Katrina Is Voted Top Story of 2005
Sun Jan 1, 2006 20:20

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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.

Louisiana's Wetlands @ National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic OCT 2004 -

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