Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010: THE END IS NIGH'S Apocalyptic Review of the Year!

2010 has been a remarkable year for apocalypse watchers the world over and The End is Nigh has been here to chart the doomsday depths and navigate the eschatological eddies for you, giving you the low down on the the names and numbers, the saints and sinners, the sects and the scientists who concern themselves with the end of the world.

So here we present our look back at some of our favourite highlights from 2010 - a truly apocalyptic year...

2010 began well for apocalypse-watchers, as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists nudged their Doomsday Clock a minute further away from midnight.
The group of prominent scientists shifted the clock back to six minutes to midnight - it has been a five to since North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon in 2007. The proximity to midnight denotes how close they feel mankind is to destroying itself with nuclear conflict.
The furthest away from midnight it has ever stood was 17 minutes, thanks to US/Russian nuclear arms treaties in 1991.
Citing "a hopeful state of world affairs," the group said in January that for the first time since World War II, leaders are cooperating in efforts to curb nuclear bomb-making. They also credited the US, particularly President Barack Obama, for a “newfound sense of international cooperation and engagement on the issue of nuclear weapons”.

The year also began with continuing head-scratching by commentators over some seemingly apocalyptic comments made by former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential hopeful, Sara Palin, in an interview with Barbara Walters where she talks about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: " I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
Could this, it was asked, signify Palin’s belief in the Christian idea - derived from The Book of Revelation - that the final battle between good and evil will take place at Megiddo in modern day Israel, as discussed in The End is Nigh issue two?
And later in the year, concerns were raised that a potential Palin presidential bid could coincide with claims that the world will end in December 2012 - around the time of the next US presidential election.

More than a year after the jailing of self proclaimed messiah Wayne Bent, the first media were allowed inside his apocalyptic cult’s compound.
Bent was sentenced in December 2008 to 18 years in prison for molesting a young follower. Eight years of Bent's sentence were suspended, making the effective sentence 10 years unless the suspension is revoked.
Even after their spiritual leader went to prison, life continues for the 35 members of the Lord Our Righteousness Church: “Now, while they wait for their messiah to return to Strong City, they look forward to the time God takes them and all Christians off this earth completely.”
Bent’s lawyers have filed an appeal.

As we slowly thawed out after a particularly cold winter, we were warmed to discover that there is an 86 percent chance that Gliese 710 - an orange dwarf star - will plough through the Oort Cloud, a ‘cloud’ of ice and rock that extends some 0.5 parsecs into space from the Earth.
Such an approach would send an almighty shower of comets into the Solar System, forcing us to keep our heads down for a while. And a probability of 86 percent is about as close to certainty as this kind of data can get.
The good news is the chances of Gliese 710 penetrating further into the Solar System, inside the Kuiper Belt, are much smaller, just 1 in a 1000.

And we were given another date for our apocalyptic diaries: Leonardo da Vinci predicted that the world will end on November 1, 4006, according to a Vatican researcher.
Sabrina Sforza Galitzia said the clues were to be found in da Vinci’s Last Supper mural. She claims to have worked out that da Vinci foresaw the end of the world in a “universal flood” which would begin on March 21, 4006 and end on November 1 the same year.

The original prophet of environmentalism, Professor James Lovelock, said in April that despite all his best efforts to warn everybody, it's now too late to try and save the planet.
According to the BBC, he "now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change".

Speaking to Peter Hennessy for the BBC Radio 4 documentary Day One in Number 10, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler described how one of the first things the UK’s new Prime Minister, David Cameron, would have to do is personally write four letters, one for the safe of each Trident submarine, to be opened if the home government is destroyed.
"There has to be provision for what happens if the government has been destroyed by a nuclear strike, and somebody has then got to say well we have our missiles on the submarines, out under the seas and what should the commanders of those submarines do.
"And there has to be a plan for what would happen in that situation, and the person to make that plan - and it has to be made in advance because the home government may have been destroyed - should be the person that has been elected as the head of government. So that falls on the prime minister to make."
The cabinet secretary briefs the Prime Minister on the options, and then leaves him alone, in his words, "to do privately, wrestling with their own beliefs and conscience”. They then seal the letters, return them to the cabinet secretary, and they are transmitted to the boats.

Not content with selling more than 60m copies of his apocalyptic ‘Left Behind’ Rapture books, author Tim LaJaye decided to suggest to Fox News that President Obama is the Antichrist - a bestselling US author saying that his country’s president will bring about the end of the world represented a considerable step-up in both the anti-Obama and apocalyptic rhetoric by the American right-wing.

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, otherwise known as Joseph Alois Ratzinger, to the UK aroused strong views amongst those opposed to the head of the Roman Catholic Church's views on the sexual abuse committed by priests around the world, homosexuality and atheism.
But it’s more as a harbinger of the apocalypse that the Pope aroused our interest. As detailed in The End is Nigh #2 (which is still available for free download) according to the fascinating Prophecy of the Popes, supposedly made by St Malachy and first published in 1595, Benedict is the ‘penultimate pope’. His successor, so the prophecy goes, will bring about the end of the world.

