2003 News and Interesting History Tidbits

Freedom Fries
Following the strong words used by the French President Jacques Chirac opposing US policy in Iraq American restaurants are renaming "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries", the protests even include the House of Representatives restaurants and bars which have renamed "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries" and "French Toast" to "Freedom Toast" .

Power Outage North America
A major power outage never seen before across the Eastern United States and parts of Canada and including New York with over 15 million people affected . The total number affected is thought to be the worst power cut in North American history affecting more than 50 million . The effects included traffic lights failed, underground railways, people trapped in lifts, and because it was one of the hottest days of the year and temperatures approaching 32C some of the worst effects were caused due to the lack of air conditioning. Most did have power back with 24 hrs

Heatwave In Europe
The United Kingdom records its first ever temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At Brogdale in Kent a temperature of 101.3F was recorded the highest ever recorded temperature in the country since records began in 1875. Throughout August the intense heat wave scorched Europe, claiming more than 35,000 lives.

Iraq Invasion By American Led Coalition
Secretary of State Colin Powell urges the U.N. Security Council to move against Iraq, saying that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and was harboring terrorists - claims that later turned out to be false.

Iraq concerned with growing reports of a US invasion agrees to allow U-2 surveillance flights to search for banned weapons. President George W. Bush brushed aside Iraqi concessions as too little, too late.

Two days prior to the US invasion of Iraq President George W. Bush gave a final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that he had 48 hours for him and his sons to leave Iraq.

President George W. Bush addresses the nation via live television and announces that Operation Iraqi Freedom has begun to rid Iraq of tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein and eliminate Iraq's ability to develop weapons of mass destruction. The American led coalition launched began with the launch of U.S. cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs aimed at Saddam Hussein near Baghdad.

Iraqis turn on symbols of former leader, pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein and tearing it to pieces as US tanks roll into the centre of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein is captured by U.S. forces at a farmhouse in Adwar, near his hometown of Tikrit.

U.S. commandos in Baghdad capture the wanted terrorist Abul Abbas, leader of the Palestinian group that killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner Achille Lauro in 1985

President George W. Bush on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast announces in a speech to the nation on 1st May 2003, major combat in Iraq is over.

US troops rescue Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq, where she had been held prisoner since her unit was ambushed nine days earlier.

Increasing Anger Over Public Being Misled in Run Up To Iraq Invasion
As the row over statements made by the British Prime Minister in the run up to Iraq Invasion telling the British People that "Saddam could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of the order being launched" continue government ministers are coming under increasing pressure from the British Press including the BBC to tell the truth.

The Government Foreign Affairs Committee's report will vindicate the government which leaves the question of

Did the government mislead the British Public ?


Are the British intelligence services so inept that the reports they provided were completely wrong as no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq ?.

One of the above must be true from the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq !!!.

There is also increased pressure on the US administration to discuss statements used for justification in the run up to the Iraq war from the American Press and members of the Democratic Party.

Space Shuttle Columbia Explodes
The Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and the seven astronauts die as leaving the world in a state of shock and disbelief. George W. Bush addressed the nation on television and paid tribute to the seven members aboard this ship who lost their lives. This is the second space shuttle disaster since 1986, the year the Challenger exploded.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
JK Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is released and becomes the fastest selling book ever. Fans of the Harry Potter series have had to wait three years for the latest book and although they are three years older than they were are still just as keen to read the latest book.
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" has now sold over 55 million copies worldwide and was released as a movie in 2007.
The original "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" released in 1997 is still the most popular of the the series with over 120 million copies sold.

Sars virus Outbreaks
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) virus outbreaks occur in more countries including China, Hong Kong, Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, by the end of the year cases were founf in Europe and Africa.
Many countries quarantine large numbers of people and are closing entertainment facilities including theatres, cinemas and karaoke bars.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory disease in humans and during 2000 -2003 reached near pandemic proportions with 8,096 known infected cases and 774 deaths

New Music File Sharing Crackdown by RIAA
The Recording Industry Association of America ( RIAA ) is increasing it's policing and increasing the number of lawsuits on those caught file sharing music and committing copyright violations. It is estimated that over 1 billion songs are file swapped each month.

