The first week of 2024 has already come to an end, emphasizing the swift passage of time. Notably, this year is a leap year, granting us an extra day for potential positive events in the world.
We wish that everyone started 2024 on a good note, while participating in New Year’s traditions like eating grapes under the table, wearing red underwear, pouring lead for future insights, or enjoying fireworks (considering others´ safety and being mindful of animals). Regardless of the traditions followed, or none at all, I hope it provided the strength needed for the upcoming year and the changes it holds.
While the change in the calendar year will not automatically make the world better or worse, a few important and significant events that are planned for 2024 should be highlighted. July and August will be dominated by news about sports as the Olympics are taking place in Paris, France.
Additionally, this year is marked by influential elections. In June, the European Parliament elections will allow EU citizens to choose their representatives. This could potentially pave the way for a far-right, populist, and anti-immigration party, mirroring results previously observed in national elections as in Germany and the Netherlands.
The upcoming US election, scheduled for the second half of the year, poses challenges to American democracy. Presently, it appears that Biden and Trump will fight for the presidential seat again, regardless of the potential disqualification of Trump from running as a presidential candidate in Colorado and Maine with the ongoing court proceedings and appeals. If political, economic, and global events somehow strike in favor, the current President Biden could navigate his way and may secure reelection. Nevertheless, Trump continues to resonate with millions of voters across the US for various reasons. Trump laid the groundwork for his possible second presidency, introducing new migration policies and planning significant personnel changes. It is important to note that the implications extend beyond US borders. The movement could impact European stability, especially with ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine lacking foreseeable resolutions. The political landscape, both nationally and globally, is undergoing shifts. The outcomes of elections in the US, Russia, the European Parliament, and many more could significantly shape international politics in the coming year.
The first week of January unfortunately already brought tragic events. A collision between two airplanes occurred on the 2nd of January at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. All the passengers and crew members on the Airbus A350 survived while at least 5 crew members on the Japanese Coast Guard airplane died. Following the collision, the passenger airplane caught fire but everyone on board was able to evacuate safely. The Japanese Coast Guard was on its way to deliver aid supplies to Noto peninsula in response to a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that had struck Western Japan on January 1st. The earthquake also triggered tsunami waves causing extensive flooding. 242 people are still missing and at least 92 people died as of January 5th. The region suffers from the aftermath of this natural disaster, facing both the immediate impact and the ongoing search and rescue efforts.
The deadliest attack, since 1979, in Iran occurred in Kerman on January 3rd. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives in a crowd of Shiite mourners during the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination. The attack claimed the lives of 84 individuals and left many more injured. The ISIS group claimed responsibility for this terrorist attack.
On the 5th of January, North Korea fired more than 200 rounds of artillery shells off its west coast towards the South Yeonpyeong Island. Citizens of South Korea were ordered to seek shelter on the island. The South Korean government claimed this attack was a provocative act by North Korea. Fortunately, the artillery shells did not directly enter South Korean territory but landed in the buffer zone between the two countries.
The war between Israel and Palestine persists and despite Israel presenting post-war plans, the suffering shows no signs of abating. The Palestine Liberation Organization has rejected these proposed plans and stated that the “future of the Gaza Strip will be determined by the Palestinian people, not Israel”.
Despite the very devastating news of this week, I hope that everyone had a great personal start in the new year. May 2024 bring favorable outcomes, especially in ensuring global safety through upcoming elections. Happy New Year to everyone!