Coronavirus is no longer the main news headline this year, which has seen enough problems to single out only one as the devastator. Global conflicts, controversies, humanitarian crises, and climate catastrophes have defined the last 12 months. Here are some of the most significant happenings from January to December 2022.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, escalating the war that has been going on since 2014. After the end of the Euromaidan protests, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and began to support pro-Russian separatists in Donbas against Ukrainian forces. Since then, both countries have been engaged in a conflict involving political tensions, naval incidents, and cyber warfare. However, according to US estimates, each side has lost over 100,000 soldiers after the military showdown this year. On the other hand, civilian casualties in Ukraine are reportedly above 40,000 and in Russia between 70-80,000. The war has also displaced around 30 million Ukrainians while millions live without water, electricity, and heating.
The effects of this war have also been reverberating across the world. Besides the impediment of post-pandemic recovery, the entire global economy suffers from rapid inflation and slow growth. The most vulnerable are the developing nations already experiencing a hunger crisis. Ukraine, the world’s largest grain supplier, is unable to export supplies due to the ongoing conflict. The disruption of the food supply has worsened the condition in Africa and the Middle East, the 2 regions severely reliant on grain imports. According to reports, 14 million people, mostly including children across Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, are struggling with starvation.
The conflict has also skyrocketed oil prices, which essentially means everything. As international sanctions on Russia widened, the global prices of oil and gas rose sharply. In response to the sanctions, Russia banned some key exports, including timber, vehicles and agriculture, electrical, medical, and telecom equipment, in nearly 50 countries. Entire Europe is at risk of facing gas shortages next year. So, it has been buying fuel wherever it can, leaving little for developing countries.
Regarded as the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is likely to remain a stalemate. Both parties will never accept each other’s peace proposal, which means the world will face prolonged consequences.
Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 at the age of 96. She ruled over 32 sovereign states in her 70-year-long reign. These states included the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The entire world watched the former Queen’s state funeral on live television. It was UK’s first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s death in 1965. However, the Queen’s funeral was much bigger than Churchill’s. Almost 2,000 attendees, including 90 world leaders, came to Westminster Abbey to bid final farewells. 142 Royal Navy sailors pulled the coffin as more than 4,000 military personnel paraded alongside. London’s landmark clocktower, Big Ben, tolled 96 times – once for each year of the monarch’s life. The remains ended up 22 miles outside London in Windsor, where her parents, siblings, and husband awaited.
The country went into mourning for 10 days after losing its longest-reigning monarch. The processions ended on September 19, which became a national holiday for many countries worldwide. Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles III took her place as the new King of Britain.
Political Instability in the UK
The Queen passed away amid a series of government crises in her home country. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a no-confidence motion due to the ‘partygate’ scandal and controversial appointment of a minister. Johnson was accused of violating COVID-19 protocols by hosting beer parties inside 10 Downing Street. Moreover, Johnson appointed an accused sexual harasser Chris Pincher as a Deputy Chief Whip. Such antics made him lose Tory’s support, leading to a no-confidence motion. He announced his resignation in July and left office in September, making way for Liz Truss as the new PM.
The ambitious PM only lasted 50 days in the office, creating an opportunity for some funny memes. Many started questioning her credibility after the September 2022 mini-budget, which led to the dismissal of Chancellor Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng. Truss faced increasing pressure from financial markets, which ultimately cost her support from her party members. Tories called for another contest and appointed Rishi Sunak as the new PM. It was a historic moment for UK as Sunak was its first non-white PM. The entire saga during Britain’s worst cost of living crisis received a loud reaction from the rest of the world.
Another significant event was the discovery of an ongoing outbreak while the coronavirus was already here. Monkeypox disease was already endemic in over 10 African countries. However, nothing becomes a global concern until it happens in the US, UK, or Europe. In July, WHO (World Health Organization) confirmed an outbreak after finding a cluster of cases in the UK. The first case was detected in London in May, where the patient had recently travelled from Nigeria. Further reports mentioned 4 more cases with no travel history from any country where the disease was endemic.
