World Book News

World Book News (306)

Monday, 05 November 2012 16:15 Written by Jennifer Parello

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Feb. 1

The king of Nepal declares a state of emergency and takes total control over the government. After dismissing the Cabinet for failing to crush a nine-year rebellion by Maoist insurgents, King Gyanendra places the former prime minister and other officials under virtual house arrest and announces that he will form a new government. The insurgents, which currently control much of the countryside outside the capital, Kathmandu, advocate replacing the monarchy with a Communist republic.

 

 

Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, wins control of the Moi Party (formerly the Kanu Party), which ruled Kenya for nearly 40 years following independence in 1963. Kenyatta, his party’s presidential candidate in the 2002 election, lost to Mwai Kibaki, candidate on an anticorruption ticket.

 

Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, launches MSN Search, a new Internet search engine. Industry experts note that MSN Search is being marketed in direct competition to Google, the world’s leading search engine.

 

Feb. 2

Global warming is causing the ice in Antarctica to melt faster than had previously been thought, Chris Rapley, the director of British Antarctic Survey (BAS), tells scientists attending the Climate Change Conference in Exeter, United Kingdom. The BAS team of researchers have concluded that the rise in sea levels around the world has been underestimated. According to their calculations, more than 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometers) of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula has melted in the last 50 years. The group calculates that the melting of Antarctic icecaps accounts for at least 15 percent of the annual global sea level rise, which is currently 0.08 of an inch (2 millimeters).

 

 

The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, raises short-term interest rates by one-quarter of a percentage point, to 2.5 percent. The rate is the interest that banks charge each other.

 

President George W. Bush, in the first state of the union address of his second term, vows to reform Social Security, which the president claims is headed for “bankruptcy.” He proposes the creation of personal investment accounts for Social Security as part of the “guiding ideal of liberty for all.” However, the president does not outline how the federal government would fund Social Security if a percentage of payroll taxes were to be diverted into private accounts.

 

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives oust the chairman of the House ethics committee. Joel Hefley (R., Colorado) is both stripped of his leadership and removed from the committee. He is replaced by Richard Hastings (R., Washington), who is closely allied with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R., Texas). Under Hefley’s leadership, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct admonished DeLay three times in 2004 for various ethical lapses. Republican House leaders also add two new members to the committee; both have donated money to Representative DeLay’s legal defense fund, which has collected $1 million since being formed in 2000. According to political experts, the changes to the committee are to ensure DeLay’s political survival should he be indicted by a Texas grand jury that is investigating illegal or unethical political fund raising.

 

Feb. 3

A Kam Air flight from Herat, Afghanistan, to Kabul crashes during a heavy snowstorm 22 miles (35 kilometers) northeast of the capital, killing 104 passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 737. Kam Air is Afghanistan’s only private airline.

 

The president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, takes control of the government following the death of the prime minister, Zurab Zhvania. Zhvania apparently died of carbon monoxide poisoning as the result of a faulty gas heater in an apartment in Tbilisi, the capital. Both Zhvania and Saakashvili played prominent roles in the so-called Rose Revolution that brought down the government of Georgia’s former president, Eduard Shevardnadze, in 2003.

 

Renewed insurgent attacks in Iraq leave at least 26 Iraqis and 3 U.S. Marines dead. In the deadliest attack, 12 Iraqi army recruits are gunned down beside a highway south of Kirkuk. The attackers allow two recruits to go free in order to warn other Iraqis against joining security organizations allied with the U.S. military. The Marines are killed in clashes with insurgents in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad.

 

Millions of dollars have been largely wasted in efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to create software that would help agents to better communicate and analyze information, reveals the U.S. Department of Justice inspector general. In a new report, Inspector Glenn Fine notes that “After more than three years and $170 million expected to be spent developing the Virtual Case File (VCF), the FBI has not provided a clear timetable or prospect for completing the VCF.”

 

The inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases a report that accuses the EPA of ignoring scientific evidence and agency protocols when it set new, looser limits in December 2003 on mercury pollution. The author of the report suggests that the new limits were adopted for political reasons.

 

 

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army announces that future payments to Halliburton, the Houston-based company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, for services to U.S. troops in Iraq will no longer be withheld. The Army had been withholding 15 percent of all payments because of billing disputes. The disputes involved accusations that the company, which has a cost-plus contract, had overcharged the military for logistical services—base operations and maintenance, food, laundry, sanitation, and transportation—in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. According to some estimates, Halliburton submitted nearly $2 billion in invoices that lacked proper backup. 

 

Members of the U.S. Senate vote 60 to 36 to confirm Alberto Gonzales as the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States.

 

 

Feb. 4

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in London for talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, announces that a U.S.-led attack on Iran is “simply not on the agenda” for now. Rice notes that the United States and the United Kingdom have “diplomatic tools” that will be “fully” utilized to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other Bush administration officials have in recent weeks suggested that the government of the United States would adopt a more confrontational approach toward Iran over its nuclear program.

 

Feb. 5

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to Turkey’s capital, Ankara, tells a top Russian envoy that his government’s current crackdown on dissent is making U.S.-Russian relations “more difficult.” Rice specifically cites Russia’s seizure of the Russian oil company Yukos and the arrest of that company’s president, as well as various steps the government has taken to take over independent television in Russia.

 

Feb. 6

The New England Patriots win the team’s second consecutive Super Bowl, its third Super Bowl title in four years, by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

 

Feb. 7

A spate of insurgent attacks in Iraq leaves more than 50 police officers and soldiers dead in less than 24 hours. At least 14 policemen are killed in the northern city of Mosul, when a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device next to officers waiting in line to collect their wages. Another suicide bomber plows a car loaded with explosives into a group of police recruits outside a station house in Baqubah, killing 15 men. Another 22 Iraqis, both police and soldiers, were killed late on February 6 in an insurgent attack on a police station in Mahawil, south of Baghdad. In the capital, a U.S. soldier died and two others were wounded on February 6 in a bomb attack on their military convoy. Elsewhere in Baghdad, a gang of 10 to 15 gunmen kidnapped four Egyptian engineers working in Iraq for an Egyptian telecommunication company.

 

The Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake that generated the devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean was much stronger than previously thought, announce scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. According to calculations made by Professors Seth Stein and Emile Okal, the earthquake’s magnitude was 9.3, rather than 8.9 as originally announced. The scientists believe that the giant quake had oscillations that lasted as long as 54 minutes and fractured 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) of fault in a line running north from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

 

A 28-year-old Englishwoman sails into Falmouth Harbor, in the United Kingdom, to claim the record for sailing nonstop around the world—71 days, 14 hours, and 33 seconds. Ellen MacArthur set sail to circumnavigate the world on Nov. 28, 2004. During the voyage, she slept an average of four hours a day, in 20- or 30-minute catnaps, and lived on  freeze-dried food.

 

Fourteen of fifteen members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee vote to endorse Michael Chertoff to head the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff, who is a federal appeals judge, served as an assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001 until 2003.

 

Feb. 8

Middle East leaders agree today to a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shaking hands to finalize the accord, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announce an end to the second intifada, the more than four years of violence that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. The cease-fire is to begin immediately. Under the agreement, Israel is to pull all troops from Jericho and four West Bank towns by the end of February and transfer “certain Palestinian areas” from Israeli to Palestinian control. Israel also is to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. According to Middle East experts, Abbas’s part of the bargain—to halt Palestinian terrorist attacks—may prove difficult to fulfill. As president of the Palestinian Authority, he has influence but no real power over Hamas and other radical Palestinian organizations. The meeting—the highest level summit between Middle East leaders in four years—included President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan and took place at Sharm al-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort.  

 

The administration of President George W. Bush issues a new estimate of the cost of the Medicare drug benefit, increasing the figure to $720 billion over the next 10 years. Medicare is the national medical insurance program for senior citizens. As recently as September 2004, the head of Medicare, Mark B. McClellan, estimated that the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years. When Congress passed the legislation creating the benefit in November 2003, the Bush administration had estimated that the 10-year cost would be $320 billion. In March 2004, Medicare's chief actuary, Richard S. Foster, claimed that Bush administration officials had threatened to fire him if he revealed before the legislation was passed that he estimated that the drug benefit would cost $500 billion to $600 billion.

 

Feb. 9

A car bomb explodes outside a conference center in Madrid, injuring 43 people. According to Spanish police, a caller claiming to be from the Basque group Eta claims responsibility.

 

Feb. 10

The government of North Korea for the first time declares that it possesses nuclear weapons. In the same announcement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry states that North Korea will boycott United States-sponsored regional talks designed to end the North Korean nuclear program and would, in fact, “bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal” in self defense against attempts by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush “to isolate and stifle” North Korea.

 

 

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, announces that he will marry Camilla Parker Bowles, his longtime companion, in a civil ceremony on April 8. After the marriage, Mrs. Parker Bowles is to assume the title of her royal highness the duchess of Cornwall. Charles is both the prince of Wales and the duke of Cornwall. If Charles becomes king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the duchess will take the title of princess consort.

 

At least 95 people are killed when a dam bursts near the town of Pasni, in southwestern Pakistan on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The dam was unable to hold back water accumulated from the heaviest rains and snowfall in more than a decade.

 

More than 50 people die in insurgent violence in Iraq. In the most lethal of the attacks, 14 Iraqi police are killed and 65 others are wounded in Salman Park, a town southeast of Baghdad, in an insurgent attack on their convoy. The ambush sparks a fierce, two-hour gun battle, which ends when missile fire from U.S. helicopters forces the insurgents into retreat. Elsewhere in Iraq, the bodies of 20 Iraqi truckdrivers are found dumped alongside a road. With hands bound behind their backs, the truckers had been murdered execution style.

 

Feb. 11

Two insurgent attacks in Iraq leave more than 20 people dead. At least 13 people are killed in a car bombing outside a Shiah mosque in the town of Balad Ruz, northeast of Baghdad. In a Baghdad neighborhood dominated by Shiites, gunmen open fire in a bakery, killing 9 people.

 

A rare strain of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been detected in New York City, announces city health officials. The strain is the first that has been found that is both highly resistant to multiple drug treatments and develops into full-blown AIDS very quickly. According to Thomas R. Frieden, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the strain poses “a major potential problem.”

 

 

 

Feb. 12

Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

 

Bulgarian-born artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude unveil “The Gates,” a $21-million art installation in New York City’s Central Park. “The Gates” consists of 7,500 portals hung with “saffron” colored fabric arching over 23 miles (37 kilometers) of park pathways.

 

 

Feb. 13

Rescue operations begin in western Venezuela after a week of torrential rain. Massive flooding and landslides have left at least 37 people dead and more than 15,000 others homeless.

 

Feb. 14

Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri is assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut, the capital. At least 11 others are also killed in the massive explosion, which demolishes a nearby building and breaks windows blocks away. Hariri, a billionaire who spent millions of his own money rebuilding Lebanon after a long and highly destructive civil war, resigned as prime minister in October 2004 in protest of the influence neighboring Syria plays in Lebanon. Opposition leaders in Lebanon blame the murder on officials in Syria and their allies in the Lebanese government.

 

 

A gas explosion in a coal mine in the northeastern Chinese city of Fuxin kills at least 209 miners in the deadliest mining disaster in the country since 1949. China’s mines are notoriously dangerous, with more than 5,000 miners killed in accidents in 2004.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush officially asks Congress for $82 billion to support the continued military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. The requested money is in addition to the $2.57 trillion budget Bush submitted to Congress earlier in February.

 

 

Feb. 15

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiah Muslim political party that received the most votes in Iraq’s January 30 election, nominates Ibrahim Jaafari, the current interim vice president, as its candidate for prime minister. In provisional results announced on February 14th, UIA took 48 percent of the vote. With less than a majority of seats, UIA is forced to form a coalition government, most likely with the Kurdistan Alliance, which took 26 percent of the vote. The secular (non-religious) party of the current interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, garnered only 14 percent of the vote.

 

 

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush recalls the U.S. ambassador to Syria.

 

The U.S. Senate votes 98-0 to confirm Michael Chertoff as secretary of homeland security. He replaces Tom Ridge, who resigned on February 1.

 

Feb. 16

The Israeli parliament votes 59 to 40, with 5 abstentions, in favor of legislation that approves Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw all troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.

 

The remains of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon are buried in Martyrs’ Square in Beirut, the capital, with hundreds of thousands of mourners in attendance. Many of the mourners carry signs and banners demanding the withdraw of all of Syria’s troops from Lebanon.

 

Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari and Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref announce that the two countries will form a “common front” to face military threats.

 

The National Hockey League (NHL) officially cancels the 2004/2005 season, the first time a U.S. sports league has ever called off an entire season. The cancellation stemmed from a series of disputes between players and owners over a proposed salary cap for players.

 

 

Feb. 17

U.S. President George W. Bush names Iraq Ambassador John Negroponte as director of national intelligence. Negroponte will oversee all U.S. intelligence operations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence agency. The new position to encourage cooperation between the 15 intelligence agencies in the United States was created by legislation passed by Congress in late 2004.

 

Iraqi election officials announce the official results of the country’s January 30 election. The Shiah United Iraqi Alliance, which took 48 percent of the votes, won 140 of the 275 seats in the country’s new parliament. The Kurdistan Alliance won 26 percent of the vote and was allocated 75 seats. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s party took 14 percent of the vote and received 40 seats. The remaining 20 seats went to other parties.

 

Israel’s defense ministry announces an end to the government’s policy of destroying the residences of Palestinian suicide bombers in response to a recent army report that the policy had little preemptive effect. An Israeli human rights group claims that the policy has left that more than 10,000 Palestinians homeless 2001.

 

Feb. 18

At least 60 diamond miners in northern Congo (Kinshasa) have died of pneumonic plague, announces the World Health Organization (WHO). Pneumonic, which is a rare form of plague, is transmitted through coughing or close contact. WHO officials fear that hundreds of other miners who have fled the mining region in fear of contagion are already infected and could be spreading the disease.

 

The U.S. Army releases documents detailing new abuse allegations in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the documents, which were acquired by the American Civil Liberties Union, prisoners were subject to beatings and mock executions. One prisoner alleges that he was beaten with a baseball bat.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush signs legislation into law that is designed to curtail multimillion-dollar class action lawsuits against corporations by moving such suits from state to federal courts. Under the new law, class-action suits involving $5 million or more in damages would be heard in state court only if the primary defendant and more than one-third of the plaintiffs were from the same state. Federal courts are expected to permit far fewer large class action suits than state courts. According to President Bush and many business executives, class action suits—suits in which a single person or a small group can represent the interests of thousands of individuals in court—are often frivolous litigation that enable lawyers to reap huge profits at the expense of U.S. businesses.

 

 

A string of attacks on Shiah mosques in Baghdad on the eve of Ashura, the holiest of Shiah holidays, results in the deaths of at least 35 people.

 

Feb. 19

Eight suicide bombings leave at least 50 people dead in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities on the Shiah holy day of Ashura.

 

Some 120 of an estimated 260 people aboard a ferry off Dhaka, Bangladesh, drown when a tornado causes the vessel to capsize.

 

Feb. 20

U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Brussels, Belgium, to begin a week-long series of meetings with various European leaders, including President Jacques Chirac of France, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. International affairs experts expect President Bush to attempt to mend ties with allies who disagreed with the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

 

Feb. 21

Israel releases approximately 500 Palestinian prisoners as part of a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian leaders. According to the agreement, an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners are be released in the next three months.

 

The United Kingdom’s Royal Navy announces that it will begin actively recruiting gay men and lesbian women into the service. 

 

At least 154 people are killed in avalanches in India’s Kasmir region in the wake of the heaviest snowfall in 15 years.

 

Feb. 22

A U.S. citizen is indicted in federal court for discussing the possibility of assassinating President George W. Bush. In a 6-count, 6-page indictment, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American citizen of Jordanian descent, is charged with discussing with an associate in June 2003 his plans to either get “close enough to the president to shoot him on the street” or to kill him using a car bomb. Abu Ali is also charged with joining an al-Qa’ida terrorist cell while studying at the Medina University in Saudi Arabia in 2002. Saudi authorities arrested him in June 2003 on suspicion that he was involved in a series of bombings in Riyadh in May 2003 that left 34 people dead. After being detained by Saudi authorities for 20 months, he was transferred to U.S. custody on Feb. 22, 2005. If convicted under the present U.S. indictment, he faces up to 80 years in prison.

 

Some 500 Iranians are killed in a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that shakes Iran’s Kerman Province. The quake is centered near the town of Zarand, about 460 miles (740 kilometers) southeast of Tehran, the capital, and affects approximately 30,000 people in the region.

 

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong II announces that he might be open to discussing the country’s nuclear program if “conditions are ripe.”

 

Feb. 23

A series of storms have dropped 9.14 inches (232 millimeters) of rain on Los Angeles since February 18, announce officials with the National Weather Service. In the first two weeks of January, Los Angeles County received in excess of 15 inches (381 millimeters) of rain, more than the average rainfall for an entire year. Since July 1, the beginning of the official water year in California, Los Angeles has received 34 inches (863 millimeters), putting 2004-2005 on target to break the region’s previous record of 38 inches (965 millimeters), which fell in 1883-1884. The torrential rains have left at least 10 people dead and triggered mudslides that closed 20 major highways and severely damaged or destroyed more than 100 houses. In the seaside community of Malibu, crews are attempting to carefully dislodge a boulder the size of a house that a mudslide left teetering over the Pacific Coast Highway.

 

 

Feb. 24

A wave of insurgent attacks across northern and central Iraq leave at least 30 people dead and dozens of others wounded. In the deadliest of the attacks, a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device at the police headquarters in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown north of Baghdad, killing 16 Iraqi police officers.

 

Feb. 25

A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates a powerful explosive device in a crowded, beachfront bar in Tel Aviv, killing himself and four Israeli bystanders. At least 50 other people are wounded in the attack, which ends a month-long period of calm in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

The HIV infection rate among African American men doubled between 1994 and 2002, announce public health officials at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference in Boston. The infection rate among white Americans remained flat during the same period. Researchers attribute the rise in infection among black Americans to drug addiction, poverty, and limited access to health care.

 

Feb. 26

The president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, asks the Egyptian parliament to amend the constitution to allow for a multiparty presidential election in 2005. If enacted, the amendment would end 50 years of one-party governments in Egypt, where Mubarak has ruled unchallenged since 1981. Some analysts cite the move as another example of a shift toward democracy in the Middle East that is advocated by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

 

Feb. 27

The interim Iraqi government announces the capture of one of Saddam Hussein’s half brothers, who U.S. and Iraqi officials believe is one of the most influential figures behind the financing and organization of the insurgency in Iraq. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan apparently was captured by Syrian authorities who turned him over to Iraq. He was captured with 29 other Hussein followers in the Syrian city of Hasakah. All 30 men were surrendered to the interim Iraq government as a goodwill gesture.

 

Feb. 28

At least 125 people are killed and as many as 140 others are wounded in the deadliest single insurgent attack in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003. A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device after slamming his car into a group of some 400 volunteers for the Iraqi National Guard and the local police force in Al Hilah, a primarily Shiah Muslim city some 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital. The explosion sends metal shards through the crowd of job applicants, as well as into women and children shopping at a nearby produce market.

 

 

Lebanon’s prime minister, Omar Karami, resigns, toppling the country’s pro-Syria government. The resignation comes two weeks after the assassination of Karami’s predecessor, Rafik Hariri. The assassination on February 14 triggered massive protests and demands that Syria withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon.

 

 

 

Chronology--2005--February

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Monday, 05 November 2012 16:14 Written by Jennifer Parello

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Jan. 1

Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court issues his year-end report on the federal judicial system. In the report, the chief justice criticizes politicians who threaten judicial independence, specifically pointing to conservative Republicans who maintain that “judicial activists” should be impeached. Rehnquist notes that while judges are open to public criticism, politiciand go to far when they threatens to punish or impeach judges for rulings with which politicians do not agree. “A judge’s judicial acts may not serve as a basis for impeachment. Any other rule would destroy judicial independence.”

 

 

Jan. 2

At least 23 members of the Iraqi National Guard are killed in a car bombing in Balad, a city north of Baghdad.

 

Jan. 3

At least 54 Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims are killed and more than 40 others are injured when the truck in which they are riding overturns on a mountain road. The pilgrims were returning from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet to China’s southwestern province of Sichuan.

 

Insurgent attacks in Iraq leave more than 20 people dead, including 8 people in two suicide car bombings in Baghdad.

 

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives reverse changes in codes of conduct that would have made it harder to punish members for ethical transgressions. The reversal is enacted after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) asked Republicans to overturn the party rule, made in November 2004 on his behalf, that allowed a House member to retain a position of leadership even if he or she were indicted. DeLay is under investigation in Texas for conducting political maneuvers that prosecutors believe may have broken state laws. The speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (R., Illinois), also withdrew a proposal that would have made it more difficult to rebuke a member of the House for misconduct.

 

Jan. 4

The governor of Baghdad is assassinated in a roadside ambush in northern Baghdad. Insurgents shoot and kill Ali al-Haidri and a bodyguard in a daytime attack on the governor’s convoy. Haidri escaped an earlier attempt on his life in September. Insurgent attacks elsewhere in Iraq leave at least five U.S. soldiers and 14 Iraqis dead.

 

 

Jan. 5

A series of insurgent attacks in Iraq leave at least 25 people dead in a fourth day of escalating violence. The explosion of a car bomb outside a police academy in Hilla, south of Baghdad, kills at least 15 people, including a number of police officers. Six Iraqi policemen are killed in a suicide attack at a security checkpoint in Baqubah. Four Iraqi civilians are killed and two others injured after being caught up in fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents in the Sunni town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The fighting was triggered by the detonation of a roadside bomb as a U.S. convoy drove by.

 

 

The office of the Iraqi interior ministry announces that 1,300 Iraqi police died in insurgent attacks during the last four months of 2004.

 

Jan. 6

The commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq announces that four of the country’s eighteen provinces are not sufficiently secure in order for safe voting to take place. Lieutenant General Thomas Metz tells reporters that he plans to step up military action in the coming days in an attempt to secure these areas for Iraqi participation in the election scheduled for January 30. The unsafe provinces include Al Anbar, which contains the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi; Ninevah, with the northern city of Mosul; Salahaddin, with Tikrit; and Baghdad.

 

The media publishes a leaked U.S. Department of Defense internal memo in which the commander of the U.S. Army Reserve informs his superiors that the reserve is rapidly degenerating into a “broken” force. In the memo, Lieutenant General James Helmly states that the reserve has reached a point at which it cannot fulfill its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the Army Reserve account for approximately 40 percent of the U.S. troops in Iraq. Helmly also characterizes the policy of offering a $1,000 monthly bonus to volunteers for active duty as fostering a “mercenary” culture. In December, the Army Reserve announced enlistment bonuses had been raised to $10,000 for first-time recruits and to $15,000 for veterans who sign up for six years.

 

A roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy in Baghdad leaves seven U.S. soldiers dead. Two additional American soldier are killed in an insurgent attack in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. The bodies of 18 murdered Iraqi youths, all between the ages of 14 and 20, are discovered in a field outside Mosul, which is north of the capital. The 18 victims were Shiah Muslims who had been recruited in Baghdad by an independent contractor to work at the U.S. Army base near Mosul. They were abducted on December 8 as they were being transported to the base.

 

 

Jan. 7

A region express train crashes head-on into a freight train outside Bolognina di Crevalcore, Italy, killing at least 14 people.

 

Seven U.S. soldiers are killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad.

 

Jan. 8

A U.S. nuclear submarine, the U.S.S. San Francisco, runs aground on a Micronesian island, approximately 350 miles (600 kilometers) south of Guam, a U.S. territory. Several sailors are injured in the incident. The U.S.S. San Francisco carries a crew of 137 sailors.

 

Severe storms across northern Europe, from the United Kingdom to Russia, leave at least 13 people dead. Winds up to 90 miles (145 kilometers) per hour knock out electrical power from Norway and Sweden to Latvia, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without light or heat. Heavy rain caused widespread flooding in northern Britain, and high water in the Russian port of St. Petersburg forced the closure of some subways.

 

 

Jan. 9

Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wins the election for president of the Palestinian Authority Preliminary with 62.3 percent of the vote, which political experts describe as a strong mandate for forging a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Acknowledging his victory, Abbas calls on militant Palestinians to end their armed uprising against Israel and indicates his desire to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as soon as possible. Shimon Peres, the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, notes: “A moderate man was elected, an intelligent man, an experienced man. Let’s give him a chance. There is a new legitimate Palestinian leadership whose leaders definitely are against terror and war.”

 

 

Jan. 10

Assassins armed with machine guns murder Baghdad’s deputy police chief and his son in a drive-by shooting in the Iraqi capital. Brigadier Amer Ali Nayef and his son, Khalid Amer, also a policeman, are killed outside their family residence as they were leaving for work. The governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Haidri, was murdered in a similar ambush less than one week ago. The attack on the deputy police chief is made just minutes after a suicide bomber blew up his car outside a Baghdad police station, killing at least three policemen. The U.S. military in Iraq reports that two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate insurgent attacks on January 9.

 

Fifty-eight people are killed when the bus in which they are traveling plunges into a canal near Nagalundi, about 310 miles (500 kilometers) northwest of Bangalore, in southern India. The driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle.

 

Unusually heavy rain in California triggers an enormous mudslide down a 500-foot (150-kilometer) mountain above La Conchita, a seaside village 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. At least 10 people, including 3 children, are killed in the slide, which buries 15 houses under 25 feet (7 meters) of rock and debris. Five days of heavy rain have saturated the soil, turning the entire region into a flood zone. Flooding in the south and heavy snowfalls in the north have left at least 25 people dead in California, which has been battered by a series of storms since the middle of December. Central Los Angeles has received 22 inches (56 centimeters) of rain in the last five weeks, compared with an average of 15 inches (38 centimeters) for the entire winter season.

 

 

Ukraine’s outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, orders military officials to draw up plans to withdraw all 1,500 Ukrainian troops from Iraq in the first six months of 2005. The president-elect, Viktor Yushchenko, has stated that getting Ukrainian troops out of Iraq is one of his major priorities upon taking office later in January.

 

Jan. 11

Approximately one-third of the money that the United Nations (UN) requested from member nations for the Asian tsunami relief effort has been received, announces the UN’s emergency relief coordinator. Speaking at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan Egeland nevertheless urges representatives of the leading aid donors to release their government’s pledges, which amount to $4 billion. Together with private donations, the total amount pledged exceeds $7 billion, Egeland notes. The death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunami, according to government and health officials, currently stands at 156,193 people in 10 countries, including 104,000 people in Indonesia, 30,700 in Sri Lanka, and 15,700 in India. Some 7,700 foreign tourists are known to have died in the tsunami on December 26.

 

A third case of mad cow disease (bovvine spongiform encehalopathy) has been discovered in Canada, confirms the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Canadian officials note that the case is particularly worrisome because the infected cow was born after 1997 when feed restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the disease were instituted. The latest case was the second in the western province of Alberta in the last two weeks. In December 2003, one case of the disease was diagnosed in the United States, in a cow that had been born and raised in Canada.

 

Jan. 12

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, rules that federal judges no longer have to abide by sentencing guidelines. The decision applies to an 18-year-old federal sentencing guideline system that was designed to bring some degree of conformity to federal court sentences for similar crimes. The sentencing guidelines can stand, the court rules, as long as they are “advisory,” not mandatory. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer notes that the juries, not judges, should consider the various factors that can add years to a defendant’s prison sentence.

 

The U.S. trade deficit in November climbed to a record $60.3 billion as U.S. exports declined and imports, particularly oil imports, surged, announces the U.S. Department of Commerce. The deficit hit $60.3 billion, a 7-percent increase over the $56-billion deficit in October. United States exports fell by 2.3 percent in November, to $95.6 billion, as imports increased by 1.3 percent, to $155.8 billion.

 

The search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is officially over. The chief U.S. investigator, Charles Duelfer, has concluded that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had no WMD stockpiles, confirms Scott McClellan, press secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush. The existence of such weapons was the president’s stated reason for going to war in Iraq in March 2003.

 

Jan. 13

A top aid to the leading Shiah cleric in Iraq is assassinated. Sheik Mahmoud Finjan al-Madaini is shot and killed, along with his son and four bodyguards, as he was returning from leading prayers at a mosque in Madain, a town 12 miles (19 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. Al-Madaini headed the office of Shiah cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Political leaders consider Ayatollah al-Sistani to be Iraq’s most influential religious leader. In a separate incident, 10 gunmen in two cars open fire on a minibus that was to pick up a Turkish businessman outside a Baghdad hotel. The bus driver and six passengers are killed in the ambush, and the businessman is abducted from the hotel lobby. In Ramadi, a city in the so-called Sunni Triangle, gunmen raid a bank and make off with millions of dollars in Iraqi dinars.

 

Jan. 14

The Huygens space probe lands on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, and begins sending signals to Earth via its mothership, Cassini, which is in orbit around Saturn. Titan’s atmosphere, which is dominated by nitrogen, methane, and other carbon-based molecules, appears to resemble Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago. Scientists describe it as “pre-biotic,” that is, made up of the compounds that existed on Earth before life evolved. The Huygens probe was built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is part of a larger mission undertaken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, ESA, and the Italian Space Agency.

