The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 6 - June 2004




What's in this issue?

June Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - June
June Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Obituaries - May 2004
Special Feature: D-Day and the Greatest Generation
Science in the News
Chronology - Events of May 2004
Offbeat News Stories
From the World Almanac - The Telephone
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

June Events

June is National Safety Month and Gay and Lesbian Pride Month

June 1-3 - National Spelling Bee (Washington, DC)
June 3-6 - Shelburne County (Nova Scotia) Lobster Festival
June 3-20 - Portland (OR) Rose Festival
June 4-6 - Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival (Little Chute, WI); Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival (Oklahoma City, OK)
June 5 - Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park (Elmont, NY); La Grange (IL) Pet Parade
June 9-12 - NCAA Division I Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships (Austin, TX)
June 10-13 - LPGA Championship (Wilmington, DE); Texas Folklife Festival (San Antonio, TX)
June 11-13 - Crawfordsville (IN) Strawberry Festival
June 11-19 - OK MOZART Festival (Bartlesville, OK); Riverbend Festival (Chattanooga, TN)
June 11-20 - Lilac Festival (Mackinac Island, MI)
June 12 - Buzzard Day Festival (Glendive, MT)
June 12-13 - 24 Hours of Le Mans (Le Mans, France); Potomac Celtic Festival (Leesburg, VA)
June 17-20 - U.S. Open golf tournament (Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, NY)
June 17-24 - Boardwalk Art Show & Festival (Virginia Beach, VA)
June 20 - First day of Summer (Northern Hemisphere)
June 21-26 - Donna Reed Festival for the Performing Arts (Denison, IA)
June 21-July 4 - Wimbledon tennis tournament (England)
June 21-July 13 - City of London Festival (England)
June 22 - Dragon Boat Festival (China)
June 22-27 - Midsommar Festival-Swedish Days (Geneva, IL)
June 22-August 22 - Aspen (CO) Music Festival
June 25-27 - Helen Keller Festival (Tuscumbia, AL)
June 25-July 11 - Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene, OR)
June 30-July 4 - Henley Royal Regatta (Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England)
June 30-July 5 - Boston Harborfest

June Holidays

June 2 - Republic Day (Italy)
June 5 - UN World Environment Day
June 11 - King Kamehameha I Day (Hawaii)
June 14 - Flag Day (U.S.)
June 19 - Juneteenth (Texas)
June 20 - Father's Day
June 24 - Bannockburn Day (Scotland)


In cyberspace, the acronym ROTFL means "rolling on the floor laughing."

This Day in History - June






An earthquake rocks Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, the first such event to be recorded and described in writing in the United States.



Timothy McVeigh is convicted of conspiracy and murder in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.



The Duke of Windsor, who abdicated the throne of England in December 1936, marries American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson in France.



Rome is liberated by the U.S. 9th Army under Gen. Mark Clark.



Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D, NY), celebrating presidential primary victories, is fatally shot in a Los Angeles hotel by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.



D-Day: U.S. and Allied forces invade Europe at Normandy on the north coast of France, in the greatest amphibious landing in history.



Sony introduces the VCR, selling the Betamax for $995.



In an apparent accident, Israel torpedoes the USS Liberty, an intelligence ship, in the Mediterranean, killing 34.



A 99-year lease is signed under which Hong Kong will be administered as a British Crown Colony, with sovereignty to revert to China in 1997.



At 15 years, 10 months, and 11 days old, Joe Nuxhall becomes the youngest player in major league history when he pitches 2/3 of an inning for the Cincinnati Reds.



King James III of Scotland is murdered; he is succeeded by his son, James IV.



The Philippines declares independence from Spain.



Thurgood Marshall is appointed to the Supreme Court, becoming the first black justice.



Capt. John Allcock and Lt. Arthur W. Brown leave St. Johns, Newfoundland, for County Galway, Ireland, in a Vickers Vimy bomber, making the first nonstop transatlantic flight.



Congress approves a law making all Native Americans citizens.



The Hawaiian government and Sec. of State John Sherman sign a treaty starting a process that leads to formal U.S. annexation of Hawaii.



Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R, WI) ends televised hearings into alleged Communist influence in the Army.



Pres. Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign SALT II, limiting offensive nuclear weapons.



The Supreme Court strikes down a Louisiana law that required public schools to devote equal time to teaching evolution and "creation science."



Juan Perón returns to Argentina after nearly 18 years in exile.



John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot Pres. Ronald Reagan and 3 other men in 1981, is found not guilty by reason of insanity.



Joe Louis KOs James J. Braddock to become world heavyweight champion.



An Air-India 747 crashes into the Atlantic south of Ireland, killing all 329 aboard.



In England, Henry VIII is crowned king.



Col. George Armstrong Custer and 264 soldiers of the 7th Calvalry are killed by the Sioux in the Battle of Little Big Horn, MT.



In retaliation for an alleged Iraqi plot to kill former Pres. George Bush when he visited Kuwait in March, the United States launches a missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.



Mormon leader Joseph Smith is killed by a mob in Carthage, IL.



Six-year old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez is returned to his father in Cuba after his Florida relatives lost a 7-month legal battle to keep him in the U.S.



The UN General Assembly unanimously reelects Kofi Annan for a second term as Secretary-General.



Three Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz 10 die when there is a loss of pressurization during reentry.

