Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Here are the key news events of the month organized into three categories: World News, U.S. News, and Business, Society, and Science News.
- Sunni Block Withdraws from Iraqi Cabinet (Aug. 1): The Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni faction in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet, resigns, citing the Shiite-led government's failure to stem violence by militias, follow through with reforms, and involve Sunnis in decisions on security.
- Independence Hero Named Prime Minister of East Timor (Aug. 6): President Ramos-Horta names independence activist Xanana Gusmão as prime minister. Violent protests led by supporters of the Fretilin party, the former governing party, follow. Fretilin won the most seats in elections, but Gusmão formed a majority coalition, called the Alliance of the Parliamentary Majority (AMP).
- UN Passes Resolution on Iraq (Aug. 10): Security Council resolution, passed unanimously, expands the UN's role in Iraq to help promote reconciliation, safety of citizens and workers, and civil rights.
- Taliban Releases Two Hostages (Aug. 13): Two female hostages are released to the Red Cross following days of talks between the Taliban and South Korean negotiators. The women were members of a group of 23 church volunteers abducted from a bus on July 19. Two male hostages have been shot, and the Taliban has threatened to kill more if their demands for a prisoner exchange are not met. Fourteen women and five men are still being held. (Aug. 29): After South Korea agrees to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan and end any future evangelical work in the country, the Taliban releases 12 of the 19 remaining hostages. (Aug. 30): The Taliban releases the last seven hostages.
- Coalition Forces Launch Operation Phantom Strike (Aug. 13): US-led forces attack insurgent hide-outs, weapons caches, and bomb-building sites in a series of simultaneous raids. The operation follows the deployment of nearly 30,000 more US troops into Iraq.
- Quadruple Bombing Leaves at Least 500 Dead in Iraqi Villages (Aug. 14): Two pairs of truck bombs explode about five miles apart in the remote, north-western Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera. At least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community are reported killed and hundreds more are wounded, making it the single deadliest insurgent attack of the war.
- Thailand Votes in Favor of New Constitution (Aug. 20): In the country's first referendum, voters approve a new constitution that was drafted by a panel selected by the military government. Elections are expected to be held in December, ending a year of military rule that followed the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
- U.S. Ambassador Criticizes Iraqi Leadership (Aug. 21): As sectarian violence continues unabated in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, the ambassador to Iraq, says political progress in Iraq has been "extremely disappointing."
- Report Cynical of Progress in Iraq (Aug. 24): National Intelligence Estimate says the Iraqi government has failed to end sectarian violence even with the surge of American troops. The report also says, however, that a withdrawal of troops, a move supported by many Democrats, would "erode security gains achieved thus far."
- Iraqi Government to Allow Former Baathists to Resume Jobs (Aug. 26): In an attempt at national reconciliation, a group of Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, and President Jalal Talabani, announce that former Baathists, members of the party loyal to Saddam Hussein, could regain their government jobs that were lost in 2003's de-Baathification process. Hashemi, however, says the move is not enough to have Sunnis leaders resume their cabinet positions, which they quit in early August.
- Former Islamist Elected President of Turkey (Aug. 28): Abdullah Gul, of the Justice and Development Party, is elected president in the third round of voting by the country's parliament. He is the first Islamist president in the country's modern history. The military, which is highly protective of a secular state, opposed Gul's candidacy.
- Deadly Violence Breaks Out Among Rival Shiite Groups (Aug. 28): More than 50 people are killed and hundreds are wounded when members of the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and the Badr Organization, a group of fighters that supports Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, battle in the streets of Karbala during a pilgrimage celebrating the birth of Muhammad al-Mahdi. (Aug. 29): Moktada al-Sadr announces that he has ordered the Mahdi Army to suspend its military operations for six months.
- Pakistani Leader to Surrender Role as Military Chief (Aug. 29): According to exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, President Pervez Musharraf has agreed to step down as army chief and run for reelection as president. In addition, Bhutto will be allowed to return to Pakistan and run for prime minister.
- House Passes Bill to Expand Healthcare for Children (Aug. 1): Legislation, which passed 225 to 204, would provide healthcare to more than four million children and increase Medicare payments to doctors by .5%. The bill, which would cost $25 billion over five years, would be financed by an increase in the federal cigarette tax.
- Senate Votes to Overhaul Ethics Rules (Aug. 2): Votes, 83 to 14, to pass the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which calls on lawmakers to disclose the names of lobbyists who bundle $15,000 in contributions within a six-month period, prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts, trips, or meals from lobbyists, and increases the time from one year to two that former senators must wait before can lobby Congress.