 

World Health Organization (WHO) officials report that seven cases of malaria have been confirmed in the Indonesian province of Aceh, the region worst hit by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami. They warn that an impending threat of malaria could kill 100,000 more people in the disaster zone. According to public health officials, the devastation from the tsunami coupled with heavy rains have created the largest mosquito breeding site ever known in Indonesia. The Plasmodia parasites that cause malaria are transferred to human beings through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Standing pools of saltwater from the tsunami now diluted with fresh rainwater are perfect breeding spots for mosquitoes. The official death toll from the earthquake and tsunami stands at 157,000 people in 11 countries.

 

Jan. 15

Two sections of a levee along the Wabash River at West Terre Haute, Indiana, give away as floodwaters rise to more than 14 feet (4 meters) above flood stage. The unusual January flooding of the Wabash and Ohio rivers and their smaller tributaries was triggered by melting snow and recent heavy rains.

 

 

Jan. 16

A series of insurgent attacks along a highway southwest of Baghdad leave 17 Iraqis dead. In one attack, seven Iraqi civilians are killed when a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device at a funeral for three Iraqi policemen who were killed earlier in the day.

 

Jan. 17

Two insurgent attacks leave 16 people dead in Iraq. Armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, insurgents kill eight Iraqi national guardsmen just outside the city of Baqubah, north of Baghdad. In Baiji, a city near Tikrit, a suicide bomber drives into a police checkpoint, killing eight people, including seven Iraqi officers.

 

Jan. 18

The world’s largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380, is unveiled in Toulouse, France, at an elaborate ceremony in which French President Jacques Chirac hosted British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The twin-deck Airbus A380 is designed to carry 555 passengers. The first test flight is scheduled for April, and the plane is to go into service in 2006.

 

A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device in a car outside the Baghdad headquarters of Iraq’s largest Shiite political party, killing three people. According to Iraqi experts, Sunni militants are targeting Shiites in an attempt to frighten them into staying away from the polls on January 30. Approximately 60 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people are Shiites, who are expected to assume political power in Iraq, which was long held by the Sunni minority. On January 16 and 17, insurgents killed three candidates running for the National Assembly. Two of them belonged to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s political coalition, the Iraqi National Accord.

 

Jan.19

Five closely paced car bombings rock Baghdad in what security officials describe as the most violent day in the Iraqi capital in several weeks. At least 26 people are killed and 21 others wounded in the explosions. In the initial assault, the bomber rams his car into a security barrier outside the Australian embassy. The most lethal of the attacks, at a police checkpoint, kills 18 people, including 5 officers. The other bombing also take place at police checkpoints in and around the city. The series of bombings are made just one day after the Iraqi interim government announced plans to close borders and restrict movements to improve security for the national election, which is scheduled for January 30.

 

Indonesia’s Health Ministry announces that the death toll from the December 26 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia stands at 166,320, pushing the global death toll from the disaster to 226,000. Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking at a donors conference in Jakarta, the capital, states that the true extent of the catastrophe defies description and may never be known. He notes that more than 617,000 people in northern Sumatra remain homeless and dependent on emergency food supplies. A United Nations (UN) official in Ache, the worst hit of Indonesian provinces, tells the conference that emergency aid drops must be sharply increased to keep people in outlying areas from going hungry. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, donor nations to date have committed $739 million of the $977 million required to meet basic needs of the more than 1.5 million people left homeless by the disaster.

 

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s current national security adviser, for secretary of state. However, the 16-to-2 vote to send the nomination to the full Senate comes after two days of tough questioning by Democratic members on the committee, who charged Rice with being less than honest with the American people on the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war in Iraq.

 

Jan. 20

George W. Bush is sworn in for a second time as the 43rd president of the United States. In his 21-minute inaugural address, the president proclaims the United States a worldwide liberator committed to aiding oppressed nations: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”

 

 

The U.S. Senate, in a voice vote, confirms Mike Johanns as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Margaret Spellings as secretary of the Department of Education. Johanns was governor of Nebraska, and Spellings was domestic policy chief during President George W. Bush’s first term.

 

Jan. 21

At least 22 civilians are killed in Iraq in suicide bombings that appear to be specifically designed to inflame tensions between Shiah and Sunni Muslims. In the first bombing, the attacker drives his explosive-filled car into a Shiah mosque in Baghdad, killing 15 people. In the second attack, a suicide bomber runs an ambulance packed with explosives into a Shiah wedding party, killing seven people and wounding dozens of others.

 

Jan. 22

A paralyzing storm drops up to 20 inches (500 millimeters) of snow across parts of the Midwest, snarling air traffic across the United States as hundreds of flights are cancelled at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. 

 

Jan. 23

Viktor A. Yushchenko takes the oath of office as president of Ukraine. Speaking in the central square of Kiev, the capital, the new president declares Ukraine free and independent and vows to guide the country into the mainstream of Europe. Political experts suggest the speech heralds Yushchenko’s intention of loosening ties to Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, in favor of strengthening relations with western Europe.

 

Jan. 24

U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sends the Army troop intelligence officer, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, to brief members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the mission and structure of a secret battlefield intelligence unit. The existence of the unit—Strategic Support Branch (SSB)—was disclosed by The Washington Post on January 23. According to Defense Department officials, members of Congress had been informed of its existence during budget hearings in 2004. Some lawmakers claim otherwise, complaining that the SSB skirts congressional oversight and does not function in coordination with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as mandated by law. According to The Post, Defense Department lawyers reinterpreted U.S. law to give Secretary Rumsfeld broad power over clandestine operations outside the United States in response to his demand in October 2001 for an intelligence operation that would end his “near total dependence on CIA.” The Defense Department acknowledges that the SSB has been operating under the secretary’s direct control for at least two years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and “other places.”

 

An earthquake registering 6.2 rocks the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering panic among thousands of people who fled their residences in fear of a tsunami. Sulawesi was not affected by the December 26 earthquake that triggered a huge tsunami that resulted in the deaths of more than 226,000 people in southern Asia.

 

The government of North Korea slashes the food rations of 16 million people to half the amount recommended by the World Food Program. According to the United Nations agency, the vast majority of the people most affected by the cut are in cities, where the prices of basic foods in private farmers’ markets have increased substantially in recent months. Approximately 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of rice currently costs 30 percent of an average monthly wage in North Korea.

 

Nearly 300 people are killed in a stampede at a Hindu festival at the Mandhar Devi temple in western India, approximately 150 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of Mumbai. A fire in stalls lining the path of the religious procession triggers panic among the pilgrims, who jam the narrow passage in an attempt to avoid the flames.

 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-to-2 decision, rules that a police officer who stops a motorist for a routine traffic violation can legally use a drug-sniffing dog to search the vehicle for narcotics, even if no reason exists to suspect that the drugs might be concealed in the vehicle. Dissenting Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg note that the decision gives police the power to turn any traffic stop into a drug investigation and “clears the way” for drug sweeps of vehicles stopped at traffic lights or legally parked along city streets.

 

Global warming is quickly approaching, after which widespread drought, crop failure, and rising sea levels will be irreversible, warns an international task force. Its report, “Meeting the Climate Challenge,” suggests that the eight leading industrial nations cut carbon emissions, substantially increase research on environmentally friendly technology, and enlarge on the Kyoto Protocol, particularly with emerging industrial nations, such as China and India. The authors urge all leading industrial nations to generate at least 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and to shift agricultural subsidies from food crops to crops, such as corn, that can be refined into fuels. The report was sponsored by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the United Kingdom, the Center for American Progress in the United States, and The Australia Institute.

 

Twenty-three detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, attempted to hang themselves in a mass protest in 2003, discloses the U.S. Department of Defense. According to a Defense Department spokesperson, 350 “self-harm” incidents took place at the prison in 2003, including 120 self-hangings. The military classified these as “hanging gestures” designed to gain attention rather than serious suicide attempts.

 

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, the computer software company located in Redmond Washington, announces that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicating $750 million to a worldwide infant vaccination program. Norway is donating $290 million to the same program, which is being administered by the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization.

 

Jan. 25

Six U.S. soldiers, five Iraqi police officers, and a senior judge are killed in an accident and a series of insurgent attacks in Iraq over the last 24 hours.

 

The government of Indonesia again raises its estimate of the number of people killed by the Dec. 26, 2004,  earthquake and tsunami. Health Minister Fadilah Supari announces that more than 220,000 people died or are missing in Indonesia, bringing the total killed in the disaster to 280,000 people.

 

The administration of President George W. Bush asks Congress for an additional $75 billion in funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. If approved, the latest funding pushes the total expended on the war to more than $275 billion. A Bush administration official confirms that the additional funding is likely to boost the 2005 federal deficit to a record $425 billion.

 

 

U.S. Department of Defense officials disclosed on January 24 that they plan to keep approximately 120,000 soldiers in Iraq through 2007.

 

Homeland security is threatened by an “ineffective and fragmented” information-sharing process among all levels of government and the private sector, congressional investigators reveal. The United States comptroller general, David Walker, suggests that federal agencies—even the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security—declassify some security intelligence in order to remove information roadblocks to authorities on the state and local levels.

 

Jan. 26

Thirty U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy corpsman are killed in a helicopter crash near the Jordanian border in western Iraq. The crash is presumed to be an accident, apparently caused by bad weather. Elsewhere in Iraq, four Marines die fighting insurgents in Al Anbar province, and a two other American soldiers are killed in an insurgent attack on a military patrol north of Baghdad. The loss of 37 soldiers is the highest in a single day since the war began in March 2003 and brings to 1,417 the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

 

 

Members of the U.S. Senate vote 85 to 13 to confirm the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. She succeeds Colin Powell.

 

 

A man parks his vehicles on railroad tracks in Glendate, California, triggering a commuter train collision that leaves at least 10 people dead. The driver had contemplated committing suicide but chaned his mind and jumped from his car before the collision.

 

Jan. 27

A series of insurgent attacks in Iraq leave as many 20 people, including a U.S. Marine, dead. Much of the violence happens at locations that are to be used as polling places for the election slated for January 30.

 

Procter & Gamble (P&G), the Cincinnati-based consumer products company, reaches an agreement to acquire the Gillette Company, the Boston-based shaving-products manufacturer, for $55 billion in stock. If approved by federal regulators, the merger would make P&G the world’s largest consumer products conglomerate.

 

Jan. 28

The Federal Register publishes new Medicare rules that allow employers to collect billions of dollars in federal subsidies for prescription drug benefits that are less generous than the new Medicare drug benefit. According to health care policy experts, the new rules will discourage companies from continuing to provide drug benefits. A health policy analyst with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor union states, “The [new] rules allow an employer to get the subsidy for a benefit that is less valuable to retirees than what they would receive if they signed up for the Medicare drug benefit and the employer dropped coverage altogether.” Currently, employers are the largest source of drug coverage for retirees, and members of Congress who wrote the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill had hoped the new subsidies would give employers an incentive to continue providing retiree drug benefits, thus saving money for Medicare. A spokesperson for the administration of President George W. Bush notes that the rules were designed to balance two “potentially competing objectives”—maximizing the number of employers who qualify for subsidies and “providing greater protection to beneficiaries.”

 

Jan. 29

At least 232 U.S. civilians employed by private contractors in Iraq have been killed since the war began in March 2003, announces the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. In a report to the U.S. Congress to be released on January 30, the inspector general notes that U.S. contractor death rates escalated by 93 percent during the fourth quarter of 2004, during which attacks on work sites and employees averaged 22 per week. The number of claims for employees missing more than four days of work because of injury climbed by 61.8 percent during the same four quarter period.

 

Jan. 31

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq lost track of nearly $9 billion in funds that were transferred to Iraqi government ministries between October 2003 and June 2004, reveals a special U.S. inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. In a report to Congress, the special inspector general notes that the CPA, which was led by L. Paul Bremer III, transferred $8.8 billion to Iraqi ministries “without assurance the moneys were properly accounted for.” Officials with the provisional government relied on Iraqi audit agencies to account for the funds. However, those agencies had not yet been created. According to the inspector general, the CPA appeared to provide no oversight into possible corrupt Iraqi ministries, paid salaries for thousands of “ghost employees” in those ministries, and issued unauthorized contracts totalling millions of dollars. Bremer, in a blistering response, notes that the inspector general “assumes that Western-style budgeting and accounting procedures could be immediately and fully implemented in the midst of a war.”

 

Jan. 30

Iraqis turn out in large numbers to vote in the country’s first free elections in 50 years. An estimated 60 percent of the adult population—approximately 8 million people—vote in defiance of insurgent death threats. The turn out is particularly heavy in the Kurdish north and the Shiah-dominated cities of southern Iraq, where voters stand in long lines outside polling places despite insurgent attacks and suicide bombings that leave at least 35 people dead. The turnout in the Sunni-dominated regions is considerably lower, particularly in the cities of Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi and Samarra, where leaders had called on Sunnis to boycott the election. Nevertheless, officials estimate a higher number of Sunni voters than expected. The voters chose slates from 111 parties both for provincial parliaments and a 275-member national assembly. Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi notes that once the results are established about 10 days, the new National Assembly will name a prime minister and other government officials. The assembly is also responsible for writing a national constitution.

 

Jan. 31

SBC Communications announces that the San Antonio, Texas-based telecommunications company has concluded a $16-billion deal to acquire AT&T. One of the most venerable of U.S. corporations, AT&T essentially will disappear within SBC, one of the so-called Baby Bells that were spun off from AT&T in 1984, when the company, then a monopoly, was broken up by the government. Business experts expect the acquisition, which allows SBC to aggressively expand into the turf of regional phone siblings, will set a new round of competition between the remaining Baby Bells. Industry experts note that AT&T was undone by cheaper Internet technology, by cellphones, and by changes in federal regulations that pushed it out of the local phone market. The acquisition makes SBC the largest long-distance carrier and provider of phone and data services to corporate America. SBC also provides local phone service to more than 50 million customers in its 13 states and holds a 60 percent stake in Cingular Wireless, the country’s biggest mobile phone company.

 

Insurgents in Iraq claim to have shot down the British military plane that crashed on January 30 north of Baghdad. All 10 crew members aboard the C-130 Hercules remain missing and are presumed dead, according to a British military official. The British military has reported the deaths of 76 British soldiers since the war began in March 2003.

 

Three U.S. Marines are killed in combat in Iraq’s Babil Province, south of Baghdad. Military officials also confirm that insurgents killed a Marine from the First Expeditionary Force in Anbar Province on January 30.

 

Four Iraqi detainees are killed by U.S. soldiers during a riot at a detainee camp outside Basrah in southern Iraq. According to military officials, the riot was triggered by when guards undertook a search of detainee quarters for “contraband.”

 

A U.S. federal judge ruled that special military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay are unlawful. Judge Joyce Hens Green rules that the prisoners held by the U.S. Department of Defense at the naval base in Cuba are entitled to legal protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Civil rights advocates who for three years have insisted that Guantanamo inmates have the right to challenge their detentions in court hail the decision as a great victory.

 

 

 

Chronology--2005--January

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Dec. 1

U.S. military commanders announce that the number of troops in Iraq is to be increased to 150,000, the highest level since the initial invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

 

At least 166 miners died in a gas explosion in a state-owned coal mine in China’s Shaanxi province on November 28, the Chinese state media company confirms. Although China’s latest mining accident is the deadliest in at least 10 years, it is not unusual. On October 20, nearly 150 Chinese miners were killed in a similar blast. According to Chinese government statistics, 4,153 people died in mining accidents in China in the first nine months of 2004. However, the total may be considerably higher, because many deaths go unreported.

 

Dec. 2

President George W. Bush nominates Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns, a Republican attorney who grew up on an Iowa dairy farm, as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If confirmed by the Senate, Johanns will replace Ann M. Veneman, who resigned after the November 2 presidential election.

 

Dec. 3

Ukraine’s supreme court rules that the results of the highly disputed runoff presidential election, which took place on November 21, are invalid and a new election must be held by December 26.

 

A wave of insurgent attacks leave at least 25 dead people in Baghdad. Nearly simultaneous attacks on two police stations, in opposite ends of the Iraqi capital, result in the deaths of 11 Iraqi policemen. Firing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, insurgents overrun both stations, empty the police arsenals, and set dozens of prisoners free. One of the attacks is made just minutes after four suicide bombers drove a minibus loaded with explosives into a nearby Shiah mosque, killing at least 14 worshippers and wounding 19 others.

 

President George W. Bush nominates Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, to replace Tom Ridge as secretary  of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Kerik headed the New York City police at the time of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

 

Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of  Health and Human Services, announces his resignation. Thompson warns that his greatest worry as Health and Human Services secretary is the possibility of a terror attack on the country’s food supply, noting that “a very minute amount” of food imported into the United States is tested at seaports and airports.

 

Dec. 4

Suicide bomb strikes on policemen in Baghdad and militiamen in the northern city of Mosul kill at least 26 Iraqis. In Baghdad, two extremely powerful car bombs explode outside a police station at an entrance to the Green Zone, the highly fortified area occupied by the Iraqi interim government and the embassy of the United States. Eight policemen are killed, and more than 50 people are injured in the explosions, which blow the facade off the station and send a car onto the roof of a two-story building. In Mosul, a suicide bomber explodes his vehicle alongside a bus carrying Kurdish militiamen, killing 18 Kurds and wounding three others. Iraqi Kurds, like Iraq’s majority Shiites, support the upcoming elections, and political experts suggest that recent bomb attacks on Kurds and Shiites may be an attempt to drag the country into a civil war.

 

Three U.S. soldiers also are killed in separate bomb attacks on military convoys in Baghdad and Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. Two additional soldiers are killed when suicide bombers detonate explosive devices of the soldiers’ post near the Jordanian border. At least 1,269 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the war was launched in March 2003.

 

The Philippine government suspends all logging in the wake of a series of violent storms that triggered flooding and mudslides that left at least 1,000 people dead in two weeks. Clear-cut logging, both legal and illegal, is blamed for worsening the impact of the storms. According to conservationists, forests now cover less than 20 percent of the Philippines, compared with the 1920’s when more than 60 percent of the Philippine islands were forested. 

 

Dec. 5

A wave of insurgent violence in Iraq leaves more than 80 people dead in the last three days. In the latest attacks, rebels outside the northern city of Tikrit surround a bus and gun down 17 passengers, all employees at an ammunition disposal dump run by the U.S. military. Insurgent attacks on two Baghdad police stations on December 3 left 24 people dead, including 16 officers. On December 4, eight policemen died in a suicide bomb attack on a third Baghdad station. In Mosul, on December 4, a suicide car bomber detonated a powerful explosive device alongside a bus carrying Kurdish militiamen; 18 Kurds were killed, 3 others wounded. A variety of other attacks, primarily in the so-called Sunni Triangle region, killed at least 14 other people, including 4 U.S. and 4 Iraqi soldiers. The upsurge in violence prompts the top United Nations official in Iraq, Kalhdar Brahimi, to publicly question whether the election scheduled for Jan. 30, 2005, can take place. “It is a mess . . . ,” he notes.

 

The search for Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, has grown cold, admits President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in an interview. “We don’t know where he is,” notes Musharraf, who has deployed thousands of Pakistani troops in border areas to find the allusive terrorist.

 

Dec. 6

A terrorist attack on the U.S. consul in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sparks a gun battle that leaves nine people. Saudi security forces kill three of the attackers after the gunmen had shot and killed five consul employees, all of whom were local Saudis.

 

Rebel attacks on Iraqi civilians on the streets of downtown Baghdad spark a gun battle with U.S. troops along busy Haifa Street in broad daylight. According to witnesses, the insurgents had shot and killed a man whom they claimed was a collaborator. In the highly volatile Sunni region west of Baghdad, insurgent attacks on U.S. forces leave five American soldiers dead, bringing to 11 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since December 3.

 

Dec. 7

Hamid Karzai is sworn in as Afghanistan’s first democratically elected president in the former royal palace in Kabul, the capital. The ceremony is attended by 150 guests, including U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

 

Dec. 8

The U.S. Senate, in a 89 to 2 vote, passes legislation to restructure the 15 agencies that gather intelligence for the federal government. The legislation is based on the recommendations of the independent commission that investigated the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 336 to 75 on December 7, enacts most of the commission’s major recommendations, including creating the position of national intelligence director who is to force cooperation among the Central Intelligence Agency and the government’s other spy agencies. The legislation also establishes a permanent counterterrorism unit to serve as a clearinghouse on terrorist threats.

 

Ukraine’s parliament passes a reform bill that changes electoral law to allow a December 26 run-off of the disputed presidential election, which took place on November 21. Ukraine’s outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, immediately signs the legislation, which also reduces the power of his office. In the run-off, pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko will again square off against pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was declared the winner of the original election, but Yushchenko, backed by huge numbers of his supporters, declared the election a fraud and demanded that it be annulled.

 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, visiting Camp Buehring in Kuwait, is grilled by troops about the state of their equipment and the length of enlistments. One soldier tells the secretary that troops are forced to root through local landfills for material to armor their vehicles and asks why troops remain inadequately equipped nearly two years after the start of war.  “You go to war with the army you have,” Rumsfeld responds, noting that vehicle armor manufacturers are being encouraged to increase production. Another soldier asks how long the Defense Department plans to extend tours of duty through the so-called stop-loss policy. The Defense Department has used the policy to extend the deployments of some 7,000 soldiers in Iraq, most of whom are members of National Guard and reserve units. Secretary Rumsfeld responds that such policies are simply a fact of life for soldiers in war time.

 

The U.S. combat death toll in Iraq passes 1,000, according to an unofficially tally kept by the Associated Press. At least 1,278 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, 1,001 of them in combat. At least 136 U.S. soldiers died in November, the highest U.S. death of any month since the war began in March 2003.

 

Dec. 9

Canada’s Supreme Court rules that the Canadian government can legalize marriages between two men or two women. The ruling clears the way for Parliament to pass a law legalizing gay marriage nationwide, which the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin has pledged to do. The court also rules that clergy will be free to refuse to perform same-sex marriage if the marriages violate personal beliefs. Gay marriages currently are performed in 6 of Canada’s 10 provinces, where provincial courts already have upheld same-sex unions.

 

Dec. 10

At least 10 people are killed and 30 others wounded in a bomb blast in the Pakistani city of Quetta. The bomb is detonated next to an army truck loaded with Pakistani soldiers in the center of the city’s business district. Both soldiers and civilians are among the casualties. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announces that “enemies of Pakistan” are behind the attack.

 

Dec. 11

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has been poisoned, announce his physicians in Vienna. The mysterious illness that left his face disfigured was caused by dioxin poisoning.  Yushchenko became deathly ill in September while campaigning for the Ukrainian presidency and was flown to Vienna for treatment. According to his physicians, Yushchenko would have died without treatment. The election, which took place on November 21, has been declared invalid because of irregularities, and a second election is scheduled for December 26. Yushchenko has accused leaders of the current Ukrainian government of attempting to murder him.

 

Taiwan’s Nationalist Party takes 114 of 225 parliamentary seats in parliamentary elections, leaving the coalition government of President Chen Shui-bian without a majority. Political experts suggest that Taiwanese electorate has voted for a parliament that will act as a brake on Chen’s controversial plans, which include constitutional changes and an $18-billion purchase of arms from the United States. The government of China, which regards Taiwan as a breakaway Chinese province, is highly critical of the arms purchase and accuses Chen of wanting to declare independence. China threatens to use force if the island ever formally declares independence.

 

Dec. 12

Eight U.S. marines are killed in three separate insurgent attacks on military convoys in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

 

Dec. 13

A suicide car bomb attack at a military checkpoint outside a gate into Baghdad’s so-called Green Zone leaves seven Iraqi civilians dead and 19 others injured. The Green Zone is the capital’s highly fortified government and diplomatic compound. The group led by Syrian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, an ally of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, claims responsibility for the attack on an Islamist Website.

 

Dec. 14

The world’s highest road bridge, the Millau bridge over the River Tarn in the Massif Central Mountains in France, is officially opened by President Jacques Chirac. The highest of the bridge’s seven piers is 1,125 feet (343 meters)—75 feet (23 meters) higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The bridge, which provides a new motorway link between Paris and the Mediterranean, was designed by the renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster.

 

Dec. 15

The latest test of the planned U.S. anti-missile shield has failed, announces the U.S. Department of Defense. The test was the first in almost two years for the multibillion-dollar system, which was to be in operation by the end of 2004. The Missile Defense Agency blamed an “unknown anomaly” for the test failure. The last test, in December 2002, also failed. However, in earlier tests, target missiles were intercepted successfully in five out of eight attempts.

 

Dec. 16

Assassins gun down a top official of the Iraqi interim government in Baghdad. Kassim Imhawi, the director-general of the ministry of communication, is shot and killed while been driven to his office.

 

Dec. 17

Leaders of Israel’s ruling Likud Party and opposition Labour Party agree to form a new coalition government. According to a party spokesperson, Labour is to have eight ministerial posts and its leader, Shimon Peres, is to be deputy prime minister. Political experts note that the agreement should help Likud Party leader Arial Sharon implement his plan to withdraw all Jewish settlers from Gaza. The prime minister invited Labour to join his Cabinet when he lost his majority in the Knesset after dismissing members of the Shinui party for voting against his budget.

 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey signs a protocol with European Union (EU) leaders that schedules to begin negotiations for Turkey to enter the EU for October 2005.

 

A storm with hurricane-force winds hits Paris without warning, leaving thousands of households without power. At least six people are killed as winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour topple trees and blow roof tiles onto city streets. Tourists are evacuated from Chateau de Versailles as trees are uprooted in the park.

 

Dec. 18

Three Palestinians are killed in the second day of an Israeli military incursion into the Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. At least 11 Palestinians have been killed and several houses demolished in the action, which according to an Israeli military spokesperson was undertaken to reduce the number of mortar and rocket attacks on Jewish settlements in the area. In a separate development, six Palestinians were rescued from a collapsed tunnel under an Israel-controlled corridor on the Egypt-Gaza border area on December 17.

 

Syria withdraws troops from three strategically important positions in Lebanon: the northern town of Batrun, Beirut’s southern suburbs, and Beirut’s airport. The United Nations Security Council is pressing the government of Syria to pull its remaining 14,000 or more troops from Lebanon. Syria first marched troops into Lebanon at the start of that country’s civil war in 1976.

 

Dec. 19

More than 60 Iraqis are killed in suicide car bombings in the cities of An Najaf and Karbala. A leading Shiah cleric describes the attacks, which take place near mosques in two of Shiah Islam’s holiest cities, as attempts to provoke violence between Iraq’s Shiah and Sunni populations.

 

Dec. 20

U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledges that U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are not ready to take over Iraq’s security and that the elections in Iraq scheduled for January 2005 are only the beginning of a long process toward democracy.

 

Dec. 21

A suicide bombing in a huge mess tent on a U.S. military base in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul kills 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers, 4 American contract workers, and 4 Iraqi soldiers. At least 70 other people are injured, many seriously, in one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

 

Dec. 22

The chairman and chief executive of the Federal National Mortgage Association, the huge private mortgage finance company, was forced to resign on December 21, announces a spokesperson for the company, which is commonly known as Fannie Mae. Under heavy pressure from federal regulators, Franklin D. Raines resigned just days after the company was found to have violated accounting rules. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight demanded significant changes in the senior management after disclosing that Fannie Mae had significantly failed to meet its capital requirements. Fannie Mae is a private corporation chartered by the U.S. government to assure that enough money is available for home mortgages.

 

Dec. 23

The U.S. dollar falls to a new record low—$1.3505—against the euro on world monetary markets. The French finance minister, Herve Gaymard, notes that unless the United States works with Europe and Asia on currency controls the world faces “economic catastrophe.”

 

Dec. 24

Gunmen thought to be members of a street gang open fire with automatic weapons on a city bus, packed with some 70 people, in the city of San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras. At least 28 passengers are killed, including 4 children. A note taped to the bus windshield connects the attack to anticrime campaigns being conducted by the Honduran government. Street gangs, known as maras, have been responsible for a huge crime wave in the last 10 years in Honduras as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

 

Dec. 25

A tanker carrying butane gas and wired with explosives blows up in a Baghdad street. Iraqi police speculate that the nearby Jordanian embassy was the actual target of the suicide bombing, which left 9 Iraqis dead and at least 14 others injured.

 

Dec. 26

The world’s strongest earthquake in 40 years rocks Indonesian island of Sumatra and triggers tsunamis that leave tens of thousands of people dead millions of others homeless across southern Asia. At least 150,000 people are killed by walls of water some 30 feet (10 meters) high that sped from the earthquake’s epicenter, just west of northern Sumatra, across the Bay of Bengal to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and the low-lying Maldives islands. The death tolls are most severe in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. The earthquake, which registered 9.0, was the fifth strongest on record since 1900.

 

Peyton Manning, of the Indianapolis Colts, completes his 49th touchdown pass of the season, breaking a record set by the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino for the most touchdowns in a single season. The Colts then come from behind to beat the San Diego Chargers 34 to 31.

 

Dec. 27

Viktor Yushchenko wins Ukraine’s December 26 presidential rematch by a commanding margin. With 98 percent of the vote counted, election officials declare Yushchenko the winner with 52.3 percent, compared with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s 43.9 percent. However, Yanukovych refuses to concede defeat. Yushchenko, a former prime minister, urges developing closer relations with the West and implementing political reforms. Yanukovych advocates tightening ties with Russia.

 

Dec. 28

A series of coordinated attacks in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Baqubah, Ar Ramadi, Samarra, and Tikrit leave 19 Iraqi policemen and soldiers and 6 civilians dead. The attacks included several car bombings, the assassinations of city officials, and the storming of a police station.

