World Almanac Newsletter Archive
January 2007 Newsletter
Volume 07, Number 11 — November 2007
What's in this issue?
November Holidays — National and International
This Day In History — November
November Month Birthdays
Travel - Portland, Oregon: Green Scene
Obituaries - October 2007
The Best of the World Almanac Blog
Chronology - October 2007
It's All in the Numbers
Offbeat News Stories
Links of the Month
Quote of the Month
How to reach us
November 2-4 - Will Rogers Days (Claremore and Oologah, OK)
November 3 - International Tongue Twister Contest (Burlington, WI)
November 4 - Daylight Saving Time ends (2 a.m.)
November 4 - ING New York City Marathon
November 9-11 - Waterfowl Festival (Easton, MD)
November 10 - Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting (Two Harbors, MN)
November 12-December 20 - Triple Crown of Surfing (Oahu, HI)
November 14-20 - NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship (Olathe, KS); NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship (Daytona Beach, FL)
November 16-18 - Tellabration! A Weekend of Storytelling for Grown-Ups (CT)
November 17 - Custer State Park Buffalo Auction (Custer, SD)
November 20-24 - Great Alaska Shootout (Anchorage, AK)
November 22 - Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York City); Atlanta Marathon and Half Marathon
November 22-25 - Daytona Turkey Run (Daytona Beach, FL)
November 23 - Black Friday; Buy Nothing Day
November 23-24 - World Championship Duck-Calling Contest and Wings Over the Prairie Festival (Stuttgart, AR)
November 25 - Handel’s Messiah Sing-Along (Yorba Linda, CA)
November 28 - Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting (New York City)
November 1 - All Saints Day
November 1-2 - Día de los Muertos (Mexico, Brazil)
November 2 - All Souls Day
November 5 - Guy Fawkes Day (UK)
November 6 - Election Day
November 11 - Veterans Day; Remembrance Day (Canada)
November 14 - Children’s Day (India)
November 15 - Shichi-Go-San (Japan)
Novermber 18 - Volkstrauertag (Germany)
November 22 - Thanksgiving
It's a Fact!
George Washington announced that Nov. 26, 1789 would be "a day of public thanks-giving and prayer", the first in the nation’s history.
|01||1848||The Boston Female Medical School opens, the first such school for women.|
|02||1917||Britain issues the Balfour Declaration, proclaiming its intention to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.|
|03||1957||The Soviets launch Sputnik 2, sending the first dog into space.|
|04||1922||The tomb of King Tutankhamen is discovered in Egypt by British archaeologists Howard Carter and George Carnarvon.|
|05||1912||Woodrow Wilson is elected president over Theodore Roosevelt and incumbent William Howard Taft.|
|06||1947||Meet the Press premieres on TV.|
|07||1916||Jeannette Rankin, from Montana, becomes the first woman ever elected to Congress.|
|08||1889||The Bronx Zoo, one of the world's largest zoos, opens to the public.|
|09||1989||The Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany is opened.|
|10||1871||Explorer Henry Stanley finds the missing missionary David Livingstone in Africa.|
|11||2000||155 skiers are killed in the Austrian Alps when a cable car catches fire inside Kitzsteinhorn mountain.|
|12||1997||Two Islamic militants are convicted in the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center.|
|13||1985||Two eruptions by the Colombian volcano Nevado del Ruiz trigger avalanches of mud and water that engulf 14 Colombian towns and villages and kill as many as 25,000.|
|14||1972||The Dow Jones industrial average closes above 1,000 for the first time.|
|15||1777||The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation.|
|16||1907||Oklahoma is admitted to the Union as the 46th state.|
|17||1997||Islamic fundamentalists kill 58 foreign tourists and 4 Egyptians at the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut near Luxor.|
|18||1942||The draft age in the United States is lowered to 18.|
|19||1997||In Iowa, Bobbi McCaughey delivers live septuplets.|
|20||1947||Britain's Princess Elizabeth, heir to the throne, marries Philip Mountbatten.|
|21||2001||An elderly Connecticut woman mysteriously dies of inhalation anthrax, the fifth fatality in an outbreak that began in early October.|
|22||1963||Pres. John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, TX. Vice Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president.|
|23||1980||Some 3,000 die when a violent earthquake strikes southern Italy.|
|24||1707||The most recent recorded eruption of Japanese volcano Mt. Fuji begins, continuing for several months.|
