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2018 News of the Year

Agony and ecstasy—12 months of turmoil, disaster, death, rescue, victory, and celebration

2018 News of the Year

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh arrives before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 27 to answer questions about sexual misconduct accusations against him. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP)

Hasan Mohamed/AFP/Getty

Victims of the Jan. 22 attack (Hasan Mohamed/AFP/Getty)

Syrian violence

A Jan. 22 gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma that led to 21 cases of suffocation was one of many gas attacks during 2018 in war-torn Syria. The Syrian government has faced multiple accusations from Western nations of staging chemical attacks during the country’s seven-year civil war. Syria and its ally Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations and blamed rebel groups instead. Declassified U.S. intelligence documents, however, charge that the Syrian government was responsible even for a November gas attack on the government-held city of Aleppo, in what the documents called a false flag operation to throw suspicion on the opposition.

Turning Tide

Although Alabama lost its No. 1 ranking following a loss to Auburn and could not play for the Southeastern Conference championship, the Crimson Tide still made it into the College Football Playoff as a No. 4 seed. Alabama beat No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in the semifinals and then outlasted No. 3 Georgia in the Jan. 8 national championship game with a thrilling 26-23 overtime win. It was Alabama’s fifth title in the last nine years.

Flight from Venezuela

Venezuelan travelers lined up on the Simón Bolívar International Bridge in February, hoping to cross into Colombia as tens of thousands of Venezuelans continued a mass flight from the once-richest nation in Latin America. By November, the United Nations estimated 3 million people had fled Venezuela since 2015 in an exodus on par with the refugee crisis in Syria. For those remaining in Venezuela, misery deepened: Decades of socialist rule left the economy collapsing, and President Nicolás Maduro defiantly refused outside aid, despite extreme shortages of food, medicine, and other basic supplies. Refugees along the border sold crafts woven from Venezuela’s worthless currency, and economists predicted the nation’s inflation rate could hit 1 million percent by year-end.

Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty

Mourners in Parkland, Fla. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty)

Parkland shooting

Seventeen students and teachers were killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., near the end of the school day on Feb. 14. Those killed included assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 37, who died while shielding students from bullets, and geography teacher Scott Beigel, 35, who was gunned down after unlocking and opening his classroom door to let in fleeing students. In March a grand jury indicted Cruz on 17 counts of first-degree murder.

Historic victory

Quarterback Nick Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass on his way to becoming MVP of Super Bowl LII as the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots in a 41-33 record-setting win on Feb. 4. The teams combined for 1,151 yards, the most in any game in NFL history. Foles had been a backup most of the season until Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury in December. Foles, an outspoken Christian, said he had almost retired from the NFL after losing his starting job with the Rams in 2015 but decided to continue playing: “I leaned on my wife, I leaned on my family, I leaned on my faith in those moments.” The Eagles’ first-ever Super Bowl win prompted a night of such riotous celebration in Philadelphia that city police reportedly requested assistance from Homeland Security and the National Guard.

Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Diggins (left) celebrates as she crosses the finish line. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

Winter Games

South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics for the first time in February, games that played against a backdrop of political reconciliation between North and South Korea. South Korean and North Korean athletes marched together in the opening ceremony and played as teammates in women’s hockey. Still, U.S. leaders expressed concern throughout the games about North Korea’s nuclear program. Norway topped the medal board with a total of 39 gold, silver, and bronze medals, while the United States had a disappointing haul of 23. But American stars emerged, such as snowboarders Red Gerard and Chloe Kim and cross country skier Jessie Diggins, who pulled off a dramatic finish to clinch the first U.S. women’s gold in the sport. Russian athletes competed, but not under the Russian flag because of sanctions over the country’s many doping scandals.

Evgeny Yepanchintsev/Sputnik/AP

A Putin campaign billboard. (Evgeny Yepanchintsev/Sputnik/AP)

Reign of power

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s overwhelming reelection victory on March 18 garnered nearly 77 percent of the vote and set Putin up for another six years in office. First elected to the presidency in 2000, Putin’s win over seven minor candidates this year came after the government banned his strongest opponent, Alexei Navalny, from running for office because of a fraud conviction widely viewed as politically motivated. It also came in spite of international outrage over Putin’s suspected role in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter, Yulia, in England on March 4. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats soon after the attack, and Russia in turn expelled 23 British diplomats. The United States declared sanctions against Russia over the poisonings later in the year, although in July President Donald Trump had a congenial meeting with Putin in Finland and downplayed charges of Russian meddling in American elections.

