The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 9 - September 2004

 

 

 

What's in this issue?

September Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - September
September Birthdays
Featured Location of the Month: Jackson, Mississippi
Obituaries - August 2004
Special Feature: Report Card for U.S. Schools
Science in the News
Chronology - Events of August 2004
Offbeat News Stories
From the World Almanac - Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Films 1927-2003
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

September Events

September 15-October 15 - National Hispanic Heritage Month

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)
September 1-6 - Corn Palace Festival (Mitchell, SD)
September 2-5 - Chicago Jazz Festival
September 2-6 - Blue Hill (ME) Fair
September 3-6 - Fort Bridger (WY) Rendezvous; Telluride (CO) Film Festival
September 4-6 - Iroquois Indian Festival (Howes Cave, NY)
September 5-12 - National Emergency Preparedness Week
September 6 - Mackinac Bridge Walk (St. Ignace, MI)
September 9-12 - Yellow Daisy Festival (Stone Mountain, GA)
September 10-12 - Bald is Beautiful Convention (Morehead City, NC)
September 11-12 - Mushroom Festival (Kennett Square, PA)
September 14-19 - Ryder Cup Matches (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
September 15-19 - Golden Aspen Motorcycle Rally (Ruidoso, NM); Kentucky Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, KY)
September 16-19 - National Championship Air Races (Reno, NV); Newport (RI) International Boat Show
September 17-19 - Monterey (CA) Jazz Festival; Wizard of Oz Festival (Chesterton, IN)
September 17-28 - Paralympic Games 2004 (Athens, Greece)
September 18 - International Coastal Cleanup
September 18-22 - Cape May (NJ) Food & Wine Festival
September 21 - UN General Assembly Opening Day
September 22 - 1st day of Autumn (Northern Hemisphere)
September 24-26 - Bayfest (Corpus Christi, TX)
September 28 - Harvest Moon
September 30-October 2 - Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival (Guthrie, OK)

September Holidays

September 6 - Labor Day (U.S. and Canada)
September 8 - UN International Literacy Day
September 12 - Grandparents' Day (U.S.)
September 16 - Rosh Hashanah* (1st full day of Jewish New Year); Independence Day (Mexico)
September 17 - Citizenship Day (U.S.); National POW/MIA Recognition Day
September 19 - St. Gennaro (Italy)
September 25 - Yom Kippur* (Jewish Day of Atonement)
September 27 - World Tourism Day
September 30 - Sukkot* (Feast of Tabernacles)

* Begins at sundown the day before.

IT'S A FACT!

Gerald Ford is the oldest living former U.S. president, as well as the oldest living former vice president.

This Day in History - September

Day

Year

Event

1

1983

Korean Air Lines Flight 007, flying from New York City to Seoul, is shot down after violating Soviet airspace; all 269 people aboard are killed.

2

1992

Bobby Fischer plays his first game of chess in public since 1972, beating Boris Spassky in an exhibition.

3

1943

In World War II, British Gen. Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army invade the Italian mainland, and Italy surrenders.

4

1972

Mark Spitz, swimming on the U.S. 4x100-meter medley relay team, wins his record 7th gold medal at the Munich Olympics.

5

1997

Mother Teresa, who worked for decades on behalf of the poor and ill in India, dies in Calcutta at the age of 87.

6

1972

Nine Israelis taken hostage from the Olympic Village at the Munich Olympics, and 5 Arab terrorists, die in a shootout with police at the Munich airport.

7

1892

In the first modern boxing match played under Marquis of Queensbury rules, James J. Corbett defeats John L. Sullivan.

8

1664

British troops seize New Netherland from the Dutch; the English later rename it New York.

9

1976

Chinese leader Mao Zedong dies in Beijing.

10

1846

Elias Howe receives a patent for his first sewing machine.

11

1985

Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 4,192d career hit, breaking Ty Cobb's record for most lifetime hits.

12

1974

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the military.

13

1814

In the War of 1812, the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, begins; the failure of the British fleet to take the fort inspires Francis Scott Key to write the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."

14

1940

The first peacetime draft in the history of the United States is approved.

15

1950

In the Korean War, U.S. forces land on Inchon.

16

1974

Pres. Gerald Ford offers amnesty to Vietnam War draft evaders and deserters, in exchange for public service.

17

1920

The American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, is formed in Canton, OH.

18

1994

In agreement is reached with Haitian military leaders to restore deposed Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, averting a U.S. military invasion.

19

1881

Pres. James A. Garfield, shot in Washington, DC, by Charles Guiteau on July 2, dies in Elberon, NJ; Chester Alan Arthur becomes president.

20

1797

The U.S. frigate Constitution, known as Old Ironsides, is launched at Boston.

21

1957

Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus complies with a federal court order to remove National Guardsmen from a Little Rock high school, where they have prevented black students from entering, but the students are ordered to withdraw by local authorities.

22

1975

Pres. Gerald Ford is unharmed after an assassination attempt by radical Sara Jane Moore, who fires a revolver at him.

23

1846

The planet Neptune is discovered.

24

1960

The first U.S. atomic-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise, is launched at Newport News, VA.

25

1965

Satchel Paige, at age 59, becomes the oldest man to play major league baseball, pitching 3 scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics.

26

1969

Abbey Road, the Beatles' 13th album is released; it will be their last album together.

27

1954

The Tonight Show has its TV premiere, with Steve Allen as the host.

28

1542

Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers California, reaching San Diego Bay.

29

1978

Pope John Paul I dies after having served only 34 days.

30

1630

One of the first Pilgrims to land in America, John Billington, is hanged for murder--the first criminal execution carried out in the colonies.

