The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 8 - August 2004




What's in this issue?

August Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - August
August Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Providence, RI
Obituaries - July 2004
Special Feature: The Summer Olympics
Science in the News
Chronology - Events of July 2004
Offbeat News Stories
From the World Almanac - Nations of the World: Vatican City (The Holy See)
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

August Events

July 31-August 5 - National Scrabble Championship (New Orleans, LA)
August 3 - National Night Out
August 4-8 - Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, ME)
August 4-15 - Aberdeen International Youth Festival (Scotland)
August 5-7 - Ribfest (Kalamazoo, MI)
August 5-8 - Edmonton Folk Music Festival (Alberta)
August 5-15 - The Festival at Sandpoint (ID)
August 6, 8 - Gigglefeet Dance Festival (Ketchikan, AK)
August 6-8 - Twins Days Festival (Twinsburg, OH)
August 6-15 - Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA)
August 6-28 - Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Scotland)
August 7-16 - Elvis Week (Memphis, TN)
August 9-15 - Sturgis Rally (SD)
August 12-15 - PGA Championship (Kohler, WI); Hope (AR) Watermelon Festival
August 12-22 - International Fringe Theatre Festival (Edmonton, Alberta)
August 13-15 - Kool-Aid Days (Hastings, NE)
August 13-29 - 2004 Summer Olympic Games (Athens, Greece)
August 14 - Crater Lake Rim Runs and Marathon (Crater Lake National Park, OR)
August 14-30 - Edinburgh International Book Festival (Scotland)
August 18-22 - Montrose (PA) Blueberry Festival
August 20-22 - Nova Scotia's Gem & Mineral Show
August 20-29 - Little League World Series (Williamsport, PA)
August 21 - Maine Highland Games (Brunswick, ME)
August 25 - La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain)
August 26-29 - Gettysburg (PA) Bluegrass Festival
August 27-29 - Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival (Denver, CO)
August 29-30 - Notting Hill Carnival (London, England)
August 30-September 2 - Republican National Convention (New York, NY)
August 30-September 6 - Burning Man 2004 (Black Rock Desert, NV)
August 30-September 12 - U.S. Open tennis tournament (Flushing, NY)

August Holidays

August 1 - National Kids Day
August 4 - Coast Guard Day
August 12 - UN International Youth Day
August 19 - National Aviation Day


With rainfall averaging 460 inches a year, Mount Waialeale, HI, is the rainiest spot in the world.

This Day in History - August






Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary; she and her family are discovered in their hiding place 3 days later and taken to concentration camps.



Pres. Warren G. Harding dies after falling ill; he is succeeded by Vice Pres. Calvin Coolidge.



In World War I, Germany and France declare war on each other.



Pres. Jimmy Carter signs an act creating a new cabinet-level Energy Dept.



Actress Marilyn Monroe dies in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills.



Gertrude Ederle, 19, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.



Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl completes a 101-day journey across more than 4,000 miles of the Pacific on a balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki.



The first Davis Cup tennis tournament begins; the United States defeats Britain after the 2-day match.



Pres. Richard Nixon resigns, the first president ever to do so; Vice Pres. Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th president.



Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as the 2d female Supreme Court justice.



Liberian Pres. Charles Taylor goes into exile in Nigeria.



In the worst single-plane disaster ever, a Japanese airliner crashes into Mount Ogura, killing 520.



The East and West sectors of Berlin are divided by a barbed wire fence (the Berlin Wall), which is soon replaced by an actual concrete wall.



A blackout leaves 50 million people without electrical power for up to 2 days in Ohio, Michigan, and the northeastern U.S., as well as eastern Canada.



The Woodstock music festival begins near Bethel, NY, drawing hundreds of thousands of people.



Gold is discovered in the Yukon's Klondike region, sparking a famous gold rush.



Robert Fulton makes the first practical steamboat trip, leaving New York City on the Clermont; he reaches Albany in 32 hours.



Leaders of four Central European nations meet in Berlin to organize aid after the worst flooding in living memory, which has killed 109 and caused $20 billion in damage.



In a plebiscite, almost 90% of Germans vote to give Adolf Hitler the title of president in addition to chancellor, placing him in supreme command of the country.



Czechoslovakia is invaded and occupied by Warsaw Pact troops.



The Lincoln-Douglas debates begin in Illinois.



Authorities announce in Paris that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has been stolen; it is recovered 2 years later in Italy.



For the first time since World War II, Berlin becomes the capital of a unified Germany.



Matthew Webb of Britain becomes the first person to swim the English Channel.



In World War II, Paris is liberated, and Charles de Gaulle leads a parade down the Champs Elysées.



Krakatau (Krakatoa) erupts in Indonesia, causing huge tidal waves and killing some 36,000 people.



The first commercially productive oil well is drilled near Titusville, PA.



U.S. planes begin delivering emergency food to war-torn Somalia, joining international relief efforts.



The first U.S. professional tennis match is played, in Newport, RI.



Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Pres. Grover Cleveland, becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House, when daughter Esther is born.



Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in an auto accident in Paris, along with her companion, Mohammed (Dodi) al-Fayed, and their driver.

August Birthdays






Edgerrin James, football player (Immokalee, FL)



Peter O'Toole, actor (Connemara, Ireland)



Martha Stewart, homemaking adviser/entrepreneur/TV personality (Nutley, NJ)



Helen Thomas, journalist (Winchester, KY)



Neil Armstrong, astronaut and first man to walk on the Moon (Wapakoneta, OH)



M. Night Shyamalan, film director (Pondicherry, India)



Alberto Salazar, champion marathon runner (Havana, Cuba)



Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary, princess (London, England)



Eric Bana, actor (Melbourne, Australia)



Jane Wyatt, actress (Campgaw, NJ)



Marilyn vos Savant, columnist who claims to have the world's highest IQ (St. Louis, MO)



Pat Metheny, jazz guitarist (Lee's Summit, MO)



Fidel Castro, Cuban president (Mayari, Oriente Province, Cuba)



Halle Berry, actress (Cleveland, OH)



Linda Ellerbee, TV journalist (Bryan, TX)



Frank Gifford, football player/sportscaster (Santa Monica, CA) and
Kathie Lee Gifford, TV personality/singer (Paris, France)



V. S. Naipaul, writer (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad)



Jada Pinkett Smith, actress (Baltimore, MD)



Bill Clinton, 42d president of the United States (Hope, AR)



Al Roker, TV meteorologist (Brooklyn, NY)



Steve Case, America Online executive (Honolulu, HI)



E. Annie Proulx, novelist/short-story writer (Norwich, CT)



Barbara Eden, actress (Tucson, AZ)



Cal Ripken Jr., baseball player (Havre de Grace, MD)



Regis Philbin, TV personality (New York, NY)



Benjamin Bradlee, journalist/editor (Boston, MA)



Sarah Chalke, actress (Ottawa, Canada)



Shania Twain, country singer (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)



Mark Morris, dancer/choreographer (Seattle, WA)



Molly Ivins, columnist (Monterey, CA)



Richard Gere, actor (Philadelphia, PA)


There were about 140 billion minutes of international phone traffic in 2003.


