolfowitz, on an inspection tour of Iraq, was staying at the hotel but escaped harm. A deputy mayor of Baghdad was assassinated Oct. 26. A series of explosions rocked the capital Oct. 27, killing at least 34. The most deadly, near the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross, killed at least 15, including one Red Cross worker. The attacks, 4 of which occurred at police stations, coincided with the onset of the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan. At an Oct. 28 news conference, Pres. George W. Bush acknowledged that Iraq was "a dangerous place," placing the blame largely on remnants of the deposed regime and on "foreign terrorists" who infiltrating Iraq from Syria and Iran. He vowed that the U.S. would not allow the attacks to "intimidate" it and would "stay the course"; he said however that there was no present need to send more U.S. troops. The UN announced Oct. 30 that it was temporarily pulling its staff out of Baghdad while evaluating safety concerns; UN staff remained in northern Iraq, where safety concerns were less pressing.
UN Passes Iraq Resolution - The UN Security Council Oct. 16 unanimously passed a U.S. and British-backed resolution endorsing a U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq. The measure urged UN members to support the Iraq occupation with troops and money, and called on the Iraq Governing Council to present, by Dec. 15, a timetable for preparing a new constitution. Russia, France, and Germany indicated dissatisfaction that the resolution did not accelerate the pace for a transfer of power or provide a stronger UN rule, and said they would not commit troops or new funds. But the unanimous resolution was seen as a victory for the U.S. government and a sign of lessened tension between the U.S. and some of its traditional European allies over Iraq.
Bush Visits Asian Nations - Pres. Bush Oct. 16 began a trip to Asia. He said he would seek "to make sure that the people who are suspicious of our country understand our motives are pure." In Japan, Oct. 17, Bush thanked Prime Min. Junichiro Koizumi for Japan's pledge of $1.5 bil to help rebuild Iraq. Addressing the Philippines Congress in Manila Oct. 18, Bush said that Iraq, like the Philippines, could be transformed into a successful democracy. He promised to help make the Philippines military a force to fight terrorists.
Bush Oct. 19 met with Pres. Hu Jintao of China in Bangkok, Thailand, and proposed to offer North Korea a 5-nation security guarantee, providing the latter dropped its nuclear-weapons program. Bush told reporters in Bangkok Oct. 20 that the United States would not agree to what North Korea wanted, a nonaggression treaty. At the annual Asian summit in Bangkok, Oct. 20, Bush deplored remarks by Prime Min. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, asserting that Jews ran the world by proxy. (Mahathir made his comments Oct. 16 while hosting a conference of Islamic nations; he was preparing to retire Oct. 31 after leading Malaysia for 22 years.) Bush succeeded Oct. 21 in getting the 21 summit participants to agree to act forcefully against terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. On the island of Bali, Oct. 22, Bush met with Pres. Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia, leader of the world's largest Muslim nation. With Islamic fundamentalism on the rise there, Bush urged that Indonesia remain "pluralistic and democratic." Bush addressed the Australian parliament Oct. 23, and was heckled by 2 members.
2 CIA Operatives Killed in Afghanistan - The CIA said Oct. 28 that 2 of its operatives in Afghanistan had been killed Oct. 25. The agency gave few details about the operation in which they were involved, but said they were tracking terrorists in southeastern Afghanistan.
Rush Limbaugh Admits Painkiller Addiction - Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh announced on the air Oct. 10 that he was addicted to prescription painkillers, and said he would enter a rehabilitation center. Earlier, on Oct. 1, Limbaugh had resigned as an ESPN football commentator, after controversy arose when he said that a black NFL quarterback, Donovan McNabb, "got a lot of credit...he didn't deserve" because of his race.
Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Iranian Woman - The Nobel Peace Prize committee announced Oct. 10 that the 2003 award would go to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer cited for her "efforts for democracy and human rights." Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to win the prestigious award; her selection aroused mixed feelings in Iran, as some of the conservative elements in the country regarded her as a dissident troublemaker.
China Sends Man into Space - China Oct. 15 became the 3rd country in the world, after Russia and the U.S., to launch a man into space. Yang Liwei landed safely Oct. 16, after orbiting the Earth 14 times in his Shenzhou 5 craft.
10 Die as Ferry in New York City Strikes Pier - A ferry in New York City, transporting passengers from Manhattan, slammed into a pier on Staten Island Oct. 15, causing the death of 10 people and injuring dozens of others, a few of whom lost limbs. The boat struck a maintenance pier 400 feet from the nearest ferry slip, apparently at high speed; the pilot, Asst. Capt. Richard Smith, fled to his home on Staten Island where he reportedly attempted suicide. An investigation was underway.
