Recent History and wow, that’s a lot, isn’t it?
Well we are about to say goodbye to this year and hello to the next one. Is anyone looking forward to that?
I thought it might be nice to have a look over the year, pick up on the big stories, and see what we did about that, what we learned.
You know, it seems that everybody is so keen to move forward that nobody seems to have been able to just stop and ask ‘did we resolve that in the end?’ or ‘what did we do about so and so?’ A good example of this is Jihadi John. Remember him? Alleged real name Al Jenny? Beheaded several American and British civilians? I don’t know about you, but after his name was broadcast with such confidence, I would have thought picking him up, would have been a cake walk, yet I haven’t heard a dickie bird, nothing. Nada.
January 2014 – Do you remember the chemical spill in West Virginia? Sure you do:
So, what happened? hm:
Good. Great in fact. Some-one actually being held accountable for their actions. Way to go West Virginia.
Oh. Well, I guess the logic here is that because a few of the victims were in fact, employees, that’s okay? We shall watch this in the New Year.
- President Obama Announces NSA Reforms (Jan. 17): President Obama announces reforms to the country’s surveillance program based on his advisory panel’s recommendations. He says that while he believes the activities of the NSA were legal, he acknowledges that some compromised civil liberties. “Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power,” Obama says. “It depends on the law to constrain those in power.” The reforms he outlines include: requiring NSA analysts to get a court order to access phone data unless in cases of emergencies; an eventual end to the collection of massive amounts of metadata by the government; the NSA will stop eavesdropping on leaders of allied nations; officials can pursue a phone number linked to a terrorist association by two degrees rather than three; and Congress will appoint advocates to argue on the side of civil liberties before the FISA court. He does not implement the recommendation about national security letters.
Wow, was that January? It felt like just yesterday.
Okay, so that’s another subject on the back burner. I am beginning to wonder what we actually HAVE resolved?
UN-Led Negotiations Begin in Geneva (Jan. 22): Much-anticipated negotiations brokered by the UN between the Syrian government, members of the opposition, the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Russia begin in Switzerland. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invites Iran at the last minute but then quickly un-invites Syria’s closest ally when it refuses to accept terms of the talks requiring Assad to step aside and allow for the formation of a transition government. While there is little hope for a peace agreement, just getting the parties to the table is considered progress.
This is more like it. Sort of. ‘Un-invited’? – Can they do that? Sorry, your name is not on the list. You can’t come in. I wonder how Iran responded to that? Oh….wait….
Is anyone surprised? Still, it’s not like America needed Iran in the first place, is it?
‘both sides could try to avoid escalation by continuing with the status quo ante set by the JPOA, which, among other things, limits the level of enrichment by Iran and the imposition of new sanctions by the U.S.’
Sanctions? Ah yes, because they worked so well with Russia, didn’t they?
Okay, so that’s another ‘Work in Progress’ matter. Let’s do this another way. Let’s have a look at stories that we might not have heard about first. What else happened in January 2014?
- The US Senate confirms Janet Yellen as the new chair of the Federal Reserve; Yellen will be the first woman to hold this post. (Washington Post)
- Syrian opposition–Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant conflict.Belligerents mass execute dozens of their combatant prisoners. (BBC)
- Alberta Health Services confirms first avian flu death in Alberta. A person admitted to hospital on January 1, 2014, died on January 3 in Calgary. (Calgary Herald)
Avian Flu? That’s back, is it? Nice to know.
- 14-year-old boy Aitizaz Hassan in northern Pakistan is killed stopping a suicide bomber at the main gate of his school but saves the lives of all of his schoolmates gathered for their morning assembly. The Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claims responsibility for the attack. (CNN) (Al Jazeera)
This boy, that you never heard of, has since been ‘nominated for an award by Nawaz Sharif.
- The government of Afghanistan announces the release of 72 Taliban fighters from jails, despite American objections that they pose a security threat. (ABC News)
America objected, did they? The saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’ springs to mind:
- Insane Clown Posse sues the Federal Bureau of Investigation for accusing its fangroup, the Juggalos, of being a gang. (NBC News)
The FEDs are being sued? Regardless of the details, this is a story in itself. Can you sue the Federal Bureau of Investigation? I thought they were above the law?
- In the US Congress, a bill is introduced to restore the fast track negotiating authority, under which the president could negotiate trade agreements that Congress could not amend, but could only vote “yes” or “no” on. The bill’s sponsors mentioned talks with the EU as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. (Reuters), (US Senate)
- The number of people with their personal information stolen from Target stores is up from 40 million to 70 million. (CNN)
70 MILLION?? and no-one (aside from CNN) thought that MIGHT be important?
- Mexican Drug War
- Communitary forces take several towns in Mexican state of Michoacán trying to expel the Knights Templar Cartel forces, and prompting the intervention of Mexican Army against them.(CNN)
Not to worry, I am sure America will welcome them. Again, a CNN story. Is it just a story though?
- Russia expels American journalist David Satter from the country in the first such case since 1982. (The Guardian)
- The National Security Agency uses radio waves to spy on computers. (The New York Times)
- The Guardian reports that the National Security Agency collects data from hundreds of millions of text messages each day. (The Guardian)
- A child trafficking ring is smashed in the Philippines through the efforts of British, American, and Australian authorities. (USA Today)
I didn’t hear a thing about this. How big was this ring? Did it impact on the pedophilia market? How many children were potentially saved? How is it, that Britain, America and Australia can work together on this and yet STILL can’t rescue a single hostage held by IS?
