Wikinews' overview of the year 2007

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Monday, December 31, 2007

What would you tell your grandchildren about 2007 if they asked you about it in, let's say, 20 year's time? If the answer to a quiz question was 2007, what would the question be? The year that you first signed on to Facebook? The year Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse fell apart? The year author Kurt Vonnegut or mime Marcel Marceau died, both at 84?

Let's take a look at some of the international stories of 2007. Links to the original Wikinews articles are in bold.

2007: the stories

Portugal: Madeleine McCann goes missing

Madeleine McCann (3) disappeared on May 3 in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Initially, a local man called Robert Murat was mentioned as a suspect, although on August 7, Kate and Gerry McCann became suspects based on forensic evidence.

Wildfire photographed overnight in Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, California.
Image: Jeff Turner.

United States: Virginia Tech shooting, California wildfires

On April 16, 33 dead, 15 injured in Virginia Tech shootings: A single gunman entered the campus and opened fire on students and faculty in two separate incidents, first in the West Ambler Johnston Hall dormitory, then again two hours later at the Norris Hall classroom building, killing 33 people, including himself. It became the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The shooter was identified as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year old South Korean national. He was studying English and lived on the university campus. Between the two shootings, Cho sent a mail package to NBC News with his manifesto, pictures and videos.

In early September, adventurer Steve Fossett went missing. Fossett reportedly took off in a single engine plane to look for a suitable site in the Nevada playas for his planned land speed record attempt. His former crewmate and rival, Sir Richard Branson remained confident he would be found: "Steve is a tough old boot. I suspect he is waiting by his plane right now for someone to pick him up."

On October 12, The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Nobel committee cited "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change" as the reasons for awarding the prize.

In late October, 1,000,000 fled their homes in California due to wildfires strengthened by the Santa Ana Winds. A state of emergency was declared by President Bush and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. At a last-minute FEMA press conference with regards to the wildfires, FEMA employees posed as reporters asking what were regarded as overly friendly questions.

Economy: Subprime mortgage crisis

Many banks in the USA saw their share prices falling after people were found to be unable to pay back many of their mortgages. The mortgages lent to people who may not be able to afford to pay back their loans are known as subprime mortgages.

This spread across the stock markets internationally and UK bank Northern Rock had thousands of people queuing outside their bank after they borrowed money from the Bank of England, which is known as "the lender of last resort."

An Iraqi and American soldier conducting a raid in Baghdad. The graffiti on the wall reads "Allah is great".

Iraq: US troop surge

On January 10, 21,500 more troops to bring Operation Law and Order to Baghdad was made public. The U.S. forces began to collaborate more intensely with Iraqi troops.

On February 21, the UK and Denmark announced troop withdrawals from Iraq. "The next chapter in Basra’s history can be written by Iraqis," said Tony Blair. Following a reduction in violence and troop deaths in the second half of 2007, the U.S. announced troop reductions in November. Meanwhile, Turkey said it would use military action against PKK rebels attacking the country from neighboring Iraq, which the U.S. pledged support for and "hoped to avoid". File:Kasparov arrested.jpg

Garry Kasparov gets arrested on May 17, 2007 at the Moscow Airport.
Image: 2007.urtea.

(Image missing from Commons: image; log)]]

Russia: Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin

Vladimir Putin was named "man of the year" by Time Magazine. He would finish his 2nd and last term as President in 2008, although he said he would accept to subsequently become Prime Minister. Under Putin, Russia strove to increase its position as a geopolitical superpower, for example by claiming the North Pole. During 2007 former chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov, now a political activist, drew the attention of the international media.

Boris Yeltsin, former president of Russia, died at 76 on April 23. Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin (Russian: Бори́с Никола́евич Е́льцин) was the first President of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1999. The Yeltsin era was a traumatic period in Russian history— marked by widespread corruption, economic collapse, and enormous political and social problems. Yeltsin maintained a low profile since his resignation, making almost no public statements or appearances. However, on February 1, 2006, Yeltsin celebrated his 75th birthday. He used this occasion as an opportunity to criticize a "monopolistic" United States foreign policy, and to state that Vladimir Putin was the right choice for Russia.

Afghanistan: opium production, David Hicks

More British troops were sent into Afghanistan, where the war that started after the 9/11 attacks continued with a large number of news events. In late August, it was reported that opium production in Afghanistan reached record highs. Australian David Hicks would become the first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to be sentenced, after which he returned to an Australian prison to serve out his time and was released on December 29.

