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The following events occurred in February 2003:
- 1 Events
- 1.1 February 1, 2003
- 1.2 February 2, 2003
- 1.3 February 3, 2003
- 1.4 February 4, 2003
- 1.5 February 5, 2003
- 1.6 February 6, 2003
- 1.7 February 7, 2003
- 1.8 February 8, 2003
- 1.9 February 9, 2003
- 1.10 February 10, 2003
- 1.11 February 11, 2003
- 1.12 February 12, 2003
- 1.13 February 13, 2003
- 1.14 February 14, 2003
- 1.15 February 15, 2003
- 1.16 February 16, 2003
- 1.17 February 17, 2003
- 1.18 February 18, 2003
- 1.19 February 19, 2003
- 1.20 February 20, 2003
- 1.21 February 21, 2003
- 1.22 February 22, 2003
- 1.23 February 23, 2003
- 1.24 February 24, 2003
- 1.25 February 25, 2003
- 1.26 February 26, 2003
- 1.27 February 27, 2003
- 1.28 February 28, 2003
- 2 See also
- 3 References
February 1, 2003
- Space Shuttle Columbia incident: The Space Shuttle Columbia was reported to have disintegrated over Texas on its final approach to a landing after its 28th space mission. All seven crew members were killed in the disaster. It was later discovered that a piece of foam insulation had broken off the external fuel tank and punctured a hole in the left wing during launch.
- A crowded passenger train and a freight train collided head on and burst into flames in northwestern Zimbabwe, killing 40 people and injuring about 60. The wreckage was still burning 14 hours after the collision.
- Seven high school students from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, were killed when an avalanche swept over them on a school ski trip. The remaining ten members of the ski trip survived.
February 2, 2003
The groundhog saw his shadow
February 3, 2003
- Record producer Phil Spector was arrested in relation to an investigation into the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old woman in Los Angeles. Press reports identify the woman as the actress Lana Clarkson.
- Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri claims Space Shuttle Columbia disaster is a sign from God. He says "It is a punishment from God. Muslims see it that way. It is a trinity of evil because it carried Americans, an Israeli and a Hindu, a trinity of evil against Islam." al-Masri's remarks are widely denounced by many other Muslim clerics. Reported in a BBC News Article: Muslim cleric's shuttle outburst attacked.
February 4, 2003
- Federal Republic of Yugoslavia renamed to Serbia and Montenegro with a new constitution converting the federal republic to a "loose union".
- Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri was removed from his position as an agent of Finsbury Park mosque. BBC News Story
- United Kingdom parliament: MPs in the British House of Commons have voted to reject all seven options presented for the reform of the House of Lords.
February 5, 2003
- At the United Nations US Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the US government's case against the Saddam Hussein government of Iraq, as part of the diplomatic side of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq. The presentation includes tape recordings, satellite photographs and other intelligence data, and aims to prove WMD production, evasion of weapons inspections and a link to Al-Qaida.
- The International Court of Justice orders the United States to take "all measures necessary" to prevent the execution of three Mexican nationals, pending its final judgment
- Congressman Howard Coble, of North Carolina, chairman of the House committee overseeing homeland security, said that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was justified, and that it had been done for "their own safety." He was roundly criticized by Asian American members of Congress and spokespeople for Asian American organizations.
February 6, 2003
- In the United Kingdom, seven more arrests have been made under the Terrorism Act 2000 in raids in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Manchester.
- US Rapper 50 Cent released Get Rich Or Die Tryin' under Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records and Interscope.
February 7, 2003
- The Center for Public Interest, a United States nonprofit watchdog group, obtained a leaked draft version of John Ashcroft's proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, also known as "the Patriot Act II". If enacted, the legislation would grant the United States government unprecedented secret internal surveillance powers and sharply curtail judicial review of such surveillance,
- The chief United Nations arms inspector Hans Blix said Iraq appeared to be making fresh efforts to cooperate with U.N. teams hunting weapons of mass destruction, as Washington said the "momentum is building" for war with Iraq.
- The United States said it was ready for any contingency after North Korea issued threats of pre-emptive attack and suggested it was poised to restart an atomic reactor central to its suspected drive for nuclear arms.
- A car bomb at an upscale club in Bogotá, Colombia kills 36 and wounds 150 in the worst attack in many years.