Location: Capital of Rhode Island, and seat of Providence County, at the head of Narragansett Bay on the Providence River, in the northern part of the state; incorporated 1831. In addition to being the seat of the state government, Providence is a busy seaport and a commercial, manufacturing, and financial center.

Population (2003): 176,365

Mayor: David N. Cicilline (Democrat)

August temperatures: Average high of 81 degrees; average low of 63 degrees

Colleges & Universities: Brown University; Community College of Rhode Island; Johnson & Wales University; Providence College; Rhode Island College; Rhode Island School of Design; University of Rhode Island-Providence Campus

Events: Cuban Night at Kestral Bistro (August 9); Rhode Island International Film Festival (August 10-15); KidsEye International Film Festival (August 11-13); Pakistan Day Festival (August 14); WaterFire Providence 2004 (August 14, 17, 22, 28); St. Bartholomew's Annual Feast & Festival (August 19-22); Free-for-All Saturday-Woven Worlds: A Journey into Native American Arts (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; August 28)

Museums: Culinary Archives and Museum at Johnson & Wales; Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum; Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology; Heritage Harbor Museum; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; Museum of Natural History and Planetarium; Museum of Rhode Island History; Providence Children's Museum; USS Saratoga Russian Submarine Museum

Places to visit: First Universalist Church in Providence; Governor Stephen Hopkins House; John Brown House; The Meeting House, First Baptist Church in America; Nightingale-Brown House; Roger Williams National Memorial; Roger Williams Park Zoo; Slater Mill; Waterplace Park and Riverwalk

Tallest building: Fleet Bank Building (428 feet, 26 stories)

History: In 1636, the English Puritan clergyman Roger Williams, who had been banished from Plymouth Colony mainly because of his dissenting views on the colonial government's policies, especially in relation to religious freedom, established Providence as a haven for those who shared his beliefs. He secured the land from the Narragansett Indians and named the community in gratitude for God's "providence." The settlement soon attracted other dissenters, and in 1638 a plan for local government was adopted. In 1644 the British granted a charter that joined Providence and nearby settlements (Newport, Plymouth, and Warwick) in the colony of "The Providence Plantations in Narragansett Bay." During King Philip's War (1675-76), Indians destroyed much of Providence, but by the early 18th century the community was thriving as a port for trade with the West Indies.

In 1772 Providence residents burned the British ship HMS Gaspée, which had been sent to police British navigation laws. They also protested English taxation by burning tea in the public square. Two months before the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Rhode Island Independence Act was signed (May 4, 1776) in Providence. Later, during the American Revolution, Providence was an important base for American and French troops, who were quartered in University Hall at Brown University. The community's growth after the Revolution was slow, but by the mid-19th century it was a manufacturing center noted for jewelry and textiles. Many European immigrants-especially German, Swedish, Portuguese, and Italian-settled here later in the century. In 1900 Providence became the sole capital of Rhode Island (Newport had been the joint capital since 1854). The city was badly damaged by hurricanes in 1938 and 1954; the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier was completed in 1966.

Birthplace of: educator George Pierce Baker (1866); U.S. Senator John Chafee (Republican-RI; 1922); U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee (Republican-RI; 1953); playwright, composer, producer, and actor George M. Cohan (1878); singer Nelson Eddy (1901); writer and actor Spalding Gray (1941); colonial statesman and jurist Stephen Hopkins (1707); actress Ruth Hussey (1914); author Galway Kinnell (1927); fantasy and horror writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890); author Cormac McCarthy (1933); TV journalist John McLaughlin (1927); U.S. Senator Jack Reed (Democrat-RI; 1949); U.S. Representative Pat Toomey (Republican-PA, Dist. 15; 1961); actress Amy Van Nostrand (1953); TV host Meredith Vieira (1953); American labor leader and diplomat Leonard Woodcock (1911)


Obituaries in July

Barnes, Peter, 73, British playwright who satirized his nation's class system in The Ruling Class (1968), made into a 1972 film for which he wrote the screenplay; London, England, July 1, 2004.

Brando, Marlon, 80, arguably the most dynamic and influential U.S. actor of his generation and a two-time Academy Award winner for best actor, for the films On the Waterfront (1954) and The Godfather (1972); he rejected his second Oscar, citing Hollywood's mistreatment of Native Americans; Los Angeles, CA, July 1, 2004.

Bloch, Richard, 78, co-founder, with his brother, Henry Bloch, of H&R Block, which grew into the U.S.'s largest preparer of tax returns; he was also a leading advocate for cancer patients; Kansas City, MO, July 21, 2004.

Burford, Anne, 62, controversial director of the Environmental Protection Agency (as Anne Gorsuch) for 22 months under President Ronald Reagan who was forced to resign in 1983 for refusing to hand over toxic-waste documents to Congress; Aurora, CO, July 18, 2004.

Cahill, Joe, 84, one of the founders of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, who for years controlled the group's fund-raising and gun-running efforts but who in the 1990s became a champion of the Northern Ireland peace process; Belfast, Northern Ireland, July 23, 2004.

Crick, Francis, 88, Nobel Prize-winning British molecular biologist who with his American colleague James Watson discovered the double-helical structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, laying the foundation for all subsequent genetics research; San Diego, CA, July 28, 2004.

Danziger, Paula, 59, author of The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (1974) and other best-selling children's books; New York, NY, July 8, 2004.

Fitzsimmons, Lowell "Cotton", 72, winner of 832 games in 21 seasons as a coach in the National Basketball Association; Phoenix, AZ, July 24, 2004.

Gold, Joe, 82, California bodybuilder who opened the original Gold's Gym in Los Angeles and later built up the World Gym franchise; Marina del Rey, CA, July 12, 2004.

Goldsmith, Jerry, 75, composer who created memorable music for many films-including Patton (1970), Chinatown (1974), The Omen (1976, for which he won an Oscar) and Basic Instinct (1992)-and for such TV shows as "Gunsmoke" and "Barnaby Jones"; Beverly Hills, CA, July 21, 2004.

Jacquet, Illinois, 81, tenor saxophonist and bandleader who came to the fore in the early 1940s as a member of Lionel Hampton's band and was still active until days before his death; New York, NY, July 22, 2004.

