News and Events of 2010
- Jan. 12: 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastates Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It is the region's worst earthquake in 200 years. The quake levels many sections of the city, destroying government buildings, foreign aid offices, and countless slums. Jan. 13: Assessing the scope of the devastation, Prime Minister Préval says, "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed." He calls the death toll "unimaginable," and expects fatalities to near 100,000. The United Nations mission in Haiti is destroyed, 16 members of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti are killed, and hundreds of UN employees are missing. The death toll was 200,000 people.
- Feb. 12: The 2010 Winter Olympics opened in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The games got off to a tragic start when a luger from the Republic of Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili, dies tragically in a crash during training run.
- Feb. 12: Multi-country offensive launched in Afghanistan as thousands of American, Afghan, and British troops storm the city of Marja, Afghanistan in an attempt to destroy the Taliban's latest haven. The attack by the 6,000 troops is the biggest offensive in the country since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Feb. 15: The Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is captured in Karachi, Pakistan in a secret joint operation by the American and Pakistani intelligence forces. American officials claim that Barader is the most significant human capture since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. Feb. 22: A NATO airstrike launched by the United States Special Forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, targeted at insurgents, accidentally kills 27 Afghan civilians. President Hamid Karzai condemns the killings.
- Feb. 27: An 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocks Chile. Fatalities are relatively low, with some 750 people killed in the devastation. However, as many as 1.5 million people are displaced. Chile's electricity grids, communication, and transportation systems are badly damaged, severely hampering rescue and aid efforts. The epicenter of the quake was 70 miles northeast of Concepcion in central Chile. Massive waves continue to cause additional damage along the coast. Mar. 1: After refusing contributions from foreign governments, Chile officials change course, requesting generators, water filtration equipment, and field hospitals from other countries.
- Mar. 7: Explosions disrupt general election day in Iraq when two bombs kill at least 38 people. Iraq's election commission reports that 62% of Iraqis voted in the election, though that number drops to just 53% in Baghdad, where the violence occurred. Final results are not expected for several weeks, but preliminary figures put the State of Law alliance, led by Prime Minister Maliki, and the Iraqi National Movement, headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, in a close race ahead of the other candidates. Election officials said none of the alliances will emerge with a clear majority, forcing the winner to assemble a broad coalition to form a government. Mar. 29: Final results of the election give the Iraqi National Movement, led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, 91 seats in Parliament out of 325. The State of Law alliance, headed by Prime Minister Maliki comes in a close second with 89 seats. A Shia religious movement, including followers of radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, wins 70. The two main Kurdish parties together receive 43 seats. Maliki refuses to accept the results and says he will challenge them in court.
- Mar. 24: The United States and Russia report a breakthrough in arms control negotiations. Both countries agree to lower the limit on deployed strategic warheads and launchers by 25% and 50%, respectively, and will also implement a new inspection regime. President Obama and President Medvedev will sign in a treaty that outlines this agreement. Apr. 8: The United States and Russia usher in a supposedly new era in nuclear arms control after President Obama and President Medvedev sign an arms reduction treaty and agree to act in a united fashion against the threat of Iran's nuclear program. The pact, called the New Start, has each country promise to scale back on their nuclear arsenals.
- Mar. 29: Two female suicide bombers, acting just minutes apart, detonate bombs in two Moscow subways stations, killing at least 39 people. This is the first terrorist attack in the capital city since 2004, when Moscow experienced a string of deadly violence. Authorities attribute the attacks to the mostly Muslim north Caucasus region. Doku Umarov, a former Chechen separatist and the self-proclaimed emir of the north Caucasus, claims responsibility for masterminding the attack. Mar. 31: Two explosions kill 12 people in the north Caucasus region of Dagestan. The attacks prompt concern that Prime Minister Putin will crack down on civil liberties and democracy as he did in 2004, following the siege of a school in Beslan.
- Apr. 5: Militants launch an assault on the United States Consulate in Pakistan. Six Pakistanis are killed and 20 are wounded; no Americans are harmed. At least five suicide bombers mounted the attack, though they were unable to reach the inner area of the compound. Azam Tariq, a spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban, claims responsibility for the attack, saying they were acting in retaliation to American missile strikes and Pakistani military operations in the area.
