The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 12 - December 2003
What's in this issue?
December is Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month, National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and Universal Human Rights Month
December 1 - Electric Light Parade (Lovington, NM)
December 1 - National Day (Romania); UN World AIDS Day
This Day in History - December
Born This Day - December
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Location: Seat of Cook County, NE Illinois, on the SW shore of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Chicago River; incorporated as a city 1837. It is the third largest city in the U.S. and one of the country's leading industrial, commercial, and transportation centers.
Population (2002): 2,886,251
Mayor: Richard M. Daley (Democrat)
December Temperatures: Normal high of 36.5 degrees; normal low of 23.7 degrees
Colleges & Universities: Chicago State University; Columbia College Chicago; DePaul University; DeVry University; East-West University; Harrington Institute of Interior Design; Illinois Institute of Art; Illinois Institute of Technology; International Academy of Design & Technology; Loyola University of Chicago; Moody Bible Institute; National-Louis University; Northeastern Illinois University; North Park University; Northwestern University-Chicago Campus; Robert Morris College; Roosevelt University; Rush University; Saint Augustine College; Saint Xavier University; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; University of Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago
Events: Christkindlmarket, Daley Plaza & Block 37 (November 27-December 22); Santa's House, Daley Plaza (November 28-December 23); Lambs Farm - Holiday Art Craft & Country Folk Show, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (December 4-7); One of a Kind Show and Sale, The Merchandise Mart (December 4-7); Chicago Jewelry Fashion and Accessories Show, Navy Pier (December 5-7); 63rd Street Holiday Parade (December 6); Chicago Remembers Pearl Harbor, Navy Pier (December 6); Pre-Kwanza, Pre-Christmas African Heritage Festival (December 6-7); Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade, Dan Ryan Wood & Western Ave. (December 7); Skokie Valley Kennel Show, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (December 11-14); International Gem & Jewelry Show, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (December 12-14); Rudolph Ramble 8k run, Lincoln Park (December 14); Mayor Daley's Holiday Sports Festival, McCormick Place South (December 27-29); New Year's Eve Fireworks, Buckingham Fountain (December 31)
Sports teams: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox (baseball); Chicago Bulls (basketball); Chicago Bears (football); Chicago Blackhawks (hockey)
Museums: Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago Children's Museum; Chicago Historical Society; Clarke House Museum; Field Museum; Museum of Broadcast Communications; Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences; Museum of Contemporary Art; Museum of Science and Industry; Oriental Institute Museum; John G. Shedd Aquarium
Places to visit: Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze; Brookfield Zoo; Buckingham Memorial Fountain; Centennial Fountain & Water Arc; Chicago Botanic Garden; Chicago Mercantile Exchange Visitor Center; GameWorks; Garfield Park Conservatory; Grant Park; Hancock Observatory; Jackson Park; James R. Thompson Center; Lincoln Park; Lincoln Park Zoo; Maxwell Street Market; Navy Pier; Old Water Tower; Robie House; Sears Tower Skydeck
Tallest Building: Sears Tower (1,450 feet, 110 stories; tallest building in the U.S.)
History: In 1673 the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet passed through what is now the site of Chicago. They found a low, swampy area that the Indians, mainly Potawatomi, called "Checagou," possibly referring to a wild-onion smell that filled the air.
About a century later, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a trader, established the first permanent dwelling near the mouth of the Chicago River. In 1803 the U.S. Army post, Fort Dearborn, was erected along the river to protect the strategic waterway linkage. At the beginning of the War of 1812, nearly all the soldiers and settlers were killed by Indians and the fort destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1816, but settlement remained sparse until the Indians were removed in 1832.
By 1837, helped by harbor improvements and the start of construction of the Illinois-Michigan Canal, Chicago's population had reached 4,000, and the community was incorporated as a city. Growth was very rapid, bolstered soon by the completion of the canal and the coming of the railroads in the late 1840s. Attracted by economic opportunities, immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia settled here. The city was first predominantly a port and trading center for raw materials from the Midwest and finished goods from the East, but it soon developed as a major national railroad junction and an important manufacturing center. New waves of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe included Poles, Jews, Czechs, Lithuanians, Italians, and Greeks. Chicago became a checkerboard of different ethnic communities.
The city hosted its first national political convention in 1860, when the Republican Party chose Abraham Lincoln as its presidential nominee. The cattle business, vital to Chicago's economic development, received a boost when the Union Stock Yard opened in 1865; the stockyard, which eventually covered about 1 sq mi, continued to function for more than 100 years. In 1871 a great fire killed an estimated 300 people and destroyed about 4 sq mi of central Chicago, nearly one-third of the city's total area; the city was quickly rebuilt, however, and rapid population growth continued. Increasing unrest among the city's large population of industrial workers culminated in a number of violent episodes, such as the Haymarket Square Market of 1886. The opening in Chicago of Hull House (1889), founded by Jane Addams to assist immigrants and others, was a landmark in the history of the U.S. social reform movement. By 1890, Chicago's population had surpassed 1 million. Three years later the city hosted the World's Columbian Exposition, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's landing in America.
The city's physical expansion in the 20th century was largely guided by the Burnham Plan of Chicago, which called for improvements in transportation, parks, and recreational facilities, including the reclamation of the lakefront area. One of the worst disasters in U.S. history took place in July 1915, when the lake passenger steamer Eastland capsized shortly after leaving its Chicago River dock, killing 844 of the 2,572 people on board. During the Prohibition era (1920-1933), Chicago became notorious for its bootleggers and gangsters, including Al Capone. Construction of the city's first subway line began in 1938, and service was inaugurated in 1943.
