2005: In Review

Welcome to this very special TDI feature, 2005: In Review! In this feature, we’re going to look at ten of the most earth-shattering, most moving, most captivating stories of 2005. Now, what makes this list different from the dozens upon dozens of lists out there? For one thing, we previewed this list back on September 30! We also waited until 2005 was just about done, just in case there was a “last minute” story that was worthy of one of these spots. For example, in 2004, the deadly Tsunami hit on December 26 – after just about every news organization compiled their year-end lists! We have the luxury of being able to hold off on such a lists here at the Institute.

These aren’t all the major stories of ’05. Top honorable mention goes to the Terry Schaivo case. Not since the build-up to the Iraq war has America been so on-edge, so polarized over a single issue. And Terry isn’t the only person who could go on a top ten list. Shoot, I’m sure that TomKat deserves to be on here somewhere! Instead, these are just ten of the stories TDI decided to showcase. In empahtic order, complete with flashy graphics. (It’s how we feel best to showcase a story.) And speaking of stories, I’ve rambled on long enough… The stories of the year begin right now:

Actor Robert Blake was acquitted of charges that he killed his wife, but a civil jury later decided that he should pay $30 million for causing his wife a wrongful death. Rapper Lil’ Kim went to jail for lying to federal prosecutors, and Russel Crowe had to pay a $160 fine for throwing a temper tantrum – and a phone – at a hotel desk clerk. But no trial was as high-profile as the Michael Jackson case. Accused of inappropriate behavior with boys, a jury found the former pop star not guilty in a trial that gripped – and divided – the nation. Though he is a free man, doubt still lingers in the mind of many jurors, and many Americans. These trials grabbed the nation’s interest and fueled watercooler discussions for many months, and that makes them TDI’s number 10.

On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake rocked the coast off of Indonesia’s Aceh province, sending Tsunami waves as high as 33 feet on shore. An estimated 216,000 lives were lost that day. The earthquake itself was the most powerful in that region in over 40 years, but the disaster itself was one of the most deadly in recorded history. Following the Tsunami, an estimated $13 billion was pledged from all over the world to help relief and recovery efforts. Though the Tsunami itself happened in 2004, the outpouring of support came for months and months. This tragic story is Delta’s ninth biggest story of 2005.

America once again watched the skies with a curious eye as Discovery, the first space shuttle to launch since the fateful Columbia shuttle, took off for the final frontier on July 26, carrying seven astronauts onboard. As the Discovery soared, so did our hopes – and our fears. Upon takeoff, parts of the foam fell off, similar to the Columbia incident. With nervous anticipation, Americans were glued to the TV in the early hours on August 9 as the shuttle re-entered the atmosphere. When the shuttle landed without incident, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Americans had made a return to space, and with another shuttle mission scheduled for March 2006, it looks like our hopes and our dreams will keep on soaring among the stars for years to come.

As Palestine struggles to create a new leadership in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004, Israel forcefully pulled out from their settlements in the Gaza Strip. But the road map to peace struck many potholes, and has even taken a few detours. Israel and Hamas have been firing at each other for some time, as well as Hezbollah. The new Palestinian government is far from stable, and there’s rumor of imminent resignations, but it’s a far cry from being ruled by a unstable crazy old man (Arafat). The struggles and turmoil in the Middle-East make it to number 7 on our list.

A 7.6 earthquake rocked northern Pakistan, killing at least 80,000 people and injuring tens of thousands more in both Pakistan and India. Many towns and cities in the Kashmir region were leveled. Due to poor roads and poor communications, relief efforts were hampered. It was Pakistan’s strongest earthquake on record. Entire villages were buried underneath tremendous mudslides. Relief workers described the scene as one of the most devastating earthquakes they’ve witnessed in their lives. The force of the earthquake was so powerful that even parts of Afghanistan shook. The earthquake of the year makes TDI’s top ten list for 2005.

From Afghanistan to Iraq, the battle rages on. Iraq voted democratically three times, the first time in decades that they have been able to vote without fears of mutilation and torture. Iraq quickly formed and adopted a constitution, and their economy is starting to run again. And Saddam Hussein is standing trial for his crimes against humanity. However, there is a flip side to the coin. The death toll for U.S. servicemen serving in Iraq passed 2,000, and public support for the war dropped. But not even master protester Cindy Sheehan can take away from the incredible success of a democratic Iraq.

It was the announcement that turned the political world upside-down: Sandra Day O’Connor would retire from the U.S. Supreme Court. President Bush nominated conservative John Roberts to her post, but then plans changed. Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away, and Bush then nominated Roberts to the post of Chief Justice, a move that Congress approved. Americans scratched their heads at the nomination of Harriet Miers, a woman who came under so much political pressure that she withdrew her nomination. President Bush then nominated Samuel Alito, who will go through the nomination process in 2006. The Supreme Court comes in at 4th place on TDI’s 2005: In Review list.

On April 2, at 9:37 pm, Pope John Paul II died and departed from this world. From that night until April 8, more than three million people traveled to Rome to pay tribute to the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of them waited more than 24 hours to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. The Papal Conclave spent two days voting before choosing Joseph Ratzinger, who took the title of Pope Benedict XVI. We watched as the Pope fell ill, as he passed away, and waited eagerly to find out who would succeed him. The death of the leader of millions upon millions of Christians worldwide, and the naming of a new leader, makes it to number three.

It was a typical busy Thursday morning in London, as commuters boarded busses and subways on their way to work. But in an instant, 52 people lost their lives and over 700 were injured when terrorist detonated simultaneous bombs on three trains and one bus. It was the deadliest single act of terrorism in the UK since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (which killed 207), and the deadliest bombing in London since WWII. Investigators identified four suicide bombers, all of whom called London home. Al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the deadly 9/11/01 attacks in America, claimed responsibility for these bombings. The bombings sent the world another chilly reminder that terrorist are still a very real and deadly threat.

Before it made landfall, TDI said that Hurricane Katrina would be the “story of the year“. Sadly, after all the flooding and devastation, we were right. The enormous, slow-moving storm had a damage radius almost as big as all of Great Britain. It was also the costliest hurricane on record, costing an estimated $57,600,000,000 in damages. A fair chunk of that damage was in New Orleans, where wind and water pressure caused a couple of the city’s levees to fail, causing the city to flood.

With lives lost, and many more lives still displaced, this may be one of the most challenging reconstruction efforts yet. And with only a few months before Hurricane season starts up again, repair crews are working furiously to prepare the city for another storm. The Gulf Coast and Hurricane Katrina round out TDI’s top ten stories of 2005.

And as we bid farewell to the year that ushered The Delta Institute into existance, we look foward to a brand new year, one that is full of exciting new oppertunities. Remember, just because we include these stories in a year-end list, it doesn’t mean that their stories end here either. The fallout from the major stories keeps coming, and we’ll be here to give you the vital updates. Happy 2006, everybody!


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