June 2008 Current Events
Here are the key news events of the month organized into three categories: World News, U.S. News, and Business, Society, and Science News.
World | Nation | Business/Science/Society
- U.S. Casualties in Iraq Reach Lowest Point (June 1): The U.S. military announces that fatalities in Iraq in May dropped to 19, the lowest level since the war began in 2003.
- Sept. 11 Suspects Are Arraigned (June 5): Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has claimed to have organized the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the U.S., and four others involved in the planning, face a tribunal for the first time at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. All five defendants say they will defend themselves.
- Turkey's Highest Court Rules Against Head Scarves (June 5): The Constitutional Court overturns a measure passed by Parliament in February and endorsed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which allowed women to wear headscarves at universities, saying it violates secularist principles inherent in the country's constitution.
- Massive Turnout in South Korea to Protest Beef Imports (June 10): As many as several hundred thousand people demonstrate in the streets of Seoul against the government's decision to resume imports of American beef, which was banned in 2003 after mad cow disease was diagnosed in the U.S. The protests, which have taken place in Seoul for about six weeks and peaked on June 10, imply overall dissatisfaction with President Lee, who promised to boost the flagging economy and reach out to the United States. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and all 15 cabinet members submit their resignations. (June 21): The U.S. and South Korea reach an accord that says the U.S. will not export beef from cattle more than 30 months old. (June 22): Facing continued public pressure, the government says it will put the accord on hold.
- U.S. Attack Kills Several Pakistani Soldiers (June 10): U.S. soldiers launch an air strike aimed at Taliban militants who had crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan and fired on American-led troops. Eleven members of a Pakistani paramilitary force die, angering Pakistani officials and increasing tension between the U.S. and Pakistan.
- Ireland Votes Against European Union Treaty (June 13): Dissent by Ireland, the only country in the 27-member EU that put the Lisbon Treaty to a popular vote, jeopardizes the future of the pact that would have strengthened the EU’s influence in global politics.
- Taliban Masterminds Brazen Jailbreak (June 13): Fighters attack guards outside a prison in Kandahar and then launch a rocket-propelled grenade at a fuel tanker parked outside the prison. The blast kills several guards and opens a hole in the prison wall. About 900 inmates escape, including 350 members of the Taliban.
- Bombings Kill Dozens in Iraq (June 17): At least 60 people are killed and about 75 are wounded when an explosive-laden minibus explodes at a bus terminal near a crowded market in a Shiite district of Baghdad. The blast causes an apartment building to burst into flames. (June 18): The U.S. military attributes the bombing to a Shiite militia leader, Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi, saying he orchestrated the bombing to incite sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites. (June 26): At least 30 people are killed in two separate attacks in Anbar Province and the city of Mosul. The suicide bombing in Anbar occurred at a meeting of the Awakening Council, an alliance of moderate Sunnis who support the U.S.
- Israel and Hamas Sign a Truce (June 19): Egypt brokers a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. The agreement is intended to quell the violence in the region.
- Opposition Leader Drops Out of Runoff in Zimbabwe (June 22): Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democracy and Change, who was to face incumbent president Robert Mugabe in a June 27 runoff election, withdraws from the race, saying he could not subject his supporters to violence and intimidation. He also says he refused to take part in "this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process." Tsvangirai had been detained by police several times in the past weeks and 85 supporters of his party have been killed in government-backed violence against the opposition. (June 27): Voters go to the polls to cast ballots in an election widely called a sham. Mugabe wins with about 85% of the vote. (June 28): President Bush urges the UN to impose an international arms embargo against Zimbabwe and announces that the U.S. will punish Mugabe with economic sanctions. "The international community has condemned the Mugabe regime's ruthless campaign of politically motivated violence and intimidation," Bush says.
- North Korea Takes Steps Toward Denuclearization (June 26): Officials hand over to China a list of its nuclear facilities as well as information on the amount of reprocessed plutonium in its possession. In exchange, the U.S. removes North Korea from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism and lifts some sanctions against the country. (June 27): North Korea destroys a cooling tower at its main reactor in Yongbyon.