- Apr. 7: Kyrgyzstan President Bakiyev fleas Bishkek amid deadly protests and demonstrations. Former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, acting as the leader of the opposition, assumes power as acting president. Government troops and demonstrators are battling in the streets, and nearly 70 people are killed and more than 400 wounded. Demonstrations over sharp increases in utility prices broke out in the city of Talas and promptly spread to the capital of Bishkek, where protesters are also rallying against government corruption. Bakiyev refuses to resign despite Otunbayeva's support.
- Apr. 14: An explosion in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland results in a volcanic ash plume in the atmosphere over northern and central Europe. Air travel in the region is halted for several days, causing the cancellation of several thousand flights and disrupting the travel plans of millions of people. Apr. 21: After millions of travelers have been stranded for days in Europe and North America, airports around the world begin operation again.
- Apr. 20: An explosion on a BP oil drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana kills 11 people and injures 17. Experts estimate that 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour are pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Apr. 26: Authorities estimate that the amount of oil spilling from leaks in the oil rig is approximately 42,000 gallons of crude oil per hour. Remote-controlled robots are being used to try and seal off the oil well. Apr. 30: The oil slick from the rig explosion reaches the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. For the first time, President Obama criticizes BP's handling of the crisis; he chastises the company for not stemming the flow of oil and cleaning up the spill before it reached land. July 15: After 86 days of gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico and several previous attempts to contain the flow, BP caps its leaking oil well. The cap, which can be removed in the future for oil collection or left on indefinitely, is an interim measure, put in place until a relief well can be drilled to fix the problem permanently.
- May 3: Prime Minister of Thailand, Vejjajiva Abhisit, offers to hold early elections—one of the key demands of protesters loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, called red shirts, who have been rioting since April—if the protesters called off their demonstrations, but they reject the gesture. Abhisit withdraws his offer and orders troops to blockade the protest area. May 13: What started as a peaceful protest disintegrates into violence; the military fires upon the protesters and hits Khattiya Sawatdiphol, a general who sided with the red shirts. He later dies of his injuries. His death sparks further violence, and the protesters retaliated with grenade attacks. May 17: The red shirts offer to negotiate with the government, but are rebuffed. They then engage in large-scale rioting, looting, and the firebombing of several buildings, including Thailand's stock exchange and largest department store. The government cracks down on the movement May 19: Rioters disperse, and protest leaders surrender. They will face terrorism charges. In the 68 days of the protests, 68 people died. The red shirts bore the brunt of most of the casualties.
- May 5: A Picasso painting sells for a record-breaking $106.5 million at a Christie's auction. The painting, "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," depicts Picasso's mistress and was painted in just one day in 1932.
- May 11: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally resigns as prime minister after acknowledging that his Labour Party will be unable to form a majority in Parliament. He recommends Conservative Party leader David Cameron as his successor; consequently, Cameron creates a coalition government with the ideologically opposed Liberal Democrats and becomes the prime minister of the United Kingdom. The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, will become deputy prime minister. This is the first coalition government in the U.K. since World War II.
- May 19: The United States, Russia, China, and others agree to impose a fourth set of sanctions on Iran's nuclear program, in an attempt to stop the country from enriching uranium. None of the three previous sets of sanctions had any effect on Iran's program to enrich uranium nor its willingness to fully disclose actions to international inspectors.
- May 31: Nine people are dead after an Israeli navy commando attacks a flotilla of cargo ships and passenger boats on their way to Gaza to provide aid and supplies for the area. Israel claims that the passengers on the flotilla, who were pro-Palestinians and mostly Turks, presented themselves as humanitarians, but were clearly hostile.
- June 1: Just nine months into his term as Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama announces his resignation from office. His countrymen reportedly find him an indecisive and ineffective ruler and have been clamoring for him to quit. He will be the fourth prime minister to leave in just four years.
- June 13: The United States finds more than $1 trillion in mineral resources in the mountains of Afghanistan, far more than expected or previously estimated. The findings, which include previously unknown deposits of iron, copper, gold, and lithium, could drastically improve the country's economy and fundamentally change the outcome of the war there.
- June 17: Street fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks escalated in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, leaving at least 200 people dead. Thousands of people are displaced after Uzbek neighborhoods are torched, and approximately 100,000 people have crossed the border into Uzbekistan, forcing that country's government to close its borders. June 24: The death toll in the ethnic fighting in Kyrgyzstan rises to 2,000, yet the cause of the original skirmish remains unknown. Many of those who fled the country have begun to return.