The moment marked the first time the monkeypox virus spread outside Africa. By June, the US also identified 45 cases in the District of Columbia and 15 states. Reportedly, more than 1,600 total monkeypox cases in the world were confirmed in 39 countries. The global health community raised concerns as the virus behaved differently than usual.
Monkeypox usually spreads through human contact with animals like rodents and primates. However, according to the study, most cases in 2022 were linked with human-to-human transmission. Several patients in the US were men who had sexual relationships with other men, leading health officials to warn against such contacts. The virus can also spread through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. The common symptoms may include fever, rash, and a lesion inside the mouth or on the genitalia.
Currently, there is no vaccine, particularly for this disease, but according to research in 1988, the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective against the infection. WHO also claimed that mass vaccination for monkeypox was not yet required.
Iran has been facing its biggest challenge since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The tragic death of Mahsa Amini on September 16 sparked one of the biggest protests this country has ever seen. Iran’s controversial morality police captured the 22-year-old girl for violating the country’s mandatory hijab law. According to the reports, her family alleged that they beat her many times, but the authorities denied the accusations. They instead claimed that the girl died of an “underlying disease”.
Many citizens refused to believe that statement and took to the street to demonstrate their anger with the authoritative regime. Protestors include people of different ages, gender, and ethnicities, with the same demands. They want to depose the Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, overthrow the Islamic Republic and make Iran secular.
Women are credited for starting these historic protests by demonstrating remarkable civil disobedience. Some burned their hijabs and danced around the fire, while others cut off their hair. Supporters from many other countries have been repeating the same deeds to show solidarity with Iranians. Moreover, there have been strikes across many educational institutions, markets, and industries supporting the protest. Other citizens often honk their car horns to support demonstrators walking on the streets.
Even the football team of Iran refused to sing their national anthem before their first World Cup match against England. Iran supporters also raised slogans against the Islamist regime outside stadiums in Qatar.
Iranian authorities have been dealing with the protestors violently. They blamed the US and Israel for these protests, accusing them of conspiracy to hinder Iran’s “progress”. Security forces have been arresting everyone supporting the ongoing protests. These include celebrities, athletes, civil society groups, lawyers, and journalists who have reported about Mahsa Amini. On the other hand, citizens have been shot for even honking their horns in support of the protests. The regime has deployed military troops and weapons to crack down on protestors.
There have been protests against the hijab since it was made compulsory in 1983. However, the public frustrations peaked in 2021 when new president Ebrahim Raisi intensified efforts to control women’s clothing. Besides the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini, the reasons for ongoing protests also include economic crisis, women’s rights, freedom of expression, and internet cuts.
Anti-government protests have also erupted in China against President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party (CCP). Several residents from various cities have taken to the streets to demonstrate their frustrations with the government’s controversial zero-COVID policy. The event presented the first big challenge to Jinping’s regime in over 30 years. Thousands gathered in peaceful protests holding candles and mobile lights to call for an end to mass testing and strict COVID restrictions. People confined to their homes have pushed over pandemic barriers and testing booths and clashed with police.
Frustrations with the zero-Covid policy have been boiling up for a while now. As the rest of the world returned to normalcy, China kept its citizens under lockdown for nearly 3 years. Residents claimed that there were many deaths and suicides due to the enforcement of the zero-COVID policy. According to reports, 27 were killed in September when a bus taking people to quarantine crashed. Then in November, a building fire killed 10, exacerbating public anger. Citizens blamed the President for the zero-COVID policy, which they alleged hundred rescue efforts.
On the other hand, the Chinese government accused “forces with ulterior motives” of conspiring to link that fire with its policies. It responded to the protests violently, as per the videos on social media. The police were seen beating, dragging, and pushing the protestors. They also made arrests and confiscated the phones of the protestors. The Chinese internet censored such videos, but they were able to make it to other platforms, such as Twitter. The Chinese police also arrested and hurt Edward Lawrence, a BBC journalist.
