Century 21 1 Decade 7th yr
Century 21 2007- AD

2007 January


Jan 7  In the US, a new Congress has convened and is about to confront President Bush's strategy regarding Iraq. A debate is taking place on what to do about US policy failures in Iraq. Those supporting Bush and favoring more troops sent to Iraq are suggesting that the US must assert its will, otherwise Iraq and the entire region will sink into an abyss. The other side of the debate is saying that a solution by Iraqis is needed, that the Bush administration trying to impose its will on the Iraqis by a troop "surge" will produce more aggravation among the Iraqis and more failure.
Jan 8  The government of Morocco is putting two journalists on trial in Casablanca, charging them with defaming Islam and damaging public morality. The journalists created an article that explored popular jokes about religion, sex and politics. Sale of the magazine containing the article has been banned.
Jan 8  The government of Morocco arrests 62 Al Qaida suspects.
Jan 9  In the US the debate about a proposed troop surge in Iraq continues, with Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute on one side and Edward N. Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the other. Luttwak compares the amount of police controlling New York City and the number of soldiers it would take to control Baghdad today and he concludes that Kagan's plan to bust down doors in Baghdad neighborhoods would not be productive. He favors continued support for the elected government in Iraq but with less exposure and fewer casualties for US troops on desert bases, in the Green Zone and such, doing what US forces can do effectively: striking at any force that gathers into an anti-government "targetable mass formation."
 
President Correa
President Correa


Jan 10  In Venezuela, President Chavez is sworn in for a third term and promises "the construction of Venezuelan socialism."
 
President Ortega
President Ortega


Jan 10  In Nicaragua, the former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is sworn in as President. After his own inauguration, President Chavez flies in and celebrates with Ortega. Bolivia's president, Morales, is there, as is President-elect Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fidel Castro sends a message of "utmost support."

Jan 10  President Bush announces his new plan for success in Iraq: the deployment of 21,500 more US troops and more economic assistance.

Jan 12  In Somalia, government troops backed by Ethiopian troops have eliminated the last stronghold of the Islamist force that has controlled part of the country for the past six months. Remnants of the Islamist force are said to be hiding in the forests on Somalia's border with Kenya.

Jan 16  Rafael Correa, an economist, is sworn in as Ecuador's new president. He proposes less involvement by the United States in Ecuadorian affairs and restructuring Ecuador's debt. Among those attending his inauguration is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who has been touring "shanty towns" in Nicaragua.
Hrant Dink  
Hrant Dink
Ogun Samast, in the center  
Ogun Samast, in the center

Jan 16  In a News Hour television interview, President Bush sums up his position on Iraq He says that if we don't help the Iraqis now, Iraq will become a safe haven for Al Qaeda and radicals with weapons of mass destruction will cause "huge devastation," among other disastrous consequences. The interviewer, Jim Lehrer, asks why if failure in Iraq would be such a disaster, the volunteer Army and Marines and their families have been the only people actually sacrificing. President Bush answers that he is opposed to the kind of sacrifice involved in raising taxes, which, he says, would "hurt this growing economy."

Jan 18  Egypt puts on trial a blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, for insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife. He is reported by the Associated Press as having "often denounced Islamic authorities."  The Associated Press adds that "Egypt has arrested a string of pro-democracy bloggers over the past year."

Jan 18  Senator Leahy of Vermont lectures Attorney General Alberto Gonzales concerning Maher Arar and others: "We knew damn well if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He’d be held; he’d be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he would be tortured. And it's beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured."

Jan 19  World Fact Book publishes estimates for per capita GDP (wealth produced divided by population size) for the year 2006 (at Purchasing Power Parity). Oil rich United Arab Emirates is $49,700 per person, Norway $47,800, Ireland $43,600, USA $43,500, Iceland $38,100, Denmark $37,000, Canada $35,200, Austria $34,100.

Jan 19-20  In Turkey the journalist Hrant Dink is assassinated by a couple of youths who did not like what they considered to be his insults against the nation. The nation of Turkey and its political leaders are outraged and insulted. The assassin, Ogun Samast, a teenager, is captured on the 20th and identified by his father. Ogun Samast hangs his head in shame.

Jan 23  In Lebanon the strike against the government ends in violence. Some who disapprove dislike Hezbollah having quit the government and then having complained about the government not being representative. Some who have supported the strike are upset that it has turned violent. A majority of Lebanese see remedy in democracy.

Jan 26  Many have been describing an alternative strategy to President Bush's plan for Iraq: Senator Hegel, Senator Webb of Virginia, people at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and others, some of whom are scholars on military matters. President Bush apparently holds ideas rival to his as unworkable. He declares that those who oppose his planned "surge" have an "obligation and a serious responsibility ... to put up their own plan as to what would work." The president and his supporters are describing Lieutenant-General David Petraeus as the authority on military strategy. Petraeus has said that he is not sure the president's new plan will work, but he has promised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that when he sees that it is not working he will openly admit it.

 Mohammad Aslamand Maqbook Ahmad
Mohammad Aslam
and Maqbook Ahmad

Jan 27  Two brothers in the village of Khatan in eastern Pakistan, Mohammad Aslam and Maqbool Ahmad, kill their sister and the man they find her with. They surrender to police explaining that they have redeemed their family honor. The man they have killed belongs to a family of Syeds, considered descendents of Prophet Mohammad. Nevertheless, local people, with justice on their minds, are siding with the brothers, who belong to a family of menial laborers. According to the BBC the brothers are expected "to walk free."



2007 February


Feb 1  US military killed in Iraq in January: 92.

Feb 2  Researchers at AngioGenetics in Sweden describe a new mechanism for blood vessel growth that could lead to new treatments for cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.

Feb 2  In Lebanon, Sunni Muslim clerics publish a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from killing their fellow countrymen and particularly their fellow Muslims.

Feb 7  The move to control Baghdad - part of the so-called surge - has begun. The city has been divided into nine districts. Each district has been assigned 600 US troops and thousands of Iraqi soldiers.

Feb 12  Iran has an interest in Iraq - a friendly rather than hostile neighbor. The Bush administration denies plans to invade Iran but accuses Iran of supplying weapons to those killing US troops, and it says the US will use force against Iranian interference inside Iraq. Iran's President Ahmadinejad says that Iran regrets the death of anyone in Iraq and says that there should be "no foreigners in Iraq."