- Israeli police said they had found a suicide bomber's explosives belt hidden in a mosque in Israel, and said it was the first such discovery since the al-Aqsa Intifada began more than two years ago.
- President George W. Bush ordered the government to draw up guidelines for cyber-attacks against enemy computer networks, according to a Washington Post report. The order is known as National Security Presidential Directive 16.
- An oil tanker carrying 35,000 tons of fuel oil ran aground off Denmark but no immediate spill was reported in the area noted for its wildlife, a Danish Royal Navy spokesman said.
- Pakistan's most feared Islamic militant group, branded by Washington last week a foreign terrorist group, was severely weakened by a crackdown on extremism, intelligence officials claimed.
- Senior citizens groups began a call for a boycott of British-owned pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline, the largest in the world, after the company announced that it would no longer sell drugs to Canadian companies that sell drugs at steep discounts to Americans over the Internet. The boycott would include such brands as Tums antacid, Aquafresh toothpaste, Contac cold remedy, Paxil and Flonase.
- The last game is completed in the FIDE Man vs Machine World Chess Championship, in which Garry Kasparov, the highest rated human chess master, competed against the world champion computer program, Deep Junior. The six game match was played to a 3–3 draw.
February 8, 2003
- Sections of a 'dodgy dossier' issued by the UK government, which purported to present the latest British intelligence about Iraq, and which had been cited by Tony Blair and Colin Powell as evidence for the need for war, were criticized as plagiarisms. They had been copied without permission from a number of sources including Jane's Intelligence Review and a 12-year-old doctoral thesis of a Californian student that had been published in the US journal Middle East Review of International Affairs. Some sentences were copied word-for-word, and spelling mistakes had been reproduced from the original articles. Downing Street responded by saying that the government had never claimed exclusive authorship and that the information was accurate.
February 9, 2003
- The Indian Government begins it largest ever vaccination program. It aims to inoculate 160 million children against polio within six days. (BBC)
- 13% of the 3,300 reservists called by the British Government in preparation for a possible war in Iraq have attempted to avoid being drafted. (BBC)
February 10, 2003
- France and Belgium broke the NATO procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany said it supports this veto. The procedure was put into operation on February 6 by secretary general George Robertson. In response Turkey called upon Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, which stipulates that member states must deliberate when asked to do so by another member state if it feels threatened.
- Muslims celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.
February 11, 2003
- The 2002 nominees for the Academy Award (Oscar) were announced to the public.
February 12, 2003
- The British government deploys troops around Heathrow airport after reports that al-Qaeda agents may have smuggled surface-to-air missiles into Britain.
- An audio tape attributed to Osama bin Laden is released by al Jazeera television. It recounts the battle of Tora Bora and urges Muslims to fight the United States and to overthrow the Iraq regime of Saddam Hussein.
February 13, 2003
- Austria bars US military units involved in the attack on Iraq from entering into or flying over its territories without a United Nations mandate to attack Iraq.
- United States military officials anonymously confirm to the Washington Post that two Special Forces units have been operating on the ground inside Iraq for over a month, making preliminary preparations for a large-scale invasion.
- U.S. Senate Democrats continue to threaten to filibuster the candidacy of Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Circuit Court. The Democrats argue that Estrada is too conservative and not answering all of their questions. Estrada was first nominated for the position in May 2001.
- A United Nations panel reports that Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missiles, the only one of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most part of the most effective way to get the best way to get the best way to get the best way to get the best way to get the best way to get the best way to disclosed by Iraq to weapons inspectors in December, have a range of 180 km (above the 150 km limit allowed by the UN), splitting opinion over whether they breach UNSCR 1441.
- Motorola announces that they will release a cell phone running the Linux operating system.
- At London Gatwick Airport, British police arrest a man carrying a hand grenade under the Terrorism Act 2000. Two men have also been arrested at Heathrow airport under the same legislation.
February 14, 2003
- Four ex-Symbionese Liberation Army members were sentenced to prison for the 1975 murder of Myrna Opsahl during a bank robbery in Carmichael, California.
- A very large demonstration was held in Melbourne to protest against the Australian government's support for the US's policy on Iraq. Organisers estimated that 200,000 people came out on to the streets, while some news sources put the number at "up to 150,000".