- June 20: In a surprise victory, Graeme McDowell wins golf's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, beating second place Frenchman Gregory Havret by just one stroke. McDowell, from Northern Ireland, is the first European to win the tournament since 1970.
- July 9: After discovering and imprisoning 10 Russian spies masquerading as civilians in the United States, the U.S. and Russia agree to and implement a swap of the captured spies. The Russian government traded four Russians who were purportedly spying for the U.S. or another Western country.
- July 11: After four weeks and 64 games, the 32 countries who entered the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa were whittled down to just two; the final game, between Spain and the Netherlands, went into overtime after a scoreless game. Spain finally scored in the 129th minute, winning the game and the World Cup title.
- July 25: Alberto Contador wins the Tour de France, his third title in the world's most prestigious cycling race, and his second in a row.
- July 30: Massive flooding in Pakistan, following two days of record rainfall, kills over 400 people and leaves thousands homeless. Damage to infrastructure has left many villages and towns inaccessible to government aid, stranding many survivors of the floods.
Aug. 12: After two weeks of catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, the UN now estimates that at least 1,600 people have been killed and 14 million displaced from their homes.
- Aug. 5: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin bans the export of grains from his country, citing the widespread drought and wildfires that are crippling Russia. They are suffering from the country's worst heat wave in 130 years. Aug. 6: At least 52 people have been killed in the more than 800 wildfires that have swept across Russia.
- Aug. 18: The U.S. State Department announces that it will increase the presence of civilian contractors in 2011 as the military prepares to leave the country. Contractors will be responsible for training Iraqi police and preventing confrontations between the Iraqi Army and civilian groups.
- Sept. 12: The female American hiker imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage is released on $500,000 bail. Sarah Shourd has been in prison for over a year, along with the two male American friends she was hiking with, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal. The three friends were hiking in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq in July 2009 when they allegedly passed over into Iranian territory and were arrested.
- Oct. 12: First of 33 trapped Chilean miners is rescued after spending 68 days trapped in a mine half a mile underground. He is pulled to safety via a capsule made for the rescue mission. The rest of the miners will be carried to safety over the next 24 hours. Oct. 13: All 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for over two months are pulled to safety in what is being hailed as a brilliant rescue mission.
- Oct. 29: Suspicious packages found on an airplane originating in Yemen and bound for the United States contained explosive materials. Saudi intelligence officials tipped the U.S. government about the packages, resulting in a brief terrorism scare across the country. No additional explosives were found.
- Nov. 22: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announces he will dissolve his government and hold a new election after the 2011 budget passes. This announcement comes just one day after the Irish government requested a $100 billion bailout package from the European Union and IMF to help save its flailing economy.
- Nov. 22: At least 300 people are killed and hundreds more injured in a stampede during Cambodia's annual water festival. The stampede reportedly occurred after people panicked when a densely crowded bridge began to sway.
- Nov. 23: The military of North Korea unexpectedly attacks the island of Yeonpyeong in South Korea, killing two civilians and two marines. Eighteen others are wounded. This is the first time North Korea has fired on a civilian target since the suspension of the Korean War in 1953.
- Dec. 2: Russia wins its bid as host for the 2018 World Cup, while Qatar secures the host duties for the international soccer tournament in 2022. The United States, in particular, was disappointed by the announcement; the country was hoping to host the World Cup in 2022. Qatar will be the first Middle Eastern country to the tournament; Russia has never had the privilege either.
- Dec. 7: Julian Assange, the Australian-born co-founder of WikiLeaks, is arrested in England on a Swedish warrant in connection to accusations made in August: two women in Sweden accused him of sexual assault. He is denied bail by a London court. Dec. 8: Hundreds of Internet activists attack several businesses seen as "enemies" of WikiLeaks, in response to Assange's imprisonment. Amazon.com, Paypal.com, and the MasterCard website are among those attacked with an onslaught of web traffic. Dec. 14: Assange is released on $310,000 bail, but remains in British custody temporarily. He faces possible extradition to Sweden for his alleged sexual assaults on two women.
