Sunday, December 31, 2017

AuthorSuite Foto-Synthesis

 Memories of the Year in Review

2017: A year of palpable madness & a few little idiosyncrasies... 

About this time last year, people were asking if it was the worst year ever, and for good reason: the world was facing increasing uncertainties. Brexit - Britain's guilt-ridden vote to leave the European Union - was followed by the election of a rabble-rouser, Donald Trump, as U.S. president. In the Old Continent, two frightening phenomena - terrorism and populism - were on the rise. But 2016, as it turned out, wasn't the worst year ever, perhaps neither was 2017. 

António Guterres 
Trump's inauguration
The year began with the arrival on the world stage of António Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister as the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations. On 20th January, a Friday, Donald Trump took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States. 

Trump with Flynn & Bannon
Twenty-three days later, his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, the first in a series of high-profile departures from the White House, resigned when it emerged he had lied about his contacts with Russian elements during the transition period. 

WH Counselor Kellyanne Conway
Other top figures ousted amid stormy days in the White House include Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, Communications Director, Antonio Scaramucci, Press Secretary, Sean Spicer,  and Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon. 

FBI Director, James Comey
These departures failed to calm things down in what appeared to be a dysfunctional White House, especially as the specter of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election continued to hang over Trump and his team. What was worse, FBI's unrelenting probe into the affair led to the sacking of FBI director, James Comey. 
Special Counsel, Robert Mueller

But the ouster, far from resolving the problem for Trump, resulted in the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller whose investigation seem poised to continue well into 2018. 

Theresa May

Meanwhile, in a Europe beset with an unwieldy immigration crisis and uncertainties over Brexit, two political leaders, Theresa May of Britain and Angela Merkel of Germany, were weakened by electoral misfortunes

Angela Merkel

But in France, there was a very different political reckoning. The emergence of Emmanuel Macron, a 40-year-old political neophyte with a new, untested political movement, annihilated France's scandal-tainted two-party establishment. In a year of rising populism, tensions were high and fear was rife. It was
Macron in a military vehicle up the Champs Élysées
a presidential campaign like none other in French history, and in a nail-biting finish, Macron defeated the populist candidate, Marine Le Pen to claim the presidency. 

2017 also brought the world closer to a nuclear conflict with North Korea's provocative test of ballistic missiles and the "war of words" between its leader, Kim Jong-Un and the U.S.
Kim Jong-Un of  North Korea
President, Donald Trump who nicknamed each other respectively, "Rocket Man" & "Dotard Trump." 

There were a number of heartbreaking celebrity deaths too, from Mary Tyler Moore who became a torchbearer for women with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," to Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame, to Ralphie May, Bill Paxton, Chuck Berry, Don Rickles, John Heard, and Roger
Moore, British secret agent James Bond in seven feature films, among others.

Celebrity deaths in 2017
Devastating hurricanes also struck, from Texas to  Florida, to Puerto Rico, causing upward of $290 billion in damage. Despite an outcry by scientists over the effects of human activity on the climate, the governing Republican Party in the United States continued to regard Climate Change as a hoax. And Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

San Francisco 49ers players 
Two hashtags - #TakeAKnee & #MeToo - which became powerful social movements against unjust killings of black men by the police and the sexual harassment of women,   made an impact, though, so far, only the latter has engineered a shift in social consciousness and caused the resignation of many influential politicians and public figures. 

In Africa, a former soccer
George Weah
superstar and the only African to have won the coveted FIFA Player of the Year, 
George Weah, was elected the 25th president of Liberia. And in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe who'd ruled the country for 37 years was ousted in the continent's most peaceful and camouflaged coup d'ètats. 

Another unexpected fall from grace, at least in the collective imagination of many around the world, was the Nobel Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi
Rohingya Moslems 
who, as leader of Myanmar presided over what the U.N. called a textbook case of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Moslems. 

2017 also saw the fall of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city captured by ISIS in 2014 where it declared a new Caliphate. The cost of liberation was high, nearly 40,000 civilians were said to have died in the fighting and about a million more displaced. In the Catalonia region of Spain, an unauthorized independence referendum
 Xi Jingpin
triggered a major political crisis that might haunt the country in the year to come. 

In the midst of all these, Chinese leader, Xi Jingpin, was named a "core leader" at the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress which wrote "Xi Jingpin Thought" into the party's constitution, an honor previously bestowed only on Mao Zedong.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle
On a lighter note, the year saw British singer, Adele, triumph at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards with an impressive five Grammy win. The royal family in Britain ended the year with a joyful piece of news when Prince Harry announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle. 

And...oh yes, 2017 was also the year of "The Great American Eclipse." 

   GOODBYE 2017!