As always, Alex Shrugged's opinions are his own. Other people's work are their own. I include them here for the sake of completeness and to provide a second method of access to the material for the TSP history segment.
* The Deadly Syringe Tide -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged
* The North American Drought -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben
* Tracking the English Language -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged
* Notable Births -- See below.
* This Year in Film -- See below.
* This Year in Music -- See below.
* In Other News -- See below.
The Deadly Syringe TideContributed by Alex Shrugged
Hypodermic needles, ampules of blood, other medical waste and sewage wash up along northeast beaches beginning with Staten Island. More than 90% of the syringes test positive for HIV. It seems unlikely that the AIDS virus could survive long enough to infect beach-goers, but if someone steps on a syringe, who knows? The beaches are closed as fear of AIDS-infected needles spirals out of control. Businesses along the shore from New York to New Jersey lose billions... 15% to 40% of their revenues. People shun the northern beaches and head south away, away. Investigators eventually trace much of the garbage to the "Fresh Kill Landfill". ("Kill" is a Middle Dutch word meaning a creek or channel.) Every day, 14,000 tons of garbage are loaded onto barges, and taken out to sea to be dumped. Medical waste and floatable debris are supposed to be separated from the rest of the garbage, but obviously that hasn't been happening. Law suits are pending, and legislation is passed by Congress to track medical waste. It won't stop future problems, but it will make future violations easier to trace to their violators.       
The North American DroughtContributed by Southpaw Ben
Officially ending in 1990, this drought would prove to be the costliest natural disaster in the US until Hurricane Katrina, and the costliest drought in US history. This drought's area of affect looks almost like a crescent connecting the southeastern US, up through the northern Great Plains, across to western Washington state, and dipping down into northern Nevada. While it only affected 45% of the US, as compared to the Dust Bowl which covered 70%, the drought cost $123 billion dollars (inflation adjusted) in damages. During this drought, there were multiple heatwaves that killed between 4,800 to 17,000 Americans, as well as a large amount of livestock, and caused wildfires at Yellowstone. Throughout the region affected most heavily by the drought, scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl were seen, including schools in South Dakota being closed due to a protracted sandstorm.  
Tracking the English LanguageContributed by Alex Shrugged
Richard Sproat is currently on the technical staff at AT&T working his way to a Phd. He will eventually become a researcher at Google parsing natural language. This February, he begins collecting and analyzing Associated Press articles looking for unique word usage... that is unique forms of words. By December 30th, one day before the end of the year, he has found over 44 million unique words, enough to fill any dictionary and it should be enough to write any future story in the newspaper, but the very next day, on December 31st, Richard finds 35 more words. They include... "instrumenting, counterprograms, armhole, part-Vulcan, fuzzier, groveled, boulderlike, mega-lizard, traumatological, and ex-critters."   
- -- In Music Adele. 
- -- In Movies Nikki Reed (Rosalie in Twilight), Emma Stone (Easy A), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in Harry Potter). 
This Year in Film
- Coming to America: Eddie Murphy as an African prince looking for a bride in Queens. 
- Big: A boy is transformed into a man yet remains a boy. 
- Die Hard: Bruce Willis comes into his own in this action hero film. 
- And... : Child's Play, Beetlejuice and The Naked Gun. 
This Year in TV
- America's Most Wanted: Reenactments of crimes often leading to an arrest. 
- The Wonder Years: Sitcom starring Fred Savage. 
- Roseanne: Sitcom starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. 
- Murphy Brown: Sitcom starring Candice Bergen. 
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: Two guys poke fun at the movies. 
This Year in Music
- A Groovy Kind of Love: Phil Collins. 
- Don't Worry Be Happy: Bobby McFerrin. 
- Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car: Billy Ocean. 
This Year in Video Games
- Ninja Gaiden: . 
- John Madden Football: First in the series. 
- Sega Genesis is released: The CDROM is maddeningly slow. 
In Other News
- GLOBAL WARNING IS HERE!: NASA scientist, James Hansen, warns of the threat of man-made global warming. 
- Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland: 270 people are killed. Evidence later links the bombing to Libyan agents. 
- USS Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger liner, killing 290: It's obviously a mistake, but a lot of people are dead. See Iran Air Flight 655.