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Plunder and Blunders: A year in review for 2002

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
December 26, 2002


"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: Of Shoes, and ships, of and sealing wax. Of cabbages, and kings…" — Lewis Carroll

Every year, usually between X-mas and Dick Clark's Rocking' New Year, I indulge myself with observations of the year gone by. Like my annual column for International Buy Nothing Day, this trip down short-term memory lane, is both fun and informative. So Let's begin.

2002 is best described as a year with the world at war. Of course it only appears the United States government is at war with the world, but that's splitting hairs. Globalization has a tendency to blur boundaries so it becomes very difficult to adequately assess who is bombing whom. January found Operation Anaconda in full fury with daisy cutter bombs reducing Afghanistan to piles of dust.

Also marking an ominous start of the year was nuclear sword rattling on the part of India and Pakistan. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israeli military was waging war against the Palestinian people with tanks and F-16 warplanes. In Cuba, U.S. forces were building Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay, while in Washington Enron and Authur Anderson were playing the blame game for a delighted media.

Representing both good and bad news, In January Surfer magazine named Encinitas one of the world's best surf towns. This is good news as it validates what residents have always known. The bad news is such announcement will probably result in an increase in population and overcrowded surf breaks.

February was an extremely gruesome month, complete with incomprehensible overdose of sensationalism. In Pakistan, the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal Correspondent Daniel Pearl, was overshadowed by the abduction and murder of Danielle Van Dam in San Diego's Sabre Springs neighborhood. Local media reached an all time low trying to drag the murder child's parent through the mud.

March was ripe with talk of dirty bombs, because the Bush Administration decided America needed something else to be afraid of. So not only did we have to confront the possibility of shoe bombs, we now have suitcase bombs to worry about as well. Something else to worry about, which is not getting due attention, was the collapse of the Larsen ice shelf in Antarctica due to global warming. Oh yes, Penguins are now an officially endangered species.

April was a very interesting month, starting with California beaches being besieged with millions, if not billions, of dead jellyfish. Other news from the Pacific was the discovery of a new species of California Beaked whale. There were terrorist bombings in the Philippines, a failed military Coup in Venezuela, a national sex abuse cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church, and the very controversial thong gate at Rancho Bernardo High School. And for Earth Day 2002, George W. Bush chopped wood.

Pipe bombs in Iowa mailboxes marked the month of May. The remains of Chancre Levy were found in a Washington park mid-month, Israeli troops pulled out of Bethlehem, and nuclear neighbors Pakistan, exchanged heavy weapons fire. At the end of May, President Bush, campaigning for his brother Jeb, anted up $235 million in federal funds to protect Florida's Everglades and beaches from oil and gas drilling, something denied the state of California.

In June, the Bush Administration's choice, Hamid Karzai, was selected as leader of Afghanistan's fledgling government in Kabul. North and South Korea exchanged weapons fire, and the war on terror gave up looking for Osama bin Laden, and turned its attention to regime change in Iraq. An Arizona arsonist started the summer fire season, which George Bush and Gayle Norton quick to blame environmentalists for wild fires.

July was notable for congress approving sending the nation's nuclear waste to Nevada for unsafe keeping, and the official return of El Nino. August saw fires threaten Julian and the Cleveland National forest. September was dominated by the fall campaign kicking into high gear.

October marked the apex of Southern California's water war. Two snipers played cat and mouse with law officials on the east coast, and North Korea rejected demands they abandon their nuclear weapons plan. November, not a good month for the environment, had Republicans take control of all branches of the federal government. In the Atlantic, an oil tanker broke apart off the coast of Spain, resulting in an ecological disaster.

December brought our year at war full circle, with Iraq trying to fend off a rogue nation bent on its destruction. Venezuela was still experiencing political and economic chaos, and President Carter was finally awarded the Nobel peace prize. Getting the most press however was Diane Sawyer's interview with Whitney Houston.

Obviously our priorities are still intact.

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