2016, it was a very good year.

It got off to a great start with a push from the United Nations, who declared it International Year of Pulses. From the Wikipedia page dedicated to the cause:

  1. Pulses provide a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe, ensuring food security.
  2. As part of a healthy diet high in fiber, pulses fight obesity.
  3. Pulses also prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions, and cancer.
  4. Pulses are an important source of plant-based protein for livestock.
  5. Pulses pull nitrogen from the air into the soil, increasing soil fertility.
  6. Pulses use less water than most other protein crops, making them a sustainable agricultural choice.
eight_col_02-flaming-2016

From Toby Morrison and Toby Manhire at Radio New Zealand. Used without permission but with maximum respect!

In other food news, it was a great moment for livestock when heavy hitting environment writer George Monbiot came out as a part time vegan, not out of taste, or any sense of animal welfare, but because – as every environmentalist knows – the planet simply can’t afford to keep dishing up animal protein to humans any longer. So, actually, it was a good day for everyone when he did that, including all the non humans who will benefit from his reduced footprint.

In February, North Korea launched a long range rocket into space. Awesome! They incurred the wrath of the United Nations, but then, they were already out the back door with that lot, so who cares. OK, it sucked for the rest of the world to see North Korea kick its nuclear programme along, but I never said this was going to be all about everyone-except-the-North-Koreans, did I? Anyway, we’ve got our own Rocket Lab, so there.

In March, Congolese Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba was found guilty of war crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. The war crimes were hideous. But the case outcome was described by a director at Physicians for Human Rights (via the Guardian) as “a critical turning point for the thousands of men, women and children who were victims of Bemba’s orchestrated campaign of rape and murder.” Significantly, it was the fist verdict within the ICC to “recognise rape as a weapon of war.” Which also meant it recognised the act of rape within the command structure with front line assailants acting under Bemba’s authority.

Bemba got 18 years. The same month, former Serbian leader Radovan Karadjic copped 40 years for his part in the Bosnian war.

Slightly less great, from the point of view of most people, was the Brussels bombings in March by what I think is called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. But of course, it was great for them. I never said this would be all about everyone-except-Daesh. I wonder how many Daesh guys will ever end up in front of the ICC. Hopefully, lots.

In April, Nicky Hager and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists broke out the foreign trusts documents. Again, it was one of those good things (knowledge, awareness and the impetus for change) that came out of a bad thing (places like New Zealand creating laws especially designed to facilitate the laundering of improperly secured moneys).

That may become a bit of a theme for 2016. Dark clouds and silver linings. Prevailing justice.

In June, Britain voted to leave the EU. That’s “great” in the sense of being “huge”. But not in any other way as far as anyone can tell. In fact it might not even be legal, or even possible. So, not that great at all, really.

Speaking of Rockets, NASA put a space craft into orbit around Jupiter. That’s cool, and we’ll need a bit of cool stuff, because Trump’s just announced he’s closing down NASA’s climate research. Fuckin’ eh!

Then, in August Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took the gold medal in the 49er class at the summer Olympics. I rather love these two. They’ve won every event in their class since the last Olympics, in which they got silver. In 2012, gold went to Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. The win matters, because Outteridge and Jensen sail in key positions in team Artemis, who compete against Burling and Tuke in the America’s Cup, so it’s nice to have them squared away firmly in second place.

I know, there were some other good wins in the Olympics too. Fiji. Yay. So much for sport. I hate boxing. But that’s another song.

In September, there was quite a bit of clapping due to COP 21 climate accord in Paris, which even got the US and China onside. That was great. But now it appears that America is going to shit-weasel the whole thing. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

On September 28, CO2 levels exceeded 400 ppm, a suspected new all time high.

November 8, Donald Trump. Like Brexit, Trump is the wrong solution to the right problem. His protestations about a corrupt political industrial complex were bang on, even if he is part of them, as such brain boxes as Noam Chomsky have discussed (but not in reference to Trump). Chomsky’s contributions, both in his writing and in his recent film, are along the lines that we’re now witnessing a sort of endgame of civilisation, or, as Jello Biafra once put it, “bedtime for democracy.”

Oh, this just in. “I wouldn’t compare [Trump America] with Weimar Germany. Hitler was a sincere, dedicated ideologue.”

I’m not going to tell you what’s wrong with Trump or Brexit. You know what’s wrong with them both. What’s right with them is that millions of disaffected people felt a surge of power and kicked the shit. Sure, it’s a lousy outcome. But it felt good to those people.

Trump’s victory of course was also a bad day for democracy. New Zealand went through all that years ago, when Muldoon won more than one election with – like Trump – less than the majority of votes. Good luck taking that message to them.

America needs electoral reform, and so do lots of countries, including England (or whatever that place is called). But the only reform America is likely to get right now is a constitutional amendment abolishing the two-term presidential limit.

And then, just over a week ago, something really great really did happen. A Prime Minister who did enjoy a strong public vote resigned for no apparent reason. John Key was nothing but bad for New Zealand. Under his watch, public assets got flogged, eradicating debt but reducing income by more, costing the country a net $94m a year.

Womens refuge centres and support services for family violence were closed down or forced to shut under budget cuts.

Farmers have polluted and been allowed to continue doing so. Although Labour were the first to get that ball rolling.

Inquality has flourished under John Key. Then he shit-weaselled his own party!

His resignation is a good thing. On the few occasions when John let Bill English off the leash, I’ve thought he doesn’t always sound like he’s talking complete tosh (of which John Key was the master). But then, he is apparently the economic architect of the current economy, so, so much for him.

I’m glad John Key’s gone, I think Bill will provide a stable pair of hands until whenever the election is. I think most people will see through him and his repulsive deputy (I mean, politically repulsive, like, she repulses anyone from taking the same career trajectory she did).

And I look forward to a change of government sometime in 2017. That’s a really great year.

 

 

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