As another year ends, by the Christian calendar, we can yet again take stock of where we are, where we are going and whether or not we can collectively say that we are satisfied, or else if not, to demand a better world for all. Let us begin by saying that Rohingya refugee women are being used as sex slaves. Predictably.
As if the plight of the Rohingya people in Northern Myanmar were not enough, seeing their family members killed, tortured, beaten, carried away, after generations of statelessness, without access to social systems, without the right to their identity, now being forced to flee for their lives into Bangladesh, the latest news is a revolting comment on Humankind 2017. Predictably, it transpires that young Rohingya women and girls are being held in captivity as sex slaves in Bangladesh, the country they ran to for help. How many more will have been sold as cattle to international smuggling rings to be carted to Europe, where the lawlessness in the Balkans has created mafia states where organized crime cartels have taken the place of Governments?
The screams and tears of terrified and unhappy victims ring loud in our ears all over the world in all Continents, whether caused by murder or rape or mutilations or kidnappings or extortion or the death of a baby because the family does not have access to basic sanitation. Collectively, we have the means to redress our problems and rectify the imbalances inherited from centuries of imperialism and the Holocaust of the Negro peoples, slavery.
But what do we see? We see two geo-political blocks, one composed by the Russian Federation, the BRICS bloc, the CSTO and another centered around NATO and the GCC - the Gulf States, principally Saudi Arabia, whose own links to terrorism are to be investigated, whose own human rights records are deplorable but who is welcomed by the UNO as brothers and equals in the Human Rights Council (HRC). One look at what Saudi Arabia is doing in Yemen - committing atrocities without even a UN mandate to conduct military operations against the al-Houthi, and we may question whether the HRC deserves to exist.
Yet NATO countries are happy to queue up and shake the hands of those who sign agreements with terrorists or who cavort directly or not with those who finance ISIS and other extremist groups. Some even train their toops and sell them weapons. And here lies one of the evils: the defense industry is a fundamental source of income of the economies of most (developed) countries. While the CSTO/BRICS bloc concentrates on using the UN Security Council as the proper forum for debate, discussion and diologue - the fundamentals of democracy - as the proper forum for crisis management, the NATO/GCC bloc is hell-bent on confrontation, arrogance, belligerancy and chauvinism, exporting violence through terrorism and using terrorists as their lackeys. To sell weapons, you need conflicts.
The Western media does not report this, they report lies, then classify those who expose these lies as fake news and try every trick in the book to close them down. The social media today is winning the battle and those who have pioneered internet journalism over the last twenty years can pat themselves on the back. Or can they? What is looming in the future is something sinister, namely a plan to control the content of the internet and close out "alternative" media platforms. Watch this space.
Instead of coming together, we see one side, it is obvious which one it is, pushing for confrontation, peddling insolence as its modus operandi, using sports organizations as a means to highlight cases of doping against Russia while their own register is not so squeaky clean. Just a few minutes' research on United Kingdom doping cases reveals: Ali Adams (Boxing, Stanozolol); David Allen (Rugby League, Metabolite of cocaine); Ijah Anderson (Soccer, cocaine); Chris Armstrong (Soccer, cannabis); Michael Banbula (Boxing, Performance enhancers); Ryan Barrett (Boxing, Methylhexanamine); Alain Baxter (Alpine skiing, Methamphetamine); Terry Bridge, Rugby league, Steroids); Ian Brown (Rugby, Testosterone); Johnathan Bullough (Weightlifting, Methylhexaneamine); Ian Burnham (Water polo, Cocaine); Danny Cadamarteri (Soccer, Ephedrine); Neil Campbell (Cycling, hCG); James Comben (Rugby Union, Methylhexanamine); David Cookson (Rugby Union, Methylhexanamine); Kofi Danso (Basketball, test tampering); Ceri Davies (Rugby, Drostanolone); Tony Dodson (Boxing, Performance enhancers); John Donnelly (Boxing, Benzoylecgonine); Terry Dunstan (Boxing, Performance enhancers); Jamie Durbin (Rugby league, Stanozolol).
And a few more, on the USA: Andre Agassi (Tennis, Methamphetamine); Darell Alderman (Drag racing, cocaine); Stephen Alfred (Cycling, Norandrosterone, Testosterone, hCG, refusal to submit to doping control); Sadam Ali (Boxing, Cathine) ; A. J. Allmendinger (Auto racing, amphetamines); Lyle Alzado (Football, anabolic steroids); Chris Andersen (Basketball), Frankie Andreu (Cycling, EPO), Abdallah Anwar (Boccia, Hydrochlorothiazide); Lance Armstrong (Cycling, EPO, Human Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Cortisone, Blood transfusions); Sarah Baham (Swimming, refusal to submit to a test); John Barnett (Mixed martial arts, Boldenone); Phil Baroni (Mixed martial arts, Boldenone, Stanozolol metabolites); Doug Barron (Golf, Performance enhancing drugs); Bryan Berard (Ice hockey, 19-norandrosterone); Adam Bergman (Cycling, EPO); Dale Berra (Baseball, Cocaine); Alan Bogomolov Junior (Tennis, Salbutamol); Barry Bonds (Baseball, amphetamines); Stephan Bonnar (Mixed martial arts, Boldenone); David Boston (Football, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid); Ryan Braun (Baseball, human growth enhancer); Matt Bricker (Swimming, Ephedrine); Emily Brunneman (Swimming, Hydrochlorothiazide, Triamterene); Rebekkah Brunson (Basketball, Salmeterol); Rachael Burke (Swimming, Boldione); Enos Cabell (Baseball, Cocaine); Mike Cameron (Baseball, Stimulants); Ken Caminiti (Baseball, Steroids); Jose Canseco (Baseball, Steroids); Roger Clemens (Baseball, Anabolic steroids); Chris Cooper (Football, THG); Kit Cope (Mixed martial arts, Boldenone); Joey D'Antoni (Cycling, EPO); Lindsay Devaney (Swimming, refusal to submit to testing); Jerramie Domish (Ice hockey, performance enhancers)...
But these are the ones pushing for bans for Russian athletes, as they are pushing for sanctions and confrontation and printing negative stories about Russia over Georgia (Georgia attacked Russian peace-keepers after refusing to hold referenda in South Ossetia and Abkhazia as per its obligations under the Soviet Constitution, upon the voluntary dissolution of the Union). Then they complained about Ukraine when Russia is as directly involved in Ukraine as the UK or USA is with ISIS: claiming that Russia is involved because a few Russians were caught there is the same as claiming that London is a sponsor of Islamic State because of Jihadi John.
It was not Russia that invaded Iraq based on barefaced lies, it was not Russia that invaded Libya and used terrorists to destabilize the African country with the highest Human Development Index, in Syria Russia is helping the government, not siding with terrorists to overthrow it.
How much more could be done if these two blocs came together? How many problems could be solved if we spent on development projects or conservation of nature a fraction of what we are spending on defense on one side and war on the other?
Let us be honest, Planet Earth 2017 is sick and moribund. We have polluted space, we have polluted the air, we have polluted the land and today we learn that our oceans are contaminated with plastics to a frightening extent, some say we are past the point of no return. Yet the plastics lobbies control elected representatives in so-called western democracies which are in fact nothing more or less than hang-outs for lobbyists working to earn a buck in return for favors. Meanwhile animals are becoming extinct as we encroach on their habitat and others are living in mysery, tortured by our inhumane policies if not by abject cruelty, such as the dogmeat festivals, bullfights, slaughter of dolphins and everything surrounding these acts of barbarity. Meanwhile the food we eat is toxic to a large degree, meat containing anti-biotics, hormones and other substances, while fish is full of microplastiocs and poisonous metals, vegetables are contaminated by Genetic Modification. (Not in Russia, here GM is banned).
We live in a world in which nobody is responsible and nothing is accountable, in the NATO/GCC bloc, whereas there is in fact far more freedom of speech and expression in the BRICS/CSTO bloc and where people are far more engaged in the rule of international law. If anyone has to change, it is the former.
Is our world a perfect place? No it is not. It is a pillar of injustice, hypocrisy and mismanagement because governance has been taken over by lobbies, which in turn spend their time creating tensions and conflicts, creating Planet Dearth. 2017. Forgive me, but this planet revolts me.
Photo: By Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy - (copied from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Camp_x-ray_detainees.jpg so that the image can be used on Wikinews.), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=774059
*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.