2016: A Year in Review

Olivia Baker   It is widely known that 2016 could possibly be the worst year in recent history. From all of the posts I’ve seen on social media, this opinion seems universal. But this article isn’t ranking 2016 in comparison with other years, nor is it only touching on the events that made it this way— I intend to re-enlighten my readers on what occurred in 2016. Perhaps, if you stick to what the Internet has been saying, this article will amplify your views. Maybe however, just maybe, this article may contradict them.   January January was relatively quiet. Zika was declared a belligerent virus, Iran dismantled their nuclear weapons program and the Western world lifted their sanctions, and the infamous “El Chapo” was captured once again after another casual escape from maximum security prison. So really, not that many surprising things transpired. But for some of us, January was a like a stab to the heart. The world lost two of its most promising, influential figures— David Bowie, and Alan Rickman. In the midst of awards season, where we are supposed to honor the art community’s ground-breaking work, we were mourning it’s greatest contributors.   February February seems to be the month no one really cares about. We seem to associate February with dullness, dealing with the last breath of winter, just waiting for March to come. But February was monumental, and many people seem to forget that. And this significance is solely for one reason, and one reason only— Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for his raw performance in The Revenant. His first Oscar ever. The Oscar that the internet bullied him for not possessing throughout his career. And this is one of the reasons why 2016 was, and continues to be somewhat awesome. The Denver Broncos won the Superbowl in a 24-10 match against the Carolina Panthers. But more importantly, Beyonce performed. And she was amazing. Oh yeah, and Bruno Mars and Coldplay were there too. Kanye West released his controversial The Life of Pablo album, and received much attention in February. And when that uproar died down, he went back to casually tweeting his spontaneous, and unprecedented thoughts. In more boring news, North Korea launched a rocket into space, unannounced and uncalled for. Basically, another way to isolate themselves from the clique that is the rest of the world and its admiration. Interestingly enough, the Pope frequently appeared in the news in February. He visited Mexico, and met with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church— the first rendezvous between these notorious pioneers since they went their separate ways in 1054. Jesus, that’s a long time.   March Three consecutive, coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Brussels, Belgium— carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS). 32 are declared dead, and more than 200 wounded. Only two days later, during an Easter celebration, a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, kills 75 people. This time, however, orchestrated by a different terrorist organization. As if the world needed more tragedy, yet another period of mourning occurred, calls for peace filling the media. Jean-Pierre Bemba and Radovan Karadžić, former leaders within Congo and Bosnia respectively, were both sentenced in courts for crimes against humanity. The former was the first criminal to be convicted of sexual atrocities in the International Criminal Court. And perhaps our most notorious alumni and fellow Roman, First Lady Nancy Reagan, passed on March 6. Indeed, March was, quite evidently, a dark time.   April April was eventful for two reasons: one, the Panama papers, and two, Beyonce (once again). I’ll begin with the latter. After weeks of teasing an unknown “project,” Beyonce releases LEMONADE— a visual album. She was praised for her flamboyance, and scrutinized for her messages. Not to mention that the internet literally erupted after “Becky with the good hair” was alluded to. And if you don’t understand the reference, well, maybe you should look it up. On a whole different note, the ICIJ and an infamous German newspaper exposes hundreds of fraudulent bodies in their attempt to hide and secure their wealth in Mossack Fonseca, a bank in Panama. In revealing a list of the guilty, some familiar names appear. Of the most notorious, none other than Vladimir Putin is involved. And no one knows how, but of all people, Emilio Estevez got involved too. I forgot to mention that Queen Elizabeth turned 90, making her the longest reigning monarch to ever serve in the British Kingdom— thereby proving that she might be immortal.   May In May, we mourned our beloved Harambe. After a child fell into his habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo, he was killed before he further hurt the boy. The gorilla’s death sparked outrage by animal rights’ activists, and others who pointed fingers at the child’s mother. Eventually, it seemed to settle down when Harambe not only became a trending meme, but a future candidate in the 2016 election despite his being dead and not a human.  