- Dates of 2008
▪ 2009January"As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty.… At kitchen tables across our country, there is a concern about our economic future."— U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, in his final state of the union address, January 28January 1With the beginning of the new year, Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia assumes the presidency of the European Union.The Kenya Assemblies of God church in the village of Kiambaa, where hundreds of Kikuyu people are taking refuge from the violence that broke out after the disputed election of Dec. 27, 2007, is attacked by a mob and set on fire; some 50 people are burned to death.The government of Pakistan chooses to postpone until February the national and provincial elections scheduled for January 8.At a house in Baghdad where people are gathered to commemorate a man who had died in a car bombing three days earlier, a suicide bomber detonates his weapon, killing 30 of those present.The euro replaces the Cypriot pound as Cyprus's currency and the Maltese lira as Malta's currency as the euro zone expands.January 2The military government of Myanmar (Burma) orders the tax on satellite television to be increased by a factor of 160, which brings it to about three times the average annual income; the action effectively cuts off any outside source of news.The government of Sri Lanka formally annuls a cease-fire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that had been agreed to six years earlier; for practical purposes the agreement had not been observed since early 2006.The price of a barrel of light sweet crude oil for the first time reaches $100 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, though it closes at $99.62.January 3A bomb goes off near a shopping mall in Diyarbakir, Tur., killing 5 people and injuring more than 60.James H. Billington, the U.S. librarian of Congress, announces the appointment of Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, to the newly created position of ambassador for young people's literature.January 4The movie studio Warner Brothers announces that in future it will release its movies on Sony's Blu-ray discs rather than Toshiba's HD DVDs; industry insiders feel that this has decided which high-definition format will become the industry standard.The British utility Scottish and Southern Energy agrees to buy Airtricity, Ireland's biggest wind-farm operator, for €1.83 billion (about $2.7 billion).The 30th annual Dakar Rally, which was scheduled to begin January 5 in Lisbon with some 550 competitors and to end January 20 in Dakar, Senegal, is canceled; organizers say that the French government had warned that terrorist organizations had made threats to disrupt the race.January 5Presidential elections called by Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili after a brief state of emergency in November 2007 are held in Georgia; Saakashvili wins narrowly.January 6The Arab League approves of a plan for a new government in Lebanon, which has been without a president since Nov. 23, 2007.Near Mexican Hat, Utah, a bus carrying people to Phoenix from a ski trip in Telluride, Colo., goes off the road in the midst of a widespread and heavy storm and rolls down an embankment; at least nine passengers are killed.January 7Italian government troops begin clearing garbage from the streets of Naples, where it has been piling up since municipal dumps began overflowing on Dec. 21, 2007.The legislature of the Marshall Islands elects Litokwa Tomeing president of the country; he replaces Kessai Note and, unlike Note, opposes the Compact of Free Association with the U.S.Howard D. Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks Coffee, announces that he is taking over as CEO in place of James L. Donald, saying the company needs to regain focus.Louisiana State University defeats Ohio State University 38–24 in college football's Bowl Championship Series title game in New Orleans to win the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) championship.January 8Pres. Mwai Kibaki of Kenya announces his choices for half of the cabinet, and violence breaks out anew in several cities; some 500 people have been killed since violence erupted following the disputed election in 2007.U.S. troops in Iraq begin a major offensive against Sunni insurgents in Diyala province.Philippe de Montebello, who has been director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for 30 years, announces his intention to retire at the end of the year.January 9The legislature of the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo chooses the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, to be prime minister.The World Health Organization publishes a study that estimates the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war from its inception in 2003 until June 2006 at about 151,000; previously the nongovernmental organization the Iraqi Body Count had estimated the number of deaths during that period at 47,668.January 10Plans to replace older nuclear plants are approved by the government of the U.K.Shortly before a planned rally outside a courthouse in Lahore to protest the dismissal of Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a suicide bomber sets off an explosion that kills at least 23 people, nearly all police officers.Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) release to emissaries of Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chávez two Colombian women: Consuelo González de Perdomo, who was a member of the legislature when she was kidnapped in 2001, and Clara Rojas, who was an aide to presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt (herself still a captive) when she was kidnapped in 2002.January 11The government of Nepal sets the election for a constitutional assembly for April 10.For the first time, the price of gold futures rises above $900 an ounce before closing at $898.70 an ounce; it reaches $914 on January 14 before falling to $881.25 on January 16.The Bank of America announces its planned purchase of troubled mortgage company Countrywide Financial Corp.U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announces the standards that state identity cards must meet to qualify as identification at airports and federal buildings under the Real ID act; several states refuse to comply with the legislation, for a variety of reasons.January 12Iraq's legislature passes a law to allow former Baʿthist officials to apply for positions in the government; this is the first small step toward meeting the political benchmarks set by the U.S. government for Iraq.Legislative elections in Taiwan are won by the Nationalist Party, which takes 81 of the 113 seats; Pres. Chen Shui-bian resigns as head of the Democratic Progressive Party.The legislature of Croatia approves a new centre-right government under Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.January 13Doris A. Taylor, head of a team of scientists at the University of Minnesota, reports that her team has successfully created new beating hearts by growing heart cells from newborn rats in the heart structure taken from dead rats.Jackie Selebi resigns as president of Interpol the day after he was put on leave as head of South Africa's police because of the possibility that he will be charged with corruption.January 14The spacecraft MESSENGER passes within 200 km (124 mi) of Mercury's surface, taking photographs and measurements, in the first of its three passes of the planet, which was last visited by NASA's Mariner 10 in 1975.A suicide bomber attack at the luxury Serena Hotel in Kabul kills at least six people, mostly staff but also a Norwegian journalist and an American.Malawi ends its diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of establishing them with China.In the field of children's literature, the Newbery Medal is awarded to Laura Amy Schlitz for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, a series of monologues and dialogues set in the Middle Ages, and Brian Selznick wins the Caldecott Medal for illustration for his long illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret.January 15Hundreds of Islamic militants attack a well-stocked government paramilitary fort in Sararogha in Pakistan's South Waziristan province, killing 22 soldiers and stripping the fort of arms and ammunition.At the Macworld Expo trade show in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs introduces the ultralight MacBook Air laptop computer and the ability to rent movies by downloading them through iTunes.The opposition Democratic Labour Party wins 20 of 30 legislative seats in elections in Barbados; the following day David Thompson replaces Owen Arthur as prime minister.January 16Clemente Mastella resigns as Italy's minister of justice because of allegations of widespread corruption.The Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports the discovery in Uruguay of fossil evidence of the existence two million to four million years ago of a rodent, named Josephoartigasia monesi, which was some 3 m (10 ft) long and weighed up to 1,100 kg (2,200 lb).January 17A three-hour gun battle between drug cartel members and government forces takes place in Tijuana, Mex., where two days earlier a police commander and his family had been killed.Geoscientists report that a natural gas black shale reservoir in the northern Appalachians could hold as much as 15 trillion cu m (516 trillion cu ft) of gas; it would be a huge addition to U.S. reserves.January 18On the first day of the religious festival of ʿAshuraʾ, fighting between a millennial militia, the Soldiers of Heaven, and Iraqi government forces in several places in southern Iraq leaves at least 66 dead; nevertheless, millions of pilgrims make their journey to Karbalaʾ unmolested.Israel closes all border crossings between itself and the Gaza Strip, blocking, among other things, aid shipments, saying the step is intended to discourage rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.Élie Doté resigns as prime minister of the Central African Republic; on January 22 Faustin Archange Touadéra is named to replace him.January 19Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba announces the arrest in Barcelona of 14 people of Pakistani and Indian origin who are believed to have been planning a terrorist attack on the city.January 20Presidential elections in Serbia result in the need for a runoff between Pres. Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Radical Party.It is reported that David D. Hiller, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, has removed James E. O'Shea as editor for refusing to make requested job cuts in the newsroom.January 21On a visit to Turkey, Sudanese Pres. Omar al-Bashir defends his recent appointment of Musa Hilal as a senior government adviser; Hilal is generally believed to be a leader of the Janjawid militia forces.Stock markets in cities around the world fall steeply; fear of a U.S. recession is believed to explain the sell-off.Israel announces that it will offer generous tax incentives as part of a program to support the use of electric cars in conjunction with entrepreneur Shai Agassi and the car company Renault; it is expected that the program will have 100,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2010.At Thoroughbred horse racing's 2007 Eclipse Awards, Curlin is named Horse of the Year.January 22Thailand's military junta disbands the day after the first meeting of the country's legislature since the 2006 military coup.After an emergency meeting the U.S. Federal Reserve lowers its benchmark lending rate three-quarters of a percentage point, to 3.5%, the largest single-day reduction it has ever made; stocks initially plummet but rally robustly.Serbia announces that the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom has bought a 51% interest in NIS, the Serbian oil monopoly.Iraq's legislature adopts a new flag, the same as the previous one except that the three stars that represent Baʿthist ideals have been removed.January 23At the divided town of Rafah, members of Hamas break down a portion of the wall closing off Egypt from the Gaza Strip, and thousands of Palestinians pour across the broken partition to purchase supplies.Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis of Greece begins a three-day visit to Turkey; it is the first official visit to Turkey by a Greek prime minister since May 1959.In Mosul, Iraq, a house used by insurgents, possibly as a bomb factory, explodes as police approach; at least 34 people are killed, most of them crushed to death in neighbouring buildings that collapse from the force of the explosion.January 24The French banking giant Société Générale announces that a midlevel employee, Jérôme Kerviel, for the past year was a rogue trader and caused the bank to lose €4.9 billion ($7.2 billion).The government of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi falls after a no-confidence vote.Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute report that they have synthesized the genome of a small bacterium (Mycoplasma genitalium) by assembling about 100 DNA fragments in a major step toward creating a complete artificial organism.January 25A dusk-to-dawn curfew is imposed in Nakuru, Kenya, in an attempt to contain ethnic violence that has broken out, contributing to a death toll of more than 650 people throughout the country since the disputed election.January 26Members of a criminal gang led by Rondell Rawlins attack the village of Lusignan, Guyana, massacring 11 people, at least 5 of whom are children.Russian Mariya Sharapova defeats Ana Ivanovic of Serbia to win her first Australian Open women's tennis championship; the following day Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeats Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win his first men's title.Top film awards at the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, go to Frozen River, Trouble the Water, The Wackness, and Fields of Fuel.January 27Paddy Ashdown of the U.K. withdraws from consideration for the post of UN special envoy to Afghanistan in the face of opposition from Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai; Afghanistan objected to the enlarged mandate planned for Ashdown.Russia's Central Election Commission denies leading opposition presidential candidate Mikhail Kasyanov a place on the ballot.Indonesia's former president Suharto dies; a week of official mourning is declared.Yokozuna Hakuho defeats yokozuna Asashoryu to win the Emperor's Cup at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo; the contestants had even records going into the final match.January 28The ruling party in Turkey reaches an agreement on an amendment to the constitution that will allow women who wear head scarves for religious reasons to attend university; the measure must be approved by the legislature.Officials in the Galapagos Islands report that authorities in Ecuador are investigating the killing of 53 sea lions that have been found with crushed skulls on the island of Pinta in the nature reserve.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush delivers his final state of the union address; he asks for patience on the Iraq War, addresses economic worries, and presents a modest domestic agenda.January 29King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand ratifies the legislature's selection of Samak Sundaravej as the country's new prime minister.Hundreds of women rally in Kandahar, Afg., to protest the January 26 kidnapping of American women's aid worker Cyd Mizell and her Afghan driver.January 30Italian Pres. Giorgio Napolitano asks Franco Marini, president of the Senate, to form a temporary government.The U.S. Federal Reserve Board cuts its benchmark interest rate a further half of a percentage point, to 3%.January 31David Kimutai Too, an opposition lawmaker, is shot to death by a policeman in Eldoret, Kenya; though government officials say the killing was not politically motivated, violence throughout the country intensifies in response to the murder.The European Union says that if Italy fails to solve the garbage crisis in Naples within a month, it will be in violation of the organization's law and will face legal action.The World Health Organization reports that programs in which mosquito nets and artemisinin, a new antimalarial medicine, were widely distributed in several African countries generally cut the number of deaths from malaria in half.February"“For the pain, suffering, and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants, and for their families left behind, we say sorry.… And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.”"— Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in his historic apology to the country's Aborigines, February 13February 1Two women suicide bombers, who are possibly mentally disabled, detonate their weapons in the Ghazil animal market in Baghdad, killing some 98 people.The American oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. reports that it earned $40.6 billion last year, a new record for the highest profit ever recorded; the previous record high profit was also reported by Exxon Mobil.Government officials in Japan say that at least 175 people have become ill after eating dumplings imported from China that were tainted with insecticide.Microsoft makes an unsolicited bid to buy the online search engine company Yahoo! for $44.6 billion.February 2Rebel troops attempting to overthrow Pres. Idriss Déby enter N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, and surround the presidential palace as Chad's armed forces resist.Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy of France and the model and pop singer Carla Bruni are married in Paris.February 3Pres. Boris Tadic wins reelection in a runoff presidential election in Serbia; Tadic favours bringing Serbia into the European Union.In Glendale, Ariz., the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots 17–14 to win the National Football League's Super Bowl XLII; the Patriots had an undefeated record going into the game.Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds, a concert film shown only in I-Max and other 3-D theatres, tops the North American box office.February 4A suicide bomber kills one person in Dimona, Israel; it is the first attack Dimona has ever suffered and the first suicide attack in Israel since January 2007.As Sri Lanka celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence, a roadside bomb in the Welioya region blows up a bus, killing 12 people; the previous day a suicide bomber killed 11 people in Colombo's main railway station, and the day before that a bomb on a bus traveling with Buddhist pilgrims in Dambulla killed 18 people.The $250,000 A.M. Turing Award for excellence in computer science is granted to Edmund M. Clarke, E. Allen Emerson, and Joseph Sifakis for their development of model checking, an automated method to discover errors in the design of computer hardware and software.NASA transmits the Beatles song “Across the Universe” toward Polaris, the North Star, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the agency and of its first satellite, Explorer I; the occasion also marks the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network of communication and the 40th anniversary of the recording of the song.February 5The death toll from violence in Kenya since the presidential election in December 2007 passes 1,000 people as officials from the ruling and opposition parties begin negotiations on how to end the crisis.Fighting in N'Djamena, Chad, abates, which indicates that rebel fighters have retreated from the city.The Australian company Geodynamics Ltd. completes a production well for deep, dry geothermal energy in the Cooper Basin region of South Australia; the well is intended to be the first hot fractured-rock source of commercial electricity generation.February 6The vice president of Pakistan's Awami National Party is assassinated in Karachi, and rioting erupts.A large U.S. study of middle-aged and older people with Type II diabetes who are at high risk for heart attack and stroke is halted when it is found that aggressively lowering their blood sugar levels has clearly increased the number of deaths due to heart disease, a result diametrically opposed to what had been expected.February 7Edward Lowassa resigns as prime minister of Tanzania because of suspicion of his involvement with a failed energy deal with an American company; the following day Pres. Jakaya Kikwete names Mizengo Pinda to replace him.France becomes the fifth country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, a governing package designed to reform the European Union following its recent expansion.Two studies are published in the journal Science showing that the use of biofuels is leading to the clearing of rainforest and scrublands for crops and that in sum the production of biofuels is causing more greenhouse gas emissions than the use of fossil fuels.Combustible sugar dust causes an enormous explosion at the Dixie Crystal sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga.; at least 13 employees are killed, with dozens seriously injured.The Licey Tigers (Tigres) defeat the defending champions, the Cibao Eagles (Águilas), 8–2 in the final game of the round-robin tournament in Santiago, Dom.Rep., to win baseball's Caribbean Series with a tournament record of 5–1; for the first time in the history of the event, both teams are from the host country.February 8Dean Barrow is sworn in as the first black prime minister of Belize the day after his United Democratic Party won 81% of seats in a legislative election.February 9In Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., ground is broken on Masdar, a city that is being built by using renewable energy and that is designed to function without producing carbon emissions; it is expected to be completed in about 10 years and to have a population of 100,000.A tentative agreement between the Writers Guild of America and movie and television production companies is reached, which indicates a likely end to the writers' strike that began on Nov. 5, 2007, and has stopped production of 63 TV shows; the strike formally ends on February 12.February 10A car bomb kills at least 23 people at a checkpoint outside Balad, Iraq.The Namdaemun Gate in Seoul, built in 1398 and regarded as South Korea's most important national treasure, is destroyed by fire, in spite of the efforts of hundreds of firefighters.Armed thieves enter the Emil Buerhle Collection art museum in Zürich and steal the paintings Poppies near Vétheuil by Claude Monet, Count Lepic and His Daughters by Edgar Degas, Chestnut in Bloom by Vincent van Gogh, and Boy in a Red Jacket by Paul Cézanne in the biggest art robbery ever to take place in Switzerland; the Monet and van Gogh paintings are recovered eight days later.At the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, the top winner is British vocalist Amy Winehouse, who wins five awards, including both record of the year and song of the year for “Rehab” and the award for best new artist; the surprise choice for album of the year is River: The Joni Letters by jazz artist Herbie Hancock.In Ghana, Egypt defeats Cameroon 1–0 to win the African Cup of Nations in association football (soccer) for a record sixth time.February 11Pres. José Ramos-Horta of East Timor is critically injured in an apparent assassination attempt; the country's prime minister, Xanana Gusmão, is also attacked, but he escapes injury.The drug company Baxter International announces its suspension of production of heparin, a blood thinner, because some 350 people have reacted badly to it, in some cases fatally.The Columbus science module, created by the European Space Agency, is successfully attached to the International Space Station, greatly increasing the station's size and doubling its research capability.February 12Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, orders all military officers in government civil positions to resign from those posts.A report from a census of tigers in India is released; it finds that the number of tigers since the last census, in 2002, has fallen from 3,642 to only 1,411.K-Run's Park Me in First wins Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club's 132nd dog show; the popular beagle, known as Uno, is the first of its breed to win the top award at the premier American dog show.February 13Iraq's legislature passes a package bill that includes a 2008 budget, an outline for defining provincial powers, and an amnesty for thousands of detainees; the amnesty is one of the benchmarks that the U.S. government has expected from Iraq.For the first time in the country's history, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologizes to Australia's Aborigines for the government's past mistreatment of them.Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dissolves the legislature, making it necessary to hold elections within the next two months.February 14A gunman enters a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and begins shooting from the stage; he kills 5 students and wounds 16 others before killing himself.Kiribati declares a marine protected area that, at 425,300 sq km (164,200 sq mi), is the largest in the world; it preserves a rare oceanic coral archipelago ecosystem.A U.S. government report shows that the country's trade deficit in December 2007 dropped to $58.8 billion and that the overall figure for 2007 also dropped by 6.2%; it is the first decrease in the figure since 2001.February 15After several inconclusive elections in the legislature, Vaclav Klaus is narrowly reelected president of the Czech Republic.Klaus Zumwinkel resigns as the head of Germany's postal service after he is suspected of having evaded $1.46 million in taxes in a widespread tax scandal.Paraguay declares a state of emergency in response to an outbreak of yellow fever in the area of Asunción; the last yellow fever outbreak was in 1974.Scottish cyclist Mark Beaumont breaks the world record for riding a bicycle around the world when he crosses the finish line in Paris 195 days after he began the 29,000-km (18,000-mi) journey; the previous record of 276 days 19 hr 15 min was set in 2005 by British cyclist Steve Strange.February 16A suicide bomber drives an explosives-laden car into a crowd at a campaign rally in Parachinar, Pak., and detonates it; at least 37 people are killed.The Brazilian film Tropa de elite, directed by José Padilha, wins the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.February 17The UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo unilaterally declares its independence; the following day the U.S., France, and Germany, among others, recognize its sovereignty, but Russia, Spain, and Serbia are among those that refuse recognition.A suicide bomber detonates his weapon at a dogfighting match outside Kandahar, Afg., killing at least 80 people, including a prominent anti-Taliban police chief.The U.S. Department of Agriculture announces the recall of 65 million kg (143 million lb) of ground beef from a Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. slaughterhouse in California where operations have been suspended owing to inhumane handling of its animals; a video made by the Humane Society and released on January 30 showed downer cattle—those that cannot walk—being forcibly taken to slaughter, though downer cattle are forbidden in the food supply.The first round of presidential elections in the Republic of Cyprus produces the need for a runoff between Dimitris Christofias of the Communist Party and Ioannis Kasoulides of the Democratic Rally party; the incumbent, Tassos Papadopoulos, loses.In Daytona Beach, Fla., Ryan Newman wins the 50th running of the Daytona 500, the premier NASCAR race, by 0.092 second in an upset victory.February 18Legislative elections in Pakistan result in a pronounced victory for the Pakistan People's Party (once led by Benazir Bhutto), with 120 seats, and the Pakistan Muslim League-N of Nawaz Sharif, with 90, and an equally pronounced defeat for Pres. Pervez Musharraf's party, which wins only 51 seats.