2005: The year that was
BY JOSEPH PLANTA
Wednesday, 28 December 2005
VANCOUVER - So what kind of year was it? 2005 seemed to be the year when Mother Nature took its toll. Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, fires and hurricanes. Lives were lost and homes displaced. While tragedy seemed to fill the headlines, there were stories of courage and the triumph of the human spirit that seemed to make the sadness and pain slightly more bearable.
The conflict in Iraq continues, with casualties mounting. Elections have taken place, and though things may appear optimistic at this juncture, that hasn't been the case during the year. The trial of Saddam Hussein has made for compelling television for some, and certainly animated photographs for news wire services.
The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in February. Tom Brady seems to have captured public attention, earning status as some sort of media darling. He's hosted Saturday Night Live and he's been profiled on 60 Minutes, where he asked aloud, after three Super Bowl rings, and an actress girlfriend, is that all there is?
The Chicago White Sox won the World Series, and Lance Armstrong retired after winning his seventh Tour de France.
The American legal industry, at least that seen on cable television seemed to have no end in the stories they could cover. Corporate crooks still made the headlines, the folks from WorldCom and the sort received indictments and more. Martha Stewart left prison and made a splash on television. There was the BTK killer Dennis Rader being apprehended to Scott Peterson, not to mention Michael Jackson, the harrowing saga of Terri Schiavo, the trial and acquittal of Robert Blake, the Scooter Libby and Tom Delay indictments, as well as the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. The Crip got the drip, when the so-called reformed gang leader refused to show any remorse to the killing of four in the 1970's.
In Canada, some were gripped to the Gomery Commission's sessions, and the political world was rocked with the release of the first report from Justice John Gomery, which in fact triggered the federal election campaign. There was also the release of Karla Homolka from prison, which angered many. The Air India verdict in March angered many as well. Same sex marriage was legalised in Canada in the year 2005.
Canadian political watchers, not to mention gossipmongers salivated at the news that Conservative pols Peter MacKay and Belinda Stronach were getting it on. Then she dumps him in lieu of a cabinet post in the Liberal government. He retreated to a potato patch to sulk, while she was derided for selling out. She claims it was because she's a woman, others think it's because she was a rat.
A marriage that seemed to gain much attention was that between Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire. Why it did, perhaps has to do with the Canadian media's fascination for anything related to Trudeau.
MichaŽlle Jean became Canada's newest Governor General, not without controversy. Whether she was a separatist or not was what many asked. How would it be that she had once toasted sovereignty with avowed separatists, when she would now seek to represent The Queen in Canada.
Royal watchers witnessed the wedding of Charles and Camilla. The Prince of Wales married his long-time love, who was duly titled The Duchess of Cornwall. Their wedding was postponed one day due to the Pope's funeral. His Royal Highness was forced to move his wedding date when it was deemed ill-advised to marry the same day a beloved pontiff was laid to rest. At the funeral, which he attended for his Mum, he was embarrassed some more when Robert Mugabe, sitting in the same row, reached over to shake the Prince's hand. The Prince was trapped; Mugabe got a good laugh at embarrassing the royal. Joseph Ratzinger succeeded John Paul II as Pope, after being elected by the College of Cardinals. Ratzinger elected to be styled Benedict XVI.
In Great Britain, Tony Blair was re-elected to his third majority government, albeit largely reduced. France faced race riots.
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith broke records at the box office in the spring, while this winter King Kong did the same. Musicians and other musical artists gathered throughout the world for Live 8, a public attempt to pressure world leaders to forgive third world debt. Bono took centre stage, while Sir Bob Geldof put the extravaganza together.
Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female justice of the United States Supreme Court wrote to the President wishing to resign her seat. The President appoints John Roberts to succeed her, but just as he's about to be confirmed, the Chief Justice, William Rehnquist dies. So, Roberts takes the Rehnquist seat, not to mention the top job, while O'Connor remains on the court pending the advice and consent of the Senate for the President's nominee, Samuel Alito. Alito was a replacement for Hariet Miers, who bowed out of contention after it was evident that she couldn't take the heat of a fierce grilling from Senators from the Democratic side, let alone those from the President's own Republican party.
After the devastating tsunami of December 2004, and its terrible wake, there were earthquakes which killed many. Then there were the hurricanes, namely Katrina which overwhelmed New Orleans and the federal government's response.
George W. Bush, re-elected in 2004 and sworn in for a second term in January 2005, lost a bit of lustre, what with his administration's blasť and incompetent response to Katrina. Add to his woes the indictment of senior aide Scooter Libby, high gas prices, and a war in Iraq which was being discounted and derided by many.
David Dingwall was relieved of his duties as head of the Canadian Mint. There was controversy that involved the doughnut chain of Tim Horton's. Another Liberal patronage plum that went rotten was that doled to VIA Rail head Jean Pelletier. The Martin government had to fire him. Restitution will be sought no doubt.
Marc Emery the media grazing prince of pot was indicted by the Americans, while hockey returned after a lengthy absence.
Andre Boisclair succeeded Bernard Landry as leader of the soverigntist Parti Quebecois. Many made mention of Boisclair's past use of cocaine, while his homosexuality was hardly mentioned. All the while, the homosexuality of foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew was the subject of many intimations.
Vancouver got a new mayor in Sam Sullivan. His being paraplegic was a bit of an issue he himself seized on in the beginning of the campaign, however it quickly took a back seat to the controversy over whether he had anything to do with the candidacy of independent James Green. Ironic that Green gets so many votes while Sullivan's main competitor is named Jim Green.
In Hollywood news, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston broke up. She took the offensive posing for many magazine covers, as well as being fodder for the gossip mags with her own photos with co-star Vince Vaughn. Pitt on the other hand was making house with Angelina Jolie, who was also a co-star.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes hooked up, making the world raise their collective eyebrows, if not make their collective eyes roll. Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson broke up, while Ashlee Simpson demonstrates regularly why she's largely irrelevant in the entertainment business. Oh and Britney Spears had a baby.
The world of American television mourned the deaths of Johnny Carson and Peter Jennings, both due to smoking. Carson defined late night television by defying the attempts of many a network to mount its own pretenders to the late night crown worn by Carson in his 30 years as host of the Tonight Show on NBC.
Late last year, NBC's Tom Brokaw stepped down as anchor of his network's evening newscast. Dan Rather had to step down amid controversy over his handling of a CBS expose over the President's National Guard service. Jennings remained, but only shortly before losing a battle with lung cancer. His ABC news colleague Ted Koppel also bid farewell to the network after a long and illustrious 42-year career, vacating the anchor position at Nightline.
Conrad Black continued to face legal woes. The same week Scooter Libby was indicted, the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Canada's infamous British press baron in the United States. While investigating Libby and his entanglement with former New York Times reporter Judith Miller over the Valerie Plame CIA leak, it was later revealed that Bob Woodward was involved somehow. Woodward who made a career cultivating high level and oh so secretive sources played a too close role in the Miller case, and so took some knocks for not being totally forthcoming with his editors at the Washington Post. Too bad for Woodward who was finishing his victory lap with the revelation that W. Mark Felt was his famous Watergate source, Deep Throat. After many years, it was Vanity Fair in 2005 that revealed the famous Woodward and Bernstein source that helped bring down Richard Nixon.
And that's the kind of year it was - 2005.
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