Klestil, Thomas, 71, president of Austria since July 1992, when he succeeded the controversial Kurt Waldheim; Vienna, Austria, July 6, 2004.

Lewis, Edward B., 81, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist who, working with fruit flies, discovered the genes controlling the development of fertilized eggs into embryos; Pasadena, CA, July 21, 2004.

Peynaud, Emile, 92, French wine expert who more than anyone else introduced scientific rigor to winemaking, which for centuries had been guided by a hit-or-miss approach; Talence, France, July 18, 2004.

Rockefeller, Laurance S., 94, middle brother of the five grandsons of billionaire oilman John D. Rockefeller; a pioneering venture capitalist, he was also a noted conservationist and philanthropist; New York, NY, July 11, 04.

Sanford, Isabel, 86, actress who, for her starring role in the comedy series "The Jeffersons" (1975-85), became, in 1981, the first black actress to win an Emmy for best actress in a comedy series; Los Angeles, CA, July 9, 2004.

Smith, Jeff, 65, TV chef who appeared on PBS as the Frugal Gourmet and wrote a series of best-selling cookbooks; a 1997 sex scandal got him kicked off the air; Seattle, WA, July 7, 2004.

Sweeney, Charles W., 84, World War II aviator who piloted the B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the atom bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, leading to Japan's surrender six days later; Boston, MA, July 16, 2004.


by Joseph Gustaitis

This month the 23rd staging of that grand spectacle - the Summer Olympics - is taking place in Athens, Greece (There have been 19 winter games, including the most recent in Salt Lake City). Ever since the modern games began in 1896, they have been dogged by controversy - especially over such issues as amateurism, nationalism, drug use, and commercialism - but they have also produced some of the most inspiring and awe-inspiring feats in the history of human endeavor.

It all began with the Olympian games of ancient Greece. These were one of the four great national festivals of the Greeks, and they included such sports as running, boxing, wrestling, horse racing, and the pentathlon, an event that combined sprinting, long jumping, the javelin, the discus, and wrestling. As far as scholars can tell, these games began in 776 B.C. and lasted for over 1,100 years until the Christian emperor Theodosius I banned them as an impious pagan ritual.

As a visit to any major art museum will quickly reveal, at least since the Renaissance the artists and intellectuals of Western Europe were fascinated by the culture of antiquity, so it is no surprise that someone would propose reviving the Olympic Games. But the person who actually got it done was an energetic French nobleman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937). Although small in stature, he was an enthusiastic amateur athlete who participated in rowing, fencing, and boxing. At age 24 he paid a visit to Great and was impressed by the manner in which students there went in for athletics. He became a devotee of the famed educator Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby School, who championed sports as a character-building activity.

Coubertin organized the Congress of Physical Education in Paris in 1889, and three years later he announced his plans to revive the ancient Olympic Games. It was Coubertin who founded the International Olympic Committee, the organization that still oversees the event. At first, Coubertin intended to stage the first modern Olympics in Paris in 1900, but, ever restless, he accelerated the schedule and moved the date ahead to 1896. The venue was changed, too-given the spirit of the times, it seemed fitting that the first games take place in Greece, where they were born. As Coubertin put it, participants would derive "a halo of grandeur and glory that is the patronage of classical antiquity." The Greek government of the day found it difficult to raise the necessary funds, but a Greek millionaire named George Averoff donated a large sum, an arena was built on the foundations of the long-vanished Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, and the first modern Olympics opened on April 6, 1896.

The track-and-field events of those first modern Olympics were dominated by a rowdy bunch of American college kids, many of who seemed to be in it just for a lark. Some foreign observers wondered if their abilities might be connected to that strange stuff they always seemed to have in their mouths-chewing gum. The rather haphazard amateurism of the games was evident in the American Robert Garret's winning the discus throw without ever having seen an Olympic discus until arriving in Athens (he had been experimenting with a homemade one, which, it turned, out, was much heavier than the one used in the games).

Every Olympics produces at least one star, and these inaugural games started the trend. The host Greeks, though gracious and enthusiastic, were somewhat downhearted that none of the local boys were winning. Then came the marathon race. As a tense crowd waited in the stadium, a Greek horseman galloped in and brought a message to the royal box. Then a great cry went up, "Elleen! Elleen!" (A Greek! A Greek!), and shortly thereafter one Spiridon Louis, a Greek shepherd, rushed into the arena as thousands of pigeons fluttered into the sky.

These first Olympics may have been rough-and-ready, but they were well run and attracted considerable attention. The next three stagings of the games were not nearly so successful. The 1900 Paris games were upstaged by the concurrent Exposition Universelle and lost considerable impact by being spread out over two months, although these games were notable for the first presence of woman competitors (in golf and tennis). The 1904 games in St. Louis were overshadowed by the great Louisiana Purchase Exhibition of that year (the fair that gave birth to the song "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louie"), and the 1908 London games were marred by some nasty spats over rules.

The 1912 games in Stockholm were, however, a great hit, and again a glittering star was born. This was Jim Thorpe of the United States, whose parents were of Fox and Sac ancestry and whose Indian name was Wa-tho-huck ("Bright Path"). His victory in the pentathlon was so overwhelming that he would have won the competition even if he had sat out the final event. He then annihilated his rivals in the decathlon, smashing the world's record by almost 1,000 points. Sadly, it was later discovered that Thorpe had played minor league baseball and, according to the strict standards of the day, was technically not an amateur. His medals were taken from him, not to be restored (to his children) until 1982. Thorpe himself died in poverty in 1953, three years after a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters had named him the greatest all-around athlete of the first half of the 20th century.

The question of who is and who is not an amateur was one that bedeviled the Olympic movement from the earliest days. At first the rules were so stringent (and so slanted toward the gentleman-amateur) that they barred not just those who played sports for money but nearly anyone who received wages for anything. Those rules were relaxed, but the British then questioned the heavy U.S. reliance on college athletes, especially those on scholarship, arguing that they were receiving a form of subsidy. Once the Soviet Union entered the Olympics in 1952 and other Communist nations began constructing their formidable sports machines, these countries claimed that since professional sports did not exist in their lands, all their athletes were amateurs - even though they might be supported by the state and trained in intensive state sports facilities. In 1988 the IOC threw up its hands and decided to allow the various international sporting associations to decide who was an amateur - a move that opened to door to the entry of such professionals as the U.S. basketball "Dream Team." Today only baseball and boxing bars professionals (soccer allows some, but not all).