A new political era for Chicago dawned in April 1955 with the election of Richard J. Daley as mayor. During his nearly 22 years in office, the most of any Chicago mayor, Daley presided over a massive urban redevelopment program, including the expansion of airport and rapid transit facilities, the construction of new public housing, and the building of the Sears Tower and other downtown skyscrapers. He used the levers of patronage to boost his local power and national prestige, and he earned a reputation as a Democratic kingmaker by his support for the 1960 presidential candidacy of John F. Kennedy.
Daley's reputation suffered in 1968, when turmoil twice engulfed the city. In April, following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., in Memphis, TN, a wave of violence, arson, and looting swept through the predominantly black West Side area, leaving 9 people dead. Then, during the Democratic National Convention in August, antiwar protests were suppressed by Chicago police, using violent tactics a subsequent investigation described as a "police riot." The following year, eight leaders of the antiwar movement-the so-called Chicago Eight-were tried in federal court for having incited the disturbances. Their tumultuous trial, which attracted national attention, resulted in convictions in 1970 for five of the defendants, including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Tom Hayden; an appellate court overturned the verdict two years later, citing numerous procedural errors by the trial judge.
The first half of the 1970s marked the twilight of the Daley mayoralty. Several close Daley associates and other members of his administration were convicted of corruption; the mayor suffered a stroke in May 1974 and died in office two and one-half years later. As whites diminished as a proportion of the city's voting-age population, black political leaders, notably the Rev. Jesse Jackson, began to emerge as a powerful force in Chicago politics.
The city elected its first woman mayor, Jane Byrne, in 1979. She was defeated in a primary election four years later by Harold Washington, a political reformer who went on to become Chicago's first African-American mayor. Reelected in April 1987, he died in office only seven months later. The Daley dynasty returned to power with the election in 1989 of Richard M. Daley, son of the former mayor. Daley, who won reelection in 1991, 1995, and 1999, presided over the biggest building boom since his father's administration. Chicago's 2000 population of 2,896,016 marked the city's first net population gain in five decades.
Birthplace of: actress Gillian Anderson (1968); actress Patricia Arquette (1968); Attorney General John Ashcroft (1942); writer David Auburn (1969); writer Jean Auel (1936); actress Barbara Barrie (1931); actor Jim Belushi (1954); comedian Jack Benny; actor Tom Berenger (1950); U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (1937); Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (1956); actress Tempestt Bledsoe (1973); actor Tom Bosley (1927); actor Andre Braugher (1962); novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875); actor Dan Castellaneta (1958); writer Raymond Chandler (1888); writer Sandra Cisneros (1954); Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.; 1944); U.S. Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947); baseball player Charles Comiskey (1858); U.S. Representative Philip M. Crane (1930); writer Michael Crichton (1942); Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (1942); cartoonist Walt Disney (1901); writer John Dos Passos (1896); dancer Katherine Dunham (1910); newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne (1867); explorer Lincoln Ellsworth (1880); U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel (1959); actor Dennis Farina (1944); writer James T. Farrell (1904); chess player Bobby Fischer (1943); former First Lady Betty Ford (1918); choreographer Bob Fosse (1927); dancer Mitzi Gaynor (1931); Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg (1908); clarinetist and orchestra leader Benny Goodman (1909); U.S. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (1953); football coach George Halas (1895); actress Daryl Hannah (1960); Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (1899); Steve Harris (1965); Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner (1926); baseball player Rickey Henderson (1958); actress Marilu Henner (1952); actress Bonnie Hunt (1964); U.S. Representative Henry Hyde (1924); writer John Jakes (1932); U.S. Representative Bill Janklow (1939); U.S. Representative Nancy L. Johnson (1935); musician and music producer Quincy Jones (1933); actor Harvey Korman (1927); singer Frankie Laine (1913); filmmaker John Landis (1950); U.S. Representative Bill Lipinski (1937); writer Alison Lurie (1926); comedian Bernie Mac (1958); actress Amy Madigan (1950); playwright David Mamet (1947); actor Joe Mantegna (1947); political commentator Mary Matalin (1953); actress Jenny McCarthy (1972); U.S. Representative Jim McDermott (1936); actress Donna Mills (1943); former Senator Carol Moseley Braun (1947); actor Martin Mull (1943); actress Kim Novak (1933); actor Ken Olin (1954); actor Mandy Patinkin (1952); actor Aidan Quinn (1959); singer Lou Rawls (1935); actor John C. Reilly (1965); Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (1932); Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak (1946); U.S. Representative Janice D. Schakowsky (1944); U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr. (1943); writer Sidney Sheldon (1917); TV journalist and California First Lady Maria Shriver (1955); actor David Soul (1943); scholar Shelby Steele (1946); Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (1920); actor Mr. T (1952); writer Scott F. Turow (1949); former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth (1937); actress Marsha Warfield (1954); DNA pioneer James Watson (1928); actress Raquel Welch (1940); actor George Wendt (1948); actor/comedian Robin Williams (1951); filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (1952)
Banana, Rev. Canaan, 67, Methodist minister who served as Zimbabwe's first president (1980-87) and whose reputation was ruined in the late 1990s by his trial and conviction for homosexual rape; London, England, Nov. 10, 2003.
Bar-Illan, David, 73, Israeli pianist, journalist and chief spokesman for the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (1996-99); Jerusalem, Israel, Nov. 24, 2003.
Brown, Charles L, 82, chairman and chief executive of AT&T at the time of the telecommunications giant's historic Jan 1, 1984 breakup that created seven regional phone companies, or "Baby Bells"; Richmond, VA, Nov. 12, 2003.
