My Top Eight News Stories For 2009
It seems as if, at this time of the years, little tots and small kids are not the only ones making lists. The media is quite adept at creating top ten lists, whether it is for “Most Annoying Politicians” or “The Year’s Worst Disasters”. In my view, the lists usually focus on the “Top Ten Best Movies” or “The Top One Hundred Best/Worst Dressed Celebrities”.
These are recorded randomly, not in terms of impact or importance, as I do not hold the qualifications to do such. Although I qualify the last statement by adding I believe #2 and #1 to be truly correct.
#8 The Tiger Woods Fiasco
How far the mighty have fallen. Need anything be said about this tragic story? Here we have a hero, looked up to by many sports fans and others. John Hopkins comments:
Woods had an annual income close to $100 million . . . and was recently named by Forbes magazine as the world’s first athlete to be worth $1 billion. Such largess in return for appearing to be that very rare combination of an exceptional player and an impeccable person.
His talent and skill in golf cannot be denied, but his infidelities have erased any hint of impeccability. He owes fans more than just a public mea culpa. But he owes his wife more. Gabby Logan describes her trust in him, although some would say naivety instead:
Elin apparently thought she had a faithful husband and has since found out she was way off the fairway.
Both need time, counsel, communication, and renewed love to heal. Some media just report on all the hype (his indiscretions), rather than the sorrowing man and the hurting wife. Sports Watch on the London Times summarizes it for us:
You can’t see Woods for the trysts
#7 The Death of Another Icon
Michael Jackson transformed the realm of music. Like many of his predecessors, some who were just as successful (i.e. Elvis Presley), and others who were merely famous (i.e. Anna Nicole Smith) they died too early. Rudolph Valentino, John and Robert Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Princess Diana. Some bookies are probably devising the odds of who will be next: Lindsay Lohan?
#6 The Surprising Success of Sarah Palin’s Book
Duff McDonald sums up the unexpected success for Sarah Palin:
There’s no way to argue with it: This was a triumphant week for the brand called Sarah Palin. Given that people either think she’s a Godsend or a national joke—there’s really no in-between—it’s difficult to think that her popularity could be rising. But it certainly isn’t falling. Whatever she’s selling, there are millions of people who are going to be buying.
The ex-vice presidential Republican candidate and ex-governor of Alaska has shown to the believers and the doubters that she can succeed with the release of her memoir—“Going Rogue”—selling 300,000 copies on its first day of sale. Probably not on Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club list, it still has garnered more attention for its author, than anything she has done politically. And she did it all without the help of Senator John McCain.
#5 The National Healthcare Debate
For some, it seems inconceivable that the richest nation in the world, the U.S.A., has over 20 million people (about 2/3 the population of Canada, or approximately 6.6% of its own population) lacking healthcare. Healthcare insurance originates with the insurance companies and is accessed through employer plans or private individual plans which the client pays for. The Democrats have considered this a social issue (dare we say civil rights issue?) which needs reform, and not just in the area of the people who have fallen through the cracks. The insurance companies have some issues to deal with which demand fairness and justice: e.g. rejection of an applicant due to a prior condition and the dropping of a client from coverage because all her allocated funds have been used.
The creation of a public option was anticipated to cause heated debate, but the unforeseen issue of government payment of abortion procedures has inflated the temperature of the debate, to the point of division in the Democratic Party. As the end of the year quickly approaches, President Obama’s goal of passing legislation on this before January first seems unachievable. Kenneth P. Vogel writes,
The foot soldiers of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, organized to go into action when key elements of his agenda are at stake, aren’t universally enthusiastic about fighting for the health care compromise now before the Senate.
At present, the government is even considering Christmas Day as the inevitable conclusion to passing the reform bill. Hopefully the president has put healthcare reform for 2009 on the top of his list for Santa Claus.
#4 Iranian Protests Question Legitimacy of Their President
Iran has figured prominently in the news over its nuclear program and stubbornness to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.
However, what grabbed headlines earlier this year and is still fermenting to this day is a very visible and vocal opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When opposition leader and candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi claimed that the June election was fraudulent due to fraud committed by Ahmadinejad, thousands of protestors filled the streets and squares of major cities for days. Police and army fought back against the unarmed protestors, killing and injuring some, while arresting an undetermined number. The death of one passerby showed the people, nation and world what a true martyr is: Not one who commits a suicide bombing, but is killed for standing up for what he/she believes in.
