TOP NEWS STORIES OF 2016. Just when we were thinking 2015was bad …
1. The Presidential Campaign – Donald Trump shocked pretty much everyone except himself by winning the presidential election. Though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3M+, the Donald carried the electoral college. Pollsters will be spending the next four year wondering where they went wrong; as for the rest of us, we’ll be hunkering down for what is sure to be a wild ride, to judge by his twitter history and his cabinet appointments thus far, which include an EPA chief that doesn’t believe in climate change, a HUD chief that doesn’t believe in the efficacy of public housing, and a Secretary of State that’s pro-Russia.
2. Rigged Election? One of the many red herrings littering the path to the White House was Trump’s repeated assertions that if he lost the election, “massive voter fraud” would be to blame. As there were, like, 10 cases of verified voter fraud in the last presidential election, most people pooh-poohed his allegations as just more red herring … until the CIA and FBI both uncovered evidence of the involvement of Russian hackers in actively trying to sway the election: not by rigging voting machines or anything so crude, but by hacking into Democratic party emails and orchestrating the release of information that would be perceived as damaging to the party. A chilling glimpse of what the future of “election fraud” probably WILL look like.
3. The Rise of the Alt-Right. Before this year, the alt right was like that crazy uncle who lives in the cabin up in the mountains that your family never talks about: embarrassing and disreputable. . Then Donald Trump began to rise with a message that invited white people to join the fray of identity politics and emboldened groups known to espouse racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic views. I realize there’s a lot of dissent in the U.S. just now, but can’t we all get behind the notion that rising white nationalism is a phenomenally bad thing?
4. The Rise of Feminism. Perhaps it was Hollywood’s decision to recast Ghostbusters with an all-female cast – a decision that was culturally bold if not particularly profitable. Perhaps it was the allegations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes, Chairman of Fox News, by more than one of the network’s female anchors. Perhaps it widespread horror among female-kind at the Donald’s recorded remarks about being able to “grab women by the “p**y” whenever he felt like it. Or perhaps it was inevitable, given that we came as close as we’ve ever done to electing a woman to head the United States, the reaction to which might have been best summarized by Donald Trump when he mumbled “Such a nasty woman!” during one of the Presidential debates. Whatever the cause, women spent 2016 like the Whos of Whoville, desperately shouting “We are here, we are here, we are HERE!”
5. Racial Unrest. American race relations reached their lowest ebb since … well, 2015. Some highlights:
a. In 2012, a Times investigative series called attention to the overwhelming white maleness of the film academy. So when, for a second year in a row, the acting categories of the 2016 Oscars were filled with white faces, #Oscarssowhite became more than a hashtag. The ensuing criticism and calls for a boycott, which started right after the nominations were announced in January, made it clear changes must be made.
b. On July 5, Alton Sterling , a 37-year-old African American man, was shot dead by two white police officers in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La. Cellphone video appeared to show him pinned to the ground when he was shot. The next day, a police officer fatally shot Philando Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed his death on Facebook. The deaths of the two men prompted renewed nationwide protests over police killings of black Americans.
c. At the end of a peaceful protest against police killings of black men, a lone gunman targeting officers opened fire in Dallas, Texas, on July 7, killing five and wounding nine. The shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson , a 25-year-old African American army reservist, told police that he had “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” Ten days later, another gunman set out to kill police officers in Baton Rouge, La. Gavin Eugene Long , a 29-year-old black separatist from Kansas City, Mo., ambushed officers less than a mile from the city’s police headquarters, leaving three dead and three injured.
6. Water crisis in Flint Michigan. Lead contamination in the city’s drinking water from corroded pipes led to a state of emergency being declared by the state and federal government in January. Gov. Rick Snyder mobilized the Michigan National Guard, which distributed water and water filters and testing kits to residents fearful of the tap water — for good reason. At one point, 5% of the children under 5 had elevated exposure to lead , according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
7. Supreme Court vacancy. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an eloquent conservative who was one of the court’s most ardent combatants against what he saw as a tide of modern liberalism, died in February under circumstances questionable enough to inspire a John Grisham novel. His death left the court deadlocked on some important cases, including immigration and mandatory union fees . President Obama nominated a successor, popular centrist judge Merrick Garland , chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But Senate Republicans stalled on holding hearings on the nomination, and after the Nov. 8 presidential election, talked turned to likely nominees from the nation’s next president, Donald Trump.
