We interrupt our continuing comment-spam wars to bring you what are — from this vantage point — the biggest stories of the year almost over. Naturally, this is all my opinion. And so many stories are intertwined, I decided to break new of the year down into topics.
- The Downward Spiral of Iraq: All through the year the world suffered from the ongoing effects of George Bush’s invasion. Despite the Creep-in-Chief’s crowing over the capture of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a questionable Iraqi government, the death toll of Iraqi civilians and US Death Brigaders continues to rise and the world — in the belief of many — is no safer (remember the Russian school seizure and the Madrid bombing?). Even if an Iraqi election does take place in late January 2005, will it be free and fair — or safe? Don’t hold your breath.
- The Bush Brothers Banana Republic Continues: Is the US, the land run by miserable failure George W. Bush, turning into a pro-business, pro-rich folks, anti-education (for certain people), anti-justice, anti-GLBT, anti-women, anti-environment, anti-worker, pro-Christian-fundie-theocracy cesspool? Hell, yeah. That’s the message received by many in 2004, a year Arianna Huffington notes we should try to forget.
- Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Yes, GLBT people are a bit more equal under law in one state in the Union. This historic occurrence led to same-sex marriages in other states — ultimately struck down by bigots in power, of course — and to a mass show of hatred throughout the US. Eleven states passed anti-equality “Defense of Marriage” in the Nov. 2 elections, while masses of Christian fundamentalists, homo-haters, and misguided souls took to the polls to back a candidate who wants to enshrine discrimination in the nation’s constitution. What does 2005 hold? I suspect we will see a more vicious debate across the country, as well as a strong effort to make sure newly married couples in Massachusetts don’t have their unions invalidated.
- Worldwide Political Chicanery: From the closer-than-kissin’-cousins Shrub v. Kerry contest in the US to poential vote fraud in Mozambique to the Ukraine, where candidates can end up poisoned in the pursuit for power, it is all too evident that in world politics, the philosophy is ethics be damned: Anything goes to make sure one’s own side wins. And integrity — even when it comes to choosing a candidate — is fully expendable. Pathetic.
- Natural and man-made disasters: Justifiably, much of the world is focused on the recent 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia’s Sumatra island that launched tsunami waves that slammed shorelines in Asia and Africa, killing more than 121,000 people. The state of Florida bore more than its share of woe following four hurricanes that wreaked havoc there and on other parts of the American South. Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne killed 117 people, destroyed 2,500 homes and caused more than $22 billion in damage. World attention has also been riveted by the story of genocide in the Sudan’s Darfur region. There, more than 350,000 are dead — and about 1,000 more die every day.
Honorable mentions: Boston wins the World Series, Janet Jackson’s boob fallout, Yasser Arafat’s death and resulting peace prospects, celebrity criminals.
Coming soon: AF&O’s looks at music, books, and film.