Olivia’s Take on the Politics of the Last Year

Olivia Baker In my “Year in Review” piece last year, I asserted that 2016 could’ve been the worst year ever (for some, that is). But I can’t quite pinpoint how 2017 has manifested. Some are counting down the seconds until 2018, others hate to see it go, and most of us are downright confused. Here’s a rundown of the year that will, hopefully, solidify your stance. January Let’s start with the politics. Before leaving office, Obama surprised Joe Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, commuted WikiLeaks discloser Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence from 35 to 7 years, and made last-minute efforts to stymie Trump’s agenda. Trump claimed to draw a record-breaking amount of attendees at his inauguration (which was false, by the way) and sent his administration into a frenzy. Kellyanne Connaway accused the internet of employing “alternative facts” when pictures of Obama’s inauguration and Trump’s inauguration were compared side by side. Sean Spicer blamed bad camera angles. Pence quietly planned his own inauguration. A day later, two million people worldwide participated in the “Women’s March.” Serena Williams beat her sister again in the Australian Open, her 39th win in a major tournament. Did I mention Serena was pregnant when she did this? Later in the month, Trump would announce his notorious travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority countries, sparking national outrage. February Like most years, February was just downright weird. Suspicions about Russian collusion in the 2016 election Michael Flynn resigned after misleading officials about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador. North Korea tested another ballistic missile dangerously close to its Southern counterpart. (What’s new.) Seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the Trappist-1 star were discovered, furthering the possibility of the existence of alien life. And finally and perhaps most importantly, the Oscars fiasco, when La La Land was announced as Best Picture instead of Moonlight. Quite the snafu. March If I had to describe March 2017 in one word, it would probably be— you guessed it— politics. (I’ll try not to bore you). Jeff Sessions, who was appointed in February, recused himself from the Russian-meddling investigation. Trump then issued his second travel ban, which was eagerly blocked by two federal courts. Park Geun-Hye, South Korea’s former president, was ousted and jailed on corruption charges. And about a week later, it’s revealed that the US was behind an airstrike in Mosul that collapsed a building and killed 100 citizens. On March 22, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center recorded only 5.5 miles of ice in the Arctic, its lowest ever. To compound that, Trump rolled back in Obama-era climate change measures with his Energy Independence executive order. On a lighter note, Project Week happened. Perhaps March wasn’t all that bad. April Tupac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Enough said for April. I’m kidding— surprisingly, there’s a lot more. Remember that heinous video of that guy getting dragged off an United Airlines flight, garnering national attention? That happened in April. Or when 662 Charlie Chaplin look-alikes swarmed the Chaplin museum in Switzerland? You probably don’t remember (nor should you), but that also happened in April. Some other things you might’ve missed: Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, a 3ft clam was found on the side of a ship in the Philippines, and e-commerce conglomerate AliBaba was named the world’s largest retailer. May Author Fennel Hudson once asserted that May, more so than any month of the year, wants us “to feel most alive.” And indeed, he was correct. The month had a great start. Emmanuel Macron defeated right-wing candidate Marie Le Pen on May 7th. A day before, France made it law to label digitally enhanced photos in fashion magazines, and 84 missing schoolgirls were released from Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram. The MTV movie awards—typically the most inane ceremony of awards season— was lauded for offering gender-neutral acting categories, Emma Watson and Millie Bobby Brown taking home “golden popcorns.” Unfortunately, May lost its luster just two days later, when Trump dismissed FBI director James Comey. It was all downhill from there. On May 22, the world was shaken after a suicide bombing occurred at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 and injuring 59. Islamophobic hate crime rates surged, the UK raised its terror threat to critical, and stories of heroism were shared in the weeks that followed. June On June 2, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, further isolating the nation from the international community. I mean come on, North Korea even ratified the accord. Three days later, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE mysteriously severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. Neighboring countries follow suit. On June 7th, Iran was rocked by an ISIS attack at the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum, which killed 11 people. The earliest human remains were found in eastern Morocco dating back to 300,000 years that same day. I’d like to shed a light on sports, considering I have yet to in this piece. Well, Rafael Nadal became the first male to win the French Open 10 times in June, the Pittsburgh Penguins took home the Stanley Cup once again, and the Warriors won the NBA Finals over the Cavaliers in a close game. Most importantly, Pakistan defeated India to win crickets Champion Trophy by 180 runs (I don’t know what runs are, but I suspect that amount is pretty symbolic). July I suppose July was the most interesting month of 2017. On July 2, Trump posted an edited video of him wrestling the CNN News network, because clearly, that was more important than dealing with taxes, human rights, and impending war with North Korea… 101 people were shot in Chicago over Fourth of July weekend, some of the bloodiest days in our city’s history. This episode wasn’t surprising for most of