New Year’s Day: (Friday) Britain and Ireland and northern Europe in the grip of a cold spell, unusually cold and snow everywhere which doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon (this weather settled in at the end of November 2009 and there’s more snowfall forecast for the week ahead). Worst chill in 30 years, apparently.
4 January: The tallest man-made structure to date, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is officially opened.
12 January: massive earthquake in Haiti (7.0-magnitude), devastating the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince (death toll eventually totals out at over 316,000.)
12 January: Alastair Campbell, former Downing Street press secretary (Tony Blair’s director of communications), appeared before the Chilcot Inquiry [into UK’s decision to go to war in Iraq]; typically bullish, Campbell says he is prepared to “defend every word” of the so-called ‘dodgy dossier’ of September 2002 on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction which [having been ‘sexed up’ by Campbell, allegedly] is what was used to rationalise military action and marshal public support for the pointless and bloody adventure.
25 January: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashes into the Mediterranean shortly after take-off from Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, killing all 90 people on board.
29 January: Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry [into UK’s decision to go to war in Iraq]; polished performance (so polished as to lead one to conclude that by one means or another he and his people were made aware of the questions that he would need to answer because he had his script well worked out). It was almost not an inquiry at all, just a series of public presentations in a quasi-judicial forum.
2 February: British (Birmingham-based) food firm Cadbury taken over by American food giant Kraft in an £11.6 billion deal.
8 February: George Lee, former economics correspondent with RTE who had been elected to Irish parliament for Fine Gael in a by-election in 2009, resigns as member of parliament and from Fine Gael (he expected to be part of FG’s front bench team, apparently; not willing to do the hard yards when he can return to a much cushier number at RTE on €150K a year plus expenses, spin-offs and generous pension). Waste-of-time ego-wanker!
11 February: death of fashion designer Alexander McQueen (b. 1969). Suicide (found hanging in his wardrobe apparently!)
12 to 28 February: The 2010 Winter Olympics are held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada (Who gives a fuck? Anyone?)
18 February: Irish defence minister Willie O’Dea steps down from government job following controversy about libelous remarks he made about a rival politician in his Limerick city stronghold (Taoiseach Brian Cowen does not replace him in cabinet — reshuffle expected soon anyway — prime minister takes on defence brief himself for now).
20 February: death of former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig (b. 1926). Crazy horse, shoulda been put down years ago.
23 February: former Green Party leader Trevor Sargent resigns as junior minister for food and agriculture following row about ‘error of judgement’ on his part viz representations he made to police on behalf of a constituent.
27 February: An 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile, killing at least 525 and triggering a Pacific tsunami.
3 March: death of Michael Foot (b. 1913), author and former leader of the British Labour Party. Nice bloke, great conversationalist, great old school public speaker, terrible Labour Party leader.
18 March: former Anglo-Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick arrested at his home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, in relation to false accounting and other forms of misrepresentation and bad faith at Anglo-Irish.
20 March: Ireland defeat Scotland to win Rugby’s Six Nations (and Triple Crown); only game they lost was to France in Paris on 13 February.
26 March: The ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sinks off the country’s west coast, with the loss of 46 people. An independent investigation blames North Korea for the sinking, who hotly deny the charge.
6 April: UK prime minister Gordon Brown went to the palace today to ask the queen to dissolve parliament, triggering a general election which will be on Thursday, 6 May.
7 April: death of Christopher Cazenove (b. 1943): Lt/Capt. Richard Gaunt in BBC drama series The Regiment (1972-3), Eye of the Needle (1979), Zulu Dawn (1981), and Ben Carrington in Dynasty (1986-7), et cet.
9-10 April: David Crisp, a metal detector enthusiast, discovered over 50,000 Roman era coins in a number of ceramic pots near Frome in Somerset (dated AD 250-300). Already dubbed the ‘Frome Hoard’.
10 April: The president of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, is among 96 killed when their aeroplane crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, while on their way to commemorate the Soviet Katyn massacre.
13 April: A 6.9-magnitude earthquake occurs in Qinghai, China, killing at least 2,000 and injuring more than 10,000.
14 April: Volcanic ash from eruptions beneath Mount Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland, begins to disrupt air traffic across northern and western Europe.
