The government of North Korea agrees to allow U.S. government officials and nuclear weapons experts to inspect its Yongbyon nuclear plant. The inspection will be the first since North Korea expelled United Nations (UN) officials in late 2002.
A U.S. soldier is killed and another wounded when their OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashes under guerrilla fire about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Six cases of mistaken identity were behind the grounding of six Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles in late December, a French police official announces. Six passengers aboard the flights had names that sounded similar to the names of terrorist suspects that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had given to French officials, prompting the officials to ground the flights.
British Airways, following the advise of the British government, cancels a flight to Washington, D.C., for the second day in a row, amid fears of a terrorist attack. Fighters jets escorted the commercial jet on the same on the same flight on December 31. Both the government of the United Kingdom and the United States believe al-Qa’ida or some other terrorist organization are planning an attack involving a the hijacking of a commercial jet on a transatlantic flight.
A chartered Air Flash Boeing 737, en route from the Egyptian resort of Sharm ash Shaykh on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula to Cairo and Paris, crashes into the Red Sea just minutes after takeoff, killing all 141 people aboard the jet. Most of the passengers were French tourists.
Voters in the Republic of Georgia elect Mikhail Saakashvili president with about 86 percent of the vote. Saakashvili led the peaceful revolt that ousted former President Eduard Shevardnadze in November 2003.
Delegates to a national meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, ratify a constitution after three weeks of tense debate. Afghanistan, for the first time in its history, has a democratic system with a directly elected president, a two-chamber legislature, a system of civil law. No law, however, can be enacted that is contrary to Islamic law. Men and women have equal rights and duties before the law.
The Al Jazeera satellite television channel broadcasts a videotape that appears to be of Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, urging Muslims to continue the holy war against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. He notes that “big powers” are attempting to gain control of the Middle East “for its oil.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security begins finger-printing and photographing foreigners as they enter 115 U.S. airports and 17 seaports in an attempt to make the country more secure while keeping borders open to international travelers. Citizens from 28 countries, primarily European countries, are exempt from the new program.
A powerful antenna connected to a robotic probe named Spirit, which landed on Mars on January 3, is activated and begins to beam a three-dimensional panorama to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California. NASA scientists expect to receive color images within 24 hours. Spirit, which is equipped with an unprecedented array of highly sophisticated scientific instruments, is programmed over the next several days to extract itself from its landing equipment and begin a three-month journey across the Martian surface in search of evidence of water in the rocks and soil.
The governments of India and Pakistan announce that the leaders of both countries have agreed to restart formal peace talks in February. International affairs experts describe the announcement as extraordinary, considering that the two countries were at the brink of war in 2002 and have been at odds over the divided territory of Jammu and Kashmir for more than 50 years.
Taliban attacks in southern Afghanistan kill at least 27 people in less than 24 hours. In Kandahar, a city approximately 275 miles southwest of Kabul, the capital, Taliban militants detonate two bombs that kill at least 15 people, including a number of children. In Helmand province west of Kandahar, the Taliban executes 12 men, all ethnic Hazars, outside a small hotel on a remote mountain road. The Taliban is a militant Islamic political group that controlled Afghanistan from the mid-1990’s until 2001, when the United States and its allies helped Afghan rebels force the Taliban from power. Most Taliban members belong to Afghanistan's dominant Pashtun ethnic group.
U.S. President George W. Bush proposes offering legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States. Under the president’s plan, an undocumented worker could apply for temporary worker status for an unspecified period of time. The temporary worker status would provide the illegal immigrant full employee benefits enjoyed by other U.S. workers, including minimum wage and due process. Workers who are granted the temporary status would be permitted to apply for a green card granting permanent residency in the United States and would be permitted to travel freely between the United States and their countries or origin. Immigration experts note that the president’s proposal effectively amounts to an amnesty program for any illegal immigrant who has a job.
The reelection campaign of U.S. President George W. Bush took in $130.8 million in contributions in 2003, announces campaign officials.
Thousands of plant and animal species may become extinct over the next 50 years if global warming continues, warns the leader of a team of 19 British researchers. Conservation biologist Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds notes that biological communities are already rapidly responding to climate warming. His team estimates that 15 to 37 percent of the 1,103 native species they studied could disappear or approach extinction by 2050 . Applying their figures to the entire planet, the researchers estimate that as many as 12,000 of Earth’s estimated 14 million plant and animal species may be threatened.
