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2019 YEAR IN REVIEW

We've wrapped up the biggest stories from each month, and pulled out the most clicked items in the Squiz Today email. You're welcome... So let's take a look back on the year that was 2019. And then test your knowledge with these Squiz Quizzes.

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January

The Big Stories

Canada granted asylum to 18yo Saudi refugee Rahaf al-Qunun. Now known as Rahaf Mohammed, she said she feared being killed by her family for renouncing Islam and had barricaded herself in a Thai hotel room after her passport was confiscated in an attempt to flee to Australia.

Aiia Maasarwe, a 21yo Arab-Israeli international student, was killed in an unprovoked attack by 22yo Codey Herrmann as she made her way home from a night out in Melbourne. An emotional vigil attended by Aiia’s father and calls for action on violence against women again rang out.

UK PM Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote despite having her Brexit deal voted down in a historical defeat over concerns about the Northern Ireland backstop. At the time, the UK was scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March. Lolz…

The Most Clicked

Remember that weird Instagram phenomenon that was ‘the egg’? It was so big it knocked Kylie Jenner off her record-holding perch…

Prince Philip was involved in a car crash while driving near the family’s Sandringham Estate. The 97yo’s vehicle overturned, but he was fine. Those in the other vehicle were injured, and eventually received an apology they were happy with.

And John Travolta showcased his new ‘no hair don’t care’ look.

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February

The Big Stories

• It was revealed that Cardinal George Pell had been convicted of abusing two choirboys in the 90s making him the world’s highest ranking Catholic Church official to be convicted of such charges. He maintains his innocence and has taken his appeal to the High Court.

• National Australia Bank CEO Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry stepped down as the Financial Services Royal Commission handed its report to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. The Morrison Government is working through its response

• Days of torrential rain saw parts of drought-ravaged Northern Queensland inundated by a one-in-500-years flood which destroyed homes and killed more than 500,000 head of cattle, causing up to $2 billion in damages.

The Most Clicked

• Squizers were keen to up their emoji game… The ‘period emoji’ (and no, we’re not talking about punctuation) and the ‘pinching emoji’ (which is one for the ladies as well...) were new on the scene.

• The Heart Foundation’s test to estimate your heart’s age was a popular link.

• And there was a guide to the latest teen phrases. Read this so you’re not, like, ‘r/whoosh’...

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March

The Big Stories

 • In New Zealand’s worst-ever mass killing in peacetime, 28yo Australian man Brenton Tarrant allegedly murdered 51 people and injured 50 more in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch. Footage of the massacre stayed online for hours raising questions about social media companies’ handling of extremist content.

• An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa killing all 157 people on board. The Boeing 737 Max 8 was the same model as the Lion Air flight that crashed months before in Indonesia leading to the grounding of all Max 8 planes around the world.

• The nearly two years-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller concluded. The outcome? Russia was in it up to its eyeballs (not so, said the Russians), but there was no evidence the Trump campaign was involved. The cliffhanger - Mueller wouldn’t say if President Trump obstructed justice by interfering in the investigation.

The Most Clicked

This article was the talk of the town in fancy London circles. And Squizers also wanted to know what was being said about Meghan Markle's bumpy arrival into British society.

• “I just folded 56 bags and I don’t know how to store them.” This cry for help resonated with those blessed with many reusable plastic shopping bags…

• The accounts of Aussie Wade Robson and James Safechuck about the abuse they say Michael Jackson inflicted on them created shockwaves in May. This is a look at where things landed after the documentary aired.

If you're new to what we do at The Squiz, sign up to The Squiz Today - a free weekday email that's in your inbox at 6 am. It's your shortcut to the news.

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April

The Big Stories

• After spending seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested was removed from the premises. He was sentenced to 50 weeks jail for breaching his bail, and he is fighting extradition to the US over his part in the largest breach of classified information in US history.

• The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris went up in flames, destroying its wooden spire and roof, valuable art and other treasures inside. While more than $1 billion was raised in a day and a half for rebuilding efforts, a report in July said little of the dosh had been handed over

• On Easter Sunday, three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka’s Columbo, Negombo and Batticaloa were attacked in a series of coordinated terrorist bombings by a local terror group with ties to Islamic State. Fatalities totalled 259 people, including two Australians, with another 500 injured.

The Most Clicked

• Natalie Joyce, former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s ex, flexed some post-breakup muscle.

• The case of a woman giving birth to twins a month apart was as intriguing to you as it was to us. 

