The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 05, Number 04 - April 2005

 

 

 

What's in this issue?

April Events
April Holidays - National and International
This Day In History - April
April Birthdays
Travel: Saratoga Springs
Obituaries - March 2005
Special Feature: Apollo 13
Chronology - Events of March 2005
Science in the News: The Biology of Bedtime
Offbeat News Stories
From The World Almanac - Names for Animal Young
Links of the Month
How to reach us

April Events

April 1 - Medieval Fair (Norman, OK)
April 1-3 - Hans Christian Andersen Fairytale Weekend 2005 (Denmark)
April 3 - Daylight Saving Time begins in U.S.; Major League Baseball opening day
April 4 - NCAA men’s basketball championship (St. Louis, MO); Pulitzer Prizes announced
April 5 - NCAA women’s basketball championship (Indianapolis, IN)
April 7-9 - Lonesome River Band Music Fest (Live Oak, FL)
April 7-10 - Masters golf tournament; French Quarter Festival (New Orleans, LA)
April 10-16 - Pan American Week
April 14-17 - Puyallup Spring Fair (Puyallup, WA)
April 15-17 - National Youth Service Days
April 16-17 - California Poppy Festival (Lancaster, CA)
April 18 - Boston Marathon
April 20-24 - Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival (Champaign, IL)
April 21 - Aggie Muster (Texas A&M University)
April 22-24 - Panopoly 2005 (Huntsville, AL)
April 22-May 1 - New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 23-24 - NFL Draft (New York, NY)
April 25-May 1 - National TV Turnoff Week



April Holidays - National and International

April 1 - April Fool’s Day
April 17 - Ellis Island Family History Day
April 18 - Patriots’ Day
April 21 - Mawlid
April 22 - Earth Day
April 24 - Passover
April 27 - Administrative Professionals Day
April 28 - Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
April 29 - Arbor Day



IT'S A FACT!

The Caspian Sea is the largest natural lake in the world, with an area of 143,244 sq. mi.


This Day In History - April

Day

Year

Event

01

1999

Canada establishes a new territory, Nunavut, to provide autonomy for the Inuit people.

02

1513

Juan Ponce de León discovers Florida and claims it for Spain.

03

1865

The Confederate capital of Richmond, VA, surrenders to Union troops.

04

1841

Pres. William Henry Harrison dies after only 1 month in office.

05

1999

Russell Henderson pleads guilty in the 1998 beating death of gay student Matthew Shepard.

06

1947

The first Tony Awards are presented for theatrical achievements.

07

1948

The World Health Organization is established by the UN.

08

1974

Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves breaks Babe Ruth's career home run record when he hits #715 in Atlanta.

09

1865

The Civil War ends when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders 27,800 Confederate troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA.

10

1942

Japanese soldiers herd American and Filipino prisoners together to begin the Bataan "death march."

11

1968

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law.

12

1945

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt dies at age 63 in Warm Springs, GA; Harry S. Truman becomes president.

13

1742

Handel's Messiah has its premiere in Dublin, Ireland.

14

1894

Thomas Edison's kinetoscope, or motion picture machine, is given its first public showing.

15

1955

The first McDonald's opens, in Des Plaines, IL.

16

1947

Nearly 600 are killed after an explosion on the nitrate-laden freighter Grandcamp at Texas City, TX.

17

1989

The Polish government grants legal status to the Solidarity labor union.

18

1775

Paul Revere and William Dawes make their historic rides to alert American patriots that the British are coming to Concord, MA.

19

1995

A truck bomb explodes outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, killing 168.

20

1912

Boston's Fenway Park opens with a Red Sox victory.

21

1885

The first railroad train crosses the Mississippi on the river's first bridge, from Rock Island, IL, to Davenport, IA.

22

2000

Armed U.S. Immigration agents stage predawn raid to seize 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elián González from his Miami relatives and reunite him with his father.

23

1985

Coca-Cola announces a change in formula to produce New Coke.

24

1980

Eight Americans are killed and 5 wounded in an ill-fated attempt to rescue the hostages held by Iranian militants.

25

1953

A journal article by scientists James D. Watson and Francis Crick describes the structure of DNA for the first time.

26

2000

Vermont governor Harold Dean (D) signs a controversial bill granting same-sex couples the right to enter into "civil unions."

27

1947

Babe Ruth, fatally ill with cancer, makes an appearance at Yankee Stadium, while Babe Ruth Day is celebrated in ballparks around the country.

28

1945

Italian partisans kill Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

29

1975

The United States begins evacuating Americans and some South Vietnamese from Saigon as Communist forces complete their takeover of South Vietnam.

30

1945

Adolf Hitler commits suicide in a Berlin bunker.


April Birthdays

Day

Year

 

01

1947

David Eisenhower, author, grandson of Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, and son-in-law of Pres. Richard Nixon (West Point, NY)

02

1955

Dana Carvey, actor/comedian (Missoula, MT)

03

1971

Picabo Street, Olympic champion skier (Triumph, ID)

04

1965

Robert Downey Jr., actor (New York, NY)

05

1920

Arthur Hailey, author (Luton, England)

06

1975

Zach Braff, actor (South Orange, NJ)

07

1951

Janis Ian, singer/songwriter (New York, NY)

08

1955

Barbara Kingsolver, author (Annapolis, MD)

09

1939

Michael Learned, actress (Washington, DC)

10

1915

Harry Morgan, actor (Detroit, MI)

11

1928

Ethel Kennedy, widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (Greenwich, CT)

12

1933

Montserrat Caballe, opera singer (Barcelona, Spain)

13

1937

Lanford Wilson, writer (Lebanon, MO)

14

1935

Loretta Lynn, country singer (Butcher Hollow, KY)