Another major Olympic issue - drugs - goes back much further than one might think. As early as 1904, U.S. trainers gave runner Thomas Hicks a cocktail of brandy and strychnine to keep him going in the marathon (which he won). The greatest abuse of drugs concerned East Germany's use of anabolic steroids on its women's swim team. These prodigious swimmers stunned the world when they won 11 out of 13 events at the 1976 Montreal games; only later was it learned that East German trainers had been systematically doping them. In 1997 four former East German coaches were charged with causing bodily harm for allegedly having given anabolic steroids to 17 girls on the national swimming team from 1974 to 1989. Although the IOC established mandatory drug testing in 1968, the problem would not go away. One of the most prominent incidents concerned the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson at the 1988 games in Seoul; he was disqualified and stripped of his gold medal after it was discovered he had taken anabolic steroids.

Although Coubertin envisioned the games as a way to promote international peace, nations inevitably used them as a forum for extending political rivalries. At first an athlete could compete as a solitary individual, but that ended in 1908 with the requirement that athletes belong to national teams. And from the very beginning the winner's flag was raised after a victory. The IOC came out against using tables to rank countries' medal counts, but all in vain - the games became a stage for politics. The most horrific example came at the 1972 Munich games when Palestinian extremists broke into the Olympic Village, resulting in the death of 11 Israeli competitors. In 1980 the United States and many other nations boycotted the games in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; four years later the Soviets exacted their revenge by not attending the games in Los Angeles.

At the 1992 games in Barcelona, it became clear that the Olympic movement had begun to encounter a new problem - commercialism. Billboards were all over the place - many featuring the American basketball star Michael Jordan. The problem got worse four years later in Atlanta, where a sea of vendors hawked products ranging from sunglasses to cowboy hats to body oils to funnel cakes and the venue was plastered with every imaginable form of advertising. One IOC member later lamented, "We had no idea this would happen when we made our deal with Atlanta.... We'll be putting a clause in the contract to make sure this doesn't happen again." *

Despite all these issues and problems, the summer Olympics remain a compelling spectacle - for one reason. The athletes. Ever since Louis and Thorpe set the standard, there have been many, many great moments, among them Paavo Nurmi v, the great Finnish runner, winning, at Antwerp in 1920, the first three of his nine gold medals; Jesse four gold medals at the Nazi games in Berlin in 1936; Hungary's Karoly Takcaz winning a pistol event in 1948 with his left hand after his right hand was shattered by a grenade; 30-year-old Fanny Blankers-Koen winning four of the nine women's events in London, also in 1948; Czechoslovakia's Emil Zatopek winning the gold medal in 1952 in the first marathon he ever ran; Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia becoming the first black African to win a gold medal by capturing the marathon in Rome in 1960 (running in his bare feet); Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, at Tokyo in 1964, capturing six medals for the third time in a row; Bob Beamon's astonishing broad jump of 8.90 meters (29' 2-1/2") in Mexico in 1968; swimmer Mark Spitz's capture of seven gold medals (all in world record time) at Munich in 1972; Romanian gymnast's Nadia Comaneci's seven perfect 10s in Montreal in 1976; Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson, in 1980, winning his third consecutive gold medal; gymnast Kerri Strug landing her final vault on an ankle so painful she could barely walk to win gold for her team in 1996; British rower Steven Redgrave winning, in Sydney in 2000, a gold medal for the fifth consecutive time.

Consequently, despite all the problems, the controversy, and the questions, performances like these keep millions and millions of viewers watching the Olympics every time - as they will be doing during the games in Athens.

*From an article in Sports Illustrated, which can be found at

Science In the News - Leeches: Now FDA Approved

The bloodsucking leech, friend to medicine for centuries, now has an official place in your doctor's office. In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its approval to a French company that wants to market and sell leeches as medical devices in the United States. Although modern surgeons have employed leeches' sucking services for decades, Ricarimpex is the first company to receive (or even ask for) FDA clearance to commercially market the bloodthirsty worms. Companies that were already selling medical leeches to doctors and hospitals, such as New York-based Leeches USA, are also covered by the FDA decision.

Leeches, like all segmented worms, belong to the phylum Annelida. Within that phylum, the 300 leech species make up the class Hirudinea. Most leeches live in freshwater, although a few tropical species lurk on land. Almost all leeches are blood-eaters, feeding on various animals including fish, mollusks, small and large mammals and, of course, humans. Only one species is used for medical purposes, the European dragon leech (Hirudo medicinalis). These medicinal leeches are dark brown and approximately 8 cm (3 inches) long, but they can swell to larger sizes after gorging on a blood feast.

Leeches were employed as early as 2,500 years ago, by ancient Egyptian doctors. Their popularity peaked in the 1800s, when barbers (who once performed minor surgery) and other medical practitioners often used leeches to drain "bad blood" from their suffering patients. If that sounds unpleasant, consider that the alternative might have been a session of straightforward "cut-and-bleed," or even an amputation. Fortunately, the belief that illnesses could be cured by bloodletting became obsolete with the dawn of modern medicine in the 20th century. Scientists discovered the true medical benefits of leeches during the 1980s, when the vampiric worms began to assist in reconstructive and plastic surgeries.

Surgeons sometimes encounter complications with blood flow when re-attaching or reconstructing severed or damaged body parts (especially smaller ones like ears, fingers or toes), or grafting patches of skin to burns and other wounds. Arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body, are relatively easy for surgeons to repair. But veins, the vessels that transport blood from the body back to the heart, can be much more difficult to fix, because the walls of veins are weaker and thinner than the walls of arteries. If venous walls are too severely damaged, or too thin to suture (stitch up), the return flow of blood from re-attached tissue can be obstructed. In such cases, blood clots or pools of blood can develop in (or under) the re-attached tissue, which then turns blue or black. If this condition is left untreated, the tissue will simply die and the patient loses their body part or skin graft.

This is when a bloodsucker comes in handy. "You use the leech when you have good arterial inflow, but when the blood can't get out because the veins are damaged," is what Fred Deleyiannis, an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Because of their sanguine diet, the parasitic worms have developed biological tools unmatched by current medical technology. When a leech attaches to its victim -- or patient -- for a warm meal, it releases a natural anesthetic (pain killer) and a powerful anti-coagulant (a chemical that prevents blood from clotting). Usually applied one at a time to a reconstructive surgery patient for 3 to 6 hours, medical leeches stop blood clots from forming, and re-start the flow of blood from damaged tissue. This allows blood vessels in the re-attached tissue to heal properly. After eating their fill, the creatures simply fall off (having effectively worked for their supper).

