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December 2005

World

  • Several Marines Die in Attack (Dec. 2): Ten marines are killed and about a dozen wounded by a bomb attack in Falluja.
  • Military Admits to Paying for News Coverage (Dec. 2): Pentagon acknowledges that it hired a U.S. public relations agency, the Lincoln Group, to translate into Arabic articles written by American soldiers. The agency then passed the stories on to advertising agencies that paid Iraqi news outlets to run them.
  • First Witnesses Testify in Hussein Trial (Dec. 5): Witnesses in trial of former Iraqi president detail horrifying examples of torture.
  • Baghdad Police Academy Attacked (Dec. 6): At least 36 people are killed and about 75 are wounded when two suicide bombers attack the compound.
  • Chinese Police Kill Protesters (Dec. 6): About 20 people who were demonstrating against the construction of a power plant in the southern city of Dongzhou are shot and killed by police. Chinese officials blocked the spread of information about the event.
  • Lebanese Legislator Assassinated (Dec. 12): Gebran Tueni, who has been critical of Syria, is killed in a car bomb attack less than a day after he returned to the country. Tueni, also the editor of An Nahar, Lebanon's most prominent newspaper, had been in living abroad out of fear of assassination.
  • Iraq Holds Parliamentary Elections (Dec. 15): As many as 11 million Iraqis turn out to select their first permanent Parliament since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. More than 7,000 Parliamentary candidates from 300 parties are seeking to fill the 275 seats in Parliament. Violence is minimal. (Dec. 19): Religious Shiites take early lead, according to preliminary figures released by election officials. (Dec. 21): The Iraqi electoral commission reports that 10.9 million people, or 70% of the country's registered voters participated in the election. (Dec. 28): The UN declares the elections were “transparent and credible,” angering many Sunni Arabs who complained of voter fraud.
  • Bolivia Elects a New President (Dec. 18): Evo Morales, a former coca farmer, defeats seven other candidates, including former president Jorge Quiroga.
  • Afghani Parliament Selects Leader (Dec. 21): Yunus Qanooni chosen as chairman of the lower house of Parliament
  • Roadside Bombs Responsible for Majority of U.S. Deaths in Iraq (Dec. 31): At least 844 American soldiers died in Iraq in 2005, according to the U.S. government and Coalition Casualty Count, a nonprofit group that tracks military deaths in Iraq. More than 425 of those deaths were the result of homemade bombs placed on roads.

Nation

  • Ban on Scissors on Airplanes to Be Lifted (Dec. 2): The Transportation Security Administration decides to allow passengers to carry scissors and some tools on planes.
  • Sept. 11 Commission Gives Government Poor Report (Dec. 5): The 9/11 Public Discourse Project reports that the country is “alarmingly vulnerable to terrorist strikes...Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed have not been. Our leadership is distracted.”
  • Judge Dismisses One Charge Against DeLay (Dec. 5): San Antonio judge Pat Priest dismisses conspiracy charge against Republican Congressman but lets stand two others—money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • Air Marshals Kill a Passenger (Dec. 7): Rigoberto Alpizar, an American from Florida, is shot at Miami International Airport after he said he had a bomb. Authorities did not find a bomb. Alpizar's wife said he was mentally ill.
  • House Renews Patriot Act (Dec. 14): Votes, 251–174, in favor of extending the controversial legislation that extends the government's surveillance powers.
  • Bush Administration Doubles Levee Fund (Dec. 15): Increases flood protection spending by $1.5 billion.
  • Bush Agrees to MCain Measure (Dec. 15): Facing pressure from Congress, president reluctantly agrees to back law proposed by Sen. John McCain that bans cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody. Agreement ends weeks of negotiations.
  • President Authorized Spying on Americans (Dec. 15): New York Times reports that in 2002, Bush signed a presidential order to allow the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on Americans suspected of being connected to terrorist activity without warrants. (Dec. 17): President Bush confirms that he did initiate the policy and has no plans to rescind it.
  • Senate Blocks Extension of Patriot Act (Dec. 16): Senate Republicans fail to win enough votes to break a filibuster. Opponents say the bill that extended 16 provisions of the act did not adequately protect civil liberties.
  • Federal Judge Rules Against Intelligent Design (Dec. 20): Judge John Jones says that it is unconstitutional for a school district in Pennsylvania to mention intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology classes, saying it “is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism and not a scientific theory.” He harshly criticized members of the Dover, Pa., school board for their “breathtaking inanity” in attempting to include intelligent design in the curriculum.
  • Congress Scrambles to Finish Business Before Break (Dec. 21): Breaking a tie vote in the Senate, Vice President Cheney votes in favor of cutting government spending by nearly $40 billion. Low-income Americans hit hardest by cuts. House has not yet voted on the measure. Senate leaders agree to extend provisions of the USA Patriot Act by six months, and the Senate blocks effort by Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens to allow oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. (Dec. 22): House and Senate vote to extend Patriot Act by five weeks rather than let it expire. Congress also approves a $453 billion military spending bill that also includes $29 billion in aid for victims of hurricane Katrina and $3.8 billion for preparation for a possible avian flu epidemic.
  • Federal Court Thwarts Justice Department Move on Terror Suspect (Dec. 21): Appeals court refuses to allow Bush administration to transfer Jose Padilla from military custody to civilian authorities. In a harshly worded decision, court says that the administration was attempting to avoid the case being heard by the Supreme Court.

Business/Science/Society

  • Oldest-Known Mayan Mural Discovered (Dec. 13): Dated at around 100 B.C., the plaster mural portrays the Mayan creation myth. The sophistication and quality of the painting suggests that the Mayan civilization was highly developed much earlier that archeologists had previously believed.
  • Trade Deficit Hits Record High (Dec. 14): Government reports that October trade deficit reached $68.9 billion.
  • New Yorkers Stranded by Strike (Dec. 19): After talks between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Transport Workers Union break down, the union declares a general strike. A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge calls the strike illegal and fines the union $1 million for each day of the strike. (Dec. 22): Strike ends, to the relief of millions of commuters. The union and the MTA have not finalized a contract, however.
  • South Korean Cloning Scientist Quits (Dec. 23): Hwang Woo-suk steps down from Seoul National University after an investigative panel at the university reports that he falsified the paper in which he claimed that he cloned 11 human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.

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