Whew! January is finally over, but we might as well stop 2020 right here (Part I)

January marked the beginning of a new decade and whew! BUZZ fam, is it just me or have we been through THE MOST in the ‘99-day’ (well, it sure felt like it!) span?

I feel like January has slapped, punched and kicked me all over the place – with a flurry of emotions, from existential dread to rage to unfettered sadness – it was a lot to take in. I’m pleasantly surprised the planet is still standing!

From earthquakes and tsunamis to wildfires, volcanoes and the threat of nuclear war – January 2020 has been one of the most eventful months in recent history, and I’m stressed.

Please be kinder to us, February, we can’t take anything major for a while. Allow me to recover mentally, because I am TIREDT. Honestly, truly.

If for some reason a few major stories missed you over the course of the month, as usual, your cheeky, trusted BUZZ team shares a recap of the month that was January:

January 1

Christianity’s most-powerful man proved he had the temper to match, as he slapped a woman who gripped him a little too enthusiastically at St Peter’s Square on New Year’s Day.

Pope Francis who was greeting worshippers who chose to ring in the new decade in Vatican City, also shouted at the woman, before walking away seemingly deep in thought.

January 2

The Trump administration, enforcing ‘maximum pressure’ on the last bastion of communism in the Western Hemisphere, said it was finalising new measures to further decrease the Cuban government’s income.

January 3

What would the New Year be without some ‘Trumpian chaos’?

Right on time, a Trump-sanction drone strike in Baghdad claimed the life of Iranian Qasem Soleimani and the Middle East superpower vowed ‘harsh revenge in retaliation’.

Our Caribbean neighbours also take the spotlight as Barbados announced plans to abolish the Common Entrance exam and enact education reform.

The announcement, made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, comes as the country seeks to create more diverse and equitable opportunities for Barbadian schoolchildren.

Also, in Trinidad, Pastor Vinworth Anthony Dayal’s TT$28 million in tithes were seized by local police as he was attempting to exchange his old bills for the new polymer notes. His monies, which he claimed were accumulated over a 19-year period of ‘voluntary contributions’, were impounded under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

January 4

While many of us in the northern hemisphere enjoyed a relatively cool winter, for Australia, it was a summer that descended into a living hell.

With more 20 people dead, 1,300 homes destroyed and over 12 million acres of land scorched, Australia transformed into a fiery nightmare.

January 5

The Islamic Republic of Iran, still seething from the Trump airstrike that killed their top army general, removed all limitations from its nuclear enrichment programme – effectively ending a long-sought deal brokered by world leaders in 2015.

January 6

A pre-dawn, magnitude 5.8 earthquake rocked Caribbean island Puerto Rico, causing extensive damage. The US territory was rumbling a several days prior, but the powerful Monday tremor triggered landslides, disrupted the national power grid and damaged several homes.

January 7

Just a day later, a massive magnitude 6.4 quake hit Puerto Rico again, this time with a single casualty and injuring eight others.

Effects of the earthquake were reportedly felt as far north as The Bahamas and as far south as Guadeloupe.

More than five months after Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas causing damage estimated at US$3.4 billion, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands disclosed more than 200 people lost their lives as a result of the Category 5 storm.

Still, that same day, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for a rocket attack at an Iraqi airbase housing US troops.

According to the IRGC, it has hit US Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq with several missiles. There were no reports of injuries.

January 8

More tragedy for Iran, after a Ukrainian passenger airplane carrying 176 people and crew crashed shortly after takeoff. None of 176 lives on board survived, prompting a massive investigation by the Iranian Aviation Authority.

Iran, in a bold move, with global scrutiny on its heels, then rejected calls from the US and manufacturers Boeing to assist in the investigation.

The Puerto Rican government, reeling from the 6.4 magnitude earthquake declared a state of emergency in the US territory as it struggled with the extensive damage to homes and buildings.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Dominica putting sections of the Caribbean on alert for possible tsunamis.

The US State Department, as tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran continue to escalate, urged American citizens visiting the Caribbean region to exercise caution in a sweeping security alert.

Airlines, that would usually utilise airspace between Iran and Iraq, erred on the side of caution by re-routing flights following the rise in tensions in the Middle East.

January 9

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) got the equivalent of a physical blow to the head after it circulated statistics showing the country’s crime figures trending downwards.

According to the JCF, Jamaica’s 2019 crime count was one of the lowest that the policing body has seen in the last 15 years.

In a twist that would’ve made M. Night Shyamalan proud, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that intelligence suggests that the Ukrainian jet that crashed in Iran was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

January 10

The Trump administration, tightening the noose around Cuba, announced that it will suspend charter flights to all destinations in the island except the international airport in Havana.

The move was the most recent in a series of sanctions against the Cuban government for its support of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

January 11

Iran, under pressure, finally admitted its military made an “unforgivable mistake” in unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner and killing all 176 people on board.

The admission was an about-turn for Iran, which had rejected western intelligence reports that pointed to Tehran being responsible for the downing of the civilian craft.

January 12

Some 8,000 residents were told to evacuate after the Taal volcano in the Philippines begun to show signs of activity.

The Taal volcano, located on an island in Taal Lake, began spewing forth ash with persons nearby indicating that they heard a rumbling sound and felt some tremors at the time.

Finally, in some good news, West Indies defeated Ireland by five wickets in Grenada to secure a sweep of their three-match One Day International series.

January 13

Many Jamaicans were gutted by the instances of domestic violence and femicide running rampant across the country, taking to social media to denounce the brutal deaths of Suzanne Easy and Nevia Sinclair.

In a milestone move, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II came to terms with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s contentious exit from the royal family, following a meeting at Buckingham Palace.

Member of the University of the West Indies Mona campus guild Jovaughn Bailey was the recipient of fierce backlash on Twitter for tweets deemed insensitive towards women.

Bailey, who was among hundreds of Twitter users in a conversation about catcalling in Jamaica, made the assertion on his profile that women make the situation unnecessarily unpleasant, as in his mind, if they accepted a man’s compliment gracefully, they would avoid being disrespected.

January 14

Reflecting on another impressive year, the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) said it ended last year on a record wealth capitalisation of $2.1 trillion. $1.9 billion of this amount reside in the main market stocks, and $151 billion in junior stocks.

Reports emerged that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to be expected in Jamaica for a two-day working visit to the island.

Pompeo, it was disclosed, was slated to be in talks in Prime Minister Andrew Holness on issues concerning trade between the two nations, as well as matters of national security.

The Taal Volcano in the Philippines began erupting, causing nearly 20,000 people to flee their homes.

Trinidad and Tobago track star Michelle-Lee Ahye was issued a two-year ban after the Commonwealth Games gold medallist failed to notify doping testers about her whereabouts.

January 15

Calls of victim-shaming echoed across sections of social media as radio broadcaster Jennifer ‘Jenny Jenny’ Smalls found herself knee-deep in controversy for comments in which she seemingly cast the blame on women who die in domestic violence cases.

The US House voted to send articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate.

The move is a step in efforts by Democrats to remove the president from the White House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

January 16

Denise George, Attorney General of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), filed a lawsuit against the estate of late US financier Jeffrey Epstein for allegedly trafficking in underaged girls in his homes in the USVI.

George charged in the USVI civil lawsuit that Epstein used his private, secluded islands to conduct the illegal activities.

A landmark milestone was achieved in Guyana, as for the first time, a church has opened its doors to include members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. BUZZ spoke extensively with founder and pastor Marvin Livan.

As you can see BUZZ fam, January was ACTIVE! Stay tuned for part two of our top story recap.