World Peace Update
Last week was a joint effort by some butthurt loyalists in Belfast, some Chilean pig murderers, and some Bangladeshi police to band together and ruin my Christmas spirit. Well, fuck you guys, because this week marks the 30th World Peace Update and the last of the calendar year, meaning nothing you can do will bum me out now. Besides Friday's apocalypse turning Earth into a smidgen of dust. But I suppose I'll be dead before I notice that happening anyway.
So how exactly is the planet preparing for the rapture? Some are buying tons of non-perishable food, some are hiding in underground bunkers, and some are making trips to small French villages. Others, however, are far too busy rioting at wheelchair basketball matches, brawling with their fellow members of parliament, or bombing refugee camps to give a shit.
Violence and sport—two things that seem destined to go hand in hand, like strawberries and cream, or alcohol and regret. Soccer is usually the culprit, but occasionally violence will mar other less awesome sports, like tennis, for instance. This week, fans of wheelchair basketball in Turkey battled with each other and the police at a match in Istanbul, which resulted in the game being called off after the police unleashed their brilliant idea of filling the venue with tear gas.
I suppose you wouldn't usually associate hooliganism with wheelchair basketball, but this game was different. The match was a face-off between Galatasaray and Besiktas, two huge Istanbul-based soccer teams who hate each other with a passion. Hundreds of hardcore supporters have been banned from soccer, so they head to other sports that the two teams partake in to get their hooliganism fix. This incident will likely lead to fans being banned from wheelchair basketball, which leaves very few sports for these idiots to fight at. Maybe they should just take Russia's lead and fight each other in the woods or meet up for brawls in car parks?
Cops were kept busy in Buenos Aires last week. First, last Wednesday, thousands of fans of the Boca Juniors soccer team clashed with police during what was supposed to be their fan day—a positive occasion where supporters could gather and celebrate their team with songs and flag-waving. Instead, fighting broke out and the police had to bring in water cannons to deal with the massive crowds, eventually arresting scores of angry fans.
On the same day, hundreds of protesters fought with police in an incident slightly more worthy of civil unrest than a soccer celebration, when a high-profile human-trafficking case was brought to a close with the acquittal of all of the defendants. The case concerned Marita Veron, who was kidnapped ten years ago by a sex-trafficking gang, and whose mother, Susana Trimarco, has lead a campaign against trafficking ever since. The campaign has lead to trafficking becoming a crime in Argentina and thousands of girls being rescued from a life of sex slavery. Protesters were extremely angry at the acquittal and besieged police in the Tucuman province (where the kidnapping took place) tourism office.
As the world quickly approaches judgment day and we all start wishing we'd viewed Roland Emmerich's 2012 as documentary rather than a science fiction film, we look to our leaders in our respective parliaments for guidance. In Russia, the government was telling their citizens that it's all bullshit, while in neighbouring Ukraine, they were gouging each other's eyes out.
This, of course, isn't the first time Ukrainian MPs have taken to battering the shit out of each other. Last time it was over language, this time it's over the nomination for parliament speaker, which, quite frankly, I'd never have believed would be something people would get this upset about. There were brawls on both days of the vote, as Vitali Klitschko—heavyweight boxing champion and leader of the UDAR party—looked over scenes that resembled a UFC fight. In all fairness, this is amazing. At the very least, it shows some passion, and it's far more interesting than watching British politics, where the rowdiest it ever gets is when David Cameron says something misogynistic.
Last week, the shadow of sectarianism was the focal point of developments in the Syrian civil war. This week, there was further proof that the conflict is dividing itself along religious grounds. Last Wednesday, an attack was carried out by what looked like Islamist elements of the Sunni-dominated FSA on a Shiite shrine in northern Syria (which you can see in the video above). Attacks like this highlight the problem post-Assad Syria faces, when the Shiite minority have no one to protect them from the heavily armed Sunni FSA units.
Before the revolution began, Syria was considered a safe haven for Palestinians who'd fled the occupation in Israel. That, however, is no longer the case, as Palestinian refugee camps in the country have come under attack. On Sunday, Syrian air force jets bombed the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, home to 50,000 Palestinian refugees. The bombing killed 25 and wounded dozens more when bombs hit a mosque and a school, forcing thousands to flee into neighboring Lebanon. Over the months, Sunni Palestinian fighters have been joining the Free Syrian Army and refugee camps have been used to shelter fighters. As the regime becomes increasingly desperate, it resorts to hitting the FSA wherever it can to gain any possible advantage. The problem is that attacks like this only increase support for the FSA across the board.
It's almost impossible in this conflict to find something to laugh about, but somehow the FSA manage to source a sense of humor among all the slaughter and brutal combat. For months I've mentioned how it's been difficult for the FSA to source weaponry and ammunition, but have no fear, the Father Christmas of war is here and he's brought AK47 assault rifles for everybody.
So that's it for this year. Check back in 2013 to see whether civilization actually exists or a giant meteor has hit every nuclear plant in the world, spurring a set of huge natural disasters. Which, quite frankly, could be the only way (other than me being fired, of course) to stop this column from being written. Because, as the past 30 weeks have shown, world peace isn't coming any time soon. On that note, Merry Christmas!
Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston