The World Almanac E-Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 10 - October 2004
What's in this issue?
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Diversity Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Vegetarian Month
October 1-17 - New York Film Festival
October 4 - UN World Habitat Day; Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
This Day in History - October
With a population of nearly 3 million (and a metropolitan area total exceeding 9 million), Chicago, Ill., is big enough to have just about anything you might want. Its claims to fame range from beaches - the city stretches for 29 miles along Lake Michigan - to business - it is one of the chief commercial and industrial centers in the U.S. "Hub of the Nation," one of Chicago's many sobriquets, referred originally to the city's central role in the U.S. transportation system. A longtime rail hub, it also is a nexus of waterways, connecting the Mississippi with the Great Lakes (and ultimately the St. Lawrence Seaway); in addition, the city's main airport, O'Hare International, ranks as a perennial contender for the title of world's busiest. But Chicago is also a hub, a driving force, of creative life, a distinction that was underlined in July 2004 with the opening of Millennium Park, a $450 million project replete with masterpieces by the likes of U.S. architect Frank Gehry and British artist Anish Kapoor.
Chicago really is a living museum of architecture. The skyscraper was invented by the Chicago School in the late 19th century, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright began his career in the city. The Frederick C. Robie House on Woodlawn Avenue is one of the best examples of Wright's "prairie" style of residential architecture, and Wright's home/studio in suburban Oak Park is definitely worth a visit. For two decades in the mid-20th century, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe headed the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology, whose main campus he designed. And Chicago boasts a collection of great world-famous buildings, including the 100-story John Hancock Center and the 110-story Sears Tower - -the tallest building in the U.S. Both of these skyscrapers offer superhigh observation decks.
One of the goals of the city's current Daley administration has been to transform Chicago into the greenest city in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted toward that end. But the crown jewel of the mayor's beautification scheme is the 24.5-acre Millennium Park, located just north of Chicago's famous Art Institute in Grant Park and east of the Chicago Cultural Center.
Gehry designed two of the most prominent structures in the park: a pavilion for outdoor concerts and a 945-ft pedestrian bridge. The stunning Jay Pritzker Pavilion (named in honor of the prominent Chicago businessman who, with his wife, created the Pritzker Architecture Prize) provides a permanent home for the Grant Park Music Festival, as well as a venue for other events. There are 4000 fixed seats, and another 7000 people can be accommodated on the lawn. An immense steel trellis of crisscrossing steel pipes extends over the lawn seating area, serving as an "acoustical canopy" carrying speakers and lights. Gehry's serpentine, gently sloped pedestrian bridge crosses Columbus Drive, connecting Millennium Park with the Daley Bicentennial Plaza and the city's lakefront parkland. It helps wall the pavilion audience off from the noise of Columbus Drive traffic. Named the "BP Bridge," it is clad in stainless steel and has a hardwood deck.
Kapoor's contribution, Cloud Gate, is one of the biggest outdoor sculptures in the world. Weighing 110 tons and measuring 66 ft long, 33 ft high, and 48 ft wide, the elliptically shaped stainless steel installation features a polished mirrorlike finish. The park also boasts an interactive fountain, designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Called the Crown Fountain, it has a reflecting pool, at each end of which there stands an illuminated glass block tower from which water cascades. Other notable components of the park include the Lurie Garden, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and the Millennium Monument, a modified replica of a colonnade built nearby in Grant Park by Chicago architect Edward Bennett in 1917 and destroyed in 1953.
The Chicago International Film Festival is said to be the oldest competitive cinema fest in North America. This year's anniversary edition, slated for October 7-21, will offer more than 100 features and 40 shorts. Movies on the agenda include Our Music, a "visual poem on war, myth, and the moving image" by French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard.
The theme of the 2004 Humanities Festival, scheduled for October 30-November 14, is time "and its ongoing impact on our endeavors, passions, and beliefs." An accompanying Children's Humanities Festival will run at the same time.
Adams, Brock, 77, liberal Democrat from Washington State who was a six-term congressman (1965-77), one-term U.S. senator (1987-93) and President Jimmy Carter's transportation secretary from 1977 to 1979; Stevensville, MD, Sept. 10, 2004.
Adams, Eddie, 71, photojournalist whose 1969 Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam War photo of a South Vietnamese general shooting a Vietcong prisoner in the head galvanized the U.S. antiwar movement; New York, NY, Sept. 19, 2004.
Beene, Geoffrey, 77, leading figure in U.S. fashion design since the 1960s, known for his high artistic standards and innovative use of materials; New York, NY, Sept. 28, 2004.
Butler, Richard G., 86, founder (1973) of the Aryan Nations white supremacist group; Hayden, ID, Sept. 8, 2004.
