The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 5 - May 2004

 

 

What's in this issue?

May Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - May
May Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Charleston, WV
Obituaries - April 2004
Special Feature: The War on Poverty
Science in the News
Chronology - Events of April 2004
Offbeat News Stories
From the World Almanac - Health: Some Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

May Events

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; Clean Air Month; National Book Month

May 1 - Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY)
May 2 - Garden Festival (Chestnut Hill, PA)
May 4 - Total lunar eclipse (seen in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia and Australia)
May 6-9 - Birds & Blossoms Spring Nature Festival (Norfolk, VA)
May 6-24 - Canadian Tulip Festival (Ottawa, Ontario)
May 8-9 - International Migratory Bird Celebration (Chincoteague, VA)
May 12-16 - Sedona (AZ) Chamber Music Festival
May 12-23 - Cannes Film Festival (Cannes, France)
May 13-16 - Gettysburg (PA) Bluegrass Festival
May 14-16 - Bay to Breakers Race (San Francisco)
May 15 - Preakness Stakes (Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD)
May 15-16 - You Gotta Have Park (Prospect Park, Brooklyn)
May 19-26 - Fleet Week New York 2004
May 21-23 - Art Fair and Winefest (Washington, MO); Rhododendron Festival (Florence, OR)
May 22-24 - Florida Folk Festival (White Springs, FL)
May 24-30 - PGA Seniors' Championship (Valhalla Gold Club, Louisville, KY)
May 24-June 6 - French Open tennis tournament
May 25-26 - National Geographic Bee, National Finals (Washington, DC)
May 25-28 - Chelsea Flower Show (Chelsea, London)
May 27-30 - Iris Festival (Swan Lake, Sumter, SC); Mudbug Madness (Riverfront, Shreveport, LA)
May 28-31 - Sacramento (CA) Jazz Jubilee
May 28-June 13 - Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston, SC)
May 29-31 - Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic (Decatur, AL); Lobsterfest (Mystic, CT); Taste of Cincinnati
May 30 - Indianapolis 500 race
May 31 - Bolder Boulder (CO) 10K

May Holidays

May 1 - Lei Day (Hawaii); Mawlid begins at sunset; May Day
May 2 - Sibling Appreciation Day
May 3 - Constitution Memorial Day (Japan)
May 4 - National Teacher Day
May 5 - Cinco de Mayo (Mexico); Cartoonists Day
May 8 - World Red Cross Day
May 9 - Mother's Day
May 15 - Armed Forces Day
May 20 - Ascension Day
May 24 - Victoria Day (Canada)
May 25 - Shavuot begins at sundown
May 26 - Buddha's Birthday
May 30 - Pentecost
May 31 - Memorial Day

IT'S A FACT!

The Electric Pencil, the world's first PC word-processing program, was invented in 1976.

This Day in History - May

Day

Year

Event

1

1960

A U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane is shot down over the Soviet Union, and pilot Francis Gary Powers is captured.

2

1939

NY Yankees great Lou Gehrig ends his playing streak of 2,130 consecutive baseball games.

3

1979

Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female prime minister of Britain.

4

1494

Christopher Columbus discovers Jamaica.

5

1904

Cy Young pitches major league baseball's first perfect game.

6

1937

The dirigible Hindenburg explodes while landing in New Jersey after a transatlantic flight, killing 36 people.

7

1915

The British ship Lusitania, traveling from New York to Liverpool, is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland.

8

1945

Americans celebrate V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.

9

1907

Mother's Day is unofficially observed for the first time.

10

1994

Nationalist leader Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as president of South Africa.

11

1969

The Battle of Hamburger Hill, in which Americans suffer heavy casualties, begins in Vietnam

12

1975

Cambodian forces seize the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez in the Gulf of Siam.

13

1981

Pope John Paul II is seriously wounded by an escaped Turkish murderer, Mehmet Ali Agca, while riding in an open vehicle through Rome's St. Peter's Square.

14

1804

The Lewis and Clark expedition leaves St. Louis to explore the Northwest.

15

1970

Pres. Richard Nixon names the first 2 female generals in U.S.

16

1929

The first Academy Awards are presented.

17

1954

In the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court unanimously rules that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

18

1974

India sets off its first nuclear device.

19

1536

Anne Boleyn, the 2d wife of England's King Henry VIII, is beheaded.

20

1961

The "Freedom Rides" are launched from Washington, DC, across the deep South to protest segregation in interstate transportation.

21

1927

Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh reaches Le Bourget airfield in Paris, completing the first nonstop flight from New York in 33 hours.

22

1992

Johnny Carson hosts his last appearance on The Tonight Show on TV, after almost 30 years.

23

1846

Mexico declares war on the United States.

24

1844

Samuel Morse sends the first official message over a telegraph line--"What hath God wrought?"--from Washington, DC, to Baltimore.

25

1946

Transjordan (later called Jordan) is proclaimed an independent kingdom under King Abdullah.

26

1940

In World War II, the evacuation begins of 200,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian soldiers from Dunkirk on the northern coast of France.

27

1873

The first running of the Preakness Stakes takes place, in Pimlico, MD.

28

1892

Naturalist John Muir founds the Sierra Club.

29

1453

In a battle that marks the end of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople falls to the Turks, who rename it Istanbul.

30

1431

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake by the English after having been convicted of heresy.