|25||1975||Suriname is granted independence by the Dutch Parliament.|
|26||1940||500,000 Jews are forced to live in the Warsaw Ghetto.|
|27||1965||Thousands of protesters demanding peace in Vietnam march in Washington, D.C.|
|28||1520||Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan finds the westward route to Asia from Europe by rounding South America and entering the Pacific.|
|29||1929||Richard E. Byrd and Brent Balchen pilot the first flight over the South Pole.|
|30||1959||Floyd Patterson knocks out Archie Moore to take the WBA heavyweight crown.|
|01||1957||Lyle Lovett, country singer (Klein, TX)|
|02||1961||k. d. lang, singer (Consort, Alberta, Canada)|
|03||1956||Phil Simms, football quarterback and sportscaster (Lebanon, KY)|
|04||1937||Loretta Swit, actress (Passaic, NJ)|
|05||1973||Johnny Damon, baseball player (Fort Riley, KS)|
|06||1955||Maria Shriver, TV journalist (Chicago, IL)|
|07||1918||Billy Graham, evangelist (Charlotte, NC)|
|08||1949||Bonnie Raitt, singer/musician (Burbank, CA)|
|09||1915||Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps director (Westminster, MD)|
|10||1939||Russell Means, Native American activist (Pine Ridge Reservation, SD)|
|11||1945||Daniel Ortega, Nicaraguan president (La Libertad, Nicaragua)|
|12||1967||David Schwimmer, actor (Queens, NY)|
|13||1949||Whoopi Goldberg, actress (New York, NY)|
|14||1954||Condoleezza Rice, U.S. secretary of state (Birmingham, AL)|
|15||1954||Aleksander Kwasniewski, Polish president (Bialogard, Poland)|
|16||1977||Maggie Gyllenhaal, actress (Los Angeles, CA)|
|17||1944||Danny DeVito, actor (Neptune, NJ)|
|18||1974||Chloë Sevigny, actress (Springfield, MA)|
|19||1962||Jodie Foster, actress (New York, NY)|
|20||1917||Robert Byrd, WV senator (North Wilkesboro, NC)|
|21||1920||Stan Musial, baseball player (Donora, PA)|
|22||1967||Boris Becker, champion tennis player (Leimen, Germany)|
|23||1954||Bruce Hornsby, singer/musician (Williamsburg, VA)|
|24||1925||William F. Buckley Jr., columnist/author (New York, NY)|
|25||1947||John Larroquette, actor (New Orleans, LA)|
|26||1939||Tina Turner, singer (Brownsville, TN)|
|27||1957||Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, author and daughter of President Kennedy (Boston, MA)|
|28||1908||Claude Lévi-Strauss, social anthropologist (Brussels, Belgium)|
|29||1932||Jacques Chirac, president of France (Paris, France)|
|30||1978||Gael Garcia Bernal, actor (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico)|
Although it’s a sizable city with nearly 600,000 people, Portland, Oregon, has a laid-back image. Situated between the Pacific Ocean coast on the west and Oregon’s snow-capped Mount Hood, along with the Mount Hood National Forest, on the east, it draws in lovers of outdoor pursuits, summer and winter alike. Known for its many gardens and parks, the so-called "City of Roses" is "green" in another sense as well; it often pops up on lists of the top U.S. cities for such features as use of renewable energy, as well as for sheer livability.
Recent years have also seen Portland gain renown for its eating and drinking attractions. It has turned into a magnet for talented young chefs, boasts more breweries and microbreweries - some 30 - than any other city in the world, and has benefited from the rise of the wine industry in the nearby Willamette Valley, as well as from being near the sea. Gourmet magazine has depicted Portland as "the Burgundy of America," calling it "rich in produce, laden with seafood, and blessed with fabulous wines." In 2007, cable TV’s Food Network named it the "Delicious Destination of the Year," calling it "a rising city with a fast-growing food scene."
A good way to start your exploration of Portland is to go for a ride on the city’s new tram, which opened to the public in January 2007. The tram’s glass-and-chrome bubblelike Swiss-made cars serve as a commuter link between facilities of the Oregon Health and Science University on Marquam Hill and on the Willamette River waterfront 500 ft (150 m) below. They also offer residents and tourists a panoramic view of Portland and its surroundings, including not only Mount Hood but also Mount St. Helens in neighboring Washington State.
For a spectacular view, you can also travel to Council Crest Park, which lies slightly southwest of downtown and contains the highest point in Portland, at 1,073 ft (327 m) above sea level. From here you can survey Portland and its environs and espy Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and other Cascade Range peaks.
