12 Underreported Reasons Why 2018 Was Just The Worst
The kindest thing you can say about 2018 is that it was definitely a year. There's no denying that. Yep, it was an entire year. A long, emotionally exhausting year that's left us feeling like we've had the shit beaten out of us from every direction imaginable. Here are a couple of reasons for that ...
China Legalized Internment Camps For Muslims
As part of its crackdown on several Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, the Chinese government authorized the use of internment camps to imprison Muslims whom they suspect of being extremists, terrorists, and petty criminals. How many people have they locked up so far, you might ask? Oh, only one fucking million.
These facilities aren't literal concentration camps, of course. They're just "education and training centers" designed to hold "people influenced by extremism," a malady which is apparently solved -- according to former inmates -- by forcing people to renounce Islam, undergo "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction," learn Mandarin, and declare their everlasting loyalty to the state.
Wow, it's almost as if the whole "They're bad people" thing is nothing but a flimsy pretense to justify locking up minorities. At least we never have to worry about that happening over he- oh ...
Experts Say We Have Until 2030 To Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change
Surprise! Climate change is a still a thing, and it's going to absolutely wipe the floor with our asses if we don't do something about it within the next decade.
Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a damning report outlining how badly the planet -- and by extension, us -- would be screwed if the world warmed by two degrees, the figure which forms the baseline of the Paris Agreement (you know, that thing America pulled out of). Shockingly, it's really bad. As in, entire major cities would disappear and millions of people would die or be displaced, which itself would give rise to the biggest refugee crisis ever. Therefore, the IPCC is recommending that we knuckle the fuck down and try to limit warming to 1.5 degrees -- a minuscule difference that would wind up saving the world.
However, accomplishing this would require major political action. It's nice that we're all recycling and cutting out plastics and stuff, but there's no getting away from the fact that 71 percent of global emissions are caused by only 100 companies -- including the oil and gas companies that have spent years promoting climate denial agitprop ... only to turn around and ask the government to spend billions funding the construction of seawalls along the Gulf Coast to protect refineries from rising sea levels.
Amazon Tricked Everyone Into Thinking That They'd Raised Their Minimum Wage
It's fair to say that Amazon isn't going to win any popularity contexts this year, what with their shitty business practices, acting like bringing their headquarters to a place is a deity-like act of benevolence, and forcing their employees to shit in the street. The only good thing of note that they did this year was raise the minimum wage for hourly workers.
It turns out that while countless websites and newspapers were throwing themselves at Jeff Bezos' feet for deigning to give his workers a long-overdue pay raise, Amazon scrapped several benefits. Among the cuts were monthly bonuses and stock awards, which in some cases were worth as much as $3,000. But in the end, Amazon workers can all take a great deal of pride in having helped Bezos become the first human to be worth $150 billion.
U.S. Diplomats Are Still Being Hit With Mysterious Sonic Attacks
One of the weirdest, creepiest stories of 2017 concerned the apparent sound attacks on diplomats working in Havana. People exhibited symptoms such as vomiting, sickness, and serious brain injuries. And as with all good sequels, the ante's been upped and now diplomatic staff working in China are being targeted.
According to reports, "a number of individuals" working in the country were recently medically evacuated back to the United States, while one consulate worker was hospitalized with a mild brain injury following, according to testimony, several months of feeling "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure." Currently, the main suspect is, of course, Russia. Oh, those scamps!
Britain Has So Much Poverty That They Were Investigated By The UN
As if Britain doesn't already have enough disasters to deal with, this year saw the entire country audited by the UN's envoy on extreme poverty and human rights. And despite this being the lowest possible bar for a functioning government, they failed.
The UN's report, which is due in full next year, specifically calls out the government for its "punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous" austerity measures, which have left people struggling with record levels of child poverty and homelessness (which was described as "a social calamity and an economic disaster"), a disastrous welfare system, and deep cuts to local services, all of which have served to undermine the "fabric of society."
And hey, while we're talking about the land of tea and scones ...
Religious Hate Crime Has Surged 40 Percent In England And Wales
Although it's tempting to look at the results of the U.S. midterm election as a sign that the tide has turned against nationalism and authoritarianism, such a viewpoint ignores the fact that not only is the main mouthpiece for these ideas still in office (for now ...), but also there are a lot people here and abroad with """economic anxiety""" (there aren't enough quotation marks in existence) still out there.