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown holds a news conference to explain and defend the government's decision to nationalize the failing mortgage lender Northern Rock.The BBC transmits its final English-language shortwave radio broadcast in Europe; the service began 75 years earlier with an inaugural transmission by King George V.February 19Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan handily wins election as president of Armenia; the following day thousands of people demonstrate in Yerevan against the election results, which they believe to have been rigged.Fidel Castro announces his official retirement, saying he does not want another term as president of Cuba.Toshiba announces that it will phase out the production of HD DVD players and other products, leaving Sony's Blu-ray the sole new optical media format.The 111-year-old Dow Jones industrial average replaces the Altria Group and Honeywell International with the Bank of America Corp. and the Chevron Corp. on its listing; it is the first change to the 30-stock index since April 2004.February 20Zimbabwe's statistics office reports that the official rate of inflation in January reached 100,580%.A U.S. missile interceptor successfully strikes a falling spy satellite, destroying its fuel tank as planned.Both the high-end unique gadgetry store Sharper Image and the catalog housewares retailer Lillian Vernon file for bankruptcy protection.February 21Thousands of demonstrators angry about Kosovo's declaration of independence attack and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Serbia.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush arrives in Liberia at the end of a six-day, five-country tour of Africa; he is the first sitting president since Jimmy Carter to visit the country, and he is greeted warmly.Brazil's central bank reveals that in January Brazil for the first time became a net creditor country.February 22Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda orders a review of the structure of the Ministry of Defense because of criticism arising from its handling of an incident on February 19 in which its most advanced destroyer rammed into and destroyed a small fishing boat in spite of having spotted it.In Iraq the Shiʿite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr extends the cease-fire being observed by his Mahdi Army militia a further six months.Officials of the open-wheel automobile Indy Racing League announce that it has reached an agreement with the rival Champ Car World Series to merge the two into a single series; it will extend the IndyCar Series from 16 to 19 events.February 23The Ugandan government reaches a formal cease-fire agreement with the rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army.A team of scientists and engineers composed entirely of women guides the Mars exploration rover Spirit; the event, the first time an all-women team has guided a major NASA mission, is organized in recognition of the coming Women's History Month celebration in March.February 24Dimitris Christofias wins the runoff election for president of Cyprus; he immediately agrees to meet the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, to renew efforts at reunification of the island.At the 80th Academy Awards presentation, hosted by Jon Stewart, Oscars are won by, among others, No Country for Old Men (best picture) and its directors, Joel and Ethan Coen, and actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Javier Bardem, and Tilda Swinton.February 25Flemish and Walloon leaders in Belgium agree on a series of reforms, including giving more powers to the regions, that should make it possible for a new government to be formed after close to nine months of disagreement.Lee Myung-bak is sworn in as president of South Korea.A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan publicly announces a demand that all cell phone companies halt service between the hours of 5:00 PM and 7:00 AM; the purpose of the sought curfew is to erode the ability of NATO and U.S. forces to trace the positions of Taliban fighters through cell phone signals.February 26A panel of judges in Nigeria upholds the election of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as president in a challenge brought by the two opposition candidates in the election of April 2007.The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Norwegian Arctic is ceremonially opened with its first consignment of seeds; the depository is intended to safeguard samples of all known food crop seeds against any human or natural disaster.The New York Philharmonic plays a concert in Pyongyang, N.Kor., that includes Antonin Dvorak's Symphony Number 9 in E Minor (From the New World), George Gershwin's An American in Paris, and the Korean folk song “Arirang.”Starbucks closes 7,100 stores for three hours for retraining of its employees.February 27Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returns to Thailand after 17 months in exile; he is wanted on charges of corruption.A recently passed law calling for provincial elections by October and granting greater powers to provincial governments is vetoed by Iraq's presidency council, which consists of Pres. Jalal Talabani and two vice presidents.February 28Kenyan Pres. Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga reach an agreement on a power-sharing government in which Kibaki remains president, Odinga becomes a powerful prime minister, and cabinet appointments are split between the parties.Street demonstrations in cities and towns in Cameroon continue to grow, with at least 20 deaths reported; the protesters are angry about rising fuel costs and about a proposed change to the constitution that lengthens the presidential term of office.Rioting over rising food and fuel prices takes place in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso; similar riots have taken place in other towns.The Pew Center on the States releases a report showing that for the first time more than 1% of American adults are behind bars, with close to 2.3 million adults incarcerated at the beginning of 2008.The first 30,000 pages of the Web-based Encyclopedia of Life go live; the encyclopaedia, which intends to catalog all living species by organizing information that is already available, is expected to grow to 1.77 million pages.February 29Turkey ends its eight-day incursion into northern Iraq, withdrawing its troops to the Turkish side of the border.The government of India passes a budget that includes a provision to cancel all the debt owed by the country's small farmers.A suicide bomber kills at least 46 people at a funeral in Mingora in northwestern Pakistan.March"First and foremost, you must vote. Every single person must exercise his or her franchise."— King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk of Bhutan, exhorting his subjects to vote in the following day's election that will end his absolute rule, March 23March 1Colombian armed forces attack a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp in Ecuador, killing 24 people, including the organization's second-in-command, Raúl Reyes.AOL ceases its support for Netscape Navigator, which was the dominant Internet Web browser in the mid-1990s; it recommends that customers switch to Firefox or Flock.March 2Pres. Robert Kocharyan declares a state of emergency in Armenia after protests the previous day over the results of the February 19 election turned violent, leaving eight people dead.At a gathering of tribal elders who convened in Darra Adamkhel, Pak., to discuss forming a force to fight local militants, a bomb kills 42 people and injures 58 others.As expected, Dmitry Medvedev is elected president of Russia.March 3Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza after a two-day offensive that left 116 Palestinians dead, and Hamas holds a victory rally.The price of oil reaches $103.95 a barrel, breaking the record set in August 1980 when that price, $39.50, is adjusted for inflation.Ecuador breaks off diplomatic relations with Colombia in response to the raid Colombia made against Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in Ecuador.March 4Ian Paisley announces that he will retire in May as first minister of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government and as head of the Democratic Unionist Party.Longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who set several records in his 17-year career, announces his retirement from professional football.March 5The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Hawaii release a study saying that barren areas of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans have increased some 15% since 1998.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that heparin associated with bad reactions, including 19 deaths, was produced with ingredients made in China and contained a contaminant that effectively mimicked the active ingredient in genuine heparin.March 6A gunman invades the well-known Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem and opens fire, killing at least eight students.Two bombs explode in sequence in a shopping district in Baghdad; at least 68 people are killed.Mexico's Senate approves a sweeping reform of the country's criminal justice system that, among other things, introduces open trials; the reform was previously approved in the Chamber of Deputies and must also be approved by a majority of state legislatures.The U.S. Federal Reserve Board reports that in the second quarter of 2007, for the first time since the board began tracking data in 1945, the amount of equity Americans own in their homes fell below 50%.The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration fines Southwest Airlines a record $10.2 million for flying older Boeing 737 planes that had not yet been inspected, in contravention of FAA rules.In New York City the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards are announced as Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (fiction), Harriet Washington for Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (nonfiction), Tim Jeal for Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer (biography), Edwidge Danticat for Brother, I'm Dying (autobiography), Mary Jo Bang for Elegy (poetry), and Alex Ross for The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (criticism); Emilie Buchwald is granted the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.March 7At a summit meeting in the Dominican Republic, the leaders of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela reach an agreement to end the spreading diplomatic crisis that was initiated by Colombia's military strike on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) encampment in Ecuador's territory.Pres. Jalal Talabani of Iraq meets with Turkish Pres. Abdullah Gul in Ankara, Tur., in an effort to bring about improved relations between the countries.March 8Legislative elections in Malaysia result in the worst showing for the ruling National Front party in almost 40 years, though it does just barely retain its majority.Pres. Boris Tadic of Serbia announces plans to call an early election as a result of dissension over Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.March 9In legislative elections in Spain, the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) wins 43.6% of the vote, retaining power; the conservative Popular Party wins 40.1%.In London, Hairspray wins four Laurence Olivier Awards—best new musical, best actor in a musical (Michael Ball), best actress in a musical (Leanne Jones), and best supporting performance in a musical (Tracie Bennett).March 10Indian authorities block hundreds of Tibetan protesters near Dharmshala at the beginning of a six-month march to Tibet to protest China's hosting of the Olympic Games.The Roman Catholic Church publishes a new list of mortal sins; it includes pollution, excessive wealth, and tampering with the order of nature.In a ceremony in New York City, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland, inducts musicians Leonard Cohen, Madonna, John Mellencamp, and Little Walter, the groups the Dave Clark Five and the Ventures, and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.March 11China announces a planned reorganization of its government that will create ministries to oversee environmental protection, social services, housing and construction, and industry and information.In the first municipal elections in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, in 13 years, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal Party wins 11 of the 19 seats on the city council; the party is made up of fighters who broke with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and began fighting for the government.Two bombs in Lahore, Pak., the first at a Federal Investigation Agency office, kill at least 24 people.March 12Former star prosecutor Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation as governor of the U.S. state of New York after knowledge that he was a client of a pricey prostitution service has come to light.NASA's spacecraft Cassini passes within 50 km (30 mi) of the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus in order to sample ice plumes from cracks in the moon's surface.The Web site Hulu.com, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Fox that makes television shows and movies available to anyone with an Internet connection, goes live.Michael Heller, a Polish cosmologist and philosopher, is named the winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities.Kate Christensen wins the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for her novel The Great Man.Lance Mackey wins the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for the second consecutive year, crossing the Burled Arch in Nome, Alaska, after a journey of 9 days 11 hours 46 minutes 48 seconds.March 13It is reported that hundreds of monks in Tibet have been protesting China's rule over the province for the past few days.Pres. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of The Sudan and Pres. Idriss Déby of Chad sign an agreement to end rebel attacks across each other's borders.The body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul, Iraq, is found in Mosul; he was kidnapped on February 29.For the first time, Cuba allows ordinary citizens to purchase appliances and electronic devices such as computers and DVD players.March 14Violence breaks out in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, between residents and Chinese security forces.In legislative elections in Iran, conservatives win 132 seats and reformists only 31; the European Union characterizes the conduct of the election as neither free nor fair.A tornado roars through downtown Atlanta, injuring dozens and causing major damage to city landmarks.A recently recognized portrait of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is authenticated in London; the portrait is believed to have been painted about 1783 by Austrian artist Joseph Hickel and is one of only four known portraits from Mozart's time in Vienna.March 15A munitions depot near Tirana, Alb., blows up, and the series of explosions as well as a strong shock wave leave 26 people dead and hundreds injured; on March 17 Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu resigns.A 19-story construction crane topples to the ground in New York City, destroying a town house and damaging several other buildings; six construction workers and a tourist are killed.With its 29–12 defeat of France, Wales wins the Six Nations Rugby Union championship, having achieved a won-lost record of 5–0.G. Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is named to head the Smithsonian Institution.March 16The bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. announces that with $30 billion in funding from the Federal Reserve, it will buy the collapsing Wall Street investment bank Bear Stearns for only $2 a share.The House of Augustus in Rome, featuring vivid frescoes painted about 30 BC, is opened to the public for the first time, following decades of restoration work.The wreck of HMAS Sydney, which disappeared 66 years earlier, is found off Western Australia, where it sank on Nov. 19, 1941, after being torpedoed by the German raider Kormoran, with 645 aboard; the search vessel Geosounder finds the wreckage some 112 nautical miles from Denham.March 17The World Glacier Monitoring Service releases a report charting changes in glaciers through 2006; the study shows that the pace of melting appears to be accelerating.In Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, Serbs attempting to force a partition of the northern part of Kosovo (which is populated heavily with ethnic Serbs) from the rest of Kosovo attack UN peacekeeping forces.A bomb goes off near a shrine in Karbalaʾ, Iraq; at least 43 people are killed.March 18Kenya's National Assembly approves a power-sharing plan intended to end the crisis set in motion by the presidential election.The Dow Jones industrial average rises 420 points, its highest one-day point gain since July 2002, in response to the three-quarter-point rate cut by the Federal Reserve.German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the Israeli Knesset (legislature); she is the first German chancellor to do so in Israel's 60-year history.March 19Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah of Kuwait dissolves the government and calls for elections.Toshihiko Fukui's term as head of Japan's central bank ends without a successor's having been chosen, as the Diet (legislature) is unable to agree on a candidate.Greece is paralyzed by a widespread strike to protest proposed changes to the pension law.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War with a speech saying that going to war was the right thing to do and insisting that the war continue until the attainment of victory.March 20Yves Leterme of the Flemish Christian Democratic Party is sworn in as prime minister of a coalition government in Belgium nine months after elections.A report published in the journal Nature describes the discovery of a molecule of methane, an organic substance, and the confirmation of the presence of water on the exoplanet HD 189733b in the constellation Vulpecula.A report is published in the journal Science saying that a study of a fossil thigh bone of the six-million-year-old protohuman species Orrorin tugensis found that the species was able to walk upright and that it may be more closely related to Australopithecus than to Homo; this is now the earliest-known example of bipedalism in hominins.March 21The Republic of Cyprus's newly elected president, Dimitris Christofias, meets with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat; they agree to resume talks aimed at reuniting the Greek and Turkish sides of the country.A Russian environmental agency announces plans to inspect a large Siberian oil field owned by TNK-BP, a joint venture of the British oil company BP and the Alfa, Access/Renova group (AAR); two days earlier Russian security forces had raided the corporate headquarters of TNK-BP.March 22Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party is elected president of Taiwan; Ma campaigned on a platform of seeking closer economic ties with China.Asif Ali Zardari, head of the victorious Pakistan People's Party, names Yousaf Raza Gillani to become Pakistan's prime minister.March 23A roadside bomb in Baghdad kills four U.S. soldiers, bringing the number of American troops killed in the Iraq War to 4,000; at least 58 Iraqis are also killed in violence throughout the country.Hours after baptizing Muslim-born Egyptian writer Magdi Allam, Pope Benedict XVI delivers Easter greetings in Vatican City in 63 languages, celebrates religious conversions to Christianity, and prays for peace in troubled regions of the world.March 24Voters in Bhutan choose the members of the National Assembly, the lower house of the country's new legislature, transforming the country into a parliamentary monarchy; 45 of the 47 seats are won by the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party, and turnout is close to 80%.Pakistan's newly named prime minister orders the release of the judges placed under house arrest in late 2007 by Pres. Pervez Musharraf.JPMorgan Chase agrees to increase the price that it will pay for the stock of Bear Stearns to $10 a share and to increase its stake in the company to 39%.The Olympic torch is ceremonially lit in Olympia, Greece, though the ceremony is briefly interrupted by a few pro-Tibet protesters; until August 8 the torch is to travel around the world before arriving in Beijing for the Olympic Games.March 25Military forces of the African Union and Comoros seize control of the autonomous island of Anjouan from Mohamed Bacar, who took power in a coup in 2001.Scientists report that a 415-sq-km (160-sq-mi) chunk of ice has fallen from the Wilkins ice shelf in western Antarctica; it is believed that the collapse, which began on February 28, can be attributed to global warming.Thousands of people rally throughout Argentina in support of farmers who have been on strike for two weeks against an export tax on grains; the strike has caused shortages of foodstuffs and cancellation of numerous delivery contracts.March 26Scientists report that the Cassini spacecraft has found that geysers on the Saturnian moon Enceladus contain molecules of water, methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide, all organic molecules.The space shuttle Endeavour returns to Earth after a two-week mission to the International Space Station in which its crew began installing the Japanese science lab Kibo and constructed and deployed Dextre, a Canadian robot, among other things.The sale of the Jaguar and Land Rover car brands from the Ford Motor Co. to the Indian car company Tata Motors, part of the Tata Group, is announced.American Airlines and Delta Air Lines ground more than 200 planes for inspections; American cancels 300 flights as a result.March 27As Iraqi security forces struggle to gain control of the city of Basra from Shiʿite militias, angered Shiʿites cause fighting in other cities in the country and mount demonstrations in Baghdad.Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá of Puerto Rico is indicted on federal charges involving campaign finance violations.The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awards its annual Abel Prize for outstanding work in mathematics to American mathematician John Griggs Thompson and French mathematician Jacques Tits for their contributions to group theory.March 28U.S. military forces conduct air strikes in support of the Iraqi army's stalled offensive against Shiʿite militias in Basra.North Korea conducts test launches of short-range missiles off its western coast and threatens to slow down the disabling of its nuclear facilities.Chaos resulting from problems with new check-in and baggage-handling technology at the new Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport continues for a second day.March 29Presidential elections are held in Zimbabwe, and international observers are barred.The presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, comes under mortar fire, and government troops return fire; at least 10 civilians are killed.Curlin, 2007 Horse of the Year, wins the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race.Oxford defeats Cambridge in the 154th University Boat Race; Cambridge still leads the series, however, by 79–74.March 30Shiʿite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr calls for his followers in Basra to cease fighting in return for concessions from the Iraqi government.Norm Duke wins the Professional Bowlers Association U.S. Open bowling tournament in North Brunswick, N.J.; he becomes only the second bowler to have won all four PBA Grand Slam events.March 31The French liquor company Pernod Ricard announces its purchase of Vin & Sprit, the parent company of Absolut vodka.Prolific French architect Jean Nouvel is named winner of the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize; among his works are the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minn., the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, and the Agbar Tower in Barcelona.April"We can now consign Kenya's past failures of grand corruption and grand tribalism to our history books."— Raila Odinga, upon being inaugurated as prime minister of Kenya, April 17April 1After days of demonstrations and rioting by tens of thousands of people angry about the government of Yemen's failure to admit people from the former South Yemen into the army, the government sends tanks into the streets to try to put a stop to the unrest.Intense fighting takes place between Chad's armed forces and rebel militias in the eastern part of the country.British Defense Minister Desmond Browne announces that a planned drawdown of troops in southern Iraq will be postponed until the security situation in Basra can be stabilized.Ian Khama takes office as president of Botswana the day after Festus Mogae resigned the post.April 2Official returns from the March 29 legislative elections in Zimbabwe are released, showing that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change won 109 seats and the ruling ZANU-PF took 97; though the MDC releases figures showing that Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential election, no official results are given.Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announces that he will resign his post on May 6.Farmers in Argentina suspend their 21-day strike for 30 days in order to engage in negotiations with the government.When the single “Touch My Body” reaches the top of the Billboard chart, its artist, Mariah Carey, passes Elvis Presley for having had the most number one singles on the chart; the top position in the competition still belongs to the Beatles.April 3At a NATO summit meeting in Bucharest, Rom., leaders agree to endorse a proposed U.S. missile defense system based in Europe and to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan but decline to offer the first step toward eventual membership to Georgia and Ukraine; in addition, Albania and Croatia are invited to full membership, but, on Greece's veto, Macedonia is not.The barricades on Ledra Street in Nicosia, Cyprus, that have divided the city's Greek and Turkish areas since 1964 are pulled down in a ceremony attended by UN envoys as well as representatives of both communities.The Jules Verne, an automated transfer vehicle developed by the European Space Agency, successfully docks at the International Space Station; it carries several tons of fuel, oxygen, food, clothing, and other equipment and supplies.U.S.-based ATA Airlines ceases operations without warning, stranding thousands of travelers.Tony Hoagland is named the second winner of the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize.April 4A UN climate conference in Bangkok concludes with an agreement on the first step toward a new climate-control treaty and an agreement to discuss emissions from airplanes and ships.Authorities in Texas raid the Yearning for Zion Ranch of the polygamous sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eldorado and take 52 girls into protective custody; eventually more than 400 children are removed from the compound.April 5Nine-year-old jumper Comply Or Die, ridden by jockey Timmy Murphy, wins the Grand National steeplechase horse race at the Aintree course in Liverpool, Eng.Opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai says that no runoff presidential election is called for in Zimbabwe and petitions the High Court in an attempt to force a release of the official tally for the presidential vote.April 6At the Olympic torch relay in London, pro-Tibet protesters attempting to seize or extinguish the torch to express their opposition to Chinese human rights abuses are engaged in a series of scuffles with police and prevented from achieving their goal.Pres. Filip Vujanovic of Montenegro wins election to a new term of office.April 7Violent anti-Chinese protests assail the Olympic torch relay in Paris, resulting in its being extinguished several times and forcing the authorities to transport it by bus for part of the route.In Haiti thousands of people protesting the high price of food shut down the capital, Port-au-Prince, days after food riots in Les Cayes led to five deaths.The prime ministers of China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam ceremonially inaugurate Route 3 in Laos, the final link of a network of roads, largely financed by China, that connect Kunming, China, with Bangkok.In New York City the winners of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes are announced: six awards go to the Washington Post, which wins for public service, breaking news reporting, national reporting, international reporting, feature writing, and commentary; winners in letters include Junot Díaz in fiction and Tracy Letts in drama.The National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in men's basketball is won by the University of Kansas, which defeats the University of Memphis 75–68; the following day the University of Tennessee defeats Stanford University 64–48 to win the women's NCAA title for the second consecutive year.For the second time, the online search company Yahoo! rejects a buyout offer from software company Microsoft.April 8The Orange Democratic Movement, headed by Raila Odinga, suspends peace talks with Pres. Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, insisting on the dismissal of the standing cabinet before negotiations can continue; rioting erupts in Nairobi and Kisumu.An online article in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that in a gene therapy trial three young adults suffering from congenital blindness had their functional vision restored.A group of road surveyors and construction workers and their guards are ambushed by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's Zabul province; 18 of the guards are killed.American Airlines announces the cancellation of some 500 flights in order to allow reinspection of its MD-80 fleet after consultations with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration; by April 11 more than 3,000 flights have been canceled, but full service returns on April 13.The petroleum companies BP and ConocoPhillips agree to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay into Canada and possibly as far as Chicago.April 9Violence in reaction to an assault on a former cabinet minister breaks out in Karachi, with Pres. Pervez Musharraf's followers battling supporters of the new government; at least seven people are killed.Kosovo's legislature adopts a constitution that makes the country a parliamentary democracy with a strong president; it will go into effect on June 15.Legislative elections in South Korea give a majority to the Grand National Party of Pres. Lee Myung-bak.Serzh Sarkisyan is sworn in as president of Armenia; he appoints Tigran Sarkisyan prime minister.Masaaki Shirakawa is confirmed as governor of the Bank of Japan.April 10Voters in Nepal go to the polls to elect the Constituent Assembly that will write the country's new constitution; the Maoist party wins the largest number of seats.Cameroon's legislature approves an amendment to the constitution that will allow the president to hold office indefinitely, ending the previous two-term limit.The Pacific Fishery Management Council cancels the commercial Chinook salmon fishing season on the Pacific coast from California to north-central Oregon because of the population collapse of the prized fish.In Atlanta, big, a collaborative mixed-media performance by the Atlanta Ballet and hip-hop luminary Antwan Patton (Big Boi), premieres at the Fox Theatre.April 11Left-wing lawmakers take over both houses of Mexico's legislature, staging a sit-in to protest planned changes to the state-run oil monopoly.A new decree allows workers in Cuba who rent housing from their state employers to keep their homes after leaving their jobs, to gain title to their homes, and to pass their homes on to their children or other relatives.April 12At the joint IMF–World Bank spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, describes the skyrocketing price of food and its impact on poorer countries; there have been food riots in cities throughout the world.Pres. René Préval of Haiti announces new subsidies that will lower the price of rice by 15% in an attempt to mollify crowds who have been demanding high-level government resignations for failure to address the food crisis; the Senate nonetheless votes to remove Jacques-Édouard Alexis as prime minister.Norway's first national opera house opens in Oslo with a gala attended by Queen Sonja of Norway, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.In Harbin, China, the U.S. defeats Canada 4–3 to win the International Ice Hockey Federation world women's championship.April 13The parties of Pres. Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga agree on the composition of a new and much larger cabinet in Kenya.The Iraqi government says that it has dismissed some 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or otherwise laid down their arms in the operation in March against the Mahdi Army in Basra.On a rainy day Martin Lel of Kenya wins the London Marathon for the second year in a row with a time of 2 hr 5 min 15 sec, and Irina Mikitenko of Germany, in her first marathon, is the fastest woman in the race, with a time of 2 hr 24 min 14 sec.Trevor Immelman of South Africa wins the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., by three strokes.April 14In two days of legislative elections in Italy, the largest percentage of votes goes to Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom alliance.It is reported that a virulent strain of the mosquito-borne dengue fever has left at least 80 people dead in Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil, and the disease continues to spread.For the first time since 1965, passenger train service between Kolkata (Calcutta) in India and Dhaka, Bangladesh, takes place, with one train departing from each city.The American midsize carriers Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines agree to merge; the combined airline will be known as Delta.The video rental company Blockbuster makes public a hostile bid to buy electronics retailer Circuit City.April 15In Iraq a powerful car bomb kills at least 40 people in downtown Baʿqubah, while a suicide bomber in a restaurant in Al-Ramadi leaves 13 people dead.The Prado Museum in Madrid opens the exhibition “Goya in Times of War,” showcasing more than 200 paintings, drawings, and prints from the last 25 years of the career of artist Francisco de Goya; the show marks the 200th anniversary of the Spanish War of Independence.April 16In fierce fighting between Israeli armed forces and militants in the Gaza Strip, at least 21 people, some of them civilians, are killed.Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin orders that a number of Russian ministries establish direct relations with their counterparts in the de-facto governments of the separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.Pres. Idriss Déby of Chad removes Prime Minister Delwa Kassire Koumakoye and replaces him with Youssouf Saleh Abbas.Government figures show that the rate of inflation in Zimbabwe reached 165,000% in February, up from 100,000% in January.The price of a barrel of oil reaches a new record high just under $115.April 17Raila Odinga is sworn in as prime minister of Kenya; an agreement made in February gives him power that is equal to that of the president.A presidential decree restructures the governorates in Egypt, adding two new ones, Helwan and Sixth of October, carved out of the densely populated governorates of Cairo and Giza.In Zaranj, the capital of Afghanistan's Nimruz province, a suicide bomber detonates his weapon outside a mosque; at least 23 people are killed.The conservative ruling party in Germany, the Christian Democrats, agrees to form a coalition government with the Green Party in Hamburg.An unannounced meeting with several people who had been abused by priests in the archdiocese of Boston proves to be a highlight of Pope Benedict XVI's first papal visit to the U.S.Sony BMG Music Entertainment announces that legendary hitmaker Clive Davis will step down as head of the BMG Label Group and will be replaced by Barry Weiss; industry observers are surprised.April 18The European Union agrees on a framework to outlaw the dissemination of terrorist propaganda for the purposes of recruiting, training, or bomb making through the Internet; the member countries will have to adjust their laws to conform to the EU goal.Canada bans baby bottles made of polycarbonate because of fears that bisphenol A(BPA), a component of polycarbonate, could cause long-term hormonal damage.In Durban, S.Af., dockworkers refuse to unload a Chinese shipment of weapons that are intended to be delivered to Zimbabwe, and South Africa's High Court issues an order prohibiting the transport of the weapons across South Africa to Zimbabwe; the Chinese ship departs the port.April 19Election officials in Zimbabwe begin a partial recount of the ballots from the March 29 general election at the request of the government; opposition leaders' legal challenge to stop the recount was unsuccessful.A Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying back from the space station former International Space Station commander Peggy A. Whitson of the U.S., Russian flight engineer Yury I. Malenchenko, and South Korea's first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, lands about 418 km (260 mi) off its mark in Kazakhstan.April 20With his election to the presidency of Paraguay, former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo ends the rule of the Colorado Party, which had held power since 1946.After two days of street fights between Ethiopian troops and Islamist militants in Mogadishu, Som., at least 81 people have been killed, many of them civilians.American race car driver Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300 race, coming in six seconds ahead of Brazilian Hélio Castroneves and becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race.At the BAFTA Television Awards in London, winners include the drama series The Street, the situation comedy Peep Show, and the reality show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares; the audience award for program of the year goes to Gavin & Stacey.April 21Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the leader of a group of radical Islamists that has fought the government of Pakistan for two decades, is released from prison by the new provincial government in Peshawar in return for a vow to abjure violence and work for peace.Disney Studios announces the creation of a new production unit, Disneynature, that will produce nature documentaries; its first release, scheduled for April 2009, will be a film called Earth.The 112th Boston Marathon is won for the third consecutive year by Robert K. Cheruiyot of Kenya, with a time of 2 hr 7 min 46 sec; the fastest woman is Dire Tune of Ethiopia, who crosses the finish line 2 seconds ahead of Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia and posts a time of 2 hr 25 min 25 sec.April 22At a meeting convened in London by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss the rising price of food throughout the world, the World Food Programme's executive director, Josette Sheeran, likens the crisis to a “silent tsunami” in the poorest countries of the world.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expresses the administration's displeasure over former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's recent high-levels meetings with representatives of Hamas.The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France reports that paintings found in the Bamiyan caves in Afghanistan have been proved to have been painted with drying oils centuries before the first oil paintings appeared in Europe.April 23A major battle between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam takes place in northern Sri Lanka; some 90 combatants are killed.Health authorities in Burkina Faso report that a meningitis outbreak has reached Ouagadougou and has to date killed 811 people.The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are increasing at an accelerating rate and that levels of methane are also beginning to rise.April 24Some 400,000 civil servants, most of them teachers, stage a one-day strike in the U.K. in protest over pay increases that have failed to keep pace with inflation.Pres. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan restores the standard month names and day names to the calendar, abolishing the calendar that the previous president had decreed to further his cult of personality.The fast-food chain Wendy's International agrees to be bought by Triarc Companies, the parent company of the Arby's chain of fast-food restaurants.April 25Police in Harare, Zimb., raid the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, arresting scores of people, and another raid targets the independent election monitoring organization Zimbabwe Election Support Network.The government of China expresses its new willingness to meet with envoys of the Dalai Lama for discussions on Tibet.Leftist politicians in Mexico end the sit-in that had shut down the legislature after securing an agreement that a plan to overhaul the state oil monopoly would be debated for 71 days.The banking company Wachovia Corp. agrees to pay up to $144 million in fines and restitution to end an investigation into relationships the bank had with telemarketers that allowed them to steal millions of dollars from account holders.April 26A running gun battle between rival groups of drug traffickers takes place in Tijuana, Mex.; 13 people are killed.Transit workers in Toronto unexpectedly go on strike hours after their union rejected a tentative contract; thousands of passengers are stranded.April 27At a military parade in Kabul staged to celebrate Afghanistan's national holiday, a coordinated attempt is made to assassinate Pres. Hamid Karzai, who escapes unharmed, though three people are killed, including a child caught in the cross fire.Austrian authorities divulge that a 73-year-old man in Amstetten has been discovered to have been keeping his daughter imprisoned in the basement for the past 24 years, during which time he fathered seven children with her, three of whom he allowed her to keep in the basement, three of whom he and his clueless wife adopted, and one of whom died.April 28The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Indiana's law requiring voters to show photo identification does not unconstitutionally infringe on the right to vote.Mars, Inc., the maker of candies and other foodstuffs, announces its purchase of the Wrigley chewing gum company.April 29In response to an offer by the Popular Revolutionary Army to suspend its attacks on oil and gas pipelines, the government of Mexico agrees to negotiations with the organization.The resignation of Wolfgang Wagner as director of the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Ger., is announced; Wagner, grandson of composer Richard Wagner, has led the festival for 57 years.Rockstar Games releases the fourth edition of its controversial video game series, Grand Theft Auto IV; this edition, which features a fully realized protagonist and complex plot lines, is greeted with critical acclaim.April 30Turkey's legislature approves reforms to a law restricting free speech that limit the opportunities for prosecution, reduce penalties, and change a prohibition against insults to “Turkishness” to one against insults to the “Turkish nation.”Researchers report that DNA tests have confirmed that bone shards found in a forest near Yekaterinburg, Russia, in summer 2007 were those of Alexis and Maria, children of the last Romanov rulers of Russia, Nicholas and Alexandra; their fate had not been conclusively known heretofore.In Honolulu, dozens of members of a sovereignty group occupy the Iolani Palace, a museum that was once the home of Hawaiian royalty, and take over the grounds, saying that the organization would stay there operating as the government of the Hawaiian Islands.May"Myanmar is not in a position to receive rescue and information teams from foreign countries at the moment."— Myanmar (Burma) Foreign Ministry statement one week after Cyclone Nargis devastated the country, May 9May 1Colourful Tory candidate Boris Johnson is elected mayor of London as the Labour incumbent, Ken Livingstone, is voted out.Two suicide bombers detonating their weapons in succession leave at least 35 people dead in Balad Ruz, in Iraq's Diyala province, and a car bomb in Baghdad kills one U.S. soldier and nine Iraqi civilians.The Hangzhou Bay Bridge connecting Shanghai to Ningbao, China, opens; at 36 km (22 mi) in length, it is the world's longest sea bridge.At the National Magazine Awards in New York City, National Geographic wins three awards, including one for general excellence; other winners include The New Yorker, GQ, Backpacker, Mother Jones, Print, and, in the online category, RunnersWorld.com.May 2Tropical Cyclone Nargis makes landfall and churns up the southeast coast of Myanmar (Burma), causing enormous devastation, especially in the Irrawaddy River delta, and reportedly killing at least 351 people.Zimbabwe's electoral commission releases official results of the March 29 presidential election, saying challenger Morgan Tsvangirai won 47.9% of the vote, to incumbent Robert Mugabe's 43.25%, necessitating a runoff; the Movement for Democratic Change maintains that Tsvangirai won 50.3% of the vote, an outright win.Pakistan's governing coalition announces an agreement to bring a resolution before the National Assembly that should result in the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges on May 12.The Chaitén volcano in Chile's Patagonia region begins a massive eruption, burying an area of about 155 sq km (60 sq mi) in more than 38 cm (15 in) of ash; the volcano had not erupted for some 9,000 years.A motorcycle bomb kills 18 people outside a mosque in Saʿdah, Yemen.May 3Police take control of Honduras's National Penitentiary, north of Tegucigalpa, after rioting in which 17 inmates died; seven days earlier nine prisoners had died in rioting in a prison in San Pedro Sula.Big Brown wins the Kentucky Derby, the first race of Thoroughbred horse racing's U.S. Triple Crown, but the event is marred when the filly Eight Belles, which finishes second, breaks both front ankles after crossing the finish line and is euthanized on the track.May 4Residents of the Santa Cruz department of Bolivia overwhelmingly vote in a nonbinding referendum for the administrative subdivision to become autonomous.In honour of the 50th anniversary of the birth of artist Keith Haring, a re-creation of a mural originally painted on a concrete wall in New York City in 1982 is unveiled; the mural, sponsored by the Keith Haring Foundation and Deitch Projects, will remain on view until the end of the year.May 5Iran suspends talks with the U.S. on the security situation in Iraq.Tens of thousands of people riot in Mogadishu, Som., enraged by the soaring price of food; troops open fire on the rioters, killing two.The Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, who resigned from the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2005, is announced as the new music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.May 6In Taiwan, in the midst of a scandal in which $30 million of government money (intended to be given to Papua New Guinea if it switched its diplomatic relations from China to Taiwan) seems to have been stolen, Foreign Minister James Huang, Vice-Premier Chiou I-chen, and another official all resign.May 7A general strike against Lebanese government economic policies spirals into street fighting between Hezbollah supporters (who favour the strike and oppose a government move to shut down a private Hezbollah telephone network) and those who favour the government.Dmitry Medvedev takes office as president of Russia and names outgoing president Vladimir Putin prime minister.Ireland's Dáil (legislature) elects Brian Cowen prime minister.Scientists announce the decoding of the genome of the platypus; the research is expected to yield insights into the evolution of mammals.May 8North Korea turns over to the U.S. 18,000 pages of documentation on its plutonium program dating back to 1990.Silvio Berlusconi is sworn in for his third term as prime minister of Italy.Edgar Millán Gómez, the acting chief of federal police in Mexico, is ambushed and killed by several men outside his home in Mexico City.The recently reported death of fugitive financier Robert Vesco on Nov. 23, 2007, is confirmed; his Cuban widow says that she saw no sign of the fortune Vesco was said to have stolen from investors before fleeing the U.S. in 1972.May 9Hezbollah fighters seize control of a large portion of western Beirut.As attacks against supporters of the opposition in Zimbabwe intensify, Pres. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa holds talks with Zimbabwean Pres. Robert Mugabe in Harare.Two shipments of food aid from the UN World Food Programme are confiscated by the Myanmar (Burma) government as it agrees to accept supplies but not personnel from outside sources, saying it will deliver the aid itself to victims of Cyclone Nargis.May 10A referendum on a new constitution that places a great deal of power in the hands of the military is held in Myanmar (Burma); 92.48% of voters are said to have approved the document.Rebel fighters from the Darfur region of The Sudan attempt to attack Khartoum, the capital, but are repelled by the Sudanese armed forces.Shiʿite leaders of Iraq's legislature and representatives of Shiʿite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reach an agreement on a truce to end the bloodshed in the Sadr City neighbourhood of Baghdad.Jenna Bush, daughter of U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, weds Henry Hager in a ceremony near Crawford, Texas.May 11In legislative elections in Serbia, the coalition For a European Serbia wins 102 of the 250 seats, followed by 78 seats for the Serbian Radical Party.May 12A magnitude-7.9 earthquake with its epicentre in Wenchuan causes devastation in the Chinese province of Sichuan as schools collapse, factories are destroyed, and whole villages are demolished; the initial death toll is about 10,000.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon bluntly tells the military government of Myanmar (Burma) that it must allow more foreign aid, and one American air transport is permitted to enter the country; the official cyclone toll is raised to 31,938 people dead and 29,770 missing.The Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by Nawaz Sharif, withdraws from the cabinet because of the insistence of its coalition partner, the Pakistan People's Party, that judges appointed by Pres. Pervez Musharraf under emergency rule retain their seats even after the judges dismissed by Musharraf regain their seats.In a raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrest 390 people; it is the largest immigration raid in U.S. history.May 13To the shock of environmentalists, Marina Silva resigns as Brazil's minister of the environment, citing a lack of government support for environmental goals; she is replaced by Carlos Minc.In Jaipur, India, seven bombs go off in rapid succession, leaving at least 56 people dead.Annika Sörenstam announces that she will retire from professional golf at the end of the year.The U.S. National Endowment for the Arts announces that the winners of its first annual Opera Honors awards are directors James Levine and Richard Geddes, composer Carlisle Floyd, and soprano Leontyne Price; each will receive $25,000.Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the car manufacturer Nissan Motor Co., announces that the company intends to bring an electric car to the American market by 2010.The respected French encyclopaedia Larousse is offered in an online version to which users are invited to contribute.The 1995 portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud is sold at auction by Christie's in New York City for $33.6 million, a record price for a work by a living artist.May 14Lebanon's government reverses its decisions to act against Hezbollah's private telephone network and to fire a Hezbollah ally from a government position.China mobilizes soldiers to shore up dams in the region that was damaged by the Sichuan earthquake; the death toll is raised to 14,866, with 26,000 people believed to still be buried and 40,000 people missing.The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that the death toll from Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) is between 68,833 and 127,990.U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announces that the polar bear will be listed as an endangered species because the growing melting of sea ice threatens the species' survival.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush arrives in Israel for a gala celebration of the country's 60th anniversary.The Russian association football (soccer) club FC Zenit St. Petersburg defeats FC Rangers of Glasgow, Scot., 2–0 to win the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA) Cup in Manchester, Eng.May 15The Lebanese government and the Hezbollah-led opposition agree to renew negotiations over a new government.The California Supreme Court rules that state laws that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples are unconstitutional and that same-sex couples also have the right to marry.Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the most widely accepted of the two men believed to be the 17th Gwalwang Karmapa, one of the top leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, arrives in New York City for an 18-day visit to the United States, his first.May 16Zimbabwe's election commission schedules a runoff election between Pres. Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for June 27.Leonel Fernández wins reelection as president of the Dominican Republic; some observers attribute his victory to the recent opening of a 14.5-km (9-mi) subway in Santo Domingo.The central banks of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden announce a plan of emergency credit of up to €1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) for the central bank in Iceland; the value of the Icelandic króna has been dropping precipitously.Portugal's legislature adopts a spelling standardization agreement that will change the spelling of many words to match the Brazilian spelling.The government of Myanmar (Burma) raises the official death toll from Cyclone Nargis to 78,000, with a further 55,917 listed as missing.May 17In legislative elections in Kuwait, Islamist candidates win 24 of the body's 50 seats, independents take 19 seats, and liberals garner 7.Trucks carrying men firing assault rifles roll into Villa Ahumada, Mex.; 6 people are killed, including the chief of police, and 10 others are kidnapped, prompting the entire surviving police force to flee and leaving the rest of the town terrorized.Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown decisively wins the Preakness Stakes, the second event in U.S. Thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown.May 18After a week of increasing and spreading anti-immigrant violence in and around Johannesburg in which at least 12 people were killed, South African Pres. Thabo Mbeki promises a commission to study the causes of the violence.Russia defeats Canada 5–4 in overtime to win the gold medal in the ice hockey men's world championship tournament in Quebec City.May 19Nelly Avila Moreno (nom de guerre Karina), a top commander in FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), surrenders to the Colombian army.The Sukhoi Superjet 100, designed to replace the Tupelov 134 of the 1960s and the Yakovlev 42 of 1980 as a commercial airliner, makes its maiden flight; its Russian manufacturer hopes to sell more than 800 Superjets.May 20Pres. Lansana Conté of Guinea replaces Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté with Ahmed Tidiane Souare; rioting occurs in Conakry in response.For the first time in 15 months, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan engage in peace negotiations.Ma Ying-jeou is inaugurated as president of Taiwan.A U.S. federal Court of Appeals rules that the country's paper currency must be redesigned because the various denominations cannot be distinguished by the visually impaired.May 21The ruling United National Movement party wins legislative elections in Georgia by a wide margin.Israel and Syria announce that they are undertaking negotiations toward a peace treaty; the talks are taking place in Istanbul.Astronomers report that for the first time they have seen a star just before it became a supernova; by means of the Swift satellite telescope, the star, in the constellation Lynx, was seen emitting a burst of X-rays, which alerted scientists to its imminent explosion.In association football (soccer), Manchester United defeats another English team, Chelsea, on penalty kicks to win the UEFA Champions League championship in Moscow.May 22The price of oil briefly reaches a record $135.09 a barrel before closing at $133.17.An appellate court in Texas rules that the state was wrong in removing more than 450 children from the custody of their parents in the polygamist Yearning for Zion ranch in April.Odchazeni (“Leaving”), an absurdist comedy that is playwright and former Czech president Vaclav Havel's first new play in 20 years, opens in the Archa Theatre in Prague.May 23Mozambique declares a state of emergency to make money available to assist thousands of Mozambicans fleeing anti-immigrant violence in South Africa.Twelve countries in South America sign a treaty creating Unasur, a union intended to be similar to the European Union; the member countries are unable to agree on a unionwide defense strategy.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announces that the rulers of Myanmar (Burma) have now agreed to allow aid workers from anywhere to enter the country in response to the Cyclone Nargis disaster.May 24UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in earthquake-ravaged Yingxiu and praises China's response to the disaster; China puts the death toll at 60,560, with a further 26,221 counted as missing.In the Indian state of Rajasthan, two days of protest by ethnic Gujjars, who seek a caste classification that would entitle them to government assistance, are responded to with police gunfire; some 25 protesters and 2 police officers are killed.In Belgrade, Serbia, the Russian pop star Dima Bilan wins the Eurovision Song Contest with his English-language rendition of “Believe,” produced by American rap impresario Timbaland.May 25Former army chief Michel Suleiman is elected president of Lebanon and takes office immediately; the country had been without a president since Nov. 24, 2007.NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, launched on Aug. 4, 2007, successfully makes a soft landing in the northern polar region of Mars, where it will analyze soil samples and search for proof of water.FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) confirms that its founder and chief, Pedro Antonio Marín, died on March 26.The Sutong Bridge, between the Chinese cities of Suzhou and Nantong in Jiangsu province, opens to traffic; with a main span of 1,088 m (3,570 ft), the bridge is the world's longest cable-stayed bridge.Ozeki Kotooshu defeats ozeki Chiyotaikai to win sumo's Natsu Basho; Kotooshu, who is Bulgarian, is the first European to win an Emperor's Cup.The 92nd Indianapolis 500 automobile race is won by Scott Dixon of New Zealand.May 26The International Atomic Energy Agency releases a report saying that Iran has failed to be forthcoming about its nuclear programs and that its nuclear capabilities are advancing.The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of world association football (soccer), suspends the Iraq Football Association, winner of the 2007 Asian Cup, because the government of Iraq earlier disbanded the Iraqi Olympic Committee and all other national sporting federations; the suspension is provisionally lifted on May 29.May 27In the face of a military mutiny, Pres. Lansana Conté of Guinea fires Minister of Defense Mamadou Bailo Diallo.At the American Geophysical Union meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., scientists report having observed a coronal mass ejection in which gas spun in two directions at once; it is believed that this is the result of a twisted flux tube of solar magnetism unwinding.May 28Nepal's newly elected constituent assembly votes to transform the country from a monarchy to a republic, giving the royal family, which ruled the country for 240 years, 15 days to vacate the palace in Kathmandu.In Ilulissat, Greenland, the U.S., Russia, Canada, Denmark, and Norway sign an agreement to abide by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding territorial claims on the Arctic and to work cooperatively to limit environmental and other risks in any increased shipping and commerce in the Arctic.New York Gov. David Paterson directs all state agencies to recognize as valid all same-sex marriages that were legally entered into in other jurisdictions.The Islamic Consultative Assembly (legislature) of Iran elects as speaker former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.Fouad Siniora is reappointed to his position as prime minister of Lebanon.The winners of the first biennial Kavli Prizes are announced by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters: Maarten Schmidt and Donald Lynden-Bell in astrophysics, Louis Brus and Sumio Iijima in nanoscience, and Sten Grillner, Thomas M. Jessell, and Pasko Rakic in neuroscience.May 29The confirmed death toll in China's Sichuan earthquake is reported as 68,500 people, with a further 19,000 missing and presumed dead.It is announced in Myanmar (Burma) that the new constitution has gone into effect.Science publishes an online report describing DNA research on a swatch of Paleo-Eskimo hair from Greenland showing that the earliest known inhabitants of Greenland were not related to the later Thule people or American Indians but were related to people now living in the Komandor Islands off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is presented in Chicago to Gary Snyder.May 30Silverjet, a business-class-only airline based in London, ceases operations; it is the third airline of that type to shut down in six months.The much-anticipated movie Sex and the City, a sequel to the widely loved HBO television series (1998–2004), opens in movie theatres throughout the U.S.; its world premiere was in London on May 12.May 31Zimbabwe's army chief of staff says that it is the duty of members of the country's armed forces to vote for Pres. Robert Mugabe in the upcoming runoff presidential election.The space shuttle Discovery lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission to take the Kibo science laboratory to the International Space Station; it also carries parts to repair the station's zero-gravity toilet, which broke several days earlier.The Indian air force reopens an air base near the Karakoram Pass in the state of Ladakh; the base was closed 43 years earlier.June"We will no longer participate in the violent illegitimate sham of an election process."— Morgan Tsvangirai, announcing his withdrawal as a candidate in Zimbabwe's upcoming runoff presidential election, June 22June 1Legislative elections in Macedonia are attended by violence in which at least one person dies in gunfire and by accusations of fraud; the majority of seats go to the ruling coalition.Parents in several cities in China's Sichuan province protest the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed in the earthquake three weeks earlier, crushing children, and China raises the official toll of the quake to 69,000 dead and 18,800 missing and presumed dead.The final of the new Indian Premier League takes place in Mumbai (Bombay); Jaipur's Rajasthan Royals, led by Australian bowler Shane Warne, defeat the Chennai (Madras) Super Kings by three wickets to win the cricket series.June 2Relief groups report that although the rulers of Myanmar (Burma) have increased openness somewhat, they are still severely limiting the access of foreign aid workers to the victims of Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy delta.A powerful car bomb explodes outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pak.; at least eight people are killed.Georgia demands that Russia withdraw the peacekeeping forces and army troops that it sent to the separatist Abkhazia region of Georgia.June 3A three-day conference on food security convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and attended by top officials from some 150 countries opens in Rome.June 4Police in Bangladesh say that they have arrested more than 11,700 people in recent days in a new anticrime drive.In Baghdad a car carrying rockets for an attack explodes in a residential area, killing at least 18 people; elsewhere in the city a car bomb kills four people, and in a nearby village three U.S. soldiers are slain.Rose Tremain wins the Orange Broadband Prize, an award for fiction written by women and published in the U.K., for her novel The Road Home.The Detroit Red Wings defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3–2 to win the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League championship trophy.June 5It is learned that the government of Zimbabwe has ordered all humanitarian aid groups to cease operating in the country.The Constitutional Court of Turkey strikes down a new law that would allow women who cover their heads with scarves for religious reasons to attend public universities.June 6In Seoul some 65,000 people demonstrate their opposition to a South Korean government plan to allow beef imports from the United States; such imports were banned in 2003.Japan's Diet (legislature) passes a resolution recognizing the Ainu people as indigenous to the northernmost region of Japan.A roadside bomb in a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka, blows up a passenger bus, killing 21 people; later a bomb explodes on a bus in central Sri Lanka, killing 2 more people.June 7U.S. cases of salmonella that have been tentatively linked to the consumption of certain raw tomatoes are reported by health officials to have spread to 16 states; consumers are warned to avoid red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes.Ana Ivanovic of Serbia defeats Dinara Safina of Russia to win the women's French Open tennis title; the following day Rafael Nadal of Spain defeats Roger Federer of Switzerland to capture the men's championship for the fourth year in a row.The Derby, in its 229th year at Epsom Downs in Surrey, Eng., is won by New Approach, ridden by Kevin Manning.Long shot Da' Tara, with odds of 38–1, wins the Belmont Stakes, the last event in Thoroughbred horse racing's U.S. Triple Crown, by five and a quarter lengths; Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, comes in last.June 8A man in Tokyo's popular Akihabara district drives a truck through a crowd of people in a deliberate killing spree and then exits the truck and begins stabbing passers-by with a survival knife; at least seven people die in the rampage.A double bombing kills 12 people, one of them a French engineer, near Beni Amrane, Alg.The i-LIMB, a commercially available bionic prosthetic hand that mimics both the form and the function of the human hand, wins the MacRobert Award for engineering excellence from the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.Yani Tseng of Taiwan wins the Ladies Professional Golf Association championship in a sudden-death play-off over Maria Hjorth of Sweden.June 9In Spain tens of thousands of truckers go on strike, blockading highways leading to France and surrounding Madrid in a protest against the skyrocketing price of diesel fuel.A cache of cylinder seals dating from 3000–2000 BC that were looted from the National Museum of Iraq during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country are ceremonially returned to Iraq's Ministry of Antiquities in Baghdad; the seals were found by customs officials in Philadelphia in May 2008.Lake Delton, a centrepiece of the Wisconsin Dells resort area, breaches the highway after massive rainfalls and in less than two hours drains completely into the Wisconsin River.June 10After a firefight against insurgents in Afghanistan just over the border from Pakistan, U.S. forces make air and artillery strikes in Pakistan that kill 11 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers, outraging Pakistan's government.As tens of thousands of people demonstrate in downtown Seoul against the planned resumption of beef imports from the U.S., Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and the rest of the cabinet offer their resignations.Armed battles break out on the border between Djibouti and Eritrea for the first time in 10 years.June 11King Gyanendra of Nepal, bowing to the desires of the country's new government, gives up his crown and leaves the royal palace to take up life as an ordinary citizen.Norway's legislature passes a law giving same-sex couples the same rights to marriage and the adoption of children enjoyed by opposite-sex couples; the upper house approves the law on June 17.NASA launches the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST); the space telescope, which can detect an immense range of light, will examine gamma-ray bursts and, it is hoped, give scientists new information about the nature of the universe.Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a speech before the House of Commons, apologizes for the country's policy of taking children of First Nations peoples and putting them in Christian boarding schools to assimilate them; some 100,000 children were placed in such schools beginning in the late 19th century, and abuse was rampant.The Lenfest Ocean Program publishes online a study of five species of sharks in the Mediterranean Sea; the scientists found that the numbers of all five species had declined by more than 96% over two centuries and that there was a dearth of breeding-age females.The Belgian brewing giant InBev makes an unsolicited bid to buy American brewery Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo.June 12A referendum is held in Ireland on whether to accept the Lisbon Treaty on governing the European Union; the treaty is rejected.The U.S. Supreme Court rules that in spite of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, prisoners at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.China and Taiwan agree to establish offices in one another's capitals to facilitate discussions about closer relationships.As floodwaters roll down the Cedar River in Iowa, raising it 5 m (17 ft) above flood stage, torrential rains pound the area, and much of the town of Cedar Rapids is washed away.June 13Taliban insurgents stage an attack on the main prison in Kandahar, Afg., breaking down walls and killing 15 guards; some 1,200 inmates, among them at least 350 Taliban members, escape.Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki declares that talks on a security agreement with the United States that is to define how the U.S. may act in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate have reached an impasse.Thousands of people converge in Islamabad, Pak., to demand the reinstatement of judges dismissed in November 2007 by Pres. Pervez Musharraf.June 14Pres. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe declares that he has no intention of ceding power, even if he should lose the runoff presidential election scheduled for June 27.Iraqi troops begin an operation in Al-ʿAmarah, a city that is politically dominated by Shiʿite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.June 15Kosovo's constitution officially goes into effect.The board of American International Group (AIG) removes Martin J. Sullivan as CEO and replaces him with chairman Robert B. Willumstad.The 62nd annual Tony Awards are presented in New York City; winners include the productions August: Osage County, In the Heights, Boeing-Boeing, and South Pacific and the actors Mark Rylance, Deanna Dunagan, Paulo Szot, and Patti LuPone.In the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance automobile race, the Audi team led by Tom Kristensen of Denmark takes the victory; it is Kristensen's record eighth victory in the classic automobile race.June 16Rebel forces briefly occupy the towns of Goz Beida, Am Dam, and Biltine in Chad and exchange gunfire with European Union peacekeeping forces.When police attempt to break up a blockade of Peru's main road to Chile and to a major copper mine and smelter near Moquegua, Peru, protesters overcome them and force them to retreat; the demonstrators want more of the taxes paid by the copper company to be used in the region.A ceremony is held in Takanezawa, Japan, as the first Honda FCX Clarity rolls off the assembly line; it is the first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car capable of being mass-produced.Tiger Woods defeats Rocco Mediate in a thrilling sudden-death play-off to win the U.S. Open golf tournament in San Diego, Calif.June 17Pres. Felipe Calderón of Mexico signs into law a constitutional amendment requiring that trials be openly argued before a judge with a presumption of innocence; the enormous changes entailed must be completed by 2016.A car bomb explodes at a crowded bus terminal at a marketplace in Baghdad; at least 63 people die.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees releases a report saying that in 2007 the organization administered the care of 11.4 million refugees, a large increase over the 9.9 million under its care in 2006, and that some 80% of refugees flee to other less-developed countries near their own.The Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 131–92 in game six of the best-of-seven tournament to secure the team's 17th National Basketball Association championship.June 18Israel proposes holding peace talks with Lebanon, indicating that it is even willing to discuss the disposition of the disputed Shebaa Farms area on the border between the countries.China and Japan both announce that the countries have reached an agreement to jointly develop gas fields in the East China Sea that lie in territory that both countries claim.A report published in the journal Nature says that a review of sea-level measurements indicates a computational error that resulted in an underestimation of sea-level increase; in fact, sea levels rose five centimeters (two inches) from 1961 to 2003, some 50% higher than earlier estimates.June 19A truce negotiated between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, officially goes into effect.China announces a sudden and high increase in the prices for diesel fuel, gasoline, and electricity.June 20China unveils a plan to halve the number of cars on the road in and around Beijing from July 20 to September 20 and to prevent high-emission vehicles, such as trucks, from entering the city during the same period; the intent is to reduce both traffic and air pollution during the Olympics.Pres. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia releases the preliminary results of the country's first census in 24 years; the census, taken in late March, records the country's population as 3,489,072, an increase of 1,387,444 people since 1984.The 2008 winners of the Kyoto Prize are announced: Richard M. Karp (advanced technology), Anthony J. Pawson (basic sciences), and Charles M. Taylor (arts and philosophy).June 21Typhoon Fengshen roars through the Philippines, leaving at least 498 people dead, and the MV Princess of the Stars, a large ferry, capsizes and sinks in the storm off the Philippine island of Sibuyan; after Coast Guard operations begin more than 24 hours later, it is believed that some 800 people lost their lives.At the 113th British Amateur Championship tournament in golf, Reinier Saxton of The Netherlands emerges victorious.June 22Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws his candidacy in the presidential runoff election in Zimbabwe, citing the violence of the campaign being waged against his followers.A female suicide bomber detonates an unusually strong explosion that kills at least 15 people near a courthouse in central Baʿqubah, Iraq; other attacks elsewhere in Diyala province leave at least 10 dead.At the end of a well-attended emergency energy summit meeting convened by Saudi Arabia, little agreement has been reached, though Saudi Arabia announces a planned increase in oil production.Iconic American comedian George Carlin dies in Santa Monica, Calif.June 23Coalition troops patrolling in eastern Afghanistan are ambushed by Taliban militants, about 55 of whom are killed in the ensuing battle.Fighting in Tripoli, Leb., between supporters of the government and partisans of Hezbollah continues for a second day; at least eight people have been killed.The large waste-disposal companies Republic Services and Allied Waste Industries announce an agreement for the American companies to merge.Tina Ramirez announces her retirement as artistic director of Ballet Hispanico, which she founded in 1970.June 24The legislature of Belarus approves a draconian new law requiring all Internet sites in the country to register with the government.Carlos Minc, Brazil's minister of the environment, announces that the government seized 3,100 cattle that were grazing on illegally deforested land in an ecological reserve in Pará state and intends to continue the course of action; the seizure took place on June 7.The United States Sugar Corp. reaches a tentative deal to sell 800 sq km (300 sq mi) of land in the Florida Everglades to the state of Florida; after six more years of sugarcane production, the land will be returned to its natural wetland condition.The retail giant Home Depot announces that all of its stores will accept old compact fluorescent light bulbs for recycling; because the bulbs contain mercury, they cannot be disposed of conventionally.June 25The bodies of 28 members of a peace committee headed by a tribal leader and backed by the Pakistani government are found in South Waziristan; the victims had been kidnapped by the Taliban two days earlier.The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the punitive damages awarded in a lawsuit related to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster must be reduced to $500 million, the amount that the Exxon Mobil Corp. has already paid out; in another ruling, the court bans the sentence of execution for the crime of child rape.June 26In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unprecedentedly holds that the Second Amendment to the Constitution confers an individual rather than a collective right to gun ownership and that state and city governments may not forbid the owning of handguns.Girija Prasad Koirala resigns as prime minister of Nepal and asks the Maoist party to form a government.A suicide bomber detonates his weapon at a meeting of an Awakening Council in Garma, Iraq, killing 20 people, and in Mosul a bombing that targeted the provincial governor kills at least 18 others instead.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush announces that North Korea has been removed from the government's list of state sponsors of terrorism.At its meeting in Paris, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) issues new guidelines allowing users to apply to use any domain name of their devising and permitting domain names to be registered in scripts other than the Roman alphabet.The price of a barrel of light sweet crude oil briefly reaches a new record of $140.39 a barrel before closing at a record $139.64.In the face of growing questions of corruption surrounding the 2006 presidential election in Colombia, Pres. Álvaro Uribe calls for that election to be rerun.A public art project by Danish Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson goes on view in New York City; the installation, which consists of four man-made waterfalls ranging in height from 27 to 37 m (90 to 120 ft), will flow until October 13.June 27In a runoff election in which he is unopposed, Pres. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe officially garners 85% of the vote; turnout is cited as 42.4%.Pres. Boris Tadic of Serbia nominates his minister of finance, Mirko Cvetkovic, as prime minister.North Korea publicly demolishes the cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear weapons plant.June 28Massive and violent protests take place in Weng'an county in China's Guizhou province in response to the death of a teenage girl; the family of the girl maintains that there was an official cover-up involved.Pakistani security forces shell Taliban positions outside Peshawar, which has been increasingly threatened by the Taliban; it is the first military action taken against militants by the Pakistani government that took office in March.For the sixth consecutive day, crowds march in Srinagar in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in protest against a rumoured plan to settle Hindus in the majority-Muslim state.June 29Israel agrees to trade the notorious Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in return for the bodies of the Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose July 12, 2006, kidnapping by Hezbollah led to Israel's war with Hezbollah that year.As protests against possible South Korean imports of U.S. beef continue, they begin to turn violent, and police in Seoul block off areas where demonstrations most frequently take place.Park Inbee of South Korea wins a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson of Sweden to win the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Edina, Minn.; at 19, Park is the youngest player to have won the tournament.Spain defeats Germany 1–0 in the final match to win Euro 2008; it is Spain's first major association football (soccer) title since it won the European championship in 1964.June 30Officials in Lithuania report that over the weekend some 300 Web sites were defaced with Soviet symbols and anti-Lithuanian slogans by hackers; two weeks earlier Lithuania had banned the display of Soviet symbols.Iraq announces plans to open bidding on six major oil fields to 35 foreign companies.The 11th summit meeting of the African Union convenes in Raʾs Nasrani (Sharm al-Shaykh), Egypt.Eurostat reports that inflation in the euro zone for the 12 months ended in June has reached a record 4%; the European Central Bank strives to keep the rate under 2%.July"We've now finally touched it and tasted it. And I'd like to say, from my standpoint, it tastes very fine."