15

1990

Emma Watson, actress (Oxford, England)

16

1955

Ellen Barkin, actress (New York, NY)

17

1961

Norman "Boomer" Esiason, football player (West Islip, NY)

18

1959

Susan Faludi, feminist writer (New York, NY)

19

1979

Kate Hudson, actress (Los Angeles, CA)

20

1920

John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court justice (Chicago, IL)

21

1935

Charles Grodin, actor/TV personality (Pittsburgh, PA)

22

1908

Eddie Albert, actor (Rock Island, IL)

23

1955

Judy Davis, actress (Perth, Australia)

24

1942

Barbra Streisand, singer/actress/director (Brooklyn, NY)

25

1964

Hank Azaria, actor (Forest Hills, NY)

26

1917

I. M. Pei, architect (Canton, China)

27

1945

August Wilson, playwright (Pittsburgh, PA)

28

1981

Jessica Alba, actress (Pomona, CA)

29

1955

Kate Mulgrew, actress (Dubuque, IA)

30

1955

Jane Campion, director (Wellington, New Zealand)


Travel: Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs is a small town with a big reputation. Located in the outskirts of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, it gained fame in the 19th century for its therapeutic mineral waters (the town was known as the "Queen of Spas"), its horse racing, and its casino, emerging as a major resort for fashionable society. In the 1870s the Grand Union Hotel was said to be the largest in the world. The town fell into decline for much of the 20th century. But it rebounded, and today it is once again a popular tourist destination. Spa lovers can still find places to take the waters, and the area now boasts more than a dozen golf courses. In addition, the city has remolded itself as an arts center. Meanwhile, it remains an important venue for fans of horse racing and other equestrian events, particularly in the warmer months. There’s harness racing; and the Saratoga Race Course, reputedly the oldest operating Thoroughbred track in the U.S., is a major draw in the latter part of the summer. Plus the polo season runs from June to September. Earlier in the year, on Memorial Day weekend, the annual Saratoga ARC Festival & Dressage, offers a variety of events extending far beyond the equine ballet of dressage. The 2005 edition is scheduled for May 28-30.

Dressage and more

The Saratoga ARC Festival & Dressage has been listed as one of the top five events in New York State by the state tourism department, and has been chosen as one of the top hundred events in North America for group travel by the American Bus Association. The race course is the prime venue for the Memorial Day weekend festivities. In dressage - a term derived from the French dresser, meaning "to train" - the rider causes the horse to perform a series of complicated movements; the focus is not on speed but on precise execution, controlled by the rider. Other offerings in the Saratoga ARC Festival & Dressage in recent years have been devoted to costumed horses, dog agility (traversing a timed obstacle course), crafts, performing llamas, classic automobiles, and Elvis impersonators. Entertainment and children's activities have also been focuses of the weekend. Income from the event goes to benefit the Saratoga ARC Foundation, which aids developmentally disabled persons living at home with family members.

The season at the Saratoga Race Course runs from late July to late August or early September. A highlight is the Travers Stake near the end of August. It's the centerpiece of weeklong festivities. Right across from the race course is the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, featuring memorabilia, a collection of equine art, interactive exhibits, and a children's gallery.

Performing arts

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, located in Saratoga Spa State Park, hosts Freihofer's Jazz Festival in late June, the New York City Ballet in July, and the Philadelphia Orchestra in August, as well as occasional rock concerts by major-name performers. The Spa Little Theater, also in the state park, is the venue for productions by the Lake George Opera in late June and July, followed by the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival in August. A well-known folk venue is the Caffé Lena, on Phila Street, which claims to be "our nation's oldest continuously operated coffee house."

The former Washington Bath House, an Arts and Crafts-style structure in Saratoga Spa State Park dating from 1918, is the home of the National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame, said to be the only museum in the U.S. devoted to American professional dance. The museum's holdings include photographs, videos, costumes, and artifacts, as well as biographies and archives. It has dance studios and conducts educational programs.

Shopping and strolling through history

Shoppers will enjoy the town’s boutiques, antique shops, and bookstores, as well as the galleries in the Art District on Beekman Street. Saratoga Springs actually has several historic districts, with hundreds of well-preserved charming Victorian structures, which make for a pleasant stroll.

For history buffs, however, the Saratoga area's attractions go far beyond 19th-century architecture. American forces' victories in the region in 1777 played a crucial role in the American Revolution. The battles are memorialized in the Saratoga National Historical Park. Grant Cottage State Historic Site close to the top of Mt. McGregor, near Saratoga Springs, preserves the Adirondack-style house where former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, insolvent and dying of throat cancer, came to finish his memoirs. The interior is as it was when Grant passed away in July 1885.

The New York State Military and Veteran's Museum, located in a 19th-century armory in Saratoga Springs, has artifacts dating from even earlier than the revolution. Its holdings - also including photographs, records, manuscripts, and oral history tapes - rank among the best military history collections in the U.S. The town's famous 19th-century casino still exists, although it no longer is a gambling mecca. It now houses a museum delineating the history of Saratoga Springs.

The 2200-acre (890-ha) Saratoga Spa State Park is a recreation center, boasting springs, swimming pools, bath houses, golf courses, picnic areas, trails, and the like in addition to its performing arts facilities. But it also is a national historic landmark and is the site of the Georgian Revival-style Gideon Putnam Hotel and the old Saratoga Bottling Plant, which, now renovated, houses the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

A visit to the nearby village of Ballston Spa will provide an opportunity to see not only more fine Victorian homes but also a living monument to a major artifact from the heyday of the region's mineral water spas: the bottle. Ballston Spa is the location of the National Bottle Museum, which focuses particularly on the history of bottles produced in the 18th- and 19th-century, before modern manufacturing methods were introduced. Millions of bottles were made by hand and lung power in the Saratoga region alone. In addition to thousands of bottles on display, the museum has a research library and facilities for demonstrating glassblowing techniques.

