August 2003

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


  • North Korea Agrees to Multilateral Talks (Aug. 1): Regional session on North Korea's nuclear weapons program to also include U.S., China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Truck Bomb Destroys Russian Hospital (Aug. 1): Explosion at military hospital in Mozdok kills 35 and injures dozens. Russian officials blame Chechen separatists.
  • Peacekeepers Arrive in Liberia (Aug. 4): Nigerian troops land at airport in Monrovia. A force of about 3,250 West African soldiers anticipated to help control vicious fighting between government militia and rebels.
  • Bomb Destroys Indonesian Hotel (Aug. 6): Sport utility vehicle loaded with explosives blows up at Jakarta's J. W. Marriott Hotel. At least 16 people killed and 150 injured. Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group linked with al-Qaeda, suspected.
  • Irish Paramilitary Leader Convicted (Aug. 6): Michael McKevitt, head of the Real IRA, a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, found guilty of directing terrorism by Ireland's antiterrorism court. Members of the Real IRA carried out the 1998 car bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, that killed 29 people.
  • Car Bomb Explodes in Baghdad (Aug. 7): Blast outside the Jordanian embassy kills 11 and wounds about 70 people. No American casualties.
  • Liberian President Resigns (Aug. 7): After promising for several weeks to do so, President Charles Taylor submits his resignation to Liberia's Congress. (Aug. 11): Charles Taylor leaves the country for Nigeria. (Aug. 21): Liberia's rival parties select businessman Gyude Bryant as chairman of the interim government until October 2005, when elections are scheduled.
  • Bali Bomber Sentenced (Aug. 7): Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, 41, smiles to the courtroom when he receives death sentence for his role in the 2002 nightclub bombing that killed 202 people. He's believed to be a member of the Islamic terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
  • NATO Assumes Control in Afghanistan (Aug. 11): In its first mission outside Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization takes formal control of peacekeeping force. NATO had been supplying 90% of the troops policing the country.
  • Inquiry into Scientist's Death Begins in England (Aug. 11): Judge, Lord Hutton, opens investigation into the suicide of David Kelly, a defense-ministry scientist who committed suicide in July. The BBC claims that Kelly told journalist Andrew Gilligan that the government had “sexed up” intelligence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to help justify war in Iraq. (Aug. 28): In testimony, Prime Minister Tony Blair says he would have resigned if the BBC report were true.
  • Suicide Attacks Resume in Middle East (Aug. 12): In separate, uncoordinated incidents, two bombers kill two Israelis. Hamas and Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade claim responsibility. First attacks in more than a month.
  • British Arms Dealer Arrested (Aug. 12): In sting operation involving Russia and the U.S., Hemant Lakhani, a Briton of Indian descent, bought surface-to-air missile from Russia and tried to sell it to an undercover FBI agent in the U.S. He was arrested in Newark, N.J.
  • Violence Claims Dozens in Afghanistan (Aug. 13): More than 60 people die in guerrilla fighting over a 24-hour period, the most deadly in about a year.
  • High-Ranking Terror Suspect Captured (Aug. 14): Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, seized in Thailand by the CIA and Thai police. He is a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to al-Qaeda.
  • Libya Accepts Blame for Bombing Over Lockerbie (Aug. 15): Agrees to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims of the 1988 attack of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people over Scotland. Admission paves the way for the UN to lift sanctions against Libya.
  • Israel to Give Palestinians Control of West Bank Cities (Aug. 15): Says it will cede control of Jericho and Qalqilya. Will also permit Yasir Arafat to travel outside his Ramallah compound to visit his sister's grave. Moves contingent on Palestinians ending violence and that Palestinian militants disarm.
  • U.S. Troops Kill Journalist (Aug. 17): Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, shot by American soldiers as he was filming outside a Baghdad prison.
  • Bomb Destroys UN Compound in Iraq (Aug. 19): Suicide bomber drives truck to UN headquarters, killing 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's special representative to Iraq. More than 100 people injured in the attack, the deadliest on the UN in history.
  • Devastating Suicide Bombing Threatens Peace Plan (Aug. 19): Attack on a crowded bus in Jerusalem kills 20 people, including 6 children, and wounds more than 100. Militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claim responsibility. (Aug. 21): After Israel retaliates by killing a top member of Hamas, Ismali Abu Shanab, Hamas and Islamic Jihad formally withdraw from cease-fire. (Aug. 24): Airstrike in Gaza City kills four Palestinians, including an operations leader.
  • Venezuelan Opposition Files Recall Petitions (Aug. 20): Opposition leaders submit 3.2 million signatures calling for a referendum on the presidency of Hugo Chavez.
  • Hussein Aide Captured (Aug. 21): U.S. officials announce they have detained Ali Hassan al-Majid, who became known as “Chemical Ali” after he ordered a poison-gas attack on Kurds in 1988.
  • Two Bombs Explode in Bombay (Aug. 25): Twin blasts kill more than 50 people and injure about 150. Officials blame Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant Islamic group.
  • Rwandan President Prevails in Election (Aug. 25): Paul Kagame, Tutsi rebel leader who came to power after the genocide of Tutsis by Hutus in 1994, wins 95% of the vote in country's first multiparty presidential election. Vote criticized as unfair to opposition.
  • Talks with North Korea Begin in Beijing (Aug. 27): Officials from the U.S., North Korea, China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan meet to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program. (Aug. 28): North Korean officials tell other diplomats at summit that country plans to declare itself a nuclear power and may test an atomic bomb. (Aug. 29): Summit ends with plans to resume talks within two months. Participants urge North Korea to abandon its weapons program.
  • Commission Reports Thousands of Deaths in Peru (Aug. 28): Investigation says Maoist guerrillas responsible for about half of more than 69,000 deaths during war between government and rebels that occurred between 1980 and 2000.
  • Bomb Kills Shi'ite Cleric in Iraq (Aug. 29): Car bomb explodes at shrine in Najaf, killing dozens, including Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, a moderate cleric who opposed Saddam Hussein and had encouraged Shi'ites to support the U.S. occupation of Iraq.