June Birthdays






Pat Boone, singer (Jacksonville, FL)



Marvin Hamlisch, composer/songwriter (New York, NY)



Chuck Barris, TV producer (Philadelphia, PA)



Dennis Weaver, actor (Joplin, MO)



Margaret Drabble, novelist (Sheffield, Yorkshire, England)



Harvey Fierstein, playwright/actor (Brooklyn, NY)



James Ivory, filmmaker (Berkeley, CA)



Joan Rivers, comedian/TV personality (Brooklyn, NY)



Gloria Reuben, actress (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)



Tara Lipinski, Olympic champion figure skater (Philadelphia, PA)



Chad Everett, actor (South Bend, IN)



George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States (Milton, MA)



Christo (Javacheff), conceptual artist (Babrovo, Bulgaria)



Donald Trump, real estate executive (New York, NY)



Courtney Cox, actress (Birmingham, AL)



Kerry Wood, baseball pitcher (Irving, TX)



Venus Williams, tennis player (Lynwood, CA)



Isabella Rossellini, model/actress (Rome, Italy)



Kathleen Turner, actress (Springfield, MO)



Bob Vila, handyman/TV personality (Miami, FL)



Prince William, older son of Prince Charles, crown prince of England, and Diana (London, England)



Katherine Dunham, dancer/choreographer (Joliet, IL)



Frances McDormand, actress (Chicago, IL)



Anna Paquin, actress (Wellington, New Zealand)



Willis Reed, basketball player/coach/executive (Hico, LA)



Derek Jeter, baseball player (Pequannock, NJ)



Anna Moffo, opera singer (Wayne, PA)



Mark Helprin, author (New York, NY)



Ann Veneman, agriculture sec. (Sacremento, CA)



Czeslaw Milosz, writer (Seteiniai, Lithuania)


Henderson Lake, British Columbia, has averaged 256 inches of precipitation per year, more than anywhere else in North America.


Location: Capital of Wyoming and seat of Laramie County, in the SE part of the state, on Crow Creek; incorporated 1867. The largest city in the state, Cheyenne is the commercial, manufacturing, and shipping center for the surrounding cattle- and sheep-raising area. Frontier Days, an annual festival and rodeo celebrating the old Wild West days, has taken place here since 1897.

Population (2002): 53,658

Mayor: Jack R. Spiker

June Temperatures: Normal high of 75 degrees; normal low of 48 degrees

Colleges & Universities: Laramie County Community College

Events: World Flavors, Nelson Museum of the West (June 4); Meals on Wheels Garage Sale, Frontier Park Exhibition Hall (June 4-5); Downtown Artwalk (June 5); Wyoming Brewer's Festival, Frontier Park Exhibition Hall (June 11-12); Kids Cowboy Festival, Frontier Park (June 12); Lippizaner Stallion Horse Show, IKON Center (June 12-13); 24-Hour Relay for Life, Okie-Blanchard Stadium (June 18-19); Super Saturday at the State Museum - Flag Day (June 19); Becoming an Outdoors Woman, Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp (June 25-27); Superday, Lions Park (June 26)

Places to visit: Big Boy Steam Engine (the world's largest steam locomotive); Cheyenne Botanic Gardens; Cheyenne Depot; Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum; Cowgirls of the West Museum; F.E. Warren AFB Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and Heritage Museum; Frontier Park; Historic Governors' Mansion; IKON Center; Lakeview Cemetery; Nagle Warren Mansion; Nelson Museum of the West; Old Town Square; Terry Bison Ranch; Wyoming Arts Council Gallery; Wyoming State Capitol; Wyoming State Museum. F. E. Warren Air Force Base is nearby.

Tallest Building: Wyoming State Capitol (146 feet)

History: The community was permanently settled soon after a division point of the Union Pacific Railroad was located here in 1867. It is named for the Cheyenne Indians, who lived in the region. In 1869 the city was selected as the capital of Wyoming Territory, and in 1890, when Wyoming entered the Union, Cheyenne was made the state capital. The community grew in the 1870s with the opening of the nearby Black Hills gold fields and became one of the major distribution points for cattle from Texas.


Obituaries in May

Beckman, Arnold O., 104, chemist, inventor and industrialist who became one of the U.S.'s most important private benefactors of science research and education; La Jolla, CA, May 18, 2004.

Cox, Archibald, 92, the Harvard law professor and special prosecutor, who was fired by the Nixon White House in the "Saturday Night Massacre' in 1973, for refusing to accept White House limits on his investigation of the Watergate break-in and cover-up; Brooksville, Maine, May 29, 2004.

Dash, Samuel, 79, chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee whose interrogation revealed the secret audiotaping system at the White House that ultimately caused President Nixon to resign; Washington, DC, May 29, 2004.

Dellinger, Dave, 88, lifelong radical pacifist who was one of the Chicago Seven protesters tried for criminal conspiracy after being arrested at the 1968 Democratic presidential convention; Montpelier, VT, May 25, 2004.

Dodd, Clement S. ("Sir Coxsone"), 72, Jamaican record producer credited with launching the careers of reggae giant Bob Marley and many other Jamaican artists; Kingston, Jamaica, May 4, 2004.

Eckerd, Jack, 91, founder of a Florida-based drugstore empire that bore his name and a philanthropist instrumental in the creation of the U.S.'s largest nonprofit organization for troubled youths; Clearwater, FL, May 19, 2004.

Fassie, Brenda, 39, black pop singer from South Africa who was one of Africa's best-known entertainers for two decades; near Johannesburg, South Africa, May 9, 2004.

Hoff, Syd, 76, longtime cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine who also wrote and illustrated such well-known children's books as Danny and the Dinosaur (1958) and Sammy the Seal (1959); Miami Beach, FL, May 12, 2004.

