News and Events of 2006
- Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke; he is replaced by acting prime minister Ehud Olmert (Jan. 5).
- Militant group Hamas wins 74 of 132 seats in Palestinian legislative elections (Jan. 25). Israeli leaders vote to withhold $50 million per month (Feb. 19).
- A Danish newspaper challenges taboos against illustrations of Muhammad by printing several negative cartoons depicting him. Angry demonstrators throughout the Muslim world smash windows, set fires, and burn flags of Denmark and other nations whose newspapers reprint the cartoons (Feb. 4 onward).
- In Iraq, a coalition of Shiites and Kurds dominates the new government. Secretarian violence wracks the country, killing tens of thousands, with fatality rates rising throughout the year; some observers describe the situation as a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Several internal reports characterize the U.S. military efforts as failing. See Iraq Timeline 2006.
- After weeks of crippling student-led protests, French president Jacques Chirac repeals a new labor law that would have made it easier for employers to fire workers under the age of 26 (Apr. 10).
- In defiance of the U.N. Security Council, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has successfully enriched uranium (Apr. 11). The International Atomic Energy Agency reports to the Security Council that it has found traces of highly enriched uranium at Iran's Natanz facility (July 31). U.N. Security Council resolution bans the Iranian import and export of materials and technology used to enrich uranium (Dec. 23).
- North Korea test fires missiles over the Sea of Japan (July 4) and explodes a nuclear device in the North Korean mountains (Oct. 9). The U.N. Security Council votes in favor of a resolution banning the sale of materials to North Korea that could be used to produce weapons (Oct. 14). North Korea agrees to resume disarmament talks with China, Russia, the U.S., and South Korea (Oct. 31).
- India test-launches a missile with a range of 1,800 miles (July 9). More than 200 people die and hundreds more are wounded when a series of bombs explode on commuter trains in Mumbai, India during the evening rush hour (July 11).
- Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, fires rockets into Israel. In response, Israel launches a major military attack, sending thousands of troops into Lebanon. (July 13–Aug. 15).
- Saddam Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity by an Iraqi court (Nov. 5), and hanged in Baghdad. A witness videotapes the hanging using a cell phone and captures the chaos that unfolds as Shiite guards taunt Hussein (Dec. 30).
- President Bush signs a law renewing the Patriot Act, including a signing statement stating that he does not consider himself bound by its requirement to tell Congress how the law is being used (Mar. 9).
- House releases a report on the response to Hurricane Katrina, assigning blame on all levels of government (Feb. 15).
- Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist with ties to several members of Congress, is sentenced to six years in prison by a Florida judge on fraud charges (Mar. 29).
- George Bush and Tony Blair express regret for the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, for removing all Baathists from positions of power in Iraq, and for other missteps (May 25).
- The Supreme Court rules that military tribunals cannot be set up to try prisoners in the absence of Congressional authorization and that prisoners are entitled to fair trials under the Geneva Conventions (June 29).
- President Bush uses his veto power for the first time, striking down legislation that would have expanded the number of stem cell lines available for embryonic research using federal financing. (July 19).
- Democrats gain control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections (Nov. 7).
- John Bolton steps down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when it becomes clear that he does not have enough votes in the Senate to win confirmation (Dec. 4).
Super BowlPittsburgh d. Seattle (21–10)
World SeriesSt. Louis Cardinals d. Detroit Tigers (4–1)
NBA ChampionshipMiami d. Dallas (4–2)
Stanley CupCarolina d. Edmonton (4–3)
WimbledonWomen: Amelie Mauresmo d. Justine Henin-Hardenne (2–6, 6–3, 6–4)
Men: Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal (6–0, 7–6 [7–5], 6–7 [2–7], 6–3.)
Kentucky Derby ChampionBarbaro
NCAA Basketball ChampionshipFlorida d. UCLA (73–57)
NCAA Football ChampionsFlorida
World CupItaly d. France (1–1 [5–3 after shootout])
- After a seven-year, three-billion-mile expedition, NASA's Stardust spacecraft capsule lands in the Arizona desert with particles captured from Comet Wild-2 (Jan. 15).
- New Horizons spacecraft is launched. It will travel three billion miles over nine years to study Pluto's atmosphere and surface (Jan. 19).
- A $415 million, eight-year federal study finds that a low-fat diet does not decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, or stroke. Many in the medical community call the results stunning (Feb. 8).
- Journal Science reports that the spacecraft Cassini has taken pictures of what look like water geysers on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn (March 10).
- A group of scientists report finding the fossil of a 375-million-year-old fish that has early signs of limbs. The fossil suggests the missing link between fish and land animals (April 6).
- The Food and Drug Administration approves Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus. At $360 a course, Gardasil is one of the most expensive vaccines (June 8).
- The International Astronomical Union votes to redefine the solar system, and Pluto loses its status as a planet. It is reclassified as a dwarf planet (Aug. 24).