And that’s all that happened. I’m kidding— but it was certainly a large portion of the news. Furthermore, EgyptAir flight 804 crashed over the Mediterranean on its way from Paris to Cairo, killing 66. This event equally shocked the world as it provoked question to what occurred.   June Yet another heinous terrorist attack transpired in June, one on our own soil. 49 people were killed in around 30 wounded after an armed gunman, who professed allegiance to ISIS, stormed an Orlando nightclub. Cries for recognition of the LGBTQ community sprouted, while anti-terrorism and anti-Islamophobia gained notoriety. This act prevailed as the largest shooting spree in America— it’s no wonder why gun laws were also a ubiquitous topic as well. A few days earlier, however, Britain declares a referendum from the EU subsequent to their nationwide Brexit vote. Protests and unrest occur. The aforementioned was amplified when a Parliament member, Jo Cox, is killed by a civilian with adverse beliefs. To add to such turmoil, America lost one of its most prominent figures— Mohammed Ali. Not only America, but professedly the world, grieved and honored his legacy. Shedding light on the silenced America, Ali was not only a boxer, but an activist and a voice. June also had some more light events, believe it or not. Rome elected its first female mayor, and in Columbia, FARC guerrillas and the government reached a peace agreement after almost fifty years of war.   July Perhaps the most eventful month of the year, July was memorable. It marked the beginning of a shot-lived era—Pokemon Go. Gamers flooded the streets of the world’s most populated cities in order to find virtual hidden creatures with special powers. If you didn’t have, or even know about this app, it was as if you lived under a rock. I guess you can say it was an interesting time for the human civilization. This summer month also sensed a rise in terrorist attacks. Targets ranged from Nice, France, when a bus rammed into a crowd of people, and Germany, where several minor attacks transpired. Iraq, France, and Japan were rocked by such events as well. Security increased throughout Europe, leaving each nation on their toes. A failed coup attempt in Turkey rattled its already contentious political landscape in July. Secularists occupied airports and landmarks, and, for once in a long time, it seemed as though the government was going to topple. Ultimately, loyalists prevailed, and the political vacuum seized to transpire. In other news, the Juno Spacecraft, birthed by NASA, captured some of the first images of Jupiter as it encounters the planet’s orbit. As you are reading this, the spacecraft is completing its 20 month survey around the planet. Interestingly enough, I just realized I haven’t mentioned the election once— well, in July, the two party system of America confirmed their front runners. Donald Trump spearheaded the Republican party, whilst Hillary Clinton lead the Democrats. The latter made history as the first female candidate in America’s presidential election. It was about time, right?   August The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August— and America took several Ws. For one, Michael Phelps became the most decorated swimmer, not to mention Olympian, of all time. With a wicked 28 medal resumé, he certainly went down in history. Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, wins the 100m sprint for the third season in a row. Not only did he make it look easy, but was epoch-making in doing so. The Final Five, America’s notorious gymnastics team, became legends as well. Four foot nine Simone Biles won five gold medals for the team, and Laurie Hernandez became an inspiration to everyone after whispering “I got this” before her beam routine. To say the least, these talented ladies stole the show. Another Simone prevailed in these games— but this time, in swimming. Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in such a sport. Like the aforementioned, she has become a catalyst. Unfortunate events also occurred in August. For instance, Brazil’s leader was impeached. And, like the months past, terrorist attacks fueled hatred and desire for peace throughout the world.   September In less monumental news, North Korea tries, once again, their nuclear weapons off of their east coast. Everyone is as equally snide as they are frightful. Some even go to the extent to render it as “maniacal recklessness.” A report was released depicting that the CO2 levels throughout the world transcended 400 ppm. This was odd for September, as this month was known for its rather low emissions in the environment. But don’t lose hope— several days earlier, the US and China signed the Paris Agreement, manifesting a cut down on green house gas emissions by 2030. Quarterback Colin Kapernick of the San Fransisco 49ers made headlines after deliberately kneeling during the national anthem. His intention? To shed light on inequality in America. Like so many others, he was praised and criticized— but he seized to succumb to these adverse views. A world leader and peace-seeker, Israel mourned the loss of one of its founding fathers, Shimon Peres. He was notorious as an Israeli leader to attempt at conversation between its Arab counterpart, Palestine. Indeed, his legacy as an intellectual and spearhead lives on. And, because September was relatively quiet in world news, some of the biggest headlines concerned two Vincent Van Gogh paintings. Unearthed in Amsterdam after being stolen in 2002, their combined values exceeded $100 million.   