- Jan. 3: The Transportation Security Administration announces stricter screening requirements for passengers traveling by air to the U.S. from 14 countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Passengers with passports or originating flights from any of the countries on this list will be required to undergo full-body pat downs and extra scrutiny of carry-on luggage. More advanced screenings will also be necessary at certain airports. The new regulations result from the attempted bombing by a Nigerian citizen on December 25. Jan. 6: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of attempting to detonate a suicide bomb on an airplane bound for Detroit, Michigan on December 25, 2009, is indicted on six counts. Charges include attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
- Jan. 19: In a stunning upset, Republican Scott Brown, a former member of the state senate, wins a special election in Massachusetts for Ted Kennedy's vacated U.S. Senate seat, beating Democrat Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, by a wide margin. His victory marks the end of the Democrats' "super" majority in the Senate and raises questions about the viability of the Democratic party and the pending health-care reform bill. Kennedy passed away in Aug. 2009, ending a 46-year run in the Senate.
- Jan. 21: In a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations for political campaigns, maintaining that it's their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. This decision upsets two previous precedents on the free-speech rights of corporations. President Obama expressed disapproval of the decision, calling it a "victory" for Wall Street and Big Business.
- Jan. 28: The U.S. Senate agrees to give Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, another term, a 70–30 vote. This will be Bernanke's second, four-year term.
- Jan. 29: A jury finds Scott Roeder, charged with first-degree murder for killing George Tiller—a doctor known for performing late-term abortions—guilty. Tiller was killed in May 2009 in his own church. Roeder claims he killed Tiller to stop the abortions the doctor was performing.
- Feb. 1: President Obama presents to Congress his 2011 budget of $3.8 trillion and his 10-year budget plan. The budget includes a $1.6 trillion deficit in the next fiscal year, which begins in October, and then steadily declines over the following 10 years. Included in the budget are cuts to domestic programs and spending; some programs, including NASA's return trips to the moon, will be eliminated all together
- Feb. 2: Following President Obama's State of the Union Declaration that he wants an end to the military policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which forbids openly gay men and women to serve in the military, top officials at the Department of Defense look for a way to end the law. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announces that he feels repealing the policy is "the right thing to do." Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will follow through with Obama's orders.
- Feb. 5: The unemployment rate drops to 9.7% in January 2010, down from 10% in December, reports the Labor Department. An additional 20,000 jobs were lost. Both numbers show that the economy is beginning to improve, as they demonstrate a decline in joblessness in the United States following the recession.
- Feb. 12: Amy Bishop, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is arrested after allegedly killing three faculty members and wounding three others at the university in a shooting rampage. Bishop was upset over recently being denied tenure in the biology department.
- Feb. 18: A man crashes his plane into an office of the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one other person. Apparently the pilot, Andrew Joseph Stack III, was holding a grudge against the government and the tax system. Thirteen others were injured.
- Feb. 22: President Obama announces his detailed plan for a health-care reform bill. The plan closely follows the version currently in the Senate. Obama asks Republicans to submit their ideas or agree to his version of the bill.
- Mar. 11: Thousands of rescue and cleanup workers—who worked for months in Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—reach a settlement with New York City over their health claims. The deal is worth approximately $657.5 million. The 10,000 plaintiffs will be awarded settlement money according to the severity of their illnesses and the time worked in the disaster zone. Money for the settlement will come from a federally financed insurance company that covers the city.
- Mar. 21: The House of Representatives passes a bill that will overhaul the American health-care system. The bill will be sent to President Obama to sign into law. Among other things, the bill will allow children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26, prevent insurance companies from denying coverage due to a patient's "pre-existing conditions," subsidize private insurance for low- and middle-income Americans, and require all Americans to have some sort of health insurance. The budget office estimates that the law will reduce federal budget deficits by $143 billion over the next 10 years. The government plans to earn money for the law with a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans and a tax on the investment income of the wealthiest Americans. Mar. 23: President Obama signs the health-care overhaul bill, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. Mar. 30: Obama signs the "reconciliation" bill, which outlines minor changes and additions to the new health-care act, coupled with the bill that overhauls the student loan industry. The health care revisions were drafted by the U.S. Senate as a measure to prevent Republicans from filibustering the original health-care bill.
- Apr. 1: The Environmental Protection Agency issues formal guidelines for the amount of greenhouse gas emissions cars will be able to produce. The new emissions and mileage standards would mean that combined fuel economy average for new vehicles must be 35.5 by 2016.
- Apr. 5: President Obama announces a revised American nuclear strategy that will limit the instances in which the U.S. will use nuclear weapons. Part of the strategy includes renouncing the creation of new nuclear weapons. However, Obama points out that exceptions will be made to countries such as Iran and North Korea who have violated the nuclear proliferation treaty in the past. This announcement significantly changes the protocol of past administrations; the United States is declaring for the first time its commitment not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states.
