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Looking back and ahead

NEW YORK (AP) — Out with the old and in with the – what?

With the nation at war on two foreign fronts, the economy uncertain, terrorism a threat and environmental catastrophe on the list of possible destinies, a sense of starting fresh remains elusive for many, who wonder what sort of new legacy they can build beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

“The meaning of the new decade is going to be diminished by the hangover of the last decade,” says Bob Batchelor, professor of mass communications at Kent State University and author of “The 2000s,” published before the decade was even done. “That makes it tough to be as optimistic as Americans usually are.”

In the spirit of fresh beginnings, people around the world planned Thursday to celebrate the transition. In New York’s Times Square, new giant digits are in place to mark the new decade, as are 3,000 pounds of confetti.

Sitting with his wife and two daughters in a Manhattan atrium as they discuss plans to celebrate the new year with family, D.J. Alemayehu says he is finding it hard to feel positive about the future after the last decade’s jumble of bad news and nagging worries.

“It’s very muddled. There’s no clear policy. There’s no clear direction,” says the Englewood, Colo., resident. “We’re not in control of much, individually or as a nation.”

For this family, it is left to the younger generation to seize hold of optimism. At the end of the only decade she has known, young Escadar sounds a positive note: “I’m just excited because I’m turning 10!”

She will remember the last decade primarily for the election of the nation’s first black president, Escadar says. And in 10 years, when she’s looking ahead to the ‘20s – and her twenties? Life, she believes, will be even better.

Older observers have a hard time seeing such a clear path.

For 45-year-old Manhattanite Susana Buencamino, the last decade was defined by a single act of terrorism and its myriad repercussions.

“Sept. 11, 2001. That changed the whole decade,” the systems analyst says near her midtown office. Looking forward to the coming years, one thing seems certain. “The terrorists will still be around.”

“All of us, we’re going to be worried. Wherever we are,” she says.

Such a wary outlook is no surprise after a 10-year stretch that started with fears of Y2K disaster and never quite regained its footing, says Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University.

“If people were looking for an apocalypse, they kind of got one,” he says, listing a string of chaotic milestones, beginning with the contested election of 2000 and the Sept. 11 attacks and ending with the economic crisis and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“When one looks at the end of this decade, it’s good riddance. … It’s a time to wipe the slate clean,” he says.

Planned celebrations are taking many forms, with concerts, fireworks, and the timed drop of favorite local symbols.

In the Tennessee cities of Memphis and Nashville, organizers plan to drop a 10-foot, red guitar. In Atlanta, an 800-pound fiberglass peach is to take a 138-foot plunge. In North Carolina, Brasstown, near the Georgia border, will have its annual opossum drop, Mount Olive drops a 3-foot glowing pickle, and the capital city of Raleigh lowers a giant acorn. In Eastport, Maine, an 8-foot wooden sardine is dropped. And in Times Square, an 11,875-pound ball covered with more than 32,000 bulbs is in place to be lowered at midnight.

In Boston, more than 1,000 artists and performers are participating in the “First Night” celebrations. Artists plan to display six ice sculptures, including a recreation of one of the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s 4,000 year old Egyptian sculptures.

And in Chicago, the city’s Transit Authority is offering rides for a penny to help residents and visitors get in place for fireworks displays planned during the evening and at midnight.

At Times Square, organizers planned to mix about 10,000 handwritten wishes into the thousands of pounds of confetti to be dropped over the crowds. They include appeals for the safe return of the troops, continued employment and a cure for diabetes.

The hundreds of thousands of New York City revelers brought out heightened police security, displayed a day earlier when police evacuated several blocks around Times Square to investigate a parked van without license plates.

Police and other officials planned radiation sweeps for biological contaminants in the area and a command center was to be staffed by FBI, New York and regional police. Thousands of officers were to staff Times Square, where revelers will be banned from carrying backpacks and open bottles.

Among the revelers eager to see the ball drop in Times Square are 23-year-old Leonardo Colombo and 31-year-old Gilberto Oliveira – both visiting from Sao Paolo, Brazil, where they have seen the last decade transform their nation with the promise of economic power and new wealth.