 

Dec. 29

At least 29 Iraqis, 7 of them police, are killed in a house bombing in Baghdad. The enormous explosion, which flattens surrounding residential buildings, occurs after insurgents lured the police into the house, which was packed with as much as 1,800 pounds (800 kilograms) of explosives. The police were responding to a call from a neighbor, who claimed that there was shooting going on in the house. Authorities believe the explosion was detonated by remote control.

 

Dec. 30

The U.S. Department of State announce that 2,000 to 3,000 U.S. citizens remain unaccounted for in tsunami disaster areas bordering the Indian Ocean. At least 12 American are known to have been killed on December 26.

 

Dec. 31

Officials of the government of Sudan and rebels from southern Sudan sign a permanent cease-fire to end Sudan’s long-running civil war. The agreement is signed just hours before the year-end deadline mandated by an earlier United Nations agreement. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa witnesses the signing. Some 2 million Sudanese have died in the war, which began in 1983, when rebels in the Christian and animist south demanded autonomy from the Muslim north.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--December

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Nov. 1

A suicide bomber walking through Tel Aviv’s crowded open air Carmel Market detonates some 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of explosives strapped to his person. The explosion kills 4 people, including the bomber, and wounds at least 30 others. The attack is the first suicide bombing in Israel’s largest city in nearly a year. An organization named the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an armed group with in Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, claims responsibility. Arafat is in Paris being treated for an undiagnosed illness.

 

The deputy governor of Baghdad is assassinated in his car on the streets of the city.

 

Nov. 2

American voters turn out in record numbers for the presidential election, which is, like the voting in 2000, too close to call on election night. With approximately 120 million people, 60 percent of eligible voters, casting ballots, turnout is the highest since 1968.

 

In congressional elections, Republicans enlarge their majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The Republicans pick up Senate seats held by Democrats in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Democrats take seats previously held by Republicans in Illinois and Colorado. Republicans in the House pick up at least four seats, with races in Louisiana and Georgia still undecided.

 

At least 8 people are killed and nearly 30 others are wounded when a car bomb explodes outside the Iraqi education ministry in a busy commercial areas of Baghdad. The explosion of a second car bomb kills at least four Iraqi civilians and leaves seven Iraqi soldiers wounded in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. West of Baghdad, the U.S. military targets insurgents in Al Fallujah and Ar Ramadi with artillery and airstrikes.

 

The U.S. Department of Defense extends the tours of duty of 6,500 U.S. troops in Iraq. The extension is to boost troop numbers in Iraq in anticipation of Iraqi elections in January. According to Defense Department figures, there are about 134,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Iraq. Coalition partners, primarily the United Kingdom, have about 25,000 troops in Iraq.

 

Nov. 3

George W. Bush wins re-election as president of the United States with 51 percent of the popular vote. His opponent, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts concedes defeat in a telephone call made to the president. President Bush led Kerry by more than 3.7 million votes nationally at the time of the concession. With 270 votes needed for victory in the electoral college, the president had 254 electoral votes to Kerry’s 242. Ohio’s 20 electoral votes had yet to be declared for either candidate, but President Bush had a lead of 140,000 votes in Ohio, with at least 175,000 provisional ballots waiting to be counted.

 

Afghanistan’s electoral board declares Hamid Karzai the winner of the presidential election, which took place on October 9. Karzai took 55.4 percent of the vote.

 

Gunmen assassinate a senior Iraqi oil official as he is being driven to his office in Baghdad. The attack comes two days after the deputy governor of Baghdad was similarly assassinated in his moving car. In Northern Iraq, saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline near the city of Kirkuk late on November 2, shutting off crude oil experts to a port in Turkey. Economists note that similar attacks have sharply reduced the steady flow of oil, which supplies profits earmarked for the revival of Iraq’s stagnant economy.

 

The prime minister of Hungary announces that his country will withdraw its 300 noncombat troops from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq before March 31, 2005. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who was elected in September, notes, “We are obliged to stay there [Iraq] until the elections [scheduled for January 31]. To stay longer is an impossibility.” Gyurcsany recently stated that he did not believe in pre-emptive war.

 

Nov. 4

The international aid agency Doctors Without Borders is pulling out of Iraq. According to an angency spokesperson, Iraq has become too dangerous “to guarantee an acceptable level of security for our staff, be they foreign or Iraqi.” The agency, which was founded by French physicians in 1971 and is headquartered in Brussels, has offices in 18 countries and operates in more than 80 countries.

 

Three British soldiers are killed in a suicide bomb attack on the Black Watch infantry regiment that recently moved from southern Iraq to a base just south of Baghdad. An Iraqi interpreter is also killed, and eight British soldiers are wounded in the attack. The Black Watch regiment redeployed north to reinforce U.S. troops massing for a possible attack on Al Fallujah, center of the insurgency in the so-called Sunni Triangle. Two additional car bombings leave six Iraqis dead in towns north and south of Baghdad.

 

Nov. 5

The Cote d’Ivoire government launched airstrikes on November 4 on the cities of Bouake and Korhogo, rebel strongholds in the north, announces a United Nations spokesperson stationed in Cote d’Ivoire. News of the bombings spark demonstrations in Abidjan, the economic capital, where armed youths torch buildings housing opposition parties accused of colluding with the rebels. The violence is blamed on the Young Patriots, a group supporting President Laurent Gbagbo. The rebels, known as the New Forces, recently withdrew from Gbagbo’s unity government on the grounds that the army was preparing to resume the civil war that raged in 2002 and 2003. The United Nations and France has 10,000 troops stationed in Cote d’Ivoire to monitor the cease-fire brokered in 2003.

 

The U.S. economy generated 337,000 new jobs in October, announces the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the overall unemployment rate rose from 5.4 percent to 5.5 percent.

 

Nov. 6

A series of suicide car bombings and motor and rocket attacks across central Iraq leave at least 33 people dead and more than 60 others wounded, including 24 U.S. soldiers. Two suicide bombings outside the office of the mayor of Samarra draw a U.S. convoy to the scene, which in turn is hit by a bomb attack. Additional bombings at police stations in Samarra kill 17 policemen and leave several others wounded. U.S. and Iraqi forces retook Samarra from insurgent control in early October. Samarra, which is 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, has been cited as an example of how the interim Iraqi government is successfully restoring order to areas formerly controlled by rebels. West of Samarra in Ar Ramadi, more than 20 U.S. Marines are wounded in an ambush on a convoy during stepped up security operations in the Sunni Triangle. In nearby Al Fallujah, U.S. bombers pound rebel targets with 500-pound (225-kilogram) bombs, as some 10,000 U.S. troops are massing for a major assault in the rebel stronghold. Three additional U.S. soldiers are wounded in a car bombing near the entrance to the Baghdad International Airport.

 

Nov. 7

The Iraqi interim government declares a 60-day state of emergency in response to escalating insurgent violence. As the announcement is made, Baghdad is hit by massive explosions as rebels toss grenades into police cars. Multiple car bomb attacks on U.S. convoys in the capital leave two American soldiers dead and five others injured. Another car bombing outside the Baghdad residence of the Iraqi finance minister leaves a bodyguard dead. In the towns of Al Hadithah and Al Haqlaniyah, approximately 120 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, insurgents storm police stations and disarm and execute at least 21 policemen. A suicide bomb attack on the temporary headquarters of the Black Watch unit, 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad, leaves two British soldiers severely injured. Also south of Baghdad, assassins gun down three provincial government employees who were on their way to An Najaf for the funeral of a murdered colleague. Near An Najaf, insurgents dressed as policemen ambush and murder 12 Iraqi national guards.

 

Nov. 8

U.S. forces backed by newly trained Iraqi troops are engaged in a major assault on Al Fallujah, with thousands of Marines and members of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division driving tanks and armored carriers into what is considered the center of the Iraqi insurgency. Amid heavy gunfire and a series of explosions, troops took control of the city’s main hospital late on November 7 and secured two bridges over the Euphrates River. One of the bridges is the place where rebels attacked and killed four American contractors in April. That incident sparked the first U.S. attempt to retake control of the city. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist connected to the al-Qa’ida network, is urging his followers to resist the offensive, and suicide bombers are reported to be attacking U.S. troops in the streets of nearby Ar Ramadi. American forces also are engaged in heavy gunfire with insurgents in eastern Baghdad.

 

The Arctic is undergoing some of the most rapid and severe warming on the planet, announce the authors of a report commissioned by the governments of eight northern nations. The report, which involved hundreds of scientists over a four-year period, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of climate change in the Arctic and northerly regions of Earth. It describes vast areas of melting ice, a condition that already has triggered the decline of indigenous cultures and many animal and bird species. Robert Corell, the American oceanographer who led the project, notes “It’s affecting people up there now. And there are very serious consequences for people on the rest of the planet.” The authors of the report state that accelerating climate change is spurred by human generated greenhouse gases, which have increased in the atmosphere by nearly 30 percent since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century.

 

Nov. 9

U.S. and Iraqi forces remain locked in fierce fighting with insurgents as Marines reach the center of Al Fallujah. Battling the insurgents street by street, the soldiers have wrenched approximately the northern half of the city from rebel control. The attack has been met by an unknown number of insurgents, who have sometimes contested every inch of the advance and at other times melted back into rubble-strewn streets and alleys. According to some accounts, the insurgents have been joined by Iraqis from other parts of the country, and many guerrilla fighters have slipped out of the city to neighboring Ar Ramadi, where they have taken up defensive positions. Military experts describe the push into Al Fallujah as a calculated risk for the U.S. military. In April, Army officials were forced to shut down an initial attempt to retake the city after unconfirmed reports of heavy civilian casualties sparked outrage among both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis.

 

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, whose controversial policies on fighting terrorism placed him at the center of a national debate over civil liberties, has resigned, announces a spokesperson for President George W. Bush. The secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Donald L. Evans, also has resigned. The resignations are the first departures from the Bush Cabinet since the president’s reelection on November 2.

 

Nov. 10

France begins evacuating French nationals from Cote d’Ivoire in the face of four days of attacks on French residents and widespread looting. Anti-French demonstrations in Abidjan, the country’s largest city and main port, have left at least 1,000 people injured. The disturbances were triggered by France’s decision to destroy the Ivorian airforce after a government airstrike on rebel-held territory in the north resulted in the deaths of nine French soldiers on November 6. The United Nations (UN) and France have about 10,000 peacekeeping troops in Cote d’Ivoire to monitor the cease-fire in 2003 of a protracted civil war. According to the UN, as many as 5,000 Ivorian citizens have fled Cote d’Ivoire for Liberia since government troops began attacking rebel-controlled territories on November 4.

 

U.S. Marines are in control of about 70 percent of Al Fallujah, including a compound that includes the mayor’s office and the central police station. Nevertheless, a fierce battle between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces continues in the city center, with American troops in control of the perimeter. In Baghdad, insurgents abduct relatives of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The kidnappers threaten to kill the three hostages unless Allawi orders an end to the incursion into Al Fallujah. To the north, in the city of Mosul, the governor orders an indefinite curfew after militants attacked and killed four members of the Iraqi security forces and a foreign contractor.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush nominates Alberto R. Gonzales, his legal counsel in the White House, to head the U.S. Department of Justice. If confirmed by the Senate, Gonzales would be the first attorney general of Hispanic ancestry in U.S. history.

 

Nov. 11

Yasir Arafat dies at age 75 in a hospital in Paris. After a state funeral in Cairo, the body of the Palestinian leader is to buried in Ramallah in the West Bank. His organization, the Palestinian Authority, declares 40 days of mourning to honor the passing of the man who for some 40 years dominated the Palestinian struggle for an independent state. In the Gaza Strip and West Bank, thousands of Palestinians crowd the streets, wailing and firing off volleys of gunfire to express their grief. A controversial figure, Arafat was regarded by some as the “teacher and father” of the Palestinian people. Others saw him as a terrorist who presided over an organization more interested in maintaining power than achieving independence. Arafat’s power is to be divided between various Palestinian leaders. The speaker of the parliament, Rawhi Fattuh, is to become acting president of the Palestinian Authority. Former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is head the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and is expected to take over Fatah, the shadowy PLO political and military organization. Ahmed Qurei will continue as Palestinian prime minister but is expected to exercise more authority over day-to-day governance.

 

Insurgent violence escalates dramatically in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and in Baghdad in what military experts suggest is a guerrilla campaign to divert troops from the fighting in Al Fallujah. Masked gunmen roam the streets of Mosul, setting fire to police cars and storming several police stations to loot weapons and ammunition. At least two stations are set on fire. The violence pulls U.S. and Iraqi soldiers into a series of defensive strikes and raids on suspected rebel targets. In Baghdad, a car bomb explodes in the center of a crowded commercial street, killing 17 people. A similar bombing killed 10 people in the capital on November 10, one of several insurgent attacks outside Al Fallujah that left a total of 28 people dead in a single day.

 

Nov. 12

A Philippine National Railways train en route from Naga City to Manila, the Philippine capital, jumps the rails, and five of the eight coaches plunge into a deep ravine. At least 10 of the 400 some passengers are killed, and more than 115 others are injured. The crash takes place near the town of Padre Burgos, which is approximately 210 miles (340 kilometers) southeast of Manila.

 

Violence escalates across the Sunni triangle west and north of Baghdad, with insurgents carrying out ambushes, bombings, and mortar attacks in the cities of Ar Ramadi, Baghdad, Baqubah, Hawijah, Kirkuk, Mosul, Samarra, and Tikrit. In Mosul, the U.S. military launches airstrikes against insurgents holed up in a cemetery. Just north of Baghdad, insurgents, armed with anti-aircraft guns, shoot down a U.S. Army helicopter, wounding the three-man crew. The UH-60 Black Hawk is the third U.S. helicopter to be shot down in Iraq in the last 24 hours. An insurgent ambush on an Army convoy in south Baghdad leaves one U.S. soldier dead and three others wounded. According to U.S. military officials, a counter offensive in the Sunni Triangle and the northern city of Mosul is being mounted by insurgents who fled Al Fallujah before the U.S. assault on that city began on November 7.

 

Nov. 13

At least 101 journalists have been killed around the world so far in 2004, announces the International Federation of Journalists, a media rights group. According to Aidan White, the federation’s general secretary, “2004 is turning out to be one of the most bloody years on record.” The organization verified that 83 journalists died on the job in 2003.

 

Nov. 14

Iran agrees to immediately suspend its nuclear programs in exchange for guarantees made by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom that Iran will not face United Nations Security Council sanctions as long as the agreement remains in effect. Iran suspended uranium enrichment in 2003 but has repeatedly refused to stop related activities, for example, reprocessing uranium or building centrifuges.

 

Palestinian militants fire shots at Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip. The former Palestinian premier is unhurt, but two of this bodyguards are killed in the attack. On Yasir Arafat’s death, Abbas took over leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah—a faction within the PLO and Arafat’s personal political organization. The attack was made shortly after Abbas arrived at a mourning tent in Gaza City to pay his respects to Arafat, who died on November 11. Outside the tent, armed gunmen, standing among a huge crowd, chanted slogans against Abbas and his close ally, Mohammed Dahlan, including “Abbas and Dahlan are agents for the Americans.” Experts on the Middle east describe Abbas as a moderate pragmatist who has been critical of the four-year violent uprising known as the second intifada.

 

Nov. 15

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell submitted his resignation to President George W. Bush on November 12, announces a Bush administration spokesperson. The administration also confirms that Spencer Abraham, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Ann Veneman, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and Rod Paige, secretary of the Department of Education, have also resigned. John Ashcroft, attorney general, and Don Evans, secretary of the Department of Commerce, resigned on November 10.

 

U.S. forces in Iraq engage in a prolonged gun battle with insurgents in Baqubah while U.S. war planes drop 500 pound (225-kilogram) bombs on rebel targets in the mixed Sunni and Shiah city 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. The assault on Baqubah begins as a major offensive in Al Fallujah winds down after a week of heavy fighting. According to a military spokesperson, U.S. and Iraqi troops control Al Fallujah with the exception of small pockets of resistance, primarily in the southern districts of the city. Rebel violence continues for a fifth day in the northern city of Mosul, with gunmen in control of some districts of the city. Outside the northern city of Kirkuk, saboteurs bomb and ignite oil wells, a pumping station, and an oil pipeline.

 

Nov. 16

The U.S. military in Iraq launches a major offensive in the northern city of Mosul, where insurgent attacks, particularly on police stations, flared during the week-long, U.S.-Iraqi incursion in Al Fallujah. More than 1,000 soldiers, both U.S. and Iraqi, are to be deployed in the Mosul offensive. According to U.S. commanders, the rebel leaders fled Al Fallujah before the invasion of that city and are probably behind the current counteroffensive in Mosul, Kirkuk, Baqubah, and other cities that left at least 35 people dead on November 15.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush nominates Condoleezza Rice, currently the president’s national security adviser, to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state. Rice’s position as national security adviser will be filled by her current assistant, Stephen J. Hadley.

 

Democrats in the U.S. Senate elect Harry Reid of Nevada as their minority leader. Reid replaces Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was defeated in the South Dakota senate race on November 2. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is elected the Democratic whip.

 

Nov. 17

Sears, Roebuck and Co., the giant Chicago area based retail company, and Kmart, the discount retail chain based in Troy, Michigan, are to merge, announce the two corporations. The new company, to be called Sears Holding Corporation, will the third largest U.S. retailer with approximately 3,450 stores and $55 billion in annual revenue.

 

President George W. Bush nominates Margaret Spellings, his top domestic policy adviser, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. If confirmed by the Senate, Spellings will replace Roderick R. Paige, who resigned on November 15.

 

The insurgent counteroffensive in Iraq unleashes a wave of violence in cities across the Sunni Triangle, from Ar Ramadi and Baiji to Kirkuk. At least 21 Iraqis are killed and dozens of others are wounded in the series of attacks. The most violent incident takes place in the Baiji, site of Iraq’s largest oil refinery, which is 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of Baghdad. A suicide bomber in the city rams his vehicle into a passing convoy of U.S. soldiers, three of whom are wounded. The explosion kills at least 10 passers by and wounds 20 others.

 

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives vote to abandon an 11-year-old rule that requires House leaders—speaker of the House, majority and minority leaders, and others—to step aside temporarily if indicted on criminal charges. According to House Democrats, the rule is rescinded to protect the majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, who may be prosecuted in Texas on charges that he used corporate funds to help Republicans win state legislative races in 2002. According to House Republicans, the rule is changed to prevent “crackpot” prosecutors from leading politically inspired criminal investigations of top Republicans. The district attorney of Travis County, Texas, Ronnie Earle, recently won grand jury indictments against three political associates of Tom DeLay. They were indicted in connection with alleged campaign finance violations that supposedly helped Republicans win several Texas legislative races in 2002. The increased strength of Republicans in the Texas legislature helped DeLay execute a congressional redistricting that added five additional seats to the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

Nov. 18

The U.S. dollar falls to a record low of $1.3059 against the euro on the London exchange. The value of the dollar also slides against the Chinese yen and the South Korean won. Economists note that international investors are showing concern about U.S. economic problems, including record government deficits and record high trade imbalances.

 

Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a “narco-state,” warns the United Nations (UN) in a report that urges U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan to fight drugs as well as the Taliban. According to the 2004 UN Afghanistan Opium Survey, opium cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 66 percent in 2004. At least 87 percent of the world’s opium is now produced in Afghanistan, with 2.3 million Afghans—10 percent of the entire work force—engaged in some aspect of the trade.

 

Nov. 19

U.S. forces, hunting through the largely pacified city of Al Fallujah for holdout insurgents, engage in occasional skirmishes with snipers. About 50 U.S servicemen have been killed and 425 others wounded in the assault, which began on November 8. Military authorities believe about 1,200 insurgents appear to have been killed. According to a U.S. military commander, the offensive to retake control of Al Fallujah has “broken the back of the insurgency.” However, the wave of rebel assaults across central and northern Iraq continue in what is being called a counteroffensive to the Al Fallujah incursion. Rebels continue to attack police stations in the northern city of Mosul, where 63 freshly trained police reportedly have been abducted. In Baghdad, U.S. soldiers raid a major Sunni Muslim mosque and arrest about 40 people in a crackdown on militant clerics. The Iraqi interim government recently warned Sunni clerics that inciting violence from the pulpit was “participating in terrorism.” Elsewhere in Baghdad, a suicide car bombing kills 5 policeman and injures at least 10 other people. Similar bombings in Ar Ramadi, Baiji, Kirkuk left 21 Iraqis dead on November 18.

 

Persistent huge U.S. trade deficits pose a risk to the U.S. economy, warns Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. In the second quarter of 2004, the U.S. trade deficit soared to an all-time high of $166.2 billion, that is, the United States imported $166.2 billion more in foreign goods than it exported. The imbalance is largely equalized by foreign investors through the purchase of U.S. stocks and bonds. However, economists are warning that the sliding value of the dollar is making dollar-denominated investments less attractive.

 

Sudan’s vice president, Ali Osman Taha, and main rebel leader, John Garang, sign an accord to complete peace talks to end Sudan’s civil war by December 31. The accord is signed in Nairobi, Kenya, with representatives of all 15 member nations of the United Nations Security Council acting as witnesses. The Security Council simultaneously adopts a resolution to provide political and economic aid to Sudan. A peace agreement—between Sudan’s Islamic national government and rebels seeking a greater share of power and wealth for the largely Christian and animist people of the south—would end 21 years of conflict that has cost the lives of some 2 million people.

 

Nov. 20

Myanmar’s military junta releases 4,000 detainees, including Min Ko Naing, one of the country’s most revered dissidents, as well as other political prisoners. Min Ko Naing has been held in prison since 1989 for leading students in prodemocracy protests. Human rights organizations believe that as many as 1,300 political prisoners remain in prison in Myanmar.

 

U.S. troops set up roadblocks into Ar Ramadi and issue warnings to residents to stay indoors in preparation for an assault on that Sunni Triangle city 30 miles (45 kilometers) west of Al Fallujah. In Baghdad, Iraqi insurgents attack a police station with rocket-propelled grenades, killing at least three policemen. The bodies of nine Iraqi soldiers, seven of whom were beheaded, are discovered in the northern city of Mosul, a focus of recent rebel violence, including multiple recent assaults on police stations. The U.S. military reports finding four additional decapitated bodies in two locations in Mosul. U.S. military commanders are reported to be considering boosting troop levels in Iraq by 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers before the election scheduled for January. The United States currently has about 138,000 troops in Iraq.

 

Nov. 21

The world’s leading industrial countries agree to cancel 80 percent of the nearly $39 billion debt that Iraq owes 19 creditor nations. According to international affairs experts, the agreement puts pressure on Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries to also forgive Iraqi debts, including billions of dollars in reparations owed to Kuwait from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The debt agreement is announced as Iraq’s independent election commission schedules national and provincial elections for January 30, 2005. According to the commission, nearly 200 political parties have applied to run candidates for the 275-seat National Assembly. The assembly is to appoint a prime minister and a Cabinet from its membership and draft a national constitution. United Nations officials note, however, that violence or the threat of violence have forced Iraqi officials to shut down about 90 voter registration centers in northern and western Iraq, threatening the election process. The balloting is also imperiled by the ongoing insurgency and calls for a Sunni Muslim boycott.

 

Nov. 22

At least 60 miners died in a massive blaze in a complex of iron mines in northern China, confirms the government in Beijing. A faulty electrical cable ignited the fire, which began on November 20, and spread quickly through six connected mines. The mine managers are in police custody in Shahe, in northern Hebei province, according to the State Administration for Work Safety.

 

More than 200,000 Ukrainians rally outside the parliament building in Kiev, the capital, to protest the results of the presidential runoff election on November 21, while inside, the parliament debates a no-confidence vote on the Central Elections Commission. Unofficially, the commission is calling Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner, with 49.42 percent of the vote, though exit polls indicated his challenger, Viktor Yushchenko, won by a large margin. The pro-Western Yushchenko claims the election was massively rigged, and international observers, including representatives from the European Union and NATO, allege systemic voting abuse. The municipal councils of Kiev and the cities of Lviv, Khmelnitsky, and Lutsk have announced that they refuse to accept the results and will only take direction from Yushchenko. Viktor Yanukovych, who favors closer ties with Russia, rather than the West, is strongly backed by the current president, Leonid Kuchma, and by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

Nov. 23

A force of more than 5,000 U.S., British, and Iraqi troops launch an offensive to retake control of an area south of Baghdad that has been dubbed the “Triangle of Death.” The region has become one of the most dangerous in Iraq, where dozens of Iraqi police and national guard members have been taken into the desert and executed. Residents in the region, a mixture of Sunni and Shiah Muslims, claim that extremist Sunni insurgents have imposed a strict brand of Islamic law and are abducting and killing Shiah pilgrims, traveling through the region on their way to the holy cities of An Najaf and Karbala.

 

The U.S. dollar slides to yet another new low against the euro, which climbs to $1.31 in trading on European markets.

 

President George W. Bush orders a major expansion of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The new CIA director, Porter Goss, is to add thousands of new analysts and spies as part of the ongoing war on terrorism. However, the president’s directive does not set deadlines nor specify how enlarging the CIA is to be funded. A Bush administration spokesperson states that the directive represents an effort by the president to “take additional steps under his own authority responding to recommendations made by the 9/11 commission,” that is, the commission that investigated security failures surrounding the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Political experts suggest that the directive was made in response to the fact that Republicans in the House of Representatives, before adjourning on November 20, killed legislation reforming various U.S. intelligence gathering organizations, including the CIA and Department of Defense. The bill, which the Senate had passed, was based on the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

 

Nov. 24

Ukraine’s prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, is declared the official winner in a presidential election that has been marred by accusations of widespread fraud. A Central Elections Commission spokesperson announces that Yanukovych won 49.5 percent of the vote, compared with the 46.6 percent received by his challenger, Viktor Yushchenko. Independence Square in Kiev, the capital, remains occupied by hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko supporters who claim that the runoff election on November 21 was rigged by the government of President Leonid Kuchma, who picked Yanukovych as his successor.

 

Nov. 25

Hundreds of Mexican police enter San Juan Ixtayopan, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, the capital, and arrest 33 men suspected of being involved in the murder of two federal police officers. Three members of the Federal Preventive Police were attacked and beaten by a mob in San Juan Ixtayopan on November 23 while the officers, dressed in civilian clothes, videotaped children outside an elementary school. Two of the officers were set on fire and burned to death, while the third officer escaped alive, though severely wounded. Many residents of the town believe the officers were kidnappers stalking new victims. Officials for the federal police contend that the officers were investigating alleged drug sales and child kidnappings. Frustrated by widespread crime that generally goes unpunished and by a police force generally regarded as corrupt, many Mexicans in recent years have taken justice into their own hands on a number of occasions.

 

Nov. 26

U.S. forces in Mosul discover the bodies of 32 Iraqis over the last 24 hours, bringing to 65 the total number found in this northern Iraqi city in the last eight days. All were men, between the ages of 25 and 35 years old, who were bound and executed. At least 20 of the corpses have been identified as police or soldiers. Many of the bodies were dumped in conspicuous public places, including traffic circles at busy intersections. A rocket attack on Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone kills 4 Nepalese employees of a British security firm and leaves 11 others wounded. In Al Fallujah, American troops uncover what is suspected to be a weapons factory that includes a laboratory with the necessary equipment and instructions to make poisons, including anthrax. U.S. Marines also discover an enormous cache of weapons—“big enough to fuel a nationwide rebellion”—in a mosque complex in a residential neighborhood in Al Fallujah. Repeated clashes with insurgents in the largely Sunni city leave two U.S. Marines dead, bringing to more than 50 the number of Marines killed in Al Fallujah since the assault on the city began in mid-November.

 

Nov. 27

Ukraine’s parliament, meeting in an emergency session in the capital, Kiev, declares the November 21 presidential election invalid and passes a vote of no-confidence in Ukraine’s Central Elections Commission. The commission officially declared Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner on November 24. The parliamentary resolution denounces the commission’s results as “at odds with the will of the people.” The resolution does not overturn the official results, but political experts note that it applies pressure on the supreme court to examine more than 11,000 charges of fraud. Yanukovych’s challenger, Viktor Yushchenko, refuses to concede defeat and calls on his supporters, who number in the tens of thousands, to remain camped in the streets of central Kiev.

 

Marxist rebels in Colombia plotted to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit last week to the Colombian port of Cartagena, discloses a Colombian official. Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe announces that Colombian government forces crushed a plot by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to kill Bush. During his visit to Colombia on November 22, President Bush vowed to increase funding of Plan Colombia, a U.S. government program of military assistance to Colombia in its decades-long fight against FARC and the various drug cartels that control sections of the country.

 

Nov. 28

King Abdullah II of Syria strips the title of crown prince from his half brother and heir apparent, Prince Hamzah. Political experts suggest Abdullah’s move informs the world that he is firmly in control in Syria .

 

Nov. 29

At least 10 Iraqi security officers and 2 U.S. soldiers are killed in bombings in central Iraq. An explosion outside a police station in Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the capital, leaves 6 Iraqi policemen dead. In Baghdadi, a town near Ar Ramadi, four members of the Iraqi National Guard are killed in a car bombing at a highway checkpoint. The two Americans are killed and three others wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad.

 

Carlos M. Gutierrez, a Cuban-American who rose from breakfast cereal salesman to chairman and chief executive of the Kellogg Company, is nominated by President George W. Bush to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the next Bush administration. If confirmed by the Senate, Gutierrez will replaced Donald L. Evans, who resigned earlier in November.

