2012: Good year/Bad year

Not since the turn of the millennium has a single year promised so much: the Olympics, Euro 2012, a US election, an extra day off, and oh, the end of the world. Here, we assess the 12 winners and losers, and ask what the year holds... apart from Armageddon

THE GOOD

For pundits

It's too early to predict who'll win the US presidential election in November, unless you're a political pundit. Brace yourself as the race for world supremacy kicks off on Tuesday, with the Iowa caucuses.

To look up

A near-Earth asteroid called 433 Eros will pass the planet on 31 January, and be visible to the naked eye. Then in June, Venus will move across the Sun. It's happened only seven times since 1631, and won't happen again until 2117.

To be gay

In Hawaii, where civil unions become legal today. Apart from being a breakthrough for gay rights in America's 50th state, it's good news for anyone planning to get married in a loud shirt on the beach.

To be a bull

A ban on bullfighting begins in Catalonia today, ending years of ritual and tradition.

To be a hen

Which, thanks to a new EU directive, can no longer be kept in barren battery cages. But "enriched" battery cages are still legal – giving each bird an area the size of a piece of A4 paper.

For Hello! magazine

It's the year of the celebribaby. Leading the field is Beyoncé, who is due at any minute. She'll be followed by actress Jennifer Garner. In February, Robert Downey Jnr becomes a father, and singer Jessica Simpson is expecting. Even Hilary Duff is, er, living up to her name.

For getting over the Second World War

The British Army begins withdrawing troops from Germany. Not everyone's pleased: our men contribute £1bn to the local economy.

To become a jet pet

Pets entering the UK will no longer have to undergo six months of quarantine, though all need to be microchipped.

For minority football

As European Football Championships kick off jointly in Poland and Ukraine, Germany will host Europeada, a parallel tournament for "autochthonous, national minorities".

For saying yah boo to Britain

It's 50 years since Jamaica gained independence, and it is holding 12 months of celebrations.

For golf players

You're no longer penalised if a gust of wind moves your ball just before you hit it.

If you like 2012

It's going to be longer than usual, as it's a leap year, so there's an extra 24 hours at the end of February.

THE BAD

To be a cow

Leather will be in high demand this year, as fashion houses have worked the material into their spring/summer collections.

For film purists

Hollywood has finally run out of ideas, so it's going back to the Nineties. There'll be Men in Black III, Scary Movie 5, as well as a follow-up to American Pie.

For getting stoned

Foreigners will be banned from coffee shops in southern Holland from May in an effort to stop "cannabis tourism".

For happy campers

The holiday is over at the Caravan Club, as three VAT concessions for caravan owners cease to apply.

For quality television

The analogue television signal will be switched off on 24 October. You'll have to buy a flat-screen, and find out how lifeless digital TV actually is.

To be suburban

Annual rail fare rises of up to 6 per cent take effect from today. We're paying more, while the service stays the same.

For binge drinkers

From 6 April, booze outlets in England and Wales will not be able to sell alcohol for less than the tax paid on it.

To be young and English

Many students starting undergraduate courses in England this autumn will pay £9,000 a year in fees.

For 16-year-old boys

Research from the university of the bleeding obvious has shown boys fare worse in GCSEs when there's a major football tournament on.

To be a Welsh WAG

Welsh rugby players will have their salaries capped at £3.5m from July. Some are threatening to leave for France.

For sales of sticky-back plastic

Blue Peter is being cut to just one episode per week.

For the world

The world will end on 21 December, if you believe some interpretations of the Mayan calendar.

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