Another year is drawing to a close and once again the human race has displayed its ability to overcome magnificent obstacles, defy tremendous odds and succeed in amazing ways. At the same time it has showcased its perennial stupidity, lack of understanding of basic principles and outright destructive force upon its fellow man and the planet it inhabits. From terrorism, to climate change, the death penalty and women’s rights, let’s take a look back at the past 12 months and laugh, cry, despair and be amazed.

The 10 dumbest things people did in 2015.

  1. Walter Palmer, a little known dentist from Minnesota, briefly became the world’s most hated man when it was revealed he paid $50,000 to shoot Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. It was not Palmer’s first run in with a wild animal, he also shot a black bear in 2008, for which he was fined $3,000.
  2. Australian politician Barnaby Joyce threatened to euthanise Johnny Depp’s dogs Pistol & Boo after the Hollywood star smuggled them into Australia. Depp and his dogs survived and Joyce looks set to become Australia’s deputy Prime Minister in 2016.
  3. Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister could easily have an annual top ten of his own. His highlights from 2015 included knighting Prince Philip on Australia Day, defending Bronwyn Bishop in the ‘choppergate’ scandal, comparing opposition leader Bill Shorten to Dr Goebbels and channelling his inner George Costanza by eating a raw onion. He was deposed in September after less than 2 years in the job.

    You know... that's an onion!
    You know… that’s an onion!
  4. ‘Rape us now.’ Singapore based clothing company SuperGurl pulled its Black Friday advertising slogan after an online backlash. The company issued the mandatory apology, but you have to hope that somebody lost their job over that.
  5. ‘Drugged, beaten and kidnapped!’ These were the claims by Australian golfer Robert Allenby after a wild night out in Hawaii. It soon emerged that Allenby most likely stumbled over in a drunken stupor, causing the bruises in on his head and then had his pocket picked while passed out.
  6. Donald Trump. As with Tony Abbott, Trump could easily produce a top 10 dumbest things list on a weekly basis. The wisdom of Trump this year included labelling Mexicans as rapists and murderers, mocking a disabled journalist, calling for a national database of Muslims, offending women, Asians, African-Americans, POWs, well the list just goes on and on…
  7. Following the success of the marriage equality movement in Ireland, attention turned to Australia, as the last English speaking democracy without marriage equality. Canberra couple Nick and Sarah Jensen sent the country into a collective gut laugh when they declared they would divorce if marriage equality was made legal in Australia. To this day, not one person has been found to give a shit what they do.
  8. British gap year student Eleanor Hawkins and nine other tourists landed themselves in gaol after posing nude on top of Malaysia’s Mt. Kinabalu and posting the pictures online. Charged with ‘committing obscene acts,’ all nine were eventually deported after 3 days in prison and fines of $5,000 Malaysian ringgit each.
  9. You know the gig is up when even your parents won’t defend you. Rachel Dolezal, shot to international fame this year, when the NAACP chapter president, black civil rights activist and former instructor in Africana studies was outed as being white. Dolezal claimed that she ‘identified’ as being black, despite her white parents declaring she was 100% white and an investigation finding no black relatives in her family, all the way back to 1671. Dolezal declared she has a ‘connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me,’ nevertheless she resigned from her untenable position at the NAACP.

    Dolezal as a 'white' teenager and 'black' adult
    Dolezal as a ‘white’ teenager and ‘black’ adult
  10. Boogans. Australian football fans went into collective meltdown after an Aboriginal football player performed an Aboriginal dance during Indigenous round. The hysterical overreaction to Adam Goodes’ ‘war dance’ saw many opposition fans boo him at every match, to the point that he took time away from the game and declined to take part in the Grand Final parade for retired footballers.

The 10 most non newsworthy stories that received too much attention.

  1. Llamas escape! In February a pair llamas escaped while being transported between ranches in Arizona. Their chase and eventual capture was broadcast live on American television and provided ample material for Twitter comedians.

