2004 News and Interesting History Tidbits

The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ, a film directed by Mel Gibson. It was highly acclaimed by those who wanted to view the exact nature of what happened to Jesus on the cross. However, it was Rated R, and was not recommended for children. There was some criticism made of the film, suggesting that it was intended to indicate that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Also, some people thought it was a bit too graphic. Nevertheless, the first run of The Passion of the Christ was substantially more effective and successful than the edited, less-violent run. This film had impacted many lives in many ways, at a time when religiosity was considered to be very important in peoples’ lives. This increased awareness and hunger for knowledge of God and/or a force greater than man was brought for many reasons during this time.

Four US Contractors Ambushed and Murdered
Four Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) employees are ambushed and murdered in Fallujah, Iraq.

The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, were dragged from their cars, beaten, and set ablaze.

Photos of the horrendous crimes were released to news agencies worldwide, causing indignation and outrage in the United States and other countries.

Five suicide bombers detonated car bombs by police buildings in Basra, Iraq, killing at least 74 people.

Martha Stewart Convicted
Martha Stewart is convicted of the felony of obstructing justice and lying about why she'd unloaded her Imclone Systems Inc. stock just before the price plummeted. She had originally been accused of insider trading when she sold her stock days before the announcement that Imclone Systems Inc application for the new drug Erbitux was denied

Debate Over Use of Therapeutic Cloning of Embryos
The continued debate in America and Europe over the use of therapeutic cloning for stem cell research continues to gather pace both in America and other countries of the world . Many believe that the research will lead to medical breakthroughs in Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. While others believe that the research raises serious questions of 'ethics' and that embryos have rights to life which is a gift from God not from a scientist in a lab.

Cassini Sends Back Pictures Of Saturn's Rings
The international mission to Saturn, known as Cassini-Huygens, reaches Saturn after six years and has successfully sent back the first close-up photographs of the Saturn's rings.

Google IPO
The Google IPO ( initial public offering ) raises US$1.67 billion. Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin just 6 years earlier in 1998 while they were students at Stanford University and because of the use of new ranking algorithms and it's clean uncluttered home page it quickly became the most used search engine in the world. The IPO in 2004 offered 19,605,052 shares at a price of US$85 per share ( current share price $ 482.13 August 2008 ) but they have traded up as high as $700 in 2007.

Oil Price Increases
Following the terrorist attacks on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia on 3rd June the price of oil has peaked to $42.45 a barrel, members of Opec, the oil producing cartel, are meeting in Beirut today to agree to increase oil production in an attempt to stabilise the price.

UK Property Price Rises
The house price boom continued in 2003 with average house price in the UK reaching £135,000, in some areas of the country the increases over the last 12 months have been as high as 65% in Northern parts of the country but overall house prices have risen by 15% over the last 12 months.

Walmart Class Action Lawsuit
The class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit representing 1.6 million female workers against Wal-Mart is approved by a federal judge. In February 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling.
The lawsuit affirms that female employees made up 65% of Wal-Mart's hourly-paid workforce, but only 33% of its management.
The class-action lawsuit plaintiffs estimate that about 1.6 million women could be included in the suit which is a gender discrimination lawsuit. The case is still ongoing.

National World War II Memorial
The National World War II Memorial between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument a monument to the 16 million U.S. men and women who served during World War II opened to the public in Washington D.C.

Beltway Sniper Attacks
John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death in Virginia for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers in Prince William County, Virginia as part of the so called 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, killing 10 people over 8 states Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Virginia .

Earthquake under the Indian Ocean
December 26th , 2004 : A tsunami caused by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean killed over 10,000 people in southern Asia, with many more feared dead. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean travelled at high speed and slammed into coastal areas with little or no warning. Officials in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India have all reported death tolls in the thousands and the figures are expected to rise sharply over the next few days.
Over the next 7 days the death toll rose to more than 216,000 people in 13 countries. At least 128,000 people died in Indonesia alone. This made it one of the worst natural disasters in modern times.

The Queen of the Sea train disaster
The "Queen of the Sea" train is struck in Telwatta, Sri Lanka by the Indian Ocean Tsunami killing an estimated 2000 passengers when it is buried under 40 ft of water. The Tsunami was created when the strongest earthquake in 40 years originates from the Indian Ocean close to Indonesia, measuring 9.3 on the Richter Scale.

U.S. Military Charges Seven with Abuse of Prisoners
Following the release of photographs published in worldwide news media of inmate Satar Jabar standing on a box with wires connected to his body and Lynndie England and Charles Graner posing with prisoners ordered to form human pyramid. The U.S. military charged seven soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Unborn Victims of Violence Act
Congress passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 making it a separate offense to harm a fetus during a violent federal crime.

Gay Couples Marriage Licenses Oregon
Basic Timeline of Same Sex marriage Licenses In Oregon
March 2, 2004: Multnomah County Chair Linn announced the county would begin granting licenses for same-sex marriages.

