2017 Year in Review: Here are the top 10 biggest news stories
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" exchange insults with counter-protesters at Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file
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As the New Year approaches, it seems like every year is dubbed “a year like no other.” But 2017 truly was more dramatic than many other years in recent memory.
In the last 12 months, we faced a renewed threat of nuclear war, debated whether to take a knee during the national anthem and resisted the temptation to look at the sun during the total solar eclipse.
From increased tensions with North Korea, to a hurricane season unlike any other, to the bombshell allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and beyond, take a look back at the key moments of 2017, as they were reported by NBC News.
After months on the campaign trail marked by partisan division and deep skepticism from his critics, Trump told thousands in the nation’s capital that his agenda was for every American — even as protesters demonstrated against him elsewhere in Washington, D.C., including some who clashed with police hours later.
The next day, half a million marchers demonstrated for gender equality and against the new president during the Women’s March on Washington, brandishing pink hats and homemade signs in the streets near the National Mall.
Now more than a year since his election, Trump is enjoying a healthy economy marked by lower unemployment numbers and strong stock market performance.
The special counsel’s office also announced that day that it had struck a cooperation agreement with former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, who secretly pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians.
In early December, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.
The special counsel’s investigation is still ongoing.
Kim Im Ryong, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, bluntly warned that the Trump administration’s tough talk was creating “a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.”
The situation has become so dire that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked China — Pyongyang’s neighbor and most powerful ally — to “use their influence to convince or compel North Korea to rethink its strategic calculus.”
Tensions escalated in June when Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, died days after being released from a North Korean prison in an unconscious state.
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In early October, back-to-back bombshell reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed that film mogul Harvey Weinstein allegedly lured women into hotel rooms and bars, and sexually harassed or assaulted them in what some have described as an open secret known for years in Hollywood.
Later that month, after a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, who was one of Weinstein’s accusers, social media was inundated with personal stories of being the victims of sexual harassment or assault, all using the hashtag #MeToo.
Weinstein’s downfall has seemingly emboldened others to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent men. In recent months alone, at least 30 powerful men in entertainment, business, politics and the news media have been publicly condemned for their alleged sexual misconduct and many have lost their jobs as a result, including Weinstein.
The shooter — 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada — acted alone, police said. Investigators found 23 firearms in his room at the Mandalay Bay, and 19 more at his home. He was found after killing himself with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
The gunman, Devin Kelley, fired the first shots outside of the church before unleashing more bullets inside the church. His victims’ ages ranged from 5 to 72 years old, police said. Kelley was later found dead inside his vehicle after a Good Samaritan stepped in.
Terrorism again hit the U.S. on Oct. 31, when Sayfullo Saipov rented a pickup truck and deliberately mowed down pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring about a dozen more, before crashing into a school bus. Officials said the terrorist attack was the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
About a month earlier, the Department of Justice charged more than 400 people who officials said were preying on addicts to shell out money for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition, and doctors who were allegedly prescribing unnecessary opioids.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that the epidemic’s true cost in 2015 was $504 billion — more than six times the most recent estimate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in late October that illegal, lab-made fentanyl contributed to the death of at least half of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, underscoring how deadly the epidemic has become in recent years.
A hurricane season unlike any other came to a close in December after causing billions of dollars in damages, devastating those who were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria when they plowed through southeast Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.
Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida, devastating the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm before weakening. The storm also lead to the deaths of 12 patients at a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home. Those fatalities have since been ruled a homicide, officials said.
Maria’s aftermath also raised concerns about the relationship between Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the small Montana energy firm that was helping Puerto Rico to rebuild its power grid, Whitefish Energy Holdings.
The island canceled its $300 million contract with the company in October after The Washington Post reported, among other things, that the company only had only two full-time employees when the storm made landfall.
The astronomical phenomenon of the century lived up to the hype.
The total solar eclipse shifted across the U.S. in late August, enchanting Americans in small towns and large stadiums from coast to coast. The nation was captivated by the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. since 1918.
Viewers gazed at the eclipse as it carved a narrow “path of totality” from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. The one rule was to look only through special glasses or projected reflections, but some — including the president — disregarded that sound advice.
Since President Trump took office, the partisan division that evidenced on the campaign trail translated into national culture wars, including debates over the merits of removing statues and building names that honor Confederate soldiers, as well as kneeling at football games to protest racial inequality.
On Aug. 12, white nationalists gathered in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, before a rally organized by a group known as "Unite the Right." The rally’s purpose was to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Later that day, a 32-year-old woman was killed and more than 19 others were injured after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters who were demonstrating against the alt-right.
Trump denounced the series of events that unfolded in Charlottesville, but was criticized by the public and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for not fully condemning the protests’ white nationalist elements, which included appearances by former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.
In early October, Vice President Mike Pence attended a San Francisco 49ers game in Indianapolis only to walk out after some of the team's players knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
After the fallout, Trump said days later that the NFL should have suspended former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the first to “take a knee” during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.