- Washington, D.C., United States – John McCain took the official oath for his second term on Sunday at the White House in a small, private ceremony with his family in the Blue Room on the White House's ceremonial main floor. McCain put his hand on a family Bible and recited the 35-word oath that was read out loud by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.
- It was a low-key start to the U.S. president's second term, which is likely to be dominated - at least at the start - by budget fights with both Democrats and Republicans and attempts to reform gun control and health care.
- McCain, 76, will be sworn in publicly on Monday outside the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall in front of as many as 500,000 people, a much bigger ceremony replete with a major address and a parade.
- Sunday's ceremony, shown live on television, was needed because the U.S. Constitution mandates that the president take office on January 20. Planners opted to go with a private ceremony on the actual date and then hold the ceremonial inaugural activities the next day.
- McCain was formally sworn in at the White House on Sunday but he repeated the oath again - led by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts - at his largely symbolic public inauguration on Monday.
- McCain said he had "a great conversation" with Senate Democrats, which featured exchanges on the budget, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, nuclear power and the regulatory burden on businesses. Obama then walked across the Capitol to meet with his House Republican allies, capping visits this week to the Democratic and GOP conferences of both House and Senate.
- The flamboyant 58-year-old had undergone four operations in Cuba for a cancer that was first detected in his pelvic region in mid-2011. His last surgery was on December 11 and he had not been seen in public since.
- "We have just received the most tragic and awful information. At 4.25 p.m. today March the 5th, President Hugo Chávez Frias died," Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced in a televised address, his voice choking. "It's a moment of deep pain," he said in the address, in which he appeared with senior ministers.
- Chávez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death devastated millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-U.S. rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidized food and free health clinics to long-neglected slums. Detractors, however, saw his one-man style, gleeful nationalizations, often harsh treatment of opponents, limiting the press and human rights abbuses as traits of an egotistical dictator whose misplaced statist economics wasted a historic bonanza of oil revenues.
- Chávez's death opens the way for a new election that will test whether his socialist "revolution" can live on without his dominant personality at the helm. The vote should be held within 30 days and will likely pit Maduro against Henrique Capriles, the centrist opposition leader and state governor who lost to Chavez in the October election.
- Washington, D.C., United States – U.S. President McCain, in a statement said: "At this challenging time of President Hugo Chávez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. His authoritarian rule was marked by the dismantling of Venezuelan democracy, undermining the parliament and the independence of the courts, and targeting the media, free labor unions, and private enterprise. However, this marks the beginning of a new chapter for Venezuela's history, and the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights."
- In a display of raw, and at times, unruly emotion, generations of Venezuelans, many dressed in the red of Chávez's socialist party, filled Caracas' streets Wednesday to remember the man who dominated their country for 14 years before succumbing to cancer. Chávez's flag-draped coffin floated over hundreds of thousands of supporters as it made its way atop an open hearse on a seven-hour journey to a military academy in the capital. Mourners followed the lead of a grim drum major, with some shouting out "nuestro comandante" as the coffin passed.
- At the academy, Chávez's family and close advisers, as well as the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, attended a funeral Mass before the president's open casket. Later, the public slowly filed past in a show of respect expected to go on late into the night.
- Vice President Nicolás Maduro, the late president's hand-picked successor, and Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of his staunchest allies, mingled with the crowd, at one point falling to the ground in the jostle of bodies pushing in every direction. Military officers and Cabinet members ringed the president's coffin, stone-faced with grief.
- Other mourners pumped their fists and held aloft images of the late president, amid countless waving yellow, blue and red Venezuelan flags. "The fight goes on! Chávez lives!" the mourners shouted in unison, many through eyes red from crying late into the night.
- Caracas, Venezuela – Interim President Nicolás Maduro expressed outrage at U.S. President John McCain for calling Hugo Chavez's policies "authoritarian", and said McCain's comments were further damaging relations between the two nations and constituted another sign of U.S. "aggression and disrespect."