Feb 12  For three days, violent protests have been taking place in various towns in Guinea, with protesters trying to oust President Lansana Conté from power. Today fifteen people die in the capital city, Conakry. President Cote tells his military to "take all necessary measures" to prevent civil war and to restore public order.

Feb 13  Sweden extends broadband Internet service to areas in its north where there are only three persons per square kilometer.

Feb 15  Egyptian police arrest 72 men believed associated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. President Mubarak considers political parties with a religious agenda as subversive to Egypt's secularism. The Muslim Brotherhood is his regime's largest organized opponent.

Feb 15  A UN report (UNICEF to be exact) states its conclusion that the Netherlands is the country that provides the best well-being for children. Sweden is second. 

Feb 18  President Assad meets with Iranians and speaks of "the sinister aims of the United States and Zionists."  He adds: "Creating conflict between Shia and Sunni in Iraq and Lebanon is the final card that America and its allies have."
 
Exorcist priest, Daniel Petru Corogeanu
Exorcist priest, Daniel Petru Corogeanu


Feb 19  In Romania, Daniel Petru Corogeanu, the priest whose exorcism killed a nun, is sentenced to 14 years in prison. The four nuns who helped him are sentenced to from five to eight years. The Orthodox Church has promised psychological tests for those seeking entry to monasteries.

Feb 19  The European Union extends economic and other sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year.

Feb 22  Russia has set aside 3.5 billion dollars to address poor health and low life-expectancy - age 60 for men and 72 for women, rather than around 80 for some industrialized countries. Drinking, smoking and pollution are said to account for much of the ill-health. Russia's population dropped by 560,000 last year.

Feb 26  Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan tells a business conference that the economy may fall into recession by the end of 2007. He says the US economy has been growing since 2001 and that the economy cycle is nearing an end. The Wall Street Journal quotes him as saying, "When you get this far away from a recession, invariably forces build up for the next recession, and indeed we are beginning to see that sign, for example in the US, profit margins ... have begun to stabilize, which is an early sign we are in the later stages of a cycle." Greenspan added that the global economy looks to be stable and that both the US and world economies are more resilient than before.

Feb 27  A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court accuses Ali Kushayb of the Janjaweed with ordering killings, rapes, and looting in Darfur. Accused with Kushayb is Sudan's Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun.

Feb 27  Prices on China's stock market rose 130 percent in 2006 and another 12 percent into February of this year. That is more than 12 times faster than its economic growth. Concern that China's government will intervene to stop a growing bubble of get-rich enthusiasm sends China's stock prices falling, down 8.8 percent. Stocks prices drop elsewhere in the world, in the US 4.3 percent. Some look for something like a 10 percent drop in stock prices in the US Maybe 8 percent - an expected "correction" after a long period of rise in the price-value of stocks.

Feb 28  President Bush invites British historian Andrew Roberts to the White House, and Roberts dines with Bush, Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove. Bush has read Roberts' A History of the English Speaking Peoples since 1900 , a book that celebrates "Shouldering the White Man's Burden."

2007 March


Mar 1  US military killed in Iraq in February: 87.

Mar 8  In his first news conference since taking command of US forces in Iraq, General Petraeus speaks of not foreseeing a military victory over the insurgents. He favors military action to improve security, but he avoids absolutes such as failure, win or victory. He says "there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq." Petraeus favors negotiations among the Iraqis.

Mar 11  In Mauritania power is changing hands for the first time through the popular elections.

Mar 11  The new leader of Turkmenistan, President Berdymukhamedov, is visiting communities without the pomp of previous leaders - no staged crowds or children reading poems of praise.

Mar 11  In Thailand a Swiss citizen, Oliver Jufer, arrested in December, goes on trial for insulting the king. He could be sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Mar 11  In Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, a crowd opposed to the rule of Robert Mugabe gathers. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic, arrives. The police grab him and other opposition leaders who are dragged from their cars as they arrive. The police tear-gas the irate crowd and fire their weapons.The crowd is enraged in response to one of their number being shot dead. They attack the police. Those police who can, flee in their cars. Those who cannot flee are severely beaten.

Mar 13  Tsvangirai and the other opposition activists have been beaten while being held by the police. Bones have been broken. The activists are released to the custody of their attorneys.

Mar 15  President Mugabe blames the crowd and its leaders for the recent violence and tells his foreign critics to "go hang." 

Mar 14-16  Jeremy Bowen of the BBC asks a senior security official from Saudi Arabia whether the US military presence in Iraq has become "a recruiting sergeant for Islamist extremists." His answer: "It inspires these people. Some of them think it is their duty to go and perform jihad in Iraq. They think they are supporting the Muslims in Iraq and actually protecting the Islamic civilization and culture in Iraq."

Mar 16  In what will be the words of economist Paul Kruglman, banks are selling "bunches of mortgages and other loans to poorly informed investers, instead of keeping them on their own books," and this has been "encouraging reckless lending." The housing market is in a slow motion collapse and numerous lenders are going backgrupt. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 12,100, 600 points down from where it was last month, but confidence talk in the coming weeks will send the market upward. Home costruction has fallen, but a weak dollar is making US manufacturing more competitive and a boom in exports for the US is ahead.

Mar 19  In a poll by ABC News, USA Today and others, 51 percent of Iraqis say violence against US forces is acceptable, and 80 percent oppose the presence of the US in their country.

Mar 19  President Bush speaks to the beginning of the fifth year of "Operation Iraqi Freedom. "At this point in the war," he says, "our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital." He concludes: "(T)he fight is difficult, but it can be won. It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."
 Senator Webb
Senator Webb


Mar 22  Senator James Webb of Virginia expresses his opinion that the US military on the streets in Iraq is an "aggravation," in other words that it would be better for Iraq that they not be there. Webb is an aggressive former Marine and was Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

Mar 22  In the Democratic Republic of Congo a former rebel leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has refused to lay down his arms after having lost a presidential election, despite his having agreed to do so. A. confrontation takes place and a gun battle lasts through the day.

Mar 27  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia describes the US military in Iraq as an illegitimate foreign occupation. A friend of the Bush family, he has declined to attend a state dinner in Washington this April 17.

Mar 27  Speaking of the efforts of General Petraeus in Iraq, US Senator John McCain says "there are real signs the new strategy is working" and that some others in the Senate are offering "a date certain for surrender - with grave consequences..." His Republican colleague, Chuck Hagel, sees the new strategy as an escalation that will not bring resolution in Iraq. He complains of young Americans "kicking down doors, with a bull's eye on their back" and speaks of cost in American lives, dollars, and world standing as "devastating for our country."