France: Sarko for President

May 6: Sarkozy wins 2007 French Presidential election, defeating Ségolène Royal. Both separated from their partners afterwards. Sarko's style and self proclaimed openness is proved different from his predecessor Jacques Chirac. His confrontation with the unions came in the second half of November.

On October 30, the French NGO Zoe's Ark was accused of trying to kidnap hundreds of Chadian children they described as Darfur orphans -Sarkozy travelled to Chad to hold talks with local officials.

Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan: Bhutto assassinated

After a previous attack in October and house arrest, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on 27th December, when an attacker fired 2 gun shots at her then exploded a bomb. This assassination occurred just weeks after Musharraf lifted the state of emergency that he had instated in November in his country. Her son and husband assumed her place at the top of the Pakistan People's Party.

In March, Musharraf sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but he was reinstated in July.

Ahmadinejad addresses the University.
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Iran: President Ahmadinejad's controversial rule

On March 23, Iran captured 15 members of the British Navy and held them for alleged espionage. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pardoned them after 12 days, saying:

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of the great prophet of Islam, and on the occasion of Easter and Passover, I would like to announce that the great nation of Iran, while it is entitled to put the British military personnel on trial, has pardoned these 15 sailors and gives their release to the people of Britain as a gift.

While the President of Iran was in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly in September, he was invited to a controversial debate at Columbia University. When challenged by the University President about Iran's treatment of LGBT's, Ahmadinejad stated that: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," drawing laughter from the audience. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it."

The "Protect your Republic" protests.
Image: Miguel Carminati.

Turkey: Hrant Dink and Abdullah Gül

On January 19, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in front of the Agos newspaper office where he worked as the editor. Dink was known for writing about the controversial issue of Armenian genocide and the mass killings of Armenians by Turks under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. His assassin was then treated by some Turkish security troops as a "national hero".

In April and May, several large protests were held across the country by pro-secular Turks, out of fear that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would run for President, then due to concerns about Presidential Candidate Abdullah Gül, whose wife wears the islamic headscarf. Gül was not appointed in the first parliamentary round, when opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote. The opposition also appealed to the Constitutional Court to declare the process unlawful. General elections followed and Gül became President on August 28.

Monks protesting in Myanmar.
Image: racoles.

Burma: protests

In Myanmar (formerly Burma) government forces arrested hundreds of monks in September after several days of peaceful demonstrations, but despite the violent treatment from military personnel, the monks returned to the streets. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, had called "the continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and over one thousand political prisoners" unacceptable. Pro-democracy leaders were arrested and a death toll of more than 1000 was reported. In late October, Myanmar opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi left her house arrest to meet with government official.

United Kingdom: Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair, floods, and lost discs

On June 24 this year Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as leader of the UK labour party and therefore Prime Minister after a long period of time where reporters were predicting the date of Blair's departure.

After this the UK was hit by its worst floods in 50 years. In late November, two computer disks were lost containing the entire Child Benefit database, estimated to contain the names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit and National Insurance numbers, and sometimes the bank or building society account details of 25 million individuals, in what has been described as "one of the world’s biggest ID protection failures".

Northern Ireland: home rule, end of Troubles

Ian "Dr. No" Paisley and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness agreed to share power and have home rule return to Northern Ireland after four years of central rule from London. "I believe we're starting on a road which will bring us back to peace and to prosperity," said Paisley, who took the post of First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Just one day after a car bomb was defused in central London on June 29, a Jeep was driven into the Glasgow International Airport terminal and burst into flames in an unsuccessful terrorist attack. Several people aided the police in detaining the assailants, including baggage handler John Smeaton who received the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions.

Australia: Kevin Rudd

On December 3, Kevin Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia after John Howard and the Liberal Party and Coalition were defeated in the election. After the ceremony, Mr. Rudd signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change calling it the first official act of the new Australian government.

Oxfam protesters dressed as and wearing masks of the G8 leaders.
Image: Craig Owen/Oxfam.

Germany: G8 summit in Heiligendamm

A post-Kyoto agreement on climate change and combating poverty in Africa were the main topics at the summit of the 7 richest industrialised countries and Russia in Heiligendamm in June.

While France and Germany were calling for quantifiable greenhouse gas emission cuts, the U.S. and Japan believed that growing economies such as India and China would need to join in on such efforts. Advocacy groups were critical about the aid promised to Africa: "Do they think we can’t read or count?" asked musician/activist Bono. "We are looking for accountable language and accountable numbers: we didn’t get them today."