    Llamas on the run!
    Llamas on the run!
  2. Is it blue and black or white and gold? It was the dress that had everybody talking and nobody caring.
  3. Taco emoji. The people who create emojis ‘finally’ made the taco emoji. Exhale.
  4. Another royal baby. The arrival of another royal baby thrilled the crazies who are obsessed with the British royal family, but outside of them does anybody really care?
  5. Bruce becomes Caitlyn. Bruce Jenner, former Olympian and reality TV star became ‘Caitlyn’ and adorned the cover of Vanity Fair and seemingly, every other magazine and TV show.
  6. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao was billed as the Fight of the Century. The event grossed over $600 million, although the fight itself was roundly criticised as being a yawnfest, with Mayweather winning on points after 12 rounds.
  7. …and the winner is, not. Miss Universe 2015 was won and then un-won by Miss Colombia, only to be correctly awarded to Miss Philippines. Host Steve Harvey took to twitter to apologise for the mix up and then embarrassed himself further by misspelling both Colombia and Philippines. It’s a fair bet we won’t be seeing him in 2016.

    Steve Harvey's apology tweet.
    Steve Harvey’s apology tweet.
  8. Anything the Kardashian’s did. She had another baby this year, her husband declared he would run for President in 2020 and surely they did a bunch of other uninteresting stuff that was reported, I don’t care.
  9. The Force Awakens. The force is awake and that force is the almighty dollar. The latest Star Wars release raked in over $440 million in its first eight days of screening. Reactions have been ‘luke’warm and new director JJ Abrahams has been spared the wrath of the keyboard warriors.
  10. Starbucks released a red cup for Christmas without – shock! – a Christmas design on it. Twitter went into meltdown in the week following its release, with ‘Starbucks’ mentioned 474,000 times and ‘red cup’ more than 61,000. The hashtag #itsjustacup was possibly the most apt hashtag of the year.

The sad and tragic events that remind us to be thankful for every day.

  1. Nepal Earthquake. In April the tiny South Asian country was devastated by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. As the recovery begun, another earthquake struck and the aftershocks have continued. Almost 9,000 people lost their lives and 2.8 million were displaced. To make matters worse, an Indian border blockade began in September, crippling fuel supplies throughout the country.

    Rescue workers remove debris as they search for victims of earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu.
    Rescue workers remove debris as they search for victims of earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu.
  2. Paris massacres. France was bookended by terrorist attacks this year, with a mass shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office in January and a series of attacks in November which left 130 people dead.
  3. Tropical Cyclone Pam. The small pacific nation of Vanuatu was struck by a devastating storm in March, with winds reaching 250km/h. While the fatality rate was low due to excellent communications and preparedness, 75,000 people were left homeless and 96 per cent of food crops were destroyed.
  4. America’s love affair with guns and acceptance of gun violence continued unabated for another year. Despite two reporters being shot dead on live television in Virginia, the San Bernardino massacre, the Charleston church shootings and President Obama’s plea for stricter background checks, guns are as popular as ever in the US of A.
  5. In April Somali militants opened fire at Garissa University College in Kenya, killing 147 people. The attack received such little attention that the story was viewed and shared online following the Paris attacks 7 months later, with many people believing it was ‘breaking news.’
  6. The Syrian civil war dragged on and shows no sign of slowing. President Assad, ISIS and the various national governments funding their preferred sides have produced the largest refugee population since the end of the Second World War. When the displaced population moved towards Europe, the tragedy of the conflict was encapsulated by this photo.

    The body of Aylan is removed after being washed up on a Turkish beach.
    The body of Aylan is removed after being washed up on a Turkish beach.
  7. Look over here! With most of the world’s attention focused on Syria and Iraq, many other populations around the world continued to be racked by violence and receive little coverage. Wars and conflicts in Yemen, Central African Republic, Northern Nigeria, Burundi and South Sudan have created havoc in those countries, while Afghanistan continues to haemorrhage and Mexico, Venezuela and Myanmar are all delicately placed.  And Palestine is still occupied.
  8. Only weeks after a climate change agreement was truck in Paris, the worst El Nino storm in 15 years swept across the South American border region of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brasil and Argentina.  Up to 100,000 people fled their homes and the case for meaningful action on climate change grows stronger by the day.
  9. The Rohingya. One of the most persecuted people in world, the story of the Rohingya penetrated the mainstream this year when in May hundreds of men, women and children were found stranded on boats in the Andaman Sea. The former Australian PM Tony Abbott’s response to a resettlement plan was infamously, ‘nope, nope, nope.’ Further reports emerged during the year of mass graves in Thailand and Malaysia where trafficking victims and asylum seekers were executed when they could not pay their smugglers. Newly elected parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi has maintained her silence on the issue.

