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October 2007

Here are the key news events of the month organized into three categories: World News, U.S. News, and Business, Society, and Science News.

World

  • Blackwater Faces Criticism and Monitoring (Oct. 1): House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform finds that employees of Blackwater USA, the security firm involved in the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in September, have been involved in some 200 shootings in Iraq. The report says the company paid some families of victims and tried to cover up other incidents. According to the report, Blackwater's use of force has been "frequent and extensive, resulting in significant casualties and property damage." (Oct. 5): The State Department announces that its own monitors will accompany Blackwater employees on all security convoys. (Oct. 23): Two separate reviews of security practices by private companies in Iraq and Afghanistan under State Department control find disarray, a lack of coordination, and accountability. (Oct. 30): Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice decide that the military will coordinate and supervise all security convoys by contractors.
  • North Korea Agrees to Disable Its Nuclear Facilities (Oct. 3): As part of the breakthrough deal, North Korea will disclose details about its nuclear facilities, including how much plutonium it has produced, and dismantle all of its nuclear faculties by the end of 2007. In exchange, it will receive some 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil or financial aid. The Bush administration will also start the process of removing North Korea from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
  • Musharraf Breezes to Victory (Oct. 6): Pakistani president is easily reelected to a third term by the country's national and provincial assemblies. The opposition boycotts the vote, however, and only representatives from the governing party participate in the election. In addition, the Supreme Court has yet to rule if he was constitutionally eligible to run for president while still head of the military.
  • Britain to Sharply Reduce Force in Iraq (Oct. 8): Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces that half of the 5,000 British troops stationed in Basra will be removed by the end of 2008.
  • Turkish Parliament Authorizes Incursion into Iraq (Oct. 17): Votes, 507 to 19, to allow the deployment of troops into northern Iraq to deal with attacks on Turkey by Kurdish rebels in Iraq. (Oct. 21): Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, attack and kill 12 Turkish soldiers about three miles inside Turkey.
  • Former Prime Minister Returns to Pakistan (Oct. 18): Benazir Bhutto arrives in Pakistan after eight years in exile to much fanfare and jubilation by her supporters. The triumphant mood gives way to panic when a suicide bomber attacks her convoy, killing as many as 135 people. Bhutto survives the attack.
  • Bush Administration Extends Sanctions on Iran (Oct. 25): U.S. designates Iran's military, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard, and four state-owned Iranian banks sponsors of terrorism and accuses the Guard of exporting weapons of mass destruction.
  • First Lady of Argentina Is Elected President (Oct. 28): Cristina Fernández de Kirchner takes 45% of the vote. Elisa Carrió, a congresswoman, comes in second, with 23%. De Kirchner is the first woman in Argentina to be elected president. She succeeds her husband, Néstor Kirchner.
  • Suicide Bomber Attacks Police Brigade (Oct. 29): Bomber on a bicycle blows himself up in Baquba, killing 29 people, including 26 police officers.
  • Report Critical of Rebuilding in Iraq (Oct. 30): Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction finds that rebuilding has fallen far short of goals, despite expenditures of more than $100 billion.
  • Three Convicted of Murder in Madrid Bombing (Oct. 31): Spain's National Court finds three men guilty of killing 191 people and wounding 1,800 in the 2004 bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid. Three other men, who were accused of organizing the attacks, are acquitted.

Nation

  • Bush Vetoes Health Insurance Bill (Oct. 3): President vetoes bill that would have increased the funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to $60 billion from $35 billion to provide health insurance to more than 10 million children. He allocated $5 billion for the program. (Oct. 18): The House falls 13 votes short of overriding President Bush's veto. (Oct. 25): The House passes, 265 to 142, a modified version of the bill that would exclude adults and illegal immigrants from the State Children's Health Insurance Program and make it available only to those with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level.
  • Craig to Remain in Senate (Oct. 4): Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who announced his resignation in September amid a controversy stemming from his guilty plea for allegedly making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport, says he will serve out his term despite a ruling that denied his request to rescind the guilty plea.
  • House Votes to Put Foreign Contractors Under U.S. Law (Oct. 4): Approves, 389 to 30, a bill that would place U.S. government contractors under the jurisdiction of U.S. criminal law.
  • Judge Bars the Transfer of a Detainee to Home Country (Oct. 9): Federal judge Gladys Kessler rules that the Bush administration cannot send Mohammed Rahman, a detainee at the Guantánamo Bay prison, back to Tunisia, citing the country's record of human rights abuses.
  • Federal Judge Delays Implementation of Immigration Rule (Oct. 10): Judge Charles Breyer says the policy, which ordered employers to fire workers if they could not verify their Social Security numbers within 90 days of notice that the numbers and names didn't match up, could cause "irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers."
  • House Committee Declares Murder of Armenians Genocide (Oct. 10): Foreign Relations Committee passes a resolution labeling as genocide Turkey's murder of some 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. President Bush had strongly urged members of the committee to vote against the resolution. Turkish president Abdullah Gul responds by recalling the ambassador to the United States and threatening to withdraw its support of the war in Iraq.
  • Senate Committee Questions Attorney General Nominee (Oct. 17): Confirmation hearings begin for Michael Mukasey, President Bush's pick for attorney general. Mukasey indicates he will not politicize the Justice Department, a clear departure from Alberto Gonzales, the previous attorney general. (Oct. 18): In the second day of hearings, Mukasey faces tougher questioning and refuses to say if he considers waterboarding, a tactic used during interrogations that simulates drowning, to be torture. He also says that eavesdropping without warrants may be constitutionally allowed.
  • Senate Committee Approves Compromise on Wiretapping Program (Oct. 18): Senate Intelligence Committee votes, 13 to 2, on bill that would allow the National Security Agency to request bundled warrants to eavesdrop on communications that originate outside the U.S. The bill also grants immunity to telecommunications and Internet companies that assisted the government in the surveillance.
  • Bush Requests Additional Funding for Wars (Oct. 22): President asks Congress to authorize $46 billion in emergency spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The request is in addition to the $150 billion he had already sought from Congress.
  • Bush Names New Cabinet Officials (Oct. 30): President nominates James Peake, a retired Army lieutenant general and a thoracic surgeon, as secretary of veterans affairs. (Oct. 31): Bush selects former governor of North Dakota, Edward Schafer, as secretary of agriculture. The Senate must confirm both nominations.

Business/Science/Society

  • Track Star Admits Steroid Use (Oct. 5): Marion Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Olympics, three of them gold, pleads guilty to making false statements to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Utility Settles Lawsuit with States and Environmental Groups (Oct. 9): American Electric Power agrees to spend $4.6 billion to cut 813,000 tons of emissions each year from its coal-powered facilities. The settlement ends an 8-year-old lawsuit brought by eight states and 14 environmental groups. It is the largest-ever environmental settlement.
  • Gore Shares Nobel Peace Prize (Oct. 12): Former vice president Al Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are awarded the prize for their work educating the world about human-caused climate change and for outlining ways to reverse global warming.
  • Wildfires Devastate Southern California (Oct. 21): Fifteen wildfires in seven counties are fanned by 50 to 60 m.p.h. winds burning over 267,000 acres. Nearly 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings are destroyed. One person dies and at least 20 firefighters and 25 civilians are injured. More than 500,000 people evacuate their homes.
  • Space Shuttle Heads for Space Station (Oct. 23): Discovery takes off for a 14-day mission to the International Space Station where astronauts will add a "room" to the station and move a 17.5-ton solar array and truss.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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