Man of the year
George W. Bush beat Democratic challenger, Massachusetts
Senator John Kerry, in November's heated presidential election. The
election was close, and unlike in 2000 President Bush won the popular vote 51
percent to Senator Kerry's 48 percent. The election further tipped the balance
of power decisively into the Republican corner in Washington as the party won
larger advantages in the Senate and House. Voter turn out rate approached 60 percent,
the highest since 1968.
into the debate over gay marriage in February, becoming the first state in the
nation to offer court-approved, legal marriage to same-sex couples. The hot-button
issue is decided at the state level and some argue that a federal constitutional
amendment would best resolve the matter. Several national polls indicate a majority
of Americans oppose same-sex marriages, and in the November election 11 states
backed referendums making same-sex marriage illegal.
Soaring Oil Prices
May, oil prices reached the highest levels since the 1990s. The surge in oil prices
was caused by a number of factors: soaring demand in the United States and China,
the action of speculators, supply bottlenecks at U.S. refineries and instability
in oil-producing countries such as Nigeria, Venezuela and Iraq.
OPEC, the 11-member organization that produces 40 percent of the world's crude,
agree to increase output in June, prices still remain high and consumers will
continue to pay more at the pump into 2005.
Former President Ronald Reagan
Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died on June 5 from Alzheimer's-related
complications at the age of 93. The nation observed a week of services and tributes
in his memory, and he was laid to rest at his presidential library in California
after a state funeral in Washington, D.C.
Former President Reagan was both
hailed and vilified as one of the preeminent leaders of the conservative movement
in the 20th century. When Reagan left office in 1989 he had the highest approval
rating of any U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt.
Charley, Frances, Ivan and Alex pounded Florida during what has been called the
worst hurricane season in years. But the most devastating effects of the storms
were felt in Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where hundreds
were killed and millions left homeless. The Caribbean island nations are still
struggling to recover.
Flu Vaccine Shortage
problems at one of two companies that supply flu vaccine to the American market
reduced the number of doses available and caused worry of a flu epidemic. The
flu kills an estimated 36,000 Americans each year. More than 200,000 people are
hospitalized each year due to flu complications.
The shortage caused Americans
to take flu-shot trips up to Canada, but as of December, the flu season was milder
than expected and more vaccines were made available.