- U.S. Army Faults Itself in Report on Post-Hussein Iraq (June 30): In 700-page study called "On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign," the Army says that while it was capable of toppling Saddam Hussein, it was not equipped to rebuild Iraq into a functional country.
World | Nation | Business/Science/Society
- Obama Secures the Democratic Nomination (June 3): On the final day of the 2008 primary season, Sen. Barack Obama secures 2,154 delegates and becomes the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. He's the first black candidate to head a major party ticket in a presidential election. Hillary Clinton does not withdraw from the race, but is expected to in the coming days. (June 7): Sen. Hillary Clinton suspends her campaign and endorses Obama for the presidency.
- Defense Secretary Fires Top Air Force Officers (June 5): Michael Wynne, Air Force secretary, and Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force's chief of staff, are forced to step down after an investigation into how fuses for nuclear warheads were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan.
- Five-Year Inquiry Finds Bush Exaggerated Evidence on Iraq (June 5): The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report states that President Bush and his staff repeatedly overstated evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and misled the public about ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
- Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Guantánamo Detainees (June 12): Court rules, 5 to 4, that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have a right to challenge their detention in federal court. It is the third decision against the Bush administration’s policy on such detainees.
- House Votes to Extend Unemployment Benefits (June 12): A day after the same measure fails, the House passes, 274 to 137, a bill to extend unemployment benefits to 39 weeks, up from 26. In addition, for those living in states with unemployment rates of 6% or higher, benefits would be lengthened by a total of 26 weeks.
- California Begins Performing Same-Sex Marriages (June 16): A month after the state supreme court struck down laws prohibiting gay marriage, couples flood into city halls all over the state to get married. California is the second state, behind Massachusetts, to legalize same-sex marriage. However, the future of gay marriage is in doubt; a referendum set for November seeks to define marriage as a union between “a man and a woman.”
- Bush Asks Congress to End Ban on Offshore Drilling (June 18): President urges Congress to act by July 4 to rescind a law, passed by the first President Bush in 1990, that prohibits offshore drilling for oil. Critics of the plan say relief from high gas prices, which have exceeded $4 a gallon, will not take effect until 2030.
- Obama Opts Out of Public Funding for the General Election (June 19): Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama becomes the first presidential candidate to bypass public financing since the program was established. Obama says he believes the move will provide better resources to defend his campaign from attacks by Republicans.
- House Passes Law to Expand Civil Rights for the Disabled (June 25): Votes, 402 to 17, that eases the burden of workers to prove discrimination and expands the impairments included under the term disability. Cancer, diabetes, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis would be covered.
- Supreme Court Rules for Gun Rights (June 26, 2008): The Supreme Court rules, 5 to 4, that the Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a gun, but insists that the ruling "is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
- California Governor Declares a Drought (June 4): With reservoir levels well below average and the state experiencing its driest spring in 88 years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officially declares that California is in a drought and warns of potential rationing. It is the first such declaration in 17 years.
- Unemployment Rate Spikes (June 6): The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the jobless rate increases from 5% to 5.5%, the biggest monthly increase in 22 years.
- Several Die in Midwest Floods (June 9): Severe flooding from storms cause already swollen rivers and lakes in Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin to flood, killing 10 people, breaking three dams, and forcing thousands to evacuate their homes. In addition, at least 90 roads are closed.
- Boy Scouts Are Killed by Tornado (June 11): Four Boy Scouts die and another 48 are injured when a tornado tears through the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western Iowa. The tornado also touches down in Kansas, killing two people.
- Hundreds Are Killed by Typhoon in the Philippines (June 21): More than 800 people die when a ferry is struck by Typhoon Fengshen. About 500 other people die during the storm.
- Gates Ends Day-to-Day Work at Microsoft (June 27): Bill Gates remains chairman of the software giant, but he will no longer work at the company full time. Instead, he will devote more time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.