Parks and gardens
At 43.5 acres (17.6 ha) Council Crest makes up only a small portion of Portland’s extensive park system, which covers an astounding 37,000 acres (15,000 ha). Units of the system range in size from tiny Mill Ends Park, which at some 2 ft (60 cm) in width is thought to be the world’s smallest park, to huge Forest Park, the biggest forested park in a U.S. city. Stretched out to the northwest of downtown, Forest Park covers 5155 acres (21 sq km), making it about six times the size of New York City’s Central Park. It features dozens of miles of trails and old roadways suitable for cycling, jogging, or hiking, and is a favorite haunt of birders.
Japanese Garden in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon
Just west of downtown, and south of Forest Park, lies Washington Park, which includes the 185-acre (75-ha) Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo (boasting the world’s most successful breeding herd of Asian elephants), the Portland Children's Museum, and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. The 20,000-sq-ft (1900-sq-m) Discovery Museum, reopened in mid-2005 after renovation, features a variety of interactive exhibits. On view until mid-January 2008 is a special exhibit of 25 antique hand-carved wooden carousel animals from around the world. Also in Washington Park are Portland’s celebrated Japanese Garden and the adjacent International Rose Test Garden. The latter, founded in 1917, is the oldest public rose test garden in the U.S. It not only contains thousands of roses - more than 550 varieties - but affords a splendid vista of the downtown area, along with distant Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. The 5.5-acre (2.2-ha) Portland Japanese Garden is regarded by some experts as the finest and most authentic Japanese garden outside Japan. It offers five different garden styles, an entrancing waterfall, and a Japanese tea house, and provides an excellent view of Mount Hood, which from afar looks not unlike Japan’s Mount Fuji.
Another spectacular garden is located in the city’s Chinatown, on what several years ago was an ordinary parking lot. The Portland Classical Chinese Garden - at 40,000 sq ft (3700 sq m) about the size of a city block - was created in Ming Dynasty style by artisans from Suzhou, China. The walled garden includes covered walkways, pavilions, a tea house, bridges, a waterfall, and a lake.
The Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park ranges along the eastern edge of downtown, and the west bank of the Willamette. Once the site of a freeway, it’s now a frequent venue for festivals and other events. Perhaps the most notable park east of the Willamette is 200-acre (80-ha) Mount Tabor Park, which contains an extinct volcano, one of only two in the U.S. lying within a city (the other is in Bend, Oregon.)
Up to a few years ago, the Pearl District, north of downtown, was a drab industrial and warehouse zone. Now redeveloped, it is a trendy neighborhood with galleries, restaurants, wine bars, boutiques, and performance spaces galore. Attractions here include the castlelike Portland Armory building. Originally built in 1891, it was transformed by a $36 million renovation into a state-of-the-art theater facility, the Gerding Theater, and became the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the only arts venue, to receive the top U.S. sustainable design award - a platinum rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. A gold LEED rating - the first in the country to go to a historic building - was earned by another project in the Pearl District: the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center ("Ecotrust Building"). This building, renovated from an 1895 warehouse, has spongy flooring crafted from recycled tires and houses a number of sustainable (eco-friendly) businesses; it opened to the public in 2001.
Also in the Pearl, right near the southern boundary, is a landmark for book lovers: Powell’s City of Books. This famous bookstore occupies an entire block and holds more than 1 million volumes (including both used and new). It is said to be the biggest independent bookseller in the world.
Museums major and minor
Two key local cultural institutions are located in a "cultural district" centered in the southern part of downtown: the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society Museum. The art museum, the oldest in the Northwestern U.S., was renovated in a decade-long $125 million project, completed in 2005; the renovation included the conversion of a former Masonic temple into the Mark Building, housing the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art and a 33,000-volume library. The historical society building features eight-story-high trompe l’oeil murals by American artist Richard Haas.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, just across the Willamette, on the river’s eastern side, features hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and an OMNIMAX theater. Docked nearby in the river is a retired U.S. submarine, the USS Blueback.
For a change of pace, visitors to Portland may want to try some of the city’s more offbeat museum fare. The Velveteria, for example, offers more than 150 velvet paintings. It is located on the eastern side of the Willamette. So is the Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Museum, which features a few hundred models, among them horse-drawn and hand-pumped cleaners.
It's a Fact!
