Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Fireworks explode at the stroke of midnight at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City.

Welcome to 2014. This is one year when the world will probably do better than it did a century ago. All we have to do is avoid starting a world war.

For 100 years, people have marveled over how the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria could plunge the world into war. Thank goodness we’re more civilized today. Those uninhabited islands China and Japan both lay claim to would never be the site of an Austrian assassination.

A Chinese balloonist last week crash-landed in the sea while trying to reach one of the islands under dispute. A Japanese coast guard crew rescued him. This was seen as a rare moment of cooperation between the two nations. Call it “hot air diplomacy.”

Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, is rumored to be considering a run for Congress. Interesting. Why would he jump to a contest that attracts fewer voters?

Recently, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled the government’s secret spying program was probably unconstitutional. The administration reacted quickly by saying, “We knew you were going to say that.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial board is urging the president to grant clemency to Ed Snowden, the man who told the world about the secret stuff at the National Security Agency and then had to flee to Moscow. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s get Snowden to secretly tell us what Vladimir Putin is really up to.

Putin, meanwhile, was seen in Sochi last week, testing the venues for the upcoming Olympic Games. Expect his press office to report on the number of world records he set — shirtless, of course.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford launched his bid for re-election last week. Despite being an admitted crack smoker, his chances are good. Rumor has it he is backed by a wealthy coalition of late-night talk show hosts who count on him for material.

Voters can be assured Ford sets his standards high. Apparently, that’s the condition in which he does a lot of things.

Jay Evensen is associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. E-mail him at For more content, visit his web site,