Gladly Saying Farewell to 2005

Dan Schorr says goodbye and good riddance to 2005, recalling a litany of natural disasters and human tragedies: the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Pakistan's earthquake, the Iraq war, slaughter in Darfur.

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DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

This is my last contribution of the year to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, and so allow me to say goodbye 2005 and good riddance.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Even allowing for a journalist's innate pessimism, it has been a year of almost unprecedented disasters natural and tragedies human. The tsunami struck the Indian Ocean countries a week before the new year and through the year the death toll kept rising as more bodies were found.

Hurricane Katrina brought disaster to our shores. The death toll to date? More than 1,300. Disaster compounded by evidence of human failure: the disclosure of a race and class fault line running through New Orleans, and the early abdication of government in dealing with the crisis.

The Iraq War was a tragedy in danger of becoming a disaster, as the Bush administration pressed its efforts to assemble a parliament and a government and avert a sectarian war.

The devastating earthquake in Pakistan, 74,000 dead and counting. The only consolation being the great response of international governments and organizations, their resources almost overwhelmed.

Perhaps more tragic than what nature does to humans is what humans do to humans. In the Darfur region of Sudan, an estimated 180,000 with the wrong ethnic background were being slaughtered. And in Africa and elsewhere, 85 million human beings were going hungry.

In our well-fed democracy, there were other kinds of tragedy: the routine peddling of influence by members of Congress, the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbyist hangout on K Street, the unusual fact that the majority leaders of the Senate and the House were both in legal trouble.

Also, not a good year for civil liberties: the disclosure of wiretapping of Americans without warrants, the secret prisons for terror suspects and the mistreatment of prisoners under interrogation.

And finally, not a very good year for journalism under increasing pressure to cooperate with the authorities and stop asking for special privilege. Better luck next year. This is Daniel Schorr.

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