So, I never like how the pop news websites like Time and otherwise try to place these lists in slide shows because they suck up too much of peoples’ time. I did the copying and pasting instead on my own and since I don’t make a penny off the list, I’m thinking it shouldn’t be a big deal. I just use it for information and for my kids’ educational edification.
Top 10 News Stories
#1. Transition in Pakistan The tensions in Pakistan had been building all year, and President General Pervez Musharraf was getting it from all sides. The Taliban gradually solidified control in the northwest of the country, and Islamic extremists, who had holed up in Islamabad’s Red Mosque, led to a violent standoff in July. At the same time, liberal democrats were pushing for free elections and for Musharraf to give up command of the military, while Western governments were pressuring him into not-so-secret power-sharing negotiations with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, which ultimately failed. Bhutto returned to Pakistan from exile in October only to face an assassination attempt, and extremists stepped up suicide bombings in the cities. After months of threatening to do so, Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Nov. 11. He has since faced protests in support of the independent judiciary that he sacked, with white collar workers — who benefited most from the economic reforms he passed — taking to the streets calling for his removal. Grasping for legitimacy, Musharraf gave up his military leadership and has scheduled parliamentary elections for Jan. 8. Some opposition leaders say they will boycott the vote, but Musharraf’s biggest challenge may come from the U.S., if the Bush Administration decides he’s a dispensable ally without his general’s uniform.#2. The Mortgage CrisisThe housing bubble finally burst, big time. Defaults on subprime mortgages — high and adjustable-interest rate home loans for people who don’t qualify for the lowest market rates — had been rising slowly for a couple of years and by this summer were up 93% from the year before. In April, New Century Financial, one of the largest subprime lenders in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy, the first of a slew of mortgage company failures. Banks worldwide that had money in mortgage-backed securities realized many of their investments were worthless, and the major stock market indexes saw their values drop, prompting central banks in the U.S. and Europe to inject extra cash into their financial systems. As the global economy teetered, columnists blamed companies’ predatory lending practices, which doled out cash to people who couldn’t afford it and didn’t understand the terms of their loans. At least some of them may be in for relief now, as the Bush administration just announced a five-year freeze on mortgage rates for some subprime borrowers facing the threat of default.
#3. The Saffron Protests It was the junta-led government’s decision to raise the price of fuel — and, therefore, the costs of transportation and food staples like rice and cooking oil — that sparked the largest protests in Burma, also known as Myanmar, in August and inspired monks to take to the streets en masse a month later. The holy men asked civilians not to join their demonstrations — and the government refrained from retaliating. But with tens of thousands of shaved-headed, red-clad monks marching across the country — one group of them declaring the military government “the enemy of the people” — the junta cracked down. Burmese troops used batons and tear gas on the protesters, raided monasteries and censored the media. The government says 15 people died during the September violence (diplomats say the toll was much higher) and 3,000 were jailed. Many monks have now fled to China and Thailand; though the rallies have ended, arrests are continuing because the U.N. and foreign governments keep pressing the junta to negotiate with the pro-democracy movement. #4. Goodbye, Harry PotterThis summer Potter-mania crested with the July 21 debut of the seventh, final, and most satisfying book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The novel came on the heels of the premier of the fifth and most highly acclaimed movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Deathly Hallows sold a record 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours in the U.S. — children and adults alike waited in line all night to buy it, then stayed up all the next night reading it. Author J.K. Rowling didn’t disappoint; critics unanimously loved it. Though everyone now knows the fate of the boy wizard, it’s unlikely to subdue excitement for the sixth movie, which comes out in 2008. What’s next for Rowling? The author has handwritten seven copies of a companion Potter book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard; she will give away six copies privately and has auctioned one through Sotheby’s. The winning bid, by Amazon.com: nearly $4 million.
