The death toll of Palestinians during Israel's attack on Gaza rose to more than 1'000 with at least 5'000 injured; a high proportion were women and children. Negotiations for a ceasefire conducted mainly by Egypt had not reached a conclusion by the end of the third week of the war.
President George W Bush ended his eight years at the White House with a final press conference and TV address. He insisted he had taken tough decisions but admitted to some disappointments.
Corruption charges were reinstated by South Africa's Supreme Court against Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress, who is expected to become the country's president after elections in April.
Russia and Ukraine continued to argue over responsibility for the blockage of gas supplies to several East European countries whose populations were without heat in extremely cold weather.