2016 was lit. The US hired a new prez. South Korea pretty much fired theirs. Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel took down Gawker. Lin-Manuel Miranda made Alexander Hamilton great again. Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin made America laugh again. Martha and Snoop got baked. We saw too many clowns. And said RIP to Harambe. Hiddleswift started. Then ended. So did Brangelina. Rob and Chyna had a Dream. Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize, and DGAF. Sean Penn interviewed El Chapo in the woods. Kim K was robbed. Beyonce made Lemonade. Leo fought off a bear and got that Oscar. Ken Bone’s sweater got 15 minutes. That was a lot. Here’s what you need to know…
Donald Trump...as in the next President of the United States. He appealed to working class voters with the message that they've been ripped off by the political elite, who've been sending those voters' jobs overseas. And that he's the one who can flip the status quo. Those voters turned out big league. A lot of people (cough, pollsters, cough) didn’t see his win coming. Now, Trump’s saying ‘you’re hired’ to a new White House team. Next stop: Inauguration Day.
Hillary Clinton…as in the runner up. Hillz was the first female candidate nominated to a major political party. She picked up more popular votes than any other losing candidate ever but lost the Electoral College. That's because a lot of her votes came from the coasts – aka states that don’t win elections. Clinton struggled to get voters to trust her. That’s in part because of the FBI’s investigation into whether she mishandled classified info by using a private email server as sec. of state (they decided she didn't. Twice). Now, Hillz is swapping pantsuits for hiking boots.
Russia...as in everyone’s favorite cyberstalkers. Yesterday, the Obama administration slapped sanctions on some Russian intelligence officials and agencies for interfering with the presidential election. That's going over really well with Russia. Reminder: during the presidential campaign, the US intelligence community agreed that hacks into the DNC and the Clinton campaign were coming from Russia. After the election, the CIA and FBI concluded that the goal was to try to help Trump win. Trump has said “I don’t believe it.” But Senators from both sides of the aisle say the attacks are a threat to national security and have called for more investigations. Turns out 2016 wasn’t over, it still isn’t over.
Brexit…as in the UK divorced the EU. And made everyone say ‘blimey.’ The UK is the first country to consciously uncouple from the fam. Ever. Problem, since it's also one of the EU’s largest economies. Following the vote, David Cameron stepped down. Theresa May took over. Markets rolled in the deep. And then said, ‘keep calm and carry on.’ Messy divorce talks to come in 2017.
The Olympics...as in Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and friends went to Rio and came home with a lot of bling. Phelps now officially has more Olympic medals than anyone (ever). US women’s gymnastics double somersaulted its way to the top (again). Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini had everyone cheering her on. Ryan Lochte went gray and faked a robbery. That was fun.
Technical difficulties…as in it was a rough year for Silicon Valley. Facebook had a fake news problem. Twitter’s still dealing with trolls. Snapchat keeps trying to make Snap Inc. happen. Things heated up for Samsung. And Yahoo got hacked. Twice. Now, Verizon’s having second thoughts about spending almost $5 billion to buy Yahoo’s core businesses (search, mail, news). And the tech world’s wishing it could just ctrl + alt + del 2016.
Terrorism...as in ISIS is struggling on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. But its supporters are carrying out more attacks on Western countries. See: truck attacks in Nice and Berlin, the Brussels bombings, and the Istanbul airport attack. And then there was the shooting at a gay club in Orlando, FL that killed 49 people. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS and the terrorist group later claimed responsibility for what was the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
Aleppo...as in Syria’s almost six-year civil war went from bad to worse. Aleppo – once Syria’s largest city – has been at the center of the fighting for years. After months of intense fighting and heavy Russian airstrikes, Syrian President Assad finally took back the city from rebels, marking a major turning point in his favor. The international community watched - and did nothing - as Assad's forces bombed the city into the ground and executed civilians on the spot in the final push to clinch the city. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed since this war started. Millions have fled for places like the EU, leading to the worst refugee crisis on the continent since WWII.
Balls...as in Peyton Manning left the field with a ring when he led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl win over the Carolina Panthers. The Cleveland Cavaliers did OK too. ‘Bron ‘Bron & Co chased down the Golden State Warriors to win the team’s first NBA championship ever. Swish.