Two incidents in Iraq in less than 24 hours leave 10 U.S. soldiers dead and 33 others injured. All 9 U.S. Army personnel aboard a military helicopter are killed when the UH-60 Black Hawk attempts to make an emergency landing near Al Fallujah, a stronghold of anti-American insurgency 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the capital. According to military officials, the helicopter was on a medical evacuation mission. Insurgents in the Al Fallujah area have shot down several U.S. Army helicopters, most recently on January 2 when a OH-58 Kiowa Warrior crashed, killing one of the pilots. The latest crash comes less than one day after insurgents launched a mortar attack on a U.S. military base 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Baghdad. One soldier was killed and 33 others wounded when their living quarters at a converted Iraqi air base took a direct hit in the mortar barrage.
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush withdraws 400 of the 1,400 members of the survey team that was sent to Iraq in 2003 to uncover weapons of mass destruction. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson acknowledges the pull out as well as the fact that most of the remaining members of the team have been given new assignments related to combating the insurgency.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan organization, issues a report that concludes that Iraq ended its weapons of mass destruction programs by the mid-1990’s and did not pose a threat to the United States before the war in Iraq began in March 2003. The authors of the Carnegie report based their conclusions on information from declassified U.S. intelligence documents, from United Nations weapons inspectors, and from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations.
A powerful bomb attached to a bicycle explodes just outside a crowded Shia mosque in Baqubah, a largely Sunni Muslim town about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Baghdad. At least five people are killed, and dozens of others are injured. The explosion is the latest of a number of such attacks on mosques as tensions escalate between Iraq’s Shia majority and the Sunni community favored by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent in December 2003, the lowest level in 14 months, announces the U.S. Department of Labor. However, only 1,000 new jobs were added to the economy, which has lost 2.3 million jobs since January 2001. A Labor Department spokesperson notes that the 0.2-percentage drop in the jobless rate reflects the fact that some 300,000 people stopped searching for work in late 2003 and, therefore, dropped out of the pool of available workers.
A U.S. soldier in Afghanistan dies from wounds sustained in a highway accident southwest of Kabul, the capital. His death brings to 100 the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since the U.S. military campaign began there in October 2001.
Former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paul O’Neill tells a television interviewer that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush began planning the invasion of Iraq within days of taking office in January 2001. O’Neill contends that the administration was looking for excuses to oust Saddam Hussein, then president of Iraq, more than two years before the war began in March 2003. A member of President Bush’s National Security team before being dismissed from the Cabinet in late 2002, O’Neill claims that he never saw real evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, the rationale the administration used to justify the war.
Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council, the country’s hard-line Islamic religious authorities, disqualify half of the 8,200 candidates for parliament in elections scheduled for February. The Council offers no explanation for the disqualifications, which include the brother of Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami, and 80 current members of the 290-seat parliament.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirms that 495 U.S. service members have died in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.
A U.S. soldier is killed and two others are wounded in Iraq when a bomb explodes near their convoy in the center of Baghdad, the capital.
The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review the secrecy surrounding hundreds of detainees whom the U.S. government picked following the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The case involved whether it was legal for the government to withhold names and other details about the more than 700 detained foreigners, most of whom were Arab and Muslim and have since been deported. Legal experts note that the high court’s decision not to hear the case is a victory for the administration of President George W. Bush, which has argued that the president has the authority to hold indefinitely without charges foreigners detained on suspicion of terrorist activities.
Officials at the U.S. Department of the Treasury launch an investigation into whether former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill misused a classified documents in connection with a new book that casts an unflattering picture of President George W. Bush. Promoting the book, O'Neill recently appeared on a television news program in which a document marked “secret” was shown. O'Neill was dismissed from the Bush Cabinet in late 2002 because he opposed the administration’s tax cutting policy.
A 17-hour fire in Manila, capital of the Philippines, burns across 47 acres (19 hectares) of the Tondo slum district, leaving 23 people injured and at least 25,000 people homeless.
A report published by the U.S. Army War College criticizes the U.S. global war on terrorism as unsustainable because of its worldwide scale. The author, Jeffrey Record, a member of the faculty of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, notes that “the United States may be able to defeat al-Qa‘ida [the terrorism network] but cannot rid the world of terrorism, much less evil.” He condemns the U.S.-led war in Iraq a “strategic error” and a “detour” that undermined the war on terrorism. Warning that the U.S. Army is near “the breaking point,” Record suggests that the administration of President George W. Bush refocus on the threat posed by al-Qa‘ida. U.S. Department of Defense officials dismiss the report as not representing the official policy of the U.S. Army.
Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami escalates the battle between hard-line clerics and the country’s reform movement by threatening to resign along with his entire administration. Khatami informs the 12-member Guardian Council, Iran’s hard-line Islamic religious authority, that his government would resign en masse if the council does not lift its ban on reformist candidates in parliamentary elections in February. The Council recently disqualified half of the 8,200 candidates standing for election to parliament, including more than 80 incumbent members.
U.S. officials disclose that Saddam Hussein warned his supporters not to join forces with Islamic militants, including foreign Arabs entering Iraq to battle the U.S.-led coalition. The warning was made in a document found on the former Iraqi president when he was captured in December 2003. U.S. intelligence agents believe the document was a directive to leaders of the Iraqi resistance written by Hussein after his fall from power in April. According to U.S. officials, Hussein apparently believed that the foreign Arabs entering Iraq were more interested in launching a holy war against the West, than returning him and his Ba’ath regime to power. U.S. officials in Iraq have estimated that foreign fighters account for no more than 10 percent of the guerrillas involved in the insurgency, and U.S. forces have detained only 200 to 300 people holding non-Iraqi passports, according to Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.
An Uzbekistan Airways Yakovlev-40 jet crashes in heavy fog on approach to the airport at Tashkent, the capital. At least 36 people are killed, including the top United Nations official in Uzbekistan. The jet was en route to Tashkent from Termez, a major hub for humanitarian aid flowing across the border into northern Afghanistan.
Two Islamic Palestinian militant groups dispatch a woman to carry out suicide bomb attack for the first time. Hamas and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades claim joint responsibility for a suicide attack in which a female bomber detonates an explosive device at Erez, the main crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The explosion kills the bomber and four Israelis and injures seven other people, including two Palestinians. Hamas identifies the bomber as a 22-year-old Palestinian woman who lived in Gaza City with her two children. According to a Hamas spokesperson, a woman was used to carry out the bombing because male Palestinians face growing Israeli security “obstacles.”
U.S. forces in Iraq have captured a top Ba’athist official, one of the original 55 fugitives on the “most wanted list,” announce a U.S. Army spokesperson. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt identified the man as Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, a former Ba’ath Party regional chairman. Special Operations forces and 82nd Airborne Division soldiers seized him on January 11 in Ar Ramadi, a city approximately 100 miles (60 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the capital. In Samarra, north of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers capture four nephews of the most-wanted Iraqi fugitive to remain at large, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Al-Douri, vice chairman of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, is number 6 on the list of most-wanted Iraqis.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, an independent federal agency that administers and enforces federal laws governing the purchase and sale of stocks and bonds, votes 5 to 0 to formally propose new rules that would require investment advisers of mutual funds to adopt stricter codes of ethics. Among other things, the measures would require investment advisers to adopt ethics codes addressing personal trading by employees with access to nonpublic information and spell out clearly the charges incurred when investors buy mutual funds. The SEC vote comes one day after commission officials announced that they had uncovered brokers receiving undisclosed payments for steering investors toward specific mutual funds. State and federal officials also disclosed in 2003 instances of privileged insider trading of mutual funds stocks that produced profits for traders at the expense of stock holders.
United States President George W. proposes a new spacecraft to return American astronauts to the moon by 2015, to be used a base from which to send a manned mission to Mars. The president suggests that the U.S. Congress increase funding for NASA by $1 billion over five years. He also asks that NASA shift an additional $11 billion from other programs to focus on his proposal.
Banking officials announce that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of New York City is acquiring Bank One Corp. of Chicago for $58 billion in stock. The merger makes Morgan Chase the second largest bank in United States with more than $1 trillion in assets.
Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron Corp., the Houston-based energy trading company that failed in 2001, pleads guilty to federal conspiracy charges involving one of the largest corporate frauds in U.S. history. In a written statement, he admits that he and “other members of Enron’s senior management” manipulated corporate accounting practices to “mislead investors. . .about the true financial position” of the company. Fastow is to serve 10 years in prison and forfeit more than $29 million. (Fastow’s wife, Lea, is to serve five months in prison for one count of tax fraud.) Under the deal with prosecutors, Andrew Fastow is also to reveal everything he knows about Enron’s senior management, which included Kenneth Lay, the former chairman and chief executive officer, and Jeffrey Skilling, the former president and chief operating officer. Skilling abruptly resigned from the corporation in August 2001 just weeks before it imploded. Lay and other Enron executives sold at least $1 billion in company stock and received $100 million in bonuses in the months just before the collapse. The bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history at that time, ruined the retirement accounts of many of Enron’s 20,000 employees who were heavily invested in company stock but barred from selling even as the value of their shares plummeted.
Spirit, the U.S. robotic probe that landed on Mars on January 3, rolls off its lander onto the surface of Mars. Under remote control from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the rover successfully completes the 78-second trip down a 10-feet (3-meter) ramp onto the planet’s red soil. Before embarking on its mission to find evidence of the past presence of water in the Martian soil, Spirit will remain stationary for three to four days to test the soil and rocks in the immediate area. The latest development on Mars comes one day after U.S. President George W. Bush proposed that American astronauts return to the moon by 2015 to set up a base from which a manned mission to Mars could be launched. Spirit was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on June 10, 2003. Its identical twin, Opportunity, is scheduled to land on the other side of Mars on Jan. 25, 2004.
Iraqi dinars bearing the face of Saddam Hussein cease being legal tender in Iraq at the end of the business day. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq began issuing new dinars in October 2003. The new currency was struck from old plates that were used in Iraq prior to 1991. More than 3,000 tons (2,722 metric tons) of the new money was distributed to 250 banks around the country. The new currency is backed by central bank reserves as well as by $18 billion that was allocated by the United States for Iraqi reconstruction.
Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D., Illinois) drops out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States and endorses the candidacy of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
L. Paul Bremer II, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, meets with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to “refine or improve” the U.S. plan to return sovereignty to the Iraqi people by July 1. The meeting is in response to the refusal of Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to back the plan. Al-Sistani demands direct, popular elections, rather than the caucuses outlined in the U.S. plan. The United States wants regional caucuses—whose participants would be at least partially appointed—to elect a parliament. The parliament would in turn select a civilian administration. Shiite clerics fear that the caucuses would be rigged to keep Shiites out of power. Al-Sistani wields great influence among Iraq’s Shiites, who constitute about 60 percent of Iraq’s 25 million people. His opposition to the U.S. plan could turn many Shiites against the United States at a time when U.S.-led forces in Iraq already are battling an insurgency.
Three U.S. soldiers on patrol 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the capital, are killed in a roadside bombing. Their deaths brings to 500 the death toll of U.S. soldiers killed since the start of the war in March 2003.
A suicide bomber detonates a powerful device inside a pickup truck just outside the main gate of the U.S. occupation headquarters in Baghdad, killing more than 30 people and wounding some 120 others, including several U.S. soldiers. Most of the victims are Iraqis, who were either sitting in cars at the busy intersection outside the gate or waiting to enter the compound to go to work.
Japanese troops enter Iraq in a convoy of a some 12 jeeps and military vehicles. The Japanese contingent, which will increase to 1,000 soldiers by March, will carry arms for self-protection, but their role will be noncombatant. No member of Japan’s military has fired a shot in combat or been killed in an overseas mission since the end of World War II in 1945.
Senator John Kerry (D., Massachusetts) comes from behind to win the Iowa caucuses for the Democratic presidential nomination with 38 percent of delegate support. According to a survey, Kerry was the candidate whom Iowa Democrats most believed could defeat President George W. Bush. In another surprise, Senator John Edwards (D., North Carolina) takes second place with 32 percent. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who was considered the front runner, comes in a distant third with only 18 percent of the vote. Finishing fourth with 11 percent, U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt (D., Missouri) announces his intention to drop out of the race. The 2004 Iowa precinct caucuses draws more than 118,000 Democratic Party participants in what political experts described as the state’s most competitive contest in at least 16 years. First-time attendees double the number of Democrats who participate, compared with the 2000 caucuses. Kerry, Edwards, and Dean now join Senator Joseph Lieberman (D., Connecticut) and General Wesley Clark, Democratic candidates who did not campaign in Iowa, in New Hampshire for the first presidential primary, which is scheduled for January 27.