- Apr. 9: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announces he will retire this summer, after serving on the court for 35 years. Though he was appointed in 1975 by a Republican president, Gerald Ford, and considered a moderate conservative at the time, he has proved to be one of the most reliably liberal-voting judges on the court. Stevens is the most senior member of the court. President Obama promises to name his nominee for the position quickly; it will be the second opportunity for Obama to select a Supreme Court justice in his first two years of office. His first pick, Sonia Sotomayor, proved divisive and controversial, but was confirmed to the position in August 2009.
- Apr. 23: The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer (Rep.), signs into law the country's toughest immigration bill. It is designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants. Law enforcement officials are now allowed to ask those people suspected of being illegal immigrants for their proof of citizenship or visas.
- May 2: After discovering a bomb in a smoking vehicle parked in Times Square, in New York City, police evacuated several blocks around the popular tourist spot. The bomb was made of propane, gasoline, and fireworks and did not explode. A T-shirt vendor in the area saw the smoking car and alerted the authorities. May 3: Federal agents and New York City police arrest a man in conjunction with the Times Square car bomb. The man, Faisal Shahzad, is Pakistani but recently became a naturalized U.S. citizen and has been living in Connecticut with his family. Authorities are investigating whether Shahzad was working with a terrorist group or alone. May 4: Terrorism suspect Faisal Shazhad is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and several other federal charges related to explosives. Shahzad admitted to the crime and claims to have worked alone. May 5: American officials announce that the Pakistani Taliban likely played a role in the Time Square bomb plot, including training the suspect in the case, Shahzad. May 13: The F.B.I. takes three Pakistani men into custody for their alleged role in the Times Square bomb plot. The men are under suspicion for providing money to Faisal Shazhad so he could carry out the plot.
- May 10: President Obama selects Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee for the Supreme Court Justice position that will be vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens this summer. Kagan is a scholar and a lawyer, and was the first female dean of Harvard Law School, has served on all three branches of the Federal Government, and has been the Solicitor General in the Obama administration. She has no prior judicial experience however, a qualification that hasn't been lacking in a justice for forty years.
- June 4: President Obama names Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. as the new director of national intelligence. Clapper is tasked with improving the coordination between the 16 U.S. spy and intelligence agencies. The former director, Adm. Dennis C. Blair, was forced out of the job two weeks earlier.
- June 23: After a controversial interview with Rolling Stone that included some demeaning remarks about President Obama and his administration, General Stanley McChrystal is relieved of his position as commander of the American Forces in Afghanistan and replaced by his boss, General David Patraeus.
- June 28: The Supreme Court rules in a 5-to-4 decision that the Second Amendment's guarantee, the right to bear arms, applies to local and state gun control laws. Justice Samuel Alito, who spoke for the majority, said the right to self defense is fundamental to American civil liberties. The decision is a particular blow to local government in Chicago and Oak Park Illinois, where handguns are essentially banned.
- July 6: The United States Justice Department files a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in protest of its new immigration law, which allows law enforcement professionals to question suspected illegal immigrants of their immigration status. The U.S. government claims that immigration is a federal issue, not to be enforced by state governments, due to the possibility that their laws would interfere with federal cases and issues. July 28: A federal judge blocks key sections of the Arizona immigration law, including law enforcement's ability to request legal documentation of U.S. citizenship from suspected illegal immigrants, and the requirement for immigrants to carry papers at all times. A less controversial version of the immigration enforcement law will still pass.
- July 15: Congress approves a landmark financial regulation bill, strongly supported by President Obama and by and large the Democratic Party. The bill increases the number of companies that will be regulated by government oversight, a panel to watch for risks in the financial system, and a consumer protection agency. Some Democrats and critics argue that the bill is not tough enough; Republicans claim it gives the government too much power in the business sector.
- July 15: Goldman Sachs has agreed to $550 million settlement with the federal government after being accused of misleading investors during the subprime mortgage crisis and housing market collapse. Goldman Sachs reported a profit of $13.39 billion in 2009.
- Aug. 4: A federal judge strikes down the voter-approved gay marriage ban in California, calling the law unconstitutional. Judge Vaughn Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court of the Northern District of California, claims that the law, which was voted into place with 52% of the vote in 2008 as Proposition 8, discriminates against gay men and women. Aug. 12: Judge Walker lifts the stay on the banning of gay marriage in California, allowing same-sex couples to marry while higher courts consider the matter. He delays implementation of the order until August 18, however. Aug. 16: A U.S. appeals court rules that same-sex couples cannot marry in the state of California while the court considers the constitutionality of the ban.