Iglesias Jordan, Ramona Trinidad, 114, who was recognized as the world's oldest person; San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 29, 2004.

Johnson, Samuel Curtis, 76, for decades the head of S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., one of the U.S.'s leading family-owned businesses and a leading maker of floor wax and a wide range of other household products; Racine, WI, May 22, 2004.

Jones, Elvin, 76, jazz drummer who was a charter member of the John Coltrane Quartet, which revolutionized jazz during the first half of the 1960s; Englewood, NJ, May 18, 2004.

King, Alan, 76, stand-up comedian, actor, film and theater producer, and tennis tournament founder; New York, NY, May 9, 2004.

Lasky, Melvin J., 84, U.S.-born journalist and author who from 1958 to 1990 was editor of the British monthly Encounter, a major forum for liberal anticommunist intellectuals; Berlin, Germany, May 19, 2004.

Lee, Anna, 91, British-born actress who from 1978 to 2003 appeared as wealthy matriarch Lila Quartermaine in the TV soap opera "General Hospital," playing the character from a wheelchair since 1979, the year she was paralyzed in a car accident; Los Angeles, CA, May 14, 2004.

Martin, Alberta, 97, the last widow of a Civil War veteran, who became a celebrated final link to the Confederacy; Enterprise, AL, May 31, 2004.

Randall, Tony, 84, actor perhaps best known for his role as obsessively neat Felix Unger in the 1970-75 TV series based on Neil Simon's play The Odd Couple; he also did a lot of other TV work, appeared in many movies and plays, and founded a repertory company designed to restore classical theater to Broadway; New York, NY, May 17, 2004.

Straus, Roger W., 87, publisher for nearly six decades of some of the world's most prestigious authors as head of the firm known at first as Farrar, Straus & Co. and later as Farrar, Straus & Giroux; New York, NY, May 25, 2004.

SPECIAL FEATURE: D-Day and the Greatest Generation

by Joseph Gustaitis

It is now been a full six decades since the launching of history's mightiest invasion-the assault on Normandy on June 6, 1944. This action, code-named Operation Overlord, began around 12:15 in the morning when three U.S. and British airborne divisions consisting of over 23,000 men parachuted behind the German formations. The infantry hit the beaches soon after dawn. The statistics are astonishing: the Allies came with some 4,000 transports, 800 warships, over 11,000 aircraft, and 1 million ground troops.

The British and Canadian troops on the left flank (Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches) went ashore without too much difficulty, although the Canadians at Juno suffered about 1,200 casualties by the end of the day. The Americans at Utah Beach, where the Germans had been hard pressed by the airborne troops, took remarkably light casualties. Omaha Beach, the focal point of the attack, was a different story. The U.S. casualties there were heavy, the fighting intense, and the attack struggled to get a secure foothold for four days. Yet the beachheads were consolidated by June 12, and Cherbourg, the first major port to fall, surrendered on June 27.

Today, we are in the midst of a substantial revival of interest in World War II and in those who fought it. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 16 million people served in the U.S. military during that immense conflict. About 291,000 fatalities are officially counted as combat deaths, while another 114,000 deaths occurred outside the combat theaters. Only about 5.4 million U.S. World War II veterans are still alive, and it is estimated that over 1,000 of them die every day. This dwindling of the veteran population was a major reason for the recent construction of the World War II Memorial between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. As long as a football field, the $174-million granite and bronze memorial, which opened on April 29, 2004, contains two 43-foot arches symbolizing the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of the war and 56 granite pillars (representing each state and territory from that era, along with the District of Columbia surrounding a sunken plaza and pool. The memorial's backers argued that its dedication could not be delayed for long, as the people it was intended to honor would not be around indefinitely.

The World War II Memorial was preceded by the National D-Day Museum, which opened in New Orleans on June 6, 2000. It was placed in that city because it was there that boat designer and builder Andrew Jackson Higgins designed and constructed the landing craft used by the Allies in the Normandy invasion (and many others).

What happened in Normandy in 1944 was never really forgotten, of course: a steady stream of American veterans and other tourists, along with the presence in France of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and of several nearby museums devoted to the liberation of France saw to that. On June 6, 1964, the 20th anniversary of D-Day, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Operation Overlord's commander, returned to Normandy for an absorbing interview with CBS News broadcaster Walter Cronkite, during which the old soldier memorably said, ". . . these men came here¾British and our allies and Americans¾to storm these beaches for one purpose only, not to gain anything for ourselves, not to fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest, but just to preserve freedom. . . . Many thousands of men have died for such ideals as these, but these young boys were cut off in their prime. . . . I devoutly hope that we will never again have to see such scenes as these." However, the 30th anniversary of D-Day, which came during the Vietnam War, was almost ignored in the United States, and Normandy did not become the site of a major commemoration and assembly of VIPs until June 6, 1984, when U.S. President Ronald Reagan, along with French President Francois Mitterrand, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and the leaders of five other western nations gathered on the beaches for a 40th anniversary commemoration. On that occasion, Reagan spoke memorably of the "boys of the Point du Hoc," and said, "Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for."

Sentiment had begun to shift. Ten years later, on the 50th anniversary, it was now President Bill Clinton who represented the United States. Over 30,000 veterans of the invasion participated in commemorative and memorial events in both Britain and in Normandy. Addressing the leaders of 12 Allied nations and a multitude of gathered European and American veterans, President Mitterrand said, "I thank you for the liberty of the world, which owes so much to you." In his final address, delivered to some 8,000 U.S. veterans at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer near Omaha Beach, Clinton, referring to the fallen, said "These were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who never returned, the heroes we can never repay."