Their fears are tempered by a sense of possibility.

Oliveira says the decade now in its final hours was defined by “the development of technology and the evolution of communication,” changes he believes will soon give us medical advances and new tools to improve our lives.

His friend adds: “The new year is a time for change.”

“What defines the new decade? Hope.”


Associated Press writers Caryn Rousseau in Chicago, Russell Contreras in Boston and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Chronology of news events in:


Jan. 1

Sixty-six New Year’s revelers die and more than 200 are injured in a fire at a Bangkok nightclub.

Longtime Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell, creator of Pell Grants, dies at 90.

Jan. 5

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdraws his nomination to be commerce secretary.

Jan. 8

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine becomes chairman of Democratic National Committee.

Jan. 9

Rod Blagojevich becomes first Illinois governor to be impeached.

Son of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor gets 97 years in prison in torture case.

Jan. 12

President George W. Bush asks Congress to release remaining $350 billion in bailout money.

Jan. 15

Roland Burris sworn in as U.S. senator, chosen by embattled Illinois Gov. Blagojevich to take President-elect Barack Obama’s former seat.

US Airways jet crash-lands in Hudson River after striking birds. All 155 people

aboard survive.

Jan. 16

Painter Andrew Wyeth

dies at 91.

Jan. 20

Obama sworn in as

44th president.

Jan. 23

New York Gov. David Paterson chooses Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Jan. 26

Nadya Suleman gives birth in California to world’s longest-surviving set of octuplets.

Jan. 29

Blagojevich convicted at impeachment trial and barred from office. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn sworn in as Illinois governor.

Jan. 30

Michael Steele elected first black chairman of Republican National Committee.

Jan. 31

More than 100 people die in Molo, Kenya, after overturned gasoline tanker catches fire.


Feb. 1

Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Arizona Cardinals 27-23 to win Super Bowl XLIII.

Feb. 3

Eric Holder becomes first black U.S. attorney general.

Feb. 4

Obama imposes $500,000 cap on executive pay for companies receiving federal bailout money.

Feb. 5

USA Swimming suspends Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps for three months after photo showing him inhaling from marijuana pipe becomes public.

Feb. 8

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss win album of the year Grammy for “Raising Sand.”

Feb. 9

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez admits he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003.

Feb. 11

President Robert Mugabe swears in longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe’s prime minister.

All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada pleads guilty to lying to Congress about steroids in baseball.

Rep. John Dingell of Michigan becomes longest-serving member of U.S. House.

Feb. 12

Commuter plane crashes into a Buffalo, N.Y., home, killing all 49 aboard and a person in the house.

Feb. 13

Virginia-based Peanut Corp. of America files for bankruptcy after salmonella outbreak.

Feb. 17

Obama signs $787 billion economic rescue plan.

Feb. 20

Dow Jones industrial average ends week at 7365, lowest level in more than six years.

Feb. 22

The late actor Heath Ledger wins best supporting actor Oscar for “The Dark Knight”; “Slumdog Millionaire” wins best picture.

Mine blast in northern China kills 77.

Feb. 26

Pentagon says it will allow some media coverage of returning war dead, with family approval.

Feb. 27

Obama announces plan to pull all U.S. combat brigades out of Iraq by August 2010.

The Rocky Mountain News ceases publishing; last edition goes on sale.


March 2

Obama appoints Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services.

The Coast Guard, searching for a boat carrying NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and two others, finds overturned boat and one survivor off Florida.

March 6

U.S. reports jobless rate reached 8.1 percent in February, highest since 1983.

March 9

Obama says he’s lifting a ban on federal money for embryonic stem cell research.

March 10

Shooting spree in southern Alabama leaves 10 dead, including gunman.

March 11

German prosecutors charge retired Ohio auto worker John Demjanjuk with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a Nazi camp guard.

Teen goes on shooting spree, starting at a school in Winnenden, Germany, and kills 15 people before committing suicide.

March 12

Insurance broker announces Chicago’s Sears Tower will be renamed Willis Tower.

Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at President George W. Bush gets three-year sentence.

March 16

Austrian Josef Fritzl pleads guilty to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her seven children.

