The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 2 - February 2004
What's in this issue?
February is Black History Month and American Heart Month
February 1 - Super Bowl XXXVIII (Houston)
February 1 - Eid al-Adha
This Day in History - February
Born This Day - February
FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: WILMINGTON, DELAWARE
Location: Seat of New Castle County, northern Delaware, a port on the Delaware River and its tributaries, the Christina River and Brandywine Creek; incorporated as a city 1832. The largest city in the state, Wilmington is an important shipping, manufacturing, and commercial center, famous for its chemical industry.
Population (2002): 72,503
Mayor: James M. Baker (Democrat)
February Temperatures: Normal high of 41.9 degrees; normal low of 24.8 degrees
Colleges & Universities: Goldey-Beacom College; University of Delaware Downtown Center
Events: Newport Jazz Festival, Grand Opera House (February 8); St. Valentine's Concert, Grand Opera House (February 13-14); Victorine's Valentine Days, Hagley Museum and Library (February 14); Wild Lovin', Brandywine Zoo (February 14); 19th Annual Delaware Antiquarian Book Show/Sale, University of Delaware-Wilmington Campus (February 21-22)
Places to visit: Brandywine Zoo; Celebrity Kitchens; Delaware Art Museum; Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts; Delaware History Center; Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame; Delaware Toy and Miniature Museum; Fort Christina; Greenbank Mill; Gibraltar Gardens; Goodstay Gardens; Grand Opera House; Hagley Museum and Library; Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church and Hendrickson House Museum; Kalmar Nyckel (ship that originally landed in Delaware on Mar. 29, 1638); Little Italy; Market Street Mall; Nemours Mansion and Gardens; Old Town Hall; Peter Spencer Heritage Hallway Museum; Riverfront Wilmington; Rockwood Mansion Park; Willingtown Square; Wilmington and Western Railroad; Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library
Tallest Building: Wilmington Tower (286 feet, 22 stories)
History: Christinahamn, founded here by Swedish colonists in 1638, was the capital of New Sweden from 1638 to 1643 and again in 1654 and was the site of Fort Christina. The settlement passed to the Dutch in 1655 and then to the English in 1664. William Penn took possession of the region in 1682, and members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) had the settlement platted in 1731. The community, then called Willingtown, became a borough in 1739 and was renamed for Spencer Compton, earl of Wilmington.
Birthplace of: actress Valerie Bertinelli (1960); U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle (R; 1939); industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870); illustrator/teacher/writer Howard Pyle (1853); actor Judge Reinhold (1957); actress Elisabeth Shue (1963); director/choreographer Susan Stroman (1954)
Aiken, Joan, 79, British author of many popular children's books, notably The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962); Petsworth, England, Jan. 4, 2004.
Barnett, Ella Moten, 102, actress and singer who in 1934 became the first black woman to sing at the White House; Chicago, IL, Jan. 2, 2004.
Blankers-Koen, Fanny, 85, Dutchwoman who at the 1948 London Olympics became the only woman ever to win four gold medals in track and field at one Olympics; Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Jan. 25, 2004.
Bucher, Lloyd, 76, commander of the U.S. Navy spy ship Pueblo, seized in 1968 by North Korea, where he and his crew endured 11 months of captivity; San Diego, CA, Jan. 28, 2004.
Claiborne, Harry, 86, first federal judge ever to go to prison, where he spent 17 months after being impeached in 1984 in the wake of a tax-evasion conviction; Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 19, 2004.
Counsilman, Doc, 83, legendary Indiana University swimming coach whose 1968 book The Science of Swimming was regarded as definitive; Bloomington, IN, Jan. 4, 2004.
Dumas, Charles, 66, first high jumper to clear 7 feet, which he did in 1956, the year he won the gold medal in that event at the Melbourne Olympics; Inglewood, CA, Jan. 5, 2004.
Frame, Janet, 79, New Zealand novelist and poet whose work drew upon and evoked her painful experiences as a mental patient; Dunedin, New Zealand, Jan. 29, 2004.
Goldsmith, Olivia, 54, author of the best-selling women's revenge-fantasy novel The First Wives Club (1992), made into a movie in 1996; New York, NY, Jan. 15, 2004.
Hagen, Uta, 84, grande dame of the American theater who originated the role of Martha on Broadway in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) and was a noted acting teacher; New York, NY, Jan. 14, 2004.
Hirsch, Elroy (Crazylegs), 80, National Football League Hall of Famer who was a big-play receiver for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s; Madison, WI, Jan. 28, 2004.
Keeshan, Bob, 76, children's TV's Captain Kangaroo for more than three decades and, before that, the original Clarabell the Clown on the "Howdy Doody Show"; Windsor, VT, Jan. 23, 2004.
