The Serious and the Not So Serious News of 2008

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by Mike Ugulini

Every year brings its share of news from the serious to the outright strange. Looking back, we see that 2008 was no different. The year had its share of stories that ranged from tension-filled world events to the weirdly funny or very unusual.

Here, we’re offering up the five hard news stories of the year in tandem with five stories of the stranger variety. In hindsight, they remind us that fiction always meets its match in real life stories, which are often funnier, scarier, more serious, and often down right nuttier than many novels and short stories we read

Top Five News Stories of 2008

U.S. Election

Of course, overall there was no bigger story than the election in the United States of America where Barack Obama became the first African-American to ascend to the presidency. His story in itself is a testament to America being a land where anyone can become president. However, the election was also notable for the fierce campaign fought between Obama and Senator John McCain. Of course, the Sarah Palin story took on a life of its own as well. We cannot forget too, the hard fought primary season and the tense battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Economic Meltdown

The year 2008 was one when the words Wall Street, Main Street, sub-prime mortgages, financial distress, and falling stock prices peppered the front pages. On top of that were stories on the Big 3 Automakers in the United States and the serious problems they are facing. However, the economic meltdown that began in the United States did not leave other countries immune to crises. Europe, Iceland, China, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, are all feeling the sharp bitter winds of financial catastrophe. The economic meltdown is a harbinger of more tense news stories sure to come in 2009.

Beijing Olympics

Last year saw China host the Olympic spectacle for the first time in their history. They hosted a majestic and unique Games, while garnering praise and condemnation alike from the worldwide media. That’s all part of any Olympic Games and it was no different in 2008. It was an Olympics of amazing performances of athletic skill topped off by the phenomenal performance of swimmer Michael Phelps. He took home eight gold medals and broke many world records. The Games were also notable for the speed exhibited by runner Usain Bolt in the 100-meter final where he took home the gold.

Mumbai Massacre

Terrorism in all its stark horror was front and center in India in 2008. When it was over the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks left 164 people dead. They met their deaths in hotels, markets, and a train station during coordinated attacks by terrorists. The attacks were a reminder that terrorism is still a plague humankind must deal with daily.

Russia-Georgia Conflict

The past year saw Russia once again flexing its muscles. In August of 2008, they engaged in a battle with Georgia that lasted five days. Georgia attacked the South Ossetia region, a breakaway area. Russia then drove deep into Georgian territory in response. This was a signal to the world that Russia is ready, once again, to assert itself more forcefully on the world stage.


Five News Stories of the Not So Serious Kind from 2008

Fish Pedicures

It seems some people let fish nibble on their feet to make their feet more beautiful. In some Asian countries, and in America, some individuals are placing their feet in tubs where small carp, called garra rufa, munch on dead skin. Washington and Texas banned this practice for sanitary reasons. This gives a completely new meaning to the term surf and turf, when people let fish be a pre-treatment to a pedicure for making their feet ground ready.

The eBay Way

A man in Perth, Australia put his entire life up for sale on eBay. He did this after splitting up with his wife. He decided to embark on a fresh start in life. Sold as a package he auctioned off his three-bedroom house, a 1989 Mazda sedan, a jet ski, a computer, his furniture, an introduction to his friends, as well as an audition at his sales job. He collected a significant amount of money in the process. He is embarking on a trip around the world to complete a hundred life goals in a hundred weeks.

No Funny Bones

Darra Kollios, a worker at the Trinity Grill in New Port Richey, Florida was fired for laughing. Her boss approached her in front of a customer and asked her to stop laughing, according to Kollios. He said if she laughed, again, she would have to go home. He then subsequently proceeded to fire her.

The restaurant owner said he prefers the restaurant to be quiet and cozy. He said that Kollios’ laugh prevented that from happening.

Under Florida law, employees may receive termination for any reason. This is providing they are not under contract and the termination does not involve age, race or sex discrimination.

Ahhhh Rats!

A British study stated in 2008 that Britain has more rats than human beings. The town of York, in fact, has a 208 percent increase in their rat population each year according to a study. Consequently, pest-control service usage is on the rise. Now there’s a recession proof business for these current turbulent economic times.

You’re Reporting What Exactly?

A man in Orem, Utah reported to the authorities that someone stole his marijuana. He apparently was upset that drugs intended for distribution were pilfered from him. He reported this theft so justice would reign supreme. Therefore, he tipped law enforcement off to his own trafficking network. I guess it’s true that drugs kill brain cells.


So, that’s 2008 at a glance, from the important news to the…well… you know what I mean. Now, 2009 is upon us and there’s no telling yet what the top stories will pan out to be. We do know the economy and the new presidency in America will be a player in the news stories for this year. What will happen on the “silly front” is anyone’s guess. However I, like you, will be listening and watching with interest as the New Year unfolds.

In the meantime everyone at the English Magazine wishes you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

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