 

A violent storm in the Philippines triggers flash floods and landslides in Quezon province that leaves more than 1,000 people dead and thousands homeless. Similar storms during the week of November 21 killed at least 160 people in the Philippines. Conservationists point out that heavily deforested hills and mountainsides are no longer capable of absorbing runoff from heavy rains.

 

Nov. 30

Italian workers stage a nation-wide strike that cripples the country. The strike is called to protest the economic policies of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. To reduce its public debt, as the Economic Union demands, Berlusconi has cut $8 billion in public sector spending from his 2005 budget.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush pays his first official visit to Canada. Upon arriving in Ottawa, the capital, President Bush meets with Prime Minister Paul Martin as protesters demonstrate against the U.S.-led war in Iraq. International affairs experts suggest that the visit is an attempt to improve relations with the Canadian government, which strongly opposed the Iraq war, which began in March 2003.

 

A passenger plane carrying more than 150 people skids off a runway in central Indonesia during a heavy rain and splits into two pieces, killing at least 31 people.

 

 

Chronology--2004--November

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Oct. 1

The U.S. military in Iraq launches a major assault on Samarra, a rebel stronghold in the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad. Insurgents respond with mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attacks as well as small-arms fire as U.S. and Iraqi troops, backed by armored vehicles and warplanes, advance into the city. A military spokesperson claims some 100 guerrillas are killed in the offensive, which is designed to take control of the city’s key government offices and police stations.

 

Oct. 2

A series of small earthquakes rattle Mount St. Helens in Washington State, one day after the volcano erupted with a small explosion that spewed a plume of steam and ash thousands of feet into the air. The quakes occur at a rate of several per minute. The relatively small eruption on September 1 was the volcano’s first since 1986, when Mt. Helena erupted with such force that the mountain blew apart.

 

Oct. 3

Thousands of Australians march through Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Canberra, the capital, to protest Australia’s participation in the war in Iraq. Australia has about 850 troops in the Persian Gulf region. With less than a week before general elections, participation in the war has become an important issue the campaign.

 

Oct. 4

More than 25 people are killed and dozens wounded in Iraq in a series of suicide car bombings, while the U.S. military offense to reclaim control in the Sunni Triangle, north and west of Baghdad, continues. In Baghdad, at least 15 people are killed when a car loaded with explosives rams into a recruiting center for Iraqi security forces. Insurgents detonate a second bomb on a major Baghdad thoroughfare, targeting a passing U.S. military convoy. The explosion kills six Iraqis. A third car bombing outside a primary school in the northern city of Mosul kills five people, including two children. In the Sunni Triangle, some 3,000 U.S. troops and 2,000 Iraqi soldiers completed an operation to reclaim control of Samarra on  October 3. U.S. warplanes continued to target suspected hideouts of Jordanian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and his followers in Al Fallujah, which remains in rebel hands.

 

Former General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has handily beaten President Megawati Sukarnoputri in presidential election in Indonesia on September 20, declares the country’s election commission. The general is to be inaugurated as the country’s sixth president on October 20.

 

SpaceShipOne climbs 70 miles (113 kilometers) into space for the second time in one week to claim the $10-million Ansari X Prize. The prize was set up to encourage commercial space flight.

 

The United States made two major mistakes in the aftermath of the war in Iraq—not deploying enough troops in Iraq and then not containing the post-combat violence and looting, former U.S. administrator in Iraq L. Paul Bremer tells an audience in West Virginia. “We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness. . .We never had enough troops on the ground,” states Bremer.

 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces that he knows of no clear link between the al-Qa’ida terror network and Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq. The secretary later repudiates the statement, saying he was misunderstood.

 

Oct. 5

Ten Iraqi policemen are killed in two separate attacks on a 15-mile (24-kilometer) stretch of highway, south of Baghdad, that is regarded as one of the most dangerous in Iraq. Insurgents open fire on a group of policemen traveling in a van, killing seven officers. Farther south on the road, three policemen are shot and killed as they stop at a gas station. A survivor of the second attacks tells authorities that the assailants took off $1 million being carried by the police. It is not yet clear why the police had the money in their possession.

 

Three American scientists are awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their investigations of the forces that bind together the smallest pieces of matter, quarks. In 1973, David J. Gross, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, H. David Politzer, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and Frank Wilczek, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge discovered that the strong force, or the “color force” as it is also called, is dominant in the atomic nucleus, acting between the quarks inside the proton and the neutron.

 

Oct. 6

An initial rescue ship, the British Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, reaches a Canadian submarine that is drifting without power in rough seas about 120 miles (193 kilometers) off the west coast of Ireland. The submarine, the HMCS Chicoutimi, lost power on September 6 during an onboard fire, which left nine members of the crew injured. The Chicoutimi, which Canada recently purchased from the Royal Navy, was bound for Nova Scotia.

 

At least 16 members of the Iraqi National Guard are killed and more than 20 others are injured when a car bomb explodes at an Iraqi military camp northwest of Baghdad. South of the capital, some 3,000 U.S. soldiers and Iraqi military forces continue an offensive launched on September 5 to retake control of insurgent-held northern Babil province, an area notorious for kidnappings and highway ambushes.

 

Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction appear to have been destroyed soon after the Persian Gulf war of 1991, states the top U.S. inspector in Iraq in a 1,000-page  report to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Charles A. Duelfer notes that the last Iraqi factory capable of producing militarily significant quantities of unconventional weapons was destroyed in 1996. Duelfer concludes that at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Iraq had not possessed stockpiles of illicit weapons for 12 years and had no program to restart production.

 

U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee admonishes Tom DeLay (R., Texas), the House majority leader, for the second time in a week. The latest admonishment is for appearing to connect legislative action to political donations and for involving Federal Aviation Administration officials in a redistricting fight among state legislators in Texas. Action on a third allegation is deferred because the matter is being investigated by a Texas grand jury. On September 30, DeLay was admonished for pressuring a Michigan representative to switch his vote on the Medicare drug benefit bill in late 2003. DeLay, who was also admonished by the committee several years ago, maintains that the accusations against him are politically motivated.

 

Oct. 7

U.S. crude oil prices hit a record high of $53 a barrel.

 

A suicide bomber slams a car into a gathering of Sunni Muslims in the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing 39 people and wounding at least 80 others. The bombing is the second within a week in Pakistan. Six days ago, a suicide bomber killed 31 people when he blew himself up in a Shiah mosque in the city of Sialkot.

 

Two adjacent hotels in central Baghdad, the Sheraton and the Palestine, which both house Western journalists and foreign contractors, are hit by rocket fire and ignite a blaze near the hotels. Immediately after the attacks, gunfire breaks on in the streets around the hotels. No casualties are reported.

 

Bombings at three Egyptian resorts kill at least 33 people, many of whom were Israeli tourists. In the most violent of the attacks, a suicide bomber drives an explosive-laden truck into the lobby of a luxury hotel in Taba, a Sinai resort and main crossing point between Israel and Egypt. A second bomber, on foot near the hotel’s swimming pool, detonates an explosive device attached to his or her person. The explosions cause 10 floors of the hotel to collapse, killing at least 26 people and wounding some 120 others. Two additional people are killed by car bombings at camp grounds outside Nuwaybi and Ras al-Sultan, Red Sea resorts popular with Israeli backpackers. Terrorism experts point out that the attacks are similar to bombings at an Israeli-owned hotel near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa in 2002. The Mombasa attacks are believed to have been carried out by the al-Qa’ida terrorist network. 

 

Oct. 8

The U.S. Department of Labor releases lower-than-expected job growth for the month of September. U.S. businesses created a net total of 96,000 jobs in September, far less than the 148,000 forecast by economists. The Labor Department also downgraded its estimate of new jobs created in August from 144,000 to 128,000. The rate of unemployment remained unchanged at 5.4 percent.

 

Oct. 9

Afghanistan’s first free election is marred by accusation of fraud and incompetence. All 15 candidates opposing interim President Hamid Karzai withdraw from the election, claiming the ink used to mark voter’s thumbs rubs off too easily, allowing for massive deception. Electoral officials reject demands that the voting be stopped.

 

Australian voters re-elect a majority of Prime Minister John Howard’s Liberals, a center-right party, to Parliament, giving the prime minister a fourth term. During the campaign, the opposing Labor Party candidates criticized Howard’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. Australian political experts note, however, that the election was not a referendum on the war but on Australia’s economy, which is booming.

 

Oct. 10

At least 11 people are killed in nearly simultaneous bomb attacks in Baghdad. A suicide bombing near the oil ministry and nearby police academy kills 10 passers-by. A second suicide bomber blows himself up near the culture ministry as a convoy of American soldiers passes by. One U.S. soldier dies in the attack and several other people are injured. The two blasts occur as U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrives in Iraq on an unannounced visit. He tells an audience of 1,500 U.S. Marines that the United States and its allies are engaged in a “test of wills” with insurgents in Iraq.

 

Oct. 11

An unexplained rise in carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere for the last two years is raising concerns among scientists that the devastating effects of climate change may hit the world sooner than predicted, warns British scientists David King. King’s report is to be delivered on October 12 at the annual meeting of Greenspeace, the nonprofit, international environmental organization.

 

Members of the al-Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, surrender hundreds of weapons to the U.S. military in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood. Under an agreement between the rebels, the Iraqi interim government, and U.S. officials, the insurgents receive above-market prices for the weapons—25 cents for a bullet, $150 for an AK-47, and $250 for a mortar. The weapons buyback is to be followed by a $500-million reconstruction program in the vast slum where U.S. forces have clashed repeatedly with insurgents. U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the arms turnover marks the end of the rebellion of Shiite Muslims loyal to al-Sadr, whom aids claim intends to run for office in the elections scheduled for early 2005. Elsewhere in Iraq, three U.S. soldiers and killed and 14 others are wounded in two separate attacks.

 

Oct. 12

U.S. forces escalate operations against insurgent strongholds in Iraq, launching airstrikes and raids in the restive Sunni Triangle region. The Iraqi national guard, supported by U.S. military forces, raid seven mosques in the city of Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the capital. Military leaders targeted the mosques because clerics allegedly harbor known terrorists and store illegal weapons caches within mosque compounds. One prominent cleric, Sheik Abdul Aleim Sadi, the provincial leader of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, is detained, according to his followers. In Al Fallujah, an airstrike reduces the city’s most popular restaurant, the Hani Hussein kebab shop, into a pile of rubble. A U.S. military spokesperson reports that terrorists known to be associates of Jordanian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi “frequently planned operations from this location.” U.S. warplanes also target insurgent strongholds in Al Qaim and Hit, cities on the Euphrates River northwest of Baghdad.

 

Oct. 13

Two separate bomb blasts in Baghdad leave four U.S. soldiers dead in the last 24 hours. In both attacks, insurgents detonate roadside bombs as a convoy of American soldiers pass by. In a third incident, a suicide driver plows into a U.S. convoy in the northern city of Mosul, wounding five soldiers. The suicide attack is the second against a U.S. convoy in Mosul in the last three days. At least 1,072 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson confirms.

 

Oct. 14

Frequent gun battles, and even beheadings, over the last few days have left at least 45 people dead in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, report officials with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti. In the northern town of Gonaives, which was ravaged by floods in September, violence is disrupting relief efforts.

 

Insurgents penetrate Baghdad’s Green Zone, headquarters of the interim Iraqi government and U.S. embassy, and detonate two bombs that kill five people, including four Americans. At least 18 others are wounded in the nearly simultaneous explosions. Suicide bombers apparently hand-carried the explosives into the heavily fortified Green Zone, which U.S. military officials describe as a “major security breach.” A terrorist group led by Jordanian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi claims responsibility for the attacks. Elsewhere in Baghdad, the explosion of a roadside bomb kills a U.S. soldier and wounds two others, bringing to 15 the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq over the past eight days.

 

Oct. 15

For the first time, a vaccine against malaria has been proven to be effective in saving children from infection or death, announces the Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Tested on thousands of children in Mozambique, the vaccine protected approximately 30 percent of the children from catching the disease and prevented malaria from becoming life-threatening in 58 percent of cases. Allan Schapira, strategy coordinator for the World Health Organization’s Roll Back Malaria campaign, notes that while the vaccine is not completely effective, partial protection is a major breakthrough. Malaria kills more than 1 million people a year, 700,000 of them children. It is caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes found in 90 countries, and drug-resistant strains are spreading.

 

Two car bombings, one in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the second in the western city of Qaim, kill four U.S. soldiers.

 

Oct. 16

Five Christian churches are firebombed in Baghdad in what appear to be coordinated attacks. Elsewhere in the city, two U.S. military helicopters crash, killing two American soldiers.

 

Oct. 17

A fire consumes a 56-story skyscraper in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. After battling the blaze for more than 12 hours, firefighters, backed by army troops, give up after engineers warn that the steel and glass structure, the tallest in the city, might collapse. The Caracas fire chief blames the department’s failure to stop the fire on low water pressure and poorly maintained emergency equipment.

 

Oct. 18

The gap in net worth between white families and African American and Hispanic families in the United States grew larger during the 2000-2001 recession, announces the Pew Hispanic Center, a nongovernmental research organization. White households had a median net worth of more than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times more than Hispanics and 14 times more than African Americans. Net worth is for the value of family’s house and car; bank accounts; and stocks; less debts, including mortgage; car loans; and credit card bills.

 

The United States has asked the United Kingdom to send more troops to Iraq to cover for the U.S. Army, confirms British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon. Currently, all British troops are deployed in southern Iraq and do not interact with American forces. The British government is to decide within days whether to grant the U.S. request.

 

Oct. 19

Insurgents launch a major mortar attack on the Iraqi national guard headquarters north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. At least four members of the guard are killed and some 80 others injured. The 40,000-strong guard operates under the command of U.S.-led forces in Iraq in conjunction with Iraqi national security and defense ministries. Saboteurs attack and set fire to a key oil pipeline in northern Iraq.

 

Oct. 20

The international humanitarian organization Care International suspends operations in Iraq in response to the kidnapping of Margaret Hassan, head of the charity’s Iraqi operations. Gunmen abducted Ms. Hassan in Baghdad on October 19, dragging her, a companion, and their driver from their car after blocking the street. Care International, which operates in 60 developing countries, has worked in Iraq since 1991, concentrating on feeding children in hospitals and reconstructing water systems. According to international aid experts, Margaret Hassan is among the most widely known humanitarian officials in the Middle East. She has lived in Baghdad, with her Iraqi husband, for 30 years.

 

Typhoon Tokage slams into western Japan with winds of nearly 80 miles (126 kilometers) per hour. At least 79 people are killed in the storm, which sets off landslides and snarls transportation. The typhoon is the second to hit Japan in less than two weeks and a record 10th so far in 2004.

 

The Boston Red Sox win the American League pennant by defeating the New York Yankees 10-3 at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox is the first team in modern Major League Baseball history to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit. The 4-game winning streak propelled Boston to the World Series for the first time since 1986.

 

More than 55 Chinese miners are killed in a coal mine gas explosion in Henan province southwest of Beijing, the capital. More than 90 men remain missing. Gas explosions due to poor ventilation are a common problem in China’s mines, generally regarded as the most dangerous in the world.

 

The first directly elected president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is inaugurated in Jakarta, the capital. A former army general, Yudhoyono promises to end government corruption and restart growth in the economy, which is the largest in Southeast Asia.

 

Oct. 21

Hundreds of British soldiers are to be deployed from southern to central Iraq, confirms British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon. However, Hoon informs the House of Commons that the deployment of about 650 members of the Black Watch regiment and some 200 support personnel is to last “weeks rather than months.” He also refutes reports that the United Kingdom plans to send an additional 1,300 soldiers to Iraq. Military experts note that the redeployment of British soldiers to an area southwest of Baghdad frees American troops for an assault in November on Al Fallujah, which remains under insurgent control.

 

Oct. 22

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, votes 334 to 73 to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Political experts believe passage in the upper house of Russia’s parliament is a formality and that President Vladimir Putin will sign the treaty within a month. The United Nations-sponsored treaty, backed by 126 nations, must be ratified by Russia before it can go into force.

 

Oct. 23

Several earthquakes and aftershocks shake northwestern Japan over a two-hour period. At least 30 people are killed and 500 others are injured in the earthquakes, which topple houses, cut off water, gas, and electricity, and derail a bullet train. The most powerful of the quakes, which measures 6.8, is centered near the city of Ojiya, 160 miles (255 kilometers) northwest of Tokyo.

 

At least 26 people are killed in car bombings in Iraq. A suicide bomber detonates an explosion at a police station near a U.S. Marine base in western Iraq, killing at least 20 policemen and wounding 47 others. No American soldiers are hurt in the attack outside the gates of Marine Camp Al Asad, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) west of Baghdad. A second suicide bomber detonates an explosive device in a car near an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint south of Samara, killing four guardsmen and injuring six others.

 

Oct. 24

The bodies of 49 Iraqi army recruits are found near the Iranian border in northeastern Iraq. According to Iraqi officials, all of the soldiers appear to have been executed. Iraqi authorities believe the minibuses carrying the soldiers, who were on leave from training camp, were stopped by insurgents dressed as police at a fake checkpoint late on October 23. The terrorist group led by Jordanian militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi claims responsibility for the massacre, which is described as single deadliest ambush of the insurgency.

 

Hamid Karzai’s chief opponent in presidential elections in Afghanistan concedes that Karzai has won the simple majority needed to avoid a run off. Yunus Qanuni announces his concession with 94 percent of the votes counted from the election on October 9. 

 

Oct. 25

Nearly 380 tons (345 metric tons) of conventional, but highly powerful explosives are missing from Iraq, announces the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA informs the United Nations Security Council that the explosives apparently were looted from al-Qaqaa, a chemical and explosive munitions facility near Baghdad, in April or May 2003. According to European international affairs experts, the IAEA warned the United States both before and after the Iraq invasion in March 2003 to keep the al-Qaqaa stockpile secure. The explosives are employed in powerful conventional weapons, missile warheads, and to detonate nuclear devices. Terrorists used less than 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of the same substance to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Earlier in October 2004, the IAEA raised concerns about the disappearance in Iraq of equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

 

Oct. 26

The Israeli Knesset votes to remove Israeli settlements and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. International affairs experts consider the vote a major victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They note that his unilateral project is based on the idea that as long as Yasir Arafat remains the Palestinian leader, there is no leadership with which Israel can strike an agreement on Gaza and other territories.

 

More than 75 protesters die from suffocation in the backs of trucks during a five-hour drive to an army base in Thailand. The victims were among some 1,300 people arrested on October 25 after clashing with security forces in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat. The violence erupted after some 1,500 demonstrators gathered outside a jail where six Muslim men were being held by police. More than 400 people have been killed so far in 2004 in clashes between militants and security forces in Thailand’s southern provinces, where the majority of the population is Muslim.

 

Iraq’s interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, blames the U.S.-led military in Iraq for the massacre on October 23 of 49 army recruits. In a speech before the interim National Assembly, Allawi declares, “I think there was major negligence by the multinational forces.” According to a U.S. military officer in Iraq, officers in his Army division, which trains Iraqi national guardsmen, were baffled by the lack of protection given the Iraqi soldiers. When Iraqi guardsmen go on leave, they are usually sent off in armored convoys with heavy guns. Minibuses carrying the 49 freshly trained soldiers were apparently stopped by insurgents dressed as police, who executed the 49 men. The prime minister’s speech is the first time he has publicly criticized U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

 

Oct. 27

The Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1918 in a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Sox top the Cardinals 3-0 in game 4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Earlier in the month, the Red Sox were the first team in playoff history to come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit when they defeated the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 to win the American League Championship.

 

An earthquake of 6.0 magnitude shakes northern Japan. The quake is the latest in a series that began on October 23 and have caused the deaths of more than 30 people.

 

Specimens believed to be a human dwarf species are discovered on a remote Indonesian island, announce scientists from Australia and Indonesia in the journal Nature. The scientists describe one tiny specimen, an adult female who was about 3 feet (1 meter) tall, as “the most extreme” figure in the extended human family. They named the species Homo floresiensis, or Flores Man. The specimens, ranging in age from 95,000 to 12,000 years old, were found in a cave on Flores, a tropical island inhabited by giant lizards and miniature elephants.

 

The Arab-language television network Al Jazeera reports that the militant Islamist group led by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi has kidnapped a Japanese citizen and threatens to behead him unless the government of Japan pulls its troops from Iraq within 48 hours. The hostage, 24-year-old Shosei Koda, appears to have entered Iraq from Jordan by bus on a sightseeing trip. He left Japan on a backpacking holiday in January.

 

Oct. 28

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat is seriously ill, but in stable condition at his compound in Ramallah in the West Bank, confirms an Arafat spokesperson. An international team of physicians recommends that Arafat should be moved from his headquarters, where he has been confined by the Israeli government for more than two years, to a hospital in Paris. Israel has announced that Arafat will be allowed to return to the West Bank after being abroad for medical treatment.

 

A group calling itself the Ansar al-Sunnah Army releases a video showing the execution of 11 members of the Iraqi national guard in a manner similar to the executions of 49 Iraqi soldiers carried out on October 23. A different group demands the withdrawal of Polish troops in Iraq in exchange for a Polish woman whom they have kidnapped. The woman is identified as a Polish citizen working with U.S. soldiers in Iraq on a video that is broadcast on Arab-speaking television by the kidnappers.

 

The detonation of a car bomb kills a U.S. soldiers and wounds two others in Baghdad. Another soldier is killed when insurgents attack an American convoy on a road north of Baghdad.

 

Oct. 29

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the third quarter of 2004, reports the U.S. Department of Commerce. Economists note that the rate of growth is below expectations but is accompanied by the lowest rate of inflation in decades and healthy consumer spending.

 

European leaders, meeting in Rome, sign the European Union (EU) Constitution, a product of 28 months of debate. The document, which includes a charter of fundamental rights, is signed at the Michaelangelo-designed Campidoglio, where in 1957 six nations—Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands—signed the treaty that founded the European Union. The new constitution needs to be ratified by the national parliaments of member nations before going into effect. According to political experts, the constitution should accelerate decision-making in an organization that in 2004 grew to include 25 member nations.

 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launches an investigation into whether U.S. Department of Defense officials broke the law in awarding noncompetitive contracts to Halliburton, the oil services corporation formerly headed by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. A senior officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, Bunnatine Greenhouse, accuses the corps of unfairly awarding no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars to a Halliburton subsidiary for work in Iraq. “It was the worst abuse of the procurement and contracting system that I have seen,” claims Greenhouse, the corps’ chief contracting officer. She also claims to have been removed from the process and threatened when she refused to approve the contracts. The FBI is already investigating whether Halliburton overcharged the military by as much as $60 billion for fuel in Iraq. Part of the evidence that Greenhouse has submitted in her formal complaint is a Defense Department e-mail in which a contract covering Halliburton services in Iraq is described as having “been coordinated” through Vice President Cheney’s office. The vice-president denies any involvement and dismisses the allegations as election politics.

 

Norodom Sihamoni is crowned king of Cambodia in the capital, Phnom Penh. Sihamoni is the son of former King Norodom Sihanouk, who retired from the throne. Cambodia’s monarch generally remain uninvolved in politics. However, the king exercises some influence on state decisions through personal and historic prestige. Before ascending the throne, King Sihamoni was a ballet dancer and choreographer in Paris.

 

Oct. 30

A suicide bomber rams a car packed with explosives into a U.S. convoy near Al Fallujah, a center of the insurgency in Iraq’s restive Sunni Triangle area, killing nine U.S. Marines. U.S. military officials in Iraq describe the ambush as the deadliest single incident involving U.S. forces in Iraq since January 8, when nine soldiers were killed as a Black Hawk helicopter crashed west of Al Fallujah. A second car bombing leaves at least seven Iraqis dead and 19 others injured outside the offices of Al Arabiya, a satellite television channel based in Dubai. The Arabic-speaking network has drawn the ire of insurgents, and a group calling itself the 1920 Brigades take responsibility for the bombing, accusing the station of being “the mouthpiece of the American occupation in Iraq.”

 

Oct. 31

Insurgents fire rockets into the base camp of British troops just south of Baghdad for the third night in a row. The 850-strong Black Watch brigade, at the request of the U.S. military, moved into the base from southern Iraq on October 29. The British forces are to free up U.S. soldiers in the region for a possible incursion into the restive Sunni Triangle city of Al Fallujah. To the north, in the city of Tikrit, insurgent-fired rockets land near a mosque at the end of evening prayers, killing 15 civilians.

 

The foreign minister of Japan, Nobutaka Machimura, confirms that a headless body discovered in Baghdad on October 30 is that of Japanese hostage Shosei Koda. Koda apparently crossed into Iraq from Jordan to sight-see and was kidnapped on October 26. His captors threatened to kill him unless Japan withdraw its troops from Iraq, which the Japanese government refused to consider.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--October

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Sept. 1

An armed gang of men and women storm a school in Beslan, a town in the Republic of North Ossetia in southern Russia, and take hundreds of people, including many students, hostage.  The hostage-takers, who are believed to be Chechen rebels, demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and threaten to kill 50 children for each rebel killed by security forces. On August 31, a suicide bomber, also believed to be a Chechen rebel, detonated a explosive device outside a Moscow subway entrance, killing herself and 9 others. On August 24, suicide bombers triggered explosions that resulted in the near simultaneous crashes of two Russian airliners, killing 89 people.

 

Riots break out in Kathmandu, Nepal, following the execution of 12 Nepalese hostages in Iraq. City authorities impose a curfew after mobs attack a mosque to protest against the killings. On August 31st, a militant Iraqi group said it had killed 12 Nepalese who were working as cooks and cleaners in Iraq.

 

Sept. 2

U.S. President George W. Bush officially accepts the Republican Party’s nomination to run for re-election in a speech closing the Republican National Convention.  Bush defends his record and vows to continue the war on terror, pledging “a safer world and a more hopeful America.”

 

Sept. 3

The standoff between Russian troops and Chechen rebels occupying a school in Beslan, a town in southern Russia, ends with the troops storming the school amid explosions and intense gun fire. More than 320 hostages are killed, including some 155 children. Officials report that as many as 700 people, primarily children, are injured. The rebels released 26 women and children on September 2.

 

Sept. 4

A suicide car bomb in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk kills 17 people and wounds more than 20 others.  The bomb explodes near a police training academy, where recruits were leaving work.

 

Sept. 5

Hurricane Frances, a category one hurricane with winds of 90 miles (144 kilometers) per hour, makes landfall on the east coast of Florida.  The storm leaves approximately 2 million residences without power.

 

Sept. 6

A Turkish driver who was kidnapped in Iraq is set free a day after his employers announce they are withdrawing from the country.  The driver was held by a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance Movement–Noman Brigades. The group threatened to behead the man if his company did not stop cooperating with U.S. troops in Iraq and leave the country.

 

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton undergoes quadruple heart bypass surgery for arterial blockage. 

 

At least 14 people are killed and 20 others wounded in Gaza City when Israel launches an air strike on alleged Palestinian fighters.  According to the Israeli army, the target was a sports field used by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

 

Sept. 7

Five days of torrential rain in China’s southwestern Sichuan province unleash floods that kill at least 114 people and injure some 9,000 others. Officials place the massive Three Gorges Dam project, which was to help control flooding on the Yangtze River, on alert as flood crests pass down the river.

 

Intense fighting in Baghdad between U.S. forces and Shiah insurgents leave at least 34 people dead, including a U.S. soldier. The fighting began when U.S. troops were attacked while on patrol in Sadr City, a Baghdad neighborhood that is a stronghold of support for the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Elsewhere in the capital, a second U.S. soldier is killed by small arms fire. The latest flare-up of violence comes one day after the single deadliest attack on American forces in Iraq in four months. Seven U.S. Marines and three Iraqi soldiers died on September 6, when a car bomb tore through their convoy near Al Fallujah, 35 miles (55 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Separate roadside bombings in the capital took the lives of three additional U.S. soldiers. Another American died in a bombing near the city of Mosul in the north. A total of 13 Americans died in action in the last 24 hours, bringing to nearly 1,000 the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

 

Donald H. Rumsfeld, secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense, and General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledge that insurgents are in control of important areas of central Iraq and that it is impossible to say when U.S. and Iraqi forces might be able to secure those areas. The areas under rebel control include the cities of Ar Ramadi, Al Fallujah, Baqubah, and Samarra. All are in the so-called Sunni triangle, west and north of Baghdad.

 

Ivan, a category 6 hurricane with winds of up to 125 miles (200 kilometers) per hour, devastates the Caribbean island of Grenada. At least 23 people are killed and 90 percent of the houses are damaged. Virtually every major building in St George’s, the capital, had suffered structural damage.

 

Typhoon Songda slams into Japan with winds as high as 135 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, killing more than 30 people. The typhoon is the seventh to hit Japan in 2004, the highest number since 1951. The Pacific Ocean near the Philippines has incubated 19 typhoons so far in 2004—35 percent more than usual. Meteorologists attribute the increase to surface water temperatures that are two degrees higher than normal.

 

Sept. 8

The number of deaths of U.S. military personnel in Iraq has surpassed the 1,000 mark, report officials with the U.S. Department of Defense. Six times as many U.S. troops have died in Iraq since President George W. Bush declared that major combat was over on May 1, 2003, than died during the initial phase of the war. Nearly 7,000 American troops have been wounded in Iraq, with more than 1,000 soldiers injured in August 2004.