15 April: In Britain, ITV aired the first of three election debates between Gordon Brown (Labour Party), David Cameron (Conservative Party) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Party) ahead of the 2010 general election (BBC and Chanel 4 will also stage debates in coming weeks). Clegg came best out of it, probably because not much was expected of him — being the least of the three, politically speaking — appearing to be a competent and attractive character. However, it was very dull television, very stilted and stage-managed to near death — just a series of PR presentations — nevertheless it got a huge audience (this is the first time there has been a television studio head-to-head between the rivals for the top job in British politics).
20 April: BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. The resulting Horizon oil spill, one of the largest in history, spreads for several months, damaging the gulf waters and the United States coastline, and prompting debate about the practice and procedures of offshore drilling (ends up costing the company $20 billion USD in fines and clean-up costs and compensation packages).
21 April: The government announced that British airports would reopen and passenger flights would resume (after the six-day shutdown caused by volcanic ash from the eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull—see 14 April, above), but officials cautioned that it would take weeks for flight schedules to return to normal.
27 April: four days after the activation of a €45-billion EU–IMF bailout, the credit agency Standard & Poor’s downgrades Greece’s sovereign credit rating to “junk” triggering stock market declines worldwide and collapse in value of Euro, fuelling European sovereign debt crisis.
30 April: Radio DJ Gerry Ryan found dead at his home in Dublin (b. 1956); turns out he was a crazy coke-head.
2 May: The Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund agree to a €110 billion bailout package for Greece (see also 27 April, above). The rescue package involves stiff austerity measures for Greece for the foreseeable future.
5 May: Irish government manages to survive a vote in parliament designed to force it to hold a by-elections for vacant parliamentary seats in Donegal South-West, Dublin South, and Waterford (which the government knows would result in more seats in parliament for opposition parties); government wins only by virtue of the Speaker’s casting vote (which by tradition goes with the government).
7 May: The UK general election took place yesterday, resulting in a hung parliament. The Conservative Party won a majority of the seats, 306 (up 97) of the 649 seats contested (by tradition the Speaker’s seat is not contested), 20 short of an overall majority in the House of Commons; the Labour Party won 258 seats (down 91), and the Liberal Democrats 57 (the remainder of the seats going to Northern Ireland representatives and Scottish Nationalists and so on; Green Party has managed to elect an MP for the first time — Caroline Lucas in Brighton). Negotiations for a programme for coalition government underway between Liberals and Labour on one hand and Liberals and Conservatives on the other; in policy terms Liberals probably best suited to doing a deal with Labour but the unpopularity and paranoid character of Gordon Brown is a massive problem — and he shows absolutely no signs of being willing to stand aside (his career and his chapter in the history books is all that really matter to him) — and anyway the majority of the country has clearly voted for change, so a Con-Lib coalition is the most likely outcome.
7 May: Scientists conducting the Neanderthal genome project announce that they have sequenced enough of the Neanderthal genome to suggest that Neanderthals and humans may have interbred.
9 May: Chelsea become Premier League champions (beating Wigan 8-0 in the final game of the season).
10 May: Gordon Brown has finally read the memo which tells him that he is totally not popular even in his own party (especially in his own party!) and announced that he will stand down as leader of the Labour Party (however, this is probably too late to help his party because it looks very much like the Conservative Party is close to concluding a deal with the Liberal Party for a coalition government). Labour Party contest for new leader likely to set them fighting for the foreseeable future, Blairites (led by David Miliband) v. Brownites (led by Ed Balls).
11 May: David Cameron confirmed as new British prime minister (with Nick Clegg as “deputy-prime minister”, which is not an official position at all but has come into use in the past 20 or so years as a sort of also-ran bauble for someone who helps the PM secure the top spot).
12 May: Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 crashes at runway at Tripoli International Airport in Libya, killing 103 of the 104 people on board.
15 May: Chelsea complete the British footballing double, adding the F.A. Cup (1-0 win over Porthsmouth) to the premiership title they were awarded on 9 May
18 May: Irish government survive another push to hold by-elections for vacant parliamentary seats (see 5 May, above).
19 May: Protests in Bangkok, Thailand, end with a bloody military crackdown, killing 91 and injuring more than 2,100.
20 May: Five paintings worth €100 million are stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
22 May: Air India Express Flight 812 overshoots the runway at Mangalore International Airport in India, killing 158 (8 survivors).