Pope Celebrates Jubilee - Pope John Paul II Oct. 16 celebrated the 25th anniversary of his being named head of the Roman Catholic Church, at a mass in St. Peter's Square in Rome. Now 83 years old, and unable to walk on his own or speak at length, the frail pope asked Catholics to pray for him to have the strength to continue as their leader. Thousands of worshippers attended the mass, paying tribute to a man who had served longer than all but 3 other popes in the church's history. On Oct. 19, in a ceremony in St. Peter's, the pope beatified the late Mother Teresa, who was revered for her work in behalf of the poor people of Calcutta, India. In another ceremony Oct. 21, he presented red hats to 30 new cardinals, including one American, Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Rigali. One other new cardinal was named in secret; he was believed to be living in China, where he might be endangered if his name were disclosed.
Wildfires Claim 20 Lives, Devastate Southern California - One of the worst series of forest fires ever recorded in southern California laid waste to more than 650,000 acres, and destroyed more than 2,600 homes during late October. Driven by hot dry Santa Ana winds, one fire in the San Bernardino National Forest had forced thousands to flee Oct. 24. Another fire flared up Oct. 25, destroying 200 homes in San Bernardino. By Oct. 26, 10 separate blazes, roughly circling Los Angeles and extending nearly to San Diego, were out of control and had consumed 300,000 acres. The fire near San Diego was started by a lost hunter who set off a signal flare. Firefighters struggled to stop flames coming down the Santa Monica Mountains toward the northern suburbs of LA and the coastal town of Malibu. By Oct. 29 the death toll stood at 20, including 2 in Mexico and one firefighter who died that day near Julian when the wind abruptly changed direction. Gov. Gray Davis Oct. 29 toured the Lake Arrowhead area, where 50,000 people had been evacuated when flames 300 feet high swept toward the mountaintop resorts. By now, 12,000 firefighters were on the front lines. Cooler and damper conditions on Oct. 30 brought hope for relief.
Bank of America, FleetBoston Announce Merger - The Bank of America and FleetBoston announced their merger Oct. 27, a deal that would make the new combined institution the country's second-largest bank in terms of assets, and the largest in the area of retail banking, with 33 million customers. Geographically, the two companies were strong in different parts of the country - Bank of America in the West and South, while FleetBoston was a major presence in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. Bank of America would pay an estimated $48 billion in stock for FleetBoston.
In the National League Championship Series, the Florida Marlins won 3 straight games over the Chicago Cubs, including a 9-6 win in the 7th game on Oct. 15 to earn their 2nd trip to the World Series since 1997. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was the NLCS MVP. The New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-5, in a dramatic Game 7 on Oct. 16. Aaron Boone's 11-inning homer gave the Yankees the American League Pennant. Relief pitcher Mariano Rivera was named MVP of the ALCS.
In the 2003 World Series, the Florida Marlins defeated the New York Yankees, 2-0, Oct. 25 in Game 6 to win the championship, 4 games to 2. Pitcher Josh Beckett, who pitched a complete game shutout, while allowing only 5 hits and striking out 9, was named the World Series MVP.
On Oct. 12, Canadians Peter Reid and Lori Bowden took the men's and women's titles at the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kailua Kona, HI. It was the 25th anniversary for the event in which competitors swam 2.4 miles in the ocean, bicycled 112 miles, and ran a marathon (26.2 miles). Reid won his 3rd title, finishing in 8 hrs, 22 mins, and 35 secs. Belgium's Rutger Beke, 5:52 back, and New Zealand's Cameron Brown, 3:35 back, finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Bowden, a 4-time runner-up, was the winner for the 2nd time in 9:11:55. Switzerland's Natascha Badmann, a 4-time champ, finished 5:13 back for 2nd, just 8 seconds ahead of Germany's Nina Kraft.
In the Women's World Cup soccer final Oct. 12 in Carson, CA, Germany defeated Sweden, 2-1, in overtime to win its 1st title. The U.S. took 3rd with a 3-1 win over Canada. German forward Birgit Prinz won the Golden Ball as top player in the tournament, and her 7 goals earned her the Golden Shoe as top scorer. Germany defeated the U.S., 3-0, on Oct. 5.
At the 20th Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, Hall of Famer Julie Krone became the 1st woman to ride a Breeder's cup winner. She rode Halfbridled to a 2.5-length win in the Juvenile Fillies. Trainer Richard Mandella also had a record day when his horses won 4 races-Juvenile Fillies (Halfbridled), Juvenile (Action This Day), Turf (Johar), and the Classic (Pleasantly Perfect).
OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES
- Kevin Seabrooke World RPS Championships. In the early morning hours of Oct. 26, Canadian Rob Krueger threw a 3-round combination known as the "Fistful o'dollars" (rock, paper, paper) to Marc Rigaux's rock-rock-rock to capture the 2003 World Rock, Paper, Scissors Championships in front of nearly 1,000 spectators in a Toronto nightclub. Krueger, who competes for the Ottawa/Toronto team "Legion of the Red Fist," took home $5,000 C ($3,825 U.S.) in addition to the title. Some 320 "professional athletes" - many in homemade costumes, holding drinks in their non-throwing hand-from the U.S., U.K. and Canada competed in the contest sponsored by the World RPS Society. Known around the world, the game has many other casual names, including Jenken, Jan Ken Pon, Roshambo, Shnik Shnak Shnuk, Ching Chong Chow, Farggling, Scissors Paper Stone, and Scissors Rock Paper.
