The Decade’s Noughtiest Photos

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A new millennium: As everyone partied because it actually was 1999, the 2000s were ushered in with wild excitement and doomsday predictions (Y2K, anyone?), none of which came true, though plenty of other, even worse, doomsday scenarios did. Despite much debate over what to call the decade, nothing really stuck in the United States, while the British settled for "the noughties." Above, New York's Times Square lights up as the new year is celebrated on Jan. 1, 2000.



Intifada 2.0: In 2000, violence erupted again between Israelis and Palestinians, after the Oslo Accords interlude. With the peace process foundering, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in East Jerusalem on Sept. 28, 2000, sparked Palestinian riots, and the fighting quickly escalated into the second intifada. Above, Palestinian youths flee Israeli troops shooting near Gaza City on Oct. 1, 2000. In late 2009, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police led some to worry about a third intifada.


Very rude awakening: Where were you when the towers were hit? The implications of the 9/11 attacks reverberated throughout the rest of the decade and awakened the world to the destructive power of distant, nonstate actors. Meanwhile, we're still debating what the post-9/11 paradigm even is.


Trying to move mountains: The month after the 9/11 tragedy, the United States began its attack against Afghanistan. The Taliban fell quickly, but control of the rugged, mountainous country has proved slippery. Above, a mujahideen tank battles in Tora Bora on Dec. 20, 2001. Back then it would have been hard to believe that at the end of the decade, more than 100,000 foreign troops would be in Afghanistan and 30,000 more would be slated to join them -- not to mention that Osama bin Laden would still be on the loose.


Dictator's downfall: Afghanistan might be a just war. Iraq, invaded in 2003, is much more complicated. George W. Bush's administration warned of weapons of mass destruction and assured the world of imminent danger from bloody dictator Saddam Hussein. While protesters around the world, including in the United States, fought against the proposed pre-emptive war, the United States military entered Iraq on March 20, 2003, and by April took Baghdad, toppling the statue of Hussein on April 9.


Mission accomplished? After his dramatic arrival onto the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 -- flying onto the aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit -- Bush gave a speech in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner that came to symbolize, for many, the foolish optimism at the Iraq war's start. The vast majority of casualties -- to date, 4,373 U.S. troops, about 318 coalition troops, and approximately 100,000 documented civilians -- occurred after this speech, which marked the end of the conventional war. The White House later claimed the banner was the Lincoln crew's idea, with a Pentagon spokesman saying it referred to the crew having just finished its tour of duty.


Locked up in controversy: The United States' practices of indefinite detention of alleged enemy combatants, torture, and extraordinary rendition garnered criticism around the world. The U.S detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, along with the humiliated prisoners of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, sparked deep debate on human rights. Above, a prisoner at Guantánamo is surrounded by heavy security on Jan. 17, 2002. The legacy is proving difficult to undo. Obama's promise to close the prison within a year won't come true, though he just announced plans to move the last prisoners to a prison in Illinois.


Pain in Spain: Terrorist bombings in Madrid in 2004, and London the year after, dragged Europe into the terrorism debate. Above, bodies are removed from a train destroyed at Madrid's Atocha station on March 11, 2004. The bombings intensified the debate in Western Europe about to what extent Muslim culture should be tolerated or legislated against. Incidents such as Theo van Gogh's murder in the Netherlands, France's headscarf ban, the Danish cartoon incident, and, most recently, the Swiss minaret ban, exemplified the tensions, with some blaming religion and others pointing to poverty, racism, and alienation of minorities.


Wave of growth: The noughties were also about expanding interconnectivity on personal, national, and international levels. The European Union's steady expansion, incorporating 10 countries on May 1, 2004 -- above, Czech citizens celebrate on April 30 -- showed that less-developed countries such as Hungary and Latvia could be included without shaking the union's success. Fears of an invasion of "Polish plumbers" apparently turned out to be unfounded.


