Like every year, 2005 saw tragic and sometimes frivolous news. Politicians became embroiled in controversy, important people died, celebrities did anpd said stupid things, and occasionally, we were uplifted by some good news. But if it's one message everyone learned this year, it's this: Mother Nature is a bitch ...
.... 2004 ended with Indian Ocean's tsunami that devastated much of Asia and killed 179,000. Relief efforts - spearheaded by former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton - carried on well into the spring of '05.
The in July, Hurricane Dennis swept through Cuba and Haiti, claiming at least 60 lives.
On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina made landfall, virtually wiping out New Orleans, after the levees overflowed and flooded 80 percent of the city.
Katrina's total damage was estimated at $75 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. In addition, more than a million people were displaced by the storm with many seeking shelter in the Houston Superdome after their homes were destroyed.
Both local and national politicians were attacked for not being prepared for the storm. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown eventually resigned and President Bushj bore the brunt of criticism even within his own party.
Finally, in October, and earthquake measuring 7.6 on teh Richter scale hit South Asia and Pakistan, resulting in more than 70,000 estimated deaths.
Death Of Pope
After a quarter century in papal robes, one assassination attempt and a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Pope John Paul II (born Karol Wajtyla) died April 3. Credited by many with being one of the forces that ended the Cold War, his legacy also included becoming the first pope to visit Casto's Cuba.
At the same time, he encountered criticism for returning the Catholic Church to its conservative roots. John Paul II was succeeded by his close ally Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pop Benedict XVI April 19, 16 days after his predecessor's death.
Medicine In March
America was polarized over the case of Terri Schiavo, a severly brain-damaged Florida woman whose husband had long lobbbied courts to remove her feeding tube claiming that she would not want to live in her present condition (as opposed to her parents who argued she wasn't in a persistent vegetative state).
A court battle ensued with the judge eventually ruling in the husband's favor. Schiavo's feeding tube was removed on March 18 and she died two weeks later.
Meanwhile in Asia, avian flu continued to occupy the minds of major world health organizations, as many feared that the virus might develop ito a pandemic. Infections remained limited among birds, although there have been cases where it jumped to humans, but so far it has only been transmitted human-to-human in rare cases.
Lance Armstrong's Last
With six yellow jerseys already under his belt, Lance Armstrong didn't really have anything more to prove when he embarked on his final Tour de France July 2. Still the world's most famous cyclist certainly didn't coast during the grueling 2,240-mile race, holding onto the yellow for 17 days altogether and finishing 4 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Ivan Basso from Italy.
And with one final "Vive le Tour!" Armstrong headed off into retirement.
But that ending didn't stay rosy for very long. The following month, a French newspaper published a storyclaimed that Armstrong had taken a banned substance during the 1999 Tour, even reprinting official urine tests. Armstrong vigorously denied the charges, and as of now, the matter is still under investigation.
Michael Jackson Trial
It was the '90s all over again when Michael Jackson returned to court to defend himself against allegations of child molestation. From the beginning, the trial was more of a show than a legal proceeding. Jacko repeatedly showed up late to court, danced on a van and once arrived clad in his pajamas.
The media ate it up, especially E! which launched their own nightly re-creation of the day's events based on court transcripts.
On June 14, Jackson was acquitted on all charges. Since then, he's largely been keeping out of sight outside of his famous Neverland estate.
In the short span of six years, George Lucas went from being a Jedi Master to a second-class Padawan.
So it would be an understatement to say that there was a lot riding on the third and final Star Wars prequel Revenge of the Sith. As the May 19 release date approached, grown men (and women) clung tightly to their Hasbro lightsabers, hoping that their once-great Geek God had rediscovered the ability to write believable dialogue and direct credible dramatic scenes.
Their prayers were answered ... kind of.
While not up to the level of A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, Sith did capture some of that old Star Wars mojo particularly in the final half-hour when Anakin fully gave into the Dark Side.
Could it have been better? Certainly, but for now, let's just give a sigh of relief that Lucas managed to end the series without completely tarnishing our childhood memories.
U2's Bono proved that he deserved to be named one of Time's People of the Year (and a Nobel Peace Prize contender) by teaming up with Bob Geldof to organize this star-studded event July 2 to raise awareness about global poverty and send a message to the countries participating in the G8 summit.
Daylong concerts were held in eight cities around the world, including London, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Paris and Berlin. Among the artists that appeared were Madonna, Green Day, Coldplay, Elton John, Paul McCartney and a reunited Pink Floyd. Even MTV's terrible coverage of the event couldn't make it any less rockin'.
On July 7, the morning after London learned that it won its bid to host the 2012 Summer Games, four suicide bombers coordinated an attack on the London underground that killed 52 people and injured 700. The four men were seen on videotape and video footage of a "practice run" was shown on British television.
Two weeks later, another four bombers infiltrated the system, but their devices failed to detonate. A manhunt ensued that led investigators to Birmingham and Rome. The bombers eventually were captured and brought to court.
2,000th Soldier Killed in Iraq
As the Iraq war entered its second year, the list of casualties continued to climb. The military death toll officially reached 2,000 on Oct. 26 and currently stands at more than 2,150. Meanwhile, back at home, grieving military mother Cindy Sheehan made summer headlines by planting herself outside of President Bush's ranch during his August vacation and refusing to budge until he agreed to speak with her. Sheehan's cause became a hotly contested issue as people on both sides joined her protest or attacked her.
The same year Brad hooked up with Angie, he officially split from Jennifer Aniston (who eventually sought solace with Vince Vaughn). Other on-the-rocks relationships include the Parises (Paris Hilton and Paris Latsis), Nicole Richie and Adam Goldstein, creepy actress Renee Zellweger and creepy country singer Kenny Chesney, and future B-list star Lindsay Lohan and current B-lister Wilmer Valderrama.
Last but not least, the saga of Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson mercifully was silenced once and for all when they went their separate ways before Thanksgiving. Now US Weekly and Star will have to find another couple to plaster on their cover every week.