Kenn Dunn, a surgeon at the South Manchester Burns and Plastic Surgery Service in the U.K., told the BBC News that the leeches work so well "because the leech lines the bite they make with a good anti-coagulant that is very long lasting. On average, the tissue bleeds about 10 times the volume of blood that the leech actually removes to feed on, making it a very efficient and effective treatment."

Medical leeches come from laboratory farms, not swamps, and are raised and transported under sterile conditions, so infections transmitted by the surgeons' slimy little helpers are almost unheard-of. The FDA approved the marketing of leeches only after a thorough review of the medical literature, and a careful evaluation of the conditions under which medical leeches are bred, handled and fed.

Leeches aren't the only creepy-crawlies utilized in modern medicine. Doctors sometimes clean out a patient's infected wounds with medical maggots (yes, fly larvae) that munch down on dead tissue. The loathsome leech may even have uses outside the operating room. A French sister company of Ricarimpex is selling over-the-counter skin lotions that contain leech saliva (yes, worm spit).

Even if they haven't yet shed their unsavory reputation, leeches may have truly arrived in 21st-century medicine thanks to their belated recognition by the FDA.


The Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world, is a vast chasm over 1 mile deep, stretching 217 miles and up to 18 miles wide.

CHRONOLOGY - Events of July 2004


Job Growth Slows - The government reported July 2 that 112,000 new nonfarm jobs had been created in June. This total was lower than in recent months, but brought the total of new jobs since August 2003 to 1.5 million; the unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared to 6.1 percent in August 2003.

Founder of Bankrupt Enron Corporation Indicted - Kenneth Lay, founder and former CEO of the now-bankrupt Enron Corp., was indicted in a U.S. district court in Houston July 7. Lay July 8 pleaded not guilty to the 11 criminal counts, which included conspiracy, bank fraud, securities fraud, and wire fraud. Two other former executives of the giant energy-services firm, Jeffrey Skilling and Richard Causey, were also indicted.

Cable Television Company's Founder Convicted - John Rigas, founder of Adelphia Communications, a cable television company, and a son, Timothy Rigas, were convicted July 8 of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud. A jury in U.S. District Court in New York City concurred with charges that they had hidden more than $2 bil in company debt and stolen more than $100 mil from Adelphia. The jury deadlocked July 9 on similar charges against Michael Rigas, another son of John Rigas. A 4th defendant and former company official, Michael Mulcahey, was acquitted on all charges against him.

Senators Say Intelligence Agencies Were Wrong on Iraq Weapons - A U.S. Senate committee July 9, speaking unanimously, asserted that the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies had produced false and misleading prewar information about Iraq's weapons programs. The report from the 17-member Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, applauded the CIA for doubting that al-Qaeda had significant ties with the Iraqi regime of Pres. Saddam Hussein.

The Senate report concluded that a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) issued by the CIA in October 2002 had overstated claims that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. It found no basis for the claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program, and the CIA was rebuked for having a bias toward reaching dire conclusions. The report did not, however, find that administration officials pressured analysts to produce conclusions buttressing the case for war against Iraq.

The report criticized intelligence agencies for not placing agents in Iraq after the inspectors left in 1998, and for relying too much on defectors. Sen. Pat Roberts (R, KS), chairman of the committee, said July 9 that U.S. and foreign agencies had succumbed to a "groupthink" leading to "a global intelligence failure." Pres. George W. Bush the same day acknowledged failures in prewar intelligence but said it still had been right to go to war against Iraq.

Constitutional Bar to Same-Sex Marriages Stalls - Supporters of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would forbid same-sex marriages were rebuffed in the Senate July 14. The amendment's author, Sen. Wayne Allard (R, CO), warned July 9, "Traditional marriage is under assault." Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) said July 14 that the amendment was antithetical to Republican Party philosophy. Democrats said the GOP was playing politics. On a procedural motion requiring 60 yes votes, supporters of the amendment failed even to get a majority, losing 48-50.

Martha Stewart Sentenced - Martha Stewart, the so-called domestic diva convicted in March of lying to federal agents, was sentenced July 16 to 5 months in prison. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, in U.S. District Court in New York, also sentenced Stewart to 5 months of house arrest and 19 months of probation, and fined her $30,000 and court fees. Stewart's broker, Peter Bacanovic, was also sentenced to 5 months.

Former National Security Adviser Investigated - A lawyer for Samuel (Sandy) Berger, a national security adviser for Pres. Bill Clinton, confirmed July 19 that Berger was the subject of a criminal investigation. Berger July 20 admitted having removed classified documents from the National Archives, though he claimed it had been inadvertent. The documents reportedly related to an investigation of the 2001 terror attacks by an independent commission. Berger July 20 resigned as a campaign adviser to Sen. John Kerry (MA).

9/11 Commission Urges Shakeup in U.S. Intelligence - The commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. released its final report July 22. It called for a restructuring of U.S. intelligence operations, now scattered among 15 agencies, under the supervision and budget control of a national intelligence director with cabinet rank. The FBI, the CIA, the Defense Dept., and the National Security Council were among the entities that came under sharp criticism for failures prior to the 2001 attack.

The commission did not single out either the Clinton or Bush administrations for blame, though it did say that the U.S. had become isolated from its allies because of ineffective diplomacy since the attacks.

The report warned of the possibility of even more catastrophic attacks. Thomas Kean, the commission's chairman and a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said at a press conference July 22 that the offensive against al-Qaeda and improvements in homeland security had made the country more secure, but that nevertheless, "we are not safe."

The bipartisan commission consisted of 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats. It had been created in large measure as the result of demands from survivors of the 9/11 victims for a thorough investigation.

Democrats Nominate Sen. John Kerry for President - In a carefully scripted national convention in Boston, July 26-29, a united Democratic Party nominated U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts for president; he garnered all but a handful of holdout votes in a roll call begun late on the night of July 28. The next night he accepted the nomination in a speech stressing foreign affairs and national security while pledging to "restore trust and credibility to the White House." On July 28, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina had accepted the party's nomination for vice president in a speech that set the theme "hope is on the way." Other speakers at the convention included former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (introduced by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton) and the keynote speaker, Barak Obama, candidate for the Senate from Illinois and a rising Democratic star.

Kerry had announced July 6 his choice of Edwards to run on the ticket for vice president. The Kerry and Edwards families met the press July 7 at an estate near Pittsburgh owned by Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Beginning July 8, they campaigned together for 4 days. Edwards, a lawyer who had made a fortune winning huge settlements for victims in product-liability and medical-malpractice cases, was ending his first Senate term; in choosing him, Kerry passed over more experienced prospects. Edwards, Kerry's last serious rival in the presidential primaries, had attracted wide support as a charismatic speaker and campaigner.