Mar 28  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 200 fighters loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba hand their weapons over to government forces. Mr. Bemba has taken refuge in South Africa's embassy.

Mar 28  Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, tells Congress the following: "Overall, the economy appears likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters. As the inventory of unsold new homes is worked off, the drag from residential investment should wane. Consumer spending appears solid, and business investment seems likely to post moderate gains."

Mar 31  In Baghdad both Sunnis and Shia celebrate, by firing weapons into the air, the victory of Shada Hassoun, 25, an Iraqi singer who wins a popular TV talent final staged in Lebanon.

2007 April


Apr 2  Mexico City officials have been ordered to ride a bicycle to work once a month. Those who cannot must ride public transit instead.

Apr 5  Uganda's Constitutional Court ends the country's law against adultery because it is unfair to women. The law allowed married men to have affairs but not women.

Apr 7  In Yemen water is scarce. Forty percent of irrigation water is going to growing the drug khat, widely used by Yemenis, with farmers receiving 20 times the return they would growing potatoes. Yemen is predominately Muslim, one of the poorest countries in the world and importing most of its food. Khat gives people who chew it a mild euphoria.

Apr 7  In the city of Parachinar, Pakistan, Sunni and Shia attack each other. Forty are killed and more than 70 injured. Parachinar authorities put the city under a curfew.

Apr 9  The New York Times editorializes: "... there is little sign that the Baghdad push is accomplishing its main purpose: to create an island of stability in which Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds can try to figure out how to run the country together. There has been no visible move toward compromise on the main dividing issues, like regional autonomy and more power sharing between Shiites and Sunnis."

Apr 12  In Iraq's Green Zone a suicide bomber kills a member of parliament and wounds two dozen others. The group taking credit is reported to be an alliance of Sunni insurgents. They see those in government siding with foreign occupying forces as traitors.

Apr 15  Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr announces that his cabinet members will leave the government in protest over the government's failure to support a timetable for a US military withdrawal. Sadr has had six ministers serving in the Iraqi government.

Apr 15  Tens of thousands of Muslims rally in Karachi Pakistan in support of President Mursharraf and against extremism. A march leader says to the crowd that "Islam is a religion of peace."

Apr 16 Contrary to the claim above about Islam being a "religion of peace," in the United States Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, objects to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's appearance in a debate on religious freedom at the University of Pittsburgh. He says:
She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the former Dutch parliamentarian originally from Somalia. Islamic leaders in the area, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dislike Ali's challenge to their belief system. The Tribune Review describes the Islamic leaders as having "complained that Hirsi Ali's attacks against the Muslim faith in her book [Infidel] are 'poisonous and unjustified' and create dissension in their community."

Apr 16  In Iraq, a professor of art history, Jaafar Hassan Sadeq, is murdered in front of his house. Academics are a target of choice of those opposed to liberal teaching. Many hundreds have been killed or have fled the country.

Apr 18  In Eastern Turkey, three Christians employees of a publishing house that distributes Holy Bibles are attacked by five young men who slit their throat. Among the five is a note that states that they expect to die.

Apr 18  In Baghdad, 180 are killed by car bombs aimed at Shia .

Apr 19  Prime Minister Maliki blames yesterday's bombings on "infidels and Sunni extremist vampires." He orders the arrest of the Iraqi army commander in charge of security in the bombed areas.

Apr 20  In Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meets Prime Minister Maliki and urges faster "political reconciliation."

Apr 23  Nigeria's government fails to demonstrate fairness in elections, which would have helped stave off the country's drift into separatism and civil war. Umaru Yar'adua, the candidate for the governing party, the People's Democratic Party, won 70 percent of the vote to 18 percent for his strongest rival. All but the winners are condemning what is being described as a fraud.

Apr 25  On the Daily Show, Senator John McCain and Jon Stewart debate Iraq. Stewart asks whether we can get away from the language of win or lose, and he says that deadlines are "not surrender to an enemy that has defeated us." He adds that al Qaeda wants to attack us anyway, "whether we are in Iraq or not." McCain says that a timetable is surrender, the war has been mismanaged, "we are where we are," we should support the new strategy of a "great general," and that the vast majority of our troops believe they are "fighting for freedom." The audience cheers Stewart.
 Kenya's Nini Wacera
Kenya's Nini Wacera

Apr 26 The Kenyan actress, Nini Wacera, stars in a new Kenyan movie, The Game Plan. She also hosts a three-hour advice program on weekday evenings on Kenyan FM radio.

Apr 27  China's premier, Wen Jiabao, promises to help clean China's air and water and to combat global warming.

Apr 29  In support of Turkey's secularism, as many as one million people march through Istanbul. The foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, was the only candidate for president and elected on the 27th by parliament. Turkey's president traditionally defends the country's separation of state and religion. Mr. Gul's is widely feared because of what some believe is his hidden Islamic agenda.

Apr 30  US military killed in Iraq in April is 104, up from 86 in March.

May 2007
 
Iraq's Shia Prime Minister Jawad al Maliki
Iraq's Shia Prime Minister Jawad al Maliki

 Another Shia, Lebanon's Hayfa Wehbe
Another Shia, Lebanon's Hayfa Wehbe
May 1  More demonstrations in Istanbul. The election of Abdullah Gul as Turkey's new president is annulled by Turkey's Constitutional Court. In parliament, members of the secular political parties had boycotted the vote for president, and Gul failed to win majority support in parliament.

May 4  In predominately Shia Azerbaijan, two journalists are sentenced for writing that European societies were more successful because they were more inclined toward peace and tolerance than are Islamic societies. Samir Sadagatoglu is given four years and Rafik Tagi three years in prison.

May 7  In China many women are marrying earlier than 20 and men earlier than 22, violating the constitution, producing unwanted population growth. Also, China's one-child policy is threatened by families wanting a son and not reporting the first birth of girls.

May 8  More than half of Iraq's parliament, its Council of Representatives - 144 members - are reported to have signed a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal from their country.

May 13  In the city of Izmir, more than a million Turks crowd together in the streets, and boats join in off shore, to demonstrate support for their country's secularism.

May 17  The highly regarded British think tank, Chatham House, describes the Iraqi government as largely powerless and irrelevant. It says that "military force in the form of surges cannot deliver the critical political accommodation."

May 21  The BBC reports that Haifa Wehbe's new song "Kiss my Wawa" (little wound) is doing well. Wehbe is a Lebanese Shia . She grew up listening to jazz and rhythm and blues. She was outraged by recent assassinations in Lebanon and she blames Israel for the war in 2006.