Websites:
National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame http://www.dancemuseum.org
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame http://www.racingmuseum.org
Saratoga ARC Festival & Dressage http://www.saratogaarcfestival.org
Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau http://www.discoversaratoga.org
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce http://www.saratoga.org


IT'S A FACT!

In 2002, there were zero fatal airline accidents in 10.1 million departures.


Obituaries in March 2005

Bethe, Hans, 98, German-trained physicist who won a Nobel Prize (1967) for explaining how stars generate energy and was a key figure in public debates on nuclear issues; Ithaca, NY, March 6, 2005.

Callaghan, James (Lord Callaghan of Cardiff), 92, elder statesman of Britain's Labour Party who was chancellor of the exchequer, home secretary and foreign secretary before serving as prime minister from 1976 to 1979; Ringmer, England, March 26, 2005.

Cochran, Johnnie, 67, lawyer best known for leading the "dream team" that successfully defended former football star O.J. Simpson in the latter's 1995 double murder trial; Los Angeles, CA, March 29, 2005.

Davis, Glenn, 80, lightning-swift halfback who teamed with fullback Doc Blanchard on the undefeated Army football teams of the mid-1940s to form perhaps the greatest backfield in college football history; La Quinta, CA, March 9, 2005.

DeLorean, John Z., 80, gifted automobile designer who left General Motors to found his own company, which manufactured about 9,000 sleek sports cars before going bankrupt in 1982, after which he was tried and acquitted of cocaine dealing; Summit, NJ, March 19, 2005.

Heflin, Howell, 83, conservative Democrat from Alabama who was chief justice of his state's high court before serving three terms in the U.S. Senate (1979-97); Sheffield, AL, March 29, 2005.

Kennan, George F., 101, diplomat who was the main architect of the "containment" strategy that shaped U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and who after he left the State Department had a lengthy career as a historian and intellectual; Princeton, NJ, March 17, 2005.

Linowitz, Sol M., 91, lawyer and businessman who after serving as chairman of Xerox Corp. (1960-66) went on to a life of diplomacy and presidential counseling, particularly during the Carter administration (1977-81); Washington, DC, March 18, 2005.

Schiavo, Terri, 41, severely brain-damaged woman kept alive by a feeding tube since 1990, whose husband since 1998 had been embroiled in a legal battle with her parents to have the tube removed; Pinellas Park, FL, March 31, 2005, 13 days after the tube was removed for the third time.

Short, Bobby, 80, cabaret singer and pianist, renowned for his interpretations of the music of Cole Porter, who, though born into a black family of modest means, became a high-society figure in New York City, where he was a fixture at the elegant Café Carlisle from 1968 to 2004; New York NY, March 21, 2005.

Tange, Kenzo, 91, Japanese architect who designed the Hiroshima peace park as well as the twin stadiums for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and who in 1987 became the first Japanese architect to win the coveted Pritzker Prize; Tokyo, Japan, March 22, 2005.

Wright, Teresa, 86, one of Hollywood's leading actresses in the 1940s who, uniquely, was nominated for an Academy Award for each of her first three films; the third of these nominations, for Mrs. Miniver (1942), yielded her the Oscar for best supporting actress in 1943; New Haven, CT, March 6, 2005.



Special Feature: Apollo 13

by Joseph Gustaitis

This month marks the 35th anniversary of a day that ended one of the tensest episodes in U.S. history. It was on April 17, 1970 that the spacecraft Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific, thus concluding a gripping flight that had the entire world holding its breath for 3 ˝ days.

When Apollo 13 was launched on the afternoon of April 11, it was what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) called a Type H mission, "a precision piloted lunar landing demonstration and systematic lunar exploration." Two previous flights, Apollo 11 and Apollo 12, had landed astronauts on the moon. This one was intended to explore an area of what is known as the Fra Mauro formation, to deploy a lunar surface experiments package, to learn more about working in the lunar environment, and to bring back photographs of other possible exploration sites.

The crew consisted of Navy Comdr. James Arthur Lovell Jr., who was then the record-holder for number of space flights and hours in space; Fred Wallace Haise Jr., a civilian and the pilot of the lunar module (LM); and John Leonard "Jack" Swigert Jr., pilot of the command service module (CSM), who was also a civilian. Swigert became a last-minute replacement for Navy Lieutenant Comdr. Thomas K. Mattingly after it was learned that Mattingly had been exposed to rubella (German measles) eight days before the scheduled launch and had no immunity to the illness.

The fully assembled Apollo 13 spaceship consisted primarily of four detachable segments--two forming the CSM and two forming the LM. The CSM consisted of the command module (CM), which held the crew compartment and most of the flight controls and instruments, and the service module (SM), which contained the main engine and its propellants, oxygen tanks and fuel-cell power plants. The LM was comprised of the four-legged descent stage, which would carry the astronauts to the lunar surface, and the ascent stage, which contained the cabin and engine that would bring the lunar explorers back to the CSM, which would be orbiting the moon.

Among those watching the blastoff at Kennedy Space Center Launch complex 39, Pad A, were U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and West German Chancellor Willy Brandt.Despite an inconsequential glitch in the second stage's center engine, the liftoff and ascent were normal, and after spending about two-and-a-half hours making one-and-a-half orbits of the Earth, the spacecraft was sent on its way to the moon, entering what NASA called the "translunar coast." Early in the voyage, the crew took photographs of Earth in order to analyze the atmospheric winds. About 30 hours into the flight, the crew performed a slight midcourse correction to bring the spacecraft on a track to approach the moon at an altitude of 60 miles. On April 12, Swigert joked that he hadn’t filed his federal income tax return, which was due three days later, but amused Manned Spacecraft Center officials assured him they would get him an extension.

