Chilean miners saved
After nearly 70 days trapped below the earth in a Chilean mine, 33 miners are rescued on Oct. 13, by a capsule descending and rising through a narrow shaft. Upon their rescue, all of the miners were reported to be in good condition and became instant celebrities. The fortitude of the miners while trapped in the mine for over two months were an inspiration to the world.
Arizona’s anti-immigration law passes
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signs SB 1070 on April 23, an immigration law criticized as being one of the most severe in the country. The new law requires police officers to detain people they suspect are in the country illegally, and makes it a misdemeanor crime to not carry immigration papers. Governor Brewer said Arizona had to act because the federal government was delaying immigration reform. The law drew criticism from the White House and ethnic communities who claim the law encourages racial profiling.
Toyota’s pedal recall
Reports of pedals sticking to floor mats, causing drivers to accelerate without being able to use their brakes, forces Toyota to conduct a second recall on Jan. 21. The recall includes 2.3 million vehicles sold in the U.S. and 1.8 million sold in other countries. An additional 1.1 million Toyota vehicles are recalled a week later. Congressional hearings and testimony reports that Toyota deems the recall repairs effective in solving the issue.
‘Ground Zero’ mosque debate
During the summer, polls show a majority of New Yorkers opposing the placement of a mosque near “Ground Zero”, the former site of the World Trade Towers. President Barack Obama disagrees and following a dinner on August 13, celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the president said in a speech, “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
Haiti’s earthquake rocks the country
A devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 12, leveling buildings and destroying the country’s infrastructure. Haitian government reports estimate the death toll at 230,000 people, with more than 300,000 injured, and more than one million people left homeless. The economically ravaged nation endured looting and rioting by survivors while humanitarian aid and donations were inadequate for the country’s massive needs.
Judge strikes down Prop. 8
U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down California’s Proposition 8 on Aug. 4, claiming it violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry. Proposition 8 first passed in 2008 and banned same sex unions in the state. But later that same August, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed an emergency stay on Proposition 8, putting a hold on gay marriages in the state.
Suicide brings bullying and gay youth suicides to light
Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi reportedly commits suicide after two classmates secretly record a homosexual interaction he has, and posts it online. Clementi is found dead on Sept. 22, after jumping from the George Washington Bridge. The case spurs multiple discussions on Internet and gay bullying. The two students who posted the video, an Indian American and Chinese American, are charged with invasion of privacy.
Pres. Obama signs health care bill into law
President Barack Obama signed into law one of the most sweeping pieces of social legislation ever passed by Congress. The law, signed in on March 23, ensured medical coverage for almost all Americans. But much of the bill will not go into effect until 2014. Local Seattle boy, Marcelas Owens, stands by the president as he signs the landmark bill.
Elena Kagan sworn into Supreme Court
Elena Kagan, 50, became the fourth ever female Supreme Court Justice on Aug. 7, taking the position left by John Paul Stevens.
Pastor calls off Quran burning
Florida pastor Terry Jones calls off a planned burning of Qurans two days before the anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. The pastor’s plans sparked anger and debate worldwide, and even incited warnings from President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for fear that such an act would put U.S. soldiers at risk.hea
New leader of North Korea waits in the wings
Kim Jong-Un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, appeared to be announced as the country’s eventual successor at a Sept. 30 event. Although the government has not made an official announcement, it is widely believed that Kim Jong-Il’s health is failing.
Pres. Obama announces Iraq combat to end
President Barack Obama spoke in a prime time address on Aug. 31, formally declaring an end to combat operations in Iraq. However 50,000 American troops remained in the country.
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal blocked
Senate Republican members block a bill on Sept. 21, that aims to repeal the 17 year-old ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the military. Repealing the measure would allow gay and lesbian military service members to join and serve openly. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates defended the repeal, claiming surveys showed removing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy would have little impact on the military.
Republicans win full control of the House and pick up six seats in the Senate after mid-term elections on Nov. 2. Most called the sweeping change a statement against Pres. Obama’s agenda, including health care and rising deficit. Nancy Pelosi lost her position as House speaker.
Attempted Times Square bombing
A bomb plot shut down New York’s Times Square on May 1. A SUV was found to have explosive materials but never detonated. Two days later, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, who was reportedly attempting to board a plane to Pakistan. Officials sentenced Shahzad on Oct. 5 to life in prison without parole.
Wikileaks releases war documents
The website, Wikileaks, releases thousands of classified military intelligence documents dating from 2004-2009 on July 25. The documents reveal startling information about U.S. knowledge on the Taliban, Iran and Pakistan’s involvement in the insurgency — even the amount of civilian casualties. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would not reveal the source of the leaked documents and is currently under investigation in connection with sexual improprieties with two women. Assange said the allegations are an attempt at character assassination from Wikileak’s opposition.
US. Census begins
The U.S. government distributes 10-question Census forms to all U.S. residents, beginning on April 1. By the end of the summer, the Census Bureau claimed a 72 percent return rate and outreach to ethnic communities is widespread. Federal officials report the cost of the nationwide survey was $1.6 billion less than projected.
Iceland volcano shuts down Europe’s airspace
Iceland’s volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, erupts for a second time on April 14, causing a massive column of smoke and ash. The cloud severely disrupts Europe’s airspace, and forces the cancellation of 95,000 flights all over the continent.
BP oil disaster
The Deepwater Horizon, an offshore floating oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, explodes on April 20, killing 11 workers. The explosion produces an oil leak that lasts for nearly three months. The oil even reaches Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, wreaking havoc on their vital fishing industries. The leak was finally sealed on July 15.