Carney, Art, 85, actor who played sewer worker Ed Norton in the classic 1950s TV comedy series "The Honeymooners," originated the role of Felix Ungar in the 1965 Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, and won a 1975 Oscar for his starring role in Harry and Tonto; Chester, CT, Nov. 9, 2003.
Dacko, David, 73, founding president of the Central African Republic (1960-66), and its president again for several years (1979-81) after the overthrow of tyrant Jean-Bedel Bokassa; Yaounde, Cameroon, Nov. 20, 2003.
Ederle, Gertrude, 98, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Five men had performed the feat previously, but Ederle's time of 14 hours and 31 minutes broke the record by nearly two hours; Wyckoff, NJ, Nov. 30, 2003.
Gibson, Don, 75, country singer and songwriter whose hits included the enduringly popular songs "Sweet Dreams" (1956) and "Oh Lonesome Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" (both 1957); Nashville, TN, Nov. 17, 2003.
Guest, C.Z., 83, socialite, philanthropist, horsewoman, perennial best-dressed list figure, and author of books and newspaper columns on gardening; Old Westbury, NY, Nov. 8, 2003.
Hatfield, Bobby, 63, tenor half of the "blue-eyed soul" duo the Righteous Brothers, whose bass half was Bill Medley, and who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March; Kalamazoo, MI, Nov. 5, 2003.
Kenner, Hugh, 80, literary critic who focused on modernist writers and was best known for his interpretations of the work of Ezra Pound and James Joyce; Athens, GA, Nov. 24, 2003.
Kupcinet, Irv, 91, gossip columnist and late-night TV talk-show host who was a Chicago institution; Chicago, IL, Nov. 10, 2003.
Loudon, Dorothy, 70, actress who won a 1977 Tony for her role as sadistic headmistress Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie; New York, NY, Nov. 15, 2003.
Singleton, Penny, 95, actress who portrayed the comic strip character Blondie (created in 1930 by cartoonist Chic Young) on radio and in 28 film comedies released between 1938 and 1950; Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 12, 2003.
Spahn, Warren, 82, National League pitcher (mostly for the Braves when the franchise was in Boston and Milwaukee) whose 363 career wins were the most by a lefty in the history of Major League Baseball; Broken Arrow, OK, Nov. 24, 2003.
Tisch, Laurence A., 80, financier and philanthropist who with his brother, Preston R. Tisch, built and controlled the Loews Corp. conglomerate, and who headed the CBS television network from 1986 to 1995; New York, NY, Nov. 15, 2003.
By Joseph Gustaitis
It was one of those rare moments in the history of literature: a book was published that was hailed as not only a literary masterwork, but also as a book that made history--one that changed people's minds. It has now been 30 years since the Paris based publishing firm YMCA Press brought out, on December 28, 1973, a 260,000-word edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956. This powerful book, an indictment of the Soviet system and its inhumane prison camps, shook up intellectuals in the West like few other works, exposing the falsehood that the Soviets were creating an ideal egalitarian society.
Ever since the excitement of the Russian Revolution of 1917, observers in the West watched the events in that country with interest and anticipation. After Karl Marx had issued his promulgations on the fall of capitalism and the creation of the idyllic workers' state, thinkers had imagined a new society in which class distinctions would vanish and the state would wither away-and here it seemed that this dream might be approaching realization. Probably the most famous example of that attitude came from the American editor and author Lincoln Steffens. After visiting Russia shortly after the Bolshevik takeover, he returned home in 1921 to utter his oft-quoted pronouncement, "I have seen the future and it works." (He later grew disillusioned with the Soviet regime.) Yet by the time that Joseph Stalin launched his terrifying purges in the 1930s, it was growing apparent (or should have) that the Soviet Union had become a totalitarian state in which repression, not freedom, was the order of the day. Nevertheless, by that decade the West was mired in the Great Depression, and it was by no means irrational to conclude that capitalism had indeed failed and that the world's workers, who had been pitilessly exploited by the "bosses," needed to take matters into their own hands. At the same time, fascism was gathering strength in Europe, and, especially after the Nazi seizure of power in Germany in 1933, it appeared to many in the West that an alliance with Communists was essential to thwart the menace. The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 crystallized much of this sentiment, for here was a place where the struggle between the two mighty forces of socialism and fascism was being waged¾not with arguments but with weapons. Fascist Italy sent some 70,000 volunteers to aid Francisco Franco's Nationalists; Germany contributed about 10,000 aviators and technicians; and multinational groups of volunteers, known as the International Brigades, headed for Spain to fight on the side of the republicans, or Loyalists. Ernest Hemingway, who served as a correspondent on the Loyalist side, drew on his experiences in Spain for his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In the West, Communist sympathizers became known as "fellow travelers," a loose term that characterizes someone who identified with and supported Communist ideals without necessarily being a card-carrying member of the party. Since the term is vague and few would have used it as a self-descriptive term, it's a judgment call as to who might be defined as a "fellow traveler," but in the United States names that are, in addition to Steffens, often mentioned in this context are people like Theodore Dreiser, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammet, Langston Hughes, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Erskine Caldwell, Dorothy Parker, and many more. But how widely anti-Communists could cast their nets in searching for Communist sympathizers can be seen in a 1949 article in Life magazine on "Dupes and Fellow Travelers" of the "Red peril," in which were listed, among others, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Norman Mailer, and Leonard Bernstein.