About 55 hours into the flight, when the spacecraft was about 200,000 miles from Earth, the crew wrapped up a half-hour television broadcast showing how they lived and worked in weightlessness. Lovell signed off saying, "This is the crew of Apollo 13 wishing everybody there a nice evening, and we're just about ready to close out our inspection of Aquarius [the LM] and get back for a pleasant evening in Odyssey [the CM]. Good night." Everything seemed to be going beautifully - until they heard a "bang." As Lovell put it, "Nine minutes later the roof fell in; rather, oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing No. 1 tank also to fail. We came to the slow conclusion that our normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost, and we were about 200,000 miles from Earth." When Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, he uttered the line that has become a classic of sangfroid: "Houston, we've had a problem here." Thirteen minutes after the explosion, Lovell looked out of the left-hand window and saw something venting into space. It was oxygen escaping at a high rate from the second, and last, oxygen tank. It was later reported that some amateur astronomers in Houston actually saw the expanding sphere of gas around the spacecraft.

One of many emergency procedures worked out before the flight was the possible use of the LM as a "lifeboat" should some mishap cripple the CMA. And that’s just what the astronauts decided to do. The moon landing, obviously, was cancelled without discussion. But the spacecraft could not just make a U-turn and head back to Earth. It would use less power if it would round the moon and use the moon’s gravity to propel the spaceship back towards the Earth, bringing it home a day earlier than a normal free-return trajectory.

It was about 20 hours after the "bang" that the spacecraft circled around the moon, losing all contact with ground control for a tense 24 minutes, 35 seconds. Lovell told his partners, "Boys, take a good look at the moon. It's going to be a long time before anybody gets up here again." When it reemerged, engineers calculated that it had some 66 hours to go before reaching home. The LM, which was meant to support two men for two days, was now going to have to support three men for nearly four days. On the return, the astronauts needed to conserve the LM’s limited oxygen and power, but according to Lovell, the real problem was water. The LM's relatively small water supply was needed to cool the spaceship's electronics systems, leaving precious little for the crew. And since much of the food was dehydrated and thus needed water to make it edible, the crew couldn’t eat it and relied on a few hot dogs and some wet-pack foods. Astronauts often lose weight on spaceflights, but on this one Lovell lost 14 pounds and the entire crew lost a total of 31 ˝ pounds. In addition, they had to turn down the heat to save power. Temperatures got so low (38°F) that the shivering astronauts found it almost impossible to sleep.

Three course-correcting blasts of the descent engine were required as Apollo 13 hurtled through space toward the Earth. The third came on the morning of April 17, at which time the spacecraft was 48,000 miles from the Earth and moving at a speed of 6, 600 mph. About five hours before landing, the astronauts jettisoned the service module and they were able to see how much it had been damaged. One whole side of the spacecraft was missing. As Lovell later explained, they were glad they hadn’t realized how serious the damage actually was. When the spaceship splashed down a little after 1 p.m., it was only 3 ˝ miles away from the waiting recovery carrier Iwo Jima and about 610 miles southeast of American Samoa. The crew was taken to Honolulu, where President Richard Nixon met them and presented each member with the Medal of Freedom.

On June 15, NASA released the report of an investigation by a review board, in which 300 scientists, engineers and technicians performed 100 tests. The report concluded that "the accident was not the result of a chance malfunction in a statistical sense but, rather, resulted from an unusual combination of mistakes, coupled with a somewhat deficient design." The mistakes began when Beech Aircraft, the oxygen tank's manufacturer, installed the wrong safety switches in the tank. Remarkably, contrary to Lovell’s view, the alarming accident did not long delay NASA’s return to the moon. On February 5 of the following year, two astronauts from Apollo 14 landed on the moon, becoming the third duo to tread upon the lunar surface.

As nerve-racking as it was, at least Apollo 13 turned out all right. But there have, of course, been disasters, including the loss of the crew of Apollo 1, which was destroyed by fire during a training exercise on January 27, 1967, killing the first three Apollo astronauts, Virgil I. Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee. Then there were the unforgettable disasters of the U.S. space shuttle program - the Challenger explosion of 1986 that killed seven astronauts shortly after takeoff and the tragedy of 2003 in which the Columbia broke apart on reentry and took the lives of its seven crew members.

As NASA makes plans to extend humanity’s exploration of space and sets its eyes on returning to the moon and eventually reaching Mars, the story of Apollo 13 and the memory of the calamities that have afflicted the U.S. space programs serve as vivid reminders that although space exploration is glamorous and exhilarating, it is an endeavor fraught with peril.


IT'S A FACT!

Workers in Italy have, on average, 42 vacation days per year.


Chronology - Events of March 2005

National

     U.S. Supreme Court Ends Executions for Crimes by Juveniles - The Court Mar. 1 ruled, 5-4, that the execution of convicts who had committed their crimes before the age of 18 was unconstitutional. The case involved Christopher Simmons of Missouri who had been convicted of raping and killing a woman when he was 17. Writing for the majority in the case known as Roper v. Simmons, Justice Anthony Kennedy asserted that the execution of juveniles violated the 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. His opinion concluded that juveniles as a group had "an undeveloped sense of responsibility." He noted a growing national consensus on the issue since 1989, when the court had upheld the execution of convicts age 16 and 17. Kennedy also noted that the U.S. was one of only 8 countries that had executed juveniles since 1990. When the Supreme Court ruled, 72 juveniles in 12 states were on death row.