 

The government of Russia offers a $10-million reward for information leading to the arrest of two Chechen rebel leaders, Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov. Authorities believe both were involved in the school siege in Beslan in southern Russia. The terrorist attack by Chechen Islamic militants on the middle school in Beslan ended on September 3 with two huge explosions, an assault by Russian military forces, and the deaths of at least 388 people, about half of whom were children. An additional 725 people were wounded.

 

Sept. 9

A car bomb explodes outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing at least nine people. Indonesian police chief attribute the bombing to the Islamic militant organization Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian group connected to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

The cost of health insurance for U.S. workers increased by an average of 11.2 percent in the last 12 months, five times faster than wages, announces the Kaiser Family Foundation, a California-based nonprofit research organization that specializes in healthcare issues. The jump marked the fourth straight year of double-digit percentage increases.

 

Sept. 10

U.S. jets pound rebel strongholds in Al Fallujah for a fourth day in an attempt to loosen insurgent control of the city, a stronghold of the Sunni rebellion. American forces lost control of Al Fallujah in April. After ending a three-week siege, U.S. Marines turned the city over to the Fallujah Brigade, a U.S.-sanctioned Iraqi security force that dissipated in the face of rebel attack. On September 9, U.S. forces launched similar airstrikes on the northeastern city of Tall Afar, reportedly inflicted dozens of casualties. Tall Afar, near the Syrian border, has become a base for foreign fighters and other insurgents. Patrols of U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces, backed by tanks, armored personnel carriers, and bombers, also entered Samarra, another insurgent stronghold, for the first time in months. Military experts suggested that the three offensives were launched to dispel the growing perception that large areas of Iraq have become “no-go” zones for U.S. forces.

 

Sept. 11

U.S President George W. Bush has received intelligence reports that suggest to some experts that North Korea may be preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon, confirms a Bush administration spokesperson. An enormous explosion took place near Yongjo-ri in North Korea’s Yanggang Province on September 9, a national holiday. The explosion, which South Korean officials claimed released a 2-mile- (3.2-kilometer-) high mushroom-shaped cloud, prompted some experts to wonder if a test had already taken place. The government in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, claims the explosion involved the demolition of an entire mountain during the construction of a hydro-electric project.

 

Sept. 12

A surge of rebel violence in Baghdad and in the Sunni Triangle region north and west of the capital leaves as many as 78 people dead. The attacks included a closely packed sequence of suicide bombings in and around Baghdad. In addition, insurgents fired dozens of mortars into the city’s so-called Green Zone, the fortified area where the Iraqi interim government and U.S. embassy are located. The violence all but paralyzes the capital, where officials close central highways in an attempt to discourage further attacks.

 

Sept. 13

U.S. warplanes strike a terrorist enclave in the Sunni stronghold of Al Fallujah, killing some 20 people whom military officials claim were insurgents. However, the strike also kills a number of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, according to some reports. U.S. military officials note that the target was a confirmed meeting place of rebels loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A Jordanian militant identified as the senior al-Qa’ida operative in Iraq, Al-Zarqawi is believed to be behind the 2003 attacks on the Baghdad offices of the United Nations among other suicide bombings.

 

The Florida Marlins defeat the Montreal Expos 6-3 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, home of the White Soxs. The game, moved from Miami because of the threat of Hurricane Ivan, was the first in which two National League teams played in an American League stadium since the Boston Braves played the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park in 1946.

 

Sept. 14

A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device packed with artillery shells in a car outside a Baghdad police station, killing 47 people and leaving more than 100 others injured. Many of the victims are young men who were waiting outside the station to apply for jobs with the department. The attack is followed by a drive-by shooting in Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad. At least 12 policemen and an Iraqi civilian, riding in a police minibus, are killed. A militant group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is believed to be the chief al-Qa’ida operative in Iraq, claims responsibility for both attacks in a statement posted on an Islamist website. Saboteurs bomb an oil pipeline near the town of Beiji, north of Baghdad. The explosion knocks out one of Iraq’s biggest power plants, cutting off electricity to Baghdad.

 

The administration of President George W. Bush proposes shifting $3.46 billion from Iraqi reconstruction projects—particularly restoration of water, sewage, and electrical infrastructure—to improve security and increase oil output. According to military experts, the proposed changes reflect the realization that rebuilding in the face of mounting violence in Iraq is impossible without better security.

 

 

Sept. 15

A highly classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President George W. Bush outlines poor prospects for the future of Iraq through 2005, discloses a government official speaking on the condition of anonymity. The most optimistic prospect describes the future stability of the country as “tenuous.” The worst case scenario points to developments leading to civil war. The official notes that the authors of the 50-page document drew on intelligence community assessments from January 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The estimate, the first on Iraq since October 2002, was prepared by the National Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence officials who provide long-term strategic assessments for the entire U.S. intelligence community. Before being submitted to the president in late July, the estimate was approved by John E. McLaughlin, acting head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

 

The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, declares that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was illegal because going to war without the approval of the 15-member Security Council violated the UN Charter. The secretary-general adds that credible elections in Iraq are impossible “if the security conditions continue as they are now.”

 

Sept. 16

Hurricane Ivan makes landfall near Mobile, Alabama, blasting the city with winds of 135 miles (215 kilometers) per hour. More than 20 people are killed by the huge storm, which pounds a 370-mile (595-kilometer) stretch of the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Louisiana, with hurricane-force winds and waves of up to 25 feet (7.5 meters) in height. At least 500,000 households in four states are without electricity.

 

Sept. 17

Suicide bombers, in two separate attacks, detonate explosive-packed cars in central Baghdad. Only the bomber is killed in the first attack, which takes place near a checkpoint on a bridge where several police cars were parked. The second attack, on a convoy of police vehicles, kills at least five Iraqi policeman. The convoy attack is near the Haifa Street police station where nearly 50 people died in a bombing on September 14. In Al Fallujah, a stronghold of Sunni resistance west of Baghdad, U.S. airstrikes aimed at suspected terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi kills 44 people. A spokesperson for the U.S. military claim all of the dead were militants.

 

Barry Bonds connects in the third inning of the San Francisco Giants’ 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres with a 392-foot (120-meter) solo shot to left-center field. He is the first player to hit 700 career home runs in 31 years.

 

Sept. 18

Insurgents in Iraq carry out another string of car bombings, killing at least 20 Iraqis and 2 U.S. soldiers and bringing to more than 300 the number of people killed in violence in Iraq since September 12. Three U.S. soldiers are wounded on the road to Baghdad’s airport when insurgents detonate a car bomb near an overpass as a military convoy passes. When other American troops arrive on the scene, a second car bomb explodes, killing two soldiers and wounding eight others. The explosion of a third bomb in a small side street in central Baghdad kills one Iraqi man and seriously wounds two others. In the northern city of Kirkuk, 19 Iraqis are killed and 67 others wounded when a suicide bomber drives a car packed with explosives into a crowd of Iraqi National Guard recruits lined up outside a recruiting center. The Kirkuk attack is the third bombing this week that targeted Iraqi security forces. Rebels regard the men who serve in such forces as collaborators with the enemy.

 

More than 2,000 people are killed in Haiti in flooding and mudslides triggered by heavy rains from Tropical Storm Jeanne. The storm also left 18 people dead in the Dominican republic and 7 others in Puerto Rico.

 

Sept. 19

Chinese leader Jiang Zemin turns over his final important position, chief of the China’s enormous military, to President Hu Jintao, in the first orderly transfer of power in the history of China’s Communist Party. Experts note that Hu, who became party chief in 2002 and president in 2003, is now the undisputed leader of the world’s most populous country.

 

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, on a visit to London, tells British Prime Minister Tony Blair that terrorists are flooding into Iraq from across the Muslim world.

 

Sept. 20

Insurgents in Iraq kill two influential Sunni Muslim clerics. The body of Sheik Hazim al-Zaidi, the imam of Baghdad’s al-Sajjad mosque, is dumped at the mosque one day after he was kidnapped. The second cleric, Sheik Mohammed Jado’ou, is gunned down as he was leaving prayers at his al-Kwather mosque in southwest Baghdad. Both clerics were members of the Sunni Committee of Muslim Scholars, an influential group that has helped negotiate the release of hostages.

 

Sept. 21

President Bush, speaking before the United Nations (UN) in New York City, defends his decision to invade Iraq in 2003, noting that the that the U.S.-led war delivered the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, “an outlawed dictator.” The president urges the world community to “fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity.” Before President Bush’s speech, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, opening the 191-nation gathering, warned that “the rule of law” was at risk around the world. He condemned both the taking and killing of hostages in Iraq and the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. International affairs experts interpreted Annan’s remarks as criticism of the U.S. treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

 

Sept. 22

Leaders from Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan launch an effort to become permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. In a joint statement, the four leaders present their case for becoming Council members. The current, veto-wielding permanent members of the Council include China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

 

Sept. 23

Bombings and skirmishing across Iraq leave more than 45 people dead and at least 150 others injured. In one incident, 11 people are killed when a car bomb explodes outside a Baghdad ice-cream shop where Iraqi National Guard recruits were standing. Also in Baghdad, authorities identify a mutilated body as the remains of a hostage who was one of three contractors, two American and one British, seized by insurgents on September 16. A group led by the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claims to have executed both Americans. The fate of the British contractor is not known. Al-Zarqawi’s organization demands the release of two jailed Iraqi women. While officials with the interim Iraqi government tentatively have agreed to meet the demands, U.S. military officials claim they have no intention of forfeiting custody. The two women are known as “Dr. Germ” and “Dr. Anthrax” for their alleged participation in Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons programs.

 

Sept. 24

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, speaking before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, insists that the interim Iraqi government is succeeding in establishing freedom and democracy in Iraq. The prime minister declares that the Iraqi people are determined to defeat terrorism and that national institutions grow stronger every day.

 

A U.S. offensive against militants loyal to radical Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr triggers a major fire fight in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood. At least 15 people are reported killed in the clashes. Elsewhere in Iraq, two U.S. soldiers are killed in separate insurgent attacks.

 

Armed men abduct two Egyptians from their office in Baghdad after overpowering the guards, continuing a rash of kidnappings. On September 23, gunmen sized four other Egyptians. All six victims are employees of a cellphone company. More than 100 foreigners have been seized in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, and at least 27 of the victims have been murdered.

 

The leaders of India and Pakistan, bitter rivals since both gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, meet for the first time. According to spokespersons, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agree to more bilateral talks, to the pursuit of peace in the disputed region of Kashmir, and to the building a gas pipeline between the two countries. Musharraf and Singh are in New York City attending the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

 

Sept. 25

Insurgents in Baghdad gun down seven Iraqi men applying for jobs with the Iraqi National Guard. The attack follows a car bombing at the same National Guard headquarters on September 22 that left 11 people dead. Police stations and National Guard headquarters have become favored targets in the insurgency.

 

The U.S. military conduct a series of air strikes in Al Fallujah, a volatile city in the so-called Sunni Triangle. The terrorist group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the target. Al-Zarqawi’s organization claimed responsibility this week for the recent abduction and beheading of two American civilians in Iraq.

 

Sept. 26

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking at a Sunday-morning news program, acknowledges that the security situation in Iraq is “getting worse.” He insists, however, that the insurgency would be put down throughout Iraq in time for national elections scheduled for January.

 

U.S. Marines blow up a car and pickup truck loaded with explosives before the two vehicles are able to slam into the gates of a Marine base north of Al Fallujah. The attack brings to at least 32 the number of car bombings carried out in Iraq so far in September.

 

Hurricane Jeanne pounds Florida, the state’s fourth hurricane in six weeks. The storm makes landfall with winds of 120 miles (193 kilometers) per hour at Hutchinson Island on the east coast. It then follows a western direction across the state before veering off east of Tampa and north into Georgia, the same path followed by Hurricane Francis on September 5 and 6.

 

Sept. 27

At least eight members of the Iraqi National Guard are killed in a series of insurgent attacks—suicide bombings and a roadside bombing—in or near the cities of Baqubah, Al Fallujah, and Mosul. The U.S. military in Iraq announced on September 26 that a senior officer in the Iraqi National Guard has been arrested on suspicion that he was collaborating with insurgents. Brigadier General Talib Ghayib al-Lahibi, a former infantry officer under Saddam Hussein, headed the guard unit in troubled Diyala province. Military experts note that his arrest raises concerns about the loyalty and reliability of the new security force.

 

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill barring tobacco from state prisons.

 

The Federal National Mortgage Association—a private corporation, usually referred to as Fannie Mae, chartered by the U.S. government to help assure that enough money is available for home mortgages—agrees to major changes in its accounting and management practices. The most fundamental change increases the company’s capital reserve by more than $5 billion over the next nine months, pushing up its total reserve to about $9.4 billion. The agreement comes after the government regulators reported that senior executives were enriching themselves through accounting irregularities and earnings manipulation that presented an apparently false picture of the company’s financial well-being.

 

Sept. 28

The price of U.S. light crude oil climbs to $50 a barrel on world markets. Market analysts attribute the boost in prices to the hurricanes in August and September, political unrest in Nigeria, and sabotage of Iraqi oil infrastructure.

 

The U.S. military in Iraq launches airstrikes against insurgent targets in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood and in Al Fallujah. The airstrikes are part of a campaign to root out the insurgent network allegedly led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He is believed to have ordered the recent kidnapping and beheadings of three U.S. civilians in Iraq and is blamed for deadly bomb attacks on United Nations and Red Cross facilities in Baghdad in 2003.

 

Two British soldiers are killed in an insurgent attack on a convoy on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi city of Al Basrah. The deaths of the two men bring the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq since March 2003 to 68, according to a British military spokesperson.

 

Sept. 29

SpaceShipOne, the first contender to attempt to win the $10-million Ansari X-Prize, is successfully launched from the Mojave Airport in California. Piloted by Mike Melvill, SpaceShipOne in June became the first private, manned craft to go into space, that is, to fly 60 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth. To claim the prize, the craft must repeat the space flight twice within a two-week period.

 

Insurgents launched more than 2,350 attacks on military and civilian targets in Iraq between August 29 and September 28, announces Adam Collins, chief intelligence official for a private security company that compiles and analyzes data in Iraq for the U.S. military. While more than 40 percent the assaults took place in Baghdad, the capital, attacks were made in nearly every major population center, with the exception of the Kurdish north. The highest number of attacks in a one-month period took place in April, when rebel assaults averaged 120 a day. The average in September was about 80 per day.

 

A section of the USA Patriot Act is declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge in New York City. Judge Victor Marrero curtails the government’s power in terrorism investigations to obtain Internet and other electronic records from communication businesses. In his decision, the judge notes that the practice violates the U.S. Constitution by permitting “coercive searches” without judicial review.

 

The Montreal Expos are moving to Washington, D.C., announce spokespersons for the District of Columbia and for Major League Baseball. The Expos will be the first Major League Baseball franchise to move since the Senators left Washington, D.C., for Arlington, Texas, for the 1972 season.

 

Sept. 30

Dozens of children are killed in a coordinated bomb attack in western Baghdad. The detonation of three car bombs near a passing U.S. military convoy kills more than 40 people, including at least 35 children. Scores of other people, including 10 U.S. soldiers, are injured. Most of the victims were part of a crowd that had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new water pumping station. The children had been drawn to the scene by U.S. soldiers handing out candy. Hours earlier, a suicide car bombing killed an American soldier and two Iraqis at a checkpoint near the Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of the capital.

 

The first Israeli incursion in years into the center of the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip sparks fierce clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. In heavy fighting, Israeli troops in tanks move into what is described as a militant stronghold, firing shells and machine guns. The fighting leaves at least 26 people dead and more than 100 others wounded, including Palestinian militants and civilians and Israeli soldiers and settlers. The offensive was triggered by Hamas rocket fire that killed two Israeli children in a border town on September 29. Responding to the violence, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered reinforcements into Gaza.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush meets his Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, in the first debate of the presidential campaign. Senator Kerry and the president clash over foreign policy, particularly the president’s strategy in Iraq.

 

The Russian Cabinet approves ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, effectively setting the stage for implementation of the treaty. The protocol, repudiated by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, calls for the world’s industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--September

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Aug. 1

Car bombs explode outside four Christian churches in Baghdad and a fifth church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. All are timed to coincide with Sunday evening services. Ten people are killed and 20 others injured in the blasts in Baghdad. The explosion in Mosul kills one person and injures seven others. The bombings are the first significant attacks on Iraq’s Christian minority, which makes up about 3 percent of the population.

 

A heightened terrorist alert status is announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to terrorism experts, the code orange, or “high risk,” alert is unlike others announced in the wake of the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The latest alert is based on highly detailed information from a number of sources and is very specific about targets—the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup headquarters in New York City, and Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

 

A quickly-spreading fire in a crowded supermarket on the outskirts of Asuncion, capital of Paraguay, kills 464 people and leaves hundreds of others injured. A security guard tells a government investigator that he was ordered at the onset of the fire to lock the doors to prevent shoppers from stealing merchandise.

 

Aug. 2

U.S. President George W. Bush reverses an early position to endorse the creation of a national intelligence official and counterterrorism center—key recommendations of the commission investigating the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The bipartisan commission’s report outlined lapses in intelligence that left the United States vulnerable to terrorist attacks. To address such lapses, the commission strongly urged the creation of a counterterrorism center—staffed by personnel from all federal agencies gathering intelligence—under the direction of a single national director.

 

Much of the information that led the U.S. government to raise the terror alert on August 1 is from 2000 or 2001 and predates the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, confirms President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend. Townsend verifies that concrete evidence has not yet been uncovered that the al-Qa’ida terrorist network is currently planning a terrorist attack or conducting surveillance operations in advance of such a plot. However, she defends the existing heightened alert, noting that the general stream of intelligence indicates that al-Qa’ida operatives may strike in the United States in 2004.

 

Aug. 3

Six U.S. soldiers and seven Iraqi security guards are killed in Iraq in a series of guerrilla attacks. In northern Iraq, saboteurs bomb an oil pipeline, sparking an enormous explosion and fire. Oil exports from northern Iraq have been halted for weeks because of near constant attacks on the pipeline, which carries oil to an Iraqi refinery and to Turkey. In An Najaf, in southern Iraq, members of a militia loyal to the radical Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take 18 police officers hostage in an attempt to force Iraqi authorities to release fellow militia members who are under arrest.

 

Bangladesh, which is undergoing the worst flooding in six years, appeals to member nations of the United Nations for disaster aid. With 60 percent of the country under water, most of Bangladesh’s crops for 2004 have been lost, and some 20 million Bangladeshis are expected to be in need of food aid through the end of the year. The floods have displaced at least 30 million people, and damage to roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools is estimated to exceed $7 billion.

 

Aug. 4

Dozens of masked insurgents armed with rifles jump out of a van in the center of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and spray bullets up and down two main streets. Iraqi policemen respond with gunfire, sparking a fierce, four-hour battle that leaves at least 12 people dead. Insurgents also stage coordinated attacks in other neighborhoods in Mosul. Authorities fear that the insurgency that is rampant in other areas of Iraq is spreading into the north, which has been largely peaceful since the U.S.-led occupation began in 2003. In An Najaf, a holy city in southern Iraq, members of a militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, a militant Shiah cleric, kidnap six Iraqi police officers.

 

The director of the Federal Aviation Administration tells airline executives, meeting in Washington, D.C., that if U.S. airlines do not voluntarily reduce the number of scheduled flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the government will do it for them. Only 67 percent of flights arrive at O’Hare on time. Thirty-seven percent of the delays are longer than one hour. The secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Norman Y. Mineta, notes that congestion at O'Hare is choking the entire U.S. air transportation system. O’Hare is considered the world’s busiest airport.

 

Aug. 5

The radical Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr calls on all Iraqis to join in a “revolution” against U.S.-led security forces in Iraq. The call to arms signals the collapse of a two-month truce between al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, and the U.S. military. In An Najaf, a Shiah holy city, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, a helicopter is shot down during a fierce battle between American troops and the militia. U.S. Marines are moving into An Najaf to reinforce  coalition forces. In Al Basrah, in far southern Iraq, al-Sadr’s followers engage in a gun battle with British troops after declaring a jihad (holy war) in response to the arrest of four of their comrades. Masked Mahdi Army guerrillas armed with rifles are in control of the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, from which all Iraqi policemen and U.S. soldiers have withdrawn.

 

Aug. 6

Fierce fighting continues between U.S.-led forces and members of a Shiite militia in Iraq. For a second day, U.S. troops and Iraqi security guards battle the Mahdi Army in the Shiah holy city of An Najaf. Dozens of U.S. tanks and armored vehicles have entered An Najaf, and American helicopter gunships are firing rockets into the vast Valley of Peace cemetery, where the militia is based. A minaret at the nearby mausoleum of Imam Ali, the city’s holiest shrine, has been damaged in the rocket fire. The Shiite insurgency also has spread to several other cities, including An Nasiriyah, Al Amarah, Al Basrah, and the enormous Baghdad slum of Sadr City, which is ringed with U.S. tanks.

 

The growth of new jobs slowed dramatically in the United States in July, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of non-farm jobs added to the U.S. economy in July dropped to 32,000 from 78,000 in June. Labor Department analysts had projected that the economy would generate 215,000 to 240,000 new jobs in July.

 

Aug. 7

Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs pitches the 300th winning game of his career in an 8-to-4 victory over the Giants in San Francisco’s SBC Park. Maddux is the 22nd pitcher in baseball history to reach 300 wins and the first Cubs pitcher to do so since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1924.

 

Aug. 8

A U.S. Marine is killed in action in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, which includes the largely Sunni cities of Al Fallujah and Ar Ramadi west of Baghdad. The Marine, a member of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, is killed during “security and stability operations.” His death brings to 930 the total number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.

 

Aug. 9

The radical Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army battles U.S.-led forces in Iraq for a fifth straight day, vows to fight to the death—“Our demand is for the American occupation to get out of Iraq; we want an independent, democratic, free country.” Iraq’s defense minister, Hazem Shaalan, accuses Iran, a largely Shiite country, of helping to arm al-Sadr’s Shiite militia. The government of Iran denies interfering in Iraq, but acknowledges that militants may illegally be crossing from Iran into Iraq.

 

Aug. 10

U.S. President George W. Bush nominates Porter Goss as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Goss is a former Army intelligence operative; he represents a Florida district in the U.S. House of Representatives; and has served on the House intelligence committee for nine years.

 

Aug. 11

Ahmed Chalabi, a former member of the Iraqi Governing Council and onetime protege of the George W. Bush administration, returns to Baghdad where he faces arrest on counterfeiting charges. The Iraqi politician, whom U.S. Department of Defense officials once had slated to run postwar Iraq, was attending a conference in Iran. He is accused of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars, which were removed from circulation after Saddam Hussein fell from power, and then exchanging the fake currency for legitimate new dinars. Chalabi claims the charges are politically motivated, pointing to enemies in the Bush administration. According to the General Accounting Office, an independent government agency, Chalabi received at least $33 million from the U.S. government between January 2001, when President George W. Bush took office, and May 2004, when administration officials abruptly broke with him for unknown reasons.

 

Aug. 12

U.S.-led forces surround the center of An Najaf and engage in fierce fighting with an estimated 1,000 members of the Mahdi Army. In this latest attempt to crush the Shiite uprising in Iraq, approximately 1,800 Iraqi soldiers, backed by, 2,000 U.S. Marines and warplanes, battle insurgents in and around the enormous Valley of Peace cemetery. U.S. airplanes also target Mahdi bases in Al Kut, a largely Shiite city 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of An Najaf. Iraqi officials report fighting in Sadr City, a Baghdad slum that is another stronghold of the rebel militia. No exact casualty figures exist, but at least 170 people have died and 650 others wounded in the last 24 hours in what officials describe as a wave of violence rolling across Iraq.

 

Typhoon Rananim slams into China’s Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, killing more than 145 people and destroying tens of thousands of houses.

 

Aug. 13

U.S. forces in An Najaf halt offensive operations in an attempt to forge a lasting ceasefire with members of a militia loyal to the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. During the temporary truce, al-Sadr delivers to U.S. military officials his conditions to end to the fighting. He demands that U.S. forces withdraw from An Najaf; that sacred Shiah sites in the city be administered by religious authorities; and that captured members of his militia, the Mahdi Army, be released and granted amnesty. The fierce fighting in An Najaf, which began on August 5, has triggered massive demonstrations in cities across Iraq. In Baghdad, thousands of Iraqis march on Baghdad’s Green Zone, the highly secured area where most U.S. officials live and work. They demand the resignation of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from An Najaf. Similar protests are staged in Ad Diwaniyah, Al Fallujah, Al Kufa, Mosul, and Samarra.

 

Hurricane Charley, driving a surge of sea water 13 to 15 feet- (3 to 4 meters-) high, smashes into Florida’s West Coast with winds of up to 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour. The category 4 hurricane makes landfall at Captiva and Sanibel islands, near Fort Myers, and barrels into Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, retirement communities on Charlotte Bay approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Tampa. Tearing roofs off houses and toppling mobile homes in the area’s many trailer parks, Charlie leaves in its wake at least 25 people dead, tens of thousands homeless, and as many as 1 million people without electricity. State officials estimate that damage to insured houses alone exceeds $11 billion.

 

The Summer Olympic Games open in Athens, Greece, with a spectacular ceremony tracing the journey from Greece’s mythical past to its emergence as a modern European nation and host of the 2004 Games. Some 100 heads of state and other dignitaries attend the opening ceremony, which is staged in a new Olympic Stadium designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

 

Aug. 14

A truce to negotiate a ceasefire in An Najaf between the Mahdi Army and U.S.-led forces collapses. A spokesperson for the interim Iraqi government announces that talks with rebels loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are over and that Iraq’s army will take over the battle against him. However, the interim government requests that U.S. forces continue to keep al-Sadr’s militia bottled up in An Najaf’s Old City area until the Iraqi Army arrives.

 

Aug. 15

Venezuelans vote to retain Hugo Chavez as president. In a special recall election, Chavez takes 58 percent of the voter. Chavez’s opponents, primarily the country’s professional and upper classes, point to the fact that Venezuela’s economy shrank by nearly 20 percent in 2002 and 2003 despite raising oil prices. The United States imports 1.5 million barrels of Venezuelan oil daily, about 14 percent of total daily U.S. oil imports.

 

Aug. 16

Police in An Najaf cut off electricity and order all journalists out of the city on the grounds that their safety can no longer be assured. A truce to negotiate a ceasefire in an Najaf collapsed on August 14, and U.S.-led forces subsequently renewed its shelling of the city’s vast Valley of Peace cemetery, where members of the Army remain holed up. Two Marines were killed on August 15 in street fighting near the shrine of Imam Ali, a mosque revered by Shiah Muslims. A third U.S. soldier in Iraq died on August 15 in fighting in Al Anbar Province, where U.S.-led forces continue to battle rebels in Ar Ramadi and Al Fallujah.

 

Aug. 17

British police in London charge eight men with terrorist offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder and possession of reconnaissance materials related to U.S. financial institutions. According to some intelligence sources, one of the suspects may be a senior al-Qa’ida operative.

 

Aug. 18

Oil prices jump by 93 cents to hit a record high of $47.20 a barrel on world markets. Economists note that China’s increasing consumption of imported oil, which grew by 21 percent in the first six months of 2004, is driving demand in relation to supply.

 

Moqtada al-Sadr, the militant Islamic cleric who has led a Shiite insurgency in Iraq, agrees to the demands of the Iraqi interim government to disband his militia and leave the confines of the Imam Ali shrine in An Najaf. A spokesperson for al-Sadr announces that the cleric intends to “enter into the mainstream political process.”

 

Aug. 19

Fighting erupts again in the Iraqi city of An Najaf. A mortar attack on a police station leaves at least seven Iraqi policemen dead and more than 20 others wounded. Fierce fighting also takes place in Sadr City, the vast Baghdad slum that is largely inhabited by members of the Shiah branch of Islam. According to the Arab television news channel Al Jazeera, Iraqi insurgents identifying themselves as the Martyrs’ Squad have taken a U.S. journalist captive and threaten to kill him if U.S. forces do not pull out of An Najaf within 48 hours.

 

Aug. 20

The Imam Ali Mosque in An Najaf appears to remain under the control of the militia loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, despite a night of intense fighting and the interim Iraqi government’s threat to forcefully “liberate” the shrine. Rebel positions in the city were bombed and shelled for hours in what U.S. officials described as the heaviest assault against the Mahdi Army since the insurgency began on August 5. Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. casualties continue to mount. Two American soldiers are killed and three others wounded when insurgents attack their patrol near the Sunni Muslim city of Samarra, north of Baghdad. Two U.S. Marines are killed in separate incidents near Al Fallujah. In Al Basrah, far to the south, militants suspected of being members of the Mahdi Army set fire to the headquarters of Iraq’s South Oil Company.

 

Aug. 21

Several bombs explode during a political rally in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. At least 14 people are killed and hundreds of others are injured. The rally, staged by Bangladesh’s opposition party, was called to protest a series of explosions that left two people dead in the northeastern city of Sylhet earlier in August.

 

Aug. 22

Thieves armed with rifles burst into a museum in Oslo, Norway, and brazenly pull two Edvard Munch paintings, The Scream and Madonna, off the walls and flee with them to a waiting getaway car. Critics consider The Scream, painted in 1893, to be one of the iconic images of modern art with a likely value of $100 million.