• And check out these fine ladies

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May

The Big Stories

• Surprise! The Morrison Government was re-elected. It didn’t all go the Coalition’s way with former PM Tony Abbott losing his seat. With Labor leader Bill Shorten making way for someone else to have a go, Anthony Albanese became the new federal Labor leader.

• Celebrated Aussie bloke and former PM Bob Hawke died on the eve of the federal election at the age of 89yo. He was remembered fondly for his larrikin wit, as well as his achievements in a lifetime of service to the Labor – and the Australian – cause. 

• Oh hai Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor… The first child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Harry and Meghan) was born. The couple further enraged the machinery that hangs off the royals by refusing to show him off for some days.

The Most Clicked

Backpacks. Totes fashionable… (see what we did there?)

• Who doesn’t want to look at a cool shoe ad?

• And actor Luke Perry died this month. His daughter took to Instagram to talk about how he wanted to be buried.

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June

The Big Stories

• The biggest protest movement in Hong Kong’s history was sparked when a (now-withdrawn) proposal for the extradition of suspects to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau was tabled. A million people protested in support of Hong Kong’s judicial independence from China. It’s since grown into a pro-democracy movement that has become more and more violent.

• First, the Sunday Telegraph journo Annika Smethurst’s home was raided by Federal Police. Next, the ABC’s Sydney office was raided. Calls for the protection of whistleblowers and press freedoms ensued.

• And go you good thing – Aussie tennis champion Ash Barty became world’s #1 ranked player. It’s a position she ended the year with.

The Most Clicked

• For dry winter skin, we told you about this product.*

• Cool dude/surfing champ Kelly Slater says these dolphins were one of the coolest things he’s ever seen.

• And lolz, US President Donald Trump called Prince Charles the “Prince of Whales”…

*Note: this wasn’t a paid placement, but if you purchase using the link, The Squiz might get a little commission…

Want to know what happened on a particular news day? You can explore the Squiz Archives here - every edition we've published, for all your 'On This Day' needs.

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July

The Big Stories

• Missing for nine days, 29yo Australian student Alek Sigley was released from detention in North Korea after Swedish officials helped negotiate his release. He was the only Australian living in North Korea and wrote about his experiences living there online.

• Billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein - whose social circle included Prince Andrew, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton - was charged with assaulting and trafficking girls as young as 14yo. Facing a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison, it was determined that Epstein killed himself in his jail cell in August.

• And what goes down must go up… After two years of consistent declines since 2017, home prices started to rise again. Experts said the election result (aka the removal of Labor’s proposed tax changes relating to property) and the drop in interest rates that fueled the increase.

The Most Clicked

• The Lion King’s premier in London caught some clicks. Not for the cultural significance, but for the red carpet action (think Jay Z and Beyonce, Pharrell, and Duchess Meghan)…

• It was a big Paris Couture Week where Celine Dion caused a scene.

• And Ivanka Trump scored some quality side-eye from central banker Christine Lagarde…

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August

The Big Stories

• After the biggest manhunt in Canadian history, the bodies of Canadian fugitives Kam McLeod (19yo) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18yo) were found in remote Canadian bushland. The pair were charged with the murders of Aussie Lucas Fowler (23yo), his American girlfriend Chynna Deese (24yo) and 64yo Canadian university lecturer Leonard Dyck.

• There were two mass shootings within a 13 hour period in America. Twenty people were killed in a shopping centre in El Paso, Texas (a town on the US-Mexican border) in what authorities consider a racially-driven act of domestic terrorism. And nine were killed by 24yo Connor Betts in a bar district in Dayton, Ohio. By the start of December, there had been 385 mass shootings (ie any incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter) in the US in 2019. 

• The Amazon rainforest in Brazil went up in flames - and is still burning at unprecedented levels. It’s suspected many fires were started by loggers and farmers, and environmental groups blamed Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro for the disaster. The strongman leader rejected international offers of assistance.

The Most Clicked

• Great minds think alike… You were as interested as we were in finding out how much money you’d need to retire with this guide that goes across the age groups starting at 25yo.

The best jokes of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival got some laughs.

• And the UK’s Channel 4’s ad poking fun at complaints viewers had made about their programs was an interesting customer relations approach…

If podcasting is more your thing, subscribe to The Squiz Today podcast for a 6 am audio news briefing. Or check out our Squiz Shortcuts series, where we give you the background and context to the big news stories, personalities and historical events that need some explaining, in 10 minute podcast episodes.

