My images of the decade.
The last flight of the supersonic Concorde, July 25, 2000. The plane caught fire on takeoff at Charles de Gaulle airport and crashed, killing all 109 passengers and crew and four people on the ground. One of its tires had struck a piece of metal that fell off one of the previous planes to use the runway, bouncing up and hitting a fuel tank on aircraft, fully-fuelled as it embarked on a transAtlantic flight. Air France and British Airways retired their Concordes, which never had been profitable but lent elan to each carrier.
"The Bachelor," "Project Runway," "Dancing With the Stars"...blame it all on the wild success of the first of the low-budget, high-ratings "reality shows," "Survivor," which debuts on CBS in May 2000. Survivor is anything but "reality" - the "dangers" are carefully stagemanaged with ample food and medical supplies just outside camera range - but the shows succeed in distracting the U.S. viewing public from some grisly realities that will define the decade.
Visitation for Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who died Sept. 28, 2000. Among the most visionary of world leaders of his time, the long-serving Canadian prime minister was laid to rest after services at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.
Judge Robert Rosenberg inspects presidential ballots in a Broward County, Fla. recount, Nov. 23, 2000. Florida is not the key electoral state that the events of 2000 made it out to be. If Al Gore had carried his home state of Tennessee he would have become the 43rd president. Obama won a resounding victory without Florida last year. Clinton carried Florida in 1996 but not in 1992. Bush, who lost the election to Gore by more than 700,000 votes, was installed president by a majority GOP-appointed U.S. Supreme Court.
In Canada, voting practices are uniform across the nation. In the U.S., voting hours, the use of paper ballots or machines, the design of ballots, how votes are counted and other aspects of balloting vary not just by state but often by county. The Dade and Broward county ballots for the 2000 presidential vote, approved by officials in those heavily populated Democratic-controlled jurisdictions, were convoluted beyond belief. Seniors, in particular, told exit pollsters they had voted for Gore when the way they'd marked their ballots actually was a vote for Pat Buchanan, an independent whose name remained on the ballot though he had long ago dropped out of the race.
"Too bad about Al. He loves a parade."
...speak no evil...
"The new president of China is Hu? That's what I'm askin' ya, who's the new president of China?"
"With a piece of chalk this size, Saddam could cover an entire blackboard. There's no telling where he'd stop."
"Why don't we make it official and you join my cabinet?"
September 11, 2001.
Canada and many other nations joined the U.S. in invading Afghanistan in late 2001 to topple the Taliban regime and the al-Qaeda operations to which it was providing safe haven.
Afghan's poppy output has only increased since Western forces invaded. In 2009, Afghanistan is Europe's principal opium supplier.
Ken Lay, late CEO of Enron Corp., died while his conviction was on appeal.
Jeff Skilling, Lay's successor as CEO, is appealing his jail term.
Andy Fastow, Enron's CFO, was the enabler. Lay and Skilling couldn't manage long division, much less offshore "special purpose entities" for hiding fiscal eyesores from regulators.
John Rigas of Adelphia, one of America's top 10 cable outfits, stripped of his freedom and beloved Buffalo Sabres.
Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and $6,000 shower curtain fame.
You pal around with Kissinger long enough, something like this is bound to happen.
"You all loved Phantom. C'mon, admit it."
Bernie Madoff, 70, is arrested Dec. 11, 2008 and on conviction for fraud is sentenced to a 150-year jail term. It was called a Ponzi scheme - perhaps the biggest swindle in history - but its remarkable duration and magnitude (and estimated $65 billion) should have earned it the sobriquet "Madoff scheme."
George W. Bush repeatedly said Iraq was "the central front in the war on terrorism." Yet after 9/11, al-Qaeda next struck at Bali, killing and maiming mostly Australian tourists. Australia was one of America's few allies in the invasion of Iraq.
Al-Qaeda next struck in Madrid, in March 2004, killing 173 people in a series of attacks. The Spanish PM, another member of the "coalition of the willing," was soon ousted in an election and Spain promptly withdrew its support for the Iraq war.
The London al-Qaeda bombings of 2005 were the work of homegrown terrorists, who'd fallen under the spell of Islamic extremism. Today, there are known or suspected al-Qaeda cells in at least 60 nations, including the U.S. and Canada. Fact: There is no central front in the war on terrorism.
The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, the biggest American foreign-policy blunder since Vietnam, begins with the bombardment of one of Saddam Hussein's many palaces, in Baghdad, March 21, 2003.