President for life

On March 11, the National People’s Congress voted to abolish presidential term limits, which allows President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. Former leader Deng Xiaoping put the two-term limit in place in 1982 to prevent a repeat of Chairman Mao Zedong’s authoritarian rule. Two other constitutional amendments passed at the Congress: the addition of Xi Jinping Thought to the constitution and the creation of “supervisory commissions” to investigate party members. Xi, who is also the head of the Communist Party and the military, has consolidated more power than any Chinese leader since Mao.

Florida bridge collapse

The collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University killed six and injured eight on March 15. The 950-ton bridge section crushed eight vehicles on the seven-lane highway below, and witnesses said the sound of the collapse was like bombs exploding. Construction workers began assembling the bridge a week before, using “accelerated bridge construction”: They built large sections of the bridge and transported them to the location to reduce construction over the highway. In November, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Highway Administration reported the preliminary results of their investigation. The report mentions two design flaws but does not blame them for the collapse. The investigation will finish next year.

Andrew Kasuku/AP

A rescue boat evacuates villagers in Kenya. (Andrew Kasuku/AP)

Kenyan floods

Seasonal rains that began in March in Kenya stirred up months of flooding that killed some 150 people and displaced over 300,000 others. In Nakuru County, the deluge caused a dam to burst, killing at least 44 people and wiping out nearly an entire village. Flooding destroyed more than 28,000 acres of farmland across seven counties and also ruined schools, roads, and markets. Aid groups and the Kenyan air force worked to airlift stranded residents, while some rescuers evacuated villagers by boat. The rains started to subside in June, but affected communities continued to battle disease outbreaks, with some lacking access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Mark Black/Daily Herald via AP

Hybels announces his retirement. (Mark Black/Daily Herald via AP)

Hybels steps down

Willow Creek Community Church founding pastor Bill Hybels on April 10 announced his early retirement after the Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today published accounts from several women who accused him of sexual misconduct and harassment. In August Hybels’ former executive assistant Pat Baranowski told The New York Times he had fondled her, had oral sex with her, and forced her to watch pornography. Hybels denied all of the women’s accusations. Yet after Baranowski shared her story, two Willow Creek lead pastors resigned in response, along with the entire board of elders, who acknowledged they had mishandled the allegations. An independent committee is now investigating Hybels further.

Alfie Evans dies

After a monthslong court battle, Britain’s High Court sided with doctors who wanted to remove life support from terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans, despite his parents wishes. Alfie, who had a degenerative neurological condition, died on April 28, several days after doctors removed his ventilator. “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30,” his father, Tom Evans, wrote in a Facebook post. He and Alfie’s mother, Kate James, lost appeal after appeal in court for the right to transfer their 23-month-old son to a hospital that would continue his treatment. While British High Court Judge Anthony Hayden said “life itself has intrinsic value, however tenuous or vestigial its hold,” his pro-death ruling spoke louder.

Greitens resigns

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced his resignation on May 29, 17 months into his scandal-plagued tenure. The Republican governor had previously admitted engaging in an extramarital affair before taking office. Then in April a St. Louis prosecutor charged Greitens with a felony related to the use of a charity donor list in campaign fundraising, and in May the Missouri Legislature convened a special session to consider whether to impeach the governor.

Raúl retires

Raúl Castro waved adios to the Cuban presidency on April 19, bringing an end to nearly six decades of Castro rule in Cuba. Raúl took over the highest office from his brother, Fidel, a decade ago, and retired in April at age 87. His successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel, was born a year after Fidel Castro grabbed power during the 1959 revolution that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The new president wasn’t expected to usher in a revolution of his own: He is a Communist Party loyalist and Raúl’s hand-picked successor.

Aaron Chown/AFP/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Aaron Chown/AFP/Getty Images)

Royal nuptials

A castle, a wedding, and a kiss: Britain’s Prince Harry, 33, and his bride, Meghan Markle, 36, exchanged vows during a marriage ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle near London on May 19. Over 2,600 guests attended the wedding, where Markle, wearing a diamond tiara and a 16-foot-long veil, became the first American to marry into the royal family since 1937. The California-born writer and actress was previously known for her role in the TV series Suits. Royalty-watchers can anticipate another addition to the royal family next spring: The happy couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a baby.

