The (Not So) Sweet Sixteen
As the year comes to an end, here’s a look back at sixteen of the most significant news stories of the year.
By Jeffrey Cope, Texas State University
2016 has been a tumultuous year to say the least, and will undoubtedly be remembered for multiple reasons.
The doom and gloom wasn’t all consuming, but when composing this year-in-review—a list of specific news stories that highlighted 2016—the task of keeping things positive became rather tricky.
So what the hell, why not just embrace the suck?
With top stories that have been riddled with death, scandal, conspiracy and a little bit of winning, the past 365 days have been a rather poor test for humanity. And as the New Year approaches, many people have been left with nothing but the hope that 2017 will be a year for redemption. Although, if last year represents a sign of things to come, by this time next year I may be writing an end-of-the-world review.
Below is a list of the most highly-publicized news stories that made national headlines during the year.
#1. Donald Trump Becomes President
On November 8, the U.S. elections were held and found businessman Donald Trump victorious.
Trump’s win came as a surprise for many people around the world, due in large part to Trump’s brutish persona and lack of political experience, both of which were highlighted by the openly-biased news coverage that favored Clinton.
For weeks after the election, desperate Clinton supporters, celebrities, media and politicians alike were ceaselessly protesting to change the results.
#2. Hillary Clinton Suffers a Series of Scandals
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, having undergone a total of five FBI investigations while running for president, suffered a shocking defeat against her competitor, Donald Trump.
Clinton spent a record $1.2 billion on her campaign, and, despite being favored by the media and special interests, Clinton could not hide from the controversies and gain the trust of the electors.
Having a ten-year history of releasing over ten million leaked government documents with 100 percent accuracy, the worldwide activist organization played a significant role in 2016 U.S. politics.
Under the leadership of Julian Assange, who has been under house arrest in the UK’s Ecuadorian embassy for 5 years now seeking political asylum, WikiLeaks released thousands of controversial emails from Clinton, her campaign chairman John Podesta, and other high-ranking Democratic National Committee members, several of which revealed troubling behavior.
#4. Fake News
In late 2016, the Clinton campaign unleashed an onslaught of accusations about the deliberate creation of fake news designed to steal the election from her.
False information being spread on the internet is nothing new, but it wasn’t until after the election that the country was said to be suffering from an “epidemic” of fake news. The outcry led to calls for internet censorship and “fact checking” by government-approved agencies. The problem, whether fortunately or unfortunately, is not isolated to the U.S., as fake news has become a problem across the world.
#5. Blaming the Russians
Seemingly taking the world back to the Cold War era, the U.S. government aggressively accused Russia of having hacked the election and propagandized the American people against Clinton.
Even though before the election President Obama claimed that there was no real threat of a rigged election, there are now threats of retaliation coming from the highest levels of the U.S. government.
#6. Troubles within Turkey
What a year Turkey has had.
The nation has made headlines on numerous occasions in recent years, but some of the top stories this year were a 24-hour, live-broadcast attempted military coup, and a televised assassination of a Russian ambassador. However, Turkey remains a stable nation and seeks to improve and strengthen its ties to Russia.
#7. The Syrian Conflict
In what is surely the world’s foremost hotbed for ongoing warfare, the nation of Syria has been undergoing a devastating fight for national control since 2011.
The opposing sides of the regional war are the Syrian government, which is being aided by Russia and Iran, against Syrian rebels, ISIS, and a smattering of other rebel groups, some of which are U.S.-backed.
The situation is becoming a powder keg, and could ignite a larger conflict between the U.S. and Russia.
#8. The Migrant Crises
Largely a result of Western intervention, which has caused conflict and destabilization in the politically delicate region, the civilian population has undergone a mass exodus from the war-torn Middle East.
The problems caused by the large movement of people has led to the scrutiny of many western nations’ immigration policies, as the cultural and social welfare of the sheltering states has become an issue.
Tragically, senseless violence must be considered a top headline for the year.
This year the world saw horrific acts of violence at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, and most recently at the Christmas market attack in Berlin, Germany.
This is of course in addition to the numerous bombs and suicide attacks in war zones, such as Syria and Iraq.
#10. Brexit: Britain’s Vote to Leave the European Union
In a decision made by the British people, led by the UK’s former Independent party leader, Nigel Farage, the nation voted to exit from their partnership in the European Union.
The decision, which was a display of national sovereignty that took the world by surprise, may lead to a domino effect. As the EU continues to suffer from increased economic and immigration tensions, other nations are now considering an exit as well.
#11. The Panama Papers
Brief in its revelation, the historic leak of 11.5 million documents from an offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca based in Panama, listed many names of wealthy people and powerful public figures who were involved in undermining and exploiting the tax code through offshore tax havens.
The papers created a controversy by revealing just how much money the ultra-wealthy were shielding from taxation through the extra-legal methods. The public was also incensed to discover names of prominent politicians, such as the Prime Minister of Iceland, who were tucking away money despite being enormously wealthy already.
#12. DAPL: The Dakota Access Pipeline Protest
What originally began as a tribal land dispute, protesting the DAPL soon brought together the Native American community, environmental protectionists and veterans to fight against government overreach.
In ever-increasing numbers, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation became the frontlines of a movement of solidarity, as people came to support the protection of the land and water from the proven dangers of an underground pipeline.
Protesters suffered numerous cases of police brutality and extreme weather conditions. As the protest appears to be a continuing issue, pipeline and government officials have considered re-routing.
#13. The Clowns
The clown issue was a strange event that briefly received national attention, as people across the country reported witnessing, being chased and even being attacked by creepy clowns with knives.
As the year came to an end though, the clown sightings appear to have stopped.
#14. Celebrity Deaths
To name just a few of the more than one hundred deaths of notable public figures, 2016 took the lives of: Prince, David Bowie, Antonin Scalia, Fidel Castro, Janet Reno, Gene Wilder, Alan Thicke, John Glenn, Edgar Mitchell, Florence Henderson, Leonard Cohen, Arnold Palmer, Youree Dell Harris (Miss Cleo), Scotty Moore, Pat Summitt, Christina Grimmie, Gordie Howe, Kevin Ferguson (Kimbo Slice), Muhammad Ali, Doris Roberts, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Reagan, Dave Mirra, Alan Rickman, George Michael and many others.
In just the last few days of the year, Carrie Fisher and George Michael also passed away, bookmarking the end of a year that began with the deaths of Prince and David Bowie.
#15. The Olympics
Held this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, despite threats of Zika and other health and safety concerns (including green pool water), the spectacular athletic event came and went without major problems.
The games left audiences with the fond memories of amazing athletes such as Usain Bolt, as well as the retirement of Michael Phelps and the rise of gymnast Simone Biles.
#16. The Cubs Win the World Series
Not since 1908, 108 years ago, had the Chicago Cubs won the Major League Baseball World Series. This year, when the Cubs won in a heart-stopping, extra-innings Game 7, the curse was finally broken.
Cheers to a New Year everyone!
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