May 27  In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is approved for a second seven-year term, following an election with no other candidate and an official result of 97.6% of the vote. In the year 2000 he also ran unopposed and won with 97 percent.

May 27  Rachel Carson was born 100 years ago. A move to honor her is blocked in Congress by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. Because of her opposition to the use of DDT. Carson will be accused of responsibility for more than a million deaths by malaria. The use of DDT resumes in a few areas while other areas, Mexico for example, success against malaria will follow from use of mosquito nets and hygienic measures hostile to mosquitos.

May 28  The first high level diplomacy between the US and Iran in 27 years takes place at the home of Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad's Green Zone. The two sides express interest in a secure and stable Iraq. The Iranians describe the US military in Iraq as an occupation and its effort to train and equip Iraq's security forces as inadequate. They propose a mechanism for coordinating efforts toward Iraqi security.

May 29  In Bolivia, common indigenous people speak of institutions that were closed to them now having open doors, because, they say, of President Morales, whom they describe as "one of us." Some among Bolivia's upper or middle classes are complaining that Morales is drifting toward totalitarianism and is in tune with the anti-Americanism of his friend, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

May 31  US military deaths in Iraq for May number 123, up from 104 in April and the highest monthly total since November 2004. Sorry about not having the figures for Iraqi deaths.

June 2007


Jun 3  In Egypt, 52 have been arrested for hanging up posters with Islamic messages, which is unconstitutional in Egypt. The messages supported Islamist (Islamic Brotherhood) candidates in the June 11 elections.

Jun 4  Gunter Grass, noble prize winning author of the 1959 novel The Tin Drum confesses in the New Yorker magazine that in 1944 he was drafter into Waffen-SS. Grass has been described as a leftist. Some conservative Germans will attack him as a hypocrite, ignoring that people develop orientations different from when they were young and despite the commonality of this in Germany..

Jun 5  European light-bulb makers announce a plan to phase out the standard light bulb in eight years, similar to plans considered in Australia, Canada and California.

Jun 6  President Museveni of Uganda, long considered a good friend by leaders in the West, complains that "Western counties have denied us access to their markets - deliberately." Uganda's major export is coffee. Another matter: Uganda has one of the world's higher population growth rates, at 3.6 percent estimated for 2007.

Jun 7  In the city of Zhengzhou in central China, at least 1,000 students go on a four hour rampage that includes burning cars. They are angry about an inspector of some sort hitting a fellow student, female, in the face while she is working at an unlicensed street stall. Authorities are reprimanding the inspectors. Riots have been frequent in China in 2007. The riots are little threat to the central government.
 
Hawaii's voyaging canoe, in Yokohama Harbor, Japan
Hawaii's voyaging canoe, in Yokohama Harbor, Japan


Jun 8  Hawaii's voyaging canoe, the Hokule'a, sails into Japan's Yokohama Harbor and is greeted by a grand celebration.

Jun 12  Anarchy continues in the Gaza Strip. Unemployment is at Great Depression levels. Gangsters operate freely. There is some starvation. The impulse to violence has gotten the people of Gaza nowhere, but it continues. Two rivals for power, Fatah and Hamas, are killing each other again. Two days of fighting have left 34 dead.

Jun 13  In Egypt it is official, candidates of the ruling party have won 69 of 71 contested seats on the Shura Council - the upper house of Egypt's parliament. Voting day included police blocking people from voting and the arrest of 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood won no seat and claims it has been cheated. The Shura Council has 264 members and the ruling party's Hosni Mubarak appoints 88 of the them.

Jun 17  In the Gaza Strip, Hamas insurgents win the gun battles in the streets. What little power President Abbas's Fatah organizers had in the Gaza Strip has been wiped out.

Jun 18  Muslims demonstrate in the streets against Queen Elizabeth having knighted Salman Rushdie. Regarding the knighthood, Pakistani Religious Affairs Minister Mohammad Ejaz ul-Haq is reported to have said that "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honor of the Prophet Mohammad, his act is justified."

Jun 18  In Ghana people are celebrating a big oil discovery that is expected to add much to the country's economic success.

Jun 20  People in Ghana are talking about the new oil discovery allowing the building of schools, hospitals and roads - benefits, they say, for all the people.

Jun 21  In Gaza a bank employee, who happens to be a US citizen, tells the BBC that families have been "taking revenge" on each other. He is not a Hamas supporter but says that with Hamas ruling the streets everyone is safer. "People" he says, "have been told to hand in their weapons."

Jun 23  In Saudi Arabia, Ahmed al-Bulaiwi, a retired border patrol guard in his early 50s, has died in custody. He was arrested on June 1 for the offense of being alone with a woman who was not his relative.
 
Dr. Anthony Cordesman
Dr. Anthony Cordesman

Dr. Frederick Kagan  
Dr. Frederick Kagan


Jun 27  About Iraq policy, the debate between the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) continues from January. Before the House Armed Services Committee, Dr. Anthony Cordesman for CSIS describes the Iraqi government as dysfunctional and that hopes placed in it by the Bush administration to produce a favorable outcome for the war are misguided. Dr. Frederick Kagan of AEI, credited with having created the "surge" strategy, argues that the unexpected might happen in Iraq and therefore we cannot conclude that the surge strategy is not working. Also he claims that there is "every reason to be optimistic" about the outcome of the surge strategy.

Jun 28  Egypt's Health Ministry announces the abolition of female circumcision.

Jun 29  Mandatory Christian education classes in elementary schools in Norway are ruled in violation of Article 2 of the European human rights convention. So rules the European Court of Human Rights (at Strasbourg).

July 2007



Jul 1  Sometime around now, a majority of people in the world live in urban areas. Urbanization has risen from 13 percent (220 million) in 1900 to 29 percent (732 million) in 1950 and 49 percent (3.2 billion) in 2005.

Jul 1  In England a smoking ban goes into effect everywhere indoors except in private residences. Advertising and promotion of tobacco products have been banned in Britain since 2002.

Jul 3  Life expectancy estimates for 2007 indicate that in most countries since 2005 the average citizen's life span has increased from 4 to 7 months.

Jul 4  The increase use of farm products for fuel will drive up food prices claims a report co-written by the Organization for Economic Development (OECD).

Jul 4  Since Hamas has taken over in Gaza, people there feel safer and are in the streets more. Hamas wants to demonstrate that it can deliver law and order and in Gaza it forces members of the Dughmush clan to release the British journalist, Alan Johnston, after 16 weeks of captivity.

