by Mason Santos
A Top 10 ranking of the events/issues of the 2000's so far.
| Top 10 events/issues of the 2000’s
By Levi Grudzinski
10. CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity exposed by the Bush Administration.
In 2003, undisclosed officials of the Bush Administration discussed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters of a newspaper. About a month later, a column was published by Robert Novak discussing how Plame was a CIA operative who worked in the search for weapons of mass destruction. Her identity being leaked meant that she could no longer continue her work and was out of a job. But Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson argued that his wife’s outing was on purpose because of an article he wrote in the New York Times called “What I Didn't Find in Africa" accounting his service in Africa and how he failed to find Iraqi’s producing weapons of mass destruction. That the administration was just getting its revenge on Wilson by hurting Plame and her career. The argument was agreed with by the CIA who sent a letter on September 16th 2003, saying that Plame’s identity was classified, should not have been made public and requested a federal investigation. This was granted and Bush Administration officials Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Richard Armitage were all suspected and examined in the investigation for their parts in the scandal. The only one of them to go on trial was Scooter Libby who, in the trial United States vs. Libby was convicted on four counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. The controversy still continues today with new information constantly being found out.
9. Columbia Space shuttle exploding on reentry into our atmosphere.
Though the space shuttle Columbia was the most space worthy ship NASA had, it didn’t complete its 28th mission. On February 1st, 2003 the Columbia shuttle made radio and video contact with the NASA headquarters. Just minutes later though, contact was lost and reports came in that it had crashed. It had in fact, disengaged during reentry and videos were on the news of the pieces shooting across the sky over Texas. Some early news reports reported that they were meteors, but examination of the vehicle parts on the ground proved that it was the ship. All seven crew members, Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel B. Clark, David M. Brown, Ilan Ramon and Kalpana Chawla were killed. The incident was soon blamed on a piece of insulation foam that had come off of the ship during its takeoff over two weeks earlier. The missing part was thought to have not mattered but was what let in gradual amounts of heat to then burn the shuttle up on reentry. The incident lowered NASA’s image greatly, causing a longer time until the next space mission was launched and for it to reexamine their building procedures.
8. The fight over Abortion
Pro-choice believers feel very strongly that women should have the choice to either have a baby or to expel it with an abortion. And Pro-Life believers feel very strongly that an abortion is killing a human being. Pro-life believers also think that if a woman doesn’t want a baby then she can just give it up for adoption once it is born. But many Pro-Choice believers think that a woman should just simply have the choice and also that it is to traumatic for a woman to have to give up her baby once she has given birth. Never the less, this issue has sparked protest and violence across the country on whether abortions should be allowed or not. Attacks on Abortion clinics in the U.S. have resulted on the deaths of eight people since 1995 and seven injured since 2001.
7. The issue over Gay Marriage.
The question of whether Gay people should be able to get married has been debated greatly in the last six years. Gays and people behind them feel that anyone should have the right to be joined for life, but many religious people feel that marriage is meant for a man and woman as “god intended it to be“. Protests have raged in the U.S. for years, with bills being sent but constantly being thrown out without passing. A huge step for international Gay marriage occurred in 2001 when the Netherlands became the first place to legalize Gay marriage. Then in 2003, U.S. took a step and Massachusetts legalized it, followed by California for a brief period before it was made illegal once again. Today, Belgium, Canada, South Africa and Spain are the only whole countries to have legalized Gay marriage.
6.The Virginia Tech Massacre
The most recent of events on the top ten, the Virginia Tech Massacre was the deadliest single shooting/school shooting in American history. On April 16th 2007, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho entered the school and killed 32 people over the course of two hours, committing suicide to make the death count 33. In reports from students Cho locked students in classrooms with chains and shot them point blank. Cho was a troubled person who moved to America at age 8, and who was majoring in English. But he had been recently accused of stalking female students and was declared mentally ill by the state of Virginia. He apparently became angry at life and at the school and took it out on the school. Cho also took many photos with him posing with weapons on the day of the shooting. Virginia Tech was closed for several days after the shooting and the students grieving was incompressible. This massacre shocked the nation and told people to treat people with respect all the time and no matter what because everyone responds to hurt in different ways.
5. The 2000 Presidential Election
The first critical event of the 2000’s, the 2000 election between Republican Governor of Texas George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore was on of the most controversial elections in American history. On election night, November 7th, 2000, the votes came streaming in with more people voting then any other election in the predicted close race. The race was very close with New Mexico, Oregon and Florida still needing to have their votes counted. Florida was predicted to be one of the closest states for voting. At 7:PM on election night, reports flashed all across the news that Gore had taken Florida and was going to be the next president of the United States. But at 2:30 AM the next day, a report in Florida came that in fact Bush had won, and that the news that Gore had won was wrong because the information was based off of false exit polls. But apparently this second report came in when numerous counties in Florida had not been counted yet, counties that had been believed to have harbored heavily Democratic populations. The election had swayed instantly, and people rejoiced Bush’s win.
