The 2010s

העשור השני של המאה ה-21 – ויקיפדיהThe 2010s were the second decade of the 21st century. It was a time of increased globalization, political upheaval and rapid technological advancement.

The world economy recovered slowly from the Great Recession of 2008, but new wealth fell into fewer pockets. Neoliberalism prevailed as the dominant economic structure.

An earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, killing over 230,000, injuring 600,000 and displacing 1.5 million. It was the worst natural disaster of the decade.

Newsela | The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring: In 2011, protests erupted across the Arab world. Demanding democracy and a fairer economy, they overthrew the dictators of Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain. With US air support, Libyan rebels toppled Muammar Gaddafi but plunged the country into civil war. The new government failed to assert control and by 2020 Libya was a failed state.

In Syria, President Bashar Al-Asad fought tooth and nail to hold onto power. When rebels came close to winning in 2015, Russia saved the regime through a relentless bombing campaign. By 2020 only a few regions still hold out. Over 500,000 people have died.

ISIS caliphateThe Islamic State, an Al-Qaeda splinter group, took over half Iraq and Syria in 2014. In Iraq, they slaughtered over 8,000 Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and other religious minorities. By 2019 Kurdish and Arab militias had destroyed their short-lived ‘caliphate’ with Russian and American air support.

Russia, under Vladimir Putin, annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine fought Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

The War on Terror continued. As of February 2020, NATO forces are still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab threatened the safety of the Sahel and East Africa. In the US, more died from mass shootings than any previous decade. White nationalism became the leading cause of domestic terror.

China’s Xi Jinping rolls out the big guns for his European ...

China became the world’s second-biggest economy (overtaking Japan). In 2017 Xi Jinping (pictured)  made himself dictator for life and the strongest leader since Mao. China expanded its economic hold over the developing world through its Belt and Road initiative. Uighur Muslims became second class citizens.

Nationalism resurged across the globe. Hungary, Turkey, The Philippines, India, Brazil, and the USA elected authoritarian strongmen on populist conservative platforms. In 2016, Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s Brexit referendum upset the old balance of western democracy. Politics became more volatile and divisive.

iPhone X Software Secrets Revealed! Dock, Gestures & More ...Smartphones dominated the 2010s. Since Apple released the first iPhone in 2010, Chinese, American and South Korean companies have turned new models at a rapid pace. By 2019, over 3 billion people owned one. Smartphones of today include cameras, music players and constant access to the internet. We can now fit the sum of recorded human knowledge in our pockets.

Digital technology became the world’s strongest industry. Facebook went from 482 million users in 2010 to 2.5 billion in 2019 in addition to acquiring Instagram and Whatsapp. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world.

Leaps were made in progressive politics. 18 countries recognised same-sex marriage. Saudi women attained the right to drive and four countries (and 10 US states) legalised recreational marijuana.

Streaming services change the way we consume media. Instead of purchasing an album or DVD, we can now enjoy unlimited access to music, film or television through subscriptions to streaming services like Spotify or Netflix. The business model evolved in response to online piracy and dominated by the latter half of the 2010s, being much more popular with viewers.

Hip-hop, EDM and R&B became the most popular music genres.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ directors just explained some of the ...

Visual media developed significantly. Superhero films became the most popular cinema genre with Avengers: Endgame (2019) grossing over $858.4 million, the highest of all time. Following the likes of the Sopranos, HBO’s series Game of Thrones (2011-2019) showed what television could achieve with a big enough budget. Minecraft became the bestselling video game of all time. The Walt Disney Corporation acquired the rights to Marvel films, Star Wars and 21st Century Fox.

US stay is extended for 58K victims of 2010 Haiti ...