28 May: Irish Health Service Executive reveals that since 2000, 37 children in its care have died (this is unbelievable, they’d have better chance on the streets)!!
29 May: death of American film-maker and actor Dennis Hopper (b. 1936): Rebel Without A Cause (1955), Easy Rider (1969), Apocalypse Now (1979), et cet.
29 May: new UK government has its first “scandal” as (Liberal Democrat) David Laws the newly-appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury has to resign after it was a revealed that he had claimed parliamentary expenses to pay rent to his love-partner.
31 May: Nine activists are killed in a clash with soldiers when Israeli Navy forces raid and capture a flotilla of ships attempting to break the Gaza blockade.
2 June: Twelve people killed and 25 injured after a gunman, identified as taxi driver Derrick Bird, went on a killing spree in the Whitehaven, Egremont, and Seascale areas of Cumbria (northern England). He was found dead, having reportedly shot himself, in woodland at Boot.
3 June: Police released the names of the twelve people who were killed in yesterday’s shootings in Cumbria. They include Derrick Bird’s 52-year-old twin brother David, the family’s 60-year-old solicitor Kevin Commons.
4 June: Fianna Fail senator Larry Butler resigns party whip as a result of parliamentary expenses stories (false accounting).
5 June: Fianna Fail senator Ivor Callely resigns party whip as a result of abuse of parliamentary expenses stories (false accounting).
10 to 14 June: Ethnic riots in Kyrgyzstan (which is north of Afghanistan) between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks result in the deaths of hundreds.
11 June: for the first time in its history the Irish Labour Party leads the opinion polls as the most popular political party (which is only because the others are so hopeless and the whole country is in a tailspin — it’s a mark of desperation, not affirmation, Labour Party people are essentially no different to the representatives you get in FF or FG, different coloured badges is all).
11 June to 11 July: The 2010 FIFA World Cup is held in South Africa. It is won by Spain, beating the Netherlands 1-0 in the final. (Andrés Iniesta’s goal in the 116th minute giving Spain their first world title, making them only the eighth nation to win the tournament, and the first European nation to win the tournament outside Europe).
14 June: push against Enda Kenny in Fine Gael led by Richard Bruton; all the young guns (most of them anyway) come out with statements which express unhappiness with where the party is at under Kenny’s leadership (see also 10 June, above, and George Lee’s resignation of 8 February).
15 June: long-running Saville Inquiry into British Army paratrooper shootings in Derry/Londonderry in 1972 (14 unarmed protesters shot dead) published; shootings unwarranted and condemned, the £100-million inquiry concludes. British PM David Cameron admits shooting unwarranted and apologises on behalf of state.
15 June: Irish prime minister Brian Cowen survives no confidence vote in parliament (which is a joke because there aren’t 20 people in the country who have confidence in this absurd clown).
22 June: UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne presents the (recently elected) coalition government’s emergency budget. The most notable changes include a 2.5% increase in VAT — a sales tax — (taking it to 20%) and a 25% reduction in public spending.
8 July: The first 24-hour flight by a solar-powered plane is completed by the Solar Impulse.
24 July: death of former world snooker champion Alex Higgins (b. 1949).
25 July: Wikileaks, an online publisher of anonymously supplied, classified material, releases over 90,000 classified documents about the United States campaign in the War in Afghanistan. Seriously embarrassing to the U.S. (both the leaks themselves and the picture they paint of U.S. campaigns).
29 July: Heavy monsoon rains cause widespread flooding in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan; over 1,600 dead and more than one million displaced.
29 July: The UK government announces that, as from October next year, employers will no longer have the right to force workers to leave without paying them off once they turn 65 (ie, the end of mandatory retirement at 65).
29 August: News of the World publishes evidence that the current Lord’s [cricket] test between England and Pakistan is rigged in a match-fixing scam worth millions of pounds (a Pakistani fix).
31 August: death of Irish actor Mick Lally (b. 1945), best known for his role in the Irish TV soap Glenroe but a great stage actor one time.
1 September: Tony Blair’s memoir, A Journey (Random House, a £4.6 million advance), published, which contains criticisms of his successor, Gordon Brown, claiming that Brown could be “maddening” and “[lacks] emotional intelligence” (the level of criticism of GB the first thing everyone looked for).
