So farewell 2014, I cannot say I am sorry to see you go; you were a thoroughly unpleasant three hundred and sixty five days. Week after week, month after month we endured an endless litany of death, destruction and the revival of the Cold War. Stuck in a loop 2014’s headline confirmed that, despite our scientific and technical wonders, how little we have advanced over the last century.
As the following shows, several themes recurred throughout the year and a culture of fear pervaded western politics in particular. Manufactured public panics driven by an increasingly hysterical news media only added to a perception of vulnerability. We were, and still are, encouraged to believe the apocalyptic horsemen are just over the horizon ready to stampede us into oblivion.
The year opened with a so called “Polar Vortex” bringing record low temperatures and snow to large areas of the US. Many people died in the frigid weather and the Fox News headline? Holy snow rollers! Strange snowballs invade the US. You couldn’t make it up. Suicide bombers in Pakistan, Kabul and Baghdad kill dozens.
On the first day of the new month the UN said that 130,000 people had died in the Syrian civil war and 4 million displaced. Pakistan and the Taliban may have started peace talks but 11 people died when a hand grenade was thrown into a cinema in Peshawar. John Kerry says climate change required urgent action and the Russians invade Ukraine. There were a couple of lighter moments; Scotland legalised same sex marriage and the capacity for computers to cock things up was amply demonstrated in Sweden when the Public Employment Service invited 61,000 job-seekers to the same recruitment interview!
This month didn’t get off to the best of starts. Knife wielding terrorists kill 29 people in a train station in China. President Obama sends a warning to Russia over their involvement in Crimea and Ukraine and is promptly ignored by President Putin. The UN General Assembly also condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea and is also ignored. There are none so deaf as those who will not listen. Ebola begins to creep into our consciousness.
It’s hard to find any good news; civilians are still dying in Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria is still holding onto the schoolgirls they kidnapped. April Fool’s day and NATO suspends cooperation with Russia; it may be spring but the New Cold War just got icier. President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, claims that climate change will lead to wars over water and food within the next five to ten years. The one sliver of hope is the success of ABT-450 in treating Hepatitis C but this story was buried so deeply beneath the torrent of horror from the rest of the world you may have missed it.
More of the same through the month; sporadic fighting persists in Ukraine, Boko Haram boasts of the kidnap and the director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde calls for “tougher regulation and tighter supervision” of banking sector. China and Russia sign up to an agreement on trade and infrastructure and together they veto the UN resolution to set up an International Criminal Court for war crimes in Syria. No conspiracy here then? Ebola is confirmed in Sierra Leon .Oh, and by the way, there was a military coup in Thailand. Still never mind we’ve got the FIFA World Cup to look forward to in a few weeks.
Unbridled joy for some as the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil, a 7.2 billion dollar bonanza for the country. This vast amount however was completely overshadowed in July by Germany’s 7 -1 trouncing of the hosts which plunged Brazilians into deep despair. A new force appears on the Middle East map, IS, ISIS, ISIL or DAESH take your pick, and more people die. Even al-Qaeda want to have nothing to do with them. Operation Yewtree continues in the UK and Australian entertainer Rolf Harris is convicted of offences related to the sexual abuse of minors. And while the use of food-banks in the UK is on the increase Claude Monet’s Water Lilies sells for $54 million in London. Where’s our sense of decency?
July to December will follow.