  • Davis Challenges Recall (Aug. 4): Beleaguered California governor files suit in state supreme court to delay the recall vote and to allow Davis to be a candidate in the race if he's recalled. The suit contends that local election officials do not have sufficient time to organize a “fair election.” (Aug. 7): Supreme Court rejects challenge filed by Davis.
  • Candidates Swarm to California Race (Aug. 6): Republican movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger announces on Jay Leno's Tonight show that he plans to run for governor in California's recall vote. (Aug. 7): California lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announce their candidacies for governor. (Aug. 13): California secretary of state certifies 135 candidates in recall election of Gov. Gray Davis.
  • Bush Nominates EPA Administrator (Aug. 11): Selects Utah governor Michael Leavitt to replace Christine Whitman as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Senate must confirm nomination.
  • Report Cites Obsolete Maps in Mining Disaster (Aug. 12): Investigation by the Department of Labor reveals that use of an outdated map contributed to the flooding of Pennsylvania's Quecreek Mine in 2002. Nine miners were stranded for 78 hours 240 feet below ground.
  • Massive Blackout Darkens Northeast and Midwest (Aug. 14): In the country's largest power failure in history, 50 million people in eight U.S. states and parts of Canada are without electricity. Cause unknown, but officials acknowledge that electricity grid is antiquated. (Aug. 15): Power restored to most areas after 29-hour blackout. (Aug. 16): Electricity restored in Detroit, the last metropolitan area left in the dark.
  • Congressman Involved in Fatal Accident (Aug. 16): Bill Janklow, Republican representative from South Dakota, runs a stop sign and hits a motorcycle, killing its driver, Randolph Scott. (Aug. 29): Janklow charged with second-degree manslaughter.
  • Report on Shuttle Critical of NASA (Aug. 26): Board that investigated the loss of space shuttle Columbia cites organizational problems at NASA that breed a “broken safety culture.” Says future shuttles and astronauts will be lost unless the agency reforms itself.
  • Budget Deficit Expected to Sharply Increase (Aug. 26): Congressional Budget Office predicts federal deficit of $480 billion in 2004 and a cumulative total of $5.8 trillion by 2013.
  • Bush Administration Relaxes Environmental Rules (Aug. 27): New rule allows power plants, refineries, and other plants to upgrade systems without improving pollution controls and without violating the Clean Air Act.


  • Unemployment Down Slightly in July (Aug. 1): Although unemployment rate fell to 6.2% from 6.4% in June, 44,000 people lost their jobs.
  • Episcopal Church Approves Gay Bishop (Aug. 5): Diocesan bishops vote 62–45 to confirm V. Gene Robinson as church's first openly gay bishop.
  • Catholic Church Offers Settlement to Victims (Aug. 8): The Archdiocese of Boston proposes $55 million to settle lawsuits brought by 542 victims of sexual abuse by priests.
  • British Study Cites Effects of Hormones on Breast Cancer (Aug. 9): Report in journal Lancet says women who took combination hormone therapy had a greater chance of dying from breast cancer than those who did not.
  • Virus Attacks Computers (Aug. 12): Program, called the Blaster worm, wreaks havoc with about 500,000 computers running recent versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems. (Aug. 29): Minnesota teenager, Jeffrey Lee Parson, arrested for allegedly creating a variant of the Blaster virus.
  • Fed Holds Rate (Aug. 12): Federal Reserve keeps overnight interest rate at 1%, lowest rate in 50 years.
  • Heatwave Claims Thousands (Aug. 29): Several weeks of temperatures rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Europe cause more than 11,000 deaths in France alone.

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