News and Events of 2007

World Events

World Statistics

Population: 6.7 billion billion
population by decade

Nobel Peace Prize:
Al Gore (U.S.) and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Switzerland)Al Gore (U.S.) and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Switzerland)

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  • Romania and Bulgaria join the European Union, bringing the number of member nations to 27 (Jan. 1).

  • Leaders of Hamas and Fatah, two rival Palestinian factions, meet in Mecca and reach a deal to end hostilities and form a unity government (Feb. 7). The Palestinian legislature approves a Hamas-dominated unity government (March 17). Hamas takes control of much of the Gaza Strip (June 13). Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissolves the government, fires Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, and declares a state of emergency (June 14).

  • The U.S. begins its "surge" of some 30,000 troops to Iraq to stem increasingly deadly attacks by insurgents and militias (Feb. 7).

  • The International Court of Justice rules that the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica in 1995 was genocide (Feb. 26).

  • David Hicks, an Australian, pleads guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda. He's the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be convicted by a military commission (March 26).

  • Iranian troops detain 15 Britons (eight sailors and seven marines) claiming they were in Iranian territorial waters (March 26). The detainees are freed (April 4).

  • Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, and Rev. Ian Paisley, the head of the Democratic Unionist Party, meet face-to-face for the first time and hash out an agreement for a power-sharing government (March 26).

  • Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko dissolves Parliament and accuses Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich of attempting to consolidate power (April 2).

  • President Vladimir Putin announces Russia will suspend the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which limits conventional weapons in Europe (April 26).

  • In the second round of French presidential elections, Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy defeats Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, 53.1% to 46.9% (May 6).

  • A commission that investigated 2006's war between Israel and Lebanon says Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was responsible for "a severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility, and prudence." It also says Olmert rushed to war without an adequate plan (April 30).

  • Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair as the prime minister of Great Britain (June 27).

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin announces that the country will suspend its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a cold-war era agreement that limits the deployment of heavy weaponry (July 14).

  • India and U.S. reach an accord on civilian nuclear power that allows India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to buy nuclear fuel from the U.S. to expand its civilian nuclear energy program and reprocess its spent fuel (July 27).

  • President Ramos-Horta names independence activist Xanana Gusmão as prime minister of East Timor (Aug. 6).

  • Two pairs of truck bombs explode about five miles apart in the remote, northwestern Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera, killing at least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community, making it the single deadliest insurgent attack of the war (Aug. 14).

  • Abdullah Gul, of the Justice and Development Party, is elected president of Turkey in the third round of voting by the country's parliament. He is the first Islamist president in the country's modern history (Aug. 28).

  • Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe abruptly announces his resignation. The move follows a string of scandals and his party's recent defeat in parliamentary elections, in which his Liberal Democratic Party lost control of the upper house to the opposition Democratic Party (Sep. 12). Yasuo Fukuda is elected prime minister of Japan (Sep. 23).

  • Seventeen Iraqi civilians are killed when employees of private security company Blackwater USA reportedly fire on a car that failed to stop at the request of a police officer (Sep. 16). The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform finds that employees of Blackwater USA have been involved in some 200 shootings in Iraq. The report says the company paid some families of victims and tried to cover up other incidents (Oct. 1). The State Department announces that its own monitors will accompany Blackwater employees on all security convoys (Oct. 5). An FBI report says 14 of the 17 shootings were unjustified and the guards were reckless in their use of deadly force (Nov. 13).

  • Nuon Chea, who was second-in-command to Pol Pot during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule that led to the state-sponsored massacre of between 1 million and 2 million Cambodians, is arrested and charged with war crimes (Sep. 19).

  • After a month of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that include hundreds of monks, Burmese government forces shoot at crowds, raid pagodas, and arrest monks. Dozens of people are killed. The protests are the largest in Myanmar in 20 years (Sep. 26)

  • In a landmark deal, North Korea agrees to disclose details about its nuclear facilities, including how much plutonium it has produced, and dismantle all of its nuclear facilities by the end of 2007. In exchange, the country will receive some 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil or financial aid. The Bush administration will also start the process of removing North Korea from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism (Oct. 1).

  • Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is easily reelected to a third term by the country's national and provincial assemblies. The opposition boycotts the vote, however, and only representatives from the governing party participate in the election (Oct. 6). Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto arrives in Pakistan after eight years in exile (Oct. 18). Musharraf declares a state of emergency, suspends the country's constitution and fires Chief Justice Iflikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the other judges on the Supreme Court (Nov. 3). The Supreme Court, filled with judges loyal to Musharraf, dismisses the case challenging the constitutionality of Musharraf being elected president while head of the military (Nov. 22). Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan after eight years in exile and demands that Musharraf lift the emergency rule and reinstate the dismissed Supreme Court justices (Nov. 25). Musharraf steps down as military chief. He is replaced by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Nov. 28). Musharraf is sworn in as a civilian president (Nov. 29). Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is killed in a bombing at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi (Dec. 27).

  • Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is elected Argentina's first woman president. She succeeds her husband, Néstor Kirchner (Oct. 28).

  • Australian prime minister John Howard loses to the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd (Nov. 24).

  • A National Intelligence Estimate says "with high confidence" that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The report contradicts one written in 2005 that stated Iran was determined to continue developing such weapons (Dec. 3).

  • The African National Congress chooses Jacob Zuma as its leader, ousting South African president Thabo Mbeki (Dec. 18).

  • Violence breaks out between rival tribes after preliminary results in Kenya's presidential elections show opposition candidate Raila Odinga, of the Orange Democratic Movement, defeating incumbent Mwai Kibaki, 57% to 39% (Dec. 27).

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: George W. Bush
Vice President: Richard Cheney
Population: 300 million

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  • California Democrat Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman speaker of the House and will preside over the 100th Congress. Democrats take control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994 (Jan. 4).

  • President Bush announces that a surge of an additional 20,000 troops will be deployed to Baghdad to try to stem the sectarian fighting (Jan. 10).

  • The Senate confirms Mike McConnell as the director of National Intelligence (Feb. 6).

  • U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George Weightman is removed from his post as head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Army Secretary Francis Harvey steps down. Dismissals follow reports that patients have received inadequate care, have been caught in a maze of bureaucratic red tape, and have been treated in dilapidated facilities. (March 2). Bipartisan presidential commission, set up in response to the inadequate treatment of troops at the Walter Reed Medical Center, suggests overhauling the system that makes disability and compensation determinations and improving treatment for brain injuries and post traumatic stress (July 25).

  • Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is found guilty of lying to FBI agents and to a grand jury in the investigation of who leaked to the press the name of a covert CIA agent. The agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, is married to Joseph Wilson, who in 2003 questioned the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapons program by seeking to obtain uranium from Niger (March 6). Libby is sentenced to 30 months in jail (June 5). President Bush commutes his sentence (July 2).

  • In hearings before the Senate and House, seven U.S. attorneys who were fired in late 2006 say they received inappropriate calls from Republican lawmakers or Justice Department officials regarding corruption cases they were investigating. They also say they felt pressured by the Justice Department to keep quiet about their dismissals (March 6). Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tells Senate Judiciary Committee that although the process in which U.S. attorneys were fired was flawed, the dismissals were justified. Gonzales cites a bad memory more than 50 times when he fails to answer questions about key parts of the dismissal process (April 19). Citing executive privilege, President Bush refuses to hand over any documents relating to the firing of U.S. prosecutors in 2006 and instructs Harriet Miers, Bush's former counsel, and Sara Taylor, the former deputy assistant to the president and White House director of political affairs, to also refuse to testify (July 9). The House Judiciary Committee votes, 22 to 17, to hold Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten in contempt for refusing to testify about the dismissals (July 25). The White House announces that Alberto Gonzales has submitted his resignation (Aug. 27). Bush selects retired federal judge Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales (Sep. 17). The Senate votes, 53 to 40, to confirm Mukasey as attorney general (Nov. 8).

  • Supreme Court rules, 5–4, that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate automobile emissions of heat-trapping gases and that the agency cannot shirk its responsibility to do so unless it provides a scientific reason (April 2).