Chodorov, Jerome, 93, playwright and screenwriter who coauthored (with Joseph Field) the 1940 hit Broadway comedy My Sister Eileen, the screenplay for its 1942 film adaptation, and the book for its 1953 Broadway musical adaptation, Wonderful Town; Nyack, NY, Sept. 12, 2004.
Davis, Marvin, 79, billionaire oilman and real estate developer who owned Hollywood's 20th Century Fox film studio for part of the 1980s; Beverly Hills, CA, Sept. 25, 2004.
Ebb, Fred, 76, lyricist who with composer John Kander, his longtime collaborator, wrote the songs for such classic Broadway shows as Cabaret (1966) and Chicago (1975); New York, NY, Sept. 11, 2004.
Fordice, Kirk, 70, millionaire construction firm owner who served two terms (1992-2000) as Mississippi's first Republican governor since Reconstruction; Jackson, MS, Sept. 7, 2004.
Lapp, Ralph E., 87, physicist who was a leading authority on nuclear radiation and a prominent arms control advocate; Alexandria, VA, Sept. 7, 2004.
Meyer, Russ, 82, filmmaker known for soft-core "sexploitation" films like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Vixen! (1968) featuring, and capitalizing on, women with very large breasts; Los Angeles, CA, Sept. 18, 2004.
Mitchelson, Marvin M., 76, celebrity divorce lawyer who pioneered the concept of "palimony"; Beverly Hills, CA, Sept. 18, 2004.
Naudé, Beyers, 89, South African cleric from the Afrikaner community who became a leading anti-apartheid campaigner; Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 7, 2004.
Nicolson, Nigel, 87, British publisher, editor, biographer and sometime politician; his 1973 book Portrait of a Marriage chronicled the turbulent marriage and numerous, mostly homosexual liaisons of his illustrious parents, diplomat Harold Nicolson and writer Vita Sackville-West; Sissinghurst Castle, England, Sept. 23, 2004.
Ramone, Johnny (John Cummings), 55, guitarist and songwriter considered the driving force behind the pioneering punk rock group the Ramones; Los Angeles, CA, Sept. 15, 2004.
Sagan, Françoise, 69, French writer who created an international sensation as a teenager with the 1954 publication of her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, about a teenage girl plotting to get rid of her father's mistress; Honfleur, France, Sept. 24, 2004.
by Joseph Gustaitis
Seventy-five years ago the United States experienced one of the most momentous days in its history. On October 29, 1929, a day that became irrevocably known as "Black Tuesday," the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) -- the world's largest --crashed, losing 12 percent of its value. In a mood that can only be described as a general panic, selling orders poured in from all over the country, an unheard-of 16.4 million shares were traded (a record that lasted for almost 40 years), and by the end of the day some stocks couldn't be sold at any price.
Black Tuesday had already been preceded by two other "black" days. On Black Thursday (October 24), 12.9 million shares changed hands and it was reported that 11 speculators had committed suicide. However, late on that day Richard Whitney, vice-president of the NYSE and floor broker of J.P. Morgan and Company, boldly purchased some dozen stocks, shoring up shaken investor confidence, and the market stabilized. Investors spent a nervous weekend hoping that the worst was over only to be greeted by Black Monday, on which 9.24 million shares were traded and the panic selling continued. It was now clear that a crisis had arrived; one could only pray that it would not be severe. Black Tuesday dashed that final glimmer of hope. On the following morning, October 30, 1929, the show business newspaper Variety published its now-classic headline, "Wall Street Lays an Egg."
It was an ostrich-sized egg: since mid-September the stock exchange had lost about 1/3 of its value - some 30 billion dollars. Another disastrous day on November 13 confirmed that something unprecedented was going on - foreign speculators were now being caught in the maelstrom and the disaster was becoming global. It was the beginning of the Great Depression. By the time the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its nadir in the summer of 1932, it was worth about 10 percent of its value in 1929.
Roots of the Depression
It's a common impression that the stock market crash caused the Great Depression. In fact the crash wasn't so much a cause as a symptom of fundamental difficulties in the national economy. Historians and economists still disagree on the roots of the crisis, but several factors have repeatedly been cited.
One was an uneven distribution of wealth and purchasing power. Wages rose in the U.S. during the 1920s but not nearly as fast as productivity. Encouraged by the Coolidge administration's policy of keeping interest rates low, industrial and agricultural production went up, but too little of the resulting profit went to consumers (farmers and unskilled workers were most notably left out). Although the Roaring Twenties are often nostalgically recalled as a time of carefree prosperity, more than half of U.S. families lived near or below the subsistence level. Eventually, this came to mean that U.S. factories, which had been inspired to expand production by low interest rates, were producing more than the public could consume, a precarious situation that economists describe as "too little money chasing too many goods."