Jul 9  Zimbabwe's economy is not working. Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate, reported by the BBC to be at 3,700% (per year). President Mugabe has imposed price controls. Business people are being arrested for violating those controls, and producers are not producing because they are being asked to do so for less money than the cost of production.

Jul 9  Hamas creates more order in Gaza. It rescues a lion stolen two years ago when she was a cub. Clan members were charging people to have their pictures taken with the animal, and they did not take care of her properly. Hamas has returned her to the Gaza Zoo, and the lion's brother recognized her instantly and is happy she is back.

Jul 10  In China, Zheng Xiaoyu is executed. He was convicted of taking bribes to approve medicines that killed an unknown number of people. It is considered unlikely that the US Congress will pass a law creating such punishment as a deterent for similar behavior by US Food and Drug Administration officials.

Jul 17  Bear Sterns tells investors that its hedge funds have become worthless, that May and June were devastating. That the funds are now almost worthless came as a surprise to many on Wall Street. In a New York Times article someone asks “How did you go from reporting very high returns to suddenly now saying the collateral is worth nothing?” Bear Stearns stock is at $134 per share, down 14 percent for the year.

Jul 18  It is being said that a cause of the conflict in Darfur is drought, desertification and competition for water resources. Today the BBC reports that a huge underground lake has been discovered in Darfur. According to University of Boston researchers, reports the BBC, "some 1,000 wells will be drilled in the region, with the agreement of Sudan's government."

Jul 19  The BBC reports that as life becomes increasingly hard many Algerians are turning to a "stricter form of Islam," while not supporting Islamist militants, whom they blame for having traumatized the population. Those militants, according to the BBC, this year have renamed themselves "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb."

Jul 19  In Nepal, Sajani Shakya, the ten-year-old worshipped by Nepalese Hindus and Buddhists as a goddess, has disturbed temple elders. But they decide not to take away her status. This is because after having returned from the United States she is willing to undergo a cleansing ceremony.
 
Sajani Shakya
Sajani Shakya



Jul 22  In the US, Sunday talk shows discuss an apparent contradiction regarding Iraq. Almost everybody, including generals, have said that the war there is to be settled politically. The Bush administration is hoping that military action will give the Malaki government more time, but expert analysts, including the head of the CIA, describe the Malaki government as hopelessly dysfunctional. The world will be watching.

Jul 22  In Turkey those who see the country's secularism as threatened appear to be a minority as Prime Minister Erdogan wins a stunning election victory. But moderation dominates, with the prime minister as well, although his wife wears a head scarf, which has created a stir. A more extreme Muslim political party receives less than 3 percent of the vote.

Jul 24  Jean-Marie Guehenno, United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, states that forces under Laurent Nkunda are the single most serious threat to stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nkunda is an ambitious breakaway general from the DRC army. He has been indicted for war crimes and is under investigation by the International Criminal Court. He reneged on a promise to abide by general elections in the DRC in November 2006.

Jul 27  Jon B. Alterman of CSIS has written that in Iraq "The trend lines are clear: the central government is less and less relevant to what happens in Iraq, and regional leaders-call them warlords, if you like-are grabbing the upper hand." ( CSIS July 21, 2007)

Jul 28  Rather than vacation in violent Lebanon or religiously strict Saudi Arabia or Libya, more Middle East people are flocking to Cairo, Egypt, where they enjoy the food, well known movies, drink the locally brewed Stella beer and, some in Egypt complain, use Cairo as their sin city. (Reported in the Christian Science Monitor.)

Jul 30  Britain's Royal Society has published a study that concludes that on the Atlantic Ocean hurricanes doubled in frequency in the last century as a result of warmer water surfaces and climate change. (Reported by the BBC.)

August 2007



Aug 1   The Kingdom of Jordan successfully completes public elections for council seats in the country's municipalities, positions previously held by persons appointed by the king.

Aug 1  In Minneapolis, Minnesota, an eight-lane bridge filled with bumper to bumper traffic collapses into the Mississippi River.

Aug 3  The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, reverses himself. In 2005 and early in 2007 he vetoed bills to raise gasoline taxes. Today he says he will consider a gas tax increase.

Aug 4  Some pundits in the US describe the nation as spending too much on consumption and too little on its infrastructure.

Aug 5  Eric Weiss in the Washington Post writes of engineers in the 1950s and '60s building bridges at a lower cost and with less steel while not realizing the amount of stress that many of these bridges would eventually need to endure.
 
Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq and
Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq and
 President Ahmadinejad of Iran.


Aug 7  In the US the Brookings Institute think tank reports that “On balance, Iraq at the end of July is showing significant signs of battlefield momentum in favor of US/coalition military forces, but there is nonetheless little good to report on the political front and only modest progress on the economic side of things.”

Aug 8  Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq meets again with Iranian officials amid declarations of friendship and help from Iran.

Aug 9  The global banking group BNP Pribas, headquartered in Paris and owner of several US banks, tells investors that two of its funds have collapsed. Other banks, worried about possible losses, are to fear lending, creating a rise in the cost of credit and a slow moving "credit crunch" that will be described as not severe at first but pushing the US economy into a recession by the end of the year. The BBC will describe "most analysts" as linking the credit crisis to the sub-prime mortgage business, in which banks give high-risk loans to people with poor credit histories.

Aug 12  Agence France-Presse reports that in the holy city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia, a Bangladeshi man dies of a heart attack (of fright says the article) after members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice detained him "for washing his car instead of praying."

Aug 14  On the Larry King show (CNN), a clip of Bill Maher shows him saying something like any country that lets me run my mouth the way I do in public deserves to be saved.

Aug 14  In an article for Reuters news service, Abigail Hauslohner descibes Sudanese in Cairo, Egypt, "living in gang-dominated neighborhoods" and feeling "forced to choose between one gang or another." She focuses on a 21-year old gang memeber, "Marc," who "loves rap music and has 'Los Angeles' scrawled in black ink across his forearm."

Aug 15  It is said that at least 250 were killed and 350 injured in yesterday's bombings in Yazidi villages near Mosul in Iraq. Yazidi are a religious minority among Kurds. This is the deadliest attack on a single area since since the war began in March 2003. The Bush administration claims that US forces and the Iraqi government will continue to "beat back" the "vicious and heartless murderers."