Klinger, Georgette, 88, skin care expert who introduced European facial techniques to the U.S. in the 1940s and eventually presided over eight salons nationwide; New York, NY, New York, NY, Jan. 9, 2004.
May, Billy, 87, trumpeter, bandleader and arranger best known for his work with singer Frank Sinatra from the late 1950s through the late 1970s; San Juan Capistrano, CA, Jan. 22, 2004.
McGraw, Tug, 59, colorful left-handed relief pitcher for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies who in 1980 closed out the only World Series ever won by the Phillies; Nashville, TN, Jan. 5, 2004.
Miller, Ann, 84, tap-dancer and actress who was a staple of Hollywood musicals in the 1940s and 1950s and who later captivated Broadway audiences in Sugar Babies, which ran from 1979 to 1982; Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 22, 2004.
Nachman, Jerry, 57, print, radio and TV journalist who was editor in chief of the New York Post from 1989 to 1992; Hoboken, NJ, late Jan. 19 or early Jan. 20, 2004.
Newton, Helmut, 83, photographer known for decades for his provocative images of beautiful women, often with sadomasochistic implications; Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 23, 2004.
O'Neal, Ron, 66, actor who starred as a flamboyant drug dealer in the 1972 "blaxploitation" film Superfly; Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 14, 2004.
Paar, Jack, 85, edgy host of TV's "Tonight Show" (1957-62) who essentially invented the late-night celebrity chat format that became a staple of U.S. television; Greenwich, CT, Jan. 27, 2004.
Ripley, Alexandra, 70, historical novelist best known as the author of Scarlett (1991), the authorized sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind; Richmond, VA, Jan. 10, 2004.
Scavullo, Francesco, 82, fashion and portrait photographer who shot Cosmopolitan magazine's "Cosmo girl" covers from 1965 to 1997; New York, NY, Jan. 6, 2004.
Stark, Ray, 88, Hollywood producer and power broker who brought the works of playwright Neil Simon to the screen and introduced moviegoers to singer Barbra Streisand; West Hollywood, CA, Jan. 17, 2004.
Straight, Michael, 87, onetime editor and publisher of the New Republic magazine who, in a 1983 memoir called After Long Silence, revealed that he had spied for the Soviet Union in the late 1930s; Chicago, IL, Jan. 4, 2004.
Thulin, Ingrid, 77 Swedish actress who graced eight Ingmar Bergman films, including Wild Strawberries (1957) and Cries and Whispers (1972); Stockholm, Sweden, Jan. 7, 2004.
by Joseph Gustaitis
A quiet revolution began 45 years ago, when the United States Navy, on February 17, 1959, sent a 21-1/2 pound Vanguard satellite into orbit. It was only the sixth so far shot into space by the United States of America. What made this probe so special was that it was the first in history designed to observe the weather. On that day, NASA didn't launch just a rocket; it launched a new era in weather forecasting.
We've come a long way from the days in which grandpa would predict rain because his big toe was throbbing. (Actually, this method was somewhat reliable: a bout of wet weather is preceded by a drop in air pressure that causes the body to lower its internal pressure, making bones swell and joints ache.) Today, meteorologists use sophisticated high-tech equipment, and though we may joke that we can't trust the weather forecast, forecasters can predict the weather with an accuracy undreamed of just a couple of decades ago. This revolution in weather forecasting has been based on many technological breakthroughs, but the three main elements of modern meteorology are radar, satellites, and Computer.
Radar's role in aiding the British help ward off the German Air Force during World War II is well known. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory had succeeded in making a photograph of a radar echo as early as December 1934, and a year later the British began establishing a chain of early-warning stations to shield the country from a surprise air attack. The nonmilitary use of radar for weather forecasting was discovered more or less by accident. During the war British observers noticed that radar's effectiveness in detecting aircraft was lessened during rainstorms because the signals bounced off the precipitation. Meteorologists quickly realized radar's utility in weather detection.
Conventional radar was able to determine how far away a storm was and how much precipitation it contained, which was where matters pretty much stayed until the 1990's. At the beginning of that decade, however, meteorologists began working with a new form of radar called Doppler radar, which had initially been developed to warn of missile and airplane attacks. Based on the well-known Doppler effect, in which a train whistle increases in pitch as the train approaches and decreases as it goes away, Doppler radar can also calculate a storm's speed and direction. Using Doppler radar, meteorologists can detect the formation of a tornado even before the storm assumes its characteristic funnel shape, thus providing life-saving extra minutes of warning time. Doppler radar can also alert forecasters to possible hailstones, and, by tracking how much rain has fallen, it can warn authorities when flooding is likely to occur in certain areas. Doppler radar also provides images that have two to six times the detail of conventional radar. The first Doppler radar was installed in Norman, Oklahoma, home of the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL); meteorologists there quickly found that their chances of identifying severe weather had risen from 60% to 90%.