Some opposition activists had called for demonstrations Tuesday to mark the passage of 30 days since the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, a 27-year-old woman shot to death during a Tehran demonstration on June 20. Her dying moments on the street were caught on video and she was elevated to a symbol of the mass protest movement that erupted after Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election.
Even the supreme spiritual leaders, the ayatollahs, were ignored, or their commands disobeyed. Yet the message of the protestors, some who cried “Kill the dictator”, were met with strong political, hard line opposition.
It was the most clean and free election in the world," Ahmadinejad said, adding that during a re-count "no fault was discovered. The whole nation understood this." He said the 85 percent turnout and his landslide victory according to official results had given his government a new legitimacy.
But, for how long will this president remain in office? How strong is the determination and voice of the people?
#3 President Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize
Some commentators and media types called it premature; others saw it as a sign of hope and potential for the presidency of Obama. Here is just one criticism:
Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said for the president to go to Oslo would "sort of add to the farce." She said Obama should send the mother of a fallen U.S. soldier to accept the prize on behalf of the U.S. military, "to send the message to remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night ... because the U.S. military is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world today.
With not even a year of the presidency under his belt, the President received the award at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway on December 10th.CNN’s Christiane Amanpour reacted to the widespread criticism,
Can I just say, I think it is overdone this pushing back against this award [emphasis unedited]. He’s obviously done something very significant and that is . . .the United States has now had a new relationship with the rest of the world.
Now President Obama has three more years to accomplish the anticipated peace.
#2 The Inauguration of President Barrack Obama
Any inauguration, or official installation, of an individual as President of the U.S.A. has been a monumental experience. But the inauguration of Barrack Hussein Obama, as the 45th President of the nation on January 20th was more than traditional. It was exceptional:
In January 20th, 2009, Barrack H. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America—the first African-American ever to hold the office of U.S. Commander-in-Chief
History was made. And not just the eyes of the Americans watched that history unfold, but the eyes of the world were focused on it also.
#1 The H1N1 Virus
From the first recorded cases in the hamlet of Veracruz in Mexico, in April of this year, the world has experienced a growing pandemic of fear. Originally called the Swine Flu, because of the living entity that carried it, it was later discovered to hold Bird Flu pathogens as well as Human viruses—thus it was officially and correctly rechristened the H1N1 Flu Virus.
Upon its appearance and transmutability, the virus was compared to the Flu Pandemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish Flu. It too appeared as mild cases in the spring, followed by deadlier waves in autumn, which killed 20-100 million victims worldwide. However,
The great majority of deaths in the 1918 flu pandemic were the result of secondary bacterial pneumonia.
The first wave finished in late spring of this year. The second was predicted for the fall in the northern hemisphere, thus giving scientists and disease control experts some time to investigate and study this flu, and ultimately create an antivirus to keep its impact controlled and minimal.
There has appeared opposing camps, public, medical and political about the efficacy/dangers of this vaccine.
Meanwhile, even without the vaccine’s use, the mortality rate has not surpassed that for the normal seasonal flu virus.
Annual influenza epidemics are estimated to affect 5-15% of the global population. Although most cases are mild,, these epidemics still cause severe illness in 3-5 million people, and 250,000-500,000 deaths worldwide.
As of November 14th, there have been 11,749 confirmed deaths worldwide, with those in the U.S.A. totalling 9,820. Already into the second wave, virologists are warning of a third wave in the early spring of 2010. So far, fear has ensnared more victims than the pandemic itself.
Numerous stories could have been added to this list to fill it out to an even, traditional ten: “The Decision to Try Gitmo 9/11 Terrorists in NYC”; “Obama’s Decision to increase the Afghan Surge by 30,000 Troops”; “Water Discovered on the Moon”; “Hilary’s Loss of Publicity—Was it Obama’s Plan All Along?”; “The LGBT Fight Against Amendment Eight Never Got Off the Ground”; “Why Can’t We Use the Title ‘Tea Baggers’?” The list of possibilities could be extended, especially so it is not as American-centred. But why eight? Why not!
Most Recommended Comment
Omaha, Nebraska, United States