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2005 - The Year That Was...

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Katrina Is Voted Top Story of 2005 By DAVID
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2006
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Katrina Is Voted Top Story of 2005
      By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
      Thu Dec 22, 2005

      The onslaught of Gulf Coast hurricanes, notably Katrina and the
      deadly flooding which devastated New Orleans, was overwhelmingly
      picked by U.S. editors and news directors as the top story of 2005
      in The Associated Press' annual vote.

      The hurricanes received 242 first-place votes out of 288 ballots
      cast. No other story received more than 18 first-place votes.

      The death of Pope John Paul II, and the election of Joseph Ratzinger
      to succeed him as Pope Benedict XVI, was the No. 2 pick, followed by
      the situation in Iraq, where news of violence and politics vied
      almost equally for attention throughout the year.

      Iraq was voted the top story in 2002 and 2003, and was runner-up in
      2004 to the U.S. election in which President Bush won a second term.

      Here are 2005's top 10 stories, as voted by AP members:

      1. HURRICANE KATRINA: Days in advance, America knew it was coming.
      But even though Hurricane Katrina weakened slightly from its
      frightening Category 5 strength, its impact was stunning. It killed
      more than 1,300 people in five states, ravaged the Mississippi Gulf
      Coast and set off flooding that submerged 80 percent of New Orleans,
      forcing the largest urban dislocation in U.S. history. Hurricanes
      Wilma and Rita also inflicted severe damage.

      2: PAPAL TRANSITION: John Paul II's death marked the passing of the
      first non-Italian pope in 455 years and ended a 26-year pontificate,
      third-longest in history. In a remarkable show of affection, many
      millions attended services worldwide on the day of his funeral.
      Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, expected to continue a
      conservative doctrinal approach, became the new pope and promptly
      waived the normal waiting period so John Paul could swiftly be
      considered for sainthood.

      3: IRAQ: As in 2004, news from Iraq ranged from the grim, including
      a devastating wave of suicide bombings, to the promising — Iraqis
      voting for new leaders and thrashing out differences on a new
      constitution. The U.S. military death toll surpassed 2,000, and
      President Bush estimated the Iraqi toll at 30,000, but he insisted
      U.S. forces would stay until Iraqi troops could contain insurgents
      on their own.

      4: SUPREME COURT: Not since 1994 had a Supreme Court seat become
      vacant. Suddenly there were two openings due to Sandra Day
      O'Connor's retirement and Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death.
      John Roberts was smoothly confirmed to succeed Rehnquist, but
      President Bush's next nominee, Harriet Miers, had to bow out amid
      conservative complaints. The right liked the next choice, Samuel
      Alito, but he could face tough Democratic opposition at confirmation
      hearings in January.

      5: OIL PRICES: Crude oil prices hit an all-time peak of almost $71 a
      barrel in August before subsiding. Costly gasoline prompted some
      motorists to rethink their driving habits; the beleaguered U.S.
      airline industry had to spend $9 billion more on jet fuel in 2005
      than in 2004.

      6: LONDON BOMBINGS: Attacks on three rush-hour subway trains and a
      bus killed 56 people on July 7, including four bombers with ties to
      Islamic militants. Authorities said three of the alleged bombers
      were born in Britain to immigrant parents from Pakistan; the fourth
      was from Jamaica.

      7: ASIAN QUAKE: A massive earthquake near the Pakistan-India border
      killed more than 87,000, and left more than 3 million homeless.
      Worried relief officials appealed for more emergency aid as winter
      arrived in the stricken region.

      8: TERRI SCHIAVO: A family feud escalated into a wrenching national
      debate as the husband of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo struggled and
      finally succeeded in getting clearance to remove the feeding tube
      that had kept her alive for 15 years. President Bush, Florida Gov.
      Jeb Bush and members of Congress joined Terri Schiavo's parents in
      efforts to have the tube reinserted before she died.

      9: CIA LEAK: Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby,
      was indicted and several prominent journalists were entangled in
      complex offshoots as a special prosecutor investigated the Bush
      administration's leaking of Valerie Plame's CIA status to the news
      media in 2003. Plame's husband, a former U.S. diplomat, had accused
      the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

      10: BUSH'S STRUGGLES: Multiple factors, including public doubts
      about Iraq, a flawed response to Hurricane Katrina and a failed
      Supreme Court nomination, drove President Bush's national approval
      ratings below 40 percent, the lowest of his presidency.

      Just missing out on the Top 10 was the start of toppled Iraqi leader
      Saddam Hussein's trial on charges of mass murder and torture.

      Voters in the AP survey were invited to write in their own
      suggestions of top stories. Three cited the auto industry's woes,
      including layoffs at General Motors, and one suggested the
      revelation that former FBI official Mark Felt was the Watergate
      source "Deep Throat."

      Mark Bowden, editor of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offered a
      general observation on his ballot.

      "The world was wracked with pain in 2005, enduring a parade of
      natural disasters," he wrote. "And, of course some of the pain was
      self-inflicted — war, terrorism, rebellion, violence, crime, drug
      abuse, business fraud. ... There is never a slow day in the news


      Refugee, tsunami top US word of the year list
      By Arthur Spiegelman
      Thu Dec 15, 2005

      Refugee was named word of the year on Thursday by a language
      monitoring group that cited the political storm it created when used
      to describe the hundreds of thousands in New Orleans who fled
      Hurricane Katrina.

      The nonprofit Global Language Monitor named refugee to top its
      annual list. It was followed by tsunami, Katrina, pope
      and "Chinglish," which describes the "new second language of
      China." "Out of the Mainstream" was named phrase of the year
      and "OK" the most universally used word.

