No one took the White Sox seriously until it was too late. Sure Chicago powered more home runs than the free-swinging Red Sox. But compared to famous Boston sluggers like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the star power of the White Sox no-name lineup could hardly compare. But it isn't the size of the name that wins baseball games.
The White Sox won in 2005 by getting on and then stealing bases. By pitching and fielding. By doing all the things that chicks (and dudes) who dig the long ball might miss. And they did it with reject pitchers from the New York Yankees like Orlando Hernandez and especially Jose Contreras, as well as home-grown youngsters like Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland.
With the Red Sox breaking an 86-year World Series drought in 2004 and the Chicago White Sox ending an 88-year World Series slump, does a 97-year losing streak seem unbreakable? But if the Cubs do try to emulate their cross-town neighbors, they'll likely find at least one thing impossible. There is only one Ozzie Gullien, a manager whose team adopted his confident persona and translated it into wins on the field.
Nearly two and a half years after the Columbia space craft disintegrated during re-entry, NASA launched another space shuttle, this time sending Discovery into space on a research mission coupled with a delivery of supplies to the International Space Station. But upon re-entry, Discovery faced the same problems Columbia encountered, though without tragedy. One safe landing and thousands of sighs of relief later, NASA in August grounded the space-shuttle fleet once again.
Just plain wrong
Howard Dean in his own words:
- "The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party." -Mr. Dean speaking to reporters on June 6 in San Francisco.
- "Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives." -Mr. Dean speaking to Democratic activists on June 2.
- "The idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." -Mr. Dean in an interview with WOAI in San Antonio on Dec. 5.
A U.S./French probe descended to Saturn's moon, Titan, nearly 600,000 miles away from Earth, sending back first-ever images of the planet's satellite. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched on Aug. 12, is on course to reach Mars on March 10, 2006.
Decision of the year
It may not be a household name, but the law carved out by the Supreme Court in June, Kelo v. New London, means you could lose your house. In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled local governments could seize private land for public use. But this isn't your ordinary eminent domain. In the Kelo case, the court said New London, Conn., had the right to tear down a residential neighborhood to let a commercial developer build a resort hotel and a shopping center-all in the public's best interest.
As music-industry complaints about illegal downloading receded, so have complaints about diminishing sales. But if the industry's reliance on reissues-and redundant ones at that-is any indication, the news remains unsatisfactory. Of the 376 single-act albums released during the second week of December, more than 25 percent were either best-ofs, reissues, or live recordings.
Take the Bee Gees' Love Songs (Polydor). Of 18 tracks only two have not appeared on a previous Brothers Gibb compilation, boxed set, or live album, meaning that long-time fans (practically the only kind the Bee Gees have) are paying $13.98 for two songs. When labels start mining their vaults for live albums by New Riders of the Purple Sage and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, one senses that they're scraping the bottoms of their barrels. Throw in the 87 various-artists compilations that came out on Dec. 10, and the conclusion that the industry is spinning its wheels, either due to lethargy or a lack of fresh talent, is all but inescapable.
Bad old days in Tehran
When former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in June, some American heroes came down with a bad case of flashback fever. Several U.S. officials held hostage in Iran in 1979 for 444 days remember the 49-year-old head of state as one of their captors.
Mr. Ahmadinejad denies the allegation but has done nothing to distance himself from hardline policies dating back to the 1979 revolution. He calls Israel "an occupying country" over Jerusalem. Delivering a keynote address to a Tehran conference in October called "World Without Zionism," he predicted that "very soon" Israel "will be purged from the center of the Islamic world."
His threats, coupled with his insistence that Iran be free to develop its nuclear facilities, provoked protest not only from the West but from Arabs in the region. "We don't want to see an Iranian nuclear plant which is closer in distance to our Gulf shores than to Tehran causing us danger and damage,' said Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiya in December.
