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World Book News

World Book News (306)

Monday, 05 November 2012 15:53 Written by Jennifer Parello

March 1

An important al-Qa’ida leader suspected of being the architect of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, is arrested in Pakistan. Pakistani agents seize Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and two other men from a private house in a middle-class enclave just outside Islamabad, the capital. U.S. agents, who take custody of Mohammed, describe him as the most dangerous and important al-Qa’ida operative to be captured since the international search for members of the terrorist network began in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

 

The Turkish parliament narrowly rejects a measure allowing U.S. troops to use the country as a base from which to launch operations in a northern front in a possible war with Iraq. Officials at the U.S. Department of Defense, confident that the Turkish parliament would pass the measure, shipped massive amounts of heavy military equipment to Turkish ports. 

 

March 2

 The government of Iraq destroys an additional six Al Sadmoud 2 missiles but warns United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors that the destruction will stop if it becomes clear that the United States intends to launch a war on Iraq. The UN inspectors note that Iraq so far has destroyed 10 of 120 missiles with a range beyond the 93 miles (150 kilometers) allowed under UN resolutions.

 

March 3

 An additional 60,000 U.S. troops, including all 17,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army First Cavalry Division, have been ordered to the Persian Gulf, announces the U.S. Department of Defense. The newly deployed troops bring the total number of U.S. forces in the Middle East to more than 250,000.

 

March 4

 At least 21 people, including a missionary from the United States, are killed and nearly 150 others are injured when a powerful bomb explodes at the Davao City airport on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Authorities attribute the blast to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim separatist group in the south of the country. MILF rebels have fought for an Islamic homeland in this part of the Philippines for more than 30 years.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush proposes comprehensive prescription drug coverage for elderly Americans, but only if they switch from Medicare to private insurance plans, which would receive government subsidies. Democrats in Congress respond that the proposal would in essence privatize Medicare and place the nation’s elderly at the mercy of HMO’s (health maintenance organizations).

 

An Islamic cleric from Yemen funneled millions of dollars from a mosque in Brooklyn, New York, to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announces during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The Yemeni imam told a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant, in a conversation secretly wiretapped by FBI agents, that he personally had delivered $20 million to al-Qa’ida leader Osama bin Laden. The money had been collected from members of the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn. Money and recruits from the congregation also were delivered to Hamas and other terrorist organizations based in the Middle East.

 

March 5

 The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, upholds California’s “three-strikes” law. That law mandates a prison term of no less than 25 years without parole for any person found guilty of committing a third felony offense. In upholding the law, the court rejects challenges based on the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion asserts that neither of the two sentences under challenge—25 years without parole for stealing three golf clubs and 50 years without parole for shoplifting videotapes—were so grossly out of proportion as to violate the ban. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also reject both challenges but on the grounds that “cruel and unusual punishment” applies only to types of punishment not to the length of sentences. Writing for the dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsberg argues that both of the cases meet the court’s test for disproportionality. “If [50 years for shoplifting videotapes] is not grossly disproportionate, the principle has no meaning.”

 

The foreign ministers of France and Russia, meeting in Paris, announce that they will veto any U.S.-backed draft resolution before the United Nations (UN) Security Council that authorizes the use of force against Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell responds that the United States will go to war without UN backing if necessary.

 

Nearly 2 million Palestinians, 60 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, live below a poverty level of $2 a day, announces the World Bank. The level of poverty in both areas has tripled since the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict began in September 2000. A separate study undertaken by the United Nations connects the rising level of poverty to the Israeli blockade of Palestinian cities and towns and reveals that Palestinians have turned to subsistence agriculture for survival.

 

A daily dose of aspirin appears to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer among people at high risk for the disease, announce authors of separate studies conducted at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and at the University of Chicago.

 

A mysterious respiratory ailment that has caused at least five deaths in Canada and several Asian countries in recent weeks is declared a “worldwide health threat” by the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. WHO officials characterize the hard-to-treat ailment as an atypical pneumonia, which they believe first appeared in Guanzhou, China, in November 2002 and was spread by international air travel. The ailment has been named severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS.

 

March 6 Gasoline prices hit all-time highs in 16 states, including California, where the average price of a gallon of gasoline climbs to more than $2. Industry experts blame dwindling gasoline supplies, which are producing shortages in some U.S. cities, on the lingering effects of a recent labor strike in oil-producing Venezuela and on complications in the oil-refining business. Analysts point out, however, that the record prices are providing California’s refining companies with profit margins that are as much as 21 percent above the average for the past seven years.

 

An Israeli military operation near the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza leaves 11 Palestinians dead and nearly 100 others injured. The attack is launched less than 24 hours after a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device inside a bus in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, killing himself and 15 Israelis.

 

More than 100 passengers and crew members aboard an Air Algerie jet are killed when it crashes in the Sahara Desert shortly after taking off from Tamanrasset in Algeria’s Ahaggar Mountains. A single passenger, a young Algerian soldier, survives the crash of the Boeing 737-200, which was en route to Algiers, the capital, 1000 miles (1,610 kilometers) to the north.

 

March 7

 The United States proposes that the United Nations (UN) Security Council set March 17 as a deadline for Iraq to surrender its remaining weapons of mass destruction or face war. The measure, cosponsored by the United Kingdom and Spain, is presented immediately after chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix reported that Iraq has failed to answer UN questions about whereabouts of thousands of chemical bombs and tons of anthrax, botulinum toxin, and nerve gas.

 

The rate of employment jumped from 5.7 percent in January to 5.8 percent in February, announces the U.S. Department of Labor. More than 308,000 jobs were lost during the period, pushing the number of people who are out of work in the United States to 8.5 million.

 

Liberian mercenaries kill more than 200 civilians in Cote d’Ivoire in an attack on the town of Bangolo, which is about 375 miles (600 kilometers) northwest of Abidjan, the nation’s largest city. French military officials in Cote d’Ivoire believe the mercenaries are in the employ of the president, Laurent Gbagbo. The attack takes place as Cote d’Ivoire’s feuding politicians, including Gbagbo, and rebel leaders, meeting in Ghana, agree to form a new government on March 17.

 

Members of Actors’ Equity in New York City refuse to cross the picket line of striking members of Musicians Local 802, shutting down all Broadway musicals for the first time in 43 years. Performers claim to be incensed by attempts by Broadway producers to replace live orchestras with “virtual orchestras,” computer generated accompaniments that require no musicians.

 

March 8

 Voters in Malta approve a nonbinding referendum on whether the Maltese government should join the European Union (EU). The referendum, closely watched across Europe, is the first to be held in the countries that were invited in 2002 to join the EU.

 

March 9

 United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors in Iraq have discovered a new variety of rocket that apparently was reconfigured to spread a number of small bombs filled with chemical or biological weapons over large areas, report U.S. government officials. The weapons inspectors believe the reconfigured warheads were cobbled together from conventional weapons.

 

March 10

 United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan warns U.S. President George W. Bush that the United States will be in violation of the UN charter if it carries out its threat to invade Iraq without the backing of the world body. President Bush contends that he does not need a resolution for action against Iraq because an existing resolution specifies that Iraq faces “serious consequences” if it fails to disarm. A British official discloses that the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair is willing to amend the current draft resolution to give Iraqi President Saddam Hussein more time to disarm—extending the deadline from March 17 to March 21. In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac responds that he would veto any resolution before the Security Council that opens the way to war with Iraq.

 

The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, warns of a potential crisis if steps are not taken to rein in the giant, public mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government-chartered companies own or guarantee some $3.1 trillion in U.S. mortgages. The president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, William Poole, recommends that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which he characterizes as “immensely profitable,” boost capital reserves to stem future economic “shocks.” He also advises that the U.S. Department of the Treasury cut off its open lines of credit to both companies. At the end of 2002, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held approximately 45 percent of all residential debt in the United States, up from 25 percent in 1990.

 

The Palestinian parliament grants responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Palestinian Authority to the newly created position of prime minister. The legislation gives Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat the right to nominate or remove the prime minister from office, and Arafat is expected to nominate Hamoud Abbas, his second in command in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Moderates regard Abbas as pragmatic, while radicals condemn him for his willingness to compromise with Israel. Abbas has stated publicly that taking up arms against Israel was a mistake.

 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, founder and leader of Turkey’s pro-Islamist Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), wins a seat in parliament. He is expected to replace Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and form a new Cabinet.

 

March 11

 Stocks listed on the major U.S. market indices fall to new five-month lows amid fears in war of Iraq and rising oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average of 30 major corporations traded on the New York Stock Exchanges closes down 44.12 points at 7524.06; Standard & Poor’s index of stock prices for 500 companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange slides 6.75 points to 800.73; and the tech-heavy composite of stocks traded on the Nasdaq exchanges drops 6.90 points to 1271.47 points. In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average decliens by 2.2 percent to 7862.43 points, its lowest close in more than 20 years.

 

A permanent world war times court opens in The Hague, Netherlands, with the swearing in of 18 judges. The function of the court is to try individuals, such as dictators and war criminals, for such large scale offenses against civilians as genocide and crimes against humanity. The court, which is independent of the United Nations, has jurisdiction only over crimes committed after July 1, 2002. U.S. President George W. Bush fiercely opposed the creation of the court, and the Bush administration lobbied a number of governments into agreeing to disregard world court subpoenas issued for U.S. citizens.

 

A Federal District Court judge in New York City rules that the U.S. government must allow Jose Padilla, who is accused of plotting to explode a radioactive bomb, to meet with a lawyer. Federal authorities, who have held Padilla, a U.S. citizen, without being formally charged in military custody for nine months, have refused to allow him access to legal representation on the grounds that he is an enemy combatant. U.S. Department of Justice officials claim that Padilla met with senior members of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network in Afghanistan and returned to the United States with plans to detonate a so-called “dirty” bomb.

 

Villanova ends the longest winning streak—70 games—in women’s Division I college basketball history by beating the University of Connecticut (UConn) 52-48. The loss also ends UConn’s nine year reign as Big East tournament champions.

 

March 12

 The prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, who in 2000 spearheaded the successful revolt against former President Slobodan Milosevic, is assassinated in the capital, Belgrade. Snipers gun down Djindjic in a parking lot outside his office in a complex of government buildings in the city’s center. Djindjic was a pro-Western reformer who tried to integrate the country back into the European community. He was instrumental in turning Milosevic over to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands. Experts on Serbian politics suggest that the murder was carried out by Serbia’s extensive criminal underworld, in collusion with Milosevic loyalists.

 

An explosion in a compartment reserved for women on a commuter train pulling out of Mulund station in Mumbai, India, kills at least 10 people and injures some 200 others.

 

March 13

 Tom Ridge, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, warns that suicide bombings, like those that have left hundreds of people dead in Israel, are inevitable in the United States. The secretary cautions that he will likely raise the nation’s terrorism alert level to “high risk” because of the possibility of terrorist attacks linked to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

 

The intensity of radiation on Mars would likely endanger astronauts sent to explore the planet, announce scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). High radiation levels measured by NASA’s unmanned Mars Odyssey spacecraft suggest that any extraterrestrial life on Mars would have little chance of surviving except beneath the planet’s cold, dusty surface.

 

March 14

 U.S. President George W. Bush announces that he intends to adopt a peace plan for the creation of a Palestinian nation as soon as a new Palestinian prime minister is chosen. The plan calls on the Palestinians to curb terrorism. It calls on Israel to withdraw forces from Palestinian areas, ease current restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people, and stop further Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The president notes that the new Palestinian prime minister must “hold a position of real authority.”

 

March 15

 Hundreds of thousands of mourners march through the streets of Belgrade, capital of Serbia, to pay their respects the country’s slain prime minister, Zoran Djindjic. Police have detained more than 180 people in connection with Djindjic’s assassination on March 12, which officials attribute to an underground gang of criminals with political connections.

 

Hu Jintao formally takes office in Beijing, China’s capital, as head of the Communist Party and, therefore, head of the government. He succeeds Jiang Zemin, who remains in control of China’ enormous army.

 

March 16

 The leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain, meeting in the Azores, islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, issue an ultimatum to the United Nations (UN) Security Council, declaring that diplomatic efforts to disarm Iraq will end on March 17. President George W. Bush and Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar give the Security Council 24 hours to pass a resolution approving a combined military action to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. President Bush notes that if Hussein wants to maintain peace he must leave Iraq. The joint statement comes just hours after France, which opposes a war, proposed giving Iraq another 30 days to comply with UN weapons inspectors. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney characterized the French proposal as “further delaying tactics.”

 

March 17

 U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking to the nation in a televised address, warns Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave the country or face certain attack. The president tells the people of Iraq that he will launch an invasion that will liberate them from a murderous regime. “The tyrant will soon be gone.” He also announces the adoption of a new national security doctrine—pre-emptive military action—declaring that in an age of unseen enemies waging undeclared war, to wait to act only after an enemy has struck first is not self-defense, but suicide.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security raises the terror threat alert level from yellow to orange. Yellow represents an elevated threat, while orange represents a high risk, one step below red, a severe risk. Tom Ridge, the secretary of the new department, announces that U.S. intelligence agents believe that terrorists will attempt multiple attacks against the United States and its partners in the coalition in the event of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

 

Robin Cook, a cabinet minister in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, quits to protest the prime minister’s advocacy for a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Blair’s support for the use of force in Iraq has alienated him from many members of his own Labor Party and much of the British public, who oppose the war.

 

March 18

 Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein flatly rejects a U.S. ultimatum that he and his sons leave the country or face war. He announces that the Iraqi people are “fully ready to confront the invading aggressors and repel them.”

 

Turkey’s cabinet, under the new prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, holds an emergency meeting on whether to rush through a parliamentary motion allowing the deployment of US troops to invade Iraq.

 

United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors leave Iraq ahead of a possible U.S.-led attack. The remaining 150 inspectors depart the Baghdad airport for Cyprus, bringing an end to efforts by the UN to disarm Iraq peacefully. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on March 17 ordered all UN employees to leave Iraq and suspended the oil-for-food program that permitted Saddam Hussein’s government to export oil in return for such essential supplies as food and medicine.

 

Serbia’s parliament approves the nomination of Zoran Zivkovic as prime minister. Zivkovic was a loyal ally of the former prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated on March 12. Zivkovic promises to dismantle Serbia’s criminal underground, which is blamed for Djindjic’s murder. Police have detained more than 750 people on charges related to the assassination.

 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair survives a rebellion among members of his own Labor Party in the House of Commons with a vote of 412 to 149 in favor of a government motion to use “all means necessary” to disarm Iraq. A total of 138 members of Parliament from the Labor Party vote against Blair’s motion, the largest mutiny against Blair’s government since he became prime minister. Three Cabinet ministers—John Denham from the Home Office, Lord Hunt from the Health Ministry, and Robin Cook, the leader of the Commons—have resigned in protest of British participation in a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Blair has deployed approximately 50,000 British troops in the Persian Gulf.

 

China’s new premier, Wen Jiabao, breaks precedence to discuss what he describes as potentially crippling national problems in his first public speech after taking office. Wen notes that unemployment is rising in Chinese cities, straining the country’s social safety net, as the old state-owned factory system decays. In the countryside, the incomes of 900 million peasants continue to decline, while taxes steadily rise. Wen also admits that there is no real health-care system in rural China.

 

March 19

 U.S. President George W. Bush orders U.S. armed services deployed in Kuwait and the Persian Gulf to launch an attack on Iraq. More than 250,000 U.S. troops are joined by some 50,000 British soldiers and Marines. Forces from various U.S. allies, including Australia, are also expected to participate. President Bush announces his decision to go to war minutes after U.S. Tomahawk missiles and bombs from Stealth bombers strike Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The initial attack, of short duration, began approximately two hours after the expiration of an 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time deadline set by the president for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to leave the country or face war. In his declaration of war, President Bush notes that his purpose is to “disarm Iraq, to free its people, and defend the world from grave danger,” particularly from the danger of Iraqi biological and chemical weapons.

 

The deputy leader of Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, agrees to become the new Palestinian prime minister. Abbas was nominated for the position by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Mahmoud Abbas will take over the day-to-day running of the Palestinian Authority, while Yasir Arafat will remain in command of security forces. Arafat attempted to dilute the power of the new position but was forced by members of the parliament to withdraw a proposal giving him veto power over cabinet appointments. Experts on Middle Eastern affairs describe the legislature’s opposition as a major rebuff to Arafat, with whom the Israeli government refuses to negotiate.

 

Eight Republicans join 43 Democrats in the U.S. Senate to narrowly defeat a bill that would have allowed drilling for oil within an Alaskan wildlife refuge. Opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration was a central element of an energy plan forged by the President George W. Bush’s administration. Administration officials claimed that increasing domestic energy production is critical to national security. Environmentalists responded that oil exploration in the refuge would compromise one of the world’s most pristine wilderness areas.

 

A late winter blizzard dumps 72 inches (183 centimeters) of snow on Denver, Colorado, and parts of Wyoming.

 

March 20

 A barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles and guided bombs launched from U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf rock Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, in what U.S. officials describe as a “decapitation attack” aimed at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force meets heavy Iraqi fire as U.S. troops, under the cover of intense allied artillery and aircraft bombardment, move into Iraq from its southeastern border with Kuwait. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirms that Iraqi forces have set fire to “as many as three or four” oil wells in the southern part of the country.

 

March 21

 An intense air assault on Baghdad by coalition partners triggers a series of explosions, sending columns of smoke and fire into the skies over the city. U.S. Department of Defense officials announce that this latest assault is the opening of a promised “shock and awe” campaign that targets Baghdad and other Iraqi cities with massive and widespread bombing. The “shock and awe” campaign follows on the heels of a second night of precision bombing of Iraqi government structures. Defense officials note that if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein remains alive, he could not be in “minute-to-minute control” of his army or the Iraqi government.

 

U.S. and British invasion forces seize two strategically important airfields in western Iraq and the key port city of Umm Qasr on the Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq. Umm Qasr is Iraq’s only outlet to the Persian Gulf, and the peninsula includes key oil installations. The British chief of staff in Iraq, Admiral Michael Boyce, reports that the Iraqis set seven oil wells on fire, far fewer than had been reported earlier. The U.S. 3rd Infantry meets no resistance as it pushes into Iraq from Kuwait.

 

Huge crowds take to the streets in cities in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and Lebanon, protesting against the United States and its allies in the war on Iraq. In Cairo, the Egyptian capital, tens of thousands of protesters use rocks to pelt police attempting to keep the crowd from attacking the U.S. Embassy. Riot police use batons and water cannon to disperse the crowds.

 

Stocks soar on U.S. markets, sending the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 major corporations traded on the New York Stock Exchange up 8.4 percent for the week, its best weekly performance in more than 20 years. Standard & Poor’s index of stock prices for 500 companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange jumps 7.5 percent, its best weekly performance since the rebound after the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001.

 

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, announces that Turkey will send troops into northern Iraq, despite the disapproval of U.S. President George W. Bush. Foreign affairs experts suggest that the Turkish government wants troops in northern Iraq to discourage Iraqi Kurds from joining Turkish Kurds in an attempt to establish an independent homeland. Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey have waged a guerrilla military campaign against the Turkish government since 1984.

 

March 22

 A senior Kurdish official in northern Iraq, territory under local Kurdish control since 1991, announces that any Turkish incursion of troops will be met with force. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denies news reports that between 1,000 and 1,500 Turkish soldiers already had crossed into Iraq.

 

March 23

 U.S. forces in Iraq reach Al Najaf, a holy city, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital. However, a number of U.S. units remain engaged in fierce combat further south. Marines fighting in and around the city of An Nasiriya report that at least 20 Americans had been killed and as many as 50 others wounded in what military commanders describe as the sharpest engagement of the war. U.S. Army General John Abizaid notes, “It’s the toughest day of resistance that we’ve had thus far.” He confirms that Iraqi forces ambushed a supply convoy and that U.S. military personnel are missing in action. The general characterizes footage of captured dead American soldiers that had been broadcast worldwide by al-Jazeera, the Arabic television news channel, as “disgusting.”

 

Baghdad is the target of heavy aerial bombardment for a fourth consecutive night, leaving parts of the city on fire. The night attacks follow bombing raids in the afternoon and evening. Coalition warplanes also bomb the city of Al Basrah in the south and areas of northern Iraq controlled by the extremist Islamist group Ansar al Islam. U.S. and British intelligence agents believe that Ansar al Islam may have links to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

March 24

 Coalition troops in Iraq are making “rapid and dramatic progress” and are within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of Baghdad, the capital, announces U.S. military commander General Tommy Franks. The general, speaking at a new conference in Qatar, acknowledges that causalities are increasing as U.S., British, and Australian forces meet stiff resistance on their way to Baghdad. In the south, British units are shelling the city of Al Basrah. General Franks notes that continued, though “sporadic,” resistance is to be expected.

 

U.S. Marines battle their way through the streets of Nasiriya in southern Iraq in the kind of urban battle that U.S. military commanders hoped to avoid. U.S. forces in the city report that armed Iraqi men are jumping from buses and rooftops to shot at them. The Marines were ordered into the city to secure two bridges over the Euphrates River that are needed to move troops north to Baghdad.

 

The European Commission, a European Union (EU) council that proposes legislation, warns Turkey that moving troops into Iraq could “complicate” Turkey’s chances of gaining membership in the EU. Various EU member nations also warn Turkey against deploying soldiers in Kurdish northern Iraq. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced on March 23 that the presence of Turkish military in Iraq would help refugees and “enhance security,” which political experts interpreted to mean that he would rescind orders for the deployment in Iraq.