With the materialization of the Cold War after World War II, the ideological lines became even more strongly drawn, and as the Soviet Union extended its realm of influence into Eastern Europe, its tyrannical nature became yet more evident. Communism's prestige suffered a potent blow with the severe Soviet repression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, during which the Red Army attacked Budapest, the Hungarian capital, resulting in the execution and imprisonment of thousands. Even before that, however, some Western intellectuals had begun to revile the Soviet system. One of the first instances of this mood came with Arthur Koestler's 1941 novel Darkness at Noon, which illustrated the horrors of Stalin's purges. Then in 1950 appeared the collection of essays entitled The God That Failed, in which six prominent Western intellectuals, Koestler among them, vividly described their disillusionment with Communism. However, the contributors to that book by no means joined forces with the virulent anti-Communist forces on the right, which became typified by the activities of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy-indeed, one of those contributors, Richard Wright, continued to be harassed by right-wing ideologues in the United States. Nor did the Hungarian Revolution or The God That Failed spell the demise of pro-Communist sympathies in the West. In the 1960s, a Marxist stance was a quite respectable one among academics, although the term "Communism" was often replaced by the more benign "socialism." That decade saw the outbreak of the Vietnam War, which, if anything, reinvigorated the Left, as some leftist intellectuals direly foretold that the United States was turning into a fascist state. Some thinkers, most notably Jean-Paul Sartre even became partial to the China of Mao Zedong.
In this environment, the Gulag Archipelago exploded like a grenade. Based on the experiences not only of Solzhenitsyn himself, who spent 11 years in a Siberian penal colony (he had been incarcerated for writing a letter that contained a joke about Stalin), but also of over 200 other inmates, the book relentlessly exposed the brutality and injustice of this gigantic system of slave labor, whose chain of prison camps stretched across all 12 time zones of the Soviet Union. The existence of these camps was not unknown in the West, but not until Solzhenitsyn's novel was their extent appreciated. In addition, Solzhenitsyn established that the gulag was not, as some in the West supposed, the creation of the now discredited Stalin, but of Lenin, a figure still idealized in many circles.
The novel's author was born on December 11, 1918 in Kislovodsk and grew up in Rostov, where he studied physics and mathematics at the university. He was drafted during World War II and decorated for bravery, only to find himself in Siberia for his anti-Stalin wisecrack. Although his first novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), told of conditions in a prison camp, it was allowed to be published at the request of Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who had initiated a campaign of de-Stalinization. After Khrushchev's fall in 1964, however, a period of reaction set in, and Solzhenitsyn's next works, The First Circle (1968) and Cancer Ward (1968-69), not only met with disfavor but also were not permitted publication. They did, however, circulate clandestinely and were smuggled abroad; they were the basis in 1970 for the awarding to Solzhenitsyn of the Nobel Prize, an award he did then not collect for fear he would not be allowed to return to the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn was finally deported in 1974; he subsequently went to the United States, where he settled in Cavendish, Vermont. He remained in the United States for two decades, continuing his literary activities. In 1990, with the Soviet Union undergoing vast reforms, his citizenship was restored. He did not go back to his native land, however, until 1994, arriving in Moscow on July 21 after an eight-week railroad trip across Russia from the Pacific. He at once showed that he had not lost his talent for critical scrutiny, sizing up the new Russia with the remark that "The country is falling apart, into self-ruling pieces. We do not have a democracy . . . but I do not lose hope that we will manage to climb out of this pit." With his full beard and oft-proclaimed devotion to Orthodox Christianity, he appeared to several commentators to bear the mien of a biblical prophet.
By the time of Solzhenitsyn's homecoming, it was clear that Communism had lost just about all its appeal in the West, even in France, once a focal point for Marxist theorizing; for a long time, many (though not all) French intellectuals lived according to the slogan "pas d'enemies a gauche" (no enemies on the left"). A year after Solzhenitsyn's return to Russia, the French scholar Francois Furet published The Passing of an Illusion: the Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century, a wide-ranging book that revealed, among other things, how Soviet Communists employed antifascist rhetoric to seduce Western intellectuals even long after World War II-indeed, as Furet put it, "the Soviet Union left the scene of history before exhausting the patience of its foreign partisans." Furet's work was followed two years later by another French tome, this one even more sensational, called The Black Book of Communism. This book, the project of six leftist French intellectuals, traced Communist crimes from the early days of Lenin to the slaughter in Cambodia in the 1970s; the authors estimated that, in all, no fewer than 85 to 100 million people had been murdered by Communist regimes around the globe. None of this in any way indicted the left in general. It remained, of course, entirely viable to pursue a socialist or progressive agenda; it's just that such a political stance must now be married to the realization that leftist idealism can migrate toward totalitarianism. That rightist sentiments can do the same has already been tragically confirmed by the horrors of the 20th century's fascist regimes.
Communism, of course, does survive in some shape or another in a few places, although the form it takes in, say, China would probably not be recognized as anything Marxist by Lenin or Mao. But, except for a few diehards, it has lost its intellectual cachet. Solzhenitsyn alone was hardly responsible for this state of affairs, but his towering presence and his fearless indictments of injustice were major reasons for its coming about.
Science in the News: Sonar Gives Whales "the Bends"
High-volume sonar, such as the kind used by the military, may give whales "the bends," a new study suggests.
Sonar is a means of locating underwater objects by bouncing sound waves off them. Cetaceans, or marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises, are born with the ability to navigate using sonar. Humans, meanwhile, have developed mechanical sonar devices that are used by the military and in scientific research. Anthropogenic, or man-made, sonar is typically much louder than the sonar generated by marine mammals.