8. Minimum Wage. Several states, including California, New York, and Washington, approved huge increases in minimum wage, raising the rate to as high as $15 by 2022
9. U.S. Immigration. President Obama’s plan to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation was supposed to be one of the signature legacies of his administration — an attempt at immigration reform using executive power after Congress had failed to pass a comprehensive new law. But the plan suffered a spectacular setback when the U.S. Supreme Court announced in June it was deadlocked in a case challenging the plan. Because a lower court in Texas had ruled against the president’s plan. The 4-4 tie meant Obama could not go forward with it. With Trump’s election, immigration policy will now move in a radically different direction.
10. Zika reaches the U.S. The United States became the latest frontier for the Zika virus when mosquitoes were found to be spreading the virus in a bustling neighborhood north of downtown Miami. Four infections diagnosed there in July were the first U.S. cases transmitted not from travel to an affected country or by intimate contact with an infected person, but by a local mosquito bite. Another affected neighborhood in Miami, north of the area known as Little Haiti, was identified in October. In all, four zones of local transmission were identified in Miami. Then late in November, Brownsville, Texas identified a locally transmitted case . By year’s end, there were at least 185 U.S. cases of Zika contracted through mosquito bites, out of a total of nearly 4,600 cases across the continental U.S. In a grim milestone, the World Health Organization declared in November that Zika no longer presents a “ public health emergency ” and should now be treated like other established infectious diseases. Not that it’s not serious, said Dr. Pete Salama, director of the WHO’s health emergencies program. “We’re sending the message that Zika is here to stay.”
11. Hurricane Matthew. It had been the strongest hurricane to menace the Atlantic seaboard in nearly a decade. But by the time Hurricane Matthew touched land near McClellanville, S.C., and slogged up the Southeast coast in October, it had spent its most dangerous energy in the Caribbean. Hundreds of people died when the storm — rated at Category 5 at its peak — ravaged impoverished Haiti . In the U.S., it was quickly downgraded to Category 1, but was still very wet and dangerous . The storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands, toppled trees and created torrential floods. It was blamed for more than 40 deaths in the U.S.
12. Marijuana now legal in more than half of the U.S. The campaign to legalize marijuana rolled along this fall, with voters approving recreational pot laws in several states, including California , and sanctioning medical use in others. Arizona defeated legalization, but pot is now legal in some fashion in more than half the states. But how legal is legal? Federal law still regards marijuana as a banned substance, and incoming Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has said the country needs “grown-ups in charge” to just say no.
13. Oregon standoff. Across the West, there were calls among conservatives for handing over more control of federal lands to state and local authorities. The burgeoning movement came to a head in Oregon, when two sons of renegade Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy led the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge . The takeover began Jan. 2 and lasted more than a month. Supporters from around the country joined Ammon and Ryan Bundy in what had been a peaceful occupation until Jan. 26, when authorities moved in to arrest several people and one of the occupiers, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was shot and killed. Eventually, all the occupiers were arrested. But in a stunning blow to federal authorities, the Bundy brothers and five co-defendants were acquitted Oct. 27 of federal conspiracy and weapons charges.
14. Standoff at Standing Rock. A broad river valley in North Dakota became the scene of the highest-profile environmental fight of the year: the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s effort to block construction of a $3.8-billion oil pipeline under a reservoir on the Missouri River — the source of the tribe’s drinking water supply. Environmental activists and nearly 2,000 military veterans joined a fight that would become not only about clean water and Native American rights, but about fossil fuel expansion and climate change. Celebrities, including actors Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo, and singer Neil Young , joined the campaign. Opponents won at least a temporary victory when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Dec. 4 denied permission for the pipeline to cross under the disputed area of the river.
15. Gun Crimes. Pulse Nightclub Massacre. As Latin Night at Orlando's Pulse nightclub was drawing to a close on June 12, about 320 people danced and drank to thumping reggaeton, salsa and merengue. Minutes later partyers were fleeing into the street. Some clutched gunshot wounds. Others were splattered with the blood of people they didn’t know. Those still trapped in the gay nightclub could only hide. A total of 49 people were killed and 53 more injured — the deadliest shooting in modern American history. The gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen , died in a shootout with SWAT officers three hours after his rampage began. Mateen called 911 during the siege, pledging his allegiance to the militant group Islamic State.
WORLD NEWS STORIES OF 2014
1. Brexit. The equivalent of a political earthquake struck Europe on June 23, when in a referendum over the United Kingdom’s future in the European Union, 52% voted to leave . The vote was a measure of widespread unease over immigration, unemployment and the perception that bureaucrats in Brussels were calling too many of the shots. It led to Prime Minister David Cameron’s immediate resignation, replaced by Theresa May , who set a timetable for extricating Britain from the EU by the summer of 2019 . But Britain wasn’t the only country roiling with newly energized populist sentiment. Nationalists across Europe — in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Italy and elsewhere — were riding the same wave of populism that seemed to propel Donald Trump into power across the Atlantic.