- UNMOVIC chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented a report to the United Nations Security Council. They stated that the Iraqis had been co-operating well with the inspectors and that no weapons of mass destruction had been found, but that the Saddam Hussein regime had still to account for many banned weapons believed to have been in his arsenal. Mr Blix also expressed doubts about some of the conclusions in Colin Powell's Security Council presentation of February 5, and specifically questioned the significance of some of the photographic evidence that Mr Powell had presented.
- Tariq Aziz of Iraq met with Pope John Paul II
- Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, was euthanized well short of her natural lifespan because of a progressive lung disease.
February 15, 2003
- Global protests against war on Iraq: People around the world demonstrated against the planning of war against Iraq. In Rome three million people were on the streets, in London one million. In Berlin there were half a million in the largest demonstration for some decades. There were also protest marches all over France as well as in many other smaller European cities. Protests were also held in South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, Canada and in the US, in around 600 cities in total.
February 16, 2003
- A missile larger than allowed by UN sanction rules has been found in Iraq (BBC)
- The latest of the Doha round of world trade talks in Tokyo fail to find agreement between the ministers of 22 nations, greatly reducing hopes of a new trade deal before the end of the 2004 deadline (BBC)
February 17, 2003
- London congestion charging begins: Motorists must pay £5 per day to enter central London. This attempt by the Transport for London group to reduce traffic density and pollution, and encourage use of public transport is being followed closely by cities around the world.
- In Chicago, Illinois, a stampede at the E2 south side nightclub kills 21 people.
February 18, 2003
- An arson attack on an underground train in the Daegu, South Korea, claims lives of 192 and 148 injured and dozens missing. Witnesses reportedly saw a man throwing a milk carton filled with a flammable substance into a train.
- The World Health Organization confirms that a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Republic of the Congo killed 64.
- Canadian finance minister John Manley brings down a budget, the last and one of those with the most expenditures in the career of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. It uses money from the federal surplus to replace a portion of the amount the Liberals cut from a variety of programs during their mandate, partially funds the implementation of the Romanow Report on health care, and increases military spending.
- Hours before the first ships transporting heavy United States military equipment to Turkey were supposed to reach port, the Turkish government announces that it will withhold approval to dock unless the United States increases a reciprocal $6 billion foreign aid grant to $10 billion. The Bush administration indicated that no substantial changes will be made to the proposed aid package.
February 19, 2003
- 2003 Iran Ilyushin Il-76 crash: A military plane carrying 302 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran killing all on board. The government did not go into the possible cause of the crash. The plane was en route from Zahedan, on the Pakistan border, to Kerman, about 500 miles southeast of Tehran.
- An air force Fokker F27 crashes in fog-shrouded mountains near the northwestern city of KohatPakistan, killing Pakistan air force chief Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali, his wife and 15 others.
February 20, 2003
- The Station nightclub fire: A fire started by pyrotechnics set-off by Great White, a rock band playing a nightclub in West Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, kills at least 96 and injures nearly 200, with 35 in critical condition. Fatalities from burn injuries are expected to increase.
- University of South Florida computer engineering professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian was arrested by the FBI after he and seven others were indicted on 50 terrorism-related charges. United States Attorney General John Ashcroft alleged at a news conference that Al-Arian is the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
February 21, 2003
- Michael Jordan makes NBA history when he scores 43 points for the Washington Wizards versus the New Jersey Nets, becoming the first player over 40 years old to score 40 or more points in a game, and leading the Wizards to an 89–86 win.
February 22, 2003
- Jesica Santillan, who was made critically ill after receiving donor organs of the wrong blood type in a medical accident during a heart-lung transplant, is taken off life support after being declared brain dead after a second heart-lung transplant operation.
- In Memphis, Tennessee, Mike Tyson beats fringe contender Clifford Etienne 49 seconds into round one of a boxing match. In an undercard bout, controversial former skater Tonya Harding loses a four round decision in her women's professional boxing debut.
February 23, 2003
- The 45th Grammy Awards ceremony is held in New York City, dominated by newcomer Norah Jones receiving eight awards including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
- British athlete Paula Radcliffe sets a new 10 km road race world record of 30:21 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
February 24, 2003
- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes China's remote western region of Xinjiang at 10:03 am local time (0203 UTC) near the mountainous border with Kyrgyzstan. At least 266 are killed, more than 4,000 are injured, and over 1,000 buildings, including housing and schools, collapse.
