(Source: cnn.com, and latimes.com)
Major Happenings in the Year 2010
Earthquake devastates Haiti
A magnitude-7.0 earthquake wreaks havoc on the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. More than 220,000 people are killed, and countless others are injured or left homeless.
According to U.N. reports, the quake destroyed 60 percent of government infrastructure and left more than 180,000 homes uninhabitable.
Plane crashes into IRS building
A man with an apparent grudge against the Internal Revenue Service crashes a small plane into a federal building in Austin, Texas.
In a lengthy, rambling message discovered on the internet shortly after the attack, Andrew Joseph Stack rails against the government and, particularly, the IRS in what appears to be a suicide note. Stack and one person inside the building are killed.
-Volcanic ash disrupts European air travel
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, spewing a cloud of ash over Europe. Flights are disrupted for several weeks, choking international air travel and stranding thousands of passengers.
-Obama signs health care bill
U.S. President Barack Obama signs off on the biggest expansion of federal health care in more than four decades. The $940 billion plan is projected to extend insurance coverage to roughly 32 million additional Americans.
Many Republicans oppose the legislation, which would eventually require all Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.
-Polish president killed in plane crash
Polish President Lech Kaczynski is among the 97 killed when a plane crashes in heavy fog at an airport near Smolensk, Russia. Also perishing in the crash was Kaczynski’s wife and several of the country’s top military officials.
-Offshore explosion causes massive oil spill
An explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, kills 11 workers and begins the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
An estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil would spill into the Gulf before BP officials declared the leak sealed in September. Billions of dollars were spent to clean up the spill, and many local industries were negatively affected.
-Immigration law enacted in Arizona
Arizona enacts Senate Bill 1070 to crack down on illegal immigration. The law requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times, and it requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect they're undocumented.
Critics of the law say it legalizes racial profiling.
Car bomb found in Times Square
A T-shirt vendor reports smoke coming from an unattended car parked in New York’s Times Square. After police smell gunpowder coming from the car, the area is evacuated.
Authorities confirm that there is indeed a bomb in the car, but it failed to explode. Within hours, Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American, is taken into custody aboard a flight bound for the United Arab Emirates. Shahzad would later plead guilty to 10 criminal counts, and he received a life sentence in October.
Van der Sloot arrested in Peru
Peruvian authorities confirm that Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch man once considered a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, has confessed to the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez.
Van der Sloot would later try to recant his confession, claiming his constitutional rights were violated because he was represented by a state-appointed attorney. But his confession was ultimately upheld. He is now awaiting trial.
-Americans, Russians swap prisoners
Ten Russians accused of intelligence gathering are expelled from the United States in exchange for Russia's release of four prisoners accused of spying for the United States.
U.S. officials say none of the Russians had passed classified information and therefore none was charged with espionage.
-WikiLeaks reveals U.S. secrets online
Website WikiLeaks releases 75,000 documents relating to the United States and the war in Afghanistan. The firsthand accounts are the U.S. military's own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties and threat reports.
Months later, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would continue to make news, releasing the Iraq War Logs in October and thousands of diplomatic cables in November.
-Millions displaced by Pakistan flooding
Torrential monsoon rain leads to catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, killing at least 1,600 people and leaving 4 million homeless.
In the aftermath, poor hygienic conditions raise the threat of widespread infections and more deaths.
-Kagan seated on Supreme Court
Elena Kagan is sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, replacing Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in April.
Kagan, 50, is the fourth woman to serve on the court and the second justice confirmed since President Obama took office. A former solicitor general, Kagan was once a clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
-Combat mission ends in Iraq
President Obama addresses the country from the Oval Office and declares that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended." He says that America will continue supporting Iraq's government while it refocuses its energies on the U.S. economy and the war in Afghanistan.
-Florida pastor calls off Quran-burning ceremony
The Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of a church in Gainesville, Florida, calls off a Quran-burning ceremony that he planned to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The plan had set off a firestorm of concern, especially in the Muslim world. U.S. military leaders said such an event would imperil the lives of troops abroad.
-‘Don't ask, don't tell’ takes center stage
Federal Judge Virginia Phillips orders the U.S. military to stop enforcing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay service members. But some military leaders, including the commandant of the Marine Corps, are wary of a change during wartime, saying it could pose a deadly distraction on the battlefield.
Following a full Pentagon review, the law was officially repealed on December 22.
-Trapped miners rescued in Chile
After being trapped underground for nearly 70 days, 33 men are safely rescued from a collapsed copper mine in the Atacama region of northern Chile.
The miners’ plight had been documented almost daily since it was determined they had survived the cave-in. Their spirit and perseverance inspired people around the world, and television cameras were on hand to watch each miner pulled to safety.
-Midterm elections: U.S. House shifts to the right
During congressional midterm elections, the Republican Party takes control of the U.S. House of Representatives, winning 242 seats to the Democrats' 191. The Democratic Party retains control of the Senate.
President Obama described the House shift as a "shellacking."
-Tensions flare between North, South Korea
North Korea launches artillery at Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea, killing two South Korean marines. North Korea said the incident stemmed from South Korean maritime military exercises, which it called "war maneuvers for a war of aggression."
Earlier in the year, a South Korean warship was sunk in the area, resulting in the loss of 46 lives. South Korea blamed North Korea for the sinking.
-President Barack Obama announced he had reached a deal with Republican leaders to extend Bush era tax cuts for all Americans for two more years. In exchange the president received an extension of unemployment benefits. The president had been fighting the tax cuts for most of 2010, and the deal angered most liberal Democrats, but signed the bill into law on December 17.
-On December 7, Australian Julian Assange, founder of whistleblowing website Wikileaks, was arrested days after Interpol put him on its most-wanted list. Assange, under fire for posting secret military documents online, was arrested for an alleged sexual assault in Sweden and eventually release on December 17.
-On December 26, a massive blizzard pounded the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow on New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The storm left thousands stranded in cars and their homes. 911 calls went unanswered. And the snow forced the postponement of the Sunday Night Football game in Philadelphia. All of the New York City streets were cleared four days later.