2. Turkey’s Attempted Coup. The Turkish military issued a statement late on July 15 proclaiming it had seized control of the country. After a long night of turmoil — a bomb exploded at the parliament building in Ankara, and civilians encouraged into the streets by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confronted soldiers on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge — Turkish television reported in the morning that the coup was over. Afterward a state of emergency was imposed, enabling the government to detain individuals without charge for up to 60 days. Tens of thousands have been arrested and at least 120,000 public workers have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being linked to the failed coup.
3. The Panama Papers. In April, hundreds of reporters in more than 80 countries unveiled a nearly year-long global investigation and began publishing a series of articles on millions of leaked financial documents dubbed the " Panama Papers ," a trove of information bigger than anything WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden ever obtained. The effect has been like shining a flashlight into a series of dark rooms packed with money and lies. The documents leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca — and examined by journalists at outlets including the Guardian, the BBC and the Miami Herald — have forced global leaders and public figures to answer for the massive amounts of wealth they had hidden in offshore tax havens, outside the scrutiny of auditors and voters. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif became the target of a corruption probe as a result of the leaked documents; Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, stepped down in April after reports that he and his wealthy wife concealed millions of dollars' worth of investments.
4. Terrorism in Europe. Terror struck Europe several times in 2016. Twin bombings in Brussels on March 22, carried out by a group that was also linked to the 2015 Paris attacks, killed 32. In June, suicide attackers hit Turkey’s largest airport , killing 41. The next month, an assailant drove a truck into a crowd of revelers who were celebrating the Bastille Day holiday in Nice, France, leaving 84 dead. Many of the victims were so badly crushed that several bodies took days to identify . Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Brussels and Nice attacks, and was suspected in the attack on Ataturk airport. Then, in December, at least a dozen people are killed and scores are injured when a 40-ton truck from Poland crashes into an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin. Police say the truck was intentionally driven into the crowd in what they are investigating as a suspected terror attack.
5. Europe’s Refuge Crisis. The massive influx of migrants and refugees into Europe that began in 2015 continued into this year, as more than 300,000 people, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq , made the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. In March, the EU and Turkey struck a deal that would deport migrants who crossed into Greece back to Turkey . In return, Turkey was promised visa-free travel for its citizens within the EU, and accelerated talks for the country to join the bloc of nations – promises the EU has been slow to deliver on, putting the future of the agreement into question.
6. War in Syria and Iraq. America got further drawn back into the war in Iraq — with new fronts in neighboring Syria — as the effort to drive out the militant jihadists known as Islamic State led to a violent and protracted fight around the group’s Iraq stronghold in the city of Mosul. The Pentagon now has more than 6,000 troops in Iraq, and on Dec. 10, announced plans to send 200 additional troops to northern Syria, in addition to the 300 already there. U.S.-led coalition warplanes carried out more than 17,000 airstrikes. Islamic State is still firmly lodged in the two countries, though it lost significant territory. As for the aim of dislodging Syrian President Bashar Assad — the president, thanks to massive military help from Russia, is re-consolidating government control over much of the country. Peace talks failed . The city of Aleppo has been left in a fight for its very survival , as Syrian rebels and government forces have turned it into a murderous battleground. Thousands of civilians have fled, and many of the rest are wounded or starving—an international nightmare that by year’s end was drawing to a close.
7. Rising Tensions in the South China Sea. When Chinese customers begin boycotting Kentucky Fried Chicken , it’s a sign that an international dispute has hit home. And that is what happened at a KFC outlet in Tangshan, China, in July, as tensions spiked between the United States and China over maritime rights in the South China Sea . Put simply, China claims maritime territory it doesn’t own — at least, an international court says it doesn’t. Countries throughout the part of Asia continued to dispute China’s claims, and they are backed by the U.S. Political tensions continued throughout the year . As for the chicken? That’s just collateral damage.
8. Brazil political crisis. After months of bitterly contested proceedings, Brazil’s Senate voted in August to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office , marking a turbulent finale to 13 years of center-left government in Latin America's largest country. Rousseff, a onetime guerrilla-turned-economist and the nation's first female president, was convicted of breaking fiscal responsibility law. The more conservative vice president, Michel Temer , will serve out the rest of her term, which ends in 2018. The impeachment rocked a nation saddled by a crippling recession, an ongoing investigation into widespread corruption and a crisis of confidence in the political system — and it reached its boiling point just as Brazil was poised to host the 2016 Olympic Games .