September Birthdays

Day

Year

 

1

1938

Alan Dershowitz, attorney and author (Brooklyn, NY)

2

1936

Andrew Grove, Intel executive (Budapest, Hungary)

3

1915

Kitty Carlisle Hart, actress/TV personality (New Orleans, LA)

4

1918

Paul Harvey, radio personality (Tulsa, OK)

5

1934

Carol Lawrence, singer/actress (Melrose Park, IL)

6

1964

Rosie Perez, actress (Brooklyn, NY)

7

1908

Michael DeBakey, heart surgeon (Lake Charles, LA)

8

1970

Latrell Sprewell, basketball player (Milwaukee, WI)

9

1944

Roger Waters, musician and member of Pink Floyd (Great Brookham, England)

10

1929

Arnold Palmer, golfer (Latrobe, PA)

11

1940

Brian DePalma, filmmaker (Newark, NJ)

12

1943

Maria Muldaur, singer (New York, NY)

13

1944

Peter Cetera, singer and member of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

14

1934

Kate Millett, feminist writer (St. Paul, MN)

15

1984

Prince Harry, prince of England (London, England)

16

1924

Lauren Bacall, actress (New York, NY)

17

1944

James Brady, gun control advocate and former presidential press secretary (Grand Rapids, MI)

18

1959

Ryne Sandberg, baseball player (Spokane, WA)

19

1946

Twiggy (Leslie Hornby), model/actress (London, England)

20

1951

Guy LaFleur, hockey player (Thurso, Quebec, Canada)

21

1944

Fannie Flagg, actress/writer (Birmingham, AL)

22

1956

Debby Boone, singer (Hackensack, NJ)

23

1949

Bruce Springsteen, singer/songwriter/musician (Freehold, NJ)

24

1973

Eddie George, football player (Philadelphia, PA)

25

1931

Barbara Walters, TV journalist (Boston, MA)

26

1949

Jane Smiley, novelist (Los Angeles, CA)

27

1984

Avril Lavigne, singer (Napanee, Canada)

28

1934

Brigitte Bardot, actress and animal rights activist (Paris, France)

29

1943

Lech Walesa, Polish labor leader and founder of Solidarity (Popowo, Poland)

30

1980

Martina Hingis, tennis champion (Kosice, Slovakia)

IT'S A FACT!

The global population is projected to exceed 9 billion by the year 2050.

FEATURED LOCATION OF THE MONTH: JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI

Location: Capital of Mississippi and a seat of Hinds County, also in Rankin County, on the Pearl River, in the central part of the state; incorporated 1822.

Population (2003): 179,599

Mayor: Harvey Johnson Jr. (Democrat)

September temperatures: Average high of 86 degrees; average low of 65 degrees

Colleges & Universities: Belhaven College; Jackson State University; Millsaps College; Reformed Theological Seminary; University of Mississippi Medical Center

Places to visit: Agricultural Museum; Governor's Mansion; Jackson Zoo; Manship House Museum; Mississippi Museum of Art; Municipal Art Gallery; Museum of Natural Science; Mynelle Gardens; Old Capitol Museum; Russell C. Davis Planetarium; Smith Robertson Museum

Tallest building: AmSouth Plaza (304 feet, 22 stories)

History: The Jackson area was originally occupied by Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. A French-Canadian trapper, Louis LeFleur, built a trading post near the present city center in the early 1790s. After the Treaty of Doak's Stand (1820), which provided for non-Indian settlement in the region, the community began to flourish. In 1821 it became the state capital and was named in honor of Andrew Jackson. Thomas Jefferson's plan, which designated alternate blocks as parks, was used when the community was laid out in 1822.

During the American Civil War, Jackson was destroyed in 1863 by Union troops under Gen. William T. Sherman; the city's charred landscape resulted in its being called Chimneyville. Recovery after the war was slow, and in 1900 Jackson had only about 7,000 inhabitants. Industrial development was spurred by the discovery of nearby gas wells in the 1930s. During the 1960s and early '70s the city was the scene of racial unrest. In the late 1970s Jackson enjoyed considerable growth, and several urban renewal projects were undertaken.

Birthplace of: writer Richard Ford (1944); actress Cynthia Geary (1965); singer Faith Hill (1967); writer Eudora Welty (1909); singer Cassandra Wilson (1955)

Website: http://www.city.jackson.ms.us

Obituaries in August

Adair, Red, 89, Texan who was the world's best-known oil-well firefighter; Houston, TX, Aug. 7, 2004.

Bergstrom, Sune, 88, Swedish biochemist who was one of three scientists awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize for medicine for their research into the class of hormones known as prostaglandins; Stockholm, Sweden, Aug. 15, 2004.

Bernstein, Elmer, 82, prolific film composer who strikingly scored such Hollywood movies as The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Ghostbusters (1984); Ojai, CA, Aug. 18, 2004.

Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 95, pioneering French photojournalist and one of the preeminent photographers of his time; Cereste, France, Aug. 3, 2004.

Child, Julia, 91, French-cooking expert who, as a TV personality and author, did more than anyone else to popularize French cuisine in the U.S.; Montecito, CA, Aug. 13, 2004.

Emerson, Gloria, 75, one of only a handful of female journalists to cover the Vietnam War, which she wrote about for the New York Times and in magazine articles and books, including Winners & Losers (1977); New York, NY, Aug. 3, 2004.

Fong, Hiram L. 96, first Asian American elected to the U.S. Senate and one of the first two senators from Hawaii; Honolulu, HI, Aug. 18, 2004.

Golub, Leon, 82, representational artist known for his paintings of monumental human figures committing violent acts; New York, NY, Aug. 8, 2004.

Hounsfield, Sir Godfrey, 84, British electrical engineer who developed of the first practical computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanner and was a co-winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize for medicine; Kingston upon Thames, England, Aug. 12, 2004.

