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Top Stories of 2008

The year 2008 was suited to those of us who cover the news and who analyze it. It was replete with drama from the devastating natural disasters in China and Myanmar to those caused by human greed and negligence resulting in a global economic meltdown. There were genuine surprises including Sarah Palin's rapid rise from obscurity to rock star popularity on the national political stage and Barack Obama's victory over racism, conservatism, and the power of the Clinton and the Bush connections.

There were the personal defeats which reminded us of the heroes of Greek tragedy brought down by hubris. This year, the derailed careers belonged to a United States senator, perhaps a governor, and a city attorney. Ambitions were sabotaged as well when leaders promised more than they could deliver, and the best laid plans to benefit the public interest caved to the pressure of special interests.

Perhaps the strangest phenomenon of all was the fate of Proposition 8 in California. Its passage eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, despite a ruling by the California Supreme Court less than six months earlier that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Thousands of such couples who did marry after the court decision and before the initiative passed are now in legal limbo. Interestingly, the California vote for change embodied by support for Barack Obama over John McCain (61% to 37%) did not carry over to Proposition 8 (52% Yes to 48% No).

Yes, it's the inconsistency and unpredictability of human behavior that keeps the news fresh, even when history seems to be repeating itself. So my New Year's wish is for 12 months of much better news even if we have to sacrifice some excitement.

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