2011-MMXI: Bin Laden to Bieber

2011 A Year in Review

It’s hard to write about the past twelve months without emotions and nostalgia creeping in. It is hard to give all equal weight and coverage.

This year three men died who collectively are responsible for 1000’s of deaths, Osama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi and Kim Jong il. To many this year may be seen as a year of liberation but for those on the ground it is seen as the beginning of instability and corruption.

The Arab Spring showed the world the strength of human will power and also the advances in media. From Tunisia to Saudia Arabia, ordinary people stood up for what they felt was just and right. The wave of camera fones, tweets, facebook and youtube clips showed a wider world audience the struggle and desires of oppressed masses who felt there was more to life than being held back.

The phone hacking scandal Britain sent shockwaves that have led further distrust and hatred for a Media that focused more on Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor than it did on the Brazilian mudslides, Mexican gun war, the nobel peace prize and the Chilean uprising combined.

Japan’s disaster and the Eurozone meltdown have deservedly shown those of us in the past twelve months the frailty of our existence and the dangers that exist from both ourselves and mother nature. The London riots, Wall Street protest and the Norwegian massacre showed  discontent in the western world as much as the Arab world and displays global discontent and upset at those in power and at social and economic restrictions.

Middleton, Leveson, Strauss-Kahn, Bauchmann and Bieber are all names that are now known to many while OMG, Sexting and Mankini joined the English Language.

The world’s population hit 7 billion while many wonderful and talented people passed away among them  Steve Jobs, Joe Frazier, Amy Winehouse, Dr Kervorkian, Liz Taylor, Christopher Hitchens, Clarence Clemons, Bubba Smith, Gary Speed, Peter Falk, Betty Ford, Vaclav Havel and Socrates.

This year like all was full of trials and tribulations, successes and disasters, births and deaths. When those who look back  at the annals of history and view 2011 they will see a year when so many of the world’s nations and it’s people said enough is enough and stood up for what they felt was just, right and equal. From Bin Laden to Bieber , MMXI is a year when a lot happened and a lot more is yet to come. Bring on 2012, End of the World or not life moves on and so must we.

Review of the year on Forge Radio with British Journalist Marcus Liddell and I.


Chesterfield Train Death: November 8th 2011

A routine trip to Chesterfield as part of my Masters in Broadcast Journalism coursework turned into a tragic spectacle when a man died after being struck by a train at around 19.35 this evening.

As i stood waiting for my train on platform one in the distance a train seemed to slow and stop; within twenty minutes every train was cancelled and the station began to feel eerie as the gathered commuters became concerned and frustrated. A member of staff bellowed urgently for us  to vacate the platform and as we were forced out of the station a two carriage train appeared slowly and stopped. After nearly an hour Sheffield bound passengers were let back into the station and were made move to platform three, about twenty meters to my right a black blanket covered a body with two pale white torches either side of the track acting as beacons to the unfortunate man who lost his life, we were promptly ushered away and onto the waiting train.

Below are some witness reports and information regarding the incident available on soundcloud.com

One man, Richard Bradbury a local Network marketer was heading home from work  when he came across the scene.

My heart and thoughts are with the family and friends of the man at this time.

Police refused to disclose any information to me by 11.20 pm on the 8th of November stating only that the trains were now running as normal and were unwilling to make a statement.

Train, Chesterfield november 8th 2011

Doors sealed off,

Smokeless Fire,

image, Thisislondon.co.uk

“In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end,”

These words were stated issued by the Dutch health and Justice Ministers in a joint strongly worded letter to Parliament four months ago. The Laws are coming into force tighter than anyone ever expected after a spate of serious fines and imprisonments most notably a 10million euro fine to a cafe owner who was also sentenced to sixteen weeks in prison. No longer the land of hookers, drugs, cheese and dykes but a country battling to restore its image as Europe’s economies slide and falter. A government committee has declared that cannabis with higher than 15% THC be declared Hard Drugs. Only the district of Maastrict has obeyed the rules of abstaining from selling cannabis to tourists and one wonders that regardless traveling masses will find a way to get what they truly desire.

From 2012 onwards it may be that each cafe of between 1000-1500  adult dutch citizens inclusively will operate similar to a nightclub with members only allowed. The issue of these new laws has put the spot light on the producers of cannabis for commercial use whose status is still illegal, loopholes do exist with a dutch citizen entitled to grow up to five grams for personal use but when it comes to the issue of wide scale distribution and production the authorities have yet to clamp down.

The drug tourism worth 100s of millions of euro to the Dutch economy may go up in smoke or possibly lead to an underground black market of dutch cannabis cafe club members selling their memberships or drugs for inflated prices or for the use of their passports.

Whatever happens over the next five to six months one thing is sure the sex trade in the Netherlands is either braced for a surge in revenue from disgruntled cannabis consumers or a slide from drug tourists who make the pilgrimage to a new more lax nation that is waiting in the wings to take up the mantle.