Saddled with the Wrong Name? Zippy Chippy, the grandson of Northern Dancer, who won both the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby in 1964, is apparently anything but. In 10 seasons of racing, the 12-year-old gelding has earned a dubious place in North American horseracing history with 98 consecutive losses (he's banned from racing at his home track, the Finger Lakes Race Track in upstate New York). In Sept. 2003, Zippy finished 2nd for only the 8th time in his career. He's also finished 3rd 12 times on the way to winning a career total of $30,000. Zippy is 2-1 in inter-species racing. In 2000, Zippy lost a 40-yard race to Rochester (NY) Red Wings outfielder Jose Herrera. In 2001, Zippy raced another minor league baseball player over 50 yards and won for the 1st time in his career (not counting exhibition wins over harness horses). Zippy also won a 45-yard race billed as "Man vs. Beast III" in 2002 over another Red Wings outfielder.
You've Got Courriel! The French government's Culture Ministry announced in 2003 that the term "e-mail" would be officially banned from the French lexicon. The word is a combination of "corrier electronique" (electronic mail), a phrase which some officials insist that French Net surfers already use.
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Today is Halloween, and tonight is the 30th anniversary of the Village Halloween Parade in New York City. This unusual night-time parade was started by a Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer in 1973, and began as a walk from house to house in the neighborhood for his children and their friends. It now draws upwards of 25,000 participants, and crowds 10 deep along the parade route. I'm heading down to the parade tonight, though just as an observer (I have marched in the parade twice). To learn more about the parade and its history, and see great photos, visit: http://www.halloween-nyc.com/.
M-I-C, See you real soon, K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you, M-O-U-S-E. That was part of the theme of the 1950s television show "The Mickey Mouse Club." November 18th is Mickey Mouse's 75th birthday. Created by cartoonist Walt Disney, Mickey made his film debut in 1928, in "Steamboat Willie," and has appeared in over 120 cartoons. To learn more about MM, visit:http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/characterstandard/mickey/mickey.html.
This month I'm featuring famous Marie's from history. My sister Marie celebrated her 50th birthday this month, and since I mentioned sister Barbara's last month, Marie is getting her due. (You'll be happy to know that there are no other siblings). Marie Dressler (1869-1934), was an actress-comedienne whose unlikely success (she considered herself an "ugly duckling") took her to Broadway and the silent films of the early 1900s. She was blacklisted in 1917 for taking the side of striking chorus girls, and later returned to film, ultimately winning an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1931. Learn more about Dressler at:http://www.northernstars.ca/actorsdef/dressler_bio.html, and try renting "Dinner at Eight" to see her with an all-star cast. Moving on to a less fortunate Marie, there was Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), Queen Consort to Louis XVI of France, 1774-1793. Put to death at the age of 37, she had been well known for her spending habits and opposition to reform. To learn more about this queen, who may or may not have uttered the famous words "Let them eat cake," visit:http://www.myrrhine.net/antoinette/index.html. Okay, and who remembers the song ditty "It's a little bit country, it's a little bit rock-and-roll?" Donny and (Olive) Marie Osmond (1959- ) used to sing it on their show (long before they had a talk show together). Marie has sung, acted, created a line of dolls, and served as co-founder of a foundation for medical treatment, research, and assistance benefiting children's hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more about Marie Osmond visit: http://www.osmond.com/marie/.
There is a report out today that says that the oldest woman in the world, Kamato Hongo, has died at the age of 116. While that seems amazing, the number of centenarians grows each day, and many people are staying healthier longer. Ever wonder how long you were going to live? To get a general idea based on your age, try looking in the new World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004, under Life Expectancy in the index. If you want to try and figure in your health habits and the like, The New England Centenarian Study has created a Life Expectancy Calculator. Give it a try at:http://www.livingto100.com/quiz.htm. Following the answer is a key to explain why each item is related to your longevity potential. It says I'm going to live to be 90!
While on business printing The World Almanac earlier this month, I had a free morning, and I drove to Rochester, NY, to visit the George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film. For any photo/film buff, this is a great place to visit. Among the treasures I saw, were early works by the photographers Talbot, Daguerre, and Cameron, as well as the silent version of Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 film "King of Kings." An excellent hallway of walls tells the history of photography, and the various exhibits demonstrate photography at its best. Visit the website for the museum at:http://www.eastman.org/.
The World Almanac 2004 Editor's Picks for Favorite Parlor Games, lists Backgammon as the #8. I used to love playing this most ancient of games. What, you don't know how? Visit http://www.gammoned.com/history.html to learn the history of the game, the rules, and game analysis.
Unusual Website of the Month: Stare Down Sally http://www.stairwell.com/stare/
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