31

1889

After heavy rains cause the Connemaugh River Dam to burst, a huge flood engulfs Johnstown, PA, killing 2,200.

Born This Day - May

Day

Year

 

1

1916

Glenn Ford, actor (Quebec, Canada)

2

1924

Theodore Bikel, actor/singer (Vienna, Austria)

3

1964

Wynonna Judd, country singer (Ashland, KY)

4

1928

Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian president (Kafr-el Meselha, Egypt)

5

1926

Ann B. Davis, actress (Schenectady, NY)

6

1953

Tony Blair, British prime minister (Edinburgh, Scotland)

7

1954

Amy Heckerling, filmmaker (New York, NY)

8

1964

Melissa Gilbert, actress (Los Angeles, CA)

9

1918

Mike Wallace, TV journalist (Brookline, MA)

10

1944

Judith Jamison, dancer/choreographer (Philadelphia, PA)

11

1946

Robert Jarvik, physician and inventor of the artificial heart (Midland, MI)

12

1971

Sofia Coppola, director (New York, NY)

13

1961

Dennis Rodman, basketball player (Trenton, NJ)

14

1944

George Lucas, filmmaker (Modesto, CA)

15

1910

Constance Cummings, actress (Seattle, WA)

16

1955

Olga Korbut, Olympic champion gymnast (Grodno, USSR)

17

1961

Enya, singer (Gweedore, Ireland)

18

1920

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), pope (Wadowice, Poland)

19

1945

Pete Townshend, musician/singer/member of the Who and writer (Chiswick, England)

20

1944

Joe Cocker, singer (Sheffield, England)

21

1951

Al Franken, comedian/actor/writer (New York, NY)

22

1970

Naomi Campbell, model (London, England)

23

1954

Marvelous Marvin Hagler, champion boxer (Newark, NJ)

24

1944

Patti LaBelle, singer (Philadelphia, PA)

25

1971

Sheryl Swoopes, basketball player (Brownfield, TX)

26

1928

Jack Kevorkian, physician and assisted suicide activist (Pontiac, MI)

27

1915

Herman Wouk, novelist (New York, NY)

28

1944

Rudolph Giuliani, former New York City mayor (New York, NY)

29

1939

Al Unser Sr., auto racer (Albuquerque, NM)

30

1963

Lisa Kudrow, actress (Encino, CA)

31

1943

Joe Namath, football quarterback (Beaver Falls, PA)

IT'S A FACT!

New York's Verrazano Narrows Bridge, with a main span of 4,260 feet, is still the longest suspension bridge in North America.

FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA

Location: Capital of West Virginia and seat of Kanawha County, in the western central part of the state, at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers; incorporated 1870. One of the largest cities in the state.

Population (2002): 51,702

Mayor:Danny Jones

May Temperatures: Normal high of 75 degrees; normal low of 50 degrees

Colleges & Universities: Marshall University Graduate College, University of Charleston

Events: Showcase WV Anniversary Celebration, Charleston Town Center Mall (May 1); Star System Dance Competition, Municipal Auditorium (May 1-2); Senior Expo, Charleston Civic Center (May 12-13); WV Symphony Orchestra - Pops Series, Clay Center (May 14-15); Kanawha County Master Gardeners Plant Sale, Coonskin Park (May 22); "Walk Between the Bridges," Drug Emporium parking lot, near Patrick St. Bridge (May 23); Vandalia Gathering, State Capitol (May 28-30)

Places to visit: Capitol Market, Coonskin Park, Craik-Patton House, The Cultural Center, Governor's Mansion, Sunrise Museum

Tallest Building: BB&T Square (340 feet, 18 stories)

History: In 1788 a frontier post called Fort Lee was built here by Col. George Clendenin. Scotch-Irish and German immigrants later settled in the vicinity of the fort. The community was first named Charles Town after Clendenin's father; in 1818 the name was shortened to Charleston. The frontiersman Daniel Boone represented the settlement in the Virginia Assembly in the early 1790s. During the American Civil War, the town was occupied by Union troops after the Battle of Charleston on Sept. 13, 1862. It served as state capital from 1870 to 1875; in 1885 it became the permanent capital.

Websites: http://www.cityofcharleston.org; http://www.charlestonwv.com

Obituaries in April

Bank, Aaron, 101, U.S. Army officer known as the father of the Green Berets; Dana Point, CA, Apr. 1, 2004.

Cantalupo, Jim, 60, chairman and CEO of fast-food franchise McDonald's Corp.; Orlando, FL, Apr. 19, 2004.

Gunn, Thom, 74, British poet, long resident in California, who in meticulously crafted, often rhymed verse, dealt frankly with homosexuality; his prize-winning collection The Man With Night Sweats (1992) mourned friends who had died of AIDS; San Francisco, CA, Apr. 25, 2004.

Lauder, Estee, 97, creator of the cosmetics empire that bore her name and a leading philanthropist and socialite; New York, NY, Apr. 24, 2004.

Mara, Ratu Sir Kamisese, 83, Fijian politician who guided Fiji to independence from Britain in 1970 and then served as its first prime minister; Suva, Fiji, Apr. 18, 2004.

McGrory, Mary, 85, widely-read political columnist, first at the Washington Star then at the Washington Post, who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1975 for her columns on the Watergate scandal; Washington, D.C., Apr. 21, 2004.