In 1996, scientists began noticing that cetaceans were stranding themselves on beaches in regions where military sonar tests were being carried out. Cetaceans tend to beach themselves when they're sick or dying, but these animals did not show any signs of illness. Some researchers suspected that the anthropogenic sonar was causing the animals to behave this way, but no one was able to explain why.
Now, scientists led by veterinary pathologist Antonio Fernandez, of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, may have finally discovered how anthropogenic sonar affects cetaceans. The team autopsied (or dissected in order to determine the cause of death) 10 beaked whales that had beached themselves in the Canary Islands, a few hours after military exercises involving sonar equipment had begun in the region.
The researchers found bubble-like lesions and hemorrhages (excessive bleeding) in the whales' vital organs, such as their livers, brains and kidneys. Also, the blood in many of the whales' tissues contained clots of fat. These symptoms, the researchers realized, are identical to those caused by decompression sickness, or "the bends," a sometimes fatal condition that affects scuba divers who surface too quickly.
Divers are at risk of getting the bends because the air they breathe underwater is compressed--that is, it's under more pressure than it would be at sea level. This is because the air pressure inside a diver's lungs automatically equalizes with the external pressure of the water (as long as the diver has an ample supply of air in his or her tank). As a diver breathes this compressed air, some of the compressed nitrogen in the air gets absorbed into the body's tissues. But once the diver begins to ascend to the surface, decreasing the external pressure, this nitrogen begins to expand and escape from the tissues.
If the diver ascends slowly enough, this takes place without a hitch. But if the diver ascends rapidly, the nitrogen gas will form bubbles in the blood. These bubbles produce precisely the kind of damage to internal organs that Fernandez and his team found in the beaked whales. Nitrogen bubbles associated with decompression sickness can also accumulate, quite painfully, in the joints, preventing sufferers from straightening their limbs. This symptom is probably the origin of the term, "the bends."
The researchers aren't sure why anthropogenic sonar would cause bends-like symptoms in cetaceans. They suggest that the animals, startled by the loud sonar, may panic and ascend too rapidly to the surface, thus developing decompression sickness in the same way that humans do. But others are skeptical that marine mammals, many of whom have evolved special features to enable deep-sea diving, could get the bends. "Whales have been diving like this forever, and should have evolved mechanisms so they wouldn't succumb to decompression sickness," Roger Gentry, coordinator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Acoustics Team, told the Washington Post. Another hypothesis is that the high-volume sound waves cause the bubbles to form as they pass through the animals' tissue, although this theory requires further investigation as well.
Bush Gets $87.5 Bil for Iraq - The Senate Nov. 3 approved by voice vote the $87.5 bil that Pres. George W. Bush had sought for U.S. military forces in Iraq and for the rebuilding of the country. The House had given its approval, 298-121 on Oct. 31. The final version did not contain a provision, originally supported by the Senate, providing that part of the reconstruction expenditures be in the form of a loan rather than an outright grant. Bush signed the bill Nov. 6.
3 States Elect New Governors - Republicans picked up 2 governorships in elections held Nov. 4. In Kentucky, Rep. Ernie Fletcher, a Bush administration supporter, defeated state Atty. Gen. Ben Chandler. In losing the governorship for the first time in 3 decades, the Democrats had been handicapped by scandals in the administration of Gov. Paul Patton. In Mississippi, Haley Barbour, a Washington lobbyist and former chair of the Republican National Committee, defeated Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. On the same day Philadelphia Mayor John Street (D) won easy reelection.
In Louisiana Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) was elected Nov. 15 to succeed outgoing Gov. Mike Foster (R), who was ineligible for a 3rd term; she defeated, Bobby Jindal (R).
On Nov. 17, Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as governor of California, succeeding Gray Davis, who was recalled from office in October by voters who chose the famous actor to replace him. The GOP now held 28 of the nation's 50 governorships.
Dean Gains Big Union Support - Former Gov. Howard Dean (VT), who appeared to be the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, got the endorsement Nov. 6 of the 1.6-million member Service Employees International Union. Up to then most unions had supported Rep. Dick Gephardt (MO). The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with 1.4 million members, endorsed Dean Nov. 12. On Nov. 8 Dean announced that he would not accept federal matching funds for his campaign; Bush, as in 2000, had already chosen to go that route. Those not accepting matching funds were not subject to spending limits.
On Nov. 10, Sen. John Kerry (MA), who was trailing Dean in polls in New Hampshire, the first primary state, replaced his campaign manager; other departures from his staff occurred in the following days. Kerry said, Nov. 13, that he too would not accept federal matching funds.
U.S. Economy Continues to Add Jobs - The Labor Dept. reported Nov. 7 that employment grew by 126,000 in October, in the 3rd straight month of job creation after a 3-year decline. The unemployment rate edged downward to 6.0% from 6.1% in September.
Senate Debates Judicial Nominees - Beginning Nov. 12, the Senate held a nonstop session that lasted for 40 hours, in which Republicans made an issue of the use of filibusters by Democrats to block votes on 4 of Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats said that they had approved about 98% of Bush's choices but that the nominees in question were too conservative. After the marathon session ended Nov. 14, the Republicans sought to end the filibuster against 3 of the nominees, but in each case, with 60 votes needed, only 53 senators voted to close debate.
Alabama's Chief Justice Removed From Office - An ethics panel voted unanimously Nov. 13 to remove Roy Moore as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, after Moore refused to obey a federal court order to remove a tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building.