James, Rick, 56, flamboyant funk rock artist whose signature tune was "Super Freak" (1981); Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 6, 2004.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth, 78, Swiss-born psychiatrist whose book On Death and Dying (1969) helped revolutionize the care of the terminally ill; Scottsdale, AZ, Aug. 24, 2004.

Milosz, Czeslaw, 93, Polish poet, essayist and translator who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980; Krakow, Poland, Aug. 14, 2004.

Mydans, Carl, 97, Life magazine photographer who shot some of the most memorable images of World War II; Larchmont, NY, Aug. 16, 2004.

Petrie, Daniel, 83, director most highly regarded for his work in television but who also made such memorable motion pictures as A Raisin in the Sun (1961); Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 22, 2004.

Wray, Fay, 96, Canadian-born actress best known for her role as the love interest of the giant ape King Kong in the 1933 film of the same name, in which Kong plunged to his death after carrying her to the top of New York City's Empire State Building; New York, NY, Aug. 8, 2004.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Report Card for U.S. Schools - "No Child Left Behind" in Spotlight

by Kevin Seabrooke

Students in several U.S. states have already started the 2004-2005 school year, well before the traditional back-to-school time after Labor Day. But this year more than ever, it's not just the students whose progress will be closely watched around the nation. Students' progress, as evidenced by their performance on standardized statewide tests, is increasingly becoming the basis for deciding the fates of the schools themselves.

Already some families with children in "failing" schools have been offered the right to transfer to a "better performing" school. Others may spend time after school -- or in summer school in 2005 -- with tutors that must be paid for by the schools. This increased scrutiny of schools is being required of all states under the ambitious federal education-reform legislation known as No Child Left Behind.

Debated Legislation

Early in 2001, his first year in office, President George W. Bush proposed a package of educational reforms he called No Child Left Behind. Among the mandates of the final legislation are annual reading and mathematics tests for children in Grades 3 through 8 beginning in 2005-2006, and making schools' federal funding contingent on the results of these tests. While states can set their own tests, the results are to be measured against the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for fourth- and eighth-graders to make sure states' own tests are sufficiently demanding. Schools have more flexibility in allocating the federal funds they receive. And federal education spending has increased -- by almost 60% in 2003-2004 over 2000 -- with poorer schools receiving special federal aid. However, if schools fail to meet standards consistently after two years their students must be allowed to transfer out of the school; after three years federal funds could be used for private tutoring, and after five years the management of the school can be replaced. Bush signed the bill into law on January 8, 2002.

Standardized tests in U.S. public schools are nothing new, though the principle of local control over education goes back to colonial times. The first federal education agency was not created until 1867. In 1965 the federal government established the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), in which schoolchildren were given standardized tests and federal spending on schools in low-income communities was greatly increased. In fact, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a reauthorization and overhaul of ESEA. But its new penalties for "failing" institutions, which in extreme cases can lead to a school being taken over by the state, becoming a charter school, or even closing, are changing the climate of U.S. education.

The idea behind the NCLB reforms is to raise the overall quality of education and ensure equal educational opportunity nationwide, with all students to attain grade-level proficiency in math and reading by 2014. The persistent "achievement gap" between students of different races and economic status will thus, in theory, disappear. But many experts argue that NCLB is not the solution. Some say its mandates are underfunded, leaving states no way to comply with the new standards, and foresee a lowering of states' standards as a result. Others point to the increased role of the federal Education Department as eroding local and state control over education.

Under NCLB, schools are required to disclose test results by subgroup of students, not just averaged across all students in a grade. The subgroups can include various minorities, males, females, low-income students, students with limited English, and special education students. All states are required to use these results to monitor students' progress by 2006, and schools must demonstrate "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) in test scores within subgroups, with specified percentages required to meet the standard. A failure to meet any one of up to 37 benchmarks keeps the entire school from making AYP. A school may have met every requirement for test scores, for example, but if the overall attendance was 94% instead of the required 95%, the school is placed on the "needs improvement" list.

Several objections have been raised to the requirements. Opponents of NCLB provisions range from the National Education Association to several state legislatures. In theory, there is widespread consensus that increased accountability and equal educational opportunity are desirable. But some critics of NCLB in practice say high-stakes tests are in fact diminishing education by making teachers "teach to the test," eroding other parts of the curriculum to focus on test preparation. Others point out that allowing students to transfer from low-performing schools to better-scoring ones can have the unintended effect of taking federal funds from poorer areas to wealthier ones. Still others note the danger that a well-performing school might not be able to maintain its standards in the face of large numbers of transferred students. And under funding is constantly cited as a problem.

Another CLUB mandate that has sparked much criticism requires that all teachers be certified in the subjects they teach by 2006. States are allowed to set their own standards for certification. This has prompted the objection that states may actually lower their certification standards in order to have as many qualified teachers as possible. Also, many rural districts, where the difficulties of finding teachers often result in staff teaching more than one subject, complained that this requirement was unrealistic. When the Education Department relaxed the requirement somewhat for rural districts earlier in 2004, there were further complaints that CLUB was being undercut.

As for the scores themselves, testing began in 2002-2003. So far, the news hasn't been good. According to one study, some 26,000 out of the nation's 91,400 schools were on probation for missing test targets. In New York, some 40% of New York City schools did not meet the standards, including most of the city's middle schools. Other states including California, Florida, New Jersey and Maryland reported large proportions of schools falling short of yearly goals. And in August 2004, the New York Times reported on Education Department data compiled for the American Federation of Teachers, showing that charter schools -- which the Bush administration has supported as effective alternatives to failing public schools -- were lagging behind the public schools in test scores.

