2018 Year in Review: U.S. News
Updated January 9, 2019 | Infoplease Staff
Top events for the nation in 2018
- The #MeToo movement remained a driving force in the cultural and political worlds. The preeminence of the movement was reaffirmed on January 19 when Dr. Larry Nassar, a doctor who worked with the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team, was accused of over 250 instances of sexual assault against minors. The 55-year-old Nassar pleaded guilty on several of the charges, and now faces sixty years in jail. The rise in cultural awareness of sexual abuse continued throughout the year, coming to a head with the intense political firestorm surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, resulting in a tense hearing that drew national scrutiny.
- Photo source: Flickr/Elvert Barnes
- Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress
Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress
- Tech industry titan Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress over a massive scandal wherein Facebook sold personal information to the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The company used this information for the benefit of several campaigns in the 2016 elections. The testimony arrived at a time of national interest and fear over foreign intervention in U.S. elections. Zuckerberg's testimony resulted in criminal investigations of Cambridge Analytica which revealed other highly questionable behavior. Less than a month after Zuckerberg took the podium, Cambridge Analytica closed down. The whole affair increased public criticism of Facebook, which detractors partly blame for the country's deteriorating political climate due to the unchecked spread of false news sources.
- Photo source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
- U.S. Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal
U.S. Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal
- Although hailed by many, especially on the left, as a diplomatic triumph, the Trump administration chose to revoke U.S. support for the Iran Nuclear Deal on May 8. The deal permitted the country to perform nuclear testing for non-military application. The deal was meant to relieve tensions surrounding Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons capability, and to promote a detente between the West and the famously anti-Western country. Even as the administration pursued peace with North Korea, they claimed that Iran was disingenuous in its nuclear research, and held the Islamic Republic accountable for many of the issues in the Middle East.
- Photo source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
- Government Levies Tariffs on Longtime Trade Partners
Government Levies Tariffs on Longtime Trade Partners
- On June 1, the United States undertook one of its largest economic pivots under the Trump administration when the President signed off on steep tariffs against imports on steel and aluminum. These tariffs extended to several of the nation’s largest and most important trade partners, including the EU and Canada. International leaders decried the move as an act of economic aggression, while the administration’s base largely applauded the move as the largest step in the president’s promised protectionist policy. Since the 1990s, U.S. economic and trade policy has largely centered around the free movement of goods and services, and many economists in the country disapprove of the changes to the economic landscape.
- Photo source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
- FCC Phases Out Net Neutrality
FCC Phases Out Net Neutrality
- The FCC, typically a government agency that operates well behind the scenes, catapulted into the public eye with a proposal to phase out net neutrality back in 2017. Net neutrality, or (simplified) the idea that bandwidth be equally accessible to different websites, became one of the most hotly debated topics on the web. The FCC repealed net neutrality at the end of that year, but groups in Congress attempted to preserve the policy through 2018. A Senate resolution offered a glimpse of hope for net neutrality advocates. However, on June 11, the resolution failed to pass the House of Representatives. This failure for the federal government to intervene resulted in the changes taking effect. Individual states began to pass net neutrality rules later in the year.
- Photo source: Gage Skidmore
- U.S.-North Korea Diplomatic Talks
U.S.-North Korea Diplomatic Talks
- Between June 10 and June 12, President Donald Trump participated in a widely covered and discussed diplomatic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea has been one of the largest areas of concern for U.S. foreign policy for decades. North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons added a major sense of urgency to relations between the two nations, spurred on by slant threats against U.S. safety. Many were pleased by the proposed détente with the nuclear power, though some in the national security community and the public were wary. No firm commitments came out of the talks, but they marked a symbolic shift in U.S.-North Korean relations.
- Photo source: Office of the President
- Apple Reaches $1 Trillion in Value
Apple Reaches $1 Trillion in Value
- Silicon Valley reached a new milestone on Aug. 3 as tech company Apple was valued at over $1 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so. 2018 was a big year for the tech industry, which grew hand over fist and took over a larger and larger share of public life. Apple would be joined by online retail and shipping giant Amazon in September, and forecasts predict Microsoft to join this highest echelon in early 2019.
- Photo source: Wikimedia/Daniel L. Lu
- California Faces Intense Wildfires
California Faces Intense Wildfires
- Amidst increasing public discussion of global climate change, California faced its deadliest and most damaging wildfire season in history. Nearly 9,000 wildfires burned around 1.9 million acres of land, concentrated mostly during the summer and the month of November. The fires resulted in over $3.5 billion in damages, and the deaths of 104 people. Researchers found many indicators that the wildfire season was aggravated by climate change, an issue that would continue to grow as the global temperature rises. Research also confirmed, however, that humans are most often the direct cause of fires rather than indirectly through emissions; campfires, tossed cigarettes, collapsed power lines, and more were behind a majority of the fires, and public officials hope to combat future wildfires through sound policy and oversight.
- Photo source: Wikimedia/Cyclonebiskit
- Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History Begins
Longest Government Shutdown in U.S. History Begins
- Toward the tail end of 2018, Congress approved small-scale appropriations bills to fund most of the government. President Donald Trump, facing pressure to fulfill campaign promises, requested $5.7 billion in funding to begin work on his proposed border wall. When Senate Democrats counter with a smaller $1.6 billion for a border fence in a specific area of the border, the president initiated a partial shutdown of the government. The shutdown would continue for several weeks, becoming the longest in U.S. history on January 12, 2019. During the shutdown, nearly a million federal employees stop receiving pay, and either work for no compensation or are furloughed. The shutdown marked perhaps the largest government conflict over immigration since the hotly disputed travel ban.
- Photo source: Office of the President
- More from 2018 Year in Review