Volume 07, Number 09 — September 2007

What's in this issue?

September Events
September Holidays — National and International
This Day In History — September
September Birthdays
Travel - Indianapolis: Not Just Sports and Pharmaceuticals
Obituaries - August 2007
The Best of the World Almanac Blog
Chronology - Events of August 2007
It's All in the Numbers
Offbeat News Stories
Links of the Month
Quote of the Month
How to reach us

September Events

September 1-3 - Kite Flight 2007 (Callaway, NE)
September 1-3 - Odyssey, A Greek Festival (Orange, CT)
September 1-3 - Oregon Trail Rodeo (Hastings, NE)
September 2 - Joust of the Saracen (Arezzo, Italy)
September 3 - Toy Tips Executive Toy Test (New York, NY)
September 3 - Columbia River Cross Channel Swim (Hood River, OR)
September 8 - Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival (Albany, NY)
September 9 - Lisco Old-Timers Day (Lisco, NE)
September 10-30 - FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament (China)
September 13 - Fortune Cookie Day (San Francisco, CA)
September 11 - 16- Kentucky Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, KY)
September 13 - 16- Newport International Boat Show (Newport, RI)
September 15 - Big Whopper Liar’s Contest (New Harmony, IN)
September 16 - Emmy Awards ceremony (Los Angeles, CA)
September 23 - First day of Autumn (Northern Hemisphere)
September 28-30 - World Beef Expo/Harvest Fair (Milwaukee, WI)
September 29 - Tri-State Band Festival (Luverne, MN)

September Holidays — National and International

September 3 - Labor Day (U.S., Canada)
September 7 - Independence Day (Brazil)
September 9 - Grandparents’ Day
September 12 - Ramadan (first full day)
September 13 - Rosh Hashanah (first full day)
September 16 - Independence Day (Mexico)
September 17 - Citizenship Day, (U.S.)
September 19 - San Gennaro (Italy)
September 22 - Yom Kippur (first full day)

It's a Fact!

There have been 16 Supreme Court Chief Justices since John Jay was appointed in 1789.

This Day In History — September

Day Year Event
Day Year Event
01 1939 Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II.
02 1945 Japan formally surrenders in World War II.
03 1783 The Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, is signed by the United States and Britain.
04 1972 Mark Spitz, swimming on the U.S. 4x100-meter medley relay team, wins his record 7th gold medal at the Munich Olympics.
05 1972 Eight Arab guerrillas, members of the Black September terrorist group, invade the Israeli dormitory in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, killing 2 Israelis and taking 9 hostages.
06 1901 Pres. William McKinley, welcoming citizens at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; he dies on Sept. 14.
07 1822 In So Paolo, the independence of Brazil from Portugal is proclaimed.
08 1565 St. Augustine, Florida - now the oldest continuing settlement in the United States - is founded by Pedro Menndez de Aviles.
09 1850 Under Sen. Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850, California is admitted to the Union as the 31st state, with slavery forbidden. Also under the measure, Utah and New Mexico become territories, the Fugitive Slave Law is made more harsh, and the slave trade is ended in the District of Columbia.
10 1846 Elias Howe receives a patent for his first sewing machine.
11 2001 Islamic terrorists hijack four U.S. passenger airliners and fly two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, bringing both towers crashing down within 100 minutes of the first impact; a third hijacked jetliner crashes into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth is apparently brought down by heroic passengers over rural Pennsylvania. Barely an hour after the first plane hits, the FAA grounds all commercial passenger and cargo flights nationwide. More than 3,000 people perish in the attacks; the World Trade Center attack alone claims more than 2,800 lives. Speaking in the evening, President George W. Bush calls the attacks "evil, despicable acts of terror."
12 1974 Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the military.
13 1914 In the War of 1812, the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, begins; the failure of the British fleet to take the fort inspires Francis Scott Key to write the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
14 1812 Moscow is taken by Napoleon. The Russians have burned the city, making it impossible for Napoleon's troops to establish winter quarters there.
15 1959 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev begins an unprecedented visit by a Soviet leader to the United States.
16 1620 The Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower.
17 1911 C. P. Rodgers makes the first transcontinental airplane flight (with numerous stops), from New York to Pasadena, CA, Sept. 17-Nov. 5; time in the air: 82 hours, 4 minutes.
18 1961 U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold is killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia; Burma's U Thant is named named interim secretary several weeks later.
19 1881 Pres. James A. Garfield, shot in Washington, DC, by Charles Guiteau on July 2, dies in Elberon, NJ; Chester Alan Arthur becomes president.
20 1991 Armenia's voters approved a declaration of independence from the USSR.
21 1981 Belize finally attains full independence, but Guatemala refuses to recognize the new nation; about 1500 British troops remain to protect Belize from the Guatemalan threat.
22 1950 Ralph Bunche wins a Nobel Peace Prize for his United Nations mediation work in the Middle East. He is the first black to win the award.
23 1806 The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the West ends with their return to St. Louis.
24 1998 Iran drops its 1989 call for the death of British author Salman Rushdie.
25 1959 Prime Minister Bandaranaike of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) is shot by a Buddhist monk and dies a day later.
26 1513 The Spanish explorer Vasco Nez de Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama and becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas
27 1930 Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur golf championship, his 4th major tournament win of the season, making him the first golfer to achieve a Season Grand Slam.
28 1978 Pope John Paul I dies after having served only 34 days.
29 1949 Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) is found guilty of treason for making radio broadcasts for Japan during World War II.
30 1949 The U.S.-British airlift of food to West Berlin ends.