States Face Hard Choices

Many states, faced with funding the bulk of the changes, have protested Club's requirements in some form. The Education Department went some way toward relaxing testing requirements in the spring, allowing states to average test participation rates across subgroups over three years. In Illinois in August 2004, two Chicago-area schools districts chose to reject more than $100,000 in poverty grants because of the CLUB regulations that came with the federal money. Other Illinois districts are considering making the same move. In February 2004, Utah's House voted, 64-8, to reject CLUB altogether, absent enough federal funding to cover the costs, and some 20 state governments had introduced anti-CLUB resolutions or bills. Half a century after another landmark legal development in education, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the battle over how to bring all the nation's children the best education is still on the national front burner.

Science In the News: Computer Viruses Get Throttled

If you can't beat 'me, throttle 'me.

That'so the philosophy behind a promising new method of combating computer viruses. The simple technique, known as throttling, focuses not on stopping viruses altogether, but on slowing down the rate at which they spread. This earns antiviral software designers the precious hours they need to figure out how a virus works -- and how to combat it.

Computer viruses are programs, or sets of instructions, that spread from one computer to another -- usually without the knowledge of computer users. Viruses are typically designed to make computers do something they would't normally do, either just to annoy the user or for more malicious reasons. Viruses can slow down computers (because the virus program is using up their resources), destroy data, or worse. In 2003, "viruses halted or hindered operations at numerous businesses and other organizations, disrupted cash-dispending machines, delayed airline flights, and even affected emergency call centers," according to a study published in the journal Science by Matthew Williamson of HP Laboratories in Bristol, U.K., and his colleagues. Such disruptions are not only troublesome: they're expensive. According to Williamson'so study, the damage caused by the so-called So big virus cost more than $30 billion to repair.

Computer viruses (so named because they replicate and spread from host to host, just like biological viruses) spread via networks that computers use to communicate with each other, such as the Internet and e-mail. Some viruses attach themselves to a program that'so normally found on computers so that when the program is run, the virus program runs as well. Other kinds of viruses, known as worms, arena't attached to any program: they can run on their own.

One way to protect a computer against viruses is to install antiviral software, which scans for malicious programs that don't belong. But in most cases, this software is only able to detect known computer viruses -- new viruses will pass by undetected until the antiviral software is updated. One can also make a computer less vulnerable to virus attacks by installing up-to-date "patches," or updates, for software currently installed on the computer. These updates often fix security problems in the software that make it easy for viruses to exploit. Ironically, though, the release of a new patch can make some computers more vulnerable to viruses. This is because hackers (people who create computer viruses) take advantage of the fact that people don't always install new patches when they're released. So, hackers will analyze patches to discover the security loopholes they are intended to fix. Then, they'all design a virus to take advantage of that loophole, and any computer that does't have the patch yet will be susceptible.

Consequently, Williamson and other computer scientists are working to develop other tools to use in fighting viruses -- and, so far, throttling appears to be the most promising.

Viruses typically make their host computers attempt to establish numerous connections with other computers over a short period of time. The Nomad virus, for example, gets its host computers to attempt up to 400 new connections every second, allowing it to spread with lightning speed. A normal, uninfected computer needs to make connections too, but not at the rate that a virus-infected computer usually does.

A throttling mechanism allows an infected computer to make connections, but only the same number that a normal computer would. The result? The virus can't spread so quickly, and fewer computers are hit during the time it takes for antiviral software designers to investigate the virus and modify their software to recognize it. And, unlike antiviral software or patches, computers can benefit from throttling software -- even if they arena't equipped with it: when some computers in a network have a throttling mechanism, all of the computers in the network are less likely to get a virus.

"We realized that most antiviral techniques concentrate on protecting individual machines, not the community as a whole," is what Williamson, who is currently studying throttling as a way to combat viruses, told Wired.

Another benefit of the throttling mechanism is that it alerts computer users to the presence of a virus, even if the virus has no impact on the functioning of the computer: the sheer number of connections the computer is trying to make indicates that there'so something wrong.

In a recent test conducted by Williamson and his team at HP Labs, the effects of throttling were tested on a 16-computer network. First, before installing throttling software on any of the machines, they infected one of the computers with the Nomad virus. They found that, without the throttling software, the virus spread to all of the computers within 20 minutes. But, when 75% of the machines had been throttled, it took about an hour for all of them to get infected.

Williamson's team notes that there are ways for hackers to outsmart throttling systems. They could design slow viruses that spread at a rate below the throttling threshold. Or, they could engineer viruses to turn off the throttling mechanism -- just as many of the newest viruses are capable of shutting down antiviral software.

Nevertheless, throttling could still prove effective against the vast majority of viruses out there -- and most experts agree that new virus-fighting tools are increasingly in demand, as viruses are getting faster and more complex. Moreover, in June 2003, Jaspers Labs, an antiviral software company based in Moscow, Russia, revealed that infectious programs no longer threaten only computers: the company identified a worm, called Caber, that infects cell phones. Fortunately, the worm only infects a certain subset of phones -- those that use a Simian operating system and Blue tooth wireless technology. However, similar programs affecting other kinds of phones are likely to spring up. Hopefully, software experts will be able to throttle them too, thus buying more time for antiviral action.

IT'S A FACT!

A Category 5 hurricane has winds of more than 155 mph, with storm surges of 18 feet or more.

Chronology - Events of August 2004

National

Financial Institutions Are Reported Terror Targets - Security was increased Aug. 1 around 5 buildings of financial institutions in New York City, Newark, NJ, and Washington, DC. Tom Ridge, secretary of. homeland security, said these facilities, including the New York Stock Exchange, had been a focus of planning for terror attacks. The New York Times reported Aug. 2 that an al-Qaeda member, Muhammad Name Nor Khan, had been arrested in Pakistan July 13 and that his electronic files contained evidence of surveillance of the 5 buildings. Twelve suspects linked to this bomb plot were being held in Britain Aug. 3.