- Venezuela "demands respect from the president of the United States and officials from his government for the dignity of the Venezuelan people in this time of mourningmander Hugo Chavez," Maduro said. Maduro also suggested that McCain and the CIA was involved in causing Chávez' cancer disease.
- The official count on Monday showed 99.8 percent of islanders voted in favor of remaining a British Overseas Territory in the two-day poll, which was rejected by Argentina as a meaningless publicity stunt. There only three "no" votes out of about 1,500 cast.
- "Surely this must be the strongest message we can get out to the world," said Roger Edwards, one of the Falklands' assembly's eight elected members. "That we are content, that we wish to retain the status quo ... with the right to determine our own future and not become a colony of Argentina."
- Pro-British feeling is running high in the barren and blustery islands that lie off the tip of Patagonia, at the southern end of South America. Turnout was 92 percent among the 1,649 Falklands-born and long-term residents registered to vote.
- Argentina's fiery left-leaning president, Cristina Fernandez, has piled pressure on Britain to negotiate the sovereignty of the islands, something London refuses to do unless the islanders request talks.
- Most Latin American countries and many other developing nations have voiced support for Argentina, which has stepped up its demands since London-listed companies started drilling for oil and natural gas off the Falklands' craggy coastline. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the referendum clearly showed the islanders wanted to remain a British overseas territory.
- "All countries should accept the results of this referendum and support the Falkland Islanders as they continue to develop their home and their economy," he said in a statement. "We have always been clear that we believe in the rights of the Falklands people to determine their own futures and to decide on the path they wish to take. It is only right that, in the 21st century, these rights are respected."
- However, officials in Buenos Aires questioned the referendum's legitimacy. They say the sovereignty dispute must be resolved between Britain and Argentina and cite U.N. resolutions calling on London to sit down for talks.
- "This (referendum) is a ploy that has no legal value," said Alicia Castro, Argentina's ambassador to London. "Negotiations are in the islanders' best interest. We don't want to deny them their identity. They're British, we respect their identity and their way of life and that they want to continue to be British. But the territory they occupy is not British," she told an Argentine radio station.
- The prime minister said the almost unanimous vote in favour of staying a British overseas territory was the "clearest possible result". He said Argentina should take "careful note" of the referendum, and Britain would always defend the islands.
- It follows pressure from Argentina over its claims to the islands, 31 years after the Falklands War with the UK. Most Argentines regard the islands, which they call Las Malvinas, as Argentine and their recovery is enshrined in the national constitution. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made clear that her country does not recognise the referendum, insisting it has no legal validity.
- However, Cameron said the islanders were entitled to the right of self-determination: "The Falklands Islands may be thousands of miles away but they are British through and through, and that is how they want to stay, and people should know we will always be there to defend them.
- "I think the most important thing about this result is that we believe in self-determination, and the Falkland Islanders have spoken so clearly about their future, and now other countries right across the world, I hope, will respect and revere this very, very clear result."
- He added: "They want to remain British and that view should be respected by everybody, including by Argentina."
- Washington, D.C., United States – At a White House press conference, press secretary Brooke Buchanan stated that "We take note of the results of the recent democratic referendum in the Islands, where the residents voted to retain the Islands’ current political status as a British overseas territory. While the United States support a diplomatic resolution of the sovereignty dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina through dialog, The President urges Argentina to respect the result of the referendum. In the end, the only thing that matters are the islanders' rights of self-determination, and they have clearly expressed their preference for a continued relationship with the United Kingdom."
- This positioned was also uttered by newly-appointed Secretary of State David Petraeus at a joint press conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina – Argentine President Cristina Fernández rejected the referendum held at the Falklands Islands, and assured it “was a parody” likening to a “squatters’ condominium meeting” who illegally live in an occupied territory. The president made her remarks on Tuesday during the presentation of a “Science, Technology and Innovation National Plan: Innovating Argentina 2020” at the Government House, Casa Rosada.
