Houston Community News >> Top 10 World News in 2006

12/30/2006-- The top 10 news headlines in 2006:

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1. Palestine-Israel conflicts escalate

In January, the leader of Israel's Kadima party, Ehud Olmert, became prime minister when Ariel Sharon was in a coma. The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) took control of the new government after it defeated the long-dominant Fatah movement in the legislative elections.

As neither government recognized the other, holding hostile attitudes against each other, conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated this year. Israel launched two major military attacks on Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in June and November, inflicting more than 1,000 casualties on the Palestinian side.

The Hamas-led cabinet faced a grave fiscal crisis after key donors cut off all direct aid. After several efforts by Palestinian parties to form a coalition government failed, the political situation within the Palestinians also worsened.

2. Egyptian ferry tragedy takes more than 1,000 lives

The Egyptian ferry "Al Salam 98" sank in the Red Sea on the night of Feb. 2. More than 1,000 passengers onboard were listed as dead or missing, about 380 others were injured. The ferry was sailing between Duba in Saudi Arabia and Safaga in Egypt.

3. Security worsens in Iraq

The security situation in Iraq had became more worrying since February with more attacks by insurgents on the U.S. and British troops in the country and increasing sectarian conflicts in which thousands of Iraqis were killed and 420,000 were forced to flee their homes.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, about 600,000 Iraqi civilians and more than 2,900 U.S. soldiers have been killed. United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan said that Iraq has been plunged into a civil war.

Badly affected by the Iraq war, Republicans lost control of both U.S. Houses of Congress. Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld resigned.

4. Lebanon-Israel conflict takes huge toll.

Israel launched a military offensive in south Lebanon on July 12 after Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others during cross-border attacks.

The 34-day-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah ended on Aug. 14 after Israel agreed to a UN-brokered truce without retrieving the two captive soldiers or disarming the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

The conflict killed about 2,000 people and nearly one million Lebanese became refugees. The economic loss suffered by Lebanon amounted to more than three billion U.S. dollars.

5. World oil prices surge and plunge

On July 14, world oil prices hit a record 78.4 dollars amid concerns over the situation in the Middle East. In the following weeks, as market worries over oil supplies eased and global crude oil reserves increased, oil prices dropped sharply to below 60 dollars per barrel.

In October, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to boost prices by cutting crude oil production by one million barrels per day. Currently oil prices fluctuate around 60 dollars per barrel.

6. Pluto no longer seen as a planet in the solar system

The controversial Pluto was kicked out of the solar system's planet group by the International Astronomical Union when it met in Prague on August 24. Pluto was redefined a "dwarf planet".

The decision cut the number of classical planets in the solar system from nine to eight. They are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

7. Japan's new PM visits China

Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October, soon after he took office. The first visit to China by a Japanese prime minister in five years was described as a "turning point" in Sino-Japanese relations which had soured after Koizumi repeatedly visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

8. Non-proliferation efforts suffer setbacks

On October 9, The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced it had conducted an underground nuclear test, shocking the international community. On October 14, The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on the DPRK. The UN demanded it eliminate nuclear weapons and to return to the six-party talks immediately and unconditionally.

Iran's nuclear ambition continued to trouble the international community. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Dec. 23 that demanded Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and imposed a nuclear-related trade ban on Iran. However, Iran rejected the resolution.

9. New UN secretary-general elected

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon was elected the next UN secretary-general at a General Assembly session on Oct. 13. Ban Ki-moon, who succeeds Kofi Annan, will start his five-year term on Jan. 1, 2007.

Ban Ki-moon swore the oath of office at a ceremony on Dec. 14.

As the eighth UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon is the second Asian to lead the organization after U Thant of Myanmar served the world body four decades ago.

10. Sino-Africa cooperation forum held in Beijing

China-Africa Cooperation Forum was held in Beijing from Nov. 4-5. Leaders of China and 48 African countries, as well as some

representatives of regional and international organizations attended the forum.

During the forum, Chinese and African leaders discussed bilateral relations, cooperation and development. The talks achieved substantial results.

The forum adopted a declaration and an action plan, proclaiming a "new type of strategic partnership" between China and Africa that would feature "political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges."

Source: Xinhua