      Global Language Monitor head Paul JJ Payack said refugee, which was
      used five times more often than other words to describe those made
      homeless by Katrina, triggered a debate on race and political

      Civil Rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson said using the term to
      describe the mostly poor and black citizens of New Orleans made
      homeless by Katrina was "inaccurate, unfair and racist" and implied
      that those using the term were prepared to "see them as other than

      President Bush opted to use "displaced citizens," saying that "the
      people we're talking about are not refugees. They are Americans."
      Several major newspapers dropped using the word and others said they
      would use it cautiously.

      Language expert William Safire said the word more often than not is
      used to denote a person "who seeks refuge or asylum in a foreign
      country to escape religious or political persecution," rather than a
      person who simply seeks refuge from a storm.

      Tsunami, from the Japanese word for harbor wave, placed second on
      the list of words. Payack noted that few would have recognized the
      word before the Christmas Day 2004 disaster in Southeast Asia.

      Third was "Poppa/Papa/Pope" to mark the death of John Paul II,
      followed by "Chinglish," "H5N1," the name for looming avian flu
      pandemic, "recaille," a French word for riff-raff that officials
      used to describe rioters in France. That was followed by Katrina
      and "wiki," from the Hawaiian for "quick" and now embraced on the
      Internet as a term for collaboration, as in the Web site Wikipedia.

      Ninth was SMS, or "Short Message Service," to connote the more than
      one trillion text messages in 2005, and 10th was "insurgent," which
      Payack described as a politically neutral term used to describe
      enemy combatants.

      "Out of the Mainstream," used to describe the ideology of a
      political opponent, was the phrase of year, followed by bird
      flu/avian flu; politically correct, which Payack said has now
      emerged as a worldwide phenomenon; and North/South divide, which
      describes global "haves and have nots."

      Also included are the phrase list are "string theory," the idea that
      the universe is constructed of 11 pulsating planes of
      existence; "jumping the couch," to denote losing emotional control
      and made popular by Tom Cruise's encounter with a couch on the Oprah
      television show; and "deferred success," a new way of describing


      Plummeting 2005 box office sparks Hollywood crisis
      Tue Dec 27, 2005

      Even a much-hyped giant gorilla, a geisha and a schoolboy magician
      have not been able to create a happy ending at the US box office, as
      Hollywood ends its most disappointing year in nearly two decades.

      Plunging movie ticket sales, after a string of uninspiring remakes
      and movie sequels coupled with an explosion of the DVD and video
      game markets, are keeping audiences at home and have sent Hollywood
      into a deep existential crisis.

      "This industry is facing significant challenges," said Jack Kyser,
      chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp,
      a business support and research body.

      Ticket sale revenues dropped five percent in the first 11 months of
      2005 while the number of Americans going to the cinema fell by 6.2
      percent compared with the same period in 2004, according to box
      office trackers Exhibitor Relations Co Inc.

      The result is Tinseltown's most disappointing box office performance
      in 15 years as audiences, dazzled by their entertainment choices and
      disappointed by the mediocre films on offer, turned away from the
      cinema in droves.

      Even the late November and December releases of blockbusters "Harry
      Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "King Kong", "Chronicles of Narnia:
      The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" have
      been unable to turn around the downward trend.

      "It's not just a slump in box office, but also in sales of DVDs,"
      Kyser told AFP. "This is mainly because of unattractive movies that
      don't appeal to young male audiences, the cost of movie tickets,
      parking (and) the shrinking window (between) a movie's theatrical
      and DVD releases.

      In addition, Hollywood faces a major external threat: runaway
      production costs and the growing trend of movie producers to shoot
      in places such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand to cash in on
      much lower staff and production charges.

      "Some studios are doing some moderate lay offs. LA's future is at
      stake," Kyser said, demonstrating the depth of despair in the nine-
      billion-dollar a year industry.

      Industry movers are battling to isolate the true causes of the
      slump, crossing their fingers that the big-budget money-spinners up
      Hollywood's sleeve will help ease the pain.

      "Is it the movies? Is it the ticket prices? Is it because home
      theater and DVD?," pondered Exhibitor Relations Co's chief Paul
      Dergarabedian."I think because all this is happening at the same
      time, it is a combination of facts."

      But he was optimistic for the future of the industry, saying that
      when Hollywood does dish up a good film, audiences still go rushing
      to see it.

      "'Harry Potter' is showing that people still want to go to the
      movies but still they need a good reason to go," Dergarabedian told

      The fourth film of JK Rowling's cult novels opened on November 18
      and has raked in more than 250 million dollars, making it second
      most successful film of 2005, behind "Star Wars: Episode III --
      Revenge of the Sith".

      "When a good movie strikes, people go to the theatres," said

      The last in the "Star Wars" series raked in a whopping 380 million
      dollars in North American box office, "War of the Worlds," starring
      Tom Cruise took 234 million, the comedy "Wedding Crashers" notched
      up 208 million in ticket receipts and Tim Burton's "Charlie and the
      Chocolate Factory" took 206 million.

      But the successes were few and far between in 2005.

      Ron Howard's 88-million-dollar biopic "Cinderella Man," starring
      Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger, took only 61
      million dollars, while Ridley Scott's crusade epic "Kingdom of
      Heaven," which cost 130 million dollars to make, reaped only 47
      million at the all-important domestic the box office.

      Other fizzlers that did not recoup their budgets included the much-
      touted sci-fi flop "The Island," which hauled in only 35 million
      dollars, while Jamie Foxx's military drama "Stealth" bombed with a
      US and Canadian haul of 31 million dollars. It quickly disappeared
      from screens.

      "Movie goers are very picky and they want the price of the ticket to
      be worthwhile, the studios had to offer more," said Gitesh Pandya of
      movie industry tracker Box Office Guru.

      "There should be more creativity and new ideas, not just sequels and
      remakes. Let's hope Hollywood listens to the audiences," he added.
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