City News takes a retrospective look at the major economic, socio-cultural, technological and environmental events that have shaped our world.
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
7.0-magnitude earthquake devastates Port-au-Prince, Haiti
On Jan. 12, Haiti was dealt a catastrophic blow when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, the region’s worst in 200 years, struck 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital. The quake leveled numerous sections of the city, destroying government buildings, foreign aid offices and countless slums. Experts estimated a staggering death toll of 200,000 people.
CityCare, the first non-government organization to arrive at the scene on Jan. 18 in the devastated town of Carrefour, set up a makeshift clinic that saw about 100 patients a day in one week. Over the next two months, five more teams, which comprised doctors, nurses, other medical personnel and volunteer workers, were dispatched. A total of 12 doctors volunteered their time to join the Haitian relief trips. One relief team included an engineer tasked with setting up a water purification system for the town, ensuring safety levels in the drinking water. The relief efforts came as a precious drop amid an ocean of needs, even as Haitians continue to struggle with rebuilding their lives at the height of a cholera outbreak, which has since killed more than 2,500 people.
|PHOTO: Saul Loeb/Afp/Getty Images
The largest marine oil spill in history
The explosion of a Deepwater Horizon oil rig (also known as the BP oil spill) in the Gulf of Mexico in April sparked off one of the worst environmental disasters in history. U.S. scientists have estimated that five million barrels of crude oil have been leaked into the ocean, making it the world’s largest oil spill of its kind. After multiple investigations concluded that the explosion was the result of numerous technical, safety and regulatory failures, the U.S. Justice Department has sued BP and eight other companies for violation of federal regulations and for failing to prevent the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire on the offshore drilling rig.
Apple usurps Microsoft as most valuable technology company
The digital world crowned its new king in May with Wall Street’s announcement of Apple’s valuation at US$222.12 billion, with Microsoft coming in second at US$219.18 billion. Given Microsoft’s dominance in the industry over the past few decades, it has been hailed as one of the most stunning business turnarounds, not to mention a harbinger of a significant cultural shift: Of consumer tastes overtaking the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology, according to The New York Times. As the popular Apple marketing tagline goes, “Apple, the next stage in computer evolution,” the company that prides itself on creativity and innovation has truly lived up to this namesake and proven itself supreme in the technology industry. For Singaporean techies, this piece of news means only one thing—more cool digital playthings in time to come.
|PHOTO: Drn/Getty Images|
Burma releases pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi after 15 years of house imprisonment
After 15 years of house arrest, the Burmese junta finally released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in November. Upon her release, she was greeted by hundreds of supporters, to whom she said, “We haven’t seen each other for so long, I have so much to tell you,” immediately re-establishing the bond that has made her such a challenge to the nation’s military rulers. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and only daughter of Aung San, considered to be the father of modern-day Burma, is frequently hailed as the “Nelson Mandela” of the present generation, thanks to her unwavering fight for democracy in her homeland. Echoing the sentiments of analysts, however, Bono from U2 remarked, “There is a cautious joy amongst the campaigners for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.” Indeed, it is still too early to say if she will be a force to be reckoned with for the military establishment in Burma, but it is a step forward nonetheless.
China overtakes Japan as world’s second largest economy
Leading the world out of the global recession last year, China surpassed Japan in July to become the world’s second largest economy, with a US$1.33 trillion economy as compared to the latter’s US$1.28 trillion. Economists have long forecasted China’s ascension to the echelons of global economic dominance—it is said that Napoleon himself foresaw this more than a century ago, as he warned, “When China awakes, the world will tremble.” With the global financial crisis of 2009 weakening most of the Western economies, this inevitability has been accelerated into today’s reality. Indeed, since its economic reforms in 1978, the Chinese economy has grown rapidly, recording back-to-back double-digit GDP growth annually.
Asia’s role in this—to recognize the importance of cultivating intercultural intelligence and communication, and to cooperate in creating solutions to global problems, rather than adopt the traditionally individualistic perspective to handling international affairs.
Spain beats Netherlands 1-0 to win the World Cup
After a climactic four weeks and 64 games, the 32 countries in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa were whittled down to just two teams.
The Spaniards, masters of possession football, met with the Netherlands in a show-down at once innovative, incisive and counter-offensive in the final game. Going into overtime after a scoreless but highly combative contest, FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta’s finally broke his team out of the deadlock in the 129th minute to nab the World Cup title.
As the first African nation to host the World Cup, South Africa delivered admirably, cementing its role as one of the world’s emerging economies.
|PHOTO: Martin Bernetti/Afp/Getty Images|
33 Chilean miners snatched from the jaws of death
After spending a record 69 days trapped in a caved-in mine in Chile, all 33 miners were successfully rescued in a massive, complicated but glitch-free rescue operation. The deluge of media frenzy showered on the miners has been nothing short of spectacular, riding on the rich human element behind it all: the hardy stories of the miners’ faith, including that of their loved ones, such as the one where the girlfriend of 34-year-old drill operator Claudio Yáñez accepted his proposal while he was still underground. The total cost of the rescue mission is estimated at US$20 million.