March 17

Seattle Post-Intelligencer publishes final print edition.

March 18

Chief of bailed-out insurance giant AIG grilled by furious lawmakers over $165 million in bonuses; some executives volunteer to return money.

Actress Natasha Richardson, 45, dies after skiing accident.

March 21

Man wanted for violating parole kills four police officers in Oakland, Calif.

March 22

Plane headed to Montana ski resort nose-dives into cemetery short of runway, killing all 14 aboard, including seven children.

March 27

Suicide bomber destroys Pakistan mosque, killing at least 48.

March 29

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner resigns under White House pressure.

Gunman kills seven residents of North Carolina nursing home and a nurse.


April 3

Shooting at immigrant center in Binghamton, N.Y., kills 14, including gunman.

Iowa Supreme Court unanimously legalizes gay marriage.

U.S. reports unemployment reached 8.5 percent in March, highest in quarter-century.

April 4

Gunman kills three Pittsburgh police officers responding to call by his mother, who wanted him removed from home.

April 5

North Korea launches long-range rocket toward Pacific Ocean.

April 7

Vermont becomes fourth state to legalize gay marriage after Legislature overrides governor’s veto.

Charges dismissed against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.

April 8

Somali pirates hijack U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama and take captain hostage.

April 9

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart killed in car crash by a suspected drunken driver.

Kim Jong Il re-elected as North Korean leader.

April 10

Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby arrested in connection with death of 8-year-old California girl whose body was found in suitcase.

April 12

American ship captain Richard Phillips rescued from Somali pirates.

Angel Cabrera of Argentina wins golf’s Masters.

April 13

Music producer Phil Spector found guilty of second-degree murder in shooting of actress Lana Clarkson; later sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.

April 15

Army soldier convicted of murder in 2007 deaths of four bound and blindfolded Iraqis and sentenced to life in prison.

April 20

Medical student Philip Markoff arrested in death of masseuse he met through Craigslist.

April 22

FDA says 17-year-old girls can get “morning after” birth control without prescription.

April 25

Bea Arthur, star of TV shows “Maude” and “The Golden Girls,” dies at 86.

April 27

Low-flying plane, later determined to be an Air Force One jet, panics New Yorkers.

General Motors announces plans to cut 21,000 hourly jobs and scrap Pontiac brand.

April 28

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania defects from Republican Party, joins Democrats.

April 29

CDC says swine flu killed 23-month-old Mexican child in Texas; first swine flu death in U.S.

April 30

Chrysler files for bankruptcy; federal government pledges up to $8 billion in additional aid and to back warranties.


May 1

Supreme Court Justice David Souter says he’s retiring, effective in late June.

May 2

Jack Kemp, former quarterback, congressman and vice presidential nominee, dies at 73.

U.S. warplane in Afghanistan kills estimated 78 Taliban fighters and 26 civilians, prompting investigation.

May 5

Texas health officials confirm first death of U.S. resident with swine flu.

May 6

Governor signs bill making Maine fifth state to legalize gay marriage; law is later overturned by public vote.

May 7

Jury convicts former soldier of raping and killing 14-year-old Iraqi girl after slaying her family.

Former Illinois police Sgt. Drew Peterson indicted on murder charge in death of third wife.

May 11

Defense Secretary Robert Gates names Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal top military commander in Afghanistan, replacing Gen. David McKiernan.

May 12

Five Miami men convicted in plot to blow up FBI buildings and Chicago’s Sears Tower.

May 14

Chrysler announces intent to eliminate 789 dealerships as part of restructuring.

May 15

General Motors tells about 1,100 dealers their franchises will be terminated.

May 20

Suspended NFL star Michael Vick released from prison to begin two months’ home confinement.

May 21

Sherpa guide breaks his own record, reaching summit of Mount Everest a 19th time.

May 23

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, 62, leaps to his death amid widening corruption scandal.

May 26

Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor to be first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

California’s Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8 gay marriage ban.

May 28

Kavya Shivashankar, 13-year-old from Kansas, spells “laodicean” (indifference to religion) to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

May 29

Jay Leno leaves NBC’s “Tonight Show” after 17 years.