It was exactly a century ago (1904) that the Norwegian physicist Vilhelm Bjerknes first speculated that it should be possible to use mathematical equations to predict weather. In 1922, Lewis Fry Richardson published Weather Prediction by Numerical Process, in which he laid out the first numerical weather prediction (NWP) system. Richardson's actual attempt at a weather forecast was not a success, however, and he half-seriously estimated that the prediction of weather by mathematical formulas would require a stadium holding 64,000 people operating mechanical desktop calculators, all under the direction of a leader who would communicate with colored lights and a telegraph. The reason for the difficulty is that weather is complicated stuff. Mark Twain once joked that the weather in New England had such great variety that "in the spring I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours." The formation of weather depends on a nearly infinite number of variables. Scientists often speak of the "butterfly" effect, in which the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Japan eventually leads to a storm in North America--that is, virtually undetectable changes can greatly affect the weather days later.
After World War II, the computer pioneer and mathematician John von Neumann again raised the idea of predicting weather by solving mathematical equations. This was now a more feasible idea, thanks to the rapid development of high-speed computers-one of the first, ENIAC, became operational in 1946. In the following year the meteorologist Jule Charney developed a mathematical theory that explained mid-latitude storms by means of temperature contrasts, and in 1949, Charney, von Neumann, and the Norwegian meteorologist Ragnar Fjortoft successfully made a weather forecast using equations solved on a computer. The U.S. Weather Bureau was regularly issuing computer-aided forecasts as early as 1954, the year in which that agency, along with the forecasting sections of the Air Force and Navy, established the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction (JNWP) unit. These early weather forecasts were only as good as the computers that produced them, but computer development proceeded quickly-machines of the early 1980s were already 3000 times more powerful than the computers of the mid-1950s and today meteorologists use supercomputers.
In 1998, the National Weather Service, selected IBM to build a supercomputer to devise more sophisticated models of the atmosphere and oceans, and a year later the U.S. Navy awarded Silicon Graphics a contract for a next-generation supercomputer for weather prediction. In 2000, the Forecast Systems Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) acquired a new supercomputer nicknamed JET that can process more than 5 trillion arithmetic computations per second. In December 2001, scientists at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center announced that tests of its Terascale Computing System (TCS) had doubled previous records for accurate weather prediction.
That small Vanguard satellite that went into orbit in 1959 was the beginning of what became a large enterprise. Even when debate was intense on the wisdom of spending large amounts of money on space, everyone agreed that weather forecasting was a natural for space probes. Early in the process, researchers realized the value of a geosynchronous satellite-an idea first proposed by the science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in the mid-1940s. A geosynchronous satellite is one that orbits at an altitude of 22,300 miles. At this altitude the satellite's orbital speed is equal to the rate of the Earth's rotation. If the satellite is over the Equator, it is said to be geostationary, which means it is stationary relative to the Earth's surface (that is, it remains over the same spot and can thus take pictures of that area throughout the day and track changes in the weather). The first geosynchronous satellite was Syncom 1. It went aloft in February 1963 but stopped sending signals soon after reaching orbit.
In the years since Syncom (which was an experimental communications satellite), major weather satellite programs have included Nimbus, a series of seven satellites that photographed cloud cover and monitored air pollution; Tiros, a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites; and GOES. GOES, which stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, is a series of satellites that began in 1975 and that monitors weather around the world. The most recent orbiter in the series, GOES-12, was launched in July 2001. GOES is a U.S. operation, but other nations have similar programs. METEOSTAT and INDOEX are operated by the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSTAT), and Russia, India, and Japan also have geostationary orbiters that monitor the Earth's weather. These satellites constantly transmit images of weather back to weather laboratories around the world-they're the same images that you see on TV weather forecasts.
In addition to radar, computers, and satellites, meteorologists also employ various other instruments, including specialized thermometers, barometers, humidity-measuring devices, precipitation gauges, and wind-speed instruments (anemometers). Researchers use searchlights to measure the height of clouds, and they launch weather balloons from hundreds of places around the globe every day to track such things as wind speed and atmospheric temperature.
All the information gathered by these different devices is also more widely available than ever. Today, cable television's Weather Channel offers 24-hour-a-day weather programming, and weather reports, copious satellite images, and other statistics and information are found in many places on the World Wide Web. The old wisecrack that "everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it" may still hold true (although scientists have thought hard about weather modification), but although we can't change the weather, we certainly know a great deal more about it than we ever did.