Abigail Adams was one of only two women to be wife of one president and mother of another, though she never knew it, having died seven years before John Quincy Adams was elected.
Adm William Crowe Jr.
Bishop, Joey, 89, nightclub comedian, best known as a member of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack;" Newport Beach, CA, Oct. 17, 2007
Bracken, Peg, 89, advertising copywriter whose dislike domestic chores led her to write the best selling "The I Hate to Cook Book;" Portland, OR, Oct. 20, 2007.
Brewer, Teresa, 76, pop and jazz vocalist known for her upbeat and cheerful songs; New Rochelle, NY, Oct. 17, 2007.
Crowe, William J., 82, U.S. Navy admiral who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and as the Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Bill Clinton; Bethesda, MD, Oct. 18, 2007.
Goulet, Robert, 73, award winning actor and baritone singer who was the original Lancelot in the Broadway production of "Camelot" in 1960, and won a Tony for his performance in "The Happy Time" in 1968; Los Angeles, CA, Oct. 30, 2007.
Grizzard, George, 79, film and stage actor who is best remembered for his performance in Edward Albee plays, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance, for which he won a Best Actor Tony in 1996; New York, NY, Oct. 2, 2007.
Kerr, Deborah, 86, Scottish actress best known for her roles in as "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The King and I" (1956), and "An Affair to Remember" (1957); she was nominated for six Best Actress Academy Awards, without winning; Suffolk, England, Oct. 16, 2007.
McGee, (William) Max, 75, professional football wide receiver who played for the Green Bay Packers from 1954-67, he caught the first touchdown pass and scored the first points in Super Bowl history in 1967; Deephaven, MN, Oct. 20, 2007.
Oerter Jr., Al, 71, discus thrower who was the first athlete to win four consecutive Olympic titles in one event (1956-68); Fort Meyers, FL, Oct. 1, 2007.
Wagoner, Porter, 80, country singer known for his flashy sequined suits and blonde pompadour wer, he had 29 top ten records and began featuring a young Dolly Parton on his television show in 1967; Nashville, TN, Oct. 28, 2007.
Open in Case of Emergency - Sarah Janssen
The days of fallout shelters may be blissfully behind most of us (excluding the most cautious/paranoid in our ranks, of course), but that doesn't mean that we necessarily need to stop considering what we would stock in our doomsday sanctuaries. Or maybe that's just what this Wired blog post on their top ten curious canned goods (a list that includes jellied eels, stewed silkworms, and tinned haggis) had me contemplating. Call me an unadventurous eater with an underdeveloped palate, but I'm not sure any of these will become a staple in my stockpile of nonperishables.
Checking Up On Your Favorite Candidates* - C. Alan Joyce
*And the other ones too
I'm surprised we haven't blogged about this one before: FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, which holds political candidates (no matter what party they represent) to task for mis-statements, distorted facts, and outright untruths in major speeches, debates, and other appearances. It's the kind of detailed fact-checking you expect, but rarely get, from major media outlets - and it's an incredibly useful resource as we head for a contentious primary season. An example of a recent summary:
Tongues were sharpened before Sunday night's (Oct. 21) GOP presidential debate in Orlando, with the candidates drawing blood right out of the gate. We found them factually challenged in several areas:
- Giuliani stretched till he broke, in calling Thompson "the single biggest obstacle to tort reform" in the Senate.
- Romney boasted of his Massachusetts health care plan and criticized Hillary Clinton's, although her plan is strikingly similar to Romney's Massachusetts program. He also falsely accused her of favoring "all-government insurance."
- Giuliani claimed the price of health insurance would drop more than 50 percent if millions more people purchased it directly, a statement unsupported by any evidence he's offered so far.
- Thompson said the most affluent 40 percent of Americans pay "about 99 percent of the taxes." Actually, they pay less than 85 percent, and also have nearly 74 percent of all the income.
- Giuliani made an inflated boast about bringing down crime in New York "more than anyone in this country - maybe in the history of this country." But the decline started before he took office, continued after he left, and even the FBI itself warns against attributing crime statistics to any specific cause.
It's a Fact!
The U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay was established in 1898, when the United States obtained control of Cuba from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War.