- Aug. 5: The United States Senate votes 63 to 37 to confirm President Obama's most recent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, as the newest Justice. Kagan is only the fourth woman to ever hold this position, and she'll be the third female member of the current bench, joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
- Aug. 31: Seven years after the war in Iraq began, President Obama announces the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a withdrawal of combat troops. Obama emphasizes that U.S. domestic problems, mainly the flailing economy and widespread unemployment, are more pressing matters to his country. The U.S. will continue to be a presence in Iraq, mainly with civilian contractors but also with a smaller military contingent of approximately 50,000 troops. The remaining troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
- Sept. 7: President Obama announces that he will not approve an extension of the Bush-era law that gives a tax break for the wealthy, or those families who earn over $250,000 per year and individuals who earn over $200,000 annually. President George W. Bush passed the tax cuts for those in the higher income bracket in 2001.
- Sept. 16: The percentages of American living below the poverty line, or $10,830 for an individual and $22,050 for a family of four, reached 15-year high in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over 44 million people, or 14.3 percent of Americans, are considered living in poverty. The U.S. is experiencing its worst economic period since the Great Depression.
- Sept. 21: Lawrence Summers, the chief architect of President Obama's economic policy and head of the National Economic Council, is leaving his position with the White House. Several of Obama's top advisors have recently left; the White House says Summers' exit was long planned and that he'll be returning to his tenured position at Harvard.
- Oct. 12: U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, of California, orders the government to stop the enforcement of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Law," which forbids gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces that ending the enforcement of the law so abruptly would have negative effects on the men and women currently serving in the military, though President Obama and his administration officially oppose the law. Gates claims Congress should decide on the validity of the law. The ban has been in place for 17 years. Oct. 20: A federal appeals court temporarily stalls the U.S. district court decision to allow gays to serve openly in the military. The military will continue to enforce the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for the time being.
- Nov. 4: The Republican Party gains control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, but the Democratic party retains the majority in the Senate. Two members of the Tea Party also have victories, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mark Rubio of Florida. Senate majority leader Harry Reid wins his reelection in Nevada and his fellow Democrats win key Senate races across the country; therefore, Reid maintains his leadership position. Representative John Boehner of Ohio is poised to become the new Speaker of the House, replacing Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi of California.
- Nov. 24: Tom Delay, the former House Majority Leader from Texas, is convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering involving corporate campaign contributions. He faces up to 99 years in prison in his sentencing.
- Nov. 30: After surveying 115,000 active-duty and reserve service members in a nine-month study, the Pentagon announces that repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," law, which forbids gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military, will not affect the military's strength. Of those military personnel surveyed, 70 percent believed repealing the law would impact their units in a positive, mixed, or neutral way.
- Dec. 2: The House of Representatives votes 333–79 to censure Representative Charles Rangel (Dem., N.Y.) for ethics violations, including failure to pay income taxes and improperly soliciting donations. Censure is the worst punishment Congress can give to a member, short of expulsion. Rangel is the 23rd member of the House to be censured.
- Dec. 2: The House of Representatives votes 264–157 to pass the child nutrition bill, which expands the scope of the current school lunch program and implements improvements to the overall health of the foods available and provided through that program. The Senate previously passed the bill unanimously. The program will cost approximately $4.5 billion to implement; about half of that budget will be provided by a cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps.
- Dec. 13: Henry Hudson, a federal judge from Virginia, rules that one of the main provisions of the health-care form law is unconstitutional. The ruling claims that under the Commerce Clause, a law requiring all Americans to hold health insurance, as the reform law states, is beyond the regulatory power of the federal government. The judge does not request that the implementation of the act be suspended, however.
- Dec. 18: The Senate votes 65 to 31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era military policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Eight Republicans side with the Democrats to strike down the ban. The repeal is sent to President Obama for his final signature. The ban will not be lifted officially until Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agree that the military is ready to enact the change and that it won't affect military readiness. Dec. 22: President Obama officially repeals the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy.
