By Hazel Shahgholi
The 2020 belonged to COVID-19 in mind, body, spirit and news. But other events of note occurred too. Here are a few:
Presidential impeachment trial kicks off messy year. The outcome of the impeachment of President Donald Trump was all but certain, but it went on anyway. This event further inflamed the volcanic bipartisan rift that scorched a year during which the country needed unity to get beyond the medical crisis that later developed. Instead, strict loyalty to Trump from the GOP was the overriding takeaway. Fifty-two of the 53 Republican senators voted to acquit Trump, with Utah Senator Mitt Romney being the lone dissenter.
Financial crash. COVID-19 did more than just kill millions of people globally. Although not as important as this enormous loss of life, financial markets took a brutal beating from the pandemic — one that might take years to recover from. Dubbed the Coronavirus Crash, Wall Street reported bleak numbers: S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq slumped 35%, 38% and 30% respectively. This financial devastation was the fastest major stock market fall in financial history, and one of 2020’s bitter moments given the positive trends of January and February. As a point of comparison, the record quarterly drop for Wall Street was 40% in 1932, during the Great Depression. With contributing reporting from Reuters.
Ghislaine Maxwell, finally arrested. Was British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell a pawn in procuring underage girls to be sexually abused and trafficked by pedophile Jeffrey Epstein? We won’t know the verdict on that until 2021, and Maxwell continues to proclaim her innocence. But we do know that she is being held in a New York City jail pending trial, had an appeal to block a presumably incriminating 2016 testimony from being used in her trial thrown out — on the grounds that “bad publicity” would prevent a fair trial — and is currently attempting to buy her way out of jail with a $28.5 million bail package.
Life on mars remains subject to speculation. But hey, there’s water on the moon! Theorizing of the existence of water on the moon began in the 90s and became increasingly more promising after a 2009 NASA mission. Unlike the majority of 2020, the presence of an abundance of water on the moon is certain, after robust evidence of the H20 chemical signature was confirmed by NASA scientists. Although a vacation as far away from planet Earth as possible sounds pretty dreamy right now, this discovery is magnanimous in terms of future lunar missions that will be made easier with astronauts able to drink instead of lug water to the planet, and also utilize it to create rocket propellant. The water seems to be stored in the planet’s many craters and given that the temperature inside of these craters is rarely above -230 degrees centigrade; missions to the moon for drilling are already being floated. Turns out Elon Musk may have been poking around on the wrong planet. That, or he’s just a really committed David Bowie fan.
Those tax returns. For years, President Trump angled himself as a successful, millionaire businessman who knew how to make money work. But then the bomb dropped in September 2020 when a New York Times expose into his secretive tax returns revealed Trump had paid just $750 in personal income taxes during his first year in office as president, and the same measly figure the year prior. Adding insult to injury he paid no taxes at all in 10 of the 15 previous years. Arguments were slung back and forth. Trump had “prepaid millions of dollars” in federal tax returns and the report was essentially mud-slinging by what he decried as the #FakeNewsMedia who picked only the most damming aspects of the records, hell-bent on preventing him obtaining a second term in office.
The Harvey Weinstein trial. Hobbling into court on a tennis ball-modified walker, Harvey Weinstein — the disgraced Hollywood film mogul — faced justice for years of sexually abusing women. Jurors didn’t feel any remorse for Weinstein after hearing weeks of emotional testimony from victims who were for a long time too afraid to come forth against him, but finally did so due to the bravery of Rose McGowan and the #MeToo movement. Judge James Burke handed down a three-year sentence to Weinstein for the third-degree rape of a woman who wishes to remain anonymous and a 20-year sentence for a first-degree criminal sex act on a production assistant in 2006. Judge Burke ordered the sentences be served consecutively, and a 23-year sentence fora 69-year-old serial sex-offender is something, at least.
Bushfires ravage Australia. Even before the onset of the pandemic, conditions in many parts of Australia were near apocalyptic. Although bushfires occur during the Australia summer due to its hot, dry climate, nobody had ever seen a level of devastation the likes of which ravaged the country in early January 2020. More than 16 acres when up in flames, resulting losses of life, devastation of wildlife habits and the destruction of homes—particularly in the regions of New South Wales and Victoria, filling the skies of the city of Melbourne with heavy clouds of smoke. Many point to climate change as a reason for such environmental catastrophes.