Ten years ago, the world was buzzing about former President Bush’s re-election, up-and-coming Barack Obama had won an Illinois Senate seat, Massachusetts became the first state to grant same-sex marriage, and the preliminary trails for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein were beginning.
As we begin the new year, take a look back at some of the biggest news stories that turn a decade old in 2014. It’s enough to make anyone feel just a bit old.
1. Facebook is launched.
Originally called “thefacebook.com,” Facebook was founded by Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004. Within months, the site became an instant hit among college students and eventually the rest of the world. A decade later, the social media site says it has 1.15 billion monthly active users across the globe, with 699 million daily active users.
2. President George W. Bush is re-elected over John Kerry.
Despite the War on Terror, a sluggish economy, and the controversial Iraq War, former President George W. Bush was re-elected by a margin of about 3.5 million votes, claiming 51% of the popular vote to John Kerry’s 48% in the November 2004 election. In the same week, Obama, a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, won Illinois’ US Senate seat with 70% of the vote.
3. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat dies.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died at age 75 in November 2004. While doctors said the official cause of death was a stroke, his widow, Suha Arafat, claimed that he was killed by a political assassin, which prompted a decade-long investigation. In December 2013, a Russian investigation confirmed that he died of natural causes and not by radioactive polonium.
4. Saddam Hussein’s preliminary trials begin.
In July 2004, then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi judge and was charged with crimes against the Iraqi people, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the gassing of Kurdish villagers, the suppression the Shiite uprising, and other war crimes and crimes against humanity. At one point, Hussein reportedly said, “Everyone knows that this is a theatrical comedy by Bush, the criminal, in an attempt to win the election.”
5. The Abu Ghraib prison abuse photographs emerge.
In May 2004, disturbing photographs taken by US soldiers, which showed Iraqi prisoners being humiliated and tortured in Abu Ghraib prison, emerged. These images triggered a series of investigations, formal charges against the troops involved, and an apology from President Bush.
6. Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts became the first state in the US to offer court-approved, legal marriage to same-sex couples in May 2004, marking a major milestone in the gay rights movement.
7. Nightclub fire in Buenos Aires kills 194 people.
The República Cromañón nightclub fire killed 194 people, most of whom were teenagers, on Dec. 30, 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina after someone set off a flare that had been smuggled into the club. The tragedy became emblematic of government failure and corruption in Argentina. According to officials, the club’s only two fire exits had been tied shut with wire “so that people wouldn’t enter without paying.”
8. Devastating tsunami ravages coasts across Asia.
The most powerful earthquake in at least 40 years hit parts of Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004 when an 8.9 magnitude tremor centered near the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia sent huge tsunami waves ravaging coastlines from Thailand to South Africa. At least 230,000 people were killed in 11 countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and Somalia.
9. Friends finishes its 10-year run
The final episode of the popular American television show Friends aired on May 6, 2004. The beloved sitcom ran for 10 years, centered around the lives of six friends living in New York City. It continues to garner fans from around the world. On the bright side: At least you’re old enough to relate to it now.
10. Janet Jackson’s nipple slips.
Janet Jackson’s famous wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl will be a decade old this year. On February 1, 2004, the pop star sparked controversy when her breast was exposed during a performance with Justin Timberlake. The FCC increased the fine for on-air indecency following the performance. Jackson’s nipple slip is the highest searched event in the history of the Internet, and the incident, nicknamed “Nipplegate” at the time, actually helped spark the creation of YouTube.
This post was originally published at PolicyMic and is reprinted here with permission.