February 2005

World

  • Nepalese King Fires Government (Feb. 1): King Gyanendra also declares a state of emergency. Many of the country's politicians are placed under house arrest, phone and Internet lines are cut, and the airports are closed. Gyanendra says the government was making no progress toward elections and had not pursued a peace process with Maoist rebels. (Feb. 2): King appoints a new 10-member cabinet.
  • IRA Withdraws from Peace Process (Feb. 2): Irish Republican Army says it will no longer participate in peace talks with British government and is canceling plans to disarm and end paramilitary actions.
  • Report Criticizes Conduct of Oil-for-Food Official (Feb. 3): Independent investigation into UN-run program in Iraq finds that Benon Sevan, who headed the program, breached UN charter by helping friends secure contracts to sell Iraqi oil. (Feb. 4): UN suspends Sevan and Joseph Stephanides, another program official.
  • Prime Minister of Georgia Dies (Feb. 3): Zurab Zhvania, reformist politician, accidentally killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Presidential Succession in Togo Condemned (Feb. 7): Faure Gnassingbe is appointed president of the West African country following the death of his father. (Feb. 25): Under pressure from neighboring African countries, Gnassingbe resigns.
  • Abbas and Sharon Declare a Truce (Feb. 8): In the highest-level summit in four years, Palestinian president and Israeli prime minister agree to end acts of violence against each other.
  • Saudis Vote for the First Time (Feb. 10): Kingdom holds municipal elections for local city or town officials. Voting is held in Riyadh. Women are not allowed to vote, and less than a third of eligible voters registered.
  • North Korea Admits to Having Nuclear Weapons (Feb. 10): First time country makes formal declaration. Also says it will not engage in disarmament talks.
  • Counting Complete in Iraqi Elections (Feb. 13): Alliance of Shiites, United Iraqi Alliance, wins 48% of the vote, giving it 140 out of 275 seats in the National Assembly. Alliance of Kurds takes 75 seats, while group headed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi wins 40 seats.
  • Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Killed (Feb. 14): Rafik Hariri and 11 others die when a car bomb explodes near his motorcade in Beirut.
  • Israel Ends Demolition of Homes (Feb. 17): Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announces troops will stop destroying homes of Palestinian militants as retribution for attacks.
  • Suicide Bombers Kill Dozens in Baghdad (Feb. 18): Five attackers kill nearly 40 people at religious gatherings observing the holy day of Ashura.
  • Israeli Cabinet Approves Withdrawal from Gaza (Feb. 20): Votes, 17–5, in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. Cabinet also approves new route for barrier that cuts into Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank.
  • Shiites Nominate Prime Minister (Feb. 22): The United Iraqi Alliance, the group of Shiite political parties that won the most votes in Iraq's Jan. 30 election, selects Ibrahim Jaafari to be the prime minister of Iraq.
  • British Soldiers Convicted in Iraqi Prisoner Abuse (Feb. 23): In what has been called Britain's Abu Ghraib scandal, two soldiers are found guilty by a military jury of abusing prisoners. Abuse occurred in May 2003 near the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
  • Syria Promises Withdrawal from Lebanon (Feb. 24): Faced with strong international pressure, Syria announces that it will withdraw the 15,000 troops it has stationed in Lebanon.
  • Egypt Moves Toward Democratic Elections (Feb. 26): President Hosni Mubarak proposes that Parliament amend the constitution to make way for direct multiparty elections.
  • Syria Captures Hussein Relative (Feb. 27): Iraqi government takes custody of Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan—a half brother of Saddam Hussein—and other fugitives. Hassan is believed to have organized and financed the insurgency in Iraq.
  • Bomb Kills Dozens in Iraq (Feb. 28): In the deadliest attack by insurgents, suicide bomber blows up a car in Hilla, killing about 115 people who were seeking employment with the Iraqi police.
  • Lebanese Government Resigns (Feb. 28): Prime Minister Omar Karami steps down and dissolves the Syrian-backed government. Move follows two weeks of protests against Syria's iron grip on the country and its suspected connection to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Nation

  • Bush Delivers State of the Union (Feb. 2): President discusses his proposed reform of the Social Security system as well as the fight against terrorism and his commitment to remaining in Iraq until a stable democracy has been established.
  • Senate Confirms New Attorney General (Feb. 3): In a tighter vote than anticipated, Senate approves, 60–36, Alberto Gonzales, former counsel to President Bush, as the country's first Hispanic attorney general.
  • Bush Releases Budget Proposal (Feb. 7): The plan, which would cost $2.57 trillion and aims to reduce budget deficit, would increase spending on national security and the military and reduce allocations to education, health care, agriculture, human services, and transportation.
  • Sept. 11 Report Critical of FAA (Feb. 9): Previously released report, which was kept classified, indicates that the Federal Aviation Administration had received warnings before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks about plans by al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to hijack airplanes and conduct suicide bombings.
  • Cost of Medicare Drug Plan Rises (Feb. 9): Prescription drug benefit, initially estimated to cost $400 billion over 10 years, now projected to top $724 billion.
  • Senate Approves Limit on Class-Action Suits (Feb. 10): Votes, 72–26, in favor of measure that limits states from trying many types of class-action suits.
  • Bush Requests Additional Funds (Feb. 14): Asks Congress for $81.9 billion for current-year expenses, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, tsunami aid, and new benefits for families of troops killed in combat.
  • Missile Defense System Fails Again (Feb. 14): The latest test of the strategic missile defense system, or National Missile Defense (NMD), fails when the intercepting rocket does not fire due to a software malfunction.
  • Senate Confirms Homeland Security Secretary (Feb. 15): Michael Chertoff unanimously approved to succeed Tom Ridge.
  • Bush Nominates Intelligence Chief (Feb. 17): Selects John Negroponte, ambassador to Iraq, as the first director of national intelligence.
  • Task Force Criticizes Education Law (Feb. 23): Report by bipartisan group of state legislators says No Child Left Behind Act is unconstitutional and its requirements thwart school-improvement programs under way in many states.
  • Federal Judge Rules Against Bush (Feb. 28): Henry F. Floyd says President Bush has overstepped his authority by detaining Jose Padilla for almost three years as an enemy combatant without charging him with a crime. Padilla was arrested in 2002 and accused of planning to detonate a “dirty bomb” on American soil.
  • Federal Judge's Family Members Killed (Feb. 28): Husband and mother of Joan Humphrey Lefkow shot in her Chicago home.

Business/Science/Society

  • Astronomers Find Hot Spot on Saturn (Feb. 4): Astronomers positioned on top of the Mauna Kea volcano in Honolulu, Hawaii, report they have caught a glimpse of what they believe to be a warm polar vortex on Saturn.
  • Woman Breaks Circumnavigation Record (Feb. 7): British sailor Ellen MacArthur completes a solo circumnavigation in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, and 33 seconds.
  • Kyoto Protocol Goes into Effect (Feb. 16): The international environmental treaty requires 35 industrialized nations to reduce heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide. Developing nations have promised to try to limit their emissions of such gases. The United States, which emits the largest amount of heat-trapping gases in the world, has refused to sign the treaty.
  • Professional Hockey Season Canceled (Feb. 16): As National Hockey League owners and players fail to reach a deal on salary cap for players, Commissioner Gary Bettman formally cancels the season.
  • Panel Advises FDA on Painkillers (Feb. 18): Experts vote to tell the Food and Drug Administration to allow Celebrex, Bextra, and Vioxx to stay on the market.
  • Earthquake Kills Hundreds in Iran (Feb. 22): More than 500 people die and about 40 villages destroyed in central part of the country.

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