#5. Petraeus Under Fire Shortly after naming Gen. David Petraeus the top commander in Iraq, President Bush announced plans to send in an additional 20,000 troops to quell the sectarian fighting. House and Senate Democrats denounced the “surge,” and, as they predicted, things got worse at first: May was the deadliest month for U.S. troops since November 2004. Petraeus faced hostile questioning when he returned to Washington in September to brief Congress on his slow progress. But recently the relative calm and the drop in American casualties has kicked Iraq from the front pages, at least temporarily, while the first significant pullback of troops — a brigade of 5,000 — began just after Thanksgiving. That’s got pundits wondering how much of a role the war will play in next year’s presidential election.#6. Chinese-Made Toy RecallIt started in June with Thomas the Tank Engine, but soon after, many more toy-chest favorites had been implicated: Big Bird, Elmo, Barbie, Dora the Explorer — even the Easy Bake Oven. More than 20 million toys, all made in China, were recalled for containing lead paint or loose magnets — or giving some kids third-degree burns (the oven). The massive recall got Americans — already wary about globalization — fretting anew over the perils of outsourcing, and talking about buying local. In September, Mattel (the manufacturer of many of the affected toys) issued an official apology to China for overreacting and damaging the reputation of Chinese-made toys, which make up 80% of playthings sold in the U.S. Two months later, however, in November, several kids got sick from swallowing Aqua Dots, small sticky beads that can be molded into shapes, prompting yet another recall of “made in China” toys.
#7. The Virginia Tech Tragedy At around 7 a.m. on April 16, Cho Seung-Hui shot two students in a dorm at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. While police searched for a suspect, Cho went calmly to a post office and mailed his multimedia manifesto to NBC News. By 9:45 a.m., Cho was back on campus and had begun shooting his way through Norris Hall, a classroom building. In the end, 33 were dead: 27 students, five professors and the gunman. Cho embodied the perfect deranged-loner cliché: He wrote disturbingly violent plays, dated imaginary girlfriends, had been accused of stalking and been pronounced by a judge to be mentally ill and in need of hospitalization. Cho had nonetheless purchased his arsenal of weapons legally — sparking debate over gun control, mental illness and campus security. #8. Stem Cell BreakthroughIn November, two groups of scientists in Japan and Wisconsin announced that they had found a way to reprogram human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells — without having to make or destroy any embryos. Embryonic stem cells are capable of turning into any of the 220 types of cell in the human body, so scientists have long touted them as a potential medicinal cure-all, from facilitating organ transplants to curing Alzheimer’s. But detractors, including President Bush, who has banned federal funding of most embryonic stem cell research, say destroying embryos is immoral, no matter the health benefits. It’s hoped that the new discovery could appease both sides of the stem cell war, paving the way for medical breakthroughs that do not require killing embryos.
#9. Bonds Breaks a Record — Gets Indicted With his 756th long ball during a home game against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 7, Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron’s record to become the new homerun king. The celebrations were tempered, of course, by the steroid scandal that swirls around the San Francisco Giants slugger like the jeering fans who held up asterisks signs at every game as he neared the record. According to leaked grand jury testimony from December 2003, Bonds admitted to using steroids but denied knowing that they were performance-enhancing drugs. But federal prosecutors didn’t buy it: As a result of that testimony, Bonds was indicted in November for perjury and obstruction of justice, and faces up to 30 years in prison. (He has pleaded not guilty.) While Bonds waits to see how his case and his career play out, his record-breaking homerun ball seems destined for a similarly cloudy fate: It was bought for $752,467 by fashion designer Marc Ecko, who plans to brand it with an asterisk and donate it to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
#10. iPhone ManiaSteve Jobs dramatically unveiled the iPhone on Jan. 9, along with the sad news that it wouldn’t be available for … Six. More. Months. By the time the combo phone-iPod-PDA- camera-computer hit Apple and AT&T stores on June 29, the frenzy had reached a fever pitch, and customers waited in line to snap up the 200,000 units made available. One buyer who flew in from Norway that day called the event “Christmas, birthday, New Year’s, all rolled into one.” There was some love lost when Apple dropped the price for the most souped-up model of the iPhone from $599 to $399 after just two months on the market — then offered a $100 store credit as apology to the early adopters. But the pretty little touch-screen wonder — named TIME’s Best Invention of the Year — has competitors scrambling to outdo it, and Apple aficionados waiting and hoping for whatever Jobs dreams up next.