For all of the criticism it takes for breaching individual privacy, Facebook continues to dominate every aspect of our social lives. Look no further than Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page and read the comments posted by his adoring and supportive fans. At over 550 million members, it would be the third largest country in the world if it were one. Time magazine named Zuckerberg person of the year. According to glassdoor.com, a website which closely examines the working conditions of jobs and companies in the U.S., Facebook is the best place to work in America (Zuckerberg received a 96% approval rating as CEO). The social networking site was the subject of one of the year’s best films, The Social Network. And for the first time, Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited website of 2010. In 2011, don’t take your eyes off Mr. Zuckerberg, Internet king. Lord knows he’s got his eyes on you.
2. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)
Oprah Winfrey has been getting more attention than usual as of late. Bill Maher recently posted a Christmas Message video in which he discussed the materialism and greed that he believes is America’s real religion. “People pretend to go nuts for Jesus…but those people at Oprah really are cumming in their pants over getting 3D television sets.” The Onion made her the subject of a parody video in which Oprah invites her friends to be buried with her at a massive tomb in Chicago. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is set to launch on January 1, 2011, and will invade 85 million homes across America. It will feature shows such as “Dr. Phil,” “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman,” and “Ask Oprah’s All Stars.” Her masses will surely follow. Just when you thought she couldn’t get bigger.
3. Fracking In NY State
Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a highly controversial natural gas drilling technique which uses a high-pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand to fracture the layer of shale rock located thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface in order to release natural gas. Recently, outgoing New York Gov. David Paterson told oil and natural gas companies to get lost…well, at least until June 1, making New York the first state to enact a partial ban on fracking. Gas industry experts and executives say that natural gas drilling can be done safely, but try telling that to the residents of Dimock, Penn., who saw their local streams get contaminated with methane from faulty drilling operations. Proponents of natural gas drilling argue that it can help reduce our dependency on foreign oil, boost local economies, give royalties to landowners, and provide jobs to local citizens. While there is somewhat of an economic boost created by the industry, it is only short-term, and what many people don’t know is that most oil and natural gas companies bring in their own outside labor instead of seeking the help of local citizens. I saw a picture of a guy holding a sign that said “YES TO SCIENCE, NO TO PARANOIA.” To argue that some kind of scientific discovery is at stake if we don’t frack is like saying that the purpose of developing nuclear weapons is to pioneer scientific breakthroughs. The science is already available; this is an energy issue that affects the economy as well as our planet. The science we should be affirming is that of alternative energies like solar and wind power. If you’re serious about stopping the oil and natural gas companies, send your letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because he will ultimately have the final decision on the matter.
4. New Congress
Despite what Obama described as a Republican “shellacking” of Congress in the November midterm elections, the so-called lame-duck Congress was able to pass significant pieces of legislation before the year’s end. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was finally repealed by Congress. The 9/11 First Responders finally received health care coverage, and Congress was able to ratify the New START treaty, which will significantly reduce the nuclear arms supplies of Russia and the U.S. However, don’t toot your New Year’s horn just yet. The bills that made it through can hardly be considered partisan, and the Republicans will not stop at any cost to repeal the health care bill.
Huh? Yes, we are a still in a very committed war with Afghanistan, and it’s not going away. According to a recent report, 700 foreign troops were killed in 2010, marking the deadliest year for coalition troops in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former head of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan, was fired because of a thorough and revealing article written by Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings back in June. Taking his place was Gen. David Petraeus, but it really doesn’t much matter who is in charge at this point. The country is run by a notably corrupt leader Hamid Karzai, who admits his office gets bags of money from Iran. What a year!