As the year comes to a close, Top 10 lists pop up on every subject imaginable. One of the most common Top 10 lists typically examines popular news headlines of the year. An interesting twist is to compile such a list that predicts which stories will continue to be important in the coming New Year.
With that in mind, below is a list compiled by Bridget Johnson at the close of 2011 — presented, as Johnson did, in no particular order.
How correct were her predictions, and which stories may continue to be of import in New Year 2013?
Russia protests and election
In September 2011, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who served two terms from 2000-2008, said he would seek re-election in 2012.
Following the Arab Spring, his return to power inspired fears of a renewed, hardcore authoritarian regime. Tens of thousands of Russians protested with passion the last weeks of 2011.
Putin won the election and rejected demands for his resignation.
As 2012 draws to a close, Putin remains in power though large numbers of the Russian people continue to protest.
Putin is not a US ally. In fact, he has declared that the US has no allies.
The latest anti-American move by President Vladimir Putin: On 12/28/2012, he signed into law a ban on adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. This measure goes into effect 01/01/2013.
An overthrow in Syria?
On the heels of widespread Arab Spring movements, protests began in Syria against Bashar al-Assad on Jan. 26. 2011, which escalated to an uprising in March 2011.
To date, Assad remains in power, despite heavy internal Syrian conflict and civilian upheaval.
Assad “has repeatedly said publicly and privately, including in his meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus not long ago, that he does not intend to leave for anywhere, that he will stay to the end in his post, that he will, as he expressed it, defend the Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so forth,” Lavrov said. “There’s no possibility to change this position.”
The number of casualties in this civil war is estimated to be close to 60,000 at the close of 2012.
The struggling Euro
2011 saw Greece on the brink of a complete meltdown due to escalating debt (sound familiar?).
In 2010, the International Monetary Fund bailed out Greece to the tune of 110 billion euros, contingent on the implementation of strict changes.
Meanwhile, other European nations continued to struggle. The Euro seemed destined for extinction, and a complete European financial collapse eminent.
Miraculously, the Euro survived 2012. Barely. “Contrary to some expectations, the euro zone will end the year as it entered it—with 17 members.”
But will it survive in 2013?
The political posturing has been going on for years.
Iran and Ahmadinejad, self-proclaimed enemies of the West, and one of the most serious threats to stability in the Middle East, did indeed continue to be an issue throughout 2012.
Moving closer every day to producing a viable nuclear weapon, in November 2012, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had installed 700 new centrifuges at its fortified underground facility at Fordo.
Prior to 2011, Iran had already been enriching uranium to 20 percent and new equipment allowed the facility to double its output of higher-enriched uranium in 2012.
This is a story to continue to watch in 2013.
With decades of terrorist activities under his belt, going all the way back to the Carter administration and the US hostages held for 444 days, Ahmadinejad continues to be one of the greatest threats in the Mideast and the world.
North Korea Transition
At the end of 2011, Pyongyang announced that Kim Jong-il had died of a heart attack on December 17th. His heir, Kim Jong-un, inherited domain over the poverty-stricken country, while living in the luxury of his inherited wealth.
The transition itself seemed to go just fine. And then in early December, 2012, North Korea launched a long-range rocket that may have put an object in orbit.
Initial indications suggest the rocket “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the joint U.S.-Canadian aerospace agency, said in a statement.
Many nations, including the United States and South Korea, consider the launch to be a cover for testing ballistic missile technology.
The nuclear-armed North Korea has insisted its aim was to place a scientific satellite in space. Hmmm…right.
Another story-unfolding to continue to watch.
US involvement in the Iraq war officially ended in 2011 with the withdrawal of remaining U.S. military forces. What immediately followed? More internal upheaval and bombings around the country — much of which al-Qaeda took credit for.
And then we have the promised complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2014, even as the war rages on.
No security here.
As of October 17, 2012, there have been 2,012 U.S. military casualties in the war in Afghanistan and additional 118 fatalities in the broader Operation Enduring Freedom outside Afghanistan. 1,679 of these casualties inside Afghanistan have been the result of hostile action.
17,790 American service members have been wounded in action during the war. In addition there are 1,173 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.
Another story we must continue to watch as it unfolds.
U.S. Presidential Elections
In 2011, it seemed that President Barack Obama began his re-election campaign on unsteady ground. A faltering U.S. economy, widespread unemployment, and a host of other divisive problems clamoring at his heels, his re-election seemed – if not impossible, at least improbable.
The world was definitely watching throughout 2012, as Republican candidates were vetted and cast aside, leaving Romney as the sole Republican contender.
Well, we all know how this turned out.
After the 2010 Republican triumph, it seemed clear that the People had sent a clear message to Washington. Obama’s agenda rejected; a more traditional, conservative America had risen in stark defiance.
However, after a tumultuous presidential campaign, and what looked like a very close race, we are now faced with four more years under the thumb of the Obama administration.
As Obama moves forward with his Alinsky/Cloward-Piven driven agenda, we can only imagine the many ways our country might suffer, divide and fall over the next four years.
This, too, to be continued.
Al-Qaeda Moves “Forward”
After the much-lauded killing in May 2011 of Osama bin Laden, the mainstream media pushed the idea that al-Qaeda had been defeated. Obama was a hero. All was right with the world, but not really.
The 9/11/2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi told those who were paying attention, with resounding fury, that al-Qaeda is alive and well — and perhaps more dangerous than ever, given the extreme efforts by the Obama administration and mainstream media to divert attention away from, cover up, and completely dismiss this heinous attack.
The conservative media was not diverted, despite a laughable “official” inquisition, and a sadly desperate maneuver that ended the careers of honorable men such as General Petraeus.
A New Venezuela?
In power since 1999, Hugo Chavez has promised to fully implement a socialist society in Venezuela.
But in summer 2011, Chavez announced he had cancer and was undergoing treatment for a pelvic tumor. Chavez actually accused the U.S. of causing his cancer.
Chavez had surgery in December of 2012, and his health remains poor. How this story plays out remains to be seen.
Will Venezuela follow the route of the Arab Spring?
2010 was the year of WikiLeaks, but as predicted, 2012 was the year of Anonymous.
The hacktivist group terrorized big business and government in sophisticated ways that are difficult — if not impossible, at this point — to counter.
The international underground group first emerged with a number of “denial of service” attacks in 2008, and in 2010 staged similar attacks against companies opposing WikiLeaks (Operation Avenge Assange).
In fall 2011, some Anonymous members threatened to kill Facebook. On Christmas Eve 2011, the group hacked into intelligence company, Stratfor’s, client information, stole credit card numbers and gave $1 million in corporate customers’ funds to charity.
In 2012, Anonymous bloomed like the aftermath of an atomic weapon blast, attacking bullying, LGBT discrimination, corporate media, Israel, Muslim genocide, police brutality, election-rigging, surveillance, nationalist education, and of course Internet censorship — expanding both the range of its “causes” and the tools it deployed to defend them.
It is not an exaggeration to say that what we have seen from this unseen group is only the beginning.