The year of 2010 saw a great number of tumultuous and amazing events.The miraculous evacuation of the Chilean miners, global espionage scandals , labor strikes in France, the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq, Internet security debates and natural disasters all made headlines in 2010. Which events or incidents drew the most attention this year? Let's take a closer look at a few highlights from a truly newsworthy year in history.
Red-shirt Demonstrators in Thailand
Thailand's United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship saw its supporters, known as "Red Shirts" hold demonstration marked the most bloody crisis of its kind to hit Thailand in over 18 years, with 1,885 people injured and 88 dead. The demonstration lasted for nearly nine weeks between March and May. Protestors occupied an airport, and the home of Thailand's prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva; they also set fire to commercial centers. Red Shirts and supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (also known as "Yellow Shirts") have been having demonstrations and protests since a coup rocked the country in 2006; unemployment and damage to Thailand's tourism industry have followed in their wake. The 2010 incident resulted in a loss of $4.6 billion for the tourism industry.
Thirty-three miners buried in a mine in Chile on August 5 were rescued 69 days later, a record time spent underground. The miners were trapped 700 feet below the Earth's surface; their whereabouts were not discovered until they had already been in the mine for 17 days.
After discovering the miners, a Chilean court froze $1.9 million dollars of the mine to compensate the miners. Teams supplied the miners with food and daily necessities via two small tubes that were snaked down to where the miners were trapped. The miners were able to communicate with their families via telephone and video connections, and also received playing cards and books to pass the time until they could be safely brought to the surface.
The extraction of the miners began on October 12 and concluded the following day; all 33 miners were brought to the surface successfully. They have become international celebrities of sorts in the wake of their grueling ordeal.
Strikers in France
Under the pressure of the global financial crisis, France increased its retirement age from 60 to 62 and increased its pension qualification age from 65 to 67 as well, prompting strikes around the country. Public transportation and traffic were almost paralyzed as a result of the strikes. Despite the demonstrations, the plan was approved.
France has seen similar strikes in 1995, when the government attempted to make a little readjustment for its pension system, triggering three-week strike, which ended by the concessions of the government.
American Troops in Iraq
On August 31, American troops formally withdrew from Iraq. The seven-year, five-month war resulted in more than 4,000 military casualties, as well as untold numbers of civilian deaths. Although the withdrawal was intended to mark a formal end to the war, there are still over 50,000 soldiers in Iraq, as well as 100,000 in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan saw an increase in troops at the time of the Iraq withdrawal, which shows that the United States is still seeking to build up its presence in the region.
The global financial crisis might've caused people to tighten their purses, but arms manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe found that there was still a large market for their wares.
In light of its proclamation of Iran as the biggest threat to stability in the Middle East, the United States signed a sales contract valued at $60 billion with Saudi Arabia, one of the largest amounts the U.S. has ever signed on arms. India has become one of the important arms markets in the world, with the United States, France and Russia vying for contracts with the country.
Taliban in Afghanistan
The situation in Afghanistan has grown ever more complicated in the nine years since United States troops first entered the country. The Afghanistan Government's attempts at negotiating with the Taliban terrorist group have largely been fruitless, with Taliban leaders considering the negotiations to be groundless propaganda moves on the part of the government.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has claimed that the government has been making progress in its negotiations; leaders of minority groups in northern Afghanistan have said that private agreements are underway. However, these same groups also believe that the Taliban will continue to grow in power, and wish to re-arm themselves to fight the group.
Karzai asked U.S. troops to cut their actions and reduce their "disturbance" in October, warning that they might trigger a new wave of Taliban insurgency. He also suggested that the U.S. should focus more of its efforts on removing Taliban forces from neighboring Pakistan.
Double agents, nuclear espionage and a Russian femme spy made headlines in July, when Russian secret agent Anna Chapman was drawn into a trap by an FBI agent at a Manhattan coffee shop. Chapman and nine other spies were "traded" to Russia for four U.S. spies that had been detained there. The 10 Russian agents became heroes in their home country upon their return. Anna Chapman, in particular, was singled out by media around the world as "the next Bond girl" for her striking appearance and espionage background. The spy swap was the largest of its kind of the past 30 years. In another recent espionage-related incident, the country of Georgia arrested 13 Russian spies, which aggravated the already-tense relations between the two countries.
Forest Fire Victims
Russia saw tragedy in July when a massive forest fire swept the country, killing more than 50 and injuring over 500. The fire resulted in the loss of over 2,000 homes, 800,000 hectares of forest and two military bases were also lost in the blaze. The fire also threatened the country's main nuclear missile launch site, but no damage was done.
The disaster is believed to have partially resulted from laws enacted in 2007 which reduced the number of forest rangers from over 70,000 to merely 12,000 in the country. The lack of funds created a shortage of communications equipment and protective fire equipment as well, resulting in more losses during the wildfire. That some officials covered up the fire situation was another reason for the disaster.
The practice of computer network hacking received a new round of scrutiny when "Stuxnet," a Windows-specific computer worm, struck 45,000 computers worldwide in June, including 60 percent of computers in Iran. Tech experts said that the worm contained malicious code that could destroy the core software systems that control chemical and electrical production facilities.
In response to this and other attacks, 13 countries, including the United States, France and Germany, jointly participated in Cyber Storm III, a large-scale Internet war game that was designed to test the network security of the participating countries. The exercise took place in September of this year.
In response to the urges of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, 40 of the world's richest families promised to give half of their fortunes, valued at least at $150 billion, to philanthropic causes on August 4. Prior to that, Buffett had promised to donate 99 percent of his fortune to charity; Gates had already committed to giving most of his wealth to his charitable foundation.
In September, Gates and Buffet invited 50 of China's richest businesspeople to a banquet to discuss charitable causes in China. China has the second largest population of wealthy people in the world after the United States, according to the 2010 Hurun Rich List, an annual list of the most wealthy people in China. However, a similar report by Gallup Polls showed that China ranked next to last in a list of biggest charity donors by country.
It's not only the wealthy of China that are reluctant to donate. Mexican telecommunications giant Carlos Slim Helu, ranked as the most wealthy man in the world by Forbes, refused the requests of Gates and Buffett.