Massachusetts Court Says Gay Couples Have Right to Marry - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a 4-3 decision Nov. 18, held that gay couples had a right to marry under the state constitution. The court - the first high state court to so rule - gave the state legislature 6 months to make gay marriage possible. The majority decision said that the state constitution "forbids the creation of second-class citizens." Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said his solution was to amend the state constitution to forbid gay marriage. The decision provoked denunciations from many conservatives across the nation.
August Blackout Blamed on Ohio Power Plant - A Nov. 19 report by government and industry officials blamed the August blackout on malfunctioning computers and poorly trained employees at FirstEnergy, an Ohio utility. The inquiry found that the company had failed to perform basic maintenance of its transmission lines. Sec. of Energy Spencer Abraham said that the blackout, which had affected parts of 8 states and Ontario, Canada, had been "largely preventable."
Congress Approves Drug Coverage for Seniors - After an acrimonious struggle, both houses of Congress approved a bill that would provide prescription-drug coverage for senior citizens. The bill was the biggest change in the Medicare program since its creation in 1965. The House approved it, 220-215, Nov. 22. The Senate followed Nov. 25, 54-44. Most Republicans supported the bill, and most Democrats opposed it. It expanded the role of private-health plans, which Republicans said would make Medicare more efficient; Medicare would compete with private plans subsidized by the government. Democrats complained that the bill contained giveaways to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. The total cost of the bill over 10 years was put at $10 bil. It would take effect in 2006.
Specifically, the 40 million elderly or disabled beneficiaries covered by the bill would assume the first $250 of drug costs, and insurance would then cover 75% of costs up to $2,250 a year. Coverage would stop until the beneficiary had spent $3,600, and Medicare would pay 95% of any remaining cost. An individual could stay with Medicare, signing up for a drug insurance policy, or join a private plan covering drugs as well as doctors' services and hospital care.
Pres. George W. Bush hailed the bill, which had passed after other attempts to get a drug-prescription plan had failed in Congress. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, MA) charged that the plan was driven by a "desire to fuel the profits of the wealthy and powerful."
Iraq Attacks Escalate; U.S. Presses Self-Government - Attacks by Saddam Hussein loyalists and other unidentified insurgents in Iraq grew more deadly in November; the Bush administration moved toward a more rapid transition to Iraqi self-rule than previously envisioned.
Sixteen U.S. soldiers died and 20 were injured Nov. 2 after guerrillas shot down a Chinook helicopter near Falluja, 30 miles west of Baghdad, with a surface-to-air missile. Many soldiers on the copter were about to leave Iraq for visits to their families. A 2nd missile narrowly missed hitting a 2nd Chinook. A Black Hawk helicopter exploded and crashed Nov. 7 in Tikrit, killing the 6 American soldiers aboard.
The heightened violence drew an aggressive U.S. response. Tanks, howitzers, and planes Nov. 7-8 struck an area in Tikrit from which guerrilla attacks had been launched. U.S. aircraft struck at 2 targets Nov. 12. Pres. George W. Bush declared Nov. 3 that "America will never run" from Iraq, and in a Nov. 6 speech, he called on Middle Eastern states to embrace a democratic tradition and to recognize that the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was "a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."
U.S. hopes for a broader military force in Iraq were set back Nov. 7 when Turkey withdrew its offer of troops. Iraq's Governing Council opposed a Turkish role, and Iraq's Kurds in particular remembered abuses by the Turks when the Ottoman Empire controlled the region.
In the southern town of Nasiriya, Nov. 12, a truck and car crashed into the building housing the Italian military police force; in an explosion, 19 Italians and 13 Iraqis were killed and more than 100 people were wounded.
The senior U.S. commander in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, said Nov. 13 that the coalition faced 5,000 guerrilla fighters in Iraq who were getting better organized and financed. At least 17 U.S. soldiers were killed Nov. 15 when 2 Black Hawk helicopters collided over the northern city of Mosul and crashed. One soldier was missing and 5 others were injured. One helicopter may have come under hostile fire and swerved and struck the other. U.S. forces reacted by mounting a show of force in central and northern Iraq; buildings believed used as staging areas for guerrilla attacks were bombed and pounded by artillery, and troops raided sites thought to conceal guerrillas and weapons. Bombs at 2 police stations near Baghdad killed 14 Nov. 22, and also on Nov. 22 an airplane operated by DHL, a courier company, was struck by a missile and forced to make an emergency landing.
A Nov. 10 CIA analysis said that Iraqis were losing confidence in U.S. ability to suppress the violence. Meetings between Bush and his top advisers led, Nov. 12, to reports that the administration would support an acceleration of the move toward Iraqi self-government, even if a new constitution had not yet been approved. Iraqi and U.S. officials confirmed this new approach Nov. 14. Independence was to be restored as early as June 2004, even without a constitution or elections. Foreign troops, however, would remain beyond that date. But then, on Nov. 26, a leading Shiite, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, declared his opposition to the U.S. plan, in which a transitional assembly would choose leaders, and demanded a direct election by the people. That would likely benefit the Shiites, who constituted 60% of the population.
In a top-secret mission, Bush flew to Iraq to have a Thanksgiving Day dinner at Baghdad International Airport with 600 soldiers of the First Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne. In addition to his official entourage, a few reporters came with him. Terrorists had been targeting several planes utilizing the airport.
The month ended with a spate of violence. Seven Spanish intelligence officers died south of Baghdad Nov. 29 when their SUVs were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire; one man escaped. In a separate attack near Baghdad Nov. 29, 2 Japanese diplomats were killed. Another attack claimed the life of a Colombian oil worker, Nov. 29. Two South Korean contractors were killed in an ambush Nov. 30. For all of November, guerrillas killed 104 coalition troops, including 79 Americans, in the bloodiest month of the war for Americans. When they came under attack in Samarra, Nov. 30, U.S. forces struck back, killing 54 Iraqi fighters, according to U.S. military sources (raised from an initial figure of 46), although Iraqi figures claimed many fewer were killed; 5 Americans were wounded.