Aug 17  Russia's state media director has complained that BBC broadcasts in Russia are propaganda because the BBC is state owned. Pressure from the Russian government is ending FM broadcasts of BBC programs from within Russia. The BBC will still reach the Russians through the internet and shortwave frequences.

Aug 17  On a permanent basis, Russia is resuming the long-range bomber flights that was the practice of the Soviet Union. NATO has been shadowing the Russsian flights and it is reported that Russian and US pilots exchanged smiles near Guam in the Pacific. None of the bombers have violated US airspace.

Aug 21  In Kabwe, Zambia, the city's biggest employer, a textile factory, has closed, unable to compete with Chinese imports. Some complain of an old trading relationship: manufactured goods in, raw materials out.

Aug 22  President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya refuses to sign into law a bill that would allow courts to force reporters to reveal their sources.

Aug 22  On a panel on the News Hour (PBS television) Laith Kubba speaks of a "dysfunctional political system" in Iraq. Susanne Maloney of the Brookings Institute complains about the focus on Prime Minister Maliki and says, "it really demonstrates a paucity, I think, in the political debate here in Washington that, on this very important issue, we're now very much focused on the search for either a white knight or some opportunity for blame-laying."

Aug 25  In Liberia, officials are promoting morality and discipline among children at school by banning sloppy dress, exposure of underwear and unusual hair styles.

Aug 26  In eastern Shandong Province, officials are giving up hope of saving 181 miners trapped in a mine flooded during "unprecedented" rains.

Aug 27  McClatchy News reports that in Iraq sub-contractors for projects financed by the US are paying extortion money to get supplies moving across roads controlled by the insurgents. In other words, money from the US is helping to finance the insurgency.

Aug 29  An article for the BBC mentions that the Mediterranean Sea has "almost 2,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of seabed."

September 2007


Sep 2  North Korea claims that the United States has agreed to remove it from its list of countries that support terrorism. The chief US negotiator, Christopher Hill, describes North Korea as having agreed to fully account for and disable its nuclear program. North Korea has been on said list since 1987.

Sep 3  British troops withdraw from the city of Basra to a location outside the city. The intention of the Brits is to force Iraqis in Basra to stop sitting back and letting the Brits do their police work. Some in Basra do not want to see the Brits leave. Many others are uncomfortable with the presence of foreign troops and cheer.

Sep 6  The great Luciano Pavarotti dies of cancer, almost 72.

Sep 10  US Army Gen. David H. Petraeus describes military progress in reducing violence in Iraq and includes his proposal to remove troops in Iraq to pre-surge levels by next summer.

Sep 10  A poll commissioned by ABC News, the BBC and NHK (Japan) is published that asked Iraqis whether the increased number of US forces in the past six months "has made it better, worse, or had no effect in the area where the surge forces were sent, in the place of reconstruction and economic development." The results for each of these questions is between 60 and 70 percent that it has been worse. The highest percentage for improvement is 18 percent. Nearly 2,000 Iraqis were polled, and nearly 60 percent of them describe attacks against US forces as justified.

Sep 10  Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki takes credit for stopping Iraq's slide into civil war. He says that violence has fallen 75 percent in Baghdad and Anbar and that 14,000 militants linked to al-Qaeda have renounced violence.

Sep 13  Al Jazeera reports that an Egyptian court has sentenced four newspaper editors to one year in prison with labor for defaming President Mubarak and his son, and it reports that human rights groups accuse Egypt's government of "cracking down on other forms of expression, such as political blogs."

Sep 15  The purism and terrorism of al-Qaeda in Iraq is increasing its political isolation. It is two days since al-Qaeda assassinated the Sunni tribal coalition leader in Anbar, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Today the leader of the Shammar tribe around the city of Mosul, Fawwaz al-Jarba, says that local Sunni Arab tribes have joined Kurdish, Christian and Yazidi groups in a new front against al-Qaeda. The alliance, he added, would work directly with the Iraqi government, not the United States military.

Sep 17  Sheikh Salman al-Oudah, once mentored Osama bin Laden and was one of the 26 top Saudi clerics who during the 2004 struggle in Fallujah declared attacks on US troops as a lawful duty. Now he shakes up militant Islam by questioning al-Qaeda's tactics and violence. Arab News describes it as "a major blow to the ideology of Osama Bin Laden and his followers."

Sep 17  In Sierra Leone an effort at honest elections by a new elections commission, headed by a former nun and head teacher, produces a defeat for the ruling party and a victory for Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People's Party. People were enthusiastic for democracy, the election and change.

Sep 18  Reporting for the BBC from among Iraqis in Baghad  Andrew North describes what he calls a veneer of security and some of the progress spoken of by General Petraeus but also Iraqi frustration. He quotes a teacher saying, "It doesn't matter what we think. The Americans will do what they want."

Ernest Bai Koroma. The face of a democrat.  
Ernest Bai Koroma. The face of a democrat.
Than Shwe. The face of Burma's ruler  
Than Shwe. The face of Burma's ruler.



Sep 22  For years military rule in Burma has been violating human rights. Now that the regime has increased gasoline prices, massive anti-government demonstrations are in the streets. Demonstrators include a group of at least 2,000 Buddhist monks in their sixth day of protest in Rangoon, and monks across the country, protesting human rights violations as well. The military regime has had close ties with senior Buddhist clergy.

Sep 25 President Bush exercises his genuine sense of decency and, at the United Nations, expresses outrage at oppression of the people of Burma.

Sep 25  Pakistan's former prime minister, Madam Benazir Bhutto, says she wants to turn around Pakistan's economy, clean up its city streets, address the energy issue and advance education. She wants to encourage moderation and discourage extremism. She plans to return to Pakistan on October 18.

Sep 28  On NBC's Today Show, finance personality Jim Cramer says, "Don't you dare buy a house now you will lose money." Representatives of the National Association of Realtors, thinking about their own interests and wanting to keep a bursting bubble whole, are furious.

Sep 28  China bans "sexually suggestive" advertising on television and radio. Advertisements for sex-related health supplements, sex toys, breast enhancements and female underwear will be prohibited.

Sep 29  The world watches the second day of army brutalities in Burma, wondering what will happen in the coming weeks. Will a colonel or such lead a rebellion from within Burma's military? Will the conceit that has been drilled into the minds of common soldiers hold? Signs or desertions from the ranks are not appearing as they did in Petrograd in 1917.

Sep 30  The BBC reports that US Department of Defense "has launched a new command centre for military operations in Africa." Oil, terrorism and instability are reported as having stimulated the move.