     Bush Makes 2 Provocative Nominations - Pres. George W. Bush Mar. 7 nominated Undersec. of State for Arms Control and frequent U.N. critic John Bolton to succeed John Danforth as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. On Mar. 16, the president nominated Deputy Defense Sec. Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Wolfowitz had been a chief advocate and architect of the war in Iraq, including postwar U.S. policies.

     WorldCom’s Former CEO Convicted of Fraud - Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom Inc., was convicted on 9 criminal counts of fraud and conspiracy Mar. 15 in U.S. District Court in New York City. Ebbers had built WorldCom Inc. into a telecommunications giant before it collapsed into a $107 billion bankruptcy in 2002, the largest ever in U.S. history. Ebbers was subsequently charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, and filing false securities documents. His principal accuser, former CFO Scott Sullivan, testified that Ebbers had told him to meet profit projections by disguising fees paid out. Prosecutors also presented evidence that showed other ways in which the company had manipulated financial records. Ebbers, who claimed that he had not paid attention to the details of the company’s finances, will appeal the verdict.

     Shiavo Dies After Epic Legal Battle -Theresa (Terri) Schiavo, a Florida woman who had been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990, died Mar. 31 at age 41 after an intense 15-year legal battle, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed. Schiavo had been the center of an ongoing legal battle between her husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo who had sought to have the tube removed, and her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who believed their daughter’s condition could improve with therapy. Doctors had found Schiavo to be in a persistent vegetative state, able to breathe, but unable to consciously react to stimuli. Mr. Schiavo claimed that she had previously stated that she did not wish to be kept alive under such circumstances; however, Ms. Schiavo had never put any such instruction in writing. Despite prevailing medical evidence, her parents insisted that her condition could improve and sought legal custody of her.
     By March 2005, a total of 19 judges had considered the case; the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear the case 5 times. The Florida District Court of Appeal Mar. 16 refused to stay an order by Judge George Greer of Pinellas-Pasco (FL) Circuit Court that the tube be removed. It was removed Mar. 18.
     U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (R, TN), the Senate majority leader and a heart surgeon, said Mar. 18 that he had studied video footage of Schiavo and that he questioned the pessimistic diagnosis by Schiavo’s doctors. The Senate by a voice vote (only 3 senators were present) and the House, 203-58, Mar. 20, approved a bill that allowed the Schindlers to challenge the removal of the tube in federal court. Pres. Bush, having flown back from Texas, signed the bill early on Mar. 21.
     In Tampa, FL, Mar. 22, U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore rejected a request by the Schindlers to restore the feeding tube. On Mar. 23, both a 3-judge federal appeals court panel (2-1) as well as the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (10-2) also ruled against the parents. That same day, the Florida Senate, 21-18, defeated a bill that would have barred removal of life support unless the patient had left written instructions to do so. On Mar. 24, the U.S. Supreme Court again declined to hear the case. That same day, Greer denied a request by a state agency to take custody of Schiavo. He also ruled against another motion by the parents Mar. 26.

     Baseball Stars Testify on Steroids - The use of steroids by athletes reached wide public attention when former and current MLB stars testified before House Committee on Government Reform Mar. 17.Those who testified included, retired player Jose Canseco, Orioles outfielder Sammy Sosa, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, and retired slugger Mark McGuire. In Juiced, a book published in Feb., Canseco admitted he had used steroids, and accused other players of the same, including McGuire, Palmeiro, and Sosa.
     Sosa and Palmeiro, both denied Canseco’s published allegations. McGuire, who had once held the single-season home run record, declined to confirm or deny Canseco’s allegations.
     Also testifying were parents of 2 young baseball players who had committed suicide after using steroids. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig testified, and promised zero tolerance for drugs, but denied that baseball had a "major problem." U.S. law forbids the use of anabolic steroids without a prescription.

International

     Syria Agrees to Pull Back Troops in Lebanon - Presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Emile Lahoud of Lebanon agreed Mar. 7 that Syria would move its 15,000 troops in Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley, still in Lebanon but near the Syrian border. The troops had been a focus of controversy since the February assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik al-Hariri, a critic of Syrian influence.
     U.S. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and French Foreign Min. Michael Barnier jointly demanded Mar. 1 that Syria immediately pull all of its troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon. Pres. Bush made the same demand Mar. 2. On Mar. 8, 500,000 people, at a rally organized by Hezbollah, a militant Shiite organization, massed in Beirut, in support of Syria. Syrian troops began pulling back Mar. 12. In Beirut, Mar. 14, nearly one million demonstrators demanded Syria’s withdrawal. By Mar. 17, the remaining Syrian troops had reportedly redeployed in the Bekaa Valley.
     A U.N. report concluded Mar. 24 that Syrian interference in Lebanon had caused the tensions that led to Hariri’s assassination. Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan called for an international investigation.

     Russians Kill Former President of Chechnya - Aslan Maskhadov, a former pres. of Chechnya, was killed Mar. 8 during a raid by Russian troops on a bunker 12 miles from Grozny, the Chechen capital. Russian pres. Vladimir Putin had blamed several recent terrorist attacks in Russia on Maskhadov. In Feb. Masckadov had ordered Chechen fighters to observe a cease-fire and had called for peace talks.

     Death Toll in Sudan Rises - Jan Egeland, the U.N. undersec. for humanitarian affairs, estimated Mar. 14 that 180,000 Sudanese had died from hunger or disease in the past 18 months. A recent U.N. report described atrocities committed by the government of Sudan and Arab militias against blacks in Darfur. Egeland deplored the failure of the international community to assist Darfur.

