This is what I was thinking:
Nationally and globally, the most important events probably included the Earthquake in Haiti (not to minimize the importance of the current, ongoing cholera epidemic there); the dramatic increase of the use of stem cells in therapy (and research) with some real potential for cures just around the corner; Tiger Woods did not get laid all year; Iceland’s volcanic eruption and its effects on European travel; New research shows that tigers are about to become extinct in the wild and there isn’t much we can do about it, though token efforts will be made; The end of the Iraq war (that actually happened the previous year but I mention it because people seemed to not notice); Courteney Cox & David Arquette breakup; Numerous huge and unexpected snowstorms, probably caused (in large part) by global warming; Elena Kagan appointed to the Supreme Court; The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico; The Shellacking; The WikiLeaks Cable Release; Sudden increase in flu deaths in Britain; and the Death of Leslie Nielsen. Three of these stories are listed here as jokes.
Quite a bit happened during the last year in US national legislation, this perhaps being one of the busiest years on record. Highlights include: The Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act because “the aggressive sales tactics many companies use against their online customers have undermined consumer confidence in the Internet and thereby harmed the American economy”; The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the Truth in Caller ID act; the controversial tax bill that also extended unemployment benefits; The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment act re-authorization; some cleaning up of the copyright laws; the Truth in Fur Labeling Act to require that if a product contains any fur, it shall be labeled as such (the act narrows, but does not eliminate, a loophole); The COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENT LOUDNESS MITIGATION ACT; Legislation to limit the spread of Asian carp; legislation to regulate the distribution of animal crush videos; The naming of an icefield in Alaska after Ted Stevens (hopefully one that will melt shortly due to global warming); The re-authorization and advancement of legislation allowing the use of stem cells in therapeutic and research contexts; A law allowing candidates for the office of President to engage in “transition” activities before the actual election; An “Act … to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use”; A law reducing the amount of classification of document that happens (obviated by the release of all classified documents by WikiLeaks!); Act(s) addressing modern communications, Internet, cable, etc. access; A law that changes “references in Federal law to mental retardation to references to an intellectual disability, and change references to a mentally retarded individual to references to an individual with an intellectual disability”; various fiscal and job relief acts including $2.3 billion dollars in tax credits for companies building clean energy technology; A law to limit the availability of smuggled cell phones in prisons; A Native American “arts and crafts” protection law; and Reform of health care insurance.