In 1991 the authors William Strauss and Neil Howe published a book entitled Generations, which, interestingly, divides history since the 15th century into a generational scheme. They call the World War II generation (for which they gave the approximate birthdates of 1901-1924) the "G.I. Generation." The G.I. Generation, they say, was a "Hero" generation-one characterized by strength, patriotism, homogeneity, a trust of authority, and a sense of living through a crisis. Other hero generations, they contend, were the Elizabethans and the "Republican Generation" (the one that successfully waged the American War of Independence). The "G.I. Generation" designation has since been eclipsed by the "Greatest Generation," after the title of a best-seller by television news correspondent Tom Brokaw that was published in 1998, a publication that marked a major moment in the revival of interest in the World War II era.

Brokaw's book was such a success that he followed it with two other works, The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections and An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation. Similar books from other authors also arrived in bookstores (Charles Day's Greatest Generation Anecdotes and Paul E. Morgan's Dial "M" for Memories: Of the Greatest Generation, for example). Nor were other TV celebrities hesitant to get with the trend. Larry King's Love Stories of World War II appeared in 2001, and Andy Rooney's memoir, My War, followed a year later. It might be argued, however, that the current spate of World War II books began as long ago as The Good War, a collection of the reminiscences of 121 participants in World War II by Studs Terkel, which was published in 1984, in time for D-Day's 40th anniversary.

However, the contemporary enthusiasm for, and recognition of, the Greatest Generation might not have nearly the scope it has were it not for Hollywood. Of course, World War II movies became Hollywood staples right after that conflict broke out. Some of these films were little more than morale-lifting flag-wavers, but as the case of Casablanca (1942) demonstrates, they could attain greatness. Later years brought many sprawling World War II epics, such as the D-Day adventure The Longest Day (1962), with an all-star cast, The Guns of Navarone, (1961), Midway (1976), and the Pearl Harbor film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). After the culture wars of the 1960s, however, some moviemakers, adopting the antimilitaristic, irreverent mood of the boomer generation, produced movies that looked at war with a skeptical eye. Films of this type include The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Bridge at Remagen (1969), and Kelly's Heroes (1970).

The success of Patton (1970), which appeared while the Vietnam War was at its height, proved that younger audiences would respond to a film that clearly believed that World War II was a war worth fighting-although it probably helped a great deal that its lead figure, memorably played by George C. Scott, was a bit of an oddball, a maverick, and, one could even say, an "antiestablishment" figure. Also, director Samuel Fuller somewhat revived the heroic view of World War II with his The Big Red Oneof 1980. But it wasn't really until the 1990s that the contemporary World War II film took shape. In the same year that Brokaw's book appeared, Steven Spielberg released his World War II blockbuster, Saving Private Ryan, a box-office sensation that opens with a harrowing depiction of the landing at Omaha Beach and concludes with a heart-tugging tribute to the soldiers who perished. That same year saw the release of The Thin Red Line, a forceful reenactment of the grim battle for Guadalcanal. The film Pearl Harbor came along in 2001 followed a year later by Windtalkers, which recounted how the military foiled enemy eavesdroppers by using Navajo Marines who sent messages in their native language. Finally, in 2001, HBO aired the greatly acclaimed and highly rated 10-part miniseries Band of Brothers, which followed the courageous and traumatic exploits of a group of U.S. airborne soldiers from training through to the end of the war.

With all this activity now occurring, the veterans of World War II, who could have fairly claimed to have been overlooked or taken for granted for too many years, were now not only in the memorials, bookstores, and theaters, but also in the hearts and minds of millions of younger Americans.

Science In the News - Wake Up and Drink the Coffee, Slowly

Many people greet the day with a big cup of coffee (Or two or three.) But if their aim is staying awake, they would do better to take small amounts of caffeine throughout the day--not a large dose at one sitting--according to a study published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.

Previous research has indicated that caffeine consumed in the morning does not remain in the bloodstream for long. "Most of the population is using caffeine the wrong way by drinking a few mugs of coffee or tea in the morning, or three cups from their Starbucks' grande on the way to work," said James Wyatt of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, who led the caffeine study. "This means that caffeine levels in the brain will be falling as the day goes on. Unfortunately, the physiological process they need to counteract is not a major player until the latter half of the day."

Wyatt and a number of his colleagues decided to investigate what happens if caffeine is consumed in smaller, more frequent doses. To do this, they conducted an experiment in which 16 men were put in lodgings where they could not tell what time of night or day it was. The men stayed there for almost a month, and were required to adhere to a schedule in which each "day" lasted almost 43 hours--a 28½ hour period when the subjects had to stay awake, followed by a sleep period.

Current theory holds that two systems in the body regulate the need for sleep: the circadian system, which releases certain hormones in a cyclical fashion, and the homeostatic system, in which the body's need for sleep grows stronger the longer one stays awake. Coffee--or caffeine, to be specific--is thought to help people stay awake by interfering with the working of adenosine, a chemical messenger produced by the homeostatic system.

The lengthened-day schedule presumably enhanced the study subjects' homeostatic drive for sleep, while the lack of information about the time of day probably reduced the effects of the circadian system (which is strongly linked to indicators of time, such as the amount of daylight). Therefore, the researchers assumed that most of the changes in the sleepiness levels of their subjects were due to the homeostatic drive and caffeine.