Thousands of Iraqis, primarily Shiite Muslims, march in major cities— Baghdad, Basrah, An Najaf, and Karbala—demanding direct elections as the first step toward self-rule. They also demand that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein be tried and executed in Iraq rather than treated as a prisoner of war by the United States. In Baghdad, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrate for the second day in a row in support of the most senior of Shiite Muslim clerics, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Ayatollah al-Sistani insists that the Iraqi people must directly elect a civilian government to which the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq would turn over sovereignty before July 1. According to political experts, the Shiites, who constitute about 60 percent of the population, want direct elections, which they believe would tilt authority to them and away from Iraq’s Sunni Muslim and Kurd minorities. Ayatollah al-Sistani rejects a U.S. plan under which U.S.-appointed regional caucuses would choose members of a provisional legislature, which in turn would select a civilian administration. U.S. leaders contend that popular elections are impossible given the current insurgency and the fact that Iraq has no framework, for example, census or voter rolls, around which to set up the polling.
A senior delegation from the Iraqi Governing Council and L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, ask United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan to send a UN delegation to Iraq to help decide whether popular elections are possible before the July 1 deadline.
The United States Supreme Court rules that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can override state officials. In a 5-to-4 decision, the court decides that the EPA did not overstep its authority when it overruled Alaska state regulators. The case—State of Alaska v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—involved whether EPA could lawfully demand that the owners of the Red Dog Mine in Alaska must use equipment that would reduce pollution from a new generator by 90 percent, when state regulators were willing to allow the mine operator to use equipment that would only reduce pollution by 30 percent. According to the majority opinion, the 1970 Clean Air Act allows state officials to make some decisions involving facilities within their borders, but still gives the EPA wide authority to enforce federal anti-pollution laws.
Three deadly attacks in Iraq leave at least 10 people dead in less than 24 hours. Insurgents traveling in pickup trucks open fire with heavy machine guns on a police checkpoint between the cities of Ar Ramadi and Al Fallujah, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the capital. The attack leaves three Iraqi police officers and one civilian dead. Hours earlier, guerrillas fired on a minivan near Al Fallujah, killing four women and wounding five others. The women were all Armenian or Assyrian Christians who worked in a laundry at a U.S. military base. A mortar and rocket attack on a U.S. military base near Baqubah, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, late on January 21, left two U.S. soldiers dead and wounding four others, one critically.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate overcomes Democratic delaying tactics and passes a $373-billion government funding bill. The legislation, which already has passed in the House of Representatives, funds most domestic programs for fiscal 2004, which began on Oct. 1, 2003. The bill also contains a number of measures pushed by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, including restricting overtime pay and loosening federal controls over how many television and radio stations a conglomerate can own. It also eases requirements governing federal gun records, federally financed school vouchers, and replacing government employees with independent contractors.
A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashes near about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Mosul in northern Iraq, killing the two pilots.
Severe storms with very high winds and strong waves in the eastern Mediterranean region force Egypt to close the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean and Red seas. The suspension of traffic through the canal blocks ships at the northern end at Port Said and 120 miles (195 kilometers) to the south. Elsewhere in Egypt, massive sandstorms reduce visibility to zero, forcing the closure of roads and all airports. In Israel, dust from the sandstorms trigger widespread respiratory problems. In Turkey, an extremely heavy blizzard forces officials to close the Bosphorous and Dardanelles straits to maritime traffic, leaving some 68 oil tankers at anchor in the Mediterranean. Heavy snows in Bulgaria and Greece trigger widespread power failure and the closing of schools and businesses.
The European Space Agency (ESA) announces that Europe’s Mars Express orbiter has discovered ice on the surface of Mars. European scientists analyzed water vapors detected by an infrared camera on Mars Express. Earlier studies had shown that ice exists under the surface of Mars, but European scientists note that those studies were based on indirect measurements.
U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins rules that a section of the USA Patriot Act is unconstitutional. The decision marks the first time a court has struck down any part of the 2001 measure designed to arm the U.S. government in its war on terrorism. Collins states that the section of the law that bars providing groups that the federal government has designated as foreign terrorist organizations “with expert advice or assistance” is too vague and threatens First and Fifth Amendment rights. She notes that it places “no limitation on the type of expert advice and assistance which is prohibited and instead bans the provision of all expert advice and assistance. . .” Another challenge to the Patriot Act brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pending in a federal court in Detroit. The ACLU argues that the Patriot Act gives federal government unlimited and unconstitutional authority to secretly seize library reading lists and other personal records.