- U.S. plan to invade Iraq: General Colin Powell states at a meeting in Beijing that "It is time to take action. The evidence is clear ... We are reaching that point where serious consequences must flow." His speech appears to imply that military action is likely to follow within three weeks, based on previous Pentagon briefings.
- Reports of the results of a study of VaxGen's experimental AIDS vaccine show little effect on the spread of AIDS in the overall experimental group. However, there are possible signs of partial resistance to HIV infection in the subgroup of subjects of African and Asian ethnic origin.
- The major Netherlands-based food concern Ahold announces that financial malversations in a US daughter firm lead to an unanticipated loss of 500 million dollars.
- In Athens, Greece, senior U.S. diplomat Brady Kiesling resigned in protest at the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.
- The SFO AirTrain opened with nine stations and two lines.
February 25, 2003
- US plan to invade Iraq: The United States, Britain and Spain present to the UN Security Council a much-anticipated second resolution stating that Iraq "has failed to take the final opportunity" to disarm, but does not include deadlines or an explicit threat of military force. Meanwhile, France, Germany, and Russia offer a counter-proposal calling for peaceful disarmament through further inspections. Sometime reporter Jeff Gannon, actual name James Guckert, signs in at the White House for the first time, according to Secret Service White House access logs obtained through FOIA by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
- Both major parties of Kurdistan, an autonomous region in Northern Iraq, vow to fight Turkish troops if they enter Kurdistan to capture Mosul or interfere in Kurdish self-rule. Between them the two parties can mobilize up to 80,000 guerillas – most likely no match for the modern Turkish army, but a severe blow to the unity of U.S. allies on the Northern front expected in the U.S. plan to invade Iraq.
- Roh Moo-hyun becomes the new president of South Korea.
- North Korea fires test missiles into the Sea of Japan.
- Toshihiko Fukui, former Bank of Japan Deputy Governor, is named as a new chief of Bank of Japan.
- Four former executives of Qwest Communications International are criminally charged with fraudulently booking $33,000,000 in revenue during 2001. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also files a civil suit against seven former (including the four criminally charged) and one current Qwest executives, alleging fraudulent accounting practices in violation of SEC rules.
- NASA reports that the space probe Pioneer 10 finally ceased its transmissions from deep space, after more than thirty years of a mission which was originally intended to last less than two.
February 26, 2003
- Daniel Libeskind's design is announced as the winner and future occupant of the former World Trade Center site. The design includes an office building and a Wedge of Light which will honor the victims of the terrorist attacks by shutting down its lights between 8:46 am and 10:28 am EST every September 11. It will also use the WTC's foundations.
- North Korea nuclear weapons program: Officials from the United States state that North Korea reactivated a reactor at its main nuclear complex.
- US plan to invade Iraq: Hans Blix stated that Iraq still had not made a "fundamental decision" to disarm, despite recent signs of increased cooperation. Specifically, Iraq refused to destroy its al-Samoud 2 long range missiles—a weapon system that was in violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions and the US treaty with Iraq. These missiles are deployed and mobile. Also, an R-400 aerial bomb was found that could possibly contain biological agents. Given this find, the UN Inspectors have requested access to the Al-Aziziyah weapons range to verify that all 155 R-400 bombs can be accounted for and proven destroyed.
- George Bush commits publicly to a post-invasion democracy in Iraq, says it will be "an example" to other nations in Arabia.
- The House of Commons saw the largest rebellion by MPs from any governing party in Britain for at least 100 years. 122 MPs from the ruling Labour party were among 199 from all parties who voted to add the phrase "[This House] finds the case for military action against Iraq as yet unproven" to a government motion. The motion itself endorsed UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and supported "... the Government's continuing efforts in the UN to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction."
- Saddam Hussein, in an interview with Dan Rather, rules out exile as an option. He calls for dialogue with United States president George W. Bush, and suggests that the two should engage in a televised debate.
- Dr. Sami Al-Arian was terminated from his teaching position at the University of South Florida. USF President Judy Genshaft indicated that Dr. Al-Arian's non-academic activities created a conflict of interest with the University, and also cited items from Al-Arian's 50-count indictment. A representative from the American Association of University Professors indicated that the AAUP does not feel that due process was followed in Al-Arian's case, and that the organization will likely formally censure USF at its June meeting.
