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The Year That Went.

We are nearly at the end of a year and it is time to take a look at what took place during the last 12 month. The first thing, of course, is to review last new year’s resolutions and many of them are now relegated to the “chimera”, category, since they kind of fell by the wayside as the month went by. The proverbial excuse is “try again next year”, but then, perhaps not. To fail twice is to fail miserably.

Around the world many things happened, too many to mention here, but a few may warrant a line or two.

In The United States, President Obama remains very popular. 63% liked him last time they took a poll, which, of course, is frustrating to the republicans, even though they gained a majority in the house. Unemployment runs at near 10 percent, which probably won’t change in the foreseeable future, since so many companies now have their products manufactured under contract in China, rather than on the home turf. The US treasury has borrowed so much money on the international market that not even the grandchildren of the present generations will be able to pay it off,–so goes the complaint among many Americans and who knows, perhaps they are correct. Climate change may finally become a subject of interest amongst ordinary citizens, following a host of weather calamities during the year, the last of which was the big snow event along the eastern seaboard, which caused chaos and 4000 flight cancellations.

Then we can go south of the border to Mexico. Welcome to the land of tourist resorts, drug lords, mass murder and ingrained poverty. Perhaps someone will suggest to the grand chiefs that if they set the minimum wage to $5.00/hour or more, the poverty stricken would not need to head for Yankee-land to survive and Mexico would be able to create a consumer oriented economy.

We can head further south, all the way to Venezuela, where the magnanimous president Hugo Chavez has invented a new form of democracy. It is called “Dictatorial democracy” in which he claims that all Venezuelans’ will get lots and lots of democracy, as long as he is allowed to dictate what form it takes and who is in charge of it. Granting him the right to rule by decree set a precedent not seen since Hitler was in power in Germany and we all know what happened then. One must wonder if indeed Chavez’s ego is not founded in some form of extreme narcissism, but then who knows. My guess is that in the long run, “Cubanismo” won’t work in Venezuela. It didn’t in Cuba, so why turn the clock back Senor Chavez?

Before I leave the North and South American continents, it may be worth checking in on Canada, the land of snow, stable banks, US dependent economics, hockey and a minority government. Someday, the hope is that the honourable leader of the opposition would gain enough courage to declare a non-confidence vote against the government so that new elections could be held, but alas, he fears that the liberals would lose once again. Why is it that so many people would like to see both the Conservative Prime Minister and the Liberal opposition leader quietly disappear from site? Perhaps they would like to have someone worthwhile to vote for. Well, whatever the political situation, Canada is the greatest country in the world to live in.

On to Europe and Ireland, the green isle, where the shamrock grows and the little people played havoc with the economy. The luck of the Irish ran out and now they must go and search for another pot of gold at the end of a new rainbow. Even the water supply got contaminated and bottled water became scarcer than hens’ teeth. They need all the luck they can get and we must all hope they find it. Why not create a European lottery, where the profits goes to Ireland–nahhhh- it wouldn’t be fair, would it?

To jolly old England. Word has it that they got their economic knickers in a twist and the old empire is of no help to them anymore. Most of the English still say: “Long live the Queen” and as much as that’s fair, the fact is that she already has. Many are wondering if The Prince of Wales, with his 140 servants will be the next person to rule the roost in Buckingham Palace, or will England choose to become a republic instead. Perhaps the Queen’s grandson and his fiancé,-with no servants-, may be given a crack at it. Whatever will be, will be and nothing that the humble people in the former colonies can say or do will make the slightest bit of difference. A lot of people who read this would probably like to “send me to Coventry”.

Spain, Portugal and Italy are still under the radar and until such time they also will need a few hundred billion dollars to bail out their economies, we wish them “Un Prospero Aňo Nuevo” and, in the case of Italy, perhaps Berlusconi should cut down a bit on his teenage chick adorations.

And now for a quick trip to the Middle East and Israel, whose voracious appetite for land that does not belong to it is only outdone by their hatred for anything Palestinian and total disregard for human rights. Those who live by the sword–well, you know what I mean. Don’t ask me if I wish them good luck. I would have to give an honest answer.

If a Canadian wants’ to go to UAE, a long-term visa will now cost $1000.00. With 25,000 Canadian residents in that country, it should give them an extra 25 million dollar income, enough to support a sheik or two for a month or so. All this for refusing additional landing rights for Emirate Airways in Canada. Go figure.

Iraq. Was the cost of the war to the US taxpayer worth it? Thousands were killed because of a US president’s decision to “Rid the country of weapons of mass destruction” which they didn’t have in the first place. Where is the morality in all this?

Iran. Be careful, the Israeli bogyman may want to harm you.

A trip to Zimbabwe will find the country ruled with an iron fist by none other than good old Mugabe ,-you know, the chap that has ruled there since forever. Some people just don’t want to retire and in Africa, the rule is that “The Lion gets it all”, which Mugabe certainly adheres to. Well, mortality comes to everyone and at age 83, his number is near the top of the list.

As for Afghanistan and the never-ending war. All the soldiers and civilians that have been killed there during the last God knows how many years. One MUST ask if this relentless slaughter can be attributed a meaning of some sort. Russia couldn’t win a war there, so why does the US (and NATO) think they can? Why does the US support a corrupt government there? Is it the huge quantity of natural resources present there? or just simply fear that the country could seriously harm the good US of A. Perhaps the military economics that Eisenhower warned about after the Second World War is still at work. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it is no easy task to close it again and a lot of people have to forfeit their lives for something that should never have taken place. This may perhaps be the right point at which to say: “Yankee go home”.

And then on to China, for the world’s greedy corporations are watching this nation with envious eyes, trying to get a piece of the economic cake. How wonderfully well equipped they all are with blinkers that conveniently hide the human rights violations, so they don’t have to complain about them- not that anyone in China’s authoritarian government would listen to them. It is one thing for China to try and improve the lives of 400 million people who live below the poverty line, so they don’t rebel against the government, but the manner in which they achieve it does not consider basic human rights. Climate change will be the most likely cause for interruption in China’s rapidly advancing economy. When you have 1.25 billion mouths’ to feed, drastic changes to the climate can cause mass disruption in the economy and food production patterns. When a country arrests and jails those who object to the manner in which its government runs the country and the lack of freedom of conscience, they do so out of fear, not out of intellectual reasoning. For China, it is not a question of if, but rather of when the bubble will burst.

As for Russia, Since Putin don’t like competition, neither inside, nor outside the government and since he calls the shots, regardless of who is in charge, the best choice is to leave him to his own devices, bearing in mind that politicians come and go. Russia won’t go away, if he does.

There is India to say something about,-the largest democracy in the world and one of the oldest civilizations. It has problems similar to China, with respect to poverty and a less than admirable relationship with Pakistan. Both having nuclear weapons is an ever present danger to peace or perhaps a deterrent, given that an attack   by either nation with nuclear weapons is certain to mean annihilation of millions of people. Should India pursue an economic model similar to that of China? I think not, for only in an authoritarian state can such a model be forced through. India is a democratic country and must find its own model in this increasingly complex global economy and with stable governments and free elections, it will do just that.

There are many countries I have not spoken of, but I have touched those I feel have made some headlines during 2010. It is my sincere hope that 2011 will bring better conditions for mankind throughout the world.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

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