Major Natural Disasters

(Over 5,000 deaths)

  • 2011 Haiti Earthquake, 200,000 + dead.
  • 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami (Japan). 16,000 + dead.
  • 2015 Nepal Earthquake. 9,000 + dead

COLOR REVOLUTIONS AND GEOPOLITICS: The Technique of a Coup ...Revolutions:

  • Kyrgyzstan (2010)
  • Tunisia (2011)
  • Egypt (2011)
  • Bahrain (2011)
  • Libya (2012)
  • Ukraine (2014)
  • Sudan (2019)

Major Wars

(Over 10,000 casualties.)Siad Barre’s Fall Blamed for Somalia’s Collapse into Civil War

  • Mexican Drug War (2009 -)
  • Somali Civil War (2009 -)
  • Boko Haram Insurgency (Nigeria, 2009 -)
  • Syrian Civil War (2011 -)
  • Northern Mali Conflict (2012 -)
  • 2014 Israel-Palestine Conflict (2014)
  • War in the Donbas (Ukraine, 2014 -)
  • Iraqi Civil War (2014 – 2017)
  • Yemeni Civil War (2015 -)

Myanmar Follows Global Pattern in How Ethnic Cleansing ...Genocides: 

  • Rohingya Genocide (Burma, 2017), 24,000+ killed
  • ISIS killing of Christians, Shiites and Yazidis (2014), 8,000+ killed

New countries:

  • · South Sudan (2011)

New Technology

  • Smartphones
  • Cryptocurrency
  • AIDS treatment
  • Self-driving cars
  • 3D Printers
  • 5G network

Extinctions: Animal | Connie's Blog

  • Eastern cougar (2011)
  • Japanese river otter (2012)
  • Pinta Island tortoise (2012)
  • Cape Verde giant skink (2013)
  • Formosan clouded leopard (2013)
  • Bermuda saw-whet owl (2014)
  • Christmas Island forest skink (2017)
  • Western black rhinoceros (2018)
  • Bramble Cay memomys (2019)

Sources: Al Jazeera, The Balance, Counter Extremism Project, Cnet, I Am Syria, Mint Hill Times, Statista, Vox, Wikipedia

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The Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

What happened in Sri Lanka? 30 dead and 283 wounded in ...The Sri Lanka Easter Bombings killed at least 359 people and wounded over 500 on Easter Sunday, 2019. Suicide bombers coordinated seven attacks in churches and hotels across Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo and three other cities. Sri Lankan authorities claim an Islamic State-affiliated group were behind the attacks, which specifically targeted tourists, businessmen and Christians.

Seven bombs were detonated over the day. They targeted:

  • St Antony’s Shrine, Colombo. 8.45 am. 100+ dead.
  • St Sebastian’s church, Negombo. 8.45 am
  • Shangri-La hotel, Colombo. 8.45 am
  • The Kingsbury hotel, Colombo. 8.45 am
  • Zion church, Batticaloa 9.05 am
  • The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. 8.50 am
  • Tropical Inn guesthouse, Colombo. 1.45 am

Most victims were Sri Lankan nationals. At least 38 foreigners and 45 children died, most of whom were attending Sunday school at Zion church.

Denver man among victims in Easter bombings in Sri Lanka ...Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency in response. An immediate curfew and a social media lockdown were imposed to prevent further coordination and the spread of rumours. Police found over 80 detonators and a van filled with explosives throughout Colombo later that day. When they raided a bomber’s home, his pregnant wife detonated her suicide vest, killing herself and three officers. Police have arrested 76 suspects so far.

In a press release, Islamic State (IS) shared a photo of the seven suicide bombers and claimed responsibility. Their stated aim was to kill citizens of the US and the anti-IS coalition, despite the fact Sri Lanka was never involved in Iraq or Syria and most of those killed were Sri Lankan. 32 Sri Lankans had joined IS as of 2016.

Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Terror Attack ...National Thoweed Jamaath (NTJ), a little known Sri Lankan terror cell, are said to be behind the attack. Previously known only for desecrating Buddhist statues, the NTJ swore allegiance to IS in 2016. Their leader, an extremist Wahhabi cleric named Zahran Hashim (pictured), is believed to have masterminded the Easter bombing. Although all suspects are Sri Lankan nationals, officials suspect the attack was coordinated and funded with foreign support – the NTJ being ‘outsourced’ by IS. The identified suicide bombers were affluent and well educated, one of whom studied in Australia. Two brothers, Ilham and Inshaf Ibrahim, were sons of Colombo’s biggest spice exporter.

70% of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are Buddhist, 12%, Hindu, 10% Muslim and 7% Christian, mainly Roman Catholic. Though Sri Lanka has suffered terrorism and political violence before, mainly at the hands of the separatist Tamil Tigers, this is the first act of Islamist extremism and the first terrorist attack to target churches. Sri Lanka’s 25 year long civil war, which claimed 100,000 lives, ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka’s leading Muslim organisations issued a joint statement which denounced the bombings and urged ‘maximum punishment for everyone involved in these dastardly attacks.’ Sri Lankan Muslims fear the incident will empower anti-Muslim hardliners in their country. Only last year a state of emergency was declared when Buddhist and Muslim mobs clashed in two cities.

Defense Minister Wije Wijerwardene claimed the attacks were revenge for the New Zealand mosque shooting on March 15th, which took 50 lives. NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern disagrees, however, stating the Sri Lanka bombings were too sophisticated to be organised in such a short period of time.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said he would oversee a 'complete restructure' of police and security forces in 'coming weeks' [File: M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA]According to Reuters, the Indian foreign ministry warned Sri Lankan officials about a possible terror incident on April 4th, and about an impending one two hours before it happened. Why they failed to act is unknown, but President Maithripala Sirisina (pictured) has promised to make ’complete restructure’ of police and security forces over the coming weeks’.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Associated Press, BBC, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Gulf News, The New York Times, Reuters, The Telegraph, Washington Post

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2018 Predictions Reviewed

Image result for soothsayerOne year ago I made ten predictions for 2018. This is how they turned out.

1. The Democrats will win a senate majority in the 2018 midterms

The Democrats did well, but not as well as I expected. The Republican Party maintained a majority in the Senate but lost the House of Representatives. Wrong.

2. Bitcoin will suppress 20,000 USD

Oh how I was wrong about this one!! The Cryptocurrency market crashed hard in 2018. Instead of growing to 20,000 Bitcoin, which peaked at $10,000 in December 2017, plummeted to 3,200 in December, dragging most other cryptocurrencies down with it. The market has yet to recover. Wrong.

3. The USA will suffer its largest mass shooting in history.

The US suffered a horrifying 323 mass shootings in 2018. Parkland, which took 17 lives, overtook Columbine as the deadliest high school shooting in US history, but did not surpass the 2019 Las Vegas Shooting in deaths. Wrong.

4. New Caledonia will vote no to Independence

 In November the French Pacific colony of New Caledonia voted against independence 56-44. Right

5.Vladimir Putin will win the Russian Election

This one wasn’t much of a prediction. Authoritarian strongman Vladimir Putin won his second consecutive term (and fourth overall) with 77% of the vote. Whether or not the Russian system is truly democratic, no one could have filled his shoes. Right.

6. The Social Democrats will win the Brazillian Election

Not even close. Jair Bolsanaro, the so called Trump of the Tropics’ and his Social Liberal Party won with 50% of the popular vote. The Social Democrats came a distant 5th place. Given the global slide to right wing populism I should have seen this coming – looks like I didn’t do enough research! Wrong.

7. Artificial meat will be available in supermarkets

Cultured meat made leaps and bounds in 2018 but is yet to be commercially available. 20 companies are manufacturing their own cultured meat, which may appear in supermarkets over the next couple of years. Wrong.

8. Bashar al Assad will win the Syrian Civil War.

Not quite. ISIS is all but defeated but regime forces are still fighting rebel groups in Idlib province while Kurdish led militias control the northeast. Wrong.

