Shortcuts / 22 December 2022

The forgotten stories of 2022

With 2022 drawing to a close, it got us thinking about what happened to a whole bunch of stories that were really big and then just fell out of the news cycle – like the unrest in Sri Lanka, Monkeypox and of course, Wordle… So in this Squiz Shortcut, we give you the updates on some of the biggest events of the year, some of the people that were grabbing headlines in 2022, and some of the lighter stuff that had us all talking.

Nothing could really match Ukraine for the biggest international story of the year…
Too true – and it’s never really been out of the headlines. But 2 other big stories that have dropped in and out of the news have been Afghanistan and Iran.

Things there have been pretty bleak…
They sure have – back in August, we marked one year since the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan. It was a grim picture for ordinary Afghanis back then, and it’s only gotten worse since then.

How so?
Last month, the United Nations called the violations of women’s rights there “the most draconian globally,” and that’s because on top of stopping girls from going to high school and, most recently, university – the Taliban has also banned women from going to parks or other public places.

So they’re stuck at home…
Yep – the United Nations says what’s happening to women there is “tantamount to imprisonment”.

And Iran?
Protests there have been going on since September after the death of Mahsa Amini – she was arrested for not wearing a headscarf properly. The country’s rulers do appear to be making some concessions – like saying they’ve shut down the so-called morality police that enforced women’s dress codes.

I feel like there’s a but coming…
But… unfortunately, it does appear to be just lip service. That’s because the brutal crushing of the protests is continuing, and the regime is still arresting anyone criticising the government – the latest being the internationally renowned actress Taraneh Alidoosti.

Sri Lanka is another country we heard a lot about earlier in the year…
So the country basically ran out of money. There were severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine and the whole government was forced to resign back in May.

What’s the deal there now?
There are still serious food shortages in the country, and UNICEF estimates more than 50,000 kids are suffering from acute malnutrition. But the new Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena says food security is his number one priority, and by next year he wants every Sri Lankan to be eating 3 meals a day.

Geez, you’re going to need to lift my spirits now…
Okay – let’s talk about Monkeypox and foot and mouth disease…

Here we go…
Bear with us… So the good news – touch wood – is that FMD has not made its way here as many feared, but the government’s not taking any chances. All travellers arriving from Indonesia still have to step on a disinfectant foot mat, and all luggage, mail and imports are being pretty carefully screened.

That’s kinda uplifting… What about Monkeypox?
So, first of all, the term ‘Monkeypox’ is so old-school – the World Health Organization is now calling it ‘Mpox’ to remove any stigma from the name. The upside is the global peak of the virus seems to have been in July – and vaccines for vulnerable groups have helped to drive down the number of infections.

Huzzah… Any more updates on crazy political stories?
Well, we really got into all the drama happening in the UK this year. So the nation started the year with Boris Johnson as PM, then they had Liz Truss for 44 days and then they finished the year with Rishi Sunak.

And we haven’t heard a whole lot from him since…
No – he’s definitely gone under the radar compared to his predecessors, and it looks like that’s very deliberate. His colleagues say he’s getting across the details of difficult issues like the energy and cost of living crises. He’s also trying to mend the Conservative Party, which has really torn itself apart after the last few years.

Anyone else we haven’t heard from in a while?
There’s Salman Rushdie. He’s the famed author of The Satanic Verses who was stabbed multiple times by an Iran-supporting extremist at a book event in New York back in August.

How’s he holding up?
He lost sight in his left eye and movement in his left hand after that attack – but would you believe he’s got another book coming out in February… His friends say the 75yo’s spirit and sense of humour are intact – and he’s determined not to be seen as a victim.

And what about one of our own favourite Aussie icons, John Farnham?
He’s had a really rough time this year, with a marathon surgery back in August to deal with mouth cancer.

That was a real shock…
It was, and fortunately, his son Robert told a magazine earlier this month Farnsey was in good spirits – that he’s finished radiotherapy and said that there’s no way he will be missing Robert’s wedding next year.

Glad to hear he’s on the mend… I almost don’t want to ask, but what’s the latest on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard?
So the ex-spouses had duelling defamation cases back in June. A jury awarded Depp US$10 million in damages after finding Heard couldn’t substantiate claims of domestic violence. Heard was also awarded US$2 million for defamatory statements made by her ex-husband’s lawyer.

It was all pretty nasty…
It sure was. Appeals were lodged that have just come to a settlement. Heard is still paying Depp – but it’s now $1 million dollars, and he is paying her nothing. 

We haven’t heard much from her since the whole saga…
No, and Depp’s just inching back into the public eye. Last month, he had a cameo in a streamed fashion show for Rihanna’s lingerie line. The big test for him is whether a big Hollywood studio will back him again for a lead role.

And Will Smith is kind of facing the same question…
Yep – after that whole Oscars scene earlier back in March when he slapped host Chris Rock on stage for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith…

What a moment…
Indeed… It saw the Academy ban him from the event for 10 years. Now his new movie Emancipation is out, set in 1860s America. Smith plays an escaped slave and the big question – is it an Oscar-worthy performance?

So he can still be nominated for an Oscar?
He can, even though he can’t go to the ceremony… Of course, it’s TBC if he even scores a nomination with the response from the critics distinctively lukewarm…

So tell me – is anyone still playing Wordle?
Funny you ask – Google has just revealed it was the most globally searched term of 2022.

So I guess that means yes…
A lot of people stopped playing when it was bought by The New York Times way back in February, but it’s still got a hold on a lot of us… It’s still free to play – that was the big fear that the media giant would put it behind a paywall.

And they haven’t?
No. For now…

So is the ‘BOM’ still a thing?
Funny you ask… This year the Bureau of Meteorology asked us not to call them the BOM. They wanted to be known as ‘The Bureau’ for short.

It’s all coming back to me…
Yep, and every Aussie should know you can’t pick your own nickname… And the Bureau put out this request when large parts of Oz were in the middle of a once-in-a-century flood crisis.

Yep, and then we found out that rebranding cost $220,000… It wasn’t a good look. In the end, the boss apologised and told us we can call it anything we liked.

The BOM it is… Speaking of controversial things – whatever happened to Skywhale?
You mean the giant hot air balloon that launched back in 2013? She’s particularly famous in Canberra, but she got a tear in, umm, a sensitive spot ahead of a festival in Ballarat in July.

So she had to be grounded?
Yep, and deflated – much to the disappointment of the crowd there… But the good news that is the repair team got to work, and she’s been airborne again.

What an icon…
And speaking of icons, have you been keeping up with Emmanuel the Emu on TikTok?

That rings a bell…
He’s an emu who lives on a farm in Florida in the US – he’s basically the most famous emu in the world… He got really big on the socials after constantly interrupting his owner’s videos.

What’s he been up to?
He hasn’t been well… There were concerns for him a couple of months ago because several birds on the property had to be destroyed after avian flu swept through the area. Emmanuel was quite sick but, fortunately, he didn’t have the flu. He’s recovering, but it’s a slow road.

Hang in there, Emmanuel… What are we going to end with?
We’re going to go out on a high – one of the most talked about foods of 2022 was the humble iceberg lettuce…

I saw it got up to $12 bucks a head at one stage…
Yep, it got crazy expensive with the floods. But in good news for shoppers, you can now get one for $2.50 – which is actually down 30c on the same time last year.

Just in time for a prawn cocktail at Christmas?
Don’t mind if we do. 

Squiz recommends:

Skywhale image gallery

Time Magazine’s top 10 viral moments of the year

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