 

Russian officials in Chechnya announce that Chechen voters overwhelmingly approved a March 23 referendum on a new constitution that keeps the republic within the Russian federation. More than 95 percent of the voters are said to have approved the new draft constitution. Human rights organizations question the legitimacy of a vote held under current conditions. The Russian army has occupied Chechnya since 1997 after being driven out by Islamic separatists in 1996, ending a war that began in 1994.

 

The price of crude oil jumps on world markets, climbing by $1.74 to $26.09 a barrel in London trading. Market analysts suggested the price hike was triggered by fears that the war in Iraq make take longer than anticipated and by a disruption of oil from Nigeria. Social unrest in Nigeria, which normally accounts for 7 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports, has caused oil companies there to suspend as much 40 percent of all production.

 

March 25

 British military officials with the 7th Armoured Brigade, positioned on the outskirts of Al Basrah, Iraq’s second largest city, report an uprising there. Iraqi soldiers appear to be shooting at civilians protesting against Saddam Hussein.

 

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division begins crossing the Euphrates River despite a blinding desert sandstorm. U.S. and British forces are now positioned in a heavily armed column that stretches from Umm Quasar on the south to the city of Karbala 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad, the capital. At Karbala, coalition troops face the Republican Guard’s Medina Division. U.S. General Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, characterizes the guard as the best equipped, best trained, and most loyal of Saddam Hussein’s forces.

 

Iraqi troops ambush the U.S. 7th Cavalry between An Najaf and Karbala. In the fierce ensuing battle, U.S. troops, hunkered down in a blinding sandstorm, fight off hundreds of regular Iraqis soldiers, Fedayeen Saddam militiamen, and fighters from the country’s ruling Ba’ath Party. The Fedayeen is a paramilitary group that answers directly to Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday. Members, disguised as civilians, have pretended to surrender and then opened fire on allied troops.

 

A coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans in the U.S. Senate slices out half of the $700 billion tax cut proposed by President George W. Bush, an action that political experts describe as a major blow for the president. The measure came up for a vote just after the Senate received President Bush’s request for $74.7 to pay for the first phase of the war in Iraq. In that request, the president earmarked $63 billion for the cost of the initial stages of the war; $8 billion for aid to allies; and $4 billion for homeland security.

 

March 26

 Fighting between Iraqi forces and coalition troops in An Najaf, Karbala, and An Nasiriyah—all cities south of Baghdad—forces allied military leaders to shift the focus of the land campaign in Iraq. The attack on the Republican Guard around Baghdad is delayed while U.S. and British forces engage Iraqi militia groups attacking advancing allied troops from the rear. Allied military leaders note that they were forced to adopt the new strategy to protect the long supply lines that support advancing allied forces.

 

British forces outside Al Basrah battle an estimated 1,000 Iraqi loyalists for control of the city, where a rebellion against the ruling Ba’ath Party is to reported to continue for a second day. According to British military officials, Ba’ath members attempted to put down the rebellion by firing mortars at the civilian population. The British respond by shelling the mortar positions and bombing Ba’ath headquarters.

 

The first allied shipments of humanitarian aid arrive in Iraq, and food, water, and other supplies are distributed to the civilian population of Safwan in the south. According to the United Nations World Food Program, an estimated 60 percent of Iraq’s 27 million people were dependent on food aid before the war broke out.

 

Chinese health officials raise their estimates of the number of people in China who died in February from the atypical pneumonia known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), from 5 to 34 cases. The November 2002 outbreak of the mysterious respiratory ailment was centered in the southern city of Guangzhou, where 800 people were diagnosed with the viral ailment between November and the end of February 2003. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that SARS was carried from Guanzhou to Hong Kong, from which it spread worldwide via air travel. According to WHO records, 1,325 people worldwide have been infected and 51 people have died.

 

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announces that more than 20 different utility and energy trading companies engaged in an “epidemic” manipulation of electric and natural gas markets during the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001. Regulators advise that Reliant Resources, Enron Corp., and BP Energy Co. had so seriously abused markets in their quest for massive profits that they should be stripped of their authority to sell energy

 

March 27

 U.S. forces in Iraq open a second front, in the north. More than 1,000 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachute into Kurdish-held territory about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Arbil, the main Kurdish city. The paratroopers, joined by Kurdish guerrilla fighters, seize an airfield in preparation for an airdrop of troops, tanks, and other armored vehicles. U.S. military leaders note that the second front will keep the Iraqi military from concentrating all its defenses against coalition forces in the south.

 

In southern Iraq, U.S. and British troops engage in fierce fighting in three major encounters. American troops backed by Apache helicopters dislodge an estimated 1,500 Fedayeen Saddam militiamen from a bridge outside the city of An Najaf. U.S. forces bomb An Nasiriyah after troops crossing through the city came under heavy enemy fire. To the south in Al Basrah, British tank units destroy 14 Iraqi tanks and other armored vehicles in a major battle with Iraqi forces attempting to break out of the city.

 

An additional 30,000 troops leave the United States to join the campaign in Iraq. The U.S. Department of Defense also orders another 100,000 U.S. troops deployed to Iraq to boost existing ground forces. The senior U.S. Army ground commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General William Wallace, warns that long supply lines and the guerrilla-style tactics of paramilitary groups, such as the Fedayeen Saddam militia, have reduced the chances of a swift military victory.

 

March 28

 Kurdish guerillas move into the town of Chamchamal in northern Iraq immediately after the Iraqi army abandoned it after four days of allied air strikes. The Kurdish hold on Çhamchamal provides coalition forces with a strategically important forward position from which to drive on to Kirkuk, a major oil center. Kurdish guerrillas, supported by U.S. special forces, also capture a string of some 40 towns and villages in mountainous northeastern Iraq. The towns were primary centers of the extremist Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam. U.S. and British intelligence agents believe Ansar al-Islam has links to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

March 29

 A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device in his taxi at a checkpoint near An Najaf, an Iraqi city south of Baghdad, killing four U.S. soldiers from the Third Infantry Division. U.S. military commanders describe the attack as a new and disturbing tactic.

 

March 30

 The U.S. 101st Airborne Division encircle An Najaf, a Shiite Muslim holy city, in preparation for a street-by-street battle to root out paramilitary groups that continued to threaten U.S. supply lines.

 

March 31

 Coalition forces in Iraq engage in the first battle with President Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, which U.S. commanders consider to be Iraq’s best trained and best equipped soldiers. The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division encounter members of the guard upon entering the town of Hindiyah some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad. The U.S. forces meet with fierce resistance before taking prisoner several dozen Iraqi soldiers who wore the guard’s distinctive triangular insignia. U.S. military commanders in the field report that allied bombing had destroyed about 50 percent of the Guard’s Medina Division tanks.

 

A ban on smoking goes into effect in all of New York City restaurants and bars goes into effect. The ban, which was created to protect the health of employees from second-hand smoke, extends to the city’s many private clubs.

 

 

 

Chronology--2003--March

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May 1

U.S. President George W. Bush declares that the military phase of the war in Iraq is at an end. He describes the victory as a single battle in "a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001," the day militant Islamic terrorists attacked the United States. Speaking before a large group of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, the president brands former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an ally of leaders of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network, and the president vows to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists.

 

A powerful earthquake in southeastern Turkey causes the collapse of hundreds of buildings, leaving at least 160 people dead and thousands of people homeless. The epicenter is near the city of Bingol, 400 miles (540 kilometers) east of Ankara, the capital. In Celtiksuyu, a village near Bingol, the collapse of a boarding school dormitory kills more than 80 children trapped in the ruins.

 

Mechanical problems aboard a conventionally powered Chinese submarine off China’s coast east of the Neichangshan islands resulted in the deaths on April 16 of all 70 officers and sea men, report military officials in Beijing, the capital. They describe the incident as the worst naval accident in modern Chinese history. Naval experts speculate that a malfunction in the diesel engines  removed the oxygen from the sub’s interior during a descent.

 

At least 52 people, members of South Africa’s largest trade union, are killed when the bus in which they are travelling to a May Day celebration plunges into a reservoir.

 

May 2

The United States District Court in Washington, D.C., declares much of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, passed by Congress in 2002, unconstitutional. A panel made up of three federal judges rules that various provisions of the law limiting political donations, including so-called “soft money” donations, violate the First Amendment prohibition against government limitations on free speech. The ruling forces the U.S. Supreme Court to review the panel’s decision.

 

The rate of unemployment in the United States rose from 5.8 percent in March to 6 percent in April, during which 48,000 workers lost their jobs, announce officials with the U.S. Department of Labor.

 

May 3

President Bashar Assad of Syria begins closing down the headquarters of militant Palestinian groups in Damascus, the capital, as a first step in fostering a new Mideast peace process, announces U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. U.S. diplomats continue to push Assad to cut off Syrian support of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, which is located in Syrian-controlled Lebanon.

 

Funny Cide pulls ahead of two far better known and highly regarded horses, Empire Maker and Peace Rules, to win the 129th running of the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths in a stunning upset. Funny Cide, a 12.8-1 long shot, is the first gelding to win the Derby since 1929 and the first New York State-bred horse to ever win the race.

 

May 4

An enormous weather system sweeps across the Midwestern United States, spawning violent thunderstorms and more than 80 tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. At least 38 people are killed in the storms, including 7 people in Kansas, 18 in Missouri, and 13 in Tennessee. The tornadoes destroy or severely damage hundreds of houses and other structures. In southeastern Kansas, one-third of the town of Franklin is wiped out. In Pierce City, Missouri, a town of 1,400 people, no building is left undamaged, and much of the historic main business district is leveled. In Tennessee, a single tornado cuts an uninterrupted swath 65 miles (105 kilometers) in length across the western part of the state. According to the U.S. Weather Service, the storms were formed when dry air from the Rocky Mountains hit moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

 

May 5

Saddam Hussein’s son, Qusay, carried off $1 billion in cash from the Central Bank of Iraq the day before U.S. forces began bombing Baghdad on March 19, announces an official with the U.S. Treasury Department working with Iraqi financial officials. A bank officer told the U.S. official that the bank handed over about $900 million in U.S. dollars and $100 million in Euros on the direct orders of then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Hussein gave no rationale for taking the money, which was not his own, making the transaction one of the largest robberies in history. Three tractor trailers were required to transport the cash.

 

May 6

U.S. President George W. Bush announces the appointment of L. Paul Bremer III as the president’s special envoy to Iraq. Bremer, a retired diplomat and an expert on counterterrorism, is to take charge of rebuilding the Iraqi government and infrastructure. He will assume responsibilities currently held by retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner, who reported to General Tommy R. Franks, the commander of allied forces in Iraq.

 

Iraq, despite having the world’s second largest oil reserves, will import gasoline and cooking gas from its neighbors in the Middle East, announce U.S. officials in Baghdad, the capital. Various factors—the looting of Iraqi oil fields, fearful employees, and an aging oil infrastructure—have caused severe and widespread fuel shortages. The United States is to pay for the imports.

 

May 7

The estimated overall death rate from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is approximately 15 percent, announce officials with the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations. Earlier WHO estimates of the overall death rate were as low as 2 percent. WHO officials also announce that the SARS death rate for patients over 60 years old in Hong Kong hospitals runs as high as 55 percent. While WHO maintained its estimate that the SARS incubation period is 10 days, a study recently published in the British medical journal Lancet led some researchers to conclude that the incubation period may be as long as 14 days. Incubation length has major implications for control of the epidemic, including longer isolation and quarantine periods. A longer incubation would also require public health officials to trace an additional four days of patient contacts.

 

May 8

More than 30 German tourists are killed when their bus is struck by a train at a crossing near the Hungarian resort town of Siofok, on the shores of Lake Balaton. The bus was enroute from Budapest, the capital, to Nagykanizsa, in western Hungary.

 

The cargo bay of an Ilyushin 76 transport opens midflight between Kinshasa, capital of Congo, and the city of Lubumbashi, causing some 120 people—Congolese military and police officials and their families—to be sucked out of the plane at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2,200 meters). Approximately 100 people, including the plane’s Russian crew, survive.

 

May 9

Tornadoes and violent thunderstorms cause another round of destruction in the Midwest and the Plains states and trigger flooding in parts of the South. In and around Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, tornadoes destroy hundreds of houses and leave at least 100 people injured. One tornado cuts a swath more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) wide and nearly 4 miles (6.4 meters) long through the town of Moore, leveling 335 houses and businesses. Storms packed with seven tornadoes smash through parts of Kansas for the second time in less than one week. The governor declares a state of emergency for six counties and the city of Lawrence, where a number of houses lose roofs. High winds also hit southeastern Nebraska, tearing the top off a manufacturing plant in Filley. Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia are swamped by some of the heaviest rainfall in more than a century. At Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Tennessee River rises to more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) above flood stage, forcing some 1,500 people out of their houses. Hundreds of people in Troup County in west-central Georgia are also forced to evacuate as the Chattahoochee River reaches its highest level in more 40 years.

 

May 10

Violent storms again sweep across the central United States, resulting in severe damage to property in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Along the Mississippi River in northeast Missouri, tornadoes wreck several houses in historic Hannibal and structures on the Culver-Stockton College campus and in the nearby town of Canton. Several tornadoes simultaneously cut through 10 central and western Illinois counties, flattening dozens of houses. The rural town of Lima, Illinois, east of Canton, Missouri, and South Pekin, Illinois, 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Peoria, are hardest hit. At least 50 houses are leveled in South Pekin. Tornadoes also destroy houses and topple power lines in Tennessee. In central Kentucky, winds of up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour blow a mobile home into a river, killing one woman. At least 48 people in the Midwest have died since the first of May in a series of severe storms that spawned more than 300 tornadoes.

 

May 11

Officials with the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush confirm that top U.S. officials assigned to govern and rebuild Iraq have been replaced and will return to Washington, D.C., within a week. According to an administration spokesperson, the escalating violence and continuing breakdown of civil order, particularly in Baghdad, provided the impetus for the personnel changes. Both civilians and U.S. Army personnel in Iraq have warned the Bush administration that civil disorder is paralyzing the rebuilding process. The country is without an effective police system, and power and water systems remain unreliable. Lack of security forced the former top U.S. official in Iraq, retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner, and his team of administrators to live in isolation behind razor wire and machine-gun installations within one of Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad palaces.

 

Lithuanians overwhelmingly vote in favor of joining the European Union (EU). More than 90 percent of voters approve the referendum, making Lithuania the first former Soviet republic to move toward EU membership.

 

May 12

Suicide bombers attack Western targets in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to arrive there. Groups of terrorists shoot their way into three residential compounds and detonate car bombs that kill 25 people, not including the 9 people believed to be the suicide bombers. The victims include citizens of Australia, Ireland, Jordan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. About 200 other people are injured. Arab officials believe that 12 houses and 16 apartment complexes are destroyed. The bombings occur only two weeks after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Department of State warned against nonessential travel there. State Department officials cited intelligence reports that terrorists, possibly members of the al-Qa’ida network, appeared to be planning attacks against the U.S. community in Saudi Arabia.

 

Suicide bombers run a truck through concrete barriers outside a Russian government complex in Znamenskoye, a village in northern Chechnya, and detonate an explosive device that kills 59 people. More than 100 others are injured, 57 critically. Officials in Moscow blame Islamic separatists for the attack.

 

U.S. military personnel in Iraq have been authorized to shoot to kill looters on sight, announce U.S. officials in Baghdad, the capital. The new security policy, crafted by the new U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, also calls for hiring more Iraqi police and banning all former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party from service in any official capacity within the Iraqi government.

 

The U.S. National Weather Service reports that more than 384 tornadoes have been reported across the Midwest since the beginning of May, a record number.

 

May 13

The U.S. trade deficit widened to $43.46 billion in March, the second largest deficit in history, announce officials with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Economists note that the ever-growing U.S. trade deficit appears to be depressing the value of the U.S. dollar on international currency markets. The value of the dollar has dropped nearly 30 percent compared with the value of the euro since the beginning of 2003. The secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, John Snow, recently informed the House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee that the Bush administration has no immediate plans to defend the dollar’s value.

 

More than 80 miners are killed in a gas explosion 1,500 feet (455 meters) below ground in a coal mine near Hufei in Anhui province in eastern China. Mine safety experts rate China’s mines as among the most dangerous in the world. An estimated 1,600 Chinese miners died in accidents in the first two months of 2003.

 

May 14

A second suicide bomb attack in less than three days in the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya leaves at least 14 people dead and 145 others injured. The attack, which takes place in the town of Iliskhan Yurt, is carried out by a widow in a crowd of several thousand Muslims as prayers are being read out. Authorities believe that Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the Russian-backed Chechen administration, was the target. Kadyrov joined several thousand other Chechens in Iliskhan Yurt to participate in an Islamic religious holiday.

 

Sheriff’s deputies in Victoria County in southeast Texas discover the bodies of 17 illegal immigrants in a trailer truck. The victims died of dehydration and lack of oxygen inside a stiflingly hot trailer truck, which appeared to have been abandoned at a truck stop. Authorities believe the victims, from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, were being smuggled into the United States along with some 80 other people. When law enforcement officials opened the doors of the trailer, the surviving illegal immigrants jumped out and fled into nearby fields.

 

May 15

The Israeli Army carries out a raid on the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip during which five Palestinians—two gunmen, two teen-agers, and a 12-year-old boy—are killed. According to an Army spokesperson, a recent increase in rocket attacks on southern Israel and mortar attacks on Jewish settlers in Gaza prompted the raid.

 

Industrial fishing fleets have stripped the world’s oceans of as much as 90 percent of all big fish, including the giant tuna, swordfish, and marlin, announce biologists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After completing an independent, 10-year research project, Canadian and U.S. scientists affiliated with various universities concluded that the world’s fishing fleets, still competing for what remains, are likely to cause the complete collapse of large fish populations. The cod population off New England and Nova Scotia has already collapsed. The Japanese introduced industrial fishing fleets consisting of huge ships with enormous nets and onboard canneries and freezers in the years after World War II.

 

A fire burns through three overcrowded cars aboard a train traveling between the Indian cities of Mumbai and Amritsar in the northern state of Punjab, killing more than 35 people.

 

The U.S. Department of State issues a warning of a possible terrorist attack against a Western neighborhood in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, which is about 525 miles (845 kilometers) west of Riyadh, the capital. According to an unconfirmed report, the attack could occur “in the future.” The threat specifically mentioned a residential district in Jeddah where employees of the U.S. consulate and their families live.

 

May 16

Suicide bombers set off a series of near simultaneous explosions that rip through five different locations in central Casablanca, Morocco, killing 28 people and wounding at least 100 others. A spokesperson for the Moroccan government characterizes the 14 suicide bombers as commandos belonging to a terrorist cell with direct ties to an international terrorist network. He does not specifically identify al-Qa’ida as being responsible for the bombings but notes that in February, Arab television broadcast an audiotape allegedly to be of al-Qa’ida leader Osama bin Laden condemning Morocco as an “apostate” (unfaithful to religion) U.S. ally “ready for liberation.”

 

May 17

Flash floods in the Ratnapura district in south-central Sri Lanka kill more than 230 people and force an estimated 150,000 others to evacuate. Most of the victims are killed in a landslide that wipes out an entire village.

 

Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby, wins the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, at Pimlico race track in Baltimore. Ridden by jockey Jose Santos, the New York-bred gelding completes the 1.53-mile (2.4-kilometer) track in 1 minute and 55.6 seconds.

 

May 18

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon shuts down the Middle East peace plan after a series of Palestinian suicide bombings are carried out in a single 12-hour period. The prime minister indefinitely postpones a planned trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss the peace plan with U.S. President George W. Bush and announces that he will not receive foreign diplomats who meet with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The prime minister also bans movement into and out of the West Bank, effectively cutting thousands of Palestinian workers from jobs in Israel. The first of the bombings, which took place on May 17, left two Israeli settlers, a husband and wife, dead in the West Bank town of Hebron. Another bombing took place near a police roadblock on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem. The attacker was the only casualty. A third bomber, a Palestinian man disguised as an Orthodox Jew, detonated an explosive device aboard a Jerusalem city bus, killing himself and seven passengers.

 

May 19

A Palestinian suicide bomb kills at least three Israelis at a shopping mall in the town of Afula in northern Israel. More than 30 people are injured, 8 of them seriously. The blast occurs at an entrance where shoppers line up to be checked by a security guard. Earlier in the day, a Palestinian riding a bicycle alongside an Israeli Army jeep in the Gaza Strip detonated explosives that killed himself and wounded three soldiers. The Israeli government blames Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat for inciting the attacks, which are the fourth and fifth suicide bombings against Israelis in the past two days.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush reconfirms his commitment to send U.S. troops to the Philippines to help the Philippine government root out Muslim militants. Speaking at a joint White House press conference with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Bush publicly acknowledges her commitment to crushing international terrorism.

 

Presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer announces that he plans to resign his position with the George W. Bush administration sometime during the summer.

 

The Indonesian Army launches a major air and ground offensive against separatist rebels in oil-rich Aceh Province. About 30,000 troops are battling approximately 5,000 guerrilla fighters in a dense, mountainous forest on the northern tip of Sumatra, some 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) northwest of Jakarta, the capital. President Megawati Sukarnoputri ordered the military campaign after members of the Free Aceh Movement repudiated a cease-fire brokered in December 2002. More than 12,000 people have been killed in the rebellion since it began in 1976. When Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945, the Acehnese were promised, but failed to receive, political autonomy.