September Birthdays

Day Year  
Day Year  
01 1957 Gloria Estefan, singer (Havana, Cuba)
02 1924 Daniel arap Moi, Kenyan president (Sacho, Kenya Colony)
03 1938 Noyori Ryoji, organic chemist and Nobel laureate (Kobe, Japan)
04 1981 Beyonce Knowles, singer/actress (Houston, TX)
05 1940 Raquel Welch, actress (Chicago, IL)
06 1937 Jo Anne Worley, comedian/actress (Lowell, IA)
07 1951 Julie Kavner, actress (Los Angeles, CA)
08 1970 Latrell Sprewell, basketball player (Milwaukee, WI)
09 1949 Joe Theisman, football quarterback and sportscaster (New Brunswick, NJ)
10 1949 Bill O'Reilly, TV commentator, host (New York, NY)
11 1977 Ludacris, rapper (IL)
12 1980 Yao Ming, basketball player (Shanghai, China)
13 1951 Jean Smart, actress (Seattle, WA)
14 1974 Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic track medalist (Berkane, Morocco)
15 1984 Prince Harry, prince of England (London, England)
16 1927 Peter Falk, actor (New York, NY)
17 1962 Baz Luhrmann, director (New South Wales, Australia)
18 1971 Lance Armstrong, world-champion cyclist (Plano, TX)
19 1946 Twiggy (Leslie Hornby), model/actress (London, England)
20 1928 Joyce Brothers, psychologist/author (New York, NY)
21 1954 Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister (Tokyo, Japan)
22 1976 Ronaldo, footballer (Bento Ribeiro, Brazil)
23 1920 Mickey Rooney, actor (Brooklyn, NY)
24 1951 Pedro Almodovar, film director (Calzada de Calatrava, Spain)
25 1931 Barbara Walters, TV journalist (Boston, MA)
26 1914 Jack LaLanne, fitness advocate (San Francisco, CA)
27 1972 Gwyneth Paltrow, actress (Los Angeles, CA)
28 1987 Hilary Duff, actress (Houston, TX)
29 1951 Michelle Bachelet, Chilean president (Santiago, Chile)
30 1945 Ehud Olmert, prime minister of Israel (Binyamina, Palestine--now Israel)

Travel - Indianapolis: Not Just Sports and Pharmaceuticals

Indiana's capital has long enjoyed a reputation as a major sports city, as well as a manufacturing and commercial hub. It's the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. With a population approaching 800,000, Indianapolis, or Indy for short, is not a small place. But once upon a time it lacked pizzazz on the tourist front. Such nicknames as "Nap Town" and "India No Place" were its lot in life.



Soldiers and Sailors Monument

In the past couple of decades or so, however, the city has remade itself into a congenial destination for travelers, bolstering its attractions with an enhanced cultural life and new construction. Ongoing developments include sizable additions and upgrading at its IMA park/museum complex, whose centerpiece is the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and a $1 billion-plus refashioning of the city's international airport, where a massive new terminal is scheduled to open in 2008.

Smack-dab center

A key location to keep in mind as an orientation point when rambling about Indianapolis, and in fact a convenient place to begin one's visit, is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, situated in the middle of Monument Circle, at the center of the city's heart. This 1902 limestone obelisk, topped by a 30-ft (9-m) statue of Miss Victory, rises 284 ft (87 m) above the ground. There's an observation deck at the foot of the statue, reachable by stairs and elevator. The lower level houses the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, which focuses on Indiana residents.

Go a few blocks north of the monument and you'll come to the elaborate Gothic-style Scottish Rite Cathedral, erected by the Freemasons in 1929. It boasts hand-carved woodwork, marvelous stained-glass windows, a 2500-lb (1100-kg) bronze (gilded) chandelier, an immense pipe organ, and a carillon with 54 bells.

Continue on north another few blocks and you'll reach the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, a restoration of the 1875 Italianate Victorian home where the 23rd U.S. president lived for much of his life. It's packed with memorabilia and antiques. Several blocks southeast of the Harrison site is another striking sample of Victorian architecture, the 1872 James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home; inside you can view many artifacts that belonged to the famous American poet.

Green oasis

Head west from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and you'll soon reach the 250-acre (100-ha) White River State Park; its promenade offers splendid views of the river itself and the city skyline. Within the park are a number of tourist attractions, among them the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the Indianapolis Zoo. The state museum offers a close-up view of Indiana's cultural and natural history The Eiteljorg is housed in a striking adobe building that underwent a big expansion in 2005. Highlights of the zoo include a large aquarium, a dolphin-viewing experience said to be the first in the world to be totally submerged, and the 3.3-acre (1.3-ha) White River Gardens.