The much-anticipated landing on Mars of the rover vehicle Spirit came off without a hitch, according to jubilant reports from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the organization responsible for the mission. The craft bearing the rover touched down around 11:35 pm EST on January 3, 2004, and 20 minutes later, Spirit began transmitting radio signals indicating that it was still functioning. Three hours after that, it relayed its first pictures of Mars, revealing a flat, wind-swept landscape dotted with small rocks.
While Spirit's 7-month journey from Earth to the red planet was, for the most part, uneventful, the final 6 minutes were "nerve-racking," said Rob Manning, manager of descent operations, to the New York Times. During that time, the craft had to carry out a series of complicated, automated operations that were necessary to bring it from a speed of 19,000 kilometers per hour (12,000 miles per hour) to a dead stop on the planet's surface. But in spite of Manning's fears, Spirit performed beautifully. The craft's parachute was deployed, its heat shield was discarded, and, with only eight seconds to touchdown, its cushion of airbags inflated and rockets fired final braking thrusts. "Everything happened when it was supposed to happen," Manning said. In fact, things went so well that even after bouncing several times on touchdown, the craft was left standing upright on its base petal: only in this position can all of the craft's solar panels be extended to charge the rover's batteries.
Project scientists were thrilled that the craft landed right on target--in a particular region of Mars' Gusev Crater. The crater is thought by some experts to be the site of an ancient lake, making it an ideal location for Spirit to carry out one of its primary missions: to search for water, or evidence that it once existed, on the planet. Spirit's initial photographs also contained some good news, revealing that the terrain in this crater is flat and only minimally rocky--ideal for exploration by rover. "We see enough rocks that we can do great science with them but not so many that they're going to get in our way," said lead rover scientist Steven W. Squyres of Cornell University to the New York Times. "We're going to be able to really motor around this place."
Now that the rover, which is about the size of a golf cart, has landed, it will take about a week to get ready for cruising around on Mars. However, the scientists are encouraged by their success so far, and optimistic about how the mission will proceed. "You have no idea how this feels," said project manager Peter Theisinger to the Washington Post. "We've got a good system, and we're alive on the surface. That gives us real good hope, a harbinger of things to come, that we're going to be very, very successful here."
The stunningly successful landing may help revive confidence in NASA, which has waned dramatically since the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and seven astronauts almost a year ago, and NASA's failure to make contact with two probes that it sent to Mars in 1999. But NASA's not out of the woods yet: Spirit's sister rover, Opportunity, is scheduled to land on Mars on January 25th at 12:05 am EST. NASA is planning to study the details of Spirit's descent to ensure that Opportunity's goes just as well.
Unfortunately, the European Space Agency (ESA) has not enjoyed the same degree of success with its new Mars lander, the Beagle 2. On December 19, the Beagle 2 was jettisoned toward Mars by the ESA's Mars Express, which is currently orbiting the planet. ESA scientists expected the Beagle 2 to have landed on December 25, and have been trying to pick up its initial hailing signal--a nine-none tune composed by the British band Blur--ever since. As of January 4, 2004, they had still not made contact.
However, ESA officials have declared that they haven't abandoned hope yet. "We haven't in any shape or form given up on Beagle 2," said Beagle lead scientist Colin Pillinger. The ESA hopes that in the coming weeks, the Mars Express will be in a better position to make contact with the lander.
Celestial Events for February 2004
- Mercury, very low in the SE in the early morning, is hard to see throughout the month.
Feb. 1--Venus enters Sagittarius.
Bush Proposes Letting Foreign Workers in U.S. - Pres. George W. Bush proposed Jan. 7 to let foreign workers enter the United States and stay for up to 6 years, if they had jobs lined up that citizens would not take. Foreigners currently working in the U.S. without permits could also legalize their status under the plan. Immigrants already in the U.S. illegally could stay for up to 6 years if they had a job. Americans were sharply divided on immigration issues. Rep. Tom DeLay (R, TX), the House majority leader and a major critic of the plan, suggested Jan. 7 that the plan would unfairly reward illegal behavior.
Only 1,000 New Jobs Created in December - The Labor Dept. reported Jan. 9 that 1,000 nonfarm jobs had been added in December, a sharp decline from the revised estimate of 43,000 in November and 100,000 in October. The unemployment rate declined from 5.9% to 5.7% in December, a decline largely attribted to workers who had given up looking for work.