Another major factor was a perilous decline in international trade - one largely fostered by protectionist policies in the U.S. For example, the Republican-backed Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 raised tariff levels to the highest level yet established. In June 1930, President Herbert Hoover, in an attempt to alleviate the pressures of the declining stock market, signed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act. It raised customs duties by an average of 20 percent, rendering barriers to foreign goods so high that it practically sealed the U.S. off from the rest of the world. More than 1000 economists had signed a petition warning Hoover that the legislation would have calamitous results; today most historians affirm that the act indeed worsened the Depression as foreign nations quickly passed retaliatory measures, thus strangling world trade.
The third factor most often brought up was wild stock market speculation facilitated by the Federal Reserve Board's policy of easy money. Banks willingly supplied cheap credit and investors snapped up stocks on margin - that is, they paid just part of the share price and borrowed the remainder. The value of stocks was many times greater than the annual earnings of the corporations - in other words, a classic bubble. It seemed that everyone wanted to get in on the action. At the end of 1925 the market value of all stocks was $27 billion; by October 1929 it was $87 billion.
It's often thought that Hoover did little to alleviate the Depression, relying instead on self-correcting free-market forces. However, late in his term he did ask Congress for funds for a $150-million public works program, and some of his ideas, such as relief measures, agricultural aid, and a Reconstruction Finance Corporation were willingly adopted by his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, Hoover, maintaining that inflation was the main danger, raised interest rates to cut down the money supply. The predicament, however, was just the opposite - deflation, and this issue was not addressed until Roosevelt's New Deal. This abandoned the gold standard and passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, or NIRA (later declared unconstitutional), legislation that depressed the drive to lower wages by establishing industrial codes that, in effect, stifled competition.
Presidents commonly, if often unfairly, take the blame for a bad economy, and given the scope of the crisis there was no way Hoover was going to be reelected. Roosevelt won the 1932 election overwhelmingly. In his inaugural address on March 4, 1933, Roosevelt noted, "This nation asked for action and action now." He responded with a torrent of legislation that, in addition to the NIRA, included the Emergency Banking Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and laws to regulate the securities market and set up the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). His administration established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Civilian Conservation Corps, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Public Works Administration, under which armies of the unemployed were put to work building dams, bridges, roads, and other public works projects.
And that was just the first phase of the program that became known as the New Deal. When the Depression intractably refused to fade (and after the Supreme Court struck down some of the early New Deal legislation), the Roosevelt administration responded with what has been called the Second New Deal, which strengthened the rights of organized labor, instituted the Fair Labor Standards Act, increased taxes on the wealthy, and, as one of its most enduring legacies, set up the Social Security Administration.
Reverberations Through Today
This mention of Social Security is a reminder that the consequences of the Great Depression are still with us every day. The Depression finally ended, but the New Deal, it could be said, never has. Among many aspects of American social and economic life permanently changed, two things stand out. First, although Roosevelt initially sought to balance the federal budget, eventually his New Dealers adopted the ideas of the British economist John Maynard Keynes, who argued that government deficit spending in times of economic woe could stimulate the economy. The theory, when first applied by Roosevelt, seemed to bring promising results, but it was not until the immense deficit spending of World War II, when government expenditures reached massive proportions, that the Depression was finally broken. The realization that government stimulation of the economy could have a beneficial effect on the nation was a lesson not lost on future presidents, and to this day, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, it is widely maintained that government deficits during recessions are permissible in order to invigorate the economy. Although Roosevelt's critics charged that his policies jeopardized the free-enterprise system, most citizens believed that he just might have spared the country an upheaval so severe that it could have led to a Communist regime, such as had appeared in Europe - that, in effect, he had "rescued" capitalism.
The second great legacy of the New Deal was that Roosevelt presided over a sweeping expansion of the government and of its powers, both legislative and executive. Henceforth, it became the prevailing conviction that the federal government not only had a role to play in maintaining a high level of production in the U.S. but also was obliged to provide Americans with a "safety net" of benefits such as unemployment insurance and social security. The era of "big government" had arrived.
In his State of the Union address of 1996, President Bill Clinton famously declared that the "era of big government" was over. As one analyst commented on this remark, "He didn't mean it and it didn't happen." Indeed, after the conservative Republican George W. Bush entered the presidency, he immediately decided that deficit spending, long the bete noire of conservatives, was just the dose of medicine needed to revive an economy in recession.
Then in November 2003, Bush did another seemingly unconservative thing by adding a pricey prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program, a New Deal-influenced program established in 1965 by the liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson. The $400-billion package was the largest expansion of Medicare since the program's inception. Some fiscal conservatives groused, but on the whole the American public accepted it without unease. After all, it was the kind of thing that they had come to expect of their government -- ever since the New Deal.
In the eyes of some people, stem cells are the key to achieving a number of lofty goals, such as developing a cure for cancer or extending the human lifespan. But for one German man who had part of his lower jaw removed because of a tumor, stem cells have provided a way to achieve a more down-to-earth ambition: enjoying a bratwurst sandwich.
