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December 2002

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A timeline of events in the news for December, 2002.

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Table of contents

December 31, 2002

  • United States troops get into a brief gun battle with paramilitary forces of the Warzirstan Scouts[?] of Pakistan, in a remote tribal area along the undefined Afghan/Pakistani border, in Paktia[?] Province, Afghanistan. One US soldier is wounded by gunfire, and several Pakistani soldiers are killed when US air support arrives. The border in this region is poorly demarcated. [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60833-2002Dec31). Three missiles from US helicopter gunships strike a madrassa owned by former Taliban official Maulana Muhammad Hassan, according to the ANI news agency.
  • The first trial of a member of the Russian military for human rights violations in Chechnya concludes controversially, with Col. Yuri Budanov found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Budanov was charged with murder and abduction after being accused of raping and strangling Heda Kungayeva, an 18 year old Chechen girl whom Budanov contends was a rebel sniper. [2] (http://europe.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/12/31/russia.colonel/)

December 30, 2002

  • The Israeli Supreme Court rules that reservists may not refuse to serve in the West Bank or Gaza because of their objection to Israeli government policies. The Court ruled "the recognition of selective conscientious objection might loosen the links that hold us together as a people."
  • Four Americans (the director, a doctor, the administrator and the pharmacist) at the Baptist hospital in Jibla[?], Yemen, were killed by Abed Abdul-Razzak Kamal. Kamal was captured and claims he was linked to the extremist Islamic Reform Party[?]. Another member of his alleged cell, Ali al-Jarallah, was arrested for shooting a Yemeni left-wing politician on Sunday.
  • The United Nations Security Council voted 13-0, with two abstentions, to revise the list of goods Iraq is allowed to purchase under the "food-for-oil" program. The list includes flight simulators, communications equipment, high-speed motorboats[?], and rocket cases, which the United States noted are dual-use technologies. The Security Council also agreed to ask the UN for standards to evaluate the quantities of medicine and antibiotics Iraq is allowed to import under this program.
  • A tanker, the Amazonian Explorer, arrived in Puerto La Cruz[?], Venezuela, 200 kilometers east of Caracas, the capital. President Hugo Chavez traveled to the port to supervise the unloading of 525,000 barrels[?] of gasoline. Gasoline is restricted due to a strike at Petroleos de Venezuela, SA[?] (PdVSA), the state-owned oil company, which is aimed at forcing President Chavez to call early elections.
  • Crude oil futures on the New York market rose to $33 a barrel because of the Venezuelan oil strike and fears of war with Iraq.

December 29, 2002

  • The Kenyan electoral commission confirms that the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) has won landslide victories over the ruling KANU party in Friday's elections, ending 40 years of single party rule and 24 years of rule by Daniel arap Moi. The NARC's presidential candidate, Mwai Kibaki, led by more than 30 percentage points over the KANU's official candidate. [3] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2612427.stm)
  • Brighton's West Pier collapsed. It had served from the Victorian era until it was closed in 1975. [4] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,866543,00)[5] (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1718590)

December 27, 2002

  • Chechen rebels detonate two car bombs at the Grozny headquarters of Chechnya's Russian-backed government in an apparent suicide attack, killing more than 80 people. [6] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2609289.stm)
  • North Korea expels UN weapons inspectors, and announces plans to reactivate a dormant nuclear fuel processing laboratory. [7] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42920-2002Dec27)
  • Clonaid, the medical arm of a cult called Raelism, who believe that aliens introduced human life on Earth, claims to have successfully cloned a human being. They claim that aliens taught them how to perform cloning, even though the company has no record of having successfully cloned any previous animal. A spokesperson said an independent agency would prove that the baby, named Eve, is in fact an exact copy of her mother. [8] (http://apnews.excite.com/article/20021228/D7O6OBAO0)
  • Presidential elections in Kenya between Uhuru Kenyatta[?], candidate for ruling party KANU, and Mwai Kibaki, candidate for opposition party NARC. Early reports say the latter wins a landslide victory[?].