 

Bankrupt Mississippi-based WorldCom Inc. has agreed to pay stockholders $500 million as a fine for the largest accounting fraud in the history of U.S. corporations, announce officials with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Executives at WorldCom, the second largest U.S. long-distance carrier, pushed up the value of WorldCom stock by inflating revenues by $11 billion.

 

May 20

The United States and United Kingdom temporarily close their embassies in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. The governments of both the United States and Britain warn that they have credible information that new terrorist attacks against unspecified targets in Saudi Arabia may be “imminent.” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, reveals that a raid recently carried out by Saudi authorities uncovered huge quantities of explosives like those used in the bombings in Riyadh on May 12.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush telephones the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas to underscore the need for both Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace negotiations. Abbas assures the president that he is committed to the three-stage “road map” peace plan endorsed by the Bush administration as well as by leaders of Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. President Bush’s call is made after suicide bombing attacks in Israel in a single 12-hour period shut down the peace process.

 

May 21

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture order a temporary ban on the importation of cattle and animal feed from Canada in response to an announcement by the Canadian government that a cow had tested positive for mad cow disease in the province of Alberta. Canada’s agriculture minister said the affected cow had been quarantined along with the rest of a 150-head herd.

 

As many as 2,200 people are killed and thousands of others are injured when an earthquake registering a magnitude of 6.7 strikes northern Algeria. The worst hit area is around Boumerdes, which is 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Algiers, the capital.

 

Christie Whitman resigns as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental experts note that her 28-month tenure as head of the agency was often a source of controversy. Conservatives, including some members of President George W. Bush’s administration, claimed Whitman was too willing to impose new environmental regulations on U.S. corporations. Environmentalists accused her of failing to enforce existing regulations.

 

May 22

Fourteen of the 15 members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, including France, Germany, and Russia, who opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, vote to lift economic sanctions against Iraq and give UN backing to a U.S.-led administration there. Syria, the only Arab nation currently represented on the council, boycotts the meeting. The resolution empowers UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative to assist in the creation of an interim Iraqi government.

 

May 23

Relief officials in India announce that at least 198 people have died in the past week as the result of a heat wave with temperatures as high as 117 °F (47 °C). Andhra Pradesh state in southern India is hardest hit.

 

May 24

Two major U.S. highways are shut down at the start of the busy Memorial Day weekend. In Maryland, Interstate 68 is littered with the wrecks of nearly 90 cars that were damaged in a series of pileups triggered by a truck that hit a van, causing the van to overturn into the westbound lanes. Interstate 80 is closed in western Nebraska due to the collapse of an overpass, which crashed into the highway late on May 23 when a tractor trailer slammed into its center support columns.

 

May 25

Nestor Kirchner is sworn in as Argentina’s 49th president, the 6th in less than two years. Kirchner, a member of the party founded by Juan and Eva Peron, promises to reconstruct the economy, which collapsed in late 2001, setting off the worst crisis in Argentine history. He announces that he disagrees with the International Monetary Fund’s recipe for economic recovery and plans to renegotiate the repayment of Argentina’s foreign debts.

 

May 26

All 75 passengers and crew members are killed when a Ukrainian-chartered Yak-42 plane crashes into a hillside near the Trabzon airport in northeast Turkey. The plane, which was carrying Spanish peacekeeping forces home from Afghanistan, was attempting to land in dense fog in order to refuel.

 

May 27

The use of hormone therapy by women over the age of 65 appears to double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, announces Marilyn Albert, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The finding is based on the results of a four-year experiment involving 4,532 women at 39 different medical centers. Half of the women took placebos. The other half received estrogen and progestin, the most widely prescribed type of hormone therapy. Over the length of the study, 40 women receiving hormones developed cases of dementia, compared with 21 women taking placebos.

 

May 28

U.S. President George W. Bush signs legislation that cuts various federal taxes by $350 million. Leaders for the Republican majority in Congress describe the bill as a great political victory for the president, who claimed the cuts are needed to strengthen the U.S. economy. Democrats counter that the cuts benefit wealthy citizens at the expense of low income families. They point out that Republican Congressional leaders revised the tax bill at the last minute to prevent minimum-wage families from benefiting from an increase in the child tax credit. The bill increases the child tax credit to $1,000, from $600, but only for families with annual incomes of more than $26,625. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group, nearly 12 million children belong to the 6.5 million U.S. families with annual incomes of less than $26,625.

 

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announce that the agency will temporarily stop designating critical habitats under the Endangered Species Act because there is no money to fund the program in fiscal 2003.

 

May 29

U.S. military officials in Iraq announce plans to launch a major offensive against remaining strongholds of followers of Saddam Hussein. The announcement is made after a rocket-propelled grenade kills a U.S. soldier on a U.S. supply convoy 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the capital. The death is the fifth fatality of a U.S. solider in Iraq since May 25.

 

Halliburton Co., the Houston, Texas-based corporation formerly headed by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, received $425 million in government contracts over the last 14 months, reveals U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D., California). The contracts are in addition to $71.3 million that Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is slated to receive from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to repair and operate Iraqi oil wells. Waxman notes that none of the work was offered for competitive bids from other companies. Waxman noted that a 2001 government contract with Halliburton exempts future projects from being offered to other companies for competitive bids.

 

May 30

Scientists at the University of Idaho and Utah State University report that they have cloned a mule. The cloning is the first of a member of the horse family. The mule was born at the University of Idaho on May 4. The cloning means that mules, which are a cross between a male donkey and female horse and are usually sterile, can be reproduced. The cloning also raises hopes that researchers will be able to produce genetic copies of other members of the horse family, including championship race horses.

 

May 31

Suspected serial bomber Eric Rudolph is captured in western North Carolina after eluding arrest for more than five years. Authorities believe that he hid out in the Great Smoky Mountains possibly aided by local people who sympathized with his opinions, which have been characterized as right-wing and extremist. Rudolph is accused of killing two people and injuring more than 100 others in four bombings carried out between 1996 and 1998—at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during the Olympic games; at an Atlanta gay nightclub; at an Atlanta office building; and at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

31 The leaders of Myanmar place prodemocracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under arrest and cut the telephone lines of members of her party, the National League for Democracy. According to a government official, Aung San Suu Kyi and 19 party members are under “protective custody” after a melee involving her supporters and a progovernment group resulted in the deaths of four people. Aung San Suu Kyi has been incarcerated numerous times since Myanmar’s military government in 1990 annulled parliamentary elections won by her party.

 

 

Chronology--2003--May

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Nov. 1

Wildfires in southern California have largely burned themselves out or have been contained within manageable zones, announce state and federal officials. The fires burned over 750,000 acres (3,000 hectares), killing 20 people and destroying more than 3,300 houses, since October 21.

 

Two U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division riding in separate vehicles are killed in an attack on their convoy outside Mosul, in northern Iraq. The average number of attacks per day on U.S. forces in Iraq has jumped to 35, announces a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition.

 

Nov. 2

A shoulder-fired missile strikes a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after the aircraft took off from a former Iraqi air base near Al Fallujah, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Baghdad, killing at least 16 U.S. soldiers. The strike, which causes the chopper to crash and burn, is the deadliest single attack on U.S. forces in Iraq since the war was declared over on May 1. Elsewhere in Iraq, a U.S. soldier is killed in a road bombing near Baghdad, and guerrillas attack and set afire a military convoy west of the capital, killing two civilian contract workers.

 

Nov. 3

The U.S. Congress approves $87.5 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and aid for both countries. The measure is the second package funding U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan passed by Congress in 2003. In April, members of the House and Senate enacted a $79 billion funding bill that included $62.4 billion for the war.

 

Torrential rains trigger a flash flood on the Indonesian island of Sumatra that kills at least 80 people, including European tourists. Officials blame the intensity of the flash flood on logging that has been carried out in the area.

 

Nov. 4

The Spanish foreign minister in Iraq announces that security concerns have prompted his government, a member of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, to order Spanish diplomats and civil experts in Baghdad to withdraw to Jordan. The Netherlands and Bulgaria, also members of the U.S. coalition, have instructed their diplomatic staffs to leave Iraqi capital as well. Spain, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria all have soldiers stationed in Iraq.

 

Explosions rock central Baghdad for the second night in a row, with at least three mortars landing inside the compound headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition. At least three people are injured in the attacks. Similar mortars hit a U.S. Army base in central Baghdad on November 3. No casualties were reported. According to coalition officials, only about a third of Saddam Hussein’s stockpile of some 5,000 shoulder-fired missiles have been recovered. In a separate incident, a U.S. soldier with the First Armored Division is killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb explodes in Baghdad. According to nonofficial estimates, 23 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since November 1.

 

President Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka suspends the Parliament and dismisses three key ministers on the grounds that they have given too much ground to the Tamil Tiger rebels during negotiations to end the country’s long civil war. Citing the country’s unstable situation, she places guards around all government structures in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, the capital. Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe, calls the president’s actions “irresponsible and precipitous.”

 

Republican candidates capture the office of governor in Kentucky and Mississippi. In Kentucky, Republican Ernie Fletcher, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, defeats the Democratic candidate, State Attorney General Ben Chandler. In Mississippi, Republican Haley Barbour, a Washington lobbyist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, unseats the Democratic incumbent, Ronnie Musgrove. Musgrove is the fifth sitting Democratic governor to be ousted in the last 12 months.

 

Nov. 5

The U.S. Department of Defense begins alerting some 43,000 Reserve and National Guard troops that they may be called up in the spring of 2004 for a yearlong duty in Iraq or Kuwait. According to a Defense Department spokesperson, the call-up is part of a force-rotation plan that will reduce the overall U.S. military presence in Iraq from 130,000 troops to approximately 105,000.  There are currently 60,000 National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq or Kuwait. The Defense Department spokesperson adds that an additional 10,000 Reserve and National Guard troops are almost certain to be notified of future call-up before the end of 2003.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency is dropping investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act. The Agency based its decision to drop the cases on new, less stringent rules that go into effect in December. According to agency spokespersons, the rule changes grew out recommendations made by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force. Under the new rules, power plants, oil refineries, and industrial boilers will no longer be forced to install pollution controls when they modernize plants.

 

Nov. 6

Productivity of U.S. companies climbed in the third quarter to its highest level since early 2002, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. Productivity—the amount an employee produces per hour of work—grew at an annual rate of 8.1 percent between July and September, up 7 percent over the second quarter.

 

A U.S. soldier and a Polish soldier are killed in Iraq. The American is killed by a land mine on Iraq’s border with Syria. The Pole dies after being shot by unknown assailants near Al Mussayyib, a city south of Baghdad. The soldier is his country’s first fatality since Polish forces took command of a multinational force in Iraq in September. Another U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded late on November 5 in an ambush on their patrol in Al Mahmudiyah, a city about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

 

Nov. 7

A rocket-propelled grenade downs a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter near Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, killing six American soldiers. Two additional U.S. soldiers are killed in separate attacks in the northern city of Mosul, pushing the death toll of American soldiers killed in Iraq during the first week of November to 31.

 

The government of Turkey announces that it will not send Turkish troops into Iraq to relieve U.S. forces. Turkey’s parliament voted in October to deploy troops under the U.S.-led coalition, but members of the Iraqi Governing Council strongly objected, saying they did not want forces from neighboring countries on Iraqi soil.

 

Nov. 8

A suicide bomb attack on a complex housing mostly foreign workers in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, leaves 17 people dead, including 5 children. More than 100 people are injured, including 36 children. According to Saudi officials, the victims include Saudis, Sudanese, and Egyptians. Officials note that the bombing bares the hallmarks of an attack by the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

Nov. 10

A U.S. military policeman in Iraq is killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Baghdad. The chief civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, warns that the incidence of insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq is likely to increase in the coming months. Bremer notes that the United States and its allies will not be driven out of Iraq.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear its first case arising from the U.S. government’s war on terrorism, which began in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.  The case involves whether foreigners being held at a U.S. Navy base in Cuba should have access to U.S. courts. More than 600 people suspected of being Taliban or al-Qa’ida fighters are being detained at the Guantanamo Bay base without being charged with formal crimes. Most of the detainees were picked up in Afghanistan in 2001 and have spent nearly two years in the prisoner of war camp.

 

Nov. 11

Japan and the European Union threaten the United States with billions of dollars in sanctions one day after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that U.S. steel tariffs are illegal. South Korea and China, the world’s largest steel producer, are also threatening to place sanction on U.S. imports if the tariffs remain in place. On November 10, the WTO confirmed an earlier ruling that U.S. steel tariffs went beyond WTO rules that allow countries to protect their industries from sudden surges of imports. U.S. President George W. Bush set the tariffs—which range from 8 to 30 percent on some steel imports—in March 2002 to protect the ailing U.S. steel industry. Industry leaders had complained that foreign competitors were “dumping” steel onto the U.S. market at below market prices. Many foreign steel companies can underprice U.S. companies because the foreign companies are generally subsidized by their governments, which consider steel essential for purposes of defense.

 

Several rockets explode in the heavily fortified compound in Baghdad that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq uses as a headquarters. While several vehicles are damaged, there are no casualties.

 

Nov. 12

A suicide bombing at the headquarters of Italian forces in Iraq kills at least 27 people—18 Italians and 9 Iraqis—in the southern city of An Nasiriyah. The powerful explosion, detonated inside an oil tanker truck driven into the gates of the compound, rips off the front of the three-story building housing the headquarters. The Italian casualties are the first in hostile action among the 2,400-strong Italian force serving in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. In and around Baghdad, the capital, two U.S. soldiers were killed and four others wounded in separate bomb attacks on November 11.

 

Nov. 13

France urges the United States to quickly set up a provisional Iraqi government in order to end the “spiral of violence” in Iraq. Speaking on Europe-1 radio, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin notes that the U.S. goal of creating a provisional government by mid-2004 must be moved forward, considering the escalating violence in Iraq. He recommends that a representative of the United Nations be appointed to work with the L. Paul Bremer, III, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, with the aim of turning over power to a representative assembly of Iraqis before the end of 2003. De Villepin’s comments are made one day after U.S. President George W. Bush instructed Diplomat Bremer to speed up the transfer of power in Iraq. A spokesperson for the Bush administration announced on November 12 that the president has decided to try to hold elections in Iraq in the first half of 2004 and to turn control of the country to a civilian Iraqi government before the writing of a new constitution is completed.

 

The government of Japan announces that it is delaying sending troops to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq because of the worsening security situation there. A force of 1,000 Japanese soldiers was to be deployed in An Nasiriyah, the scene of a suicide bombing on November 12 that killed at least 27 people, including 18 Italians. The president of South Korea confirms that his government is limiting its troop deployment in Iraq to the 3,000 soldiers already pledged, despite U.S. requests for a force of 5,000 troops.

 

A special Alabama court removes the state’s suspended chief justice, Roy S. Moore, from the bench, after finding that he committed ethical breaches involving Consitution issues over the separation of church and state. The presiding judge of the special court, William Thompson, notes that he and his colleagues had no choice in removing Moore from the state Supreme Court bench because “the chief justice placed himself above the law” by defying a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building in the state capital, Montgomery.

 

Nov. 14

Canada’s governing Liberal Party chooses former Finance Minister Paul Martin as its new leader, taking over from Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Martin receives 94 percent of the vote at a party convention in Toronto. Political experts expect Chretien to retire and Martin to become prime minister before the end of 2003. Martin is an old rival of Chretien, who dismissed Martin as finance minister in June 2002, when Martin attempted to take control of the party away from the prime minister.

 

Nov. 15

The United States will hand over power to a transitional government in Iraq in June 2004, announces a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. The announcement is made after members of the council met with L. Paul Bremer, III, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq. The transitional government is to prepare for a general election leading to a full functioning sovereign Iraqi government by 2005. Political experts note that the U.S. move to speed up the turning over of power to an Iraqi-led government may be a response to the continuing guerrilla attacks against coalition forces.

 

Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters crash in the northern city of Mosul after one helicopter assends to avoid being fired on and collides with the other. At least 17 U.S. soldiers are killed and 5 others are injured. In Baghdad, a U.S. soldier is killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb explodes in the city’s center.

 

Car bombs explode simultaneously outside two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 250 others. Most of the victims are passers-by or merchants in nearby shops. The explosions severely damage both temples. A militant Turkish Islamic group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front, claims responsibility. The larger of the two synagogues, Neve Shalom, has been the scene of other attacks. In 1986, Palestinian gunmen killed 22 worshipers and wounded 6 others during a Sabbath service. In 1992, the Islamic militant group Hezbollah bombed Neve Shalom, with no loss of life or injuries.

 

A gangplank on the new ocean liner Queen Mary 2 collapses at a French shipyard at Saint Nazaire. Falling from a great height, 15 people are killed, and 6 others are severely injured. All of the victims, which include children, were family members of workers in the shipyard and had been given permission to visit the nearly completed vessel. The new flagship of the Cunard line, the Queen Mary 2 is the largest passenger ship ever built—1,132 feet (345 meters) in length and as tall as a 23-story building. It is due to set sail for its home port of Southampton, England, in late December.

 

Voters in Louisiana elect the state’s first female governor. Democratic candidate Kathleen Blanco takes 52 percent of the vote against Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, the Republican candidate.

 

Nov. 16

Serbia fails to elect a president for the third time in just over a year because of low voter turnout. Serbia’s Constitution specifies that at least 50 percent of eligible voters must cast ballots for a presidential election to be valid. Unofficial results indicate that nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic leads Dragoljub Micunovic, the candidate sponsored by the current government.

 

Nov. 17

A jury in Manassas, Virginia, finds John Allen Muhammad, one of the men accused of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper killings in 2002, guilty of murder, terrorism, conspiracy, and lesser charges. John Allen Muhammad, 42, now may face the death penalty. Muhammad faces the death penalty.

 

Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as the 38th governor of California. Schwarzenegger promises to tackle California’s enormous budget deficit without raising taxes.

 

Two U.S. soldiers are killed in separate incidents near the Iraqi town of Balad, 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Earlier in the day, U.S. forces, backed by tanks and mortars, assaulted dozens of suspected guerrilla positions in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and killed six men alleged to be insurgents. Responding to the escalating violence in Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition has launched a series of raids and bombings in recent days, which military experts describe as an effort to intimidate the growing resistance movement.

 

Nov. 18

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution and orders the state’s legislature to pass a bill within 180 days creating a system in which same-sex couples can be joined in some kind of legal union. The Massachusetts Legislature is already considering a constitutional amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and the governor, Mitt Romney, has repeatedly stated that in his opinion marriage should be reserved for male and female couples only.

 

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien announces that he will step down as prime minister on December 12.  Chretien, who has led the government since 1993, will be replaced by Paul Martin, who was chosen as the leader of the ruling Liberal Party on November 14. Chretien dismissed Martin, a longtime rival, as finance minister in June 2002 when Martin attempted to take control of the Liberal Party away from the prime minister.

 

William Donaldson, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), testifies before members the U.S. Senate Banking Committee that his agency is fully capable of dealing with a rapidly spreading insider trading scandal in the $7-billion U.S. mutual fund industry. The SEC is a federal agency that administers and enforces federal laws governing the purchase and sale of securities. Lawmakers and others criticized Donaldson for the fact that New York State Attorney Eliot Spitzer, rather than the SEC, uncovered evidence that widespread insider trading among top mutual fund managers has cost ordinary fund investors million of dollars. Attorney General Spitzer has criticized the SEC for settling cases with mutual fund managers without bringing criminal charges.

 

Nov. 19

The U.S. Air Force drops two, 2,000-pound (90-kilogram) bombs on suspected guerrilla strongholds outside the Iraqi city of Baqubah, which is 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Baghdad. The satellite-guided bombs are among the largest weapons in the U.S. inventory. U.S. fighter pilots also bomb what an official with the U.S. military in Iraq describes as “terrorist targets” near the city of Kirkuk in the north. Late on November 18, the 4th Infantry Division fired mortars into areas of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, allegedly used by insurgents. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the bombings are part of an aggressive new offensive against the escalating insurgency movement in Iraq.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush, in a major foreign policy speech before an audience in London, announces that “great responsibilities” have again fallen on “the great democracies”—the United States and the United Kingdom—as defenders of freedom in Iraq and across the globe. Characterizing the situation in Iraq as serious, the president, referring to insurgents in Iraq, proclaims that United States will not retreat in the face of a “band of thugs.” He notes that his administration remains committed to the United Nations (UN)—an organization the United States was instrumental in forming—but again warns the UN that its credibility depends on its ability to stand behind its resolutions and “act when action is required.” He also warns that the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN affiliate, must hold Iran to its obligation not to create nuclear weapons. Finally, the president calls on both the Palestinians and Israel to cooperate in finding a way to bring peace to the Middle East through the creation of an independent Palestinian nation.

 

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York City announces that 47 Wall Street security brokers have been charged with defrauding investors out of tens of millions of dollars in a foreign currency trading scheme. Charges of money laundering, conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud have been brought against employees of some of New York City’s most prestigious security firms, including J. P. Morgan Chase. According to the U.S. attorney, the scheme, which the defendants referred to as the “the game,” involved taking kickbacks for arranging fraudulent currency trades for retail investors who were, in fact, barred from participating in such deals.