U.S. and Pakistani officials acknowledged Aug. 6 that Khan had been engaged in a sting operation that resulted in the capture of al-Qaeda members; exposure of his name ended his usefulness. White House national security adviser Condoles Rice said Aug. 8 that Khan'so name had been given to reporters on background but that the administration had not identified him publicly. British authorities Aug. 17 charged 8 British citizens, among those seized Aug. 3, with plotting terror attacks in the U.S. One of the accused men reportedly had reconnaissance plans for 4 of the 5 buildings Ridge mentioned.

Bush Reacts to 9/11 Commission Proposals - Pres. George W. Bush Aug. 2 gave qualified support to the principal proposals made by the commission that investigated the 2001 terror attacks. He said he favored the appointment of a national intelligence director (NED) and establishment of a National Counter terrorism Center, but unlike the commission, wanted them located outside the executive office of the president. Bush said his approach would shield the director and center from political influence. Bush also did not support giving the NED authority over the budget and personnel of 15 intelligence agencies.

Voters, Judges Act on Gay Marriage Issue - Gay-rights advocates suffered a setback Aug. 3 when 71% of the voters in Missouri approved an amendment to the state constitution forbidding same-sex marriages. On Aug. 12, the California Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, invalidated more than 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses issued in San Francisco in February and March. It found unanimously that city authorities, backed by Mayor Gavin Newsom (D), had improperly granted the licenses. Voters had approved a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Vietnam Vets Attack Kerry'so War Record - The Vietnam war record of Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, became the center of angry charges and countercharges that flew for weeks. A 200-member organization independent of the Republican Party, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, claimed in TV ads appearing in 3 states that Kerry had lied about his wounds in order to win medals and that he had betrayed his comrades by accusing them of atrocities. The ads were financed by soft money contributions, including $100,000 from Bob Perry, a Houston (TX) real-estate developer and Bush supporter. Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) Aug. 5 called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable" and urged the Bush campaign to condemn them. Kerry said Aug. 19 that Navy records documented his medal awards and that he still carried shrapnel in his leg from a wound. The Washington Post reported Aug. 19 that Larry Throw, a Kerry accuser who claimed there was no enemy fire when Kerry rescued a comrade, had himself won a medal with a citation describing enemy fire. Kerry filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Aug. 20, charging that the Swift Boat Veterans were coordinating its efforts with the Bush campaign, violating campaign finance law; the administration denied any connection. Benjamin Ginsberg, national counsel for the Bush campaign, admitted having given legal advice to the Swift Boat veterans, and resigned his post Aug. 25.

Oklahoma City Bomber Sentenced Again - Evading a possible death penalty, Terry Nichols was sentenced Aug. 9 to life in prison without parole for his role in the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He had previously been sentenced to life on federal charges, in the deaths of 8 federal agents in the building. His 2nd trial for the deaths of 160 others and a fetus had ended in conviction.

Bush Nominates New CIA Director - Pres. Bush Aug. 10 announced his choice to succeed George Tenet as Director of Central Intelligence.. He nominated Rep. Porter Goss (R, FL), who had been a clandestine operative for the CIA before being elected to Congress. The nomination required Senate approval.

New Jersey Governor Reveals Homosexual Affair, Announces Resignation - Gov. James McGreevey (D) of New Jersey announced Aug. 12, that he had engaged in a "consensual" affair with another man. The man was later identified as Golan Cipel, a citizen of Israel, whom the governor had hired for a time as his homeland security adviser (at $110,000 a year). McGreevey, elected in 2001, said he would resign, effective Nov. 15; he spoke at a press conference in Trenton, with his 2nd wife at his side. Cipel, who had resigned from the security post, claimed through a lawyer Aug. 13 that the governor had sexually harassed him' McGreevey's press secretary denied the allegation. Republicans urged the governor to resign by Sept. 2 so that the office could be up for election in November.

Price of Oil Hits New Highs as Job Growth Slows - The price of oil continued to record new highs through mid-month, closing Aug. 12 at $45.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. By Aug. 19, the price stood at another record, $48.70.Other figures released Aug. 6 showed poor job growth, with only 32,000 nonfarm jobs created in July, however, the unemployment rate edged downward to 5.5%. On Aug. 10, the Federal Reserve Board raised short-term interest rates by a quarter point, the 2nd increase in 2 months.

Reports Rebuke Officers, Officials for Prison Abuses - Two reports were issued on the mistreatment of prisoners seized by the U.S. military since the 2001 terror attacks. A 4-member panel headed by former Defense Sec. James Schlesinger found Aug. 24 that mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be traced to institutional and personal failures at high levels. Schlesinger, Aug. 24, likened the atmosphere at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to that in the film comedy Animal House and blamed Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in Iraq, for failing to take corrective action. An Army investigation concluded Aug. 25 that military intelligence units had played a major part in the Abu Ghraib abuses; it recommended disciplinary action against 2 officers and assigned blame to 54 individuals in all.

GOP Convenes in New York - The Republican National Convention opened Aug. 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York, under tight security. An estimated 400,000 anti-Bush demonstrators staged a protest, Aug. 29, marching to Union Square, where speakers including activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and filmmaker Michael Moore. Though denied a permit to assemble on the Great Lawn at Central Park, several groups gathered there afterward. Inside the convention hall, two major Republican moderates, Sen. John McCain (AZ) and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani were among major speakers, Aug. 30; both extolled the Bush administration for its war on terrorism and linked the Iraq war to that effort. First Lady Laura Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were among the major speakers Aug. 31.