McWhirter, Norris, 78, co-founder and longtime editor of the Guinness Book of Records; Kington Langley, England, Apr. 19, 2004.

Selby Jr., Hubert, 75, author whose Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964) was one of the most harrowing fictional accounts of urban desperation ever published; Los Angeles, CA, Apr. 26, 2004.

Snodgress, Carrie, 57, actress best known for her role as a frustrated homemaker in the film Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970); Los Angeles, CA, Apr. 1, 2004.

SPECIAL FEATURE: The War on Poverty

by Joseph Gustaitis

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the speech delivered by President Lyndon Johnson on May 22, 1964, at the University of Michigan in which he asked Americans to join him in efforts to create the "Great Society." This ambitious plan, as he laid it out, had four major components. First, Johnson said, "the entire urban United States" must be rebuilt. Second, the nation would combat "polluted air, water and food, disappearing fields and forests, overcrowded recreational areas." The third point involved education: "we must give every child a place to sit and a teacher to learn from." And finally - and what was the cornerstone of the effort - the nation must confront the problem of poverty. Three months previously, Johnson had sent a message to Congress urging the allocation of $962.5 million to wage a "War on Poverty." "For the first time in our history," the president stated, "it is possible to conquer poverty. We have the power to strike away the barriers to full participation in our society. Having the power, we have the duty." It was Johnson at his most idealistic, in his best visionary New Deal mode-the same Johnson that so doggedly pushed through a revolutionary civil rights agenda. Nowadays, Johnson is so firmly associated with the calamity that was the Vietnam War that it is all too easy to forget the scope of his domestic vision, although Johnson was not the only president to aspire to the elimination of poverty in the United States. In his inaugural address of 1929, Herbert Hoover-another president whose hopeful dream would founder on the rocks of a cataclysm - said, "We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation."

People in the United States like to think that theirs is a nation not easily defeated in war, but few could argue that the "War on Poverty" was a victorious one. In 1999, Andrew Cuomo, who was then President Bill Clinton's Housing Secretary, said," There was never a war on poverty. Maybe there was a skirmish on poverty for a brief period of time. We have done the broad people-based programs - Social Security, Medicaid, welfare. But we have never done the intensive geographically targeted work."

Johnson made the effort. He named former Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver his "Mr. Poverty" and launched many programs to confront the issue-Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, the Job Corps. In December 1964 the president announced a federal allotment of $82,600,000 for 162 anti-poverty projects in all 50 states. The projects included $11.5 million for a job corps center to be operated by the International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in cooperation with Rutgers University; job corps centers at Tongue Point Naval Station in Oregon and at Camp Gary in Texas; 17 neighborhood youth corps centers in 15 states; basic education programs for 30,000 adults; and $10 million of federal community action grants for helping 48 local anti-poverty projects in 30 states. A month later, Johnson announced the allocation of a further $101,960,782 for 88 more anti-poverty projects, which raised the total allocated so far to $221 million, with some $563 million still to be allocated. And yet, as the Vietnam War grew steadily more expensive and deadly, critics assailed Johnson for a "guns and butter" policy through which he was endangering the economy by insisting that the nation could afford two such costly initiatives. Enthusiasm for spending away the poverty problem waned, and by the 1980s, with the conservative Ronald Reagan in the White House, most Americans accepted Reagan's argument that the government had grown too hefty and that the private sector was best situated to tackle the poverty issue. Although it might appear that Johnson was not hesitant to use federal money, Shriver later attributed the failure of Johnson's initiative to lack of funds. "President Reagan said the war on poverty was a failure," Shriver commented. "It was not a great success, that's true, because we didn't have the money. I told Lyndon Johnson myself that we needed two or three times the money we had to overcome the problem." It's impossible to know if Shriver's analysis is correct, but it's easy to realize that that kind of money was not going to be available.

Where do we stand today? Well, the government keeps statistics to measure poverty, but before it can be measured it has to be defined. Beginning in the 1960s, the government has defined poverty as an absolute measure - the "poverty line." This is the limit below which families or single persons are considered unable to meet the basic needs for healthy living (food, clothing, and shelter). In 1963, the poverty line for a family of four was $3,128; in 2001 it was $18,104. This yardstick was developed by a research analyst at the Social Security Administration named Mollie Orshansky, who began publishing her research in the early 1960s. The U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity adopted Orshansky's method in 1965, and it was made the official statistical definition of poverty in 1969. The Census Bureau began releasing annual poverty statistics in 1967. There have been a few minor changes to the way the figures are calculated, but the method has remained essentially the same since the 1960s. Some analysts contend that the method no longer gives an accurate result. In 1995 a panel convened by the Committee on National Statistics concluded that it failed to include the value of "noncash benefits," such as food stamps, school lunches, and public housing. It also did not subtract some important items from gross income, such as income taxes, medical costs, and child-support payments.

That being said, the official figures do not show any drop in the poverty rate in the United States since the 1960s. In 1969 the poverty rate was 12.1 percent. In 1975 it was 12.3 percent and then it dropped below 12 percent until the early 1980s when it began to climb, peaking at 15.2 percent in 1982. It then trended downward, but it was 15.1 percent as recently as 1993. It then began a steady drop up until 2001, when it was 11.7 percent. A sluggish economy then took hold, and in 2002, the most recent year for which the Census Bureau has released figures, it was 12.1 percent of the population, or 34.6 million people. This figure of 12.1 percent happens to be exactly the same figure as 1969.

