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2019 News of the Year

2019 News of the Year

(Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)

Notre Dame on fire

An electrical short-circuit likely started a massive blaze at the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, on April 15. Firefighters stopped the fire from spreading to the 12th-century building’s north tower belfry and saved both of the structure’s iconic towers. French President Emmanuel Macron said a team of international experts would take part in the yearslong rebuilding effort.

Pep Companys/AFP via Getty Images

(Pep Companys/AFP via Getty Images)

Asylum diplomacy

Asylum-seekers from Central America continued to stream to the United States in 2019. The U.S. government in late October used the threat of cutting off aid to negotiate agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras so that migrants could seek asylum in those countries as they arrive in them rather than continuing to the United States. If migrants do show up at the border, the United States can deport them back to Central America to apply for asylum there.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Hurricane Dorian

The most powerful storm to hit the Bahama Islands in recorded history, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas on Sept. 1 with sustained winds of 185 mph. It unleashed flooding that reached up to 25 feet in some areas. Officials reported 67 deaths, hundreds missing, and $3.4 billion (about a quarter of the nation’s annual economic output) in damage.

David Goldman/AP

(David Goldman/AP)

Deadly tornado

Carol Dean (right) embraces a friend amid the debris of her home in Beauregard, Ala. A deadly tornado on March 3 killed 23 people in the small town, including Dean’s husband, David.

Brandon Dill/AP

(Brandon Dill/AP)

Walmart shooting

Paramedics move a wounded victim after an employee opened fire at a Walmart store on July 30 in Southaven, Miss., killing two people and wounding two others. The shooting reportedly spurred copycat threats at Walmarts in other states and was followed days later by a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

(Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images)

No peace in Syria

A family flees the northeastern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain in October after Turkish forces invaded the area following a withdrawal of U.S. military forces. The invasion forced hundreds of thousands of Kurds to leave northern Syria.

Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

(Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

Game show payday

Contestant James Holzhauer (left, with host Alex Trebek) bolstered the ratings of the game show Jeopardy! as he earned the 16 highest one-day scores in the show’s history on his way to winning a total of more than $2.4 million.

Vincent Yu/AP

(Vincent Yu/AP)

Hong Kong erupts

Police fire pepper spray at protesters during a rally in Hong Kong on June 10. Widespread protests began in June over a proposed extradition bill that would have sent people from Hong Kong to mainland China to stand trial. Protests continued after Hong Kong’s Legislative Council withdrew the bill in October as demands grew to include greater autonomy for the territory. In local elections on Nov. 24, pro-democracy opposition candidates gained control of 17 of 18 district councils and won nearly 90 percent of the 452 seats.

Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

(Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

ISIS defeated

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand guard outside Baghuz, the last stronghold of ISIS in Syria, on Feb. 27. U.S. forces allied with the SDF to defeat the militant group, which is also known as the Islamic State, there in March. Sleeper cells remain, however, and the region has seen a surge in terrorist attacks since Turkey launched an offensive in Syria in October.

Denis Poroy/AP

(Denis Poroy/AP)

Synagogue shooting

An attack during Passover services at the Chabad of Poway, Calif., synagogue on April 27 left one person dead and three wounded. The alleged shooter, 19-year-old John T. Earnest, was a dean’s list student at California State University, San Marcos, and a member of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images

(Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images)

Catalonia roils

A Catalan protester throws a stone during an Oct. 18 rally for the independence of Catalonia. On Oct. 14, a Spanish court had sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to up to 13 years in prison, sparking protests in Barcelona. More than 500 people were injured during the protests.

Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

(Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images)

Marathon sprint

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line on Oct. 12 in Vienna, Austria, and becomes the first person to run a marathon in under 2 hours. The International Association of Athletics Federations did not ratify Kipchoge’s time because of benefits that race organizers provided Kipchoge, including other runners to pace him and a cyclist to hand him drinks.

Susan Walsh/AP

(Susan Walsh/AP)

DMZ first

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Korean Demilitarized Zone on June 30. It was the first time a sitting U.S. president stepped foot into North Korea, and the event led to temporarily renewed negotiations on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mueller report

For months the media had predicted the Mueller investigation would be a bombshell that would topple Donald Trump’s presidency. Instead, the report from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller found that Trump had not conspired with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report made no judgment on whether the president had attempted to interfere with the inquiry. On July 24, Mueller testified before Congress on the results of his two-year investigation.

Ariana Cubillos/AP

(Ariana Cubillos/AP)

Venezuela suffers

Maria Rojas, 57, gets water from a street tap in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 1. Socialist Venezuela under strongman Nicolás Maduro faced a continuing economic crisis during 2019, suffering an annual inflation rate of over 10,000 percent, near-daily blackouts, and a breakdown in critical services such as running water. At least 3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2014, and 80 percent of the households that remain have trouble finding food.

Isabel Infantes/AFP via Getty Images

(Isabel Infantes/AFP via Getty Images)

Brexit woes

Protesters opposed to Brexit rally in London on April 1. A stalemate in Parliament over how the United Kingdom should withdraw from the European Union dominated British politics in 2019, forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to step down and successor Boris Johnson to call for December Parliamentary elections.