Ireland embraces abortion

Pro-abortion activists in Ireland claimed victory on May 26 as voters in the country overwhelmingly repealed one of Europe’s strongest constitutional protections for unborn babies. Around 70 percent of Irish voters opted to repeal the country’s Eighth Amendment that granted unborn babies the same legal rights as their mothers. The amendment, which had passed in 1983 with the support of 67 percent of Ireland’s voters, effectively prevented all abortions except when the mother’s life was at risk. In December, Ireland’s Parliament, which supported the repeal effort, voted to allow abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in some cases after 12 weeks. Lawmakers defeated amendments meant to protect the conscience rights of doctors, provide parental notification for minors seeking abortions, and restrict taxpayer funding of abortion.

Embassy move

The United States celebrated the opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem with a May 14 ceremony attended by Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and four U.S. senators. Israel had long claimed Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while Palestinians have long said East Jerusalem will serve as their future capital. Mnuchin said it was a “national security priority” for the United States to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “bold decision.” Violence at the Gaza border marred the celebrations, as demonstrators burned tires and, according to Israeli authorities, assaulted the border fence. At least 41 Palestinians died from Israeli gunfire as the Israelis prevented border breaches. The demonstrations and the U.S. Embassy ceremony coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel as an independent nation.

L.E. Baskow/AP

Lava from the Kilauea volcano flows in and around Pahoa, Hawaii. (L.E. Baskow/AP)

Hawaiian eruption

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted on May 6, forcing thousands of evacuations and destroying 700 homes as lava slowly engulfed entire neighborhoods. More than 12 squares miles of land were covered with lava, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency. It also added 690 acres of land to the big island, filled Hawaii’s largest freshwater lake, and even created a tiny new island as lava flowed underwater. In July, a flying chunk of molten rock struck a tour boat and injured 23 people. The eruption also caused thousands of earthquakes. Kilauea, which has been active since 1983, started to simmer down in August.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jack Phillips (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Liberty defended

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Masterpiece Cake Shop baker Jack Phillips, a Christian who has refused to make custom gay wedding cakes on religious grounds. (Phillips has said he would sell generic cakes to gay couples.) The substance of the ruling was narrow, only deciding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Phillips’ religious exercise in this particular instance. The high court punted on deciding the larger issue of religious vendors refusing to provide custom services for gay weddings, and the commission has continued to pursue action against Phillips in separate complaints against him.

NBA dynasty

The Golden State Warriors captured their third NBA title in four years by sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in June’s NBA Finals. Kevin Durant averaged 28.75 points, 10.75 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game in the finals to win his second consecutive finals MVP trophy. The Warriors’ Stephen Curry scored 37 points in Game 4.

Triple Crown

The 3-year-old Justify, a chestnut colt, and his jockey Mike Smith had a historic year, going undefeated in six races and winning the rare Triple Crown by dominating the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Only one other horse has gone undefeated and won the Triple Crown—Seattle Slew in 1977—and Smith, 52, became the oldest jockey to win a Triple Crown. Justify’s owners announced in July that the horse would retire from racing because of fluid in his ankle. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat,” said Smith, calling Justify “a gift from God.”

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong Un. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Korean diplomacy

In front of North Korean and U.S. flags, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands on June 12, the first time leaders of the two countries met. At the historic Singapore summit, Trump and Kim spoke for five hours before signing a joint declaration wherein Kim pledged to “reaffirm his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while Trump agreed to “provide security guarantees.”

Charlie Riedel/AP

Mourners in Missouri (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Duck boat deaths

A sudden storm sank a duck boat on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., on July 19. Seventeen of the 31 passengers died in the accident, including nine members of one Indiana family. Later in July a grand jury charged the boat’s captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, with neglect of duty by a ship’s officer, resulting in death. McKee allegedly ignored the risk of dangerous weather and did not prepare passengers to abandon ship or tell them to put on floatation devices in the storm. The family of nine victims is suing the duck boat’s operator, Ripley Entertainment, for $100 million. Forty-two people have died from duck boat accidents since 1999.