 

Nov. 20

Bomb attacks on the British consulate and the London-based HSBC bank in Istanbul, Turkey, kill at least 27 people. The consul-general, Roger Short, is among at least 14 victims of the consulate bombing. Hundreds of people are believed injured in the attack on the bank headquarters, a 15-story building adjacent to an arcade crowded with shoppers. According to eyewitnesses, much of Istanbul appears to be in chaos with phone service cut and the city’s hospitals inundated with the wounded. The bombings come just five days after similar attacks carried out by suicide bombers on two Istanbul synagogues left 25 people dead and hundreds of others injured. A group claiming to be linked to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network claimed responsibility for those attacks.

 

Health authorities in Pennsylvania in November identify 530 cases of hepatitis linked to a Mexican restaurant at a shopping mall northwest of Pittsburgh. At least three people believed to have been infected with hepatitis at the restaurant have died of the disease. Health screenings demonstrate that nearly 10,000 restaurant patrons were exposed to the virus in September and October. The restaurant, part of a chain, has been shut down.

 

Nov. 21

Insurgents attack key Baghdad buildings in central Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Muiltiple rocket-propelled grenades, launched from donkey carts, hit the Palestine and Sheraton hotels. At least one person is injured at one of the hotels, which accommodate foreign reporters and representatives of U.S. companies. At least one rocket also hits the Iraqi oil ministry, which catches fire. Authorities find two additional donkey carts loaded with dozens of rocks near the Italian Embassy.

 

New evidence has been uncovered that an asteroid hit Earth about 250 million years ago, announce scientists, who believe the impact and its aftermath wiped out most life on the planet. Geochemists at the University of Rochester, in New York State, have found new geological evidence of the asteroid in dozens of rare mineral grains in ancient rocks in Antarctica. According to the scientists, the tiny mineral grains are chondritic (stony) meteorite from outer space, and they date back to Permian-Triassic Period, 251 million years ago. During the same period, 70 percent of all land species and 90 percent of all marine life on Earth became extinct. Many scientists believe that a similar asteroid impact ended the era of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

 

Nov. 22

Suicide bombers simultaneously detonate explosive devices outside police headquarters in a town in northern Iraq about 20 miles (32 kilometers) apart. A total of 14 people, including 2 young girls, are killed. At least 50 others are wounded. In Baghdad,  insurgents fire at and hit a civilian cargo plane with surface-to-air missile minutes shortly after the private aircraft took off from the Baghdad International Airport. The pilot is able to land the plane, with one wing damaged and an engine on fire, without injury to himself or the rest of the crew.

 

Nov. 23

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze resigns in the face of massive popular protests in Tbilisi, the capital. Shevardnadze’s claim of victory in parliamentary elections on November 2—elections denounced by international observers as fraudulent—set off a widespread movement against him and his allies in parliament. His resignation came after the leader of the opposition, Mikhail Saakashvili, demanded that Shevardnadze step down. Saakashvili threatened to march his followers into the presidential residence to take it over, as they had taken over the parliament on November 22. After becoming president in 1992,  Shevardnadze was praised for ending the anarchy that threatened to engulf the former Soviet republic after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. However, Georgians generally came to regard him as a failed leader under whose rule one of most prosperous regions of the former Soviet Union grew ever poorer as government corruption and crime flourished.

 

Three U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi security official are killed in three separate incidences north of Baghdad, the capital. In Mosul, a U.S. military car crashed after being showered with rocks. According to eyewitnesses, the attackers approached the car, shot the two soldiers inside, and dragged their bodies into the street, where they were robbed of personal belongings. Elsewhere in Mosul, an unknown attacker hidden inside a car gunned down a top Iraqi police official as he and his son enter a mosque. The Iraqi official was in charge of oil installations in the region. In a third incident, a U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded in a roadside bombing near Baqubah, north of Baghdad, the capital.  U.S. military officials in Iraq also confirm that three U.S. contractors were hurt in a bomb blast at an oil installation near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

 

A U.S. helicopter crashes near the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, killing five soldiers and injuring seven others. The helicopter crew was involved in a military operation hunting down Taliban fighters and members of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

Nov. 24

At least 36 university students are killed and some 170 others are injured in a fire in a Moscow hostel that catered primarily to students from third-world countries. Most of the victims jumped into the street from the five-story building because emergency exits were bolted shut.

 

Croatia’s prime minister concedes defeat in the country’s general election. Ivica Racan’s Social Democrats lost out to the Croatian Democratic Union, the hardline nationalist party of the late President Franjo Tudjman, which took about 75 of the 140 seats in the parliament.

 

Nov. 25

Every day some 14,000 people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, announce officials with UNAids and the World Health Organization. According to their estimates, 5.1 million people will acquire the virus and 3 million people will die of AIDS in 2003. While the disease continues to be centered in sub-Saharan Africa, where two out of three new infections occur, both eastern Europe and central Asia are on the verge of epidemics. UNAids officials warn that reported infections are rising sharply in China, India, Indonesia, and Russia.

 

The Senate, in a 54 to 44 vote, passes a sweeping Medicare bill that  adds new prescription drug benefits for millions of senior U.S. citizens. The drug benefit, which is to start in 2006, covers about 75 percent of prescription costs up to $2,250 a year. Experts on health care issues describe the legislation as the largest revision in Medicare since the system was created in 1965. Political experts call the bill a great victory for President George W. Bush, who pushed strongly for its passage. Many Democrats opposed the bill because it gives insurance companies and private health plans a major role in Medicare.

 

The U.S. economy grew by 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003—the fastest growth rate in nearly 20 years, announce officials with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The third-quarter rate of growth in gross domestic product (GDP—the value of all goods and services produced in a country in a given year) is more than double the 3.3-percent rate of growth in the second quarter of 2003.

 

Nov. 26

The United States cuts $290 million in Israeli loan guarantees. Experts on the Middle East suggest that the cancellation of the guarantees suggests that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is not happy with the refusal of the Israeli Cabinet refusal to stop Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The Bush administration is also displeased with the barrier Israeli is building to separate Israeli and Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israeli government claims the barrier is necessary to stop suicide bombers.

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations agency based in Vienna, censures Iran for past nuclear cover-ups of a weapons program and warns that Iran’s nuclear program will be thoroughly policed in the future. The resolution does not confront Iran with a direct threat of UN sanctions.

 

At least 180 people are killed when high waves driven by a sudden storm cause a dangerously overcrowded ferry to founder on a lake off the Congo River in western Congo (Kinshasa).

 

Nov. 27

U.S. President George W. Bush, in a dramatic surprise, arrives in Baghdad to spend Thanksgiving with U.S.  American troops in Iraq. He also meets with members of the Iraqi Governing Council before flying back to the United States.

 

Taiwan’s parliament passes a law that gives the president limited powers to call a national referendum on independence. However, the law specifies that such a referendum may be used only in case of an imminent attack on the island from mainland China. The measure is far less restrictive than Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, wanted. Chen’s Democrat Progressive Party was unable to rally support in the parliament for referendums on changes to the constitution, flag, and official name of the island Chinese leaders in Beijing might have interpreted as provocative. China regards Taiwan as a Chinese province, not an independent country.

 

Nov. 28

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe threatens to pull his country out of the Commonwealth of nations if he is not included in the Commonwealth summit meeting in Nigeria in early December. Zimbabwe was suspended from the group of 54 primarily former British colonies after international observers accused Mugabe of rigging his reelection in 2002. Mugabe claims that the “white section” of Commonwealth leaders are attempting to punish him for his policy of seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

 

Nov. 29

Insurgents in Iraq kill ten people from three nations allied to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq as well as two American soldiers. In one incident, seven Spanish intelligence agents are killed in an ambush near the city of Al Mahmudiyah, 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital. A Colombian contractor is killed and two other Colombians are wounded when their car is attacked near Balad, a town approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Two Japanese diplomats and their driver are shot dead as they stop their car to buy food on a road outside Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown in the so-called Sunni Triangle, the anticoalition stronghold north of the capital. They were traveling to Tikrit to attend a conference on the reconstruction of northern Iraq. The two U.S. soldiers are killed and a third soldier wounded in a guerrilla ambush on a U.S. convoy near the Syrian border. A spokesperson for the U.S. military in Baghdad, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt announces that insurgents appear to be targeting coalition partners in an attempt to undermine the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

 

Nov. 30

Two South Korean electricians are killed and 2 others wounded near Tikrit, bringing to 12 the number of people from four nations killed in ambushes in Iraq in a period of two days. The South Korean electricians were apparently driving to a power transmission plant in Tikrit. A total of 104 coalition troops—79 U.S. soldiers and 25 other allied troops—are reported to have been killed in Iraq during November.

 

 

 

Chronology--2003--November

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Monday, 05 November 2012 15:58 Written by Jennifer Parello

Oct. 1

The Israeli Cabinet approves the construction of additional fencing around Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The fences, which in some areas are actually concrete walls, are designed to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers and other attacks. The next section is to be 28 miles (45 kilometers) in length. A United Nations report published on September 30 condemned the barriers as “an unlawful act of annexation.”

 

Executives at Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan, announce to employees that the corporation plans to cut as many as 12,000 jobs worldwide. According to industry analysts, the North America division of DaimlerChrysler, which is based in Germany, also plans to eliminate thousands of jobs. New labor agreements with the United Auto Workers allows the Big Three U.S. automakers to cut as many as 50,000 jobs through a combination of buyouts and normal attrition over the next few years.

 

A female U.S. soldier is killed and two other soldiers are wounded in a roadside bombing just outside the main U.S. military base at Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, in the so-called Sunni Triangle, a region of major resistance to coalition forces in Iraq. In Baghdad to the south, Iraqi police fire into a crowd of approximately 1,000 demonstrators demanding jobs, injuring at least one person. The protesters claim to have paid bribes to the police for what turned out to be nonexistent jobs on the force. In the northern city of Mosul, police fire warning shots in the air to disperse hundreds of unemployed Iraqis who marched on the city hall demanding jobs. U.S. officials in Iraq estimate that 50 percent of Iraqi men are unemployed.

 

Oct. 2

U.S. troops in Iraq are being attacked 15 to 20 times a day on average, and 3 to 6 soldiers are being killed per week, announces the commander of American forces in Iraq. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez notes, “The enemy has evolved—a little bit more lethal, a little more complex, a little more sophisticated, and in some cases, a little bit more tenacious.” The general blames the changing nature of the conflict on terrorists and Islamic militants crossing into Iraq in ever greater numbers from Syria and northern Iran to join forces with Saddam Hussein loyalists. Three U.S. soldiers in Iraq died on October 1 in three separate attacks. A soldier from the 1st Armored Division was shot and killed while on patrol in Baghdad; a female soldier from the 4th Infantry Division died when a roadside bomb exploded outside the main U.S. base in Tikrit; and another soldier from the 4th Infantry Division died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his convoy near the city of Samara north of Baghdad.

 

Oct. 3

The Israeli Housing Ministry announces that it is taking bids on the construction of 600 new houses in three large settlements on the West Bank. A spokesperson for the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush characterizing the move as undercutting the Middle East peace plan that could well result in a reduction in U.S. aid to Israel.

 

Oct. 4

A female suicide bomber detonates an explosive device in a restaurant in the Israeli port of Haifa, killing herself and 19 other people, including 4 children and several Arabs. At least 50 people are wounded in the attack, which comes one day before Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

 

Oct. 5

Israel bombs what the Israeli government describes as a “Palestinian terrorist camp” in Syria 10 miles (16 kilometers) northwest of Damascus, the capital. According to an Israeli spokesperson, the attack is made in retaliation for the October 4 suicide bombing that left 20 people dead in a restaurant in the Israeli port of Haifa. The Israeli government stresses that the air strike is not directed against Syria but rather against the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the Haifa attack. Earlier, the Israeli army launched missile strikes against two separate locations in Gaza City, including a Palestinian refugee camp, and demolished the house of the female Palestinian who carried out the terrorist attack.

 

The Chicago Cubs beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, in game 5 of the National League division series, giving the team its first postseason victory since winning the World Series in 1908.

 

Oct. 6

Turkey’s Cabinet agrees to send troops to help stabilize Iraq. However, the decision must be approved by the Turkish parliament, which earlier in 2003 defied the Cabinet and refused to allow U.S. troops to move into Iraq through Turkey. International affairs experts suggest that the Cabinet’s decision will help Turkey mend frayed relations with the United States regardless of outcome of the vote in parliament. If the deployment is approved, Turkey will be the first predominantly Islamic country to send troops to Iraq.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush has created a new executive committee, the Iraq Stabilization Group, announces a spokesperson for the president. The group, headed by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of Iraq, which was previously handled by U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tells reporters that he is unaware of the existence of the new group.

 

Oct. 7

The Turkish parliament authorizes the government to send troops to join coalition forces in Iraq. A force of as many as 10,000 Turkish soldiers may be sent into Iraq as early as November to help stabilize the country. International affairs experts suggest that Turkey’s willingness to join the coalition is an attempt to mend fences. Just prior to the start of the war in March, the Turkish parliament blocked U.S. troops from moving through Turkey on their way to Iraq, substantially altering U.S. war plans. Experts also note that joining the coalition gives Turkey a say in Iraq’s reconstruction. Turkey is vitally interested in Iraq’s Kurdish population because Turkey’s own Kurdish minority continues to push for an independent Kurdish nation carved out of both Turkey and Iraq. In Iraq, three U.S. soldiers died on October 6 in two separate bomb attacks. One soldier was killed and another wounded when their vehicle detonated a bomb planted in a road west of Baghdad. Two soldiers and their Iraqi translator were killed in a similar explosion on a road south of the capital.

 

The California electorate votes overwhelmingly to recall Governor Gray Davis and replace him with film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the two-part ballot, California voters were asked if they wanted to recall the governor and indicate whom they preferred as his replacement. More than 54 percent vote to remove Davis from office. Schwarzenegger, an Austria-born bodybuilder who immigrated to the United States to be a movie star, took 48 percent of votes cast in a field of 135 candidates. Scheduled to take office in November, Schwarzenegger pledges to restore trust in state government through fiscal discipline. He faces an estimated $8 billion budget shortfall.

 

Oct. 8

A young person is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, every 14 seconds, reports the United Nations (UN) Population Fund. Every day, some 6,000 people between the ages of 14 and 24 are infected. According to the UN report, half of all new infections are in people under the age of 25. The majority of these are women living in developing countries. The executive director of the UN agency describes the present rate of infection a “global catastrophe.”

 

Oct. 9

Nine people are killed and at least 45 others wounded when a suicide bomber plows his car into a group of Iraqi policemen standing outside a Baghdad police station to collect their pay. The powerful explosion mangles several police cars and leaves a hole 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep in the courtyard in front of the station house. Elsewhere in Baghdad, a group of militants attack and kill a Spanish officer just outside the front door of his house. The officer was an Air Force sergeant  attached to Spain’s National Intelligence Center. A U.S. soldier dies from wounds sustained during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his convoy near Baqubah, 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad.

 

Assailants armed with small arms and “unknown heavier weapons” open fire on a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, killing two soldiers and wounding four others. The incident takes place in the same neighborhood, a largely Shiite slum, in which a suicide bomber earlier in the day killed himself and eight Iraqis police officers in front of a station house.

 

The new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, who was sworn in as head of an emergency cabinet on October 5, threatens to resign over whether he or Yasir Arafat will control Palestinian security forces. The same issue led to the resignation of the previous prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. After resigning, Abbas told associates that Arafat refused to cede any real power, making the position of prime minister untenable.

 

At least 54 people, including 49 girls, are killed when their school bus bursts into flames after being crushed between two vehicles in a collision on the Indonesian island of East Java. The group had been on a field trip to Bali.

 

Oct. 10

U.S. President George W, Bush announces sanctions against Cuba designed to bring down Fidel Castro’s Communist government. The measures include tightening a U.S. embargo on travel to Cuba; stopping illegal cash transfers between the United States and Cuba; and new public information campaign aimed at the Cuban people. The president notes that the punitive measures are being introduced as Castro continues to act with “defiance and contempt and a new round of brutal oppressiont hat outrage world conscience.“

 

A ferry sinks on the River Benue in Nigeria, about 440 miles (700 kilometers) east of Abuja, the capital, after hitting a bridge. Only 50 of the 100 to 150 passengers aboard are rescued.

 

Oct. 11

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 rocks northern Japan, two weeks after an earthquake shook the same region. The quake is centered off the southeast coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island.

 

U.S. companies are passing a larger percentage of health insurance costs onto employees, report Hewitt Associates, an Illinois-based consulting company on employee capital management. Insurance companies estimate that employees will see their share of insurance costs rise an average of 23 percent, or $289, in 2004. Employer paid premiums are expected to raise 12.6 percent during the same period. U.S. employees will pay on average of $1,565 for their share of health insurance in 2004. The Hewitt report, which is based on 300 major U.S. employers with at least 5,000 employees, notes that employee contributions have gone up 200 percent in the last five years while employer health insurance costs have risen about 60 percent.

 

Oct. 12

At least 8 Iraqis are killed and 10 others wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside a hotel in central Baghdad that is used by senior coalition officials and members of the Iraqi Governing Council. The explosion takes place after the security guards fired on the automobile as it broke through a concrete security barrier.

 

Oct. 13

A revised draft of the U.S. resolution on Iraq before the United Nations (UN) Security Council gives Iraq’s Governing Council a deadline of December 15 to develop a schedule for elections and writing a new constitution. The new draft is the latest version of a resolution in which the United States seeks international support—specifically, troops and money—to help stabilize and  rebuild Iraq. Various European nations that seek a stronger role for the United Nations in Iraq criticized a previous draft because it did not specify when the United States is to hand over power to an Iraqi government.

 

Oct. 14

A car bomb explodes outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, killing the driver and at least one other person. Two embassy employees, including a security guard, are wounded. The bombing occurs one week after the Turkish Grand National Assembly authorized the government to send peacekeeping troops into Iraq. A similar bombing outside the Baghdad Hotel on October 12 killed at least eight Iraqis. The hotel is used by senior coalition officials and members of the Iraqi Governing Council.

 

Military officials in Iraq report that six U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on October 12 and 13.

 

Gyude Bryant, a veteran campaigner against the warlords who have plagued Liberia, is sworn in as president in a ceremony in Monrovia, the capital. Bryant was chosen for the position during the peace talks that ended Liberia’s 14-year civil war. He replaces Moses Blah, who served as an interim president after Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria. United Nations peacekeepers continue to patrol the streets of Monrovia after a shootout broke out two weeks ago between rebels and government supporters.

 

An estimated 14 people are killed in a gun battle with police in the streets of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, in a popular revolt that has left at least 50 people dead. The capital has been paralyzed for weeks by looting, food shortages, and violence. Demanding that President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada step down, leaders of Bolivia’s indigenous majority have set up roadblocks around La Paz to protest Sanchez de Lozada’s pro-United States, free-market policies. The rebels, joined by farmers of coca, the raw material from which cocaine is made, accuse Sanchez de Lozada of pandering to the U.S. government’s war on drugs. Sanchez de Lozada’s plan to sell natural gas to the United States sparked the rebellion in a country where foreign powers have exploited natural wealth at little benefit to people. The president and members of his besieged government remain in the presidential palace, ringed by dozens of tanks.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court lets stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Federal officials may not investigate, threaten, or punish physicians who recommend marijuana as a medical treatment in states where such treatments are legal. The Appeals Court decision affects physicians in 10 states. Legal experts characterize the Supreme Court’s refusal to overturn the decision as a rebuff to U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Under Ashcroft’s instruction, U.S. Justice Department officials have issued warnings that the Drug Enforcement Administration may revoke the medical registration of any physician who recommends the medical use of marijuana.

 

Oct. 15

A massive bomb explodes alongside a U.S. diplomatic convoy on a road in the Gaza Strip, killing three U.S. security guards and injuring one other. At a nearby refugee camp, Palestinians respond to the news of the explosion with jubilation, and Palestinian youths throw stones at U.S. embassy personnel at the scene of the bombing. An official with the U.S. Department of State advises all U.S. citizens to leave the Gaza Strip and warns Americans in the West Bank to exercise caution.

 

China launches its first manned spacecraft with Yang Liwei, a former jet pilot, aboard the Shenzhou V. The craft, which lifts off from the Gobi Desert, is to orbit Earth 14 times during a 21-hour journey. China is the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to put a human being into space.

 

A Staten Island ferry transporting some 1,500 passengers from Manhattan crashes into a maintenance pier at the St. George ferry terminal on Staten Island. The concrete and wooden pier slices a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) gash into one side of the vessel, mauling passengers on the lowest of three decks. Ten people are killed, and dozens of commuters and tourists are seriously injured, many losing limbs. Officials believe the ferry approached the terminal at too great a speed.

 

The Florida Marlins, playing at Wrigley Field in Chicago, beat the Cubs 9-6 in the game 7 of the series to take the National League championship. The loss costs the Cubs its first chance at a World Series in 58 years.

 

Oct. 16

Permanent and representative nations on the United Nations Security Council vote unanimously in favor of a revised resolution on Iraq. The resolution, backed by the United States, confirms that the U.S.-led coalition will remain in power in Iraq for an unspecified period. However, the resolution stresses that sovereignty is to be transferred to a government representing the Iraqi people as soon as practicable. The resolution gives Iraq’s Governing Council a deadline of December 15 to develop a schedule for elections and writing a new constitution. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush hopes the UN resolution will pave the way for member nations to provide troops and money for the pacification and rebuilding of Iraq.

 

Canada’s two conservative parties, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party, agree to unite in an effort to give the governing Liberal Party a competitive race in national elections in 2004.

 

The New York Yankees take the American League championship by beating the Boston Red Sox 6-5 in game 7 of the series.

