By Sophia Xiao
For the first time, South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Overall, Team USA had a disappointing Olympics, ending in fourth place. However, Team USA did have momentous victories: Women’s Hockey beat out Canada for their first gold medal in 20 years, Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall won USA’s first ever gold medal in cross country skiing and Skip John Shuster led his team to USA’s first-ever gold medal in curling. Despite military tensions, North Korea participated at the games. North and South Korea marched under a unified flag at the opening ceremony and formed several joint teams including skiing and women’s hockey.
On Feb. 14, a gunman open fired on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 and injuring 14 more. It is the deadliest mass shooting at a US high school in history. Afterwards, student survivors demanded legislative action to prevent mass shootings and gun violence. In March, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raised the minimum age for buying rifles to 21, among other gun control reforms.
Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal
In March, Facebook became embroiled in yet another major political scandal when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica acquired the private Facebook data of up to 87 million users and used it to help elect Donald Trump. Facebook’s stock price tanked, and the scandal prompted calls for increased ethical standards and privacy regulation of social media companies.
Border Children: Immigrant families in crisis
In April, the Trump administration implemented the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which included separating children from their guardians at the border. Following tremendous public opposition and nationwide protests, Trump signed an executive order in June suspending the policy indefinitely. A lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that thousands of children were taken from their families without a system of keeping track of the separated children or specific plans to reunite them.
The world watched as Prince Harry and retired American actress Meghan Markle spoke their vows in May. Around 29 million people in the US watched the wedding on TV, surpassing the 26 million who watched the 2011 wedding of Prince Williams and Kate Middleton. In the UK, TV viewership was about 18 million people.
Puerto Rico without electricity for 11 months
Hurricane Maria wrought catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico and Dominica back in Sept. 2017, causing massive flooding, lack of running water and other resources and the worst blackout in US history. Maria’s official death toll was originally 67, but was revised to 2,975 after studies revealed the full impact of the storm, accounting for the thousands who were unable to receive medical care due to the blackout. As late as June 2018, about seven thousand homes and businesses were still without power. Total losses from the hurricane are estimated at upwards of $91 billion.
Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing
After Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, multiple women who knew Kavanaugh in high school and college came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including professor of psychology Christine Blasey Ford, who testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September. While the Senate ultimately voted to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination, the hearings inspired women’s-rights advocates and survivors of rape and sexual assault to speak more openly against sexual assault.
Hurricane Michael and Florence
Hurricane Florence caused the deaths of over 55 people and severe freshwater flooding and at least $17.9 billion of damages in the Carolinas in September. Shortly after, Hurricane Michael struck the southern US with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, one of the strongest hurricanes in US history. At least 60 deaths have been attributed to Michael, including 45 in the US and 15 more in Central America.
Global Trade War
The trade war between Trump and China continues into 2019, with the total US tariffs applied exclusively to China at $250 billion, and the total Chinese tariffs applied exclusively to the US at $110 billion. Hoping to fix the “longtime abuse of the broken international system and unfair practices,” Trump imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in January, then steel and aluminum for all countries but Australia and Argentina. China, EU, Canada, India and Mexico have all implemented retaliatory tariffs.