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.
- Analysis of Iraq Expresses Doubt on Leadership (Feb. 2): National Intelligence Estimate finds the Iraqi leadership is likely too weak to hold the country together, the military is ill-equipped to rein in militias, and U.S. troops are necessary to stabilize Iraq.
- Violence Escalates Between Palestinian Factions (Feb. 2): At least 17 people are killed as members of Hamas and Fatah fight in the Gaza Strip.
- Massive Bomb Kills Dozens in Baghdad (Feb. 4): At least 130 people die when a truck bomb explodes in a crowded Shiite market.
- U.S. and Iraq Begin a New Offensive (Feb. 7): Troops attempt to increase security in Baghdad to stem increasingly deadly attacks by insurgents and militias. (Feb. 18): At least 60 people die when a bomb tears through a crowded market in Baghdad. The attack comes two days after Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki called the security offensive a “dazzling success.” (Feb. 25): A bomb explodes at Baghdad’s Mustansiriya University, killing about 40 people, mostly students.
- Palestinian Factions Agree to Form Coalition Government (Feb. 8): Leaders from Hamas and Fatah, two Palestinian factions that have been engaged in deadly violence, meet in Mecca and reach deal to end the fighting and to form a unity government.
- U.S. Military Officials Say Iran is Supplying Weapons to Shiites in Iraq (Feb. 11): Officials show weapons, including mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades, and explosively formed penetrators that they say were manufactured in Iranian factories. They also say that Iranian government officials sanctioned the transfer of the weapons to Iraq.
- Portugal Votes in Favor of Legalizing Abortion (Feb. 11): More than 59% of voters support legalizing the procedure in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Because of a low turnout, however, the referendum is not considered valid.
- President of Guinea Declares Martial Law (Feb. 12): President Lansana Conté declares martial law in response to a wave of anti-government protests and a general strike that has paralyzed the country. Demonstrators are demanding that Conté resign. (Feb. 27): The strike ends as President Conté agrees to name diplomat Lansana Kouyaté as prime minister. More than 100 people have died in battles with security officials during the strike.
- Breakthrough Reached with North Korea (Feb. 13): At a meeting in Beijing with diplomats from the U.S., China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan, North Korea agrees to dismantle its nuclear facilities and allow international inspectors to enter the country in exchange for about $400 million in oil and aid.
- Dozens Die in India Train Bombing (Feb. 18): Some 70 people die when two homemade bombs explode on a train headed for Pakistan from India.
- Southern Thailand Rocked by Bombs (Feb. 18): Some 30 coordinated bombs explode at bars, hotels, and electricity transmitters in Pattani Province, killing or wounding 60 people.
- Italian Prime Minister Resigns After Losing Key Vote in the Senate (Feb. 21): Romano Prodi submits his resignation after a measure about deploying more troops to Afghanistan and allowing the U.S. to expand a military base in Italy fails in the Senate. He has been in power only nine months. (Feb. 28): Prodi remains in power, as the Senate narrowly passes a vote of confidence in the prime minister’s weak government.
- Blair Announces Plans to Withdraw Troops from Iraq (Feb. 21): British prime minister says as many as 1,600 of the 7,100 troops stationed in southern Iraq will leave in the next few months. “What all this means is not that Basra is how we want it to be, but it does mean that the next chapter in Basra’s history can be written by Iraqis,” Blair said.
- Canada Court Strikes Down Law on Detention of Terror Suspects (Feb. 23): Country’s Supreme Court nullifies a law that permits foreign terrorism suspects to be detained indefinitely without charges while waiting for deportation. The Court’s decision is in stark contrast to a U.S. ruling that upheld such detentions.
- International Court Calls Bosnian Massacre Genocide (Feb. 26): International Court of Justice rules that the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs in Srebrenica in 1995 was genocide, but stops short of saying Serbia was directly responsible. The court’s president, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, criticizes Serbia for not preventing the genocide. Court also orders Serbia to turn over Bosnian Serb leaders, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karakzic, who are accused of genocide and other crimes.
- Cheney Tells Pakistan to Control al-Qaeda and the Taliban (Feb. 26): U.S. vice president travels to Pakistan and urges Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf to rein in terrorists that are operating from remote tribal areas in Pakistan. Musharraf responds, “Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source.”
- Iraqi Cabinet Passes Draft on Oil Revenues (Feb. 26): Law calls on government to distribute oil revenues to regions based on their populations and allows regions to negotiate contracts with foreign companies to explore and develop oil fields.
- U.S. Agrees to Talks With Iran and Syria (Feb. 27): In a policy shift, U.S. officials say they will participate in high-level talks with Iran and Syria at a meeting about Iraq.
- Cheney Escapes Assassination Attempt in Afghanistan (Feb. 27): A suicide bomber attacks a United States base near Kabul, about a mile away from where the vice president was staying. The Taliban claims responsibility for the attack which killed more than 20 people.
- Court Names Suspects in Darfur Atrocities (Feb. 27): International Criminal Court at the Hague names Ahmad Harun, Sudan’s deputy minister for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a militia leader, as suspects in the murder, rape, and displacement of thousands of civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan.
- Bush Releases 2008 Budget Plan (Feb. 5): President says the $2.9 trillion budget will eliminate the federal deficit by 2012 without increasing taxes. Provisions include beefing up the U.S. Army and Marines, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and $145 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Senate Confirms New Director of National Intelligence (Feb. 6): The Senate confirms Mike McConnell as the director of National Intelligence. He succeeds John Negroponte, who left the post to become deputy secretary of state.
- Republican Representative Dies (Feb. 13): Georgia U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood dies at age 65 after a battle with lung cancer.
- House Backs Resolution Critical of Bush Iraq Plan (Feb. 16): House of Representatives votes, 246–182, in favor of a nonbinding resolution that expresses support for U.S. troops but criticizes President Bush’s “surge” that calls for some 20,000 additional troops to be sent to Iraq. Seventeen Republicans voted to adopt the resolution.
- Senate Republicans Thwart Democrats Effort to Debate Resolution on Iraq (Feb. 17): Senate Democrats fall four votes short of forcing a debate on the troop buildup in Iraq. In the vote, 56–34, seven Republicans join Democrats in supporting the vote.
- Federal Appeals Court Upholds Law on Appeals by Terrorism Suspects (Feb. 20): Court, ruling 2–1, upholds the Military Commission Act of 2006, which says federal courts cannot hear challenges to imprisonment, through writs of habeas corpus cases, brought by foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
- Daley Sets Record in Chicago (Feb. 27): Richard Daley is elected to a sixth consecutive term, the only Chicago mayor to do so.
- Scientists Confirm Global Warming (Feb. 2): Three-year study by the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says 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.
- Florida Twister Kills Several (Feb. 2): Some 20 people die when tornadoes and thunderstorms rip through central Florida.
- Harvard Names Its First Woman President (Feb. 11): Board of Overseers votes to name Drew Gilpin Faust, a historian, as the university’s first female president in its 371-year history.
- U.S. Mint Debuts New Dollar Coin (Feb. 15): The first coin features President Washington. The Mint plans to introduce a new dollar coin four times a year, one for each president of the United States, from Washington to Ford.
- Stock Market Plummets (Feb. 28): Dow Jones industrial average falls 416 points, or 3.3% after the market in China takes a plunge of nearly 9%. U.S. economists blame the drop on anxiety about the economy.