International

Venezuelan President Survives Recall Referendum - Pres. Hugo Chavez Frias prevailed Aug. 15 over an attempt to remove him from office. According to official figures announced Aug. 16, 58% of those voting rejected recalling him. Although denounced for leading a corrupt regime, Chavez had gained popularity because of his social programs for the poor and because of a sharp rise in oil prices, benefiting Venezuela as a top oil exporter.

Najaf Siege Leads to Agreement, Which Collapses - The situation in Iraq deteriorated Aug. 5 when radical Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr, who had previously reached a truce with U.S. forces, called again for his followers to rise in revolt. They clashed with coalition troops in Sadr City, inside Baghdad, and in several southern cities. On Aug. 7 U.S. marines pushed into Najaf, Sadr's base. The U.S. military claimed Aug. 11 that it had killed about 500 of Sadr's fighters, and Marines reportedly killed more than 60 Sadr fighters in Najaf Aug. 17. The Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who had flown to London Aug. 6 for heart surgery, returned Aug. 25 and reached a tentative agreement Aug. 27 with Sadr. The agreement, accepted by the interim Iraqi government, allowed Sadr's forces to leave the city provided that U.S. marines end their 3-week siege.

In other incidents, car bombs set outside 4 Christian churches in Baghdad, Aug. 1, killed 11 people and wounded 47. The execution of a Turkish hostage by his radical captors was shown on an Internet videotape Aug. 2. On Aug. 31 Nepalese officials announced that Iraqi militants had killed 12 Nepalis captured just over a week earlier. It was the largest mass killing of captives yet, in the insurgency that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. A web site associated with a group calling itself Jaish Ansar al-Sunna posted gruesome still images and video of the militants murdering their victims.

2 Russian Passenger Jets Crash Within Minutes - Two Russian passenger jetliners crashed within a few minutes of each other Aug. 24 after they took off from Domodedovo airport in Moscow. One of the planes, bound for Volgograd, crashed 125 miles south of Moscow, killing all 43 aboard. The other, heading for the Black Sea, crashed 600 miles south of the capital, killing all 46 aboard. The crashes occurred 5 days before a presidential election in the rebellious province of Chechnya; the previous president had been assassinated in May. On Aug. 27-28, investigators found traces of explosives at both crash sites; terrorism was suspected. On Aug. 31, 10 people, including a suicide bomber, were killed in an explosion in a Moscow subway.

Bombing Kills 16 in Israel - Two suicide bombers set off almost simultaneous blasts on buses in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheeva, Aug. 31, killing 16 people in addition to themselves

General

Olympic Games Return to Greece - The Summer Games of the 28th Olympiad of the modern era returned to Greece in August. The games originated in ancient Greece, which had also hosted them when they were revived in 1896. A record total of 202 countries, who sent 10,500 athletes, took part in opening ceremonies in Athens Aug. 13. The U.S. won 103 medals (35 gold), while Russia won 92 (27 gold), and China 63 (32 gold).

Paul Hamm (U.S.) fell on the vault during the men's all-around gymnastics competition, but finished brilliantly on the high bar to narrowly edge Kim Dae Eun and Yang Tae Young, both of South Korea. Later, a mathematical error was discovered in the scores, which indicated Yang should have won. Hamm's gold medal was not taken from him, but 3 judges were suspended. Another American, Carly Patterson, won the women's all-around gymnastics gold medal.

Michael Phelps (U.S.) won 6 gold and 2 bronze medals in swimming-in butterfly, freestyle, individual medley, and relay events. By winning 8 medals, he broke Mark Spitz's record total of 7 in the 1972 swimming events, though all of Spitz's were gold. Natalie Coughlin (U.S.) won 5 swimming medals (2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze). Chinese men and women dazzled in diving, winning 6 of 8 events.

The men's marathon went to Stefano Baldini of Italy, followed by Meb Keflezighi (U.S.) and Vanderlei de Lima (Brazil). Lima had been leading with 4 miles to go when a spectator pushed him into the crowd. The women's marathon went to Mizuki Noguchi of Japan.

After fierce competition, 2 American men prevailed in the track and field sprints-Justin Gatlin in the 100 meters and Shawn Crawford in the 200. Jeremy Wariner (U.S.) took the 400. Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, widely hailed as the world's best middle-distance runner, finally won an Olympic gold in the 1500 meters, after 2 previous unsuccessful tries; he also took the 5000 meters. Kelly Holmes of Britain won the women's 800 and 1500 meters. Fani Halkia of Greece thrilled the crowd with an upset victory in the women's 400 hurdles. Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic took the men's decathlon, and Carolina Kluft of Sweden won the women's heptathlon.

The U.S. men's basketball "Dream team," consisting only of professional NBA players, lost 3 times and settled for bronze. Argentina defeated Italy for the gold, 84-69. The American women's basketball team, however, won gold after defeating Australia 74-63.

Mariel Zagunis won the first American gold medal in fencing in 100 years, taking the gold in the women's sabre. Andre Ward brought the U.S. a gold in boxing for the first time since 1996, prevailing in the light-heavyweight division.

Israel won its first gold medal ever, when Gal Fridman prevailed in a sailing event, the men's mistral. American women won a gold in soccer, defeating Brazil, 2-1, in the final. Iraq, competing in the Olympics for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, made a strong bid in men's soccer, placing 4th; the gold went to Argentina.