May 30

Susan Boyle places second on “Britain’s Got Talent” and is admitted to a medical clinic the next day.

May 31

George Tiller, rare provider of late-term abortions, is shot and killed in Kansas church.

Millvina Dean, last living Titanic survivor, dies at 97.


June 1

Air France Flight 447, carrying 228 people, disappears in thunderstorms over Atlantic following automated reports of failing systems and conflicting speeds.

General Motors becomes largest U.S. industrial company to enter bankruptcy.

Conan O’Brien debuts as “Tonight Show” host.

June 3

New Hampshire becomes sixth state to legalize gay marriage.

June 4

A retired State Department worker and his wife are arrested on charges of spying for Cuba for three decades.

June 7

Roger Federer wins his first French Open.

“Billy Elliot” wins 10 Tony Awards.

June 8

North Korea’s highest court sentences American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee to 12 years’ hard labor for trespassing and “hostile acts.”

June 10

Gunman opens fire at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, killing a guard.

Donald Trump dismisses Miss California USA Carrie Prejean.

June 11

With swine flu reported in more than 70 nations, World Health Organization declares first global flu pandemic in 41 years.

June 12

U.S. television stations end analog broadcasts.

Congress approves legislation banning “light” or candy-flavored cigarettes and requiring tobacco companies to make bigger warning labels and run fewer ads.

U.N. Security Council sanctions North Korea for nuclear test.

Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to win Stanley Cup.

June 14

Los Angeles Lakers win 15th NBA title in 99-86 Game 5 victory over the Orlando Magic.

June 16

The New York Times reports former baseball star Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance-enhancing drug in 2003.

June 17

U.N. announces economic downturn has led to 1 in 6 people going hungry.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign resigns from GOP leadership a day after admitting affair with former campaign staffer.

Obama extends some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

June 18

$106 billion in emergency war funding passed by Congress provides no money for closing Guantanamo but creates “cash for clunkers” program.

June 19

Taken hostage seven months earlier, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David S. Rohde and Afghan journalist Tahir Ludin escape Pakistani compound.

June 20

Amateur video of 27-year-old Iranian music student Neda Agha Soltan bleeding to death on street during election protests turns her into opposition icon.

Truck bomb kills 72 worshippers leaving Shiite mosque in northern Iraq, wounds nearly 200.

June 22

Washington commuter train rear-ends another during rush hour, killing nine.

Chris Brown pleads guilty to felony assault of ex-girlfriend Rihanna; later sentenced to probation and community labor.

Kate Gosselin, star of “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” files for divorce, and TLC announces hiatus the next day.

June 23

“Tonight Show” sidekick Ed McMahon dies at 86.

June 24

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford admits secretly flying to Argentina to visit mistress during mysterious absence.

Plans announced to double Academy Award best picture nominees to 10 for 2010 ceremony.

June 25

Michael Jackson dies at 50 while on verge of comeback tour.

“Charlie’s Angels” star Farrah Fawcett dies at 62.

June 28

TV pitchman Billy Mays, 50, dies at his Florida home of heart disease.

June 29

U.S. completes withdrawal of its combat troops from cities in Iraq.

Bernard Madoff gets 150-year sentence for multibillion-dollar fraud.

U.S. Supreme Court rules white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were denied promotion because of their race.

June 30

Former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken declared winner of Minnesota’s eight-month recount; defeats Republican Norm Coleman for U.S. Senate seat.


July 1

“A Streetcar Named Desire” actor Karl Malden dies at 97.

July 3

Sarah Palin announces she will resign as Alaska governor, effective July 26.

July 4

Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair fatally shot by woman who then kills herself.

Statue of Liberty crown reopens to tourists for first time since Sept. 11, 2001.

Serena Williams beats sister Venus for third Wimbledon title.

July 6

Robert McNamara, Pentagon chief who directed escalation of Vietnam War despite private doubts, dies at 93.

July 8

Leaders of world’s richest countries pledge to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

South Korea blames North Korea for cyber attacks targeting Web sites in U.S. and South Korea.

July 13

German prosecutors formally charge retired U.S. auto worker John Demjanjuk with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder.