The International Monetary Fund warned Jan. 7 that U.S. budget and international trade deficits were a threat to worldwide economic growth. The IMF said that U.S. borrowing could push up interest rates in other countries. The government reported Jan. 30 that the nation's economy had grown at an annual rate of 4% during the 4th quarter.
Former Sec. of Treasury Criticizes Bush - Paul O'Neill, who served as treasury secretary under Pres. George W. Bush until he was dismissed in December 2002, harshly criticized the president in The Price of Loyalty, a book published Jan. 13 but excerpted in the media earlier. O'Neill, who provided thousands of documents to Ron Suskind, the book's author, had been skeptical of the Bush tax cuts. He claimed in a TV interview that the administration wanted to oust Saddam Hussein from the beginning, well before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S. The book described Bush as disengaged during discussions of policy and said that at cabinet meetings he was "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people."
Former Enron Executive Pleads Guilty - The former CFO of Enron pleaded guilty in federal district court in Houston Jan. 14 to enriching himself at the company's expense and conspiring to inflate the stock's value. By the terms of his plea agreement, Andrew Fastow would serve 10 years in prison. He agreed to cooperate in investigations of other former executives of the now-bankrupt Houston (TX) -based energy services company. As part of the deal, Fastow agreed to forfeit $29 mil to settle fines and civil penalties; this included $23 mil in illegal profits. His wife, Lea Fastow, a former Enron assistant treasurer, pleaded guilty Jan. 14 to attempting to hide one of her husband's transactions. She would serve 5 months in prison.
Kerry Wins 2 States as Nomination Race Heats Up - Sen. John Kerry (MA) won the first 2 contests in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Iowa caucuses, held Jan. 19, selected delegates who would pick the national convention delegates. Kerry won 38% of the delegates, Sen. John Edwards (NC) 32%, ex-Gov. Howard Dean (VT) 18%, and Rep. Richard Gephardt (MO) 11%. Dean and Gephardt had been favored because they had union support and were best organized. Gephardt withdrew from the race after the results were in. Dean, meeting with supporters after results were in, shouted defiantly that he would continue his campaign nationwide; his tone in this appearance drew criticism as excessive.
New Hampshire held the first primary election Jan. 27. Kerry and Dean, both from neighboring states, ran first and second with 39% and 26%, respectively. Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) got 13%, Edwards 12%, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT) 9%. Surveys of voters in both states showed widespread opposition to the Iraq war, but that did not always translate into votes for Dean, who had made his outspoken opposition to the war a key issue in his campaign. Surveys showed that for many Democrats voters electability was the most important consideration at stake.
The Bush campaign said Jan. 7 that it had raised $130.8 mil in contributions in 2003, a record for a presidential candidate in one year. On Jan. 15, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun withdrew her presidential candidacy and endorsed Dean. On Jan. 28, Dean named Roy Neel, a friend of former Vice Pres. Al Gore, to be "chief executive office" of his campaign; Joe Trippi, who had headed the Dean campaign, quit in response.
Bush Gives State of the Union Address - Pres. Bush gave his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Jan. 21. He warned against harboring the "dangerous illusion" that the threat from terrorists no longer existed, and defended his decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At a time of continuing large federal budget deficits, he offered few proposals for new spending. With gay-rights advocates becoming more vocal on behalf of same-sex marriage, Bush declared, "Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage."
More Steps Taken to Thwart Terrorism - Amid ongoing concerns about terrorist acts, British Airways Jan. 1 and 2 canceled 2 flights from London to Washington. A Washington-London flight was canceled Jan. 1. Officials reportedly believed that hijackers were targeting those flights. More than a dozen flights had been canceled or diverted since the United States had raised its terrorism alert level to "high" in December. U.S. immigration officials announced Jan. 5 that foreigners arriving with visas must be photographed and fingerprinted with a digital scanner. Visitors from 28 countries, mostly in Europe, who were not required to obtain visas for visits up to 90 days, would be exempt. On Jan. 9, the United States lowered its terrorist threat level from "high" to "elevated."
Kashmir Peace Talks to Resume - Pres. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India announced Jan. 6 that peace talks over the future of Kashmir would resume in February. Violence in the disputed region had declined after the onset of a cease-fire in December. Airline service between India and Pakistan had resumed Jan. 1. Also on Jan. 1, Musharraf's position on the upcoming talks was strengthened when he won several confidence votes in national and provincial legislatures.
Afghan Council Approves Constitution - A grand council, known as the loyal jirga, meeting Kabul Jan. 4, approved a new constitution for Afghanistan. The country was formally named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and all laws now would have to comport with Islamic beliefs. The government would include a popularly elected president, a legislature, and an independent judiciary. Two bombs in Kandahar killed at least 15 people and injured dozens Jan. 6; the same day 12 men were killed west of Kandahar. Officials blamed both incidents on Taliban militants. Afghans said that 11 civilians died Jan. 18 in an attack by a U.S. helicopter; U.S. authorities claimed Jan. 20 that only 5 Taliban fighters had been killed.
