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Civilisation at the mercy of Nature
Media Bytes

 "Few believed the beef ban would last this long"
Margaret Gilmore on the supposed lifting of the ban

 "The voters could hardly contain their excitement"
Matt Frei reports on the East Timor vote
Talking Point

Your experiences of the Turkish quake

"It was as if a beast was chasing us in the darkness and we were trying to find a place to hide from it but knew that we could not." Zeynep Uygun, Istanbul

"I'm so afraid. My parents are crying now because my young brother was killed in the earthquake. PS I'm the oldest child in the family." Fatih Gurhan, Turkey

August

Images of earthquake victims, the hope and then despair of an independence vote, and a total eclipse dominated the news in August.

More than 15,000 people were killed in Turkey when an earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale struck the city of Izmit. Many of the victims were killed by a tidal wave rushing in from the Sea of Marmara.

The people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia despite intimidation by pro-Jakarta militias. The intimidation was later to turn into some of the worst incidents of violence ever seen in the former Portuguese colony.

In Britain, there was the first total solar eclipse since 1927. Described by witnesses as "awesome" and an event that had "nothing to do with man", it was also experienced across much of the rest of Europe.

Russia suffered a period of instability with the sacking of the prime minister, Sergei Stepashin. He was replaced by Vladimir Putin, who was also named as Boris Yeltsin's choice to succeed him as president.

Russian forces were engaged in a battle with Islamic separatist rebels in the north Caucasus republic of Dagestan, a battle it claimed to have won at the end of the month.

Another separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, agreed to a ceasefire called by their captured leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in a direct challenge to Turkey to open peace talks.

Britain found one of its top politicians promoted to a major role in international affairs. Defence Secretary George Robertson was appointed Nato Secretary-General. He replaced Javier Solana, who was taking up the post as the European Union's first High Representative for Foreign and Defence Affairs.



In Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, Nato showed it was as needed as it had been in the four decades before.
New Nato Secretary-General George Robertson/B>
In domestic British politics, Charles Kennedy succeeded Paddy Ashdown as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

In business. it was a month for the super-mega merger when three Japanese banks announced an alliance creating the world's largest banking group.

The British company Freeserve proved some of the hype surrounding the value of internet companies was justified when it floated successfully on the London stock exchange. Microsoft had an embarrassing incident when it was forced to shut down its Hotmail e-mail service after it was hacked into.

Sports news was dominated by the World Athletics Championships in Seville and the retirement of Steffi Graf from competitive tennis.

Golfer Tiger Woods made history when he signed what was thought to be the biggest sponsorship deal in sport.

England's cricket reputation went from bad to worse after they lost to New Zealand securing, in the process, the bottom spot in the Wisden World table of Test countries.

In entertainment news, British film-makers celebrated the success of Notting Hill, which became the highest grossing British movie of all time. Britpop band Oasis hit a crisis of sorts when bass player, Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan became the second member of the band to leave in three weeks. The Edinburgh Festival also took place.
World: Power struggle in Venezuela
World: Shooting at Jewish centre in Los Angeles
World: Australian parliament apologises to aborigines
UK: Girl of 12 gives birth
Sci/Tech: Mir space station abandoned
Sport: Anelka leaves Arsenal
Obituary: Architect Sir Hugh Casson
Sport: American film actor Victor Mature
Obituary: Indian writer Nirad C Chaudri
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