The protest runs simultaneously with the blank paper movement, which is against censorship. Many protestors were holding a piece of white paper with no writing. It represented the country’s rejection of free speech, which stopped the citizens from saying what they wanted to say. It is impossible to express dissent under Jinping’s rule, and protestors wish for it to be changed.
Floods in Pakistan and Africa
The world has been rocked by unexpected climate disasters this year. From June to October, Pakistan faced the most devastating floods in its history. The calamity affected 33 million people and took more than 1,700 lives. The victims were mostly poor communities whose livelihoods depended on agriculture and livestock. According to the estimates, total damage has exceeded 14 billion USD, and economic losses are 15 billion USD. The rehabilitation and reconstruction cost is estimated to be around 16.3 billion USD, excluding new investments to help Pakistan adapt to climate change and improve overall resilience against future incidents.
However, the situation is still evolving as the flood waters remain stagnant, causing various diseases. More than 8 million displaced residents are currently facing a health crisis. Children fight for their lives against acute malnutrition, malaria, dengue, diarrhoea, typhoid, and severe respiratory and skin conditions. Communities and charity organizations are working to assist the affectees.
This year’s floods also decimated Africa, the news which remained highly underreported in international media. The flooding affected 19 million people in 19 countries, including Nigeria, Niger, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Madagascar, and South Africa. The ongoing crisis has displaced more than 3.4 million and killed over 4,000 people. Nigeria was worst hit, with more than 610 deaths. Affectees have lost their livelihoods and food security and have been fighting over scarce resources. Nearly 1 million hectares of cultivated land have been submerged, destroying this season’s harvest. The floods also washed away soil nutrients, so the crops would be worse the following season.
Cleveland National Forest Wildfire
Climate change has effectively prolonged the wildfire season across the world. The fires have been getting warmer and burning a lot faster than before. As the duration gets longer, the frequency and damage area also increases. During the 90s, the average area burned by wildfires was around 3.3 million acres per year. However, Since the 2,000s, the amount has nearly doubled, reaching more than 7 million acres per year.
Throughout 2022, there have been 64,100 wildfires only in the US. According to reports, they have impacted more than 7.3 million acres, of which 3.1 million are in Alaska. Earlier in March, Cleveland National Forest in California saw an event called the Jim Fire that destroyed 500 acres of vegetation. Authorities announced that the incident posed no threat to lives or structures. However, the nature of the fire became a controversy.
According to reports, a couple visiting the area said they “heard an explosion” before seeing a thick cloud of smoke heading towards them. It sparked speculation that a human might have caused the fire. The forest authorities responded after several days, saying that Jim Fire was “accidentally” started during a wildlife habitat restoration project. So, it was indeed human-caused, but officials denied using explosives as part of the project. However, the cabin residents around the area received notices of a planned demolition job on dams. Forest authorities and US Marine Corps were partners in using explosives to blow up dams.
There were no casualties in Jim Fire, but 3 firefighters suffered minor injuries. It was difficult to contain the fire that raged on for 25 days, from March 2 to March 27. Eventually, it died down when its path went towards the nearby site of the 2018 Holy Fire, which scorched more than 23,000 acres and forced multiple communities to dislocate.
Change in US Abortion Laws
Supreme Court of the US changed the entire landscape of America by overturning the historic Roe vs Wade judgment. It rendered abortion illegal in multiple states, making the country angry. A series of protests have been going on since May, calling for restoring abortion rights. Around 44 states in the US have banned abortion, with a few exceptions of risk to life or health. Pregnancy due to rape or incest can be terminated, and fetal anomalies can also be aborted.
The victims of the court’s decision are women who will travel to another state for treatment where abortion is legal. Most women cannot even do that due to economic reasons. Almost 75% of abortion patients in the US live below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL). More than 50% of them are women of colour, and 60% are already parents. Yet, abortion remains a highly divisive issue in the US.