The 56-year-old man had a 7-centimeter (2.75-inch) gap in his mandible (lower jaw) as a result of cancer surgery nine years earlier. Doctors had filled the gap with a titanium plate, but the man was unable to chew with it; he could eat only by slurping soft foods or soup from a spoon. He approached Patrick Warnke, a reconstructive facial surgeon at Germany's University of Kiel, in the hopes of having his mandible rebuilt. "This patient was really sick of living," Warnke told the Associated Press. "He demanded reconstruction."
In some cases, doctors have been able to reconstruct a patient's jawbone using part of a bone from elsewhere in the body--such as the leg or thigh. However, Warnke's patient was taking warfarin--a drug that prevents blood from clotting--as treatment for another condition; consequently, extracting a piece of bone might have resulted in serious excess bleeding.
So, Warnke's team decided to use an experimental technique that had previously been tested only on animals: it involves growing a replacement bone segment inside an individual's body, using adult stem cells from that individual's bone marrow. (Stem cells, in general, are cells that can turn into other kinds of cells in the body. Embryonic stem cells --those found in embryos--can turn into any kind of cell in the body, while adult stem cells--found in the organs and tissues of the body--are thought to be more limited in terms of the kinds of cells they can turn into.)
The researchers began the process by performing a CT scan of the patient's head, which allowed them to determine the precise dimensions for the new bone segment. (CT scanning, or computerized tomography, is a method of using X rays to produce a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body.)
Next, the team constructed a cage of titanium mesh that matched those dimensions, and filled it with several sugar-cube-sized blocks of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. This calcium-containing mineral is the primary inorganic, or carbon-free, component of bone. The blocks were coated in human BMP7, a protein that promotes bone growth.
The researchers then put 20 milliliters of the patient's bone marrow in the mesh cage, and implanted the cage inside one of the patient's latissimus dorsi muscles, or "lats" (the two large fan-shaped muscles that extend from the armpits to the lower back).
Four weeks later, a CT scan showed that bone was developing inside the cage. After another 3 weeks, the team removed the structure from the patient's back--along with some of the surrounding muscle and blood vessels--and fixed it into the gap in his mandible using titanium screws. Bone continued to develop inside the cage after it was transplanted into the patient's jaw.
One month after the structure was put in place, the patient ate his first solid meal in 9 years -- a sandwich with German sausage (bratwurst). "Even with his edentulous [toothless] jaws, he was now able to undertake a small amount of mastication [chewing]," Warnke and his colleagues wrote in their paper describing the procedure. The paper was published in the August 28, 2004 issue of the British medical journal Lancet.
As Stan Grothos, of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide, South Australia, points out in a commentary accompanying the paper, the study is remarkable in at least one respect. "A patient who had previously lost his mandible through the result of a destructive tumor can now sit down to chew his first solid meals in 9 years," Grothos writes, "courtesy of a new mandible-like structured implant, resulting in an improved quality of life for that individual."
However, the study raises a number of questions that must be answered before the technique can be heralded as a remarkable advance in stem cell technology. For example, it hasn't been demonstrated that the bone tissue in the replacement mandible arose from the bone marrow stem cells initially placed in the cage. The team's previous studies on minipigs (miniature pigs often used as experimental animals) had shown that BMP7 can cause adult stem cells in the latissimus dorsi region to turn into bone cells, even in the absence of bone marrow stem cells.
Moreover, as Grothos points out, more research is necessary to determine whether and how the function of the replacement jaw will differ from that of a real one, and what the long-term effects of the procedure might be.
Republican Convention Renominates Bush and Cheney-Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Richard Cheney were renominated Sept. 1 by delegates to the Republican National Convention, held in New York City. In a fiery convention keynote address, that day, Sen. Zell Miller (GA), a Democrat who has broken with his party, declared that on issues of freedom and security, Sen. John Kerry (MA), the Democratic presidential nominee, had been "more wrong, more weak and more wobbly" than any other national figure. Cheney, accepting his nomination Sept. 1, also attacked the Democratic nominee, arguing that he lacked the "ability and decisiveness" to defend the U.S.
Bush, in his acceptance speech Sept. 2, emphasized the war against terrorism, promising to build "a safer world and a more hopeful America." He hailed the liberation of more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq under his leadership. On the domestic front he Bush, reiterating previous positions, called for making his tax cuts permanent and allowing personal savings accounts as options in Social Security, saying "government should help people to improve their lives, not try to run their lives."
Pres. Clinton Undergoes Heart Operation-Former Pres. Bill Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Sept. 6, in a 4-hour procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Clinton, who was diagnosed with blockages after reporting chest pains, appeared to be making a satisfactory progress in recovery from the operation but was expected to be limited in making campaign efforts on behalf of Kerry.