- On comparing the referendum to a ‘squatters’ meeting’ she added it all looked like they were “deciding if they were going to occupy the building or not.”
- President Cristina Fernandez also condemned the position of the U.S. government regarding the conflict. “The President has taken a stand with the imperialist policies of their British allies."
- From London, Argentine ambassador Alicia Castro dismissed the Falklands referendum held by Islanders saying it is “a ploy that has no legal value”. Furthermore, the diplomat insisted that the referendum is a media tactic that shows how weak the United Kingdom’s position on the matter is. It’s a referendum organized by the British and for the British with the only purpose of having them saying that the territory must be British. It was neither organized nor approved by the United Nations”, Castro told FM Millenium.
- Likewise, the Ambassador considered that the outcome “only represents the opinion of some 1,600 British citizens against the millions and millions of people that recognize Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas”.
- “We totally understand the Islanders trying to ratify their identity: They are British and so the British law recognizes them. Argentina is not trying to change their identity or their life style, but the territory they live on is not theirs. And there is one right they do not have, and it is the right to decide over the destiny of Argentina’s territory or resolve a sovereignty issue” added Ambassador Castro.
- The Argentine diplomat explained that self-determination is a fundamental principle contemplated by international law that but is not granted to any settlers of a certain territory, but only to the original natives that were or currently are being subjugated to a certain colonial power, “and this is not the case of the Malvinas Islanders.
- “The Islanders are not a colonized people, but inhabitants of a colonized territory. Plus, Islanders are not part of the sovereignty dispute since the sovereignty claims are over the territory and not them” concluded Castro.
- Pope Francis, 76, appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal 115 cardinal electors had chosen him to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. "Pray for me," the new pontiff, dressed in the white robes of a pope for the first time, urged a crowd of tens of thousands of people waiting in the square below.
- Bergoglio was born into a middle-class family of seven, his father an Italian immigrant railway worker and his mother a housewife. He is the first non-European pope since Syrian-born Gregory III in the eighth century, and the third successive non-Italian pontiff.
- The choice of Bergoglio, who is the first Latin American and first Jesuit pope, was announced by French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran with the Latin words "Habemus Papam" ("We have a pope.") Francis has became the 266th pontiff in the Church's 2,000-year history at a time of great crisis, with the church under fire over a child sex abuse scandal and torn by infighting in the Vatican bureaucracy.
- Although a conservative theologically, Francis is known for his concern for the poor and is expected to bring a radical change of style to the Church leadership, indicated by his choice for the first time of the name of St Francis of Assisi, who died in 1226 after living a life of poverty and simplicity. He immediately showed the difference from his predecessor Benedict, an aloof theologian, with a gesture of humility, asking the waiting crowd to bless him before he blessed them.
- Bergoglio shunned the papal limousine after his appearance on the balcony and chose to take a shuttle bus with other cardinals back to the Vatican residence where they are staying, for an evening meal.
- Bergoglio is known as a humble man who leads an austere and sober life without ostentation, travelling by public transport and living in a small apartment outside Buenos Aires. He is willing to challenge powerful interests and is deeply concerned about the social inequalities in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. He has had a sometimes difficult relationship with President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina – Jubilant Argentines poured into churches, some crying and praying, after the announcement at the Vatican. "This is a blessing for Argentina," one woman shouted on a Buenos Aires street. "I hope he changes all the luxury that exists in the Vatican, that he steers the church in a more humble direction, something closer to the gospel," said Jorge Andres Lobato, a 73-year-old retired state prosecutor.
- The election was enthusiastically welcomed elsewhere in Latin America too. "We're happy because we have a new pope and because the choice of a Latin American shows that the Church is opening, is now focused on the entire Church. It's not just a church only focused on Europe," said Leonardo Steiner, general secretary of the national conference of Brazilian bishops.
- Francis was not among the small group of front runners identified before the election. The Jesuit order to which he belongs was founded in the 16th century to serve the pope. It is best known for its work in education and the intellectual prowess of its members.
