2016, the Year of Russia, when President Vladimir Putin, ending the year with an 87 per cent approval rating, showed that by using diplomacy, by following international law and by stamping down hard on terrorists you gain respect, see sensible policies followed through and call out the bad guys for who and what they are. 2016 was the Year of Russia.
Brazil was firmly on the map of 2016, for good and bad reasons. Had it not been for the good governance of the Partido dos Trabalhadores under Lula and Dilma (two terms and one and a half terms, respectively) before a coup d'état cooked up in the USA for new president Temer to sell off Brazil's resources cheaply, Brazil would never have been on the map at all.
Lula and Dilma's social policies pulled millions out of poverty, increasing employment and distributing wealth until the media, selling lies about the economy, colluded with Brazil's right-wing political factions who endemically look to feather their own nests, destroying social programs and throwing millions back into poverty.
On January 28, the World Health Organization confirmed that there was an outbreak of Zika Virus in Brazil in the run-up to the Olympics, a pandemic which reached all of the Americas and South-East Asia before being declared over in November. By then it had alarmed the scientific community which just three years before knew very little about the disease, (isolated for the first time in Uganda in 1947) and what was discovered in the 1.500 papers published on the disease was worrying: it is not yet clear quite how dangerous it is but there are signs it could be responsible for cases of microcephaly and can be transmitted not only by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the globalized vector of disease but also from human to human. Watch this space.
The Zika outbreak also saw Pope Francis make a meaningful statement about it not being a cardinal sin for women to delay getting pregnant for the time being in areas where the disease is prevalent - a more pragmatic stance by the Vatican in changing times.
The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church came together with Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill signing the Ecumenical Declaration on February 12, the first such meeting of the leaders of these churches since the Great Schism of 1054 which split the church between the Latin West and the Greek East. The Declaration focused on common challenges and called on the faithful to work together to overcome them.
2016, a year of globalized terror. The western news agencies concentrated once again on their navels and reported the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22, where three coordinated bombings left 22 dead and 250 injured; they mentioned Istanbul, Turkey on June 28 where 45 were killed and 230 injured; they mentioned Nice, they mentioned Berlin. Just in January 2016, there were 102 terrorist incidents around the world, in which 1.351 people were murdered, starting right at the beginning of the year on January 1 when 300 African migrants were shot by Islamic State in Libya, formerly a country which held migrants for processing, formerly the African country with the highest Human Development Index, formerly the country that stood up to Al Qaeda and ISIS and today thanks to Obama and his European Poodles, the country is a failed state, wrecked, the people are living in misery and the entire state is crawling with terrorists, including Islamic State. We ended the year as it started, with a horrific shooting incident in a Turkish discotheque, in which at least 39 people have been confirmed dead. The guilty? Those who arm, aid, finance and abet international terrorism. All roads lead to Washington and its allies, as usual, so let them not complain when the spring jumps and smashes them one in the face. Lamentable? Of course, but you play with fire and you get burnt. Stop ruining lives, stop selling weapons. Just stop interfering, just stop interfering... before you really regret it.
Russia's medal tally was very good: 56 medals - 19 Gold, 18 Silver, 19 Bronze despite the blanket ban on certain modalities and the entire Paralympic team. Let us imagine what the tally would have been if all the athletes had been allowed to compete. But we live in a world in which my indictment against NATO's political and military leadership for their war crimes in Libya was not accepted either by the International Criminal Court or by the European Court of Human Rights, we live in a world in which unclean western athletes were allowed to compete while clean Russian athletes were banned.
Gee hey guys! Can I have a box of anabolic steroids please? See I can't concentrate in my biology class an' I got this gymnastics competition next week. It's OK I ain't Russian. Can I also have a box for my cousin in England? He's Sir Bradpack Bagpack twiddly-diddly silly-willy-what-what-Quackington Wiggington, who is a world class cyclist and like all world class cyclists he has asthma. Like, they all do!! No really!!! It's OK he's retired now. Gee thanks!
The bottom line is it's OK to take doping if you aren't a Russian. If you are, you can be clean and watch doped-up western athletes compete on the TV.
The west was quick to try to implicate Vladimir Putin in the Panama Files scandal but in fact what happened was that Vladimir Putin was not involved at all and a lot of western political figures were. How many elected representatives are guilty of corruption or fraud? How accountable are they? A nice plan for 2017, seventeen years into the third millennium, would be for people to find out who their elected (or not) representative is, how they vote, and how to hold them accountable to the way they vote, and then press the deselect button if they are not voting the way they were selected to vote.
On June 23 the British electorate confused the pundits, proved the opinion polls toxic and threw the entire country into chaos. This is what happens when politicians play the populist card, fly dangerously close to the sun and do not impose a caveat on such sensitive referendums. David Cameron was flung into the trashcan of British politics with the political epitaph "You Silly Boy". Today, the British electorate would vote to remain IN basically because the Leave campaign was based upon lies and today, the UK will have to pay billions to retain the same trading rights that it enjoys as a member of the EU for free. Take it from me, the EU will kick the UK up the backside to make it very unattractive for anyone else to dare to challenge the project. The UK has the option to run the referendum through Parliament (Lords first), turn over the decision and hold a general election since Theresa May has staked her premiership on Brexit. Stupidly.
It was however a wake-up call to Brussels not to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states and the shock-waves of Brexit can be felt across Europe, where few of the nearly one billion EU citizens are very enthusiastic about a project they understand little about, as it has been imposed top-down by unelected Eurocrats.