Iraq Becomes Major Issue in Election Campaign-Issues relating to terrorism and the war in Iraq dominated debate between the major-party presidential candidates. Sen. Kerry charged Sept. 6 that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Speaking of the threat posed by terrorists, Vice Pres. Cheney warned Sept. 7 that "if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating." In a speech at New York Univ. Sept. 20, Kerry said the invasion had created a crisis "of historic proportions." He blamed the president for "colossal failures of judgment" in his approach to the war and reconstruction, and called for greater effort to attract UN and international support. Pres. Bush Sept. 20 defended his record and argued that Kerry's proposals already were contained in plans made public by the administration.
Bush and Kerry faced each other Sept. 30 at the University of Miami, in the first of 3 scheduled debates. Kerry attacked Bush vigorously on foreign policy, calling his prosecution of the Iraq war "a colossal error in judgment," while Bush accused Kerry of lacking a consistent position on Iraq. Polls taken immediately after the debate suggested more viewers thought Kerry had won the debate than Bush but did not show a clear impact on the presidential race.
9/11 Commission Proposals Receive Support-Legislators began to act on some of the proposals made in Aug. by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. On Sept. 7, Sens. John McCain (R, AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D, CT) introduced a bill to enact all 41 commission recommendations. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R, TN) said Sept. 8 that Pres. Bush had already moved to implement 36 of the proposals. Modifying his position, Bush agreed Sept. 8 that the proposed new national intelligence director should have full budgetary authority over the entire intelligence community, and that the position should be outside the executive office of the president.
CBS Report on Bush Military Record Is Alleged to Be Based on Forged Documents-CBS Sept. 8 reported on its news program and on 60 Minutes that Pres. Bush had failed to meet his responsibilities while a member of the National Guard in the 1970s. However, within days serious doubts were cast on the validity of key supporting documents, supposedly typewritten memos from the files of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, which described pressure to "sugarcoat" Lt. Bush's record because his father was a congressman and indicated that Bush had disobeyed an order to appear for a physical examination. Examination of the documents showed they appeared to have been produced on a computer, and experts consulted by CBS prior to airing of the report said they could not vouch for them. Killian's former secretary, Marian Carr Knox, said Sept. 14 that she had not typed the memos, although she said they reflected Killian's concerns at the time.
Texas Air National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett (ret), a Bush critic who gave the documents to CBS, did not reveal their genesis. Joe Lockhart, a leading aide to Sen. Kerry, conceded Sept. 20 that he himself had contacted Burkett at the request of CBS producer Mary Mapes. CBS News Pres. Andrew Heyward admitted the same day, "CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic," and CBS News anchor Dan Rather apologized on the air for what he called "an error made in good faith." CBS Sept. 22 established an independent panel headed by former PA Gov. Dick Thornburgh and former AP head Louis D. Boccardi to investigate the affair.
Ban on Purchase of Assault Weapons Expires-Congress did not renew the 1994 law that banned the manufacture and sale of 19 semiautomatic assault weapons and allowed it to expire on Sept. 13. Pres. Bush had said he favored renewing the ban, which included the AK-47 and the Uzi submachine gun, but he did not make efforts in its behalf. . Critics of the ban contended that manufacturers had been able to produce nearly identical weapons legally. Sen. John Kerry charged Sept. 13 that Bush "chose his powerful friends in the gun lobby over police officers and families that he had promised to protect."
Oil Price Hits $50 a Barrel-The price of oil hit an unwelcome milestone Sept. 28, topping $50 a barrel in intra-day trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The threat of civil war in oil-rich Nigeria, instability in Iraq, and the effects of Hurricane Ivan in the Gulf of Mexico helped spur the rate hike. Meanwhile, the jobs situation improved, with unemployment edging downward in August to 5.4%, according to a government report issued Sept. 3. Some 144,000 non-farm jobs were created, and the July figure was revised upward to 73,000.
Hundreds Killed After Terrorists Seize Russian School- At least 338 people, half of them children, were killed and hundreds more were wounded after Chechen terrorists occupied a school in the city of Beslan, in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, Sept. 1. In all, 1,200 people, mostly children ages 6 to 16 who were attending the first day of school, were held under oppressive conditions by a group demanding withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. On Sept. 2 , the captors released 31 women, children, and infants. On Sept. 3, a bomb placed by the terrorists exploded in the gymnasium where hostages were being held. As hostages began to flee, the terrorists opened fire, which prompted Russian security forces surrounding the school to return fire. During a 13-hour battle, 11 members of Russia's special forces were killed. Two days later, after a bloody siege, the surviving hostages escaped. Of the 32 terrorists, 31 were killed and one was captured.
Speaking to the Russian people Sept. 4, Pres. Vladimir Putin said that after the controlling ideology of the Soviet regime disappeared in the early 1990s, "We stopped paying due attention to issues of defense and security."
