It was a year of highs and lows as Antifa battled with democracy and the media devoured itself in sex charges after losing a battle for honesty in its reporting.
Jan. 6 — Chaos erupted at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida when a man with a gun commenced on the first mass shooting of the new year. He randomly fired at bystanders in the baggage claim area. Panicked passengers hid behind pillars or ran onto the tarmac, with the shooter killing five people and wounding six others before police apprehended him. Police identified the suspect as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago, an Iraq War veteran who had weeks earlier spent time at a psychiatric hospital and complained the government was controlling his mind. His trial is ongoing.
Jan. 20 — With his wife and children by his side, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Trump, a billionaire businessman with a real estate empire, became president after winning an upset election over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Jan. 24 — Iraqi troops wrested full control of eastern Mosul from the Islamic State, or ISIS, after conducting a three-month-long offensive against the city. Iraqi soldiers held an upside-down ISIS flag as they celebrated with surviving residents of liberated neighborhoods. It would be six more months before Iraqi forces drove ISIS from the western half of Mosul, held by the Islamic terrorist group since June 2014.
Jan. 30 — The Boy Scouts of America announced it would allow girls who identify as boys to participate in its boys-only programs, regardless of the sex listed on a child’s birth certificate. The first openly transgender member of the Boy Scouts, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado, was born a girl and formerly went by the name Jodi. “I am accepted,” Maldonado said while putting on a Boy Scout uniform for the first time following the policy change. Later in the year, in October, BSA voted to allow nontransgender girls to join its ranks as well, ending a longtime boys-only policy at the century-old organization.
Feb. 3 — A federal judge in Seattle blocked the Trump administration’s temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations—a ban that sparked protests across the United States and around the world after officials began detaining foreign travelers at U.S. airports. Trump’s “travel ban,” an executive order first signed on Jan. 27, faced multiple court challenges and was revised several times throughout the year. Opponents argued the ban was an unconstitutional attempt to bar Muslims from the United States, but advocates said the president was acting within his authority to prevent immigration from known terrorist hotspots. A variation of the travel ban has since been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Super Bowl history
Feb. 5 — Tom Brady led the New England Patriots in overcoming a 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl over the Atlanta Falcons 34-28. The Falcons held a 28-3 lead in the third quarter before the Patriots began a scoring frenzy that forced the game into overtime—the first ever in a Super Bowl. Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowl titles.
Feb. 7 — The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, by the slimmest of margins. Vice President Mike Pence arrived at the Senate to cast a tiebreaking vote—the first time in U.S. history a vice president had to be summoned to do so for a Cabinet nomination. While Republican supporters praised DeVos as an outsider and a strong supporter of school choice programs such as vouchers and charters, Democrats criticized her as too inexperienced to lead the Education Department.
Clearing out camp
Feb. 22 — Police began forcing protesters from a camp in North Dakota where, since August 2016, the protesters had tried to thwart construction of the 1,170-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Native Americans complained that the pipeline, built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and intended to carry oil between North Dakota and Illinois, passed within a half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and endangered tribal water supplies. The Obama administration had delayed the pipeline’s construction, but President Trump on his second day in office signed a memorandum approving the project. The pipeline began service June 1.
Show of force
March 6 — In a show of force, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles simultaneously—one of 16 separate missile tests the regime conducted between January and November. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been eager to flex his military muscle on the world stage, and this year’s missile tests involved a progression of powerful and high-flying devices: On the Fourth of July, North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a rocket that flew 1,700 miles into space and landed in the Sea of Japan. The tests provoked international outrage, and President Trump disparaged Kim as “Little Rocket Man,” warning of “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangered American lives.
March 7 — March brought hail and severe late-winter storms across the U.S. Midwest: More than 30 tornadoes were reported in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois over March 6 and 7. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and about two dozen people suffered mostly minor injuries. Twisters in Minnesota were the earliest on record to hit the state. A week prior, storms and tornadoes moving through the Midwest had battered homes, uprooted trees, and left four people dead.
Deluge in Peru
March 17 — Three days of torrential rain brought massive flooding to the coastal region of Peru, washing out bridges, roads, and train tracks and triggering mudslides. Localized El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean resulted in Peru receiving 10 times the usual amount of rainfall for the South American nation’s rainy season. The flooding left dozens of people dead and damaged or swept away more than 100,000 homes. Residents fleeing the destruction waded through muddy water and clung to ropes—or resorted to crossing the torrents using a zip line.
March 22 — British Parliament went into lockdown after a man drove an SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stormed the Westminster Palace grounds on foot, armed with two knives. The attacker, a 52-year-old Muslim convert named Khalid Masood, stabbed and killed a police officer outside Parliament before a security guard shot him dead. In all, Masood’s rampage killed five people and injured about 50. In an earlier text message, Masood reportedly said he was waging jihad against the West.