— William V. Boynton, designer of the Phoenix Mars lander's Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer, on the proof that water exists on Mars, July 31July 1Mongolian Pres. Nambaryn Enkhbayar declares a state of emergency in response to riots over allegations of fraud in recent legislative elections; the disturbances cause great destruction in the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery in Ulaanbaatar.The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 0.8%, crossing the official threshold from a bull stock market to a bear market.The presidency of the European Union rotates to the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.July 2In a meticulously planned and daring operation, Colombian forces rescue 15 hostages from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), among them Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate kidnapped in 2002, and three American contractors seized in 2003.The American trade union United Steelworkers allies itself with the largest British union, Unite; the alliance, which will operate under an umbrella government led by the heads of each union, will be known as Workers Uniting.July 3Roman A. Abramovich, a billionaire investor and association football (soccer) club owner, resigns as governor of Russia's autonomous district of Chukchi.A yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Canada's Quebec City comes to a climax.July 4Shots are exchanged between Georgian troops and militia members of the country's separatist province of South Ossetia; at least two people are killed.The first weekend charter flight from China carries tourists across the Taiwan Strait to Taiwan; the flights are expected to expand to carry some 3,000 travelers a day.A special issue of the journal Science is devoted to the new information learned about the planet Mercury from the January 14 flyby of the Messenger space probe; it includes the geologic history of the Caloris impact basin and the fact that Mercury's core may be actively generating the planet's magnetic field.Italy announces that it will appoint a special commissioner for the World Heritage site of Pompeii and declares a yearlong state of emergency to restore the cultural treasure after decades of neglect.July 5An altercation takes place in a prison outside Damascus in which military police kill at least nine Islamist inmates and other military police and prison officials are taken hostage.American Venus Williams defeats her sister Serena Williams to take her fifth All-England (Wimbledon) women's tennis championship; the following day Rafael Nadal of Spain wins the men's title for the first time when he defeats five-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland.July 6A suicide bomber detonates his weapon next to a group of police officers in a crowd at the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, Pak.; at least 18 people are killed.A bomb goes off in a café in Gali, in the separatist region of Abkhazia in Georgia; four people are killed.In Mogadishu, Som., gunmen kill Osman Ali Ahmed, leader of the United Nations Development Programme for Somalia.July 7A suicide car bomb kills at least 41 people outside the Indian embassy in Kabul.In York, Eng., the General Synod of the Church of England votes to allow the appointment of women as bishops; though some other branches of the Anglican Communion had taken the step several years earlier, the move is controversial.Mirko Cvetkovic takes office as prime minister of Serbia after his government is approved by the National Assembly.The computer software company Microsoft announces its renewed interest in purchasing the search engine company Yahoo!, provided that Yahoo! replaces its board of directors; the investor Carl Icahn is simultaneously fighting a proxy battle against the board.July 8The leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries, meeting in Japan, release a document agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050; environmentalists complain that the agreement fails to include targets for the nearer future.The U.S. and the Czech Republic sign an accord that will allow the U.S. to base part of its antiballistic-missile system in the Czech Republic; ratification of the accord is uncertain.The chief of police in Mexico City resigns after a police raid on a disco resulted in the smothering deaths of nine patrons and three officers.American oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens unveils a plan to significantly decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, beginning with a $2 billion investment in a planned enormous wind farm in Pampa, Texas.July 9The U.S. Senate gives final approval to a bill that affirms the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court but grants the government latitude in conducting wiretaps outside the court's authority and provides legal immunity to telecommunication companies that complied with earlier wiretapping efforts.Gunmen attack the U.S. consulate in Istanbul; three of the police officers guarding the diplomatic mission are killed, as are three attackers.Tillman Thomas is sworn in as prime minister of Grenada the day after his National Democratic Congress decisively won legislative elections; the defeated New National Party had held power for 13 years.July 10After a Russian military jet flies over Georgia's separatist province of South Ossetia, Georgia recalls its ambassador to Russia.Six-country talks over North Korea's nuclear program resume after a nine-month hiatus.Thailand's foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama, resigns after being censured for reaching an agreement with Cambodia over a 900-year-old Hindu temple sitting on the border between the two countries.The Japanese automaker Toyota announces that it will scale back on the production of trucks and SUVs in the U.S. and, beginning in 2010, will make Prius hybrid cars in a new plant in Mississippi.Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel Midnight's Children wins the Best of the Booker award, as decided by an online poll to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the literature prize.July 11South Korean Pres. Lee Myung-bak suggests a resumption of bilateral talks with North Korea and offers humanitarian aid; on the same day, a South Korean tourist who entered a forbidden military zone in North Korea is shot dead.Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora introduces a new 30-member cabinet; it is the country's first full government since November 2006.After the announcement of massive layoffs by IndyMac Bancorp prompts a run on the bank by its customers, federal bank regulators seize the California-based bank.July 12American tennis player Michael Chang, the late sports marketer Mark McCormack, and Gene Scott, the late publisher of Tennis Week magazine, are inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Newport, R.I.July 13The U.S. Federal Reserve announces an emergency short-term loan to shore up the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while Pres. George W. Bush asks Congress to approve a larger rescue package.In Paris the 43-member Union for the Mediterranean is inaugurated, with Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy of France serving as its first northern co-president and Pres. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt as its southern co-president; the union is intended to unify policies on the environment, transportation, immigration, and security.An assault by Taliban insurgents on a newly established NATO military base in Afghanistan's Kunar province, on the border with Pakistan, leaves nine U.S. soldiers dead.The American beer company Anheuser-Busch agrees to be acquired by the Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev; the new company will be called Anheuser-Busch Inbev.July 14Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, formally requests that the court issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity relating to the conflict in the Darfur region of The Sudan.David Hiller announces his resignation as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and Ann Marie Lipinski resigns as editor of the Chicago Tribune; both companies are owned by the Tribune Co., which is asking for major downsizing and redesigns in the newspapers.July 15Two suicide bombers kill at least 33 people at an Iraqi army recruiting centre in Baʿqubah.After failing to achieve agreement for a package of constitutional reforms, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme offers his resignation; the offer is rejected by King Albert II two days later.U.S. government officials reveal that William J. Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, will attend a meeting on Iran's nuclear program with representatives of Iran and the UN and other Security Council members; this will be the highest-level contact the U.S. has had with Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.July 16A car bomb explodes in a Shiʿite neighbourhood in Tal Afar, Iraq; some 20 people are killed.Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is arrested on charges of sodomy; his 1998 conviction for sodomy was later overturned.July 17Argentina's Senate narrowly rejects a tax system imposed in March by Pres. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on soybean profits that was intended to hold down food prices but had roused the opposition of farmers; the following day Fernández de Kirchner rescinds the tax.As the benchmark stock index in Pakistan falls for the 15th trading day in a row, distraught investors go on a rampage at the Karachi Stock Exchange; protests also take place in other cities.Kuwait names an ambassador to Iraq for the first time since it closed its embassy in Baghdad after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.James H. Billington, the American librarian of Congress, names Kay Ryan the country's 16th poet laureate; Ryan succeeds Charles Simic.July 18The World Trade Organization rules that China's policy of levying punishing tariffs on carmakers operating in the country unless they use locally made parts violates international trade rules.The much-anticipated movie The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins, opens in theatres across the U.S. at midnight; cinemas in some cities schedule round-the-clock showings to accommodate demand.July 19Iran rejects an international proposal that calls for it to freeze its nuclear program and for the international community to refrain from adding new sanctions as a starting point for negotiations, leaving the talks deadlocked.The Sunni political bloc the Iraqi National Accord rejoins the Iraqi national government, with six of its members given cabinet posts; the bloc had been boycotting the government since August 2007.July 20In Canterbury, Eng., the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion, held every 10 years, opens with a church service; more than 200 of the 880 bishops and archbishops invited do not attend, and many of the absentees became founding members of the dissident Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans on June 29.In western Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan forces mistakenly call in air strikes against Afghan police officers, and nine of them are killed; the previous day NATO mortars gone astray killed at least four civilians.Padraig Harrington of Ireland wins the British Open golf tournament at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, Lancashire, Eng., defeating English golfer Ian Poulter by four strokes; Harrington is the first European to have won two consecutive British Opens in over 100 years.July 21Radovan Karadzic, who was indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal on July 24, 1995, for his part in the massacre of some 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, earlier that year, is arrested in Belgrade, Serbia, where he had been living in disguise.In Harare, Zimb., Pres. Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sign an agreement to negotiate for a new government.Nepal's constituent assembly elects as the country's first president Ram Baran Yadav, who is not a member of the majority Maoist party.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin orders the Czech Republic's oil supply restored to its former level; the day after the Czech Republic signed a missile defense agreement with the U.S., oil supplies from Russia had dropped by about 40%.Two bombs explode on buses during the morning rush hour in Kunming, the capital of China's Yunnan province; two people are killed.July 22The government of India handily wins a confidence vote called for by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The Italian legislature approves a bill granting immunity from prosecution to the prime minister, president, and speakers of the two legislative chambers during their terms of office; the bill benefits Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is awaiting trial on bribery charges.New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg orders all city services to be made available in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian, and French Creole as well as English; these are the languages most commonly spoken in the city.July 23The U.S. Geological Survey releases an assessment that the Arctic may contain as much as 90 billion bbl of undiscovered oil and 47.29 trillion cu m (about 1.67 quadrillion cu ft) of natural gas, most of it in coastal areas under territorial sovereignty, much of it in Russia.Cape Verde becomes the 153rd member of the World Trade Organization.July 24Taliban insurgents attack an Afghan army convoy south of Kabul; 35 of the attackers are reportedly killed in the ensuing firefight.Robert Dudley, the president of the joint British-Russian oil venture TNK-BP, is denied a work visa and forced to leave Russia.A British judge awards £60,000 (about $110,000) in damages to Max Mosley, president of the governing body of Formula 1 automobile racing, in his lawsuit against a tabloid newspaper that had printed pictures from a video of a sadomasochistic sex gathering Mosley had participated in and that said it had a Nazi theme; the judge ruled that no such theme was apparent and that there was no good reason to expose Mosley's private life.July 25Fighting breaks out between Sunnis and Shiʿites in the Lebanese city of Tripoli; at least six people are killed.The U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reports that oil exports through the country's northern pipeline have increased from 1 million to more than 13 million bbl a month since 2007.In Mata'utu, the capital of the French overseas territory of Wallis and Futuna, Kapiliele (Gabriel) Faupala is crowned king of Wallis; he replaces Tomasi Kulimoetoke, who died in May 2007.July 26Some 22 small bombs explode in crowded neighbourhoods in Ahmedabad, India, killing at least 42 people.July 27In legislative elections in Cambodia, the ruling Cambodian People's Party wins 90 of the 123 seats, followed by the Sam Rainsy Party, with 26.Two bombs go off in rapid succession in a residential area of Istanbul; at least 15 people die.Spanish cyclist Carlos Sastre wins the Tour de France, completing the race 58 seconds faster than Cadel Evans of Australia.The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., inducts pitcher Rich (“Goose”) Gossage, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth, owners Barney Dreyfuss and Walter O'Malley, and former commissioner Bowie Kuhn.July 28In Baghdad, three women bombers kill 43 Shiʿite pilgrims celebrating a festival, and in Kirkuk, Iraq, a female suicide bomber kills at least 17 people in a crowd of Kurds protesting government legislation; the latter attack triggers a surge of violence against Turkmen residents and police, who fire on the rioting Kurds, killing 12.An official for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe says that power-sharing talks with Pres. Robert Mugabe have become deadlocked.In California, Virgin Galactic head Richard Branson unveils WhiteKnightTwo, the prototype of the booster ship that will carry the company's commercial rocket into space.July 29The Doha round of world trade talks, begun in 2001, reaches an impasse in Geneva as participants are unable to compromise on protections for farmers in less-developed countries.The price of a barrel of oil closes at $122.19, down from a record high of $145.29 on July 3; the prices of natural gas and of gasoline are also lower.British Airways and Spain's flagship carrier Iberia announce plans for a merger.The Metromedia Restaurant Group, based in Texas, files for bankruptcy protection, and its national chains of restaurants, Bennigan's and Steak & Ale, abruptly close.Scrabulous, an unauthorized online version of Scrabble that is a popular application on the social networking site Facebook.com, is removed from the site; Hasbro, owner of the North American copyright to Scrabble, had filed suit on July 24 against the creators of Scrabulous.July 30Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announces that because of a corruption investigation, he will resign after his party chooses a new leader in September.Turkey's Constitutional Court issues a ruling that the governing Justice and Development Party has not violated secular principles of the country to the point that it should be banned but that it has veered too far in an Islamic direction and therefore its public funding must be cut in half.Zimbabwe's central bank announces that the country's currency will be devalued by dropping 10 zeros, so that a 10-billion-dollar note will become a one-dollar note; on July 16 the inflation rate officially reached 2,200,000%.July 31Michèle Pierre-Louis is ratified as Haiti's new prime minister; she replaces Jacques-Édouard Alexis, who was dismissed in April.Siaosi (George) Tupou V is ceremonially installed as king of Tonga; the coronation takes place the following day.NASA scientists announce that the Phoenix Mars lander has tested Martian soil and, for the first time, has proved conclusively that it contains water ice.Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs a bill that will allow same-sex couples living in states that do not permit same-sex marriage to marry in Massachusetts.August"War has started."— Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Russia's invasion of Georgia in support of South Ossetia, August 8August 1Georgian troops enter the separatist province of South Ossetia, and six people die in the fighting between the soldiers and the rebel militia.An agreement is made for the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect nuclear reactors in India, which possesses atomic weapons but is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.It is reported that on July 29 microbiologist Bruce Ivins of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who was about to be indicted on charges relating to the anthrax attacks in the autumn of 2001, died by his own hand.On the Himalayan mountain K2, the unexpected collapse of an ice sheet at an altitude of 8,200 m (26,000 ft) contributes to the deaths of 11 climbers; it is the highest single-day death toll to have occurred on the 8,611-m (28,251-ft) peak.August 2Hamas police attack a clan affiliated with the Fatah party in Gaza City; at least 11 people are killed, and Israel allows 188 Fatah members to enter the country.Bookstores throughout the U.S. hold midnight parties as the fourth novel of the popular Twilight vampire series by Stephenie Meyer, Breaking Dawn, goes on sale.August 3At the conclusion of the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, Eng., Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams announces an agreement to negotiate a new covenant between the member churches; in the meantime, liberal members are enjoined to refrain from ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex unions, and conservative members are asked not to leave their churches.The towering Russian literary figure Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dies at the age of 89 near Moscow.Women cleaning a street in Mogadishu, Som., accidentally set off a large roadside bomb; at least 15 of them perish.South Korean golfer Shin Ji Yai captures the Women's British Open golf tournament; at age 20 years 3 months 6 days, she is the youngest to have won the title.National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell officially reinstates longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who had earlier requested that his March retirement be overturned.August 4Chinese state media report that two Uighur separatists rammed a truck into a brigade of border-patrol officers outside their barracks in Kashgar, Xinjiang state, and then attacked the officers with knives and by throwing several bombs, killing at least 16 of them.Italian troops are stationed in cities throughout the country around embassies, subway and railway stations, and centres of illegal immigrants in an attempt to combat violent crime.The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issues guidelines recommending that doctors not perform tests for prostate cancer in men over the age of 74, as the disease is unlikely to affect such men during the remainder of their lifetime.August 5The U.S. Government Accountability Office reveals that Iraq has a budget surplus of some $79 billion, very little of which is being used in the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure; those costs are largely financed by the U.S.Iowa state investigators find that the Agriprocessors kosher meat-packing plant in Postville, which was the subject of a large immigration raid in May, employed at least 57 underage workers.The Wildlife Conservation Society reports to the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh its discovery of some 125,000 western lowland gorillas in the northern area of the Republic of the Congo; the gorillas, as well as other primates, are coming under increasing pressure in most parts of the world.August 6A group of military officers take over the presidential palace in Nouakchott, Mauritania, and arrest Pres. Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi and Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed El Waghef.Iraq's legislature, before beginning its summer recess, fails to pass election laws that would enable the holding of provincial elections.The U.S. mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac posts figures for the second quarter that reflect a much deeper loss than had been expected, as does the large insurer American International Group (AIG).In the first military commission trial of a detainee at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, is convicted of having provided material support to a terrorist group but acquitted of having been a willing participant in a terrorist conspiracy; the following day he is sentenced to five and a half years in prison, including time served.August 7Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the heads of Pakistan's ruling coalition, announce that they intend to impeach Pres. Pervez Musharraf.Georgian troops take control of several villages in the separatist province of South Ossetia; some 10 people die in the fighting.Pres. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Maldives ratifies the country's new constitution, which reduces the powers of the president and increases those of the legislature and judiciary.August 8Russian troops join the battle in Georgia's separatist province of South Ossetia, fighting against Georgia; also, a Russian air strike hits the Georgian port of Poti.A spectacular opening ceremony featuring some 15,000 performers directed by filmmaker Zhang Yimou marks the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing.August 9Russian troops enter the separatist province of Abkhazia in Georgia as they continue to pour into South Ossetia and to drop bombs on other parts of Georgia; Georgian Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili asks the outside world for help.August 10A proposal to recall Pres. Evo Morales of Bolivia is resoundingly defeated in a voter referendum.Bomb attacks on several government and other buildings in Kuqa in China's Xinjiang province are reported; a number of the militants and a security guard are said to have been killed.Taliban forces dig in after having successfully repelled Pakistani troops from the Bajaur region of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.At the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Padraig Harrington of Ireland defeats Sergio García of Spain and American Ben Curtis by two strokes to become the first European since 1930 to win the Professional Golfers' Association championship.The 49th Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts is awarded to American architect Thom Mayne at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H.August 11When traders and growers of apples, the main cash crop of the Kashmir valley, attempt to circumvent a Hindu blockade of roads to the south in Indian-administered Kashmir by going through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Indian security forces fire on those marching toward the border, killing six people, including Kashmiri separatist leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz.Philippine officials say that some 130,000 people have fled the violence in North Cotabato province in Mindanao since a Supreme Court ruling halting the signing of an agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front caused an outbreak of fighting between rebel and government forces.Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, who are wanted in Thailand on corruption charges, on some of which Pojaman has been convicted, flee to London from Beijing, where they were attending the Olympic Games.In Beijing, Abhinav Bindra wins India's first-ever individual Olympic gold medal when he places first in the 10-m air rifle competition.August 12A Taliban attack on a minibus carrying Pakistani soldiers leaves at least 13 of the troops dead; the soldiers are part of Pakistan's strong military response to Taliban aggressiveness in Bajaur in the Tribal Areas.In Indian-administered Kashmir, people protesting a curfew intended to stem violence clash with Indian security forces; 13 people are killed.The American drugstore chain CVS Caremark announces a $2.54 billion deal to acquire Longs Drugs Stores, which operates primarily in western states, including Hawaii.August 13Lebanon and Syria announce that they will, for the first time since independence, establish diplomatic relations, but the news is overshadowed by a bomb explosion that destroys a bus in Tripoli, Leb., killing 15 people, 9 of them soldiers heading to their posts.At the Olympic Games in Beijing, Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice sets a new world record in the women's 200-m individual medley (IM), three days after she broke the 400-m IM record.August 14Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the leader of the military junta that has taken over the government of Mauritania, names Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf prime minister two days after assuming presidential powers.The U.S. reaches an agreement with Poland that will allow placement of an American missile-defense base in the European country.Nigeria officially cedes the potentially oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in compliance with a 2002 ruling by the International Court of Justice.A female suicide bomber detonates her weapon in a tent full of resting Shiʿite pilgrims in Iskandariyah, Iraq; at least 26 people are killed.August 15Prachanda, leader of the former Maoist insurgency, is elected prime minister of Nepal.The journal Science publishes a study describing the rapid growth of marine dead zones, areas starved of oxygen because of nitrogen from fertilizer runoff in oceanic coastal areas; such zones, frequently in fishing grounds, have doubled every decade since the 1960s.Russian-born American gymnast Nastia Liukin wins the Olympic gold medal in the women's all-around competition.August 16Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev signs a revised cease-fire agreement with Georgia, but Russian troops continue operations in Georgia.Opposition politician Alyaksandr Kazulin is released from prison in Belarus; he was imprisoned in 2006, and the U.S. and the European Union have long sought his release.At the Olympics, Usain Bolt of Jamaica sets a new world record of 9.69 sec in the men's 100-m sprint.August 17A suicide bomber in Baghdad kills at least 15 people, many of them members of Sunni Awakening Councils.Iran reports that it has successfully test-fired a rocket that could place a satellite in orbit.At the Olympics in Beijing, American swimmer Michael Phelps wins a record eighth gold medal, passing the previous record for a single Olympiad of seven gold medals won by Mark Spitz in 1972; Phelps has also set four individual world records and one Olympic record and participated in three relays that set world records.August 18Pres. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan announces his resignation in a nationally televised speech.An attack by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front against several villages in Mindanao in the Philippines leaves at least 28 people, mostly civilians, dead.The government of Peru declares a state of emergency in response to 10 days of occupation of oil facilities and a hydroelectric plant in the Amazon basin by indigenous people fighting development.August 19Pres. Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia dies in France at the age of 59; he suffered a stroke in June.In Isser, Alg., a suicide car bomber kills at least 48 people, many of whom had been waiting in line to take an examination at a police academy.At the UN headquarters, the Daedalus Quartet performs Song Without Borders, composed by Steve Heitzeg to commemorate the 22 UN workers who died five years earlier in an attack on the UN embassy in Baghdad.August 20Negotiators for the U.S. and Iraq reach a draft agreement on security arrangements, primarily regarding the role of U.S. troops, in Iraq after the end of the year.Algeria endures its second bombing in as many days as two bombs go off in Bouira, one of which damages a military compound and the other of which kills at least 12 people on a bus transporting construction workers.Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt runs the men's 200-m race in 19.30 sec at the Olympics, breaking the world record by an astonishing two-hundredths of a second.August 21In Wah, Pak., outside Pakistan's largest weapons-manufacturing compound, two suicide bombers kill at least 64 people; two days earlier a suicide attack in a hospital emergency room in Dera Ismail Khan left 32 people dead.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announces that it has approved the sale of iceberg lettuce and spinach that has been irradiated in order to kill pathogens.August 22Aerial bombing in Afghanistan's Herat province by U.S.-led coalition forces after a battle against Taliban insurgents is reported by Afghanistan to have killed 76 civilians, though the coalition forces say that 30 militants were killed; the next day the civilian death toll is raised to 95.After two days of fighting in which at least 70 people have died, Islamist militants take control of the port city of Kismaayo in Somalia.Health officials in Canada confirm a third death from an outbreak of listeriosis that has been traced to lunch meats produced by Maple Leaf Foods, which recently recalled 540,000 kg (1.2 million lb) of the products made at its plant in Toronto.August 23In Kirkuk, Iraq, a suicide bomber kills at least five people, including an Awakening Council leader.South Korea defeats Cuba 3–2 in a stunning upset to win the gold medal in baseball at the Olympic Games in Beijing.August 24Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy of France calls an emergency meeting of the European Union to address relations with Russia and support for Georgia in light of the fact that Russia has failed to comply with the terms of the cease-fire agreement.At a large dinner party west of Baghdad to celebrate the release from U.S. custody of a family member of the host, a suicide bomber detonates his weapon among the guests, killing at least 25 people.In the town of Singur, India, some 40,000 protesters surround a Tata Motors factory being built to produce the new $2,500 Nano automobiles, demanding that the land be returned to the local farmers from whom it was taken.The Waipio team from Waipahu, Hawaii, defeats the Matamoros team from Mexico 12–3 to win baseball's 62nd Little League World Series.The Games of the XXIX Olympiad close in Beijing.August 25Pres. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe unilaterally convenes the legislature, in contravention of the agreement governing power-sharing negotiations; Lovemore Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change is nonetheless elected to the powerful post of speaker.The Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by Nawaz Sharif, leaves Pakistan's ruling coalition government.A government attack on Kalma, a large camp housing some 90,000 internal refugees in the Darfur region of The Sudan, kills dozens of people.Archaeologists in Turkey report that they have uncovered parts of a large marble statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in a Roman-era bath in Sagalassos.August 26Russia officially recognizes the independence of the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.North Korea announces that it has ceased disabling its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon because it has not been removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist.In India's Orissa state, escalating religious violence between Hindus and Christians leaves at least 6 people dead; by August 28 the death toll has risen to 10, with some 5,000 Christians reported burned out of their homes.The UN mission in Afghanistan says that a UN team found that the U.S.-led air strikes in Herat province on August 22 killed at least 90 civilians, 60 of them children; the U.S. military maintains that it killed 25 militants and 5 noncombatants.Some 30,000 protesters in Bangkok demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej surround government buildings and enter the grounds of the Government House, where the prime minister's offices are located.In a U.S. federal copyright lawsuit, a jury awards the toymaker Mattel $100 million in its suit against MGA Entertainment, maker of the popular Bratz dolls.August 27Democratic Party delegates, meeting at their national convention in Denver, nominate Barack Obama, senator from Illinois, and Joe Biden, senator from Delaware, as the party's candidates for president and vice president, respectively.August 28Iraq signs an agreement with the China National Petroleum Corp. for the development of the Ahdab oil field.Chinese state media publicize a report from the country's top auditor that says several government departments “misused or embezzled” some $660 million in the past year; 104 public employees have been punished for the misuse of funds.August 29Georgia and Russia mutually sever diplomatic relations.Antigovernment protesters in Thailand expand their blockade of government buildings and begin blocking trains and airplanes as well.The state-owned airline Alitalia files for bankruptcy protection in Italy.August 30Italy signs an agreement with Libya to provide $5 billion in aid and projects as compensation for Italy's 1911–42 occupation of Libya; in return, Libya is to take steps to prevent illegal immigration to Italy from Libya.Egypt allows a temporary opening of its border crossing with the Gaza Strip at Rafah.August 31After three weeks of an aerial campaign against Taliban militants in the Tribal Areas, Pakistan begins a unilateral cease-fire for Ramadan.As the intermittently strengthening Hurricane Gustav, having caused destruction in Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Cuba, heads toward the Gulf Coast in the U.S., some two million people in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama evacuate.September"The idea of the all-powerful market which wasn't to be impeded by any rules or political intervention was a mad one. The idea that the markets are always right was mad."— Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy of France in a nationally televised speech on the global economic difficulties, September 25September 1Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda unexpectedly announces his resignation.U.S. and Iraqi military officials announce that responsibility for paying and commanding Sunni Awakening Councils in Baghdad and the surrounding area will be taken over by Iraq's government beginning next month, and the U.S. military formally hands over control of once-violent Anbar province to Iraqi armed forces.As government supporters clash violently with antigovernment demonstrators in Bangkok, public-sector union leaders call for a general strike; the next day Thailand declares a state of emergency.Bolivia's National Electoral Court annuls a presidential decree mandating that a referendum on a proposed new constitution be held on December 7.September 2The Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors announces that because of political protests over land in the Singur area of West Bengal state where Tata planned to build a plant to produce the ultracheap Nano car, it has halted building on the plant.In Egypt the politically connected real-estate tycoon Hisham Talaat Moustafa is arrested and charged with having hired a former police officer to kill Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim, who was found murdered in Dubai, U.A.E., in late July.The U.S. Library of Congress announces that Stevie Wonder is the winner of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and that in conjunction with the prize it has commissioned a song from him; the prize will be presented in February 2009.Louise Glück is named the winner of the 2008 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.September 3At the Republican national convention in St. Paul, Minn., John McCain, senator from Arizona, and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska are nominated as the party's candidates for president and vice president in the upcoming election in November.It is widely reported that North Korea has begun rebuilding its nuclear plant at Yongbyon.Pres. Dimitris Christofias of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet in Nicosia for talks on reunification of the country.September 4For the second consecutive day, thousands of demonstrators march in Mbabane, Swaz., demanding democracy, but protests turn violent.The journal Nature publishes a study suggesting that the most powerful hurricanes and typhoons, particularly in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, have become stronger over the past 25 years.Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick of Detroit pleads guilty to obstruction of justice and agrees to resign from office and serve 120 days in prison.September 5Legislative elections are held in Angola (the voting is extended by a day in Luanda); the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) wins more than 80% of the vote.Komlan Mally resigns as prime minister of Togo; he is replaced two days later by Gilbert Houngbo.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in his compound in Tripoli; it is the first visit to the country by a current U.S. secretary of state in more than 50 years.The U.S. National Snow and Ice Center reports that for the first time since recordings began being taken in the area, both the Northwest Passage in Arctic waters above North America and the Northern Sea Route over Europe and Asia were open during the summer, providing a ring of navigable waters in the Arctic.Quentin Bryce takes office as governor-general of Australia.Electronic Arts releases Spore, a complex computer game inspired by evolutionary biology and designed by Will Wright, creator of the popular 2000 game Sims.The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., inducts as members National Basketball Association players Adrian Dantley, Patrick Ewing, and Hakeem Olajuwon and coach Pat Riley, women's college coach Cathy Rush, and broadcaster Dick Vitale.September 6Pakistan's two legislative houses and four provincial assemblies elect Asif Ali Zardari president of the country.Hurricane Ike slams into the Turks and Caicos Islands as a category 4 storm; the infrastructure of the Caribbean territory is largely destroyed.Turkish Pres. Abdullah Gul attends an association football (soccer) match in Armenia after an invitation by Armenian Pres. Serzh Sarkisyan; he is the first Turkish head of state to visit the country.September 7The U.S. government takes over the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a rescue package that will all but wipe out their shareholders' stake but will guarantee the corporate debt.Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper dissolves Parliament and calls for an election to be held on October 14.Serena Williams of the U.S. defeats Jelena Jankovic of Serbia to win the women's U.S. Open tennis championship; the following day Roger Federer of Switzerland defeats Andy Murray of Scotland to win the men's title for the fifth straight year.With his second-place finish behind Helio Castroneves of Brazil in the Indy 300 race in Joliet, Ill., New Zealand driver Scott Dixon wins the overall IndyCar drivers' championship.The musical Rent closes after a Broadway run of close to 13 years.September 8Russia agrees to withdraw its troops from Georgia but maintains that Russian troops will remain in the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; it also agrees that observers from the European Union may monitor the agreement.A U.S. missile attack on a Taliban leader's compound in the North Waziristan area of Pakistan kills 23 people, most of them reported to be members of the Taliban leader's family.A series of misunderstandings compounded by quirks of online search engines causes a report about United Airlines's 2002 bankruptcy filing to appear to be a new story; the value of United's stock plunges precipitously.September 9Thailand's Constitutional Court rules that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's acceptance of payments for hosting the TV cooking show Tasting and Complaining violates the country's constitution; he is forced from office.North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is conspicuously absent from the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the country's founding; rumours suggest that he is in poor health.American investment bank Lehman Brothers, which is expected to announce a large quarterly loss, sheds nearly half its value on the stock market; two days later the bank puts itself up for sale.September 10CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which is intended to create conditions identical to those immediately after the big bang and is the largest particle collider in the world, is activated outside Geneva.Bolivian Pres. Evo Morales orders the U.S. ambassador to leave, accusing him of assisting those seeking autonomy for Bolivia's eastern provinces.The U.S. Library of Congress presents its first Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction to novelist Herman Wouk.September 11Pres. Hugo Chávez of Venezuela expels the U.S. ambassador and recalls the Venezuelan ambassador from Washington, D.C.Supporters of Bolivian Pres. Evo Morales are ambushed in Pando department; at least 15 people are killed, and some 100 others are unaccounted for.September 12A High Court judge in South Africa dismisses corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), citing procedural errors in the case.A truck bomb explodes in the town centre in Dujail, Iraq, killing at least 31 people.September 13Five bombs explode in various crowded markets and streets in New Delhi; at least 21 people are killed, and dozens are injured.Hurricane Ike goes ashore in Texas, flooding Galveston and Orange and causing considerable damage in Houston; some 51 people are killed throughout the region, 20 of them in Texas.New Zealand defeats Australia to win the Tri-Nations Rugby Union title.September 14The American investment firm Merrill Lynch sells itself to Bank of America for about $50 billion.The video game company Electronic Arts withdraws its unsolicited offer to buy Take Two Interactive, publisher of the Grand Theft Auto series of games.In Madrid, Russia defeats Spain four games to none to win the Fed Cup in tennis.September 15In Zimbabwe, Pres. Robert Mugabe signs a power-sharing agreement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that makes Tsvangirai prime minister and envisions an even division of power, though many important details remain to be worked out.As widely expected, the venerable investment bank Lehman Brothers, which received no help from the U.S. government and was unable to find a buyer, files for bankruptcy protection; it is the biggest bankruptcy filing in the country's history.In a sudden change of monetary policy, China's central bank cuts interest rates and relaxes bank lending rules.At Independence Day celebrations in Morelia, Mex., grenades thrown into the crowd explode, killing eight people.September 16The U.S. government takes over the giant insurer American International Group (AIG), fearing that the company's imminent collapse would send economies worldwide into a tailspin.The governing coalition in Ukraine collapses, obliging the government to seek a new coalition.Lieut. Gen. Ray Odierno takes over command of U.S. forces in Iraq from Gen. David Petraeus in a ceremony presided over by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.Army troops in Bolivia arrest Gov. Leopoldo Fernández of Pando department, accusing him of having been involved in the September 11 massacre of peasants.September 17Somchai Wongsawat is chosen as Thailand's new prime minister; protesters at Government House in Bangkok oppose the choice.Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is elected leader of Israel's ruling Kadima party.In Nalchik, Russia, Aleksandra Kostenyuk of Russia becomes the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) women's world chess champion after defeating Hou Yifan of China 2.5–1.5 in the final round of the three-week tournament.September 18In an effort to contain the global credit crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve joins with the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan as well as the central banks of Canada and Switzerland to make $180 billion in currency exchanges available.Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev announces that the government will invest as much as $20 billion into domestic stocks in an effort to stop the rapid sinking of the country's stock markets, which were shut down the previous day.In Zimbabwe negotiations between Pres. Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai break down over the division of control over ministries.Two days of legislative elections in Rwanda result in the world's first legislature that has a female majority; women win 45 of 80 seats.The Dow Jones Industrial Average replaces the American International Group (AIG) with Kraft Foods on its listing.September 19North Korea declares that it no longer is interested in being removed from the U.S. government's list of state sponsors of terrorism.A bomb largely destroys a religious school in Quetta, Pak.; at least five people are killed.September 20A large truck bomb explodes outside the Marriott Hotel, a landmark in Islamabad, Pak.; at least 40 people are killed.Pres. George W. Bush formally proposes a bailout bill that would give the Treasury Department unlimited authority to buy and sell up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets; the plan contains few details.Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, the head of Bangladesh's government, announces that elections will take place on December 18; the last scheduled elections in the country in January 2007 were canceled.CERN scientists announce that the Large Hadron Collider will be shut down for at least two months; later they indicate that it will be started up again in April 2009.September 21Pres. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in a publicly televised address gives up the office of president, in accordance with the wishes of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.Ehud Olmert resigns as prime minister of Israel.The U.S. Federal Reserve approves the requests of investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to convert themselves into bank holding companies.The Emmy Awards are presented in Los Angeles; winners include the television shows 30 Rock and Mad Men and the actors Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Tina Fey, Glenn Close, Jeremy Piven, Zeljko Ivanek, Jean Smart, and Dianne Wiest.In golf's Ryder Cup competition in Louisville, Ky., the U.S. defeats Europe for the first time since 1999 with a 16–11 margin of victory.September 22Li Changjiang, the head of China's food and product quality agency, is dismissed in the scandal in which melamine-tainted infant formula has made tens of thousands of babies ill throughout China.September 23The U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation that is intended to prevent the waters of the Great Lakes from being diverted outside the basin and requires conservation measures from the states bordering the lakes; Pres. George W. Bush signs the bill into law the following month.A 22-year-old student at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality, a trade school in western Finland, opens fire in a classroom of students taking an exam; he kills 10 people before shooting himself.The world's first wave farm, in which the power of the ocean's waves is harnessed to generate electrical power, begins operation off Agucadora, Port.Google and T-Mobile introduce their mobile telephone G1, the first phone powered by Google's Android operating system; it is meant to encourage people to develop programs to run on it.September 24Taro Aso takes office as prime minister of Japan.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush makes a nationally televised speech to ask for the country's support for a $700 billion bailout plan to avert financial catastrophe and invites presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to Washington, D.C., to join negotiations on the plan.Iraq's Council of Representatives passes a law to prepare for provincial elections to be held in 2009.September 25In the biggest bank failure in American history, the U.S. government takes over the savings and loan bank Washington Mutual and arranges its sale to financial services giant JPMorgan Chase.Cooperation between and swift action by bank regulators, bank officers, and tycoon Li Ka-shing quickly end a run on the Bank of East Asia in Hong Kong within a day after it began.After being elected by the legislature, Kgalema Motlanthe takes office as president of South Africa; he immediately replaces the discredited Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as minister of health with Barbara Hogan.Antoine Gizenga resigns as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy makes a speech in which he asserts that the world's monetary system needs to be overhauled and that, though the economic crisis in the U.S. is having an effect in France, the French government will act to protect bank deposits and taxpayers.Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean seize the Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying millions of dollars of military weaponry that had been purchased by Kenya; by the following day the U.S. and Russia have sent naval ships in pursuit.September 26Turkmenistan adopts a new constitution that, among other things, replaces a 2,500-member appointed legislature with a 125-member popularly elected one and sets the presidential term at five years; legislative elections are set for December.The Global Carbon Project issues an update saying that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, had an annual increase in 2000–07 that was nearly four times the rate in the 1990s, largely because of economic growth in less-developed countries.The 2008 Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards are presented: winners are Victor Ambros, David Baulcombe, and Gary Ruvkun for their revelations about tiny ribonucleic acids; Akira Endo for his discovery of statin drugs, which lower LDL cholesterol; and Stanley Falkow for his career of researching how microbes cause disease and for his service as a teacher.The Jerome Robbins Award for excellence in dance is presented to choreographer Twyla Tharp and to the San Francisco Ballet; each award is worth $100,000.September 27A large car bomb explodes at a busy intersection in Damascus, killing at least 17 people.Astronaut Zhai Zhigang of China successfully performs the Chinese space program's first spacewalk, floating outside the orbital module for 18 minutes.The new home of the California Academy of Sciences, designed by Renzo Piano and featuring 1 ha (2.5 ac) of living native plants on its roof, opens in San Francisco; the academy's previous home was damaged by an earthquake in 1989.In the Australian Football League Grand Final in Melbourne, the Hawthorn Hawks defeat the heavily favoured Geelong Cats 18.7 (115) to 11.23 (89).September 28Voters in Ecuador approve a new constitution that, among other things, gives more power to the president but also includes many popular social protections.In legislative elections in Austria, the ruling Social Democratic Party loses ground but retains the highest number of seats; the right-wing anti-immigrant Freedom Party and Alliance for Austria's Future post gains.Supporters of Pres. Alyaksandr Lukashenka win all 110 seats in legislative elections in Belarus.Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia shatters the world marathon record that he set in 2007 as he wins the Berlin Marathon with a time of 2 hr 3 min 59 sec; Irina Mikitenko of Germany is the fastest woman, with a time of 2 hr 19 min 19 sec.September 29The U.S. House of Representatives rejects the $700 billion bailout bill supported by U.S. Pres. George W. Bush; as countries around the world struggle to save large banks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls nearly 7%, and global stock markets also lose value.The price of a barrel of oil falls to $96.37.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 90% of nursing homes in the U.S. have been found to have violated health and safety standards and that for-profit institutions were cited more often for such violations than government or not-for-profit homes.The World Institute for Nuclear Security is inaugurated in Vienna, with Roger Howsley of Great Britain as its director; the organization seeks to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.September 30On the first day of a nine-day festival devoted to the Hindu goddess Durga, a stampede caused by pilgrims slipping on coconut milk from offerings causes at least 147 people to be trampled to death in Jodhpur in Rajasthan state, India.London's High Court rules that Nepalese Gurkhas who have served with the British army have the right to live in the U.K.October"Iceland is bankrupt. The Icelandic krona is history. The only sensible option is for the IMF to come and rescue us."