Portal:Current events/December 2003

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2003
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December 2003 was the twelfth and final month of that common year. The month, which began on a Monday, ended on a Wednesday after 31 days.

Portal:Current events

This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from December 2003.

  • Occupation of Iraq:
    • Iraq's Civil Administrator L. Paul Bremer announces that Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces. Saddam was found approximately 15 km south of his home town of Tikrit at 2030 local time on December 13. Hussein was captured without resistance in a so-called "spider-hole" at a farmhouse in the town of ad-Dawr. He is in Coalition custody at an undisclosed location. At a press conference, Bremer presents video of Saddam in custody with a full beard, which is later shown removed. Bremer says that Saddam is in good health and is being "co-operative and talkative". He says that Saddam will "face justice" before an Iraqi court and under Iraqi law. [142] [143] [144] [145]
    • In an address to his nation, US president George W. Bush comments on the capture of Saddam, "Now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions." [146]
    • British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomes the capture of Saddam, urging the Iraqi people "to reach out and to reconcile." Other world leaders offer similar sentiments: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the arrest "will contribute to the strengthening of security in Iraq and to the process of political regulation in the country," while UN Secretary General Kofi Annan comments that Saddam's capture provides a chance "to give fresh impetus to the search for peace and stability in Iraq". [147] [148]
    • A car bomb explodes at a police station in Khaldiyah, 60 km west of Baghdad, killing at least 17 and wounding 30. [149]
  • Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escapes a bombing. "The president's motorcade passed a minute before the blast", according to officials. [150]
  • In an interview with The Washington Post newspaper, a 78-year-old African-American Los Angeles woman claims to be the illegitimate daughter of the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. [151]
  • The famous Italian opera house La Fenice in Venice reopens after being destroyed by fire in 1996. It was rebuilt at the cost of 90mn.[152]
  • Jason White, quarterback of the University of Oklahoma Sooners, wins the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best player in college football. [153]
  • The Holy See announces plans to beatify the last Austro-Hungarian emperor Karl. Karl, who was overthrown in 1918 and died in exile in 1922, is expected to be beatified, a step to sainthood, in the next year. Karl's widow, Zita of Bourbon-Parma died in 1989. His son, former Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg was until recently a German MEP. [222] [223]
  • CCTV footage at Hampton Court Palace near London, once home of King Henry VIII of England, is released, and claimed to show a "ghost". The footage, taken in October 2003, shows a man in 16th century clothes closing a firedoor that had blown open. The palace markets itself as one of Britain's most haunted locations. [224] [225]
  • Celebrations marking the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase culminate in New Orleans, Louisiana. [226]
  • Irish charity fundraiser John O'Shea attacks Manchester United football manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "greedy" for demanding £90,000 to attend a cancer charity function in Ireland in 1999. According to O'Shea, a sports celebrity demanding 'appearance money' from a charity is unheard of in his experience. Ferguson's appearance fee amounted to half the money raised. The fundraisers, until now unaware that Ferguson had taken half the proceeds, denounce his behaviour and say if they had known about it at the time they would have cancelled the event.
  • Former Argentinian president Carlos Menem is charged with tax fraud for failing to declare a Swiss bank account containing $600,000. If convicted he could be debarred from public office. [227]
  • The World Court says it will hear legal arguments about Israel's construction of a controversial barrier in the West Bank to separate Israeli and Palestinian areas. The hearings will begin on 23 February 2004. [228]
  • Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar pays a surprise visit to Spanish troops in Iraq. [229]
  • Massive landslides in the Philippines caused by heavy rain result in the deaths of up to 90 people. [230]
  • A Malaysian opposition website is shut down by its British web-hosting company amid claims of "political censorship" from the opposition. [231]
  • Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai tells his supporters to "fight fear" as they campaign against President Robert Mugabe. His comments follow the decision of Zimbabwe's police to occupy the offices of Zimbabwe's only privately owned newspaper in defiance of a court order that the newspaper could resume publication. [232]
  • Eleven people, mainly young people from Germany, die in a bus crash in Belgium. [233]
  • In Comoros, leaders signed an agreement clearing the way for legislative elections in April. [234]
  • "The American Soldier" is named as TIME magazine's "Person of the Year". The periodical's editors chose the anonymous soldier to represent the 1.4 million men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. [235] [236] [237] [238] [239] [240] [241]
  • Citing increased "chatter" regarding potential terrorist attacks over the holiday period, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raises its terrorism alert level from "elevated" (yellow) to "high" (orange). [242]
  • A senior French police source claims Diana, Princess of Wales was pregnant when she was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997. A Clarence House spokesperson for The Prince of Wales refuses to comment on the issue. Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Diana's partner Dodi Al-Fayed had long insisted that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's baby and that she was murdered to stop her from giving birth. [243] [244]
  • Quoting an unnamed senior British military intelligence officer, a report in the Sunday Express (Britain) claims that before Saddam Hussein was captured by US troops, he had already been discovered by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Kurdish forces had been alerted to his location by a member of the al-Jabour tribe whose daughter had been raped by Saddam's son Uday Hussein. [245]
  • Retired Gen. Wesley Clark presented 4,000 petition signatures to qualify for South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary ballot today. He's the second of the nine candidates for the Democratic nomination to file for the February 3 ballot. Campaign workers for Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts gave the state Democratic Party a check for $2,500 last week to qualify.
  • A powerful earthquake occurs near the southern Iranian city of Bam at 0156 GMT (5.26am local time). The USGS estimates its magnitude as 6.7 on the Richter scale. The BBC reports that "70% of the modern city of Bam" is destroyed. Iranian government officials estimate the death toll at over 20,000 with a further 50,000 injured. Bam Citadel the largest adobe structure of the world is destroyed. The area of the citadel is about 180,000 square meters and the construction date of parts of it goes back for about 2500 years. [282][283][284]
  • The death toll in the Chinese gas-leak rises to 191. [285]
  • Fearing the state's BSE outbreak may extend beyond a single farm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantines a second cattle farm in Washington state. [286]
  • The estimate of the number of dead in the Bam earthquake increases to 40,000, according to the provincial governor. Iran has refused earthquake aid from Israel.[287]
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announces that it believes the BSE infected cow detected in Washington state was imported from Canada in 2001. The location of the other 73 cows imported with it is unknown. [288]
  • Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, survives a letter bomb attack. [289] [290]
  • British scientists are continuing their efforts to make contact with the Mars probe Beagle 2, which was designed to perform advanced studies of the Martian soil in an effort to find microbial life. [291]
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