October Chicagoans loved October for one reason— the Cubs made it to the World Series. W flags adorned windows throughout the city, and on game night, barely anyone was out and about. As for the ongoing, tumultuous election, a controversy arises concerning Trump and Billy Bush. The men, on the latter’s show in 2005, spoke grotesquely of their treatment of women. Billy Bush stepped down from NBC after this recording surfaced. Trump, despite calls for the dropping out of the election, attempted to justify his actions and moved on. Evidently, such ugly language about more than half of the population did not intercept his campaign, nor future victory. In other world news, Boko Haram released 21 Chibok school grill after they were captured in 2014 in Nigeria. In Aleppo, where the Syrian civil war has been raging for over five years, Russia and the Syrian government pause their bombing for eight hours. The reason? For humanitarian needs. For anyone that loves Benedict Cumberbatch (like me), you probably have seen The Imitation Game. Alan Turing is the protagonist, a man who solved Nazi enigma, aided the Allies during the second World War, but was perceived as a criminal because he was gay. More than 60 years later, the British parliament has pardoned those who were convicted for “gross indecency”— synonymous with being gay. Known as Turing’s Law, many who were convicted have since passed. But for the 15,000 still living, and still being seen as criminals, this law was a victory.   November On November 2, 2016, the Cubs won the World Series, ending the 108 year drought. And if you thought that Chicago went nuts after even making it to the renowned tournament, the city exploded with celebration after the Cubbies’ prevailing. The parade itself even made history— for one, we were excused from school. That’s when you knew it was a big deal. And two, it was the 7th largest gathering of humans, ever. So you could say November was pretty cool. Around the same time, Latin also made history itself. Latin’s girl’s cross country team, for what seems like the millionth time, made it to state. Boy’s soccer won their state tournament, and girl’s volleyball gained notoriety after also making it to state finals. On the other hand, elections were held. Winning over 52% of the votes, Donald Trump became our president. He sparked national outrage. Protests erupted throughout the nation, calling for his resignation, and ultimately against him as a person. Likewise, debate was provoked— what is this so-called middle America? What is America going to be like now? Unfortunately, hate crimes also erupted throughout the nation, committed in Trump’s name. As for the fight to regain land from ISIS, Iraqi counterterrorism forces entered the city-limits Mosul for the first time in two years. Such an advancement for these armed forces was monumental. General Taleb Shighati al Kenani declares that their furtherance marks “the beginning of the true liberation of the city of Mosul.” Not to mention that Aleppo, in November, had been bombarded the most it has been throughout their war. And on November 25, Cuba’s former leader, Fidel Castro, died. In his notorious revolution, Fidel, his brother Raul, and several other comrades usurped the government of President Batista— eventually implementing a communist rule of the country. The aftershocks were polarizing— on one hand, Cubans were celebrating. Perhaps it was the end of an era of communism and rigid rules. On the other hand, Cubans were mourning the loss of on of the most powerful revolutionaries in all of history.   December I know what you are thinking— we are barely into December, there can’t be anything that has happened. But you’d be surprised to know that there is actually some news. The Dakota Access Pipeline, a structure in which was supposed to be built a half a mile from an Indian Reservation after being moved from Bismarck, caused much controversy. People flooded to protest, to protect the water for the Native American tribes near the area. These peaceful gatherings were often met with harsh government counteraction— rubber bullets, cold water. In the end, the people won— the route was changed, saving the lives of hundreds of people. And really, that is probably it. But don’t worry, knowing what 2016 brought, the rest of December could be colossal in comparison with the rest of the year. Evidently, 2016 was tumultuous— the world experienced some good things, some bad things. The world saw change. The world saw discrimination, and the world saw unity. Despite the memes on Instagram, and despite the yearning for a new year, take a moment and reflect on 2016. Contrary to what the Internet has said, sometimes it wasn’t all that bad. My evidence? You just read it.  ]]>