Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
- Atomic Energy Board to Report Iran to the UN (Feb. 4): At an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, board members vote to refer Iran to the Security Council, citing its continued nuclear activity. (Feb. 6): Iran formally tells the IAEA that it will not be allowed to inspect Iran's facilities and that Iran will resume enrichment of uranium.
- Protests Over Cartoons Turn Violent (Feb. 4 et seq.): Throughout the Muslim world, angry demonstrators smash windows, set fires, and burn flags, protesting cartoons that depict Muhammad in a negative light. The cartoons have appeared in newspapers in several European countries. In Syria, mobs burn the Danish and Norwegian embassies. (Feb 5): In Lebanon, protesters torch a building that houses the Danish Mission. One person dies in the blaze. (Feb. 6): Violence spreads to Turkey, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and New Zealand. Five protesters die in Afghanistan.
- Iraqi Lawmakers Reelect Prime Minister (Feb. 12): Members of the Shiite alliance vote, 64–63, to retain Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister. He wins after securing the backing of radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
- UN Report Calls for Closure of Guantánamo Prison (Feb. 16): Investigators also urge the United States to either release or try the camp's prisoners and to “refrain from any practice amounting to torture.”
- Haiti Declares Winner of Presidential Election (Feb. 16): After protracted negotiations, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council agrees to discard blank ballots and recalculate the results from the Feb. 7 election. The new formula gives René Préval more than 50% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff election.
- New Palestinian Parliament Opens (Feb. 18): Militant group Hamas dominates the legislature, holding 74 out of 132 seats. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas tells lawmakers they are obligated to honor agreements reached by other leaders. (Feb. 19): Israeli leaders vote to withhold $50 million per month to Palestinians, saying the Palestinian Authority is being led by a terrorist group. Hamas nominates Ismail Haniya as prime minister.
- Bomb Damages Shiite Shrine in Iraq (Feb. 22): A terrorist attack destroys the golden dome atop the most revered Shiite shrine in Iraq, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. Shiites retaliate against Sunni mosques. (Feb. 23): Sectarian violence continues; nearly 140 people die in two days. (Feb. 24): Iraq imposes an extraordinary daytime curfew to stem the rising violence. (Feb. 27): The curfew is lifted, but the violence continues. Nearly 380 people have died in sectarian attacks related to the shrine bombing.
- Dubai Company to Delay Port Operations (Feb. 23): Responding to the furor among members of Congress, the public, and other government officials, Dubai Ports World says it will delay exercising control of several American ports when it finalizes a deal with Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, a British company that manages several U.S. ports.
- Hussein Prosecutors Present Evidence (Feb. 28): Head prosecutor in the trial of Saddam Hussein displays pages of documents that he says show that Hussein signed death warrants for nearly 150 men and boys in Dujail.
- House Votes on Spending Cuts (Feb. 1): Approves, 216–214, $39.5 billion in cuts to entitlement programs, including student loans and Medicaid.
- House Republicans Elect a New Leader (Feb. 2): In an upset, John Boehner defeats Roy Blunt to become the House Majority Leader.
- Congressional Hearings Begin on Spying Program (Feb. 6): Alberto Gonzales says President Bush acted within his legal authority when he authorized the National Security Agency to read email and listen in on conversations between people in the United States and others overseas without warrants.
- Bush Releases Budget Proposal (Feb. 6): Plan, costing $2.77 trillion, calls for increasing defense and homeland security budgets by 6.9% and 1.3%, respectively, and cutting several domestic programs, including education, Medicare, and farming.
- Former FEMA Chief Contradicts White House (Feb. 9): Michael Brown, who was the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Hurricane Katrina struck, tells a Senate committee that he notified White House officials on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, that levees had been breached and the city was flooding. The Bush administration had said it didn't learn of the extent of the damage until Aug. 30.
- Vice President Shoots Friend During Hunting Expedition (Feb. 11): Dick Cheney accidentally showers Texas lawyer Harry Whittington with about 200 pellets while hunting for quail. Whittington is hit in the face, neck, and torso. The Bush administration is criticized for waiting nearly 24 hours to publicize the incident and for joking about it. (Feb. 15): Cheney speaks out for the first time about the accident and says he was at fault.
- House Releases Critical Report on Katrina Response (Feb. 15): The 520-page document, titled “A Failure of Initiative,” finds that the reaction to the disaster was inept at every level of government. “Our report is a litany of mistakes, misjudgments, lapses, and absurdities all cascading together,” the report says.
- Homeland Security Chief Faces Tough Questions (Feb. 15): Republican and Democratic members of a Senate committee investigating the response to Hurricane Katrina sharply criticize Michael Chertoff, blaming him for the department's many errors during the disaster.
- South Dakota Legislators Vote to Ban Abortion (Feb. 22): State senate votes, 23–12, to outlaw all abortions except when they are necessary to save a woman's life. The House had already approved the measure.
- Hundreds Die in Ferry Accident (Feb. 3): An Egyptian ferry carrying mostly workers and vacationers returning from Saudi Arabia sinks off the coast of Egypt. Nearly 200 people die and another 800 are missing.
- Benefits of Low-Fat Diets Are Refuted (Feb. 8): 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.
- Olympic Games Open (Feb. 10): The XX Olympic Winter Games open in Turin, Italy. See p. 870–873 for results.
- Mudslide Destroys Town in the Philippines (Feb. 17): More than 1,000 are feared dead in Guinsaugon, a town of 1,857 people.
- Harvard President Resigns (Feb. 21): Lawrence Summers to leave the university on June 30 after five years at the helm. He had endured a year of criticism from many faculty members. Former Harvard president Derek Bok will serve as interim leader.
Here are the facts and trivia that people are buzzing about.