Dinosaurs, art



Welcome Center at the Indianapolis Children's Museum

Animals of the distant past, as well as other science subjects are among the multifarious exhibits at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, located roughly 3 mi (5 km) north of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. It is said to be the world's biggest children's museum. Besides its multisensory "Dinosphere," featuring a huge collection of fossils, the museum boasts a planetarium, a children's theater, sizable toy and dollhouse collections, an antique carousel, and a blown glass Dale Chihuly sculpture called Fireworks of Glass that stands 43 ft (13 m) tall.

Go a couple of miles (3 km) northwest of the Children's Museum, and you'll reach the 152-acre (62.5-ha) IMA campus. The collections at the Indianapolis Museum of Art cover the whole of art history. Notable holdings include works by European old masters, impressionists, and neo-impressionists, as well as African art and Japanese and Chinese works, along with photographs, textiles, rugs, and costumes. The current IMA expansion program is unfolding in three parts. The first phase involved restoration of the former estate of J. K. Lilly, Jr., an Eli Lilly president of the 20th century. The result, Oldfields - Lilly House & Gardens, opened in 2002. In the second phase, fully completed in 2006, the museum acquired three new wings and 50 percent more gallery space, along with renovation of much of the preexisting space. The third phase, now in progress, involves development of the 100-acre (40-ha) Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, slated to open in 2009. The site, along the White River, will be a venue for both temporary and permanent art installations. It reportedly will be the sole U.S. museum art park with ongoing commission of site-specific works.

Sights of other stripes


Library of Congress

Early photograph of the Indianapolis 500

History, art, science, and nature are not all you can find on Indy's museum roster. Superman and Batman buffs will want to visit the American Super Heroes Museum, located downtown, just south of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Fans of the healing professions shouldn't pass up the chance to sample the origins of modern medicine and scientific psychiatry at the Indiana Medical History Museum, situated on the west side of town in the oldest surviving pathology facility (1895) in the U.S. Sports, it should go without saying, are well represented. Indianapolis is home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the association’s museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions, is located in White River State Park. Head west and you will come to the town's most famous sports venue, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of such high-profile races as the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 (formerly Brickyard 400). There you can visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, a big facility with 30,000 sq ft (2800 sq m) of exhibition space. Exhibits include some 75 storied vehicles, among them the Marmon "Wasp," winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911; the four winning cars driven by A. J. Foyt, Jr.; and the Duesenberg #12 Murphy Special, the only vehicle to capture both the Indy 500 (1922) and the French Grand Prix at Le Mans (1921).

Besides the huge speedway, another local venue that has won widespread attention is the retro-styled Conseco Fieldhouse downtown, just south of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Opened in 1999, this multipurpose venue serves as the home of the city's men's and women's pro basketball teams. In both 2005 and 2006 it earned the No. 1 ranking among all National Basketball Association venues in the Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily Reader Survey. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts, 2007 National Football League champions, are slated to move into a brand new state-of-the-art stadium in 2008. The $675 million retractable-roof facility, called Lucas Oil Stadium, is being erected near the Colts' current home, the substantially smaller RCA Dome, which will be demolished to accommodate expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

Citysearch: Indianapolis
Indianapolis and Marion County
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Museum of Art

It's a Fact!

The $100,000 note, with a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, was the largest U.S. currency bill ever printed. It’s not made anymore, but is still legal tender.

Obituaries in August 2007

Astor, Brooke, 105, New York socialite, philanthropist and author, who as chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, gave away $200 million between 1959-1997; Astor was the subject of a custody battle in 2006, which led to her son, Anthony Marshall, being removed as her legal guardian; Briarcliff Manor, NY, Aug. 13, 2007.

Deaver, Michael, 69, deputy White House Chief of Staff during Ronald Reagan’s first term in office (1981-1986), who became an influential lobbyist. He was convicted of perjury, fined $100,000 and given a suspended three-year prison sentence and probation in 1987, for lying about his lobbyist activities; Bethesda, MD, Aug. 18, 2007.

Goodman, Carolyn, 91, clinical psychologist who became a leading civil rights advocate after her son Andrew, and two other civil rights workers, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964; New York, NY, Aug. 17, 2007.

Griffin, Merv, 82, big band singer who went on to create and produce the long-running television game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune; hosted the television talk show The Merv Griffin Show from 1965 to 1986; Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 12, 2007.

Hazlewood, Lee, 78, singer, songwriter, and producer known best for writing the 1966 Nancy Sinatra hit, "These Boots Were Made for Walkin;" Henderson, NV, Aug. 4, 2007.

Helmsley, Leona, 87, New York real estate and hotel owner, whose reputation for arrogance lead her to be dubbed "The Queen of Mean;" she and her husband Harry were charged with tax fraud in 1988, and she served 18 months in prison, and paid a $7.1 millon fine for federal tax evasion in 1989; despite her reputation she was a major philanthropist; Greenwich, CT, Aug. 20, 2007.

Hill, Oliver, 100, civil rights attorney who played a significant role in a Virginia case later incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that desegregated U.S. public schools; Richmond, VA, Aug. 5, 2007.

Jewell, Richard, 44, private security guard who discovered a pipe bomb at the 1996 Atlantic Olympics and alerted police, possibly saving lives by moving visitors away from the area; he was later considered a suspect in the crime, but was cleared of those charges; Woodbury, GA, Aug. 29, 2007.