- Dec. 22: After years of debate and compromise, Congress passes a $4.3 billion health bill for the rescue workers involved in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The bill will cover $1.8 billion in health-care costs for the 60,000 rescue workers registered for monitoring and treatment; the City of New York will pay 10% of the bill's overall costs. The bill will also reopen the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund for five years, which provides money to compensate for job loss.
US GDP (1998 dollars): $14,601 billion
Federal spending: $3,552 billion
Federal debt: $13,050 billion
Cost of a first-class stamp: 44 cents
Super BowlThe New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17
World SeriesThe San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers, 3 games to 1
NBA ChampionshipLos Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, 4 games to three
Stanley CupThe Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 4 games to 2
WimbledonWomen: Serena Williams defeated Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2
Men: Rafael Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
Kentucky Derby ChampionSuper Saver
NCAA Basketball ChampionshipDuke Blue Devils defeated Butler Bulldogs, 61-59
NCAA Football ChampionsAlabama Crimson Tide defeated the Texas Longhorns, 37-21
World CupSpain defeats the Netherlands, 1-0, in the final
- Toy Story 3
- Alice in Wonderland
- Iron Man 2
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt.1
- Despicable Me
- Shrek Forever After
- How to Train Your Dragon
- The Karate Kid
- Recovery , Eminem
- Need You Now, Lady Antebellum
- Speak Now, Taylor Swift
- My World 2.0, Justin Bieber
- The Gift, Susan Boyle
- Fame, Lady Gaga
- Soldier Of Love, Sade
- Thank Me Later, Drake
- Raymond V Raymond, Usher
- Animal, Ke$ha
- Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
- The New Yorker Stories, Ann Beattie
- Room, Emma Donoghue
- Selected Stories, William Trevor
- A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
- Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet, Jennifer Homans
- Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff
- The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee
- Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes, Stephen Sondheim
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
Nobel Prizes in Science
Chemistry: Richard F. Heck (U.S.), Ei-ichi Negishi (U.S.), and Akira Suzuki (Japan) for "palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis"
Physics: Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov (both Russia) for "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene"
Physiology or Medicine: Robert G. Edwards (UK) for "for the development of in vitro fertilization"
- July 21: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists releases new guidelines that are intended to make it easier for women to find doctors and hospitals that perform vaginal deliveries on women who have had Caesarean sections during previous pregnancies. It was once considered a high-risk procedure but now is accepted as safe for a majority of women. The rate of Caesarean sections in the United States was about 32% in 2007, a number many women and doctors alike find alarmingly high.
- Aug. 2: U.S. scientists estimate that the BP oil spill, which occurred after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, has leaked 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf Coast, making it the world's largest oil spill of its kind. It surpassed the 1979 disaster from the Mexican oil rig, Ixtoc I, which leaked 3.3 million barrels of oil. Only about 800,000 barrels of oil have been captured and contained. Aug. 4: Only about 26% of the oil that spilled from the rig is still in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a government report, and poses little risk of harm to people or animal life. The rest has evaporated, dispersed, or been captured and eliminated.
- Sept. 16: The virus in monkeys that predated H.I.V. in humans has been affecting monkeys for over 32,000 thousand years, scientific researchers discover. Scientists previously believed that the monkey virus S.I.V (simian immunodeficiency virus) had only been in existence for a few hundred years. Scientists are still uncertain as to how the virus was initially contracted by humans.
- Nov. 4: A government-financed study finds that current smokers and formerly heavy smokers who receive an annual CT scan of their lungs reduce their risk of dying from lung cancer by 20%. The scans also seem to reduce the risk of dying from other illnesses as well, because other conditions can be detected via the scans. About 157,000 people are expected to die from lung cancer this year.
- Anderson, Sparky
- Baker, Vernon
- Billingsley, Barbara
- Bosley, Tom
- Byrd, Robert
- Carter, Dixie
- Chabrol, Claude
- Clayburgh, Jill
- Coleman, Gary
- Curtis, Tony
- Blake Edwards
- Edwards, Elizabeth
- Gies, Miep
- Haig, Alexander
- Haim, Corey
- Horne, Lena
- McClanahan, Rue
- McQueen, Alexander
- Nielsen, Leslie
- Pendergrass, Teddy
- Penn, Arthur
- Post, Elizabeth
- Redgrave, Lynn
- Salinger, J. D.
- Simmons, Jean
- Steinbrenner, George
- Stevens, Ted
- Udall, Stewart
- Wilson, Charlie
- Wooden, John
- Zinn, Howard