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THE VIEW FROM HERE: Looking at 2018 in the rear view mirror


The recreational use of cannabis was legalized by the federal government and took effect on Oct. 17. - Herald Archive
The recreational use of cannabis was legalized by the federal government and took effect on Oct. 17. - Herald Archive

When moving forward into a new year, I’ve always found it to be an interesting and insightful exercise to review the previous 12 months, as I believe it’s healthy to take stock of where we’ve been so we can move ahead with some clarity.

The past year has seen more than its fair share of bad news including murder, mayhem, corruption, disaster and destructive discourse, but there has also been a healthy dose of good news, stories that inspired us and left us with a sense of awe.

This year, since I’m into doing lists, I thought it would be informative to do a list of the top 10 news stories that grabbed our attention over the past 12 months. I included stories that inspired and impacted lives, and some that will continue to influence our world well into 2019. Let’s see if you agree or disagree with me or maybe I’ve left something off the list that you think should be there. Whatever the case, I would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, starting with 10 and counting down, here is my list of the top 10 news stories from 2018:

Before we get into the actual list, though, let’s start with two honourable mentions, the first being the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian dissident, author and columnist for the Washington Post who was assassinated at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 by agents of the Saudi government and then the heinous crime concealed. The outcry reverberated around the world.

The second honourable mention is the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that was held on May 19 in St. Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle in London. It was a fairytale come to life as the groom, Prince Harry, a member of the British royal family, married his bride, a former actress from America. The feel-good story distracted us from the world’s problems, for a short while, at least.

10. 2018 FIFA World Cup:

Major sporting events have a way of pulling us together and none did that last year more so than the 21st FIFA World Cup that was held in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Held once every four years, the 2018 tournament involved 32 teams and was the most expensive World Cup ever coming in with a whopping price tag of $14.2 billion. The final, that was held on July 15 and drew hundreds of millions of viewers, saw a match up between France and Croatia. France won the game 4-2 to claim its second World Cup title.

9. Donald Trump Russian collusion investigation:

Did Donald Trump collude with Russia during the 2016 US presidential election and could he be facing charges for obstructing justice in his dealings with fired FBI Director James Comey? The ongoing saga kept — and still keeps — us glued to the edges of our collective seats as we wait for the other shoe to drop. Who knows what will happen next.

8. Devastating hurricanes in US:

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season — which officially began on June 1 and ended on November 30 — was the third consecutive of above-average and damaging hurricane seasons. It featured 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes, while accounting for a total of $33.3 billion (US) damages. Hurricane Florence alone caused $17.9 billion (US) in damages in the Carolinas in September, primarily as a result of freshwater flooding. Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States, as well as the strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever form in the month of October. It caused $15 billion (US) in damages.

7. GM closing five North American plants:

General Motors announced in late November a major restructuring of its global business, saying it will shut down production at five facilities in North America including the one in Oshawa, Ontario, and slash its staff by thousands. GM will reduce its salaried workforce by 15 per cent, including a quarter of the company’s executives. The plants made sedans that have waned in popularity, including the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Cruze, the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac CT6 and XTS. The company said it would no longer be making those cars.

6. Donald Trump meets with leaders of Russia and North Korea:

Yes, Trump again, but this time he makes the list for even more nefarious reasons. In the past year, Trump met with, not one, but two despots — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, what was said in those historic but closed-door meetings and what were their implications, is anyone’s guess. And yes, there was lots of guessing going.

5. Wild fires of B.C. and California:

Devastating. Destructive. Deadly. All words that can be used to describe the historic wildfires that left large regions of British Columbia and California in ashes. Costing billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of lives, the fires were unprecedented in scope but, sadly, just the beginning of a trend that will only continue to worsen, fuelled by global warming (which, by the way, Trump denies is a real thing).

4. Mass shootings in the U.S.:

One mass shooting is one too many but according to the US Gun Violence Archive, there were 307 mass (more than one victim) shooting in the United States during 2018. This horrific statistic includes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took place on February 14. On that day, a lone gunman opened fire at the high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff members, and injuring 17 others. These events leave one begging the question — why?

3. Legalization of cannabis in Canada:

The recreational use of cannabis was legalized by the federal government and took effect on October 17. What else is there to say? It’s a new world.

2. Thai soccer team trapped in cave:

On June 23, 12 young members of a boy’s soccer team went exploring in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province with their football coach — and ended up trapped deep inside a cave underneath a mountain. The dramatic rescue bid gripped the world as emergency personnel raced the calendar to get the boys out before the start of the quickly approaching monsoon season. The daring rescue mission ended on July 10 with the last of the boys being pulled safely from the cave. The grueling, 18-day ordeal that claimed the life an experienced volunteer diver that and riveted people around the world, was over.

1. Humboldt Broncos crash:

A deadly bus crash that united a hockey-mad country in grief and spurred people to leave sticks on porches from coast to coast tops my list of news stories. There is no doubt that no story affected Canadians in 2018 more than the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. The junior hockey team was on its way to a playoff game when its bus and a semi-truck collided at a crossroads in rural Saskatchewan on April 6, killing 16 people and injuring another 13. Ten players, along with the team’s coach, an assistant coach, trainer, radio play-by-play announcer, statistician and the bus driver were killed. Of the injured, two players were paralyzed and two received serious brain injuries.

Canadians and others around the world started leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to honour the team. Many sticks are still standing outside. People from more than 80 countries donated $15 million to support those on the bus and their families. RCMP have charged the truck’s driver with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury. The Calgary based trucking company also faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.

And that, in a nutshell, was the year that was. Who knows what the future holds for any of us? It is true, though, that we can’t dwell in the past but we have to remember our history as it will help to shape and guide us into the coming months.

The truth is, we don’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been, or least that’s the view from here.

Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books. 

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