Cuba- Fidel Castro’s reign as president of Cuba ended on Tuesday, Feb. 19, as he sent in his letter of resignation. Fidel wrote that he would not be able to continue as president due to his physical condition. In summer of 2006, Fidel had emergency colon surgery and has not fully recovered since. The reign of the government is purportedly passing on to Fidel’s brother, Raul, who temporarily held office during Castro’s illness. While the United States does not appear to have any intentions of lifting the trade embargo on Cuba, President Bush urged Cuba to begin instituting a democratic government.
Space- The United States and Russia butted heads over the U.S.’s plans to shoot down one of its disabled spy satellites. The U.S. went ahead with its plans and shot down the satellite with a missile fired from a defense cruiser on Wednesday morning, Feb. 20, scoring a direct hit in the narrow 10-second time-span in which they had a shot. The U.S. claimed it was done because the more than 1,000 lbs of toxic fuel posed a threat if it survived re-entry. Russia protested that the operation was carried out to test an anti-satellite missile, in response to China’s similar test last year. The U.S. was also accused of attempting to cover up secret elements of the satellite. However, they denied all accusations of potentially starting a space arms race.
Kosovo- Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17. The action has divided much of the world, with the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom all recognizing Kosovo’s statehood, while countries such as China and Russia are strongly opposed. They claimed it violates international law. With Serbia protesting the secession, rioters attacked both the U.S. embassy in Belgrade and Kosovo’s border. The European Union is sending a 2,000 man task force to help ensure peace.
Texas- With primaries in Texas and Ohio approaching, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sat down for a 90-minute debate on Feb. 21. Neither one seemed to be at an advantage at the end of the debate, with Clinton aggressively trying to gain the verbal edge over Obama throughout the debate. Unflustered, Obama chose to avoid remarks that did not pertain to key issues. Riding high on 11 straight victories, Obama hopes to continue his success in Ohio and Texas.
Sources: news.bbc.co.uk, www.cnn.com, www.nytimes.com