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September

The Big Stories

• Ahead of the UN Climate Change Summit in New York, an estimated four million people across 185 countries (including around 300,000 Australians) participated in climate strikes. Despite 16yo Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s impassioned plea for action, the meeting delivered few new commitments.

• Category 5 Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc in the Bahamas. The strongest ever tropical cyclone recorded in the region, and the worst natural disaster to hit the nation, at least 70,000 people were left homeless. More than 70 people died, and at the start of December, more than 280 people were still missing. 

• It was revealed that a whistleblower complaint had been made against US President Donald Trump. The alleged abuse of power occurred during a phone call in July when Trump was said to pressure newly-minted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President and 2020 candidate Joe Biden. An impeachment inquiry into the episode kicked off in the US House of Reps.

The Most Clicked

A rare photo of actress and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter Apple showed off the family resemblance.

• America’s First Daughter Ivanka Trump got a new haircut.

• And Princess Beatrice got engaged.

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October

The Big Stories

• US President Donald Trump ordered US troops to be pulled out of northern Syria - a move that left Kurdish fighters - America’s key ally in the fight against Islamic State in that part of Syria – vulnerable to an attack by Turkey, which considers the Kurds to be terrorists. Look, it’s complicated, which is why we did a Squiz Shortcut on it… And at the end of the month, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, was killed during a US Special Operations raid in north-west Syria. 

• Thirty-nine Vietnamese people, mostly from the same small farming village, were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex in the UK. The truck’s driver, 25yo Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson from Northern Ireland, was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as human trafficking and immigration offences. 

• And Uluru was closed to climbers. The traditional owners, the Anangu people, closed the sacred site on October 26. The months preceding the rock’s closure to climbers saw an influx of tourists… including One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

The Most Clicked

The most handsome feud going around saw Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds going at each other again… 

• For the animal lovers, there was the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

• And talk about the fashion police... Yes, that was supermodel Gigi Hadid escorting an intruder from the Chanel runway...

In our Three Minute Squiz series we chat to Squizers who are out there doing interesting things - running a pub in the middle of Australia, exploring Antarctica, exercising. Three Minute Squizers of note include Leigh Sales, Deborah Hutton, Lisa Millar, comedian Sammy J and so many more.

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November

The Big Stories

• Dry and windy conditions brought on the start of an early and particularly devastating bushfire season in NSW and Queensland. In NSW, an unprecedented 17 emergency level fires were burning at the same time on the Mid-North and North Coasts where hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Homes were also lost in Queensland where fires ravaged the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast hinterland and Darling Downs. 

• Police officer Constable Zach Rolfe was charged with the murder of 19yo Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker in the remote NT town of Yuendumu. Protests in Alice Springs and across state capitals focused on authorities’ handling of it. 

• The Aged Care Royal Commission’s interim report was released, and it didn’t pull its punches. “This cruel and harmful system must be changed…. Older people deserve so much more,” is the starting point. The Morrison Government provided another $500 million for priority areas, but more is needed, pretty much everyone says. The inquiry continues into 2020.

The Most Clicked

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December

The Big Stories

• Bushfires in NSW dominated the lead into Christmas. With more than 100 fires burning across the state, it was three fires - Gospers Mountain mega-fire northwest of Sydney, the Green Wattle Creek blaze southwest of Sydney, and the Grose Valley fire in the Blue Mountains - that caused the most concern. Two firefighters died in a truck accident in Buxton. PM Scott Morrison was criticised for taking a family vacay in Hawaii during the crisis.

A volcanic eruption on New Zealand’s White Island killed 18 people (two people have not been found), including 16 Australians. A popular tourist spot located almost 50km from the east coast of the North Island in the Bay of Plenty, there were 47 people near the volcano at the time of the eruption.

US President Donald Trump was impeached on two counts - abuse of office and obstructing the House of Representatives' investigations. A trial into Trump's "perfect" phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (or as his Democrat critics put it, his attempts to pressure Zelensky to dig up damaging information on opponent Joe Biden) will take place in the Senate... at some point. Meanwhile (and across the Atlantic), Conservative Boris Johnson convincingly defeated Labour's Jeremy Corbyn to win the snap general election. Brexit here we come...

The Most Clicked

• Ugly Christmas jumpers were a thing, especially the naughty ones...

• The PDA-phobic found a kindred spirit in the Duchess of Cambridge.

And who doesn’t want to know more about the woman who inspired Elton John’s Tiny Dancer?

And THAT is the news wrap from 2019.

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