4 September: Tony Blair is pelted with missiles (tomatoes and such like) when attending a book signing in Dublin; four people arrested which stemmed from protests against the Afghan and Iraq wars.
5 September: Tipperary defeat Kilkenny in All-Ireland Hurling Final.
8 September: Ian Cameron, father of UK prime minister, David Cameron, dies in the South of France after suffering a stroke, aged 77.
14 September: Irish prime minister Brian Cowen gives radio interview to the Morning Ireland show in which he is judged to be more than a little “the worse for wear” from the night before (he was drunkenly singing “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” in the hotel bar at 2 o’clock in the morning — Fianna Fail party having its annual ‘Think-In’ in a hotel in Galway). Shit-storm gathering around this story (including international coverage) and all of the stories (of course) have pictures of Cowen boozing or at least laughing like a fiddler’s bitch clutching his booze (and there are many such pictures to choose from; far too many!). Basically, of course, the message is ‘Irish prime minister drunk as the country goes bankrupt’ (which is no more than the sick fact of the matter).
16 September: Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Edinburgh to start a four-day state visit to Britain – first papal visit to UK since that of his predecessor Pope John Paul II in 1982. He meets with the Queen and on 19 September officially proclaims the beatification of John Henry Newman in Birmingham.
19 September: Cork beat Down in All-Ireland Football Final (Cork’s seventh title, their first since 1990).
25 September: Ed Miliband is elected to become Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, narrowly beating his brother David in the final round of the leadership contest.
28 September: Ed Miliband makes his first major speech as Labour leader at the party’s Annual Conference telling delegates that his “new generation” will return the party to power.
29 September: After losing the Labour Party leadership challenge to his brother Ed, David Miliband announces that he will not be serving in his brother’s shadow cabinet, although he will continue as an MP.
29 September: death of American actor Tony Curtis (b. 1925): Some Like it Hot (1959), Spartacus (1960), The Great Race (1965) et cet.
5 October: death of Moss Keane (b. 1948), former Irish Rugby international (50 caps) and British and Irish Lion (and he was a member of the Munster team that beat the All Blacks at Thomond Park in 1978). He was also a member of the team that won the Five Nations Championship (and Triple Crown) for Ireland in 1982 (which would not be equalled until 2010 — see 20 March, above).
10 October: death of American musician Solomon Burke (b. 1940).
22 October: The International Space Station surpasses the [USSR] record for the longest continuous human occupation of space, having been continuously inhabited since November 2, 2000 (3641 days).
23 October: In preparation for the Seoul summit, finance ministers of the G-20 agree to reforms of the International Monetary Fund, shifting 6% of the voting shares to developing nations and countries with emerging markets.
25 October: An earthquake and consequent tsunami off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, kills over 400 people and leaves hundreds missing.
26 October (through to December): Repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi volcano in Central Java, Indonesia, and accompanying pyroclastic flows of scalding gas, pumice, and volcanic ash descending; the erupting volcano kills 300 people and forces hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate.
2 November: Fianna Fail TD Jim McDaid resigns from parliament which means that there are now 4 vacant seats in the Irish parliament (three of them empty for nearly a year!!! — the government using loophole to avoid moving by-election writs; see also 5 and 18 May, above).
3 November: High Court rules Irish government’s refusal to move writs for by-elections (see 5 and 18 May and 2 November, above) unconstitutional; government forced to move writ for Donegal South-West by-election immediately (which will be held on 25 November).
10 November: University students riot outside the Conservative Party headquarters London protesting funding cuts and proposals to increase university tuition fees.
12 November: Mary Harney, Irish minister of Health, pelted with eggs and cheese by protesters in Tipperary.
11-12 November: The G-20 summit is held in Seoul, South Korea (the first non-G8 nation to host a G-20 leaders summit).
13 November: Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi is released from long years of house arrest.
16 November: Clarence House announces the engagement of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. The couple will marry next year.
16 November: The UK Government is to pay millions of pounds in compensation to British citizens who were held in detention overseas, including the camp at Guantanamo Bay, who claim British security services colluded in their torture and other violations of their human rights.
17 November: Researchers at CERN (in Switzerland) trap 38 antihydrogen atoms for a sixth of a second, the first time antimatter has been isolated and trapped.
