By Tom Cushing
Biggest Stories of 2014: Global and CaliforniaUploaded: Jan 10, 2014
Earlier this week, we took a shot at identifying important national stories that may take further shape and dominate the news during the coming year. I haven't read the current responses in detail -- one of My stories of the year involves "making a living," and January always bumps-up the hormonal "T" score that Big Pharma wants us old gomers to ask our docs about (hooray). Based on their sources, I'm guessing they involve angry denunciations of any policies that might threaten our decades-long descent into a bi-polar culture of privilege and poverty, and eccentric other tales we might otherwise miss, respectively (tee hee). Almost anyone else want to weigh-in?
This edition of the RC will look for other stories, far away and close to home.
* -- the Middle East, outside of Iran and Israel: The widening war is Syria and environs continues. It seems likely that Assad will prevail, as the opposition is fractious, outgunned and may have ulterior motivations even worse than the dictator's. It's a horrible humanitarian catastrophe; perhaps the best that can happen, for the most people still standing, is for it to be over, soon.
* -- the Middle East, Israel and Iran: Will Iran honor its early interim commitments regarding its bomb program? Will we know for reasonably certain whether they have? If so, will a more definitive accord follow? How do the Saudis and other Arab rivals factor-in? Will Israel take pre-emptive action, or be content sabre-rattle and build settlements closer to home? This is a huge "stay-tuned" set of issues, with influence far out of proportion to the surface area of the region.
* -- Climate: there are a few stirrings that career climate warrior Kerry may be able to move emissions limits to the top of his agenda, especially as regards the US-China relationship as the world's premier emitters of greenhouse gases. Those prospects may hinge on the majority in the Senate, as well as events outside his direct control (read: Keystone Pipeline, approval of which would damage American credibility on the issue). If the issue catches-on (not 'fire') this year, action is likely in 2015.
* -- Europe: the EU economy is in worse shape than ours, based in Prussian insistence on methods of austerity just when public spending is needed to stoke demand. That phenomenon also exacerbates immigration issues, because recessions make folks cranky, and outsiders are easy targets for blame by cranks. There's a right-wing populism aborning in the old country, that may flare-up tragically. Royal backsides are also a safe bet for continued exposure.
* -- China: is this the year that Chinese air and water pollution become major acute health crises? Until that country internalizes the looming costs of its mid-century environmental practices, its headlong growth runs-up a huge tab with The Piper. Will he choose this year to collect?
* -- South Asia: It seems unlikely that a nuclear Pakistan will be able to keep a lid on its restive population. The implications are dire, for its people (especially the female half of the population), its neighbors and, by extension, everybody else.
* -- Latin America: will the Pope's new spin on Liberation Theology translate into public policy reforms on this continent, home of half the world's Catholics? If so, will anybody else notice? And will soccer be the biggest story coming out of this year's World Cup in Rio?
* -- the drought. This issue is on the list not only because the local news everywhere loves to scare us with weather, but also because this one's actually getting serious. It is the perfect staple of local telecasts you can use file footage, it affects everyone, you don't have to be right, and when you're wrong, you get another story to explain why, in gravely scientific terms. That said, we really do need a foot or more of rain, and soon my well water tastes like the Dead Sea.
* -- the lustre returns to the Golden State: Apparently, government by only one Party can work. Revenue's up, unemployment is falling and the tech sector is exploding with dough. Gleeful predictions of our demise have once again been exaggerated. You can go home now, Rick Perry I've lived in your fetid, laissez-faire hell, and the roaches are winning. Oops.
* -- the techie-fication of San Francisco: this generation of talented nerds has discovered that there is nothing more than climate and money to recommend the undifferentiated 'burb that is Silicon Valley; further, that money beats climate, and there's plenty of money in SF. Thus, they have invaded The City, armed with enough cash to choke a Cow Hollow. As a summer-of-love era guy, I'm not personally in favor of this latest SF metamorphosis, but then, it'll be Their city, just one not built on rock-n-roll, but stock-and-IPOal (sorry!).
* -- the train to nowhere, fast: I am hoping for an early and successful hunting season for this land-intensive, outmoded wild turkey. Bring on Elon's pneumatic tubes!
* -- After a two-year absence, the World Series returns to the Bay: the East side of the Bay, that is.
Terror somewhere sometime, abortion, sexual misconduct scandals (preferably with a large side-helping of hypocrisy), some unanticipated natural disaster, some over-hyped astronomical phenomenon that fizzles-out (or is it sizzles-out?), and the breathless war on [insert: someone's favorite Rockwellian tradition, chosen to inflame the elderly and/or gullible.
It's enough to make you want to pull up the covers and retreat back into 2013, which actually wasn't so bad, was it? So what are Your choices, and what have I missed?