Makem, Tommy, 74, Irish baritone singer and songwriter who in the 1950s and 1960s helped popularize Irish folk music worldwide by performing with the trio known as the Clancy Brothers; Dover, NH, Aug. 1, 2007.

Rizzuto, Phil "Scooter", 89, shortstop for Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees (1941-1956, with three years taken off for U.S. Navy service during World War II), who went on to become a radio and television sports announcer for the Yankees (1956-1996), and who frequently used the phrase "Holy cow!"; West Orange, NJ, Aug. 13, 2007.

Roach, Max, 80, jazz percussionist and composer, known best for work in the bebop style, with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, and other jazz legends; New York, NY; Aug. 16, 2007.

Umeki, Miyoshi, 78, actress who was first Asian to win an Oscar, as supporting actress in Sayonara (1957) and on television played the housekeeper Mrs. Livingston on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, (1969-1972); Licking, MO, Aug. 28, 2007.

Best of the World Almanac Blog


Jake Appelbaum - www.virgil.gr/

Virgil Griffith

Wikiscandal - by M. L. Liu

Twenty-four year old researcher Virgil Griffith has developed a database that traces the IP addresses of anonymous contributors to Wikipedia, the free online, user-written encyclopedia.

Among his reasons for doing so were the desire "to create a cornucopia of minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike" and the fact that "every time I hear about a new security vulnerability, I look to see if it can be done on a massive scale and indexed."

With his WikiScanner, Griffith was able to find several cases where unfavorable information was anonymously deleted from the entries of certain corporations; he was able to trace the digital footprint left by these anonymous users to IP addresses reserved for those very corporations.

Wikidgame - reader-contributed list of the most "shameful" Wikipedia edits



The Golden Record Cover

The Voyager Recordings - by Andrew Steinitz

When Voyager I and Voyager II were launched in 1977, their purpose wasn’t limited to teaching humans about the universe. Aboard each is a gold-plated copper disk designed by astronomer Carl Sagan and other scientists. The disc is actually an audio record containing natural sounds, 90 minutes of music, and 55 spoken greetings. It also includes 115 images encoded in analog. The records were stored in aluminum cases along with a cartridge and needle. On each case is an extremely detailed diagram of how to play the record, starting with the rotation of a hydrogen atom.

While this NASA page has a good selection of pieces from the record, the Latvian electronic arts and media center E-Lab is hosting more.

Voyager I became the most distant human-made object from the Sun on February 17, 1998 and it's still traveling. It was 9,597,000,000 miles away on July 6, 2007. NASA still provides weekly reports on both crafts.



Photo of band at Hunter Army Airfield

Ruffles and Flourishes - by Andrew Steinitz

I was recently reviewing the Military Affairs section where, in between the lists for chief commanding officers and number of personnel on active duty, we cover personal salutes and honors (page 129 in the 2007 edition). This includes what song is to be played for dignitaries and how many ruffles and flourishes should be performed beforehand.

Don’t know what a ruffle or flourish is? Those are the drum rolls (ruffles) and horns (flourishes) heard before the song begins. The more important the person, the more ruffles and flourishes. You can hear the maximum amount, four, before the President’s anthem, "Hail to the Chief."

Perhaps you know about ruffles and flourishes, but can you hum some of the other honor songs like "General’s March" or "Flag Officer's March" played for generals and admirals? The U.S. Air Force Band has a comprehensive list of songs that includes honor music - with ruffles and flourishes - on their ceremonial music page.

U.S. Air Force Band: Ceremonial Music

It's a Fact!

The world’s biggest bird is the ostrich, which can reach a height of 9 feet and a weight of 300 pounds.

Chronology — Events of August 2007


     Congress Approves Legal Framework for Warrantless Surveillance - The Senate, Aug. 3, and the House, Aug. 4, passed a bill that revised the rules covering the government’s ability to monitor email and telephone communications between the United States and a foreign country. The bill gave the NSA the right to monitor communications without court warrants, if it believed that the communication related to terrorism. Pres. George W. Bush had pressed Congress to make revisions in the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), to cope with new communications technologies. The new bill would allow the attorney general and the director of national intelligence, rather than the FISA court, to approve the surveillance. Many Democrats in Congress and civil liberties groups opposed the bill on the grounds that it breached Americans’ expectation of privacy. Bush signed the bill Aug. 5.

     Stock Prices Fluctuate Amid Worries Over Debt, Subprime Mortgage Crisis - After the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 14,000, on July 19, the celebration on Wall Street proved to be short-lived. Rising consumer debt and tighter home-mortgage credit caused alarm, and home foreclosure rates were rising. Stock prices fluctuated wildly, but the overall trend was down, with the Dow falling 281.42 points on Aug. 3 to close at 13,181.91. In the next trading week, ending Aug. 10, the market closed at about the same level, calmed with the help of the Federal Reserve’s $62 bil infusion Aug. 9-10. Central banks in Asia and Europe also added liquidity as stock valuations declined. The Dow Aug. 27 plunged 280.28 points, closing at 13,041.85, nearly 1,000 points below its January peak, but rallied to close the month at 13,357.74.
     Fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis continued as Europe’s largest publicly traded bank, BNP Parabas, Aug. 9 froze three of its funds, which had been invested in subprime mortgage loans. American Home Mortgage Investment Corp., the nation’s tenth largest lender, filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 6. Countrywide Financial, the largest U.S. mortgage provider, announced Aug. 16 that it would have to borrow from an $11.5 bil emergency line of credit after other short-term borrowing attempts failed.