Wiped out: The second-largest recorded earthquake, on Dec. 26, 2004, caused more than 200,000 deaths in countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. Stemming from a 9.3-magnitude earthquake 240 km off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, the resulting tsunami tore through Sumatra, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Somalia, before finally petering out on the shores of Kenya. Hundreds of thousands of people who weren't killed by the water that tore down buildings and flung cars into trees found themselves homeless and without livelihoods. Above, the heavy-hit city of Meulaboh in Indonesia's Aceh region on Dec. 28, 2004, lies ravaged.


Left turn: A series of economic debacles led to repudiation of the Washington Consensus across many Latin American countries and helped usher in left-wing populists, beginning with former factory-worker and union representative Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil through president-elect of Uruguay, José Mujica. Additionally, detractors worried about the influence of Venezuela's polemic president, Hugo Chávez. The faces at regional meetings changed, with Bolivia electing its first indigenous president, leftist Evo Morales -- above in traditional clothes before his official swearing-in on Jan. 21, 2006 -- and Argentina and Chile electing their first female presidents that same year.


Revolutions: Nonviolent protests against corrupt elections and leaders swept through former Soviet republics and into the Middle East. The 2003 Georgian Rose Revolution deposed President Eduard Shevardnadze. In the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution, Ukrainians spent weeks protesting a fraudulent runoff election, ultimately ushering in Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, pictured above singing the national anthem at a protest on Nov. 29, 2004. In 2005 Lebanon had its Cedar Revolution and Kyrgyzstan had its Tulip Revolution. Finally, in 2009, Iran had an unsuccessful Green Revolution, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protesting the allegedly rigged election keeping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power were violently repressed.


Living as a refugee: It's estimated that since 2003 about 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan, while 2.7 million people have fled their homes. Military retaliation against rebel groups was followed by a campaign of rape and murder by Arab janjaweed militias, allegedly sponsored by the Khartoum government. The International Criminal Court charged President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2009. Meanwhile, displaced civilians live in refugee camps, like the one in neighboring Chad pictured above on Aug. 31, 2004.


Poor man's billionaire: With an inflation rate of 231,000,000 percent and the worst cholera epidemic Africa has seen in 15 years, Zimbabwe is not doing well. President Robert Mugabe has held power since 1980, but it was the appropriations of white-owned farms starting in 2000 that precipitated the collapse of the economy and the currency. Meanwhile, the 2008 presidential runoff election was preceded by violence against supporters of Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. Above, on Jan. 13, 2009, a Zimbabwean holds one of the new bills printed in an attempt to keep up with inflation: 50 billion dollars.


Tough cookies: When Cuba's Fidel Castro lashed out against converting corn into biofuel -- calling it a "sinister" plan -- he sounded insane. What could be better than growing energy sources? But Western policies promoting biofuels, combined with droughts and rising demand, resulted in skyrocketing food prices, prompting food riots around the globe. Above, a Haitian woman on May 9, 2008, makes "cookies" of clay mixed with salt and vegetable fat, eaten to satiate hunger in lieu of food.


Fired up: The "BRIC" countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- the four largest emerging-market economies -- are shifting power away from Western heavyweights and demanding more voice for developing countries in international organizations such as the IMF and World Bank. They are expressing their might in a variety of ways, such as above with the grandiose opening of the Beijing Olympics on Aug. 8, 2008. Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Brazil was recently awarded the 2016 summer games. As for India, the country is too poor for the 2020 Olympics, its sports minister recently said.


The bubble bursts: The 2008 subprime-mortgage crisis pushed financial firms to the brink of collapse -- Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, while governments jumped to save others. After the financial collapse, populist anger arose, as seen in this sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 25, 2008. Many blamed banks and their reckless lending patterns. The United States slapped together a $700 billion bailout in October 2008 to keep banks afloat and credit available. Britain semi-nationalized the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyd's of London. Worldwide job losses were predicted to be up to 50 million by 2010.


