You know, doing lists like this one are hard because there’s just so many news stories to pick from, and at the same time there’s a lot to try to remember.
There will be a lot of top whatever stories coming for this first decade of the century, even though there will also be debate as to whether the decade ends on 12/31/09 or 12/31/10. In my mind, the first year of the millennium was 0, not 1, so 2009 is the end of this decade. Heck, my blog, my post, my rules. 🙂
Here’s the thing with my list. These are actually my top 12 topics as much as my top 12 news stories. By that, I mean it might have been one specific thing, or it may have been a lot of things that made the story so significant in 2009. Also, I’ll own up to this right now; this is obviously from an American perspective, though I tried to make all of my stories pertinent to the world in some fashion. I believe that only a couple are specifically American news stories, but in their own way they affected the rest of the world.
So be it; it’s another topic to generate conversation and controversy, and I’m betting it’s not going to get a lot of conversation. I think, overall, that I enjoy these posts more than other folks do, because they make you think more than just teach you something. I guess we’ll find out. So, without more ado, here we go:
12. Michael Jackson – Some people might wonder why Michael Jackson merits news. If there’s one person who was more than just an entertainer for decades, let alone one decade, it was Michael Jackson. The decade began with his last released studio album of his career, Invincible. Critics called it a failure; that “failure” sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, the best selling album of 2001, and won him a Grammy, to date his last. Then there was the interview with Martin Bashir that almost brought his career down. There was the child molestation trial, which exonerated him, and encouraged him to leave the country and never live here again. And finally, there was his passing this year, shockingly, in June, weeks before he was going to be doing his last live performances, and 2 months before his 51st birthday. He immediately became the number one best selling artist of the year, his funeral was the 3rd most watched funeral in history. He’s the only artist in history who had one album sell more than 100 million copies; that’s more than 50 million albums than anyone else. He’s won more Grammy’s, American Music Awards, and world music awards than any other person in history. He’s up for more Grammys this year. And he’s my favorite singer of all time. If he’s not one of the top news stories of the decade, then people have no concept of what news is.
11. Y2K – The beginning of the decade changed a lot of things without really doing anything. There was so much worry that big and small businesses went out, changed their computer systems, bought new electrical equipment, and had people sitting by waiting for the world to come crashing down at midnight wherever they were in the world. Some airlines even stopped flying until after midnight, just to make sure nothing happened. It was the biggest news story that ended up not really being news, but it was fun while it lasted.
10. Space – There was so much that happened in the past decade regarding outer space or the concept of how the universe was created that to not talk about it would be a fallacy. Scientists found the coldest place in the universe, and it turned out to be our own moon. We saw it snowing on Mars. There was water found in both places. There were planets found circling other stars in other galaxies in other solar systems. They landed a module on an asteroid; they put another one in the path of a comet. We saw some amazing pictures; we learned that there’s a black hole in the middle of every galaxy. They declassified Pluto as a planet, creating a major uproar. China joined the space race. We had another space shuttle disaster, this time as one was coming back from space, Columbia. And we started flying civilians into space, turning it from being primarily a government thing to more of a citizens event, meaning anyone with guts and at least $20 million of expendable cash can go into space. Man, think of what the next decade is going to bring us.
9. Fidel Castro resigns as Cuba’s president – Who can say they saw this one coming? Fidel has been in the crosshairs of America for almost 50 years, defiant as anything as he took his country into poverty but stuck to his principles. He finally stepped down “officially” as president of the country in 2008, and now his brother Raul is president. We’re not really sure who’s running the country, because Fidel is still sending out missives and commenting on world events, but Cuba is starting to progress, albeit slowly, and finally an American administration is talking with them about the possible thaw in relations. I guess soon we won’t be seeing any more of these Cuban cars.
8. Bush 2000 election – Man, was this ugly or what. For the first time in American history, a president was actually elected by the Judicial branch of the country rather than the people of the country. It all came down to Florida and 16 votes, Florida being the state where the president’s brother was governor. There were allegations of voter fraud and we all had to learn the term “hanging chads”, but in the end Bush won the presidency by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court while losing the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 540,000 votes. We all have to wonder how different things might have been if Bush hadn’t been in office then, or with both #3 and #1 on this list.
7. Social Media – This was probably the quickest change in history, and has brought the world closer together in a big way. When the decade started we only had newsgroups, some instant messaging, and most people still were on 52K dial up. By the end of the decade most of us are on some kind of high speed internet connection, are connected via Twitter or Facebook, blogs are the rage and are more than just diaries for the love lorn, and we have multiple business sites for different industries or blanket business ventures for everyone.
Many people around the world can connect via Skype for free; there’s video conferencing also. And, with the release of Windows 7, computing could become more interactive with touchscreen technology; yeah, we had it with those weird thick pens and green CRT monitors in the 80’s, but this is something much different.
I guess we could tie in text messaging and the demise, at least in my opinion, of instant messaging, but it’s probably modifying instead of just going away for good. Social media has taken over our lives, and as we migrate into Web 3.0, I’m sure there are going to be some amazing changes in the next decade.
6. Avian, West Nile, Swine Flu – As we deal with this supposed pandemic (lots of people are getting sick, but few are dying) known as H1N1, or swine flu, we have to remember that the decade started out with something known as west nile virus, then the avain or bird flu virus. We were suddenly looking at animals as the ends to our destruction, and people went nuts all around the world.