Dow Closes at Record High as Economic Indicators Rebound - The Dow Jones closed at a record high of 14,164.53 on Oct. 9. Further boosting investor confidence, the Dept. of Labor had reported Oct. 5 that the economy had added 110,000 jobs in September; it also revised August employment numbers, which had showed the economy losing jobs, to show a gain of 89,000 jobs. Oil prices reached a new high Oct. 29, closing above $93 a barrel; the price also beat the previous inflation-adjusted high set in Jan. 1981. The U.S. dollar struggled throughout Oct., falling Oct. 30 to an all-time low of $1.44 against the euro and reaching a 47-year low of $1.05 against the Canadian dollar. The Commerce Dept. announced Oct. 31 that the economy had grown 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007, compared with 3.8 percent in the second quarter and 0.6 percent in the first quarter; the growth came largely in consumer spending and in exports, as a result of the weakening dollar. That same day, the Fed announced it would cut the short-term interest rate one-quarter point, to 4.5%.
Bush Vetoes Health Insurance Plan for Children - Pres. George W. Bush Oct. 3 vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have spent $35 bil, over 5 years, to expand a health insurance program to include children whose family income level disqualified them from Medicare coverage. He said he would support an alternative bill that would not expand coverage beyond children already covered. The bill had passed by a veto-proof margin, 67-29, in the Senate Sept. 29, but the House failed to override the veto Oct. 17. The vote in favor of the bill, 273-156, was just 13 votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority.
Bush Denies That U.S. Resorts to Torture - The New York Times Oct. 4 reported that a classified Justice Dept. memorandum in Feb. 2005 had authorized the CIA to use psychological and physical techniques against captured terror suspects, including simulated drowning and climate manipulation. Some Democrats in Congress demanded to see the classified memoranda. "This government does not torture people," said Pres. Bush Oct. 5, adding, "You bet we’re going to detain..them, you bet we’re going to question them because the American people expect us to find out information .so we can help protect them."
Judge Denies Senator’s Request to Withdraw Guilty Plea - Hennepin County (MN) District Judge Charles Porter ruled Oct. 4 that Sen. Larry Craig (R, ID) could not withdraw a plea of guilty to a disorderly conduct charge that he had entered in August after his June arrest by a policeman in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis airport. Craig said Oct. 4 that despite the adverse ruling he would not resign his office, reversing an earlier announcement that it was his intent to do so. He announced his intention to appeal the judge’s ruling Oct. 14.
Drought-Plagued Southeast Acts to Conserve Water - A severe drought in the southeastern United States forced some areas to restrict the use of water. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolinas were especially hard hit, with rain totals at least 10 inches below normal. Some cities, including Atlanta, reported that main-source reservoirs could dry up within months. Gov. Michael Easley of North Carolina asked residents Oct. 15 to use water only when it was "essential to public health and safety." Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia Oct. 20 declared a state of emergency for most of the state and called on Pres. Bush to declare a federal disaster in the area.
Attorney General Nominee Appears Before Senate Committee - The Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings for Michael Mukasey, Pres. Bush’s nominee for attorney general. On Oct. 17, he said that he would be more independent of the White House than former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales. On Oct. 18, Mukasey indicated that administration policies of wiretapping and using so-called enhanced interrogation techniques could be acceptable even if they went beyond what was technically allowed by law, drawing criticism from some committee members. In an Oct. 31 letter elaborating on his responses to questions during the hearings, Mukasey refused to equate the controversial "waterboarding" interrogation method with torture, leading to speculation that his confirmation was in doubt.
Louisiana Governor-Elect Bobby Jindal
Fires Cause Widespread Damage in Southern California - For the first time since 2003, major fires erupted in southern California, Oct. 21, and spread rapidly from an area north of Los Angeles through San Diego to the Mexican border. By Oct. 23, with 1,000 structures destroyed, an estimated half-million people had evacuated the threatened areas. Pres. Bush declared a state of emergency in California Oct. 23 and toured the devastated area on Oct. 25. By Oct. 31, the fires had claimed at least 14 lives and had burned 516,000 acres and more than 2,000 buildings, and injured scores of people. They wee brought under control.
Louisiana Elects a Republican Governor - U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) was elected governor of Louisiana Oct. 20, winning 54% of the vote. He had lost a previous bid for the office in 2003 to Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who opted not to run in 2007, and had been elected to 2 terms in the U.S. House. A 36-year-old son of immigrants, Jindal will be both the nation’s youngest sitting governor and its first Indian American governor when he takes office in January. Jindal will also be Louisiana’s first non-white governor since Reconstruction.