Michael Dwyer/AP

(Michael Dwyer/AP)

College bribery

Actress Felicity Huffman leaves a Boston federal court on Sept. 13 after a judge sentenced her to 14 days in jail. Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud for paying an admissions consultant to have a proctor alter her daughter’s SAT answers in 2017. Huffman’s case was part of a scandal involving more than 30 wealthy parents accused of rigging standardized test scores and bribing officials at prestigious schools.

Darron Cummings/AP

(Darron Cummings/AP)

Horsing around

Jockey Luis Saez celebrates after Maximum Security crossed the finish line first during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. However, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission later disqualified Maximum Security, ruling the horse had swerved and interfered with other horses during the race. The ruling was the first disqualification of a winner in Kentucky Derby history, and it left Country House as the event’s 2019 champion.

Andres Leighton/AP

(Andres Leighton/AP)

El Paso attack

Mourners pray at a makeshift memorial to victims of an Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people and wounded two dozen others. Another shooting that weekend at a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people and wounded 26.

Khalil Senosi/AP

(Khalil Senosi/AP)

Attack in Kenya

Civilians flee and security forces close in after four armed militants opened fire in a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, on Jan. 15. The militants set off car bombs outside a bank and stormed the hotel, followed by a suicide bombing in the lobby. They killed 21 people, including one American and one British national, before security forces killed them. The Islamic terror group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. A U.S. airstrike four days later killed 52 jihadists at an al-Shabab stronghold.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Democratic tension

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. (left, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), was one of four left-wing congresswomen known as “the Squad”  who caused headaches for the Democratic establishment during 2019. In August, Israel barred two members of the Squad, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., from the country over their support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

A costly deal

One member of the Squad, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., gained attention when she and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., unveiled the “Green New Deal,” a sweeping plan to eliminate fossil fuels, upgrade or replace every building in the United States, and create a high-speed rail system to eliminate air travel. One estimate places the price tag at between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10 years.

Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

(Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images)

Impeachment politics

Led by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., House Democrats began a process to impeach President Donald Trump over what they say were attempts to use aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating political rival Joe Biden and his son’s work in that country. In a GOP report, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., argued that the Democrats had not proven their case: “They don’t like the president, so they’re going to try to boot him out of office.”

Craig Ruttle/AP

(Craig Ruttle/AP)

A crowded campaign

A crowded field of Democrats emerged to vie for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. By December, the front-runners were former Vice President Joe Biden, socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (below), U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. At an early debate, each of the candidates expressed support for including illegal immigrants in taxpayer-funded healthcare plans.  

Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

(Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)

Easter massacre

Relatives mourn victims of a bomb blast at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka. A series of bombings on Easter Sunday targeted churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing more than 300 people and leaving more than 500 others wounded. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings, while officials in Sri Lanka blamed breakaway members of two obscure local extremist Muslim groups.

Christian Monterrosa/AP

(Christian Monterrosa/AP)

California burns

Volunteers help evacuate horses during the Easy Fire, a blaze that came within 30 yards of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Ventura County, Calif. Fires in California prompted officials to evacuate tens of thousands of residents and prompted the Pacific Gas & Electric utility to cut off power to millions in controversial deliberate blackouts.

Jerome Delay/AP

(Jerome Delay/AP)

Ebola outbreak

Workers in Benin, Congo, bury the corpse of an Ebola victim on July 14. With more than 3,000 reported cases, 2019’s Ebola outbreak was the worst in Congolese history. The rate of new cases began to decline in October.

Morteza Akhoondi/Tasnim News Agency via AP

(Morteza Akhoondi/Tasnim News Agency via AP)

Iranian aggression

Iranian speedboats circle the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero on July 21 in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas after the ship was seized in the Strait of Hormuz two days earlier. Iran released the ship after the British territory of Gibraltar released an Iranian oil tanker that had been seized six weeks earlier for carrying oil to Syria in violation of an international embargo.

Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images

(Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images)

Riots in Ecuador

Demonstrators in Quito clash with riot police on Oct. 9 as thousands march against Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno’s decision to slash fuel subsidies. Moreno days later withdrew from an International Monetary Fund program that required the subsidy cut and pledged to cut other spending and raise taxes.

Susan Walsh/AP

(Susan Walsh/AP)

A crowd of champs

The 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee wrapped up a few minutes past midnight on May 31 with an unprecedented eight co-champions. The winners spelled 47 consecutive words correctly—including auslaut, palama, cernuous, and odylic.

Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

(Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

Up or down

A protester gives a thumbs-up outside a “Keep America Great” rally for President Trump in Minneapolis, Minn., on Oct. 10. By December, Democrats in Congress had introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, but polls showed opposition to impeachment growing in key swing states.

David J. Phillip/AP

(David J. Phillip/AP)

Tiger’s return

Tiger Woods celebrates as he wins his fifth Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. The April 14 victory was his first major championship since 2008, and it marked a comeback for Woods after years of turmoil, including marital infidelity that led to divorce, multiple knee and back surgeries, and a DUI arrest from using painkillers.

The Editors

The Editors