 

Protests over the outcome of Azerbaijan’s presidential election spark street battles in Baku, the capital. At least one person is dead and dozens of others are wounded in clashes between protesters and soldiers, police, and special security units. Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission named Ilham Aliyev president with 80 percent of the vote. Aliyev is the son of Heydar Aliyev, the current president, whom critics describe as Azerbaijan’s “longtime strongman.”

 

Oct. 17

Four U.S. soldiers are killed in Iraq in less than 24 hours, bringing to more than 100 the number of Americans  who have died in attacks since U.S. President George W. Bush declared on May 1 that major hostilities in Iraq had ended. In Baghdad, the capital,  a U.S. military police officer is killed in a roadside bomb attack. In the holy city of Karbala, three U.S. military police  officers and at least two Iraqi police officers were killed late on October 16 in a protracted gun battle with supporters of a Shiah cleric. Seven Americans and five Iraqis were injured in the attack, which also left a number of Islamic militants dead.

 

Bolivia’s president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, resigns amid enormous antigovernment demonstrations in La Paz, the capital. The new caretaker president, Carlos Mesa, calls for immediate elections. The demonstrations were triggered by the announcement that Sanchez de Lozada was negotiating with U.S. interests to sell natural gas to the United States. International affairs experts describe the demonstrations as a backlash against globalization and U.S.-backed free-market reforms, which have left Bolivia’s native Indian majority in dire economic straits.

 

Oct. 18

The al-Jazeera satellite television system broadcasts a video tape of Osama bin Laden calling on all Muslims to enter into an Islamic “holy war” against the United States and its allies in the war in Iraq. The leader of the al-Qa’ida terrorist network threatens a new series of suicide attacks. Analysts from the U.S. Central Intelligence agency believe the tape was made sometime in the past six months because of references to recent events in the Middle East.

 

Oct. 19

A new agency, administered by the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank, is to be created to determine how billions of dollars in reconstruction assistance should be spent in Iraq, announce officials with the UN and the U.S. government. However, the agency will not be funded by the United States, which will continue to administer its own reconstruction aid to Iraq. International affairs experts note that the agency is being created to satisfy possible donor countries reluctant to provide monetary aid to Iraq if the money is administered by the U.S.-led coalition.

 

Oct. 20

North Korea launches a short-range test missile from its eastern coast as U.S. President George W. Bush meets with President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea in Bangkok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit. On October 19, President Bush ruled out the possibility of a nonaggression treaty with North Korea but did suggest that the United States might enter into a five-nation written security pledge if North Korea were to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

 

Guerrillas ambush U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division on foot patrol just outside Al Fallujah, a hotbed of anti-American feeling west of Baghdad. One American soldier is killed and five others are wounded. On October 18 in the northern city of Kirkuk, two U.S. soldiers were killed when their patrol was ambushed with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

 

Oct. 21

U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, joined by members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, raid the al-Mukhayam Mosque in Karbala, a Shiite holy city south of Baghdad, the capital. More than 40 people are detained, including followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric with known connections to Iranian hard-liners. Al-Sadr does not recognize the legitimacy of the Iraqi Governing Council and is attempting to generate public support for an Islamic republic in Iraq. A power struggle between his group and rival Shiite factions has dramatically elevated tensions in Karbala, where three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi police officers died in a 12-hour gunfight with Islamic militants on October 16.

 

Iran agrees to suspend production of enriched uranium, which is used in the production of nuclear weapons, and to allow United Nations officials to inspect its nuclear sites. The agreement, completed in Tehran, Iran’s capital, caps two and a half months of diplomatic effort between Iran’s chief negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, and three European foreign ministers, Dominique de Villepin of France, Jack Straw of the United Kingdom, and Joschka Fischer of Germany. In announcing the agreement, Rowhani, a Muslim cleric, emphasizes that the suspension of uranium enrichment is for an “interim period” only. Officials with the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush express skepticism that Iran will comply with the agreement.

 

The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning a security barrier that Israel is constructing in the West Bank. The government of Israel responds that the project, which is designed to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers, will continue. Palestinian leaders consider the barrier, consisting of miles of high concrete walls and heavily reinforced steel fencing, an encroachment on Palestinian land and proof that Israel considers Israeli settlements in border areas permanent.

 

Oct. 22

Five U.S. soldiers are wounded in guerrilla attacks on convoys in Iraq. Two men are wounded when an explosive device detonates beside their combat patrol in central Baghdad. In a separate attack on the road between Al Fallujah and Habbaniyah, southwest of Baghdad, three U.S. soldiers are wounded when their military vehicle bursts into flames after being hit by an improvised bomb. The commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, discloses that attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq have increased—to an average of 25 per day.

 

Oct. 23

One U.S. soldier is dead and two others wounded in a bomb attack on a military convoy near Baqubah, 40 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. Attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq also occur in the city of Fallujah west of Baghdad, in the northern city of Mosul, and on an oil pipeline near Kirkuk.

 

Oct. 24

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz arrives in Iraq for a three-day visit as violence against U.S. troops in Iraq continues to escalate. Two soldiers are killed and four others are wounded in Samara, north of Baghdad. A third soldier is shot and killed guarding a grain silo in the northern city of Mosul. A bomb attack on a military convoy in Al Fallujah, west of Baghdad, leaves several U.S. soldiers wounded. At least one Iraqi is killed in a rocket attack in a residential neighborhood. The latest deaths raise to 108 the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in hostilities since the war was declared over on May 1.

 

Representatives of 77 nations, meeting in Madrid, pledge in excess of $13 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq, more than many international affairs experts had predicted. However, the $13 billion combined with the $20 billion pledged by the United States falls short of the $56 billion that the World Bank estimates is needed to rebuild the country. In addition, much of the money is in the form of loans not outright grants. Experts note that Iraq is already overburdened with some $120 billion in debt run up by Saddam Hussein’s government. The World Bank is to manage most of the non-U.S. pledges. France, Germany and Russia, which opposed the U.S.-led war with Iraq, did not pledge additional funding for the rebuilding.

 

Oct. 25

The Florida Marlins win the World Series by defeating the Yankees 2-0 in game 6 at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

 

Two earthquakes, measuring 6.1 and 5.8, shake areas of Gansu province in northwestern China, killing at least four people. Provincial officials report that near the epicenter—about 310 miles (500 kilometers) north of the provincial capital, Lanzhou—about 30 percent of all housing is severely damaged and one village is 90 percent destroyed.

 

Oct. 26

Guerrillas fire a barrage of air-to-ground missiles at Baghdad’s Al-Rashid Hotel, where U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is staying during a three-day trip to Iraq. A senior U.S. Army officer is killed and 17 other people are wounded, including 11 Americans, in the attack, which blasts two balconies from the facade and breaks most of the windows in a structure that was regarded as one of the most secure places in the Iraqi capital. Wolfowitz is unhurt. Elsewhere in Baghdad, the city’s deputy mayor, Faris al-Assam, is murdered in a drive-by shooting near his residence.

 

Oct. 27

At least 35 people are killed and more than 200 others wounded in a series of bombings in Baghdad. Four suicide bombers detonate explosive devices at the Baghdad headquarters of International Committee of the Red Cross and at three police stations, killing 26 civilians and 8 Iraqi policemen. An attack on a fourth police station is foiled when a policeman shoots the bomber before he chance to act. Authorities characterize the attacks, which are made on the first day of Ramadan, the holiest of Islamic holidays, as clearly coordinated and typical of tactics employed by foreign fighters, particularly the al-Qa’ida terrorist network. The bomber who is wounded by the Iraqi policeman identifies himself as Syrian and carries Syrian papers.

 

At least 10 different wildfires are spreading through large parts of southern California, burning hundreds of houses. Officials attribute at least 13 deaths to the fires, which are forcing thousands of people to evacuate. Smoke and rising flames from the fires are delaying air travel along the West Coast, particularly after air traffic controllers at Los Angeles International Airport were forced to transfer to the L.A. Center in Palmdale, California.

 

Oct. 28

U.S. President George W. Bush blames the recent rash of suicide bombings in Iraq on Saddam Hussein loyalists and on foreign terrorists. He noted that the U.S. government is working closely with Syria and Iran to prevent more terrorists from entering Iraq across their borders. The president’s comments come hours after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near a police station in Al Fallujah, 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Four Iraqis civilians were killed in the blast. The city was later rocked by eight massive explosions, which residents described as “deafening.” In northern Iraq, four U.S. soldiers were wounded when their patrol was ambushed near the city of Mosul. In British-held Basrah in the south, a roadside  explosion injured a coalition soldier and two Iraqi civilians.

 

Two U.S. soldiers are killed and one other wounded when their tank hits an “unidentified explosive device” during a late-night patrol near Balad, 45 miles (72) kilometers) north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The deaths of the two men brings to 116 the number of U.S. soldiers to die in hostile action since hostilities were declared over on May 1—more than the 115 U.S. soldiers who died in combat during the war.

 

Serious crime in the United States remained largely steady in 2002, dropping a mere 1.1 percent below 2001 rates, announces officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the same period, the murder rate increased by 1 percent. However, the 2002 murder rate remains 34 percent below the 1992 rate, reflecting an enormous drop in serious crimes in the last 10 years.

 

Oct. 29

Wildfires in California have burned across 950 square miles (22,460 square kilometers), an area as large as the state of Rhode Island, report California officials. At least 16 people have died since October 21 as a result of the fires, and more than 1,600 houses have burned in what officials describe as the most costly disaster in state history.

 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) plans to reduce its foreign staff in Iraq, announces an ICRC spokesperson. The announcement comes two days after the ICRC headquarters in Baghdad was bombed, killing two employees. A spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders, a medical relief organization based in France, announced on October 28 that it was reducing its staff in Iraq in the wake of the Red Cross bombing.

 

Oct. 30

The United Nations (UN) had ordered all non-Iraqi members of its staff in Baghdad out of Iraq until the security situation there can be evaluated, announces a UN spokesperson. The move comes after at least 34 people were killed and more than 200 others wounded in a series of coordinated suicide bombings in Baghdad on October 27.

 

The U.S. economy expanded at a rate of 7.2 percent during the third quarter of 2003, the fastest rate of growth since 1984, report U.S. Department of Commerce officials. During the three months that ended in September, consumer spending grew rapidly, U.S. exports increased, and American companies enlarged investments in plants and offices, equipment, and technology.

 

Russian authorities seize control of the giant oil company Yukos less than one week after the company’s chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested and charged with seven counts of tax evasion and fraud. The seizure, an unprecedented act since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, is made after the Yukos board voted shareholders a $2-billion dividend payout, one of the largest in Russian corporate history. Khodorkovsky’s share of the dividend would exceed $730 million. According to experts on the Russian government, the case against Khodorkovsky, is widely regarded as political. Khodorkovsky, one of Russia’s richest and most powerful individuals, funds political parties critical of President Putin, who faces parliamentary elections in December and a presidential election in 2004. Putin, who is generally seen as a source of stability and economic reform, insists that the case against Khodorkovsky is not political but part of his attempt to stem widespread corporate corruption.

 

31 Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, steps down after 22 years in power. Mahathir is credited with transforming Malaysia from a third-world country into a highly industrialized economic powerhouse. Mahathir’s deputy, Abdullah Badawi, is sworn in as the country’s new leader by King Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail at a ceremony in the National Palace.

 

 

 

Chronology--2003--October

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Monday, 05 November 2012 15:58 Written by Jennifer Parello

Sept. 1

Iraq’s governing council appoints a 25-member cabinet that is to eventually assume day-to-day control of the government from allied forces in Iraq. While describing the appointment as an important first step in the transference of power back into Iraqi hands, the council lodges a formal complaint to the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, III, that allied forces are not providing council members with adequate protection.

 

Sept. 2

A bomb planted in a pickup truck explodes outside the office of Baghdad’s police chief, Hassan Ali, missing him but killing one Iraqi officer and wounding at least 25 others. Security experts note similarities between the careful execution and high-profile target of the bombing and recent bomb attacks on the Jordanian Embassy and United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and on the Holy Shrine of Ali in An Najaf. Just prior to the latest bombing, two U.S. soldiers from the 220th Military Police Brigade were killed and a third wounded when their military vehicle triggered an explosive device planted along the main supply route south of Baghdad.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush instructs Secretary of State Colin Powell to propose a resolution to the United Nations (UN) Security Council calling for a UN-sponsored multinational force in Iraq. The president insists, however, that U.S. Army officers command the force. International affairs experts note that the Bush administration’s appeal to the United Nations is a major strategy shift that suggests that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq may be stretched too thin.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush authorizes diplomats negotiating with North Korea to offer a broad range of aid packages to its starving people if the North Korean government will eventually surrender nuclear weapons and shut down nuclear arms facilities. According to foreign affairs analysts, the president’s instructions to U.S. diplomats meeting with their North Korean counterparts in China’s capital, Beijing, constitute a major shift in U.S. foreign policy. The Bush administration had previously demanded that North Korea ship all nuclear weapons out of the country and dismantle all facilities before the United States would begin negotiations.

 

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office reports to Senator Robert Byrd (D., West Virginia) that guerrilla warfare is stretching active-duty U.S. forces in Iraq so thinly that the current level of troops cannot be maintained beyond spring 2004 unless more National Guard and Reserve units are activated. In estimates prepared upon request by the senator, the nonpartisian budget office states that the annual cost of the U.S. deployment in Iraq could climb to as high as $29 billion.

 

U.S. Senator John Kerry (D., Massachusetts) announces that he is officially running for president of the United States in the 2004 election.

 

Sept. 3

A Polish-led international force of 9,000 soldiers assumes control of part of central Iraq in a move designed to relieve the burden on Allied troops. In the ancient city of Babylon, U.S. Marines formally yield control in a ceremony making Poland the third country after the United States and the United Kingdom to assume responsibility as an occupying force. The area under Polish control is south of Baghdad, the capital, and includes the city of Najaf, where a car bomb on August 29 killed more than 80 people, including Iraq’s most prominent Shiite clerical leader.

 

Sept. 4

The British government is reviewing the level of British troops in Iraq with the possibility that reinforcements may have to be sent. Speaking at his monthly news conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair describes the situation in Iraq as “serious” but notes that no decision has yet been made to reinforce the 10,000 British soldiers currently in Iraq. He notes that extremists, rather than ordinary Iraqis, carried out the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq. Eleven British troops have been killed in action since U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1.

 

Sept. 5

Hurricane Fabian slams into Bermuda with heavy rain and winds of 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour. The Category 3 storm is the most powerful to hit the island chain since 1953.

 

Sept. 6

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas resigns after four months in office. Experts on the Middle East suggest that a prolonged power struggle between Abbas and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat triggered the resignation, which further undermines the U.S.-backed road map for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Abbas strongly backed the plan, which began to unravel in mid-August when a cease-fire collapsed in another round of violence between Palestinian militant groups and the Israeli military.

 

Sept. 7

U.S. President George W. Bush, in a prime-time address to the nation, asks Congress to allocate an additional $87 billion to cover the costs of pacifying and rebuilding Iraq. He describes Iraq as the central front in the war on terrorism and calls on world leaders to support U.S. efforts there with troops and money for reconstruction.

 

At least 70 people are killed in a deadly blaze when a passenger bus and three other vehicles collide on a highway about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Police concede that neglect of the highways because of years of economic decline may contribute to the excessively high roadway death tolls in the West African nation.

 

Sept. 8

Ahmed Qurei, speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, accepts Yasir Arafat’s nomination to become the next Palestinian prime minister. Qurei, a leading member of the mainstream Fatah faction, helped negotiate the Oslo peace accords with Israel in 1993.

 

The United Kingdom is sending an additional 1,200 troops to Iraq, announces a spokesperson for the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

 

About $51 billion of the $87 billion in additional military spending that U.S. President George W. Bush has requested from Congress would be used to secure Iraq and curb guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops, announces the Bush administration. Approximately $20 billion is earmarked for rebuilding damaged and neglected infrastructure and for establishing an Iraqi government. More than $10 billion would go to Afghanistan for military operations and the reconstruction of roads, schools, and hospitals. Administration spokesperson Scott McClellan concedes that the cost of rebuilding Iraq was previously underestimated, while oil revenues from Iraq were overestimated. Prior to the war, the administration claimed that Iraqi oil fields would quickly yield $100 billion that could be used to fund reconstruction. Iraqi oil revenues may reach $12 billion in 2004, according to the latest estimates. McClellan notes that administration officials believe that the government can afford the additional costs without rolling back recent tax cuts if Congress holds the line on discretionary spending. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal deficit for fiscal year 2004 may hit $500 billion.

 

Sept. 9

A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates an explosive device at a bus stop near an army base outside Tel Aviv, killing himself and seven other people. At least 15 people are wounded, according to rescuers, who note that all of the dead and most of the wounded were Israeli soldiers. Another six people are killed and more than 40 others are wounded when a second suicide bomber blows himself apart in a Jerusalem café. A leader of the Palestinian group Hamas characterizes both blasts as responses to recent Israeli attacks on Palestinian militants. Earlier in the day, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and three adults, including two Hamas leaders, were killed when Israeli forces surrounded a building in Hebron.

 

Sept. 10

A suicide attacker detonates a powerful car bomb outside an office building used by U.S. troops near the Kurdish city of Irbil in northern Iraq. The explosion throws debris as far as 600 feet (180 meters), collapses nearby houses, and leaves a crater 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep. An Iraqi child is killed in the blast and some 50 other people are wounded, including U.S. civilians working on contract for the U.S. Department of Defense. In a separate incident, one U.S. soldier is killed and a second soldier is wounded when unknown attackers armed with an “improvised explosive device” ambush a U.S. combat vehicle on a main supply route northeast of Baghdad, the capital. Media correspondents report that Iraqis are complaining that U.S. forces are more intent on protecting themselves than the lives and property of Iraqi civilians.

 

A man who appears to be Osama bin Laden, the person blamed for the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, appears on Al Jazeera network television on the eve of the second anniversary of the attacks. The video purportedly shows bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, walking along steep and rocky trails. They are dressed in traditional Afghan garb and carrying rifles. On an accompanying audiotape, the al-Qa’ida leader praises the suicide hijackers who carried out the attacks, and al-Zawahiri exhorts resistance fighters to “bury” U.S. troops in Iraq. Intelligence analysts believe the tapes are genuine and were recorded in late April or May.

 

Sept. 11

The members of Israel’s security cabinet vote to expel Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat from the West Bank and instruct Israeli Defense Forces to put together an expulsion plan. The cabinet issues a statement describing Arafat as an “absolute obstacle to the process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians” and announces that “Israel will act to remove this obstacle.” Responding to the announcement, Richard Boucher of the U.S. Department of State notes that the state department views Arafat as “part of the problem, not part of the solution” but considers Israeli attempts to expel Arafat as “not helpful.”

 

Cities across the United States mark the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the nation with ceremonies to remind the living of the more than 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

 

Sweden’s foreign minister, Anna Lindh, dies as a result of stab wounds she suffered on September 10 when an unidentified assailant attacked her with a knife in a department store in central Stockholm. The assailant remains at large. Swedish authorities speculate that the foreign minister’s strong support for Swedish adoption of the European Union currency, the euro, may have led to her death.

 

Sept. 12

Three separate attacks on U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq and an incident of “friendly fire” result in the deaths of 10 people and leaves 20 others wounded. Two soldiers are killed during a rebel raid on coalition forces in Ar Ramadi, a town some 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the capital. Seven coalition soldiers also were wounded in the attack, an early morning shootout involving small arms fire. Ar Ramadi lies within the so-called Sunni Triangle, a region of strong anti-American resistance. Two additional coalition soldiers are wounded in Baghdad when their military police patrol vehicle bursts into flames after striking an explosive device near the Abu Ghurayb market. In Al Fallujah, a city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, rebels firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades wound a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division as well as five noncombatants. In a separate incident in Al Fallujah, U.S. troops mistakenly fire on an allied security force, killing eight Iraqi policemen and wounding five others. The Iraqi police were involved in a car chase with highway robbers.

 

Sept. 13

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin fail to resolve differences that would allow the United Nations (UN) Security Council to pass a UN resolution on Iraq. U.S. President George W. Bush seeks a UN peacekeeping mission in Iraq but under U.S. control. He is also asking member nations for financial help in securing the peace in Iraq. France, which opposed the war in Iraq, wants the United States to quickly relinquish economic and political power in Iraq to a provisional Iraqi-run government under UN supervision.

 

More than 115 people are killed when Typhoon Maemi hits the South Korean port city of Pusan, which is 280 miles (450 kilometers) southeast of Seoul, the capital.

 

Sept. 14

The Swedish people vote overwhelmingly against joining the European single currency, the euro. Political analysts consider the outcome of the referendum a major defeat for the prime minister, Goran Persson, who campaigned vigorously for the adoption of the euro. They also note that the negative vote weakens efforts to strengthen the European Union before its expansion into Eastern Europe in 2004.

 

General Verissimo Correia Seabra, chief of staff of the Guinea-Bissau Army, declares himself interim president of the tiny West African country after the Army staged a coup (overthrow) and ousted President Kumba Yala. Seabra accuses Yala, who is being held in detention, of violating the country’s constitution and causing “political instability.”

 

Sept. 15

A three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals orders California officials to stop preparation for a recall election of Governor Gray Davis. The judges note that the postponement is warranted because the scheduled date of the election, October 7, does not give six California counties sufficient time to replace antiquated punch-card voting systems. Citing a “hurried, constitutionally infirm” process, the judges then stay their decision for seven days to allow for an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The ruling comes after a hearing at which the American Civil Liberties Union argued that large numbers of voters could be disenfranchised because punch-card voting systems are significantly more subject to error than other systems.