  • President Bush vetoes the $124 billion spending bill passed by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill called on the Bush administration to establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government that, if met, set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was only the second time in Bush's presidency that he used the veto (May 1).

  • President Bush vetoes legislation, passed by Congress, that eases restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (June 7).

  • The minimum wage increases to $5.85, up from $5.15. It's the first increase in 10 years. The wage will increase 70 cents each year through 2009, when it will be $7.25 an hour (July 24).

  • President Bush signs law that legalizes government eavesdropping of telephone conversations and emails of American citizens and people overseas without a warrant as long as there is a "reasonable belief" that one party is not in the United States (Aug. 5).

  • Karl Rove, highly influential and controversial advisor to President Bush, announces his resignation (Aug. 13).

  • In highly anticipated testimony, Gen. David Petraeus tells members of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees that the U.S. military needs more time to meet its goals in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker also testifies, saying that while Iraqi leaders and the people are capable of—and desire to—bridge the sectarian divide, "I frankly do not expect that we will see rapid progress" (Sep. 10).

  • President Bush signs an energy bill that requires passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. to have fuel economy standards of 35 mpg by 2020, a 40% increase over the current standard. Measure also calls for an increase in the production of ethanol and other biofuels to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, up from the current 5 billion (Dec. 19).

Economics

Federal spending:   $14,074 billion
Federal debt:   $9,229 billion
Consumer Price Index:   210.2
Unemployment:   4.6%


Sports

Super Bowl
Indianapolis d. Chicago (29–17)
World Series
Boston d. Colorado (4–0)
NBA Championship
San Antonio d. Cleveland (4–0)
Stanley Cup
Anaheim d. Ottawa (4–2)
Kentucky Derby Champion
Street Sense
NCAA Basketball Championship
Florida d. Ohio State (84–75)

Entertainment

Entertainment Awards

Oscars awarded in 2007
Academy Award, Best Picture: The Departed

Nobel Prize for Literature: Doris Lessing (U.K.)"that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny"

2007 Emmy Awards

2007 Tony Awards

Grammys awarded in 2007
Record of the Year: "Not Ready to Make Nice," Dixie Chicks
Album of the Year: Taking the Long Way, Dixie Chicks
Song of the Year: "Not Ready to Make Nice," Dixie Chicks

Miss America: Lauren Nelson, Lawton, Okla.

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Science

Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Gerhard Ertl (Germany) for "his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces"

Physics: Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grünberg (Germany) for "the discovery of giant magnetoresistance," the technology used to read data on hard disks

Physiology or Medicine: Mario R. Capecchi (U.S.), Sir Martin J. Evans (U.K.), and Oliver Smithies (U.S.)for "their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells"

  • A three-year study by the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that global warming is very likely caused by human activity—specifically the emission and buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Report also says that the rise in temperatures and rising seas can be curtailed with quick action (Feb. 2).
  • UN panel, composed of several of the world's top scientists on climate change, finds that Earth's climate and ecosystems are already being affected by the accumulation of greenhouse gases and warns that without immediate action to slow the buildup of such emissions, droughts, flooding, and the extinction of species are imminent. Panel also says that poor regions are most vulnerable (April 6).
  • Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, experiences its first snowfall in 89 years (July 10).
  • Barbara Morgan, a former teacher from Idaho, is part of a mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station, where additional trusses will be added and supplies delivered. Morgan was the backup to Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in 1986 when the shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after takeoff (Aug. 8).
  • Discovery takes off for a 14-day mission to the International Space Station where astronauts will add a "room" to the station and move a 17.5-ton solar array and truss (Oct. 23).
  • Cyclone Sidr, with winds over 100 miles per hour, kills nearly 3,500 people in southern Bangladesh. One million people are left homeless (Nov. 15).
  • Two teams of scientists, one in Wisconsin the other in Japan, announce they have discovered a way to make embryonic stem cells without using embryonic stem cells. By adding four genes to skin cells, they were able to reprogram skin cells into any of the body's 220 types of cells (Nov. 20).
  • Report that sums up a far-reaching investigation led by former U.S. senator George Mitchell accuses 89 current and former Major League Baseball players of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs (Dec. 13).

Deaths

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