July 17

Walter Cronkite, premier TV anchorman of networks’ golden age, dies at 92.

July 22

Obama says police “acted stupidly” in arresting Henry Louis Gates when the black Harvard University scholar was locked of his home.

July 23

Search warrant says Michael Jackson’s personal doctor is target of manslaughter probe.

More than 40 New Jersey leaders are arrested in corruption probe.

July 26

Mother drives wrong way on New York highway and crashes into SUV, killing eight people. Toxicology tests show she was drunk and had used marijuana.

July 29

Microsoft and Yahoo announce Internet search partnership.

July 30

Harvard scholar Gates and the officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, have beers with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at White House.

July 31

Three Americans jailed in Iran after crossing border from Iraq and later accused of espionage.


Aug. 4

Gunman kills three women and himself in suburban Pittsburgh health club. Diary mentions decades of rejection by women.

Aug. 5

Former President Bill Clinton brings home two U.S. journalists after they were pardoned for entering North Korea illegally.

Aug. 6

Sonia Sotomayor confirmed as first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

John Hughes, director of “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club,” dies at 59.

Aug. 7

Leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, dies in CIA missile strike.

Aug. 8

Small plane, helicopter carrying Italian tourists collide above Hudson River, killing all nine people aboard both.

Aug. 11

Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at 88.

Aug. 13

Philadelphia Eagles sign Michael Vick to a one-year deal, prompting criticism from animal rights activists.

Aug. 17

Publisher of Reader’s Digest announces plans to seek bankruptcy protection.

Aug. 19

Four members of elite Army special operations unit die when helicopter crashes on Colorado mountain during training mission.

“60 Minutes” creator Don Hewitt dies at 86.

Aug. 20

Reality TV ex-contestant Ryan Jenkins charged with murdering former wife in California, is later found dead of an apparent suicide.

Ex-NY Giant Plaxico Burress pleads guilty to weapons charge, agrees to two-year prison term.

Aug. 21

Lutheran leaders OK sexually active gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy.

Aug. 24

Coroner rules Michael Jackson’s death a homicide.

Aug. 25

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy dies of brain cancer.

Aug. 27

Jaycee Lee Dugard, kidnapped when she was 11, is found alive 18 years after her California abduction.

Aug. 28

Celebrity disc jockey Adam Goldstein, known as DJ AM, found dead in his New York apartment.

Aug. 29

Eight people die at a mobile home in southeastern Georgia; family member who reported deaths is charged with murder.

Aug. 31

Walt Disney Co. announces $4 billion acquisition of comic book giant Marvel Entertainment.


Sept. 2

Pfizer agrees to record $2.3 billion settlement for illegal drug promotion.

Sept. 3

Funeral held for Michael Jackson.

Sept. 9

During Obama’s speech to Congress on health care, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouts “You lie!” when the president says illegal immigrants won’t be covered.

Fox announces Ellen DeGeneres will be fourth judge on “American Idol.”

Sept. 10

Obama accepts apology after Wilson expresses regret for his “lack of civility.”

Sept. 11

World’s oldest-known person dies at 115 in California.

Sept. 12

Serena Williams launches profane tirade at line judge during the U.S. Open semifinals after being called out for foot fault.

Sept. 13

Body of missing Yale grad student is found in lab wall on what would have been her wedding day. A lab technician is later charged in her death.

Kanye West upstages Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards to say Beyonce should have won for best female video instead.

Sept. 14

“Dirty Dancing” star Patrick Swayze dies of pancreatic cancer at 57.

Sept. 15

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the worst recession since the 1930s is probably over.

Sept. 18

Final episode of “Guiding Light” airs, ending 72-year run.

Sept. 23

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi calls U.N. Security Council a “terror council” and accuses it of treating smaller nations as “second class” during rambling speech in New York.

Sept. 27

Director Roman Polanski is taken into Swiss custody for his 1977 U.S. sex crime conviction.

William Safire, Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist and former Nixon speechwriter, dies at 79.

Sept. 29

Ex-Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu gets more than 24 years in prison for campaign finance violations.

