Milestones

4 minute read
Elizabeth Woyke

RESIGNING. TOM RIDGE, 59, as the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; TOMMY THOMPSON, 63, as Secretary of Health and Human Services; and JOHN DANFORTH, 68, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ridge’s nominated replacement is BERNARD KERIK, 49, the plainspoken former New York City police commissioner who helped guide the city during the Sept. 11 attacks and was a vocal supporter of George W. Bush’s re-election.

RETIRED. TOM BROKAW, 64, anchor of NBC’s Nightly News; after 21 years; in New York City. Brokaw, who was promoted from the morning Today show in 1982, helped propel NBC to the top of the ratings, where it has remained since 1997. He also found success as an author with the 1998 best-selling book The Greatest Generation, which celebrated World War II veterans. Brokaw signed off his last newscast by telling viewers: “Thanks for all that I have learned from you. That’s been my richest reward.”

HONORED. GODZILLA, gargantuan, irradiated reptile of film and pop-culture fame; with a star on the Walk of Fame; in Hollywood. The tribute coincided with the monster’s 50th birthday and the release of his 28th movie, Godzilla: Final Wars. Tsutomu Kitagawa, 46, the third actor to portray Godzilla since 1954, accepted the honor in full costume.

DIED. ALICIA MARKOVA, DIED. ALICIA MARKOVA, 94, great 20th century British ballerina who popularized ballet in Britain and beyond; in Bath, England. In 1925 she became the youngest member of Ballets Russes, then the world’s premiere company, and went on to work in Europe and the U.S. with such choreographers as George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton in major troupes like the Vic-Wells Ballet and the first incarnation of the American Ballet Theater. Known for her unsnobbish passion, delicacy and range, she is indelibly linked to Giselle, a role she played frequently to fervent acclaim in productions throughout the world.

RELEASED. LIU JINGSHENG, 50, Chinese pro-democracy campaigner and co-founder of the underground magazine Tansuo (Explorations); after 12 years in prison for counterrevolutionary activity; in Beijing. Liu, who participated in the 1978 Democracy Wall movement, was arrested after he helped establish the China Freedom and Democracy Party following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Human-rights activists called Liu’s release two years before the end of his sentence a conciliatory gesture to the international community by the Chinese government.

SUSPENDED. CHEN JIULIN, 43, chief executive of China Aviation Oil (CAO); after the company revealed a loss of $550 million on trading in oil derivatives, the largest Asian trading scandal since Barings Bank collapsed in 1995; in Singapore. Chen, who was raised in rural China in a house with no running water, rose to become one of Singapore’s highest paid executives after he turned around CAO, the Singapore-listed subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned company, which was given a monopoly on China’s jet-fuel imports in 2001. CAO notified its Beijing parent of its growing loss on Oct. 10, according to an affidavit filed at Singapore’s High Court. The parent approved the sale of 15% of CAO on Oct. 20. The investment arm of the Singaporean government, Temasek Holdings, bought about 2% of the company.

Numbers

12,000 Number of extra U.S. troops scheduled to be stationed in Iraq in January, bringing the total to 150,000, the highest since last year’s invasion

10,400 Number of soldiers who will be ordered to extend their tours, with the majority surpassing the one-year deployment cap promised by the U.S. Army

43.4 MILLION Total of tourists expected to visit the U.S. by the end of 2004, a 7.5% increase from 2003, boosted by the falling value of the U.S. dollar

43.9% Proportion of senior Chinese officials who believe the gap between rich and poor in the mainland is the biggest problem in 2004, beating out public security at 24.3% and corruption at 8.4%

70.72 TRILLION Number of calculations IBM’s new Blue Gene/L performs per second, making it the fastest supercomputer in the world

$3.71 MILLION Sum Nicole Kidman earned for starring in a three-minute Chanel ad, setting a Guinness world record for the highest paid actress in a commercial

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