Some experts - usually from the right - like to assert that what the U.S. government calls "poor" would hardly merit that term in other countries. Using Census Bureau statistics, analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation point out that 97% of "poor" households have a color television, about 75% have a car, 73% have microwave ovens, and 46% own their own homes - and a home is typically a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or a patio. On the other hand, critics of this viewpoint contend that owning a color TV (hardly an expensive item anymore) is cold comfort to a person who has no medical insurance and can't afford essential (even life-saving) health services. It has been said that 10% of American children are so poor that their chances for normal health and growth are seriously compromised. Nor does the United States stack up well against other nations-the percentage of children living in poverty in the United States is about twice the rate as in other wealthy industrialized countries. In addition, contemporary students of the poverty issue have been taking note of the growth of another unsettling phenomenon - the "working poor." These are people who were in the labor force (for at least 27 weeks during a particular year) but who were nevertheless classified as below the poverty level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2001 the working poor numbered about 6.8 million. Although many analysts argue that job creation is the best hope for ending poverty, a statistic like this raises the prospect that even having a job is no protection against being poor in the United States.

President Bill Clinton revisited the poverty issue in 1999 with what he called his "New Markets" initiative. Making a four-day tour through some of the country's poorest regions, he argued that some rural and urban areas had missed out on the recent prosperity enjoyed by the rest of the nation. Clinton contended that the solution would be found more in private sector investment than in old-style government handouts - in fact, his proposal was an example of the "Third Way" politics that the so-called New Democrats were championing as an alternative to traditional liberal and conservative ideologies. Clinton said that the nation's depressed areas were a vast untapped market that could keep the U.S. economy growing and indicated that businesses could profit by investing in poor areas-although they would require government incentives, such as tax breaks and loan guarantees.

In his inaugural address, President George W. Bush, while acknowledging that poverty was partly the government's responsibility, said that his administration would encourage the actions of charities and religious institutions in fighting it. In presenting his first budget to Congress in March 2001, Bush reiterated his controversial plans for greater government cooperation with religious organizations that offered charitable and social services as "a hopeful new approach to help the poor and disadvantaged." In May 2001, Bush gave a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in which he claimed that partnership between government and private charities-particularly religious institutions-was the "third wave" of antipoverty efforts that had begun in the 1960s. "The war on poverty," he said, "established a federal commitment to the poor. The welfare reform legislation of 1996 made that commitment more effective. For the task ahead, we must move to the third stage of combating poverty in America. Our society must enlist, equip and empower idealistic Americans in the works of compassion that only they can provide."

Bush's concept of "faith-based" initiatives - which many observers questioned as a dubious merger of church and state - was a widely discussed topic for much of 2001. Subsequent events, obviously, pushed any "war on poverty" far down the list after the new, and more urgent, "war on terrorism."

Science In the News - FDA Approves Oral HIV Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an HIV test that uses saliva instead of blood and delivers results in 20 minutes.

Health officials hope the new procedure, called OraQuick, will encourage more people to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. One-fourth of the approximately 900,000 HIV-infected people living in the United States don't know they have the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Elsewhere, the problem is even worse. It's crucial that people know whether they're infected, not only so they can seek treatment but also so they can take precautions to avoid spreading the disease to their sexual partners. (Studies have shown that anti-HIV drugs by themselves may reduce [though not eliminate] one's risk of transmitting the disease to others.).

The saliva-based test is expected to appeal to "people who might be afraid of a blood test," said United States Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson when he announced the FDA's approval of OraQuick on March 26, 2004. And it will also make it easier to test injection-drug users, who have a high risk of HIV infection.

"It's a big deal to get blood from an injection-drug user," Basil Vareldzis, an AIDS expert in Geneva, Switzerland, told the New York Times. "Some have veins that are all sclerosed [hardened]," making it hard to draw blood from them. "And former users in recovery can be really squeamish about being exposed to needles again."

The new test is also safer for health workers who are doing the testing because saliva is hundreds of times less infectious than blood. And it's easy to perform. A treated cotton swab is rubbed along the gums and then placed in a vial of reagent solution. (A reagent is a substance used to detect the presence of other substances through chemical reactions). If HIV antibodies (proteins that the immune system generates to fight infection) are present on the swab, two reddish-purple lines appear within 20 minutes in a small window on the sticklike testing device--indicating that the patient is HIV-positive. The FDA says the test is more than 99% accurate, but notes that people who test positive with OraQuick should also undergo traditional laboratory tests to confirm the results.

The saliva-based test is one of several rapid HIV tests approved in recent years, including a 10-minute HIV blood test made by Trinity Biotech and OraSure's 20-minute blood test (also called OraQuick). These tests--which allow people to undergo testing and find out their results during a single visit to the doctor or a clinic--are preferable to traditional testing methods, which take 2 to 14 days to produce results. The prospect of having to endure a stressful wait for results often deters people from getting tested. Moreover, every year, about 8,000 people who test positive at public clinics never return to find out their results, according to the CDC.

IT'S A FACT!

There hasn't been a childless presidential couple since Warren G. and Florence Kling De Wolfe Harding.

CHRONOLOGY - Events of April 2004

National

308,000 New Jobs Added to Economy - The U.S. employment picture brightened in March, when 308,000 nonfarm jobs were created, according to data released Apr. 2. The unemployment rate stood at 5.7% in March, unchanged from February.