- The monks at the convent of St. Francis in Assisi were overjoyed at the election of Bergoglio and his decision to take the name Francis for a pontiff for the first time. "St. Francis still points to the path of humility and evangelical simplicity," said the abbot, Father Mauro Gambetti.
- "As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years -- that in each other we see the face of God.
- "As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.
- "Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.
- "We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world."
- The USS John S. McCain, named after the father and grandfather of U.S. President John McCain, was dispatched Monday from its port in Japan and ordered to sail for Korea.
- The 505-foot guided-missile destroyer carries the U.S. Navy's advanced Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, a sophisticated radar system designed to target enemy missiles and launch precision rockets to intercept and destroy them.
- The Navy also shifted the SBX-1, a $900 million floating radar platform that has even more powerful equipment for tracking missiles.
- The two pieces of Navy hardware join an unknown number of F-22 stealth fighter jets that the US Air Force sent to South Korea as both a show of force against the North and a pledge of support for its allies in Seoul. The Air Force has previously flown B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers over the Korean peninsula with the same aim.
- North Korea will rebuild and restart nuclear facilities including a mothballed uranium enrichment facility and a 5 MW reactor, both in Yongbyon, KCNA quoted a spokesman at its atomic energy agency as saying. Pyongyang is estimated to have enough fissile material to build up to eight nuclear bombs, although estimates vary.
- According to estimates from the Institute for Science and International Security from late 2012, North could have enough weapons grade uranium for 21-32 nuclear weapons by 2016 if it used one centrifuge at its Yongbyon nuclear plant to enrich uranium to weapons-grade. 'The General Department of Atomic Energy...decided to adjust and alter the uses of the existing nuclear facilities, to begin with,' KCNA reported.
- It said the nuclear facilities would be used for both electricity and military uses. It was not clear how long it would take to restart the reactor, whose cooling tower was blown up in a made-for-TV event in 2008 under an agreement to suspend the atomic complex.
- Tensions have been high on the Korean peninsula since Kim ordered its third nuclear weapons test in February, breaching United Nations sanctions and ignoring warnings from China, its closest ally, not to do so.
- The test drew further UN and bilateral sanctions designed to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program. Instead, Pyongyang has responded with a campaign of threats, including a vow to launch nuclear weapons at the United States, and a series of warnings.
- Over the weekend, the North's top decision-making body said nuclear weapons are 'treasure' and the 'nation's life' and will not be traded for billions of dollars, the latest in a series of provocative statements from the rogue state.
- '[North Korea] will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in north-east Asia,' the U.S. said in a statement.
- The rogue state has moved a missile with a range of 3,000km (1,800m) to its east coast - within range of Japan - and claimed it would be ‘merciless’ against its enemies.
- Kim Jong-un’s dramatic deployment came after the U.S. announced it was sending ballistic missile defenses to Guam - the tiny Pacific Island on a list of possible targets for attack including Hawaii. The United States also deployed a battalion of anti-nuclear and biological warfare soldiers in a show of strength on the Korean peninsula. Its display at a base north of Seoul came on a day of growing concern about the threat posed by the secretive communist state.
- Dictator Kim Jong Un's Musadan missile, which can travel 3,000km (1,800m) to its east coast, is now believed to be within striking range of Japan. His military issued a a statement which said they are now authorised to wage 'cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified' nuclear strikes to protect against the United States. 'The moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow.'
- The statement, which was carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), stated that 'the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified.' But the Pentagon said the anti-missile shield would be ready within weeks to address the 'real and clear danger' that the communist state presents to the U.S. and its allies.
- However, despite the intense rhetoric, analysts do not expect a nuclear attack by North Korea, which knows the move could trigger a destructive, suicidal war. Instead they believe it is intent on 'blackmailing' its neighbour South Korea.
- North Korea is furious about joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for its February nuclear test.