 

Sept. 16

The U.S. Senate votes 55-40 to undo new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations governing the ownership of media outlets. In June, the Republican-dominated FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to loosen restrictions on the ownership of newspapers and television and radio stations. The new rules allow a single person or company to own multiple radio and television stations and newspapers in a single market, which had been prohibited in the past. The new rules also allow a single person or company to own TV stations reaching up to 45 percent of all viewers in the United States. Critics claim that the new FCC rules will lead to more corporate mergers, resulting in less diversity in local news and opinion. Before the vote, Senator Patty Murry (D., Washington) told her colleagues in the Senate, “We have to ensure that the marketplace of ideas is not dominated by a few conglomerates at the expense of our citizens and our democracy.” Political experts note that 12 Republicans and an independent joined with 42 Democrats to pass the legislation, demonstrating broad bipartisan opposition for the new rules. However, President George W. Bush threatens to veto any legislation that rolls back the rules.

 

Sept. 17

U.S. President George W. Bush declares that he knows of no evidence linking Iraq and its former president, Saddam Hussein, to the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. However, the president adds that he is sure that Hussein has ties to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network. The president’s initial comments contradict a statement that Vice President Dick Cheney made on September 14. During an interview on the television news program “Meet the Press,” Cheney referred to Iraq as “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” Political experts note that while the president has never definitively linked Hussein and the September 11 terrorist attacks, he has often suggested such a connection. A recent poll revealed that 70 percent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks.

 

Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor, stole at least $100 million from the country during his six years in office, reveal officials with the United Nations (UN) after a close review of Liberian government records. According to the UN, Taylor left Liberia the poorest nation on Earth. Taylor fled Liberia on August 11 and went into exile in Nigeria.

 

Wesley Clark, a retired U.S. Army general and a former supreme commander of NATO, announces that he is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clark, a West Point graduate and Rhodes scholar who led U.S. and allied forces in NATO’s 1999 air war in Kosovo, has never before run for public office.

 

Sept. 18

Hurricane Isabel slams into the East Coast of the United States with heavy rain and winds of up to 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, packing enough punch to knock out electrical power to hundreds of thousands of households in North Carolina and Virginia. The eye wall, carrying the strongest winds, hits land at North Carolina’s Outer Banks between Morehead City and Cape Hatteras, and people who remained on the barrier islands report widespread flooding from waves as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters). Meteorologists report waves as high as 33 feet (10 meters) off the Virginia coast. While the National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded Isabel to a Category 2 hurricane, the sheer size of the storm—with tropical storm-force winds extending up to 345 miles (555 kilometers) from the eye—has led the governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland to declare states of emergency and the federal government to shut down Washington, D.C.

 

Three U.S. soldiers are killed and two others wounded when guerrillas ambush American forces near the Iraqi city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown north of Baghdad. Earlier in the day, two U.S. soldiers were wounded and three military vehicles destroyed when a military convoy set off explosives buried on a road in Khaldiya, a town west of Baghdad. In northern Iraq, near the town of Baiji, a fire disabled an oil pipeline that feeds the main Iraqi pipeline to Turkey.

 

Sept. 19

Authorities in 6 states are attributing at least 35 deaths to Hurricane Isabel, which made landfall along North Carolina’s Outer Banks on September 18. Utility officials estimate that the storm left more than 5.5 million households without electricity in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, which is hardest hit with 1.4 million houses and businesses still without power.

 

The fossil remains of a rodent that looked like a gigantic guinea pig have been found in northern Venezuela, announces an international team of scientists. The rodent, Phoberomys pattersoni, was previously known by its teeth alone. The recent identification of an almost-complete fossil allowed scientists to determine the animal’s approximate size. Dubbed “Guinea-zilla,” Phoberomys pattersoni was about the size of an American bison and probably weighed as much 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms). The largest living rodent today, the capybara, grows up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) long and may weigh 100 pounds (45 kilograms). Phoberomys pattersoni lived in the once-swampy and forested area of what is now northern South America and is thought to have run in packs. Paleontologists believe that the huge rodent primarily ate grasses and was probably preyed on by such predators as the giant 30-foot- (9-meter-) long crocodiles that lived in the region

 

Sept. 20

Nine gunmen in Baghdad attempt to assassinate a member of Iraq’s Governing Council. Akila al-Hashemi, one of three women on the council, is severely wounded in the attempt on her life. In Abu Ghurayb, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Baghdad, guerrillas launch a mortar attack on a sprawling prison complex, killing two members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and wounding 13 others. A third American soldier is killed when his military vehicle hits a homemade bomb on a road in Ar Ramadi, some 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Ar Ramadi remains a center of opposition to the occupation of Iraq by coalition forces.

 

Sept. 21

NASA engineers bring an end to the 14-year, $1.5-billion Galileo mission by deliberately plunging the unmanned spacecraft toward Jupiter. Traveling at 108,000 miles (173,800 kilometers) per hour, Galileo is torn apart by heat and friction as it falls through the red planet’s highly turbulent atmosphere. Data from Galileo provided NASA scientists with proof that asteroids could have their own moons and promising signs that three of Jupiter’s moons may have salty oceans. Scientists believe one of those moons, Europa, may be capable of harboring life.

 

Sept. 22

A suicide car bomber detonates an explosive device in a parking lot next to the United Nations complex in Baghdad, killing himself and an Iraqi policeman. At least 12 people are wounded. The bombing comes one month after a similar attack at the UN mission in Iraq left 23 people dead.

 

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft orders federal prosecutors to pursue maximum criminal charges and sentences whenever possible and to avoid making plea bargains except in limited circumstances. In a memo to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, Ashcroft reverses a federal policy that allowed prosecutors individual discretion to determine if the charges and potential punishment fit the crime. Earlier in 2003, Ashcroft instructed U.S. attorneys to seek the death penalty whenever applicable and to vigorously oppose sentences handed down by judges that are lighter than recommended by federal guidelines.

 

The Detroit Tigers set an American League record with their 118th loss, falling to the Kansas City Royals 12-6. The Tigers are close to tying or breaking the post-1900 Major League Baseball record set by the New York Mets in 1962, when the team lost 120 games.

 

Sept. 23

U.S. President George W. Bush challenges the United Nations to support the U.S. program for an orderly transition to democratic rule in Iraq but notes that the transition will not be rushed “by the wishes of other parties.” He acknowledges that differences over the U.S.-led war in Iraq persist but repeats his call for other nations to contribute to the rebuilding process. He asks for UN assistance in preparing an Iraqi constitution; the training of civil servants; and the carrying out of free elections. The president revives the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction while calling for a worldwide drive to stop their spread to terrorists. Reiterating his claim that Iraq’s former president, Saddam Hussein, had ties to terrorist organizations, Bush characterized the war in Iraq as part of a larger fight against the terrorist groups that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The Bush administration seeks a UN resolution that would authorize a UN peacekeeping force in Iraq under the direction of the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

A federal appeals court rules that an election on whether to recall California Governor Gray Davis should proceed on October 7 as originally scheduled. A panel of 11 judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit votes unanimously to overturn a decision made by a three-judge panel from the same circuit that the election should be postponed because of the unreliability of punch-card ballots, which are still used in six California counties. In the latest decision, the judges noted that a “federal court cannot lightly interfere with or enjoin a state election.”

 

The explosion of a roadside bomb rocks 24 Two Baghdad commuter buses, killing an Iraqi and injuring more than 20 others. The bomb goes off just after a U.S. patrol passed by the scene. According to news correspondents in Baghdad, remotely controlled roadside bombs have become a common weapon against coalition forces in Iraq. A second explosion, at a cinema in the northern city of Mosul, leaves several Iraqis wounded.

 

Sept. 24

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. President George W. Bush announce, after a private meeting in New York City, that they have moved beyond past differences over the war in Iraq and agreed to work together to stabilize that country. Schroeder notes that his government has a “very strong interest” in “a very democratic Iraq,” and he confirms that Germany will help train Iraqi security forces and provide Iraq with humanitarian, technical, and economic aid. The chancellor does not, however, indicate whether Germany will contribute peacekeeping troops to a United Nations force in Iraq. Nor does he indicate whether he will withdraw his support for French President Jacques Chirac’s call for a quick transition in Iraq to a sovereign, democratic government.

 

Sept. 25

Officials with the United Nations (UN) announce that the international organization is “downsizing” its staff in Iraq because of a “deteriorating security situation.” UN Secretary General Kofi Annan instructed part of the UN staff in Iraq to move to Amman, Jordan, with more to follow. His decision comes three days after the UN headquarters in Baghdad was bombed for the second time. UN officials acknowledge that the move may have political implications, particularly for the United States, and international affairs experts note that the decision may undermine efforts by U.S. President George W. Bush to increase the UN role in Iraq.

 

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announces that the United States is setting a six-month deadline for members of Iraq’s Governing Council to complete a constitution that would spell out whether Iraq should be governed by a presidential or parliamentary system. The secretary of state notes that elections and the installation of a sovereign government would soon follow the adoption of the constitution in mid-2004. His announcement is the first by a member of the George W. Bush administration outlining a timetable for self-rule in Iraq.

 

A member of Iraq’s 25-person Governing Council, Akila al-Hashemi, dies from wounds she received in Baghdad on September 20. Hashemi, one of three women on the Council, was ambushed near her home by unidentified gunmen, who attacked her convoy with machine guns and a bomb. Her brother Zaid told U.S. authorities that she had received anonymous threats, warning that she would be killed for collaborating with coalition forces.

 

Eight Iraqi civilians are killed in a mortar attack on the market place in the town of Baqubah, which is 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the capital.  In a separate attack, a U.S. soldier is killed and two others wounded when their military convoy is hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the northern town of Kirkuk. The latest attack brings to 80 the number of U.S. soldiers killed by guerrilla attack since U.S. President George W. Bush declared on May 1 that hostilities in Iraq were essentially over.

 

A magnitude 8 earthquake hits Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, leaving more than 450 people injured and much of the island without power or water. Officials report that two fishermen are missing, apparently swept away by the quake-induced tsunami.

 

Sept. 26

The number of U.S. citizens living in poverty rose and income levels declined in the United States in 2002 for the second straight year, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 34.6 million Americans, 12.1 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 2002, compared with 32. 9 million people, or 11.7 percent of the total, in 2001. The median household income fell 1.1 percent in 2002 to $42,409.

 

The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee concludes that the administration of President George W. Bush based its justification for war in Iraq on dated, and possibly inaccurate, intelligence. In a letter to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George Tenet, committee members state that their review of the intelligence provided by the CIA and other government agencies proved to have “significant deficiencies.”

 

Sept. 27

U.S. President George W. Bush is unable to win a commitment from Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide aid for U.S. forces in Iraq. Meeting with Bush at Camp David in rural Maryland, Putin notes that while his government is very interested in a stable Iraq, the United States should not expect financial or military aid from Russia. The Russian president also refuses to end Russia’s technical assistance to Iran in the construction of a nuclear reactor.

 

The Chicago Cubs win the National League Central division championship after a doubleheader sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Chicago team has not played in a World Series since 1945.

 

Sept. 28

A massive power failure in Italy, the largest in the country’s history, leaves 50 million people without power, from Milan in the north to Sicily in the south. A minor accident on a power line in Switzerland appears to have triggered the blackout by causing a domino effect in France. France sells Italy large amounts of electricity, which is then transported into Italy through the Swiss power grid.

 

Sept. 29

Hurricane Juan hits eastern Canada with heavy rain and winds of up to 87 miles (140 kilometers) per hour, causing power blackouts, the collapse of a four-story apartment building in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the death of at least one person. The eye of the category 1 storm passing over the south shore of Nova Scotia triggers immediate flooding in low lying areas.

 

Sept. 30

The U.S. Department of Justice opens an investigation into whether officials with the administration of President George W. Bush revealed to a newspaper writer the identity of an undercover Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent. In July, Robert Novak disclosed in his syndicated column that a woman named Valerie Plame was an agent with the CIA. Plame is the wife of former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, IV, whom the CIA sent to Africa in 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had attempted to buy uranium in Niger for a nuclear weapon program. Wilson later disputed President Bush’s claims that Iraq had purchased the uranium, forcing the president to admit that he had no basis for the assertion made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Novak has stated that senior Bush administration officials informed him that Wilson was sent to Africa only because his wife, a CIA agent, recommended him for the mission. Wilson claims his wife’s CIA connection was revealed in an attempt to punish him and intimidate others from speaking out against the war. According to some political experts, the growing scandal over the “leak” underscores the administration’s vulnerability on whether the threat posed by Iraq had been exaggerated to justify going to war. Leaking classified information is a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

 

 

 

Chronology--2003--September

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April 1

The Dow Jones industrial average of 30 major U.S. corporations drops AT&T Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., and International Paper as component companies. AT&T and Eastman Kodak have been listed on the Dow Jones industrial average since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The companies are to be replaced by   drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., a company formed by the breakup of the old AT&T.

 

April 2

Two U.S. servicemen are killed in separate attacks in Iraq. A soldier in the 1st Armored Division dies in a roadside bombing in the Al Mansour district in Baghdad. A second soldier is wounded in the attack. A U.S. Marine was killed late on April 1 in what a military spokesperson describes as “enemy action” near Al Fallujah, which remains a stronghold of anti-American resistance. In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrate against a decision by the U.S.-led coalition to shut down a newspaper linked to a prominent Shiite cleric.

 

The U.S. economy generated 308,000 new jobs in March, compared with 46,000 new jobs in February, announces a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Labor. The increase is the largest in nearly four years. However, the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent in March, compared with 5.6 percent in February. According to the Labor Department, the higher rate of unemployment was the result of people encouraged to start looking for work again.

 

A judge declared a mistrial in the case against two former Tyco executives after nearly 6 months of testimony and 11 days of deliberations. According to one source, one of the jurors had received a threatening or coercive letter within the preceding 24 hours. Prosecutors will attempt to retry former Tyco Chief Executive Officer L. Dennis Kozlowski and former Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz. The two are accused of looting some $600 million from Tyco, a conglomerate that makes a wide variety of products. The former executives are charged with 32 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, and violating state business laws and, if convicted, face the possibility of up to 30 years in prison.

 

April 3

Three suspects in the March 11 bombings of Madrid commuter trains, which killed 191 people, blow themselves up in a Madrid apartment as police prepared to launch an assault. The explosion also kills a policeman and wounds 15 others.

 

April 4

A Shiite cleric in Iraq unleashes an uprising against the U.S.-led occupation in Baghdad and in cities to the south of the capital. In Sadr City, Baghdad’s largest Shiite neighborhood, members of the “Al-Mahdi Army,” a militia loyal to a young, militant cleric—Moqtada al-Sadr—attack U.S. forces with a wide array of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades. Eight Americans and at least 30 Iraqis are killed in the fighting, where members of his militia take control of various checkpoints and police stations. Witnesses claim the U.S.-trained Iraqi police abandoned their posts with the arrival of the armed men. Tension between al-Sadr and the U.S.-led occupation began escalating on March 28 when L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian in Iraq, closed Sadr’s newspaper, al-Hawza, on the grounds that its editor was publishing stories that incited violence.

 

April 5

Leaders of the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq confirm that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric. The top U.S. civilian official in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, describes al-Sadr as an “outlaw” attempting to replace the “legitimate authority” of the U.S.-led occupation. The warrant for al-Sadr’s arrest is issued as U.S. forces in Iraq step up military action against armed resistance. U.S. Marines seal off the city of Al Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in an operation designed to crush the insurrection in the so-called Sunni Triangle. In Baghdad, U.S. tanks patrol the Sadr City neighborhood as al-Sadr’s followers barricade main street with car bodies, tires, and chunks of concrete. To the south, British troops exchange gun fire with Al-Mahdi members in Amarah and in nearby Al Basrah where the militia seized the office of the governor. In An Najaf, a Shiite holy city, gunmen force Iraqi police out of their stations and launch mortar attacks on the bases of the Spanish forces in control of the area.

 

Torrential rains turn Mexico’s Escondido River, a tributary of the Rio Grande River, into a raging flash flood that inundates the border city of Piedras Negras. The flooding leaves at least 31 people dead and destroys hundreds of houses.

 

The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team win the NCAA national championship by beating Georgia Tech 82 to 73 in the Final Four game in San Antonio, Texas.

 

April 6

The Lithuanian parliament impeaches and dismisses from office President Rolandas Paksas. In a narrow vote, the legislature finds Paksas guilty of leaking classified material and extending Lithuanian citizenship to a Russian businessman in exchange for money. He claims his dismissal is revenge for his efforts to fight corruption within the Lithuanian government.

 

U.S. Marines seize portions of Al Fallujah after engaging in fierce fighting with Iraqi insurgents. According to witnesses, U.S. helicopter gunships are shelling selected targets within the city, which is sealed off by American ground forces. Five Marines have been killed so far in Operation Vigilant Resolve, which began on April 5 and involves more than 2,000 U.S. troops.

 

Shiite insurgents take control of An Najaf as their leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, a militant Shiah cleric, takes up residence in one of the city’s many mosques. An Najaf is approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital.

 

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team triumphs over the University of Tennessee, 70 to 61, to take its third straight NCAA national women’s championship. The victory makes Connecticut the first school in college basketball history to win both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments in a single year.

 

April 7

A U.S. airstrike on a mosque complex in Al Fallujah kills as many as 40 people. The mosque was targeted after insurgents inside the complex shot five U.S. Marines advancing into the city. The incident occurs as coalition forces battle an insurgency that now stretches from Kirkuk in the north to Al Basrah some 350 miles (560 kilometers) to the south. In southern Iraq, the Al-Mahdi militia loyal to radical Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr takes control of Al Kut after driving Ukrainian troops from the city. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the foreign minister of Bulgaria has asked the United States to send troops to Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, to reinforce the Bulgarian battalion there, which is under heavy attack.

 

April 8

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice publicly testifies before the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. In her opening remarks, she strongly defends President George W. Bush and his administration in its efforts to combat terrorism. She acknowledges, however, that the preparations made by the Bush and previous administrations proved insufficient in the face of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Under questioning, Rice testifies that President Bush was told during a special security briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, that al-Qa’ida leader Osama bin Laden was “determined to attack inside the United States.” During the meeting, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials warned the president that bin Laden appeared to be planning a hijacking. Rice notes, however, that that information was based on “old reporting—there was no new threat.”

 

An Iraqi group that identifies itself as the Mjahideen Brigades takes three Japanese civilians in Iraq hostage and threatens to kill them unless Japan withdraws its troops from the U.S.-led occupation force. Japan has 550 ground troops in Iraq on “a non-combat mission.” An unnamed Iraqi group also has seized eight South Korean missionaries.

 

U.S. military officials report that 40 U.S. troops died in combat in Iraq in the seven days between March 31 and April 6, the highest number of casualties in a week since Baghdad was taken in April 2003.

 

Algerian voters overwhelmingly support the incumbent president, Abdelaziz Bouteflikam, in a landslide that international observers call the first free election in Algeria since the country gained independence from France in 1962. 

 

April 9

U.S. forces in Iraq retake most of the town of Al Kut from a rebellious Shiite militia. The militia headed by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr seized Al Kut, a textile and farming center in southeastern Iraq, from a Ukrainian coalition force on April 7. Al-Sadr forces remain in control of the cities of Al Kufa and An Najaf south of Baghdad.

 

April 10

The administration of President George W. Bush releases a secret briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The Aug. 6, 2001, report by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) informed the president that the al-Qa’ida terrorist network had active cells in the United States; that those cells had been active for years; and that cell members recently had federal buildings in New York City under surveillance. Citing threats made in May 2001, the authors of the briefing cautioned that the behavior of al-Qa’ida operatives was “consistent with the preparation for hijackings.” The public release of the report marked the first time in history that a President’s Daily Brief, or P.D.B, as the document is called, has ever been declassified.

 

At least 40 Russian miners are killed when methane gas explodes in a coal mine in the Kemerovo region of western Siberia, about 1,850 miles (2.977 kilometers) east of Moscow.

 

April 11

Three U.S. Marines are killed in fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province, part of the so-called Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad. Thee additional soldiers are killed in separate incidents in Baghdad and Tikrit, north of the capital. West of the Baghdad airport, insurgents shoot down an Apache attack helicopter with a Soviet-made ground-to-air missile.

 

The recent rash of foreign hostage-taking in Iraq continues with the abduction of seven Chinese civilians near Al Fallujah. The abduction is made two days before U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to visit China. Cheney’s recent visit to Japan was overshadowed by the Japanese government’s anxiety over the fate of a Japanese journalist and two aid workers, who were kidnapped on April 8. Guerrilla fighters currently hold hostage an unknown number of foreigners, including one American, in what military experts describe as a new tactic in the insurgency.

 

An Iraqi battalion of several hundred soldiers, one quarter of the Iraqi Army, refused to participate in the U.S. offensive against Sunni insurgents in Al Fallujah, which began on April 5, confirms U.S. Army spokesperson Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. The U.S.-led occupation in Iraq formed the Iraqi Army in 2003 to eventually maintain security within the country.

 

Phil Mickelson lands an 18-foot (5.5-meter) birdie putt on the 18th green to win the Masters tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The victory—by one stroke over Ernie Els—is Mickelson’s first in one of professional golf’s four major tournaments.