The surprisingly small group of Baghdad residents gathered in Baghdad's central plaza on April 9, 2003 - made to look like a sizeable crowd by U.S. TV networks that zoomed in on them - tried but weren't able to topple the largest of the many Iraqi statutes of Saddam. So it was pulled down by a U.S. tank.
When the WMD failed to materialize, the WH changed its rationale for invasion to nation-building. In the 2000 campaign, Bush had falsely depicted Gore as an advocate of feckless nation-building abroad.
Bush prematurely declares victory in Iraq, in a May 1, 2003 photo-op aboard the American aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Everything went horribly wrong, and quickly, in Iraq, beginning with vandalism and banditry the U.S. military forces did nothing to stop since policing was not part of their mission. Within about a year, Iraq's leadership class - in government, law, education, medicine - had fled the lawless country. In addition to those two million self-exiled Iraqis were another two million Iraqis "internally displaced" as Shia and Sunnis too poor to flee engaged in mutual ethnic cleansing. A metaphor for the spectacular incompetence was the very small, still-unsolved matter of who erected the "Mission Accomplished" banner. The White House and the Defense Department blamed each other for what Bush would acknowledge in his last press conference, in 2008, was a PR disaster.
Saddam Hussein was captured Dec. 14, 2003. As if the indignity of being discovered hiding in a hole in the ground weren't enough, the Pentagon made a public show of examining the former dictator.
The most ubiquitous Public Enemy No. 1 in history. Would Bush have been a wartime president for seven years, with the power that confers, had the Pentagon not let Osama slip away at Tora Bora?
To some it seemed bin Laden had become America's chief executive. An unprovoked attack on a sovereign Muslim nation, world disgust over torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay (below) and CIA "black sites" across Europe, a $1-trillion hole in the U.S. treasury - the al-Qaeda leader couldn't have hoped for a better return on his estimated $500,000 investment in 9/11.
An aerial view of Sudanese refugee tents in Eastern Chad. Persistent attacks on Sudanese villagers in Darfur drove survivors to flee to neighboring Chad. As with the continuing crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations, Darfur was ignored by a West - and especially an America - preoccupied with Iraq.
The College of Cardinals, mourning the death of John Paul II in April 2005, deliberates on a suitable replacement for a Pope who served 26 years and played "hide the priest" with sexually abusive clerics hastily transferred to new parishes, and for good measure turned the clock back on already restricted roles for women in the Church.
And they found a suitable successor in Pope Benedict, the former Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany, an erstwhile member of the Hitler Youth.
"I am very, very concerned about our native people. I'm very concerned about the economy in hard-hit regions, of course that's a priority. And, lookit, I'm very, very concerned about our military strength, as all Canadians are. I know they're very, very concerned about medical wait times. And sure, you ask me, of course I'm very, very determined to make a decision about these things. But first I have to create the Gomery inquiry to expose whatever fraud we've committed and, you know, basically destroy the Liberal franchise."
Stephen Harper ends 13 years of Liberal rule in Parliament in January 2006. "You're not going to believe this - I don't believe it myself - but I'm going to end up running the biggest deficits in Canadian history."
"These signs, I'm thinking now they should be green."
The kitten has been Photoshopped, but Howard Dean's "scream" on losing the first test of his promising presidential ambitions in 2004, on the night of the Iowa caucuses, soon ended his campaign. Dean, a former Vermont governor, had pioneered use of grassroots, Internet-based fundraising and recruiting to become a political phenom. Obama would put that methodology to good use in 2008. On this night, alas, Dean's predictable if emphatic exhortation that his cause was not lost, and his campaign would go on to win in future caucuses and primaries, was replayed in an endless loop by a mainstream media that decided the future head of the Democratic National Committee had a screw loose.
For the obscure keynoter at the Democrats' 2004 presidential convention in Boston, a rapt audience was all ears.
The American electorate was not similarly electrified by a patrician and flip-flopping John Kerry, who nonetheless managed to rack up more votes than any presidential candidate in history save George W. Bush's vote count in 2004. The consistency with which "progessive" parts of America voted Democratic, including big states like California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey, led to a brief threat among disgruntled voters to abandon their homeland for Canada, seen to be more of a kindred spirit than, say, Texas, the sparcely populated Mountain and Plain States and the Deep South, in which Christian evangelicals were seen to be imposing conservative electoral outcomes on the entire nation.
After a series of provincial supreme court decisions striking down prohibition of same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Jean Chretien gains passage of legislation making same-sex marriage legal throughout Canada. Even partners of 20- and 20-year relationships rush to make it official. The sky does not fall. Instead, the institution of marriage is strengthened by all those wishing to make their mutual commitment known to the community, amid the continuing pandemic of divorce and of people putting of marriage and family until later and later in life, or forsaking it altogether.
