Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018: A Year in Review and A Look Forward

Well, another year has come to a close, and what an amazing year it has been. We've watched the Democrats retake the House of Representatives, the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as the new Supreme Court Justice, an mysteriously funded "invasion" of economic migrants seeking to find employment in the US (although some tried to claim asylum status), a promise by President Trump to begin withdrawing troops from Syria (where they shouldn't have been in the first place), a never ending investigation into Hillary's emails and Russian collusion, bipartisan arguments in Congress over whether the US has the legal rights to secure our borders, and more surprisingly, how it would affect our notion of national sovereignty.

Of course, issues like illegal immigration, the legality of so-called "sanctuary" cities and states, fake corporate news, income inequality, a strong economy and stock market (who attempts by former president trying to take credit for it), the rise, fall, and resurrection of ISIS all remain important topics of discussion for 2018 and will likely continue well into 2019 and beyond. Other issues such as the "Islamization" of Europe, together with a dramatic rise in murders, rape gangs, and the rise of the "Yellow Vests" protests in response of that and attempts to increase taxes on ordinary individuals to help pay the increased demands from the public trough.

The weather was also a key player in 2018, from the horrific fires---some 8527 reports--- which sweep throughout parts of California, destroying over 1,893,913 acres and costing $3.5 billion dollars in damage, make it the most destructive year on record. We've witnessed four straight Nor'easters in March which brought record winds and snowfalls along with record number of weather extremes, from heat and winds to snowfalls and cold, yet the lack of any serious out breaks of tornadoes.

2018 also saw a huge increase in volcanic activity, from Hawaii's Mount Kilauea, Fuego in Guatemala, Shinmoedake in Japan, Mount Sinabung, Mount Agung, and Anak Krakatau in Indonesia. Plus Piton de la Fournaise on RĂ©union Island, the famous Mount Etna in Italy, Villarrica in Chile, and the Mayon volcano in the Philippines, along with other 50 or so active volcanoes which usually erupt each year (there are approximately 1500 active volcanoes worldwide). As if that wasn't bad enough, there was 133 "significant" earthquakes according to the US Geological Service (a "significant" earthquake is one which can cause moderate to severe damage, usually starting at a 3.0 magnitude).

Many of these volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, trigger tsunamis or tidal waves, especially within the so-called "Ring of Fire", which is chain of active volcanoes encompassing the Pacific. Indonesia, home to 264 million people, saw over 2000 major natural disasters in 2018, mostly resulting from Volcanic activity, including one in Sulawesi which had waves close to 20 feet and another along the Sunda Strait which posted waves of 10 feet, killing hundreds and injuring thousands.

Aside from the politics and natural disasters, we lost approximately 61 notable celebrities in 2018 as well (is it my imagination or does the list seem to get longer every year?). Among those include noted physicist Stephen Hawkins, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara (the classiest First Lady in recent memory in my opinion), Arizona Senator John McCain, writer Stan Lee, playwright Neil Simon, actor Burt Reynolds, indomitable Robin Leach, the "Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, actress Charlotte Rae and actor Ken Berry, legendary performer Roy Clark, actor Tab Hunter, Evangelist Billy Graham, and the "Gunny" himself, R. Lee Emery (I just know he's standing watch in front of the Pearly Gates). I don't want to overdo it, but I want to make special mention of three other individuals who didn't get much mention in the media that also pasted away this year. The first is Naomi Parker Fraley and the other two are Willie Rogers and Wilfred DeFour.

Naomi was just one of thousands of ordinary women who stepped up and dawned coveralls and went to work in factories across American during World War II. But she was also special because Naomi was became the stereotype of those tough gals who worked hard and put in long hours to keep tanks and trucks rolling off assembly lines and the planes in the air. Naomi, you see, was the "model" for the famous "Rosie the Riveter", an icon of that era, and of the "can do" spirit of women everywhere. Sure, there were "Rosies" everywhere, but there was just one original "Rosie", and that was Naomi Parker Fraley. Naomi died at the age of 96 on January 20th.

Willie Rogers and Wilfred DeFour were both unassuming men who mostly kept to themselves. Rogers was active in his church, the Bethel AME Church in St. Petersburg Florida, while DeFour, who lived in Harlem in New York, was a retired postal worker. Both men, who happened to be black, shared something unique; something historical. Both were the last of the original Tuskegee Airmen, the famous 366th "Red Tails" Air Service Squadron of World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen were an all black fighter squadron whose fame as bomber escorts and individual fighter pilots made them legend, especially at a time when it was commonly believed that black men were incapable of flying, let alone fighter planes (just like women were thought to be unable to handle heavy construction work in the mills and on the production lines).

Both Rogers and DeFour were part of the ground crew. Rogers, one of the original members of the squadron, was a member of logistics crew and DeFour was an aircraft technician, and also painted the tails of the squadron red in order to make them stand out. Rogers died at the age of 101 on November 22 while DeFour died at the age of 100 on December 9th.

Lastly, Another Opinion. There was an awful lot to write about this year. Even now, we're dealing with a partial government shutdown stemming from a game at our expense over funding for a wall to prevent more illegal crossings which already cost taxpayers $116 billion dollars a year. Meanwhile, as the US prepares to withdraw from Syria, Turkey looks posed to move in which could trigger a response from Russia, who is Syria's chief ally, and since Turkey is a member of NATO and EU (technically, the Turkey-European Union Trade Customs Union), this could potentially draw Europe into a situation they want no part of due to the mutual defense agreement.

Meanwhile, things are heating up between Russia and the Ukraine over the Crimea as China flexes it muscle over who controls both the South and East China Seas, which is not only rich in fish, but oil and gas as well has having important strategic value. At present, the areas are disputed by Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The Chinese Government has even warned US warships to stay out, which will likely be ignored. Lastly, with the US taking the historical step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Israel has faced increased attacks from both the Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. If ISIS can reestablish its grasp in Syria (with both Russia's Putin and Syria's Assad have been trying to prevent), Israel could face being surrounded. As I said, not just was there a lot to write about, there's still a lot going on!

Finally, since this is the last issue for the year, I thought I would include the top five article of the year based on the number of views. Since I'm interested in writing about what interest you, my faithful readers, please take a moment and let me know what you'd like to see in A/O for 2019 in the comment section or send me a private email. So in closing, thank you one and all for taking the time to read and comment, as well as passing A/O along. Believe me, we couldn't do it without your support. Happy New Year everyone! We hope you have a wonderful, healthy and safe 2019!
Here's the top five articles for the year 2018:

5. When Kentucky Bluegrass Smells like Stinkweed: More Kentucky Corruption

4. Another Gas Attack in Syria: Truth or Consequences?

3. Millennials: The Road to the Future...Past?

2. Bluegrass and Green Dollars: Corruption in Kentucky Politics

1. Replacing Your Driver License With A National ID Card: The Day of Big Brother Has Arrived

2018: The Year in Volcanic Activity

USGS: 2018 Significant Earthquakes

Stars Who Died in 2018

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