Some of the men in the study took pills that contained a low dose of caffeine--about the equivalent of two ounces of coffee. These men took a pill when they woke up, and once an hour thereafter during the waking period. A control group took identical-looking pills without caffeine (placebos). The idea was that the caffeine would prove most effective if it was administered not all in one big dose, but rather in parallel with the sleep-inducing hormones put out by the homeostatic system.

The results supported this theory. The group getting caffeine performed better on tests. They also fell asleep unintentionally (when they were supposed to be awake) less often than the control group. EEG tests (tests that show the brain's electrical activity) indicated the control group was asleep 1.57% of the designated awake time, versus just 0.32% of the time for those getting caffeine pills. But caffeine did not do away with the desire (or need) for sleep: the men who got the caffeine actually reported feeling sleepier than the control group.

Based on the study results, Wyatt asserts that consuming caffeine in small doses is a "much better method for using caffeine in order to maintain optimal vigilance and attention, particularly when someone has to remain awake longer than the traditional 16-hour wake episode." But, he notes, there's still no perfect substitute for sleep.


Saturn has 95 times the mass of the Earth.

CHRONOLOGY - Events of May 2004


Presidential Race Heated With 6 Months to Go - Although the November presidential election still lay 6 months in the future, campaigning in May was in high gear. With polls showing his job-approval ratings falling below 50%, Pres. George W. Bush began a bus tour of closely contested states. He spoke in several Michigan cities May 3 and in Ohio cities May 4. Resuming his tour May 7, he visited Iowa and Wisconsin. Sen. John Kerry (MA), the prospective Democratic nominee, in a Los Angeles speech May 5, called Bush's response to the Iraqi prison abuse scandal "slow and inappropriate." On May 6, Kerry urged Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Both candidates were raising and spending (mostly on TV ads) record sums of money. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said May 24 that Bush should be impeached for bringing the nation into war under false pretenses.

Gas Price Tops $2 per Gallon at the Pump - Auto gas prices climbed sharply as the summer travel season approached. Harbingers of rising prices had come in March, when the OPEC cartel cut oil production by a million barrels a day, and on May 7, when oil prices hit a 13-year high of $40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. By mid-May the average nationwide price of gasoline had reached $2 a gallon.

Gays Marry Legally in Massachusetts - For the first time in the U.S., on May 17, a state - Massachusetts - issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state acted pursuant to court orders that it could not deny such licenses. Within days, thousands of couples, including some from other states, obtained licenses in Massachusetts.

9/11 Commission Faults New York Rescue Effort - The staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks issued a report May 18 that criticized aspects of the response and rescue effort to save lives. The report found that rivalry between New York City's police and fire departments had caused a breakdown of coordination and communication. It criticized the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operated the 2 towers of the World Trade Center, for not having conducted evacuation drills and for not telling occupants that the doors to the roof were locked. The commission held hearings in the city May 18-19. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani acknowledged May 19 that "some terrible mistakes" had been made but he defended the overall response.

Major New Al-Qaeda Attack Feared in U.S. - Atty. Gen John Ashcroft said May 26 that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda was determined to launch another attack within the next few months, and was "almost ready" to do so. The existing intelligence, based on a high level of intercepted "chatter," reportedly did not suggest any specific target or method of attacks, but major-party political conventions in New York and Boston were thought to be among possible likely targets. Ashcroft also released photos of 7 people being sought as suspected al-Qaeda operatives.

Nichols Convicted Again in Oklahoma Bombing - Terry Nichols, already serving a life term after a federal conviction in connection with the 1995 terror bombing in Oklahoma City, was found guilty of 161 murders in a state court May 26. His accomplice, Timothy McVeigh, apparently the chief architect of the bombing plot, had been executed for the crime. Prosecutors contended that Nichols bought the ammonium nitrate fertilizer used in the bombing, which killed 168 people, and stole other materials. The jury needed only 5 hours to reach a verdict on the charges; they still had to decide whether he should be executed.

Appeals Court Upholds Assisted Suicide Law - A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the only assisted suicide law in the U.S. A three-judge panel May 26 upheld the Oregon "death with dignity" law in a split vote, concluding that the state had the right to decide this issue and criticizing Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft for seeking to block the law's enforcement. The measure allows incurably ill adults expected to die within 6 months to obtain lethal drugs form doctors.

World War II Memorial Dedicated - The World War II Memorial was dedicated May 29 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Some 70,000 elderly veterans of that epic conflict were among more than 100,000 persons attending the event, held on Memorial Day weekend. Only about 4 mil of the 16 mil who served in the war were still alive. Pres. Bush spoke at the dedication; also present were former presidents George H. W. Bush, a decorated World War II Navy pilot, and Bill Clinton. Former Sen. Robert Dole (R, KS), seriously wounded in the war, led the fund-raising effort for the 7.4-acre memorial, which cost $175 mil.


10 Countries Join EU - The European Union grew to 25 countries May 1 with the admission of 10 new members. The growth was mostly in Eastern Europe, with the addition of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. Two Mediterranean nations, Malta and Cyprus, also joined. The addition of several former Soviet bloc nations symbolically ended the "Iron Curtain" era that had seen Europe divided into 2 opposed alliances.

Israeli Prime Minister Rebuffed by His Party - The peace plan of Prime Min. Ariel Sharon of Israel suffered a setback May 2 when 60% of the members of his own Likud party voted against it. He had proposed to withdraw all soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. The defeat, though nonbinding, left his plan in limbo.

