Portal:Current events/January 2004

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January 2004 was the first month of that leap year. The month, which began on a Thursday, ended on a Saturday after 31 days.

Portal:Current events

This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from January 2004.

Arts and culture
Disasters and accidents
International relations
  • State papers released under Britain's Thirty Year Rule suggest that the United States considered using force to seize oil fields in the Middle East during an oil embargo by Arab states in 1973. (BBC) State papers also released reveal that, contrary to what was believed at the time, Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom would not have lost her title and Civil List payments if she had married Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced War hero in the 1950s. (BBC) (Sky News)
  • Comparing planned United States finger-printing and photographic security controls on travelers from Brazil and other nations to Nazi actions, a Brazilian judge orders the fingerprinting of all arriving United States citizens in response. (Yahoo)
Law and crime
  • Haiti's bicentennial celebrations erupt in violence. (Jamaica Observer)
Politics and elections
  • The Republic of Ireland takes over the presidency of the European Union, succeeding Italy, whose presidency is widely criticised as having been a failure due to the collapse of efforts to adopt a European constitution. (RTE News)
Science and technology
  • No leap second is added this year. This is the fifth year in a row without a leap-second after 28 years of adding leap-seconds to compensate for the slowing of the Earth's rotation. (CNN)
  • 2004 Canadian Federal Election: Belinda Stronach officially announces her run for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. [66]
  • Martha Stewart pleads not guilty to five criminal counts that include conspiracy, obstruction of justice and securities fraud stemming from a sale of ImClone stock in 2001. Conviction on any of the charges against her could put Ms. Stewart in federal prison. The five counts carry a total prison term of 30 years and a $1.25 million fine.[67]
  • Colonel Rashid Abu Shbak of the Palestinian Authority, said that information was still coming in and the investigating team had been upgraded, but he had no new leads on who was behind the bombing attack of an American diplomatic convoy on October 15, 2002. Three people died in the attack. U.S. officials have been stopped from going to Gaza since the attack. No decision has been made yet on when they might be allowed to return. Col. Shbak blamed Israel for the lack of progress in the investigation.[68]
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Ongoing events

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January 3, 2004 (Saturday)

  • A Boeing 737, Flight 604, flown by Egyptian charter company Flash Airlines headed for Cairo crashes into the Red Sea minutes after take-off from the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. All 148 people on board are killed, of whom more than 120 were French tourists. Though both United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were in the area, neither were involved in the incident, contrary to initial reports.[1][2][3]
  • The BBC cancels the appearance of Coca-Cola sponsorship credits in the music charts in its BBC One Top of the Pops show, after criticism from politicians and health campaigners that it would be promoting junk food and unhealthy drink products to teenagers.[4]
  • Ricardo Palmera, better known as Simon Trinidad, one of top seven Colombian rebel group, FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is arrested in Ecuador.[5]
  • Exploration of Mars: The first of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit, has successfully landed on the Martian surface with a "very strong signal" being received from the lander. It was a tense few minutes as no signal was received from the lander during the minutes while it bounced over the surface. Mission Control is described as being a wild place with the mission scientists very happy. The first pictures are expected at the earliest around 0730 UTC[6][7][8][9]
  • The People's Republic of China's fifth-largest brokerage is seized by China Securities Regulatory Commission and local authorities for "illegal and irregular management operations and disorderly management." The unusual move to clamp down on China Southern Securities is a high-profile attempt to stem corruption.[10][11]

January 4, 2004 (Sunday)

January 5, 2004 (Monday)

January 6, 2004 (Tuesday)

  • The man charged for the murder of Sweden's FM Anna Lindh on September 10, Mijailo Mijailovic, through his defence lawyer requests an interrogation to give critical details on the stabbing. Seemingly Mijailovic thereby confesses the assault.
  • The Daily Mirror, a British tabloid, publishes the blacked out portion of a letter wherein Diana, Princess of Wales alleged that someone was trying to kill her. The relevant portion reads: "[M]y husband is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure & serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry." The part "my husband" (referring to Charles, Prince of Wales) had been previously blacked out, and the word "him" replaced with "Charles" in transcripts of the letter released by Diana's butler, Paul Burrell.[28] The revelation comes on the same day the inquest into the death of Diana and her lover Dodi Al-Fayed is officially opened.[29]
  • Pakistan is cited as the source of nuclear weapon technology supplied to Libya, Iran and North Korea. The components intercepted at sea by Italy en route to Libya were fabricated in Malaysia. There is no evidence that the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf knew about the transfer of technology of Libya.[30][31]
  • Pakistan and India have agreed to a new round of talks to settle the Kashmir dispute. The talks will be begin February 2004.[31]
  • Exploration of Mars: The first color images have been released from the Spirit rover on Mars. They are the highest resolution images ever taken on the surface of another planet. It has also been announced by NASA that they plan to name the rover's landing site on Mars "Columbia Memorial Station" in honor of the crew of STS-107.[32][33][34][35]

