End-of-the-year 2012

Written by  //  December 31, 2012  //  World, X-cutting Issues  //  Comments Off on End-of-the-year 2012

Photos: Aislin’s favourite winter cartoons
Aislin (aka Terry Mosher) writes: They say that winter 2012-13 will be colder than usual. Here are several of my favourite winter cartoons and sketches from over the years. Enjoy – and warmest wishes!

George Monbiot: Annus Horribilis
2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world
Emissions are rising, ice is melting and yet the response of governments is simply to pretend that none of it is happening
2012 was the worst year for the environment in living memory.
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half century.
Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic’s sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna – such as rhinos and bluefin tuna – were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening.
Their indifference was distilled into a great collective shrug at the Earth Summit in June. The first summit, 20 years before, was supposed to have heralded a new age of environmental responsibility. During that time, thanks largely to the empowerment of corporations and the ultra-rich, the square root of nothing has been achieved. Far from mobilising to address this, in 2012 the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful governments – the US, the UK, Germany and Russia – didn’t even bother to turn up.
But they did send their representatives to sabotage it. The Obama administration even sought to reverse commitments made by George Bush senior in 1992(4). The final declaration was a parody of inaction. While the 190 countries that signed it expressed “deep concern” about the world’s escalating crises, they agreed no new targets, dates or commitments, with one exception. Sixteen times they committed themselves to “sustained growth”, a term they used interchangeably with its polar opposite, “sustainability”(5).
The climate meeting in Doha at the end of the year produced a similar combination of inanity and contradiction.

Foreign Policy offers
The Stories You Missed in 2012
Ten events and trends that were overlooked this year, but may be leading the headlines in 2013.
Includes India Pakistan Trade Away — This year, however, the perennially feuding neighbors finally notched several key positive developments that had nothing to do with borders, nukes, or terrorism. In short, both sides may be realizing that political tension is bad for business.
Inuit Strike it Rich — An estimated 160,000 Inuits live in the Arctic, spread across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. In recent years, they have been increasingly politically unified through an NGO known as the Inuit Circumpolar Council, founded in 1977. In Canada in particular, Inuits have carved out significant political control over their territory.

Politico video 2012 Year in Review

Decoding the Political Buzzwords of 2012
(billmoyers.com) As the year draws to a close, we checked in with linguist Geoffrey Nunberg to get his analysis of the top political buzzwords of 2012. …
Like all campaigns, this one generated a bunch of nine-day wonders — words of the week or month like “Romnesia,” “Etch-a-Sketch,” “self-deportation,” “unskew,” and so forth. Others were more insistent — “dark money,” “SuperPAC.” When I was trying to pick a word of the year for my Fresh Air language feature, I was tempted by Romney’s “47 percent.” I think it stands for a shift in the language of class in American politics, as a kind of bookend to last year’s “one percent.” The right used to insist that there were no classes in America — even to mention the word was class warfare. Now they’ve drawn up their own battle lines in the middle.
But it’s a little misleading to focus on that one item — words really fly in flocks, and this one comes with “moochers,” “takers,” and “lucky duckies,” the repellent term coined by The Wall Street Journal about a decade ago, not to mention “gifts” and “goodies.” And in particular there’s “entitlement”— not a recent word, of course, but it figured a lot in the election, particularly after Ryan’s nomination, and it has been shifting its meaning in what I’ve described as a kind of semantic sleight-of-hand. Time was that “entitlement” was a positive word which implied that people had a moral right to certain government benefits. Bill Moyers recalls what LBJ said to the Republicans about Medicare: “By God, you can’t treat Grandma this way. She’s entitled to it.” Then the word got colored by the psychological meaning it has in “sense of entitlement,” where it implies an unwarranted claim to something. When people on the right talk about the “entitlement society” nowadays, there’s an unspoken “unearned” in the background; it evokes the “culture of dependency” narrative — “entitlement” has become just another word in that “47 percent” and “moocher” lexicon.
Lauren Feeney: So what did you finally pick for your Word of the Year?
Nunberg: I went with “Big Data.” Not everybody is familiar with it. It didn’t get the wide exposure of “47 percent,” but it was the talk of Silicon Valley and Davos, and it was all over the place in venues like Forbes, The Economist and The New York Times tech and business sections. And whether or not you knew what it was called, you knew about its effects — the software called analytics that chews over all the data we’re kicking up from our web surfing, our tweets, our purchases, our cable boxes, our Facebook pages and our cell phones. There are Big Data analytics behind a lot of the threats to our privacy — those ads that follow us as we move around the Web, the websites that sell or swap our personal information, the “stalker apps” that track our physical location — that has to be a strong candidate for creepiest word of 2012. And even more ominously, there are the security agencies that are combing over our travel and credit card records trolling for possible terrorists. Those have some people wondering if we’re moving in increments toward the surveillance state — just last March the Justice Department authorized agencies to retain for five years the personal data of people who aren’t suspected of terrorism.
But Big Data has also changed the way we do epidemiology, economics, sociology, even linguistics — and by-the-by, it was the superiority of the Obama campaign’s voter data and analytics that helped them overcome the Republicans’ financial advantages in reaching voters. So it’s not a good or bad thing in itself, but it forces us to rethink our notions of privacy and personal information.



December 21, 2012: End Of Mayan Calendar, Or End Of The World?




The Economist kicks off the deluge of messages with a clever and, naturally, informative contribution
Christmas countdown – The 2012 Daily chart Advent calendar
A round-up of the year’s most popular graphics and charts
WELCOME to our Daily chart Advent calendar, a collection of the 24 most popular maps, charts, data visualisations and interactive features published on our site this year. You’ll find one behind each door, with a new door available to open every day until Christmas Eve, when our most popular infographic of 2012 will be revealed. There’s also an entirely new graphic behind door number 25—a Christmas gift to all our readers who’ve been good this year.
So bookmark this page, and visit us again tomorrow to begin counting down the days (or for those who just can’t wait, we’re offering a sneak preview by unlocking the first door a day early).
Season’s greetings from everyone at The Economist.

Of course Google and Facebook have their own versions of events of import
Google Search 2012: The Top 9 Trending Topics Of The Year
The search engine’s Google Zeitgeist 2012 site is now open, inviting curious minds to explore the 142 trillion events, photos, trends, songs, gadgets and celebrities that captured our attention over the past 12 months. Google also released its annual video retrospective of the year’s most memorable search topics
Facebook Year in Review 2012
We took the pulse of the global community on Facebook in 2012 to assemble a series of trend lists, chronicling the top events, the most popular public figures, the most listened to songs on Facebook and more. These lists are available on Facebook Stories at FacebookStories.com/2012.

At Issue: The Year in politics — Best and worst in Canadian politics and the most significant news stories

Jennifer Jeffs: Open Canada Looking Back at 2012
As we look back on the major events of 2012 – the global financial crisis, dramatic changes sparked by the Arab Spring, elections in the U.S., Egypt, France, and Mexico, and a new leader named in China – I urge you to reflect on the importance of Canada’s engagement with the world.

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