Updated Dec 29, 2019 - Politics & Policy

In photos: The moments that defined a decade

President Obama during Osama raid

Obama, Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and national security team members in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011, during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

The 2010s were marked by terrorism, major natural disasters, huge political upheaval and, in the U.S. in particular, political polarization.

Zoom in: The decade began with Democratic President Obama, political gridlock in the Republican-controlled Congress and surging partisanship. It's closing with Republican President Trump impeached by the Democratic-controlled House. A bright spot has been the the U.S. economy, which has steadily improved since the financial crisis of the previous decade.

A woman and baby sit on the spot where her home collapsed during last month's 7.0 earthquake in the Fort National neighborhood February 26, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Tragedy struck soon into the new decade, when a magnitude seven earthquake rocked Haiti Jan. 12, killing some 230,000 people. Two months later, a magnitude 8.8 quake and subsequent tsunami killed 525 people in Chile. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during the signing ceremony for the Affordable Health Care for America Act in the East Room of the White House March 23, 2010
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during the March 23 White House signing ceremony of the administration's flagship health care bill, the Affordable Care Act. Obama's successor, President Trump, has sought to overturn the act, which faces a legal challenge that may not be settled by the 2020 election. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Horse graze as a cloud of volcanic matter rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano, April 16, 2010
Millions of travelers were impacted when Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted throughout April, as hundreds of European flights were canceled. Photo: Signy Asta Gudmundsdottir / NordicPhotos/Getty Images
Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.
The April 20 explosion and spill at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, leased by BP in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, killed 11 workers. Obama called it "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." Photo: U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images
Chilean miner Florencio Avalos (C in beige suit) embraces President Sebastian Piñera, seconds after coming out of the Fenix capsule after being brought to the surface on October 13, 2010
The October rescue of 33 San José mine miners trapped about half a mile underground for 69 days in Chile captivated the world. A month later, there was another mining accident at New Zealand's Pike River mine killed 29 men. Photo: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP via Getty Images
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is pictured through the heavily tinted windows of a police vehicle as he arrives at Westminster magistrates court in London, on December 14, 2010
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange behind a police van's heavily tinted windows at a London court on Dec. 14, where he was bailed in a Swedish extradition case. He spent much of the decade in the U.K. Ecuadorian Embassy. He's now fighting extradition to the U.S., where he faces Espionage Act violations charges. Photo: Carl Court/AFP via Getty Images
 Protestors gather in Tahrir Square on February 1, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.
Egyptians rally in Cairo Feb. 1, demanding the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak. 2011's Arab Spring uprising that began in Tunisia and also spread to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria was meant to bring about positive change. But in most cases, it brought more turmoil. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A tsunami breeching an embankment and flowing into the city of Miyako in Iwate prefecture
A tsunami strikes Miyako, Japan, on March 1, following a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. The disaster destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, which spewed radiation and contaminated water, triggering the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. Photo: Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of troops loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi April 14, 2011
Nato-backed rebel fighters west of Ajdabiyah in Libya on April 14. Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was killed six months later. The country has been plagued by violence and power struggles ever since. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images
 President Barack Obama, members of the national security team and others receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden  in Washington, DC
Obama, Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and national security team members in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1 during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images
A passerby uses an iPhone 4 to photograph flowers left for the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, outside the Apple store in Sydney on October 6, 2011.
A passerby uses an iPhone 4 to photograph a floral tribute outside Sydney's Apple store to the tech giant's visionary co-founder Steve Jobs, who died of cancer on Oct. 5. He'd launched the game-changing smartphone that June. Photo: Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images
Thousands of protestors march through the streets in support of slain teenager Trayvon Martin on March 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida.
Rallies were held when no charges were initially laid against neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman over the Feb. 26 shooting death of unarmed African American teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. A year later, a jury found him not guilty over Martin's death, sparking nationwide protests and inspiring the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo: Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images