A fire sweeps through an overcrowded wedding hall in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. At least 46 people, including the 20 women, 4 children, and the bridegroom, and killed, and 38 people are seriously injured. A number of the victims are crushed when guests stampede in an attempt to escape the fire.
A spokesperson for the New York City medical examiner’s office announces that a total of 2,749 death certificates have been issued in connection to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and that the number of certificates, for the first time, matches the missing person count. The total includes victims in the buildings and on the ground, passengers and crew on the airliners that struck the towers, but not the hijackers.
U.S. intelligence agencies failed to detect that Iraq’s weapons programs, including weapons of mass destruction, were in a complete state of disarray long before the beginning of the war in Iraq in March 2003, asserts the former U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq. David A. Kay, who resigned his position on January 23, claims the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other U.S. intelligence organizations were unaware that most Iraqi weapons programs were by 1997 “fraudulent.” According to Kay, Iraq fell into what he describes as a “vortex of corruption” in which whatever was left of the programs collapsed in corrupt schemes by which scientists extracted money from former President Saddam Hussein without producing anything. According to Iraqi scientists whom Kay interviewed, Hussein by 1997 had become increasingly isolated and removed from reality. Kay describes CIA errors in prewar intelligence assessments as “so grave” that he recommends that the agency overhaul how intelligence is collected and analyzed.
Six U.S. soldiers and four Iraqi civilians are killed in four separate bomb attacks in Iraq’s so-called Sunni Triangle, the highly volatile region north and west of Baghdad, the capital.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s second Mars rover, Opportunity, the twin of Spirit, successfully lands on Mars and begins transmitting images of its landing site. The lander stands in a 66-foot (20-meter) wide crater that lies in a smooth plain called Meridiani Planum. The plain that is on the opposite side of the planet from Spirit, which is approximately 6,600 miles (10,600 kilometers) away. Spirit remains not completely functional after recently becoming nearly silent. NASA scientists note, however, that the situation is improving and estimate that Spirit will be able to move again in two to three weeks. The scientists hope that lessons learned while attempting to bring Spirit back to full capacity will prove helpful if a similar problem occurs with Opportunity.
U.S. skier Daron Rahlves wins a World Cup men’s super-Giant slalom race in Kitzbuehel, Austria. He is the first non-Austrian to ever win the race. Rahlves finishes just .03 seconds ahead of Hermann Maier of Austria, a multiple world and Olympic champion. Another Austrian, Michael Walchhofer, finished third, .39 seconds behind Rahlves.
A U.S. helicopter crashes during a search-and-rescue mission south of Mosul, an Iraqi city 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad. The two pilots aboard the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter were searching for the crew of a U.S. patrol boat that had capsized in the Tigris River. The helicopter pilots and one of the U.S. soldiers from aboard the boat remain missing. Three U.S. soldiers survived the boating accident, but two Iraqi policemen and an Iraqi translator accompanying the soldiers drowned. Insurgents shoot and kill a third police officer who was assisting in the rescue operation. In separate incidents elsewhere in Iraq, seven Iraqi policeman are killed in two drive-by shooting at checkpoints in Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Mikhail Saakashvili is inaugurated as president of the Republic of Georgia, Saakashvili, who was education in the United States, led the bloodless revolution in November 2003 that drove former President Eduard Shevarrdnadze from office. In his inaugural address, the new president tells the people of Georgia that their country, a former Soviet republic, must align itself with the West and integration with Europe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues new rules designed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. The rules include a ban on feeding cow blood and chicken wastes to cattle and using dead or disabled cows to make products for people. Such products soups and other foods with traces of meat, dietary supplements, or cosmetics. The rules are meant to prevent human exposure to the agent that causes mad cow disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Department issued new rules in December 2003 to protect the nation’s meat supplies after the discovery that a cow in Washington State had the brain disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Senator John Kerry (D., Massachusetts) wins the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the first primary election of the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign. Kerry takes 39 percent of the vote, leading Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who receives 26 percent. Retired General Wesley Clark and Senator John Edwards (North Carolina) tie in third place with 12 percent.
