Many of us will be glad to see and end to 2011 - the tsunami that hit Japan was just one of many natural disasters.
A year that began with apocalyptic floods in Brazil saw the suburbs of Bangkok underwater by the autumn, but these were natural disasters of an ominously unnatural kind. Drought in east Africa has starved and displaced hundreds of thousands, Hurricane Irene tore through the Americas in August, February’s cyclone in Queensland left much of the state looking more like Venice than Australia – and that was only some of the world’s extreme weather. the Phillipines suffered several tropical storms and cosnequent flooding. Still reeling from 2010′s s epic floods, Pakistan battled monsoon rains that affected 5 million people and killed hundreds. November’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report confirmed only what we already feared: this wasn’t bad luck, but proof we are losing the fight against climate change. The deal struck in Durban a month later was, despaired Friends of the Earth, an “empty shell of a plan” that leaves the planet “hurtling towards catastrophic climate change”.
On May 22, a powerful EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., reaching nearly one mile in length when it touched the ground. Early estimates place the amount of damage at nearly $3 billion. Emergency managers of the National Weather Service reported that nearly 75 percent of Joplin was destroyed by the tornado. With 160 deaths and nearly 1,000 people injured, the tornado was one of the most powerful and deadly in U.S. history.
Police stood by as Britain rioted, popular protests changed the face of the Middle East, European governments fell apart – and so did Fleet Street’s reputation. 2011 was an extraordinary year.
The young Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire last December could never have imagined what the flames would spark. Within a month, President Ben Ali’s 24-year dictatorship was over. Weeks later, the government of Jordan had gone, too – and the Arab spring had only just begun.The Egyptians filling Cairo’s Tahrir Square quickly grew into an unstoppable human tide, and by February President Mubarak’s 30-year reign was over.
When Tripoli fell in August to the rebels – an amateur army in battered pick-up trucks – Gaddafi survived, slipping away to a concrete drainpipe hideaway. When rebels finally dragged him out and shot him, footage of Gaddafi’s grisly end caused some unease , but for Libyans it was proof of the impossible, and when a postmortem revealed their former tyrant wore a toupee, few could begrudge them the mocking hilarity of Gaddafi’s Wizard of Oz moment.
Uprisings in Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco and Oman were halted, but in Yemen the world’s longest reign of a non-royal head of state finally came to an end in late November. Protests in Syria, which began in January have continued all year.
A portrait of Greek prime minister George Papandreou as a clown was hung from a noose in Athens during a rally against a new austerity package.
In the course of a single year, the governments of Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain all collapsed under the weight of sovereign debt. The Celtic tiger was the first to be exposed as an optical illusion – and in February the Fianna Fáil party, which had dominated national politics for 70 years, wasn’t just voted out of office but off the political map. Portugal’s prime minister was the next to go in March, but it was the violence paralysing Athens that lurched Europe from drama into crisis. Tear gas and riot police were no match for the fury of Greeks facing financial ruin, but prime minister Papandreou‘s promises of yet more austerity were no match for the markets either, and his kamikaze bid to square the circle with a referendum he’d failed to mention even to his own cabinet proved the final straw, making him the first European leader to be replaced by a technocrat – but not the last.
Silvio Berlusconi‘sbegan the year on matters much closer to home. The man who once described himself as “the Jesus Christ of politics” was facing trials for corruption and sex with an under-age prostitute, but it wasn’t the bunga bunga parties but Italy’s bank balance that he should have been worrying about. As late as November, Berlusconi was blithely insisting “our restaurants are full of people”, but the markets could no longer be fooled, and eight days later he, too, was gone, replaced by another technocrat ex-banker. A week later, Spain’s government fell as well, leaving Europe’s leaders staring into the abyss.
Would the euro survive? Would the EU survive? Did we need closer fiscal integration – a two-speed Europe? Repatriation of powers? Summit after summit produced little more than alarming proof that nobody had a clue.
In the UK the unions, launching their biggest strike in a generation, and then the Tory Eurosceptics, for whom Christmas came early when a government containing the most pro-European party in parliament stunned the country by exiling Britain into a minority of one in Brussels. - in the words of one columnist, that, “The grown-ups are not in charge.”
