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.
- Rice Meets With Syrian Counterpart (May 3): At a meeting in Egypt about Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State asks Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to move to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq from Syria, and he asks Condoleezza Rice to reinstate the U.S. ambassador to Syria who was withdrawn after the assassination of Syrian prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. It was the first high-level meeting between the two countries in two years.
- Senior Sunni Insurgent Is Killed in Iraq (May 3): Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, a leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, dies in a raid north of Baghdad. U.S. officials say that Jubouri was involved in the kidnapping of American reporter Jill Carroll.
- Labor Party Suffers Stunning Defeat in Scotland (May 4): The separatist Scottish National Party, which supports Scotland's independence from Britain, prevails in parliamentary elections, taking 47 seats in the 129-seat Scottish parliament. The Labor Party wins 46 seats. Prior to the election, the Scottish National Party held 25 seats.
- Sarkozy Wins French Presidential Election (May 6): Conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy defeats Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, 53.1% to 46.9%, in the runoff election. He is the first French president to be born after World War II.
- World Bank Panel Finds Wolfowitz Guilty (May 6): A committee of directors of the World Bank reports that it has found Paul Wolfowitz, president of the bank, guilty of conflict of interest for setting up a lucrative pay raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza. (May 14): A report issued by the committee says Wolfowitz violated bank rules and ethical guidelines in his treatment of Shaha Ali Riza. (May 17): Wolfowitz resigns from the World Bank. The bank's board releases a statement saying of Wolfowitz, "he assured us that he acted in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that."
- Former Enemies Resume Power-Sharing Government in Northern Ireland (May 8): Local government is restored to Northern Ireland as Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionists, and Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, are sworn in as leader and deputy leader, respectively, of the Northern Ireland executive government.
- British Prime Minister Announces Plan to Step Down (May 10): Tony Blair says he will resign as prime minister of the United Kingdom on June 27 after ten years in the post. Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, is widely expected to succeed Blair.
- Protests Over Suspended Judge Turn Deadly (May 12): Thirty-nine people are killed in Karachi when dueling rallies—those in support of ousted Supreme Court chief justice, Iftikar Mohammad Chaudhry, and others of the government—turn violent.
- U.S. Soldiers Are Abducted after an Ambush in Iraq (May 12): Four soldiers die and three are captured in an attack near Mahmudiya, a mostly Sunni area. The Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent group that includes al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, says it is holding the soldiers. (May 23): The body of one of the missing soldiers, Pfc. Joseph Anzack, is found in the Euphrates River.
- Inspectors Report Iran Has Made Progress in Uranium Enrichment (May 14): The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is using about 1,300 centrifuges and producing fuel for nuclear reactors. The fuel would have to be further enriched to make it weapons grade.
- Top Taliban Leader Is Killed in Joint Operation (May 13): Mullah Dadullah, an operational commander who has organized assassinations and abductions, dies in a raid in Helmand Province carried out by Afghan security forces, NATO troops, and American soldiers.
- Bush Nominates War Czar (May 15): White House selects Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to oversee war policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lute serves as the top operations officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Senate must confirm Lute's nomination.
- Israelis, Palestinians Trade Rocket Fire (May 18): Seven Palestinians are killed when Israeli troops fire on Hamas in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for strikes on Israel by Hamas. The violence caps a week in which some 40 Palestinians die in factional fighting between members of Hamas and Fatah. (May 24): Israel officials arrest 33 West Bank Palestinians, including seven public officials, claiming they are involved in terrorism against Israel.
- Fighting in Lebanon Kills Dozens (May 20): About 60 people are killed in battles between government troops and members of Islamic militant group Fatah al-Islam, which is based in a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. The group is similar in philosophy to al-Qaeda.
- Former Serb Officers Convicted in Killing of Prime Minister (May 23): Serbian court convicts 12 Serbs, including former paramilitary police officers, in the 2003 assassination of pro-reform prime minister Zoran Djindjic.
- Powerful Shiite Cleric Returns to Public Eye in Iraq (May 25): Moktada al-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi Army militia and an opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, reemerges from hiding for the first time since January. In a speech, he calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
- U.S. and Iranian Diplomats Discuss Iraq (May 28): U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iran's ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, meet at the office of Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss security issues in Iraq. Little progress is made, but the meeting is notable for merely taking place.
- Bush Nominates Wolfowitz Replacement (May 29): President Bush nominates Robert Zoellick as the president of the World Bank to succeed Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned in a conflict of interest scandal. Zoellick served as Bush's deputy secretary of state and held high-ranking positions in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.
- Bush Administration Expands Sanctions on Sudan (May 29): Measure bans 31 Sudanese companies and four individuals from doing business in the U.S.
- Britons Are Abducted in Iraq (May 29): Five British civilians are abducted from the Finance Ministry by masked gunmen in Baghdad.
- UN Approves Special Court to Try Suspects in Assassination of Lebanese Leader (May 31): Security Council narrowly approves a resolution to create a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the 2005 slaying of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
- Bush Vetoes Combat Spending Bill (May 1): 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. "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible," Bush said.
- Six Muslims Are Arrested in Terror Investigation (May 8): Men from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including three Yugoslav-born, ethnic Albanian brothers, are charged in federal court with plotting to attack Fort Dix, an army base in New Jersey.
- Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Oversight of Drug Safety (May 9): Votes, 93 to 1, in favor of legislation that gives the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate and track pharmaceuticals from the development stage through their effect on users.
- Attorney General Appears Before House Judiciary Committee (May 10): Alberto Gonzales sheds little light on why federal prosecutors were dismissed in 2006, telling the Democrats who questioned him that the firings were justified but handled ineptly.
- Deputy Attorney General Resigns (May 14): Paul McNulty, the second-highest-ranking official in the Justice Department, announces he will step down. He cites financial reasons, but many observers speculate that his resignation is linked to the scandal over the dismissal of several federal prosecutors. He testified before Congress in February that one of the fired prosecutors was let go to make room for a former associate of Karl Rove. Until McNulty's testimony, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had insisted that all of the prosecutors were dismissed for performance reasons.
- Former Justice Department Aide Testifies Before House Committee (May 23): Monica Goodling, who agreed to testify after receiving a grant of immunity, sheds little light on the firings of U.S. prosecutors, but she does admit that she considered the political leanings of job candidates during their screening. She also contradicted earlier testimony by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales when she said that he had discussed the dismissals with her during the investigation.
- Congress Passes Amended Military Spending Bill (May 24): House and Senate vote, 280 to 142 and 80 to 14, respectively, to give the Bush administration $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the bill does not include a timetable for troop withdrawal, it does require that President Bush report in July and September on the progress in Iraq and the Iraq military meet benchmarks for continued reconstruction aid. Included in the legislation is an increase in the minimum wage—the first in about 10 years. The minimum wage will increase from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 over a three-year period.
- President Seeks $30 Billion to Fight AIDS (May 30): Bush asks Congress to extend his five-year program, established in 2003, another five years and spend an additional $30 billion to battle AIDS globally.
- Bush Proposes Plan to Cut Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (May 31): President's proposal calls on the world's top polluters to meet to develop a strategy to reduce emissions over 10 to 20 years and over the long term. The plan is criticized for being too vague.
- UN Report Urges Immediate Action on Reducing Heat-trapping Gases (May 4): Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the technology now exists to produce more efficient cars, appliances, and buildings. It also encourages investment in alternative fuels.
- Tornado Levels a Kansas Town (May 6): A Category F-5 enhanced tornado leaves behind a trail of rubble in Greensburg, Kansas. Ten people are killed in the disaster.