9. The Islamic State will launch an insurrection in Southeast Asia

Thankfully this did not happen. Philippines forces clashed with Islamist militants in July and an ISIS affiliated faction killed 28 in a church bombing in Surabaya, Indonesia in May. There was, nothing, however,  to the scale of the 2017 Battle for Marawi. Wrong.

10. Bangladesh will declare war on Burma

Though Burma’s genocide against the Rohingya Muslims continues no foreign power has intervened. Wrong.

Only two of my ten predictions were correct. Looks like a career in soothsaying is not for me!

See Also:

2018 Predictions

predictions soothsayer.jpg

These are events that I think will happen this year. I am not Nostradamus, I am not Cassandra, nor do I have a crystal ball. I am not even an expert. These are simple educated guesses and nothing more. Godwilling I will review my predictions in December so long as I don’t fall victim to the impending nuclear apocalypse.

Disclaimer: This list is only speculation. Planned Events certain to occur, like Russia hosting the Fifa World Cup, are not included. Note these are not all positive: just because I think they will happen, does not mean I want them to!

1. The Democrats will win a senate majority in the US Midterm elections

Public confidence in the current administration is low. Donald Trump has the worst average approval rating of any modern president and the Democrats have already won Alabama, the reddest of red states. This does not bode well for the incumbent Republicans, who only hold a slim majority of 51% as is.

2. Bitcoin will surpass 20,000 USD 

Altcoins too will grow in value, with runner up Ethereum reaching 2,000 USD a coin.

3. The USA will suffer its largest ‘mass shooting’ in history

The Pulse Nightclub Shooting took 50 in 2016, the Las Vegas Shooting 59 in 2017. The pattern may continue.

4. New Caledonia will vote no to Independence

The 1998 Noumea Accord stipulates that New Caledonia’s second independence referendum is to be held by November 2018 at the latest.

New Caledonia outstrips other, independent, Pacific islands economically because of French support. New Caledonians, Caldoches and Kanaks alike, simply have too much to lose.

5. Putin will win Russia’s March 2018 Election

This one is obvious. Other autocrats like Egypt’s Abdul Al Sisi, Thailand’s Prayut Chan-o-Cha and Cambodia’s Hun Sen will also be reelected.

6. Social Democrats will win the Brazilian Election

Less certain. Former president Lula de Silva of the Worker’s Party currently tops the polls but faces a pending criminal conviction over the Petrobas Corruption Scandal. Unless overturned, Lula will be ineligible to run for president. This leaves the runner up Social Democrat Party in a promising position, providing they select the right candidate.

7. Artificial Meat will be available in supermarkets.

The first cultured meat burger was tested in 2013. Memphis Meats may not plan public release til 2021, but they have only raised $3 million towards research so far. Competitor Hampdon Creek has already raised over 120.

8. Bashar Al-Asad will win the Syrian Civil War.

This may seem unlikely, but with ISIS out of the picture it’s only a matter of time before the regime emerges triumphant.

9. The Islamic State will launch an insurrection in Southeast Asia

As their caliphate crumbles in the Middle East, the Islamic State looks to new frontiers – specifically East and West Africa, Central and South East Asia.

IS is already spreading its seeds in the later: Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino fighters are returning home to radicalise their friends while existing insurgent groups unite under the Black Standard.

The ongoing plight of the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar will prove effective propaganda and the dispossessed will rally to their cause. Marawi’s 2017 violence was only the beginning.

10. Bangladesh will declare war on Burma

Since a standoff with its neighbour in 2007, Bangladesh has purchased Chinese tanks, Russian missiles and helicopters in preparation for a possible war. They are expecting 100 Turkish armoured vehicles this year.

With tensions heated by border violence and thousands of refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing, Bangladesh warned in September that further provocations will trigger ‘unwarranted consequences.”

The last Southeast Asian genocide was only prevented when the Vietnamese invaded. Perhaps Bangladesh will do the same.