The G8 Summit was preceded by mass demonstrations, such as the one in Rostock, where several hundred protesters were arrested.

Finland: Jokela highschool shootings

Eight people were killed in a school shooting in Jokela, Finland. The shooter, an 18-year-old male student named as Pekka-Eric Auvinen, was arrested after a siege situation, but died due to a gunshot wound from an apparent suicide attempt. The killer had uploaded a home-made movie to YouTube announcing the "massacre" one day prior to the shooting. His profile featured several movies regarding an ongoing depression and unsuccessful treatment with SSRIs. Additionally, some movies of him shooting his new gun had been uploaded weeks prior to the shooting. Auvinen also had a personal website which featured images, music and documents, including a manifesto.

After the incident, Finland considered toughening gun legislation. Until then, Finland had actively resisted plans for all European Union member states to limit gun ownership to persons aged 18 and over. The law stipulated that Finns could apply for a gun permit at the age of 15.

Cristina de Kirchner next to Néstor Kirchner celebrating her electoral victory.
Image: Presidencia de la Nación Argentina.

Argentina: Kirchner and Kirchner

Cristina Kirchner was the favourite candidate to succeed her husband as President. Néstor Kirchner decided not to run for a second four-year term, without giving an explanation. Mrs Kirchner consistently used her first name during her electoral campaign, which is a similarity to United States presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. However Cristina told the media: "I don't want to be compared with Hillary Clinton or with Evita Perón, or with anybody... There's nothing better than being yourself."

Bali: Climate conference

The two-week long U.N. climate conference in Bali ended with an agreement on the so-called Bali roadmap, which was welcomed with cautious optimism. The roadmap details the process for a post-2012 climate change agreement. European Union Commission President José Manuel Barroso stated: "We have worked hard to achieve this result. It is a very important step forward." The European Commissioner for Environment made it clear that Bali had only been the start of things: "Now the real hard work must begin. It is essential that the agreement to be worked out over the next two years is ambitious enough to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels.”

Belgium: long government formation

More than half of the year in Belgium focused on politics, as the general elections on June 10 promised some difficult coalition talks. PM Verhofstadt recognised his defeat by Christian-Democrat Yves Leterme of Flanders, while the liberals broke the socialist hegemony in Wallonia. Orange-blue coalition talks failed to produce a government for 192 days, when it was Verhofstadt who gathered consensus for an interim government.

Earlier in the year, Belgium's first black city registrar organised a mass wedding against racism that caught international media attention.

Canada: RCMP under scrutiny

The RCMP, received a negative spotlight in 2007, particularly for their handling of a distraught passenger at Vancouver International Airport in November.

Robert Dziekanski, 40, was immigrating from Pieszyce, Poland to live with his mother, Zofia Cisowski, in Kamloops, British Columbia. Since Dziekanski did not speak English airport security guards were unable to properly communicate with him. He started yelling at the airport staff because of this. He used chairs to prop open a door between a customs clearing area and a public lounge, he then threw a computer and threw a small table at a luggage section window. The police tasered him twice and he died.

Following the shooting deaths, in separate incidents, of two mounties stationed in northern communities, there were calls for policy changes related to how and when individual officers should call for back-up.

Italy: Pavarotti dies

One of the world's best-regarded tenor singers, Luciano Pavarotti, died 6th September. His funeral drew thousands including Bono of U2, and fellow tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. Pavarotti succumbed to pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed in July 2006.

Economy: Apple's iPhone

In January, Apple announced its iPhone, which hit U.S. markets on July and made customers queue in the U.K. in November. Apple's decision to lock the phone to use one network exclusively was criticized as "anti-competitive", and hackers started circumnavigating the restrictions imposed on the phone.

European Union: Eastern-European expansion and Lisbon Treaty

On January 1, 2007, Slovenia adopted the euro currency, and Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union. In December, E.U. leaders signed the Treaty of Lisbon, a landmark document which is to redefine foreign policy for the E.U. and creates an E.U. president. The treaty is a replacement for the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe which was abandoned after suffering defeats in referendums in France and the Netherlands. United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived late and added his signature later.

Sports: Formula One spying controversy

Following alleged espionage, McLaren (the team of Fernando Alonso and newcomer Lewis Hamilton) was initially cleared but then in September fined $100 million and excluded from the Constructor's championship. The highly controversial and enthralling 2007 season came to an when Kimi Räikkönen won the 2007 Championship.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.