Turkey Becomes a Major Target of Terrorists - Twice during November, terrorists struck at Turkey, a largely Muslim nation that supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. On Nov. 15, 2 truck bombs exploded outside 2 synagogues in Istanbul, killing 25 people (including the 2 bombers) and wounding more than 250; most had been attending Sabbath prayers. On Nov. 20, truck bombs exploded in Istanbul, at the British consulate and at the Turkish headquarters of the HSBC bank, killing 30 and injuring 450. The British consul general, Roger Short, was killed. In a phone call, the anonymous caller said the attack was the responsibility of Al Qaeda and the Islamic Front of the Raiders of the Great Orient. The latter, a Turkish group, had also claimed responsibility for the synagogue bombings.
A car bomb that exploded Nov. 8 in a residential compound in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, claimed 17 lives and wounded more than 120. Most victims were Arabs and Muslims.
President Bush Makes State Visit to Britain - Pres. George W. Bush arrived in London Nov. 18 to begin a state visit to Great Britain. On Nov. 19 he received a formal welcome from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Later, in a speech in the palace, Bush urged Britain to stand with the United States in a long-term effort to defeat terrorism and bring democracy to Islamic nations of the Middle East. He defended the coalition invasion of Iraq. That evening he and Mrs. Bush were guests of the queen at a formal dinner at the palace. For security reasons, Bush's movements were curtailed; the traditional procession through the streets was scrubbed. To avoid the risk of being heckled by opponents of the war, Bush did not address Parliament. At a meeting between Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Nov. 20, the 2 leaders deplored the terrorist attacks that day in Turkey. On Nov. 20, a crowd estimated by authorities at 110,000 marched through the streets of London protesting Bush's visit.
President of Georgia Resigns After Protests - Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze resigned his office after days of mass protest in the streets. On Nov. 20, the Central Election Commission had certified that his supporters had won a parliamentary election held Nov. 2. International election observers had reported instances of fraud in the conduct of the election. On Nov. 22, protestors broke into Parliament, forcing Shevardnadze, who declared a state of emergency, to flee. On Nov. 23, he agreed to resign, ending a decade-long rule marked toward its close by official corruption and national economic collapse. Shevardnadze's departure apparently ended a career during which, as Soviet foreign minister, he had helped ease the transition from communism and bring reconciliation with the West.
U.S. Episcopal Church Consecrates Gay Bishop - The Rev. V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Nov. 2 as bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first openly gay prelate in the Episcopal Church U.S.A. The consecration went forward despite warnings from Anglican primates in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that it could cause a schism. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, issued a statement Nov. 2 that recognized the right of the American branch to choose its bishops, but expressed regret that the concerns of other church leaders had not been given consideration. On Nov. 3, conservative Anglican leaders in Africa declared in a statement that they were in a state of "impaired communion" with the U.S. Episcopalians.
Man Admits Killing 48 Women - Gary Ridgway, a resident of a Seattle (WA) suburb, pleaded guilty Nov. 5 to killing 48 young women, most of them prostitutes or runaways. Since the 1980s authorities had been seeking the so-called Green River Killer, who had strangled the women after having sex with them and left many of their bodies near the river. Ridgway confessed to the crimes in an agreement with prosecutors that spared him the death penalty; no other serial murderer in U.S. history had been convicted of so many killings.
Sniper Who Terrorized DC Area Convicted - A Virginia Beach (VA) jury Nov. 17 found John A. Muhammad guilty in connection with the sniper attacks in the vicinity of Washington, DC, in the fall of 2002. Muhammad had been arrested along with a suspected teen-age accomplice, Lee Malvo, who was currently on trial separately. Muhammad was convicted of 2 counts of capital murder, one for committing multiple murders over 3 years and one for killing Dean Meyers in October to further a terrorist scheme aimed at extorting $10 mil. Muhammad was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and illegal use of a firearm. Lacking witnesses to Muhammad's involvement, prosecutors relied on circumstantial evidence, including a rifle found in his car that ballistics tests showed had been used in 13 shootings. The jury Nov. 24 sentenced Muhammad to death.
Singer Michael Jackson Arrested for Child Abuse - Law enforcement officials in Santa Barbara, CA, Nov. 19 issued an arrest warrant for singer Michael Jackson on multiple counts of child molestation. They said that the pop star would be charged with "lewd and lascivious conduct" with a child under age 14. Allegations a decade earlier that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old boy had been resolved out of court with a multimillion-dollar settlement. Jackson was booked, though not yet formally charged, at the Santa Barbara County Jail, Nov. 20, and released on $3 mil bail.
On Nov. 2, Kenyan runners dominated the New York City Marathon, taking the top 3 spots in both men's and women's races. Margaret Okayo, the 2001 NYC champ, broke her own course record, winning in 2 hrs., 22 mins., and 31 secs. Two-time Boston champ Catherine Ndereba finished 2nd in 2:23:03, with Lornah Kiplagat in 3rd (2:23:34). Martin Lel won the men's race in 2:10:30, followed by defending champion Rogers Rop (2:11:11) and Christopher Cheboiboch (2:11:23), who finished 2nd in New York and Boston in 2002.