April 7 — The Senate confirmed in a 54-45 vote President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Sworn in three days later, Gorsuch filled a seat left open for 14 months after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. To seat Gorsuch, Senate Republicans circumvented a Democratic filibuster by exercising the chamber’s so-called “nuclear option,” lowering the confirmation threshold to a simple majority vote.
Palm Sunday attack
April 9 — Terrorists armed with explosives bombed two Coptic churches in Egypt while worshippers were gathered for Palm Sunday services. The suicide bombers killed 45 persons and injured more than 100 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria and St. George Church in Tanta, where blood stained church pillars and pews. At St. Mark’s, Pope Tawadros II had led the congregation in Mass just prior to the bombing, but was not himself injured. The attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, marked an ongoing trend of violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt: In May, gunmen shot dead 28 Coptic pilgrims traveling in Minya province.
April 10 — North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, Calif., became the tragic scene of a murder-suicide when a female teacher’s estranged husband opened fire in her classroom with a handgun. The man, Cedric Anderson, targeted and killed his wife, teacher Karen Smith, before turning the gun on himself. Two students were also struck by the bullets: One, 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, died.
May 7 — French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won a presidential runoff against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen by a wide margin, taking 66 percent of the vote, compared with Le Pen’s 34 percent. Despite low voter turnout, Macron’s victory was interpreted as a rejection of the anti-immigration, anti–European Union sentiment represented by Le Pen’s party. At age 39, Macron became the country’s youngest president.
James Comey out
May 9 — President Trump abruptly fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, saying he was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.” In making the decision, the administration cited Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. But Democrats accused the president of attempting to short-circuit an FBI probe into his 2016 campaign’s relationship with Russian officials. Trump later appointed Christopher Wray, a former federal prosecutor, to lead the bureau.
May 21 — A 146-year run of spectacular stunts from clowns, acrobats, daredevils, lions, and elephants came to a close with a final show from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The last performance of “The Greatest Show on Earth” took place at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The circus’ red unit gave its final show in Providence, R.I., on May 7. The circus had faced years of declining ticket sales and criticism from animal-rights activists who complained about the use of animals in the show. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey stopped using elephants in its shows in 2016, but was unable to draw big enough crowds to recoup its high operating costs.
May 23 — A group of Sikhs were among those who gathered at a vigil in Manchester, England, a day after a suicide bombing at an evening pop concert there. Fourteen thousand fans, many of them teenage girls, had gathered at a stadium to hear American singer Ariana Grande when a blast erupted in the foyer, killing 22 concertgoers and injuring hundreds of others. The attacker, identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, was the British-born son of Libyan parents. Abedi had returned to Libya with his father and two brothers in 2011 to support the uprising there against leader Muammar Qaddafi. Abedi later came in contact with members of an Islamic State cell in Libya, who may have inspired him to carry out the concert attack.
Battle for Marawi
May 30 — Government troops in the Philippines fought to regain control of the southern city of Marawi a week after first confronting the ISIS-affiliated rebel Maute group entrenched there. Though tens of thousands of residents fled the city, the rebels took hundreds of hostages and executed at least 25 Christians. It would be five more months of fighting before Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city free of terrorist control.
A win for liberty
June 5 — In a unanimous ruling hailed as a victory for religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of three Christian hospitals facing a legal dispute over pension plans. Employees of the hospitals had claimed the institutions violated federal law by not fully funding their pensions. But the hospitals argued the law granted them, along with churches and other faith-based organizations, an exemption from the pension rules. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote a majority opinion upholding the exemption. Religious liberty advocates said the decision would enable faith-based institutions to continue their mission of serving the community without having to pay for expensive for-profit pension plans.
June 14 — A faulty freezer sparked a fire that quickly turned the 24-story Grenfell Tower in West London into an inferno, trapping dozens of apartment residents inside and killing 71. The disaster prompted an investigation into the building’s aluminum cladding, which authorities blamed for the fire’s rapid spread.
June 14 — House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was among four wounded when a gunman opened fire on a House Republican charity baseball team as players practiced in Alexandria, Va., in the early morning. Police killed the shooter, James Hodgkinson, 66, in a shootout following the attack. Hodgkinson had been a volunteer for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during the 2016 campaign and according to a witness had asked before the shooting whether the team practicing was the Republican team or the Democratic team. He fired 60 shots at the Republican players. Scalise was taken to a hospital in critical condition and, after a long recovery, returned to work on Sept. 28.
Tragedy at sea
June 17 — Seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald died when the destroyer collided with a container ship near Japan. A Navy investigation later blamed the incident—along with an August collision of the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker near Singapore that killed 10 sailors—on crew error.