    A boat carrying Rohingya refugees.
    A boat carrying Rohingya refugees.
  10. In June, dozens of tourists and resort staff were killed when Islamic militants opened fire in Sousse, Tunisia. It was the largest non state attack in modern Tunisia. Subsequent attacks have been foiled and international travel to the inaugural Arab Spring country has ground to a halt.

The 10 most heroic moments of the year.

  1. Welcoming refugees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel & Canadian PM Justin Trudeau both showed outstanding leadership in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to their countries. Germany opened its doors to almost 1 million people in need in 2015, while Trudeau personally welcomed some of the 25,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees being resettled in Canada.

    Canadian PM Justin Trudeau welcomes a refugee family to Canada
    Canadian PM Justin Trudeau welcomes a refugee family to Canada
  2. Ireland says ‘I do.’ The Irish became the first people in the world to pass marriage equality by popular vote. It was a landmark decision for the highly religious and traditional country, where homosexuality was illegal until 1993.
  3. Bringing back some girls. In Nigeria the fight against Boko Haram continued on a daily basis. Hundreds of girls and women were rescued throughout the year and gains made by the Nigerian military. While hundreds more girls and women are still held by the militants, including the Chibok girls, the fight continues and somehow, beyond anyone’s understanding, the girls survive.
  4. Gillian Triggs, a class above. The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Prof Triggs was routinely attacked by the Australian government and even pressured to resign. All the way through, she maintained her class and dignity, while continuing her advocacy on important issues such as the rights of asylum seekers and refugees held in offshore detention camps.
  5. FIFA penalised. In May, the FBI, Swiss police and other US authorities oversaw the arrest of many high ranking FIFA officials in Zurich. In the months following, FIFA’s corrupt house of cards crumbled and President Sep Blatter resigned with his reputation in tatters.
  6. Mick Fanning punches a shark. Move over Superman, surfer Mick Fanning cemented his place as the man of steel in 2015, when he fought off a Great White Shark while competing in South Africa.

    Mick Fanning about to punch on with a Great White
    Mick Fanning about to punch on with a Great White
  7. When William Masvinu was denied a 4th consecutive ‘Mr Ugly’ title in Zimbabwe he spoke out to publicly declare his ugliness. In the era of selfies and narcissism it was a brave move. Mison Sere, a 42 year old homeless man took out the title, though Masvinu claimed, ‘I am naturally ugly. He is not. He is ugly only when he opens his mouth.’ Judges pointed out that ‘Sere made tremendous effort to enhance his ugliness by pulling facial stunts. Masvinu thought he is so ugly that he didn’t need to try hard. That cost him the crown.’
  8. Freedom of the press. After more than 400 days in an Egyptian prison, journalist Peter Greste was released in February. His colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were both pardoned and freed in September. It was the conclusion to a 2 year legal battle to clear their names.
  9. Justice for Freddie Gray. In a surprise move, a grand jury in Baltimore indicted six white police officers allegedly responsible for his death. Riots erupted in the city following Gray’s funeral and his death, which occurred while in police custody, added further weight to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.
  10. The East African country of Tanzania welcomed a new President in 2015. John Magufuli, nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ came to office with a fierce anti corruption stance and quickly stamped his authority. Within weeks he banned all international travel by government officials and cut 1st and business class travel to everyone except the President, VP and PM, cancelled independence day celebrations in order to promote a clean up campaign and to fund cholera medicine, conducted spot checks on hospitals resulting in the sacking of directors and board members and reigned in spending on elaborate government and parliamentary functions.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading this year and I’ll see you again for another year of craziness in 2016! – stublogs