Illustration by Bob AulOh, Death, oh, Death, won't you spare me over for another year?
Not this year, Jocko: 2001 was one big killing floor, with dead Beatles and dead Bozos. It didn't stop with people: there's also the death of democracy, justice, reason, the environment and the economy--and probably the death of the future to contend with. Aside from Sade touring again, it was a year that sucked.
$ Our minimally treated sewage is being expelled into the ocean off Huntington Beach at the rate of 2,800 gallons per second, as it does every minute of every day. That's the good news . . .
$ The demise of democracy is celebrated on Jan. 20 with the inauguration of George W. "Johnnie Walker" Bush, the first president in eons to have been installed by the Supreme Court and to have lost the popular vote by a half-million persons.
$ Three days after assuming office, Mr. "I wanna represent all Americans" cuts off foreign aid to organizations that perform abortions or even mention abortion as a family-planning option. Shhh, the baby might hear you--before it starves to death.
$ The U.S. Commission on National Security, headed by former Senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart, warns that our nation faces a very real and present threat of terrorist acts on our shores and urges the Bush administration to make the formation of an office of homeland security a top priority. After a little extra prodding on Sept. 11, the administration follows through on that advice.
$ Bush reverses a campaign pledge to regulate power-plant carbon-dioxide emissions. "This is good news," said a spokesman for the National Mining Association.
$ As California is experiencing a crisis in electricity supply, Disneyland announces it is bringing back its Electrical Parade.
$ Newly released CIA files detail how it and its predecessor organization, the OSS, recruited and protected several German Nazi leaders to use as "Cold War assets." Still awaiting release are files showing the agency's dealings with Dracula, the Wolfman and Satan.
$ The White House issues its energy policy plan, crafted in private, often secret meetings with executives and lobbyists of oil, coal, nuclear, natural gas and electricity companies, all large Republican donors. Notably absent are any voices representing consumers or environmental interests. The resulting report frequently draws verbatim from lobbyists' policy papers and includes $35 billion in subsidies for the oil industry.
$ Five days after the energy plan is released, Peabody Energy, the world's biggest coal company, whose execs had helped frame the energy plan, issues a public stock offering, which, in the pro-industry glow of the report, raises $60 million more than expected.
$ A panel of top atmospheric scientists releases a study saying the planet's atmosphere is losing its ability to cleanse itself of pollutants, accelerating the greenhouse effect.
$ While Bush denied airline mechanics their right to strike, saying it could harm the economy, he refuses to intervene in the California energy crisis. The state's economy--larger than most nations'--teeters on the brink of chaos as the phrase "rolling blackouts" enters our vocabulary. Texas-based Enron makes a killing off the state.
$ The FBI announces it will investigate the fatal shooting by Huntington Beach police of an 18-year-old who was reportedly holding a toy gun.
$ Actor Anthony Quinn dies, dead.
$ UC Irvine chancellor and atmospheric scientist Ralph J. Cicerone tells a gathering of scientists that the planet has shown "dramatic warming" since 1980 due to human activities and that it will continue to rise for at least 50 years as a result, even if we take action now, which the Bush administration unilaterally is not.
$ The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concludes there was a pattern of racial disenfranchisement by Florida officials in the November 2000 election.
$ At the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, President Bush attempts to gloss over his role as the lone obstacle to implementation of the Kyoto global-warming accords by suggesting that the summit's report simply make no mention of the treaty.
$ According to the University of Alaska, temperatures in that state over the past 30 years have increased 5 degrees in the summer and 10 degrees in the winter.
$ The last Bozo on television, Joey D'Auria in Chicago, does his last show.
$ Scientists studying the declining orca population in Washington's Puget Sound find the whales have horrendous concentrations of PBCs, man-made chemicals that cause infertility and neurological and immune system damage.
$ House Republicans block a campaign-finance-reform bill.
$ Sept. 11: the CIA and other national security agencies utterly fail to anticipate this day's terrorist attack or to have nullified Osama bin Laden, as the CIA has been under presidential orders to do since 1998.
$ Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blame the success of the terrorist attacks on liberals, homos and the ACLU.
$ Some 1,147 people are arrested and held in secret locations without being charged with any crime.
$ The fall TV season kicks off with a new twist: three new programs about hip, young CIA agents. The CIA now has a liaison in Hollywood to promote a positive image for the agency, as opposed to the one it earned assassinating leftists, overthrowing democracies, bolstering military dictatorships, coddling Nazis and such.
$ It is revealed that for 14 years, the Orange County Sanitation District hasn't bothered to tell us that its sewage has been washing back near Newport Beach's shoreline. "It has not been a cause of concern," said a sanitation district spokesperson.
$ While President Bush is promising to go after any nation that aids terrorists, Human Rights Watch issues a report linking brutal Colombian death squads to that country's military, to which we are giving billions of dollars in aid and support. Yet another terrorist organization, this one aimed at Vietnam, is said to be operating out of Little Saigon.
$ The U.S. passes the Patriot Act of 2001, allowing the government to detain witnesses, conduct wiretaps, search hard drives, browse through e-mail and medical records, and do all sorts of other stuff.
$ More than 400,000 Americans join the ranks of the unemployed, the biggest job loss in two decades. More than 34 million Americans already live below the poverty level.
$ The Republican plan for economic recovery includes $54 billion in accelerated tax cuts, half of which would go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers. It would also retroactively repeal the corporate minimum tax, alone giving $3.3 billion back to seven U.S. corporations, including $1.4 billion for IBM, $380 million for General Motors and $250 million for California-gouging, Bush-energy-policy-forming Enron, which hasn't quite careened into bankruptcy and criminal investigations yet.
$ An Asian-Indian man, mistaken for an Arab, is beaten in Anaheim.
$ The president appears in a TV commercial urging Americans to get on with their normal lives, which evidently consists (as the commercial would have it) of spending and consuming. To give up our way of life would mean a victory for the terrorists. Fortunately, our way of life doesn't seem to include civil rights, government accountability, indefinite detention without charges, withholding information from Congress, etc.
$ Our terrorist problems over, Attorney General John Ashcroft turns his attention to Oregon's death with dignity law, instructing the Justice Department to contest it.
$ Enron files for the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Enron's meltdown could have been prevented by proposed Clinton-era Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accounting regulations that were opposed and defeated by lobbyist Harvey Pitt. If you guessed that it was Pitt whom Bush chose to head the SEC, you're starting to get with the program.
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$ After Russia aids the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, President Bush invites Russian President Vladimir Putin to suck some American dick, metaphorically speaking, by having the U.S. unilaterally abandon the 1972 ABM treaty. We will instead entrust our security to an expensive, unproven and possibly useless missile shield, some of whose developers are under FBI investigation for falsifying data.
$ The National Academy of Sciences, already on record as saying that global warming is real and largely resultant from human activity, now warns we may expect "abrupt" weather changes in the years ahead, resulting in floods, forest fires and prolonged droughts.
$ George Harrison dies.
$ A test of missile-defense-shield anti-missiles over Alaska accidentally kills Santa Claus.