It’s cliche to say this year sucked, in part because we said it last year (and probably every year before that). But there was a certain grim, dystopian pall hanging over 2019. It’s hard to say 2020 is bound to be any better, especially with the shit show of a presidential election looming.
This year, news moved with whiplash speed. With so much new information cropping up each confusing and disheartening day, it was easy to forget things that happened in the last. Sometimes the things we forgot were trivial. Sometimes they were sad or frustrating. But we forgot joy and awe-inspiring things as well. Before they’re forgotten forever, here’s a quick refresher course on all the things that are poised to fall off the radar when we ring in the new year.
Another U.S.-North Korea Summit
Donald Trump’s second meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was just as unproductive as the first, and caused even less fanfare. The first summit just hit different. And continued relations with North Korea haven’t exactly eased tensions—just last week, officials from the country threatened to resume calling Trump a “dotard.”
First Image of a Black Hole
On April 10, scientists revealed the first image of a black hole ever recorded. It’s a momentous scientific achievement made possible by advanced technology and our ever-expanding understanding of the cosmos. But you might’ve forgotten about it because of all the memes people made of it.
Man Lit Himself on Fire Outside of the White House
On May 30, Arnav Gupta self-immolated near the White House and later died from his injuries. Images of Gupta conjured up memories of the Buddhist monk who burned himself to death in protest of the Vietnam War. But unlike that incident, this one slipped right out of the news almost immediately.
A Movie About Rich Liberals Hunting Trump Fans Got Canceled
In early July, Universal studios released the trailer for The Hunt, a variation on the premise of “The Most Dangerous Game” where fancy coastal elite liberals hunted blue collar Trump voters. In early August, after FOX News covered the movie, Trump lashed out at Hollywood liberals, who he called racist for some elusive reason that people guessed was connected to The Hunt. The next day, Universal announced they were cancelling The Hunt’s release but, according to reports, for reasons unrelated to Trump’s tweet.
Notre Dame Cathedral Fire
The famed cathedral went up in flames in June, damaging most of its historic structure. Perhaps even more memorable than the fire itself was the reaction to it. A number of French billionaires pledged more than $100 million to repair the church, which made people wonder why they can’t pool their money together to fix other stuff. But, as often happens, the rich never actually paid for anything. When repairs commenced without the big pledgers paying a single cent.
Thomas Cook travel agency bankruptcy
On Sept. 23, 178-year-old British travel agency Thomas Cook went bankrupt while trying to secure emergency funding and stranded more than 600,000 travelers worldwide. The scope of this failure was absolutely incredible. It mostly affected British people, so it’s reasonable that you, an American might have never heard of it. If that’s the case, google “Brexit.”
Trump grants clemency to war criminal Navy SEAL
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was accused of stabbing captives and shooting civilians. The Navy wanted to expel Gallagher after men in his unit testified to purposely messing with Gallagher’s rifle settings so he’d stop firing at innocent people. But Trump advocated for him, railed against the Navy and restored Gallagher’s rank. It’s also one of countless examples of a scandal that would’ve taken down another presidential administration, but became an after thought for the most corrupt one in modern U.S. history.
Amazon Rainforest fires
It’s actually hard to call this a 2019-specific event, since the Amazon’s been on fire for some time. But environmental destruction of the forest accelerated immensely under fascist Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. People noticed because major media outlets and celebrities started paying attention, but the Amazon’s destruction is still ongoing.