Well, 2020 was a year to remember, to say the least. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the past, so we can put it behind us and really look forward to the future.
The world should have known 2020 would be intense on January 1. Already on that date, Australia was in the middle of one of the worst fire seasons in the country’s history. No region was spared, with 80 percent of the population impacted, more than 500 million animals killed, and 34 people killed.
Fires even threatened urban centers such as Sydney and the capital, Canberra. The smoke was so bad in the capital city that residents were forced indoors and could not enjoy the summer weather at places like the famous Commonwealth Park.
Impeachment of President Donald Trump
For much of 2019, the US news focused on the pending impeachment of President Trump. In December, the US House of Representatives voted to approve articles of impeachment against the President.
In January 2020, the trial began in the Senate. However, the President was acquitted of all charges, on a nearly party-line vote. Nonetheless, the indictment by the House will serve as a black mark on President Trump’s legacy, and will be one of the biggest stories of 2020.
On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant boarded a helicopter with his oldest daughter on their way to a basketball camp. Not long after takeoff, the helicopter crashed, killing all nine passengers on board. Bryant’s death shook the nation, as he was only 41, and was still very involved in basketball, charities, and most importantly, being a father to four girls.
Kobe and his family lived in the exclusive Pelican Crest community in Newport Coast. The custom-built house with views of the coast has nearly 16,000 square feet of living space spread out over four floors.
After his death, fans gathered outside the community’s gates and left flowers and other items in a makeshift memorial.
After years of speculation and rumor, Harvey Weinstein was finally charged with committing sex crimes against women in 2018. The trial commenced in January 2020, and on February 24, he was convicted, and later sentenced to 23 years in prison.
For the next 23 years, Harvey Weinstein will call the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York his home.
Weinstein sold his house in the Hamptons in 2018 for $10 million, less than what he paid for it six years earlier. This is just one of many properties he sold following his arrest.
The thing on everyone’s mind for most of the year has been the spread of Covid-19 throughout the world, causing a global pandemic.
While no one knows where the virus initially started, some of the earliest reported cases spread at or near a wet, or seafood, market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It was first diagnosed in late winter 2019. Thousands quickly fell sick and many died, indicating the virus was extremely contagious, causing global concern.
The virus came to the United States in early 2020, and hit metropolitan centers very hard. New York City was the epicenter of the initial outbreak. The city was so overwhelmed that they even prepared a makeshift hospital at the Javits Convention Center. Fortunately, it was only used for a short time before the first wave subsided in the area.
Death of George Floyd
On May 25, George Floyd was killed while in police custody outside a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had allegedly passed a counterfeit bill.
The frustration with Floyd’s murder and continued police brutality and racial discrimination boiled over into massive protests, riots, and demonstrations across the country. Government leaders embraced the protests in many places, including Washington, D.C., where the city renamed the plaza outside the White House as Black Lives Matter Plaza.
In the late afternoon of August 4, a large explosion occurred in downtown Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The blast was caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the city’s port for several years.
The blast was so strong it was felt in neighboring countries, killed at least 204 people, and wounded more than 6,500. It caused more than $15 billion in damage, and both the cleanup and investigations are still ongoing.
On August 11, Kamala Harris made history. Joe Biden selected her as his running mate, making her the first African American, first Asian American, and third woman to be a part of a major party presidential ticket. She again made history on November 3, when she and Joe Biden were elected to lead the US for the next four years.
A current Senator for California, she maintains a home in the tony LA neighborhood of Brentwood, as her husband is a famous Hollywood attorney.
West Coast Wildfires
It wasn’t enough that much of Australia was on fire earlier this year; the western US also experienced one of the worst fire seasons on record as well. More than 37 people were killed in fires that spread across California, Oregon, and Washington states.
Fires raged across the west for most of the summer and much of the fall. Fires destroyed thousands of homes, including in Shaver Lake, California, where movies such as Captain America had been filmed.
American game show host Alex Trebek announced in 2018 that he had pancreatic cancer, and passed away on November 8, 2020 from the disease. The 80 year old had become a beloved American cultural icon as the host of Jeopardy! He hosted the show for 37 years.
Trebek and his wife had a 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles, but his wealth and fame didn’t stop him from doing everyday things like taking out the trash, which he was seen doing on a regular basis, even when he was fighting cancer.
Trebek set an example for all to follow. In a pre-recorded show that aired after his death, Trebek gave words of encouragement for the world, saying “There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that’s a good thing.. Keep the faith. We’re going to get through all this and we are going to be a better society because of it.”
Covid-19 Vaccines are Rolled Out
In what might be a sign that 2021 will be better than 2020, multiple vaccines for the Covid-19 virus were approved for use in the US and other countries in December.
On December 10th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave “emergency use authorization” to Pfizer’s vaccine, and on December 18th, they gave the same authorization to Moderna’s vaccine. These two vaccines will help people all over the world by giving them immunity to Covid-19.
The work at the FDA in 2020 has been a bright spot in what has otherwise been a difficult year for many.
Here’s to hoping the vaccines will help and that Alex Trebek was right and that 2021 will be more rewarding, and less newsworthy, than 2020. Happy New Year!