Opinion: The Top Stories of 2010 -- What Comes Next?
Well, in any case, here's a quick look back at some of the biggest stories that broke in 2010. And, at no additional cost to you, I provide a forecast of how they will develop in 2011.
• A massive 7.0 earthquake strikes Haiti, killing an estimated 200,000 people. Way to go, 2010. We're off to a great start. 2011 Prediction: Well, it can only get better there in 2011, right? Right??
• Another massive earthquake rattles the surface of the earth, this time off the coast of Chile. The force of this earthquake is so powerful that scientists say it possibly shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and shifted the earth's axis "a lil' bit." 2011 Prediction: Congress earmarks $379 million for research into restoring the 1.26 microseconds and fixing the axis thing.
• The Transportation Safety Administration, the government agency tasked with maintaining America's long lines, introduces full-body scanners that reveal a traveler's hidden weapons and/or naughty parts. 2011 Prediction: The terrorists figure out a way around the body scanners. Have a nice flight!
• President Obama's health care bill is signed into law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 2011 Prediction: It doesn't do any of those things.
• The BP Deepwater Horizon oil well suffers a massive blowout, killing 11 men and dumping into the Gulf of Mexico 185 million gallons of crude oil. And later, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano (pronounced "väl-kā-nō") erupts, causing a massive ash cloud that disrupts air traffic across Europe. 2011 Prediction: After a massive investigation to determine the cause of this volcanic eruption, evidence points conclusively to BP.
• Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad tries to blow up Times Square with propane tanks and fireworks. He is sentenced to life in prison. 2011 Prediction: In a Double-Secret Probation deal, Mr. Shahzad is quietly released from prison and infiltrates al-Qaida training camps, where he teaches bomb-making and police evasion techniques to other would-be jihadists.
• World Cup 2010 takes place in South Africa. Some country other than America wins, so no one cares all that much. 2011 Prediction: In 2011, the ringing in our ears from the @#$! vuvuzelas finally subsides.
• Facebook announces that its membership has reached 500 million. 2011 Prediction: Facebook annoys users with new privacy settings, changes its "look and feel" twice, and I post four pictures that will someday derail my election bid.
• President Obama signs the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. 2011 Prediction: It doesn't do any of that.
• JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater jumps out of a plane and into America's heart. We're kidding, Steven. Everyone is tired of you and hopes you go away in 2011. 2011 Prediction: Steven Slater goes away.
• Obama announces the end of American combat in Iraq. Mission accomplished! Since that announcement, 15 coalition soldiers have been killed in Iraq and 50,000 US troops remain deployed there. 2011 Prediction: Something bad happens.
• Thirty-three Chilean miners fall into an open mine shaft, one after the other, while texting and walking (or something) thus becoming the most famous Chileans since ... since ... give me a minute here. 2011 Prediction: OK, in 2011 I'm going to come up with something here.
• The NFL's New York Jets get in trouble after showing a stunning lack of respect for a professional journalist when they make inappropriate comments toward TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz whose picture I haven't seen. Oh wait ... Heeeeooooowwww!!! Ah-ooohga! Ah-oooohga! Hommina-hommina-hommina-hommina! 2011 Prediction: Dave George gets in trouble for showing a stunning lack of respect, etc.
• U.S. citizen Sarah Shourd is released from an Iranian prison after being caught hiking with friends on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. 2011 Prediction: Sarah goes on a hike, proving that Iran is soft on crime.
• Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hold a massive rally in Washington to "Restore Sanity and/or Fear." 2011 Prediction: Neither are restored.
• Republicans sweep the midterm elections, gaining 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate. 2011 Prediction: The New Year ushers in a period of compromise, friendship and progress in Congress. Just kidding. More of the same.
• North Korea launches hundreds of artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeon, proving that Kim Jong-Il and his son, Kim Jong-Iller, can act as crazy as they want and no one will do anything. 2011 Prediction: The New Year ushers in a year of compromise, friendship and progress on the Korean peninsula. Just kidding. More of the same.
• After publishing secret American diplomatic cables, Australian Julian Assange, publisher of WikiLeaks, is arrested in Great Britain for sexual assault and later released on bail. 2011 Prediction: I don't know. But I don't think it's going to end well for anyone involved.