Elon Musk Buys Twitter
Elon Musk bought Twitter for 44 billion USD, starting a chain of events that remained among the top internet trends for weeks. This polarizing deal has seen over 1 million users leave the bird app for alternatives like Mastodon. Many expressed their unhappiness with this takeover well before it was finalized. Social media was rife with commentary on one of the richest people in the world owning a huge platform like Twitter. Musk claimed that his goal was to improve free speech on this site. However, critics doubted his agenda when he talked about restoring accounts of users who were banned for violating the company’s Terms of Service.
These users included the likes of Donald Trump and Ye (Kanye West), who were banned for hateful behaviour like encouraging violence and posting anti-Semitic remarks. Musk had also fired most of the key employees, including the CEO Parag Agarwal. He also laid off half of the staff, citing revenue issues. However, critics responded with a backlash accusing the billionaire of mostly firing politically left employees. Some of the executives he fired were also involved in banning Trump’s account following the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021.
The biggest controversy was regarding the change in the verification process. Immediately after taking over Twitter, Musk proposed to make the “blue checkmark” a paid feature. This mark differentiated between commoners, bots, and “verified users”. Users who already had the blue mark would now pay 8 USD per month to keep it. Many famous verified users, including Stephen King, felt that idea was ridiculous. However, Musk went with his plan and made it a premium feature under the Twitter Blue subscription.
Musk continues to remain under heavy fire due to erratic decisions. He recently threatened to fire more Twitter employees who allegedly leaked information to the media.
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup 2022 was probably the most talked about event this year. There has been an unlimited amount of controversy since before the kick-off on November 20 till after the tournament ended on December 18. First, there were many voices against a country like Qatar hosting the World Cup. The Middle-Eastern nation established a set of rules for the spectators coming to watch the tournament in the country. These rules included the ban on LGBT demonstrations and drinking inside the stadiums.
Moreover, there were widespread concerns regarding the treatment of migrant workers in gulf countries. Qatar also employs cheap labour from developing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines. According to reports, more than 30,000 such workers were hired to help build the stadiums. In 2021, embassies of several countries reported that 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar since 2010 when it won the bid to host World Cup. However, the Qatari government denied the reports as misleading and claimed that those deaths were not related to World Cup-related projects.
Football regulatory authority FIFA faced a massive backlash from other associations, journalists, and human rights organizations. They called out FIFA for failing to hold Qatar responsible for disrespecting international human rights. Many believe these things are normal for foreigners who must be allowed to do whatever they want at the matches. However, the counter-argument suggested that all visitors must adhere to the local laws. FIFA banned the use of symbols representing LGBT support and threatened to penalize the players if they failed to comply. Huge European teams like England, Germany, France, and the Netherlands display “One Love” armbands on their captains. They protested the decision to express their disappointment in not being able to support LGBT at World Cup. The fans were also not allowed to display rainbow flags and banners in the stands. Guards denied entry to those who brought LGBT promotion material with them.
FIFA President Giovani Infantino also responded to the backlash in a press conference before the first match. He criticized the western nations for pushing their agenda against Qatar. Defending the Arab country’s rules for the World Cup, Infantino called out critics for their hypocrisy. He said the western nations were in no position to give morality lectures to Qatar, considering their past and current behaviour. Adding that, they should apologize for what they have been doing for the last 3000 years.
Infantino’s statement supporting Qatar was painful for many. However, the attention soon shifted towards the action. Every single match charged the fans emotionally and physically. They got to see the biggest upsets in recent history as underdogs defeated huge favourites. It started with Saudi Arabia defeating Argentina in the group stages. It shocked the entire world as KSA ranked at No. 51 in the FIFA rankings, whereas Argentina was No. 3. More surprises were waiting for the fans in the next games. The tournament also saw Cameroon defeating Brazil, Tunisia outplaying the World Champions France, Japan topping Spain and Germany in the group, knocking the latter out of competition, and Morocco’s inspirational run throughout the World Cup. Ultimately, Argentina emerged victorious out of 32 nations competing for the coveted trophy. It defeated the powerhouse France in the final after probably the best football match ever. Both teams ended the 120-minutes in a 3-3 draw before Albiceleste made it 4-2 on penalties. A sea of tears followed after the match, simultaneously reflecting Argentine joy and French sorrow.