Of course, none of these compare to the ebola scare or bubonic plague, but the thing that’s made all of it much more scary is that the news gets out faster, there’s more news sources to keep pumping it into our consciousness, and therefore people are panicked beyond belief. I hate to think of what might be coming in the next decade.
5. World Recession – We’re dealing with this now, but anyone who had their minds open saw this one coming as early as 2006. Gas prices shot up, then jobs started leaving America and going to other countries, which meant high unemployment here and no buyers for products coming back into this country. Around the world jobs were lost, houses were lost, people started going hungry, stock markets crashed, and many banks started to close.
When things really got bad, it proved something I’ve been saying for a long time, that all that money that was being lost wasn’t being lost; it never existed. Bernard Madoff proved that, as did banks that lost their existence because those bad loans they made to people who didn’t see it coming came due, and no one had that kind of money to pay things back, and we all learned once again that the stock market in every country was overvalued.
Right now, “experts” are speculating that it could be as long as 2012 before things really get better. I’m a bit more optimistic than that, but that’s because I believe in people, and believe that, somehow, world governments are going to step up and help people and businesses do the right thing. And what is the right thing? I haven’t written that post yet on my finance blog, but it’s coming.
4. 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami – This was the day we all learned where Phuket was, and that it really existed, but rich people have always known. Within hours of a massive underwater earthquake, a killer tsunami came through the Indian Ocean and killed more than 230,000 in 11 countries. It was scary because a lot of it was caught on tape, and we could see the devastation occurring before our eyes. It had a magnitude between 9.1 and 9.3, the second worst earthquake in recorded history, fourth largest since 1900, lasted nearly 10 minutes, and caused earthquakes in other areas around the world. We really saw what nature can do to us and there’s nothing we can possibly do to keep it from happening anywhere.
3. War – I thought about selecting one specific war, but I decided that two wars in particular had to be talked about. Yeah, there were some other skirmishes here and there, but the war in Afghanistan and Iraq are the two biggies because each involved more than two countries. Both, in their own way, were related to the #1 news story of the decade, in my opinion, although in different ways.
One seemingly had an air of legitimacy to it; the other seemed more vindictive, with false information generated to convince us and the world to join forces and go after Saddam Hussein. I don’t weep for him, as Bush Sr. should have taken him out when he had the chance, and in my opinion, would have lessened the possibility of the first attack on the Twin Towers of NY in 1994 and other attacks around the world. The problem now is that we’re still conducting both wars, with little sign that either one is going away, although there’s a supposed time frame for each one to wind down. For two wars that seemingly were resolved so quickly, they’re turning out to be really costly and the loss of life almost doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Almost, that is, because terrorism has changed and the world has changed. But we also have to acknowledge that the war has probably contributed to the recession.
2. President Barack Obama – When Rep. John Lewis of Georgia announced he was switching his support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, he was asked why. His answer summed up the entire election: “It’s hard to go against a movement.” The campaign of Barack Obama was more about the dream and vision people had of America than anything else. My dad would have been proud.
Every one who supported him had something they wanted. I supported him because he was a black candidate; I’ll admit that, mainly because he wasn’t my first choice, and I didn’t decide I was voting for him until he won the Democratic primary. For once, I wasn’t voting against someone, but for someone, though that was my only reason (otherwise, I would have been voting against someone, so my vote wouldn’t have changed). Some people supported him because they thought he would end the war. Some people voted for him because they believed he’d get a national health care plan pushed through. Some people voted for him because they thought he’d support gay rights.
Whatever it was, it was a movement, and it was euphoric the night he won, and again on the day he was elected. Right now, he’s proving why most of us would never want to run for president; it’s ugly, for sure. But for one night and one day, he changed history, and over the course of this year, he’s helped the United States raise its standing in the world, helped bring some peace in international relations, and I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt. For now, that is.
1. 9/11/2001 – What really needs to be said? This was the biggest act of terrorism in history. More than 3,300 people were killed on this day. We saw the attacks on the Twin Towers, the second one live. We saw the remnants of the attack on the Pentagon. We later learned about the plane crash in Pennsylvania, when a bunch of heroes decided they’d rather down the plane, Flight 93, and give up their lives instead of allowing a bunch of stupid hoping-to-be martyrs crash their plane into another building, supposed aiming for the Capitol or the White House, which they’d have never gotten close to because, finally, military planes had been scrambled and were ready to shoot down any plane approaching Washington D. C.
That one act of terrorism defined the decade, setting the stage for most of what came afterwards around the world; war, recession, and more terrorism from extremists who think they’re actually winning. It was the first time the Stock Exchange was closed, for six days no less, and other stock markets around the world closed. Planes didn’t fly for 3 days or so. It was an attack on America, but the world felt it and still feels its effects, and I still have this image of Arafat laying on a table giving blood that was supposed to be sent to America. How weird was that? And yeah, 8 years later I’m still mad.
There you are, my top news stories of the decade. Did you see anything there that you want to comment on? Is this one too long for you? Luckily, you can listen to it if you want, so lay back, close your eyes, and enjoy it. Then comment; I’m sure some of you have something you think should be on the list.