Corporate Fraud Case Ends in Mistrial - The prosecution of 2 top Tyco International executives ended in a mistrial Apr. 2. In a high-profile case, the 2 defendants, former CEO Dennis Kozlowski and former CFO Mark Swartz, were accused of defrauding the company of $600 million. In declaring a mistrial on the 12th day of jury deliberation, New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus cited outside pressure on the jury, which had been seeking to reach verdicts on 32 separate counts, in a long trial that had begun in Sept. 2003. Efforts to reach agreement were reportedly complicated by one holdout juror sympathetic to the defense, whose name was publicized in the media. The prosecution said it would seek a retrial.

Kerry Proposes Partial Tax Cut Repeal to Cut Deficit - Sen. John Kerry (MA), the prospective Democratic presidential nominee, declared in a speech Apr. 7 that he would reduce the federal budget deficit by repealing the Bush tax cut for persons earning more than $200,000. He restated a proposal to reduce corporate taxes and said he would not seek to cut spending on national security, education, Social Security, or Medicare. Kerry noted that under the Bush administration the budget had gone from a $236 bil surplus in 2000 to a projected deficit approaching $500 bil in 2004.

Rice Testifies on Terror Attacks - Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, testified Apr. 8 before the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. She said that on Sept. 4, 2001, the administration had approved a plan to "eliminate" al-Qaeda. Rice was questioned closely about a briefing titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.", that went to Pres. George W. Bush on Aug. 6, 2001; it included an unconfirmed report that hijackers planned to seize a plane in order to demand release of prisoners held in connection with the1993 World Trade Center bombing. Rice said the briefing contained mostly "historical information" and did not explicitly warn of attacks inside the U.S.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, testifying Apr. 13, blamed pre-9/11 intelligence lapses on a legal "wall" that had been erected between the CIA, in intelligence-gathering, and the FBI, in criminal investigation. Ashcroft said the wall, embodied in a 1978 law, had been buttressed by a 1995 memo from then-Deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick, currently a member of the 9/11 commission. The adoption of the USA Patriot Act (after the 9/11 attack) and a 2002 court ruling had brought down the wall, and federal agencies were reportedly working together more closely. Testifying Apr. 14, CIA Director George Tenet said 5 years would be needed before the CIA could get up to speed in its intelligence work against terrorists.

Bush Defends Iraq Policy at Prime-Time News Conference - For only the 3rd time, Pres. Bush held an evening news conference, Apr. 13. In an opening statement on Iraq, he said the U.S. would stick to its commitment to turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30. Pressed to name any mistakes he had made in Iraq, Bush said that he would make no apologies and could not think of any mistakes. He said that he believed weapons of mass destruction might possibly yet be found in Iraq and that there had been "nothing new" in the Aug. 6, 2001, briefing.

Bush, Cheney Speak to 9-11 Panel - Pres. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney were questioned in the Oval Office for 3 hours, Apr. 29, by members of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. In the session, described by the president as "cordial," Bush and Cheney reportedly indicated that warnings prior to 9-11 had suggested that al-Qaeda was preparing to strike overseas. Bush and Cheney were not under oath and the meeting was not recorded electronically.

Names and Photos of Fallen U.S. Soldiers Shown on Nightline - The names and photos of all 721 U.S solders killed in Iraq since the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion were shown in an extended broadcast of ABC-TV's Nightline, Apr. 30. Some supporters of the U.S. intervention criticized the program as polemical, and one broadcast group barred airing of the program on its TV affiliates, a decision which itself drew strong protest from many. Anchor Ted Koppel said the broadcast was intended to honor the war dead and illustrate the cost of the war.

International

Insurgents in Iraqi Cities Rise Up Against Coalition - April proved to be the bloodiest month yet for U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq. Insurgents occupied parts of cities, and the ensuing urban warfare took a growing toll. The upsurge climaxed growing tensions between U.S.-led forces and Iraqis, including Shiite extremists and loyalists of the deposed regime, and followed the arrest Apr. 3 of a suspect in the 2003 assassination of a Shiite leader, Ayatollah Abdel Majid al-Khoei.

The arrested man, Mustafa al-Yaqubi, was an aide to a radical Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, 31. Shiites demonstrating in Kufa Apr. 4 against the arrest fought coalition forces from the U.S., Spain, and El Salvador. After that clash, Sadr called on supporters to rise against the coalition. In the first coordinated hostile action by Shiites since the invasion of Iraq, they seized police stations and other key sites in Baghdad, Najaf, Kufa, and Amara. Some U.S.-trained Iraqi police fled without a fight. Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in the Sadr City district of Baghdad Apr. 4.

On Apr. 5, marines and Iraqi army troops entered Fallujah, a hotbed of support for the former regime, to try to put down unrest there. By Apr. 6 unrest had spread to other cities, with Sunni and Shiite Muslims, longtime antagonists, sometimes fighting side by side. Sadr militiamen fought Italian troops in Nasiriyah Apr. 6. Twelve U.S. marines were killed that day during an attack on their base outside Baghdad. On Apr. 7, U.S. aircraft struck a mosque complex in Fallujah with a rocket and a bomb. Sadr's militia occupied Kut after Ukrainian troops pulled back. Kazakhstan said Apr. 7 that it would pull out its 30 troops in May.