January 7, 2004 (Wednesday)

  • In the United States, the Bush administration proposes a major reform of immigration law, creating a temporary worker program and giving legal status to both illegal and foreign workers for renewable three-year periods.[36][37]
  • The Supreme Court of Indonesia upholds the death sentence handed down to Bali bomber Amrozi. The 12 October 2002 attacks killed 202 mainly holiday makers on the resort island of Bali.[38] July 1073437329581.html
  • Costas Simitis, the prime minister of Greece and president of the ruling PASOK, after informing the country's president Costis Stephanopoulos, announced his resignation. At the same time he announced national elections for March 7, 2004, when PASOK will have a new president, expected to be George Papandreou. PASOK will be challenged by the New Democracy opposition led by Kostas Karamanlis. See,[39][40][41][42] (Greek) and,[43][44][45][46][47] (English).
  • Exploration of Mars: Mars Express failed to hear any signal from the Beagle 2 spacecraft during its first pass over the landing site. This is major blow, but scientists have once again not given up all hope. They will attempt again tomorrow using a different communication mode. The Beagle 2 mission manager, Colin Pillinger, set February 7 as the day to abandon contact efforts. By that time Beagle 2 would have switched into an autotransmit mode after having not received any signal for over a month if it was still alive.[48]
  • A report from the International Monetary Fund expresses alarm regarding mounting budget deficits in the United States due to recession, tax cuts, and spending for the war on terrorism. The report says that the unprecedented level of external debt incurred poses "significant risks" not just for the United States but for the rest of the world. However, many outside economists note that other countries are also running large deficits and that underlying economic conditions in the U.S. are still robust.[49][50]
  • U.S.-led occupation of Iraq: Mortar attacks by Anti-American insurgents wound 35 U.S. soldiers at a military camp west of Baghdad. Six mortar rounds exploded around 6:45 p.m. local time.[51]

January 8, 2004 (Thursday)

January 9, 2004 (Friday)

January 10, 2004 (Saturday)

  • Occupation of Iraq: Protests in the city of Amarah because of unemployment occur. Police officers and soldiers open fire on demonstrators. Five or six are killed and one or eleven wounded.[70]
  • In publicity for a new book for which former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is the primary source, 60 Minutes reveals O'Neill's claims that the Bush administration was making plans for an invasion of Iraq within days of Bush's inauguration. Bush officials note that regime change in Iraq had been official U.S. policy since 1998, three years before Bush took office. O'Neill, fired for his opposition to tax cuts, also characterized Bush as so disengaged in cabinet meetings that he "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people". On the positive side, O'Neill also described Bush as such a good listener that he (O'Neill) was able to give a non-stop monologue for nearly an hour in a one-on-one meeting.[71]
  • SCO v. IBM: SCO Group claims that it has "low-level talks" with Google about a possible license agreement related to Linux.[72]
  • Iraq and weapons of mass destruction: On January 9, 2004, Danish troops discovered decade-old mortar rounds containing suspicious liquid buried in Southern Iraq. Initial tests now indicate that the rounds contain the banned chemical weapon blister gas. Final tests should be available in two days.[73][74]
  • A speed boat carrying illegal immigrants from Albania, bound for Italy broke down and capsized. There were 11 survivors, while as many as 21 died due to drowning and exposure. Two have been arrested by Albanian authorities for people smuggling, while other senior officials have been implicated in connection with the tragedy.[75][76][77]

January 11, 2004 (Sunday)

  • Exploration of Mars: NASA's Spirit rover now has its arm and all six of its wheels free, and only a single cable must be cut before it can turn and roll off its lander onto the soil of Mars. As that milestone is completed, scientists are taking opportunities to take extra pictures and gather other data.[78]
  • Occupation of Iraq:
    • U.S. military records show that attacks against coalition soldiers have decreased by 22% in the four weeks following the capture of Saddam Hussein.[79]
    • More protests in Amarah take place. Demonstrators, many of them related to the victims of January 10, requested compensation. No significant violence reported.[70]