On May 2, 2 Palestinian gunmen were killed after they shot and killed a pregnant mother and her 4 daughters in Gaza. The Israelis killed 4 Palestinians in the West Bank the same day. A bomb and a grenade, May 11 and 13, destroyed 2 armored personnel vehicles and killed 11 Israeli soldiers; 20 Palestinians died in fighting in connection with those incidents. On May 13, an Israeli helicopter fired into a refugee camp, killing 7 Palestinians. Israel May 18 launched an offensive in the Rajav area, with about 40 Palestinians reported dead by the time the Israelis made a partial withdrawal on May 21. The UN Security Council May 19, 14-0, condemned the killing of civilians and urged Israel to stop destroying Palestinian homes. The U.S., which usually vetoes resolutions critical of Israel, abstained.

Nigerian Christians Massacre 630 Muslims - Christian militants in Nigeria attacked the Muslim town of Yelwa on May 2 and killed residents with firearms and machetes. The Nigerian Red Cross said May 6 that 630 had died. On May 18, after rioting broke out, Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau state, location of the massacre.

Iraqi Prison Abuse Scandal Widens - The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers became a major scandal in May and the subject of several investigations. On May 3, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, U.S. military commander in Iraq, reprimanded 6 commissioned and noncommissioned officers who supervised the prison at Abu Ghraib, in Baghdad, where the abuses occurred. A Mar. 9 classified report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, made public by the media May 5, said that "illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members" of the Army's 372nd Military Police Co. and 315th Military Intelligence Battalion. The abuses included punching and kicking detainees, keeping them naked for days at a time, using unmuzzled dogs to menace detainees. and forcing them into sexually explicit positions for photographing. In interviews that day with Arab media outlets Al Arabiya and Al Hurra, Pres. George W. Bush deplored the mistreatment of the prisoners; the next day, at a White House meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, he apologized for the abuse.

The International Committee of the Red Cross May 6 said it had found widespread evidence of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in prisons across Iraq by coalition forces. In a February report to coalition officials, the ICRC had said that some of the mistreatment was "tantamount to torture." On May 7, PFC Lynndie England of the 372nd MP Co. was charged in with mistreatment. She appeared in several published photographs, including one where she held a leash around the neck of a naked prisoner.

Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came under heavy fire testifying before congressional committees May 7, and there were calls for his resignation. Gen. Taguba told a Senate committee May 11 that the abuses could be attributed to a failure of leadership from the brigade commander on down, and to a lack of discipline, training, and supervision. On May 13 Sanchez issued guidelines barring certain forms of pressure, including sleep deprivation and the use of "stress positions." Testifying before the Senate committee May 19, Sanchez and Gen. John Abizaid, U.S. commander in the Middle East, accepted responsibility for misconduct by U.S. forces. On May 24, Pentagon officials said Sanchez would soon be replaced. A May 5 Army report that came to light May 25 said that U.S. mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan was more widespread than previously known.

Spec. Jeremy Sivits pleaded guilty at a U.S. court-martial trial in Baghdad May 19 to maltreating prisoners and dereliction of duty; his testimony also implicated others. He was given a bad conduct discharge and sentenced to a year in prison.

U.S.-led Coalition Struggles to Assert Control - As the end-of-June deadline neared for the handover of control to an interim Iraqi government, the U.S.-led military coalition, faced with violent rebellion in some areas, sought to dampen resistance without stirring up increased animosity. U.S. forces May 6 seized the governor's office in Najaf, a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and installed a new Iraqi governor, as violence there continued. The U.S. military said May 10 that it had destroyed al-Sadr's headquarters in Baghdad and killed about 16 of his followers. Meanwhile, on May 10 U.S. forces and an Iraqi brigade jointly entered the volatile city of Fallujah, where a cease-fire continued in place.

A videotape shown on the Internet May 11 depicted the brutal beheading of Nick Berg, an American businessman imprisoned by Iraqi militants. He was decapitated by one of 5 masked men guarding him, identified on the screen as al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who read a statement linking the murder to abuses at Abu Ghraib. Berg's body was found near Baghdad May 8. Earlier, on May 2, in contrasting news, Thomas Hamill, an American civilian employee of a subsidiary of the Halliburton Co., had managed to safely flee his rebel guards after 3 weeks in captivity.

On May 17, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezzedine Salim, was assassinated in Baghdad by a suicide bomber; 6 others died in the explosion. The U.S. Defense Dept. said May 17 that it would shift 3,600 troops from South Korea to Iraq. At least 40 persons, reportedly including women and children, were killed May 19 when U.S. forces attacked a large gathering in Iraq's western desert. Survivors claimed the victims were part of a wedding party where there was ceremonial gunfire; the U.S. military disputed this claim.

Iraqi police and some Americans May 20 raided the Baghdad home and headquarters of Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. An exile for 4 decades before his 2003 return, Chalabi headed the Iraqi National Congress and had enjoyed great influence in the Bush administration. An INC official said May 17 that the administration was now cutting off subsidies. Critics said Chalabi was the source of unreliable information about weapons of mass destruction; there also were reports that Chalabi had passed U.S. secrets to Iran, which he denied.

On May 20, U.S. troops pulled out of central Karbala, the scene of intense fighting for more than a week. In an overnight attack May 22-23, U.S. forces killed 36 enemy fighters around a mosque in the southern city of Kufa. On May 27, after a 7-week battle, U.S. forces, under a pact negotiated by Iraqi leaders, agreed to pull out from most positions in Najaf and nearby Kufa, in return for a cease-fire by Shiite militants loyal to the cleric al-Sadr. The agreement appeared to leave the radical forces there intact, though it called for those from other cities to leave. Iraqi officials also agreed to suspend an arrest warrant against al-Sadr for the murder of a rival cleric.