A U.S. Apache helicopter was downed by a surface-to-air missile Apr. 11 and 2 crew members were killed. In Najaf, Sadr's militia withdrew from key facilities Apr. 12. A U.S. captive, Pfc. Keith Maupin, was shown in a videotape Apr. 16. Although U.S. troops surrounded Najaf, Sadr Apr. 16 refused to dissolve his militia. U.S. and Iraqi authorities Apr. 19 reached an agreement suspending hostilities in Fallujah, while calling for insurgents to turn in heavy weapons by an Apr. 27 deadline. A series of coordinated car bombings at police buildings in Basra, Apr. 21, killed 50, including 20 children on their way to school. On Apr. 23-24, U.S. marines killed about 30 insurgents in a firefight outside Fallujah. On Apr. 27, after the deadline in Fallujah expired with little result, U.S. forces shelled insurgents in the Gola district of the city. Two days later, U.S. troops pulled back from some positions, under an agreement handing control to an Iraqi general, with plans for Iraq patrols of the city. Hours after the agreement was announced, with tensions continuing, 2 U.S. marines were killed by a car bomb in Fallujah.

A number of foreigners were abducted by militants. Three Japanese civilians were kidnapped Apr. 8; their captors threatened to kill them if 550 Japanese troops were not withdrawn from Iraq, but they were released Apr. 15, with the demand unmet. Seven South Korean missionaries were seized and released Apr. 8. A U.S. employee of the Halliburton Corp. was kidnapped Apr. 9, and Halliburton said Apr. 12 that 6 other employees were missing. On Apr. 12, 11 Russians were reported abducted, and 3 Czechs missing. Seven Chinese were freed Apr. 12 after a day of captivity. On Apr. 14 a militant group reported having killed one of 4 Italian men it had seized the day before, the first such casualty in the Iraq conflict,

Prime Min. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, a day after beginning his term, said Apr. 18 that Spain's troops would be pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible. The next day, Honduras and the Dominican Republic announced that their small troop contingents would also be pulled out.

According to a New York Times story Apr. 29, a new report by the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded, based on interviews with captives, that many of the bombings and guerrilla attacks were being coordinated by member of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who had been planning the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad.

7 Countries Join NATO - A ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, Apr. 2 marked the formal entry of 7 more nations into NATO. The new members included 3 former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), a former Yugoslav republic (Slovenia), and 3 former Warsaw Pact members (Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia).

Terror Suspects Kill Themselves in Madrid - Four suspects in the March terror bombings in Madrid killed themselves with a bomb Apr. 3 after police surrounded their apartment building in a suburb of the Spanish capital. Police had evacuated nearby tenants and engaged in a 2-hour gun battle before the suspects detonated the bomb. One of the dead men, a Tunisian, was thought to be the ringleader in the train bombings that had claimed 191 lives and wounded 1,400. The apartment-house bombing killed one police officer and wounded 12. Currently, 15 suspects were in jail in connection with the terror attacks.

Bush Backs Israeli Policy on Settlements - Pres. George W. Bush Apr. 14 after meeting in Washington with Israeli Prime Min. Ariel Sharon, expressed support for Sharon's proposal to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza. In a departure from past policy, he also supported Israel's intention to retain major West Bank settlements as part of a final agreement with the Palestinians and endorsed the Israeli position that Palestinians who in 1948-49 had fled their homes did not have a right of return. U.S. policy had been to withhold positions on these issues.

On Apr. 17, Israeli forces assassinated Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi, new leader of the militant Hamas organization; he had led Hamas for less than a month after his predecessor's assassination. Rantisi, with 2 of his bodyguards, was killed in Gaza when missiles fired from an Israeli helicopter gunship struck their car. A White House statement advised Israel to weigh its actions carefully but did not condemn the attack, stating that Israel had the right to defend itself. On Apr. 19, King Abdullah of Jordan postponed a meeting with Bush, indicating displeasure with the president's support for Israel's positions.

Plans for Iraqi Caretaker Government Proceed - Amid continuing bloodshed in some areas, plans for the formation of a temporary Iraqi government moved ahead. The caretaker regime was to take over from the coalition authority June 30 and serve until elections some 6 months later. The UN envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, said Apr. 14 that the country would be led by a president, prime minister, and 2 vice presidents. The current governing council opposed Brahimi's plan to bring members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party into the leadership. Pres. Bush Apr. 19 named John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the UN, as ambassador to Iraq.

Al-Qaeda Offers Truce to Europe - A taped message purportedly from terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, broadcast Apr. 14, offered a "reconciliation initiative" to European countries that pulled troops out of the Muslim countries and abandoned alleged aggression joined to "the American plot against the big Muslim world." European nations in quick succession rejected any such agreement.

Bomber Strikes in Saudi Capital - A suicide bomber killed 5 others and himself, and injured about 150 others, when he detonated a bomb in his car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Apr. 21. Six police officers had been killed in clashes with militants during the preceding 10 days.

Ex-NFL Player Killed in Afghanistan - Pat Tillman, who gave up a successful pro football career to join the U.S. Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan Apr. 22. Tillman, a safety with the Arizona Cardinals, had turned down a $3.6 million contract to enlist, saying it was his duty in the wake of the 9/11 terror bombings. He was killed while on patrol near the Pakistani border.