- Toyanne Hightower, a manager for Banta Corporation, was murdered in her sleep in the city of Watauga, Texas, by her 16-year-old son. While he was preparing to shoot her, he phoned two friends and had them listen in a three-way phone call as he pulled the trigger. When his father returned home, he tried to shoot him also, but his father was able to disarm him. Her son was subsequently tried and sentenced to 40 years in the Texas prison system.
February 27, 2003
- Ariel Sharon presents the new politically right-wing Israeli government. Part of his coalition are Sharon's Likud bloc, the National Religious Party, the National Union and Tommy Lapid's secular Shinui party.
- Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar personally asks United States President George W. Bush to silence Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, indicating that Rumsfeld's numerous public remarks on European countries' Iraq policies are generally viewed as inflammatory and overwhelmingly counterproductive within the European diplomatic community. Aznar indicated a preference for Secretary of State Colin Powell.
- Career diplomat John Brady Kiesling resigns from the U.S. Foreign Service with a sharp public rebuke for the Bush administration's foreign policy, asking "Has oderint dum metuant really become our motto?" and "Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?" Full text
- Fred Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, dies of stomach cancer in his Pittsburgh home at the age of 74.
- An internal investigation by the Washington, D.C., police department indicates that hundreds of people arrested for failure to obey a police order to disperse at Pershing Park on September 27, 2002, during protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were never actually ordered to disperse before being arrested. MPDC Chief Charles Ramsey was unapologetic, indicating that the actions of the police were necessary to protect the city.
- Iraq crisis of 2003: Regarding the disarmament of Iraq, the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, says "The results in terms of disarmament have been very limited so far."
- Rowan Williams is enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury.
- U.S. presidential election, 2004: Senator Bob Graham of Florida announces his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination of President.
- Rauf Denktaş, chief of the Turkish Cypriots, rejected the latest version of a United Nations plan to reunite Cyprus.
- Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, announced his support to the United States and United Kingdom campaign against Iraq.
February 28, 2003
- Iraq crisis of 2003: Iraq begins the process of destroying Al Samoud two missiles on March 1. Hans Blix, U.N. chief weapons inspector said "It is a very significant piece of real disarmament". However, the spokesman of the White House, Ari Fleischer declared that the Iraq commitment to destroy these missiles is a fraud that President George W. Bush had predicted, and indicated that the United States wanted a total and complete disarmament of Iraq. He also repeated that if the United Nations did not act to disarm Baghdad, the United States would lead a coalition of voluntary countries to disarm Saddam Hussein.
- Canada's prime minister Jean Chrétien indicates that he believes that regime change is a dangerous goal for an invasion of Iraq, and that disarmament only should be the goal of international pressure.
- It is reported that, citing "national interest" as a reason, the British government under Margaret Thatcher contributed approximately £1bn of taxpayer money to Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Most of this money went into military infrastructure built by British companies such as GEC-Marconi.
- The new Austrian government, again headed by Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, is sworn in by Federal President Thomas Klestil. After more than three months of negotiations following the general elections of November 24, 2002, Schüssel (Austrian People's Party) decided to continue the coalition with the right-of-centre Austrian Freedom Party begun in early 2000. Although any future influence on federal politics by Jörg Haider was averted, one of the new members of the government is Ursula Haubner, Haider's sister.
- Darren Flutie, Canadian Football's all-time leader in receptions, retires.
- The Czech Republic finally chooses a new President, former Prime Minister Václav Klaus. The county had been without a President after three attempts at choosing a replacement for former President Václav Havel.
- The United States 9th Circuit Court, based in San Francisco, California, reaffirmed its ruling that the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional. It is expected that the Bush administration will appeal to the Supreme Court.
- The United States government backtracked on its pledge to send American combat troops to the Philippines in order to track down Islamic terrorists in that nation. Philippine opponents of the plan threatened to impeach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, if she had allowed foreign troops on Philippine soil in contradiction to the Philippine constitution.
- The European Dreamcast online gaming network Dreamarena was closed down.
- Preparations for 2003 invasion of Iraq
- Progress of the SARS outbreak
- Timeline of the War in Afghanistan (February 2003)