Saddam Hussein Arraigned in Iraqi Court - Ex-Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq was arraigned before an Iraqi judge July 1 for 7 crimes that he had allegedly committed during his long rule. The court was set up in one of his former palaces. Hussein questioned the authority of the court and denied any responsibility for the gas attack on Kurdish villagers in 1988, killing as many as 180,000, saying he had first heard about it from the media. Hussein said he could not be considered guilty of invading Kuwait in 1990 because Kuwait was a part of Iraq. Eleven of his aides were also arraigned on various charges July 1.

New Iraqi Government Deals With Militias - Premier Iyad Allawi of Iraq said July 4 he was seeking to reach an amnesty agreement with Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who had revolted against the U.S. occupation. Allawi said his government would grant amnesty to other militias that gave up their weapons. The Iraqi government July 7 gave Allawi the power to impose martial law where insurgents were active. Allawi said July 18 that the government would let al-Sadr's newspaper reopen; U.S. authorities had shut it down.

U.S. planes July 5 bombed a house in Fallujah linked to the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killing at least 10. In insurgent activity, 5 American soldiers were killed in a mortar attack July 8; 2 car bombs July 14 and 15 each killed 10 people; and militants July 14 assassinated the governor of Ninevah province. U.S. planes bombed Fallujah again July 18, killing 12. A high Iraqi defense official was assassinated July 18. Three U.S. soldiers were killed July 20, and the American death toll since hostilities began now stood at about 900. In Baqouba, a hotbed of the insurgency, a car bomb exploded on July 28 in a shopping area and killed 68 Iraqis. A police station was the apparent target; 56 were wounded.

A Filipino diplomat said July 7 that a Filipino hostage had been kidnapped by militants who demanded that the Philippines withdraw their 51 peacekeeping troops from Iraq. The Philippines government complied, withdrawing the last of their troops July 19, a month earlier than planned, and the hostage was freed July 20. A U.S. marine corporal, Wassef Ali Hassoun, was taken to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, July 9 after being in the hands of militants under circumstances that were not clear. A Bulgarian hostage was beheaded July 13. Insurgents July 21 kidnapped 6 truck drivers from other countries. An Egyptian diplomat was kidnapped July 23 but freed 3 days later.

U.S. Pilot Guilty in Deaths of 4 Canadians - A U.S. military court July 6 found a U.S. Air Force pilot, Maj. Harry Schmidt, guilty of dereliction of duty in the deaths of 4 members of a Canadian military unit in Afghanistan in 2002, struck by a bomb from the F-16 jet flown by Schmidt. The Canadians were conducting a live-fire exercise, which he mistook for firing from the Taliban. The judge, Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, said Schmidt had disobeyed an order to withhold fire. In 2003, Schmidt's copilot, Maj. William Umbach, was reprimanded and allowed to retire.

British Intelligence Faulted on Iraqi Weapons Claims - A British government committee concluded July 14 that British intelligence prior to the Iraq war had been "seriously flawed" and-given that no weapons of mass destruction were found-had been proven wrong. The committee, headed by Lord Butler, said Iraq had no significant stocks of chemical or biological weapons or plans for using them. The report, however, said there was no proof that Prime Min. Tony Blair and others had manipulated prewar intelligence. The report found no evidence of cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but on another matter, concluded that Iraqi agents had visited Niger in 1999 and had reportedly tried to buy uranium. Blair told the House of Commons July 14 that he accepted responsibility for any intelligence errors made, but that "no one lied, no one made up intelligence" and that going to war had been the right thing to do.

World Court Says Israeli Wall Violates International Law - The International Court of Justice ruled July 9, 14-1, that a 437-mile wall being built by Israel violated international law. Only the U.S. justice dissented. The court, in an unenforceable opinion, ordered Israel to tear down or reroute the security barrier whose purpose was to thwart Palestinian suicide attacks. The barrier entered Palestinian territory and is believed by those against the barrier to be an Israeli attempt to seize more land and to complicate the formation of a Palestinian state. The Israeli Supreme Court had already ruled that 20 miles of the wall must be rerouted. The UN General Assembly voted 150-6, July 20, to demand that Israel remove the barrier in Palestinian territory; the U.S. voted against the resolution.

Palestinian Leaders Clash - On July 16, Palestinian extremists kidnapped 2 Palestine Authority officials, including the police chief of Gaza, and 4 French aid workers, and held them for a day. Palestinian Pres. Yasir Arafat July 17 dismissed the chief, who had been denounced by the kidnappers for stealing PA funds. He then placed a relative, Moussa Arafat, in overall charge of security in the Gaza Strip and, amid cries of cronyism, Prime Min. Ahmed Qurei temporarily resigned (later reversing himself). Militants denounced Moussa Arafat and destroyed his offices, July 18. Yasir Arafat, July 19, put a less controversial figure in charge of security in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Pakistan Seizes Suspect in 1998 Embassy Bombings - Pakistan announced July 29 that it had captured a Tanzanian al-Qaeda member sought by the U.S. in connection with the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The suspect, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, had been arrested July 25 in Gujrat, along with 15 others, and was reportedly providing "very valuable" information. The U.S. had put a $25 mil price on his head.


Russian-born Maria Sharapova defeated two-time defending champ Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-4, in the singles final at Wimbledon on July 3. The 17-year-old Sharapova is the first Russian to win Wimbledon and the 2nd youngest in the open era after Martina Hingis, who won in 1997 at the age of 16. In the men's final July 5, Switzerland's Roger Federer defeated American Andy Roddick, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, to win his 2nd straight Wimbledon singles title.

On Sunday, July 7, Meg Mallon shot a final-round record 65 to win the U.S. Women's Open the Orchards G.C. in South Hadley, MA. Mallon, who also won the U.S. Women's Open in 1991, held off 2004 LPGA champ Annika Sorenstam, who carded a 67 and finished the tournament 2 strokes back.

Alfonso Soriano's 3-run homer off Houston's Roger Clemens capped a 6-run first inning for the American League, which then rolled to a 9-4 victory over the National League in Baseball's 75th All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park in Houston on July 13. The win was the 8th in a row for the American League. Soriano, who plays second for the Texas Rangers, went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI and a run scored. He was named MVP of the game.

On July 18 American Todd Hamilton defeated South African Ernie Els in a 4-hole playoff at the 133rd British Open Championship at Royal Troon. Playing in only the 3rd major tournament of his 17-year career, Hamilton earned his 2nd PGA win.