Violence in Southern Thailand Leaves Over 100 Dead - In the worst such incident in years, more than 100 people were killed Apr. 28 when armed insurgents stormed over a dozen police stations in southern Thailand; among the dead were about 30 killed in a police raid on a mosque near Pattani, reportedly used as cover by Muslim attackers. No group initially claimed responsibility.

Photos Show Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners - Photographs showing Iraqi prisoners forced into humiliating positions by gleeful American soldiers were circulated in newspapers and TV broadcasts around the globe, Apr. 30, provoking outrage, especially in the Arab world; Pres. Bush expressed "deep disgust" over the abuse and said an investigation was under way.

General

Train Explosion Takes Heavy Toll in North Korea - More than 160 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in a train explosion in North Korea Apr. 22, at a station near Ryongchon, not far from the Chinese border. In a departure, North Korean officials allowed supplies to be flown in and Red Cross trucks admitted from South Korea, which was prominent among countries providing aid.

Former Nets Star Acquitted of Serious Charges in Killing - After a 15-week trial a jury in Somerville, NJ, Apr. 30 found former New Jersey Nets star Jayson Williams not guilty of aggravated manslaughter and two other serious charges in the Feb. 2002 shooting death of a chauffeur at his mansion. He was found guilty of covering up the incident, however, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of reckless manslaughter.

Sports

On Apr. 6, the University of Connecticut became the 1st school to capture the men's and women's Division I NCAA basketball titles in the same year. The men's team (33-6) defeated Georgia Tech, 82-73, in the final game Apr. 5th in San Antonio, TX. Emeka Okafor scored 24 points for the Huskies, and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final 4. The Connecticut women (31-4) won their 3rd national title in a row on Apr. 6th with a win over Tennessee, 70-61, in New Orleans. UConn's Diana Taurasi scored 17 points and was named the women's Most Outstanding Player of the Final 4 for a 2nd straight year.

Phil Mickelson, playing in one of professional golf's 4 major tournaments for 47th time, finally won his first Apr. 11, defeating Ernie Els of South Africa by a stroke to win the Masters. Mickelson, who had finished first 22 times in other events, needed a birdie on the last hole in Augusta, GA, to prevail with a total of 279 strokes, 9 under par. Arnold Palmer, 74, played in the first 2 rounds, Apr. 8 and 9, his 50th and (he said) last appearance. He had won the Masters 4 times.

In the 108th Boston Marathon, Apr. 19, Kenyan Timothy Cherigat won in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 37 seconds. A Kenyan man has won 13 of the last 14 races, and runners from that country swept the top 4 places in 2004. Robert Cheboror finished 2nd in 2:11:49 and Martin Lel was 3rd in 2:13:38. The first American man was Christopher Zieman (CA), who finished 13th in 2:25:45. Kenya's Catherine Ndereba won the women's race in 2:24:27, the 11th fastest in race history, despite the unfavorable conditions-83 at the start. Ethiopia's Elfenesh Alemu finished 11 seconds back, and Olivera Jevtic (Serbia and Montenegro) was 3rd in 2:27:34. Julie Spencer (WI) was the top U.S. woman, finishing 16th with at time of 2:56:39.

The San Diego Chargers selected Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning, winner of the 2003 Maxwell Award, as the top college player, first overall in the NFL Draft on Apr. 24. About an hour later Manning, who had said publicly that he did not want to play for San Diego, was traded to the New York Giants for North Carolina quarterback Philip Rivers (the 4th pick overall) and 3 draft picks-1 in 2004 and 2 in 2005.

IT'S A FACT!

The term yuppie is actually an acronym for "young urban professional."

OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES - Kevin Seabrooke

ATKINS AND SOUTH BEACH DIETS NOT FOR EVERYONE
The diet-conscious may have transformed "carb" into a dirty word, but cops are sticking with tradition-if not their diets. Forty contestants turned out in April for the 2nd annual Dunkin' Donuts World Cop Donut Eating Contest in suburban Chicago. The winner, Terry O'Brien of the Town of Geneva Police Department in Lake Geneva, Wis., ate 9 doughnuts in three minutes to earn the title of "Donut King." O'Brien also received $100 gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts. Though the contest received some criticism its first year for reinforcing an unflattering stereotype, Ed Nowicki, organizer of this year's event, disagreed, saying, "We wanted to show that we do have a sense of humor and do a good thing for our community. Plus, cops do eat doughnuts. It's one of the basic food groups." Money raised from the contest went to the Law Enforcement Fund and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association scholarship fund.

CARB-FRIENDLY SKIES
Cops aren't the only ones keeping the doughnut industry aloft in today's anti-carb world, either: Hawaiians seem to be pretty fond of the sweets as well. Hawaii's first Krispy Kreme doughnut store opened in Maui in January, and since then, locals have been stocking up. A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson reported that residents returning to other islands from Maui have been crowding overhead compartments with up to five or six boxes of doughnuts and that there isn't always room enough for the treats on inter-island flights.

"GO ON, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO"
Britain's biggest amusement park, The Alton Towers (160 miles north of London), launched a new website in April encouraging people to skip work. Their "Escape the Workplace Rat Race" campaign offers online discount vouchers to workers with a bad case of spring fever. Truant employees can go to http://www.ihatework.com.uk to print out a coupon for weekday entry to the park and spend the day on a roller coaster rather than the corporate ladder. The Federation of Small Business, which represents 185,000 firms in Britain, reacted indignantly, calling the marketing ploy "irresponsible."

