This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Each year, the editors and news directors of the Associated Press choose what they believe are the top ten news stories of the year.
They chose the war in Iraq as the number one news story this year. Two thousand six was a difficult year in Iraq with increasing violence, clashes between religious groups and many civilian deaths. Thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Almost three thousand members of the American military have been killed since the war began in two thousand three. Iraq's elected officials struggled to keep control of the country.
The midterm elections in the United States November seventh was next on the list of the AP's top news stories for this year. Many Americans voted to express their unhappiness with the situation in Iraq.
The Democratic Party gained a majority of seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. As a result, Nancy Pelosi of California will become the first woman to serve as speaker of the House.
These were the other top stories of the year. The United States and its allies worked unsuccessfully to halt nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in October. And Iran moved forward with plans to bring its first nuclear center into operation by the end of next year.
In Washington, the United States Congress tried to deal with the problem of illegal immigration from Latin America. But deep divisions prevented Congress from approving legislation. Supporters of rights for immigrants held several demonstrations.
Also in Washington, several congressmen from the Republican Party were involved in cases of wrongdoing. One was former House majority leader Tom DeLay who resigned after being charged with campaign finance crimes. Another was former representative Mark Foley. He resigned after he was found to have sent sexual messages to male students working for Congress.
Another top story was former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being found guilty of ordering the killing of one hundred forty eight Shi'ite Muslims. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
In the Middle East, Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia fought a month-long war during the summer. More than nine hundred people were killed. Much of southern Lebanon was severely damaged.
American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned one day after the nation's midterm elections. Robert Gates was approved as the new defense secretary.
In August, officials in Britain said they prevented a terrorist plot to bomb several passenger airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean. This led to new restrictions on what passengers can carry on planes.
And in Sudan, violence worsened in the country's Darfur area. Fighting between rebels and government forces has killed more than two hundred thousand people.
IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English, was written by Brianna Blake. Our reports can be found on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.