Chicago Cubs...As in the team hit it out of the park. They beat the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series title in over a century.
People we will miss…as in Muhammed Ali, David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Nancy Reagan, Gwen Ifill, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Miss Cleo, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds.
Fidel Castro…as in the iconic Cuban leader died at age 90 after battling health issues for years. He brought a socialist revolution to the island more than half a century ago. Depending on who you ask, he was either the hero who stood up to the US, or the brutal dictator who drove Cuba's economy into the ground and isolated the country from the rest of the world. By the time Fidel died, he had handed off most of the real power to his brother Raul.
DAPL…as in the reason you saw Facebook check-ins at “Standing Rock.” The Dakota Access Pipeline is the massive oil pipeline project that runs through four states, including North Dakota. A Native American tribe that lives along the proposed pipeline route in ND was joined by supporters to protest its construction, saying that it could contaminate the local water supply and destroy sacred sites. After a lot of legal back and forth, the US gov officially said ‘game over’ – the pipeline will not run near the reservation.
The Supreme Court...as in Justice Antonin Scalia died earlier this year. And all eyes have been on his empty seat ever since. Without him, the court is tied between right and left-leaning justices. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland – a judge known for being pretty much right down the middle. Garland has to be confirmed by the Senate. But the Senate GOP said ‘no can do,’ and that the next president should get to fill the seat. Now the judicial ball is in Trump's court.
Zika...as in BYO bug spray. The virus spread by a certain type of mosquito continued to be a big problem in Latin America and the Caribbean. At least a million people have been infected, and the virus even made its way to some parts of the US. Zika causes minor symptoms for most people but can lead to severe birth defects for babies born to infected women. There’s still no vaccine, but officials are working on it.
Mother Nature...as in Louisiana found itself under water. Parts of the US South found themselves on fire after a long dry spell. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, and it was the worst storm there in more than 50 years.
Turkey...as in part of the military failed to launch a coup to overthrow the government. And Turkey’s President Erdogan has been arresting tens of thousands of political enemies ever since...including journalists.
Local police departments...as in the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Philando Castile in Minnesota, Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma, and Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina. All four were killed by police officers at a time when there have been lots of questions about the police's use of excessive force, especially against black men. Sterling and Castile’s deaths were followed by retaliatory attacks on police. Five officers were shot and killed in Dallas, TX, and three in Baton Rouge, LA.
Flint, MI...as in it’s not all water under the bridge. Back in 2014, Flint left Detroit's water system to save some cash. It started taking water from the Flint River in what was supposed to be a temporary move. Then people noticed that their water looked and smelled funny. And children's blood tests started showing higher levels of lead. Lead can affect brain development and cause behavioral changes in kids. Now a lot of people are getting sued, including the EPA, and several former gov officials face criminal charges. And Flint residents still can’t drink water from the tap without a filter.
Wells Fargo...as in the bank that was fined $185 million for sketchy sales tactics. Like, opening millions of accounts and credit cards without customers’ permission. Thousands of employees were fired, CEO John Stumpf stepped down, and the SEC has some Qs about how exactly Wells Fargo does business. Financial hot seat: taken.
Roger Ailes...as in no longer Fantastic Mr. Fox. The founder and CEO of Fox News found himself out of the job when former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson claimed she was forced out after refusing his sexual advances. After that, lots of other women came forward to say he’d sexually harassed them too. That includes Megyn Kelly, one of the network’s top stars, who’s still deciding whether to re-up her contract. 21st Century Fox (Fox News’ parent company, and a minority investor in theSkimm) settled with Carlson for a reported $20 million. And Ailes reportedly pocketed a $40 million severance package to ease the transition into retirement.
EpiPen...as in your friend with a peanut allergy is pissed. Mylan bought EpiPen – which is used to treat life-threatening allergy attacks – almost a decade ago. Back then, the cost for a two-pack was about $100. Earlier this year, it had jumped to more than $600. Oh, and the company’s execs have been paid pretty well in the meantime. Congress, which already had pharma companies under the microscope for rising drug prices, was none too pleased. Now, Mylan’s selling a (slightly) cheaper version.
Pokemon Go...as in everyone and their gaming mother was hunting Pikachus in the middle of the sidewalk. That lasted about a week. And then we pretended like it never happened.
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