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Listen to News 2010

Here are twelve of the top news stories from 2010. These stories and audio clips were taken from EnglishClub.com's Listen to News pages. Review the news stories and then take the quiz. Double click on the green arrow to listen.

January: Earthquake leaves Haiti in Ruins
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on January 12 leaving much of the country in ruins. On January 22nd the United Nations declared that the search and rescue for survivors was officially over. While dozens of survivor stories gave hope to those with missing loved ones, the death toll continued to rise as the days passed. When the search was called off, the death toll exceeded 150 000 people in the capital of Port-au-Prince alone. Global relief was slow to reach the devastated area due to the broken infrastructure, which included a major loss of communication. Countries around the world have pledged millions to provide aid to Haitians who were already the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.
 
February: Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games Open Sombrely
Just hours before the 2010 Olympics officially kicked off in Vancouver, Canada, a Georgian luger missed a turn and flew off the track, hitting a pole at the Whistler Sliding Centre. The accident was broadcasted live around the world as 21-year old, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died on impact. Just a few hours later, his Georgian teammates marched into the Opening Ceremonies wearing black armbands to honour their fallen teammate. The organizing president of the Vancouver Games spoke sombrely to the other athletes about Nodar saying, "May you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders, and carry his spirit in your hearts." The luge competition continued as scheduled, though structural changes were made to the track.
 
March: Google Cuts Censorship in China
Google announced this March that it will no longer offer censored search services in China. Users in mainland China will be redirected to the uncensored version of Google in Hong Kong. The decision came a few months after Google claimed that it had been a victim of a cyber attack originating in China. In Google's official blog, the chief legal officer noted that China's government could block access to search services at any time. Baidu.com is currently the leading search engine service in China.
 
April: Polish Dignitaries Die in Airline Crash
A jet carrying Poland's President, First Lady, army chief of staff, navy chief commander and several other military staff and clergy crashed in Russia this April killing all 96 people on board. President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage were on their way to Russia for a memorial service marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. The plane went down in the woods near the site where much of the mass murder occurred. During World War II, over 20 000 elite Polish prisoners of war were killed by the Soviet secret police. The crash has been blamed on poor visibility, and the pilot reportedly disregarded a recommendation to land at another airfield. The suspicious coincidence between the two tragedies has sparked many theories of conspiracy.
 
May: Oil Spill in US Waters now a catastrophe
Last month's explosion on a deep water oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a massive oil spill. The BP spill has been upgraded to a "catastrophe". The spill is far greater than the historic Exxon Valdez spill of 1989. Experts say the spill flow could be as high as 70 000 barrels per day. Besides the surface oil slicks, researchers have found massive oil plumes in the deep waters of the ocean. BP has failed to contain the oil spill using typical methods such as skimming it from the surface or breaking it up with chemical dispersants. In late May BP began a new effort called "top kill". This attempt to clog the leaking well with cement also failed.
 
June: 2010 World Cup Kicks off in South Africa
The opening ceremony of FIFA's 2010 World Cup took place in Johannesburg's Soccer City on June 11th. This is the first time in history that the competition has been hosted by an African nation. The matches are being played at ten separate venues in South Africa, five of which were built specifically for this competition. Fans around the world were saddened to hear that Nelson Mandela was not going to be attending the opening ceremony. Mandela's great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash on the way home from a concert where she was celebrating the kick-off of the World Cup. Brazil and Spain were considered favourites going into the competition.
 
July: Facebook Reaches 500 Million Active Users
According to an announcement made in July, half a billion people are now using Facebook for their social networking needs. For those who find it difficult to grasp the enormity, this means that one in 14 people on Earth use a Facebook account. India and Brazil are two countries that do not have a large user population on Facebook, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg is confident this will change in the near future. The Facebook team's goal is to reach 1 billion users to match that of Google. The number of people who access Facebook on their mobile phones is expected to grow as more and more people purchase smart phones in order to stay connected to their social networks.
 
August: Worst Natural Disaster in Pakistan History
At least 17 million people have been affected by the flooding in Pakistan this summer. The extreme monsoon rains began in the north at the end of July but swept south in August. Entire towns and villages have been wiped out in Punjab and Sindh provinces. 500 000 were told to evacuate on August 26th. Besides homelessness, victims have had to deal with unsanitary water, a lack of medical facilities, and a fear of terrorism. President Zardari has been criticized for continuing on a European tour while his country was in crisis.
 
September: Pastor Cancels Quran Burning
An anti-Muslim leader in Florida cancelled his plans to burn copies of the Quran at his church, saying God told him not to do it. Rev. Terry Jones and his 50 member church had planned to burn the Quran on September 11th in protest against an Islamic Centre slated to be built near Ground Zero. The story was hyped by the media and resulted in international protests against Christians and the US. At least two people were killed in Afghanistan during a protest against the Quran burning even after it was cancelled. Barack Obama and the US military urged the so-called pastor to call off the event,fearing that the burning of the Quran could act as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda.
 
October: World's Mining Industry Experiences Highs and Lows
October 2010 was filled with joy and sorrow in the global mining industry. On October 13th, after spending 69 days in an underground cave, 33 Chilean miners were pulled to safety. Around Chile, large video screens were erected to broadcast the event, which drew attention around the world. It took just under 24 hours for the men to ride one-by-one up the escape capsule. A few days later, China announced that all 37 of the trapped miners from a Henan province accident had died. Over 200 others were able to escape after a gas leak forced coal dust into the mine. Miners in China are employed in one of the most dangerous industries in the world. Over 2500 Chinese miners died in 2009.
 
November: Cambodia Festival Turns Deadly
Cambodia's annual Water Festival turned deadly this year when 347 people died in a bridge stampede. Thousands of people were trapped on the Diamond Island Bridge for hours on the last evening of the festival. Rumours that the swaying suspension bridge was going to collapse seem to have caused panic and resulted in the stampede. Those who were close enough to the edge jumped into the river below to save their lives. Many drowned while others suffocated or were trampled to death. The Water Festival, which celebrates the full moon and the harvest features boat races, light shows, cruises and concerts. It is attended by close to 4 million people.
 
December: WikiLeaks Founder Arrested
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and released on bail in December 2010. Assange has been accused of sexual crimes in Sweden though his supporters say the arrest was politically motivated. Many governments and corporations want to shut down Assange's whistle-blowing site. WikiLeaks is a website that releases confidential material, especially classified government and military communication related to misconduct. On December 3rd the site changed its website address after numerous cyber attacks. Even while Assange was in jail, the site remained fully operational.

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