The Year’s Top Headlines
2015 has had no shortage of spectacular news stories. As I look back on the year that was, there are a few headlines that stand out of events that may change the course of history. Not to be dramatic. These are the ones most worth remembering (even if we wish some of them never happened).
“Investment flooding out of Canada at fastest pace in the developed world” (Calgary Herald, November 2) The price of oil’s continued slide may feel like good news at the pump, but on a macro level it means a glut of global supply, which leads to a reduction in capital investment in oil projects (and others), which means the loss of tens-of-thousands of jobs, a coinciding drop of the Canadian dollar (this week reaching it’s lowest level in more than 11 years) and a big strain on the economy. Alas, like it or not, the world is still heavily dependent on oil and that means the price will, at some point, rise again. Hopefully taxes earned by the imminent legalization of marijuana by our new Liberal government will ease the strain a tiny bit. We’re going to need the money.
“The world welcomes Justin Trudeau, Canada’s ‘super hot’ new leader” (The Globe and Mail, October 20) The election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is arguably a more significant story than any other Canadian leader since, well, his father. It’s been a long time since the world cared so much about us having a new PM (catch a profile of Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau in next month’s Vogue magazine.) And while it’s too early to tell what legacy Trudeau 2.0 will leave, it is clear he is setting Canada on a new path. The economy is the top concern of many Canadians and his government’s over simplification of tax numbers worries me (taking from the wealthiest and giving to the middle class turned out not to be a simple wash after all. Go figure.)
But I like the fact that Justin – it feels like we can call him that – seems like a with-it kind of guy, exuding youthfulness and optimism. And that matters. (Incidentally I was in a charity fashion show with Sophie several years ago. I speak from experience when I say she is warm and approachable.) And following through on the plan to bring more refugees here and to do it swiftly and with sound screening measures in place is a good sign.
” The refugees at our gates” (The New Yorker, September 8) Of course, 2015 isn’t the first time the world has faced a massive migration of displaced refugees, but it may feel like it. That’s partly due to today’s never ending news coverage. Still, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing war. They don’t only come from Syria, but also Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries. Some are stateless. Many are middle class people who had jobs and homes and they are putting themselves and their children at grave risk to escape. Babies are being born in refugee camps. They shouldn’t grow up there.
Some may not remember the wave of refugees after WWII because we weren’t born yet. But I have a personal connection to that one. My father was a “displaced person” when his parents fled Estonia in the early ’40s and they lived in a German refugee camp for a time. If it wasn’t for my quick thinking grandmother I wouldn’t be here today. (All refugee applicant’s were required to have x-rays. My father’s came back with a spot on his lung due to a serious fever he had as a baby. When immigration officials came to take a second X-ray my grandmother sent my dad’s younger brother in his place. No spot on his lungs and the family was deemed healthy and cleared for entry to Canada.)
Many Canadian citizens have a story like my family’s and it is part of the reason we need to open our doors now. My father put himself through university (attending Harvard no less), became an architect, a celebrated artist and raised five children who went on to become educated, develop careers and contribute to the Canadian economy. For goodness sake if it weren’t for my grandmother you wouldn’t have had The Shopping Bags!
“Clown Runs For Prez“ (Daily News, June 17) Apparently, if Donald Trump has anything to do with the future, the U.S. would close its doors to all muslims. Hard to believe in this day and age. Or maybe not, as he appears to be giving a voice to some small, disenfranchised section of the population. Let’s hope Donald has nothing to do with the future and that his bid for presidency is recorded in history as a simple and ridiculous footnote. (But still the mere possibility makes it an important story.) I suppose the upside is he’s got more people interested in politics. I am beyond curious to see how this one turns out. Go Hilary.
“The global fallout of the Ashley Madison hack” (France24.com, August 20) When personal details from the accounts of 33 million Ashley Madison members (a dating site for cheaters) were first dumped online for all to see I didn’t consider the reverberating fallout. I thought simply of those who have suffered at the hands (loins?) of philanderers and would-be philanderers and considered it a wink from the karma gods. “I only joined out of curiosity!” “I was only looking!” Please. And the revelation that almost all the members are men and many accounts that supposedly belonged to women turned out to be fictional was an eye opener that made me laugh out loud.
But the story goes much further than that. The revelations meant painful life changes for some. There were suicides attributed to the story. Some hacked email addresses ended in .sa which is Saudi Arabia, where infidelity is punishable by death. And if you needed another reminder, your online life is anything but anonymous. Don’t do things online if the exposure of such will wreck your life or someone else’s. (A good rule to live by offline too.)
Internet security is a concern for all. Be vigilant about your passwords strategy. (My LinkedIn account had an uninvited visitor recently who, in addition to snooping, sent out a rash of unwanted connection requests. Luckily I employ a crackerjack IT security consultant and it is remarkable what he was able to find out. A reverse hack! More on that another time.)
Here’s hoping for a peaceful, joyous and prosperous 2016 for all.