France victorious

France snagged its second World Cup victory on July 15, capping the games in St. Petersburg, Russia, with a 4-2 win against Croatia. France defeated Belgium 1-0 to qualify for the finals, while Croatia unexpectedly defeated England after scoring a tiebreaker to win 2-1. Kylian Mbappé, a 19-year-old French player, was the French team’s youngest player and the first teenager in 60 years to score a goal in a final game.

Cave rescue

Thai navy SEAL divers rescued 12 members of a boys’ soccer team and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand, where flooding trapped them on June 23. The team went exploring after a game, and an unexpected rainfall left them stranded. The divers completed the rescue on July 10, but one former Thai SEAL who volunteered died during the operation.

David Goldman/AP

Bob Richling carries Iris Darden, 84, out of her flooded home. (David Goldman/AP)

‘1,000-year storm’

After strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Florence weakened to Category 1 before hitting the East Coast, where more than 1 million residents had been ordered to evacuate. On land, the hurricane slowed to a crawl and unleashed trillions of gallons of rain, setting tropical storm rainfall records in both North Carolina (35.9 inches) and South Carolina (23.6 inches). The subsequent flooding blocked highways and stranded hundreds of residents and motorists who had to be rescued from homes and vehicles. Officials in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Florida blamed more than 50 deaths on the storm, many due to drowning.

Win McNamee/AP

Christine Blasey Ford (Win McNamee/AP)

Court battle

A Supreme Court nomination turned into a supreme crisis in September, as California professor Christine Blasey Ford accused high court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high-school party in the 1980s. Ford and Kavanaugh testified during an excruciating hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27. Weeks earlier, Kavanaugh’s nomination had begun on a raucous note: Capitol Hill police arrested nearly two dozen protesters interrupting the first morning of the hearing on Sept. 4. Kavanaugh vehemently denied Ford’s claims when they became public and decried how the process had unfolded. An additional FBI inquiry didn’t produce evidence or witnesses to corroborate Ford’s claims, and the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on Oct. 6.

Cosby sentenced

On Sept. 25, a judge sentenced 81-year-old comedian Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in prison for the 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand, one of many women to accuse the superstar entertainer of assault. Cosby is the first celebrity to go to prison over #MeToo-era allegations. Cosby had paid Constand $3.38 million in a civil settlement in 2006. Constand was able to publicly release Cosby’s deposition in 2015, leading to criminal charges, but a 2017 trial ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial. Prosecutors decided to retry the case this year, and the judge allowed the introduction of more evidence. A jury found Cosby guilty in April.

Japanese disaster

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Sept. 6 killing 41 people and injuring 691. The quake followed Typhoon Jebi, which made landfall in western Japan days earlier and was the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in a quarter of a century. The quake triggered dozens of landslides and widespread disruption of infrastructure. The quake also damaged the island’s power plant, cutting off electricity to 3 million households, stopping trains, and affecting hospitals. Thirty-six of the deaths occurred in the town of Atsuma, where entire hillsides collapsed and buried houses under dirt, rocks, and timber.

Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

The caravan, after crossing the Guatemalan border into Mexico (Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

Border challenge

Thousands of Central American migrants formed a caravan crossing into Mexico from Guatemala on Oct. 21. By late November, some 6,000 migrants had reached the U.S. border near Tijuana, Mexico. President Trump deployed thousands of U.S. troops to assist border patrol ahead of the migrants’ arrivals, and he announced a policy to bar migrants from seeking asylum if they enter the United States illegally. A federal judge blocked the plan. Border patrol agents worked to turn back migrants seeking to breach the U.S. border, and the mayor of Tijuana said his city couldn’t manage the influx of thousands encamped in a sports complex. The crisis promised to last into the New Year.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Aftermath of Hurricane Michael on the Florida coast (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Hurricane Michael

After wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, Hurricane Michael moved on to menace the United States on Oct 10. Michael swelled to a Category 4 storm overnight and made landfall near Mexico Beach, Fla., with sustained winds of 155 mph. The storm remained a hurricane for almost 200 miles inland as it thrashed the Florida Panhandle and southeastern United States with rain, wind, and flash flooding. Michael took 39 lives and caused an estimated $8 billion in insured damages in the United States.