18 November: International Monetary Fund officials arrive in Ireland even though Irish prime minister Brian Cowen continues to deny (what all the world knows) that the country is bankrupt (Cowen looks and sounds like a complete loon — IMF officials do not even bother to meet with him!! they just go straight to the Central Bank and to the Dept. of Finance to examine the books).
22 November: A stampede during Bon Om Thook (Khmer Water Festival) celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, kills 347.
23 November: North Korea shells Yeonpyeong Island, prompting a military response by South Korea. The incident causes an escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula — even though there has not been a resumption of fullscale hostilities for 50 years, officially North and South Korea are still at war!
24 November: A second protest in London sees thousands of students demonstrate. Trouble flares in Whitehall, resulting in 17 people being injured and 32 people arrested. Unrest also in other cities and towns including Brighton, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, and Sheffield, with street protests and university building sit-in protests taking place.
25 November: An icy blast hits North East Scotland and weather forecasters saying the rest of us will also be affected by it in the coming days and weeks.
25 November: Sinn Fein win Donegal South-West by-election (see also 3 November, above).
27 November: snow is general all over Ireland.
28 November: WikiLeaks releases another tranche (more than 250,000) of classified U.S. documents (diplomatic cables this time which have horribly frank assessments of various world leaders, friends and foes). Aside from the embarrassing security breach, this is a diplomatic shit-storm for the U.S. See also 25 July, above.
29 November: The European Union agree to an €85 billion rescue deal for Ireland from the European Financial Stability Facility, the International Monetary Fund and bilateral loans from the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden.
29 November – 10 December: The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference is held in Cancún, Mexico. Also referred to as the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), it serves too as the 6th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 6).
30 November: several senior Fianna Fail people (Rory O’Hanlon, Dermot Ahern, etc) announce they will not be contesting their seats in the coming general election (in which Fianna Fail is going to be wiped out — people talking about “economic treason”).
1 December: Heavy snow and freezing temperatures now affect most of the country; road, rail and air services disrupted and tens of thousands of schools shut.
13 December: Mark Weston, the first person to face a second murder trial in the United Kingdom following the abolition of the double jeopardy rule in England and Wales, is convicted of killing a woman in Oxfordshire in 1995. He is sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 13 years.
13 to 16 December: many more Fianna Fail people announce they will not be contesting their parliamentary seats in the forthcoming general election (rats leave sinking ship); see also 30 November, above. Meanwhile (comically) Brian Leninhan presents his budget for 2011 (even though IMF officials have taken over the financial administration of the country and Fianna Fail may not even be in office for many more weeks). The country is punch-drunk (in both senses of “punch” — many people saying “We may as well get pissed this Christmas because it may be our last piss-up for some time!” — and not just saying it).
15 December: death of American film-maker Blake Edwards (b. 1922).
16 December: The Scottish Government rules out tuition fees for Scottish university students, but students from other parts of the United Kingdom attending university in Scotland face fees of £6,000.
17 December: The British government announces plans to allow prisoners serving less than four years to vote.
19 December: death of writer and broadcaster Anthony Howard (b. 1934): editor of the New Statesman (1972-8) and deputy editor of The Observer (1981-8), author of books on R.A. Butler and Richard Crossman et cet; regular contributor to and presenter of A Week in Politics type shows on British television at the weekends.
20 December: death of BBC newsman (diplomatic correspondent) Brian Hanrahan (b. 1949).
21 December: The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, loses power to rule on Rupert Murdoch’s take-over of BSkyB after being recorded stating that he had “declared war” on Murdoch (recorded by Daily Telegraph undercover reporters pretending to be constituents).
21 December: Police in Bristol becoming concerned about the whereabouts of a woman, Joanna Yeates, who has not been seen since the evening of 17 December.
23 December: former MSP [Member of the Scottish Parliament] Tommy Sheridan is convicted of perjury following a twelve week trial.
25 December: A cold Christmas we had of it (-17.5 C.).
26 December: Avon and Somerset Police say they are “satisfied” that a body found on Christmas Day near the village of Failand, Somerset is that of missing Bristol woman Joanna Yeates, who disappeared on 17 December.
28 December: Police launch a murder investigation after Joanna Yeates post mortem concludes that she had been strangled.