There have been many ups and downs for Humanity over the past 365 days.
2015 proved once again that we live in difficult and challenging times.
The importance of remembering and understanding historical events is paramount; for those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.
But always remember, no matter how bleak things may seem, please keep faith in the Human race; continue to strive for the best new year you can make for yourself and your fellow Human.
The following is a few highlights from this past year. There have been so many important news stories; too many to include in one Blog post. Never-the-less, here are just some highlights of the past twelve months.
On Wednesday, January 7, two masked gunmen storm the office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine, in Paris, and kill 12 people, including the paper’s top editor, Stephane Charbonnier, several cartoonists, and two police officers. Five others are critically injured. The provocative magazine is known for publishing charged cartoons that satirized the Prophet Muhammad, most religions, the pope, and several world leaders.
Thursday, January 22, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts a controversial invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress. Shortly after the president delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu. It was controversial because it is considered a breach of protocol; the Obama administration was never consulted.
U.S. President Barrack Obama formally seeks Congress for Authority on February 11 to combat ISIS. The AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) will face opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner cautioned that the draft was an “important step forward” but only the “beginning of a legislative process” that would include hearings and mark-ups of the resolution. He also said that he hasn’t seen a strategy put forward by the Administration that accomplishes its goal to “degrade and defeat” ISIS. “We have an awful lot of work to do,” he said.
In February. on that superstitious Friday the 13, Sun News Network officially went dark. “I regret to inform you that Sun Media Corporation has made the difficult decision to shut down Sun News. As a result, the channel is now off the air,” Julie Tremblay, president and CEO of Sun Media told staff in an internal memo early Friday. The beleaguered news network had suffered significant strife with the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission).
Having accepted House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation, Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the U.S. Congress on March 3. In an extraordinary spectacle pitting the leaders of two close allies against each other, Mr. Netanyahu took the rostrum in the historic chamber of the House of Representatives to tell a joint meeting of Congress that instead of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Mr. Obama’s diplomatic initiative “would all but guarantee” that it does, in turn setting off a regional arms race. A full transcript of his speech is available here.
The Boston Marathon Bombing Trial begins on March 4. The trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in South Boston, Massachusetts. Finally here, almost two years after two explosions near the marathon finish line killed three and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev was sentenced to death by lethal injection on May 15.
On March 6, NASA Spacecraft “Dawn” becomes first to orbit a dwarf planet. In addition to being the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, Dawn also has the distinction of being the first mission to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. From 2011 to 2012, the spacecraft explored the giant asteroid Vesta, delivering new insights and thousands of images from that distant world. Ceres and Vesta are the two most massive residents of our solar system’s main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
On April 2/3, 148 people are killed, the majority students, in a mass shooting at the Garissa University College in Kenya, perpetrated by the militant terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. Heavily armed attackers stormed Garissa University early on Thursday, killing two security guards then firing indiscriminately on students.
Towards the end of April, on the 25, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake strikes Nepal and causes 8,857 deaths in Nepal, 130 in India, 27 in China and 4 in Bangladesh with a total of 9,018 deaths.
Early May, on the 7, convicted terrorist Omar Khadr is officially granted bail; much to the dismay of a large number of Canadians. Towards the end of May the CBC, Toronto Star, Al Jazeera and White Pine Pictures teamed up to create a so-called documentary entitled, “Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows”.
On May 22, Guinness World Records, could reveal an astonishing new world record in the field of future travel. Straight from something out of the future, Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru’s propeller-based hoverboard managed to travel a total distance of 275.9 m (905 ft 2 in) to achieve a new Guinness World Records title for Farthest flight by a hoverboard.
A severe heat wave kills more than two thousand from mind-April to June 2. Andhra Pradesh, a state on India’s southeast coast, is the hardest hit with 42 people having died there in the last 24 hours. Temperatures have hit as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) in some cities. If the death toll rises to more than 2,541, it will become the deadliest heat wave in India’s history and the fourth deadliest in the world.