New York City terrorism suspect Najibullah Zazi pleads not guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in what authorities say was a planned attack on commuter trains.


Oct. 1

“Late Show” host David Letterman acknowledges sexual relationships with female employees as “48 Hours Mystery” producer Joe Halderman is charged in an alleged blackmail plot.

Oct. 2

Rio de Janeiro wins bid for 2016 Summer Olympics; Chicago is eliminated in first round.

Oct. 7

Fashion and celebrity photographer Irving Penn dies at 92.

Oct. 9

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

“Spiritual cleansing” at sweat lodge in Arizona leads to 3 deaths, more than a dozen illnesses.

Oct. 13

Bloomberg agrees to buy BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill.

Oct. 15

Report of 6-year-old boy flying inside a helium balloon captivates nation before boy is found safe at home; his parents later plead guilty to filing false report.

Oct. 16

Pigs in Minnesota test positive for the H1N1 virus, the first U.S. cases in swine.

Federal deficit reaches all-time high of $1.42 trillion.

Oct. 21

Northwest Airlines jet overshoots Minneapolis airport by 150 miles; pilots say they were talking about schedules.

Massachusetts man accused of providing support to terrorists by conspiring to kill two prominent U.S. politicians and shoot shoppers at American malls.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jack Nelson of the Los Angeles Times dies at 80.

Oct. 23

Bank closings hit 100 for year.

Oct. 27

Madoff colleague Jeffry M. Picower drowns in Florida after heart attack.

Oct. 28

Sports Illustrated excerpts of eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi’s autobiography reveals he ingested crystal meth in 1997.

Oct. 29

Cleveland police discover first remains of 11 slain women on the property of registered sex offender Anthony Sowell.


Nov. 1

Lender CIT Group files one of the biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in U.S. corporate history.

Three North Dakota college softball players believed to be on a stargazing trip drive SUV into pond and drown.

Nov. 3

Republicans in New Jersey and Virginia unseat Democratic governors; Maine residents narrowly vote down same-sex marriage law. Democrat wins upstate New York congressional seat held by Republicans for decades.

Nov. 4

New York Yankees beat Philadelphia Phillies to win their 27th World Series.

Nov. 5

Shooting at Fort Hood Army post leaves 13 people dead and 29 injured.

Nov. 6

U.S. unemployment rate hits double-digit percentage – 10.2 – for second time since World War II.

Nov. 7

House narrowly passes landmark health care changes.

Nov. 9

Dow reaches highest level in more than a year as falling dollar boosts prices for gold, oil and other commodities.

Nov. 10

John Allen Muhammad, mastermind of 2002 sniper attacks that killed 10 in Washington, D.C., region, is executed.

Nov. 11

Longtime CNN host Lou Dobbs announces he is leaving the network.

Taylor Swift named entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.

Nov. 12

Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in the Fort Hood massacre.

Nov. 13

Analysis of data from spacecraft NASA intentionally crashed into the moon shows ample water near lunar south pole.

After botched execution in September, Ohio becomes first state to switch from three-drug lethal cocktail to one-drug method.

Nov. 16

U.S. government health task force suggests most women wait until age 50 to get mammograms and then have one every two years, a major reversal that challenges the American Cancer Society’s advice to start getting mammograms at 40.

Nov. 17

Sarah Palin’s autobiography “Going Rogue” is released; 1 million copies sell in less than two weeks.

Twin Bangladeshi girls who were joined at the top of their heads are separated in Australia after 25 hours of surgery.

Nov. 18

Actor Johnny Depp named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine.

Nov. 19

Oprah Winfrey’s production company announces her daytime talk show will end in 2011 after 25 seasons.

Nov. 20

“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” takes in $72.7 million to break the single-day domestic box office record held by “The Dark Knight.”

Nov. 21

Gas explosion in northern Chinese mine kills at least 108.

Computer hackers break into server at a climate change research center in Britain and post hundreds of private e-mails and documents online, stoking debate over whether scientists have overstated case for man-made climate change.

Nov. 22

Michael Jackson posthumously wins a record four American Music Awards; Taylor Swift is named artist of the year; Adam Lambert’s sexually provocative performance draws complaints.

