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December 2006

World

  • Thousands Protest in Lebanon (Dec. 1): Members of Hezbollah and its supporters gather peacefully in Beirut and call for the resignation of Fouad Siniora, the U.S.-backed prime minister. The protests continue for nearly two weeks.
  • Chávez Wins in a Landslide (Dec. 3): Hugo Chávez is reelected president of Venezuela, defeating Manuel Rosales 61% to 38%. Rosales accuses Chávez of voter intimidation and other tactics to win votes.
  • Report Envisions Looming Crisis in Iraq (Dec. 6): Report by the Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, says, “The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and calls on the Bush administration to reach out diplomatically to Iran and Syria to help prevent utter chaos. Report also recommends that the U.S. military beef up its effort to train Iraqi troops.
  • Dozens Die in Suicide Bomb in Baghdad (Dec. 12): About 70 day laborers are killed in central Baghdad. The attack comes on the same day that the Iraqi government announces it wants to assume control of security in Baghdad.
  • New UN Leader Is Sworn In (Dec. 14): Ban Ki-moon of South Korea is sworn in as the secretary general of the United Nations. He replaces Kofi Annan.
  • Palestinian Leader Calls for Early Elections (Dec. 16): Expressing frustration with the growing violence between his Fatah party and the militant group Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas orders early presidential and parliamentary elections. Hamas leaders say he lacks the authority to demand the elections. The two groups have failed to create a unity government.
  • Report Says Violence Has Reached a Peak in Iraq (Dec. 18): Pentagon assessment finds that attacks on Americans and Iraqis average about 960 a week, the highest number since it began writing the reports in 2005.
  • Iraqis Take Control of Najaf (Dec. 20): Americans formally give control of the troubled province to the Iraqi government. It is the first time since the war began that the U.S. relinquishes control of a province.
  • Fighting Breaks Out in Somalia (Dec. 20): Islamist forces attack Baidoa, the seat of the transitional government. Ethiopian troops assist government troops. (Dec. 23): Islamist leaders say Somalia is open to Muslim fighters who want to fight a holy war against Ethiopia, which is mostly Christian. (Dec. 27): The Islamists retreat from the capital, Mogadisuhu.
  • Marines Charged with Murder (Dec. 21): Military prosecutors charge the Marines with the murder of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November 2005. Ten of the casualties were women and children. Four officers are also charged with dereliction of duty.
  • British and Iraqi Soldiers Take Over Jail (Dec. 25): About 1,400 troops storm Basra police station and free 127 prisoners from horrendous conditions. Jail, which troops later destroyed, was run by local criminals and used to intimidate residents.
  • Israelis to Build New West Bank Settlement (Dec. 26): Announcement provokes outrage by Palestinians, who call the move illegal. U.S. State Department officials say the settlement violates the 2003 roadmap peace agreement.
  • Hussein Is Executed (Dec. 30): Four days after an appeals court upholds his death sentence, the former Iraqi president is hanged in Baghdad. A witness videotapes the hanging using cell phone and captures the chaos that unfolds as Shiite guards taunt Hussein.
  • American Death Toll in Iraq Reaches Milestone (Dec. 31): The number of U.S. deaths in Iraq reaches 3,000.

Nation

  • UN Ambassador Resigns (Dec. 4): John Bolton steps down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when it becomes clear that he did not have enough votes in the Senate to win confirmation. President Bush appointed him in August 2005 without Senate approval during a congressional recess.
  • Confirmation Hearings Begin for Gates (Dec. 5): Testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Robert Gates, who President Bush nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, says that the U.S. is not winning the war in Iraq and a regional conflict may result if the chaos continues there. The committee unanimously approves his nomination. (Dec. 6): The Senate votes, 95–2, to confirm Gates as Secretary of Defense.
  • Senate Confirms FDA Leader (Dec. 7): The Senate votes, 80–11, to confirm Andrew von Eschenbach, a surgeon, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He had been acting commissioner since September 2005.
  • Ethics Committee Reports House Leaders Negligent in Page Case (Dec. 8): House Ethics Committee says that Majority Leader Dennis Hastert and other Republican leaders did not properly protect teenage pages from the predatory behavior of former Representative Mark Foley, who admitted to sending sexually explicit text messages to male pages. The committee, however, says that no rules were violated.
  • Democratic Senator Undergoes Brain Surgery (Dec. 14): Doctors operate on Tim Johnson to stop bleeding on his brain.
  • Governor Bush Suspends Executions in Florida (Dec. 15): Jeb Bush also appoints a commission to study if the death penalty is humane and constitutional. Governor acts two days after the execution of a Florida man required a second dose.
  • Bush Calls for Expansion of Armed Forces (Dec. 19): President says military is strained and needs to increase the number of ground troops.
  • Bush Signs Law Allowing Nuclear Pact with India (Dec. 18): President signs legislation that allows the U.S. to provide India with fuel for its civilian nuclear power program.
  • Security Council Unanimously Approves Sanctions on Iran (Dec. 23): Resolution bans the import and export of materials and technology used to enrich uranium and freezes the assets of several individuals and companies that are active in nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
  • Former President Ford Dies (Dec. 26): Gerald Ford, the 38th president, dies at age 93. He was the oldest living president. Ford was appointed by vice president, after Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, and president, after President Nixon resigned in 1974.

Business/Society/Science

  • NASA Announces Plan for Base on Moon (Dec. 4): Construction of the base is scheduled to begin after 2020, when astronauts will return to the Moon.
  • Circumcision Lowers Risk of Getting AIDS (Dec. 13): National Institutes of Health announces that the results of a study in Kenya and Uganda showed that male circumcision can reduce the risk of contracting AIDS through heterosexual sex by about half.

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