     U.S. Troops Kill Italian Officer; Italian Troops Pull Back - Prime Min. Silvio Berlusconi said Mar. 15 that Italy would soon reduce its troop strength in Iraq. Some 3,000 Italian soldiers were based near Nasiriya. Italians, already largely opposed to the war, became enraged Mar. 4 when U.S. troops shot and killed Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari. He was escorting hostage victim and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to freedom, when U.S. troops shot at their vehicle as it approached a checkpoint. Sgrena, who wrote for a Communist newspaper, was wounded as was the car’s driver, another Italian intelligence officer. U.S. and Italian officials disagreed on whether the car had ignored warning signals and on other details of the incident.
     The defense min. of Bulgaria, Nikolai Svinarov, said Mar. 7 that gunfire that had killed a Bulgarian soldier Mar. 4 had apparently come from U.S. troops. He said Mar. 17 that Bulgaria would pull its 460 personnel out of Iraq by the end of 2005.
     Insurgent violence against Iraqis continued, as a suicide bomber killed 47 and wounded 100 at a Shiite mosque in Mosul, Mar. 10.

     President of Kyrgyzstan Ousted - A popular uprising in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, forced the country’s president, Askar Akayev, to flee from his presidential palace on Mar. 24, following a ruling by the Kyrgyzstan Supreme Court which effectively annulled the results of the controversial Mar. 13 elections that gave Akayev another term. The police and army refused to aid Akayev, who had been president since 1990.
     With Akayev’s departure, Parliament Mar. 25 appointed Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the senior leader of the political opposition, as acting president, and named other opposition leaders to top positions. Akayev, from an unknown location, claimed Mar. 25 that he was still the legitimate head of government. Russia said Mar. 26 that it had opened its doors to Akayev.

     After 2d Oil-for-Food Report, U.N. Leader Refuses to Quit - U.N. Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan said Mar. 29 that he would not resign after a U.N. commission issued its 2d report on the oil-for-food scandal which criticized him. The commission, chaired by Paul Volcker, sought to determine whether U.N. representatives were either incompetent or corrupt in allowing the government of former Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein to gain billions of dollars from illegal oil exports. The report said that Annan had not used his influence to get a contract awarded to a company that employed his son, Kojo. But the commission said he should have been more aggressive in investigating the company, and it criticized 2 of Annan’s aides.

General

     BTK Murderer Charged - Dennis Rader, a municipal employee, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder Mar. 1 in Wichita, KS. Authorities had arrested him Feb. 25, and on Feb. 26 said that he was the BTK murderer responsible for at least 10 deaths between 1974 and 1991. The initials stood for "bind, torture, kill," and was a nickname the killer had applied to himself in communications with police.

     Ailing Pope Misses Easter Week Ceremonies - The Vatican said Mar. 3 that Pope John Paul II was "progressively improving" in his struggle against influenza and respiratory problems. He left the hospital Mar. 13, returning to the Vatican. On Palm Sunday, Mar. 20 he appeared briefly at his window, but did not speak. Unable to attend a Good Friday service, he was seen by those present on a video screen as he watched the event on television. He appeared at his window on Sunday morning, Mar. 27, but for the first time in his tenure, he was unable to conduct an Easter mass. The Vatican said Mar. 30 that the pope was receiving nutrition from a tube in his nose.

     Suicide Victim Confessed to Murdering Family of Federal Judge - Bart Ross, an unsuccessful litigant in a medical malpractice case, shot himself to death in a Milwaukee suburb Mar. 9 as police approached his vehicle. He left a suicide note saying that on Feb. 28 he had killed the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago. Ross wrote that he had intended to kill the judge, who had ruled in his case.

     Court Shooting in Atlanta, GA - In the Fulton County Courthouse Mar. 11, Brian Nichols, a defendant in a rape case, allegedly broke free from custody, took a deputy’s gun, and shot and killed Superior Court Judge Roland Barnes, along with a court stenographer and a sheriff’s deputy. While in flight he may have killed a customs agent. Nichols also held a woman, Ashley Smith, hostage for several hours in the suburb of Duluth. Nichols was seized by police Mar. 12.

     Baretta Actor Found Innocent - Actor Robert Blake was found not guilty Mar. 16 of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury also found him not guilty of soliciting a stunt man to kill his wife. Judge Darlene Scempp dismissed a third charge on which the jury had deadlocked. Bakley was shot to death in 2001 in a car outside a restaurant where the couple had dined. Blake said she had been killed while he had returned to the restaurant to retrieve a revolver, which was not the murder weapon.

     Scott Peterson Sentenced - Acting on the recommendation of the jury, Judge Alfred Delucchi, in Redwood City, CA, Mar. 16, sentenced Scott Peterson to death for the murder of his wife Laci and their unborn son. Laci Peterson was reported missing on Christmas Eve 2002. Her torso and the fetus washed up on shore in April 2003. Mr. Peterson was convicted Nov. 13, 2004.

     School Shooting on Reservation - A student who had been treated for depression killed 9 people before committing suicide on the native American Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota Mar. 21. Jeff Weise, 16, a Chippewa (Obijwa), first shot his grandfather and his companion, then went to his high school where he killed 7 more, and wounded 7, before killing himself. Authorities said Mar. 29 that they had arrested Louis Jourdain, 16, the son of the tribal chairman, Floyd Jourdain, Jr., on charges of involvement in planning the shootings.

     Oil Refinery Explosion Claims 15 Lives - An explosion at the BP oil refinery in Texas City, TX, Mar. 23 killed 15 people and injured 100. The company’s complex, covering 1,200 acres, refined 460,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Investigators believed that a chemical leak was responsible for the explosion.

     Quake Near Site of 2004 Tsunami Disaster Kills Hundreds - An 8.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, Mar. 28 claimed hundreds of lives, mostly on the islands of Nias and Simeulue. The epicenter was 200 miles south of an earlier earthquake, that unleashed tsunamis killing over 250,000 people in 12 countries.

