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of 2002

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Politics On September 11, 2001 the world changed as two airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center and one airplane hit the Pentagon in Washington. Mainland United States was declared vulnerable to terrorist attack. Over 2700 people were killed and the United States and Britain along with a collalition of over 60 countries declared war on terrorism.

This single action provided the rational for a multitude of global initiatives that has moved the American people from being politically just left of center to being far right in most of its political decisions.  George W Bush and his administration was on the world stage as he put the blame on the Osama Bin Ladin, the Al Kada and the Taliban in Afghanistan.  

In 2002, George W ramped up his campaign on terrorism rationalizing the spending of huge amounts of money on his war on terrorism. The US federal budget, deficit free during the last years of the Clinton era was no longer a sacred cow and George  sent the US back into deficit spending.

As the year wore on and the United States not being successful in finding Bin Laden, George decided to finish the fight his father took up against Iraq and pressed for a first strike policy against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.  He was successful in persuading Britain to support his preemptive strike policy and took his case to the UN telling them that they were not doing their job of peace keeping.  He told the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that even if inspectors were sent in Saddam was not to be trusted and should be destroyed.  Then in early October with the world pressure on the United States, George W decided that he better side with the United Nations and convinced the Security Council to pass a resolution that will allow the United States to take a preemptive strike if Saddam did not comply with the resolution.  Saddam agreed to follow the resolution and George W was left with standing on the sidelines waiting for Saddam to make a mistake. 

By Christmas, the UN inspectors had found nothing and even asked that the CIA conduct their own inspections. George refused to allow the CIA to inspect citing that Saddam should show the UN where the weapons were hidden. 

In the Mid East, it was still the story of Israel and Palestine battling it out with the leadership of Arafat on the line. Suicide bombers was the weapon of choice by the Palestine right wing groups and tanks, gunship helicopters and fighter bombers the weapons of choice by Israel. The best efforts of the United States and Russian had little or no effect. 

 

Economics Early in 2002, the US stock market was stunned when Enron and later WorldCom were found that they were cooking the books in order to drive their stock prices higher. Investor confidence worldwide was shaken so much that the Dow Jones Index lost over 20% of its value in less than 6 months.  Other global indices followed the trend downward and investors went looking to invest their money in other places such as real estate.

Firms still under investigation: Enron, WorldCom, Tyco , AOL Time Warner, ImClone, Johnson & Johnson, Qwest , KMart 

With interest rates right on the bottom, US consumers were still spending on big-ticket items as if they don't have a care in the world. In July new homes sold at a record pace. In August car sales climbed 13 percent to their highest level in 2002. Automakers said their biggest worry is that they may not have enough vehicles to sell in the coming months.

America was on sale. Goods and services were cheap because so many companies are competing for the same customers. Money was cheap because the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates dramatically and the old economic bugaboo inflation was starting to creep in.

However, some big businesses in the US were in big trouble as the stock market continued to plummet because of distrust and uncertainty started by the Enron book keeping scandal and George Bush's war on terrorism carrying over to his initiative to strike Iraq to oust Saddamm Hussein.

The money was being diverted out of the stock market and into consumer spending mainly on big ticket items such as houses and cars because consumer could buy them using the existing low interest rates.

Without new money, the Dow Jones continued to slide as profit takers eroded the equity of the capital markets.

But at Christmas time, all big ticket purchases had come to a near stop as the US was ramping up for war with Iraq.  Gasoline prices soared and credit card debit for Americans hit 700 billion dollars.

 

Space Are Black Holes Gravstars or are Gravastars Black Holes? That is the debate as scientists come to the side of Einstein or Hawkins. 

A gargantuan black hole -- with a mass of nearly 3 million suns -- exists at the center of our galaxy. The proof lies in the direct observation of a nearly complete orbit of the closest star to the enigmatic heavenly body with a fatal attraction, scientists said.

Scientists during 2002 were still fascinated with black holes - some colliding some just coexisting with another one but they all noted that they were gobbling up space debris.  And it is now true there is one right in the centre of our Milky Way. 

They also in 2002 tried to focus on how far they could see in space and each time claiming to see stars that are greater and greater distances from earth.

 

Health The research and development focus in 2002 was on genes.  More and more biotech companies have found that gene therapy is the coming thing.

Lots of stories as usual about how new drugs will eliminate this disease and that. After years of listening to the medicine makers, we still have no real cures for aids, cancer or diabetes.  The medicine makers in the US turned to television to promote their drugs big time and scaring seniors to go to their doctors who subscribe television promoted drugs big time..  

 

Environment The number of white Christmas's are decreasing every year and global warming is blamed.  Was anything really accomplished to reverse this trend in 2002?  Many countries were asked to accept the Kyoto accord which would reduce greenhouse gases worldwide by 90 %. 

It was a long hot smog filled summer and Western nations being preoccupied with George W seemed not interested in putting their signatures on the Kyoto Accord  especially the United States and Russia who are the biggest generators of Green house gases.  

 

Peace What peace? 

Sharon and company decided to do what Arrafat had refused to do and that is take control of Hamas in an attempt to take a right wing approach to getting peace in the Middle East. It became a war of the Palestinian suicide bombers against the high tech Israeli armed forces. 

In Ireland, they did have a semblance of peace as both sides seem to have decided that mediation and conciliation were not a bad idea.

India and Pakistan were threatening each other over the old issue of Kashmir after the Taleban were defeated. 

 

Internet A big surprise - people discovered that they could send images using e-Mail and the big winner this year were the number of digital cameras sold just so mom and pop could send pictures to friends and family around the world. It had a big impact upon the amount of data that was being sent sending slowing servers and the corporate need for high speed internet access.

More and more people are signing up for high speed Internet access this year as more and more web sites are downloading MP3 movies and music to their computers.  Dial up still dominates home computers but as wireless and satellite prices drop and become available more people will obtain access.  

Interactivity with Web sites are becoming more and more acceptable to viewers and this trend will continue as passive sites become passť.

Did your interest in the Internet wane during 2002?  Yes, the number of people actually dropped in the North America as people realized that they could get free Internet access from their offices and so home connections have dropped slightly.  Asia continued to lead the growth of the Internet as no some 800 million people have access to the Net. However, we have still not solved the problem with computers freezing up and the need to be rebooted when problems exist.

This downward trend could be caused from the onslaught of viruses that happened in the fall of 2002. The number of people who are internet  technically challenged will not come on line for this reason. 

Wireless, that is what some companies are betting on in the future as they take on DSL and high speed fiber networks. Yes, they can and the speed is faster and it is cheaper.

Wireless has a huge advantage in terms of its low capital investment cost compared to wired access.

There are services offering wireless speeds of 512 Kbps to more than 100 Mbps, and monthly subscription rates run anywhere in Canada from about $40 Cdn for home accounts to hundreds of dollars per month for high-bandwidth business connections.  A setup fee of about $400 Cdn is required for residential use. 

 

Entertainment Harry Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Potter.... Lord of the Rings, and the future impact these movies have on the little ones growing up today..  The entertainment industry in the United States now takes about 9 % of the gross expenditure of every citizen who lives there. Which is about the same as what is spent on food.  

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year The fact that many of the most sophisticated countries of the world fought George W's war on global terrorism and after a war lasting 100 + days - Osama Bin Ladin could not be found and by Christmas was thought to be still alive. 

It did not seem that anyone did anything about the root causes of  the conflicts that killed and effected thousands of innocent people during 2001.

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Have a Happy 2003 Folks !

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