Anglican Church Approves Gay Bishop
The Anglican Church in the United States has voted to approve the appointment of Mr Robinson an openly gay bishop who has lived with his male partner for 14 years.

Ferry Disaster Bangladesh
The ferry "MV Nasrin-1" travelling from Dhaka, to Lalmohan hits strong winds and high seas causing the ferry to overturn ( It is also believed the ferry was overloaded with passengers and cargo ) making it more unstable. At least 400 are believed to have drowned in the strong currents and 200 are rescued.

Venice Threatened By Global Warming
As Cities and countries around the world face up to increasing water levels. The city most at risk has been battling the rising sea for over 1,000 years and many believe will be the first city to succumb to global warming. Parts of Venice that only flooded on exceptional tides 7 times per year 100 years ago now flood 200 times per year.

Washington Sniper Caught
Ex-soldier John Muhammad is found guilty of one of a series of sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in October 2002. Police charged that Muhammad and his 17-year-old accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, killed 10 people and wounded three others during a three-week killing spree. On 9th March 2004 he was sentenced to death .

Do Not Call List
Registration begins for the Do Not Call List with nearly 3/4 million phone numbers registered on the first day providing consumers with an opportunity to limit telemarketing calls. Enforcement on telemarketing begins on October 1.

Kobe Bryant Charged With Sexual Assault
Basketball star Kobe Bryant is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee at a hotel in Edwards, Colorado. (Charge dropped because the woman did not want to go ahead with a trial.)

Michael Jackson Charged With Child Molestation
Michael Jackson is booked on suspicion of multiple counts of child molestation and is freed on $3 million bond. ( he was later acquitted on all charges )

Jessica Lynch Rescued
Jessica Lynch is rescued from a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq, where she had been held prisoner since her unit was ambushed nine days earlier.

This story has created a great deal of controversy over the years with conflicting reports of what happened during her time in captivity and her rescue, so only the basic facts are included here she was injured, captured by Iraq Forces and rescued by US Forces.

Scott Peterson Arrested
Scott Peterson is arrested in San Diego for the murder of his wife, Laci, who was eight months pregnant when she vanished on Christmas Eve. (He was later convicted and sentenced to death.)

Mars Probe Beagle 2 Lost
Scientists lose contact with the British-built Mars probe, Beagle 2 which is less than a meter across and had travelled to the red planet "piggyback" on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.
NASA successfully landed Spirit rover on Mars in 2004 which did send back images of the planet's surface.

BSE Confirmed US
The first confirmed case of BSE is found in the United States, Only 3 cases are confirmed currently in the US compared with 180,000 in the United Kingdom

Jayson Blair The New York Times
Jayson Blair resigns from The New York Times following the blatant plagiarism of an article written by San Antonio Express-News reporter Macarena Hernandez

In a subsequent internal investigation led by assistant managing editor Allan Siegal it was discovered that 36 of the 73 national news stories Blair had written since October 2002 were suspect, ranging from fabrications to copying stories from other sources.

Fire At Nightclub Kills 100
A fire at a rock concert in a Rhode Island, nightclub kills 100 people and seriously
injures almost 200 more . The cause was traced to a pyrotechnics display which which set fire to the soundproofing foam on the ceiling

Elizabeth Smart Found
A miracle had taken place. A 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart was found in Utah nine months after being kidnapped from her home. Her abductors (employee who worked at the Smart’s home, and his wife) were captured as well, and were charged of kidnapping, burglary, and sexual assault.