The scale of this is clear in recently released figures from the UK, which demonstrate that in 2017/2018, the number of religious hate crimes in England and Wales increased 40 percent since 2016/2017. As for the makeup of those crimes, 52 percent targeted Muslims, 12 percent targeted Jews, and 5 percent targeted Christians and "Other," which we're going to assume includes fans of opposing soccer teams.
Related: The 6 Most Baffling Serial Crimes
Wage Growth Is Being Wiped Out By Inflation
If President Lots-o-Deals is to be believed, we're living in an era of American crazy richness that only movie Asians could understand. Wages went up 2.7 percent between July '17 and July '18, and although it's nowhere near the 100 percent we were all hoping for, we're sure you'll agree that America is gr- what's that, Donald Trump is a liar? Weird, that's such an out-of-character move.
While wages did go up 2.7 percent, a few economists (or at least, those who didn't want to be accused of harshing everyone's buzz) pointed out that those gains were immediately wiped out by inflation, which went up 2.9 percent over the same period. We've got slightly more money, yes, but that still buys you the exact same amount of stuff ... or less, depending on how big that 0.2 percent drop plays outwith your living expenses and paycheck.
Record-Breakingly Awful Wildfires Were Everywhere
One of the side effects of climate change is an increase in the number of wildfires, i.e. those things that turn everything into Mordor. This year saw California suffer its worst wildfire season on record, with a total of 7,983 fires, over $2.9 billion in damages, and over 100 deaths.
And that state wasn't alone. A similar pattern of destruction ensued in British Columbia, British Actual Britain, Sweden, Greece, Russia, and (somehow) the Arctic Circle. They all not only felt the wrath of Mother Fire, but also broke their own wildfire records.
Your Favorite Websites Crashed And Burned
The internet economy is slowly dying, and while it'd probably be cathartic to point fingers at Facebook (while burning down their headquarters), it doesn't bring back the litany of sites that we lost or which were beset by massive layoffs this year -- sites like Break, Upworthy, Vice, Village Voice, Vox, and probably some others sites beginning with "V," as well as Mic (which actually happened in the middle of writing this article).
Scores Of Elephants Were Massacred In Botswana After An Anti-Poaching Team Was Disarmed
Although it's hard to hate nature's gentlest giants, it gets a lot easier if you A) want to make serious cash and B) have absolutely no moral qualms about how to do it. Poaching has become such a problem nowadays that in some parts of Africa, anti-poaching units -- teams of guys who sit around all day and babysit elephants like they're kings and queens -- are a necessity. A prime example of why is one massacre that recently occurred in Botswana.
As the proud owner of the world's largest elephant population, Botswana has a huge problem with poachers breaching its borders in order to get at that ivory. Fortunately for the elephants, these poachers were always thwarted by their armed escorts. Unfortunately for the elephants, those would be the armed escorts that, earlier this year, were disarmed on the orders of the president.
According to Elephants Without Borders, a conversation group that monitors local elephant populations via plane, soon after the well-publicized disarmament, the carcasses of over 90 elephants were found near a wildlife sanctuary. Oops.
One Of The Most Important Museums In The Americas Burnt Down
A dirty old man once said that if it's an important archaeological artifact, "It belongs in a museum." He should have added, "And make sure that museum has, like, even one working fire extinguisher. Seriously."
That would've lessened the amount of shit that got destroyed when Brazil's National Museum burnt down earlier this year.
The museum was one of the largest in the Americas, and contained over 20 million items, including one of the oldest human fossils in the Western Hemisphere. It's not yet known what caused the fire, but that's a pretty insignificant part of the story, considering that the museum was beset with structural and financial problems which meant, among other things, that it had no operational sprinkler system.
The "World's Largest Organism" Is Dying
Before you ask: No, we're not talking your momma. (Not this time.)
In Utah's Fishlake National Forest, there's a mini-forest of aspen trees known as the Trembling Giant. While the trees might look like rugged wood-going individualists, they are in fact all connected by a single root system, which means the whole grove is a single organism, named Pando.
Pando is rather rough and tumble, having survived 80,000 years and counting. However, there was no surviving an encounter with a pesky parasite called human beings. According to scientists, Pando has stopped reproducing. Not because his, um, wood needs a little extra spring in its step, but because local farmers have been using the nearby woodlands to raise deer and cattle, which have been eating the grove's saplings. When scientists had a dig around Pando's whole 100+ acres, they couldn't find a single sapling that hadn't been mauled.
But as we mentioned, it probably doesn't matter, since that tree's ass will probably die in one of the million upcoming forest fires anyway.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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