Lance Armstrong didn't just win a seventh Tour de France, he did it in record speed-averaging 25.88 mph. But can an elite athlete at the prime of his career really just lay down his bike and quit forever? Rumors had the American cycling legend and cancer survivor coming back, if only to prove the French wrong about persistent but unproven doping charges. Mr. Armstrong insists he's done racing in the Tour but told fans near his Austin, Texas, home, "I've been an athlete my entire life. I'm not going to sit around and be a fat slob now. I have to do something."
Honolulu golf phenom Michelle Wie made a less than auspicious pro debut. Though she finished eight-under at the Samsung World Championships in October, she didn't pocket any cash. She could have landed around $50,000 if she had properly penalized herself after making an illegal drop. But she can always blame that on her age. By rights, the 17-year-old shouldn't yet be worrying about professional golf-she's still in high school.
Year's best rescue
Rizal Shahputra, 20, was clinging to a dead tree when crew aboard a Malaysian container ship spotted him Jan. 3. He had been sweeping out a mosque under construction in Aceh, Indonesia, when the tsunami swept him out to sea. Nine days later and 100 miles offshore the ship's crew, en route from South Africa to Malaysia, spotted the man who for no reason wore a yellow shirt to work Dec. 26. He said he survived on floating coconuts.
Book: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
CD: Coldplay's X&Y
DVD: Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith
Bestselling "religion and spirituality title": Jim Wallis' God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
Bestselling hardcover nonfiction book in publishing history: Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life (first published in 2002, surpassed 23 million copies in 2005)
Liberians elected Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in November as their new president, the continent's first female head of state. But it is her experience, not her novelty, that could resuscitate the country: She is a former World Bank economist and was finance minister before a coup toppled then-president William Tolbert in 1980. Since then, the "Iron Lady" has survived as a political opponent and outsider, even when her life has been at risk. She now has to rebuild a country recovering from a 14-year civil war.
Need to eat
The death of southern rebel leader and vice-president John Garang in July jeopardized Sudan's young peace between north and south. Meanwhile, an almost three-year, slow-motion genocide in Darfur continues. Attacks on aid workers prompted the UN and other groups to scale back their work. So far an estimated 400,000 Darfuris have died, with about 3.5 million affected and in need of food aid.
Food not needed
Kim Jong Il's regime decided North Korea no longer needs World Food Program aid because 2005-06 grain production is the largest in 10 years. But UN officials with the food program are scrambling to stay inside, where they feed about 6.5 million people a year, or almost one-third of the country. With Mr. Kim's change of policy, food aid will now come primarily from South Korea and China, who do little to verify that grain reaches those who need it most.
With nuclear talks deadlocked, something more like progress came on human rights. For the first time, the UN passed a resolution condemning North Korea's abuses. The country's deputy deputy to the UN, Hon Song Ryol Han, showed his battle fatigue at an October conference in Washington. At a Capitol Hill lunch activist Kim Seung-min held up a sign saying, "The Road to Peace on the Korean Peninsula Is the Expulsion of Kim Jong Il," and then repeated similar words. "You bastard," Mr. Han shot back. "Do you want to die?"
Several countries scuttled democracy this year with sham polls. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak added another term to his already 24 years in power after he jailed his main rival, Ayman Nour. The move ensured that only the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could win big, increasing its representation six-fold.
In Azerbaijan, thousands launched a Ukraine-style protest after rigged November parliamentary elections kept voters from ousting their Soviet holdover government. A similar vote-rigging story unfolded in Kazakhstan, where 15-year President Nursultan Nazarbayev officially won 91 percent of a December vote.
After American worker Heather Swensen made a dramatic escape from Nepal in February ("Open and shut," April 16), fighting in the country between Maoist rebels and a government under martial law increased. "I could get stuck in India but that doesn't bother me," Miss Swensen said in the spring. Good thing, because that's what happened. Miss Swensen spent several months teaching in northeast India. And with Nepal at least temporarily a closed country, she decided to try another forbidden enclave: Bhutan.