— University of Iceland professor Arsaell Valfells, on the collapse of Iceland's economic system, October 9October 1The U.S. Congress ratifies a nuclear trade agreement made with India in 2005.Investor Warren Buffett announces that his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, will purchase $3 billion of stock in General Electric.In Sweden the Right Livelihood Awards are granted to Krishnammal and Sankaralingam Jagannathan of India and their organization LAFTI (Land for Tillers' Freedom) for their work for social justice and sustainable development, to American journalist Amy Goodman for her syndicated radio and television program Democracy Now! and its independent coverage of underreported stories, to Asha Hagi of Somalia for her work to politically empower women, and to Swiss-born gynecologist Monika Hauser for her work for sexually abused women in war-torn places.October 2The Sri Lankan air force bombs the main political offices of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Kilinochhi.In Baghdad a car bomb kills at least 14 people at one Shiʿite mosque, and a suicide bomber kills some 10 people at a second Shiʿite mosque.Remains believed to be those of missing adventurer Steve Fossett, who disappeared in September 2007, are found in the Inyo National Forest in California.October 3The government of The Netherlands takes over the Dutch operations of the Belgian-Dutch Fortis Bank, which includes ABN AMRO.The U.S. House of Representatives passes a revised version of the $700 billion financial bailout bill that was rejected in September, and U.S. Pres. George W. Bush signs it into law.A car loaded with explosives blows up in Tskhinvali, the capital of Georgia's separatist province of South Ossetia, killing seven Russian soldiers, as well as the two men in the car.October 4Turkish officials report that an attack the previous night by Kurdish insurgents on a border post in a district that borders Iraq and Iran left 15 Turkish soldiers and 23 attackers dead.North Korea's state news agency reports that the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, appeared in public to watch an association football (soccer) game; his last reported public appearance was in August.Tyler Perry Studios, featuring five soundstages for television and film work, opens in Atlanta; it is the first major film and television studio owned by an African American producer.October 5A magnitude-6.6 earthquake strikes Kyrgyzstan, killing at least 72 people and flattening the village of Nura.Violence takes place for the second straight day in India's Assam state between Bodo people and Bangladeshi immigrants, prompting police to open fire on rioters; 33 people die in the fighting, including 8 killed by police fire.The Detroit Shock defeats the San Antonio Silver Stars 76–60 to win its third Women's National Basketball Association championship in a three-game sweep.The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Thoroughbred horse race at Longchamp Race Track in Paris is won by the filly Zarkava.October 6The Russian stock market declines by 19.1%, indexes in London and Frankfurt, Ger., drop more than 7%, Paris stocks lose 9%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishes below 10,000 points for the first time since 2004.NASA's Messenger spacecraft makes its second flyby of Mercury.The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier of France for their discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and to Harald zur Hausen of Germany for his discovery of the human papillomavirus, a major cause of cervical cancer.October 7Protesters in Bangkok surround the Parliament building, trapping legislators inside for several hours until police arrive to disperse the demonstrators; fighting breaks out in which 2 people are killed and some 400 are hurt.The government of Iceland takes control of Landsbanki, the country's second largest bank, and pegs the national currency to a basket of other currencies in an effort to stave off national bankruptcy.The UN Food and Agriculture Organization releases a report calling for governments to review their policies supporting biofuels, saying that they have contributed to rising hunger in poor countries.In Stockholm the Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Yoichiro Nambu of the U.S. and to Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa of Japan for their work searching for hidden symmetries among elementary particles.October 8British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces a financial plan to offer recapitalization funds to troubled banks in return for ownership stakes and to provide government guarantees to help banks refinance debt; the government will provide £50 billion ($75 billion) in this initiative.The U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of the U.K., Canada, Switzerland, and Sweden all cut their benchmark interest rates by half a point in concert.The first multiparty presidential elections ever held in Maldives result in the need for a runoff.Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia announces that he will resign from office in March 2009.The Nobel Prize for Chemistry is awarded to Osamu Shimomura of Japan and to Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien of the U.S. for their research on the green fluorescent protein produced by the jellyfish Aequorea victoria and its use as a marker for observing cells in other animals.October 9Iceland takes over Kaupthing Bank, the last of the country's three major banks to be nationalized, shuts down the stock market, and ceases to support its currency, the krona.Pres. Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine dissolves Parliament, ordering that new legislative elections be held on December 7.Zimbabwe publishes official statistics showing that the national rate of inflation rose from 11,000,000% in June to 231,000,000% in July.The banking giant Citigroup abandons its plan to acquire Wachovia Corp., allowing it to be acquired by Wells Fargo, which had made a surprise offer at a higher price.The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.October 10Near a meeting of elders in the Orakzai tribal area of Pakistan, a truck bomb kills at least 100 people.Faced with a corruption scandal, Pres. Alan García of Peru dismisses his cabinet, including Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo; the next day Yehude Simon is named prime minister.The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to former Finnish president and international mediator Martti Ahtisaari.October 11Pres. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe declares that his party will control the Ministries of Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Justice, giving him effective control over the military and police; a day earlier he agreed with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to request the mediation of Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush announces that North Korea is to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism; the following day North Korea indicates that it will resume dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex.October 12Leaders of European countries and organizations in the euro zone meeting in Paris agree to inject capital into troubled banks and to guarantee certain bank debt, and bank deposits are guaranteed by the governments of Australia and New Zealand.Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki orders national police forces to protect Christian churches and residents in Mosul after two weeks in which 11 Christians were killed and nearly 500 Christian families fled for safety.A strike in protest against a planned sales tax in Iran expands from shop owners in traditional bazaars to include textile and carpet merchants, although the proposal has been suspended.The Chicago Marathon is won by Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya with a time of 2 hr 6 min 25 sec; the women's victor is Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia with a time of 2 hr 27 min 17 sec.October 13The U.S. government announces a plan to invest as much as $250 billion in stock in banks in a recapitalization attempt similar to what is being undertaken in Europe; the banks include Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gains 936 points, its largest-ever point gain and an increase of 11.1%; the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq composite also rise over 11%.The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences goes to American Paul Krugman for his work elucidating patterns in world trade and locations of economic activity.October 14In legislative elections in Canada, the ruling Conservative Party wins the highest percentage of the vote, and party leader Stephen Harper remains prime minister.Iceland uses swap lines to obtain €200 million ($267 million) each from the central banks of Denmark and Norway, and its benchmark stock index loses nearly 80% of its value.The Man Booker Prize for Fiction goes to Indian writer Aravind Adiga for his first novel, The White Tiger.October 15Ilham Aliyev wins reelection as president of Azerbaijan with about 89% of the vote; there are no credible opposition candidates.The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops a stunning 733 points, losing 7.9% of its value.The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil falls to $74.54, the first time since August 2007 that it has fallen below $75.In Tokyo the Japan Art Association awards the Praemium Imperiale to Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, Russian installation artists Ilya and Emiliya Kabakov, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, Japanese kabuki actor Tojuro Sakata, and British artist Richard Hamilton.October 16Hungary arranges to borrow as much as €5 billion ($6.7 billion) from the European Central Bank; the collapse of credit markets is endangering Hungary's economy.In Kandahar province in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents stop a bus and pull 50 passengers off; they behead some 30 of them.The Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, ends its subscription to the Associated Press wire service, citing the need to cut costs.NASA reports that the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has made a discovery in the constellation Cepheus of a previously unknown type of pulsar that emits only gamma rays.October 17The Independent Electoral Commission in Côte d'Ivoire announces that a presidential election scheduled for November 30 will be postponed until 2009.A battle between African Union peacekeepers and Islamic insurgents who attacked them in Mogadishu, Som., leaves at least 14 people dead.Japan, Austria, Turkey, Mexico, and Uganda are elected to two-year nonpermanent seats on the UN Security Council.October 18A demonstration against the proposed status-of-forces security agreement between Iraq and the U.S. by followers of Shiʿite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr takes place in Baghdad.Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says that he wishes to have face-to-face talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in an attempt to resolve the dispute over a 900-year-old temple on the border between the countries; a firefight on October 15 left three Cambodian soldiers dead.October 19China announces a rural-reform policy that will allow farmers to lease or exchange land-use grants.South Korea announces a financial package in which it will guarantee up to $100 billion in foreign debt held by banks, offer dollar liquidity to banks, and give tax incentives to long-term stock investors.The government of The Netherlands agrees to fund the ING Group with €10 billion ($13 billion) in exchange for an 8.5% share in the bank.At the world open squash championships in Manchester, Eng., Ramy Ashour of Egypt wins the men's competition and Nicol David of Malaysia the women's title.October 20In Silivri, Tur., a trial gets under way against 86 people, many prominent, who in a 2,455-page indictment have been accused of belonging to a secret nationalist group called Ergenekon, which seeks to use violence and destabilization to take over the government.Armed conflict between rival gangs in a prison in Reynosa, Mex., leaves at least 21 inmates dead.The genomes and phenotypes of 10 volunteers are made publicly available on www.personalgenomes.org as part of the Personal Genome Project, which seeks to increase medical knowledge by making this information easily available; the project founders hope to supply the data on 100,000 volunteers.Festus Mogae, who was president of Botswana from 1998 until April 2008, wins the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.October 21The inaugural Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, which carries an unusually generous prize of $200,000, is presented to Tony Kushner.Bolivia's legislature passes a bill to allow a national referendum on a proposed new constitution to take place on Jan. 25, 2009.For the first time, trade takes place between India and Pakistan across the Line of Control in Kashmir as 16 Indian trucks carrying apples and walnuts cross into Pakistan; Pakistani trucks loaded with rice and raisins later travel into India.The U.S. Federal Reserve announces a new $540 billion program to back up the value of money-market mutual funds.October 22Pakistan asks the International Monetary Fund for assistance in repaying loans; the IMF has also been approached by Iceland, Hungary, Serbia, and Ukraine.India launches Chandrayaan-1, an unmanned spacecraft that will orbit the Moon, gathering information to create a three-dimensional atlas and searching for mineral resources, particularly uranium; it is India's first scientific spacecraft.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa in Puerto Vallarta, Mex., to discuss cooperation in confronting Mexico's drug cartels.October 23A suicide car bomber targeting Iraq's minister of labour and social affairs kills 11 people in Baghdad; the minister, Mahmoud Muhammad al-Radhi, is uninjured.Greece's minister of state and government spokesman, Theodoros Roussopoulos, resigns in a government scandal in which valuable land was exchanged for less-desirable property belonging to a monastery on Mt. Athos.The European Parliament names jailed Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.October 24The International Monetary Fund tentatively agrees to grant Iceland a $2 billion loan over two years to help it rebuild its economy; the last time the IMF made a loan to a Western country was in 1976.As oil drops to $64.15 a barrel, OPEC plans to reduce output to 1.5 million bbl a day.The UN reports that a quickly spreading cholera outbreak in Guinea-Bissau has infected some 12,000 people, 200 of whom have died.National City Bank merges with PNC Financial, which receives $7.7 billion of U.S. federal bailout money to expedite the merger, and insurance companies and car manufacturers lobby to receive government largesse.October 25Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety reports that it found eggs from northeastern China to be heavily contaminated with melamine, suggesting that the toxic substance has been deliberately added to animal feed.The Breeders' Cup Classic Thoroughbred horse race is won by Raven's Pass at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.; favourite Curlin finishes fourth.October 26Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Kadima political party, asks Pres. Shimon Peres to set early elections.A U.S. Predator drone launches a missile attack on a compound in the village of Manduta in Pakistan's South Waziristan province, killing 20 people; among the dead are two Taliban leaders who were responsible for attacks against U.S. personnel in Afghanistan.Authorities in Mexico report that Eduardo Arellano Félix, a drug-cartel leader who is wanted by the U.S., was arrested after a three-hour gun battle in Tijuana the previous day.The 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in Los Angeles is won by alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon.October 27As forces led by insurgent leader Laurent Nkunda advance toward Goma, Dem. Rep. of the Congo, protesters attack the compound of UN peacekeepers in anger that they have not stopped the insurgents, and the newly appointed head of the UN force quits in frustration over its lack of strategy and resources.Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia dismisses Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and names Grigol Mgaloblishvili as his replacement.South Korea's central bank holds an emergency meeting and lowers its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point; elsewhere, the Bank of Israel lowers its rate by one-quarter point, and Australia's central bank buys Australian dollars to improve the exchange rate.The Community Court of Justice, a regional court established by the Economic Community of West African States, rules that Niger failed to enforce its laws against slavery in allowing a 12-year-old girl to be sold into slavery and kept in that state for more than 10 years; the young woman is awarded $19,000.Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska is convicted in the District of Columbia on seven felony counts for having failed to report some $250,000 in gifts and services he had received; Stevens is running for his seventh term of office.October 28In runoff presidential elections in Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed defeats Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been president since 1978.Iran announces that it has opened a new naval base in the port of Jask on the Gulf of Oman.The online-search company Google announces an agreement with book publishers that will allow it to scan and make available for a fee out-of-print books that are under copyright; the deal will allow both Google and the authors and publishers to be paid for the use of such books.October 29Ukraine's legislature gives initial approval to financial changes required by the IMF before it releases a $16.5 billion loan to the country; the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, loses some 14% of its value.Suicide car bombers attack the presidential palace in Hargeysa, the capital of Somalia's semi-independent and peaceful region of Somaliland, killing at least 20 people; other car bombs explode in Bosasso in the semiautonomous region of Puntland.The U.S. Federal Reserve cuts its benchmark interest rate half a point, to 1%.Pakistan formally protests U.S. attacks against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants on its soil and demands a stop to the incursions.In the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4–3 in the final three and a half innings of the fifth game, which began on October 27 and was suspended for two days because of rain and snow, to win the Major League Baseball championship.October 30In India's Assam state, bombs go off in four towns, including the state capital, Guwahati, where at least 32 people die, and Bongaigaon; at least 64 people are killed all told.The first copies of Bhutan Today, the first daily newspaper published in Bhutan, roll off the presses in Thimphu.Rupiah Banda wins the presidential election in Zambia; he had been acting president since the death of Pres. Levy Mwanawasa.The oil company Exxon Mobil reports a record $14.8 billion in profit in its most recent fiscal quarter.October 31A missile attack believed to have been launched by a U.S. drone hits two villages in Pakistan, killing 27 people, one of them said to be an al-Qaeda operative.U.S. Gen. David Petraeus takes over the Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia.November"I ran into the hotel kitchen, and then we were shunted into a restaurant in the basement. We are now in the dark in this room, and we have barricaded all the doors. It's really bad."— European Parliament member Sajjad Karim describing his ordeal during the terrorist siege of his hotel in Mumbai (Bombay), November 26November 1A group of 6,400 dissident members of the African National Congress (ANC) party meet in Johannesburg to discuss the formation of a new political party.Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi meets with Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, apparently to discuss closer commercial relations.November 2With a fifth-place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, which is won by Felipe Massa of Brazil, British driver Lewis Hamilton, age 23, becomes the youngest person to have won the Formula 1 automobile racing drivers' championship.Sébastien Loeb of France secures a record fifth successive world rally championship automobile racing drivers' title with a third-place finish in the Rally of Japan.Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil wins the New York City Marathon with a time of 2 hr 8 min 43 sec, while Britain's Paula Radcliffe is the fastest woman, with a time of 2 hr 23 min 56 sec.November 3The U.S. Department of Commerce releases figures showing that the sales of new cars and trucks in October had fallen to levels not seen since the early 1980s, with figures down almost 32% compared with sales in October 2007.A $10.9 billion fiscal stimulus package is announced by the government of South Korea, while Spain declares a program that will allow unemployed homeowners to defer mortgage payments.In a complicated spy and bribery case known as “Suitcasegate”—for the suitcase full of cash found in the airport in Buenos Aires in August 2007 that began the scandal—Venezuelan businessman Franklin Durán is convicted by a court in Miami of having acted as an “unregistered agent” in the U.S.November 4In a historic presidential election in the U.S., Democratic candidate Barack Obama wins with 52.9% of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes, against Republican candidate John McCain's 45.7% and 173 electoral votes; Obama celebrates his victory with a rally in Grant Park in Chicago.Gen. Mario Montoya resigns as head of Colombia's army in a spreading scandal about the apparently pervasive practice of the armed forces' killing of civilians in an attempt to inflate the figures of insurgents killed by security forces.China and Taiwan sign an agreement that will greatly increase transportation connections as well as trade between the two entities.A Mexican government jet crashes into a business district in Mexico City; all nine people aboard, including Minister of the Interior Juan Camilo Mouriño, and at least five people on the ground are killed.For the third day in a row, rioting over the high price of fuel takes place in Conakry, Guinea, as armed forces use violence against the demonstrators.It is reported that beginning in January 2009, the weekly newsmagazine U.S. News & World Report will publish only once a month.November 5Officials in Afghanistan complain that a U.S. air strike two days earlier killed at least 40 civilians at a wedding party in Kandahar province.In the face of regulatory pressure, the online search company Google backs out of the advertising partnership it had planned with the Internet company Yahoo!November 6The heads of the automobile companies General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler and the leader of the United Automobile Workers union travel to Washington, D.C., to ask for a second time for government help to prevent the collapse of their industry.The journal Nature publishes a report describing a study in which for the first time the complete genome of a cancer patient was obtained, and a comparison of the DNA of her cancerous cells with that of her healthy cells reveals 10 mutations unique to the cancerous cells.In northwestern Pakistan, at a gathering of tribesmen opposed to the Taliban, a suicide bomber kills at least 17 people.November 7U.S. government figures show that 240,000 jobs were lost in October as the unemployment rate rose to 6.5%, its highest level in 14 years.In Pétionville, outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a church-run school that is adding a third story collapses into rubble; at least 91 schoolchildren and teachers are killed.A court in Malaysia orders the release of Raja Petra Kamarudin, a popular blogger who has been held without trial since September 12 under the Internal Security Act; his blog is frequently critical of the government.November 8Iraq's executive council ratifies a law setting the composition of provincial councils; the law allots only six seats on the councils to members of religious minorities, half of what the United Nations recommended.In legislative elections in New Zealand, the opposition National Party wins 45.5% of the vote, against the ruling Labour Party's 33.8%.Latvia assumes control of Parex Banka AS, the country's second largest bank, to prevent its collapse.November 9At an emergency summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community in Johannesburg, participants call for a cease-fire in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and agree to send military advisers to assist the government.At an American Heart Association convention, researchers present a large study that found that people who did not have high cholesterol or a history of heart disease but did have high levels of C-reactive protein were far less likely to suffer strokes or heart disease if treated with statins.November 10A coordinated triple bombing involving two car bombs and a suicide bomber kills at least 28 people in Baghdad.The European Union member countries agree to resume negotiations on forging a partnership with Russia; the talks were stopped on September 1 after Russian troops refused to withdraw from Georgia.The credit card company American Express Co. receives approval from the U.S. Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company.The American electronics retailer Circuit City files for bankruptcy protection.Deutsche Post, the parent of the shipping company DHL, announces plans to eliminate domestic delivery in the U.S., cutting 9,500 jobs.The 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is awarded posthumously to comic George Carlin in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.November 11Police in India announce the arrest of nine people whom they believe to be members of a radical Hindu terrorist cell that was responsible for a bomb attack in the city of Malegaon in September.Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian is arrested on charges of corruption and money laundering.Food inspectors in Hong Kong report finding high levels of the toxic chemical melamine in fish feed from China.Peter Eastgate of Denmark wins the World Series of Poker; at 22, he is the youngest winner of the card game tournament.November 12Algeria's legislature overwhelmingly agrees to overturn the constitutional provision that presidents may serve no more than two consecutive terms; Pres. Abdelaziz Bouteflika is serving his second term of office.U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson announces that the government no longer plans to use the $700 billion bailout package to buy bad assets but will rather try to use the money to capitalize banks and to help companies make loans.Islamist militants in Somalia easily take control of the port city of Marca and the following day seize the town of Elasha Biyaha, 18 km (11 mi) from Mogadishu.The 2008 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is awarded to film actor and director Robert Redford.November 13The United Nations Environment Programme releases a report on noxious “brown clouds” of pollution, composed of soot, smog, and chemicals from the burning of coal, wood, and fossil fuels; they occur most frequently in Asia and cause, among other things, reduced crop yields, health problems, and altered weather patterns.At the Latin Grammy Awards in Houston, Colombian rock musician Juanes wins five awards, including album of the year for La vida … es un ratico and both song and record of the year for “Me enamora.”November 14With a European Union report showing that the economy of the 15-country euro zone shrank 0.2% in the third quarter, the euro zone is officially in recession.Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fire a barrage of rockets into Israel; 18 people are hurt.The journal Science publishes an article reporting that the Hubble Space Telescope has produced the first visible-light image of a planet in another solar system; the observations are of the planet Fomalhaut b orbiting the star Fomalhaut in the constellation Piscis Australis.The enlarged Art Gallery of Ontario, renovated by architect Frank Gehry, reopens in Toronto.November 15Leaders of the Group of 20 countries meet in Washington, D.C., to discuss the global financial crisis.California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declares a state of emergency in Los Angeles county as several wildfires, driven by Santa Ana winds, burn hundreds of houses and compel the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents.November 16Iraq's cabinet approves a status-of-forces agreement negotiated with the U.S.; the pact, which must also be approved by the legislature, begins restricting the scope of U.S. combat operations starting on Jan. 1, 2009, and calls for a complete U.S. withdrawal by the end of 2011.After the final auto race of the season, Jimmie Johnson is crowned winner of the NASCAR drivers' championship for the third year in a row.The final episode of TRL, the once-important pop-music video-countdown television show on MTV, is aired in a three-hour celebration; the show debuted in 1998.November 17The Taliban responds to an offer of peace talks with Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai by setting the condition that all foreign troops must leave Afghanistan for such negotiations to take place.New figures in Japan reveal that the country's economy shrank for the second consecutive quarter, putting Japan officially in recession.The banking corporation Citigroup announces that it will eliminate 52,000 jobs worldwide, reducing its workforce by 14%.The Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star is seized by pirates some 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, far from the usual area menaced by pirates.Jerry Yang discloses his intention to resign as CEO of the computer company Yahoo!November 18A court in Egypt rules that a contract to provide natural gas to Israel signed in 2005 should have been approved by the legislature and so should not be honoured.Iraq's cabinet sets provincial elections for Jan. 31, 2009, in all provinces except four in and around Kurdistan.November 19For the second straight day, fighting takes place in Managua, Nic., between supporters of the government and opposition allies who believe that municipal elections on November 9 were rigged.John Key is sworn in as prime minister of New Zealand.The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the consumer price index for October dropped by 1%, the biggest one-month drop ever measured, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls below 8,000 for the first time since 2003.The heads of the three major American automobile manufacturers leave Washington, D.C., having failed to persuade Congress to grant the industry a financial bailout.