Portal:Current events/December 2002

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December 2002 was the twelfth and final month of that common year. The month, which began on a Sunday, ended on a Tuesday after 31 days.

Portal:Current events[edit]

This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from December 2002.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 Chávez.
  • In continuing legal action against Exxon over the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, punitive damages against the company have been reduced from USD$5 billion to $4 billion. 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 the University of Tokyo have set the new world record.
  • 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 deploying a limited system to defend the United States against ballistic missiles by 2004.
  • ElcomSoft is found not guilty on four counts of DMCA violations, in the first important test case involving the controversial law.
  • In the Côte d'Ivoire, units of the French Foreign Legion, based at the city of Duekoue on Sassandra River have come into contact with rebels advancing southward from the city of Man. Colonel Emmanuel Maurin, commander of the French force, states "Between what we have here and the river, they shall not pass."
  • South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun states that he will visit Washington after receiving an invitation from President George W. Bush. During his campaign, Roh stated he would not visit simply for a White House "photo op."
  • 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 announced that its "Persons of the Year" are three female whistleblowersColeen Rowley, FBI agent who wrote a memorandum to FBI Director Robert Mueller claiming that the Minneapolis 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.
  • Musician Joe Strummer dies of a heart attack, aged 50.
  • Singer Kristyn Osborn of the country music group SHeDAISY filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against karaoke companies for failure to pay songwriters.
  • British/Irish pop girl group Girls Aloud are formed on Popstars: The Rivals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Sun Microsystems won a major antitrust victory against Microsoft when a federal judge ordered Microsoft to distribute Sun's Java programming language in its Microsoft Windows operating system.
  • 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".[1]
  • War on Terror: 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 anonymous agents defend the practice as necessary in light of the September 11 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.[2]
  • Israeli–Palestinian conflict: Israel announces it will begin with temporarily providing social services such as education, healthcare, and licenses in the West Bank. 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 Putnam County, 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • North Korea expels UN weapons inspectors, and announces plans to reactivate a dormant nuclear fuel processing laboratory.[5]
  • Clonaid, the medical arm of a cult called Raëlism, 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.[6]
  • 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.
  • 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.[7]
  • Brighton, England's historic West Pier partially collapsed. It had served from the Victorian era until it was closed in 1975.[8][9]
  • 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."
  • Three Americans (the director, a doctor, and the administrator) at the Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen, were killed and one pharmacist was injured 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 Chávez traveled to the port to supervise the unloading of 525,000 barrels (83,500 m3) 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 Chávez to call early elections.
  • Crude oil futures on the New York market rose to $33 per barrel (208 $/m3) because of the Venezuelan oil strike and fears of war with Iraq.
  • 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..[10] 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.[11]
December 2002

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  1. ^ "Excite". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2017-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines". Yahoo News. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS - Europe - Chechnya suicide bombs kill 46". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2017-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Excite". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  7. ^ "BBC NEWS - Africa - Kenya victor vows to tackle corruption". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,866543,00.html
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-03-05. Retrieved 2015-06-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2017-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "CNN.com - Court rules Russian colonel insane - Dec. 31, 2002". Retrieved 30 December 2015.