     Scathing Report on U.S. Intelligence - According to a report presented to Pres. Bush Mar. 31 by the nine-member presidential Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, the U.S. was "dead wrong" on almost all of its prewar assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The findings were based on the commission’s year-long investigation into the U.S. intelligence community. The report also stated that the U.S. knows "disturbingly little" about the weapons programs of many of its adversaries and rivals, including N. Korea, Iran, China, and Russia. Bush praised the commission for its findings and went on to say that he would "correct what needs to be fixed." Several prominent Democrats and Republicans also called for reform.



Science in the News - The Biology of Bedtime

Children and many adults are generally early to bed and early to rise, but teenagers are notorious for their ability to stay awake to the wee hours of the morning and then sleep till midday. While teens often get hassled about their strange sleeping behavior, a team of European scientists now believe that it is in fact a defining mark of adolescence.

Till Roenneberg, of the University of Munich in Germany, and his colleagues arrived at this conclusion by studying "chronotypes." A chronotype is essentially an individual's personal "circadian rhythm," or 24-hour cycle of biological activity. For example, some people - dubbed "larks" - tend to wake up between 4 and 6 am and are ready for bed between 8 and 10 pm. Meanwhile, others - the "owls" - prefer to wake up between 8 and 10 am and fall asleep somewhere between midnight and 2 am. The majority of the population falls somewhere between these two extremes.

Roenneberg's team used a very basic questionnaire to assess the chronotypes of 25,000 men and women of various ages. They determined subjects' chronotypes based on when they reached the mid-point of their sleep on days when the subjects could sleep as long as they wanted. The scientists also controlled for factors such as sleep debt. (Sleep debt is the need to sleep for longer than usual if one hasn't slept enough on previous days.)

The researchers found that children have very early chronotypes (meaning they go to bed and wake up relatively early), but as they get older, their chronotypes drift later and later until they reach a "maximum of lateness" around age 20. At this point, the drift in chronotype reverses and continues to get earlier and earlier with increasing age.

In their study, published in the December 28, 2004 issue of Current Biology, the researchers suggest that reaching the maximum of lateness and then shifting to waking up earlier could signal the end of adolescence - the biological, psychological and social transition period between childhood and adulthood. Such markers would be valuable tools in helping scientists and doctors spot cases of abnormal development. Experts already use an observable marker - the termination of bone growth - to designate the end of puberty, the developmental stage in which a person becomes capable of sexual reproduction. (Bones stop growing when segments of cartilage, or tough connective tissue, at the ends of long bones harden.)

While on average the maximum of lateness occurred around age 20, women reached it slightly earlier - at 19.5 years of age - than men did - at 20.9 years. This observation lends credence to the researchers' suggestion that chronotype shifts can signify the end of adolescence, since research has indicated that females mature more quickly than males do.

Roenneberg acknowledges that his team's "data...cannot formally rule out behavioral and environmental factors influencing the age- and sex-dependent differences in chronotype; i.e., do teenagers sleep late because they go to the disco or do they go to the disco because they cannot [go to] sleep until late?" However, the team did note that teenagers in rural communities, where there is little nightlife, experienced the same shift in chronotype that teenagers in urban areas experienced. This suggests that the cause of the chronotype shift is less environmental than biological.

As many towns and cities debate starting the school day later, they may need to take the new research into consideration, since it suggests that sleeping in is actually a fundamental feature of adolescence, instead of a sign of laziness.


IT'S A FACT!

The traditional gift for a 35th wedding anniversary is coral or jade.


Offbeat News Stories

The Road Less Traveled?

Saje Beard gets up a little earlier in the morning than most third-graders. Before she goes to school, she has a few chores, like brushing and feeding Ruth, who is the family mule - and Saje’s transportation. When they’re both ready, Saje straightens a coonskin hat on her head, then straps her backpack to Ruth’s back and saddles up for the half-hour commute to school. The mule, fitted with special carbide-studded shoes to prevent slipping on the ice, takes Saje to and from her one-room schoolhouse south of Bismarck, North Dakota, just about every day. Saje ‘parks’ Ruth near the playground, stores the burro’s saddle next to gym equipment, and feeds her treats of corn and sweet peas during lunch and recesses. Ruth has been known to dance when the children sing the national anthem near the flagpole each morning, but her front legs are secured with leather hobbles ever since Shirley, another mule, stranded her without a ride home last year. Saje has been commuting via burro since she was in first grade, except when the temperature is below zero, when her father won’t allow it, "even if she insists."

Pudgy Pachyderm Off and Running

Perhaps the obesity epidemic is somehow contagious between species. What else might explain the news that zookeepers in Alaska are installing a specially-designed treadmill for an elephant, hoping that she lose a few hundred pounds? In her natural habitat, Maggie, a 9,200-pound African elephant, would spend about 16 hours a day walking and foraging. But wintry weather confines Maggie to her indoor habitat at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage for months every year. This system has expanded her waistline, since being indoors makes it harder for Maggie to exercise. Thus, the world’s first elephant exercise treadmill, based on heavy-duty conveyor technology used in mining operations. John Seawell, head of the elephant habitat, hopes she’ll be spending two or three hours per day on the treadmill by October.


