Our news highlights from 12 months past, for your weekly dose of Slow Journalism perspective…
How do momentous events and policy disasters affect political fortunes? In DG #11 we charted the fluctuating approval ratings of one of the most controversial British prime ministers in living memory. Since the Iron Lady’s 11-and-a-half years in Number 10 also makes hers the longest unbroken premiership since 1827, Margaret Thatcher is a case study in the ups and downs of political popularity during turbulent times.
It took me two years and 36 hours to get to Tokelau. Two years to get a visa and 36 hours to make the 580-kilometre boat trip from Samoa. I’ll never forget seeing Fakaofo, one of the three atolls that make up Tokelau, for the first time – one of the islands looked like a fortress.
It is a really low-lying atoll, just three metres above the water, and to protect themselves from high waters caused by storms from cyclones, its people have enclosed Fale, the islet they live on, with a five metre-high sea wall. The message is clear: we will do everything we can to protect our land.
On 7th April 2017, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, declared that the state’s drought state of emergency was over. The severe water shortage across the western United States had lasted for five-and-a-half years and, according to a number of studies, was brought on by changing weather patterns associated with La Niña (a periodic drop in the water temperature of the Pacific) and was exacerbated by global warming (2016 saw California’s hottest summer on record).
On 29th November 2016, Emma Morano, then the world’s oldest known person, turned 117. When she died in Italy a few months later, it marked the passing of the last person who was known to have been alive during the 19th century (Emma was succeeded by Violet Brown of Jamaica, who was born on 10th March 1900).
Everyone in India remembers where they were on 8th November – and exactly how much cash they had in their wallets at the time. Abdul Qadr was flicking through TV channels at home and waiting for his wife to serve dinner when his attention was caught by a breaking news bulletin. “I had 5,000 rupees [£60], all in 1,000s and 500s,” he says. “When I saw the announcement, I was very worried.”
The news was that prime minister Narendra Modi had abolished 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, rendering 85 percent of the cash in circulation in India unuseable with immediate effect.
Every year we painstakingly peruse the various ‘best country’ indices that are annually compiled by NGOs and international development bodies – then we crunch the numbers across all the different categories to come up with this infographic: a definitive ranking of the best and worst places in the world to live.
On the night of 14th April 2014, 276 female students were abducted from their dormitory in a government-run secondary school in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria. Their captors, later revealed to be Boko Haram militants, fled north with the girls to the Sambisa forest. Fifty-seven students escaped along the way: the remaining 219 disappeared without trace.
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