 

April 12

About 70 coalition troops have died in combat and the recent insurgency in Iraq since April 1, announces U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of coalition operations. The general confirms that Iraqi casualties during the same period probably exceed 700. Most were rebels killed in the U.S. offensive in and around Al Fallujah. U.S. troops remain massed outside Al Fallujah, Al Kufa, and An Najaf but hold their fire. According to military officials, the unilateral (one-sided) withdrawal is to allow Iraqi negotiators time to work out a truce with the insurgents.

 

April 13

Several nations warn their citizens working in Iraq to leave the country because of growing insecurity and recent rash of taking foreigners hostage. Calling the recent spate of kidnappings “unacceptable,” France urges French citizens to leave Iraq. Germany issued a similar warning on April 12. A spokesperson for the British Foreign Office announces that the bureau advises against all but the most essential travel to Iraq. Tekhpromexport, a Russian contractor working in Iraq, announces that the company is pulling all 370 employees out of Iraq.

 

U.S. General John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command in Iraq, asks the U.S. Department of Defense for the equivalent of two combat brigades, approximately 10,000 soldiers, to handle the current uprising in Iraq. A Defense Department spokesperson announces that for next three months Abizaid’s request for additional troops will be handled by sections of the 1st Armored Division, which will remain in Iraq longer originally scheduled.

 

Members of the Al-Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, withdraw from some police stations in An Najaf. The withdrawal comes after a delegation of esteemed Shiah clerics met with al-Sadr on April 12 to discuss how the violence in southern Iraq might be diffused. Al-Sadr, however, refuses to disband his militia and vows to die for his cause of driving American forces out of Iraq. Outside the city, late on April 12, rebels ambushed a U.S. convoy, killing one soldier and wounding two others. The 80-vehicle convoy was attempting to supply a force of some 2,500 U.S. soldiers massing around An Najaf. Another attack on a U.S. convoy triggers heavy fighting on the road west Baghdad, a crucial supply line for the U.S. military surrounding Al Fallujah.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush, addressing the American people during a televised news conference at the White House, defends his policies in Iraq and his record in the war on terrorism. Rejecting comparisons between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the president vows he will, if necessary, send however many troops necessary to subdue the current Iraqi insurrection. He restates his determination to stay the course in Iraq. The president renews his assertions that a Democratic Iraq will forge peace and stability in the Middle East, making the American people more secure at home.

 

Members on the independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, sharply condemn the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for its counterterrrorism measures prior to the attacks. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh claims the bureau performed heroically in dealing with terrorist threats despite wholly inadequate budgets during the mid- and late-1990’s. Thomas J. Pickard, acting FBI director during the summer of 2001, tells the commission that the current U.S. attorney general, John Ashcroft, did not consider counterterrrorism a high priority before Sept. 11, 2001. Pickard asserts that the attorney general told Pickard he no longer wished to discuss terrorist threats during regular briefings. Ashcroft denies Pickard’s charges and suggests that the failings of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI prior to the terrorist attacks were largely the fault of the Clinton administration and Ashcroft’s predecessor, Janet Reno.  

 

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds slams the 661st homerun of his career. The run, on a 1-2 pitch off Ben Ford of the Milwaukee Brewers, surpasses Willie Mays’s record of 660, putting Bonds in third place—behind Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron—for baseball’s record number of career homers. Bonds’s 661st lands in San Francisco Bay in nearly the same spot as his 660th, made the night before on April 12. Both were retrieved by the same Giants fan floating outside Pacific Bell Park in a kayak.

 

April 14

Consumer prices in the United States rose by 0.5 percent in March, announce officials at the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the Labor Department, the increase, which followed a 0.3 percent jump in February, was fueled by more expensive gasoline, airfares, and clothing.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush endorses Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to pull out of Gaza and parts of the West Bank, calling the move “historic and courageous.” The plan allows Israel to keep some Jewish settlements on the West Bank and blocks Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel. In discussions with Sharon at the White House, the president notes that any final peace plan must provide for the settlement of Palestinian refugees in a new Palestinian nation, but not in Israel. Palestinian refugees have long sought the “right of return,” that is, to return to the places in Israel where they once lived. Both Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his prime minister, Ahmad Quray, denounce the plan, saying it imperils any future peace agreement.

 

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George J. Tenet testifies before the independent commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States that senior policymakers in the administration of President George W. Bush were informed in mid-2001 of the threat posed by the al-Qa’ida terrorist network. “We all understood bin Laden’s attempt to strike the homeland, but we never translated this knowledge into an effective defense of the country,” he tells the bipartisan, 10-member panel. In part, Tenet blames a series of tight budgets in the 1990’s when the agency “lost close to 25 percent of our people and billions of dollars in capital investment.” He predicts it will take “another five years. . .to have the. . .clandestine service our country needs” to combat al-Qa’ida and other terrorist threats.

 

April 15

Arab satellite networks broadcast a recording of a man who identifies himself as Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qa’ida terrorist network. He offers any European country that stops attacking Muslims a “truce.” The truce would begin when the country withdrew its soldiers from any Islamic nation. The man vowed revenge against the United States for the Israeli assassination in March of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmad Yassin, and he denounced the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush for using the war in Iraq for corporate profiteering.

 

A senior Iranian diplomat is shot and killed as he is driving to the Iranian embassy in Baghdad. The victim was first secretary at Iran’s diplomatic mission in Iraq. A delegation of Iranian diplomats currently are in Iraq trying to mediate the standoff in An Najaf between U.S. troops and the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Officials in Washington, D.C., note that while the U.S. government consented to allowing the Iranians into Iraq, their participation was at the suggestion of the British government, not the United States.

 

Insurgents in Iraq release three Japanese civilians held hostage for several days. The release comes one day after insurgents killed one of four Italian civilian hostages. The Italians had been employed as security officers until they were taken captive in Al Fallujah earlier in the week.

 

The U.S. Department of Defense extends the tour of duty of about 21,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The troops, who have been in Iraq for one year and were to return to the United States in April, are having their tours extended by at least three months. In addition, approximately 1,000 U.S. soldiers in Kuwait, most of them members of the National Guard or Reserve, are having their tours of duty extended. According to the Defense Department, the units in Kuwait are crucial for resupplying coalition forces in Iraq. Military experts suggest that commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere have stretched the U.S. Armed Services to the point that few, if any, units are available to relieve American soldiers in Iraq.

 

South Korea’s Uri party triples its strength in parliament, taking 152 seats, a majority, in the 299-seat National Assembly. The Uri party supports President Roh Moo-hyun, whom the National Assembly impeached in March, when the legislative body was controlled by the conservative Grand National Party.

 

April 16

U.S. President George W. Bush and coalition partner Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom, meeting at the White House, tentatively accept a United Nations (UN) plan for an interim government in Iraq. The plan calls for dissolving the Iraqi Governing Council, installed by the United States in 2003, and replacing it with a caretaker government made up of prominent Iraqis. The caretaker government would assume power with the turnover of sovereignty on June 30. The Brahimi Plan, under development by Laqkhdar Brahimi, special UN envoy in Iraq, specifies that the UN, not the United States, will oversee the selection of members of the caretaker government; the planning and execution of elections in early 2005; and the writing of an Iraqi constitution.

 

Hundreds of counties in the United States are failing federal air-quality standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces. The EPA identified 474 counties in 31 states with smog-causing pollution so severe as to violate the Clean Air Act of 1990 and set deadlines to meet federal standards based on the severity a particular county’s pollution level. Los Angeles County, California, which has the worst air pollution in the country, has until 2021 to meet standards. Some environmentalists worry that such long deadlines will allow counties to avoid attacking pollution problems. Federal regulations established the current standards in 1997, after scientists determined that high levels of smog aggravate asthma and other respiratory ailments. Court challenges delayed enforcing the standards until they were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001.

 

April 17

An Israeli helicopter strike in Gaza City kills Abdel Aziz Rantisi, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Rantisi is the second leader of Hamas to be killed by the Israeli security forces in less than a month. The group’s founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was killed in a similar missile strike on March 22.

 

Ten U.S. servicemen are killed in Iraq. Five Marines die in a 14-hour battle along Iraq’s Syrian border. Three U.S. soldiers are killed in an ambush near Ad Diwaniyah, a city approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad. In addition, two soldiers are killed in apparent accidents. More than 90 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq so far in April, more than in any other month since the war in Iraq began in March 2003.

 

April 18

Spain’s new prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, announces that he has ordered Spanish military commanders to pull all Spanish troops out of Iraq “as soon as possible.” Spanish voters gave Zapatero’s Socialist party control of parliament three days after a deadly terrorist attack in Madrid left 192 people dead. The Socialists ran in opposition to Spain’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

 

April 19

The Iraqi Governing Council, local officials in Al Fallujah, and the U.S-led coalition forces in Iraq agree to a truce in the stand off between insurgents and U.S. Marines in Al Fallujah. The coalition agreed to shorten the city’s nightly curfew by two hours and allow residents unlimited access to humanitarian aid. In return, coalition leaders demanded that militants surrender all heavy weapons. The U.S. offensive in Al Fallujah began the first week of April after insurgents in the city killed and mutilated four U.S. security contractors.

 

The leader of North Korea, Kim Chong-il, makes an unannounced visit to Beijing for a discussion about nuclear weapons with Chinese leaders. The talks come after the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush urged the Chinese government to intervene and help bring an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush nominates John Negroponte to be the new American ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte currently is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. International affairs experts point out that Negroponte, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will head the largest embassy in history—with up to 4,000 American Iraqis officials—and one of the most challenging diplomatic assignments in U.S. history.

 

The president of Honduras, Ricardo Maduro, announces that he has ordered all Honduran troops out of Iraq “in the shortest time possible.” Honduras’ 370 troops are serving under Spanish command in An Najaf. The prime minister of Spain announced on April 18 his decision to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

 

April 20

A mortar attack on a Baghdad detention center leaves more than 20 Iraqis dead and at least 100 others wounded. All were being held by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. In separate incidents, a rocket slams into the grounds of the closed Swedish embassy in Baghdad, and three mortars strike an apartment complex near the United Nations headquarters there, killing five Iraqis, including three girls returning home from school.

 

The U.S. Department of Labor announces new rules that extend overtime protection to white-collar employees who earn up to $100,000 a year and extend overtime pay to workers making less than $23,660. Current federal law guarantees overtime pay, but makes exceptions for three types of employees—administrators, executives, and professionals.

 

Much of downtown Utica, Illinois, a small town 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, is destroyed in a storm during which some 18 tornadoes touch down in a four-county area of north central Illinois. At least eight people who sought protection in the basement of a Utica restaurant and bar are killed when the building collapses.

 

April 21

A series of nearly simultaneous suicide car bombings outside police stations in Al Basrah in southern Iraq leave more than 70 people dead and some 200 others wounded. Several of the victims are children killed as their school bus passes one of the exploding cars. To the south of Al Basrah, in the town of Zubair, two additional car bombings outside a police academy kill three Iraqis and wound several British soldiers. According to the governor of Al Basrah, two car bombers were captured before they could carry out their attacks.

 

Sunni militants in Al Fallujah, west of Baghdad, break the ceasefire with U.S. forces surrounding the city with attacks on U.S. Marines. Two Marines are wounded in the barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

 

The explosion of a suicide car bomb outside the national police headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, kills 4 people and wounds nearly 150 others. The bombing, which shatters the façade of the seven-story building, comes just days after the government of the United States ordered nonessential U.S. government employees to leave Saudi Arabia because of the threat of a terrorist attack. A purported al-Qa’ida message appeared on the Internet in March that threatened Saudi police and intelligence agents.

 

April 22

Railroad cars carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel tankers filled with oil and gasoline touch live overhead power lines while being sidelined in a rail station in Ryongchon, North Korea. The subsequent explosion kills as many as 160 people and leaves more than 1,300 others injured; 500 people are blinded by flying debris. Nearly half of the victims are children, killed when their school is obliterated. According to the International Federation of the Red Cross, at least 30 public buildings, including the town’s medical clinic, and the houses of more than 8,000 families are destroyed in the blast, which has the force of a small nuclear bomb. Ryongchon is 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of the capital, Pyongyang, near North Korea’s border with China.

 

An Islamic militant group, the al-Haramain Brigades, claims responsibility for the deadly April 21 bombing on national police headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The group claims to follow the path of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

Plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq place severe limits on its sovereignty, a spokesperson for the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush tells members of Congress. The caretaker government is to have only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact laws. The caretaker government installed in Iraq on June 30 is to remain in power until elections are held in 2005.

 

The Equal Employment Opportunity board votes 3 to 1 to allow employers to reduce or eliminate health insurance for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare at age 65. The U.S. government agency rules that cutting health insurance at age 65 does not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The vote is along party lines, with three Republicans in favor and one Democrat opposed. Employer-sponsored health plans help retirees pay medical expenses not covered by Medicare, including prescription drugs. Political experts point out that the new rule could become an explosive political issue during the 2004 president campaign. There are 12 million Medicare beneficiaries who also receive health benefits from former employers.

 

April 23

The U.S. ban on allowing former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party to assume positions in a new Iraqi government and military is  lifted, announces L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq. In his announcement, Bremer notes that he was reversing the policy to convince Iraq’s Sunni minority that they are welcome to participate in the rebuilding of the country’s government and infrastructure. The Ba’ath Party, headed by Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, was dominated by other Sunnis. According to political experts, the ban made the postwar transition more difficult because it generated ill will and excluded many of Iraq’s best-trained bureaucrats, engineers, military officers, and teachers.

 

April 24

Bombings shut down Iraq’s main oil export center, the Al Basrah terminals on the Persian Gulf. Explosions aboard three “suicide speedboats” near the terminals disrupt power without causing major structural damage to the facility where tankers take on Iraqi oil. Two U.S. sailors and a U.S. Coast Guardsman were killed and five others injured when they tried to intercept and board one of the boats just before it blows apart. The shut down stops the flow of nearly 1 million barrels a day in exports.

 

April 25

Four new suspected cases of the severe respiratory disease SARS are under investigation by health authorities,  announces a Chinese government spokesperson. He notes that all four suspected cases are in Beijing, the capital, and have been traced to a single patient, which suggests the outbreak may be limited and not general as it was in 2003.

 

April 26

U.S. Marines and Iraqi insurgents engage in an intense firefight in Al Fallujah despite an ongoing cease-fire agreement. The fight began when more than 100 Iraqi fighters attacking a U.S. patrol with mortars and heavy machine-gun fire. One Marine was killed and eight others wounded in the initial barrage. American forces responded to the attack with helicopter and jet aircraft strikes, which topple a 60-foot (18-meter) minaret next to one of the city’s mosques. In Baghdad, west of Al Fallujah, an industrial building exploded while being investigated by U.S. troops. Half of the structure collapses onto four armored military vehicles, killing two American soldiers and injuring five others. Several Iraqis are pulled from the rubble. U.S. authorities in Iraq believe insurgents were using the building as a “chemical munitions” factory.

 

U.S. soldiers clash with a Shiite militia just outside the Iraqi cities of An Najaf and Al Kufah, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital. The fighting began when some 200 U.S. soldiers moved into a base recently vacated by Spanish troops. According to U.S. Army officials, the American forces destroyed an antiaircraft weapon and kill 64 members of the “Al-Mahdi Army,” a group loyal to the militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Paul L. Bremer III, the chief U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, has ordered al-Sadr to withdraw his militia and its stockpile of weapons from the city’s schools, mosques, and shrines—targets the coalition is hesitant to attack. Al-Sadr threatens to unleash suicide bombers if the Americans enter An Najaf, which Iraq’s Shiah majority consider a holy city.

 

April 27

A new lunar mineral is discovered in a meteorite that crashed to Earth from the Moon in 2000, announce scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The previously unknown mineral is an iron and silicon compound that is probably created when tiny particles from space—micrometeorites—crash into the Moon. Although tiny, the particles are moving at such high speeds that they carry a great deal of energy, which upon impact vaporizes metals in very small areas. This process, called “space weathering,” causes chemical and structural changes. Hapkeite is produced when the space weathering process “flash melts” iron and silicon at a ratio of 2 to 1. Scientists named the previously unknown mineral for scientist Bruce Hapke, who predicted the existence of such a mineral some 30 years ago.

 

Snipers kill a U.S. soldier and wound a second who were on a joint patrol with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corp in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. The soldier’s death brings to 115 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in the past 27 days—the same number of Americans killed during the combat phase of the war in March and April 2003.

 

The president of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov, declares that his country’s troops are “not prepared” for the fighting they are encountering  in Iraq and need “immediate and substantial military backup.” Speaking in the Bulgarian media after returning from a visit to Iraq, Parvanov notes that he wants Bulgarian forces moved away from Karbala, which has been the scene of recent heavy fighting by the followers of the militant Shiah cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. In Madrid, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero informs the Spanish parliament that Spain has completed the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq.

 

A bomb explosion in the embassy section of  Damascus and subsequent gun battle between the bombers and Syrian security forces leave four people dead, including the two bombers. The violence, which is unusual in this tightly controlled country, takes place in the west of the city, close to the Iranian and Canadian embassies. Syrian officials are unsure who or what the bombers were targeting.

 

April 28

U.S. forces in Iraq renew the assault on Al Fallujah with helicopter gunships and jet fighters bombarding suspected insurgent positions. The aerial attack provides backup to U.S. Marines besieging the city with artillery on three fronts. The latest action comes in response to what U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt describes as “numerous violations” of the ceasefire agreement negotiated with local civic leaders. The general points out that the insurgents in Al Fallujah have failed to surrender their heavy weapons within the time frame set by the ceasefire agreement. In spite of the latest hostilities, officials continue talks with local leaders in an effort to pacify Al Fallujah, which has been a major center of armed resistance to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. General Kimmitt confirms that the military is preparing to send patrols into Al Fallujah on April 29 to establish control.

 

Clashes between Thai security forces and Islamic militants in southern Thailand leave more than 100 people dead, primarily the separatist rebels. At least 30 militants are killed in a single raid on a mosque where they had taken refuge from the army. The violence began with a coordinated series of attacks on 10 police stations. Few security forces were killed because the militants were armed primarily with machetes rather than guns. Although Thailand’s prime minister blames the attacks on local gangs, other Thai officials suggest that the local militants have links with Islamic terrorists outside Thailand. Muslims dominate three of Thailand’s southern provinces—Yala, Pattani, and Songkhla.

 

April 29

U.S. military officials in Iraq agree to withdraw American forces from Al Fallujah in an arrangement with local leaders to end a three-week-old standoff. U.S. Marines have encircled and battled insurgents in Al Fallujah, a hotbed of Sunni resistance, since April 5 in an attempt to stabilize the city. Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne announces that a newly created all-Iraqi force—the Fallujah Protection Army (FPA)—is to take control of the city on April 30. “The plan is that the whole of Fallujah will be under the control of the FPA,” Byrne tells reporters. He notes that the FPA is to be made up of about 1,100 Iraqi soldiers under the leadership of a former Iraqi general who served under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

 

Ten U.S. soldiers are killed in attacks in and around Baghdad. Eight members of the 1st Armored Division die and four others are wounded in a car bombing near Al Mahmudiyah, just south of the capital. A second roadside bombing kills an American serviceman in Baqubah, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Baghdad. A rocket-propelled grenade attack in the eastern part of Baghdad leaves another American soldier dead.

 

The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004, announces the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, an inflation gauge tied to the gross domestic product revealed that the so-called “core” inflation, which does not include energy and food, jumped 2 percent in the first quarter, compared with a 1.2-percent increase in final three months of 2003. According to a Commerce Department spokesperson, the inflation rate for January, February, and March 2004 spiked by 2.5 percent when food and energy was factored in, compared with a 1.5 percent rate in the October through December period of 2003.

 

The independent panel investigating the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, questions President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Meeting with the president and vice president in the Oval Office at the White House, the panel poses what the president describes as a “wide ranging” series of questions during an interview that last just over three hours. Two note-takers, one representing the president and the other the commission, record the questions and answers, which will not to be made public.

 

April 30

Iraqi security forces take over front-line position for two battalions of U.S. Marines in Al Fallujah as American forces begin pulling out of the city. Members of the Iraqi force move into the former Marine positions in southeastern Al Fallujah and raise the Iraqi flag. According to a U.S. Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the Marines are “repositioning” but will maintain a strong presence outside the city. U.S. military officials agreed to the withdrawal in a arrangement with local leaders to end a three-week standoff. Marines encircled Al Fallujah on April 5 and began a protracted battle with insurgents in an attempt to stabilize the city, a hotbed of Sunni resistance. General Mark Kimmitt notes that the newly created all-Iraqi security force—the Fallujah Protection Army (FPA)—is made up of about 1,100 soldiers under the leadership of an Iraqi officer who served as a general under former President Saddam Hussein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--April

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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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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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Feb. 1

Nearly simultaneous suicide bombings at the separate headquarters of Iraq’s two leading Kurdish parties in the city of Arbil leave at least 100 people dead. The victims include a number of senior Kurdish political figures. The bombers—a man dressed and a woman, both with explosives strapped to their bodies—walked freely into the party headquarters. Both offices were crowded with people attending a feast celebrating the first day of an Islamic festival. Nearly 250 people are injured in the attacks.

 

A U.S. soldier is killed and 12 others are wounded in a rocket attack on a U.S. military base in Balad, just north of Baghdad, the capital. Another U.S. soldier is killed nd two others are injured when their Humvee overturns in a bombing near Al Hadithah, a city northwest of Baghdad. In south-central Iraq, at least 20 looters attempting to steal weapons are killed when they accidentally set off munitions stored at a former Iraqi Army arms depot.

