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March 2004

World

  • Putin Appoints Prime Minister (March 1): Russian president names Mikhail Fradkov as premier. (March 14): Putin overwhelmingly reelected to a second term.
  • Suicide Bombers Hit Iraqi Mosques (March 2): About 170 Shiite Muslims observing ashoura killed in attacks in Baghdad and Karbala.
  • Venezuela Referendum Hits Snag (March 2): Protests erupt after election council invalidates about 1.8 million out of 3.4 million signatures submitted by opponents of President Hugo Chavez. Opposition calling for a recall vote.
  • New Leaders Take Office in Haiti (March 8): Boniface Alexandre, Haiti's chief justice, sworn in as interim president. (March 10): Gérard Latortue, a lawyer and economist, appointed interim prime minister.
  • Iraqi Governing Council Signs Interim Constitution (March 8): Charter to take effect when U.S.-led coalition forces end their occupation.
  • Spain Rocked by Terrorist Attacks (March 11): At least 10 bombs explode on four commuter trains in Madrid during rush hour, killing 202 people and wounding about 1,400. An Arabic newspaper reports it received a fax alleging that al-Qaeda was behind the attack. (March 14): Spanish officials say they have found a videotape on which al-Qaeda takes responsibility for the bombings. Police arrest three Moroccans and two Indians in connection with the attacks. (March 14): Governing Popular Party upset by opposition Socialists, led by incoming prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
  • South Korean President Impeached (March 12): National Assembly votes, 193–2, to impeach President Roh Moo Hyun for allegedly violating election laws.
  • Fighting Erupts in Pakistan (March 16): Pakistani troops attack foreign militants in the South Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan. The operation begins amid rumors that Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, is in the area. (March 26): Eight Pakistani soldiers taken hostage by the militants are found dead, believed to have been executed.
  • Bomb Hits Near Baghdad Hotel (March 17): Powerful bomb explodes outside Mount Lebanon Hotel. Officials initially said 27 people died; number later reduced to 7.
  • U.S. Raises Pakistan's Diplomatic Status (March 18): During visit to Islamabad, U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell says Pakistan will be a “major non-NATO ally.” The title, largely symbolic, will give country access to U.S. military and counterterrorism technology.
  • Taiwanese President Shot on Eve of Elections (March 19): President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu shot. Neither sustain life-threatening injuries. (March 20): Chen reelected, beating Nationalist Party candidate Lien Chen 50.1% to 49.9%.
  • Violence Spreads in Kosovo (March 20): Dozens die in clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. (March 18): NATO deploys 1,000 peacekeepers to help the 18,000 already there.
  • Israeli Forces Kill Hamas Leader (March 22): Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader and founder of the militant group Hamas, and seven others hit by missile in Gaza City. (March 23): Hamas appoints Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi as its leader in the Gaza Strip.
  • Blair Meets Qaddafi (March 25): In Libya, British prime minister and Libyan leader promise to battle terrorism. Visit ends nearly 30 years of diplomatic isolation of Libya, which announced in December that it would surrender its nuclear weapons.
  • Terrorism Cited in Uzbekistan Violence (March 28): Several attacks kill 19 and injure about 30. President Islam Karimov blames Islamic militants. (March 30): Three police officers die when 20 suicide bombers strike near the country's capital, Tashkent.
  • NATO Expands Eastward (March 29): North Atlantic Treaty Organization formally admits 7 new countries. New members are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
  • Iraqi Mob Mutilates Four Americans (March 31): Civilian contract workers shot and then dragged through the streets of Falluja.
  • Afghanistan Receives Much-Needed Aid (March 31): About 50 nations pledge more than $4.4 billion in grants and loans. More than half those funds, $2.3 billion, will come from the United States. The countries also indicate that they plan to give Afghanistan a total of about $8 billion over the next three years.

Nation

  • Kerry Wraps Up Nomination (March 2): John Kerry wins nine of ten states in the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, effectively sealing his nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate. (March 3): Sen. John Edwards drops out of the race.
  • Tenet Says He Corrected False Intelligence Claims (March 9): Director of the CIA tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had spoken to members of the Bush administration, including the president and vice president, when he believed they made incorrect statements about Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism.
  • Snipers Sentenced (March 9): John Muhammad sentenced to death for his role in the 2002 sniper shootings in the Washington, DC, area. (March 10): Accomplice Lee Malvo sentenced to life without parole.
  • San Francisco Ordered to Stop Gay Marriages (March 11): California Supreme Court orders city to halt issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Scalia Refuses to Recuse Himself from Cheney Case (March 18): Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia releases a 21-page memo explaining why he will not remove himself from a case involving the vice president, a close friend with whom he went duck hunting just weeks after the court agreed to hear the case. The Sierra Club is seeking to force Cheney to reveal details about private meetings of his energy task force.
  • Current and Former Officials Testify Before 9/11 Commission (March 23): Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appear before a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Officials in Clinton administration also testify. (March 24): Richard Clarke, the Bush administration's former counterterrorism chief, testifies and criticizes the Bush administration's handling of al-Qaeda. He also apologizes to the families of victims of the attacks.
  • Medicare Board Reports Financial Woes (March 23): Medicare trust fund may run out of money by 2019 due to rising prices and cost of new Medicare law.
  • Former Counterterrorism Official Criticizes Bush (March 24): Appearing on 60 Minutes, Richard Clarke says that throughout 2001, Bush's inner circle failed to heed his warnings of an imminent attack by al-Qaeda.
  • Senate Approves Legislation to Outlaw Injuring a Fetus (March 25): Votes, 61–38, for measure that makes it a crime to harm a fetus while committing a federal crime against a pregnant woman.
  • Massachusetts Approves Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage (March 29): Legislature votes, 105–92, in favor of amendment to create civil unions and bar same-sex marriage. The legislature must pass it again during the 2005–2006 session and voters must approve the amendment in a 2006 referendum.
  • Senate Increases Child Care Funding for Welfare Recipients (March 30): Votes, 78–20, to add $6 billion to child-care programs.

Business/Science/Society

  • NASA Cites Evidence of Water on Mars (March 2): Robot explorer Opportunity has detected signs that water had once covered a small crater. (March 23): Rover Opportunity explores sedimentary rocks that appear to have been formed under flowing saltwater.
  • Martha Stewart Found Guilty (March 5): Convicted of four counts of obstruction of justice. Charges stem from her Dec. 2001 sale of shares of the stock ImClone.
  • U.S. Trade Deficit Increases (March 10): Commerce Department reports January deficit reached $43.1 billion, the highest monthly shortfall ever.
  • Scientists Report New Planetoid (March 15): NASA reports discovery of a distant object in our solar system that closely resembles a planet. Object called Sedna.
  • European Commission Rules Against Microsoft (March 24): Fines the software giant $603 million and orders the company to stop bundling its products, such as Windows Media Player, with its operating system.

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