August 2009 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of August 2009.
- N. Korea Pardons Imprisoned American Journalists (Aug. 4): The government of North Korea pardons two imprisoned American journalists after former president Bill Clinton visits the country and its president, Kim Jong-il. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested in March and sentenced in June to 12 years in prison for "illegal entry" into the country. Clinton agreed in late July to travel to North Korea on a humanitarian mission to free the two women.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Inaugurated as President of Iran (Aug. 5): Controversial president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins his second term after the June election that was widely condemned as rigged in Ahmadinejad's favor. The vote set off protests that resulted in mass arrests of opposition figures, journalists, and lawyers.
- Taliban Leader Reportedly Killed (Aug. 5): Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, is believed to have been killed by a C.I.A. drone strike in South Waziristan, a remote region of the country. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, the terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan in Sept. 2008, and dozens of other suicide bombings have been attributed to Mehsud.
- Storm Sweeps Through Southeast Asia (Aug. 10): Typhoon Morakot, which started in the Philippines, causes a mudslide in a rural mountain village in southern Taiwan that buries schools, homes, and possibly 600 people. The storm, which unleashed more than 80 inches of rain in three days, forces the evacuation of about 1 million people in southern China. Total number of casualties is not known.
- Large-Scale Bombings Kill 95 in Baghdad (Aug. 19): Two massive bomb attacks kill at least 95 and wounds over 600 in Baghdad, Iraq. Though violence has been escalating in recent weeks, this is the worst attack in the region since the U.S. military ceded control of the country's security back to its government on June 30.
- Lockerbie Terrorist Released to Libya on Compassionate Grounds (Aug. 20): Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 and killed 270 people, is freed from prison on compassionate grounds by Scotland's justice minister, Kenny MacAskill. Megrahi is suffering from terminal prostate cancer and is expected to die within three months. The White House opposes this decision, stating that Megrahi should finish his sentence in Scotland. There were 189 Americans on the Pan Am flight; the bombing is the worst act of terrorism in British history. Megrahi was convicted of murder in 2001.
- Japan's Democratic Party Ousts Liberal Democrats from Power (Aug. 30): Japan's opposition party, the Democrats, win in a landslide over the ruling Liberal Democrats, who have been in power nearly uninterrupted for a half-century. The Democratic Party increases its number of seats from 119 to 308, while the Liberal Democrats slide from 296 seats to 119. Yukio Hatoyama, who will become prime minister, has promised to lift Japan out of economic stagnation and a culture of corruption—malaise widely credited with sparking the popular backlash against the Liberal Democrats.