 

More than 120 members of Iran’s 290-seat parliament resign to protest a sweeping ban on candidates running in parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for February 20. The ban was imposed in January by Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council, the country’s hard-line Islamic religious authority. The council disqualified some 3,000 candidates from competing for the 290-seat assembly. More than 85 current members of the parliament, including the brother of Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami, were among those disqualified. According to political experts, the election standoff is part of a continuing struggle in Iran between religious conservatives, who control the judiciary and security forces, and reformers.

 

The New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 30 to 32 to win the Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston. The Super Bowl victory is the Patriots second in three years.

 

A stampede at the annual hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, leaves 244 people trampled to death and hundreds of others injured. The stampede takes places during a ritual known as the stoning of the devil, during which pilgrims throw rocks and shout insults at three stone pillars to demonstrate disdain for Satan. An estimated 2 million Muslims are taking part in the pilgrimage, which began on January 29.

 

Feb. 2

U.S. President George W. Bush announces that he will establish a bipartisan commission to examine U.S. intelligence operations, particularly possible misjudgments about the existence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. According to political experts, the president’s announcement comes in response to rising pressure from both Democrats and some Republicans in Congress. Their call for a commission began after David A. Kay, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in late January. Kay told the committee last that “it turns out we were all wrong, probably” about the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which was the Bush administration’s basic justification for the war against Iraq. The commission is not expected to finish its study until after the presidential election in November.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon orders the evacuation of all Jewish settlers from Gaza. The order covers approximately 7,500 people living in 17 settlements. Analysts note that the prime minister offers no timetable for the relocations, which are opposed by many senior Israeli politicians.

 

Halliburton Co., the Houston-based corporation that provides logistical support to the U.S. Army posted the Middle East, appears to have overcharged by more than $16 million for meals served at a single U.S. military base in Kuwait during the first seven months of 2003, disclose auditors with the U.S. Department of Defense. According to one Defense Department memo, a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), charged the Army for an average of 42,042 meals a day while serving only 14,053 meals a day. KBR also has been accused of overcharging the U.S. government millions of dollars for gasoline it bought in Kuwait for delivery in Iraq. Halliburton has taken in about $3.8 billion under an open-ended contract that the company won in 2001.

 

At least 89 people are killed when an apartment building collapses in Konya, Turkey, 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Ankara, the capital. Government officials blame shoddy construction for the collapse.

 

Feb. 3

John Kerry sweeps five of the day’s seven primaries and caucuses for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. The Massachusetts senator confirms his status as the front runner in the race with big victories in Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota. He comes in second in the South Carolina primary, which is won by Senator John Edwards (North Carolina). Edwards takes 46 percent of the vote in South Carolina, compared with Kerry’s 30 percent. In Oklahoma, retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark claims victory despite edging out Edwards by a mere 1,275 votes, with both taking about 30 percent of the ballots. Kerry comes in third in Oklahoma with 27 percent of the vote. While Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut bows out after suffering major defeats, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean declared that he remains a viable candidate despite failing to climb above third place in any of the seven states.

 

Feb. 4

Senate office buildings in Washington, D.C., remain closed for a second day in response to the discovery of an envelope containing the toxin ricin in a mailroom at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Senate aids found the white powder on February 2 in an envelope addressed to the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist (R., Tennessee). After tests confirmed that the powder was ricin, a deadly poison made from castor beans, decontamination procedures were carried out on 16 federal employees. On February 3, federal law enforcement officials noted that they have no suspects but revealed that two other ricin-laced letters had been found in recent months. In October 2003, postal employees in Greenville, South Carolina, found ricin with a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A second letter with ricin was found in November at the postal facility where mail is processed for the White House. Both were signed “Fallen Angel” and contained threats that ricin would be dumped into municipal water supplies if new federal trucking regulations were implemented.

 

Mad cow disease is now “indigenous in North America,” an international panel informs officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and advises the department to ban the feeding of all animal protein to cattle. The panel, made up of agricultural experts and veterinarians from New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, recommends that the USDA test many more cattle for the disease. The department currently tests about 40,000 of the more than 30 million head of cattle slaughtered annually. The experts also suggest that the USDA use rapid tests developed in Europe and order the removal of brains, intestines, and spinal columns of all adult from the U.S. food supply.

 

Feb. 5

The director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George Tenet, announces in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., that U.S. intelligence analysts never claimed Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States. Tenet states that CIA analysts held varying opinions on Iraq’s biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs and those differences were presented to President George W. Bush in an October 2002 report. In a direct rebuttal to statements made by David Kay, the former CIA chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Tenet asserts that the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is “nowhere near 85 percent finished.” Kay’s recent statements that such weapons did not  exist in Iraq at the time of the U.S.-led war sparked renewed debate over the president’s rationale for going to war in 2003. Shortly before Tenet’s speech, President Bush, speaking in Charleston, South Carolina, repeated earlier claims that with the war “America confronted a gathering threat in Iraq.”

 

A stampede on a footbridge during Chinese New Year festivities in a Beijing suburb results in the deaths of at least 37 people. Most of the victims are crushed or suffocated after a person falls over on the bridge, which spans a canal. Chinese officials believe too many people were crowding onto the bridge to watch a lantern and fireworks display.

 

Feb. 6

An extremely powerful explosion aboard a crowded Moscow subway train leaves at least 39 people dead and more than 120 others injured. The blast takes place at the height of the morning rush hour, as the train approached a major station southeast of downtown Moscow. Hundreds of commuters are forced into smoke-filled tunnels to escape from the burning train. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the explosion on Chechen rebels and calls for greater efforts to fight terrorism. Chechen militants have carried out 13 terrorist bombings in Russia in the last 12 months, most of them suicide attacks.

 

An earthquake of magnitude 6.9 devastates the town of Nabire in Indonesia’s West Papua province. At least 34 people are killed.

 

Feb. 7

Senator John F. Kerry (D., Massachusetts) wins Democratic caucuses in Michigan and Washington state, widening his lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kerry takes 52 percent of the vote in Michigan, leading former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who captures 17 percent. In Washington, Kerry wins 49 percent of the vote, compared with Dean’s 30 percent.

 

The Mars rover Spirit successfully drills a 0.1-inch (2.7-millimeter) hole into a rock. The task is the first that Spirit has performed since scientists fixed problems with the rover’s memory. Scientists speculate that the hole will provide clues to the geological history of Mars.

 

Feb. 8

The Mars rover Opportunity has taken more than 100 photographs and gathered data on an area of exposed rock, mission scientists announce. On its drive to the bedrock layer, Opportunity took pictures of tiny, round pebbles that intrigued mission scientists. The same pebbles were also located in the exposed rocks, and scientists have determined that the pebbles are glass beads formed by molten volcanic rock.

 

Rhythm and blues singer Beyonce Knowles wins a record tying five trophies at the 46th annual Grammy Awards. The hip-hop duo OutKast captured three Grammy Awards, including one for Record of the Year.

 

Senator John F. Kerry (D., Massachusetts) captures the Maine Democratic Party caucus, taking 45 percent of the vote.

 

Feb. 9

U.S. President George W. Bush announces that the nation’s economy is improving. In his annual “Economic Report of the President” to the U.S. Congress, the president forecast that the stronger economy would result in the creation of 2.6 million new jobs in 2004.

 

An explosion in a deserted mine, where a number of illegal workers were living, in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi kills least 29 people.

 

Feb. 10

More than 50 Iraqis are killed and at least 50 others wounded when a car bomb explodes outside a police station in Iskandariya, a largely Shiite Muslim town 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, the capital. Many of the victims were job applicants. The bombing occurs one day after U.S. officials revealed existence of documents, found in Baghdad, that outline an al-Qa’ida plan to incite civil war by targeting Shiite Muslims.

 

Forty-four people are killed when an Iranian airliner carrying migrant workers from Kish Island to Sharjah, north of Dubayy, in the United Arab Emirates crashes during an emergency landing.

 

The rover Spirit travels almost 70 feet (21 meters), the longest distance covered by a rover in one day on the surface of Mars. In the process, Spirit crosses the Gusev Crater toward a crater nicknamed “Bonneville,” about 800 feet (240 meters) from where the rover landed.

 

Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) wins primary elections for the Democratic presidential nomination in Virginia and Tennessee. In Virginia, Kerry takes 51 percent of the vote, leading Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who receives 27 percent. In Tennessee, Kerry wins 41 percent of the vote, compared with Edwards’s 26 percent.

 

Feb. 11

Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark drops his bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States. Clark had won only 1 caucus, in Oklahoma, out of 14 held to date.

 

A suicide bomber plows into a crowd of Iraqi army recruits in Baghdad, killing at least 47 people. The attack  occurs one day after a car bomb in the town of Iskandariya killed more than 50 people. Experts believe that Iraqi militants are launching attacks to coincide with a visit by a United Nations team investigating conditions for the upcoming transfer of power to a civilian Iraqi government.

 

Feb. 12

A United Nations (UN) delegation holds talks with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss his demands for direct elections in Iraq. Al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shiite Muslim majority, is critical of the U.S. plan for the transfer of power by June 30. After the talks, a spokesman for the UN delegation announces that the delegation agrees with the ayatollah’s demands for direct elections. The Shiites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq’s population, believe only direct elections would ensure Shiites are represented fairly in the new government.

 

Scientists from Seoul National University in South Korea reveal that they have cloned 30 human embryos. The findings are published in the journal Science. The scientists emphasize that their goal is not to clone humans, but to obtain stem cells that they hope to use for treating disease. Stem cells are cells that have the ability to develop into any of the different cell types that make up the tissues and organs of the body. Scientists hope to use stem cells to develop advanced treatments for such ailments as Parkinson disease and diabetes.

 

Following a directive by Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco authorities perform at least 15 same-sex marriages and issue more than 10 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The weddings violate a measure passed by California voters in 2000 that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

 

Feb. 13

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush releases hundreds of pages of documents comprising the president’s entire military record. The release is made in response to questions regarding whether the president fulfilled his obligation while serving in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968 to 1973.

 

Feb. 14

At least 25 people are killed and dozens of others are injured when the roof of a water park on the outskirts of Moscow collapses. Russian officials report that the collapse was probably the result of faulty construction.

 

The presidential campaign of Senator John F. Kerry (Massachusetts) continues its momentum as Kerry wins Democratic primary elections in Nevada and Washington, D.C. Kerry has won 14 of 16 Democratic primaries and caucuses.

 

Feb. 15

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., wins NASCAR’s Daytona 500 before 180,000 fans in Daytona Beach, Florida. The victory comes three years after his father, Dale Earnhardt, was killed in the same race.

 

A fire in a crowded shopping mall in Jilin, China, 590 miles (950 kilometers) northeast of Beijing, the capital, kills more than 53 people and injures at least 70 others.

 

Thirty-nine people are killed when a fire breaks out in a temple in Wufeng, China, a village about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southwest of Shanghai.

 

Feb. 16

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig approves the trade of Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriquez to the New York Yankees. The Yankees paid $67 million—the most cash included in a trade in major league history—for Rodriquez, one of baseball’s outstanding shortstops and power hitters, and exchanged second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later to the Rangers.

 

Feb. 17

Executives at Cingular Wireless LLC in Atlanta, Georgia, announce plans to purchase AT&T Wireless Services, Inc., of Redmond, Washington, for approximately $41 billion. The sale creates the largest U.S. mobile phone company.

 

Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts wins Wisconsin’s Democratic primary election for the Democratic nomination for president, defeating Senator John Edwards of North Carolina by a slim margin. Kerry captures 40 percent of the vote, leading Edwards, who takes 35 percent. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean comes in third with 18 percent of the vote.

 

Feb. 18

More than 300 people are killed and at least 450 others are injured when runaway train cars carrying fuel and chemicals derail and explode in Khorasan province, east of Tehran, capital of Iran. The blast destroys five villages and is so powerful that it registers on seismographs as a 3.6-magnitude earthquake.

 

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean ends his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency. Dean failed to win a single state in the Democrat Party primary election.

 

Feb. 19

Federal authorities in Texas charge Jeffrey Skilling, former chief executive officer of Enron Corp., with 35 federal counts of fraud, insider trading, and other crimes related to the 2001 collapse of the Houston-based energy trading company. If found guilty, he faces 325 years in prison and fines totaling more than $80 million.

 

Feb. 20

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Evans Quidachay refuses to block the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. The judge said that lawsuits brought by opponents of gay marriage had failed to show that the weddings were causing immediate harm. A separate hearing on the lawsuits was scheduled for March.

 

Feb. 21

A Sunni Muslim cleric is assassinated at the front door of his house in Baghdad. Sheik Dhamer al-Dhari is shot at point blank range by gunmen who simply walked up to the cleric’s house and knocked on the door. Al-Dhari reportedly belonged to a scholars group that advocated political representation for Iraq’s Sunni majority.

 

Members of the Red Cross visit Saddam Hussein, the captured former president of Iraq, at an undisclosed location in Iraq. Red Cross officials said that Hussein wrote a letter that he asked be delivered to his family.

 

Feb. 22

Attorney and consumer advocate Ralph Nader announces that he is running for president of the United States as an independent candidate. Nader was also a presidential candidate for the Green Party in 1996 and 2000.

 

Rising ocean temperatures will kill most of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef by 2050, report scientists at Queensland University’s Center for Marine Studies in Australia. The scientists reported that the Pacific Ocean is warming too quickly for the Great Barrier Reef to adjust and survive. The reef stretches approximately 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) along the coast of northeastern Australia.

 

Feb. 23

United Nations (UN) officials conclude that direct elections for an Iraqi legislature cannot take place before the end of 2004. The UN team in Baghdad point out that elections are impossible without first creating a fair balloting system, and officials caution that an orderly election would be difficult given the current security situation. They also note that the U.S. plan to hold regional caucuses to elect a legislature would be vulnerable to manipulation and would have little credibility with Iraqis.

 

A car bombing in Kirkuk, Iraq, kills 7 police officers and wounds more than 50 people, including several children. Iraqi police attribute the bombing to a local militant group that allegedly has ties to the al-Qa’ida terrorist network.

 

Conservatives in Iran reclaim control of Iran’s 290-seat parliament following nationwide elections. Reformists in Iran boycotted the election, claiming that more than 2,000 candidates had been barred from seeking election.

 

The United States sends 50 Marines to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to defend the U.S. embassy from a possible rebel attack. Seeking to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, rebels overran Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city, on February 22. They captured its airport and freed prisoners from several police stations.

 

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, begins hearings to determine the legality of the security barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. The barrier consists of sections of ditches, electric fences, and concrete walls that, when completed, will stretch more than 440 miles (700 kilometers). Palestinian representatives describe the barrier as an Israeli attempt to seize Palestinian land, violating international law. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon argues that the barrier is necessary to protect Israelis against Palestinian suicide bombers.

 

A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates an explosive device on a Jerusalem bus, killing 8 people and wounded more than 50 others.

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, speaking before the nation’s governors, describes the National Education Association (NEA) as a “terrorist organization” that does not support President George W. Bush’s educational policies. The NEA, with 2.7 million members, is the largest teachers union in the United States. According to Paige, the group puts the interests of teachers before standards and accountability. Officials at the NEA have announced their intention of suing the Bush administration for allegedly underfunding the “No Child Left Behind” law.

 

Feb. 24

John Kerry sweeps three more contests for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. The Massachusetts senator takes 46 percent of the vote in the Hawaii primary, 54 percent of the vote in the Idaho caucus, and 55 percent in the Utah primary. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina comes in second in both Idaho and Utah with 22 percent and 30 percent respectively but trails Dennis Kucinich in Hawaii, where the U.S. representative from Ohio garners 30 percent of the vote. Kerry has won 19 of the 21 primaries and caucuses held so far in the race for the Democratic nomination.

 

More than 570 people are killed and 200 others injured when an earthquake rocks the port of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco. Neighboring villages, in which many of the dwellings are built of mud brick, are the hardest hit.

 

Feb. 25

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve (FED), the nation’s central bank, informs members of the U.S. Congress that the federal deficit needs to be reigned in and suggests cuts in such entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare. The FED chairman proposes raising the retirement age above age 67 and slowing the rate at which benefits are adjusted for inflation. On February 24, Greenspan warned Congress that the continuing growth of two government-sponsored mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pose “very serious risks” and need to be curtained.

 

A U.S. military helicopter, an OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance craft that carries a crew of two, crashes into the Euphrates River in western Iraq, killing both crew members. The crash takes place about 120 miles (193 kilometers) west of Baghdad in the 82nd Airborne Division's area of operations, which stretches to the Syrian border.

 

The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, announces on state television that men can no longer wear their hair long and that young men are not allowed to grow beards. Goatees are currently in vogue in the capital, Ashgabat. Niyazov has also forbidden listening to car radios or smoking in the street. Opera and ballet performances have been banned on the grounds that they are unnecessary. The authoritarian president is expected to discharge 15,000 nurses and other health workers on February 29 and replace them with army conscripts.

 

Security fears and worries over misuse of funds limit the level of reconstruction aid reaching Iraq, announce a senior official of the World Bank. According to John Speakman, Iraq will have to wait for pledged funds because of the risk of money being misspent.

 

The Supreme Court rules, in a 7-to-2 decision, that state funded college scholarships can be withheld from students preparing for the ministry. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist notes that the refusal of Washington state officials to provide scholarships for religious training reflects the state’s longstanding interest in avoiding the “establishment” of religion. According to legal experts, the desicision is a setback for President George W. Bush and other advocates for using publicly financed vouchers to pay for religious school tuition.

 

Feb. 26

The most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq agrees with the assessment of United Nations (UN) officials that direct elections for an Iraqi legislature are not feasible before June 30, the deadline for the transfer of sovereignty to a civilian government. However, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful figure among the Shiite Muslim majority in Iraq, demands that the UN guarantee that nationwide elections will be held before the end of 2004.  Earlier in February, the UN team in Iraq concluded that creating a fair balloting system could be accomplished before the end of the year. However, the UN officials cautioned that staging an orderly election remains a problem given the current security situation. In the absence of elections or caucuses before June 30, the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council are discussing expanding the current 25-member council and extending its authority past June.

 

The president of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, is killed in a plane crash in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The plane, a twin-engine Beechcraft with seven passengers and two crew members on board, comes down in rain and fog in a mountainous region near the town of Stolac, east of the Croatian port of Dubrovnik. Trajkovski was on his way to an international conference in Mostar, Bosnia.

 

Feb. 27

Rebels, in control of much of northern Haiti, are within 35 miles (55 kilometers) of the capital, Port-au-Prince, in their drive to overthrow the presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Southeast of the capital, rebels seize Mirebalais, which is 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Port-au-Prince. In the capital, law and order has broken down, and looters roam the streets. In an attempt to end the crisis, the government of France has called for a new power-sharing government without Aristide. However, the Haitian president insists he will not quit until the end of his term in office in 2006. On February 26, the United Nations (UN) Security Council, in an emergency meeting, considered sending an international force to Haiti but took no immediate action. The U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted and turned back some 500 people in boats attempting to flee Haiti for the United States.

 

More than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have been accused of sexually abusing parishioners during the years between 1950 and 2002, announce the authors of a new report commissioned by the church. The figure represents approximately 4 percent of all Catholic priests in the United States during the period. According to the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by Catholic bishops in the United States, more than 10,000 children, primarily boys between the ages of 11 and 14, were abused.

 

Feb. 28

An Islamic extremist group in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, claims responsibility for a fire aboard a ferry on February 27 that left more than 180 people dead. The fire began soon after the ferry left Manila, the capital. An Abu Sayyaf spokesperson claims the fire was set in reprisal for the victimization of Muslim women in southern Mindanao, one of the largest of the islands that make up the Philippines.

 

Feb. 29

Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns as president of Haiti and flees Port-au-Prince, the capital, for the Central African Republic. The chief justice  of Haiti’s supreme  court, Bonifice Alexandre, is sworn in as interim president as chaos engulfs Port-au-Prince. An advance guard of U.S. Marines lands in Haiti as armed rebels prepare to enter the capital. Haiti has suffered through 32 coups in its 200-year history.

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--February

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Monday, 05 November 2012 16:01 Written by Jennifer Parello

Jan. 1

The Institute for Supply Management reports that its monthly manufacturing index for December 2003 jumped to 66.2 from 62.8 in November. A reading over 50 signals expansion. December was the sixth straight month of growth and the highest monthly level since 1983.

 

Jan. 2

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.

 

Jan. 3

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.

 

Jan. 4

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.”

 

Jan. 5

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.

 

Jan. 6

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.

 

Jan. 7

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.

 

Jan. 8

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.

 

Jan. 9

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.

 

Jan. 10

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.

 

Jan. 11

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.

 

Jan. 12

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.

 

Jan. 13

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.

 

Jan. 14

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.

 

Jan. 15

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.

 

Jan. 16

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.

 

Jan. 17

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.

 

Jan. 18

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.

 

Jan. 19

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.

 

Jan. 20

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.

 

Jan. 21

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.

 

Jan. 22

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.

 

Jan. 23

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.

 

Jan. 24

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.

 

Jan. 25

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.

 

Jan. 26

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.

 

Jan. 27

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.

 

Jan. 28

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.

 

Jan. 29

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.

 

Jan. 30

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.

 

Jan. 31

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.

 

 

 

 

Chronology--2004--January

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