us. Two weeks later, the BBC announced its first female “Doctor Who” will be played by Jodie Whittaker, a win for females in the television industry. On the other hand, the Muppets studio fired the voice of Kermit the Frog, Steve Whitmire, citing his “unacceptable business conduct.” And while “Despacito” became the most streamed song ever—4.6 billion times, to be specific— Justin Bieber was barred from entering China on account of his previous bad behavior. Clearly, a lot of drama for both Justin Bieber and the Muppets in July. Another super casual July happening: three live cobras were found in potato chip cans by customs officials in Los Angeles on July 26th. And perhaps the most historical moment of the month, Jeff Bezos trumped Bill Gates as the richest person in the world, with $91.4 billion dollars. For half a day. (I presume Bill was dogging it for the first half of July 27, saw Jeff’s name on the news, and got his act back together). August The hateful “Unite the Right” protest consumed Charlottesville, Virginia on August 16, injuring 15, killing one, and galvanizing widespread condemnation. In response, Trump deemed the blame was his on “both sides,” whereas former president Obama tweeted “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,” which became the most-liked tweet ever. A day later, a car plowed into Barcelona’s Las Ramblas street, killing almost 20 people. ISIS took responsibility. The same day, Ligo, US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, picked up the collision of two neutron stars for the first time in history. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and notorious anti-globalist, was fired that day as well. On August 21, Americans witnessed the first solar eclipse in almost 50 years. Hundreds migrated to the umbra—the diagonal strip of land that cuts through the country— to witness it, and were in complete darkness for almost three minutes. At the end of the month, Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, made landfall at Port O’Connor, Texas. It inflicted almost $200 billion in damage and became America’s costliest storm. On August 30, merely a day later, Hurricane Irma formed in the Caribbean islands, a category 5 storm that would end up killing 102 people. September By September, it seemed as though Trump was simply trying to tear the fabric of American society. On the 4th, he ended the Dreamers program, otherwise known as DACA, leaving 800,000 Americans unprotected and subject to deportation. Thousands rallied in support for the Obama-era order, and continue to do so today. At the Emmys a few weeks later, there was no shortage of political commentary— Nicole Kidman used her platform to spread awareness about domestic abuse, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to nab a comedy writing Emmy for her work in Master of None, and Sean Spicer made an appearance that left everyone confused. Some other good things: 92% of Iraqi Kurds vote for independence on a September 25 referendum, it became lawful for Saudi Arabian women to drive, and an Indonesian man prevailed in a fight against a 7.8-meter long python in Batang Gansal. (How that happened I’m not totally sure). In more solemn news, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit southeast of Mexico City a few days later and killed almost 300 people. And, on September 20, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, leaving the island nation in virtual darkness. October Before I start with October 2017, let’s briefly go back to 12th century—Catalonia and Spain were distinct entities, but became unified under the Crown of Aragon. They’ve been together since then. However, on October 1, Catalonia held a controversial independence referendum amid recent political tensions with Spain. Also on October 1, America’s deadliest terrorist attack occurred at a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring almost 500. Debates over gun legislation were heightened. On October 5, a bombshell article by the New York Times was published, investigating reports of sexual harassment by Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. 83 women eventually came forward against him. Just 10 days later, the “Me Too” campaign was in full force, with thousands of people, mostly women, sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment. The news in October was replete with powerful men stepping down from their positions due to these claims. And on October 26th, Jacinda Arden is sworn in as the PM of New Zealand, becoming the world’s youngest female leader. October was certainly the month of the woman. November Amid a race to the Alabama Republican Senate seat, candidate Roy Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls in a November 9 Washington Post report. A day later, Louis C.K. admits the sexual allegations against him are true, and the BBC modifies its Christmas line-up to exclude Ed Westwick, who was accused of rape. Just a few days later, Barbie produced its first hijabi doll, modeled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Interestingly, that same day Italy failed to qualify for the Fifa World Cup since 1958, and in Khramis Didi Gora, Georgia, the world’s earliest wine-making clay pots were discovered, dating back to 6,000 BCE. On Thanksgiving, it was estimated that Americans ate over 46 million turkeys—about a seventh of the number of people living in America. Talk about why we have an obesity problem… November ended with two major events: one, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, and two, the world’s longest rainbow was recorded in Taipei, spanning almost 9 hours. December Well, we don’t know much about December as it stands, but I can tell you this so far: Michael Flynn pled guilty about lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation, the first pizza party was held at the International Space Station, Time Magazine deemed the “Silence Breakers” as the people of the year, wildfires continue to rage through California, and Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital on December 6th. As for the rest of the year, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.]]>