What Happened in 2019?


2019 ended with President Trump impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power after he asked Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden under threat of withholding aid. The Republican-controlled Senate will likely not agree, and the result has been more support and campaign fundraising for Trump.

Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the front runners, after rising stars Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke dropped out, and Cory Booker slipped away. Elizabeth Warren remains a distant but steady third, while Michael Bloomberg announced his late candidacy.

The Nasdaq Composite index reached 9,000 for the first time in its history, the S&P 500 also posted an all-time high at 3,235.46 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a peak of 28,596.22 and the unemployment rate was only 3.6%.

Ransomware attacks were a significant problem during 2019, when several companies and governments were targeted. In many cases, the ransomware was sent in a malicious email link clicked by an employee. Once infected, files are encrypted and websites go dark, and hackers demand money to restore access.

Russia tested its ability to block access to its national Internet making it safer from cyber attacks while it also announced new hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles that travel six times the speed of sound, making current missile defenses ineffective.

The exodus of millions of Syrian civil war refugees continues, while year-long Hong Kong protests escalate. Protesters breached the US Embassy in Baghdad after Americans bombed Iranian-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militants.

A plague of locusts descended on Somalia, and Australian brush fires threaten major cities after drought and record-high temperatures. Meanwhile the capital of India had the coldest day in 100 years. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg appeared on the cover of Time magazine, addressed the United Nations, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for organizing worldwide school protests about climate change. According to NASA, NOAA and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2019 was the second hottest year since record keeping began in 1880, and was only topped by 2016’s temperatures. Every decade since the ’60s has been warmer than the one before it, and 2019 was 1.8 degrees F warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean.

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in jail after being arrested for trafficking underage girls for sex with himself and friends, allegedly including Prince Andrew among others. Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein awaits trial on rape charges.

In 2019 there were 41 mass killings in the US; 33 from firearms. These incidents where at least four people not including the shooter are killed accounted for 211 of the 39,150 killed by guns – of which 24,024 or 62% were suicides. A notable mass shooting in August saw a young man from a Dallas suburb drive to El Paso to kill Hispanic immigrants.

Genetic editing using CRISPR has been called the greatest scientific breakthrough of the decade, and is being used to treat genetic diseases, cancers, and create designer babies.

Brexit, or the UK leaving the European Union, continued all year, resulting in the election of a new Prime Minister and a date for withdrawal of January 31, 2020. UK voters narrowly approved the exit in 2016, but the process was delayed by Northern Ireland among other issues.

The Boeing 737 Max remains grounded after the company ignored safety concerns over profits, costing thousands of jobs, billions of dollars, and 346 people dead in crashes. Boeing pushed the FAA to approve the jet with new flight system without simulator training for pilots, which would have increased the cost for airlines.

Here were the most popular Google searches in 2019:

  • Disney Plus – A streaming service launched in November 2019 costs $6.99 per month to watch Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars & National Geographic shows.
  • Cameron Boyce – A popular Disney Channel star died from a seizure at age 20.
  • Nipsey Hussle – Rap star gunned down outside his clothing store in Los Angeles.
  • Hurricane Dorian – Category 5 hurricane destroys Bahamas.
  • Antonio Brown – NFL wide receiver fired after bad behavior and sexual assault claims.
  • Baby Yoda – A Yoda-type character on the show The Mandalorian on the new Disney Plus service.
  • Game of Thrones – The TV show ended in May 2019 after eight years.
  • R. Kelly – Lifetime network TV series airs with details of the singer’s sexual abuse.

India crashed an unmanned probe on the moon, and President Trump announced the formation of a new space military unit. SpaceX tested spaceships bound for Mars while delivering astronauts to the international space station plus launching the first of thousands of low-flying satellites that will provide global Internet access from space. 12,000 satellites are planned, but the 1,000 already launched generate complaints because their brightness interferes with astronomy. The number of satellites in orbit will more than double in the next year, and SpaceX is only one of the many companies launching thousands more.

Far out! Happy New Year, and hello 2020.

Related: Tod Lock 2015 Year in Review

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