World Prison Population List
These figures are from the
British Government's Definitive Study "World Prison Population List" 4th edition published in 2003

United States 686 per 100,000
Cayman Islands 664 per 100,000
Russia 638 per 100,000
Belarus 554 per 100,000
Kazakhstan 522 per 100,000
Bahamas 416 per 100,000
South Africa 404 per 100,000
Cuba 297 per 100,000
Iran 229 per 100,000
Zimbabwe 163 per 100,000
New Zealand 157 per 100,000
Mexico 156 per 100,000
United Kingdom 139 per 100,000
Libya 127 per 100,000
Australia 116 per 100,000
China 111 per 100,000
Canada 102 per 100,000
Germany 96 per 100,000
France 85 per 100,000
Denmark 59 per 100,000
Norway 59 per 100,000
Japan 48 per 100,000
India 28 per 100,000

This is by no means the full list which includes 205 countries just the ones I thought were interesting, the top 5 are the top 5 countries but after that just those I thought may be good for comparison and interest

Broadway Musicals Closed
A four-day walkout by 325 Broadway musical orchestra members over the issue of the size of the orchestras required for Broadway shows, forcing nearly every Broadway musical to cancel performances.
The Musicians claim they want to replace live music with a virtual orchestra, a couple of synthesizers and computer-generated sound,

Ephedra Banned
The federal government announced it would proceed with the ban on the sale of Ephedra, an herbal stimulant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years due to it's link to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes when used as a dietary supplement .

Armed undercover sky marshals
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001 the British Government agrees that Armed undercover "sky marshals" will be placed on some British passenger planes in the United States,

Martha Stewart Indicted
Martha Stewart is indicted on nine criminal counts , including obstruction of justice, securities fraud, and conspiracy in the ImClone stock scandal. She also steps down from running her company.

Ku Klux Klan 2003
The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold a 50-year-old Virginia law making it a crime to burn a cross as an act of intimidation, The practice of "Burning A Cross" is widely associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that burning a cross at a Klan rally is protected by the First Amendment, but could not be burned as a form of intimidation.

Subway Fire South Korea
An arsonist had set a subway on fire . This fire was started when a man had ignited a gasoline container on board. A total of 189 people were killed and another 150 were injured.

Libya Gives Up Chemical Weapons
Following political pressure and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Libya has announced an undertaking to destroy its arsenal of chemical weapons.

Senator Strom Thurmond
The late Senator Strom Thurmond's family acknowledged Essie Mae Washington-Williams claim that she was Thurmond's illegitimate mixed-race daughter by an African American household servant of the Thurmond family named Carrie Butler.
Senator Thurmond had met his daughter when she was 16 and helped pay to put her through college.

Chicago Nightclub Disaster
21 people are killed in a stampede at the crowded "The Epitome" nightclub in Chicago.

Keiko From Free Willy Movies
Keiko the Orca (or killer whale) made famous by the "Free Willy" movies, died in the Norwegian fjord that had become his home. Keiko was originally captured near Iceland in 1979 and sold to the Icelandic aquarium, Following public pressure for his release after his starring role in the movies he was airlifted to Taknes fjord in Norway where many hoped he could be returned to the wild

US Europe Trade War Tariffs
The US has pulled back from implementing a punitive tax on imported steel amounting to increases of 30% to the cost of a range of imported steel products, to avoid a damaging trade war between the United States and Europe after the EU threatened implementing tariffs of $2.2bn on US imports into Europe.

Justice Roy Moore
Justice Roy Moore, is suspended by Alabama's Court of the Judiciary who unanimously removed him from his post as Chief Justice when he refused to take down the Ten Commandments from an Alabama state justice building.

Michael Jackson TV Documentary Aired
The ABC's 20/20 airs the Granada Television documentary Living with Michael Jackson where British journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Michael Jackson over a period of 8 months, from the middle of 2002 to January 2003. It was shown first in the UK on ITV on 3 February 2003 and in the US three days later on ABC. The interview was unusual as Jackson allowed access to his personal life and talked freely about his traumatic childhood. The part that caused the most controversy was when Michael Jackson revealed he allowed children to sleep in his bed and when combined with other testimony eventually led to a court case for child molestation where he was found innocent.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California

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