The controversy continued as the host nation Qatar covered the captain Lionel Messi in a bisht (Arab traditional cloak). Despite the cloth being translucent, the move attracted severe backlash from the western media.
NASA DART Mission
NASA marked a historic moment for the human race when its planetary defence mission came back successful. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) proved that humans can now change the direction of a celestial object with kinetic impact. The spacecraft launched on November 23, 2021, reached its target asteroid Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos after 10 months on September 26.
The rocks posed no danger to Earth before or after the collision. The test was only conducted to demonstrate that NASA was capable of protecting Earth from incoming asteroids. Before the impact, Dimorphos took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its parent, Didymos. Since the DART collided with Dimorphos, astronomers have been studying the change in the orbital period. The investigation revealed that the spacecraft’s impact reduced the time by 32 minutes, bringing it to 11 hours and 23 minutes.
The entire world applauded this remarkable achievement, as the requirement for changing the orbital period was only 73 seconds. The test reportedly cost 325 million USD. The spacecraft aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket was destroyed upon impact.
Winter Olympics 2022 in China received a polarizing response similar to FIFA World Cup 2022. The international multi-sport event began on February 4 in the capital city of Beijing. It has been mired in controversies over human rights abuses since 2015, when China won the bid for hosting. The US was the first country to boycott the Olympics 2 months before the start of the games. It refused to send its diplomats to China, citing human rights issues. Several other countries, like the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, and India, followed suit.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faces accusations of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. Hundreds of human rights groups came forward to mention more reasons for boycotting the Olympics. It includes Chinese repression tactics in Tibet, a crackdown on Hong Kong protests, and the disappearance of Peng Shuai (tennis star) from the public’s eye. They said that whoever participated in the China Olympics would be seen as an endorsement of CCP’s dictatorial rule.
Besides the diplomatic boycott, the US, the UK, and several EU nations called to move the Olympics to another country. Western elements also pushed athletes to boycott the games or at least make political statements. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prohibited such demonstrations and warned about repercussions for athletes who engaged in that behaviour.
Furthermore, activists pressurized corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola to pull their support from the global event. However, none of these things happened, and the event was a huge success in China. The host nation managed to grab 15 medals (9 gold), ranking No. 3 in the world for the first time.
Halloween in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been the most important location for global Muslims due to the 2 holiest Islamic sites, Makkah and Medina. The Arab nation has always followed a certain protocol in the Islamic world for decades. However, things have been changing in the recent past under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and his Vision 2030. The de facto ruler of the Kingdom has pushed many changes to modernize the country and separate the stigma attached to it for a long time.
In 2018, KSA made it possible for women to drive legally, and the following year it allowed them to travel without male guardians. The Kingdom also permitted theatres and cinemas in 2018, giving an entirely new experience to many of its citizens. Another huge change this year was the celebration of Halloween as a part of the Riyadh Season. The event called ‘Scary Weekend’ was held for 2 days starting from October 28. The entire Riyadh Boulevard was transformed into a costume party where visitors showcased local creativity.
Several pictures showing people wearing creepy outfits went viral on social media. It was a historic moment as the famous holiday was previously considered an example of western decadence. At the same time, the Saudi government received immense criticism from the rest of the Muslim world. Critics highlighted how the Kingdom prohibited the celebration of Eid Milad-Un-Nabi (Birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) yet went ahead with a pagan festival like Halloween.
The eventgoers told the media that they did not care if it was haram or halal; they were just there for the fun of it.
India Hijab Row
In February, some Muslim girls in hijab were denied entry to a junior college in the South Indian state of Karnataka. The college claimed that hijab was against their uniform rule, which every student had to follow. Girls and thier supporters carried out protests against the behaviour of educational institutions. However, a large group of Hindu students wearing saffron shawls came out in counter-protests calling for a total ban on hijab in educational institutions.
