Okay, so it’s December 30th and time to recap 2011. So here is my list of the stories that changed the world the most this year – not necessarily the biggest stories but the most changing (for that reason the death of Kim Jong-il is not on the list as I fear there will be no change with his son taking over).
10. The death of Qian Necole Liu – She was a student at York University who was murdered. The crime was witnessed half a world away via webcam. A man is now in jail charged with her death thanks to witness statements from Asia. Gotta love technology!
9. Death of Osama Bin Laden – It may or may not mark a major change, it all depends on how much it slows Al-Qaeda down. For a bit it seemed that the US military was taking out “the next leader” or the “Number Two” every few days. We haven’t heard anything in a while now.
8. Atlantis’ Final Mission – This is most definitely a change as it’s the end of the current US space program. There are no more missions planned and if the Americans want to go into space they’ll need to catch a ride with the Russians (that seems odd…) I guess NASA can cut their budget now.
7. The death of Steve Jobs – For most changing this could be further up the list if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Steve Jobs. He hired people who thought outside of the box so the great inventions that he started will continue. This move ensured Apple wouldn’t fall apart when he departed.
6. The Occupy Movement – It’s not clear yet how much change the Occupy Movement will bring. Disenchanted and disenfranchised people got involved with politics and civics for the first time for many (the first time since the 60s for others). Hopefully the interest will continue into more action and next year I may need to move it up the list.
5. Japan’s Disaster – Earthquake, then tsunami then nuclear issues. Again, it’s not clear how changing it will be overall. It’s greatly affected the lives of many Japanese who lost homes, jobs and loved ones. It’s also started protests in Japan over the use of nuclear power. The auto sector in North America was also affected as many of the local auto manufacturers get parts from Japan. We still have to see the impact that the debris will have on the beautiful British Columbia cost as it’s expected to make landfall this coming year.
4. Arab Spring – First Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Each country has had a different experience and it’s been more beneficial in some countries than others. Overall, it had a major impact by allowing everyday people experience that they can influence government, even when that government is a dictatorship. We will need to see what permanent changes come from it.
3. The Economy – This was a major story on both sides of the pond. The US almost was unable to pay their employees due to bipartisanship and their bond rating was consequently downgraded for the first time in history. On the other side was the European Union which may or may not exist next year this time. Germany is holding the power right now and many are unhappy about the politics of that (since upset over World War 2).
2. London’s Jobless Rate – I had to add a purely local story and this one does it. The jobless rate in London Ontario is 9.8%, 2nd only to Windsor Ontario. We’ve had too many plants close and lay off mass amounts of employees. I call on our mayor Joe Fontana to step up with his plan to bring more small business to London. I think he’s right that it’s more important now to go after 10 businesses that employ 10 people each than 1 business that employs 100. Unfortunately, the jobless rate in London may climb again soon with a nasty strike expected to start at Electro-Motive in the next few days. If the parent company CAT pulls them out of London that will be another 700 good-paying jobs lost.
1. The most changing story of the year – JACK LAYTON! The NDP was elected on good ideas and the personality of Jack. For the first time ever a party besides the Conservatives and the Liberals held the position of the Official Opposition. Jack showed us how to fight in politics and in life and was out there on the campaign trail waving his cane after hip surgery. Unfortunately, after the great height of the election wins came the great loss of Jack Layton passing away from cancer. We will never know what good he could have done in the opposition, nor will we ever know what he could have done should he have been elected Prime Minister. He got many young people involved in politics for the first time and I hope that the enthusiasm carries into the next election.
So there’s my list. Do you agree or disagree? What did I leave off?