December 26, 2002

  • North Korea is reactivating a plutonium producing nuclear power plant north of Pyongyang after removing United Nations seals on the reactor and degrading the capability of surveillance cameras. This same reactor is thought by U.S. officials as the source for plutonium for two previously produced atomic bombs. North Korea has been named by the George W. Bush Administration as part of the so-called "axis of evil."[9] (http://apnews.excite.com/article/20021227/D7O5SKEG0)
  • War on Terrorism: A Washington Post article quotes numerous anonymous CIA agents who confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States uses so-called "stress and duress" interrogation techniques, which are claimed by human rights activists to be acts of torture. The actions include beatings as a prelude to interrogation in order to break their will, followed by sleep deprivation, denial of pain medication, and enclosure in cramped rooms. The CIA frequently turns suspects over to Middle Eastern intelligence services for what is undisputablely torture and intensive interrogation. The anonymous agents defend the practice as necessary in light of the September 11th terrorist attacks; publicly, US government officials deny the charges, while declining to address specifics. Privately, however, one official justified human rights violations as being a necessary part of the job. [10] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37943-2002Dec25)
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israel announces it will begin with temporarily providing social services such as education, healthcare, and licenses in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli government claims the move is necessary to provide badly needed services to the Palestinian people in light of the Palestinian Authority's inability to do so. Palestinian officials claim the move is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and tantamount to the reinstatement of the Israeli occupation that existed before the 1993 Oslo Accords.
  • A 55-year-old contractor from West Virginia named Andrew "Jack" Whittaker Jr won the $314.9 million Christmas Day Powerball[?] jackpot which is the biggest undivided lottery prize in American history. [11] (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20021226/ap_on_re_us/powerball_christmas_39)

December 25, 2002

December 24, 2002

  • A number of US Muslim groups have initiated a class action lawsuit against the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft and the US immigration services over the arrest and detention of large numbers (believed to be in the hundreds) of Muslim men.
  • A bomb believed planted by a Muslim separatist organisation killed 13 people, including a town mayor, and wounded 12 in a Christmas Eve attack in the southern Philippines town of Datu Piang.
  • Iran's state radio reported quoted a statement by airport officials, saying that pilot "carelessness" caused a plane carrying Ukrainian and Russian aerospace scientists to crash in central Iran, killing all 46 people on board.

December 23, 2002

  • Bill Frist was voted to succeed Trent Lott as United States Senate Majority Leader.
  • Scientists at California company VaxGen Inc., have finished the first human trial of an AIDS vaccine, a mammoth $200 million, 5,400-patient effort more than a decade in the making. The Food and Drug Administration has granted the vaccine "fast-track" status that would speed it through the approval process, if it proves effective, for public availability. The test results are expected to be made public within approximately three months.
  • The British musician Joe Strummer has died of a heart attack, aged 50. His death made the top news story in a number of British news sources.
  • Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, the heir of the last King of Italy, visited the country for the first time since the Italian Royal Family was banned. A constitutional amendment passed in November allowed the royal family to return as ordinary citizens.

December 22, 2002

  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat announced that he has called off presidential and legislative elections scheduled for next month, as he feels that continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory will make a free election impossible.
  • North Korea announced that it is physically removing monitoring devices placed on the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The devices were placed by the United Nations following the 1994 nuclear agreement[?] to shut down Yongbyon, which is capable of making weapons-grade material, in exchange for deliveries of oil. In November 2002, Korea admitted that it is working on a weapons of mass destruction program in response to "imperialist threats." The United States states it does not trust the North Koreans.
  • Demonstrators estimated in the tens of thousands supported proposed national security laws for Hong Kong, following last week's demonstrations with similar numbers against these proposed laws. The Government Consultation Exercise for the proposed laws received 18,000 comments. Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, negotiated by Britain and China before the 1997 handover to China, stated that Hong Kong must enact national security legislation by itself banning treason, turning over state secrets, and urging separation from China.
  • A senior member of ETA, Ibon Femandez de Iradi, escaped from French custody yesterday. He and a woman companion was arrested Wednesday after their car was found to have false number plates. Ibon Femandez de Iradi was the logistics chief for ETA, a Basque separatist group which has been implicated in terrorist activities.
  • Time Magazine announced that its "Persons of the Year" are three female whistle blowers -- Coleen Rowley, FBI agent who wrote a memorandum to FBI Director Robert Mueller[?] claiming that the Minneapolis, Minnesota office had been remiss in its investigation of suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui; Cynthia Cooper[?], former WorldCom auditor, who alerted the company's Board of Directors of accounting irregularities; and Sherron Watkins[?], former Enron Vice President, who reported to the company's former Chairman Kenneth Lay in 2001 that the company was about to collapse as a result of false accounting.
  • The city of Baltimore, Maryland passed an ordinance making the giving of a BB gun to a minor a misdemeanor punished by a $500 fine and two months in jail.
  • Singer Kristyn Osbourne of the country music group SHeDAISY[?] filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against karaoke companies for failure to pay songwriters.