David J. Phillip/AP

The Red Sox celebrate. (David J. Phillip/AP)

Sox win again

World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit two home runs on Oct. 28 in the decisive fifth game of the series to lead the Boston Red Sox to victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Sox won the series four games to one, with the Dodgers gaining their only victory in an 18-inning game. The Red Sox had defeated the 100-win Yankees and the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the playoffs before facing the Dodgers. This was the Sox’s fourth World Series title since 2004.

Marijuana gains ground

Canada’s first legal marijuana dispensaries threw open their doors on Oct. 17 when Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize marijuana. The country previously legalized medical marijuana in 2011, and has spent the last two years gearing up for expanding the legal market. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed legalization would curb the black market and keep marijuana away from underage users. Canadians as young as 18 can now legally purchase the drug in Alberta and Quebec. Other provinces set the minimum purchasing age at 19. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 52-29 and will allow adults to carry up to 30 grams of pot. It is still illegal to carry marijuana across international borders, including if travelers are headed to any of the nine U.S. states that have legalized it.

Brunson released

A Turkish court on Oct. 12 found guilty but freed American Pastor Andrew Brunson with credit for time served on phony charges of terrorism and espionage, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church missionary immediately returned to the United States. Brunson, originally from Black Mountain, N.C., lived in Turkey for 23 years and pastored Izmir Resurrection Church. Jailed in 2016 in the wake of a failed military coup, Brunson found himself catapulted to the center of global headlines and U.S.-Turkey relations. Witnesses initially claimed his congregation made bombs for terror attacks and that members of terror groups hid in his church. The United States levied economic sanctions against Turkey in July over Brunson’s captivity, and Turkish authorities then released him from prison and placed him under house arrest. Witnesses against him reversed their testimony at a dramatic hearing on the day of his release. In November, the U.S. government lifted sanctions against Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in response to Brunson’s release. During Brunson’s captivity, thousands of Christians mobilized in congregations as far removed as Brazil, Israel, and China to pray for his freedom.

Matt Rourke/AP

The Tree of Life Synagogue (Matt Rourke/AP)

Synagogue shooting

On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers, 46, allegedly shot and killed eight men and three women and wounded six people during a shooting spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Anti-Defamation League called it the deadliest-ever attack on Jews in the United States. Bowers, a truck driver with no prior criminal record, allegedly carried out his attack with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns, and his victims ranged in age from 54 to 97. Police reportedly shot Bowers multiple times before arresting him, and they say he declared after his arrest, “I just want to kill Jews.” Bowers pleaded not guilty to charges that could bring the death penalty after a grand jury indicted him on 44 counts of murder, hate crimes, and other offenses.

Saudi murdered

The Oct. 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey, became an international incident that threatens U.S.-Saudi relations. Saudi authorities insist Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had nothing to do with the murder, but both Turkish authorities and the CIA say he ordered the dismemberment killing. “There’s not a smoking gun—there’s a smoking saw,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham after the CIA briefed him on the case. President Trump, meanwhile, defended bin Salman and said the evidence wasn’t clear enough to link him to the murder.

Asia Bibi

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Oct. 31 acquitted Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, of blasphemy. Her 2010 charge carried a death sentence. The court’s three-judge panel said prosecutors did not prove Bibi violated the law that bans blasphemy against Islam, Pakistan’s state religion. She first faced accusations in 2009 after a disagreement over sharing water with two of her Muslim co-workers on a farm. Hard-line Islamists staged nationwide protests calling for her death. They also filed a petition challenging the ruling. Saiful Malook, one of Bibi’s lawyers, said she implored Western nations to provide her and her family with visas to allow them leave the country.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Mourners in California (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Bar shooting

Thirteen people including the gunman died in a mass shooting at the crowded Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 7. Witnesses said the shooter, 28-year-old Ian David Long, was dressed in a black hood and used some sort of smoke device before opening fire with a handgun on the hundreds of patrons in the bar. The shooting happened during the bar’s regular Wednesday college night, and victims included students from nearby Pepperdine University and California Lutheran University. Another victim was Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, who was shot while responding.