     Romney Wins Iowa Presidential Straw Poll - Former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA), a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, won a straw poll in Ames, IA, Aug. 11, finishing with 32%. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR) got 18%, Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) won 15%, Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO) received 13% of the vote, and Rep. Ron Paul (TX) got 9%. After winning only 7% of the vote, former Gov. Tommy Thompson (WI) withdrew from the race Aug. 13. High-profile candidates Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain declined to participate in the poll. No delegates were at stake in the poll, but it was held in the state where actual voting for the presidential nominee would begin in January 2008. Nine Republican candidates debated in Des Moines on Aug. 5, taking familiar positions on the war in Iraq. Sen. John McCain (AZ), a supporter of the Iraq war, declared, "We are winning on the ground," while Rep. Ron Paul (TX), the only candidate who advocated U.S. withdrawal, said, "We’re losing this one."
     With polls showing Democrats favored to keep control of Congress in 2008, several Republicans announced that they would not seek reelection. The most prominent was former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL), who formally announced Aug. 17 that he would not run again.


Exec. Office of the President of the U.S./Dept. of Justice/The White House

Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales & Tony Snow

     Several Top-Ranking White House Officials Resign - Karl Rove, who had been the chief political strategist for George W. Bush for 13 years, had also announced Aug. 13 that he would resign as deputy White House chief of staff at the end of the month. He had played a dominant role in Bush’s successful campaigns for governor of Texas and President of the United States, pursuing a goal of insuring what he called "a permanent Republican majority." His influence on policies that Bush favored was mixed. Rove pushed for the Medicare prescription drug program, which passed, but immigration and Social Security reforms that he supported failed in Congress. His possible links to the CIA leak case and the firing of U.S. prosecutors in 2006 remained unclear.
     Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales announced Aug. 27 that he would resign. During his 2 years in office, and before that as White House counsel, he had been at the center of several political controversies. In appearances before Congress in 2007, he had given only a vague explanation of his role in the dismissal of 9 federal prosecutors in 2006, often saying he could not remember key meetings or decisions. The investigation of their removal had resulted in the resignation of several high-ranking Justice Dept. officials. Bush Aug. 27 praised Gonzales, saying that his "good name was dragged through the mud" for political reasons.
     White House Press Sec. Tony Snow announced Aug. 31 that he too would resign his post. Snow’s health, which had suffered as he was treated for a recurrence of colon cancer, had caused speculation over his departure for some time. In his announcement, Snow insisted he was leaving not for health reasons, but due to the drop in income that resulted from leaving his job as a TV and radio host to serve as press secretary, a job with a $168,000 annual salary. Deputy Press Sec. Dana Perino will assume Snow’s role.

     U.S. Company Recalls Toys Shipped From China - Mattel, the world’s largest toy company, said Aug. 14 that it was recalling about 19 mil toys in China, including 9.5 million toys in the U.S. Most of these had been manufactured to Mattel’s specifications and contained a small magnet that could be harmful if swallowed. Some 436,000 cars covered with lead paint were also recalled. U.S. toymaker Fisher Price announced a recall Aug. 1 of 1 mil toys covered in lead paint, which were also manufactured in China. The year had already seen the recall of other Chinese imports, including contaminated pet food and toothpaste.


Justice Dept.

Mugshot of Jos Padilla

     American Convicted of Conspiracy in Terror Plot - Jos Padilla, who had been the subject of legal controversy long before he went on trial, was convicted of conspiracy in a terrorism case Aug. 16. Born in Brooklyn and a convert to Islam, Padilla had been arrested in Chicago in 2002 and held as an enemy combatant. He spent more than 3 years in a military prison in South Carolina. With a legal challenge to his case likely headed to the Supreme Court, the Bush administration abandoned its original explanation for his imprisonment and brought new charges in U.S. criminal court in 2006. Along with 2 other men, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, he was charged with conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in another country. They were accused of being in a terrorism support cell that aided Islamic extremists around the world. A federal jury in Miami found the 3 guilty on these charges Aug. 16. The chief evidence against Padilla was an application form, bearing his fingerprints, that he allegedly filled out to attend an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

     Senator Pleads Guilty After Incident in Men’s Room - Sen. Larry Craig (R, ID) entered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct after being arrested by an undercover policeman June 11 in a men’s bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The policeman said that Craig had made sexual advances to him. Craig was fined more than $500 and placed on one year of unsupervised probation. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported on the incident Aug. 27.
     Appearing with his wife at a press conference in Boise, the Idaho state capital, Aug. 28, Craig said he had pleaded guilty without consulting a lawyer in the hope that the case would just "go away." He denied doing anything wrong and said he had been viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman, a daily newspaper that had printed details of other alleged homosexual encounters. Craig also stated that he was not gay and never had been. Senate Republican leaders called for an inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee.