Change: Barack Obama, elected on Nov. 4, 2008, was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009. Inheriting two wars, a wrecked economy, and a growing deficit, his administration has had a rocky start. The election of the United States' first black president -- the inspiring, eloquent, Harvard-educated son of a Kenyan man and Hawaiian woman -- has boosted perceptions of America around the world and even added $2 trillion to the country's brand image.


Reign of terror: India's financial capital, Mumbai, was paralyzed from Nov. 26 and 29, 2008, when Islamist terrorists from Pakistan carried out several coordinated attacks. These attacks, whose targets included two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, and a train station, resulted in more than 170 people killed and many more wounded. At the end, nine of the 10 gunmen were dead, and the last was in police custody. Above, fire engulfs Mumbai's iconic Taj Mahal hotel on Nov. 27, 2008.


Striking from the sky: In December 2008, Israel fired on Gaza in response to a rain of homemade rocket attacks. Three weeks of bombing left much of Gaza destroyed, and it was mid-January before many residents could return to see what was left of their homes. Above, a Palestinian searches through rubble in Jabalia on Jan. 18, 2009. A controversial U.N. report found that both the Israeli army and Hamas militants were guilty of war crimes and called the Israeli assault "a deliberately disproportionate attack." A 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, with 900 civilian casualties, also came under fire from human rights organizations.


Under fire: One of Felipe Calderón's first priorities after being elected president of Mexico in 2006 was to declare a war on drugs. He deployed 45,000 troops and 5,000 federal police to 18 of Mexico's states. Since January 2007, nearly 10,000 people have died due to drug-related violence. Above, a member of the Navy stands guard while 823,925 kg of cocaine are burned on June 25, 2009.


Ill at ease: Swine flu caused panic around the world in 2009. Although its impact was far less than predicted, many stocked up on masks, and countries ran to stock up on Tamiflu and vaccines. Above, schoolchildren in India on Aug. 10, 2009, wear surgical masks, popularly believed to protect from the disease. Deaths have been less than those from regular flu, but with memories of the 2003 SARS scare in mind, epidemiologists are still on the watch for a lethal worldwide pandemic.


Climate of concern: A sculpture of a stranded polar bear floats down the River Thames in London on Jan. 26, 2009. Talk of climate change dominated the noughties, the hottest decade on record. The Kyoto Protocol went into effect in 2005, and at the close of the decade, world leaders met in Copenhagen to try to create a comprehensive climate agreement. Instead, only a weaker accord was reached. As problems such as climate change, terrorism, and swine flu transcend national boundaries and the world experiences the "rise of the rest," getting countries' to work together efficiently and harmoniously will be the next decade's challenge.

Check out some of FP's best 2009 photo essays:

?Planet Slum: Norwegian photojournalist Jonas Bendiksen spent six weeks living in the slums of Nairobi, then Caracus, Mumbai, and Jakarta. His remarkable panoramic images take us inside slum families' lives, revealing the profound human impulse to fashion not only shelter but a home. (Nov. 5, 2009)

?Edward Burtynsky's Oil: A decade of photographs exploring the impact of oil from the acclaimed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. (Oct. 9, 2009)

?Vova and Dima 4eva?: Does Russia's tandem still get along? (Sept. 16, 2009)

?A Whale of a Controversy: Japan's dolphin-hunting industry gets skewered in The Cove, a just-released documentary by director Louie Psihoyos. But after this year's setbacks at the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting, dolphins aren't the only marine mammals that are in trouble. (July 31, 2009)

?The Land of No Smiles: Renowned documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve entered North Korea by posing as a businessman looking to open a chocolate factory. Despite 24-hour surveillance by North Korean minders, he took arresting photographs of Pyongyang and its people-images rarely captured and even more rarely distributed in the West. They show stark glimmers of everyday life in the world's last gulag. (April 20, 2009

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