Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, goodbye 2009

To all our readers may we wish you a Happy New Year and hope that 2010 brings more joy than sadness. Here are a few items that topped the news in the last year. 

The year 2009 was marked with many tragedies and war but also some scientific discoveries. The recession featured strongly also. China topped the news several times throughout the year moth notably because of riots in Xinjiang, tightened Internet controls and the 60th anniversary of its founding. Barack Obama has made headlines with his health reforms and Britain floundered along with a constant political tit for tat between the main political parties as they head towards next years election. Violence often dominates the headlines, whether it be war, a terrorist atrocity or the punching of an Italian Prime Minister. And it was war that began the year. 

January saw Israel launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip as the Gaza War intensified. A ceasefire was later declared and hostilities ceased, but hundreds were left dead and there remains widespread devastation in the region. Russia shuts off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine publicly endorsed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who urged greater international involvement in the energy dispute. January also saw Barack Obama inaugurated as the 44th, and first African American, President of the United States.

February brought the deadliest bushfires in Australian history. They kill 173, injure 500 more, and leave more than 7,500 homeless. In space a Russian and an American satellite collide over Siberia, creating a large amount of space debris.

In March gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, Pakistan, killing eight people and injuring several others. Italy was rocked in April by a major earthquake. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near L'Aquila, Italy, killing nearly 300 and injuring more than 1,500. April also saw the gathering of world leaders in London for the G-20. The second G-20 summit, involving state leaders rather than the usual finance ministers, met to discuss the ongoing global financial crisis. There were also widespread protests resulting in many injuries and one death prompting inquiries into police behaviour.

May brought more worries and concern over North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The country announced that it had conducted a second successful nuclear test in the province of North Hamgyong. The United Nations Security Council condemned the reported test.

In June Air France Flight 447, en route from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 on board. The exact cause remains unknown. The outbreak of the H1N1 influenza strain, commonly referred to as "swine flu", was deemed a global pandemic, becoming the first condition since the Hong Kong flu of 1967–1968 to receive this designation.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is re-elected as the president of Iran. During the following weeks, supporters of defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi protest the results. The resultant violence is said to be the worst seen in Iran since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Michael Jackson, the so-called "King of Pop," died on 25th June aged 50 causing widespread outpourings of grief and saturation coverage on just about every television station in the world. There were accusations he had been murdered and investigations are still being pursued.

June also saw another air tragedy after Yemenia Flight 626 crashes off the coast of Moroni, Comoros, killing all but one of the 153 passengers and crew. China was once again in the international spotlight in July after riots struck the north-west province of Xinjiang. More than 150 are killed when a few thousand ethnic Uyghurs target local Han Chinese in Ürümqi, the worst violence seen in decades. A public memorial service is held for musician Michael Jackson and is regarded as one of the most prominent funerals of all time. Another airline disaster struck on 15th July with Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 crashing near Qazvin, Iran, killing all 168 on board.

August saw widespread devastation brought by Typhoon Morakot which struck Taiwan, killing 500 and stranding more than 1,000 with the worst flooding seen on the island in half a century.

September was the month of typhoons and earthquakes.  Typhoon Ketsana caused record amounts of rainfall in Manila, Philippines, leading to the declaration of a "state of calamity" in 25 provinces. On 29th September an 8.3 magnitude earthquake triggers a tsunami near the Samoan Islands. Many communities and harbors in Samoa and American Samoa are destroyed. At least 189 are killed. The following day a 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes just off the coast of Sumatra, killing around 1,000 in Indonesia.

October and November saw scientific announcements. European astronomers said they had discovered 32 exoplanets and NASA declared there was water on the moon. CERN restarted the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, though it will be some months before it is in full operation. And in December astronomers discover GJ1214b [40 light years from Earth], the first-known exoplanet on which water could exist. 

The big story of December was of course the failed terror attack on board flight 253 on Christmas Day. Terrorism remains a persistent threat. However there have been cells broken up, plots thwarted and lucky escapes. Some of those kidnapped have also been released as was a Briton held captive for 2  years. Peter Moore was one of 5 taken hostage in 2007, but was released yesterday. His other colleagues are believed to have been killed.

The global financial crisis has been an ongoing topic and there are various viewpoints as to whether 2010 with see a recovery. The signs appear good, but it can depend on how optimistic one's outlook is. Stocks rose around the world on Thursday as the clock ticked towards 2010. According to Bloomberg markets were set for the biggest annual gain since 2003. 

Amongst those who will not see 2010 are Farrah Fawcett, a 1970s sex symbol and star of Charlie's Angels. She died on 25th June aged 62. News broadcaster and veteran journalist Walter Cronkite died in July aged 92. And Ted Kennedy, known more controversially for the Chappaquiddick Bridge incident, died in August aged 77. 

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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