     Poisonous Chemical Agent Discovered at U.N. - Phosgene, a potentially deadly chemical agent produced under the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, was discovered at U.N. offices in New York, NY, and identified as a chemical agent Aug. 30. The nerve gas component, which was known to have been used in Iraqi attacks on Kurdish villages in the 1980s, was discovered in the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission office Aug. 24. The agent was contained in secure vials, and no one was injured. Records showed that it had been taken from an Iraqi chemical weapons facility near Samarra in 1996. U.N. officials promised a full investigation into how the material had ended up in its offices.

     Veteran GOP Senator Announces Retirement - Five-term Sen. John Warner (R, VA) announced Aug. 31 that he would not run for another term, which would end his Senate service at 30 years when his current term ends in Jan. 2009. Warner, an 80-year-old former Armed Services Committee chairman and a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, was considered one of the most authoritative legislators on military affairs. Political insiders speculated that Warner’s departure would add an additional challenge to Republican efforts to regain the Senate majority.

     Iowa Same-Sex Marriage Ban Overturned - A judge in Polk County, IA, ruled Aug. 30 that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Judge Robert Hanson also ordered the county recorder to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Hanson’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought in 2005 by 6 same-sex couples against the county recorder, who had refused to accept their applications for marriage licenses. A day later, Hanson issued an injunction that delayed licenses until the State Supreme Court decided whether to hear an appeal. Only one couple, Timothy McQuillan and Sean Fritz of Ames, IA, managed both to obtain a license and wed before the injunction was issued.




Nouri al-Maliki

     U.S. Confidence in Iraqi Government Declines - The elected government of Iraq came under criticism in the United States as its Prime Minister and Parliament made little progress toward reconciliation among the country’s warring factions. Six Sunni members of the Iraqi cabinet, including a deputy prime minister, resigned Aug. 1, complaining that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was restricting their participation in deliberations on key issues. Parliament began a month-long summer break Aug. 1. Pres. George W. Bush and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker criticized al-Maliki Aug. 21, with Bush saying the "government’s got to do more," and Crocker calling the government’s attempts at reconciliation "very disappointing."
     In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Aug. 22, Pres. George W. Bush warned that a quick pullout from Iraq would result in a heavy loss of civilian life, which he said was the case when the United States left Vietnam in the 1970s. On Aug. 23, 16 U.S. intelligence agencies released a National Intelligence Estimate, which found that the current U.S. troop surge had brought some improvements in security. However, the agencies doubted that the Iraqi political leaders could resolve sectarian conflicts by the spring of 2008, when a shortage of troops would likely force a cutback in the American force in Iraq. The report said that a U.S. pullout would make the situation in Iraq even worse. Speaking to the American Legion convention in Reno, NV, Aug. 28, Bush said that a pro-U.S. government must be established in Iraq to guard against the threat, posed by Iran, of a "nuclear holocaust" in the region.

     President of Pakistan Comes Under Pressure - Pres. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, thought to be on the verge of declaring a national state of emergency, was reportedly dissuaded from doing so Aug. 9 in part because of diplomatic pressure from U.S. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice. His suspension of the country’s chief justice had been overturned by the Supreme Court in July, prompting public celebrations. Musharraf, who said he would run for reelection, had fallen in popularity because of his alliance with the United States. The Bush administration feared that declaring an emergency would only deepen the country’s crisis.
     Exiled former Prime Min. Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf had deposed in a coup in 1999, announced Aug. 30 that he would return to the country in Sept. to challenge Musharraf in upcoming elections.


The State Dept.

Abdullah Gl

     Bombers in Iraq Kill 250 in 2 Kurdish Towns - The Kurdish region of Iraq, largely spared heretofore from the lethal violence elsewhere in the country, came under attack Aug. 14. Four truck bombs exploded in 2 villages in a desert area near the Syrian border, killing at least 250 people, wounding 350 more, and destroying many homes.
     14 U.S. soldiers died Aug. 22 when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed, apparently because of mechanical failure, in northern Iraq. On Aug. 28, rival Shiite factions battled on the streets of Karbala during a religious festival, and more than 50 people were killed and 200 wounded.

     Turkish Parliament Elects a Muslim as President - The Turkish Parliament Aug. 28 broke with tradition by electing an observant Muslim, Abdullah Gl, as the country’s president. Since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic of Turkey in the 1920s, the country, led by the military, had supported the supremacy of secular rule. The military had overthrown the government four times since 1960. In his address to parliament after taking the oath of office, Gl said, "Turkey is a secular democracy...These are basic values of our republic, and I will defend and strengthen these values." Gl said he would continue to seek Turkish membership in the European Union.




The American flag flies over the wreckage of the I-35 bridge collapse on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 16, 2007.

     Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis Kills 13 - A highway bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed Aug. 1, causing the deaths of 13 people and injuring 79. The 8-lane bridge on Interstate Highway 35W fell during the evening rush hour, dropping about 50 vehicles into or near the water. Strong currents and shifting debris frustrated divers engaged in search and rescue operations. On Aug. 4, Pres. George W. Bush visited the site, and police announced the names of 8 people who were still missing. On Aug. 9, divers found the remains of at least 2 more victims. Remains of the last missing victim were found Aug. 20, bringing the official final total of dead to 13.
     The bridge, which had been built in 1967, was under repair when it fell. It had been called "structurally deficient" in 1990. The bridge had passed annual inspections since 1993, though with low marks, and in 2006 its supporting structure was found to be in poor condition.
     After the collapse, cities and towns across the country stepped up their inspections of local bridges. More than 70,000 U.S. bridges had been designated as structurally deficient according to 2006 Federal Highway Administration statistics.

     Train Derailment in Congo Kills 100 - About 100 passengers died and dozens were injured Aug. 1 when a train derailed near Benaleka in central Congo. The brakes failed, and 7 of the train’s 8 cars went off the tracks and overturned.

     Barry Bonds Breaks All-Time Home Run Record - Barry Bonds, an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, broke Major League Baseball’s all-time career home-run record. He tied the record at 755 - set in 1976 by Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves - on Aug. 4 in San Diego, homering off the Padres’ Clay Hensley. Then, on Aug. 7, in his home park in San Francisco, facing pitcher Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, Bonds hit a ball over the right-center field fence for No. 756.
     Bonds also broke the single-season home run record in 2001 with 73. His late career had been shrouded in controversy as rumors persisted that he had used steroids, though he had never failed a steroid test.
     Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees hit his 500th home run Aug. 4. Rodriguez, at 32 years and 8 days old, became the youngest player to hit 500 career home runs, causing speculation that he would someday pass Bonds’ record.

     Long Effort to Save Trapped Miners Fails - Six coal miners were trapped 1,500 feet underground Aug. 6 near Huntington, UT, after a cave-in. They were also nearly 3 miles from the mine entrance. Without any evidence as to whether they were alive, rescuers worked for 2 weeks without success to rescue them. On Aug. 16, a 2nd cave-in killed 2 rescue workers and a mine inspector, and injured 6 other rescuers.



Hurricane Dean

     Extreme Weather Conditions Plague the U.S., Caribbean - Extremely hot conditions, alternating with heavy rains, made life difficult for millions in North America in the last full month of summer. On Aug. 8, a tornado packing winds of up to 135 mph briefly touched down in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, damaging some houses; the tornado was the first ever recorded in the borough.
     Hurricane Dean swept through the Caribbean Aug. 19, causing much damage and a few deaths. In the central United States, heavy rainstorms claimed more than 20 lives, knocked out power, and caused widespread flooding. At the same time, wildfires were out of control in California, Idaho, and Montana.

     Tiger Woods Wins His 13th Major Title - Tiger Woods shot an 8-under-par 272 to win the PGA championship in Tulsa, OK, Aug. 12. It was his first victory in one of golf’s 4 major tournaments in 2007, and the 13th of his career. Only Jack Nicklaus, with 18, had more major titles.

     Violent Earthquake Years Rocks Peru - An estimated 540 people were killed and at least 17,000 were left homeless by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated cities on the southern coast of Peru August 15. Most of the damage was concentrated in the coastal cities of Ica and Pisco, where the quake caused churches, hospitals, and a prison to collapse. Dozens of noticeable aftershocks continued to plague the area, including two 5.9-magnitude temblors Aug. 17 that caused additional damage. The international community pledged $40 mil aid for the relief effort.

     NFL Quarterback Pleads Guilty to Dog-fighting Charge - On Aug. 27, Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to one count of "Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture" in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond. He had been indicted in July. In legal papers, Vick had admitted financing a dog-fighting operation and participating in the killing of dogs that did not fight well. Vick apologized "for all of the things that I’ve done and that I’ve allowed to happen." On Aug. 24, the National Football League suspended Vick indefinitely without pay.

It's All in the Numbers

2,000,000,000 - number of people who watched Princess Diana’s televised funeral September 6. 1997.

2,000,000 - highest recorded mileage for a car, a 1966 Volvo P1800-S.

215,000 - number of copies of Richard Wright’s Native Son sold in the first 3 weeks after its publication.

16,000 - approximate number of people who died in the explosion of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 CE.

100 - number of light bulbs on the inaugural Times Square New Years Eve ball, made of iron and wood, dropped for the first time to ring in 1907.

30 - number of minutes that the length of the CBS Evening News was extended to (from its previous 15-minute format) on this date in 1963.

6 - number of seats at the gas station where Colonel Sanders first served his fried chicken.

It's a Fact!

The bagpipe originated in ancient Mesopotamia; from there it was carried into Europe by Celtic migrations.

Offbeat News Stories — Sarah Janssen

For Shame!
"After this policy came out, the police are scared," said a Thai police officer, who asked for anonymity in discussing the new rules. "It will be very embarrassing to walk around with Hello Kitty on your arm."

In an effort to curb minor rule-breaking by the Thai police force, the acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division, Pongpat Chayaphan, has decreed a new punishment for those caught littering, tardy for work, or parking in the wrong zone. Hello Kitty, the popular Japanese children’s character, was emblazoned on 10 armbands, awaiting an officer’s misdemeanor offense. (Stronger measures were in store for more serious infractions.)