Nobody needs to put anything more than a five-letter word in a search engine - Fidel - to arrive at a complete biography of the historic Cuban leader, who defied and survived numerous western murder and terrorist attacks and who led the people of Cuba towards literacy and good public service programs, before launching his internationalization of the Cuban model, bringing literacy and healthcare and education programs to millions of people in dozens of countries, despite a tantrum-based US blockade. Fidel leaves a legacy, his detractors do not. Once again the western media outlets chose to present a negative image of Fidel Castro, using words such as "dictator" and "tyrant". But what dictator or tyrant educates the people, giving them the gift of literacy and discernment, the ability to read and think for themselves? Does anyone really believe the western media these days? No they do not, and this is to a great extent the victory of Fidel Castro, the father of the social media.
They speak of President Assad, they speak of Islamic State, they speak of al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and any one of the thirty-odd factions constituting the 27 per cent of Syrians who are opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad. What they don't say is that 70 per cent plus of Syrians want al-Assad as their president, and the position of Russia is and has always been, let the Syrian people decide. The western approach is to say, as usual, "Assad must go", now who the hell are Obama, Cameron/May et alia to decide what goes on in a country where for thousands of years a very complex mosaic of cultures and religions and ethnic groups ahve co-existed very well before the west and its allies showed up?
Who should be in the dock charged with war crimes? Maybe in 2017 we can network and make sure that those who deserve to be hauled before a court, are.
Russia was derided by the Obama administration as being "despicable" in its approach in Syria, Hillary Clinton, then that Samantha Power, issued broadsides against the country which was invited by the Syrian Government, which has the support of its people, despite the shitfaced lies of those saying it does not, to support the people against terrorists backed by the west and its allies.
Yes, in 2017, the USA, its European poodles and their revolting allies in the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, have been complaining about Russia helping the President of Syria to exterminate (mostly foreign) terrorists murdering civilians in the most shocking, demonic and barbaric manner, while they themselves support terrorist groups. What disgusting hyprocrisy, what an insult to diplomacy and it comes as no surprise that the social media has outed the mainstream media as a source of credible information.
In 1920, the Serbian geophysicist and professor Milutin Milankovic was already presenting a plausible cosmic cause for temperature variation and climate change. Before El Niño and La Niña warped out of the Oceans and morphed into the Carbon Theory, the Ice Ages came and went, wine-making used to be common in Northern England.
An examination of the data over the last 400,000 years indicates a direct correlation between temperature rises and increased natural emissions of CO2, with peaks and troughs occurring roughly every 50,000 years, the high and low Carbon Dioxide concentrations in ppmv corresponding directly to temperature rises and falls. If we accept the methods used to measure these fluctuations, there seems little room for doubt.
Where the Carbon Theorists now step in, is the presentation of an alarming trend over the last decades, namely an exponential increase in Carbon DiOxide emissions accompanied by a corresponding spike in temperatures - the last decade has been the warmest on record. However, there was an enormous increase in CO2 levels 240,000 years ago, 130,000 years ago and 15,000 years ago.
Milutin Milankovic (1879 - 1958) dedicated his scientific study to the effects of cosmic cycles, ocean currents and plate tectonics on climate change and his closer examination of the fact pointed towards the existence of changes in the cycle of the Earth's tilt every 41,000 years, which enabled him to predict changes in temperature (and climate) with remarkable accuracy.
Other studies indicate a correlation between peaks in temperature and 11-year solar flare cycles and their corresponding knock-on effect on ocean currents and thermal flows; the effect of water vapor as being far more significant that CO2; the fact that the Arctic ice cap has melted before; the emissions of methane gases from animals being far more voluminous than human GEG.
So Carbon emissions by humans are not the sole cause of climate change, since such fluctuations have occurred cyclically for hundreds of thousands of years and because there are other candidates to which to attribute the blame.
So let us allow science to dictate where the truth lies in 2017 and let us then form a plausible conclusion as a base for action.
If I am honest to my values, I do not see why I should give any more importance to the US election than to any other, for instance in Brunei, in Burkina Faso, in Laos, in Paraguay or in Albania. The President of the United States of America is elected by the citizens of the USA to govern the USA, period. He is not elected to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states across the globe to foster the interests of the lobbies which close ranks like a vise around his cujones.
To date, no US president has had the cujones to resist the vise. The new Vice, Pence, has already given an inkling as to how things might go. But he is the Vice, Trump is the one who faces the vise.Does the Vice hold the vise?
OK ladies and gentlemen, I have been writing here at Pravda since 1999 (I was involved with different Soviet publications since 1972) and have been director and chief editor of the Portuguese version since we opened on September 14, 2002, so far longer than most in these positions. During these years I have made many friends over the Internet, some acquaintances and it appears a lot of readers. Never once have I ever written a single letter which I did not sincerely believe in.
But what I will say, on January 1 2017 is that finally I believe we have the conditions to move forward as an international community. Everyone has seen that in Vladimir Putin, Russia has a respectable and respectful and credible and responsible President. He has brought Russia to center-stage and it is he with whom Donald Trump has to engage.
My reading is that the American people want good relations with Russia, the Russian people couldn't really care less whether America is on their side or not, because historically it has not been. But once it is, hell, we can do stuff together.
And then if this happens, Donald Trump will go down in the annals of history as the greatest President the United States of America has ever seen. If not...the lobbies are already ear-marked, we all know who they are and who leads them. This indeed is time for change.
Obama promised it and did not deliver. Let's see if Trump does, or can.
So now... Happy 2017, may it bring all my readers a very happy year which brings you all great happiness.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.