Welcome back after the 2011 Christmas break. I hope everyone had an opportunity to spend some time with their friends and loved ones over the holidays. It seemed to me that 2011 went by extremely quickly – no sooner did we hold the Doodlespiel in January (just a quick reference to brag about our team’s trophy) then the Ski Spree, the Joint Annual Convention, the first annual CSEG Raft trip, the T-Wave golf tournament, the Doodlebug golf tournament, finish up with the Doodletrain, do a little work in the fall and now BANG here we are in 2012!
This is the time of year when we reflect on the past year’s activities and make plans for the upcoming New Year. And what a year it has been! With such ready access to a variety of news sources, I have selected key events from Yahoo News and other sites that I believe were some of the significant events for the World and for Canada. I started to write this month’s column by researching the year’s activities with the idea of tying these events to our own society’s activities, but after reviewing the major events that occurred internationally and domestically, I was in such awe that I decided to dedicate this column entirely to 2011: The Year of Upheaval.
Japan Earthquake: The Japan Earthquake and its related events added up to be one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. March’s catastrophic 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami in northeastern Japan, displaced 89,000 and left more than 25,000 dead or missing. The full horror of the event was realized with a series of cataclysms at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. There, three reactors entered a worst-case scenario of a nuclear meltdown and the world watched with bated breath to see how extensive the catastrophe would turn out.
The Arab Spring: A wave of revolution swept through the Arab world in 2011. It began in Tunisia when an unemployed university graduate set himself on fire over confiscated fruits and vegetables. By the end of January, the country’s president had fled while violent protests spread to Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and beyond. Uprisings spread to Egypt and Libya. Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was put on trial for allegedly ordering the killing of protesters. Libya’s eccentric dictator Muammar Gadhafi was killed after rebels took his hometown. The Arab Spring continues to play a significant role in daily news as unrest in other countries spread, fuelled by social media and the ease of communication.
Occupy Movement: “Indignants” have been camping on the streets of Spain since the spring, but the real fire started with Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters’ proposal to take action against Wall Street. The idea caught on and the first change-seeking Occupy Wall Street rally rolled out in New York on Sept. 17. Protesters were arrested across the U.S. and Canada as thousands shouted their frustration with the global financial system, corporate greed and inequality. The Occupy sentiments spilled across the borders the following month, hitting more than 900 cities during the global Day of Rage.
Global Financial Crisis: From late 2009, fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors concerning rising government debt levels across the globe. Concerns intensified in early 2010 and thereafter, making it difficult or impossible for Greece, Ireland and Portugal to re-finance their debts. In October 2011 Eurozone leaders agreed on a package of measures designed to prevent the collapse of member economies.
This included an agreement with banks to accept a 50% write-off of Greek debt owed to private creditors, increasing the EFSF to about €1 trillion, and requiring European banks to achieve 9% capitalisation. World economic leaders are watching Europe’s financial state and continue to warn of dire worldwide consequences should the Euro fail.
Vancouver Riots: Rioters torched cars, smashed windows and looted downtown Vancouver stores over a lost Stanley Cup June 15. Unrecognizable Vancouver burned while some residents and guests committed thousands of criminal acts. Later, an investigation concluded that the police lost control of 155,000 people because reinforcements took too long to arrive. A total of 446 officers simply couldn’t handle the alcohol-fuelled crowds. One of the largest investigations in history took place to track down and convict offenders using thousands of images captured by cameras and cell phones.
Slave Lake Fire: Close to home, Canada began its largest arson probe ever in 2011. May’s Slave Lake fire claimed $700 million in damages, igniting our country’s second most costly disaster (after the 1998 ice storm). The flames ate away at foundations and chain-link fences, leaving Slave Lake residents bare and vulnerable. The northern Alberta community suddenly looked like a war zone.
New Earth Discovered: And on a final happy note, NASA discovered a new planet a lot like the earth – not too hot, not too cold – a good candidate for life as we know it. Don’t start packing your bags however, we won’t be vacationing on the new planet anytime soon – it’s a staggering 600 light years away. With all of the other news stories of the year, it makes you wish the new planet was just a little closer...
Next month, I will be reporting on the year‘s activities for our society – what was new, what was old and some of our ideas for the future. Until then – happy Doodlespieling!