A picture shows a burnt vehicle inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi on September 13, 2012
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other American nationals were killed when two United States compounds were attacked in Benghazi on Sept. 11, including the United States consulate (pictured). Republicans accused Clinton of misleading them and mishandling the incident. A report later cleared her of wrongdoing. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/GettyImages
 Homes sit in ruin at the end of a bridge wrecked by flooding from Hurricane Sandy on October 31, 2012 in Mantoloking, New Jersey
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking, New Jersey, on Oct. 31. The storm killed at least 285 people in eight countries. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Roses with the faces of the Sandy Hook Elementry students and adults killed are seen on a pole in Newtown, Connecticut on January 3, 2013.
A memorial to the 20 young children and six staff members killed in the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A wrongful death lawsuit brought by the victims' families against Remington Arm, the maker of the gun the shooter used in the massacre, is set to go to trial in 2021. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives on popemobile to celebrate the mass for 'Evangelium Vitae' Day at at St. Peter's Square on June 16, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Francis became on March 13 the 266th, and first Jesuit, pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He's since made a series of sweeping changes — most recently banning "pontifical secrecy," which often protected perpetrators in abuse cases. Photo: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images
Police officers with their guns drawn hear the second explosion at the Boston Marathon in 2013
The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 killed three people and wounded 264 others. One of the terrorists died during a shootout with law enforcement. Two years later, his brother received a death sentence for the attack. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
 Demonstrators at a protest against the PRISM electronic surveillance program wear masks depicting Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, on June 19, 2013 in Berlin
Protesters wear masks of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden in Berlin as Obama meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 19. Manning was convicted a month later for disclosing classified material to WikiLeaks. Snowden fled the U.S. that May after leaking details of an NSA surveillance program to the media. Photo: Chad Buchanan/Getty Images
Ellen DeGeneres, host Ellen DeGeneres poses for a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with other Hollywood stars at the Oscars in 2014
Ellen DeGeneres' tweet of a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper and other Hollywood stars at the Oscars on March 2 set a new record for the most retweeted post on Twitter. It's currently the third-most retweeted (3.2 million), behind a Wendy's plea for nuggets (3.4M) and a billionaire's 2019 contest for 100 million yen (3.4M). Photo: Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter via Getty Images
 Tear gas reigns down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer
The Aug. 17 shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, led to a wave of unrest across the U.S. "The protests help solidify the Black Lives Matter movement," AP notes. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images Black Lives Matter
A nurse walks with a little girl suffering from Ebola, at the international medical NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Monrovia on September 27, 2014.
An Ebola clinic in Liberia. The most widespread outbreak of Ebola in history killed over 11,000 people, mainly in West Africa, before the epidemic ended in 2016. In 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak authorities there are still grappling to control. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Images
A photograph taken from Suruc district of Sanliurfa, Turkey, near Turkish-Syrian border
Kobani, Syria, near the border with Turkey, following the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State on Oct. 30. The U.S. began pulling out troops from northern Syria in October 2019. Photo: Rauf Maltas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
undreds gather outside of the Supreme Court on Friday to celebrate the decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, in Washington, on June 26, 2015
Hundreds gather outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the landmark ruling on June 16 legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. Photo: Michael Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A woman holds a sign during a candle light vigil in honour of Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi in 2015
A Sydney vigil for Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after the boat his family were on capsized on its way to Greece Sept. 2. The photo of his lifeless body on a beach came to symbolize the plight of refugees. Photo: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Bataclan attacks
A wounded terrorist attack victim on Nov. 13 near the Bataclan theater, one of several places in Paris hit by a cell linked to the Islamic State. The attacks killed 130 people and wounded over 600 others. France had been on high alert since January attacks at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher store that killed 17 in the capital. Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images
Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as "El Chapo" is transported to Maximum Security Prison in 2016