July 10 — Donald Trump Jr. became the public face of accusations that the Trump campaign “colluded” with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign, as news reports linked the president’s son to a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. The meeting concerned Russia’s ban on American adoptions. After $6 million has been spent by the special prosecutor, evidence has yet to be found of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Meetings did take place between the Trump transition team after the election as part of normal efforts of incoming administrations to be ready on the diplomatic front on the day of the inauguration.
July 28 — Eleven-month-old Charlie Gard died in England after his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, gave up a court battle to prevent doctors from removing the baby’s life support. Charlie had a rare genetic condition that prevented him from moving or breathing on his own, and although his parents wished to pursue an experimental treatment, British and European courts ruled the baby should be left to die. By the time a British court reconsidered the parents’ appeal, it was too late for the treatment.
Obamacare repeal fails
July 28 — A seven-year effort to repeal Obamacare ended in failure as three Republican senators broke away from their party and joined every Senate Democrat to stop a bill that would have overturned parts of the Affordable Care Act. The vote was 49-51, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona voting no. McCain said the bill didn’t go far enough in replacing Obamacare with something better. The issue remained on hold until December, when the Senate passed a tax reform bill that included a repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act.
July 30 — Venezuelans voted for members of a powerful new “Constituent Assembly,” a government body stocked with politicians allied with socialist President Nicolás Maduro, in an election the United States and other nations condemned as rigged. The Constituent Assembly soon granted itself lawmaking powers, effectively neutering the opposition-controlled legislature. Under Maduro’s rule, Venezuela has been crippled by violence, social unrest, and widespread shortages of food and medical supplies.
Aug. 12 — White supremacists and neo-Nazis marching against the removal of a Confederate statue at a park clashed with violent antifa counter protesters at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. A white supremacist killed one woman and injured 19 people when he drove his car into a crowd.
Aug. 21 — Americans donned special glasses to witness the first total solar eclipse in the 48 contiguous states since 1979. The path of the total eclipse ran from Oregon southeast across the country to South Carolina.
Aug. 25 — Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas for the first time as a Category 4 storm, bringing more than 2 feet of rain in its first 24 hours. The storm made landfall three different times, and by Sept. 1 about one-third of Houston was underwater. Harvey would go on to take at least 82 lives and cause an estimated $180 billion in damage.
Aug. 27 — Antifa rioters, reportedly chanting “No Trump, no wall, no USA at all,” attacked a peaceful protest of about 2,000 in Berkeley, Calif., targeting leaders of the conservative groups that organized the rally. The rioters injured six people, and Berkeley police arrested 13 rioters on charges that included assault with a deadly weapon and felony assault. The riot prompted many national Democrats to denounce antifa violence for the first time. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement: “The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.”
Aug. 29 — In its 14th missile test of the year, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over the nation of Japan, prompting officials there to warn residents to take cover. Although the missile landed in the ocean, its launch was interpreted as a threat: It was the first time North Korea had fired a rocket above Japan in eight years. Despite protests and sanctions from Japan, the United States, and the United Nations, North Korea continued to scale up its firepower. On Sept. 3 it conducted a massive underground test of a large nuclear warhead. On Nov. 29, it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts called the regime’s largest so far, seemingly capable of reaching anywhere on the U.S. mainland.
Sept. 7 — The strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century struck just off the nation’s Pacific coast a few minutes before midnight, killing 98 people. In the city of Juchitán de Zaragoza in Oaxaca state, the 8.2 magnitude quake destroyed homes, damaged a hospital, and partially collapsed a municipal building where, the following day, soldiers combed through rubble. Just 12 days later, on Sept. 19, a second major earthquake struck the nation: Though a less powerful 7.1 magnitude event, it was ultimately more deadly, killing at least 369 people, mostly in the capital of Mexico City. It struck on the anniversary of Mexico’s 1985 earthquake that killed 9,500.
Irma and Maria
Sept. 10 — A brutal hurricane season carried on with Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm after churning through the Caribbean, where it killed at least 38 people. In Florida, Irma packed 130 mph winds, knocked out power to 7.2 million homes and businesses, and was blamed for at least 72 deaths. Ten days later Hurricane Maria, also a Category 4, hit Puerto Rico, where it killed at least 62 and battered the island’s electric grid, knocking out power for months.
Sept. 24 — During a Sept. 22 speech, President Donald Trump lashed out at an NFL player who had kneeled during the national anthem, prompting players from 28 NFL teams to kneel or otherwise protest during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before games on Sept. 24. Such protests continued for weeks, and a fan backlash against the protests may have played a part in declining TV ratings for NFL games. Average game viewership fell to 15 million this season from 16.5 million last year, and the website Outkick the Coverage estimated the ratings slide would cost networks carrying NFL games $500 million by the end of the season.