October 2007


Oct 1  In Zimbabwe bakeries are running out of bread. Because of mismanagement this year's wheat harvest is described as one-third the country's requirement, and there is not enough cash to pay for food importation.

Oct 1  Burma's foreign minister, Nyan Win, defends Burma's dictatorship, saying "neo-colonialism has raised its ugly head by trying to spread disinformation about human rights abuses in Burma." He describes as "political opportunists" those he says have tried to turn protests by a small group into a showdown.

Oct 2  In Ghana timber brings foreign exchange. It brings money to those who cut and sell it illegally, and timber is used domestically for fuel. At the present rate of cutting there will be no timber in ten years.

Oct 2  A new Washington Post - ABC News poll describes 52 percent of the US public as favoring Bush's pace for withdrawal or an even less hasty withdrawal. In July, 60 percent favored decreasing troop numbers in Iraq. Today 43 percent want a quicker exit. But the poll shows distrust for the Republicans. Regarding key issues, including Iraq, the approval rating for Democrats is 15 percent higher than for Republicans. Seventy percent want funding for Iraq and Afghanistan cut, and President Bush's approval rating remains at a low point: 33 percent.

Oct 3 Portugal becomes the 105th country to ratify the treaty that has created UN's International Criminal Court - created to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Those not members of the treaty include Russia, China, India and most Muslim nations. The Bush administration remains hostile to the treaty.

Oct 7  General Musharraf wins a landslide victory and is re-elected president. In Pakistan voting for the presidency is limited to its two houses of parliament. Pakistan's judiciary is soon to decide whether the election was legal.

Oct 7  The BBC reports that descendants of the German General Lothar von Trotha have traveled to Namibia and have apologized and expressed their deep shame. In 1904 General von Trotha gave the order that resulted in the extermination of nearly 90 percent of the Herero people.

Oct 7  Weijun Chen writes for the BBC that "60 percent of China's college graduates choose government as their ideal career."

Oct 9  In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches a high of a little over 14,000. A sign of credit trouble is being ignored. This indicator involves US treasury bills. The difference between interest rates on interbank loans on the one hand and short-term government debt (treasury-bills) on the other has in recent years been running at about 0.5 percent and as high as 1.0 percent. From the middle of this year, 2007, the TED-spread has reached higher than 2.0 percent. Wikipedia describes that TED-spread as "an indicator of perceived credit risk in the general economy."

Oct 10  From Kazakhstan, a Russian spacecraft takes off from Kazakstan with Malaysia's first man into space aboard: Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. Malaysians are joyous. The ship heads for the International Space Station, and one of the three aboard is the first woman astronaut commander of the space station, Peggy Whitson.

Oct 10  India, according to an article by the BBC, has been been reluctant to criticize Burma's generals because of its strategic interests in the area. Since the mid-1990s India has been competing with China's growing influence in Burma. "Now it is building roads and railways in western Burma and its companies are trying to gain access to rich deposits of oil and natural gas."

Oct 13  Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high at 14,097. Investment advisors consider themselves contrarians but many are inviting the public to join the party. Today in the New York Times,David Kelly, an economist at Putnam Investments is quoted as saying, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The American economy is basically strong enough right now to weather the housing downtrend. The Federal Reserve doesn’t need to do anything else.”

Oct 13  It is believed that male and female partnership in reproduction has helped give species survivability. The BBC reports that many "asexual organisms have died out because they cannot adapt to changes in the natural world." The report describes an exception: a tiny sexless species known as a bdelloid rotifer. It has survived millions of years because it makes separate proteins from two different copies of a key gene.

Oct 17  After years of authoritarian rule, the return of democracy is celebrated in Togo. Parliamentary elections have concludedin in which all opposition parties participated.

Oct 17  US influence in Iraq shows signs of decline as Iraq's government awards contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build power plants in Baghdad.

Oct 18  In Baghdad, two months of negotiating results in a 12-point agreement between local Sunni and Shiite leaders to end sectarian violence. Participants in the agreement hope that it will keep military operations out of their neighborhoods. The US military favors the agreement.

Oct 18  Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), returns from eight years in exile and is greeted by great crowds. She is greeted also by two explosions that kill more than one hundred and wound more than 200. President Musharraf calls the attack a "conspiracy against democracy." Benazir Bhutto was unhurt be this and by the rifle fire.

Oct 18  President Putin holds his annual three-hour TV call-in show, enjoying his popularity for helping Russia achieve stability and growing prosperity. He believes that the US has been overbearing as a self-appointed world policeman. He describes threats to Iran as "harmful."

Oct 21  Vice President Cheney says the Iranian regime "needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.”

Oct 21  The anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) gains seven seats in Switzerland's 200-seat parliamentary body, the National Council. The SVP now leads with 62 seats. The Social Democrats are second with 43, having lost nine seats.

Oct 24  China's space program lauches a moon probe, viewed by a happy and proud crowd. Some in the US are not so happy. Chinese officials say they are not interested in initiating an arms race in space, but their ability to turn space into a battlefield is recognized. In January a ground-launched missile destroyed a defunct weather satellite.

Oct 25  France's President Sarkozy reveals plans for new taxes that target pollution and the possibility of taxing imports from countries that are not respecting Kyoto Protocal.

Oct 25  Rebel groups in Chad sign an immediate ceasefire and prisoner exchange aggreement with the government. The accord is brokered by Libya's Muslim leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

Oct 26  Joe Klein in Time Magazine writes of Amar Al-Hakim, the Shia cleric and militia leader, feasting and praying with cheerful Sunni leaders and saying "We are all Iraqis, and we must reconcile."

Another murdered journalist,Alisher Saipov, 26  
Another murdered journalist,
Alisher Saipov, 26


Oct 27  Kyrgyz authorities seize the computer of Alisher Saipov, the 26-year-old journalist shot dead in Kyrgyzstan outside his office on October 24th. Saipov wrote about torture in the prisons of neighboring Uzbekistan and about repression of dissent and the plight of the Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan.

November 2007
 
President and General Musharraf
President and General Musharraf

Nov 3  President Musharraf suspends the constitution and declares a state of emergency, saying he will not allow Pakistan to commit suicide. He blames militant violence and judges who have paralysed government. Restrictions are put on the media and hundreds arrested.

Nov 4  A suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, installs four pairs of sunpowered traffic lights.

Nov 4  A BBC Poll taken in twenty-two countries, including China, suggests that three out of four people "would back energy taxes if the cash [were] used to find new sources of energy, or boost efficiency."