The remote kingdom bills itself as "100 percent Buddhist" and almost never admits Christians. Miss Swensen and a small group found their way into Bhutan in time to pray for King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk on his 50th birthday Nov. 11. Why? King Wangchuk is the fourth ruler in a dynasty stretching back to 1907, and none of its monarchs have survived past his 50th birthday. Miss Swensen and her group hoped to offer Christian prayers on behalf of the king, who has ruled since age 17, that "he may know that God is the reason for his life, that He has spared him, and has a purpose for him being on the throne," she said. The group even had a "chance" meeting with the king's oldest son, Crown Prince Wangchuk.
King Wangchuk survived his birthday. What's more, on Dec. 17 he announced that he would abdicate the throne in favor of the crown prince, who will rule until 2008, when elections are set to transition the country into a parliamentary democracy. Miss Swensen prays for Nepalese to take on the daunting task of Christian ministry in Bhutan-a potent undertaking, given her success rate.
For three weeks Gaul was a fireball. Sparked by the accidental deaths of two teenagers fleeing police, Muslim riots that began Oct. 27 forced French authorities to impose curfews. By the end, rioters had torched almost 9,000 vehicles and police had arrested 2,900. Deep unemployment, crime, and little immigrant integration fueled the riots, but also woven in were radical-and growing-Muslim sympathies.
Well beyond their curfew, U.S. senators headed toward a showdown over conservative judicial nominees. With Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid at an impasse, 14 Senate lawmakers-seven from each party-brokered a deal on the eve of a crucial vote in May: Republicans would forgo their "nuclear option"-ending filibusters on judicial nominations-if Democrats promised not to use them, except in "extraordinary circumstances."
The "Gang of 14" deal put formal Senate leadership on the skids but cleared the way for long-filibustered Bush nominees Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, William Pryor, David McKeague, Richard Griffin, and Susan Bieke-Neilson to start work on federal appeals court benches.
The mighty fall
If 2004 was a banner year for Republicans, 2005 put the GOP into a slump. House majority leader Tom DeLay was forced to resign his leadership post after a Texas jury indicted him for money laundering. His standing in his home district outside of Houston fell. Early December polls showed only 36 percent of voters in his district would reelect him now. Mr. DeLay faces felony charges related to what prosecutors call dirty fundraising, after conspiracy charges were dropped. To retain his leadership position in the House-and his seat-he needs not only to win in the trial, but to win quickly.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby resigned from his post as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff under indictment for lying to a grand jury. After more than two years' investigation, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald eventually fingered Mr. Libby.
Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff could face the most serious charges of all: Three separate grand juries are investigating whether he doled out gifts and political contributions in return for political favors from top congressional Republicans, including Mr. DeLay. Dishonesty paints a gloomy picture of Republicans in power. "The perception has been set, is being set, and will last a lot longer than any exoneration that may come to light," said GOP consultant Eddie Mahe.
Day in congress
Once-greats of major-league baseball found themselves warming a congressional hearing bench over steroid use. Legendary slugger Rafael Palmeiro told a House of Representatives subcommittee on March 17: "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." But when major-league baseball revealed that he had tested positive for stanolozol in the middle of his 20th big-league season, the first baseman said the illicit steroid must have gotten into his body by accident-perhaps, he said, from a B-12 injection given to him by former teammate Miguel Tejada. What should have been a victory lap on a stellar career ended with Mr. Palmeiro wearing earplugs to block out booing fans.
Victor Conte, founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and central figure in the steroid scandal, was convicted of distributing steroids and money laundering in July and began his four-month prison sentence in December. Mr. Conte was producing supplements and illegal but nearly impossible-to-detect steroids for a who's-who list of athletes: Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Bill Romanowski, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Kelli White, and others. But under terms of a plea agreement, his secrets have followed him to prison.
