1 | Somalia They Have a Government? A political feud has roiled this East African country ever since President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed abruptly fired Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein on Dec. 14 over disagreements on how to negotiate peace treaties among factions inside the country. Claiming that Yusuf had no authority to fire Hussein, Somalia's parliament and neighboring Kenya have rallied to Hussein's side, while a defiant Yusuf announced he is appointing a new Prime Minister. The power struggle belies the fact that the central government controls only a tiny slice of the country. Warlords, Islamists and the pirates of the Somali coast increasingly hold sway, as violence and malnutrition plunge the country deeper into lawlessness and despair.
2 | Illinois Cleaning House The Illinois house of representatives took its first steps toward removing embattled governor Rod Blagojevich from office, voting 113-0 to create a bipartisan committee to look into whether he should be impeached. Blagojevich has no plans to resign, and the inquiry could take weeks. In the same session, lawmakers also decided against allowing voters to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat through a special election, leaving the appointment to the governor's discretion. Among other misdeeds, Blagojevich is accused of soliciting bribes or political favors in exchange for the Senate nod.
3 | New England Ice Storm Freezes Northeast A massive storm on Dec. 11 slammed New Hampshire and parts of Maine, Massachusetts, New York and other states, leaving nearly 1.5 million people without power. With some calling it the worst ice storm the region has ever seen, President Bush declared a state of emergency in several areas and asked FEMA to provide relief. With forecasts calling for possible snowstorms, utility officials worked to restore power by week's end.
4 | Taiwan Direct-Flight Diplomacy Old foes China and Taiwan resumed direct, daily commercial flights for the first time in almost 60 years, ending the need for travelers to add hours to their trip by changing planes. The flights--as well as direct ship traffic--are seen as a result of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's work to thaw relations with Beijing.
5 | Iraq Rebuild Effort Flawed A review of the Iraq reconstruction concluded that the five-year, $117 billion project has been largely ineffective. The report, compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, also found that most of the positive work done has simply brought the nation back to preinvasion levels. Poor planning, lack of oversight and a security vacuum--former Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted as saying that the Defense Department inflated Iraqi security-force numbers--also played major roles.
6 | London Terrorism Conviction A British court convicted Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor, of planning the foiled 2007 car bombings in London and at Glasgow Airport. An accomplice, Kafeel Ahmed, died in the failed airport attack, intended to punish Britain for its role in the Afghan and Iraq wars. A third man, Mohammed Asha, was cleared of any involvement.