 

Aug. 23

Sweeping changes to federal rules governing overtime pay go into effect. A spokesperson for President George W. Bush’s administration, which drafted the rules, claims they will increase the number of people who qualify to receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week. Leaders of labor organizations respond that the new rules are intended to reduce employers’ costs by cutting eligibility for overtime pay for as many as 6 million workers.

 

Aug. 24

Top officials and military leaders at the U.S. Department of Defense are cited as being partly responsible for the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad, conclude members of two internal Defense Department investigations. The two panels report that the abuses were an outgrowth of leadership deficiencies and a failure to address worsening conditions. Both investigations fault Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, for inadequate supervision of prisons. One of the two investigations linked the abuse at Abu Ghraib as well as prisons in Afghanistan and Cuba to policies set by top officials in Washington, D.C. Without mentioning Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the report faults the Joint Chiefs of Staff for failing to implement policies governing interrogation. The second panel of investigators focused primarily on the role military intelligence soldiers, civilian contractors, and medics played in the prison abuse.

 

Two Russian passenger jets that took off at approximately the same time from Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport crash nearly simultaneously, killing at least 90 people. The first plane, a Tupolev-134 en route to Volgograd with 35 passengers and a crew of 8 or 9, goes down in the Tula region, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Moscow. The second aircraft, a Tupolev-154 bound for Sochi with 38 passengers and a crew of 8, crashes in the Rostov-on-Don region, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Moscow. Experts determine that both crashes are caused by suicide bombers aboard the airliners. Government officials in Moscow suggest that the bombers were Chechen separatists.

 

Aug. 25

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has returned to Iraq after heart surgery in London, calls on his followers to march with him to An Najaf. In a statement read by an aid, the Shiah cleric notes, “I have come for the sake of An Najaf and I will stay in An Najaf until the crisis ends.” Fighting in An Najaf between U.S. forces and members of a militia loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr continues around the Imam Ali Mosque, which is occupied by al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The mosque is one of the holiest of Shiah Islamic shrines.

 

Aug. 26

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most powerful Shiah cleric, arrives in An Najaf, leading an enormous convoy of followers. His entourage, traveling in some 30 vehicles, was joined by at least 1,000 cars as it progressed through towns between Al Basrah, in far southern Iraq, and An Najaf. He asks that An Najaf be declared a weapons-free city; that all foreign forces withdraw; and that the responsibility for security be returned to Iraqi police. Anticipating al-Sistani’s arrival, the interim Iraqi government declared a 24-hour cease-fire, which U.S. forces and the militants vow to honor. However, widespread violence mars the cleric’s arrival in the holy city. In one incident, a mortar barrage in nearby Al Kufah hit a mosque filled with Shiah Muslims preparing to join al-Sistani. At least 25 people were killed. More fatalities occurred when gunmen hidden among Shiah marchers apparently fired at Iraqi police, who returned the fire. In An Najaf, Iraqi National Guards apparently panicked and fired into a crowd, said to number in the thousands, in an attempt to keep people out of the Old City, where the fighting has been most intense.

 

The number of poor people in the United States and those without health insurance grew in 2003 for the third straight year, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. The national poverty rate rose from 12.1 percent in 2002 to 12.5 percent of the population in 2003. The Census Bureau defined a family of two adults and two children as “poor” if the family had an income of less than $18,660  in 2003. Poverty increased most sharply in 2003 among single-parent families. Almost 16 percent of U.S. citizens did not have health insurance in 2003, compared with 14.2 percent in 2000.

 

Aug. 27

Thousands of Shiah Muslim pilgrims throng the Imam Ali Mosque in An Najaf as Shiite rebels withdraw and U.S.-led forces pull back from the city that Iraqis regard as holy. The leader of the rebellion, militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, reportedly surrendered the keys to the mosque, one of the holiest of Shiah Islamic shrines. The rebel withdrawal from the mosque was part of a cease-fire mediated by Iraq’s most respected Shiah leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

 

The U.S. economy grew more slowly in the second quarter of 2004 than originally estimated, reports the U.S. Department of Commerce. The gross domestic product—the value of all goods and services produced in the United States in a given year—expanded at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the second quarter, down from a rate of 3.0 percent Commerce department officials had estimated in July. Officials attribute the slide to shrinking corporate profits and higher imports.

 

Aug. 28

The president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, announces in Tehran, the capital, that Iran will continue its nuclear program but “guarantees” not to build atomic weapons. He also warns that the United States needs Iran’s help to stabilize neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

A Taliban leader is killed and 22 suspected members of the militant Islamic sect are arrested by U.S. and Afghan troops in southern Afghanistan. Afghan officials suspect that the leader, Rozi Khan, was involved in kidnappings and attacks on foreign workers in Afghanistan.

 

Aug. 29

A powerful bomb explodes in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, killing at least seven people, including three Americans. The explosion takes place outside the compound used by DynCorp Inc., a U.S. contractor that provides security for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. A spokesperson for the Taliban claims responsibility while boasting that hundreds of Taliban fighters have filtered back into Afghanistan.

 

More than 100,000 protestors march through midtown Manhattan in one of the largest demonstrations against the war in Iraq and the policies of President George W. Bush. The protest, which is largely peaceful, is staged on the eve of the Republication National Convention, which opens on August 30 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. 

 

The 2004 Summer Olympic Games close in an elaborate ceremony in Athens. Although fears that the facilities would not be finished on time clouded the opening, the 2004 Olympics proved to be a success. The United States, Russia, China, Australia, and Germany led in the winning of medals. The next Summer Olympic Games are to held in Beijing in 2008.

 

Aug. 30

A spate of insurgent attacks on oil pipelines brings Iraq’s oil exports to a complete halt. The flow of oil through southern pipelines, which account for 90 percent of exports, stopped late on August 29 and is unlikely to resume for at least a week, according to senior officials with Iraq’s South Oil Co. Lost revenue to the interim Iraqi government amounts to some $60 million a day. Repeated attacks on Iraq’s northern export pipelines has cut off the flow of oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan as well.

 

Aug. 31

Nearly simultaneous explosions aboard two buses some 325 feet (100 meters) apart in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba leave at least 15 people dead and more than 80 others injured. Both attacks are suicide bombings for which the Palestinian militant group Hamas claims responsibility. Suicide bombings have claimed the lives of more than 400 people in Israel since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

 

The government of Nepal confirms that twelve Nepalese hostages were killed by militants in Iraq.  The militants, members of a group called the Army of Ansar al-Sunna, claimed the hostages had been killed because they “came from their country to fight the Muslims.” The victims, who were reported kidnapped on August 20th, were cooks and cleaners.

 

31A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device outside the entrance to a subway station in Moscow, killing herself and 10 other people. At least 50 others are injured in the attack, which comes one week after suicide bombers caused the crashes of two Russian airliners.

 

31 The Cleveland Indians route the New York Yankees 22 to 0 in the biggest Yankee loss in the 101-year history of the team.

 

Chronology--2004--August

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July 1

Saddam Hussein is formally accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity by an Iraqi judge in a courtroom in Baghdad, the capital. The former president of Iraq asserts that he remains president and challenges the legitimacy of the court, declaring that “everyone knows this is theater by [U.S. President George W.] Bush. . .in an attempt to win the election.”

 

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez hands over command of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq to General George Casey in a ceremony in Baghdad. Insurgent attacks during and after the ceremony kill eight people in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq and damage a power plant that supplies electricity to the capital. A U.S. Marine and a high-ranking interim government official are among the day’s victims. More than 850 American soldiers have been killed and more than 5,300 others have been wounded since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003.

 

July 2

Typhoon Mindulle hits the Philippines with winds of more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, killing at least 30 people and forcing thousands of others to flee surging flood waters. At least 25 people were killed when the storm struck Taiwan on July 1, causing major flooding and damages to crops totaling an estimated $65 million.

 

July 3

Maria Sharapova upsets Serena Williams 6-1 6-4 to win her first women’s singles tennis championship at Wimbledon. In her first Grand Slam final, Sharapova takes the first set in 30 minutes. She is the first Russian woman to win the Wimbledon title.

 

July 4

Roger Federer of Switzerland takes his second straight men’s singles tennis championship at Wimbledon with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Andy Roddick of the United States.

 

Greece, an underdog team that experts predicted would be eliminated in the first wave, beats Portugal 1-0 to win the European soccer championship in a final that sports writers describe as “bizarre,” “unlikely,” and “wonderful.”

 

July 5

Saboteurs blast a pipeline running from northern to southern Iraq, disrupting the flow of crude oil. The attack comes less than 24 hours after a similar breach to another pipeline and two weeks after sabotage shut down all oil exports for approximately 10 days. The latest attacks cut oil exports from Al Basrah to roughly half of the usual postwar level.

 

The U.S. military in Iraq launch an air strike on a suspected terrorist safe house in Al Fallujah, killing at least 10 people. The missile strike on an alleged hideout of militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his followers is the fifth in that city since June 19. The strikes have killed dozens of people whom the U.S. military contend were linked to al-Zarqawi, who remains at large.

 

July 6

John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate for president of the United States, chooses Senator John Edwards of North Carolina as his running mate in the 2004 election in November. Political experts regard Senator Edwards, Kerry’s former rival in the Democratic primaries, as a strong campaigner who can reach out to a wide range of voters.

 

More than 38 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, reports UNAids, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. Five million new cases were diagnosed in 2003, the largest number in any year since scientists initially recognized the disease in the 1980’s. The authors of the UNAids report warn that the governments of Asia need to focus attention on the disease in order to prevent “a full blown AIDS catastrophe” in an area that is home to 60 percent of the world’s population. More than 1 million people were diagnosed with HIV in Asia in 2003, with significant increases in China and Indonesia. UNAids also notes that the epidemic continues to grow in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, with Russia one of the worst-affected countries.

 

A car bomb explodes in Al Khalis, an Iraqi town northeast of Baghdad, killing 13 people and wounding at least 35 others. The victims were attending a service for two people killed on July 4 when insurgents fired into a building belonging to a member of the Al Khalis city council.

 

July 7

A new national safety law that allows Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to declare emergency rule to combat the insurgency in Iraq is announced by a spokesperson for the interim government. The law arms Allawi with the power to declare martial law in any part of the country threatened by instability; impose curfews; restrict communications; seize assets; ban civic organizations deemed seditious (to incite rebellion); and arrest people without judicial warrant. Allawi is empowered to take charge of Iraqi security forces in any area under martial law, effectively giving him command of military operations. As the new law is announced, Iraqi security forces and U.S. military forces engage rebels in a rare daylight gun battle in the streets of central Baghdad.

 

July 8

The U.S. Department of Justice charges Kenneth Lay, the former chairman and chief operating officer of Enron Corp., with 11 criminal charges, including bank fraud, share trading fraud, and making false statements. If found guilty on all charges, Lay faces a 175-year prison term. Top executives at Enron, the failed Houston-based energy trading company, sold much of their company stock before Enron’s bankruptcy in December 2001. Lay personally sold $184 million in Enron stock. With the bankruptcy, smaller investors discovered that Enron’s management had inflated profits and, therefore, the value of the stock, by concealing more than $1 billion in debt. The Enron collapse put more than 20,000 Enron employees out of work and cost investors—which included many employees—billions of dollars. Kenneth Lay was a highly visible fundraiser for the Republican Party and a major contributor to George W. Bush’s campaigns for governor of Texas and president.

 

Insurgents in Iraq launch a mortar attack at the Iraqi National Guard headquarters in Samarra, a city 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the capital. Five U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi guard are killed in the attack, which destroys a building used by both U.S. and Iraqi forces.

 

July 9

The Senate Intelligence Committee issues a report that blames the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq that greatly exaggerated the danger from deadly weapons in the hands of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The authors of the report imply that Iraq posed little immediate threat to the United States before the war, which began in March 2003. Political experts describe the 511-page  report as a scathing indictment of the CIA and its director, George J. Tenet, who is to leave office on July 11.

 

Brendan Hansen, swimming at the U.S. Olympic swimming trails at the Long Beach (California) Aquatic Center, breaks the 1-minute, 1-second mark in the 100-meter breastroke with a new world record of 59.3 seconds. The old 1-minute, 1-second record was set in 2003 by Kosuke Kitajima of Japan.

 

The highest United Nations court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, rules that the system of walls and fences Israel is building as a security barrier between Israel and the West Bank violates international law. Dismissing Israel’s claim that the 425-mile (685-kilometer) barrier is essential to Israeli security, the court declares that the system infringes on the freedom of Palestinians. The court’s justices order Israel to pay reparations to Palestinians harmed by the barrier and return the land seized to construct it.

 

The total number of fatalities of multinational soldiers participating in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has surpassed 1,000, announces a spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq. The number of Americans who have died since March 2003 rose to 881 on July 8 with the deaths of a U.S. soldier in a street fight in Baghdad and five U.S. soldiers in a mortar attack in Samarra, north of the capital. No reliable figures exist for the number of Iraqis killed since the war began.

 

July 10

Saboteurs detonate a bomb next to a gas pipeline north of Baghdad, closing down the line that supplies fuel to the capital’s primary power plant. Near Al Fallujah, four U.S. Marines are killed in Iraq in a vehicle accident.

 

July 11

The governments of Iraq and Syria have agreed to take steps to seal their border in an attempt to stop Islamic militants from crossing into Iraq to carry out terrorist attacks, announces Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih. Salih makes the announcement after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s capital, Damascus.

 

July 12

France and Iraq restore diplomatic relations after a 13-year break. The restoration is announced simultaneously in Paris and Baghdad, where the French flag is raised above the new French embassy.

 

Iraqi’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, meets with European Union (EU) foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium. The ministers confirm that the EU will provide Iraq with approximately $235 million in aid in 2005. Of the $13 billion in non-U.S. aid pledged to Iraq, only about $1 billion has been turned over to the U.N. and World Bank. The shortfall is a major frustration for Iraqi leaders, who had hoped that the hand-over of sovereignty in late June would prompt the release of funds promised in October 2003. Only Japan has fulfilled its pledge. Zebari was dispatched to Brussels after Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, cancelled plans to personally meet with leaders in Brussels, the United Kingdom, and various countries in the Middle East. Foreign affairs experts suggest that Allawi remained in Baghdad because of the deteriorating security situation.

 

July 13

Federal rules that kept nearly 60 million acres (2.4 billion hectares) of national forest off-limits to road-building and, therefore, to logging are to be abandoned by the administration of President George W. Bush. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman announces that under a new federal policy some 60 million acres (2.4 billion hectares) of forests will be open to road building and logging unless governors of the affected states petition the federal government to keep certain areas roadless. The secretary notes, however, the federal government is not legally bound to honor such a petition. Western Republicans in Congress and timber organizations hail the new rules, which environmentalists condemn as a give-away to corporations.

 

Zimbabwe introduces ox-drawn ambulances for rural areas around the capital, Harare, as well as more remote regions, where motorized transport no longer functions. Pregnant women and children are to receive priority on the carts. According to opposition groups, the introduction of the ox-drawn ambulances is a sign that Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, is taking the country back to the stone age. Economists point out that maintaining motorized ambulances is impossible with Zimbabwe in full economic crisis. Unemployment currently stands at approximately 70 percent and the annual rate of inflation at more than 400 percent. Unicef, (the United Nations Children's Fund) donated the ox-drawn ambulances upon the request of the Mugabe’s government.

 

The heaviest monsoons in years have triggered massive flooding in northeastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, leaving more than 10 million people homeless, announce officials in India’s capital, New Delhi. Twenty-two of the 24 districts in Assam are under water, with at least 100 people killed since the beginning of July. Flooding in the Indian state of Bihar has left at least 40 people dead and some 4 million people homeless. In Nepal, flash floods killed at least 50 people during the week of July 4. Three million people are marooned and an unknown number dead in Bangladesh, where a third of the nation is affected by floodwaters.

 

The Arab news channel Al Jazeera broadcasts a tape on which a Jordanian militant group claims to have beheaded one of two Bulgarian hostages held in Iraq. The group, Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, threatens to kill the other Bulgarian truck driver unless all Iraqis held in prison are released.

 

July 14

The Philippines begins withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Iraq. The Philippine government ordered the withdrawal in response to the threat made by Iraqi insurgents that they would behead a Filipino they hold captive if Philippine forces were not withdraw by July 20. The captive is a truck driver who was working in Iraq for a Saudi company. The Philippines is the fifth country to withdraw forces from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

 

A car bomb explodes in central Baghdad, killing at least 10 Iraqis and injuring some 40 other people, including a U.S. soldier. The explosion takes place outside a gate into the “Green Zone,” a highly secure area occupied by Iraqi government officials and the U.S. and British embassies. Dozens of workers were lined up in vehicles waiting to get security clearances when the suicide bomber, also in line, detonated an estimated 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) of explosives. An ambush on the road between Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul kills the governor of Mosul and two bodyguards. Insurgents open fire on the governor’s vehicle in what Iraqi officials describe as a “targeted assassination.” The attacks end two weeks of relative calm that followed the June 28 turnover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government.

 

An effort to pass a constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying fails to rally the necessary support in a procedural vote in the U.S. Senate. The Republican leadership musters only 48 votes, 12 short of the 60 needed to bring the measure to the floor for an actual vote. Various Senate Republicans, including John McCain of Arizona, broke with President George W. Bush and other party leaders over the issue. “The Founders wisely made certain that the Constitution is difficult to amend and, as a practical political matter, can’t be done without overwhelming public approval,” Senator McCain noted during the debate on July 13.

 

July 15

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announces the formation of an intelligence agency that is to root out terrorist groups in Iraq. The General Security Directorate is to “bring down all the hurdles that stand in the way of our democracy.” The announcement is made shortly after a car bomb attack killed at least 10 people in the town of Al Hadithah, northwest of Baghdad.

 

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launches the Aura satellite into orbit. The satellite is designed to collect data that scientists will use to study the health of Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility in New Mexico, announce that secret data is missing. Researchers at the facility stop all classified work to conduct a data inventory.

 

July 16

At least 90 children are killed and more than 30 others injured when a fire sweeps through a private school in Tamil Nadu, India, some 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of Madras. No members of the faculty are hurt, and authorities claim the principal and teachers abandoned the children in the burning building.

 

Domestic diva Martha Stewart is sentenced to five months in prison and fined $30,000 in a federal court in New York City for lying to federal officials about a stock transaction. Stewart announces she will appeal the sentence.

 

July 17

A rash of kidnappings in the Gaza Strip prompts the Palestinian prime minister, Ahmad Quray, to offer his resignation to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Arafat rejects Quray’s offer with an announcement that he will reorganize Palestinian security forces. Quray’s offer to resign is made hours after Arafat dismissed Palestinian Police Chief Ghazi al-Jabali. On July 16, a Palestinian group calling itself the Jenin Brigades kidnapped Jabali and demanded he be fired for corruption.

 

July 18

Militants in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip sack and burn the office of the Palestinian intelligence service. The attack is made after Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat appointed a cousin, Musa Arafat, to the post of security chief.  The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who claim responsibility for the attack, insist that Musa Arafat’s appointment is yet another example of the rampant corruption under Yasir Arafat’s leadership.

 

A U.S. airstrike leaves 14 people, including women and children, dead in the Iraqi city of Al Fallujah. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the target of the strike was a compound used by militants loyal to al-Qa’ida suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to officials, 25 of al-Zarqawi’s fighters were in the area moments before the attack.

 

Todd Hamilton of the United States shoots an 18-hole score of 69 to defeat Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff to win the British Open at Royal Troon, Scotland.

 

July 19

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat removes his cousin, Moussa Arafat, as the Palestinian chief of security and asks Abdel Razek, whom Arafat dismissed days earlier, to reassume the position.

 

July 20

A member of the regional council of Al Basrah, Iraq’s second largest city, is murdered. Hazim Tawfiq al-Anachi is assassinated at a checkpoint in the southern Iraqi city. Anachi is the latest in a string of Iraqi officials whom insurgents have killed for collaborating with U.S.-led forces in Iraq. A senior Iraqi Defense Ministry official was gunned down near his house in Baghdad on July 18, just days after gunmen killed the governor of the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh and two of his bodyguards as they drove in a convoy to Baghdad.

 

A federal grand jury subpoenas documents on Halliburton company operations in Iran. The grand jury is investigating whether a Halliburton subsidiary, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, violated federal sanctions against Iran between 1995 and 2000. In 2003 , the company reported performing “between $30 million and $40 million annually in oilfield service work in Iran.” At issue is whether Halliburton operations in Iran followed strict federal guidelines, which require that companies doing business in sanctioned countries be registered outside the United States, have no U.S. employees, and act independently of U.S.-based parent companies. In January 2004, the CBS television network disclosed that no Halliburton Products and Services Ltd. exists in the Cayman Islands and that mail addressed to the subsidiary is simply forwarded to the Houston headquarters of the parent company. Halliburton is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission on allegations that its executives paid millions of dollars in bribes to win contracts in Nigeria; by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations that Halliburton officials took millions of dollars in kickbacks in Iraq; and by the U.S. Department of Defense on allegations that Halliburton overcharged the U.S. armed forces more than $186 million for meals never served to troops in Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney was the chief executive of the giant oil services company between 1995 and 2000.

 

July 21

Work will continue on the West Bank security barrier despite its condemnation by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and a UN world court. A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon confirms that Sharon’s government intends to complete the barrier designed to separate Israel from Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The General Assembly, meeting in New York City, voted on July 20 by an overwhelming majority to demand that Israel abide by an International Court of Justice ruling to tear down the barrier. The court ruled on July 9 that the barrier illegally cut into Palestinian land. However, neither the court nor the General Assembly has the power to force Israel to comply, and Sharon insists that the barrier is necessary to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks.

 

A militant organization in Iraq announces that it is holding six foreign truckers and will be behead one hostage every three days if the truckers’ employer does not leave Iraq. The six hostages, which include one man from Egypt, two men from Kenya, and three from India, work for a Kuwaiti trucking company performing contract work for the United States military in Iraq. The militant group, which calls itself Black Flags, also demands that Egypt, India, and Kenya order all of their citizens to leave Iraq.

 

The explosion of a roadside bomb in the Iraqi city of Duluiyah, north of Baghdad, kills one U.S. soldier and wounds six others. The latest death brings to 901 the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 . The soldier was the fifth member of the U.S. military to die in Iraq in the past 24 hours. In Baghdad, a car bombing killed four people, and a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a hospital killed two Iraqi patients and wounded four others.

 

July 22

The commission investigating the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, delivers to President George W. Bush and to the U.S. Congress its conclusions on the attacks and its recommendations on the various U.S. agencies the gather and disseminate intelligence. The authors of the report describe the attacks as “a shock but they should not have been a surprise.” The commission recommends that the current position of director of the Central Intelligence Agency be replaced with a national intelligence director who would oversee and control the budget of the 15 intelligence agencies that currently functioning within various government departments. A national counterterrorism center to pool intelligence about domestic and foreign terrorist organizations is also recommended. The chairman of the commission, former Governor Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, notes that “an attack of even greater magnitude is now possible and even probable—we do not have the luxury of time.”

 

A crack, high-speed train en route between Istanbul and Ankara, the Turkish capital, derails, killing more than 35 people.

 

July 23

AT&T, the corporation that was once a near monopoly on telecommunications before its breakup in the 1980’s, announces that it will no longer seek residential customers. The company once commonly referred to as “Ma Bell” will continue to service existing customers but will not attempt to retain those who wish to jump to other companies offering local and long-distance telephone service. Experts describe the announcement as an indication of the enormous changes taking place within the telecommunications industry.

 

July 24

The Honda FCX has become the first fuel cell vehicle in the world to receive government certification, announces a spokesperson for the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. The certification, by both the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), opens the way for the commercial use of fuel cell vehicles. CARB certifies the FCX as a Zero Emission Vehicle, and the EPA certifies its as a Tier-2 Bin 1, National Low Emission Vehicle, the lowest national emission rating.

 

July 25

American cyclist Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de France bicycle race for the sixth consecutive time, breaking one of the most honored records in sports.

 

Two groups of militants in Iraq claim to have taken two Jordanians, two Pakistanis, and an Iraqi civilian hostage. The militants holding the two Jordanians—truck drivers for a Jordanian construction and catering company—threaten to kill them in 72 hours if their employer does not stop working with U.S. forces in Iraq. The missing Pakistanis and Iraqi civilian, employees of a Kuwait company doing business in Iraq, disappear as they are driving to Baghdad along a heavily traveled supply route.

 

July 26

Gunmen kill a senior Iraqi government official in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad. Musab al-Awadah, the deputy chief in charge of tribal affairs, and two of his bodyguards are gunned down as they leave Awadi’s house in the capital. The assassination is the 10th murder of a government official since the U.S-led coalition turned over sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government on June 28.

 

The number of U.S. citizens under the control of the criminal justice system climbed to nearly 6.9 million people in 2003, up by more than 130,700 in 2002, announces a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Justice. The total accounts for approximately 3.2 percent of the entire adult population of the United States. Experts note that the inmate population grows despite the fact that the crime rate nationwide has remained relatively stable for several years. Texas led the nation with 534,260 people on probation or parole, followed by California, with 485,039.

 

The Democratic National Convention opens in Boston’s Fleet Center with rousing speeches by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Both speakers emphasize the economic well being of the American middle class, noting that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Senator John Kerry, has a plan to restore middle-class prosperity. Former President Clinton states that the nation needs to return to Democratic economic policies, which include more and better paying jobs. Former President Jimmy Carter tells the convention that electing Kerry, a veteran of the Vietnam War, would “safeguard the security of our nation.”

 

July 27

Floods in Bangladesh have triggered a humanitarian crisis, announce officials with the United Nations. Heavier than normal monsoons have left more than two thirds of Bangladesh inundated, causing the deaths of at least 400 people in recent weeks. The massive flooding has washed away roads, railways, and crops, raising the possibility of food shortages. At least 40 percent of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, is under water, shutting down the sewage system. With raw sewage pouring into the streets, dozens of medical teams are working to ward off the threat of disease in a city of 10 million people. Widespread flooding across much of South Asia has left more than 1,100 people dead and millions of others displaced.

 

July 28

At least 116 people, including 4 U.S. soldiers, are killed in a series of attacks and counter attacks in Iraq in one 24-hour period.

 

Delegates at the Democratic convention in Boston officially nominate Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts as the party’s nominee for president of the United States.

 

Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations (UN) presses 11 European and Asian countries to provide urgently needed money to deal with the current refugee crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The United States simultaneously urges member nations on the Security Council to pass a resolution threatening the Sudanese government with sanctions. According to UN and U.S. officials, marauding Arab militias armed by the Sudanese government have killed an estimated 30,000 black Africans in western Sudan. Some 1.2 million black Africans have been displaced in a organized campaign that UN and U.S. officials variously characterize as ethnic cleansing and genocide. Civil war has raged in Sudan since 1983 when the Arab government in Khartoum, the capital, imposed Islamic law on the non-Muslim peoples of southern and western Sudan.

 

July 29

The overall income of U.S. citizens reported to the government shrank by 9.2 percent from 2000 through 2002, the last year for which data is available, reports the Internal Revenue Service. Total adjusted gross income on tax returns fell by 5.1 percent in 2002, and average income declined by 5.7 percent in the same year. The reduction in total national income was the first since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II.

 

The interim Iraqi government postpones a national political convention that was to be as an important first step in Iraq’s evolution into a democracy. The cancellation is announced one day after a suicide car bombing in Baqubah killed 70 people in what authorities describe as the worst insurgent attack since the June 28 transfer of sovereignty by the U.S.-led coalition.

 

Senator John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts accepts the Democratic nomination for president of the United States at the party’s 44th convention, staged at Boston’s Fleet Center. Invoking his service with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, the senator pledges to lead a nation at war: “I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president.” Addressing the issue of personal values and religion, the senator notes, “I don’t want to claim that God is on our side.” He then quotes Abraham Lincoln: “I want to pray humbly that we are on God’s side.”

 

July 30

The Democratic nominee for president, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, and his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, leave Boston for a two-week, cross-country campaign bus and train trip.

 

Suicide bombers detonate explosions outside the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. At least two people, both Uzbeks, are killed in the explosion at the Israeli embassy. A third bombing outside the office of Uzbekistan’s general prosecutor wounds five people. The prosecutor is currently holding a number of Islamic militants, 15 of whom have pled guilty to charges of terrorism, murder, and religious extremism.

 

July 31

Two Turks working in Iraq are kidnapped by militants who identify themselves as members of the Tawhid and Jihad group of militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. On a video televised by the Al Jazeera network, the militants threaten to behead the men within 48 hours unless their employer leaves the country. Al Jazeera identifies the victims as truck drivers in the employ of a Turkish company that is delivering goods to U.S. forces in Iraq. In a separate incident, militants abduct a Lebanese citizen in Baghdad. He is identified as the director of a company that is doing construction work in Iraq. West of Baghdad, in the so-called Sunni Triangle, several large explosions rock Al Fallujah as U.S. forces attempt to reenter the city that has been a center of the insurgency against allied forces in Iraq.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--July

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June 1

Iraq’s new interim government is sworn in at a ceremony in Baghdad and immediately assumes power as the Iraqi Governing Council is dissolved. The dissolution of the council, formed in July 2003, comes a full month ahead of the June 30 deadline for the hand over of power to the new interim government. A U.S. educated civil engineer and tribal leader, Ghazi Yawer, is chosen as president after the candidate favored by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush refused the position. At the swearing-in ceremony, President Yawer states that his goal is to make Iraq one nation, “without murderers and criminals.” Both Yawer and the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, were the candidates favored by the Governing Council.

