Features

Chile's turn

2010 News of the Year | February

Issue: "2010 News of the Year," Jan. 1, 2011

Six weeks after Haiti's disaster, Chile faced a bigger trembler: An 8.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 27 released 500 times more energy than Haiti's quake and became the fifth-strongest earthquake ever recorded. But Chileans fared better: An offshore epicenter, smaller population centers, and better building standards preserved the country from the level of Haiti's destruction. The Chile quake killed some 500 victims and left another 500,000 homeless.

North and north

Vancouver's Winter Olympic Games included athletes from 82 nations showing their grit on ice or in snow. But in the end it was a cross-border battle between host Canada and the United States. On the closing weekend Canadian favorite son Sidney Crosby (who plays in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins) scored a winning goal in sudden death overtime to secure Canada's 3-2 win over the USA in the hockey championship final. That also put Canada over the line for gold medals-at 14-making it the winningest host nation in Winter Olympics history. U.S. athletes took home the most medals overall, at 37 a new record. But Canada needed the boost: With delays, cost overruns, a private developer who backed out, and recession, Vancouver taxpayers were on the hook for over $1 billion when the opening ceremonies began.

Charity reversal

Following the Washington, D.C., council's vote to legalize same-sex marriages in February, the city's largest private provider of social services, Catholic Charities, ended its 80-year-old foster care and adoption services for the city, transferring its caseload to other groups. The organization, which is under the authority of the Catholic Church, had promised that it would allow its city contract to expire if the city legalized gay marriage because the new law could obligate the group to provide adoptions for same-sex couples. In November Pope Benedict XVI named Washington's archbishop Donald Wuerl-the primary voice warning the city government that the new law would jeopardize the charity's work-to the College of Cardinals in the Catholic Church.

Movement politics

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Tea Party activists began 2010 hoping to cultivate substance to go with their style. About 600 party-goers descended on Nashville in February for the group's first-ever convention. Plopping down $549 (plus an extra $349 to hear former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speak), attendees took notes at seminars on how to employ social networks and how to register voters. The movement's naïveté suggested serious questions: Could it command traction among congressional lawmakers and the nation's voters?

As the year progressed, Tea Party-endorsed upstarts unseated one establishment candidate after another. Four in 10 voters in the 2010-midterm elections expressed support for the movement in exit polls-translating into nearly 40 new House members with Tea Party credentials. But controversial Tea Party affiliates also cost Republicans once likely Senate pickups in moderate states like Delaware.

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