In a May 24 speech, Pres. Bush outlined a general plan for transferring civilian authority to Iraqis by June 30 and helping to establish security, rebuild the infrastructure, promote international support, and move toward national elections in early 2005. He said, "I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to stay as an occupying power. Iraqis will write their own history, and find their own way."

On May 28 the interim Iraqi government began to take shape with the unanimous approval by the Iraqi Governing Council of Iyad Alawi as prime minister. A prominent secular-minded Shiite and anti-Saddam exile reportedly having ties to the CIA, he was regarded as a compromise candidate.

Bomb Kills President of Chechnya - Pres. Akhmad Kadyrov of Chechnya was assassinated May 9 when a bomb exploded near him in a stadium in Grozny, the rebellious republic's capital. Kadynov had been attending a celebration of the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. The explosion killed 6 others and wounded about 50.

Sonia Gandhi Declines Prime Minister Post; a Sikh Succeeds to It - Sonia Gandhi, a member by marriage of the family that had dominated Indian politics for 3 generations, declined May 18 to accept office as the country's prime minister. Her Indian National Congress party had won an upset victory in 4 rounds of parliamentary voting that ended May 10. Congress Party members who have served as prime minister include Jawaharlal Nehru; his daughter, Indira Gandhi; and her son, Rajiv Gandhi. The latter 2 were both assassinated. Sonia, Rajiv's widow, had wide though not unanimous support within the party; she was a political neophyte.

The incumbent prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had conceded May 13 that his Bharatiya Janata Party lost the election. Pres. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam accepted his resignation, asking him to stay on until a new prime minister stepped in. On May 19, former Finance Min. Manmohan Singh was elected leader of the Congress party, and Kalam then named him prime minister. A Sikh, Singh was the first non-Hindu to lead an independent India. He had taught economics at Punjab, Oxford, and Cambridge universities, and had served as governor of the reserve bank of India. He was sworn in May 22.

Sonia's son Rahul Gandhi was elected to parliament in his first bid for public office.

Gunmen Kill 22 in Saudi Arabia - Four armed militants scaled a fence and attacked a residential compound in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, May 29. They killed 22 and wounded 25, mostly workers in the oil industry from a number of countries. One American was killed. One gunman was wounded and captured, but the 3 others escaped.


1,950 Thought Dead in Flood on Hispaniola - Authorities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic May 26 estimated the death toll at 1,950 as a result of 3 days of floods that inundated parts of the island of Hispaniola, which the 2 nations shared. Haiti's toll of 1,660 included 1,000 in the town of Mapou.


On May 1 at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, undefeated favorite Smarty Jones (9-2) won the 130th running of the Kentucky Derby by two and three-quarter lengths. Racing on a soggy track, Smarty Jones finished the mile and a quarter in two minutes, 4.06 seconds. Lion Heart (10-1) was 2nd and Imperialism (15-1) finished 3rd.

Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves was announced as the winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award May 3. The 6-foot-10 forward received 120 out of a possible 123 first-place votes. Other NBA Awards: LeBron James (Cleveland), Rookie of the Year; Ron Artest (Indiana), Defensive Player of the Year; Hubie Brown (Memphis), Coach of the Year; Antawn Jamison (Dallas), Sixth Man Award.

On May 18, Derby-winner Smarty Jones took the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, winning the 129th Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, by a record 11 and a half lengths. Smarty Jones, a 3-5 favorite, was timed in one minute, 55.59 seconds, for the mile and three-sixteenths race. Rock Hard Ten (7-1) and Eddington (13-1) finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Arizona's Randy Johnson, 40, became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game-retiring all 27 batters, allowing no hits or runners on base. Johnson, a 5-time Cy Young winner, struck out 13 in the 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on May 18 at Turner Field in Atlanta. It was the 15th perfect game since baseball's modern era began in 1901 and the 1st since David Cone pitched one for the New York Yankees in 1999.

Buddy Rice, who had won the pole position as the fastest qualifier for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, drove to victory in race itself May 30. The contest was cut to 180 laps from the usual 200 because of rain. Tony Kanaan, the 2nd -place finisher, was within 2 car lengths of Rice when the race was stopped. The co-owners of Rice's car were Bobby Rahal, the winning driver in 1986, and TV talk-show host David Letterman, who had grown up in Indianapolis


American Michelle Kwan has won 5 of the last 8 women's world championships in figure skating.


Every dog has its day-and now, at least one dog had its day in court. A judge in Indiana appointed an attorney to represent Cabic, a mixed-breed dog, in a hearing to determine whether the animal, in trouble for biting a neighbor in the thigh, was a wolf-dog hybrid. Cabic was put under a 10-day quarantine to determine if he had rabies. But under Indiana law, wolf-dog hybrids are not allowed the 10-day quarantine before the head is removed to be tested for rabies. The neighbor, Mark Schilling, was receiving vaccinations against rabies, but wanted the animal tested immediately for his own peace of mind. At press time, no decision had yet been made in the case.

New York City attorney David Fink was fined $8,500 for barking like a dog, among other improprieties, at a hearing before Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos. During the hearing, a witness testified that he had received intimidating "mad-dog lawyer" letters from Fink, the attorney handling the lawsuit against him. The next day, when the witness was questioned again about the letters, Fink, who was standing by, began barking like a dog, interrupting testimony. A lawyer for the defense said, "Mr. Fink was barking up the wrong tree."

