2008: World History Timeline


Jan 1  Cyprus and Malta change their currency to the euro.

Jan 1  Ghana struggles with democracy as election violence takes more lives and a church filled with people is torched. In Iraq, violence continues with a suicide bomber killing thirty at a funeral of a bomb victim. In his New Year mass, Pope Benedict XVI suggests that this violence is something more than small-mindedness, political immaturity and unnecessary intolerance. He describes family values as the foundation of world peace. "Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family," he states, "undermines peace in the entire community."

Jan 1  In Berlin, Cologne and Hanover, new regulations require motorists to display color-coded stickers certifying that their car has normal exhaust emissions. Drivers of cars without such a sticker face a fine of 40 euros.

Jan 2  The city of Milan begins charging up to 10 euros ($14.65) for each car entering the city, cars that are not electric or hybrid. The city predicts a cut in pollution levels of 30 percent and plans to spend the money received on rapid transit, buses, cycle paths and "green vehicles."

Jan 3  In its thirty-third year of publication, the Arab News, published in Saudi Arabia in English, praises Benazir Bhutto for having struggled for democracy and describes "her opponents, Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Ladin and all of his followers [as] fighting for a suffocating form of leadership where dissent is not allowed and where women are treated as second-class citizens." The writer, Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, adds that "Benazir unfortunately never really was a good leader while in office."

Jan 7  In Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, some shops and businesses have re-opened and mini-bus taxis are running again. Approximately 600 are estimated as killed since the election results of December 27.

Jan 8  In Bolivia the four provincial governors who threatened separation have joined with President Morales in conflict resolution. Their agreement provides, among other things, greater state control of the economy and more autonomy for indigenous communities.

Jan 9  Hashim Thaçi, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army and now president of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and Kosovo's Prime Minister, continues to push for independence from Serbia. He promises that his government will act "to create a climate of tolerance in relations with minorities, especially with the Serb community."

Jan 12  Iraq's parliament allows former members of the Baath political party to return to government jobs or to receive their pensions. This excludes Baathists convicted of crimes – a criterion that could have been used in 2003 rather than the de-Baathification now considered one of the "coalition" mistakes. Parliament's move is done in the interest of justice and hope that the measure will help reconcile Sunni and Shia .

Jan 12  President Bush speaks. "There's no doubt in my mind, when history is written, the final page will say: Victory was achieved by the United States of America for the good of the world."

Jan 12  Calling for change, Taiwan's old Guomindang political party wins 81 seats in parliament. Its rival, the DPP, the party of the incumbent president, wins 27 seats. The DPP has angered China by favoring independence. The Guomindang favors closer ties with China.

Jan 13  In Saudi Arabia, French President Nicholas Sarkozy describes the kingdom as a key ally of France and a "pole of moderation and stability" in a troubled region.

Jan 13  Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made a statement about the role that President Johnson played in getting the Civil Rights Act passed into law, a statement that in no way diminishes Martin Luther King's heroic role in the civil rights movement. A few Democrats opposed to Clinton's candidacy, including presidential candidate John Edwards, demonstrate their struggle with language and logic or their willingness to invent. Edwards: "I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King but through a Washington politician."

Jan 14  In Mexico, another narcocorrido singer, Jorge Antonio Sepulveda, 20, is assassinated.

Jan 15  In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov is sworn in for his third term. He won 88.1 percent of the vote last December. The media in Uzbekistan is state controlled, and critics accuse him of human rights abuses.

Jan 22  In South Waziristan, Pakistan's army chases forces loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, blamed for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. On each side, one or more are killed.

Jan 22  President Sarkozy of France decides not to take his romantic interest, Carla Bruni, with him on an official visit to India, where a man traveling with a woman with whom he is not married is a scandal.

Jan 22  In the United States, a credit crisis and expectations of a decline in economic activity send stocks plummeting worldwide – the rush to sell stocks the result of fears that the value of their stocks will not grow or will decline in the near future.

Jan 22  In the United States, FactCheck.org is busy trying to keep up with the inaccuracies stated in political campaigns. Today FactCheck.org writes of Hillary Clinton: "Clinton falsely accused Obama of saying he 'really liked the ideas of the Republicans' including private Social Security accounts and deficit spending. Not true. The entire 49-minute interview to which she refers contains no endorsement of private Social Security accounts or deficit spending, and Obama specifically scorned GOP calls for tax cuts."

Jan 24  In South Waziristan, Pakistan's army continues to clash with "militants," the army using artillery and helicopters and reporting 40 militants killed and 30 captured.

Jan 24  In Mexico City, busses for women-only offer women welcomed relief from male harassment.

Jan 26  Kofe Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, describes the change in purpose that has appeared before in bloody conflicts. He says the continuing violence and slaughter in Kenya may have been triggered by an election dispute but that it has evolved into "something else."

Jan 26  George Habash, Palestinian Christian and founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which participated in airline highjackings, dies of a heart attack. Mamoud Abbas, Fatah leader and Chairman of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), calls him a "historic leader " and orders flags flown at half mast.

Jan 29  In Kenya, people inflamed by passion continue their violence. People of Kuo ethnicity have been killing Kikuyo, the tribe of President Mwai Kibaki, and the Kikuyo are killing Kuo. As of today more than 800 have been killed. People have been pulled from cars and stoned to death, or burned to death in their cars. Homes and busses have been torched.

Jan 30  In Syria, which has hundreds of political prisoners, a prominent dissident, Riad Seif, is said to have been detained for having attended a pro-democracy meeting. He is said to be have been charged with having harmed the image of Syria. Seif is under a slow death sentence, forbidden from leaving Syria for treatment of prostrate cancer.

Jan 30  Foreign Policy magazine writes of Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, as having a "vast system of patronage," and it writes of the head of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Samuel Kivuitu, as having recently admitted that "he was pressured by the president’s office to announce results before he could verify their authenticity."

to December 2007 | to February 2008

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