November 2003

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


  • U.S. Helicopter Downed in Iraq (Nov. 2) In the single deadliest strike since the Iraq war began, guerrillas shoot down an American helicopter, killing 16 U.S. soldiers and injuring 21 others.
  • Sri Lanka Mired in Political Crisis (Nov. 4) In a bid to wrest power away from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Chandrika Kumaratunga suspends Parliament and fires several of Wickremesinghe's ministers. (Nov. 5) Kumaratunga declares a state of emergency. She makes the moves as Wickremesinghe is in Washington, meeting with the Bush administration. She claims the prime minister has been she too soft in negotiations with the Tamil Tigers, who are seeking regional autonomy. The rebel group has been at war with the government for nearly two decades. But the prime minister maintained his hold on power, and the two have agreed to search for a resolution to the crisis by mid-December.
  • Americans Killed in Helicopter Crash in Iraq (Nov. 7) Six soldiers die when their Black Hawk helicopter crashes in Tikrit. Cause not known.
  • Blast Rocks Riyadh (Nov. 9) 17 killed and dozens wounded when a bomb explodes at housing complex in capital of Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda blamed.
  • WTO Rules Against U.S. Steel Tariffs (Nov. 10) World Trade Organization says Bush administration violated trade laws when he, in 2002, imposed steep tariffs on steel imports. Decision clears the way for other nations to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the United States.
  • Guatemalans Reject Former Dictator's Bid for the Presidency (Nov. 10) Former military dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt soundly defeated in the Guatemalan presidential election by two candidates, conservative Oscar Berger and center-leftist Alvaro Colom. Neither of the top vote getters won a majority, so a runoff election will take place between Berger and Colom in December.
  • Truck Explodes in Iraq (Nov. 12) A fuel truck blows up at an Italian police compound in Nasiriya. At least 25 people die in the blast, including 15 Italian military officers, 2 Italian civilians, and 8 Iraqis. About 100 people injured. The explosion completely tore off the front the three-story building that housed the police headquarters.
  • Palestinian Parliament Approves New Government (Nov. 12) Confirms government of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Cabinet, however, seen as loyal to Yasir Arafat rather than Qurei.
  • Bush Administration to Hand Over Power to Iraqis (Nov. 14) In deal with Iraqi Governing Council, U.S. agrees to transfer power to an interim government in early 2004. Iraqi leaders to be selected in local elections.
  • Truck Bombs Explode at Synagogues (Nov. 15) Blasts go off simultaneously in Istanbul, Turkey. At least 20 people killed and 300 wounded.
  • Two U.S. Helicopters Collide in Iraq (Nov. 15) At least 17 soldiers killed when one copter swerves to avoid hostile fire from the ground.
  • British Bank and Consulate Bombed (Nov. 20) At least 26 people killed and 400 wounded when two trucks blow up in Istanbul, Turkey. One truck explodes outside the British consulate, and the other at the British bank HSBC. Al-Qaeda suspected in the bombings. The blasts occur as President Bush was meeting with British prime minister Tony Blair in London.
  • Georgian President Steps Down (Nov. 23) After more than three weeks of angry protests, President Eduard Shevardnadze resigns. The demonstrations began after the preliminary results of the Nov. 2 parliamentary elections were released. The opposition party claims that the elections were rigged in favor of President Shevardnadze and the political parties who support him.
  • Iraqi Cleric Opposes Transition Plan (Nov. 26) Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an influential Shiite cleric, calls for direct nationwide elections in June, rather than the selection of an assembly by local leaders and the Iraqi Governing Council, as envisioned by the U.S.
  • Bush Makes Secret Visit to Iraq (Nov. 27) President travels to Baghdad to celebrate Thanksgiving with troops. He's the first American president to go to Iraq.
  • Spanish Officers and Japanese Diplomats Killed in Iraq (Nov. 28) Iraqi guerrillas fire rocket-propelled grenades at a car carrying eight Spanish intelligence officers, seven die, in Mahmudiya. In Tikrit, two Japanese officials killed in an ambush.
  • U.S. Troops Kill Dozens of Iraqi Guerrillas (Nov. 30) In a shootout in Samarra, a town 60 miles north of Baghdad, soldiers respond to ambush, killing at least 46 insurgents.


  • Senate Approves Spending Bill for War and Reconstruction (Nov. 3) In a voice vote with only six senators participating, senate approves $87.5 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan. West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd the sole dissenter in the vote.
  • Bush Signs Bill to Outlaw Abortion Procedure (Nov. 5) Legislation bans intact dilation and extraction, also called partial-birth abortion, a procedure to end pregnancies in the second and third trimesters. Judge in Nebraska blocks law, saying it's unconstitutional because it does not make exceptions when a women's health is at risk.
  • Supreme Court to Hear Guantánamo Detainee Appeal (Nov. 10) Court announces that it will hear its first appeals related to the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies. The Court will decide if detainees held at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba can challenge their imprisonment in the U.S. court system.
  • Alabama Chief Justice Removed from Office (Nov. 13) An Alabama state judicial ethics board removes Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore from serving as a judge, citing ethics violations and his refusal to comply with a federal court order to remove a 5,280-pound monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama State Courthouse rotunda that had been on display since 2001.
  • Sniper Suspect Found Guilty (Nov. 17) John A. Muhammad convicted in the 2002 Washington, DC, area shootings, in which 10 people were killed.
  • Schwarzenegger Takes Oath of Office (Nov. 17) Movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger sworn in as governor of California. He was elected in October recall election of Gray Davis.
  • Massachusetts Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage (Nov. 18) Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to “deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage” to gay couples was unconstitutional because it “denied the dignity and equality of all individuals" and made them "second-class citizens.” The ruling was put on hold for six months to permit the legislature to change state laws to allow for same-sex marriage.
  • Report Says Blackout Was Preventable (Nov. 19) Government-appointed panel reveals human and technical errors at Ohio utility FirstEnergy caused most extensive blackout in U.S. history.
  • Senate Blocks Vote on Energy Bill (Nov. 21) Supporters of the bill, which would revamp the power grid and provides billions in tax breaks and subsidies for power companies, lack votes to end filibuster of bill.
  • Congress Passes Medicare Bill (Nov. 22) After an unusual all-night session, the House of Representatives votes, 220–215, for an overhaul of Medicare. Legislation includes a prescription drug benefit. Biggest change to the government program since it was established in 1965. (Nov. 25) Senate approves $400 billion bill, 54–44. Most Democrats votes against legislation. Prescription drug coverage will be available beginning in 2006. Program will be run by private insurers with the help of government subsidies.
  • Sniper Receives Death Sentence (Nov. 24) Jury recommends death for John A. Muhammad, convicted earlier in the month in the 2002 Washington, DC, area shootings.


  • Gay Man Becomes Bishop (Nov. 1) Rev. V. Gene Robinson consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire. He's the first openly gay man to hold the post in the Episcopal Church U.S.A.
  • Man Admits to Killing Dozens of Women (Nov. 5) Gary Ridgway pleads guilty in a Seattle court to strangling 48 women in the 1980s.
  • Unemployment Declined in October (Nov. 6) Labor Department reports that employment increased by 126,000 jobs, falling to 6% from 6.1% in September.

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