It was one of the most newsworthy years in history so it will take two columns to cover the biggest stories of 2005. Below the first five:

10.      The NHL finds peace, love and understanding, sort of: After a year long strike the National Hockey League and Players Association reached an agreement that brought the game back to the ice. Unfortunately, in the USA it hasn't brought fans back to the seats and those in the know now wonder if the game of ice hockey will ever really recover.

9. Valerie Plame, the spy who's bringing down the White House: A July 2003 article by columnist Robert Novak identified Plame as a CIA operative and Washington has never been the same. This year however, Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald seemed to hit the jackpot as stunning revelation after revelation about the conduct of White House officials were unveiled. Indicted: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff. Still sweating, Cheney and President Bush's Senior Advisor Karl Rove. Also caught in the crossfire New York Times Reporters Matt Cooper, Judith Miller and Novak himself.

8. Pennsylvania State Legislators give each other a huge pay raise in the middle of the night: It was so big it made the front page of major newspapers across the country and was featured on CNN and Fox News. Well known broadcasters, political pundits and columnists railed against the shear audacity of such an act. Shame faced Legislators later repealed the raise, only to be faced with judges who cried foul and started filing lawsuits to bring the pay raise back. "Can't we just all get along?"

7. "Crips" co-founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams executed-Schwarzenegger pays big time: "Tookie" Williams was co-founder of the "Crips" one of the most violent and widespread gangs in the world. He was convicted of committing four shotgun murders. Sentenced to San Quentin's death row, Williams appeared to undergo a conversion. He wrote books and spoke against gang violence. Williams did not however, ever admit to the four murders. Throughout his over 20-year imprisonment, Williams was embraced by celebrities and eventually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Ironically in the end it was a celebrity, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who decided Williams' fate. Siding with the justice system and the Supreme Court Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria, refused to overturn the conviction and Williams was executed on December 13th. Shortly after the execution Austrian officials, a country where the death penalty is illegal, strongly castigated Schwarzenegger. In turn, Schwarzenegger asked that his hometown of Graz remove his name from their sports stadium, which they quietly did. Graz's official slogan: "City of Human Rights".

6. Terrorists strike in London/protesters burn through France: On July 7th, 4 bombs exploded sequentially along London's subway and bus systems. 56 minutes later 52 people were dead and hundreds injured. Still the "stiff upper lip" Brits proved themselves to be pillars of strength. Patrick Whelan, a London based computer analyst seemed to describe the feeling best "to get on with our lives is a matter of pride." In the meantime, the accidental electrocution deaths on October 27th of 2 teens in France started major rioting by primarily French Muslims. Before the 20 nights of rioting had quieted down 8,973 vehicles were torched, 2,888 arrests were made, and 126 police injured. France remains in a "state- of -emergency" and is concerned about the approaching new year.

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

comments powered by Disqus