Nov 7  In Russia, according to a C.J.Chivers article in the New York Times,inattention to public safety has created a death rate from fire more than ten times what is typical for Western Europe and the United States. In Russia in 2006 nearly 13 people in every 100,000 died in a fire.

Nov 9  Major-General Joseph Fils, US commander of forces in Baghdad, describes murders there being down 80 percent since June and adds that "the Iraqi people have decided that they've had it up to here with violence." (See Oct 26 for another report of declining violence in Iraq.)

Nov 10  In Iraq, Abu Ibrahim, leader of former insurgents, tells the Associated Press that his fighters ambushed al-Qaida members near Samarra on Friday, killing 18 people and seizing 16 prisoners.

Nov 11 China sentences six Muslims charged with having been involved in a violent separatist movement, including bomb making, in the far west province of Xinjiang. The punishment for at least three of the six will be death.

Nov 11  A survey done by the South African Institute of Race Relations reveals that in 2005 South Africa had 4.2 million living on $1 dollar a day, up from 1.9 million in 1996.

Nov 11  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a plan for Liberia that involves a three-year growth program to reduce poverty and help finance its international debt obligations. The IMF is cancelling Liberia's debt to the agency.

Nov 15  In Saudi Arabia an appeals court gives a 19-year-old rape victim, a Shia, a sentence of 200 lashes and five years in jail. Her seven Sunni assailants receive a prison sentence of between one and five years. The woman was faulted for having been in the company of men with whom she was not related.

Nov 16  In Russia a group calling itself the "True Russian Orthodox Church" has barricaded itself in a cave with supplies as they wait for the end of the world, which they expect in May. Four children are with the group. They threaten to blow themselves up if authorities attack. Their leader is a former engineer, Pyotr Kuznetsov, who is being held by authorities and examined psychologically.

Nov 17  A Japanese whaling fleet leaves for the South Pacific on the 18th and plans to take 1,000 whales including 50 humpbacks until mid-April. Japanese fishery officials claim that the humpbacks have returned to "substantial numbers" - after having been hunted to near extinction four decades ago. Taking 50 from a population of tens of thousands, they say, "will have no significant impact whatsoever."

Nov 23  In Michoacan, Mexico, a Chinese and Mexican investment partnership begins contruction of an auto assembly plant for cars that will retail for as low as $6,280. Production is scheduled to begin by 2010.

Nov 27  Of the 1.5 million or so Iraqi exiles in Syria, around 800 begin their return on busses provided by the Iraqi government, encouraged by news of improved security.

Nov 27  Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, complains that the lack of a united Somalian government and lack of a sufficient number of peacekeepers in Somalia prevent Ethiopian forces from withdrawing from their fight against Islamists there, whom the Ethiopians see as a threat to their country.

December 2007


Dec 3  Australia's new Labor Party government joins most of the rest of the world and signs the Kyoto Protocol - to become effective for Australia in March, 2008. The Kyoto Protocol is designed to reduce greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. President George Bush has remained opposed to the US joining the Kyoto agreement.

Dec 3  In Venezuela a close special election denies President Hugo Chavez constitutional reforms that included allowing him to run for president for life and allowing him to choose mayors and state governors. Among the opponents of the reforms: students, human rights activists and the Catholic Church. The results are 51 to 49 percent. Chavez' present term in office expires in 2012.

Dec 3  The school teacher Gillian Gibbons is returning to the UK, pardoned by Sudan's President al-Bashir after she served eight days of a fifteen-day sentence for naming a teddy bear Muhammad in her classroom. Outraged Muslims who packed the street shouting for her death have been described as not representing majority Sudanese opinion.

Dec 3  In the US, a National Intelligence Estimate states that Iran was "less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," contradicting its report in May 2005 that said "with high confidence" that Iran was "determined" to build nuclear weapons.

Dec 4  The UN force in the Democratic Republic of Congo increases its support for democracy by moving from logistic to fire-power support against the renegade general Laurent Nkunda.

Dec 8  In recent weeks in the extreme northeast of Pakistan, Pakistan's army is reported to have killed 290 "pro-Taliban" forces and arrested 143. The army is pushing the remaining "pro-Taliban" forces, said to be between 200 and 400 in number, back from the villages they have been harrassing and pursuing them into the mountains.

Dec 10  A BBC poll of 11,344 persons in 14 countries describes 40 percent as saying "it was more important to maintain social harmony and peace, even if it meant curbing the press's freedom to report news truthfully." People contributing to this number tended to be from India, Singapore and Russia. People in Western Europe and North America were recorded as much stronger in their support for press freedom and truth in reporting.

Dec 12  In the city of Algiers, an al-Qaeda faction has taken responsibility for two bombs that shattered offices of a United Nations refugee agency, described by the faction as "the headquarters of the international infidels' den." The faction says it has struck the "slaves of America and France." Algeria's government describes the death toll at 31. The BBC records disgust among Algerians. Al-Qaeda appears on track in alienating people rather than winning converts.

Dec 14  According to the International Energy Agency, Iraqi oil production has risen above levels before the US-led invasion in 2003.

Dec 16  In Basra Province, British troops turn responsibility for controlling insurgents over to Iraqi troops. Political power is also being transferred to the Iraqis. In a poll of 1,000 province residents, more than 85 percent say that British troops in the province have had a negative effect since 2003, and two-thirds believe that security will improve following the handover of power.

Dec 17  In Bolivia, President Evo Morales wants indigenous peoples - 62 percent of the population - to have greater autonomy and control over their land, correcting what he describes as centuries of discrimination by a corrupt class dominated by those descended from Europeans. With the draft of a new constitution that Morales supports, leaders in Bolivia's more wealthy regions are intensifying their threat to break away from President Morales and the central government into regions with greater autonomy.

Dec 17  The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that a 40 percent rise in food prices in the past year is creating a crisis in poorer countries. The rising prices are attributed to climate change, rising oil prices and demand for bio-fuels.

Dec 17  Saudi kings routinely pardon select convicts. Following an international outcry, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah pardons the rape victim who was to receive 200 lashes in addition to five years in jail. (See November 15)

Dec 18  A US Pentagon report warns that sustained progress will require political and economic reforms. It describes Iraqi police forces as afflicted by corruption and sectarian divisions and Iraq's army losing up to 17 percent of its troops per year because of high casualty rates and desertion.
 
Benazir Bhutto.
Benazir Bhutto.


Dec 27  In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto is assassinated. (Recommended reading: "Assassination " by Stephen Cohen.)














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