Of course, it is impossible to say exactly what will be big news in 2019 as we collectively stand just on the other side of the threshold of this New Year. But the news today can affect us for weeks to come. Here in the United States, the potential for continued political turmoil hangs thick in the air with a partial government shutdown still in effect, the Mueller investigation ongoing, and major shift in the House of Representatives soon to occur. We know that oil prices, pipelines and carbon taxes are major issues in Canada. Europe faces Brexit and Latin America and Africa both face financial challenges. Racism is at epidemic levels as is corporate corruption. We do our best to understand the issues from the left, right, Libertarian and Green perspectives.
What matters most to us, though, is to understand news from our angle: the Pagan impact from the issues and on the issues. So, we asked our contributors and editors what they felt would be the important stories to watch this coming year given what we know right now.
From columnist Lyonel Perabo, “Euro dude here: the way Brexit happens. [It] Could lead to a breaking up of the UK which would then strengthen “independentist”/separatist movements all over Europe.
I think that the most important issue will be about Northern Ireland, and its place within the UK and the EU trade group. As of now, this issue has been the one that neither the UK nor the EU has been able to find a solution to. It is not impossible that, given a worsening of Northern Ireland economic situation due to being in a state of legal limbo, the option of joining the republic of Ireland would be considered. If this happens, Scottish separatism would be bolstered, and then, its Catalan counterpart. This could create a geopolitical shockwave that could redefine the notion of nationhood in a Europe where centralized state have delegated much of their power and legitimacy to the supra-national oversight of EU institutions.”
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Social media administrator Stacy Psaros said, “The net neutrality battle is far from over. I would not be surprised to see this go to [the] SCOTUS. 22 states Attorney Generals and companies have filed suit against the FCC claiming they are arbitrarily rolling back rules and overstepping their authority to ban states from passing their own protections.
With a Democratic House, they can try to roll back to the 2015 rules, but will have push back from GOP’ers. I doubt the FCC or courts want to try to juggle 50 states with 50 different bits of legislation.
It will definitely be interesting to see how this continues to unfold.”
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Rick de Yampert had this to say, “My friends have long known that I’m Pagan, and occasionally Pagan matters will come up in our conversations, mostly at their initiative. But I’m noticing them noticing Pagan-Wiccan-Witchy things more in so-called mainstream culture, pop culture and media, whether ‘Charmed’ or ‘Sabrina’ on television, Pagans surpassing the number of Presbyterians nationwide, or Russ Douthat writing about the rise of ‘paganism’ in the New York Times. And didn’t some public Pagans run for local or state political offices somewhere?
I will be intrigued to see if this uptick trend will continue in 2019. As one possible measurement of this continuing, societal ‘coming out of the broom closet,’ it will be a watershed day when a Pagan can run for political office and no one will make a big deal about it, either us or muggles. In my mind, we are far from that day. But we seem to be inching closer to it.”
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From our editor-in-chief, Manny Tejeda-Moreno, “If I look at the year ahead, I worry about the intersection of economic uncertainty and general prosperity in the Pagan, Heathen and polytheist community. For Pagan businesses and their adjacent counterparts, trade issues can become granular very fast depending on the source of their merchandise. And tensions also have adverse impact on issues broadly important to our community like fair trade, environmental conservation and sustainably-sourced goods. That uncertainty gets manifested currently and most prominently in Brexit (especially at the Irish border ‘backstop’) and the US-China trade disputes. But there are other trade tensions such as the one between US and Canada that impact the flow of raw materials like wood as well as exchange rates between, let’s be blunt, probably one of the closest and friendliest, bi-lateral relationships in history.
The major markets around the world are signaling that we have to brace for greater uncertainty–they’ve already triggered a bear market which typically last about 12 months. But if we recover more quickly than historical averages, then there’s more uncertainty. In Europe, beyond Brexit, we still don’t have complete resolutions to the debt crises. Meanwhile in China, we still see no real advances in debt transparency.
Finally, while the economic fundamentals are saying that the US economy remains stable, the prospect of a recession, I think, still looms at about 25% around the end of 2019. These kind of conditions impact the availability of resources for business, festivals, cons and the downright day-to-day of life including retirement, mortgages and even filling the gas tank.”
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It’s easy to not overlook how the policies of countries an ocean away might affect us. Our daily reality is life in a global economy, whether we embrace it or not that past 30 years of economic policy have forged connections that are both planned and unexpected. The decisions that some countries make or perhaps just as importantly, refuse to make, impact the policies of other countries. We’re just beginning to see the how the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is causing fallout merely by the atmosphere of uncertainty it is creating in global markets. Eventually, this will all filter down and affect everyone in the cost of goods and services, which will cause most of people to weigh the decisions they make about nearly everything.
For my opinion on the biggest factor in 2019, I think it is liable to be climate change. 2018 saw some of the worst and most catastrophic weather in modern history. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and forest fires—all massive and wreaking havoc in their wake. While it is not unusual to have one or two of these extreme weather events a year, what we saw last year was unprecedented. Western North Carolina saw a record rainfall of almost 80 inches of rain. A normal average for the year is only 43 inches. And very little of that was from the hurricane activity that affected the rest of the state.
Trade agreements, poor policy decisions, and crashing markets could easily take a backseat to actual, physical survival. The ability of governments to respond to natural disasters will certainly be affected by the global economy, and further hampered by poor policy decisions. Collectively and individually, I think we have to become more aware of how the things we buy and use are sourced. This has already been happening to a lesser degree, but I think there will be a greater focus on all the issues that make up the underpinning of weather shifts and climate change.
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Whatever the news of 2019, TWH contributors will do our best to cover it and shine a light on why they are relevant to our collective communities.