Violence Continues in Iraq-With a scheduled nationwide election just 4 months away, parts of Iraq remained in turmoil. On Sept. 7 the death toll for U.S. military personnel since the 2003 invasion reached 1,000, with nearly 7,000 wounded. Attacks by insurgents remained at a high level, with Iraqi civilian casualties also mounting.
Among other incidents, a suicide car bomber Sept. 4 killed 14 Iraqi police officers and 3 civilians in Kirkuk. Twelve policemen and 5 national guardsmen were killed during a joint operation the same day 4 with U.S. forces south of Baghdad. A car bomb near Fallujah Sept. 6 killed 7 U.S. marines and 3 Iraqi national guardsmen. Three Polish soldiers were killed in an ambush Sept. 12. After a suicide attack on a U.S. vehicle in Baghdad Sept. 12, U.S. helicopters fired on the vehicle where a crowd had gathered, killing 13 people, including a TV journalist; military officials said they needed to "prevent looting and harm to the Iraqi people." U.S. planes bombed what was believed to be a meeting place for militants in Fallujah Sept. 13, killing 20 people. A car bomb exploded in Baghdad Sept. 14, killing 47, many of whom were applying to join the police. Gunmen killed 11 policemen and a civilian in Baquba Sept. 14. U.S. air attacks south of Fallujah Sept. 16-17 killed more than 50 people according to local reports. A bomb exploding amid national guard recruits in Kirkuk, Sept. 18, killed 19. Fighting between anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces resumed in Baghdad Sept. 21. A bomb in Baghdad Sept. 22 killed 11 and wounded 54. On Sept. 25, U.S. air strikes in Falluja killed 9, 7 Iraqis applying for the national guard were killed in Baghdad, and the U.S. military reported that 4 marines and a soldier had been killed within 24 hours. On Sept. 30, as U.S. troops handed out candy at a ceremony inaugurating a sewage treatment plant, three bombs went off, killing more than 40 people, including about 35 children.
A classified CIA intelligence report issued in July and made public Sept. 16 foresaw the possibility of civil war in Iraq. Bush said Sept. 21 that the CIA was "just guessing" as to what might happen; he noted that the report had sketched a range of possible outcomes. Iraq's interim Prime Mini. Iyad Allawi, addressing a joint session of Congress Sept. 23, said that elections in Iraq would be held on schedule in January. He and Bush, after meeting at the White House, gave an upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq.
A group believed led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posted videos on the internet Sept. 20-21 depicting the beheading of 2 American civilians who had been kidnapped Sept. 16. The group had said that the men, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, would die unless the United States freed all Iraqi women that it was holding in prisons. The same group was holding a British citizen. Another group claimed Sept. 19 that 3 captive Kurds had been killed. Two Italian women, kidnapped Sept. 7 during raid on their Baghdad office, were released Sept. 28. Details of the release and conditions were unclear.
UN Urged to Stop Genocide in Sudan-Sec. of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sept. 9 that Sudan's government and Arab militias had committed genocide against the black people of the Darfur region. Over the past 18 months some 50,000 people had been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless, after Arab militias raided their towns and villages. Pres. Bush Sept. 9 urged the UN and the international community to put a stop to the violence. A UN Security Council resolution Sept. 18 called for Sudan to put an end to the killings.
Putin Proposes Government Changes-Russian Pres. Putin Sept. 13 proposed major changes in the Russian political system said to be aimed at strengthening the nation's resistance to terrorism. He said that the heads of the Russian Federation's 89 administrative regions should hereafter be appointed by the federation president rather than be chosen in a public election. In addition, all 450 members of the State Duma, the lower house of the national legislature, would be chosen from party lists, based on the nationwide vote. Currently only half of the Duma members were chosen in that way, while the rest were elected in individual districts. The reforms would require legislative approval. Pres. Bush, while supporting Putin's struggle against terrorism, said Sept. 15 that he was concerned that his approach "could undermine democracy in Russia."
Iran Rejects Plea to End Its Enrichment of Uranium-The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency Sept. 18 asked Iran to stop its enrichment of uranium, which was a step toward producing fuel for either nuclear reactors or bombs. Iran had said that its program was for peaceful purposes only, and on Sept. 19 it rejected any limit on its right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran confirmed Sept. 21 that it had begun to convert yellowcake uranium into a gas used in the enrichment.
Israel Launches Gaza Assault - In the worst violence in 2 years, at least 28 Palestinians and 3 Israelis were killed Sept. 30 when Israeli tanks and armored vehicles moved into Jabaliya refugee camp, a hotbed for militants, in northern Gaza, in response to persistent Palestinian rocket fire.
