By Steven Keehner
As 2016 finally comes to an overdue conclusion, let’s take a look back at some of the notable events that have shaped the year and could possibly affect the years to come.
2016 immediately set its depressing tone back in January with legendary musician David Bowie passing away at the age of 69, leaving us with a legacy that will never be matched again. The year also kicked off with a bang, literally, with North Korea confirming that they had successfully tested thermonuclear weapons for the first time. Back here in the States, Star Wars: The Force Awakens exploded in popularity, breaking the North American box office record, surpassing Avatar. Below the border, in Mexico, infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was captured, again, after escaping six months prior. Moving back to entertainment, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson won Golden Globes for Best Actor and Actress, respectively. Oh, and WHO announced the outbreak of the Zika Virus, sending much of the world into a panic about their well being.
Moving into February, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, surpassed Apple as the most valuable company in the world. The 2016 Republican and Democratic races were in full force, as the sixth and eighth debates were held for each party, respectively. Moving into the world of sports, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, 24-10, which saw NFL legend Peyton Manning ride out as a champion one last time. Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had already stolen the hearts of many young Americans as he began to show the world that eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s road to the General Election would be a long one. On the Republican side, Donald Trump showed that maybe his run for the White Office wasn’t as big of a joke as it may have initially seemed to be. The 58th Grammy Awards took place with the award for Best Song going to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran and Best Album to "1989" by Taylor Swift. Syria, at this point, was being destroyed, with hundreds of innocent people being murdered, causing thousands to flee the country looking for safety. In lighter news, Fifty Shades of Gray won the 37th Razzie Award for The Worst Film of the Year. Staying in entertainment, Leonardo DiCaprio caused Hell to freeze over when he finally won an Oscar for Best Actor in The Revenant while Brie Larson also won the Oscar for Best Actress. Spotlight won the Oscar for Best Film as well.
March was surprisingly less eventful than the prior months of 2016, but it still had its moments. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the open Supreme Court spot following the death of longtime Judge Antonin Scalia. Meanwhile, U.S. College Student Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. Barack Obama also became the first U.S. President since 1928 to visit Cuba, which marked initial steps toward restoring the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. ISIS’s Reign of Terror struck once again, this time in Brussels, Belgium, as 28 were killed in an airport bombing. This act of terror also left around 260 injured. Attacks in Iraq and Pakistan also saw another 102 killed in bombings.
April featured one of the most important moments in the history of journalism; the “Panama Papers” were released. 11.5 million documents were released, which is the largest data leak ever. The release confirmed that many wealthy people were hiding their money in Panama, thus avoiding taxes. Beyonce released her 6th album, Lemonade, which also featured a one-hour documentary on HBO.
Going into May, and the world of sports, the greatest underdog story was solidified, as Leicester City managed to win the English Premier League despite being 5000-1 favorites. Moving back to politics, Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns, giving way for Trump to secure the Republican nomination. EgyptAir Flight MS 804 went missing while on a flight from Paris to Cairo. Back in entertainment, Bill Cosby had already begun trial for alleged sexual assault. In Cincinnati, Harambe, a gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo, was murdered following an incident with a child falling into the gorilla’s enclosure.
In June, Barack Obama openly endorsed Hillary Clinton for the democratic nomination. At the 70th Tony Awards, Hamilton walked away winning 11 of the 16 possible awards. The US was sent into shock when a gunman walked into an Orlando Nightclub, killing 49 and injuring 53, in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. In the basketball world, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a title, Cleveland’s first since 1964. The Colombian Government signed a ceasefire with the Farc rebels; this came after 50 years of conflict. In one of the most important events of the year, the world was shocked to see the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. Following the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron would step down after being embarrassed by the results, allowing Theresa May to become the new Prime Minister of Great Britain.
In July, renowned Para Olympian Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in jail following the murder of his girlfriend in 2013. Meanwhile, two black men were murdered by police, causing outrage amongst the country, especially among notable black rights group Black Lives Matter. A few days later, five police officers were killed by a lone gunman in Dallas, Texas. Pokemon Go was also released by Nintendo on the iPhone, essentially blowing up in terms of popularity. Portugal defeated France 1-0 in France in the final of the 2016 Euro Soccer Tournament. Bernie Sanders conceded, endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States following an underdog campaign that saw him become one of the most popular politicians in the United States. Donald Trump also announced that he was choosing Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, while Clinton chose Tim Kaine. In a shocking move, Verizon purchased Yahoo! for over four billion dollars. Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated by one of the “Big Two” political parties in the United States.
August saw the beginning and end of the 2016 Summer Olympics that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mike Phelps took home his 23rd Gold medal, which made him the most decorated Olympian ever. Also in Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff was impeached, which removed her from her role.
In September, a bomb went off in Chelsea, New York, which injured 29. Mark Zuckerberg donated three billion dollars in an attempt to end all diseases by the end of the century. The first of three Presidential debates took place, putting Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Hurricane Matthew came through the Caribbean and the U.S., killing 1000 people on its way.
October saw legendary Baseball broadcaster Vin Scully call his final Dodger game after 67 incredible seasons. In Colombia, the people voted against a peace agreement with the Farc rebels. The Washington Post released a video of Republican nominee Donald Trump bragging about kissing and touching women without their consent. Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan shocked many when he won the Nobel Prize in literature, raising controversy over whether or not a songwriter should have won an award for literature. U.S. White House officials claimed that the Russians were behind a previous DNC email leak. AT&T purchased Time Warner for over 85 billion dollars.
In November, calls began to surface from South Koreans to impeach president Park Geun-hye after charges of her abusing her power. Nico Rosberg clinched the 2016 Formula One and then shocked the racing community by announcing his retirement. Meanwhile, a plane carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense crashed, killing 71 players and journalists. We also saw that Pigs can fly when the Chicago Cubs broke the curse of Billy Goat, winning their first World Series since 1908! While the biggest story of 2016 was that Donald Trump managed to secure the Presidency of the United States, despite losing the popular vote by over 2.5 million votes.
In December, the U.S. Army decided against proceeding with an oil pipeline being built in North Dakota; this came after months of protest against its construction. South Korea also managed to impeach their president, following months of protest demanding her to step down. In College Football, Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Award. Cristiano Ronaldo also took home his 4th Ballon d’Or Award, which is awarded to the best soccer player of the season. Looking back at Syria, a ceasefire was finally called for, allowing thousands to be able to escape the war-torn country.
2016 was an eventful year, and it featured many monumental moments, many of which could easily affect the world in the foreseeable future. Whether it’s the country of Syria being torn apart, or the controversial businessman who is set to become the next President of the United States, we are entering a time of uncertainty, and if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know anything.
Here you'll find lengthier pieces that cover more in-depth stories.