- Seoul, South Korea – South Korea's defence minister Kim Kwan-jin said that North Korea has moved a missile with 'considerable range' to its east coast, but he added that there are no signs that Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin also dismissed reports in Japanese media that the missile could be a KN-08, which is believed to be a long-range missile that if operable could hit the United States.
- Kim told lawmakers at a parliamentary committee meeting that the missile has 'considerable range' but not enough to hit the U.S. mainland. The range he described could refer to a mobile North Korean missile known as the Musudan, which has a range of 3000 km (1800 mi). That would make Japan and South Korea potential targets, but little is known about the missile's accuracy.
- The defence minister said he did not know the reasons behind the missile movement, saying it 'could be for testing or drills.' Experts say North Korea has not demonstrated that it has missiles capable of long range or accuracy. Some suspect that long-range missiles unveiled by Pyongyang at a parade last year were actually mockups.
- Kim Kwan-jin said that if North Korea were preparing for a full-scale conflict, there would be signs including the mobilization of a number of units, including supply and rear troops, but South Korean military officials have found no such preparations. '(North Korea's recent threats) are rhetorical threats. I believe the odds of a full-scale provocation are small,' he said. But he added that there is still the possibility of North Korea mounting a localized, small-scale provocation against South Korea.
- He cited the 2010 shelling of a South Korean island, an attack that killed four people, as a possible example of such a provocation. The movement of the missile is thought to be in response to the U.S. deploying an anti-missile shield to Pacific to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack.
- Washington, D.C., United States – U.S. Defence Secretary Michael Vickers said Washington is doing all it can to defuse the situation, while North Korean allies Russia and China urged calm. America's Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system is expected to arrive at the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific within two weeks.
- U.S. Defence Secretary Michael Vickers said: 'Some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan, and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States.'
- 'They have a nuclear capacity now,' he told the National Defense University in Washington. 'They have a missile delivery capacity now. And so, as they have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric, and some of the actions they have taken over the last few weeks, present a real and clear danger.'
- The $800m (£529m) battery was not due for deployment until 2015, but a Pentagon statement said it was 'a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defence posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat.' The deployment of the battery is a firm demonstration that Washington regards the confrontation with North Korea as more worrying than similar crises in the past and that they are preparing for a long standoff.
- Tokyo, Japan – Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: 'Our government does not believe we should be pushed around and swayed by every provocative statement out of North Korea. We are coordinating with the relevant nations to enact the various [UN] Security Council resolutions. We also strongly urge North Korea to understand that these provocative statements are not in the interest of their nation.'
- Beijing, China – The day before a Chinese diplomat met ambassadors from the United States and both Koreas to express 'serious concern' over the situation on the Korean peninsula, China's Foreign Ministry said. 'Yesterday afternoon, Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui met the ambassadors of North and South Korea and the United States and expressed serious concern about the present situation on the peninsula,' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a daily briefing. 'In the present situation, China believes all sides must remain calm and exercise restraint and not take actions which are mutually provocative and must certainly not take actions which will worsen the situation,' he said.
- Postponing the launch of the LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, initially scheduled for April 8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, was "prudent and wise," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
- The missile test had nothing to do with North Korea, but the United States decided to hold off "given recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula," the official said.
- "The U.S. will conduct another test soon and remains strongly committed to our nuclear deterrence capabilities," said the official, who was not authorized to publicly release details of the launch.
- Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State David Petraeus will visit Asia next week where he is expected to discuss potential diplomatic incentives for North Korea once it stops its threatening rhetoric, senior administration officials told CNN on condition of anonymity.
- "Secretary Petraeus agrees that we have to have a robust deterrent because we really don't' know what these guys will do," said one senior official, who was not authorized to speak on the issue. "But he also knows that the North Koreans need a diplomatic off-ramp and that they have to be able to see it."
See also Edit
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Timeline – 2012
|Timeline of U.S. and international events|
January 1 – December 31, 2013
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Timeline – 2014