NEW YORK – The year 2005 could be the year of many things: the year of natural disasters, the year of a dawning democracy in Iraq, the year President Bush stumbled in the polls, the year of celebrity marriage — and divorce, the year that gas prices reached staggering new heights, the year many remarkable people passed on, to name a few.
The devastation of the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami in Southeast Asia lasted well into the year, while hundreds of thousands lost their lives in Pakistan and Kashmir when an earthquake ravaged the region. A record 13 Atlantic hurricanes formed in the 2005, and the United States suffered the most devastating natural disaster in more than 80 years when Hurricane Katrina sparked the flooding of New Orleans, only to have Hurricane Rita follow in its wake. The storms exposed flaws in the federal government's emergency response system, with relief efforts delayed by a maze of red tape.
Creating a democracy in Iraq was at the top of President Bush's to-do list as he entered his second term. But as violence plagued the embattled nation throughout the year, the president's approval rating fell to all-time lows, culminating in a call from Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha for a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq. The president's troubles continued at home when Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, withdrew her name from contention.
Hollywood saw many Camelot marriages crumble on the front pages of tabloids with the split of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, as well new romances sprout between Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The new dynamic duos also encouraged celebrity gossip columnists to start new monikers "Brangelina" and "TomKat," much to readers' dismay.
Wall Street sent some major executives — Martha Stewart, Bernie Ebbers and Dennis Kozlowski — packing, but the business story of the year was the skyrocketing price of oil and gasoline. Oil reached a record high of $70.85 a barrel at the end of August, and gasoline prices surged well over $3 a gallon for a while after Hurricane Katrina clobbered the Gulf Coast.
The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu sent medical experts into a frenzy to find a suitable vaccine that could prevent a future pandemic, while the cloning debate marched on as a doctor in South Korea claimed to make advancements in the field when he cloned a dog. He later resigned after his university claimed his research was false.
NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Discovery two-and-a-half years after the fatal Columbia disaster, and a 10th planet was discovered in the outer parts of our solar system. Gamers were thrilled with the launch of Xbox 360 and its high definition graphics and 3D sound system, while iPod freaks welcomed new video and photo technology on their sleek handheld devices.
The world lost a civil rights leader in Rosa Parks, a leader of faith in Pope John Paul II, a late-night entertainer in Johnny Carson, a tenacious journalist in Peter Jennings and a solid force of judgment in Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
It was, to say the least, a remarkable year.
Compiled by Cassie Carothers.