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose arrest for rape in a Manhattan hotel bathroom (a charge that was later dropped) prompted a flood of sexual allegations, and a sudden vacancy at the IMF. Drunken fumblings with an old flame, weeks after his wedding to the Queen’s granddaughter, lost Mike Tindall his place in the English rugby squad – the second royal embarrassment of the year, after Prince Andrew’s friendship with a convicted sex offender cost him his job as UK trade envoy.
There was little sympathy for John Galliano when his antisemitic outburst in a Paris bar (“I love Hitler”) sent him packing from Dior.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns publications including The Wall Street Journal and News of the World, was ousted for hacking into the phone of a murdered 13 year old. A private detective deleted old messages on the 13 year old’s phone, giving the family hope that their daughter may still be alive. It was eventually revealed that Murdoch’s publications have a widespread act of phone hacking, setting off doubt about journalism ethics in Britain.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s party held on to its parliamentary majority, but mass protests against election-rigging suggested the Kremlin’s great survivor might be losing his grip.
Corruption and inflation aud thebiggest fall in the stock market plagued India. In October three of Pakistan’s Test cricketers were accused of spot-fixing,
Julian Assange‘s confinement was more comfortable, spending the year under house arrest in a stately home, but the WikiLeaks chief’s fight against extradition to Sweden on rape charges was finally lost, barring a final appeal to the supreme court next year.
“We are the 99%” declared the Occupy Wall Street movement as it pitched camp in New York in September. Anti-capitalism camps began appearing on every continent,
Nothing will ever fully explain why Anders Breivik woke up one morning in July and set off a bomb in Oslo killing eight, before moving on to a political youth summer camp on the picturesque island of Utøya, where the 32-year-old Christian laughed and cheered as he calmly gunned down 69 teenagers.
We got him,” may be the sweetest three words President Obama has heard since entering the White House, relayed to a tense situation room early on May 2 by US special forces who had stormed a plain-looking house in a quiet Pakistani garrison town, and shot dead the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. But British bodies kept on coming home from Afghanistan, averaging one a week in a year that saw the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but still no end to the decade-long war.
The world of science and innovation lost Steve Jobs, the Apple founder who invented and marketed sleek gadgets that transformed everyday technology from the personal computer to the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Science said goodbye this year to Christian J. Lambertsn, Norman Ramsey, William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr., Boris Chertok and Ralph Steinman.
Political figures who died in 2011 included R. Sargent Shriver, Warren M. Christopher, Jiri Dienstbier, Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Geraldine Ferraro, Max van der Stoel, Necmattin Erbakan, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, Leonidas Kyrkos, Hugh Carey, Garret FitzGerald, Betty Ford, Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il.
In entertainment, the world lost Elizabeth Taylor, a woman whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame made her one of the last of the classic movie stars. The year also saw the passing of soul singer Amy Winehouse, whose death at age 27 left many wondering what works of musical brilliance the world might have seen from the troubled, young star.
Others in the arts and entertainment field who died include Peter Falk, Jane Russell, Clarence Clemons, Pinetop Perkins, Annie Girardot, Harry Morgan, Ferlin Husky, Susannah York, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, David Nelson, Sidney Lumet, Richard Hamilton, Bil Keane, Poly Styrene, M.F. Husain, Heavy D, Jackie Cooper, Robert Tear and Betty Garrett.
BlackBerry’s crash, the launch of Google+, and the growing popularity of Android, eBooks, the iPad and hacktivism made 2011 a busy year for tech trends. Sony suffered arguably the most damaging attack of the year, when 77 million PlayStation Network users’ personal details were accessed by hackers, forcing the firm to shut down for three weeks. It has been estimated the incident, which Sony has linked to Anonymous, cost $170m.
Google+, a new social network was launched. Google’s Android operating system has been taking over smartphones for a number of years, but in 2011 it passed the tipping point when more than half of all sales were Android. With 10 billion apps downloaded and a growing range of mobile phones and tablets on the market
In August after 30 years in flight, NASA closes the book on its shuttle program, and opens a new window in space with Kepler — the planet hunting telescope — looking for the goldilocks planet: Not too hot and not too cold.
Rebecca Black’s infamous “Friday” video topped all other YouTube videos of 2011 with 180 million views.
Britain celebrated Royal weddings and looks ofrward tot eh Queen’s Jubilee in 2012.
Synergy officially reached 20 years and The U.A.E. reached 40 years.
What will next year bring?? We don’t know, but we wish everyone a Happy New Year and keep our fingers crossed!