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11:13 PM / Sunday August 9, 2020

24 Dec 2009

What a Decade! 2000-2009 Top News

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December 24, 2009 Category: Commentary Posted by:

The presidential election that November ultimately became the precursor of tough times ahead when the race between Republican George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore was thrown into the air by a controversy over the awarding of Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Bush was certified the winner and a subsequent recount upheld, in a contest in which the winning candidate lost the popular vote. Most folks breathed a big sigh of relief as the year 2000 came in relatively uneventful after dire warnings of a Y2K technology meltdown that would ruin systems worldwide and create mass confusion. The biggest stories of the decade reflected the best and the worst of life -from tragedy to triumph, new beginnings to final closure…

More than 3,000 people died or were declared missing in the wake of the attacks, including the 19 terrorists.

The presidential election that November ultimately became the precursor of tough times ahead when the race between Republican George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore was thrown into the air by a controversy over the awarding of Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Bush was certified the winner and a subsequent recount upheld, in a contest in which the winning candidate lost the popular vote.

On Sept. 11, 2001, four U.S. jetliners were taken over by terrorists with links to al Qaeda, a militant terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden. Two of the hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center towers in NewYork City; a third severely damaged the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and a fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after a group of passengers attempted to seize the plane from the hijackers.

More than 3,000 people died or were declared missing in the wake of the attacks, including the 19 terrorists.

In response, the United States, with the support of the international community, invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who had harbored the terrorists and declared a “war on terrorism; Congress also passed the controversial Patriot Act, whichcurbed personal liberties.

The goodwill of the international community would soon be sorely tested, however, when President Bush took the case for invading Iraq to the United Nations and the American public, despite questionable evidence Iraq had any direct links to al Qaeda.

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, prematurelydeclaredvictoryinMayof that year, and the U.S. troops are firmly embedded there.

Osama bin Laden still has not been found and the U.S. remains involved in Afghanistan and an additional 30,000 troops are scheduled to be deployed there.

By2007,President Bush was embroiled in a war on two fronts,a declining economy,a mortgage scandal and looming banking crisis that put the U.S.solidly in are cession and on the brink of a Depression. The Republican Party sought to distance itself from the president’s policies, particularly candidates for the House,theSenateandtheparty’spresidential nomination.

As this gloomy scenario was brewing, the Democrats found a rising star. Barack Obama, (D-Ill.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, the first black man in the Senate since Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts left office on Jan. 3, 1979.

In 2004, Obama delivered a celebrated keynote address at the Democratic National Convention and rumors began that he might one day be presidential timbre. In 2007, on the stepsoftheOldStateCapitol in Springfield, Illinois, he announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. After defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the nomination, he went on to beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) handily.

Sean Gibbs, an Army captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq, expressed the euphoria of many African Americans on election night. “Now I can look my son in the eye and honestly tell him that he can be the president of the United States without it sounding like a prepared statement. What makes me so proud as an American is that in some other country, there’s a hater saying to himself, ‘Just when we thought we had the Americans on the ropes, they go and pull something like this.’”

The nation and the world faces the loss of three icons: Civil rights leaders Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2006 and “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement” Rosa Parks in 2005. Just this year in ‘09 the world is shocked by the sudden death of legendary“King of Pop” Michael Jackson.

Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest hurricane, as well as one of the five deadliest, in the history of the United States. It caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas,much of it due to the storm surge. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland. Eventually 80% of the city became flooded and also large tracts of neighboring parishes, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks.

At least 1, 836 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods,making it the dead liestU.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Economist and crisis consultant Randall Bell wrote: “Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the largest natural disasterinthehistoryoftheUnitedStates. Preliminary damage estimates were well inexcessof$100billion,eclipsingmany times the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.”

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But the challenges of the first decade of the 21st century went well beyond U.S. borders.

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