Notorious Mexican cartel leader Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán is transported to a maximum security prison in Mexico City after being recaptured on Jan. 16 following his July 2015 escape. He was later transferred to the U.S., where he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murder, drug and money laundering charges. Photo: Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
 An injured woman looks on as another speaks on her mobile phone following twin blasts at Brussels airport in Zaventem on March 22, 2016
Brussels Airport on March 22, as terror struck at the heart of the EU. Thirty-two civilians and three suicide bombers with links to the Paris terrorists died and over 300 people were wounded by two bombs at the busy Belgian airport and another at a metro station in the city. Photo: Ketevan Kardava/AFP via Getty Images
A woman reading a newspaper on the tube in London, England, 24 June 2016.
An evening newspaper announcing the shock news that British people voted to exit the EU June 23. After a long parliamentary impasse and a third general election in five years, U.K. lawmakers have approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, putting the country on course to leave the EU on Jan. 31, 2020. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Michael Phelps competes in the Men's swimming 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016
Michael Phelps on Aug. 13 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he won four gold medals and one silver before retiring from swimming. He's the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 23 gold medals and 28 overall. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images
Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem
The San Francisco 49ers' Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem in San Diego Sept. 1 to protest racial inequality. Kaepernick's protests won him support from stars like Rihanna and criticism from others including President Trump, who slammed Nike for making him the face of its "Just Do It" campaign. Photo: Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks at a smart phone with national press secretary Brian Fallon on her plane at Westchester County Airport October 3
FBI Director James Comey announced Oct 28. he'd reopened a probe into Clinton's use of a private email server for official public communications while secretary of state. On Nov. 6, two days from the 2016 election, he said the Democratic presidential nominee wouldn't be charged. She blamed Comey for her election loss. Trump campaigned on the issue. In 2019, the State Department found 38 people culpable over the emails. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump during a transition planning meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on Nov. 10, 2016.
Obama and President-elect Trump at a Nov. 10 transition meeting in the Oval Office. Trump was a leading voice in the birther movement's baseless claim that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. Since taking office, Trump and his officials have attacked Obama and his administration on several occasions. Obama took a swipe at Trump in 2019 for watching TV and using Twitter. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
People look at their devices as news comes in that the Justice Department announced that former FBI director Robert Mueller will be a special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.
News breaks on Capitol Hill May 17 that former FBI director Robert Mueller has been appointed a special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation into interference in the 2016 election. Trump claimed Mueller's report "totally exonerated" him after it was released in 2019. But when asked during testimony if this was the case, Mueller replied: "No." Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Usain Bolt of Jamaica bids farewell after his last World Athletics Championships in London
Usain Bolt bids farewell after his last World Athletics Championships in London on Aug. 13 before retiring from athletics. The Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medallist is widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Flowers surround a photo of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd protesting white supremacist Unite the Right rally, August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A memorial to Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed Aug. 13 when a car plowed into a crowd protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heyer's killer, a self-described neo-Nazi, was imprisoned for life for federal hate crimes in June 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A car gets towed while men walk in the flooded waters of Telephone Rd. in Houston, Texas on August 30, 2017.
The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Aug. 30, killing 88 people and dumping over five feet of rain on the Houston area in just a few days, making it the heaviest rainstorm the U.S. has ever recorded. The next month, Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida twice, before sweeping across the state and into Georgia as a tropical storm. 134 people died in the storm. Photo: Thomas B. Shea/AFP via Getty Images
Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017
Puerto Rico placed the death toll from Hurricane Maria at nearly 3,000 people after it struck on Sept. 20. As the decade draws to a close, the island is still struggling to recover from the effects of the storm. Two months after Maria struck, Hurricane Nate killed some 45 people as it swept through Central America and the U.S. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after Oct. 1, 2017 in Las Vegas during the deadliest shooting in U.S. modern history. Two years later, a California woman became the 59th person to die from injuries sustained in the attack. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images
A  Dec. 5 fire in Santa Paula, California
A Dec. 5 fire in Santa Paula, California. The fatal wildfires of 2017 and 2018 razed thousands of buildings. Victims are seeking compensation from Pacific Gas & Electric over the blazes. PG&E faced heavy criticism from California's governor and several regulatory and legal hurdles as it sought to emerge from bankruptcy protection by 2020. Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school
Students brought out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The student survivors became leading voices in the activist movement advocating for gun control. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People protest President Trump's travel ban outside the Supreme Court People protest President Trump's travel ban outside the Supreme Court.
Protesters outside the Supreme Court, which upheld on June 26 Trump’s travel ban, ruling that it fell within the president’s traditional power to control immigration policy. A tough immigration policy was a signature issue of Trump's 2016 campaign. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants are loaded onto a bus by U.S. Border Patrol agents after being detained when they crossed into the United States from Mexico on June 01,
Migrants with U.S. Border Patrol agents in El Paso June 1. Nearly three years after he took office, the first section of Trump's promised southern border wall was installed near the Rio Grande. House Democrats have been trying to block the plan. His efforts since 2018 to end DACA have been thwarted by the courts. In 2019, 680 Hispanic workers were arrested in ICE raids. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Activists participate in a #MeToo March on Nov. 10, 2018 in Hollywood
Activists participate in a Nov. 10 #MeToo March in Hollywood. The movement was created by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke in 2016 and popularized by actress Alyssa Milano a year later. But it went global in 2018, as people in a range of sectors in countries from Britain to Saudi Arabia to New Zealand embraced the movement. Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a mosque-goer at the Kilbirnie Mosque on March 17, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington after the March 15 Christchurch mosques terrorist attack in which 51 people were killed. The government responded to the deadliest mass shooting in NZ history by passing sweeping gun control laws. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
A photo of the black hole in the center of M87.
This is the first ever photo, released in April, of a black hole. It was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, focusing on the center of the hole, M87. Photo: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.
 USA's players including forward Megan Rapinoe (C) celebrate with the trophy after the France 2019 Womens World Cup football final
Forward Megan Rapinoe (C) celebrates with other U.S. national soccer team players a record fourth Women's World Cup win. Chants of "equal pay" erupted and FIFA's president was booed at the stadium in Lyon over the sport's gender disparities. The team is suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images
Smoke rises from the site of an attack after a massive explosion the night before near the Green Village in Kabul on September 3
The aftermath of a Sept. 2 bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American service member, prompting Trump to call off peace talks with the Taliban. The United Nations said in December the war in Afghanistan had killed or injured 100,000 civilians in the past decade. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images
Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a New York meeting Sept. 25.
Trump and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at a Sept. 25 New York meeting after the White House released a partial transcript of their July 25 call at the center of an impeachment inquiry announced a day earlier amid allegations stemming from a whistleblower's complaint that he'd asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump announced on Sunday morning that shadowy ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. operation in northwestern Syria.
Trump monitors the Syria raid in which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died with Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L), National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien (L), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (2nd R) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley in the White House Oct. 26. Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House via Getty Images
Protesters react as police fire tear gas while they attempt to march towards Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18
Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters Nov. 18. Clashes between police and pro-democracy protester paralyzed the Asian financial hub for much of the second half of the year. Protests reminiscent of the Arab Spring erupted around the world in 2019, including in Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, France, Spain, Lebanon and Iraq. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images
Youth Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks during the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Activist Greta Thunberg implores leaders to act on climate change during a UN summit in New York City Sept. 23. She's inspired a global climate strike movement and drawn criticism from climate science deniers, including President Trump. In December, at age 16, she became the youngest ever Time Magazine Person of the Year. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
 Nancy Pelosi presides over Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump as the House votes at the US Capitol
The House votes largely along party lines to impeach the president Dec. 18 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He's only the third president to be impeached. Top diplomats testified that Trump conditioned the release of aid to Ukraine on investigating the Bidens and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. House Republicans reject those assertions.

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