The Obama administration on Thursday, June 4, announced what appeared to be one of the largest breaches of federal employees’ data, involving at least four million current and former government workers in an intrusion that officials said apparently originated in China.
In a dramatic but widely expected step, Greece formally defaulted on a $1.7 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund late Monday, June 29 / early Wednesday the 30, in Athens. The move came hours after the country made a desperate attempt Tuesday to halt its plunge into economic chaos by requesting a new European bailout. Greece asked for a two-year bailout from Europe, its third in six years. The bankrupt country is reported to be asking for 29 billion euros ($32 billion). Finance ministers discussed the request by phone and agreed to hold another call Wednesday, when Greece is expected to provide more details.
July saw Cuba and the U.S. reach an agreement to open embassies in Washington D.C. and Havana. The U.S. Embassy in Havana is scheduled to open by the end of July. The reestablishment of embassies is another major step in rebuilding relations between the two countries, restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time since 1961.
On July 5, Greece holds a referendum. Alexis Tsipras made clear he was against the “unbearable” bailout plan. Parliament is debating whether to ratify the vote, and some queues have been seen outside banks in Athens. Eurozone finance ministers are meeting to discuss the crisis, and to decide whether to give Greece an extension of the bailout until after the vote.
July 14 saw an historic nuclear agreement. Iran and the group of six nations, the United States, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany, reach a historic agreement to limit Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
The writs of Canada’s 42nd General 2015 election were issued by Governor General David Johnston on August 4 at the request of long-time conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The ensuing campaign was one of the longest in Canadian history and arguably one of the bloodiest. It was also the first time since the 1979 election that a Prime Minister strove to remain in office into a fourth consecutive parliament.
Militants from the Islamic State set off explosions at a temple in the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria, activists and government officials said on Sunday, August 23 continuing a pattern of destruction that they have visited upon historical sites across the territory they control there and in Iraq.
September 2 was a day that captured the world. The unfortunate death of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish ethnic background whose image made global headlines after he drowned on 2 September 2015 in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of the Syrian refugee crisis. Aside from Global outcry, Kurdi’s death had lasting ramifications for the Canadian election.
September 28 was a very important date for the future of space exploration. New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.
On October 19, the results of the 42nd General Canadian Election began to come in. This election resulted in the defeat of the Harper Conservatives. The Liberals under Justin Trudeau formed a majority government with a total seat count of 184 in the House; outpacing the Conservatives who won 99 seats.
October 21, 2015; the infamous date of the hit blockbuster, “Back to the Future”. It’s now the end of 2015 and there are still no signs of Marty McFly or Doc Brown. But at least there is substantial developments in hoverboard technology!
On October 23, Hurricane Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph (320 kph) and its central pressure fell to 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).
On another nefarious Friday the 13th, this time in November, when thousands of Paris residents and tourists were reveling and fans were enjoying a soccer match between France and world champion Germany, horror struck in an unprecedented manner. Terrorists — some with AK-47s, some reportedly with bombs strapped to them — attacked sites throughout the French capital and at the stadium where the soccer match was underway.
November 24 saw a Russian warplane shot down by Turkish forces. Vladimir Putin has called Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday morning, the first time a NATO country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria.
On November 30, some 150 world leaders gather in Paris for a United Nations’ Climate Conference. Over the next two weeks, 30,000 diplomats and delegates will labor to hammer out a new global pact that would, for the first time, commit nearly every country on Earth to enact new policies to reduce their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
A global climate change pact is agreed at the COP 21 summit, committing all countries to reduce carbon emissions for the first time. This agreement occurred on December 12. Traditionally, such pacts have required developed economies like the United States to take action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries like China and India from such obligations.
On December 22, SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 rocket, the first reusable rocket to successfully enter orbital space and return.
And of course, December 31/2015 will inevitably see the end of this busy year.
From the Canadian Common Sense team, we wish you, your family and the entire world all the best for 2016.