From the World Almanac - The Telephone

When Alexander Graham Bell received the patent for the telephone on Mar. 7, 1876, and then made the first telephone call 3 days later to his assistant Thomas Watson ("Mr. Watson, come here--I want you"), he could not have envisioned the incredible changes his invention would undergo. The following is a chronological list of some telephone milestones:


Year     Milestone

1877    Bell Telephone Company founded

1878    1st commercial switchboard, New Haven, CT

1884    1st long-distance call, between New York and Boston

1889    Public, coin-operated telephone patented

1891    1st automatic telephone exchange

1892    1st long-distance call, between New York and Chicago

1915    1st transcontinental call, between New York and San Francisco

1921    1st pagers used, by Detroit Police Dept.

1923    Rotary-dial telephone patented

1923    1st transatlantic call, between New York and Britain

1930    2-way video telephone demonstrated

1947    Cellular telephone originated, Bell Laboratories

1951    1st transcontinental direct-dial service

1956    1st transatlantic telephone cable

1963    AT&T offers Touch-Tone telephones

1967    100,000,000th telephone installed in the U.S.

1968    1st 911 emergency system, in Haleyville, AL

1970    1st commercial Picturephone service, Pittsburgh

1977    Cellular telephone 1st demonstrated

1983    1st cellular telephone service, in Chicago

1984    Breakup of AT&T


For more information about the early history of the telephone, read the first Link of the Month.


Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

I bet the name Antonio Meucci does not ring a bell (no pun intended) for you. But on June 15, 2002, the Congress officially declared that the Italian inventor Antonio Meucci should be credited with the invention of the telephone, rather than Alexander Graham Bell. An Italian immigrant, Meucci had developed a design for a talking telegraph or telephone in 1849. In 1860, he conducted a public demonstration of this system which he called "teletrofono," and it received mention in a New York's Italian newspaper. In 1871, he filed a caveat (an announcement of an invention) for his design but because of economic hardships, Meucci never sought a patent. Bell did receive a patent for his version of the telephone, on March 7, 1876. To learn more about Meucci visit and

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear the singer/pianist Michael Feinstein perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. If you are in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, and enjoy the arts, try and see a performance at this magnificent facility ( Feinstein keeps the music of the early to mid 20th century alive by performing not only great hits of the prolific songwriters of the period, but also hidden gems, that you may not never have come across. He told the audience that his mother always reminds him to mention that he has a website, so I'll do the same for him; it's Make sure you hit the "Music" tab so you can listen to some of his music. Feinstein, worked for Ira Gershwin, the lyricist (brother of George), for six years, until Gershwin's death in 1983. The Gershwin brothers created beautiful music together, including hit shows from the 1930s such as Crazy for You, Funny Face, and Of Thee I Sing. To learn more about the Gershwins, and hear some of their music, visit

June 4th is the 10th wedding anniversary of my cousin Marianne, and her husband Michael, so let's celebrate some Mariannes and Michaels. Marianne Moore worked as a book reviewer, translator, essayist, and poet. Later in life, she became a familiar figure wearing tricorn hats and black cape. To learn more about Moore visit: Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a writer, educator, lawyer, and the first black newspaperwoman in North America. Learn more about her at: And let's not forget Mary Ann, who was stranded on a desert island with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire, and his wife, the movie star, and the Professor. You can learn all about Dawn Wells, and her role on Gilligan's Island, at One of Britain's comedy character actors, Michael Palin, known for his years on Monty Python, currently travels around the world for a series called, Palin's Travels." Visit, so you can, in Palin's words, "wallow, crawl, body-surf or gently breast-stroke through an enormous amount of information on what there is to see in the wonderful world out there." Another Michael played in 1,072 basketball games, for a hefty 41,011 minutes, and finished his career with 32,292 points, 5,633 assists, and 6,672 rebounds. Who? Michael Jordan of course. Learn more about this man and his amazing career at At 91, the world-renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey was still performing surgery. In 1966, Dr. DeBakey, now 95, was the first surgeon to successfully implant an artificial heart. To learn more about DeBakey, visit:

Fifty-nine years after World War II ended, a new memorial honoring the 16 million who served in the armed forces, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort, was dedicated in Washington, D.C., on May 29th. The memorial, on the Mall, lies between the Washington Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Family, or friends (U.S. citizens), who participated in the war efforts, can be honored by being added to a World War II registry accessible at the memorial. To see photographs, add a name to the registry, and learn more about the memorial, visit: With the 60th anniversary of D-Day approaching (see the Special Feature), I wondered what it was like to actually be in the battle. At, some of those who served in the armed forces provide eyewitness accounts of what occurred in June 1944.

My cousin Melissa is taking classes in Argentina this spring semester, and in a recent e-mail, she told me she is taking tango lessons. I've seen the tango performed several times, and I love the crispness and precision of its form. I myself am not quite coordinated enough to follow dance steps; however, I love to see tango performed, and listen to the music. To learn more about the tango, visit

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, is one of my favorite books, and I recommend it to people often. It was my selection for our May book reading group, and while doing an Internet search on the book, I ran across a site of great interest. At Spark Notes, I found a summary of the book (and each chapter), information about the author and the context in which it was written, a chronology of the story, a description of every chapter, and study questions, as well as a quiz. Additionally, there was a message board where people could discuss the book. The website covers many books, including Shakespeare, classic novels, history study guides, and biographies, as well as poetry.

Unusual Website of the Month: Fortune Cookie Collection -

© 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

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