Portal:Current events/February 2003

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February 2003 was the second month of that common year. The month, which began on a Saturday, ended on a Friday after 28 days.

Portal:Current events[edit]

This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from February 2003.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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • The 2002 nominees for the Academy Award (Oscar) were announced to the public.
  • 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.
  • Antwerp diamond heist
  • 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)
  • 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.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.
  • 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.[9]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.[12]
  • 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.[13]
  • 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.
February 2003

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  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2017-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-13. Retrieved 2017-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2017-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "BBC NEWS - Africa - Congo Ebola outbreak confirmed". bbc.co.uk.
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ "Major Pakistani air crashes". The Express Tribune.
  8. ^ "R.I. Nightclub Blaze Kills at Least 96". Fox News.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2003-04-04. Retrieved 2017-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "The Times - UK News, World News and Opinion". timesonline.co.uk.
  11. ^ [3][dead link]
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-05-08. Retrieved 2017-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ David Leigh. "How £1bn was lost when Thatcher propped up Saddam". the Guardian.