"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Mr. Pongpat. "Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps."

Ordinarily, Thai police officers’ armbands show the Crime Suppression Division’s official motto: "When you have no one to turn to, come to us." An earlier armband-of-shame punishment was unsuccessful: the armbands were made of a tartan plaid, and shamed officers took them home as souvenirs. The police force is still waiting to find out whether Hello Kitty will inspire the same glib response.

Like a Bookmobile, with Legs
In the state of Trujillo in Venezuela, dozens of small mountain villages are being linked together in a more plodding, unplugged version of the "information superhighway." The bibiliomulas (book mules) may not in themselves be the cutting edge of technology, but no other method of bringing books and information to the remote mountain communities is more efficient or sustainable.

A recent visitor to the village of Calembe, arriving with the bibliomulas, was greeted by all 23 children from the small local schoolhouse, who eagerly opened the sacks of books and began grabbing at the best volumes. "It’s great," said Jose Castillo, a 12-year-old beneficiary of the bibliomula visit, "I love reading books and we get told some really nice stories."

But the bibliomulas are not just a low-tech, no gasoline version of the more familiar bookmobile. The book mules are also becoming ‘Net mules and cine-mules, as the program organizers equip the four-footed media centers with laptops, modems, and movie projectors.

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


Library of Congress

Secretary of State William H. Seward

If you'd like to do a good deed, with the smallest of efforts, visit the Animal Rescue site and click the "Click Here To Give" button on the right (where indicated). One click can supply food and care for animals, paid for by the site sponsors. You can also click and provide assistance in the area of Hunger, Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy and Rainforests.

I have several friends who don't bother reading the newspaper or listening to the news anymore, and I think I've stumbled upon the perfect website for them. At Happy News, the only news you'll get is positive news. Some of the stories I saw as I worked on this column including the recorded $64 million that Jerry Lewis raised this past weekend at his annual telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, and the news that ABC newsman Bob Woodruff has returned to work full time after his severe brain injury sustained in Iraq, in January 2006. Good news indeed!

On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska, for $7.2 million dollars, from Russia. Derided in the press as "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox," the purchase represented another push for expansion of the United States - nearly 600,000 square miles. Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported the purchase and gave a speech to the senate in April 1867 which swayed the votes in favor of the treaty to purchase "Russian America." Sumner helped with the naming of the territory, using the word Aleuts used to refer to the mainland - Alaska.

Want a great job hunting search engine? Check out indeed.com a website that accesses millions of jobs that are advertised on the web. If you think you are underpaid, use the salary search to see what others in your position make.



Florida Alligator Snow Dome

Among other things I've collected in the past, one could find over 100 snowdomes and "floaty" pens in my apartment. I have some very old ones, from the 1964/65 World's Fair, and the Hayden Planetarium from the Museum of Natural History in New York, as well as some from around the world - Holland, Egypt, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which turns out to be the subject of the first travel related snow domes produced as souvenirs for the 1889 Paris Exposition. Floaty pens were first produced in the 1950s in Denmark by the Eskesen company, and have become an inexpensive travel souvenir ever since.

October 6, 1927 was an important date in film history. On that day, Warner Brothers came out with the film "The Jazz Singer," starring recording sensation Al Jolson. Films into the late 1920s were still silent, and several had recorded film scores, but this was the first time in history that spoken dialogue was part of the recordings. Approximately 25% of the film was recorded using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. The film industry was revolutionized, and within a year, the first all-talking film, "Lights of New York" debuted, ushering in a new era of films.

The name Lowell Thomas may not mean anything to the current generation, but for nearly a half a century (1930-1976), his voice was heard on radio giving nightly news broadcasts. Starting with his opening line, "Good evening, everybody," he reported about his travels around the world, and the people he met. During World War I, Thomas raised money to go film the war in Europe, and while in the Middle East, he met T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), a British archaeologist who was leading insurgent Arabs against the Turks in Jerusalem. It was Thomas who brought the world's attention to Lawrence, in turn making the two of them household names. Thomas authored over 50 books (I read several of his adventure books in the 1980s), and always left his listeners with the parting words, "So long until tomorrow."


National Archives

Navajo Code Talkers

Philip Johnson was both a leading practitioner of the International Style and, in his later years, an important advocate of postmodernist architecture. Among his notable designs was his own house, The Glass House (1949), in New Canaan, Connecticut, a remarkable home because its exterior walls are of glass with no interior walls touching the exterior.

During World War II many Navajo Indians left their reservations to serve in the armed forces. A number of them were recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps to use their native language to design a code to encrypt important communications and then sent to the Pacific theater. Known as the Navajo code talkers, they sent and received coded messages that were never deciphered by the Japanese. In 1981, Pres. Ronald Reagan recognized the first 29 code talkers by awarding them Congressional Gold Medals, and the role that these men played in the war is portrayed in the 2002 film Windtalkers.

Quote of the Month

"We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time"
     - Vince Lombardi (1913-1970), American Football Coach

© World Almanac Education Group

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

Newsletter Contributors:
C. Alan Joyce, Bill McGeveran and Linda Van Orden.

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