Paris Hilton at a "photo call" in Cannes in 2005. A distant relative of the same name pioneered the concept of global hotel chains. Ms. Hilton disproved Andy Warhol's maxim, extending her 15 minutes of inexplicable fame across a decade.
Michael Jackson, destined not to survive the decade, dangles an unidentified infant from his Berlin hotel suite in 2002.
"I know, 'Borat', it sounds like an Eastern European laundry detergent."
"I think of myself as a one-person reality show."
"I don't get it. At best I'm a 'light leading man'. But if they're going to peg me as the decade's Olivier, I'll just have to go with it."
Nickolas Sarkozy and his new wife, Carla Bruni, on a December 2007 visit to the Giza Pyramids near Cairo. "I wonder if the Pharaohs' wives stole each other's husbands too."
Angela Merkel is the first woman chancellor in the history of Germany, the world's third-largest economy. Re-elected in 2009, her resolve is accompanied by a conciliatory approach required of anyone leading a coalition government, which is occasionally mistaken by domestic critics as weakness. "Somehow, in Germany I don't think a nickname like 'Iron Lady' would go over so well."
"Michelle Bachelet, I know that doesn't sound Spanish, and I'm also the first woman president. But Chileans are very open minded. Everything's a little different here in the world's longest skinniest nation."
Nancy Pelosi, congresswoman representing a San Francisco district, and long deemed too liberal for a starring role in the Dem leadership. Her work in recapturing the House of Representatives for the Democrats found her suddenly heading the Dem leadership, as first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. "How better to celebrate my first day as Speaker than make these kids listen to 14 hours of tedious speeches, just like I have to do?"
"No, Evo, we are kindred spirits but not interchangeable. I have oil. You have almonds."
"Being indispensible to Obama isn't enough, oh no. My hair-challenged friend is poised to make his fourth failed bid for an NHL team."
Apple's must-have iPhone is launched in 2007. "No liver transplant is going to stop me keep me from my sacred mission to reinvent the world."
"Your question, again? Oh, it's $499. Or $1,348 with shipping."
Searching the Web became a widespread addiction in the first decade of the century, and by making it simple Google gained a near stranglehold on the market. Cofounders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin, right, just 25 when they launched the firm in 1998, became billionaires when the company went public in 2004. The trio was filled out with the arrival of Eric Schmidt (middle, above) as CEO. The press-shy cofounders were pleased to have Schmidt, a tech-industry veteran, become Google's public face.
"How you say, chic flick, no, chick flick. I am very good at this thing, chick flick."
"Everyone I know has watched my film at least eight times. And every one of them, they saw it the first time because of Rowan Atkinson."
Whatever intrepid impulse motivated the news media up until the Watergate era had been thoroughly beaten out of it, so that the century began with a late-night comedy show, The Daily Show with Jon Colbert, became for many Americans their only trusted source of news. The comic manerisms, writing and timing of Stewart is not to be discounted, but showing the everyday hypocrisy and absurdity of public figures in the first decade of the century was like shooting fish in a barrel. "How can I compete with this guy? 'I've been misunderestimated'? I got a team of writers who can't improve on the stuff that just falls out of this guy's mouth."
Stephen Colbert, spawn of the Daily Show, breaks the rules at the 2005 White House Correspondents' Dinner, the high point of the D.C. social season, by telling the most prestigious journalists in the land that they're gullible, naive or lazy in giving the Bush regime a free pass all these years. The media, reporting on an event concerning itself, dumped all over Colbert the next day. And his truth-to power performance became a long-running YouTube sensation. "And over here, we have another sychopant, David Broder, sitting behind that stenographer John King of CNN. Quite a crowd of yes-people at John's table, I see. There's Leslie Stahl, Candy Crowley, is that Brian Williams? How does it feel to cover up for the most mendacious administration in modern times? No really, I wonder how you do it. What are the logistics of ignoring what your lying eyes tell you? I know you must all have amazing shrinks. Guess you'll get someone like Rich Little next year, and you should. I've heard his joke. It's good."
"Remember kids, only dopes do dope." And Hank Aaron still holds the "un-asterisked" record for career home runs.
Zinedine Zidane earns a red card in the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin. "The crazy thing is, I butt your head, I disgrace football, my team loses anyway. But they invite me to the Elysee Palace and call me a national hero. Why? Because we're French."
"Okay, that's enough. I can hold this smile for another four seconds, max. Is this for Tag Heuer or Buick or Accenture or who exactly?"