Hurricane Tears Across Florida - Hurricane Charley proved to be the 2nd-worst hurricane in recent Florida history when it ripped across the state Aug. 13, causing at least 22 deaths. The hurricane had first struck Jamaica Aug. 12 and then Cuba earlier Aug. 13, killing 5 persons in all. Gaining momentum, it hit Florida's West Coast at the islands of Sanibel and Captiva and at the town of Punta Gorda, carrying winds of up to 145 mph. The eye of the storm came near Orlando before passing north. Charley destroyed or damaged 16,000 homes, damaged farm crops, and left a million households without electricity. Pres. Bush Aug. 13 declared many Florida counties federal disaster areas, freeing up funds for the recovery. Charley returned to land Aug. 14, entering South Carolina with winds reduced to 75 mph.

Sports

Karen Stupples became just the third English woman to win a major golf tournament at the British Women's Open, Aug. 1. Stupples fired a final-round 64 to finish five shots ahead of the star-studded field at Sunningdale Golf Club, near London.

IT'S A FACT!

IT'S A FACT: If a chunk of material, ice or rock, enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up in a fiery display, it is a meteor; while still in space, it is known as a meteoroid.

OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES

Jaws, Minnesota Style
There aren't any sharks in Minnesota lakes, but from now on Mason DeRosier may be eyeing the freshwater more closely. DeRosier, 11, was attacked from below the surface by a large fish while hunting frogs with his sister in the shallow waters of Island Lake, in northern Minnesota. The fish, which authorities think was probably a muskellunge or northern pike, first attacked his foot, then bit DeRosier's hand when he tried to use it to knock the fish free from his foot. He sustained cuts and bites in his right foot and hand that required 11 stitches to close. According to his father, deputy sheriff Richard DeRosier, who witnessed the attack from a nearby paddleboat, he saw a swirl in the water near his children and, "Before I can say 'Holy moly! Look at that!' all of a sudden the swirl is by their feet."

Big Bagel
On August 27 at the Great New York State Fair, Bruegger's Enterprises, Inc., bagel makers with an urge for greatness, made an apparently successful dash for the record books by turning out an 868-pound bagel that measured 6 feet in diameter. Beginning with 1,075 pounds of dough, a nine-person crew boiled the bagel in 900 gallons of water for 30 minutes, then baked it for 10 hours in a specially designed kettle. In preparation, the crew went through 10 test bakes before finding the right giant-size recipe (which included 12 ½ pounds of salt); in order to qualify as a Guinness record, the bagel had to be not only big but edible. This one must have been, as pieces of it were sold along with t-shirts (reading "I saw history in the baking"); proceeds went to food banks. Scott Hughes, the company's vice-president of marketing, explained, "Bruegger's is a company that's passionate about its bagels. Baking an 850-pound bagel is a demonstration of that passion." The new big bagel on the block beat the previous record, set by Lender's Bagels in 1998, of a mere 714 pounds.

FROM THE WORLD ALMANAC - Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Films 1927-2003

1927-28    Wings
1928-29    Broadway Melody
1929-30    All Quiet on the Western Front
1930-31    Cimarron
1931-32    Grand Hotel
1932-33    Cavalcade
1934        It Happened One Night
1935        Mutiny on the Bounty
1936        The Great Ziegfeld
1937        Life of Emile Zola
1938        You Can't Take It With You
1939        Gone With the Wind
1940        Rebecca
1941        How Green Was My Valley
1942        Mrs. Miniver
1943        Casablanca
1944        Going My Way
1945        The Lost Weekend
1946        The Best Years of Our Lives
1947        Gentleman's Agreement
1948        Hamlet
1949        All the King's Men
1950        All About Eve
1951        An American in Paris
1952        The Greatest Show on Earth
1953        From Here to Eternity
1954        On the Waterfront
1955        Marty
1956        Around the World in 80 Days
1957        The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958        Gigi
1959        Ben-Hur
1960        The Apartment
1961        West Side Story
1962        Lawrence of Arabia
1963        Tom Jones
1964        My Fair Lady
1965        The Sound of Music
1966        A Man for All Seasons
1967        In the Heat of the Night
1968        Oliver!
1969        Midnight Cowboy
1970        Patton
1971        The French Connection
1972        The Godfather
1973        The Sting
1974        The Godfather Part II
1975        One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976        Rocky
1977        Annie Hall
1978        The Deer Hunter
1979        Kramer vs. Kramer
1980        Ordinary People
1981        Chariots of Fire
1982        Gandhi
1983        Terms of Endearment
1984        Amadeus
1985        Out of Africa
1986        Platoon
1987        The Last Emperor
1988        Rain Man
1989        Driving Miss Daisy
1990        Dances With Wolves
1991        The Silence of the Lambs
1992        Unforgiven
1993        Schindler's List
1994        Forrest Gump
1995        Braveheart
1996        The English Patient
1997        Titanic
1998        Shakespeare in Love
1999        American Beauty
2000        Gladiator
2001        A Beautiful Mind
2002        Chicago
2003        The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

How many of these Best Films have you seen? I've seen 70 of the 76

Let's test your Academy Award knowledge with some trivia questions (to be answered in October 2004 E-Newsletter):

1    Which actress has won more Best Actress Academy Award than any other?
2    Who was the youngest Academy Award winner? (does not include honorary awards)
3    Who were the oldest Academy Award winners?
4    Which three films are tied with the most Academy Awards (11)?
5    For which 3 films did Frank Capra win his Best Director Academy Awards?
6    Who was the first person to win consecutive Academy Awards?
7    Who are the only brother and sister to win acting Academy Awards?
8    Name the two families with three generations of Academy Award winners? Can you name them?
9    What was the longest film to win Best Picture?
10   Which actress has the most Best Supporting Actress nominations without ever actually winning the award?