3 More Hurricanes Lash Florida; 1,500 Are Killed in Haiti-Florida and the Caribbean took a beating in September from 3 more hurricanes, bringing to 4 the total that had swept through the region in less than 2 months. (Not since Texas in 1886 had a single state sustained had 4 hurricanes in one year.) Two weeks after Hurricane Charley moved north from Florida, Hurricane Frances hit the Turks and Caicos Islands Sept. 1, then moved to the Bahamas Sept. 2, causing widespread damage. Florida officials Sept. 2 ordered 2.5 million residents to evacuate, and Pres. George W. Bush Sept. 4 declared the entire state of Florida a federal disaster zone. On Sept. 5, Frances entered the U.S. north of Palm Beach and cut across Florida to the northwest, before entering the Gulf of Mexico; more than 30 people in the U.S. were killed. Damage in Florida from Frances and Charley combined was over $10 billion.
On Sept. 7 Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada with 125 mph winds, killing about 40 people; it was upgraded Sept. 9 to a category 5 hurricane, the highest classification, with 160 mph sustained winds. Ivan hit the U.S. shore between Mobile, AL, and Pensacola, FL, Sept. 16; it set off tornadoes as far north as Maryland-about 30 in Virginia alone-and caused widespread flooding. The death toll for Ivan was put at over 50 in the U.S. and 70 in the Caribbean; insured damages in the U.S. were estimated at between $3 billion and $6 billion.
Jeanne, the most lethal of the 4 storms, reached the island of Hispaniola Sept. 16. About 20 people died in the Dominican Republic, while on Haiti at least 1,500 lost their lives. Haitians continued to suffer health problems from a lack of food and safe drinking water. Jeanne finally hit the east coast of Florida, north of West Palm Beach, Sept. 26; by the next day it reached southwestern Georgia. A total of 6 people in the U.S. died as a result of Hurricane Ivan.
Rape Charge Against Basketball Star Dismissed-The judge in the sexual assault case against pro basketball star Kobe Bryant dismissed a rape charge against him Sept. 1 at the request of prosecutors, who said that the alleged victim had decided not to testify. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers. The alleged assault had occurred in 2003 in Eagle, CO, where the trial was held. A medical exam of the woman after she was with Bryant in his room revealed DNA samples from Bryant. Her blood was on his T-shirt. Bryant asserted that his relations with her had been consensual.
Two Russian Women in U.S. Tennis Open Final-In an unexpected finale in the women's singles competition at the U.S. Open in New York City Sept. 11, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 9th seed, defeated Elena Dementieva, the 6th seed, 6-3, 7-5. Both women were from Russia. On Sept. 12, Roger Federer of Switzerland, the top seed, defeated Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, 6-0, 7-6 ,6-0. Federer had won 2 of the other 3 2004 Grand Slam events, the Australian and Wimbledon titles.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, awarded the 2003-2004 Primetime Emmys, for programs and individual achievements, on the 56th Annual Emmy Awards, Sunday, Sept. 19, in Los Angeles. The cable network HBO came away with the most wins, a total of 32, including a record 11 wins for the epic miniseries, Angels in America.
Drama Series: "The Sopranos," HBO.
HE WAS NOT A CROOK--A man was arrested Sept. 5 for theft of services, and faced the possibility of up to a year in jail, after he refused to pay part of a mandatory 18% "gratuity" imposed on parties of 6 or more people at Soprano's Italian and American Grill in Lake George, NY.. The man, Humberto Taveras, 41, said he was dissatisfied with the service, and coughed up only 10%. As it turned out, Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan decided to drop the charges; after researching case law she concluded that a "gratuity" cannot be made obligatory. But she added that Taveras would have been required to pay the 18% if it had been imposed as a "service fee" or "surcharge." Restaurant owner Joe Soprano (no relation to a certain more famous individual) said he had pursued the charge because Taveras' s group was obnoxious. Taveras expressed relief at the outcome noting that "Now I can tell my kids, 'Daddy's not a crook.' "
YOU MAY NOT WANT TO TRY THIS YOURSELF--One day in September, a Turkish construction worker named Ilker Yilmaz may have made history. He poured milk into his hand, inhaled it vigorously, and then squirted it a good distance into the air out of his left eye. Organizers of the event (sponsored by a Turkish milk company) said the milk went 9.2 feet, beating a record of 8.745 feet set in 2001 by Mike Moraal of Vancouver, British Columbia, according to the Guinness Book of Records website. How does a person get into this kind of undertaking? Yilmaz said he discovered years ago, when swimming with friends, that he could squirt water out of his eye. When he saw the feat done with milk on TV, he was inspired to try it out himself. At the September exhibition he made two unsuccessful attempts, and then, triumph.
The Newseum in Arlington, VA, asked journalists and historians to select the top 100 news stories of the 20th century. The following list is the result. Stories are ranked in order of importance as determined by survey respondents.