On July 25, U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the 6th straight year-a record for total and consecutive victories. Spain's Miguel Indurain won 5 straight tours (1991-95), and three other riders have won the Tour 5 times, but not consecutively. Armstrong finished the three-week, 2,106-mile (3,390 km.) tour with an overall time of 83 hrs., 36 mins., 2 secs, defeating Germany's Andreas Kloden by 6 mins, 19 secs. Ivan Basso, of Italy, finished in 3rd place 6:40 behind. Germany's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 winner and 5-time runner-up, was 4th.


Nominees in major categories for the 56th annual Primetime Emmy Awards announced July 16 by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Emmys are scheduled to air Sept. 19 on ABC, with Garry Shandling as host. The nominations in major categories are as follows:

Drama Series: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS; "Joan of Arcadia," CBS; "The Sopranos," HBO; "24," Fox; "The West Wing," NBC.

Comedy Series: "Arrested Development," Fox; "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO; "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS; "Sex and the City," HBO; "Will & Grace," NBC.

Miniseries: "American Family Journey of Dreams," PBS; "Angels in America," HBO; "Horatio Hornblower," A&E; "Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; "Traffic: The Miniseries," USA.

Made-for-TV Movie: "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself," HBO; "Ike: Countdown to D-Day," A&E; "The Lion in Winter," Showtime; "The Reagans," Showtime; "Something the Lord Made," HBO.

Variety, Music or Comedy Series: "Chappelle's Show," Comedy Central; "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Show No. 8037," Comedy Central; "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," NBC; "Late Show With David Letterman," CBS; "Saturday Night Live," NBC.

Variety, Music or Comedy Special: "A&E in Concert: Paul McCartney in Red Square," A&E; "The 76th Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "Chris Rock: Never Scared," HBO; "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," HBO; "Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now," HBO.

Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, "The Practice," ABC; James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos," HBO; Kiefer Sutherland, "24," Fox; Martin Sheen, "The West Wing," NBC; Anthony LaPaglia, "Without a Trace," CBS.

Actress, Drama Series: Jennifer Garner, "Alias," ABC; Amber Tamblyn, "Joan of Arcadia," CBS; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," NBC; Edie Falco, "The Sopranos," HBO; Allison Janney, "The West Wing," NBC.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Victor Garber, "Alias," ABC; Brad Dourif, "Deadwood," HBO; Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos," HBO; Steve Buscemi, "The Sopranos," HBO; John Spencer, "The West Wing," NBC.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Robin Weigert, "Deadwood," HBO; Tyne Daly, "Judging Amy," CBS; Drea de Matteo, "The Sopranos," HBO; Janel Moloney, "The West Wing," NBC; Stockard Channing, "The West Wing," NBC.

Actor, Comedy Series: Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO; John Ritter, "8 Simple Rules," ABC; Kelsey Grammer, "Frasier," NBC; Matt LeBlanc, "Friends," NBC; Tony Shalhoub, "Monk," USA.

Actress, Comedy Series: Patricia Heaton, "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS; Jennifer Aniston, "Friends," NBC; Bonnie Hunt, "Life With Bonnie," ABC; Jane Kaczmarek, "Malcolm in the Middle," Fox; Sarah Jessica Parker, "Sex and the City," HBO.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor, "Arrested Development," Fox; Brad Garrett, "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS; Peter Boyle, "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS; David Hyde Pierce, "Frasier," NBC; Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace," NBC.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Doris Roberts, "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS; Kim Cattrall, "Sex and the City," HBO; Kristin Davis, "Sex and the City," HBO; Cynthia Nixon, "Sex and the City," HBO; Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace," NBC.

Actor, Miniseries or a Movie: Antonio Banderas, "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself," HBO; Al Pacino, "Angels in America," HBO; James Brolin, "The Reagans," Showtime; Alan Rickman, "Something the Lord Made," HBO; Mos Def, "Something the Lord Made," HBO.

Actress, Miniseries or a Movie: Emma Thompson, "Angels in America," HBO; Meryl Streep, "Angels in America," HBO; Glenn Close, "The Lion in Winter," Showtime; Helen Mirren, "Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; Judy Davis, "The Reagans," Showtime.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or a Movie: Patrick Wilson, "Angels in America," HBO; Justin Kirk, "Angels in America," HBO; Ben Shenkman, "Angels in America," HBO; Jeffrey Wright, "Angels in America," HBO; William H. Macy, "Stealing Sinatra," Showtime.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or a Movie: Mary-Louise Parker, "Angels in America," HBO; Angela Lansbury, "The Blackwater Lightship (Hallmark Hall Of Fame Presentation)," CBS; Julie Andrews, "Eloise at Christmastime," ABC; Anne Heche, "Gracie's Choice," Lifetime Television; Anjelica Huston, "Iron Jawed Angels," HBO.


In the U.S., a large number with 45 zeros is known as a "quattuordecillion."


Rain, Rain, Please Stay
Every year, raindrops keep falling on the heads of residents of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, on July 29-and they consider it a cause for celebration. The borough's annual Rain Day celebration has seen showers in 108 of the last 129 years. The tradition began in the late 1800s when a local pharmacist began keeping a record of rainfall on July 29 and betting salesmen their hats that it would rain on that date. Over the years, the town has expanded the festivities, which now include a hot dog-eating contest, street fair, and Miss Rain Day beauty pageant, but the hat-wagering custom remains. Each year a celebrity (past participants include Bing Crosby, Johnny Carson, and the Three Stooges) pits his Stetson, cap, or fedora in favor of sunshine against that of Waynesburg's mayor. This year, however, Anchorman's Will Ferrell beat the odds when the sky failed to produce even a drizzle. According to John Owen, executive director of the Waynesburg Special Events Committee, "Once in a while, leap year throws it off, and this is a leap year."

Pig-headed Tactics?
Scott Teston of Pace, Florida, wanted his 2-acre property rezoned-from agricultural to commercial development-to open a child-care center, but his neighbors protested, and he gave them something to complain about. Teston exercised the liberties allowed by agricultural zoning and moved 17 pigs onto his property, incurring the rancor of nearby residents. Neighbors have since groused to public health officials about the slop runoff, stench, and increase in vermin, but zoning clearly allows Teston to raise farm animals. Teston, who has spent $3,000 to house and feed the swine, has complained that he shouldn't have had to spend the money protect his property investment. He added that he and his family, who live on the property, also have to put up with the smell. The county planning board offered a compromise measure that would change zoning to allow only a child-care business, but Teston refused it. If that venture failed, he wanted the right to pursue another. He is now installing an electric fence, in order to add a donkey to his menagerie.

From the World Almanac - Nations of the World: Vatican City (The Holy See)

People: Population: 900. Urban: 100%. Ethnic groups: Italian, Swiss, other. Principal languages: Latin (official), Italian, French, Monastic Sign Language, various others. Chief religion: Roman Catholic.