FBI Investigates Killings of 17 Civilians in Iraq - The FBI Oct. 1 said it would send agents to Iraq to investigate a Sept. 16 incident in which 17 Iraqis were killed, apparently by employees of Blackwater USA, one of the largest private security contractors in Iraq. The Iraqi government had initially tried to expel the company, but later said they were reconsidering. Other investigations into the incident were being conducted by Iraqi authorities, the State Dept., and Congress. A report by the Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Oct. 1 that Blackwater employees had been involved in 195 shootings in Iraq since 2005. The report also criticized the State Dept. for not properly supervising Blackwater’s activities in Iraq.
A Decline in Violent Deaths Reported in Iraq - An Iraqi official said Oct. 1 that 884 Iraqi civilians and 78 Iraqi police and soldiers had died in violent incidents in September, down from more than double that figure in August. The U.S. military said Oct. 1 that 64 service members had been killed in September, a decline from 84 in August. On Oct. 5, U.S air strikes on a majority-Shiite town killed at least 25 people. The U.S. military said that U.S. forces came under heavy fire as they approached the town, where they were investigating suspected arms smuggling. On Oct. 6, 2 Shiite factions - led by the clerics Moqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz Hakim - that had clashed in frequent gun battles in southern Iraq, announced a peace agreement. A U.S. air strike northwest of Baghdad Oct. 11 killed 19 alleged insurgents and 15 civilians.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Oct. 8 that he would withdraw half of the 5,000-member British force in Iraq by the spring of 2008, citing progress made in training Iraqi security forces. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (ret.), the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, attacked the Bush administration Oct. 12 for its "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan." Sanchez had retired after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, though he was cleared of wrongdoing by the Army’s inspector-general. Speaking to military journalists in Arlington, VA, he said that the administration’s leadership of the war was incompetent, that the current "surge" strategy would not work, and that the war was "a nightmare with no end in sight."
Putin Indicates Desire to Retain Power in Russia - On Oct. 1, Pres. Vladimir Putin of Russia, in an address to the congress of the United Russia party, said he would lead his party’s list of candidates for parliament in the December election. After 8 years as president, Putin was not eligible under the constitution to seek another term in that office, but he introduced the possibility that he would become prime minister.
Pakistan President Wins Reelection; Bhutto Returns From Exile - Pres. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan was re-elected Oct. 6, but a legal challenge left his political fate in doubt. On Oct. 5 the Supreme Court had ruled that the election could go forward but stated that he could not constitutionally hold the offices of president and army chief. Musharraf had said that he would eventually give up the latter position. Musharraf was re-elected without formal opposition by national and provincial assemblies, winning 98% of the vote. Following the election, opposition parties continued to file challenges to its legality. Former Prime Min. Benazir Bhutto, the head of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, returned to Pakistan after 8 years in exile Oct. 19. Her return, celebrated by a crowd of several hundred-thousand, was marred when suicide bombs discharged near Bhutto’s caravan in Karachi, killing 140 and wounding hundreds more. Parliamentary elections were scheduled for Jan. 2008.
Fighters allied with the ousted Taliban government stepped up their attacks on the Pakistani military in a lawless area near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. More than 60 Pakistani soldiers were killed Oct. 7-10. The Pakistani military said Oct. 11 that 200 militants had been killed in the fighting. On Oct. 25, a bomb killed 17 Pakistani soldiers and 3 civilians.
Turkey Weighs Entering Iraq to Raid Kurdish Rebel Camps - Turkish military and political leaders Oct. 9 authorized troops to enter Iraq to attack the camps of separatist Kurdish forces near the border. More than 2 dozen Turkish soldiers had been killed in clashes with the rebels, who favored creation of an independent Kurdish state. Ethnic Kurds occupied adjacent portions of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. The United States sought to dissuade Turkey from any cross-border attacks in favor of a diplomatic solution, but had been unable to prevent the violence from continuing. At this juncture, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Oct. 10 approved, 27-21, a resolution that condemned the mass killings of Armenians by Turks in 1915 as an act of genocide. Some Turkish leaders warned that if House approved the resolution, it might cease its support for the U.S. endeavor in Iraq. Turkey’s parliament approved sending troops into Iraq Oct. 17, in a 507-19 vote; Turkish planes began attacking the separatist camps Oct. 21. The Armenian bill, which had had the support of House leader Nancy Pelosi, was withdrawn on Oct. 25.
