2007 Current Events
- Former Communist Countries Admitted into European Union (Jan. 1): Romania and Bulgaria's entry expands the European Union to 27 nations and a population of about 490 million.
- U.S. Launches Air Strike in Somalia (Jan. 8): Navy gunship targets suspected al-Qaeda operatives as they flee Mogadishu following Ethiopian air strikes that routed Islamist militias.
- Chávez Moves to Assert Greater Control (Jan. 8): President of Venezuela says he will nationalize the telecommunications and electricity industries.
- Somali Leader Arrives in Mogadishu (Jan. 8): President Abdullahi Yusuf enters the capital for the first time since assuming control of the interim government in 2004. Government troops and Ethiopian soldiers recently forced Islamist fighters from the city.
- Standoff Follows U.S. Raid of Iranian Office in Iraq (Jan. 11): Troops storm an Iranian diplomatic office in Kurdish-controlled Erbil and detain five people. Kurdish officials are outraged at the move, and about 100 Kurdish troops stop U.S. troops from crossing a checkpoint.
- Bangladeshi Leader Declares State of Emergency (Jan. 11): Responding to claims of corruption on the electoral commission and threats by an alliance of political parties to boycott Jan. 22 election, President Iajuddin Ahmed also declares a state of emergency, resigns as head of the interim government, and postpones elections.
- Mistake Made in Execution of Iraqi Official (Jan. 15): Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the half-brother of Saddam Hussein who was also sentenced to death for his role in the 1982 execution of Shiites in Dujail, is decapitated by the noose during his execution.
- UN Announces Iraqi Civilian Death Toll (Jan. 16): Tally of death certificates and reports from morgues, hospitals, and other institutions indicates more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians died in 2006.
- Toll High in Baghdad Violence (Jan. 16): At least 70 people die when two car bombs explode in suicide attacks at the mostly Mustansiriya University. (Jan. 21): Some 27 U.S. soldiers die over a two-day period in Iraq. (Jan. 22): Nearly 90 people are killed when two car bombs explode in a crowded market at lunchtime. The neighborhood is dominated by Shiites.
- Israeli President Suspends Himself (Jan. 25): Parliamentary committee approves Moshe Katsav's request to suspend himself after Israel's attorney general announces that he would indict Katsav on charges of rape, sexual harassment, abuse of power, and other charges. Katsav denies the charges, calling them part of a “witch hunt.”
- Billions Pledged for Lebanon at Aid Conference (Jan. 25): At a meeting in Paris, 30 countries promise about $7.6 billion in aid for Lebanon. The conference coincides with deadly violence in Beirut that kills four and wounds about 150 people.
- Nation Mourns President Ford (Jan. 2): Some 3,700 people attend a state funeral in Washington, DC, for the 38th president.
- Pelosi Becomes First Woman Speaker of the House (Jan. 4): California Democrat Nancy Pelosi takes the gavel after being elected speaker of the 110th Congress, Democrats take control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994. On the first day of the new Congress, the House votes, 430–1, to ban House members or their staff from accepting gifts or travel from a registered lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist's client.
- Miers Steps Down (Jan. 4): Harriet Miers, who is one of President Bush's closest advisers, resigns after six years. Bush nominated her to the Supreme Court in 2005, but she withdrew her name amid criticism that she lacked the credentials for the job.
- Bush Nominates Intelligence Director for State Department Job (Jan. 5): President selects John Negroponte, who serves as the country's first director of national intelligence, to fill the vacant slot of deputy secretary of state. The Senate must confirm the nomination. Bureaucratically, the state department job is a step down from his current cabinet-level position. Bush selects Mike McConnell, a retired vice admiral and former chief of the National Security Agency, to replace Negroponte.
- Bush Shakes Up Top Military Brass (Jan. 4): Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is named the top commander in Iraq. He replaces Gen. George Casey, Jr. Adm. William Fallon succeeds Gen. John Abizaid as the head of Central Command.
- House Passes a Flurry of Measures (Jan. 5): Approves, 280–152, legislation that requires lawmakers to attach their names to all earmarks they sponsor. Earmarks, which cost about $64 billion each year, are often costly provisions added to bills that and benefit only a few people or businesses. The legislation is tied to a “pay as you go rule” that says tax cuts and spending bills must be offset by tax increases or spending cuts. (Jan. 10): Votes, 315–116, to increase the minimum wage $2.10 an hour, to $7.25, over two years. (Jan. 11): Approves, 253–174, expanding federal funded stem-cell research. The bill allows the govern to finance research using excess stem cells from fertility clinics. President Bush promises to veto the bill. (Jan. 12): Passes, 255–170, measure that calls on the government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies for drugs covered under Medicare. (Jan. 17): Votes, 356–71, to cut interest rates on student loans in half over five years.
- Schwarzenegger Announces Plan for Universal Health Care (Jan. 8): Governor of California outlines proposal to cover the 6.5 uninsured Californians. Plan, which would cost about $12 billion, would be paid for by the state, businesses, hospitals, doctors, and the recipients themselves.
- Bush Announces Change in Strategy (Jan. 10): In a nationally televised address, president announces an additional 20,000 troops will be deployed to Baghdad to try to stem the sectarian fighting and that Iraq will take control of its forces and commit to a number of “benchmarks,” including increasing troop presence in Baghdad and passing oil-revenue-sharing and jobs-creation plans. Proposal meets bipartisan criticism.
- Libby Trial Begins (Jan. 16): Perjury trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, opens in Washington. He is charged with lying about leaking information about a covert CIA operative to the media.
- Bush Administration Says It Will Seek Court Approval to Eavesdrop Domestically (Jan. 17): Reversing its policy, the Justice Department announces the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will oversee the National Security Agency's domestic wiretapping program.
- Senate Passes Broad Changes to Ethics Rules (Jan. 18): Votes, 96–2, in favor of legislation that bans members of Congress from accepting gifts from lobbyists, using corporate jets at cut rates, and negotiating job offers while still in office. Measure also requires lawmakers to attach their names to all earmarks they introduce and requires that registered lobbyists disclose their role in delivering bundled contributions to candidates.
- Bush Delivers State of the Union Address (Jan. 23): President Bush focuses his speech on domestic issues, including reducing oil consumption and increasing access to health insurance. He admits that the war in Iraq is not going as planned. “This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in,” he said. “Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won.”
- Senate Committee Passes Resolution Critical of Iraq Plan (Jan. 24): Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes, 12–9, in favor of a nonbinding resolution that denounces President Bush's plan to deploy additional troops to Iraq.
- Budget Office Predicts Decrease in Deficit (Jan. 24): Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts the federal deficit will drop to about $200 billion in 2007. It would be the third consecutive decline.
- Catholic Church Officials Resign Poland (Jan. 7): A month after being appointed archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI, Stanislaw Wielgus resigns after admitting to have collaborating with the Polish secret police during the Communist era. (Jan. 8): Rev. Janusz Bielanski, the rector of Krakow's Wawel Cathedral, also steps down for his involvement with the Communist Secret Service.
- Cancer Deaths Decreases in the United States (Jan. 17): American Cancer Society reports that cancer deaths fell by 3,014 cases from 2003–2004. It's the second consecutive year the number of deaths has dropped.