 

As members of Iraq’s new interim government are sworn into office, a car bomb explodes outside the Baghdad headquarters of one of Iraq’s main Kurdish parties. At least 3 people are killed and more than 20 others injured in the explosion at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, where hundreds of people were attending a party. In the northern city of Baiji, a roadside bomb explodes near a U.S. military base, killing 11 Iraqis, including 7 members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

 

The price of crude oil hits a record $42.32 a barrel on U.S. markets in New York City. Market analysts believe the latest spike was driven by the May 29 terrorist attack on western employees of the Saudi Arabian oil industry. The attack left 22 people dead.

 

June 2

Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi leader who was formerly an ally of President George W. Bush and his administration, informed the government of Iran that U.S. intelligence agents had broken Iran’s secret code, U.S. intelligence officials disclose. The American officials allege that Chalabi told an Iranian intelligence official stationed in Baghdad that U.S. agents were reading Iranian spy service communications. The Iranian official cabled the details of his conversation with Chalabi to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Tehran, the Iranian capital. Because he used the broken code, U.S. agents were able to intercept and decipher the cable, revealing that Chalabi had betrayed the United States. Chalabi denies the allegations, asserting that the Central Intelligence Agency and its director, George J. Tenet, are attempting smear his reputation. According to an estimate made by the General Accounting Office, an independent agency in the legislative branch of the United States government, the U.S. Department of Defense paid Chalabi and his political organization in Iraq approximately $33 million between January 2001 and May 2004, when Defense Department officials suspended monthly payments.

 

The U.S. Army will prevent thousands of soldiers set to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan from leaving the service at the end of their normal tours of duty, announces Lieutenant General Frank L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel. The announcement confirms an expansion of the Army’s “stop-loss” program, which means that thousands of American soldiers who had expected to retire or leave the military at the end of the enlistment will stay on for the duration of their unit’s deployment in those combat zones. “The rationale is to have cohesive, trained units going to war together,” notes Hagenbeck.

 

June 3

Iraq’s most revered Shiah cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issues a statement in which he recognizes Iraq’s new interim government. He notes, however, that the government was not formed through legitimate elections and urges the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution granting Iraq full sovereignty, including power over military and security matters. He also urges the interim government to make itself worthy by improving life for Iraqis and easing “the consequences of the U.S. occupation.” According to political experts, Sistani’s recognition of the new government is crucial to its success. He generally is regarded as the most powerful figure in Iraq because of his enormous influence with the majority Shiite population.

 

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George J. Tenet, has submitted his resignation, announces President George W. Bush, who notes that the resignation was for personal reasons. The president denies that Tenet was asked to resign. The CIA director received widespread criticism for various intelligence failures, particularly failures related to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

 

June 4

Five U.S. soldiers are killed and five others wounded when their military vehicle comes under attack in eastern Baghdad. Insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the vehicle along a highway in the eastern sector of the Iraqi capital. The five deaths bring the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq to 601, according to a U.S. military spokesperson.

 

U.S. commanders and Shiite militia leaders withdraw from the holy cities of An Najaf and Al Kufah and turn over security to the Iraqi police. According to the U.S. commander in the area, the withdrawal is designed to end a two-month standoff between the U.S. forces and a militia fighters loyal to the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al Sadr.

 

The U.S. economy generated 248,000 new jobs in May and nearly 1 million new jobs in the second quarter of 2004, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. However, unemployment held steady at 5. 6 percent.

 

June 5

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, dies at the age of 93 at his residence in Los Angeles. Reagan, who at the age of 69 was the oldest man to be elected president, lived longer than any other president in U.S. history.

 

June 6

The Israeli Cabinet tentatively backs Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s revised plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip. Cabinet members vote 14 to 7 to dismantle Israeli settlements in Gaza, but stipulate that further votes, to be held in 2005, are necessary before evacuations can be carried out. The Cabinet vote falls far short of what Sharon sought—approval to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and 4 in the West Bank. Political experts suggest that by giving up all of Gaza and some of the West Bank, the prime minister is attempting to retain the large West Bank settlements.

 

A rash of bombings and attacks in Iraq leave at least 25 people dead. A car bombing at a military base just north of Baghdad, the capital, kills 9 Iraqis and injures more than 60 others. South of Baghdad, armed insurgents dressed in police uniforms enter a police station, force the real police into cells, and detonate explosives, killing at least 12 people. Insurgents in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City blow up another police station. A private U.S. security firm operating in Iraq confirms that four employees—two Americans and two Poles—were killed on June 5 in an attack on the main road outside Baghdad.

 

The United States informs the government of South Korea that the U.S. Department of Defense plans to withdraw one third of the U.S. 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea by the end of 2005. The withdrawal of more than 12,000 troops includes the 3,600 American soldiers scheduled to deploy from South Korea to Iraq within weeks.

 

June 7

Nine Iraqi militias are to be disbanded, announces Iraq’s new interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi. Most of the militia fighters have agreed to join Iraqi security forces. The deal does not include members of militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s al Mahdi Army, which the interim government declares to be an “outlaw” organization.

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning beats the Calgary Flames 2 to 1 in Game 7 of the playoffs to take the National Hockey League (NHL) 2004 championship. The Lighting is the first 1990’s NHL expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.

 

A bus filled with wedding guests plunges into the rain-swollen Bagmati River near Runisaitpur, in eastern India’s Bihar state, killing 25 of the 32 people aboard. The accident takes place not far from the spot where, hours earlier, a boat ferrying women and children from the village of Dubaghat to a nearby village capsized, killing some 40 people.

 

June 8

The 15 member nations of the United Nations Security Council, meeting in New York City, unanimously pass a resolution to end the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq on June 30 and transfer “full sovereignty” to an interim government. The resoltuion, which provides the new government with international recognition, endorses a U.S.-led multinational force to stabilize Iraq, but provides the interim government with the authority to order that force to leave at any time. It specifies that the government is in “partnership” with the multinational force and arms the government with veto power over “sensitive offensive operations.” In Baghdad, the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, declares that the Iraqi oil minister has assumed full control of the nation’s oil industry, which includes the world’s second largest reserves— approximately 110 billion barrels. A force of some 14,000 guards, established by the U.S.-led coalition solely for the protection of oil infrastructure, begins functioning under Iraqi control.

 

Two car bombings leave 15 people dead in northern Iraq. A massive explosion in a taxi on the street outside the major’s office in the city of Mosul kills 9 Iraqi civilians and injures more than 100 others. The enormous blast rips through the city hall and several surrounding structures and ignites nine vehicles. In Baqubah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, a similar car bombing outside a U.S. military base kills 6 people, including a U.S. soldier. As many as 15 people, including 10 American soldiers, are injured in the explosion. Six soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition—two Poles, three Slovaks, and a Latvian—are killed while defusing land mines near As Suqayrah, south of Baghdad.

 

Gunmen shoot and kill yet another foreign worker in Saudi Arabia. The latest victim, an American man, was employed by a U.S. corporation to train the Saudi National Guard—the monarchy’s elite security force. The attack is the third on foreigners in Saudi Arabia in less than two weeks. On June 6, gunmen attacked a British television crew, killing a cameraman and seriously wounding a news correspondent. Terrorists killed 22 foreigners in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar on May 30.

 

All farm land in Zimbabwe is to be nationalized, announces the Zimbabwean government. Critics caution that such a step will trigger the collapse of agriculture in a country in which at least 65 percent of the people are dependent on food aid.

 

June 9

Saboteurs blow up an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, triggering a 10-percent cut in the output of electricity on the national power grid.

 

June 10

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party suffers major losses in local elections, coming in third behind the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. Political experts claim that Labour’s loss marks the first time in living memory that a governing party has fared so poorly in off-year elections. They point to widespread anger over British participation in the War in Iraq.

 

June 11

Current and past world leaders gather at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for the state funeral of Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States. Nearly 105,000 people came to the capitol to pay tribute to Reagan who lay in state at the rotunda for 36 hours prior to the funeral. Reagan’s remains are to be flown to California, where he will be interred at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

 

June 12

Terrorists shoot and kill an American on the street in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The victim, an employee of the U.S. corporation Lockheed Martin, worked in Saudi Arabia on electronic warfare systems. He is the third Westerner gunned down during the week of June 6 and the 29th foreigner killed since May 1. A second U.S. citizen employed by Lockheed Martin in Riyadh is kidnapped. International affairs experts suggest that the latest wave of violence is designed to drive non-Muslims out of the country. They speculate that the terrorists are attempting to topple the kingdom by crippling its economy, particularly the oil industry, which is highly dependent on Western specialists.

 

June 13

Two top Iraqi government official are shot dead in a 24-hour period. Kamal al-Jarah, a senior official at Iraq’s Education Ministry, is gunned down outside his residence in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad. On June 12, insurgents killed Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Salih Kubba. Both officials were shot as they left home for work. According to security experts, the violence in Iraq is escalating. There were 68 violent incidents in Iraq, including 25 in Baghdad, in the last 24 hours.

 

A car bombing outside a Baghdad police station kills 12 Iraqis, including 4 police officers. At least 13 others are wounded in the attack.

 

Turnout for European Union (EU) elections drops to a record low, with just 45 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. The turnout in 10 new member nations averages 26.4 percent, which a EU spokesperson describes as “pathetically low.” The results prove disastrous for governing parties in Germany France, and Poland, with opposition parties, particularly anti-EU parties, making substantial gains in the EU parliament in Brussels. The parliament’s outgoing president, Pat Cox, calls the results a “wake-up call” and warns European leaders that they must demonstrate to voters the relevance of the European Union.

 

June 14

A truck packed with explosives blows up after ramming into a convoy of sport utility vehicles carrying foreign contractors during rush hour in Baghdad’s central Liberation Square. At least 13 people are killed, including five foreign contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s electricity network. More than 60 people, including 10 foreign contractors, are wounded in the explosion. Two other bombings, one south of Baghdad, the other north of the capital, kill eight additional people. There have been at least 12 car bombings in Iraq since June 1.

 

Documents confirming that Enron Corp., the failed Houston-based energy company, manipulated the energy market daily during the 2000-2001 energy crisis are released by Washington state’s Snohomish Public Utility District. Enron manipulation of the market on 473 days from January 2000 to June 2001 cost electricity customers on the West Coast at least $1.1 billion, according to the documents and audiotapes. In one transaction, Enron made $222,678 in three hours by moving power from California to Oregon, masking its origin, and selling it back to California at a highly inflated price. Similar documents, particularly telephone transcripts that the Snohomish Public Utility District filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in early June, revealed Enron employees gloating about the amount of money that had bilked from California’s senior citizens.

 

Independent government auditors in Washington, D.C., allege massive overspending on Halliburton Inc.’s contract to service the U.S. military in Iraq. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the secretly negotiated contract worth as much as $7 billion to Halliburton without soliciting competitive bids from other companies. The contracts are on a “cost-plus” basis, meaning Halliburton gets a set percentage above actual costs. Four former Halliburton employees simultaneously testify before a congressional committee that the Houston-based company routinely wasted money in Iraq, claiming it regularly paid $45 apiece for cases of soda. According to one former employee, Halliburton paid up to $1.2 million a month for a laundry service that did so little that a single bag of laundry ended up costing $100. Former convoy drivers claim they routinely drove trucks without cargoes between Kuwait and Baghdad and were ordered to burn nearly new, $85,000 trucks by the side of the road for lack of spare parts. According to one employee, the company “removed all the spare tires in Kuwait” so the entire truck would have to be replaced after a blowout. Vice President Dick Cheney led Halliburton before resigning to become George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000. The vice president denies that he had any influence over the awarding of contracts.

 

June 15

Consumer prices increased faster in May than in any month in more than three years, announce The U.S. Department of Labor. The Consumer Price Index, the U.S. government’s most closely watch inflation gauge, rose 0.6 percent in May, compared with 0.2 percent in April. Economists point to more expensive energy and food products.

 

The Detroit Pistons take the 2004 National Basketball Association championship with a 100 to 87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the fifth game of the tournament.

 

A third employee who worked in Halliburton’s subcontracts said the company happily paid $100 a bag for laundry service in IraqThe more it spends, the more it makes.

 

June 16

A wave of violence in Iraq leaves several people dead, including an important Iraqi official, and shuts down the flow of oil. In the third murder of an Iraqi official since June 12, assassins ambush Ghazi al-Talabani, the security chief for Iraq’s northern oil fields, as he was being driven to work in the northern city of Kirkuk. Talabani was a member of the clan of the Kurdish political chief Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and a member of the disbanded Iraqi Governing Council. A rocket attack on a U.S. military base near the city of Balad, south of Kirkuk, kills two U.S. soldiers and leaves more than 20 others wounded. A roadside bombing in Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad, kills six people, including an Iraqi policeman. In southern Iraq, bomb attacks on an oil pipeline shuts down Iraq’s key southern terminals in Al Basrah and Khor al-Amaya, which handle nearly all of Iraq’s oil exports. Officials expect the shutdown to last at least 10 days, costing $60 million a day in revenue. Saboteurs also blast an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, near the town of Dibis, west of Kirkuk.

 

The militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al Sadr orders members of his militia, the al Mahdi Army, to leave the holy cities of An Najaf and Al Kufah unless they live there. Al Sadr also informed the Shiah religious establishment that Iraqi police would be welcomed back into Al Kufah, where he is headquartered. Al Sadr’s announcements appear to mark the end of his 10-week revolt against the U.S.-led occupation. The radical cleric also recently declared his conditional support for Iraq’s interim government and announced his intention to form a political party.

 

The independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, reports that “no credible evidence” has been uncovered to support claims that Saddam Hussein’s government collaborated with the al-Qa’ida terrorist network on attacks on the United States, including the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings. On June 15, President George W. Bush repeated his claim that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qa’ida through Islamic militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The president’s statement was made in defense of Vice President Dick Cheney, who on June 14 reasserted his belief that Hussein had “long-established ties” with al-Qa’ida.

 

David M. Walker, the head of the General Accounting Office, informs a congressional committee that planners at the U.S. Department of Defense did not adequately determine the needs of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and have not effectively overseen contracts amounting to billions of dollars. Walker speculates that the total losses to the U.S. taxpayer from waste in Iraq could amount to “billions.”

 

June 17

A cab bomb attack on the main Iraqi Army recruitment center in downtown Baghdad kills 35 Iraqis and leaves at least 138 others wounded, many seriously. The car, packed with artillery shells, ploughed into a crowd of about 100 men lined up to volunteer for the new Iraqi Army. The tremendous explosion, which could be heard throughout the capital, rained shrapnel down on the heart of the city and caused nearby cars to burst into flames. A bombing at the same recruiting center in February killed 47 people, including men similarly lined up to volunteer for Army duty. In a village 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad, six members of an Iraqi security force are killed and four others wounded when another car bomb explodes in front of a city council building.

 

June 18

Terrorists identified as members of the al-Qa’ida network kill a U.S. engineer, Paul Marshall Johnson, whom they had held captive. Pictures of his beheaded body are shown on the Arabic TV network al-Arabiya. Johnson worked in Saudi Arabia as a helicopter engineer for the U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin. After al-Qa’ida operatives kidnapped Johnson in Riyadh, the Saudi capitol, on June 12, they announced their intention of killing him unless the Saudi government freed al-Qa’ida prisoners within a 72-hour deadline. The Saudi government refused to meet the demands.

 

A mortar barrage on a U.S. military base in Baghdad kills a U.S. soldier and wounds a civilian contractor. In a separate incident, three Iraqi civilians are killed and three American soldiers are wounded in a coordinated bombing and ambush on a U.S. convoy in the Kamalaya district of the Iraqi capital. To the northeast of Baghdad, clashes between insurgents and U.S. soldiers leave at least 13 Iraqis dead in the town of Buhriz. Insurgents also attack U.S. troops at a police station in the city of Samarra, in the so-called Sunni triangle, with rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire. British soldiers in Al Amarah in southern Iraq trade small arms fire with Shiite fighters loyal to militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

 

June 19

A U.S. air strike on a safe house in Al Fallujah used by insurgents leaves at least 20 Iraqis dead. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, coalition forces have substantial evidence that the insurgents using the house were connected to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant linked to al-Qa’ida terrorist network. Al-Zarqawi is blamed for the wave of car bombings in Iraq that have killed dozens of people in recent weeks.

 

June 20

Retief Goosen wins the United States Open at the Shinnecock Hill Golf Club on Long Island, New York, with a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson, who was widely favored to take the 2004 tournament. Nine different players have won the last nine majors, which critics note has diminished the dominance over professional golf once enjoyed by Tiger Woods. Woods has been named the Professional Golf Association Tour’s player of the year annually since 1998.

 

June 21

The government of Iran arrests eight British sailors who are accused of being in Iranian waters without permission. The Iranian military seize the sailors from three small Royal Navy boats on the Shatt al Arab, a tidal river, formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that forms the southern border between Iran and Iraq.

 

Violence in Iraq claims the lives of four U.S. Marines and five Iraqi contractors, prompting the new Iraqi interim president, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar, to consider imposing martial law. The four Marines are executed by insurgents in a courtyard in Ar Ramadi, a hotbed of Sunni resistance to the U.S. occupation. A videotape showing the bodies without standard-issue armor, helmets, or rifles is run on Arabic-language satellite television channels. The five Iraqi contractors, who worked for a U.S. corporation, are killed in a roadside bombing approximately 30 miles ( 50 kilometers) south of Mosul in northern Iraq. Al-Yawar tells a delegation of U.S. congressional delegation that martial law is one of several steps the interim government may take after assuming power on June 30.

 

Some 100 Chechen rebels, armed with grenades and rocket launchers, attack Nazran, the largest city in the Ingushetia region of southern Russia and two villages along the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Seizing the interior ministry in Nazran, the rebels set fire to the police station and other government buildings. At least 75 people, including a large number of police officers, are killed. According to some sources, the Chechen separatists, who are Muslim, receive support from the al-Qa’ida terrorist network and from leaders of Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist Wahhabi Muslims.

 

A tiny rocket blasts into suborbital space more than 60 miles (97 kilometers) above Earth and glides back to an airport in the Mojave Desert in California some two hours later. Piloted by Michael Melville, SpaceShipOne is the first privately funded manned ship to enter space.

 

June 22

Iraqi insurgents behead a South Korean civilian who had been held captive since June 17. The murder of Kim Sun Il, a translator who worked in Iraq for a South Korean firm supplying the U.S. military, was announced, but not shown, on an Arabic language television network. Kim’s kidnappers threatened to murder him on June 20 if South Korea did not cancel, within 24 hours, preparations to deploy an additional 3,000 troops to Iraq.

 

The number of significant international terrorism episodes increased in 2003, announces the U.S. Department of State. The number of people injured in all international terrorism episodes rose by more than 50 percent. The announcement contradicts earlier State Department figures, which suggested that terrorism had decreased in 2003. The latest report, which follows a State Department review of the original statistics, reveals that the total number of international terrorist episodes increased from 205 in 2002 to 208 in 2003. The total number of injuries resulting from such episodes jumped from 2,013 in 2002 to 3,646 in 2003. According to a State Department spokesperson, the original figures for 2003 issued were the result of a combination of technical and human errors, including an obsolete database and computer program. The administration of President George W. Bush had cited the earlier figures as evidence that it was winning the war against terrorism.

 

June 23

Roadside bombings in central Baghdad and in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul kill three Iraqis, including a woman and child, and leave five others wounded, including one U.S. soldier. Iraq’s new interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, receives a death threat in a recording posted on the Internet. U.S. intelligence agents believe the recording was made by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi insurgent blamed for the recent series of car bombings that have killed dozens of people in Iraq in recent weeks.

 

June 24

Coordinated insurgent attacks in Baghdad and four Iraqi cities north and west of the capital leave at least 95 people dead, including 3 U.S. soldiers. The deadliest attacks take place in the northern city of Mosul. More than 60 people are killed and at least 200 others wounded in car bombings outside a police academy, two police stations, and a hospital. In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device loaded with ballbearings at a police checkpoint, killing four Iraq national guardsmen and injuring two U.S. soldiers. The heaviest fighting occurs 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad in Baqubah, where insurgents dressed in black attack a police station with rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades. An attack on U.S. troops patrolling the city sparks a gun battle that leaves two American soldiers dead and seven others wounded. An unknown number of rebels are killed when U.S. aircraft drop three 500-pound (227-kilogram) bombs on their positions. In Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad, insurgents similarly dressed in black fire rocket-propelled grenades into two police stations, killing seven people. A Cobra helicopter is shot down as U.S. helicopter gunships respond to attacks on Iraqi security forces in Al Fallujah, also west of Baghdad. The helicopters fire missiles into a rebel “safe house” in the Sunni-dominated city that remains a center of resistance. A spokesperson for the U.S. military suggests that Sunni Muslim insurgents are behind all of the attacks, which military experts describe as “the broadest and largest-scale” so far in the insurgency.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to order the administration of President George W. Bush to reveal details of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force. In a 7-to-2 decision, the court sends the case back to a lower court to consider whether a federal law can be used to force the executive branch to release documents to the public. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy notes, “Special considerations applicable to the president and the vice president suggest that the courts should be sensitive to requests by the government” in special appeals. In 2001, Vice President Cheney, a former energy industry executive, chaired an energy task force that produced recommendations generally friendly to industry. Challenged by environment groups to name task force participants, the vice president refused on the grounds that privacy is important for candid discussions on difficult issues.

 

June 25

A bus bursts into flames upon being hit by a fuel tanker on a busy road in southeastern Iran, killing at least 90 people and leaving dozens of others injured. The tanker, carrying more than 4,500 gallons (17,000 liters) of gasoline, hit the bus and other vehicles stopped at a police post outside the city of Zahedan on the road from Bam, near the Pakistani border.

 

Fighting between U.S. Marines and Iraqi insurgents continues for a second day in Al Fallujah, a stronghold of resistance to the U.S.-led occupation. More than 20 Iraqis are killed there in a U.S. airstrike against a house that military officials suspected was being used by rebel leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian Islamic militant whom U.S. officials believe heads the al-Qa’ida terrorist network in Iraq. His followers have claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on June 24 that left nearly 100 people dead in five Iraqi cities. U.S. forces in Iraq are bracing for increased violence in anticipation of the turnover of sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government on June 30. The U.S. Department of Defense confirms that as many as 15,000 troops will be deployed to Iraq if the insurgency continues to intensify.

 

June 26

A group of rebels in Iraq abduct three Turkish contractors and threaten to behead them unless all Turks working for the U.S.-led occupation leave Iraq. The kidnappings and warnings come as U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, to meet with European leaders in an attempt to obtain NATO agreement to train Iraqi security forces.

 

A suicide bombing on the streets of central Al Hillah, south of Baghdad, leaves 37 Iraqis dead and more than 60 others wounded. The attack is made in an area of juice stands and ice cream shops where Iraqis typically stroll after the desert sun goes does and the air begins to cool.

 

June 27

nsurgents in Iraq, holding a U.S. Marine and a Pakistani working in Iraq, threaten to behead them unless “all Iraqis are released from occupation jails.” The Pakistani works for Halliburton, the Houston-based contractor that supplies U.S. troops in Iraq.

 

June 28

The United States hands over sovereignty in Iraq to the Iraqi interim government two days ahead of schedule. In a secret ceremony in Baghdad, the capital, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, formally transfers power to Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi. Taking the oath of their offices, Allawi and his Cabinet pledge to uphold a unified, democratic system, to take care of Iraq’s people and resources, and to apply all legislation with sincerity. International affairs experts describe the premature transfer of sovereignty as a “clever tactical more” to thwart acts of terrorism that insurgents may have planned for June 30, the day on which the transfer was originally scheduled. Critics note, however, that the secret ceremony underscores the failure of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to bring an end to the violence. More than 130,000 U.S. troops are to remain in Iraq to combat the insurgency.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States rejects the claim made by the administration of President George W. Bush that suspected terrorists or “enemy combatants” can be held without recourse to legal action. In an 8 to 1 decision, the court declares that U.S. citizens detained as enemy combatants retain legal rights, even in times of war. Writing for the majority, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor notes, “Due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker.” The justice states, “war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.” In a 6 to 3 decision covering a second case, the court ruled that foreign detainees also have legal rights. The court further declares that a U.S. military base in a foreign country—specifically the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where enemy combatants are being held—is under U.S. control and, therefore, within the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. The author of the majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens, writes, “Aliens at the base, like American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts’ authority. United States courts have traditionally been open to nonresident aliens.” Both decisions—handed down in Hamdi et al v. Rumsfeld and Rasul et al v. Bush—were related to the arrests of people deemed terrorists following the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Legal experts described the two decisions limiting the scope of presidential powers in times of war as “the most significant in decades.”

 

Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip strike Sderot, a town in southern Israel, killing a man and a three-year old child. At least nine people, including the child’s mother, are injured. The attack is made just hours after an enormous explosion at an Israeli army camp in Gaza killed one soldier and injured five others. The explosion was detonated by Palestinian militants who had packed hundreds of pounds of dynamite in a tunnel burrowed under the camp. Both Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claim responsibility, calling the attacks revenge for the seven Palestinian militants who were shot and killed on June 26 in the West Bank. Israel retaliates with helicopter missile fire on the Zeitoun area of Gaza City, causing some damage but no casualties.

 

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and his Liberal Party retain power in national parliamentary elections in the face of a strong challenge by the Conservative Party. However, the Liberals lose their absolute majority in the House of Commons. With ballots counted in most of the country, the Liberals retain 135 seats, 20 short of the 155 needed to control the 308-seat House. The Conservatives take 94 seats, compared with the separatist Bloc Quebecois’ 55 and the New Democratic Party’s 22. Political experts note that as a minority government the Liberals must find a partner among the smaller parties and suggest that Martin is likely to turn to the labor-oriented New Democrats for help in passing legislation. The New Democrats generally oppose free trade and are highly critical of current U.S. foreign policy.

 

June 29

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a federal law designed to punish people who expose children surfing the Internet to pornagrpahy is probably an unconstitutional suppression of free speech. In a 5-to-4 decision, the majority declares that a lower federal court was correct to block the 1998 law because it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, the court sends Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union back to a lower court for a trial that could give the U.S. Department of Justice a chance to prove that the law does not, in fact, abridge free speech. According to legal experts, a new trial is likely to recognize new technology that allows adults to legally see and buy material while keeping that material out of the hands of children.

 

As many as 5,600 reserve soldiers from a rarely tapped pool are being called up for service, U.S. Department of Defense officials inform members of Congress. The call up of members of the Individual Ready Reserve is to be made on June 30. According to the Defense Department, the reserve consists of approximately 118,000 troops. Members are former enlisted soldiers who served less than eight years on active duty or officers who did not resign their commission. The Ready Reserve is distinct from regular Reserve troops in that they do not perform military service during the year, yet remain eligible to be called to service. According to military experts, the call up is an indication of the limited number of U.S. troops currently available to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush, in an address at a university in Istanbul, repeats his call that the European Union (EU) admit Turkey as a member nation. He goes on to state that “including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion.” International affairs experts describe Bush’s remarks as a direct rebuff of French President Jacques Chirac. Chirac characterized earlier comments  made by President Bush on the same subject as “meddling in EU affairs.”

 

A roadside bomb explodes alongside a U.S. military convoy in eastern Baghdad, killing three Marines and wounding two others in the first insurgent attack on U.S. troops in Iraq after that the formal end of the U.S. occupation.

 

Iraq’s interim government assumes legal custody of Saddam Hussein. However, the former Iraqi president physically remains under the control of the U.S. military in Iraq. According to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, the interim government will file charges again Hussein and 11 of his top associates in a special Iraqi court on charges of crimes against humanity.

 

June 30

The Federal Reserve (FED), the nation’s central bank, raises a key short-term interest rate by one quarter of a percent. The increase in the federal funds rate to 1.25 percent is the first in four years. The rate had been at 1 percent, a 46-year low, for one year. Economists suggest that raising the FED’s primary tool for influencing economic activity is an attempt to block inflation and steady the economy.

 

Insurgents in Iraq bombard a U.S. military base on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport with at least 10 wounds of mortar fire, wounding 11 soldiers, 2 of them seriously.

 

The Cassini-Huygens probe enters into orbit around Saturn approximately 12,500 miles (20,000 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud cover and beams to earth the first close up images of the rings. The probe sweeps into the orbit after squeezing through a gap between two rings and then braking its acceleration in order to be captured by Saturn’s gravity. The international mission—sponsored by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency—begins a four-year study of Saturn and its 31 known moons after traveling more than 2.2 billion miles (3.5 billion kilometers) over a period of nearly 7 years. Scientists at NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California, expect the mission to provide information about how Saturn and other planets of the solar system were formed. According to the scientists, Saturn is like a model of the early solar system, when the sun was surrounded by a disk of gas and dust.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--June

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Monday, 05 November 2012 16:07 Written by Jennifer Parello

 

 

May 1

The European Union (EU) expands to 25 nations with the addition of 10 new members—Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland, current holder of the rotating EU presidency, welcomes the new member nations with high-profile festivities in Dublin. With a population of 455 million, the EU is now the world’s largest trading bloc.

 

Smarty Jones wins the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, with a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Lion Heart. Smarty Jones is the first undefeated horse to enter and win the Derby since Seattle Slew, who triumphed in the Triple Crown races of 1977.

