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1994 The Year In Review: Nation/World

Sun., Jan. 1, 1995, midnight

1. The O.J. Simpson case

A rich woman and her waiter friend lie slashed to death outside a Los Angeles condo, her ex-husband on the lam. That story from the June 13 police log sounds intriguing. It proved irresistible when the man on the run turned out to be O.J. Simpson. Millions of TV viewers watch police chase Simpson on the freeways of Southern California before he surrenders at his home.

2. GOP takes over Congress

Some say it’s only a phase. Others see a voters’ revolt intended to reverse the New Deal-born philosophy. Whatever it was, the cataclysm occurred Nov. 8, when Republicans won control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, a rebuke to Democrats, Bill Clinton, liberalism, Washington and government as usual.

3. Baseball and hockey on strike

On Aug. 11, baseball players went on strike, the world fell out of synch and this became the year they called the whole thing off. Money (what else?) was the issue. Meanwhile, the hockey season, set to start Oct. 1, was suspended, also over efforts to limit salaries.

4. Susan Smith charged with killing children

On the night of Oct. 25, Susan Smith, a 23-year-old secretary in Union, S.C., buckled her two little boys in their car seats, drove to a lake and sent them down a boat ramp to their deaths. Then she claimed a black carjacker had stolen her babies. A nation poured out sympathy and prayers. When at last she confessed the truth, blaming a failed love affair, the sympathy turned to shock.

5. Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding

Often what makes a news story more memorable than most is its resemblance to fiction. So it was when Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan got clobbered above the right knee at a Detroit rink Jan. 6, the target of a scheme by rival Tonya Harding’s exhusband, Jeff Gillooly, and a would-be bodyguard.

In the end, Kerrigan won a silver medal while Harding was convicted of conspiracy to hinder prosecution.

6. War averted in Haiti

For three years, the brutal army of Gen. Raoul Cedras stole democracy from the people of Haiti after ousting their elected president, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In September, with scant political support, President Clinton threatened to send troops to end Cedras’ rule. But at the last moment, negotiators lead by former President Jimmy Carter cajoled Cedras and his cronies off the island. On Oct. 15, with the support of 20,000 U.S. troops, Aristide returned.

7. Clinton’s failed health care plan

President Clinton made health care the cornerstone of his 1992 election campaign. He put his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of finding a way to give coverage to all Americans. Doctors, insurers, business small and large found the Clinton proposal too much to swallow and Congress followed suit.

8. The Los Angeles earthquake

The 6.7 shaker that awakened Southern Californians at 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17 was more shocking and shattering than most in that quaking state. The reason: the earthquake’s epicenter was suburban Northridge, just 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Many among the 61 people who died were crushed under buildings or trapped in burning homes.

9. Civil war in Rwanda

Only a day after the still-unexplained plane crash April 6 that killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, civil war erupted in Rwanda. The ensuing bloodbath left more than half a million people dead. Then, when more than 2 million ran from the rebel army, cholera consumed many who fled.

10. Palestinian self-rule

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s arrival on Palestinian soil July 1 to run the Gaza Strip and Jericho marked many turning points. For Arafat, an end to 27 years in exile and start of his job transforming the Palestine Liberation Organization from an army of guerrillas into a civil bureaucracy. For Israel, Arafat’s new role meant relinquishing control after three decades.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by The Associated Press (From a poll of 357 newspaper and broadcast executives)

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