An explosion Jan. 29, near a weapons cache outside Ghazni, killed 7 U.S. soldiers and wounded 3, with one soldier reported missing.
U.S. Military Death Toll in Iraq Passes 500 - The number of American soldiers killed in the Iraqi conflict reached 500 on Jan. 17. On that day 3 were killed when their armored vehicle struck a bomb north of Baghdad. Prime Min. Tony Blair visited British troops in Basra Jan. 4. On Jan. 8, all 9 U.S. soldiers in a Black Hawk helicopter died when it crashed near Falluja after being hit by a missile. Also on Jan. 8, the United States announced the beginning of a rotation, to be completed by May, that would bring 123,000 troops from Iraq and Kuwait and replace them with 110,000 others.
The U.S. Defense Dept. said Jan. 9 that it had designated ex-Pres. Saddam Hussein a prisoner of war. An explosion outside a Shiite Muslim mosque in Baqubah, Jan. 9, killed 5. The leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called Jan. 11 for direct elections to choose an interim government, putting himself at odds with the U.S. plan, which provided for provincial caucuses. L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator, opposed his approach Jan. 12. U.S. officials looked to the UN to help mediate the dispute on forming a new government, and on Jan. 27 U.N. Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan agreed to send a UN team to Iraq to look at whether early elections might be feasible, provided the U.S. and its coalition partners could guarantee their security.
Bush announced Jan. 13 that Canada would be eligible to bid on some construction contracts in Iraq even though it had opposed the war. On Jan. 18, a truck bomb exploded at the U.S. occupation headquarters in Baghdad, killing at least 20 and wounding at least 60, mostly Iraqi civilians. Six U.S. soldiers died in 2 roadside bombings Jan. 27. On Jan. 31, 3 more soldiers were killed southwest of Kirkuk when a bomb destroyed the vehicle in which they were riding. On the same day, a suicide bomber drove his car into a police station in Mosul, killing at least 9 and wounding 45.
Georgia Elects New President-On Jan. 4, less than 2 months after a popular uprising had toppled Pres. Eduard Shevardnadze, voters in Georgia chose his successor. Totals released Jan. 5 showed that Mikhail Saakashvili, 36, a lawyer and former justice minister, had received 96% of the vote. After leaving the Shevardnadze government and accusing some of his former colleagues of corruption, Saakashvili had founded his own party.
Libya Ratifies Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - The Libyan regime of Col. Mummer al-Qaddafi Jan. 14 ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Libya acted a month after agreeing to dismantle its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The treaty was not yet in effect; only 32 of a needed 44 countries had ratified it. Pres. Bush had said Jan. 5 that he was continuing the status of a national emergency with Libya, under which Libya's U.S. assets were frozen and Libya was deemed a sponsor of terrorism. The Qaddafi Foundation, run by one of Col. Qaddafi's sons, agreed Jan. 9 to pay $170 mil in compensation for the 1989 bombing of a flight over Niger that killed 170.
Inspector: Iraq Weapons Stockpiles a Product of Faulty Intelligence - The chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq said, Jan. 23, that he believed Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. David Kay made the assertion as he resigned as chief inspector. On Jan. 28, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee "We were almost all wrong" in believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and said he did not believe analysts had been pressured to provide information that would bolster the case for war. Kay said he favored an outside independent investigation of the apparent intelligence failure.
In a report released Jan. 8, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace claimed that the Bush administration had pressured analysts to exaggerate Iraq's weapons threat. Sec. of State Colin Powell acknowledged that day that he had no proof of any link, previously asserted by the administration, between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda terrorists.
In England, a report released Jan. 28 by Lord Hutton concluded that the government of Prime Min. Tony Blair had not willfully inflated the threat of WMDs to promote war, and castigated the BBC for making such charges. The Hutton report also found that the government was not to blame for the suicide of David Kelly, a source for the charges. The new report did conclude that the British government, in its case for war, had tried to represent as strongly as possible the evidence that Iraq had forbidden weapons.
Jerusalem Bus Blast Kills 10 - A suicide bomber detonated explosives on a bus in Jerusalem Jan. 29, killing 10 people besides himself. Over 45 others were injured in what was the first such suicide bombing in Jerusalem since Sept. 2003. The bomber, a Palestinian policeman from Bethlehem, left a note saying the deed was retaliation for an Israeli raid the day before in the Gaza strip that left 8 or more Palestinians dead; reportedly some of them were civilians while others were members of Islamic Jihad.