January 12, 2004 (Monday)

January 13, 2004 (Tuesday)

January 14, 2004 (Wednesday)

  • J.P. Morgan Chase strikes a $58 billion merger deal to buy Bank One to create the second-largest bank in the United States.
  • Iraq and weapons of mass destruction: Tests performed by American and Danish military experts indicate no chemical agents are present in the "suspicious" mortar shells discovered in Iraq on January 9.[102]
  • Self-confessed killer of Swedish FM Anna Lindh, 25-year-old Mijailo Mijailovic, says during cross-examination in a Stockholm court that he heard voices in his head commanding him to attack Lindh when he encountered her in a Stockholm shopping mall 10 September last year. Lindh died the next day from the many stab wounds she received.[103]
  • Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan said, "It's just a matter of time before we begin to see employment start to pick up quite significantly, as it always has in the past." Greenspan is also not worried about the fall of the dollar or the half trillion dollar U.S. trade deficit.[104]
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
    • Reem El-Reyashi, a Palestinian suicide bomber, kills four border guards at the Erez Crossing. She is the first female suicide bomber used by Hamas. Four months before, Israel targeted Hamas leadership, including Ahmed Yassin, as a result Hamas halted all suicide bombing for four months.[105]
    • Jack Kelley, USA TODAY foreign correspondent and a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize just two years ago, was forced to resign after the newspaper determined he repeatedly misled editors during an internal investigation into stories he wrote. Among the stories that are being investigated is one published September 4, 2001, contains an account of an attack on Palestinians by 13 Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Mark Memmott, the reporter asked to investigate Kelley, said he could not find anyone with first-hand knowledge of the attack.[106]
  • A secondary school student in the Netherlands kills a teacher in his school cafeteria.[107]
  • Greek electronic game ban: Greek police raid Internet cafés in Larissa. 80 computers are taken by the police as evidence and three Internet café owners are arrested.[108] (in Greek).
  • Education in Greece: 114 University professors sign a document against George Papandreou's positions on private universities and their recognition (anagnorisi).[109] (Greek)
  • Jacques Delors referred to Prime Minister of Greece Costas Simitis, Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker, and former Prime Minister of Belgium Jean Luc Dehaene as the top three candidates for the position of the President of the European Commission.[110]
  • A 45-year-old Sudanese man travelling from Washington Dulles International Airport to airport Dubai is arrested en route at London's Heathrow Airport on suspicion of carrying five bullets in his coat pocket.[111][112]
  • U.S. President George W. Bush, in a speech at NASA headquarters, announces a plan to develop a new space vehicle to return humans to the moon by 2015 and proposes the retirement of the space shuttle fleet by 2010 along with a $1 billion funding increase for NASA.[113]
  • Enron Corporation: Former CFO Andrew Fastow and his wife Lea Fastow, former Assistant Treasurer, accept a plea agreement. Andrew Fastow will serve a ten-year prison sentence and forfeit $23.8 million. Lea Fastow will serve a five-month prison sentence and a year of supervised release, including five months of house arrest. Both will provide testimony against other Enron corporate officers.[114]
  • Turkey and Greece: 22 Turkish military aircraft entered into the Greek Athens FIR. Five of these aircraft were loaded with ammunition. Greek aircraft intercepted them. Source: Athens News Agency and in.gr.[115] (Greek)

January 15, 2004 (Thursday)

January 16, 2004 (Friday)

January 17, 2004 (Saturday)

  • Planned NASA servicing missions for the Hubble Space Telescope are cancelled. Safety concerns are cited as the main reason behind the decision.[132][133]
  • Human cloning: Fertility expert Dr. Panos Zavos claims to have successfully transplanted a two-week-old embryo into a 35-year-old woman. He said he had not done the act anywhere where "the spirit of the law" was against such a procedure.[134]
  • George Papandreou of Greece promised that he will suggest to sign a mutual agreement with Turkey for lowering their defense military expenses.[135] (Greek).
  • Protesters call for resignation of German Federal Police chief Ulrich Kersten: about 6,000 people demonstrates against moving Germany's Federal Police (BKA) headquarters from Wiesbaden to Berlin.[136]

January 18, 2004 (Sunday)