December 21, 2002

December 20, 2002

December 19, 2002

  • U.S. plan to invade Iraq: After reviewing a 12,000 page Iraqi weapons declaration document, U.S. officials state that Iraq has failed to account for all its chemical and biological agents and that Iraq is in material breach of an United Nations Security Council resolution.
  • Hundreds of Middle Eastern immigrants in Southern California who came to INS officials to register, as per new regulations, are arrested and imprisoned for various INS violations, many of them due to official delays in processing necessary forms. Critics compare the action to the Japanese internment in the same region during World War II. Others claim that the people are in violation of United States immigration law, and the arrests are valid.
  • Ruling party candidate Roh Moo-hyun won South Korea's presidential election, a result that could complicate ties with the United States as the allies grapple with North Korea's nuclear programme.
  • Pope John Paul II will approve the miracle needed to beatify[?] Mother Teresa, whose dedication to the destitute earned her a special place in the pontiff's heart. A second miracle then will be needed to declare Mother Teresa a saint.
  • AOL Time Warner announced that they had been issued a patent for instant messaging. AOL said that they have no plans to enforce the patent, but it could cause major problems for the purveyors of other instant messaging systems, in partcular Microsoft and Yahoo!.
  • Rebels in the Côte d'Ivoire seized the key western city of Man from government forces.

December 18, 2002

December 17, 2002

  • Congo's government, rebels and opposition parties signed a peace accord to end four years of civil war and set up a transitional government to lead Africa's third-largest nation to its first democratic elections since independence in 1960.
  • The Bush administration announced it will begin begin deploying a limited system to defend the United States against ballistic missiles by 2004.

  • ElcomSoft is found not guilty on 4 counts of DMCA violations, in the first important test case involving the controversial law.

December 16, 2002

  • Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic pled guilty to one count of crimes against humanity at the Hague tribunal for her part in persecuting Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the 1992-95 conflict, which left 200,000 dead or missing.
  • Protesters blockaded highways in and around Caracas as the opposition, angered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's resolve to hang on to power, called for an escalation in its campaign to remove him.
  • Former US Vice President and 2000 Presidential candidate Al Gore announces on the CBS program 60 Minutes that he will not seek election to the Presidency in 2004.

December 13, 2002

December 11, 2002

December 10, 2002

  • The government of Indonesia and rebel leaders from the province of Aceh (in the north of Sumatra) have signed a peace accord which negotiators hope will bring an end to fighting in the province.
  • Venezuela's Supreme Court announced it was suspending its services, citing political harassment and condemning deadly violence during a general strike by opponents of President Hugo Chavez.

December 9, 2002

December 7, 2002

December 6, 2002

  • The Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev has returned to London, where he is expected to seek asylum. He was arrested but released soon afterwards on bail paid by Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships swept into the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Friday, provoking a gunbattle and killing 10 people, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.
  • Venezuela's oil exports ground to a halt, negotiations stalled and protesters faced off on the streets as prospects dimmed for a peaceful resolution to a strike designed to unseat President Hugo Chavez.
  • In continuing legal action against Exxon over the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, punitive damages against the company have been reduced from $5000 to $4000 million. The company is expected to appeal.
  • Archeologists digging near the Gulf Coast of Mexico have discovered an inscribed seal and fragments of a plaque which contain writing, pushing back the date for the first appearance of writing in Mesoamerica to about 650 BC[?]. It also suggests that the Olmec culture developed writing, not the Zapotecs.
  • Pi has been calculated to 1.24 trillion digits. Professor Yasumasa Kanada and nine other researchers at the Information Technology Center at Tokyo University have set the new world record.

December 5, 2002

December 3, 2002

December 1, 2002

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