Despite the bus bombing, Israel went ahead Jan. 29 with plans to release some 400 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal negotiated with Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group.
2 Unmanned U.S. Spacecraft Land on Mars - An unmanned U.S. spacecraft landed on Mars Jan. 3, and soon began sending dramatic photos of the landscape back to earth. Concluding a 7-month trip, the 400-pound Spirit landed almost precisely at its target position, in the Gusev Crater. Spirit, a robotic rover, was the 4th spacecraft to make a successful landing on Mars. By contrast, a British craft, Beagle-2, had been silent since its scheduled December 2003 landing. Photographs relayed from Spirit Jan. 4, via 2 other spacecraft orbiting the planet, showed rocks scattered across a flat plain. Scientists were looking for evidence that Mars once had water; the presence of liquid water would presumably make the evolution of life more likely. On Jan. 21, Spirit began transmitting erratically. Opportunity, a second U.S. rover, landed successfully Jan. 24 on the opposite side of the planet. On Jan. 25 it photographed bedrock emerging from soil with a pebbly texture.
Pres. George W. Bush Jan. 14 advocated establishing a U.S. colony on the moon, where astronauts would live and work for extended periods. The moon would be a base for launching manned expeditions to Mars. NASA estimates indicated the Moon project would cost $170 billion over the next 15 years; Bush anticipated only fairly modest increases in the space agency's budget for the next 5 years however.
Teen Guilty of Murder Is Freed From Prison - A youth who had been convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of a playmate at age 12, and sentenced to life in prison without parole, was freed Jan. 26. In 1999, Lionel Tate had killed Tiffany Eunick, age 6, and his original lawyers said it was an accident while they were play wrestling. His appeals lawyers said he had leaped on her unintentionally after coming down stairs. In December 2003 an appeals court panel threw out the conviction, and Judge Joel Lazarus Jan. 26 ordered Tate released to his mother. Tate, who turned 17 Jan. 30, agreed to plead guilty, Jan. 29, to second-degree murder.
NCAA Football bowl results for Jan. 1 - Outback Bowl: Iowa 37, Florida 17; Gator Bowl: Maryland 41, West Virginia 7; Capital One Bowl: Georgia 34, Purdue 27; Rose Bowl: USC 28, Michigan 14; Orange Bowl: Miami 16, Florida State 14.
NCAA Football bowl results for Jan. 2 - Cotton Bowl: Mississippi 31, Oklahoma State 28; Peach Bowl: Clemson 27, Tennessee 14; Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28.
On Jan. 3, Georgia Tech defeated Tulsa, 52-10, in the Humanitarian Bowl.
On Jan. 4, #2 LSU defeated #3 Oklahoma, 21-14, in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans to claim a share of the national title. The final Associated Press Poll named USC (12-1) as the top team in the nation. The ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll ranked LSU (13-1), as the Bowl Championship winner, number one in its final poll.
Quarterbacks Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) and Steve McNair (Tennessee) tied in voting for the NFL Most Valuable Player award the Associated Press announced Jan. 2. On Jan. 3, New England's Bill Belichick was named the AP Coach of the Year. In Dec., the AP named 3 Baltimore Ravens players for its annual NFL awards. Linebacker Ray Lewis was the Defensive Player of the Year and Terrell Suggs, also a linebacker, was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Running back Jamal Lewis was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year. Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Michelle Kwan won her 8th national title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Atlanta, GA, on Jan. 10. It was the 7th straight U.S. championship for Kwan, who has also won 5 world titles. Sasha Cohen finished 2nd, and Jennifer Kirk was 3rd. In the men's final, Johnny Weir won his 1st U.S. title. Michael Weiss finished 2nd, followed by Matthew Savoie.
On Jan. 18, New England defeated Indianapolis, 24- 14, for the AFC Championship, and Carolina won the NFC Championship, 14-3, over Philadelphia.
In the Australian Open women's final Jan. 30 Justine Henin-Hardenne defeated Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. In the Men's final Jan. 31, Roger Federer (Switzerland) defeated Russian Marat Safin, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-2.
The Golden Globe Awards, were held on Jan. 25 in Beverly Hills, CA. Voting for these awards is by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is often creates front-runner buzz for the Academy Awards, which will be held in February. Awards given were as follows:
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Michael Douglas.
