We are one week into our new year of 2006 and it already seems that it will be a year of profound change. Only time will tell, however if it leaves memories such as these below:

5. The face of network television news changes forever: It began with the announcement by NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw that he was retiring. His classy retirement was eclipsed, however by the downfall of CBS News Anchor Dan Rather. In an unbelievable twist of fate, ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings announced he had lung cancer. By the end of the year one anchor had died, one had gone into a distinguished retirement, and the third into some kind of floating oblivion.

4. War rages on-oil prices soar: As of Dec. 31, 2005: Americans dead in Iraq- 2,093, total number of American Troops wounded in action- 16,245, average price per gallon of gasoline December 2005- $2.38 per gallon; December 2003-$1.54. What a difference two years makes.

3. The Supremes reshuffle: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1st. The opening signaled a possible shift in "Supreme" politics. Enter President Bush's nominee U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts. Charismatic, respected and well-liked, Roberts appeared to be fast-tracked for confirmation. However, in a stunning turn of events, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, died on Sep. 3. Roberts was re-nominated on Sep. 6 this time to fill Rehnquist's position as Chief Justice. On Sept. 22 Roberts became the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. O'Connor said she'd stay until a new nominee for her position could be found. Are we confused yet? On Oct. 3 White House Counsel Harriet Miers was nominated to fill O'Connor's seat. Miers lack of experience proved to be tremendous fodder for contempt and "cutesy" notes sent to long time friend Bush served to seal her fate By Oct. 27 Miers was gone and on Oct. 31 Bush nominated Federal Judge Samuel Alito. O'Connor didn't make it out in 2005 and Alito looks like his confirmation isn't a sure thing with a possible filibuster in the works. Maybe O'Connor can take that vacation in 2007.

2. Pope John Paul II dies-new pope clears way for sainthood: People of all faiths mourned the passing of one of the longest reigning popes in modern history, John Paul II. His extraordinary life included a few of these highlights: By the time he reached 21, he had lost all of his immediate family members, the occupation of his native Poland by the Germans where he helped others while risking his own life, ascension to the papacy in 1978 and a gunshot wound intended to kill him. The Pope elected to succeed him Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger) knew John Paul II was a tough act to follow. Ratzinger has "fast-tracked" John Paul II for sainthood, a fitting salute to a life that gave so much.

1. Hurricane Katrina: After what some have declared the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history, a storm so huge it nearly wiped New Orleans, La. off the map, we learned FEMA was headed by a "know nothing" political appointee. As more and more information comes out "after the fact" we now know the government knew New Orleans was a time-bomb waiting to go off. Now our government is fighting to cheap out on fixing the levees. As Bob Dylan would say "When will they ever learn?" Let's hope in 2006.

Shelley Castetter lives in Bart Township. Her e-mail address is southernexposure1@yahoo.com.

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