- A British photographer designs and builds a drone as a low cost alternative for shooting nature documentaries. (Reuters)
Well, well, well. And we thought America was to blame. Was this the first drone? Is this where America got the idea for drones that can peek through your windows, or open your front door?
- President Barack Obama announces a sprawling reform that would begin the process of change in the National Security Agency. (The Chicago Tribune)
Ah, if only. What is this ‘sprawling reform’. In my world sprawling means sit, lie, or fall with one’s arms and legs spread out in an ungainly or awkward way and spread out over a large area in an untidy or irregular way. Spread, stretch, be strung out, be scattered, straggle, spill. So, that sounds like a tidy process. All airtight and leak resistant, doesn’t it?
- Two students, a male and a female in stable condition, are each shot in the arm by an at-large gunman, who may be a student, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley Charter School high school. (MSN)
An ‘at large gunman’?? We all heard about Sandyhook, why wasn’t this bigger? Did they eventually catch the guy? PS, I never believe a word from MSN, so it will be interesting to find out the details of this article.
- The United Kingdom rejects its involvement in combat drone attacks by the United States in Pakistan. (BBC News)
- Certain sanctions against Iran are lifted by the European Union and the United States through a nuclear deal. (The Washington Post)
There’s those ‘sanctions’ again. It didn’t take long to impose then and then lift them again did it? I mean, this is JUST January. 31 days and I am currently only half way through.
- Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present). Mike Rogers accuses Edward Snowden of collaborating with Russia. (BBC News)
- Kenneth Bae, an American prisoner in North Korea, releases a message to the United States for help. (The Huffington Post)
Five members of the e=”Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, who in 1971 stole documents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and gave them to journalists, come forth. The leak exposed COINTELPRO, a program of surveillance and blackmail against American leftists including Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York Times) (The Guardian) (New York Magazine)
- Kim Guadagno denies accusations that she withheld funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. (CBS News)
- Pakistani military aircraft bomb suspected Taliban hideouts killing 25 militants in North Waziristan. (India Today)
Suspected? Was this ever confirmed?
- Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife are indicted on federal corruption charges for allegedly receiving various financial benefits from a businessman seeking favors from the state government. (Fox News)
- New data published independently by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the global warming trend is continuing. (ABC News)
- A student was shot and killed at South Carolina State University and police were looking for 4 suspects. (Reuters)
Where not are? So they found them? Who were they? Why did they do this? Another student. Surely if the Prez wanted to push for gun reform, making THESE stories more prominent, would aid that? What is going on with our young? Where are all these guns coming from?
- A shooting at the Columbia Mall in the U.S. state of Maryland results in 3 people being killed. (BBC)
- The U.S. Justice Department and the Director of National Intelligence reach a preliminary joint agreement, likely resolving a lawsuit with the major American Internet provider companies (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and LinkedIn), about the information the companies can release to customers regarding requests by the intelligence agencies for information. (NBC)
why isn’t this bigger news? What sort of information is being released about us? Don’t we have the right to know?
- DNA analysis reveals that the Plague of Justinian responsible for killing up to half the population of Europe in 6th century AD was caused by a variant of Yersinia pestis, the same bacterium believed to have caused the Black Death. (Health Canal)
- In the US Senate, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, calls for the return of NSA documents by “Snowden and his accomplices”; asked whether this includes journalists, Clapper’s spokesperson says “Director Clapper was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs.” (The Guardian)
- Scientists find a way to convert normal cells into stem cells, which can be used for any part of the body. Previously, the standard method of obtaining stem cells was to get them from an embryo. (The New York Times)
- U.S. President Barack Obama signs the myRA at a visit to U.S. Steel’s Irvin Works in metropolitan Pittsburgh. (C-SPAN 24:50) (WTAE-TV) (Whitehouse.gov)
The what? Why is this news?
- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces that federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (CNN)
- The Danish coalition government breaks up as widespread turmoil over the partial sale of the state-owned DONG Energy to Goldman Sachs leads to the withdrawal of the Socialist People’s Party. (Copenhagen Post)
- Scientists warn that penguin populations may be declining due to extreme environmental conditions related to climate change (The Guardian)
The ‘mythical’ climate change?
- For the first time in its 54-year history the State Water Project announces a zero water allocation for the state of California providing no water to urban residents or farmers this year amid a record setting drought. (LA Times) (Mercury News)
California, a pretty big state, has no water? If that were Africa, Water Aid would be straight in there, yet this only warrants an article in Mercury (?) news and the L.A Times. What am I missing?
Hm, it’s clear I have my work cut out for me. Now, either I could post all the updates and maybe The Guinness Book of World Records would record this as the longest blog ever, OR, throughout January, I will post the stories above, with any follow ups. That sounds like a great idea.
I have deliberately chosen the above headlines and stories because I cant help but read them and ask: Who is that? What happened after that? Where did they find that out? Why did that happen? How do they know? Who??
For example, I thought Climate change, global warning, was just a myth? When does a conspiracy theory become fact? It seems that, even when it’s confirmed by our loyal and most trusted of Governments, there are those who still believe it’s not true? Which mainstream media outlets are lying to us and which stories do we believe?
Remember the above articles are only from January 2014.
Ultimately, it comes down to faith. We have to choose what we believe and hope that we are right. So, the above morsels should help us figure that out. I will chase up the above stories, but if you would like to know about a story you heard, why not comment?