November has possibly been the most apocalyptic month of the year so far.

Dreaded bird flu reared its ugly head for the first time since the last minor outbreak in January 2009, while its compatriot swine flu - the subject of the main feature in the last issue of The End is Nigh - began to re-emerge among populations in the west. Within a month, it would be the cause of renewed warnings of flu epidemics with a rise in deaths as post-scare complacency is blamed.

As the whistleblowing website Wikileaks continued to publish confidential diplomatic US government cables, it was revealed just how much America is concerned that Pakistan may lose control of its own nuclear weapons or engage in conflict with India.

Epidemiologists in Uganda are still not able to identify a disease that has hit 96 people and killed 31 in the northern part of the country.
The disease, the symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, abdominal pain and dizziness, first came to light in November in the Ugandan districts of Abim, Agago, Kitgum and Lamwo in November.
A forty-one year-old man from Wipolo village, Morulem subcounty in Abim district was the first recorded victim. He complained of headache and stomach pain on 2 October and died on 7 October.
According to the ministry of Health, he had attended a party where he reportedly drunk waragi and kwete - both locally made brews - before falling ill, yet other people who drank the same did not fall sick. Five family members who nursed him fell ill and his 12-year-old son also died.
Although more than a third of those affected have died, authorities have said recovery is possible if treatment is sought quickly.
Initial inspections carried out by the Uganda Virus Research Institute and international laboratories such as Center for Disease Control in Atlanta point away from Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley fever, Lassa fever, Congo Crimean fever or Typhoid fever. However, warnings to people not to touch, handle and eat sick or dead animals suggest authorities are concerned that this may be another case of zoonosis - a disease that has made the leap from animal to human.

But, y'know, at least we discovered that high-pitched crooner and former military man, James Blunt, saved us all from World War III!

Forty billboards sprang up this month around nine cities in the US, claiming that May 21, 2011 will be the date of the Rapture. Fans of Family Radio, a nationwide Christian radio network, paid for the billboards after the network's founder, Harold Camping, predicted the date for the Rapture.
In Camping's latest publication, We are Almost There!, he states that certain Biblical passages point unquestionably to May 21, 2011 as the date of "Rapture", and October 21, 2011 as the end of the world. This is despite already getting it wrong - in his book 1994? he claimed there was a very high likelihood that the world would end in September 1994, although he did admit he "could be wrong".

Any small French town would normally be delighted with a new influx of foreign visitors - but the mayor of Bugarach is less than impressed with the flood of apocalyptic travellers that has engulfed his community.
The population of this farming community in the Aude region of southwestern France - which sits at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbieres wine-growing area - is normally a modest 189, but this is being swelled by thousands of foreigners who are convinced that this sleepy village will escape the end of the world in 2012.
Jean-Pierre Delord, mayor of Bugarach, says rumours are circulating that the village offers shelter from an impending Armageddon.
The claims about the town have become the latest fad amongst apocalypse-watchers who believe that the world will end on 21 December 2012 - an event supposedly predicted by a calendar of the ancient Maya civilisation of Central America.
Many of the visitors believe that a group of aliens is hiding in a cavern in Bugarach's 1,231m mountain and will leave when the world ends and kindly take them with them, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
M. Delord claims that websites in the US are selling tickets for trips to Bugarach: "They are doing some business, and people are already organising visits and prayer and meditation workshops, etc," he told The Telegraph, adding: "This is no laughing matter … If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."
He said people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years or so in search of alien life following a post in an UFO review by a local man, who has since died. "He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain," he said, claiming that several "Ufologists" have bought properties in the mountain's shadow, with a mini-industry of gurus and prayer groups springing up.
The Herald claims the internet is awash with about claims the late President Francois Mitterrand visiting the peak, and mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later Mossad, the Israeli secret service. Recently, however, interest in the site had skyrocketed, said the mayor, with online UFO websites advising people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon commences.
But, as we pointed out in October, the idea that the ‘end’ of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012 means the end of the world has been roundly debunked.
A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years.
Most importantly, it means that 21 December 2012 is a meaningless date - the Mayan calendar doesn’t end then, if it ever indeed does ‘end’ (much the same as my desk calendar only going up to 31 December doesn’t mean the world will end then … I’ll just buy a new one) and therefore there simply cannot be a ‘prediction’ at all.
Not that this will stop the 2012 theorists - not even an explicit refutation by NASA managed that one...

So, that was 2010 - another year that humanity has inexplicably managed to survive in spite of all the predictions that the end was indeed nigh. We're a year closer to the next big apocalyptic date of 21 December 2012, of course, so expect the profile of the biggest diary entry in all armageddon-watchers' diaries to loom larger as 2011 continues and there's Family Radio's prediction of 21 May to look forward to.

And don't forget that if you want more analysis of the end of the world and those predicting it, issue four of The End is Nigh is still available to buy online.

We are The End is Nigh and this has been our apocalyptic review of 2010 - thanks for following us and we wish you a prosperous, safe and above all non-apocalyptic 2011!

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