Russian President Warns U.S. on Missile Defense - Pres. Vladimir Putin met with Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates near Moscow Oct. 12, and warned them not to proceed with plans for missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin threatened to pull out of a treaty that limits intermediate-range missiles if the U.S. plan continued. Pres. Putin visited Iran later in the month and warned that the use of military force against Iran was not acceptable.
Long-Debated Sanctions Increase Pressure on Iran - Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Sec. Harry Paulson announced a new policy that would lead to heightened sanctions against Iran Oct. 25. The announcement, which accused the Quds division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard of supporting terrorism and said that the Revolutionary Guard as a whole was proliferating weapons of mass destruction, initiated automatic sanctions on the force. Though the U.S. has not officially conducted business with Iran for several decades, it was hoped that the sanctions would convince other countries and businesses to sever their financial ties with Iran.
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Wife of Argentine President Elected to Succeed Him - Argentina’s voters Oct. 28 elected Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a senator, to succeed her husband, current Pres. Nestor Kirchner, as president. The latter was popular, having led Argentina out of a serious economic crisis. The economy had been growing for 5 years, with declining unemployment and inflation.
Madrid Bombing Trial Brings Mixed Verdict - The Spanish National Court in Madrid Oct. 31 convicted 21 defendants for their roles in the 2004 Madrid passenger train bombings that killed 191. However, seven men were acquitted in the trial, including the suspected mastermind of the attack. Sentences ranged from 3 to 43,000 years, though Spanish law does not allow a criminal to be held for more than 40 consecutive years.
Olympic Gold Medalist Admits She Used Steroids - Sprinter Marion Jones, who won 5 medals in the 2000 Olympic games, including 3 gold medals, admitted Oct. 5 that she had taken the designer steroid THG, a performance-enhancing drug. The admission came as Jones pled guilty to lying to federal investigators. Jones accepted a two-year ban from the sport and agreed to forfeit results dating back to 2000, including her Olympic medals.
Suicidal Gunman Wounds 4 at Ohio School - Two teachers and two teens were wounded by gunfire Oct. 10 at SuccessTech Academy in Cleveland, OH. The 14-year-old shooter, who had been suspended from the school for fighting, committed suicide.
Al Gore Receives Nobel Peace Prize - The Nobel Committee awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to former Vice Pres. Al Gore and the UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Oct. 12, for their efforts to educate the public about man-made climate change. The IPCC, a group of 2,000 scientists, had been producing assessments of climate change since the panel was established in 1988. As vice president, Gore had played a major role in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations and, since leaving office, he had released the Academy Award-winning climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Gore said he would donate his share of the $1.5 mil prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a not-for-profit organization that he had founded.
Boston Red Sox Win World Series in a 4-Game Sweep - The Boston Red Sox won baseball’s World Series in Denver Oct. 28, defeating the Colorado Rockies, 4-3, to complete a 4-game sweep. Jon Lester, who started and allowed no runs in 5 and two-third innings, was the winning pitcher. Third baseman Mike Lowell, who batted .400 in the 4 Series games, was voted the World Series most valuable player. The Red Sox, had also swept the 2004 Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Terry Francona had managed both teams.
Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees for 12 years, ended his tenure with the team Oct. 18 when he declined a one-year contract offer that would have reduced his guaranteed income for 2008. Torre had led the Yankees to 4 World Series championships, but the most recent was in 2000. On Oct. 30, Joe Girardi, a former catcher and coach for the Yankees and the former manager of the Florida Marlins, accepted an offer to replace Torre.
Library of Congress
2,500,000 - number of Mickey Mouse hats sold at Walt Disney World annually.
544,683 - number of popular votes that separated Al Gore from George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, the first election since 1888 where the losing candidate received more popular votes than the victor.
49,458 - the number of infants born in the U.S. in 2004 through assisted reproduction methods such as in-vitro fertilization - more than double the 20,840 born in 1996.
3,197 - the number of people who were executed without trial, died under torture, or disappeared during Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year reign as President of Chile.
444 - days that 52 of the American hostages in Iran were held captive, until Jan. 20, 1981.
12 - number of students who attended the Boston Female Medical School when it first opened.
6 - number of years in the term for which Jefferson Davis was elected to serve as president.
It's a Fact!
Congress passed the Heights of Building Act in 1899, stating that no building in Washington DC could be built taller than the Capitol. It was amended in 1910, allowing buildings to be as tall as the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet.