From the World Almanac - Health: Some Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Within 20 Minutes

  • Blood pressure drops to a level close to that before the last cigarette
  • Temperature of hands and feet increases to normal
Within 8 Hours
  • Carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal
Within 24 Hours
  • Chance of heart attack decreases
Within 2 Weeks to 3 Months
  • Circulation improves
  • Lung function increases up to 30%
Within 1 to 9 Months
  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
  • Cilia regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, reduce infection
Within 1 Year
  • Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's
Within 5 Years
  • Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5-15 years after quitting
Within 10 Years
  • Lung cancer death rate about half that of a continuing smoker's
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases
Within 15 Years
  • Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker's
Source: American Cancer Society, Inc., 1599 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329-4251; phone: (800) 227-2345

Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Under my bed, there are 30 boxes of photographs. I love to take pictures, and while most of them never make it into albums, I've tried to share many of them with family and friends over the years. Digital photography and an Internet connection have made that a great deal easier. I can now share my Christmas pictures with cousins in Brazil, within minutes of taking them. However, when you send groups of pictures, the files often have to be compressed, and put into a zip file, and I've found that many people do not have the ability to open zip files. If you visithttp://www.download.com, you can download the WinZip program as well as games, music, and other free software.

This month I honor my friend's Dad, whose name was Henry. We'll start with the man with six wives, the infamous King Henry VIII (1491-1547). Among them were two first cousins (both of whom ended up executed), and his brother's widow; and one marriage that lasted a mere 6 months. To learn more about the reign of Henry, and other members of the House of Tudor, visit http://tudorhistory.org/. The famous Model T Ford, first introduced in 1908, took its name, of course, from its creator, Henry Ford (1863-1947). Henry Ford mass-produced an automobile that was durable, easy to operate and maintain, and the most important reasonably priced, and it became a huge success. To learn more about Ford, and the Henry Ford Museum, visit http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/hf/default.asp. Henry Fonda (1905-1982), whose career in film began in 1935, won his first Academy Award for his last film, On Golden Pond, which co-starred Katharine Hepburn. To learn more about Henry Fonda (the father of Peter and Jane) visit http://entertainment.msn.com/celebs/celeb.aspx?c=251512. For synopses of Fonda's films, visit: http://www.amctv.com/person/detail?CID=427-1-EST. Henry James (1843-1916), was an American novelist, well known for his psychological depth (though the psychologist in the family was his brother William); he refined the technique of narrating novels from the point of view of a character. To learn more about James, and some of his most famous novels, visit: http://www.online-literature.com/henry_james/.

This one is from my co-worker Lisa: Spring is finally here (although it was pretty cool around here earlier this week), and if you are eagerly awaiting the return of various bird species to your area, you should definitely visit the website http://www.enature.com/birding/migration_home.asp. We East Coasters can expect to hear flutelike melodies from Swainson's Thrush, between May 1 and June 30. There is so much to learn at this nature site, including how to identify birds, find places to observe them, and avoid the peril from poisonous and other dangerous animals.

I hope that I never lose the desire to learn new things. One way I've been learning new words is by playing Scrabble on my Palm Pilot. When I play on the higher levels, new words are introduced to me, and the definitions of the words are displayed. Another way to learn new words is to make a daily visit to http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/spquiz.pl. Each day the site defines three words and provides pronunciation information to help you, and then you get to spell the word. So I not only learned two new words, but also learned I'm not such a great speller!

On Sunday April 25, the new ocean liner Queen Mary 2, and her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, were in New York City together for the first and last time. The QM2 is replacing the QE2 for transatlantic voyages. The Queen Mary 2 is the largest (151,400 tons), longest (1,132 feet/345 metres), tallest (236 feet/72 metres), widest (135 feet/41 metres), and most expensive ($800 million) liner ever built. I saw it with my own eyes, and I can attest to its incredible size. To learn more about the QM2 and the Cunard Line, visit http://www.cunard.com/. Make sure you take the 360 degree tours of various public and private rooms; it's very impressive.

I traveled quite a bit on business this month, and I got to play travel agent, by booking flights, hotels and cars for my companions and me. It's kind of fun doing comparison shopping on airfares and such, and the Internet has made this process so much easier. What I like most about http://www.travelocity.com is that the site also offers a selection of last-minute vacation ideas, ranging from quick trips to Paris to bargain trips costing under $250 per person.

You don't have to be an American Idol fan to have heard the story of William Hung. While I don't actually watch the show, I did catch the first few episodes, because I love to see people who think they have talent performing. Hung is the bad singer who shot to fame for auditioning with a wretchedly off-key version of the Ricky Martin song "She Bangs" and recently debuted an album, "Inspiration," in Billboard's top 40. Here is someone getting more than his 15 minutes of fame. At his website, http://www.williamhung.net/, you can painfully listen to him singing, view video, become part of the merchandising craze, and even join his fan club.

Stupidest website of the month: http://www.something.com/.

© World Almanac Education Group

World Almanac E-Newsletter
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Newsletter Contributors:
Louise Bloomfield, Erik Gopel, Walter Kronenberg, Bill McGeveran, Kevin Seabrooke and Lori Wiesenfeld

Comments and suggestions can be sent to: editorinchief@waegroup.com

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