The United Nations (UN) is sending a team of experts to Iraq to determine if it possible to hold direct elections before sovereignty is turned over to an Iraqi government, which is scheduled on or before July 1, announces UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. “I strongly hold to the idea that the most sustainable way forward would be one that came from the Iraqis themselves," states Annan. He notes, however, that the mission must be cleared by UN security officials, who are to go to Iraq in the next few days to survey the situation. A suicide bombing of the headquarters of the UN delegation in Baghdad in August 2003 left more than 20 people dead, including the UN’s special representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
The explosion of a roadside bomb near the Iraqi town of Khaldiya, 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Baghdad, kills at least three U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi civilian. The fatalities bring the number of U.S. military forces killed in hostile action in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003 to at least 517. Elsewhere in Iraq, a policeman is killed and two others wounded in a driveby shooting at the headquarters of Polish coalition forces in Karbala, approximately 45 miles (72 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad. In the outskirts of the capital, a gunman standing up in the sunroof of a car shoots and kills two Iraqi employees of Atlanta-based CNN (Cable News Network). The men were riding in a two-car convoy returning to Baghdad from an assignment. Late on January 25 in Baghdad, a rocket struck an open parking lot in the so-called “Green Zone,” a heavily guarded area where the U.S. coalition is headquartered. There were no injuries.
Logging in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is to be increased by 400 percent, announce officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The service plans to permit logging of 700,000 acres (283,280 hectares over the next 20 years in what officials describe as an “effort to curb wildfires.” Environmental groups and some California state officials condemn the plan as a “giveaway to the timber industry” that shows “disregard for the environment.“ 27 Six U.S. soldiers are killed and four others are wounded in two separate roadside attacks in central Iraq. The first attack is made in Khaldiya, 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the capital. The explosion kills three American soldiers and critically wounds a fourth soldier. An Iraqi civilian is killed and several others are wounded in the attack. Three additional U.S. soldiers are killed and three others wounded in a second bombing on a road near Iskandiriyaa, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
A suicide bomber, driving an ambulance through downtown Baghdad at a speed of more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, detonates an explosive device that kills three people beside himself, wounds more than 15 others, and shears the facade off the Shaheen Hotel.
An explosion at a weapons cache near the Afghan city of Ghazni, 60 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of Kabul, the capital, kills seven U.S. soldiers and wounds three other soldiers and an Afghan interpreter. One American soldier working at the cache remains missing. The cause of the explosion remains unknown. Approximately 9,000 of the 11,000-member NATO force stationed in Afghanistan are from the United States.
A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates an explosive device on a crowded city bus outside the Jerusalem residence of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The explosion leaves at least 10 passengers dead and 50 others, primarily bystanders on the street, wounded. Israeli officials label the attack the deadliest in four months. Sharon was not home at the time of the attack, for which the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claim responsibility. The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a Palestinian militant group with ties to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
Scientists have created a new form of matter that could provide a new way to generate electricity, announces Deborah Jin of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Jin describes the new form as a “fermionic condensate”—a cloud of cold potassium atoms forced into a state where they behave strangely. To make the condensate the researchers cooled gas to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero—the temperature at which matter stops moving. They confined the gas in a vacuum chamber and used magnetic fields and laser light to manipulate the potassium atoms into pairing up and forming the fermionic condensate. Jin notes that the way the potassium atoms act suggests there may be a way to turn it into a room-temperature solid—a step closer to an everyday, usable superconductor. A superconductor conducts electricity with no loss of its energy.
The complete fossilized skull of an 8 million-year-old whale has been discovered in Maryland, announce officials of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland. Amateur fossil hunters discovered the skull, as well as vertebrae, a neck bone, a fin, and a shoulder blade, in September 2003 just days after heavy erosion caused by Hurricane Isabel had unearthed the fossils along cliffs lining Maryland’s St. Mary’s River. Stephen Godfrey, the museum’s curator of paleontology, notes that the find is important because scientists know little about whales of that era.
U.S. President George W. Bush declares that he “want to know the facts” about U.S. intelligence failures related to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction programs. However, the president declines to endorse calls for an independent investigation. Congressional Democrats and some Republicans began pushing for the investigation after the former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, informed congressional committees that he had concluded that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction in 2003. President Bush used the growing danger posed by such weapons as the rationale for going to war against Iraq in March 2003.
A car bomb explodes outside a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing nine people. Another bombing near Kirkuk leaves three U.S. soldiers dead. Five Iraqi civilians are killed in a mortar attack in a residential neighborhood in Baghdad, the capital.