On Nov. 9 driver Matt Kenseth, the overall points leader since March, clinched the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup title with a 4th place finish in the Pop Secret Popcorn 400 in Rockingham, NC. Kenseth, the 2000 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, won only 1 race, but had 11 top-5 finishes and finished in the top 10 in 26 out of 35 races.
Between Nov. 10 and Nov. 18, Major League Baseball announced its annual awards. In the American League, Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez won the MVP Award, Toronto pitcher Roy Halladay received the Cy Young Award, Kansas City shortstop Angel Berroa won the Rookie of the Year Award, and Kansas City manager Tony Pena was named Manager of the Year. In the National League, Barry Bonds was named MVP a record 6th time. It was the 3rd straight year Bonds had won the award. Los Angeles closer Eric Gagne won the NL Cy Young Award, Florida pitcher Dontrelle Willis took the Rookie of the Year Award, and Florida's Jack McKeon was chosen as the Manager of the Year.
The Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Montreal Alouettes, 34-22, in the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup championship on Nov. 16 in Regina, Saskatchewan. Edmonton receiver Jason Tucker, who caught 7 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns, was the game's MVP.
A dropkick goal by Jonny Wilkinson with 26 seconds remaining in overtime gave England a 20-17 win over Australia in the World Cup Rugby final in Sydney, Australia, on Nov. 22.
The 5th Presidents Cup finished in an unprecedented 17-17 tie in George, South Africa, on Nov. 23. Tied after 3 holes of a sudden-death playoff between Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, team captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to end the match in a tie as darkness fell, with the defending champion U.S. team retaining the cup. The international players pushed for a continuation of play on Nov. 24. The U.S. team then offered to share the cup.
The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Chicago Fire, 4-2, in the 2003 MLS Cup Championship match Nov. 23 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Landon Donavan, who scored 2 goals in the match, was named MVP of the game. It was the 2nd MLS Cup for the Earthquakes, who also won the title in 2001.
Offbeat News Stories
Thanksgiving Beverage. Just in time for the holidays came a unique drink that may-or maybe not-become a Thanksgiving tradition: Turkey and Gravy Soda. Peter van Stolk, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based Jones Soda Co., developed the flavor just for fun, but all 6,000 bottles of the soda sold out online in a few hours in the week before Thanksgiving. Did it have a fowl taste? Reviews of the soda's taste were not favorable, not even from van Stolk, who said he couldn't drink an entire bottle of the murky brown liquid. A limited number of bottles were available in the Seattle area at a suggested retail price of 99 cents. A day before Thanksgiving, bids for the soda on ebay.com were up to $25 for a single bottle, and as high as $71.50 for a case. The company planned to donate proceeds from the sales of the soda to the charity Toys for Tots.
A Unique Desert. In Moscow on Nov. 21, a Russian confection company unveiled an edible chocolate portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Konfael's portrait uses different types of chocolate to flesh out Putin's image on a 3.3-pound slab of white chocolate. Strawberry juice colors the lips and blueberry juice provides color for his tie. Only two of these works of art, priced at $700 each, have been created so far. But Putin fans have other resources. His image is very popular in Russia, plastered on a host of souvenir items like T-shirts, posters, and matrysoshka nesting dolls.
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Today is World's AIDS Day. Five people worldwide die of AIDS every minute of every day. HIV has hit every corner of the globe, infecting more than 42 million men, women and children, 5 million of them last year alone. While advances have been made in AIDS treatment, it still is a disease has no cure. You can make a difference today, by donating your time and money to an AIDS organization, wearing a red ribbon, signifying your support for those with the disease, and helping to educate others. For more information, visit the following organizations: http://www.worldaidsday.org/ and http://www.aidsresponse.org/worldaidsday2003.htm.
I was in Washington, D.C. last weekend, and one of the exhibits I made it a point to see, was the one dedicated to the Wright Brothers, in commemoration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard. The Wright Flyer, which has long hung from the ceiling of the Air and Space Museum, is now on view at eye-level. It's a sight to see. To learn more about the Wright Brothers and the history of early flight, visit: http://www.nasm.si.edu/wrightbrothers/.
One of the books I read recently, was Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees," a moving novel of love and hope. The book also served to spark my interest in beekeeping, and I found some interesting information on the subjects of bees, beekeeping, and honey, at http://www.beehoo.com/.
And while I am on the subject of books, a friend of mine recently inspired a book reading group. So far we've read two books ("Bees" was the first), and the books have created some fascinating conversations. Each member of the club takes turnss making the selection and hosting the discussion that follows. While most bookstores and libraries will offer up potential titles for such clubs, I found a site, http://www.readinggroupguides.com/, that tells you how to start a book club, run it, and choose what to read; it also briefly discusses books, and lists the various Book Club picks from U.S. media outlets.
The only picture of me on a surfboard has me "Surfin' with Santa," a staged photo, shot on a boardwalk in San Diego. Those who know me, don't necessarily associate water, sports, and Edward, in the same phrase. But I need to cover all types of subjects in this column, so to learn something about surfing, I looked at http://www.surfing-waves.com/. I found out all about basic rules of surfing, surfboards and types of waves.
The World Almanac 2004 Editor's Picks for Most Helpful Household Inventions that became widely used in the U.S. since the end of World War II, included #4, the telephone answering machine. While Edison tinkered with recording devices for telephones as early as 1878, commercial use of practical machines did not take place until the 1950s. To learn more about the history of sound recording technology, visit: http://www.recording-history.org/HTML/answering2.htm.
Oddest Link of the Month: David Hasselhoff Video : Hooked on a Feeling http://www.hellonetwork.com/demo/toysclub/video.asp?speed=hook300.
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