2001 - January, the dawn of the 21st Century for many, sees earthquakes in San Salvador and India. Tens of thousands die, but incredible stories of survival and heroism are told. President George W. Bush is sworn in as President, the previous Clinton Administration are said to have stolen the letter 'W' from the computer keyboards before they left. February sees snowstorms in the south of Scotland. Ariel Sharon is voted in as Prime Minister in Israel. Foot and Mouth disease is found at an abbatoir in Brentford, Essex. The nightmare of another epidemic amongst farm animals is dreaded. Over the coming months thousands of animals are slaughtered in an attempt to contain the outbreak. British tourism is hit hard as vast areas of countryside and footpaths are closed to the public in an attempt to contain the outbreak. |
April sees an American naval spy plane forced to land on Hainan island in China after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet. After ten days of intensive negatiation over wording of the incident, and not a little amount of Cold War-style brinkmanship, the crew of the spy aircraft are returned to the U.S., although the aircraft is kept by the Chinese. Barely have the feet of the U.S. crew touched American soil than President George W. Bush inflames the issue, sending the carrier Kitty Hawk into the area.
The General Election in the United Kingdom is delayed due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. The outbreak causes near-paranoia in Europe as British tourists are told to destroy any food they have brought with them and any vehicles from the U.K. are sprayed with disinfectant.
Nepal is in chaos at the turn of May/June as virtually the entire royal family is assassinated by the crown prince, who apparently went berserk with an automatic weapon. Thursday June 7th sees Labour voted in a landslide election in the United Kingdom. President Bush gets a cold reception on his tour of Europe.
July sees Britain blighted by race riots in Brixham and Bradford. These riots follow on from earlier rioting in Oldham. The Genoa G8 summit is fraught with anti-capitalism rioters and one protester is killed in the heavy-handed police response.
August sees the asylum seeker crisis intensifying with the Chunnel providing a convenient mode of transport from the refugee camps in France to British soil. The tension rises as an asylum seeker is murdered in the Sighthill area of Glasgow, Scotland.
September 11th 2001 sees the world changed forever. Around 9am local time in New York City, a highjacked Boeing 757 aircraft ploughed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Shortly thereafter, a second highjacked plane smashed into the second tower. Fires broke out immediately in the two towers as the fuel from the two fully-fuelled aircraft burned. These were to be the first shots of World War Three. President Bush barely had time to mention the attacks when a third highjacked plane crashed into the Pentagon - symbol of American might. A fourth aircraft crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania, the heroic passengers having fought back at the highjackers and crashing the plane, rather than destroying the intended target - the Senate.
The following ten days sees America mourning its loss. Other countries, Britain foremost amongst them, give their support. NATO is called upon to invoke Article 5: an attack on one member is an attack on all. A militant Islamic terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, is named as the culprit for the cowardly acts. The Taleban government of Afghanistan, harbouring Bin Laden, is order to give him up. After ten days of negotiating through Pakistan [America has no relations with Afghanistan, the Taleban are not recognised.] President Bush on the Third and final day of his deadline, September 20th, sets an ultimatum: Hand over Bin Laden, or the Taleban will share his fate. Four aircraft carriers - U.S.S. Enterprise and Kitty Hawk amongst them - are sent to the area. Stock markets the world over plummet as war looms closer. A coalition is formed between America, Europe, China, Russia, India, Australia and many more countries - all unified to fight global terrorism.
Meanwhile, Islamic countries see the actions of America and the West as being a threat to themselves. The Taleban call for a 'Jihad' or 'Holy War' against America and anyone who supports or assists America. People from countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt [from where some of the terrorist pilots came from] offer support for the Taleban, seeing an attack on the Telaban as an attack against Islam. Pakistan is increasingly crippled by internal divisions by Friday 21st September as the American-led retribution looms closer. Combat is initiated against the Taleban as the United States begins bombing Afghanistan whilst simultaneously dropping food aid to refugees on the borders.
Another facet of the war against terrorism, this new world war, is the emergence of letters containing anthrax spores being discovered in America and later in American embassies. Deadly artificially improved inhalation anthrax kills a number of postal workers and strikes genuine fear in the west. November 7th see Concorde returning to the air after the crash of 2000.
November sees the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan take Kabul and most of the cities in the country except Khandahar. The Taleban regime appear to have collapsed. Late November sees the announcement of the success at human cloning, in this case embryonic cloning for stem cell research. The world ponders this latest dip into Pandora's Box.
December sees an attack on the Indian government buildings on the 13th by Pakistani extremists. This leads to the years' end with the two countries poised for war, both armed with nuclear weapons of unknown quantity. Sydney, Australia faces bushfires on an enormous scale. December 22nd sees the interim government take control of Afghanistan.