WWI anniversary

World leaders traveled to Paris on Nov. 11 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. French President Emmanuel Macron used the occasion to condemn the growth of nationalist movements around the world in a speech at the Arc de Triomphe. “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism, nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” he said in a speech promoting a globalist worldview and the work of international institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations. The speech was part of a week of events in France marking the centenary of the armistice.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

Supporters of Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., celebrate his victory. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Democratic gains

It wasn’t the blue wave some had predicted, but Democrats made major gains in U.S. elections on Nov. 6. The party took back the U.S. House of Representatives, succeeding particularly among women voters in the suburbs. House Democrats selected Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to return to her position as Speaker of the House, and they vowed to launch a slate of investigations into the Trump administration. But Republicans had their own celebrations: They retained control of the Senate, flipping four Democratic-held seats to GOP control and winding up with 53 seats. That’s enough to put Republicans comfortably in control of filling federal judicial appointments, and it could pave a smoother confirmation path for any Supreme Court justices President Trump may be called on to nominate before 2020.

Noah Berger/AP

Aftermath of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. (Noah Berger/AP)

California ablaze

The fast-moving Camp Fire burned through nearly 220 square miles of Northern California in early November, killing at least 88 people, destroying 14,000 homes, and leaving the town of Paradise in ashes. The fire was the most destructive in California history, and it was followed later in the month by flash flooding that hit the same area.

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP

NASA engineers celebrate. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP)

New arrival

NASA celebrated the safe landing of the InSight spacecraft on the surface of Mars on Nov. 26 following its six-month voyage to the Red Planet. The agency’s $850 million mission is meant to study the geology of Mars, including the size and composition of its core. Equipped with powerful sensors, InSight will record tremors on Mars (“marsquakes” and meteorite impacts), measure the planet’s rotational wobble, and probe up to 16 feet beneath the Martian surface using a burrowing instrument (previous landers have probed only a few inches). NASA hopes the mission will last until at least November 2020—about one Martian year from now.

French protests

Only weeks after delivering a prominent speech touting international organizations and a globalist focus, French President Emmanuel Macron faced a crisis at home that was brought on by a celebrated international agreement—the Paris climate accord. The sometimes violent “yellow vests” protests began in late November over a planned fuel tax imposed by the French government that was meant to fight man-made climate change. The protests expanded to include pension, minimum wage, and other tax issues. The protests expanded in December, even as Macron offered concessions to the protesters. At least 135,000 people attended protests across the country on Dec. 8. Rioters vandalized shops in Paris, and riot police used tear gas and water cannons to gain control. Nearly 1,000 demonstrators were arrested, the majority for bearing weapons such as knives, tear gas, and metal balls used in the French lawn game pétanque. At least 135 people sustained injuries.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bush lies in state. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Remembering Bush

The nation mourned the death of George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States in December. Bush lay in state at the U.S. Capitol prior to a funeral attended by President Donald Trump and all four living former presidents and foreign dignitaries such as Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and King Abdullah II of Jordan. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and presidential historian Jon Meacham joined Bush’s eldest son, the 43rd president of the United States, in giving eulogies.

—This story has been updated to correct the listed weight of the collapsed Florida International University bridge section, and to correct the described length of Castro rule in Cuba.

The Editors

The Editors


    Posted: Fri, 12/14/2018 10:42 pm

    A student from Baylor university negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors. The student was accused of rape. The student was expelled from Baylor and even booted from the fraternity yet he was able to transfer to a UT system college where the gaining registrar didn't know or didn't care about the alleged rape. The student will receive a degree and thus be an alumnus yet he will not be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies. 

    Still not sure how best to analyze the matter of Jacob Anderson. He was never  convicted of the crime and evidently met all the degree requirements.

  • Xion's picture
    Posted: Thu, 12/27/2018 04:46 am

    What this year and every year should teach us is that no matter how nutty liberals seem to be this year, next year will be much worse.  Their secular statist religion that tries to create the perfect society, i.e. heaven on earth always leads to hell on earth.  The road Sodom and Gomorrah is paved with good intentions. 

  • LindaLee
    Posted: Thu, 02/07/2019 11:08 am

    Nice rundown of the year, but you neglected to mention the death of Rev. Billy Graham, dear to the hearts of many.  Was there reason for this?

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Thu, 02/07/2019 02:10 pm

    Thank you for writing. We devoted an entire section of this same issue to the year's notable deaths, which included a write-up on Mr. Graham: