Six Impactful Moments of January 2020

The new roaring 20s came in with a bang and brought people a lot of joy, pain, and everything in between. From pop culture to sports to music to politics, everyone who experienced the long month of January can agree that some worldwide event has affected them. As we come to see what the rest of the year has in store, we can look back at January with heartbreak, tears of joy and sadness, and celebration.

1.President Trump Starts “World War III” – January 3

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Photo taken by sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi (under CC BY 4.0 no changes have been made)
Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Photo taken by sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi (under CC BY 4.0 no changes have been made)

To kick off the new decade, the President of the United States Donald Trump approved the targeted killing of the Major General of Iran, Qasem Soleimani on the third day in. Soleimani was infamous in the Western world, known for his disdain toward Americans and their allies. This attack spawned different reactions from Americans, some being scared of a possible draft and many joking and creating memes poking fun at the whole situation. Some of Trump’s supporters have said the attack was justified and critics have called it dangerous and reckless. While many in America did not take the conflict seriously, citizens in Iran did; even launching an attack on U.S. bases in Iraq hours after Soleimani’s funeral, although at first no U.S. casualties were reported, according to NPR, it was found later that 34 U.S. troops suffered head injuries.

2.Coronavirus is confirmed in China – January 7

Face Masks. Photo by Debora Cartagena.
Face Masks. Photo by Debora Cartagena.

In late December 2019, an outbreak of acute respiratory illnesses was discovered in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province. On Jan. 7, health officials in China identified these illnesses as novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). With the news, many people all around the world became concerned about the risk of contracting this new sickness. “Coronavirus has seemingly affected the whole world and attitudes around the world.” SUNY Plattsburgh student Dylan Ghostlaw said. Many people have taken to blaming Chinese citizens and acting weary around anyone of Asian descent, fearing they may get infected. These fears are, most of the time, unjustified as many of the patients dying are either very old or very young. A decently healthy, young person in a nation like the United States has no real reason to be afraid. Unfortunately, many in China are not as fortunate as us. “China has become a ghost town,” Ghostlaw said. While we are sitting healthily and making memes about the name and situation in general, many in China are afraid to even leave their homes, in fear of the disease that could kill them.

3.Jeffree Star and Boyfriend Nathan Schwandt Announce Breakup – January 11

Jeffree Star and Nathan Schwandt in a video on October 15, 2017. Screen capture by Jessica Collins.
Jeffree Star and Nathan Schwandt in a video on October 15, 2017. Screen capture by Jessica Collins.

Together for almost five years, Beauty guru and self made millionaire Jeffree Star and boyfriend Nathan Schwandt, have called it quits. On Jan. 11, Star posted a video on his YouTube titled “We Broke Up.” explaining why the couple decided to end their relationship. Citing that personal problems were the reason for the split, and that they needed to focus on themselves, instead of each other. Fans were shocked to hear the news, including one SUNY Plattsburgh student Kendall Bush. 

“He was with Jeffree from nothing, they literally grew together so I assumed they would be endgame. It was just very unexpected,” Bush said.

While the breakup happened weeks prior, Star and Schwandt decided to wait to announce it so they could have time to heal and process their emotions. “Love is dead,” Bush said, still also trying to process the events.

4.Conor McGregor’s UFC comeback – January 18

Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone facing off before their bout. Screen capture by Jessica Collins.
Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone facing off before their bout. Screen capture by Jessica Collins.

The long-awaited comeback of MMA’s most prominent fighter, Conor McGregor, could not have gone better for himself, and his fans. On Jan. 18, “The Notorious One” took on well-respected veteran and fan favorite Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The bout was set at welterweight, or 170 lbs, to the surprise of many, since McGregor and Cerrone have both previously fought at lightweight, 155 lbs, and McGregor has even fought at 145, featherweight. Going into the fight, many viewers thought it would be a toss up, since Cerrone has been taking three or four fights a year, winning a few with some losses, and since McGregor had not fought in the UFC since his brutal 2018 loss to Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

The 40 second fight started with a missed left hand from McGregor, followed by a clinch in which he landed four or five shoulder strikes, breaking Cerrone’s nose. Then McGregor landed a head kick, which grounded Cowboy, and finished him off with some intense ground and pound. 

MMA fan Casey Lazure said that McGregor, “coming back against one of the toughest gatekeepers in the sport after a years long layoff, and crushing him in spectacular fashion is really impressive.” Many fans noticed a rare change in The Notorious’ attitude going into the fight, showing respect to his opponent. “You saw the king turn into a humble person, and someone fans can get behind, especially with all the controversy in the past few years,” Lazure said. Needless to say, 2020 is set to be Conor McGregor’s year.

5.Kobe Bryant’s Death – January 26

Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo taken by Sgt. Joseph A. Lee (under CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes have been made.)
Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo taken by Sgt. Joseph A. Lee (under CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes have been made.)

On the morning of Jan. 26, TMZ reported that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Throughout the day, more details came in about the accident, eventually confirming that none of the nine passengers had survived. The other victims were Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, her teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, along with their parents Keri and John Altobelli, and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The entire world was in shock. Fans of any sport could appreciate the athlete that Kobe Bryant was, and what Gigi Bryant was becoming. One Clinton Community College student Olivia Paiser said,

“I couldn’t believe it happened to Kobe and his family let alone that it happened at all.”

Athletes around the globe gave tribute when learning of the news, like NFL players at the Pro Bowl creating celebrations that related to basketball, and soccer players holding up a 2 and 4, for Bryant’s later career number 24. Many people described Bryant’s passing as losing an idol and a hero, and the whole event as surreal. Our generation grew up yelling “Kobe!” as we threw something in the garbage, and to have that namesake pass in such a horrific way really opened a lot of people’s eyes to how fragile life is.

6.Billie Eilish Sweeps The Grammys – January 26

Billie Eilish performing at the Pukkelpop Festival in 2019. Photo by crommelincklars (under CC BY 2.0, no changes have been made.)
Billie Eilish performing at the Pukkelpop Festival in 2019. Photo by crommelincklars (under CC BY 2.0, no changes have been made.)

The Grammys had a gloomy tone the evening of Jan. 26, after the world had learned of the news of Kobe Bryant and eight others’ deaths that morning. However, lots of history was made that night, specifically with 18-year-old alternative artist Billie Eilish. Eilish was nominated for six Grammy awards, and took home five of them. She won Best Pop Vocal Album, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. The latter four are called the “Big Four,” and Eilish was the first woman, and the second person of all time to win them all in the same year. She also took Taylor Swift’s record as youngest solo artist to win Album of the Year, who won for “Fearless” at age 20. Eilish’s hit “Bad Guy” won for Record and Song of the Year, and her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?” won for the Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.

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