Nov. 23

Susan Boyle’s first album, “I Dreamed a Dream,” sells more than 700,000 copies in its first week to become top debut of 2009.

Nov. 24

Gate-crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi attend Obama’s first White House state dinner uninvited, leading to Secret Service investigation.

Kentucky officials say census worker found bound and hanging from tree with “fed” scrawled across his chest committed suicide.

Nov. 26

Man dies after being stuck upside down in Utah cave for more than a day.

Nov. 27

Tiger Woods crashes SUV outside his Florida mansion, sparking widespread attention to reports of marital infidelity.

Clintons announce daughter Chelsea’s engagement to longtime boyfriend.

Nov. 29

Gunman kills four police officers in Washington coffeehouse in what authorities call a targeted ambush, then is shot dead two days later.

Nov. 30

The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest atom smasher, breaks world record for proton acceleration.

Serena Williams fined a record $82,500 for tirade at U.S. Open line judge.


Dec. 1

Obama orders 30,000 more U.S. troops into the war in Afghanistan but promises to begin withdrawal in 18 months.

Dec. 3

Comcast and GE announce joint venture plans, with Comcast owning a 51 percent controlling stake in NBC Universal.

Dec. 5

Nightclub blaze in Perm, Russia, kills more than 140 people.

American college student Amanda Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito convicted in Italy of murdering Meredith Kercher, her British roommate.

Dec. 7

Federal authorities charge that David Coleman Headley of Chicago scouted potential terrorist targets during five trips to Mumbai before attacks there in November 2008 left 166 people dead.

Dec. 8

String of bombs in Iraq kills 127 people, injures more than 500, damages ministry buildings and flattens courthouse in Baghdad.

Dec. 10

New estimates reveal swine flu has killed nearly 10,000 Americans and sickened nearly 50 million, suggesting about 1 in 6 Americans have had the illness.

China overtakes U.S. as the world’s biggest market for automobiles.

Illinois insurance executive pleads guilty to interstate stalking after secretly making nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews.

Dec. 12

Houston becomes largest U.S. city to elect openly gay mayor.

Dec. 15

Washington, D.C., council votes to legalize gay marriage.

Evangelist Oral Roberts dies at 91.

Dec. 16

Time magazine names Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke its Person of the Year.

Dec. 18

U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen ends with modest accord denounced by smaller countries.

Sign bearing Nazi slogan “Work Sets You Free” is stolen from Auschwitz; three days later, Polish authorities recover sign in three pieces and arrest five people.

Over 2,000 people are trapped and Eurostar service is halted for three days after snow leads to failure of five trains inside Channel Tunnel.

U.S. regulators shutter seven banks, bringing year’s total to 140.

Charles Gibson retires from ABC’s “World News,” passing anchor desk to Diane Sawyer.

Dec. 19

Snowstorm paralyzes much of eastern U.S. on last holiday shopping weekend.

Dec. 20

Tremors from Mayon volcano in Philippines prompt highest warning short of major eruption following week of fresh lava flows and evacuations of tens of thousands of people.

Actress Brittany Murphy, who starred in “Clueless” and “8 Mile,” dies at age 32.

Dec. 21

Anthony Marshall, the 85-year-old son of late socialite Brooke Astor, is sentenced to prison for plundering her fortune.

Vote by lawmakers makes Mexico City first Latin American capital to legalize gay marriage.

Dec. 24

U.S. Senate passes health care legislation in chamber’s first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.

New Jersey man reunites with 9-year-old son in Brazil following five-year custody battle.

Dec. 25

After a failed attempt to detonate explosives on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit, the 23-year-old son of a prominent Nigerian banker is subdued by fellow passengers.

Dec. 27

Amid Iran’s worst violence in three decades, security forces fire on Tehran protesters, killing at least eight, and launch new wave of arrests.

Led by “Avatar,” estimated weekend box office of $278 million shatters record of roughly $253 million when “The Dark Knight” was released in July 2008.

Dec. 28

In Argentina, men turned away in Buenos Aires are wed in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, in Latin America’s first gay marriage.