Zack Gross
Zack Gross

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2009 Predictions Highlighted by Economics, New President

Brandon Sun “Small World” Column, Sunday,  January 11 / 09

Zack Gross

My wife likes to check the horoscopes and buy lottery tickets.  I guess that makes her a hopeful person, still curious to know how things will work out, and not cynical about her payday coming in. 

At New Years, she was pleased to read, in the papers and on-line, that not only the coming year, but actually the next five years, will be very positive for us – that we will reach the apex of our professional lives and get rewarded for what we have accomplished!

Whether any of that is true or not, it set me to looking at predictions that others have made, both educated and irrational, on what will happen in our world in 2009.  Of course, many weigh in annually on this subject – academics, media commentators, ordinary citizens in coffee shops, politicians, tarot card and tea leaf readers, to name a few.  Some of the predictions are self-evident, for example:  “You will make a new friend” or “There will be heightened political tension in the world”.  Others are crazy or impossible to verify:  “Aliens will land on our planet but no one will ever know.”

A British group of psychics have put their top ten predictions on their web site.  The list is headed by an assassination attempt on Barack Obama, but they point out that one plot has already been foiled, back in October of 2008. 

Another prediction is that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be forced out of office.  This may have been written while he was very low in the popularity polls, but Mr. Brown has undergone his own change of fortunes in recent days and looks like he may be around for a while. 

The psychics predict corporate collapse in 2009.  Now, that was easy! 

There are prognostications of terrorist attacks and environmental disasters, and one celebrity being knifed while another becomes pregnant, not simultaneously!

A more detailed set of world predictions, with references to where the planets and stars line up, is provided on-line by Astrotrends.  Ultimately, it calls for one of the coldest winters on record (darn!), stock market volatility (as one might expect) and white being the most popular fashion colour.  The site expects continuing tensions between Pakistan and India, new cars that don’t use petroleum products, and massive problems related to disease and war.  This sounds a lot like 2008!  It also celebrates the rise of the Obamas as a strong, transformative presence in US politics and attitudes.  This site also includes specific information for ordinary citizens based on their zodiacal signs and their years of birth.  Among other things, I am told to be careful of food poisoning in August!

On a possibly more serious note, the BBC News team has assembled their predictions for – and what makes them excited about – 2009.  What makes these bright, aggressive correspondents excited about the New Year is the new Obama presidency on the “good” side and the major economic slump on the bad.  2009 will be a year of major national elections, including Israel, India and South Africa.  Continuing as “newsworthy” are tensions and conflict in Zimbabwe, the Congo, Darfur, the Middle East, Afghanistan and China, which will mark twenty years since the Tienanmen Massacre.  The questions that often arises are what will Mr. Obama do to tackle these major trouble spots and to improve his country’s relations with other major powers? 

Economic reporters at BBC are concerned that our financial meltdown will create great hardship for everyone, from youth who have always had their pick of jobs, to middle aged workers who are suddenly unemployed, to national workforces such as those in India and China who may go from rapid development and wage growth to stagnation and resulting social tension.  The reporters decry the years of rhetoric by political leaders on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and on tackling environmental and climate change issues while actually doing little or nothing.  A major, long-lasting recession could spell the end of hope in turning these global realities around.

Whether you consider the economy or the state of war in our world, you know that 2009 has already begun badly.  After all of our noble and generous thoughts expressed during the holiday season, is the so-called “New Year” just a tool to bring us back to reality?

 It seems that the world is waiting to see “What will Barack do?”

It may be too much to expect any one person or government to make that much of a difference.  As they say, “Stay tuned!”

Zack Gross coordinates a provincial fair trade outreach program for the 
Manitoba Council for International Co-operation (MCIC), a coalition of 38 international development organizations.
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