2019 was a year of triumph. And tragedy. One of hope. And heartbreak. Before we embark on 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s content curation desk is taking a look back at the biggest stories of 2019 and their effects on Georgia and the rest of the nation. Today’s topic: National news.
Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on numerous sex trafficking charges. After his arrest, Epstein, 66, was found dead in his New York jail cell. Epstein died of an apparent suicide by hanging, according to police.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to land and walk on the moon in July 1969. Astronaut Michael Collins circled above as Apollo 11 made history. The world remembered the occasion on the mission’s 50th anniversary.
Prominent parents such as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as well as university coaches and test administrators, were indicted as part of a nationwide FBI investigation into alleged schemes to secure college admissions. The $25 million federal bribery case is the biggest college admissions scam to be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admission.
President Donald Trump raised tariffs on imported goods from countries around the world in 2019, specifically China, impacting Georgians’ wallets. Georgia is the nation’s 11th-largest exporting state, and seventh-largest importing state, including nearly $7 billion in goods from Mexico. As the U.S. and China were engaged in an ongoing trade war, Trump’s tariffs raised prices on everything from power tools to leather products imported from China.
U.S. and international health officials tracked a global measles outbreak in 2019, with reported cases jumping 300% in the year’s first three months compared with the same period last year. The highly contagious disease is caused by a virus and typically begins with a high fever and rash that can lead to serious complications, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked more than 2,000 vaping-related illnesses and almost 40 deaths. In Georgia, three people were confirmed to have died from e-cigarette-related causes. Federal and state health officials continue to discourage the use of vaping-related products until the habit’s full health effects are known.
In a long-awaited report on the origins of the Russia investigation, the inspector general of the Department of Justice concluded the 2016 investigation of possible Russian election interference was properly undertaken by the FBI, saying there was no evidence the Trump campaign had been spied upon by investigators. The 476-page report found the investigation “was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication.” It also found “no evidence the FBI placed any” confidential human sources “to report on the Trump campaign.”
The finale in Marvel Studios’ Avengers series, Atlanta-filmed “Avengers: Endgame,” became the highest-grossing film of all time with a worldwide total of $2.7 billion. It was also the fastest film to eclipse the $1 billion and $1.5 billion mark in five and eight days, respectively, surpassing “Avatar,” the previous record holder.
House Democratic leaders drafted formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. In the process, a Georgia congressional Republican became one of the president’s most ardent defenders. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican and ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly slammed House Democratic leaders for rushing the process and not following parliamentary protocol.
Check out the other stories in our year-end project:
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