After a few days, the Karnataka High Court government issued an official order that all students must wear a uniform without the hijab. It meant that the girls who wanted to wear the hijab were forced to remove it against their will. In many cases, the teachers asked the girls to remove their hijab outside the institution gates.
After the High Court solidified the hijab ban in government schools, many girls were either turned away or did not appear for the board exams. Months later, Response to Intervention (RTI) revealed that 16% of the Muslim girls from government and aided colleges in Karnataka took transfer certificates. Some went to an institution where hijab was allowed, while others couldn’t take admission because of high fees. The move to ban hijab has also widened the social divide in India and increased fear for Muslims living in Karnataka.
The Assassination of Shinzo Abe
Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated in July while giving a speech during a political campaign. Security forces arrested 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, who allegedly shot the ex-PM twice with an improvised weapon. Several other weapons of the same kind were recovered from his home. The killer admitted that he had a grudge against the Unification Church (UC), to which Abe and his family were politically connected. Yamagami held the UC responsible for his mother’s bankruptcy in 2002 as she made exorbitant donations to the Church.
The news shocked world leaders, who expressed their distress on social media. Killer’s motive enhanced the criticism of the UC’s practice of running a fortune-telling fraud. It is a common confidence scam where tricksters posing as religious figures convince victims or “marks” that they are suffering from a curse and only their “magic” can free them. This allows the scammers to demand whatever payment they want from their targets. UC was accused of telling their marks to donate to the Church, or they and their family would burn in hell.
The assassination forced many Japanese dignitaries and lawmakers to disclose their connection with the UC publicly. Japanese government led by Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) reshuffled the cabinet and announced that it would no longer have any relation with the UC. It also warned to expel members if they did not cut ties with that Church. In December, the government also restricted the activities of religious organizations like UC and vowed to provide relief to the victims.
Abe was given a state funeral, which was met with a mixed response. The opponents of the state funeral organized protests outside government buildings. One elderly citizen self-immolated near the PM’s office after writing an anti-state funeral note.
England Wins T20 World Cup
England won the ICC T20 World Cup by beating Pakistan in the final on November 13. It was England’s second title since the tournament launched in 2007. After winning the toss, England elected to bowl and restricted Pakistan to 137 runs. British bowler Sam Curran took 3 wickets for 12 runs, becoming the player of the match and, eventually, the tournament.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi took the key wicket of Alex Hales, and Haris Rauf bowled Jos Butler to keep the game alive. However, after the nasty injury of Afridi, it all went downhill for the green shirts. Afridi’s replacement Iftikhar Ahmed suffered on the pitch as the captain Ben Stokes led his team to victory with a half-century and 6 balls to spare.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Divorce
The divorce between Kim Kardashian and Ye was finalized in November 2022, almost 2 years after the supermodel filed for it. He is eligible to pay 200,000 USD per month to Kim in child support. He is also responsible for paying 50% of thier education cost and 50% of their security.
The events leading up to the split between these stars were the highlight of social media for all the wrong reasons. The singer/rapper remained the lightning rod for backlash, from refusing to sign the divorce on time to sharing Nazi symbols on Twitter. Not only his wife but major social platforms, celebrities, brands, and banks publically denounced Ye. However, before all of that, his behaviour after Kim asked for divorce was a matter of huge debate for a long time.
Things between the couple got worse after a Saturday Night Live (SNL) programme when Kim shared how her divorce was proceeding. Ye reacted by accusing SNL of “making her wife say she wanted a divorce”, and he didn’t even “see the papers”. The rapper continued to rant on social media and make public pleas for Kim to get back together even after she filed to be “legally single”. Ye also shared a screenshot from his eldest daughter North’s TikTok and asked his followers what should he do about his daughter “being put on TikTok” against his will. On North’s birthday, Ye appeared in a video complaining that he “wasn’t allowed to know” where her party was. He continued that he was “taking control” of his “own narrative” and that he was being the “best father” and would not let “it” happen.