What was unique about this election was that it was only the third time in U.S. history that a president had won the election without winning the popular vote. George W. Bush finished with 50,460,116 popular votes, while Al Gore beat him by over half a million, with 51,003,966 votes. But Bush won with the Electoral votes with 270 (a president must have 270 or more to win an election) to Gore’s 266.
The following months of controversy questioned who actually won the election. On January 6th, 2001, Congress met to certify the vote. Twenty Representatives made objections to the system and results of the voting in Florida. But the law stated that “any such objection had to be sponsored by a Representative and a Senator”. No Senators stood up to sponsor any of the objections. Because of no Senators sponsoring the objections, they were all thrown out.
In the case of Bush vs. Gore the Supreme Court ruled that the voting procedures were not out of line in certain counties in Florida then other counties. After numerous recounts, Bush was declared President and sworn in on January 20th, 2001.
4. Hurricane Katrina
The Hurricane that touched down on the southern United States on August 29th, 2005 was the costliest and deadliest natural disaster in American history, with thousands of Louisiana residents still feeling the effects.
After Hurricane Katrina had swept through Mississippi and Louisiana it left a wake of destruction. The highly-touted levee system of New Orleans that had been put in place faltered in an astounding 53 different places causing the city to become 80 percent under water. Tens of thousands were trapped with no food or power. The water was heavily polluted with everything being in it, from waste to chemicals. Crime and looting went unchecked, with 15% of the cities police force gone. With everything under water, many were forced into the only building that wasn’t under water: The Louisiana Superdome. The largest sports stadium in the country was supposed to house tens of thousands for weeks, but the stadium was badly damaged and the environment within the stadium was a hotbed for sickness. Many places in New Orleans, which was almost completely destroyed, will never be the same and its displacement forced thousands to not have homes. All in all, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,863 people and caused over 84 million dollars in damage.
An enormous controversy that surrounded Hurricane Katrina was the lack of an efficient and fast response from the government to help the victims. Criticism came from all over the country, mostly about the delayed response to the flooding in New Orleans which caused a severe unrest in the city while thousands were fighting for survival. Images were shown allover the news, showing people still in New Orleans that were without food, water or shelter. The relief organization FEMA was called upon but was sent days after the initial Hurricane, causing hundreds more to starve to death who were trapped. People who were forced to the Superdome were reportedly mistreated and not enough good or water had been given out.
But what was the argued reason for the delaying relief and mistreatment by the government? With New Orleans having one of the most heavily African-American populations of any American city, many said that the delay was based off racism. 60 percent of the storm deaths were black people.
The transformation that New Orleans went through after the Hurricane and the flooding was so sudden that it shocked and angered Americans across the country.
3. Global Warming
Global is maybe the most non-political debate in the U.S. and world today. The gradual warming of the earth caused by pollution and natural factors (like Volcanoes) has been thought to have contributed to many changes in the word today. Glaciers melting, hotter temperatures and more extreme weather and storms are supposed effects. But many political leaders think that humans are not at all responsible for Global Warming, despite conclusions from scientists. One of the most concrete facts that goes with the earth is warming is that ten hottest years on record have occurred in that last fifteen years, with the hottest recorded in 2005.
2. War in Iraq
After the September 11th Terrorist attacks, the U.S. wanted to pursue suspected Terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden because of his involvement in the attacks. The justification was that Bin Laden and company were constructing weapons of mass destruction. Bin Laden was thought to have been in Iraq or Afghanistan, so on March 20th, 2003 the U.S. occupation of Iraq was launched. The reasons for occupying Iraq when they didn’t have to do with the attack because of Bin Ladens unknown whereabouts were widely criticized and protested. Also President Bush soon turned the war to the liberation of Iraq from the cruel Dictator Saddam Hussein when no weapons of mass destruction were found “We cannot wait until the threat of Saddam Hussein becomes imminent”, was Bush’s quoted reason. The occupation was supposed to be swift and quick, but it just made things grow more chaotic. The war is still going now, with an ever growing U.S. soldier death toll of 3,531 and over 70,000 of Iraqi civilians killed.
1. September 11th World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks
The events of September 11th 2001 completely changed the entire world as we know it. When most people were starting work, two Hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York City. The enormous towers collapsed minutes later. As Fire Fighters and Police Officers raced up the buildings before they collapsed, to try to save the thousands still in the buildings. The Helicopter’s circling the area predicted the towers to collapse but an error in radio frequencies prevented the men from hearing it was collapsing and what resulted was the single greatest single loss of Fire Fighters and Police Officers in American history.
The attacks weren’t confined to New York, there were two more hijacked planes. One, crashed into the Pentagon building and killed many employees. The fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania killing all of the passengers. In all 2,993 people were killed on the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The result of the attacks was vast and overwhelming. The attack was the fueling of the Iraq War, racism towards people with Middle East ethnicity and siding with President Bush from fear of Terrorism.