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration opens a branch in Beijing to screen food and drugs that will be exported to the U.S.; it is intended to be the first of several overseas offices for the agency.In an act of mass reforestation, thousands of people in Macedonia undertake to plant six million new trees in a single day.The American flag that flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, Md., in 1814 and inspired the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is dedicated after a painstaking restoration in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.November 20At the first habeus corpus hearing on the U.S. government's reasons for holding six detainees at the military detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Judge Richard J. Leon of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., rules that five of the men have been illegally held for almost seven years and should be released immediately.The IMF agrees to lend Iceland $2.1 billion, and Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden provide an additional $2.5 billion in loans.Nature magazine publishes a report by researchers studying cosmic rays impacting the Earth; their research revealed an unexpectedly large number of high-energy electrons among the rays.The price of a barrel of oil falls below $50.November 21Russia's State Duma (lower legislative house) approves a change to the constitution that would extend the presidential term of office from four years to six years.The World Health Organization reports that a cholera epidemic that broke out in August in Zimbabwe and has accelerated in November has so far killed 294 people.The director of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the headquarters of which was seized by insurgent fighters on October 26, declares that the park rangers are returning from refugee camps to protect the mountain gorillas of the reserve.After an emergency session, the state legislature of Nebraska revises a safe-haven law to allow only infants up to the age of 30 days to be legally abandoned at hospitals; as originally written, the law had said that all children could be safely abandoned, and since it went into effect on September 1, 35 older children, several from outside Nebraska, had been left at Nebraska hospitals.November 22A conference of nearly 600 Tibetan exiles in Dharmshala, India, concludes that the Dalai Lama's approach of seeking autonomy rather than independence from China should be continued but that negotiations should be suspended until China appears willing to consider change.On a man-made island in Doha, Qatar, the stepped five-story Museum of Islamic Art celebrates its grand opening in a ceremony attended by heads of state and other luminaries; it will open to the public on December 1.New Zealand defeats Australia 34–20 to win the Rugby League World Cup final in an astonishing upset.November 23Rebellious soldiers invade the home of Pres. João Bernardo Vieira of Guinea-Bissau in an apparent coup attempt but are repelled by guards.A meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum concludes in Lima with a promise to pursue free trade.Spain defeats Argentina 3–1 to win the Davis Cup in international team tennis.After 17 years in production, the album Chinese Democracy by the hard-rock band Guns N' Roses is released; the only original member of the band is Axl Rose.The Columbus Crew wins the Major League Soccer title with a 3–1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the MLS Cup in Carson, Calif.The Calgary Stampeders capture the 96th Canadian Football League Grey Cup, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 22–14.November 24Antigovernment protesters in Bangkok surround the legislative building and cut off its electricity and march on the domestic airport where the government has been meeting since protests began in August.North Korea announces plans to ban South Korean tourists, to expel South Korean workers from the joint Kaesong Industrial Park, and to end train service between the countries.The U.K. announces a plan to cut taxes and increase spending in spite of a large budget deficit in an attempt to stimulate the troubled economy.Three bomb attacks in Baghdad leave at least 18 people dead.The U.S. Treasury agrees to inject $20 billion into the funds of the banking giant Citigroup and to pay for losses on bad assets; it is the second rescue plan from the government for the bank.November 25Thousands of protesters invade Bangkok's international airport, shutting it down.Voters in Greenland overwhelmingly approve a new law to increase the dependency's autonomy from Denmark, in particular giving it greater rights to profit from local oil resources.The IMF approves a loan of $7.6 billion to Pakistan, with $3.1 billion to be released immediately.The giant Australian-based mining company BHP Billiton drops its bid to acquire the Anglo-Australian mining concern Rio Tinto; the hostile offer was first made a year earlier.Atlantic Records, a label owned by Warner Music Group, says that it has become the first label to have more than half of its music sales come from digital products, such as MP3 downloads and ringtones.November 26In a brazen strike in Mumbai (Bombay), terrorists attack several public sites, among them train stations, hospitals, and a restaurant, and then take over two luxury hotels and a Jewish community centre; at least 82 people are initially reported killed in the siege.China announces an unusually large interest rate cut, and the European Commission proposes a €200 billion (about $258 billion) stimulus plan to be undertaken by the EU's member countries.Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declares that he will no longer participate in power-sharing talks with Pres. Robert Mugabe under the mediation of former South African president Thabo Mbeki, as he no longer trusts Mbeki.In Alto Minho in northern Portugal, a wind farm made up of 120 wind turbines and five substations officially opens; it is the largest wind farm in Europe.November 27Iraq's legislature ratifies the Status of Forces Agreement that mandates the end of U.S. military occupation of Iraq by the end of 2011.The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario announces that physicist Stephen Hawking will hold its first distinguished research chair.November 28Authorities in Mumbai (Bombay) succeed in regaining control of the two luxury hotels and the Jewish centre that were attacked by terrorists, ending the siege; at least 174 people are believed to have been killed.The British government takes majority control of the Royal Bank of Scotland.Carlos Menem, who was president of Argentina in 1989–99, is formally charged by a panel of judges in Buenos Aires with having trafficked in arms.On the day after Thanksgiving Day, a major shopping day in the U.S., throngs of shoppers force their way into a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, N.Y., five minutes before its scheduled opening, trampling an employee to death.November 29Two days of ferocious ethnic and religious violence between Muslims and Christians in Jos, Nigeria, end with the imposition of a curfew; at least 400 people died in fighting.November 30In a referendum in Switzerland, voters choose to make permanent a program that gives heroin to addicts under controlled circumstances and has been credited with reducing crime; they also reject an initiative to decriminalize the use of marijuana.The space shuttle Endeavour lands in California after a successful mission to enlarge the capacity of the International Space Station; among those aboard are the space station's outgoing flight engineer, Gregory E. Chamitoff, who had spent six months at the station.Sweden claims the World Cup in golf when Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson win a three-shot victory over Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Pablo Larrazábal of Spain in Shenzhen, China.December"This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership, speaking in one voice."— Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, speaking at an emergency Arab League summit, December 31December 1The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that the U.S. economy has been in recession since December 2007; this is an unusually long recession, and analysts expect it to continue for some time.The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 680 points, losing 7.7% of its value, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index drops by 8.9% and the Nasdaq composite loses 9%.It is reported that, because Zimbabwe has run out of chemicals to keep the water supply safe, water supplies to Harare have been cut off.Two suicide bombings at a police training school in Baghdad kill at least 15 people, and in Mosul another suicide bombing leaves at least 17 people dead.High winds on the Adriatic Sea cause the tide in the Venice Lagoon to rise to 156 cm (61 in), flooding Venice; it is the fourth highest tide ever recorded there and the worst flooding in the city since 1986.Britain's Turner Prize is presented in London to artist Mark Leckey; his work includes the multimedia exhibition Industrial Light & Magic, which contains images of the animated characters Felix the Cat and Homer Simpson.December 2Thailand's Constitutional Court rules that vote buying has taken place and disbands the ruling People Power Party, banning Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from political activity for five years; antigovernment protesters rejoice.A new coalition government led by Chancellor Werner Faymann is inaugurated in Austria.Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control reports that 34 babies have died as a result of using teething powder that was contaminated with diethylene glycol, an industrial solvent.The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) shuts down the Houston Comets, unable to afford to keep the franchise going or to find a buyer.December 3A group of conservative Episcopal bishops announce that they are forming a new province within the Anglican Communion to serve as an alternative to the Episcopal Church (U.S.); the new province is to be called the Anglican Church in North America.Against the preferences of the U.S., Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai decides to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning the use of cluster bombs; he participates along with more than 90 other countries' delegates in a signing ceremony in Oslo.December 4Unable to pass a budget and facing a no-confidence vote, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogues Parliament, suspending it until Jan. 26, 2009.The Bank of England cuts its key interest rate a full point, to 2%, while the European Central Bank lowers its rate by three-quarters of a point, to 2.5%, and the Swedish Riksbank drops its key rate by 1.75 points, to 2%.Zimbabwe declares its cholera epidemic a national emergency and appeals for international assistance.The telecommunications company AT&T declares that it plans to lay off 12,000 people over the next year; one difficulty the company is encountering is a decline in the number of subscribers to landline telephones.December 5A bomb goes off at a bazaar in Peshawar, Pak., killing at least 22 people and igniting a major fire.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a report showing that 533,000 jobs were lost in November; this is the largest monthly total since December 1974.The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that 1.35 million American homes were in foreclosure in the third quarter, a new record and an increase of 76% over the previous year.Former U.S. football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of two murders in 1995, is sentenced to 9–33 years in prison for armed robbery in a case in which he took sports memorabilia from collectors in a casino hotel room in 2007.December 6In the course of one of the frequent fights between police and leftist youths in Athens, the police shoot to death a 15-year-old boy; ferocious rioting begins within hours and spreads to other cities in Greece.The government of Ireland orders all pork products made in the country since September 1 to be destroyed, as Irish pork has been found to be contaminated with high levels of dioxin.December 7Hundreds of militants attack a lot in Peshawar, Pak., and destroy more than 100 trucks fully loaded with supplies for U.S. and NATO armed forces in Afghanistan.The annual Kennedy Center Honors are presented in Washington, D.C., to musicians George Jones, Pete Townshend, and Roger Daltrey, actor Morgan Freeman, singer and actress Barbra Streisand, and choreographer Twyla Tharp.December 8Belize and Guatemala agree to submit a border disagreement dating from 1821 to the International Court of Justice.The Tribune Co., which publishes the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and 10 other newspapers and also owns several television stations, files for bankruptcy protection.On the second day of fighting between Islamist separatists and Philippine armed forces on the islands of Sulu and Basilan, military officials say that 10 people, both marines and insurgents, have been killed.Christie Hefner announces her resignation as chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises.December 9Pakistani authorities say that they have arrested some 20 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamist militant group believed to be behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay) in November, including its operational leader.Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois is arrested on federal charges of conspiracy and bribe solicitation; prosecutors say that, among other things, he attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, to which he was empowered to appoint the successor.The Baltimore Opera Company files for bankruptcy protection in Maryland.December 10During six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, North Korea refuses to accept a Chinese proposal on nuclear verification; negotiations break down the following day.Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko of Ukraine announces that she has formed a new coalition with parties allied with Pres. Viktor Yushchenko.In the U.K. the Channel island of Sark holds its first-ever democratic election after 450 years of feudal government.Laid-off workers at the suddenly shuttered Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago end a six-day sit-in to demand the severance and vacation pay to which they are legally entitled after the Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase agree to lend the company enough money to make the required payments.December 11Bernard L. Madoff, a well-connected and apparently exceptionally successful trader, is arrested by federal agents in New York City; he is believed to have been running an enormous Ponzi scheme, defrauding many individual and institutional customers of some $50 billion.At a crowded and popular restaurant in Kirkuk, Iraq, where Kurdish leaders are meeting with Sunni Awakening Council members, a suicide bomb explodes, killing at least 48 people.December 12The day after the U.S. Senate refused to approve a rescue package for automobile manufacturers, officials from the White House and the Treasury Department say that the government is willing to use money from the $700 billion bailout fund to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler.Pres. Rafael Correa of Ecuador declines to make a $31 million interest payment, declaring his country to be in default on foreign debt.Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso announces a stimulus package of about $250 billion to encourage business lending and job growth.A bomb explodes in a bank in Woodburn, Ore., killing a police officer and a bomb disposal technician.December 13UN climate talks in Poznan, Pol., which are intended to draw a framework for a treaty to be negotiated over the coming year, conclude successfully; the previous day the European Union approved a climate and energy package.Pres. Raúl Castro of Cuba arrives in Caracas on his first foreign visit since assuming power.Steer roper Trevor Brazile of Texas wins his sixth all-around cowboy world championship at the 50th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.December 14Somalia's transitional national president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, dismisses Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, although the government's charter does not give him that power.The military forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and The Sudan start an offensive against the insurgent group the Lord's Resistance Army, seeking to drive it from the Democratic Republic of the Congo back to Uganda, whence it originated.At a news conference held in Baghdad by Iraqi Pres. Nuri al-Maliki and U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, a journalist from an independent television channel throws both his shoes at Bush, denouncing him for bringing war to Iraq; Bush avoids both shoes.December 15Thailand's legislature elects opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as the country's new prime minister.Russia devalues the ruble for the sixth time since mid-November.Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, is expelled by Israeli authorities, who believe that he is biased against the country.A charter to transform the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into an entity similar to the EU goes into force.December 16The U.S. Federal Reserve lowers its key interest rate to a range of 0–0.25% and announces new lending programs to get money to businesses and to consumers.The political party that broke off from the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, under the name Congress of the People, chooses former defense minister Mosiuoa Lekota to be its leader.Ignoring the transitional legislature, which has voted to retain Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, Somalian transitional national president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed appoints Muhammad Mahmud Guled Gamadhere prime minister.A team of astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory report that they have found that the reason that clusters of galaxies have not grown in the past five billion years may be that their growth is inhibited by the antigravitional force called dark energy.The daily newspapers the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News announce that after March 2009 they will discontinue home delivery of the papers on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday and will print smaller editions on those days for sale at newsstands.December 17At a meeting in Oran, Alg., OPEC member countries agree to cut oil production by a record 2.2 million bbl a day.For the second day in a row, a barrage of rockets flies into Israel from the Gaza Strip; the militant group Islamic Jihad claims credit.December 18In light of a ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeals that the Belgian government was out of line when it attempted to sell the collapsing financial services company Fortis, the French bank BNP Paribas suspends its takeover of the Belgian company.After several days of calm, violent rioting breaks out again in Athens.The UN reports that the death toll from the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has risen to 1,111, with 133 people dying in the past two days alone.Legendary classical pianist Alfred Brendel plays his final concert in Vienna, performing Mozart's Concerto No. 9.December 19The Palestinian organization Hamas announces that its unwritten truce with Israel is over.U.S. Pres. George W. Bush announces an emergency bailout of $17.4 billion for the automobile manufacturers General Motors and Chrysler, in return for which the companies must produce a plan for profitability by March 31, 2009; the money comes from the $700 billion authorized by Congress to rescue the financial services industry.Sean FitzPatrick resigns as chairman of Anglo Irish Bank in Ireland after it was learned that he had received €87 million ($125 million) in personal loans from the bank and had hidden the loans from shareholders.December 20Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario offer the Canadian subsidiaries of the automakers General Motors and Chrysler Can$4 billion (U.S.$3 billion) in emergency loans.Horace Engdahl announces that he will step down as permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy in June 2009 after 10 years in the post; he will be succeeded by Peter Englund.December 21Ireland announces that it will give Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland each €2 billion ($2.78 billion) in recapitalization funds and will take control of Anglo Irish Bank.Police in Tehran shut down the office of the Center for Protecting Human Rights, headed by Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.December 22Pres. Lansana Conté of Guinea dies.The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe announces that its mission in Georgia will be terminated because the organization has been unable to reach a compromise with member country Russia, which insists that the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia be treated as separate countries.Belgian King Albert II accepts the resignation of Yves Leterme as prime minister; on December 30 Herman Van Rompuy replaces Leterme.In Kingston, Tenn., at a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-burning generating plant, an earthen dike gives way, allowing 1.1 billion litres (300 million gallons) of fly ash sludge and water to spill into the Clinch River; hundreds of acres of land and waterways are buried and several homes destroyed.December 23An army officer takes over airwaves in Guinea to announce a coup, but Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré responds that the government continues to operate.The prestigious but nearly insolvent Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles announces that it will be rescued by arts patron Eli Broad, who will give it $30 million and require that its management be restructured; Charles Young replaces Jeremy Strick as the museum's director.December 24The day after the resignation of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani as speaker of Iraq's legislature, his bloc and another one pull out of the Iraqi National Accord, the largest Sunni coalition.The Japanese automobile manufacturers Toyota and Nissan report that their worldwide sales of vehicles in November fell 21.8% and 19.8%, respectively, from a year before.The U.S. Federal Reserve Board allows GMAC, the financing arm of the car manufacturer General Motors, to become a bank holding company.A man wearing a Santa Claus suit invades a Christmas Eve gathering at a house in Covina, Calif., and opens fire on those inside before setting the house ablaze; nine people are killed, and the gunman later kills himself.December 25The government of Guinea surrenders to the junior army officers who announced a coup hours after the death of the president; Moussa Dadis Camara, the coup leader, has been announced as the new president.In his annual Christmas message, Pope Benedict XVI calls for peace in the world, particularly in the Middle East, and gives blessings in 64 languages, including, for the first time, Icelandic.December 26Israel opens crossings into the Gaza Strip, allowing relief supplies to reach the area; nonetheless, a dozen rockets and mortar shells are fired toward Israel.The coal ash flood in Tennessee is found to be more than three times bigger than was originally estimated and is now thought to encompass 4.1 million cu m (5.4 million cu yd); it is the biggest environmental disaster of this type ever to occur in the U.S.December 27Israel launches massive air strikes against Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip; more than 225 people in Gaza are killed.A car bomb explodes among Shiʿite pilgrims on their way to visit a shrine in Baghdad; at least 24 people are killed.December 28Ghana holds a runoff presidential election; the vote is split nearly evenly between John Atta Mills and Nana Akufo-Addo.In Shalbandi, Pak., where villagers had killed six Taliban militants several months previously, a Taliban suicide car bomber kills more than 30 people.In Somalia the Islamist group Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama declares jihad against other Islamist factions fighting in the country; it has already attacked al-Shabab, the strongest of the factions.The Israeli bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza continues for a second day.A four-lane road tunnel under the Yangtze River opens to traffic in a trial operation in Wuhan in China's Hebei province; it is the country's first tunnel under the river.Wild Oats XI is the overall winner of the 2008 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Australia; it is the fourth consecutive victory for the yacht, a new record.With a final-game loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions become the first National Football League team ever to lose every game of a 16-game regular season.December 29Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigns as president of the transitional government of Somalia.In legislative elections in Bangladesh, the Awami League, led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, and its allies win an overwhelming majority of seats.Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra take to the streets of Bangkok and prevent the legislature from holding its opening session by surrounding the parliament building.Israel continues its air assault against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip; as the death toll passes 350 and Hamas rockets kill three Israelis, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declares that Israel is engaged in an “all-out war” with Hamas.December 30Ghana's election commission says that the results of the presidential runoff are too close to call and that one district that was unable to hold voting on election day will vote on Jan. 2, 2009; the results there will determine the winner.December 31As an emergency meeting of the Arab League convenes, Israel rejects a proposed 48-hour cease-fire and continues its bombardment of Gaza.At the last bell of the year at the New York Stock Exchange, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 33.8% of its value from the beginning of the year, its worst annual loss since 1931; the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has lost 39.5% of its value.Executives at Russia's natural-gas monopoly Gazprom announce that they will cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Jan. 1, 2009.China and Vietnam announce that they have completed the demarcation of the 1,350-km (840-mi) border between the countries.Consumers Union, the publisher of the magazine Consumer Reports, announces that it has bought the popular blog Consumerist.com from Gawker Media.
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