Early in 2005 David Dingman-Grover, now 10, of Richmond, Va., learned that he needed costly surgery on a large brain tumor he had named "Frank." His parents found a unique way to raise money for the operation: They auctioned bumper stickers on eBay that said "Frank Must Die." Dr. Hrayr Shahinian of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center heard of the family's plight and agreed to perform for free the specialized neurosurgery (Quick Takes, Jan. 29).
One month later, Dr. Shahinian successfully removed "Frank" in its entirety, and pathology reports declared David cancer-free. At the end of 2005, his mother reported on a family website that though David's immune system is still weak, he is doing well, recently earning Blue Senior Belt in Enshin Karate. The Dingman-Grovers are now selling new bumper stickers on their website. They say: "Frank is Dead."
For hundreds of Star Wars enthusiasts, May 19 meant an end to camping out in front of a Los Angeles movie theater waiting for Episode III. It was the end of an era that started in 1977. Now the Force lives on in Jedi imaginations-and the internet. Fans bid up an eight-foot Legos replica of a "Rebel Attack Cruiser" to over $10,000 on eBay with eight days of auction remaining.
The penguins marched. And marched. And marched. They marched for so long, in fact, that March of the Penguins became the second-highest-grossing documentary of all time (behind Fahrenheit 9/11).
The New York Times was the first to notice that it wasn't just cultured elites flocking to see a film chronicling the penguins' remarkable arctic journey, but also inscrutable "red state" Americans. A September article noted that fans of the documentary included National Review's Rich Lowry, conservative film critic Michael Medved, and even this magazine. It was, according to the Times, "an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars." Some conservatives identified the penguins as a positive example of monogamous relationships; others related the complex mating ritual to Intelligent Design; film producers declared themselves avowed Darwinists; and the penguins marched on.
Rob Oates & Darrin Curtis
After Hurricane Katrina, the 200 members of Faith Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Brookhaven, Miss., opened their gym and took in more than 200 people ("Mississippi misery," Sept. 24). Pastor Rob Oates said the shelter would remain open until the last person had a place to go. The FPC shelter closed on Oct. 8. "We were able to help relocate everyone into their own homes or the homes of their families or friends," Mr. Oates told WORLD. "None of our people had to go to a hotel."
Five shelter families ended up remaining in Brookhaven. Darrin Curtis and his family, who stumbled onto the FPC shelter after their car overheated while fleeing Katrina, found an apartment near the church. The church helped the family with transportation, furniture, and moving costs. Mr. Curtis works as a carpenter for a church member's company. "Life is certainly much better for them than it was two months ago," says Mr. Oates. "The church, broadly speaking, has been in this thing since the beginning, and the church is still in it now."
Last year, the big story at the box office was Christians out in force to support The Passion of the Christ. This year's big story is who is not going to the movies: most Americans. The first half of 2005 saw Hollywood in its longest-running box-office slump ever, as it struggled through 19 weeks of weekly box-office totals lower than 2004.
Harry Potter helped, with Goblet of Fire opening in November to a best-ever for the series at $102.3 million. The film has so far grossed more than $660 million worldwide. Strong box-office receipts continued with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which enjoyed the third-largest opening of the year, at $67 million.
The film that broke Hollywood's agonizing 19-week losing streak was The Fantastic Four, a PG-rated film produced by outspoken Hollywood Christian Ralph Winter. Also helping push the movie industry out of its slump: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which shocked analysts when it achieved the third-biggest September opening of all time. The film deals explicitly with Christian themes and hails from director Scott Derrickson, who openly professes his own faith in Christ.
Kansas held hearings on state educational standards that would require "teaching the controversy" between Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Now Kansas schoolchildren can hear evidence both for and against evolution. In Pennsylvania, Darwinist parents sued to prevent Intelligent Design from being taught in the classroom, and prevailed Dec. 20.
Courts acquitted pop star Michael Jackson of child molestation charges and actor Robert Blake of murdering his wife (though he was found liable for causing her death in a civil suit). Rap moguls Irving and Christopher Lorenzo of the label Murder Inc. were acquitted of laundering drug money.