- House Passes Energy Bill (Aug. 4): Legislation, passed 241 to 172, calls on most utilities to produce 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, sets new efficiency requirements for buildings and appliances, and allots money for research into capturing emissions of carbon dioxide.
- Bush Signs Law to Expand Wiretapping (Aug 5): Law 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. Both the House and Senate approved the legislation before leaving for August recess. The law expires in six months.
- Republican Senator Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct (Aug. 8): The guilty plea follows Larry Craig's June arrest for making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport. (Aug. 29): The Idaho senator steps down from his leadership positions on several Senate committees.
- Rove Announces His Resignation (Aug 13): Karl Rove, highly influential and controversial advisor to President Bush, announces he will leave his position as deputy chief of staff at the end of August. Although Rove was instrumental in securing Bush victories in 2000 and 2004, many critics believe his focus on conservative voters has alienated more moderate Republicans and Independents--two groups that may swing the election in 2008.
- Dirty Bomb Suspect Is Found Guilty (Aug. 17): A federal jury convicts Jose Padilla, who was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and accused of plotting to explode a dirty bomb in the United States, of conspiracy to commit terror overseas and giving material support to al-Qaeda. The government had held him as an enemy combatant until 2006, when he was transferred to the civilian justice system and charged with another set of crimes. It was these charges that resulted in the conviction.
- Report Says Former CIA Head Failed to Understand Gravity of Terrorist Threat (Aug. 21): Report, completed in 2005 but not released until now, outlines several bureaucratic and intelligence failures that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to enter the United States and concludes that George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, should be held accountable for not formulating a plan to dismantle al-Qaeda.
- Attorney General Steps Down (Aug. 27): The White House announces that Alberto Gonzales, the beleaguered attorney general, has submitted his resignation to President Bush. Gonzales has been under fire for the firing of nine federal prosecutors in 2006, and some say he perjured himself when testifying about the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program.
- Median Household Income Up, Number of Insured Down (Aug. 28): Census Bureau reports that median household income increased to $48,201 in 2006, from $47,845 in 2005. Figures, however, reveal that more people are working longer hours, but wages have not increased. The poverty rate fell to 12.3% in 2006, from 12.6% in 2005. The number of uninsured increased to 47 million in 2006, from 44.8 miillion in 2005.
- Attorney General Gonzales Is Under Investigation (Aug. 30): The Justice Department announces that its inspector general, Glenn Fine, is investigating whether Gonzales made "intentionally false, misleading, or inappropriate" statements in his testimony to Congress about his role in the 2006 dismissals of U.S. prosecutors and in the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.
- Bridge Collapses into the Mississippi River (Aug. 1): An eight-lane interstate bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that is packed with cars breaks into sections and falls into the river, killing 13 people and injuring at least 60. The bridge was in the midst of repairs when it buckled and broke apart.
- Coal Miners Are Trapped Inside Shaft (Aug. 6): Six miners are trapped 1,500 feet below ground after a shaft collapses at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah. (Aug. 23): The owner of the mine says that finding survivors is "virtually, totally unlikely."
- Educator Lifts Off to the Space Station (Aug. 8): 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. 16): Following the discovery of a small gash on the underside of the Endeavour, NASA considers whether to direct the crewto attempt a repair, or to allow them to fly home as is. The gash is believed to have occurred when a piece of foam fell off the fuel tank and struck the underside of the shuttle. (Aug. 21): Endeavour lands safely after a 12 day, 17 hour mission.
- Federal Reserve Pumps Billions into Financial System (Aug. 10): Fed puts $72 billion into the U.S. financial system over two days to steady the volatile markets that plummeted in response to losses in the American mortgage market.
- NBA Referee Pleads Guilty in Betting Scandal (Aug. 14): Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleads guilty to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting waging information through interstate commerce. Donaghy, once known as one of the NBA's best referees, sold inside information pertaining to NBA games to bettors before being investigated by the FBI and resigning on July 9. Donaghy, who faces up to 25 years in prison, must pay a $500,000 fine and at least $30,000 in restitution.
- Quake Near Lima, Peru, Kills Hundreds (Aug. 15): A 8.0-magnitude earthquake occurs 90 miles southeast of Lima, Peru, killing at least 500 people and injuring hundreds more. The cities of Pisco, Chincha, and Ica are among those reporting the most damage.
- Hurricane Dean Slams the Caribbean (Aug. 21): Dean makes landfall in Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane, the third most intense Atlantic hurricane since the 1850s. The storm killed more than 20 people.