New Orleans, September 1, 2005. Hurricane Katrina would end the Bush presidency. Ineptitude in the Iraq occupation was rampant but remote. The Bush incompetence in losing one of America's great cities from the predictable damage of a storm in a hurricane-prone region was searing proof the Bush regime had difficulty coping with its most basic responsilities. Even before the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress the following year, Bush had become irrelevant, with a public-approval rating that seldom rose above 30% from this point to the end of his presidency..
Benazir Bhutto, self-described "daughter of destiny," a reference to her slain father, is assassinated Dec. 27, 2007, barely two months after her return to Pakistan after a long self-imposed exile. Ousted from the PM post once held by her father, Bhutto seemed poised for a political comeback. Her death was was a reminder that the political instability of Pakistan, a nuclear power, for most of this decade is a threat to the region, for a start complicating the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban in next-door Afghanistan.
Ted Kennedy leaves Hyannisport for the last time, in 2009 after holding out against brain cancer about a year longer than his doctors imagined possible. By far the greatest statesman of the three best-known Kennedy boys, Edward M. Kenney's relentless advocacy on behalf of less advantaged Americans - in health care, working conditions, minimum-wage increases, collective bargaining - has touched the life of every American.
Russia invades Georgia, birthplace of Stalin, former Soviet republic and of late engaged in needless provocation of the Kremlin. "We're all Georgians now!" candidate McCain said the day of the 2008 invasion, evoking the Le Monde headline of French unity with America over 9/11. Two years later an EU inquiry would find both sides complicit in unjustifiable aggression.
A remnant of Tibetan opposition to Chinese control of their homeland, swamped by Beijing in recent years with hundreds of thousands of ethnic Han Chinese to assert the regime's control over the once independent nation.
The Mumbai massacre of Nov. 27, 2008 strikes at India's most culturally vibrant city and entrepreneurial capital. New Dehli immediately fingers Pakistan, but proof - circumstantial and otherwise - is missing.
Our brave new world: A woman infected in Asia with SARS deplanes in North America in 2003 and soon Canada, and Toronto in particular, is afflicted with a pandemic. Lives are lost, tourism plummets, Beijing is in denial about its lax public-health standards.
Michelle and Barack Obama exchange a fist bump at a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minn. in June 2008. Promptly dubbed a "terrorist fist bump" by the uninitiated, the gesture would eventually be reported as commonplace among U.S. professional athletes and such unlikely "terrorists" as Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Write your own caption. An unflappable Obama repeatedly praised his opponent in the three presidential debates of 2008. McCain, by contrast, did himself no favors by wandering around the stage like a crazy uncle, managing few references of any kind to Obama except, notably, "this one." With much of the world in crisis, voters were looking for a cool customer and the excitable McCain didn't fit the bill.
Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha were having a grand time until Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, whose appointment then-senator Obama had opposed, mangled the oath-taking.
"My first state visit and there to greet me is another head of state who's a person of color. I was feeling kinda unique there for awhile."
"No, Barack and I have been hanging around food banks and with food-bank people most of our adult lives. You should have some of this while it's hot. For a time my husband was raised on food stamps. It's those two books of his that have turned us into millionaires. We just paid off the student loans two years ago."
"They say you can walk on water. Isn't that...dangerous?"
"I would have dropped a line in there about our own personal approach to conflict resolution, but I'm not sure a Nobel audience would get the reference to "I knew you when you were an obnoxious, know-it-all chain smoker wearing the same creased never-seen-a-laundry Goodwill jacket every time we met."
Crude oil prices hit a record $147.50 per barrel in 2008, dealing a punishing blow to Detroit, which relied on sales of SUVs for its slender profits. As buyer sentiment shifted to small cars, imports benefited since Detroit had always scorned small vehicles, thinking Americans would never take to them. By the spring of 2009, the unthinkable had happened - General Motors, long the world's largest industrial corporation, had filed for bankrutpcy protection along with Chrysler Corp., and the firms survive only due to federal bailout deeply unpopular with the American public.
A local sculptor gets into the spirit of the 40% plunge in stock prices that began in the fall of 2008, wiping out trillions of dollars in Americans' retirement savings.
If only it were true. By bailing out the banks, Washington created a "moral hazard" - the knowledge of bankers that they were too big to fail and would be bailed out of their future recklessness.
Dick Fuld testifies at a Congressional hearing in October 2008, a month after his major but insolvent New York investment firm, Lehman Brothers, collapses and triggers a global capital freeze among banks worldwide that no longer trust each other to make good on overnight loan commitments. The fun starts early this day for Fuld, as a congressional panel whose members include enablers of lax financial-markets supervision try to depict Fuld and his kind as the sole culprits in events triggering a recession worse than any downturn since the Great Depression.