Offbeat News Stories
SIGNS OF THE TIMES? New York Dept. of Transportation officials turned down Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's request for a sign reading "Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!" to be placed on the Williamsburg Bridge. The DOT felt the Yiddish phrase, meaning "oh, woe" would be more distracting than helpful to drivers bound for Manhattan. Markowitz only meant for the common Brooklyn expression to "put a smile on people's faces." An earlier request for a similar sign on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (between Staten Island and Brooklyn)- "Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit!"-was also rejected by the DOT for the same reason: "a lack of directional information."
In Harleyville, NC, town officials decided to turn vandalism into revenue. Twice a year, the town had to replace a town limits signs, presumably taken by fans of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In the 6 months since they began offering them for sale, Harleyville has sold 700 signs at $20 each, plus $5 for shipping, netting $5,600 for the town after supplier's cost were paid. The town even received a $20 money order from Nebraska from someone who "'happened upon' a Harleyville sign about fifteen years ago."
A REAL (E)STATE SALE? Apparently the Brooklyn Bridge has competition as the subject of outrageous real estate offers in the 21st century. It wasn't until Jan. 13, with only 5 bidding days left, that monitors for the online auction site eBay pulled item number 2372779353-"Entire State of West Virginia." Admittedly, entire towns have been up for sale on eBay, but the 35th state drew 56 bids, reaching a total of $99,999,999 before the joke came to eBay's attention. A spokesman for the company soberly noted that the seller, "fishstuffnthings," did not have the rights to the goods put up for sale.
Records shown since Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954:
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
International travel, presents interesting situations for the business travel. In Egypt for instance, it is impolite to inquire about female members of your counterparts family, and in Malaysia, standard formal office wear for men is dark trousers and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt and tie, without a jacket. At http://www.executiveplanet.com/ you can find information about making appointments, business dress, conversation subjects, gift giving, and other useful business associated activities, for many countries around the world.
I love Salt Water Taffy, and I suppose my dentist does too, indirectly. While this taffy does not actually have salt in it, its history is associated with the beach community of Atlantic City, New Jersey. America celebrates National Taffy Day on May 23rd. My favorite type is James' Chocolate-Covered Salt Water Taffy, and I picked myself up a 2 lb. box (I only have 5 pieces left), when I was in Atlantic City, this past December. To learn more about the history of Salt Water Taffy, and candy in general, visit: http://www.candyusa.org/AllAboutCandy/Taffy/taffy_history.shtml .
My Aunt Betty has a birthday this month, and so this month we celebrate famous Betty's. We'll start with Betty Ford, the wife of President Gerald Ford (1974-1977), she was the third First Lady with the name Elizabeth (Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe, and Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Wallace Truman preceded her). Born in 1918, she studied modern dance with Martha Graham, before her marriage to a young Navy lieutenant Gerald R. Ford. To learn more about Mrs. Ford, visit the Gerald R. Ford Library at, http://www.ford.utexas.edu/grf/bbfbiop.htm. Considered animations first leading lady, Betty Boop, has been on the international scene since her debut in 1930. To learn more about Betty, visit: http://www.bettyboop.com/. There is also the five-piece pop rock alternative band called Betty, which you can learn about at their official website: http://www.hellobetty.com/. And let's not forget one of the most famous movie stars of the 1930s-1950s, Miss Bette Davis. A critically acclaimed actress, she earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, but in 1942 was the highest paid woman in America. Learn more about the career and life of Davis at: http://www.bettedavis.com/.
The Don McLean song, "American Pie," tells the story of the death of three rock-and-roll singers, Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17), and Jiles Perry Richardson (28), known as the Big Bopperwho died in a plane crash 45 years ago this month. Like many songs, the lyrics make many references which might not easily be recognizable, so I visited a website, http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_398b.html , which offered up some of the symbolism, behind the song. At the site, I learned the answers to loads of other troubling questions, like Why do we have wax in our ears? What exactly is dry ice? and one of major concern to me, Why does hair turn gray?
During the 1990s, several books hit the market that showed 3D Stereograms. If you starred at image for a period of time (they had helpful hints as to how it should be done), a 3D image would appear, within the image. I haven't seen one of these in years, but I found a website with a large collection of them to view: http://www.eyetricks.com/3dstereo.htm. I know a number of people who were never able to "see" the images, but it's interesting to give it a try.
Sometimes your own words do not fully express what you are feeling, or illustrate a point that you are making, but the words of others can help. At http://www.bartleby.com/quotations/ you'll be able to find quotes on hundreds of subjects. Here's some wisdom from various sources -- Eleanor Roosevelt, "The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself," Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Let not a man guard his dignity, but let his dignity guard him," and Cicero, "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child."
Useless website of the month: Watch the line form as drivers wait for their stuff at the Anchorage DMV: http://www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/ADMIN/dmv/AFOwebCam.htm.
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