This behaviour prompted Kim to break her silence and call out Ye for his “constant attacks” against her. She said that Ye’s actions on the internet were more hurtful than anything North might do on TikTok. She also decried how divorce was already tough, and Kanye was still obsessed with trying to “control and manipulate” the situation, making it further painful. When Kim and Pete Davidson got close, Ye made outrageous remarks against the comedian on social media. He made many internet users uncomfortable and upset with his statements against the couple. They blasted Ye for potentially endangering his own family, considering his infringed fanbase. Kim and Pete later split and “decided to be friends”, while Ye got into more trouble. He started to blatantly express anti-Semitic views, leading to the loss of his financial arrangements and much more.
North Korea’s Next Leader
This year also brought increased attention to the future of North Korea (NK). For many years, political analysts have been wondering who would take over after Kim Jong-un’s death. It was a matter of speculation because reports revealed that the Supreme Leader was suffering from various health issues. Some of them include high blood pressure, inflammatory arthritis, and diabetes due to obesity and smoking. Kim’s family history also remained part of the debate as his father and grandfather both died of suspected heart attacks.
His 3-weeks disappearance in 2020 sparked rumours that he had died due to a failed cardiovascular surgery. He later appeared in front of the public, but the discussion regarding his successor carried on to date. Experts opined that the next leader would be Kim’s direct relative. The immediate attention was towards his sister Kim Yo-jong, but the state media published pictures that shocked the entire world. They showed the supreme leader with his 13-year-old daughter Kim Ju-ae visiting the military forces together. Another picture showed the little Ju-ae standing alongside her father and armed personnel in front of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). According to reports, she oversaw the test fire of the rocket with her father.
These pictures were seen as the promotion of the child as a potential future leader. Three generations of the Kim dynasty have ruled North Korea since its founding in 1948. Now, this new publicity campaign has hinted that it will possibly carry on for the fourth as well.
Latin America Elections
Besides winning the FIFA World Cup, Latin America has gone through historic elections and scandals this year. The massive leftward shift that began 4 years ago just became convincing after Brazil re-elected Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva as President. The veteran leftist made a stunning political comeback in a narrow victory over far-right Jair Bolsonaro. Before Brazil, several other nations across Latin America, including Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. Leftwing governments now rule 6 major economies in the region, leading experts to wonder if the legendary “pink tide” is back.
It may be early to predict if it’s the revival of the 2000s in Latin America when leftist leaders like Lula, Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales ran welfare programs to help the poor community. However, the current situation in Latin America is way different than before. After the end of the commodities boom, a constant threat of recessions looms over the region due to the inflated cost of oil and food. The new left may find little freedom as their predecessors in Latin America.
Lula is known for lifting 22 million Brazilians out of poverty in his first Presidency from 2003 to 2011. However, he faces incredible challenges in his second tenure. According to data from humanitarian aid organizations, Brazil’s growth rate is expected to drop by 1% in 2023. Almost half of its 214 million population lives in poverty, with 33 million suffering from hunger. Then there is a political divide as well where far-right movements remain active. Ever since the elections, tens of thousands of people have gathered in protest to demand a coup d’etat on Lula’s government.
Leftist leaders in other parts of Latin America have also faced a similar fate. In Chile, a former student activist Gabriel Boric made history after winning the highest number of votes ever for becoming President. He promised to make Chile the “grave of neoliberalism” by proposing a new constitution focused on gender equality, environmental protection, and indigenous rights. However, more than 60% of the Chileans rejected the new reforms by calling them “too radical”, sending the leftist government back to square one.
Colombia had always marginalized left-wing governments due to their perceived affiliation with guerilla factions. This is why a former freedom fighter Gustavo Petro becoming its first-ever leftist President was historic. Despite his ambitious policies to promote peace with the armed militants in the country, many view his alignment as suspicious. Political experts doubt that negotiating with all rebels is even possible. Since taking over as President, Petro has been busy dealing with infighting in his own party and cabinet.
Moreover, the new left is considerably more diverse than the leftist wave of the 2000s. Some differ on key policies, such as Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador focusing on expanding oil production while Petro vows to shift away from fossil fuel to green energy.