Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another (Strange) Year Over

Where do we begin with this one? I think the year began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posing with children around the House rostrum. Trouble is, after the little ones left, Congress continued to be run by children all year.

The bloody war in Iraq was the dominant concern for much of the year, which began with President Bush's announcement of the 'surge' and new military leadership to execute it. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress began a year long campaign to thwart W's policy. As the tide began to turn for the better over the summer and especially after General Petraeus persuasively reported to the Congress in September, the political Iraq battles subsided, as did media coverage of the war.

Immigration was the other hot issue, where an outpouring of public opinion turned the tide against what seemed a 'shoe-in' behind closed doors for a complicated immigration bill.

By year's end, one contentious issue seemed to converge on a positive resolution. The discovery of a method of converting human skin cells into a form having the properties of embryonic stem cells without exploiting human embryos shows that real progress can be realized without compromising human dignity.

Human progress toward the stars continued forward with fits and starts. The International Space Station (ISS) really flowered this year with several assembly flights, while year-end problems with Shuttle and ISS hardware present a continuing challenge. Japan and China launched robotic lunar orbiters while the US launched another Mars lander. The private sector continued its steady progress toward opening wide the frontier. Bigelow's Genesis 2 launch was a highlight, while the tragic explosion at Mojave killing three is another reminder that progress does not come easily. Many commercial space developments were under the radar and will take flight in the next few years.

This year seemed like an endless presidential campaign with candidates' fortunes rising and falling and sometimes rising again. After all this, the new year will actually bring the caucuses, primaries and election that will decide the next US President. Whoever that is will need all our prayers as the terrible news from Pakistan this week of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto reminds us that it's still a very dangerous world.

I'm sure 2008 will have more dangers, advances and surprises than I'll have time to blog about, but let's hang in there for another wild ride.

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