Geography: Area: (total): 108.7 acres. Location: In Rome, Italy. Neighbors: Completely surrounded by Italy.

Monetary unit: Euro (EUR) (Sept. 2003: 0.92= 1 U.S.).

Apostolic Nunciature in U.S.: 3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW 20008; 333-7121.


The popes for many centuries, with brief interruptions, held temporal sovereignty over mid-Italy (the so-called Papal States), comprising an area of some 16,000 sq. mi., with a population in the 19th century of more than 3 million. This territory was incorporated in the new Kingdom of Italy (1861), the sovereignty of the pope being confined to the palaces of the Vatican and the Lateran in Rome and the villa of Castel Gandolfo, by an Italian law, May 13, 1871. This law also guaranteed to the pope and his successors a yearly indemnity of over $620,000. The allowance, however, remained unclaimed.

A Treaty of Conciliation, a concordat, and a financial convention were signed Feb. 11, 1929, by Cardinal Gasparri and Premier Mussolini. The documents established the independent state of Vatican City and gave the Roman Catholic church special status in Italy. The treaty (Lateran Agreement) was made part of the Constitution of Italy (Article 7) in 1947. Italy and the Vatican signed an agreement in 1984 on revisions of the concordat; the accord eliminated Roman Catholicism as the state religion and ended required religious education in Italian schools.

Vatican City includes the Basilica of Saint Peter, the Vatican Palace and Museum covering over 13 acres, the Vatican gardens, and neighboring buildings between Viale Vaticano and the church. Thirteen buildings in Rome, outside the boundaries, enjoy extraterritorial rights; these buildings house congregations or officers necessary for the administration of the Holy See.

The legal system is based on the code of canon law, the apostolic constitutions, and laws especially promulgated for the Vatican City by the pope. The Secretariat of State represents the Holy See in its diplomatic relations. By the Treaty of Conciliation the pope is pledged to a perpetual neutrality unless his mediation is specifically requested. This, however, does not prevent the defense of the Church whenever it is persecuted.

The present sovereign of the State of Vatican City is the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland, May 18, 1920, elected Oct. 16, 1978 (the first non-Italian to be elected pope in 456 years).

The U.S. restored formal relations in 1984 after the U.S. Congress repealed an 1867 ban on diplomatic relations with the Vatican. The Vatican and Israel agreed to establish formal relations Dec. 30, 1993.

Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

The biographical sites for the month are from the names of my train friends, the people I ride to work with on a daily basis: Peter, Janet, Karen, Teri, Jeff and Patrice. American pop artist Peter Max, who was actually born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Shanghai, China. Known primarily for his bright posters with transcendental themes from the 1960s and 1970s, Max has done pop interpretations of the Statue of Liberty since the bicentennial in 1976, and he continues to celebrate America in his art. For more information about Max, visit: . In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock cast Janet Leigh as a unfortunate traveler who is killed by a deranged motel-keeper, in a famous shower scene. Leigh also starred in some other classic films, including "Touch of Evil," and "The Manchurian Candidate." To learn more about Leigh, visit: The pop singer, Karen Carpenter, who recorded some of the biggest hits of the 1970s with her brother Richard, died at the age of 32, in 1983, as a result of anorexia nervosa. The Carpenters had 23 hit singles, including "Top of the World," "Close to You," and "We've Only Just Begun." To learn more about Carpenter, visit: The actress Teri Hatcher, is best known for her role as Lois Lane in the television series, Lois & Clark:The New Adventures of Superman, and you can see what else she's appeared in by visiting NASCAR racing has become increasingly popular, and the name Jeff Gordon is among those of the best and brightest young stars. To learn more about Gordon, visit: Patrice Lumumba, was the first Prime Minister of the independent Republic of Congo (Zaire), who was forced out of office, and assassinated soon after. To learn more about Lumumba, visit:

Alzheimer's Disease, Tourette's Syndrome, Cinderella's Syndrome, and Münchhausen's Syndrome are just a few of the names that have been given to various medical conditions. If you are curious to know who named the condition, read descriptions, and learn about the people associated with them, visit:

Like the Olympic Games, the Special Olympics International -- the world's largest program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities -- holds games every two years, alternating between summer and winter sports. Founded in 1968, by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics International has offices in the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and throughout the world. The organization offers training and competition to 1.5 million athletes in 150 countries. To learn more about the organization, visit:

A quote from Cicero says of rhetoric, that it is "speech designed to persuade." At American Rhetoric,, you will have the opportunity to read full text, hear audio, and view video, of some of the greatest speeches made in history. This site offers a panorama of historical words, ranging from the Confessions of St. Augustine, to Ronald Reagan, Jrs., recent eulogy of his father, with Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball, Eleanor Roosevelt's Adoption of the Human Rights Declaration, Halle Berry's 2002 Oscar Award Best Actress Speech, and the Dalai Lama's 1999 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. The site also includes definitions and examples of rhetorical words, Movie Speeches, the Top American Speeches of the 20th Century, and speeches about September 11th, and the war in Iraq.

A few weeks ago I participated in a summer sing with the New York Choral Society. A summer sing is simply a gathering of singers, who sing major works in a rehearsal space, with a known conductor, for fun. Perfect pitch and breathing is not the order of the day, as it's simply an opportunity to get together and sing, when most choruses are off for the summer. I met up with friends whom I had sung Gabriel Fauré's beautiful Requiem with, 15 years ago in Spain. Most Requiems are about the loss and anguish of death, but Fauré's version is more about acceptance and the peace of the release associated with death. To learn more about Fauré, visit: To listen to selections from the Requiem visit:

I don't know much about cars. I know that I am not alone in being ever hopeful that nothing will go wrong with my car when I'm out on the road, for fear that I'll have no knowledge of how to fix anything (except for a flat tire). To help insure that you won't have problems (and I'm not saying that I do this), proper maintenance is key, and for helpful car information, ranging from a vehicle checklist of things to do, to an illustrated repair guide, visit:

Do you ever check out the Events and Holidays (way up at the top of this E-Newsletter), and wonder what some of them are? I'll admit that the Edinburgh Military Tattoo had nothing to do with tattoos, but was surprised to learn that it is instead the largest gathering of military musicians in the United Kingdom. The days includes pipers, dummers, gymnasts, fiddlers, singers and dancers, coming together and performing on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle. To learn more about this event, visit:

Bugs just love me! I can walk outside for one minute and a mosquito will track me down and bite! I've taken my revenge on the mosquitoes of the world and gotten a few of them, before they got me. How? Can you say the word "de-bugging?" Check out:

Most Annoying Webpage: .

© 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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