November 2, 2004: Oregonians voted 57% to 43% to pass Ballot Measure 36, a constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between one man and one woman.

April 14, 2005: The Oregon State Supreme Court decided Li & Kennedy vs. State of Oregon, ruling that Multnomah County lacked the authority to remedy a perceived violation of the Oregon Constitution, and by making that decision nullified nearly 3,000 marriage licenses issued to gay couples a year earlier by Portland's Multnomah County.

Gay Couples Marriage Massachusetts
First Same Sex Marriage Performed at Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts, between Marcia Kadish, 56, and Tanya McCloskey, 52, of Malden, Massachusetts, making them the first legally married same-sex partners in the United States.

Canada Gay Marriage Is Constitutional
Canada's Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is constitutional

Terrorist Train Bombs Spain
Four trains in the Madrid area are attacked by terrorists using 10 bombs exploded via mobile telephone, 191 are killed during the attacks which are believed to be made by members of Al Qaida in retaliation for Spains involvement in the war in Iraq. Five suspects are arrested for the Madrid railway bombings they blew themselves up in a building outside the Spanish capital before they could be bought to trial.
Following the bombing. The newly elected Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero orders a withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.

Spain Elects Socialist Government
Following the Madrid terrorist bombing which the public blamed on the conservative government's support for the US led war in Iraq. Spaniards go to the polls and elect a socialist government into power.

Philippines Troop Pull Out From Iraq
Bowing to pressure from within the country the Philippine deputy foreign minister has announced they will would withdraw troops "as soon as possible". The Philippines has now joined Spain in withdrawing troops from Iraq. The Philippines does not have a large contingent of troops in Iraq ( estimated less than 100 ) but it is seen as a blow to the United States because of the signals it will send around the world over allies commitment to Iraq. This could also send the wrong signals to militants in Iraq that hostage-taking works as many believe this is the main reason for Philippine withdrawal.

Fox Hunting Ends In Great Britain
The British Parliament has voted to end fox hunting from February 2005. Animal welfare campaigners are today celebrating their historic victory in the fight to improve animal welfare .

Scott Peterson
A jury in Redwood City, Calif., convicted Scott Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay.

On March 16, 2005, Peterson was sentenced to death and currently resides on death row in San Quentin State Prison.

The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was reopened for tourists for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Olympic Games 2004
The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad are held in Athens, Greece with 11,099 athletes competing from 202 countries marking a number of milestones including the most countries ever to compete with the largest number of athletes. This was also the first time the Olympics had gone back to the original home of the Olympic movement and the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame took place on March 25 in Ancient Olympia.

Problems with having all facilities ready prior to the start of the games including the main Olympic Stadium, which was completed only two months before the games opened.

Video Coverage of the Olympics are broadcast over the Internet for the first time.

The Olympic torch travelled around the world in a relay to former Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece.

Taipei 101 Completed
Taipei 101 which is currently ( 2007 ) the tallest skyscraper in the world at 1,669.9 feet is completed in Taipei, Taiwan 2004

Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Cancelled
The Army canceled its The Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program after sinking US$8 billion into it over 21 years. One of the main reasons quoted was the increased use of the growing popularity in the military of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance purposes

Texas Snowstorm
A huge snowstorm strikes Texas and Louisiana before it headed northeast into the New England states. It was the most snow that Texas received since 1899. Some places in the state only received a few inches while other places, like Victoria, received up to 13 inches overnight.

Jeffrey Skilling Enron Charged
Former Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey Skilling is charged with fraud, insider trading and other crimes in connection with the energy trader's collapse.

He was convicted in 2006 of multiple federal felony charges relating to Enron's financial collapse.

UK High Court Overturns Government Anti Terrorist Policy
The United Kingdoms high court makes a ruling to the government's anti terrorism policy that it can not detain foreign suspects indefinitely without trial.

Fahrenheit 9/11
The highly controversial anti-George Bush, anti-Iraq war documentary by Michael Moore has opened in more than 800 cinemas across America.

US Hands back power to Iraq
The US has transferred sovereignty of Iraq back to Iraq ending 15 months of US control in Iraq. Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his cabinet have now been sworn in and have made a televised address to the people of Iraq after formally taking office.

State Of Emergency Declared In Iraq
A two month state of emergency was declared by the Iraq government as rebels stepped up their attacks and the American military fought back. U.S. forces stormed the city of Fallujah and pummelled it with an AC-130 gunship shooting 40 mm cannon fire.

Janet Jackson Super Bowl Half Time Show
Janet Jackson's breast is briefly exposed by Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl halftime show. Timberlake later referred to the incident as a "wardrobe malfunction."

Viktor Yushchenko Poisoned
After falling ill in September 2004 doctors in Austria determined that Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko had been poisoned with dioxin, which caused the severe disfigurement and partial paralysis of his face.

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