1. United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki: Japan surrenders to end World War II. 1945
Answers to last month's Academy Award trivia questions:
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief
Okay, this month my Dad (Fred) and I celebrate our birthdays within 5 days of each other, so this is the month we celebrate Fred's and Edward's. Fred Astaire has been considered one of the greatest dancers of the silver screen. In ten films he and Ginger Rogers danced from Rio to Broadway, becoming one of the most famous on-screen couples in history. To learn more about Astaire, visit http://www.fredastaire.net/. I have to admit that although Mister Rogers (Fred) was considered a cultural icon, I never saw his show, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" (I was more a "Captain Kangaroo" kind of guy). In his signature red cardigan sweater, Mr. Rogers taught and entertained children, with an eye towards kindness and compassion. Pay a visit to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood at http://pbskids.org/rogers/. Want to learn more about famous Fred's? Visit the Fred Society at http://www.fredsociety.com/. While some film buff have an indelible memory of Edward G. Robinson in the role of Rico Bandello in the 1930 film Little Caesar, the one that stands out in my mind, is Robinson's last role as Sol Roth in the 1973 Soylent Green. The setting is New York City in 2022, and natural foods are all but extinct, but the government now supplies a new mysterious food product called Soylent green.To learn more about the 45-year career of Robinson, visit: http://www.moderntimes.com/egr/. Edward VIII, the eldest child of George V and Mary of Teck, adbicated his throne, as King of England, in 1936, just eleven months in, to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. He is the only British monarch to have ever volunarily abdicated the throne. Visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2701965.stm to learn more about Edward, and view his letter of abdication at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/museum/item.asp?item_id=45. There is a very famous Edward Hopper painting, Nighthawks (1942), that shows the loneliness of sitting in a diner, in a large city. Once you see the image, you'll recognize it. To learn more about Hopper, visit http://www.artchive.com/artchive/H/hopper.html#images.
In October 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old gay college student, was beaten, tortured, and then tied to a split rail fence and left to die, by two men who pretended to be gay, in Laramie, Wyoming. Shepard died six days after his attack. How fitting then, that one of October's designations, is as Diversity Awareness Month. The Matthew Shepard Foundation http://www.matthewshepard.org/, was created to educate and inform the public on acceptance and civil rights, regardless of sex, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or expression. ...There is a cancer myth that men cannot get breast cancer. In fact, 1,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 400 will die. This is just one of the cancer myths that is explored at the National Breast Cancer Foundation website http://nationalbreastcancer.org/, where you can learn about early detection, signs & symptoms, and research. ...While I was on Grand Jury duty this past spring, several domestic violence cases came through the courthouse. Domestic violence occurs when one person uses force to inflict injury, emotional or physical, upon someone they have a relationship with. The American Bar Association http://www.abanet.org/domviol/mrdv/identify.html has a list of basic warning signs, and recommends that if you are a victim of abuse, you contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. ...I can't be the only person who thought a Vegan was a character from Star Trek. Vegans are people who do not eat meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, or any other animal products. At Vegan Action http://www.vegan.org/, you can learn how to live and eat the Vegan life, just in time for Vegetarian Month.
People who know me pretty well, won't be surprised to learn that I have the Smokey the Bear badge that I got when I was around 5 years old. This year, Smokey the Bear turned 60. The Smokey Bear campaign (yes, originally his name did not include the word, "the"), is the longest running public service campaign in U.S. history. For over 50 years, the message of the campaign was to prevent forest fires, but in 2001, the message was changed to address the increasing number of wildfires in the nation's wildlands. To learn more about Smokey and his message, visit: http://www.smokeybear.com/.
On October 28, 2004, the way Americans do banking with regard to their checking accounts, is going to change. The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act ("Check 21"), takes away the return of your original paper checks and replaces them with electronic images of your checks, also known as "substitute checks." A main tenet of this act, is that checks will clear much quicker, which will increase the risk that a check will bounce if funds are not in the account when you write the check. To learn more about this act, visit:http://www.consumersunion.org/finance/ckclear1002.htm and http://www.federalreserve.gov/paymentsystems/truncation/default.htm.
I once won a $500 shopping spree through IKEA, and was filmed going through the store, to demonstrate my shopping habits. That day, over 5 years ago, is imprinted in my mind, because I was mistaken for Bob Villa, the home improvements guy. The problem I had with it, is that Bob Villa is 14 years old than I am! Do you look like a celebrity? Check out http://www.peoplesayilooklike.com/ to see people who've submitted their photographs, and see if they look like your favorite celebrities.
Who is Lew Wallace, and why am I giving him a mention in this month's E-Newsletter? General Lew Wallace was a Civil War veteran, governor of the New Mexico Territory, U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire, and the author of one of the best selling novels of the 19th century, Ben Hur. Wallace wrote his book while living in Crawfordsville, Indiana, a town of 15,530 (2002), where I have been traveling on business. To learn more about Wallace, and his famous book, visit: http://www.ben-hur.com/.
Weird websites of the month: The Condiment Packet Museum: http://www.clearfour.com/condiment/.
World Almanac E-Newsletter
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