 

May 2

The explosion of a gasoline tanker truck in the Afghan town of Azizabad, about 400 miles (650 kilometers) west of Kabul, the capital, leaves more than 30 people dead and many others injured. The blast, which occurs in a busy area of shop and restaurants, levels several buildings.

 

The Israeli military launches a helicopter missile strike in Gaza City, severely damaging a 12-story apartment and office building. The building’s tenants include a radio station affiliated with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and another station linked to Yasir Arafat’s Fatah organization. The strike is made hours after Palestinian gunmen attack and kill a Jewish settler and her four children in Gaza.

 

Nine U.S. soldiers die in Iraq. A mortar attack on a U.S. Army base in Ar Ramadi, a city just west of Al Fallujah, leaves 6 American soldiers dead and 30 others injured. A similar attack on a U.S. base near Kirkuk, some 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, kills a serviceman and wounds 10 others. Two additional soldiers are killed while on patrol in northwest Baghdad.

 

Thomas Hamill, an American civilian who had been held hostage in Iraq for three weeks, escapes from his kidnappers near the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad. After meeting up with a U.S. patrol, Hamill leads the soldiers back to his Iraqi captors, who are taken prisoner. Hamill works in Iraq as a truck driver for a subsidiary of the U.S. company Halliburton.

 

Panamanian voters elect Martin Torrijos president. Torrijos is the son of a former military dictator, General Omar Torrijos, who ruled Panama from 1968 until his death in 1981.

 

May 3

A Sunni militia bombards a U.S. base near An Najaf, where American forces have been encamped for a week. The U.S. Army returns the militia’s heavy mortar fire and moves up tanks as Apache helicopters circle overhead. The U.S. military deployed forces around An Najaf to crack down on a radical Shiah cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, but have held back from entering the holy city to avoid enflaming Iraq’s Shiah majority.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fends off a no-confidence vote in the Israeli parliament, stating  that he will not resign despite the resounding defeat of his “disengagement plan” in a nonbinding Likud party referendum. Legislators who support Middle East peace efforts called for his resignation after Sharon’s own party voted overwhelmingly against his plan to withdraw all Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. The political experts noted that with two-thirds of all Israelis in favor of the disengagement plan, the ruling Likud party may soon face a new round of elections.

 

Six U.S. Army officers or sergeants who served as supervisors at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, are to receive the Army’s most severe rebuke. The “general-officer memorandum of reprimand” effectively ends an officer’s career by making future promotion impossible. A seventh officer is to receive a “letter of admonishment,” a lesser form of punishment. The censures are being issued on the recommendation of Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Allegations that members of the U.S. Army, working at Abu Ghraib, humiliated and physically abused Iraqi prisoners produced worldwide outrage after photographic evidence was broadcast on U.S. television on April 28. The Army also brought criminal charges against six enlisted soldiers who worked as guards in the prison. Four additional enlisted soldiers remain under criminal investigation.

 

May 4

A predominantly Christian tribe in Nigeria, the Tarok, attack a town dominated by a rival Muslim ethnic group, the Hausa. At least 300 people are killed and numerous houses and mosques are destroyed in the attack on Yelwa, which is 210 miles (340 kilometers) east of Abuja, the capital.

 

May 5

U.S. President George W. Bush denounces as “abhorrent” the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners of war by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In interviews on television networks with primarily Arab audiences, the president declares that the abuse, exposed on U.S. television on April 28, is not typical or indicative of the American people as a whole. He promises that all U.S. personnel responsible for the humiliation or physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison will be severely punished.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush asks Congress for an additional $25 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. “While we do not know the precise costs for operations next year, recent developments on the ground and increased demands on our troops indicate the need to plan for contingencies,” the president notes in a statement accompanying the request.

 

The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which has served for 1060 days, becomes Italy’s longest serving administration since the country became a republic in 1946. Before Berlusconi, Italy had 59 governments over some 55 years.

 

Pablo Picasso’s painting “Boy with a Pipe” sells at auction in New York City for $104 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art. The Spanish artist completed the painting, which depicts a Parisian working boy crowned with a garland of roses and holding a pipe in one hand, in 1905, when the artist was 24 years old. The previous record price for a painting was $82.5 million for Vincent Van Gogh’s “Portait of Doctor Gachet,” which sold in 1990.

 

May 6

U.S. forces engage in a fierce gun battle with a Shiite militia in the southern Iraqi holy city of An Najaf. The militia, known as the Al Mahdi Army, is loyal to a militant Shiah cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. The fighting broke out after American troops, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, entered the city and seized the governor’s office. The militia had taken control of government buildings and police stations in An Najaf and other southern Iraqi cities in early April. According to a U.S. Army spokesperson, coalition forces also clash with Al Mahdi Army members in Al Kufah, just north of An Najaf. To the north, in Baghdad, a suicide attacker detonates a massive car bomb loaded with artillery shells outside the entrance to the U.S. occupation headquarters. The explosion kills a U.S. soldier and five Iraqi civilians. Two U.S. servicemen are gravely injured in the blast. Elsewhere in the city, a second explosion rocks a commercial district, and a roadside bombing late on May 5 killed two U.S. soldiers.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush makes a public apology for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners at a U.S.-run prison near Baghdad. He declares that the photos of prisoners being humiliated and physically abused by American soldiers made him sick. However, the president rejects calls for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom some critics have blamed for the scandal.

 

May 7

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, apologizes to the Iraqi prisoners mistreated by U.S. military guards in the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad in 2003. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld notes that as secretary of defense he is ultimately accountable for the abuse and as such takes full responsibility. The secretary also apologizes for failing to inform Congress of military investigations into allegations of abuse. The allegations surfaced in January 2004. In February, the International Committee of the Red Cross released a report to the administration of President George W. Bush in which coalition forces were accused of “serious violations” of the Geneva Conventions, which govern treatment of prisoners of war.

 

The price of a barrel of oil hits $40, close to the all-time high of $41.15, reached in October 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

 

A suicide bombing at a packed Shiah mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, leaves 14 people dead and more than 125 others wounded. Authorities blame the attack—the fourth in Pakistan in five days—on forces that oppose the government of President Pervez Musharraf.

 

May 8

Vladimir V. Putin is inaugurated for his second term as president of Russia. In his address, the president promises the Russian people “a real, tangible increase in their prosperity” and to nurture political and social freedom.

 

The government of China issues a warning to members of the territorial legislature in Hong Kong to stop criticizing the central government in Beijing, the capital, for failing to grant the former British colony full democracy.

 

May 9

The president of the Republic of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, is killed by the explosion of a remotely controlled bomb planted in a stadium in the Chechen capital, Grozny. The bomb, which explodes directly below the reviewing stand where Kadyrov and various Russian and Chechen dignitaries were seated, kills at least 14 people. More than 50 others are wounded, including the Russian military commander for Chechnya. Kadyrov was attending a ceremony commemorating the 59th anniversary of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Political experts suggest that Kadyrov’s assassination is a severe blow to President Vladimir Putin of Russia. According to experts, Putin maneuvered the election of Kadyrov, a former Chechen rebel leader, in an effort to end the long, deadly rebellion in the area by Islamic separatists.

 

May 10

U.S. forces in Iraq level the Baghdad office of the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr after a series of running gun battles with his followers in the Sadr City district. At least 35 members of al-Sadr’s Al Mahdi Army militia are killed in the clashes. To the west of Baghdad, a convoy of U.S. Marines enters Al Fallujah for the first time in a month.

 

May 11

Widespread failures of leadership, training, and discipline led to the humiliation and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Army General Antonio M. Taguba tells members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. General Taguba, who wrote the Army report detailing abuses of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers, testifies that the problem stemmed from “failure in leadership from the brigade commander on down” combed with “no training whatsoever and no supervision.” He also suggests that members of the Central Intelligence Agency as well as armed forces personnel and civilian contractors may have been involved.

 

Palestinian militants detonate a powerful bomb under an Israeli military vehicle in the Gaza Strip, killing six Israeli soldiers. The bombing occurs during a night-long gun battle between Israeli forces and dozens of Palestinian fighters. At least 7 Palestinians are killed and 110 others injured in the clash, which is so intense that Israeli soldiers are unable to retrieve the bodies of their comrades. Three Palestinian militant groups—the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas—claim to be holding the bodies of two of the Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips in negotiations with Israel. The Israeli military launched the operation in Gaza City in an attempt to destroy a factory where Qassam rockets are made.

 

A videotape showing an Islamic militant beheading an American man surfaces on the Internet. Before being murdered, the victim identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. civilian in Iraq. The murderer, one of five men standing behind Berg, said he was carrying out the execution in retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. Berg, who was 26 years old and in Iraq rebuilding telecommunications antennas, disappeared on April 9. A body identified as his remains was found near a highway overpass in Baghdad on May 8.

 

May 12

U.S. forces in Iraq attack a mosque in Karbala in a major assault on the Al Mahdi Army loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. American soldiers storm the Mukhaiyam Mosque after a strike on the complex detonates a large stockpile of weapons. The attack forces dozens of al-Sadr’s militiamen out into the open. At least 30 of the insurgents then take up positions around the nearby Shrine of Abbas, one of the holiest of Shiah sites. U.S. Special Forces—aided by local Iraqis—begin organizing a counterattack when the insurgents lob mortars at the American forces surrounding the mosque. Al-Sadr’s use of mosques as military bases has offended many Iraqis, and local leaders in Karbala appear to support the U.S. initiative there because they want his militia out of a city that Shiites consider holy.

 

At least 12 Palestinians are killed when Israeli helicopters fire on a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The attack is made after Palestinian militants bombed an Israeli armored vehicle, killing five soldiers. According to an Israeli spokesperson, Palestinians in the Rafah refuge camp were trying to shoot Israeli troops as they attempted to recover the remains of the bombing victims. The bombing of the armored vehicle was the second in two days. Six Israeli soldiers died in the bombing on May 11.

 

May 13

The prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, resigns with the defeat of his governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in general elections. With most votes counted, the BJP-led coalition trails far behind the opposition Congress Party. Political experts suggest that Vajpayee and the BJP lost the support of India’s millions of rural poor, people whom the BJP party largely ignored since taking power in 1998. It is not yet known whether the leader of the Congress Party—Sonia Gandhi—will actually become prime minister. Her critics cite her lack of political experience and the fact that she was born in Italy. According to the political experts, the Congress Party campaign was energized Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul, who won a constituency in north India by over 100,000 votes. Rahul Gandhi is the fourth generation of his family to enter politics. His father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, his grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, all served as prime minister.

 

May 14

The chief U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, announces to a gathering of Iraqi officials in Baghdad that the United States would withdraw its armed forces from Iraq if asked to do by the Iraqi provisional government. The provisional government is to assume sovereignty on June 30. Bremer adds that “we don’t stay in countries where we’re not welcome.”

 

In An Najaf, south of Baghdad, U.S. forces engage in fierce fighting with members of the Al Mahdi Army. American soldiers move into a huge cemetery and exchange tank and machine-gun fire with loyalists of the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The cemetery is near the Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most revered of Shiah holy places. According to eyewitnesses, the machine-gun barrage damages the shrine’s golden dome. During the fighting, Moqtada Al-Sadr slips through U.S. roadblocks around An Najaf. Reappearing in nearby Al Kufah, he urges his followers to continue fighting and denounces U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “the heads of tyranny.”

 

The U.S. military in Iraq begins releasing inmates from Abu Ghraib jail, just outside Baghdad. The release is part of a plan to reduce the prisoner population from some 4,000 inmates to 1,500. According to human rights organizations, most Abu Ghraib inmates have been held without charge, some for many months. The recent revelation that U.S. soldiers humiliated and physically abused Iraqi prisoners at the prison triggered international outrage.

 

South Korea’s Constitutional Court rejects charges of incompetence and mismanagement against Roh Moo Hyun and restores the impeached president to power. Political experts described the impeachment as a political attempt to halt Roh’s agenda, which includes rapprochement with North Korea. According to the experts, the massive public backlash against the impeachment actually revitalized Roh’s political position, which was sagging when he was removed from office in March.

 

May 15

U.S. jets bombard the outskirts of Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood in an attempt to flush out militia fighters loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. At least 18 of the militiamen are killed, according to U.S. Army officials. They also announce the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in separate incidents on May 14. Renewed clashes between U.S. forces and al-Sadr’s Al Mahda Army continue in the holy cities of Karbala and An Najaf, where al-Sadr’s militia controls the city center. In the southern city of Al Basrah, insurgents ambush British troops with rocket grenades and small arms fire. At least 16 rebels are killed in the counterattack, according to British commanders. A mortar attack on an Iraqi army recruitment center in the northern city of Mosul leaves 4 Iraqis dead and 17 others injured. The victims were waiting to sign up to join the new Iraqi army.

 

All 30 passengers and 3 crew members aboard a private passenger aircraft are killed when the plane crashes in Brazil’s Amazon jungle in the state of Amazonas. The twin-engine Embraer 120 Brasilia was en route to Manaus from the town of Sao Paulo de Olivenca on Brazil’s border with Colombia.

 

May 16

Militia fighters loyal to the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada Sadr drive Italian forces out of the southern city of An Nasiriyah and attack coalition headquarters in the city with grenade and mortar fire. The Italian troops evacuate after their base came under repeated attack by members of Al Mahdi Army. At least 10 Italians are wounded, one critically, in the fighting, which began on May 14.

 

A spokesperson for the Israeli Army announces that military action in the Gaza Strip will be stepped up. The announcement comes minutes after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a Palestinian petition asking the court to bar Israel from destroying more houses in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. The Army demolished 88 houses there during the week of May 9, leaving more than 1,000 Palestinians homeless. Israel claimed that gunmen who killed two Israeli soldiers had used the houses for cover. On May 15, hundreds of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv in support of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan for a complete Israeli pullout from Gaza. The recent deaths of 13 soldiers in three attacks has consolidated public support for Sharon’s proposal to withdraw the 7,500 Israeli settlers in Gaza and the troops that protect them.

 

May 17

The head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezzedine Salim, is assassinated outside the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad. Salim was in a car near a checkpoint outside the compound when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in an adjacent vehicle. The explosion, which kills six other people, is so powerful it destroys several vehicles in the area and melts the asphalt on the road. Several people are wounded, including two U.S. soldiers. A previously unknown group, the Arab Resistance Movement al-Rashid Brigades, claims responsibility. Elsewhere in Iraq, an artillery shell containing the deadly nerve gas sarin explodes before Army experts are able to diffuse it. The shell, set up as a roadside bomb, appears to be the first evidence of nerve gas found in Iraq since the beginning of the U.S.-led war in March 2003. A U.S. Army spokesperson cautions that the shell, which dated from the 1991 Gulf War, does not signal the existence of weapons of mass destruction or an escalation of weapons in the current insurgency. Two people are treated for exposure to the gas, which is 20 times more deadly than cyanide.

 

More than 3,500 U.S. soldiers are being transferred from duty in South Korea to Iraq, announces the U.S. Department of Defense. The 2nd Brigade of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division will serve a full year in Iraq, according to a Defense Department official. The U.S. military plans to maintain a level of about 135,000 troops in Iraq, rather than reduce the troop strength to 115,000 soldiers as had been planned.

 

A fire at a Honduran prison in the city of San Pedro Sula leaves at least 100 inmates dead. Authorities believe an electrical short circuit triggered the blaze.

 

Gay couples exchange marriage vows in Massachusetts, the first state that has granted same-sex couples the right to marry.

 

May 18

Sonia Gandhi, leader of India’s newly victorious Congress Party, announces to party members that she must “humbly decline” the post of prime minister. Earlier in the day, she informed India’s president, A. P. J. Kalam, that she would need more time to form a coalition government but would return on May 19 with letters of support from allies and cabinet recommendations. Political experts suggest that Gandhi is likely to back Manmohan Singh, an economist and former finance minister, for the top position. The experts note that Sonia Gandhi—who saw both her husband and her mother-in-law assassinated—never wanted to be prime minister. She agreed to lead the Congress Party in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Gandhi viewed the Hindu-nationalist BJP as a threat to the secular (nonreligious) government forged by her late husband’s grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru.

 

The U.S. Department of Defense is unable to predict how long a large U.S. military force will be needed in Iraq after sovereignty is turned over to an interim government on June 30, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz tells members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Wolfowitz admits to Defense Department miscalculations in the year-old campaign in Iraq. He notes that the resistance to the U.S.-led occupation had been underestimated and that U.S. officials had been wrong to impose so severe a policy on the employment of former Baath Party members. The dismissal of most of Iraq’s bureaucrats, teachers, and servicemen hobbled the rebuilding of the country and fuelled the insurgency, he testifies. Wolfowitz informs the senators that Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile whom senior officials of the George W. Bush administration once favored to lead postwar Iraq, is losing his funding. The U.S. government continued to pay Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress (INC) organization $340,000 a month even after internal reviews by the U.S. government found that much of the information he provided the Defense Department before U.S. forces invaded Iraq was useless, misleading, or fabricated.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson pitches a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. At age 40, Johnson is the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game. He retired all 27 hitters he faced as the Diamondbacks won, 2-0.

 

May 19

India’s president, A. P. J. Kalam, asks Manmohan Singh to form a new government after India’s Congress Party chose Singh to lead the party. He was nominated by Sonia Gandhi, who refused to accept the primership. Singh studied economics at both Cambridge and Oxford universities in the United Kingdom. As finance minister between 1991 and 1996, he implemented sweeping economic reforms, which economists credit with transforming India into a global economic powerhouse. He will be the first Indian prime minister who is of the Sikh faith. Sonia Gandhi will continue to serve as chairperson of the Congress Party.

 

Israeli forces in tanks and an Apache helicopter fire into a crowd of some 3,000 Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, causing a number of deaths. The violence began when the crowd, despite warnings, converged on the troops. The Israelis responded with machine gun fire over the heads of the protestors and the shelling of a nearby abandoned building. The shelling apparently triggers an explosion that leaves at least 10 people dead and more than 60 others wounded, though some reports put the number of casualties much higher. The demonstrators were protesting Israeli Army raids inside the Rafah refuge camp over the last 48 hours. On May 18, some 20 Palestinians were killed at Rafah, prompting Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to denounce the incursion as a “planned massacre.”

 

Iraqi officials claim that a U.S. helicopter flying over a desert region near Iraq’s border with Syria fired on a wedding party, killing between 42 and 45 people, including many children. The U.S. military in Iraq responds that the predawn attack targeted a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters, not a wedding, and that U.S. recovered satellite communications equipment, foreign passports, and a large amount of money from the site.

 

Army Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits pleads guilty to charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. He is sentenced to one year in prison, stripped of his rank, and will receive a bad conduct discharge. The military court martial is the first stemming from the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, where U.S. military personnel allegedly humiliated and physically abused prisoners.

 

May 20

U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police raid the Baghdad offices and residence of Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi is an Iraqi Governing Council member whom U.S. Department of Defense officials once had slated to run postwar Iraq. The soldiers, under the direction of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency officials, remove all documents and computers from both house and offices. Authorities with the U.S.-led occupation decline to comment on the raids but disclose that judges have issued arrest warrants for 15 members of Chalabi’s staff. The General Accounting Office, an independent government agency, estimates that Chalabi received at least $33 million from the U.S. government since President George W. Bush took office in 2001.

 

Israeli troops in search of gunmen and weapons smugglers push deeper into the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. Seven Palestinians are killed as the Israelis demolish several buildings. 

 

May 21

Clashes between coalition forces and followers of the Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr breaks out in Karbala, Al Kufah, and An Najaf. Fighting in Karbala begins after guerrillas fire rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. tanks patrolling on the outskirts of the city. At least 18 Iraqis are killed in fighting near the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines. U.S. forces charge the guerrillas with using the shrines as bases or protective cover. Explosions near the center of An Najaf injure at least 14 people.

 

U.S. forces release 472 Iraqi prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison. Approximately 3,000 Iraqis are scheduled to be released in the wake of allegations that U.S. soldiers serving as prison guards humiliated and abused prisoners.

 

The last Spanish soldiers withdraw from Iraq, fulfilling Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s pledge to withdraw from the coalition unless the command was transferred from the United States to the United Nations.

 

May 22

Fighting south of Baghdad between U.S-led coalition forces and the militia loyal to the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr continues to escalate. In Al Kufah, U.S. tanks, backed by aircraft and artillery fire, move into the center of the city and engage al-Sadr’s Al Mahdi Army in a battle in and around a mosque complex. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, at least 30 militia fighters are killed in the clash, which continues through the night. U.S. aircraft also carry out overnight air strikes in An Najaf, where American forces shell militia fighters holed up in the holy city’s massive, ancient cemetery. In contrast, al-Sadr’s militia appear to have pulled out of Karbala. According to a senior member of the Al Mahdi Army, militia fighters have laid down their arms in a truce brokered by Iraqi tribal and religious leaders. U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, however, denies reports of a truce, noting that the confrontation can only be resolved peacefully if al-Sadr disbands his militia and surrenders to coalition forces.

 

May 23

Kashmiri militants set off a remote-controlled bomb next to a passing bus carrying Indian troops and their families traveling to a popular vacation spot in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. At least 33 people are killed in the attack, which is made one day after India’s new prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was sworn into office.

 

A 98-foot (30-meter) section of the vaulted roof of a terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris collapses, sending tons of concrete, steel, and glass down on a departure lounge. Five people are killed in the collapse, which takes place early in the morning, when few passengers were in the building. The $890-million terminal, with bays for 17 aircraft, opened officially less than one year ago.

 

A fierce storm capsizes two ferries traveling about half a mile (1 kilometer) apart along the Meghna River in southeastern Bangladesh. More than 80 of the estimated 300 people aboard the two vessels are killed.

 

May 24

A car reportedly belonging to a private security firm explodes outside coalition headquarters in Baghdad. Four people are killed, including two British civilians. The explosion takes place at one of the busiest entrances to the so-called Green Zone, the high security area that houses coalition officials. Several deadly attacks rocked Baghdad over the weekend. On May 22, a suicide car bomber killed four people in an attempt on the life of an Iraqi deputy minister, who was wounded in the explosion.

 

May 25

The United States will succeed in transforming Iraq into a peaceful, functioning democracy, President George W. Bush vows before an audience at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Acknowledging the insurgency in Iraq, the president warns of future difficulties that could make the “way forward. . . appear chaotic.” He also acknowledges that at least 138,000 U.S. troops are needed in Iraq, more than originally forecast by officials at the Department of Defense. The president outlines a resolution his administration proposed to the United Nations (UN) Security Council earlier in the day—a handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on June 30; direct elections of a national assembly by the end of January 2005; more foreign troops and financial aid to safeguard and rebuild Iraq; and a UN peacekeeping force under U.S. control. Referring to the scandal involving the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, the president called for the demolition of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison—for its associations with both Iraqi’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein, and with “disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country.”

 

25 Israeli troops pull out of the Rufah refugee camp in Gaza. A senior Israeli Army officer describes the pullout as temporary—“I don’t know if I can say Operation Rainbow is over. We are taking a deep breath and this goes on.” The operation involved the demolition of tunnels and building used by arms smugglers and militants. According to observers at the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees, Israeli forces destroyed approximately 120 houses as well as some 45 other structures, leaving more than 1,500 Palestinians homeless. While the death toll from the operation remains in dispute, at least 50 Palestinians were killed in Rufah since the operation began a week ago. Israel launched Operation Rainbow after Palestinians killed 13 Israeli soldiers in less than 48 hours.

 

Two weeks of torrential rain cause massive flooding and mudslides on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, leaving more than 1,700 people dead in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

 

An explosion of unknown origin damages An Najaf’s Imam Ali Mosque, the holiest of Shiah Muslim shrines. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, no fighting between U.S. forces and the militia loyal to the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have taken place near the shrine, and U.S. forces fired no artillery that could account for the damages.

 

Lieutenant General Richard S. Sanchez is to be replaced as the top U.S. commander in Iraq, announces a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense. He is to being succeeded by the Army’s second-ranking general and vice chief of staff, George W. Casey, Jr. The spokesperson notes that the replacement should not be interpreted as a “no confidence” vote but rather is part of the Army’s “normal rotation” of officers.

 

May 26

American forces in Iraq battle members of the Al Mahdi Army on two fronts—Baghdad and An Najaf. The al Mahdi militia consists of insurgents loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, a militant Shiah cleric. In Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood, “a very large number” of the insurgents are killed in 21 separate firefights with U.S. soldiers, according to an Army spokesperson. In An Najaf, American troops capture one of al-Sadr’s key lieutenants. The militant, Said Riyad al-Nouri, was wanted in connection with the April 2003 death of a Shiah cleric, whom al-Sadr allegedly ordered killed. The capture is made as U.S. tanks and helicopters continue to pound militia fighters holed up in the city’s ancient cemetery. Near the cemetery, on May 25, three mortar shells damaged the most holy of Shiah shrines, the Imam Ali Mosque, during some of the heaviest fighting in the six-week standoff. An Army spokesperson denied responsibility. He claimed American forces had taken pains not to damage the mosque and other Shiah shrines in order to avoid alienating Iraqis who do not support al Sadr.

 

Outside Baghdad, two Russians are killed and six others wounded in an attack on the bus taking them to work at the al-Dawra power station. Masked gunmen fired on the bus as it approached the gates of the compound. The attack prompts the Russian government to order the evacuation of all Russians working in Iraq, some 300 people. Russia is not a participant in the U.S.-led coalition, but Russian corporations have technicians in Iraq restoring infrastructure, particularly the power grid.

 

Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, the only law in the United States that authorizes physicians to help terminally ill patients commit suicide, is upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. In the decision, the judges note that the U.S. Department of Justice does not have the power to punish participating Oregon physicians. In unusually pointed language, they note that Attorney General John Ashcroft overstepped his authority in trying to block enforcement of the Oregon law. Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which grew out of a 1994 voter initiative, allows adults who are likely to die of an incurable disease within six months to obtain lethal drugs. Attending physicians may prescribe but not administer the drugs. Upon becoming attorney general in 2001, John Ashcroft issued a directive that any physician who prescribed lethal drugs to patients faced possible prosecution under the federal law known as the Controlled Substances Act.

 

The Islamic government of Sudan and Christian and animist rebels, meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, sign a peace plan designed to end Africa’s longest-running war. The conflict, which began between the north and south in 1983, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2 million Sudanese. The peace plan brings together the mainly Muslim Arab government of the north with the black African Christian rebels of the south and involves sharing power over the government and the administration of three disputed areas in central Sudan. Political experts note, however, that there can be no lasting peace until a separate conflict in the Sudan’s Darfur region is also ended.

 

May 27

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq suspends military operations in An Najaf against the militia loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. In a truce brokered by moderate Shiah clerics, al-Sadr agrees to pull his militia off the streets of the city. However, the agreement does not address U.S. demands that al-Sadr surrender on murder charges and disband the militia known as the Al Mahdi Army. According to a spokesperson for the U.S.-led occupation, American troops will remain in An Najaf to provide security until Iraqi security forces can assume control. The U.S. Army in Iraq waged a war of attrition against al-Sadr’s forces, inflicting very heavy casualties in intense fighting in several southern Iraqi cities and in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. Coalition forces also captured several of al-Sadr’s top aides.

 

May 28

A major earthquake in central and northern Iran destroys more than 80 villages in an area about 40 miles (70 kilometers) north of Tehran, the capital, killing at least 35 people and leaving some 350 others injured.

 

May 29

The national memorial to the 16 million men and women who served in uniform in World War II is dedicated in Washington, D.C., by U.S. President George W. Bush. The 7.4-acre  (3-hectare), $175-million memorial stands between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument west of the Mall. An estimated 100,000 World War II veterans—including former President George H. W. Bush and former U.S. senators and presidential candidates Bob Dole and George McGovern—attend the ceremonies.

 

May 30

Terrorists dressed in military-style uniforms attack Western oil workers in their offices in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 22 people and taking more than 40 people hostage from a nearby luxury expatriate resort. The assault is the second in May against the Saudi oil industry. Market analysts note that the escalating price of oil, in part, is being driven by fears that Saudi Arabia is unable protect its vital oil industry from terrorist attack.

 

Clashes between U.S. troops and militia fighters loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr leave 20 insurgents and 2 American soldiers dead in Al Kufah. Two other U.S. soldiers are killed when a 500-pound (230-kilogram) bomb explodes in southeast Baghdad.

 

May 31

At least 10 people in the Midwest and South are killed in a chain of thunderstorms and tornadoes over the Memorial Day weekend. A series of storms produced heavy rain, high winds, and dozens of tornadoes in a line stretching from Louisiana to New England with additional extreme weather across parts of the Midwest. A tornado cut a 50-mile (80-kilometer) swath across northwest Missouri on May 29, killing three people. Powerful thunderstorms swept across the state again the following day, when a man was killed by a falling tree. Winds of up to 170 miles (275 kilometers) per hour blew through Marengo, Indiana, 35 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Louisville, Kentucky, on May 30, flattening dozens of houses. Nearly 100 houses and farm buildings were destroyed or damaged in Giles County, Tennessee, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Nashville. In Hardin County, Tennessee, 22 people were injured when a tornado touched down in a camp ground. In a campground northeast of Cincinnati, Ohio, a man fishing on a lake died when he was struck by lightning.  Severe storms dumped more than 4 inches (100 millimeters) of rain in the southern part of West Virginia, causing flooding that left at least one person, an elderly man, dead.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--May

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