From The World Almanac - Names for Animal Young

The young of many animals have come to be called by special names. Many of these are listed below.

bunny: rabbit
calf: cattle, elephant, antelope, rhino, hippo, whale, others
cheeper: grouse, partridge, quail
chick, chicken: fowl
cockerel: rooster
codling, sprag: codfish
colt: horse (male)
cub: lion, bear, shark, fox, others
cygnet: swan
duckling: duck
eaglet,: eagle
elver: eel
eyas,: hawk, others
fawn: deer
filly,: horse (female)
fingerling: fish generally
flapper: wild fowl
fledgling: birds generally
foal: horse, zebra, others
fry: fish generally
gosling: goose
heifer,: cow
joey: kangaroo, others
kid,: goat
kit: fox, beaver, rabbit, cat
kitten, kitty, catling: cats, other small mammals
lamb, lambkin, cosset, hog: sheep
leveret: hare
nestling: birds generally
owlet: owl
parr, smolt, grilse: salmon
piglet, shoat, farrow, suckling: pig
polliwog, tadpole: frog
poult: turkey
pullet: hen
pup: dog, seal, sea lion, fox
puss, pussy: cat
spike, blinker, tinker: mackerel
squab: pigeon
squeaker: pigeon, others
whelp: dog, tiger, beasts of prey
yearling: cattle, sheep, horse, others


Links of the Month - Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

My friend Ruth has a birthday early in April, so this month we honor famous Ruths. Ruth St. Denis (1877?-1968) was one of the founders of the modern dance movement in the early 20th century. She and her husband, dancer Ted Shawn, founded Denishawn dance schools in 1915, and together were a major influence on dance for two decades. Among St. Denis’ students were future dance pioneers Martha Graham, Doris Humphreys, and Charles Weidman. To learn more about St. Denis, visit: http://www.pitt.edu/~gillis/dance/ruth.html. Ruth Cleveland (1891-1904), first-born daughter of President Grover Cleveland, died of diphtheria at the age of 12. Seventeen years after her death, The Curtiss Candy Company introduced the Baby Ruth candy bar, a log-shaped bar made of caramel and peanuts and covered with chocolate. Was the Baby Ruth bar named after "Baby Ruth" Cleveland, as its current manufacturer, Nestlé, claims? Check out Snopes.com to get their take on the matter: http://www.snopes.com/business/names/babyruth.asp. The second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg (1933-) is known for her independent thinking and is a strong advocate of women’s rights. Though aligned with the liberal bloc on the Rehnquist Court, Bader-Ginsburg has voted with the conservative wing, most notably in a dissenting opinion that states have broad powers to limit jury awards. Learn more about Bader-Ginsburg at: http://www.oyez.org/oyez/resource/legal_entity/107/overview. Ruth Ke'elikolani (1826-1883), also known as Princess Ruth, was a member of both the Kamehameha and Kalakaua dynasties, and Governor of the island of Hawai'i. Learn more about Princess Ruth at: http://www.pbshawaii.org/images/local_production/biography/ruthguide.pdf. Ruth Rendell (1930-), considered by some to be the "Queen of Crime," is the writer of best-selling crime and psychological mysteries. Beyond writing, Rendell also sits in the House of Lords as a Labour baroness. To read an interview with Rendell visit: http://www.womankindflp.org/newletter/interviews/rendell.htm.

Not that this has ever happened to me (wink-wink), but have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are reading a word and you mispronounce it? Pay a visit to: http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/a/a0220500.html to check out definitions for words and listen to the correct pronunciation. This site has all sorts of interesting features, including the Top Word of 2004 (incivility), a tool that allows you to write your name in exotic alphabets (Hieroglyphics, Eskimo, and Latin), as well as links to features on the languages of the world.

The main branch of the New York Public Library has digitized its massive collection of holdings. This incredible collection includes a 1913 film of Ruth St. Denis and guests at Denishawn, a menu collection from 1856-1930, rare photographs from Russia and Eastern Europe 1860-1945, Medieval & Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts from Western Europe, as well as a dust jacket collection for American and European books from 1926 to 1947. Pay a visit to: http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm and travel through the collection.

Have you decided what you are going to have for lunch today? The Sandwich Project invites readers to submit their ideas as to what to put between two pieces of bread. I found “My Big Fat Greek Sandwich” somewhat appealing, with its fresh tabouli, hummus, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Check the site out at: http://www.iliveonyourvisits.com/sp/index.php.

How many of you have experienced seeing the Northern Lights? The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, are caused by the interaction between the solar wind, the Earth's magnetic field and the upper atmosphere. It is a phenomenon that creates night skies of beautiful colors. To learn more and see some awesome photographs, visit: http://www.northern-lights.no/.

If you’ve read many of these columns, you’ve probably gathered that I have a lot of collections. Cliff Muskiet of the Netherlands has a collection that amazed even me—a stewardess uniform collection. Yep, I’m not making this up. Visit http://www.uniformfreak.com/index2a.html and check out his very international collection. By the way, Muskiet wanted to be a flight attendant when you grew up, and now flies around the world for KLM.

My new co-worker Chuck wanted to be mentioned in this column, and so he searched the entire Internet for a link worthy of your attention. He found one with http://www.watchingamerica.com/ , a website that monitors how newspapers around the world report news about the United States. This is a must-see for any political junkie.

Vin, last month’s featured birthday boy, told me about a site that I’ve been checking out the last ten minutes. It’s the Baby Name Wizard at http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html, and you can put in any name and find out statistically where it ranks from the 1910s to 2003. I regretfully have to say that my name, Edward, last peaked at #8 in the 1910s, and is now hovering down at 128. Zoë (another co-worker), on the other hand, is ranked at #58 - a name that she says has "ascended dramatically," which is no joke. In the 1970s the name didn’t even make the top 1000 list.

Stupid link of the month: Chuck came through for me a second time, when he admitted that the song 867-5309 (Jenny) is a staple in his karaoke repertoire (he’s being offered a 12-step program to wean his dependence on this form of music). A guy named Dan has used every area code and called 867-5309 and he lists the results of his calls. Visit: http://danstheman.com/Jenny.htm.


© World Almanac Education Group

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

Newsletter Contributors:
Louise Bloomfield, Jane Hogan, Sarah Janssen, Zoë Kashner, Walter Kronenberg, and Vincent Spadafora

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

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