Presidential Pop Idol
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must have a little extra time on his hands. In between his presidential duties, Yudhoyono found the time to release a CD of songs he had written. The 60-minute album, entitled Rinduku Pada Mu (My Longing for You), features 10 love ballads and religious songs.
"All the songs in this album were written in between breaks in my hectic schedule as I pondered about life and about the problems that this country is facing," said Yudhoyono. "Music is my hobby, just like fishing, horse riding, and mountain climbing are the favorite pastimes of other leaders."
Followers of Indonesian politics might recall that Yudhoyono sang at many of his election appearances in 2004, and that two of his opponents released CDs to improve their images in the eyes - and ears - of voters.
The scariest trick-or-treater to show up at Iowa pumpkin farmers’ doors this year probably wasn’t a zombie, witch, or vampire. It was a tax-man. A September revision of policy in the Iowa Department of Revenue held that pumpkins could no longer be excluded from the state’s 5% sales tax - as are most foods - because most people used them as decorations.
"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," said Renee Mulvey, the Dept. of Revenue’s spokesperson. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o-lanterns." Customers still considering buying pumpkins for their former status as an ‘edible squash’ could fill out a form exempting them from the tax.
At the very last minute, on Oct. 31, Gov. Chet Culver ordered the Dept. of Revenue to "do the common sense thing" and issue refunds to any customers or farmers affected by the "ridiculous pumpkin tax."
Srinivasa Ramanujan and G. H. Hardy
Last night I finished reading David Leavitt's latest book The Indian Clerk (2007), and was startled to read the notes at the end which revealed that virtually all the characters in the book were real. The story centers around the relationship of Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) - a 20th century mathematical genius - and G(odfrey) H(arold) Hardy (1877-1947), the renowned British mathematician who recognized his greatness, and brought him from India to study at Cambridge University in 1914. The book is an interesting read, even though the math and discussion of proving the Reinman Hypothesis is way beyond any knowledge I'll ever have.
A new day, so I've started reading my reading groups selection for the month, Libra (1988) by Don DeLillo, a mixture of fact and fiction based on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, November 22, 1963. Oswald was arrested on the suspicion that he killed Kennedy and a Dallas police officer, charges, which he denied. Two days later, he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby as he was being transferred from the police station to jail, and the controversy as to who killed the president has lingered ever since. While reading up on Don DiLillo, I found the Literature Map an interactive mapping system that will show you other authors who write in the same style as the author you select.
Have an iPod, but not enough time to read books? Try visiting ManyBooks where you can find thousands of free ebooks, pre-formatted for reading on your computer, PDA, Blackberry, ipod, iliad, Sony Reader, Librie, Zaurus, Newton, ebookman, etc.
Today's newspaper (November 1, 2007) reported the death of a chimpanzee named Washoe, 42, reputed to have been the first non-human to learn sign language. Born in Africa about 1965, she was captured by the U.S. Air Force and brought to the U.S. for research in the space program. In 1966 she became part of a project led by with two scientists, Allen and Beatrix Gardner, to teach chimps American Sign Language. Her keepers claimed that she had a vocabulary of about 250 words, but critics contended that Washoe and other primates learned to perform certain acts in order to receive rewards, and did not acquire true language skills.
Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress
Oklahoma dust bowl refugees reach San Fernando, California, June 1935.
The state of Oklahoma is celebrating its centennial this month. Part of the Louisiana Purchase, 1803, Oklahoma was known as Indian Country, and from 1834 on, Indian Territory. It became the home to the "Five Civilized Tribes" - Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole - after the forced removal of Indians from the eastern U.S., 1828-46. In the late 19th century, white settlers pressed west and the territory was opened by homesteaders. It became a state in 1907. In later years, drought and the Depression of the 1930s drove many "Okies" out from the "Dust Bowl" to California. In 1995, a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, the state's capital, was destroyed killing 168 people; Timothy McVeigh was executed for the crime in 2001.
As readers of this column have discovered, there's someone in the world right now collecting something you'd never imagine collecting yourself. At the Candy Wrapper Museum you can check out a huge collection which includes classic candies - Hershey bars for instance - with wrappers going back to the 1930s. It's actually a great trip down memory lane of candy from years gone by - Good and Plenty, Clark bars, Necco wafers, Bit-O-Honey, and an assortment of others. Uh oh, my desire to see what's in the candy machine has just increased greatly.
"I went into a restaurant and the sign said 'Breakfast anytime," so I ordered french toast during the Renaissance."
- Steven Wright, b.1955, comedian
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