As of 2005, America has 445 casinos bringing in $29 billion. Lotteries-now legal in 40 states-bring in $45 billion. Half of Americans say they have bought a lottery ticket. Online gambling, which is virtually unregulated, rakes in $10 billion. That means that we spend more money on gambling than we do on sports, movies, concerts, and recordings-combined.
Next to questions about the assassination of JFK, perhaps no mystery has more captivated Americans in the last 50 years than the identity of Deep Throat. Journalist Bob Woodward promised to keep secret the identity of his Watergate informant until Deep Throat died or gave him permission to reveal it. Thirty years later the secret is out: Deep Throat was Mark Felt, a top-level official at the FBI with a grudge against the Nixon White House. Ironically, it was a Vanity Fair story released May 31 that broke Mr. Felt's cover-not Mr. Woodward's Washington Post.
Bind. Torture. Kill.
On Feb. 25, residents of Wichita, Kan., could finally put a face with the serial killer who had haunted the Midwestern city for over 20 years. Dennis Rader, who later pleaded guilty to 10 murders, seemed an unlikely mastermind for two decades of "BTK"-or bind, torture, kill-murders, a dogcatcher, a Cub Scout leader, president of his Lutheran church council, and an apparently devoted family man. On Aug. 18, Mr. Rader was sentenced to serve 10 consecutive life sentences with no parole available for 175 years.
In the spring John Bolton needed his own multinational peacekeeping force to ward off opponents out to destroy his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the UN ("Take your mark," May 7). Persistent support from the Bush administration was not enough to push the conservative nominee through the moderate Senate-and Mr. Bush used a recess appointment in August to put Mr. Bolton in charge of the U.S. mission in New York.
That gives him only about a year to make good on UN reform talk, but the political meat grinder hasn't softened Mr. Bolton's tongue. At a New York dinner hosted by a Jewish group in December, he called for abolishing the UN Human Rights Commission. He also promised to nail those responsible for a map of the Middle East on display at a recent UN function, on which Israel was missing. He said the U.S. mission would hunt down "the highest UN official" who gave approval for the map, and make that person part of "management reform." The ambassador said, "underlying attitudes-anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, and, let's be clear, anti-American-still persist at the United Nations."
When white women disappear
Comedian Dave Chappelle once joked about how preoccupied cable news gets when Anglo women go missing. In the train of Chandra Levy and Laci Peterson came Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old girl from a rich Birmingham suburb who went missing from a graduation trip in Aruba on May 30. A family's tragedy was overwhelmed by how it dominated network news, particularly Fox News, from June to August, until Hurricane Katrina swept it off the tube. Still, Ms. Holloway hasn't been found.
At just 5-foot-3, it's hard to imagine how much trouble former Army reservist Lynndie England caused the United States. Ms. England, who was at the center of prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, was convicted in September of six counts related to prisoner abuse, sentenced to three years, and given a dishonorable discharge from the Army.
Top 10 laws can stay
The Supreme Court in June split on the issue of public displays of the Decalogue. In Van Orden v. Perry, the justices ruled that a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, could remain where it has been since 1961. But in a 5-4 decision, the high court struck down Decalogue displays in two county courthouses in Kentucky, ruling that both had as their primary purpose the intent of promoting religion. Activists on both sides had hoped the convergence of the two cases on the high court's 2005 docket might yield some definitive Decalogue case law. Instead, legal analysts say, the split decisions virtually guarantee future litigation.
...and Christmas too
HUD in mid-December agreed to allow freedom of religion for those wishing to recognize Christmas. Elderly residents of subsidized housing in Winter Haven, Fla., had been ordered not to sing Christmas carols. Mechanicsburg, Pa., seniors could not have religious decorations in the lobbies or on the doors of their own rooms. After the law firm Liberty Counsel threatened a suit (and WORLD called HUD about the rules) the official story changed: Christmas in federal housing is now OK.