Links of the Month

Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

As the 3rd anniversary of the September 11th attack approaches, a group of 9/11 family members are participating in pulling a 1,400 pound granite memorial, bearing the words, "Unknown Civilians Killed in War" from Boston to New York; these cities are connected by the tragedy of that day. The walk began on July 20, and will end in New York on September 11. Through the walk, the participants speak to those who come to see them, and they bear witness to the tragic reality of civilian casualties during war. To learn more about this, please visit: http://stonewalk.org/.

My sixth grade teacher, Harriet, has a birthday in September, so we're celebrating famous Harriet's from history. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the best-selling novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852, and presented a human portrayal of those held in slavery. To learn more about Stowe, visit:http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/. President James Buchanan was the only U.S. president who never married, and his niece Harriet Lane (Johnston) served as First Lady during his term of office, 1857-1861. Lane married late in life, and devoted her time and money to endowing a large sum of money to John Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, MD), to be used for a home for invalid children. The Harriet Lane Outpatient Clinics, named for her, now serve thousands of children. To learn more about Lane, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/hl15.html. The first woman to have a pilot's license in the United States was Harriet Quimby. Her time as a pilot was cut short by an early death, 11 months after she began flying, but in that time she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel in April 1912 (unfortunately the sinking of the Titanic occurred at the same time overshadowed stories of her achievement). To learn more about Quimby visit:http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Explorers_Record_Setters_and_Daredevils/quimby/EX5.htm . Ozzie Nelson, the orchestra leader, and his wife Harriet Hilliard Nelson, the singer, became radio stars in the 1940s, and went on to having a long and successful comedy show on television from 1952-1966. The show revolved around the lives of Ozzie and Harriet, and their children Ricky and David, and was very successful. To learn more about the show, as well as Ozzie and Harriet, visit: http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htmlA/adventuresof/adventuresof.htm. I have not forgotten one of the most famous Harriet's, Harriet Tubman. She was featured in my March 2002 column, and you can learn more about her at:http://www.nyhistory.com/harriettubman/life.htm.

Did you know that 21,476,657 cars pass through Weehawken, New Jersey annually? Weehawken is the home of the New Jersey end of the Lincoln Tunnel, but its true claim to fame is as the site of the famous duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr, which ended with Hamilton's death 200 years ago on July 11, 1804. Hamilton, a Federalist, backed Thomas Jefferson over Burr, in the 1800 presidential election, when the two candidates were deadlocked. Later on, during Burr's run for the New York governorship, Hamilton allegedly made comments about Burr which led Burr to challenge him to a duel. Descendents of both families reenacted the famous duel on the bicentennial of the event, and you can read more about it and see photographs at:http://duel2004.weehawkenhistory.org/ . To learn more about Hamilton himself, one of the greatest of America's Founding Fathers, visit: http://www.alexanderhamiltonexhibition.org/.

As I was riding the train several weeks ago, my friend Peter asked me if I knew what the purpose of water towers was, because he says he's never seen them in Great Britain. I knew that the towers had some function related to providing water pressure, but certainly didn't know how they worked. At How Stuff Works, you'll learn all about the intricacies of water towers: http://people.howstuffworks.com/water.htm.

So, are french fries from France, or from Belgium? Both countries claim to have been the first to fry potatoes. The word "french" refers to the way that they are made. Any food cut up into strips is called "frenched", so potatoes cut into strips and fried, hence the name. To learn the history of french fried potatoes, visit http://www.stim.com/Stim-x/9.2/fries/fries-09.2.html. By the way, McDonald's is the largest buyer of potatoes in the United States. While searching for a site having to do with french fries, I also ran across an interesting site, http://www.foodreference.com, that includes lots of food history, facts, and trivia plus' cooking tips, quotes, etc.

September will be the 40th anniversary of the television premieres of several classic sitcoms; "Bewitched," "The Addams Family," "The Munsters", and "Gilligan's Island." These are shows I grew up with (in reruns, I swear), and are ones that a new generation of television viewers are enjoying today. "Bewitched" involved a pretty witch, Samantha, who marries a mortal, Darrin. She can't resist using her magical power to solve the family problems that come her way. To learn more about the show and cast, pay a visit to: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~zap/Bewitchedintro.htm. The better of the two "monster" shows that debuted in 1964, "The Addams Family," was based upon the macabre drawings of Charles Addams. Visit The Lurch Files http://www.geocities.com/%7ecousin_itt/ to learn more about Morticia, Gomez, and the entire family. Who can forget the Munster family who lived in a cobweb filled house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane? "The Munsters," was another family horror related show, but with a more ghoulish looking cast (Frankenstein and Vampire look-alikes). Butch Patrick, little Eddie, has a site dedicated to the show at: http://www.munsters.com/. Last but not least: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. I know you're humming the tune of "Gilligan's Island" in your head right at this moment. To learn trivia about the show, and even get the link to Tina Louise's 1998 album, where you can hear her sing, visit: http://www.sitcomsonline.com/gilligansisland.html.

I strongly believe that we can all make a difference in other peoples lives, and since 1993 I have participated in AIDS Walks, and have raised $54,000 benefiting tri-state area non-profit organizations. I found a website that helps non-profit organizations achieve success in marketing, programming, and fundraising, and gives links to various fundraising efforts going on throughout the United States through June 2005. So if you want to help your community, visit http://www.kintera.org/site/apps/kd/c.beIHKUMGF/b.142810/kinteracentral.asp.

Stupid website of the month - Name that candy bar: http://www.sci.mus.mn.us/sln/tf/c/crosssection/namethatbar2.html/.

© World Almanac Education Group

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

Newsletter Contributors:
Louise Bloomfield, Erik Gopel, Walter Kronenberg, Bill McGeveran, Vincent Spadafora, and Lori Wiesenfeld

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

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