  • Occupation of Iraq: At around 8 am local time (5 am GMT) in Baghdad, Iraq, an insurgent suicide bomber driving a car filled with explosives blew himself up while attempting to enter "Assassin's Gate." Early reports said that about 18 people, including 16 Iraqi civilians and two United States Department of Defense workers were killed, while another 56 Iraqi civilians were wounded.[137]
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon praises the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, for vandalising the artwork entitled "Snow White and The Madness of Truth" displayed at a Stockholm museum. The piece, created by an Israeli-born composer/musician, consists of a white float carrying a picture of a Palestinian suicide bomber in a pool of blood-coloured water. Mazel was caught on surveillance video disconnecting the electric power from the display and throwing a lamp into the water. Mazel says, "This exhibit was the culmination of dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events in Sweden."[138]

January 19, 2004 (Monday)

January 21, 2004 (Wednesday)

January 22, 2004 (Thursday)

  • Mars Exploration Rover Mission: MER-A Spirit rover stops transmitting meaningful data and has thought to have gone into safe mode. The cause of this is unknown but the rover is still able to send back a simple acknowledgement tone.[153]
  • Staff members of the United States Republican Party are accused of infiltrating Democratic Party computers and making copies of confidential files stored on the compromised computers. The infiltrations reportedly began in early 2002.[154]
  • Maher Arar sues the United States government for having deported him to Syria and not Canada, his country of citizenship. He was reportedly tortured in Syria.[155]
  • Enron Corporation: Richard Causey, former chief accounting officer was indicted in Houston, Texas, on federal charges of securities fraud and conspiracy for his role in masking Enron's faltering fiscal health in late 2001. He has pled not guilty.[156]
  • Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper resumes publishing.[157]

January 23, 2004 (Friday)

  • David Kay steps down from Iraq Survey Group. George Tenet names former UN weapons inspector Charles Duelfer to succeed Kay.[158]
  • The International Monetary Fund has joined the World Bank in forgiving US$4 billion of the $6.5bn debt owed by Nicaragua, sharply reducing the nation's overall debt payments.[159]
  • The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter directly detects water ice in the southern polar region of the planet Mars.[160][161]
  • NASA's Spirit rover communicated with Earth in a signal detected by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna complex near Madrid, Spain, at 12:34 Universal Time (4:34 am PST) this morning. The transmissions came during a communication window about 90 minutes after Spirit woke up for the morning on Mars. The signal lasted for 10 minutes at a data rate of 10 bits per second. Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, plan to send commands to Spirit seeking additional data from the spacecraft during the subsequent few hours.[162] The flight team for NASA's Spirit received data from the rover in another communication session that began at 13:26 Universal Time (5:26 am PST) and lasted 20 minutes at a data rate of 120 bits per second.[163]
  • A Thai man suspected of having bird flu died, according to the Public Health Ministry.[164]
  • At least 51 people, including a bridegroom, were killed on Friday when a fire ripped through a makeshift wedding hall in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu during a marriage ceremony.[165]
  • An explosion has killed two people at Zhengzhou railway station, one of the People's Republic of China's biggest transport hubs.[166]

January 24, 2004 (Saturday)

January 25, 2004 (Sunday)

January 26, 2004 (Monday)

January 27, 2004 (Tuesday)

January 28, 2004 (Wednesday)

January 29, 2004 (Thursday)

  • A 60-ton sperm whale carcass explodes in downtown Tainan, Taiwan, causing traffic delays and showering vehicles and pedestrians with blood and entrails.[207]
  • A report submitted today to the State of Maryland states that the electronic voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems "have such poor computer security and physical security that an election could be disrupted or even stolen by corrupt insiders or determined outsiders". The machines have been purchased by a number of states in the United States.[208] This is the third report to state that the machines do not meet the security requirements of an election. Previous reports are available online:,.[209][210]
  • Hutton Inquiry: The BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke, resigns in the continuing fall-out from the report. Mr Dyke is the second high-ranking BBC official to resign. Mark Byford is appointed Acting Director-General.[211] The UK media in general condemns the report as a whitewash.[212]
  • The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades of Fatah claim responsibility for a suicide bombing aboard a city bus, in which Ali Yusuf Jaara, a member of the Palestinian police force, kills 10 Israelis and wounds more than 50, outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. Simultaneously with the bombing, Shaul Mofaz, Israeli Defense Minister, is meeting with American envoys Wolfe and Sauterfield, who have requested an easing-up of conditions for the Palestinians. The explosion also coincides with a German-brokered prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.[213][214][215]

January 30, 2004 (Friday)

January 31, 2004 (Saturday)


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