A worker readies to repair a vandalized window at the Edinburgh mansion of Sir Fred Goodwin, disgraced hyper-acquisitive CEO who steered Royal Bank of Scotland toward the abyss. Goodwin was sacked and British taxpayers bailed out and quasi-nationalized Britain's biggest bank, and the second-largest in Europe after Switzerland's UBS AG, yet another bailout recipient.
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and a student of the Great Depression, knows that trillions of dollars will have to be pumped into the financial system immediately to stabilize the patient. He and Tim Geithner, former head of the New York Fed, with a direct supervisory role over the errant bankers, are each culpable in letting things get out of hand. Bernanke, nominated for a second Fed term by Obama, and Geithner, Obama's treasury secretary, now have the task of fixing a mess that they more than most could have prevented.
The GOP nattered, natters still, about a failed government program. But auto dealers, many in communities where they are the largest employers in town, were grateful for the first boost in new-car sales in two years.
The torture has ended, one of Obama's first-day acts. But the promised closing of Guantanamo is pushed back to 2011, as NIMBY members of Congress, Obama's fellow Democrats included, deny him the funds to buy an unused prison in the president's home state of Illinois for fear the area will become a terrorist target.
Capt. Nichola Goddard, first Canadian woman soldier to die in combat, successfully defending her subordinates in a fire-fight with Taliban insurgents until she was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
"Okay, Eastwood, I'm ready for my close-up."
China takes time out from mounting an Industrial Revolution in a quarter of the time the West did to stage its first, magnificent Olympics. The focal point of the August 2008 Summer Games is the National Stadium (above), a.k.a. the Bird's Nest for its basket-weave design.
Which nicely prepared China just a year later for its 50th anniversary of communist rule. So why honour Sun Yat-sen, the first leader to rebuke centuries of dynastic power, but hardly a communist? Because China is infinitely more complex than Westerners yet realize and may end up owning the 21st century.
June 29, 2009: Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, an aspiring pop-music singer, steps out of a car with her singing instructor near an anti-government protest over the disputed June 12 re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and is shot in the heart, dying within minutes. "Neda" means "voice" in Persian, and the apolitical Agha-Soltan's death, apparently by a regime sniper, goes viral as a symbol not only of Iranian repression (where she becomes known as the Voice of Iran) but the rights of women everywhere.
Jan. 15, 2009: Heroic machine, heroic pilot. With each wise decision Captain Sully made in his less-than-five-minute flight before ditching in the Hudson after a bird strike knocked out both his engines, the "fly-by-wire" system of electronic, rather than mechanical, controls of his Airbus automatically performed up to a dozen actions that pilots of earlier planes would be required to do. And would not, in this emergency, have had time to do.
Dec. 26, 2006: The aftermath of a routine anti-government attack on Nigeria's economic mainstay, its network of foreign-owned oil pipelines, pumping stations and ship-loading facilities. In every oil-rich developing-world country, oil is a curse, the profits wholly absorbed by a repressive regime and the environmental mess the only reward of the citizens.
Survivors grieve the loss of comrades at Fort Hood in Texas, where 12 people are killed and 31 injured by a deranged gunman on Nov. 5, 2009 in the worst mass shooting at a military base in the U.S.
As oil climbed to a record $147.50 (U.S.) per barrel last year, the pace of developing hybrid- and all-electric cars accelerated.
Inside the hub of a wind turbine, high above French farmland dotted with turbines.
Drawing attention to the Maldives plight should global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted, the world's fourth-smallest nation holds a cabinet meeting underwater in advance of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
It began in 1975 as a club, five wealthy nations gathering annually. Soon Canada and Italy joined, and not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia too. But where was China? India? Brazil? Finally in London in the spring of 2009 the G-20 began to displace the G-8, which will disappear altogether with its last meeting, parallel to a G-20 meeting at the same time and place, in Toronto in 2010. World economic and climate conditions being in the state of crisis they were, it seemed right to have two G-20s in 2009, in London and Pittsburgh. For all the cultural and geographic diversity, and the larger group of leaders, discussion was brisk and tangible agreements reached. The world took another, overdue step toward a global village.
November 9, 2009. Berliners celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the loathed wall that divided the city for decades during the era of Soviet control. There was newed mourning for those who died trying to reunite with family and friends on the other side of the cruel barrier, renewed joy in living in a unified city.