Right to drive
Sept. 26 — Saudi Arabia announced it would permit women to drive beginning in June 2018, a major policy reversal for the repressive Islamic nation. The change came as governing King Salman and son Prince Mohammed bin Salman led social reforms, legalizing movie theaters and allowing girls in public schools to play sports, to the chagrin of hardline Muslim clerics. Saudi women were only in 2015 allowed to vote for the first time. Obtaining driver’s licenses will be another step forward—but Saudi women still may not marry, obtain a passport, or conduct certain business without permission from a male guardian.
Oct. 1 — An evening outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas broke into chaos after concertgoers realized someone was rapid-firing a rifle into the crowd. Attendees ran for cover, but a rain of bullets from the 32nd-story windows of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel was relentless. Fifty-nine people died, including the attacker, and over 500 others were injured in what became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Authorities struggled to identify a clear motive for shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, a wealthy gambler and retiree who had recently stockpiled guns but had no significant criminal history. Paddock’s use of a “bump stock” to increase the firing rate of his semi-automatic rifle—he shot nine rounds per second—prompted calls to ban the device.
Growing and declining
Oct. 6 — The Trump administration unveiled broad new exemptions for the federal government’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate, rolling back controversial Obama-era rules. The White House accomplished other major conservative goals this year, such as a dramatic rollback of economic regulations that spurred business investment and led to improving GDP growth rates of above 3 percent in the second and third quarters of 2017. The strong economic record didn’t translate into popularity for a president known for tweeting his mind, though. According to Pew Research, his approval rating had fallen to 32 percent by mid-December.
Oct. 9 — Dry weather and fierce, 50 mph winds in Northern California’s wine country combined to fuel the rapid spread of what became the costliest and deadliest series of wildfires in the state’s history. The fast-moving fires leveled entire neighborhood blocks in Santa Rosa, where some residents escaped with only minutes to spare. Others didn’t make it out in time. Forty-three people died in the region’s fires, and over 8,000 homes and businesses were destroyed. Later, in December, high winds drove the spread of additional wildfires near Los Angeles that burned more than 1,000 structures and threatened lives.
Oct. 27 — Crowds in Barcelona cheered after separatist lawmakers there voted to declare the autonomous region of Catalonia free and independent of Spain, a bold move following Catalonia’s unauthorized Oct. 1 independence referendum. Celebration was short-lived, though: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy immediately moved to dissolve the Catalan Parliament and replace the regional government. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium, while the region’s separatist lawmakers were arrested on charges of rebellion and sedition. Catalonia’s push for independence has been propelled by the region’s distinct language and culture, in addition to economic grievances.
Oct. 31 — With Halloween this year—also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—came a stark reminder that the days are evil: A man with a rented Home Depot truck drove onto a bike path in lower Manhattan, mowing down bikers and pedestrians, killing eight and injuring 12. The suspect, 29-year-old Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov, had written Arabic notes pledging allegiance to ISIS, investigators said. Saipov was shot by police but survived the attack and is facing trial.
Nov. 1 — The Houston Astros won their first World Series title in the franchise’s 56-year history by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7. The Astros won the back-and-forth series by rallying behind MVP George Springer, who became the first player to hit home runs in four consecutive World Series games. His overall five home runs also tied a World Series record.
Sutherland Springs trauma
Nov. 5 — Devin Patrick Kelley, dressed in black tactical gear, opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 persons, including an unborn child. Stephen Willeford, a former NRA instructor and a resident of Sutherland Springs, shot Kelley and helped chase him, after which Kelley crashed his car and died from a self-inflicted wound, according to police. “You lean into what you don’t understand,” said First Baptist Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, 14, was among the victims. “You lean into the Lord, and I would just submit that to everyone.”
Nov. 9 — A Washington Post investigation revealed multiple women who said Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama pursued them romantically during the 1970s and ’80s when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Two women claimed Moore sexually abused them when they were teens with one of them later admitting to forging a note supposedly written by Moore in her yearbook. The Post report was part of a wave of sexual harassment and assault accusations during the year leveled against famous and powerful men in October, November, and December, including Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actors Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey, and journalists Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, who lost their jobs at CBS and NBC, respectively. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned from Congress amid accusations of sexual misconduct, and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced he would resign after several women accused him of groping them.
Jerusalem as capital
Dec. 8 — Palestinians in the West Bank clashed with Israeli soldiers near a checkpoint in Ramallah, protesting an announcement from President Trump two days earlier that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Besides the violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, large groups of demonstrators in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Indonesia protested the announcement.
Dec. 11 — Stock markets soared throughout the year, setting records as the year progressed. Not even an attempted terrorist attack in New York on Dec. 11 slowed the momentum, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day at a record 24,386. The Dow began the year at 19,881. The S&P 500 index hit a record 2,659 the same day and rose from below 2,300 at the beginning of the year. Expectations that Congress would pass a major tax reform bill helped power the stock markets’ rise in November and early December. In terms of the American economy, the country’s GDP is higher than at any time under the Obama administration and black unemployment is the lowest it has been since Bill Clinton was president.