9. Columbian Peace Agreement. In late November, the Colombian legislature approved a peace deal aimed at ending a civil war that started in 1964. The accord between the government and the leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was approved two months after voters narrowly rejected a similar deal in a national referendum. This time President Juan Manuel Santos, pictured, who was award the Nobel Peace Prize in October, saved the deal by giving up on a popular mandate and going directly to Congress, where his party holds a majority. Opposition legislators boycotted the vote vowed to fight the new accord, which they argue goes too easy on the rebels.
10. Climate Change. A landmark climate change agreement approved by nearly 200 countries went into force in November, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The agreement, negotiated in Paris in late 2015, sets out a global action plan to limit the average global temperature rise since pre-industrial times to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold at which scientists say many of the worst effects of global warming could be avoided. A crucial threshold was reached Oct. 5, when at least 55 nations that collectively account for 55% of global emissions had approved the Paris accord . That number had grown to 118 by mid-December, including the world’s top polluters, China, the United States, the European Union and India. The Obama administration played a key role in bringing more than 20 years of difficult climate negotiations to a successful conclusion and pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. But even as the agreement went into effect, there was concern among world leaders that the U.S. could ignore its commitments under the deal, or pull out entirely, once Donald Trump becomes president . Meanwhile, in September, global CO2 levels exceeded 400ppm.
11. South Korean president impeached. As the daughter of a one-time military dictator, South Korea’s Park Gyun-hye brought a certain amount of baggage with her to the country’s presidency. But few could have predicted the way in which her past would catch up with her. In early December, Park was impeached for, among other things, providing classified information to a close friend who was allegedly extorting huge donations from major corporations. Park, who is South Korea’s first female president , has not yet been permanently removed from office. But with her approval ratings close to zero, it’s hard to imagine her bouncing back.
12. Death of Fidel Castro. For 47 years, Castro maintained his grip over the island nation by forging close bonds with the Soviet Union, Venezuela and China, inspiring a wave of anti-American leaders throughout Latin America along the way. Despite years of economic difficulties following the fall of the Soviet Union, Castro still held extraordinary sway over many of his people. Castro stepped down in 2008 because of ill health, handing the presidency to his younger brother Raúl, who re-established diplomatic relations with the United States two years ago. Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25 at age 90.
13. North Korean nuclear tests. Among the pressing issues facing President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office in January will be North Korea’s rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. forces and allies in Japan and South Korea have been on alert for a new missile launch since November, after satellite imagery showed what appeared to be potential preparations at North Korea’s Sohae launch facility. North Korea has carried out two nuclear weapons tests and dozens of missile tests and launches this year in defiance of United Nations sanctions. Although not all the missile tests have been successful, North Korea has made significant advances in developing nuclear weapons and in the technology needed to mount them to long-range missiles.
PEOPLE WHO HAD A GOOD 2014
1. Barack & Michelle Obama. The poise and class of America’s first couple stood in stark contrast to the inanity of the politics that swirled around them throughout the course of the year.
2. Bernie Sanders. Remember just 8 years ago, when people used “socialist” as an excuse NOT to vote for Barack Obama? This was the year feisty 217-year old Bernie Sanders came roaring out from nowhere (Vermont: same thing) to challenge Hillary Clinton’s ascendency over the alt-left wing of the Democratic party with his unabashed socialist message of affordable healthcare and education for everyone! Apparently the trick is clarifying that you’re for the good kind of socialism where everybody gets a lot of free stuff, not the bad kind of socialism where starving people fight over who gets the lone remaining beet at the co-op. (Thanks to Dave Barry for the clarification!)
3. Vladamir Putin. Seriously, the guy was pretty much the laughing stock of the U.N. (“Isn’t that cute? He still thinks Russia is a world power!) until Donald Trump’s inexplicable man-crush suddenly vaulted him into the spotlight. He’s got to be wondering … I invade countries, I pose shirtless, and THIS is how I gain international cred?
4. The Chicago Cubs. When you finally earn the title after 108 years of trying, you’ve earned the right to celebrate.
5. Adele. Her album, 25, sold something like a billion copies in the first 10 minutes of release, and parodies of the key track, Hello, were popping up on Youtube within 24hrs. Seriously, this 25yr old crooner can do no wrong.
6. Ken Bone, just a normal guy who had the temerity to stand up at a town hall meeting and actually demand that a politician give him a straight answer to his question about health care.
7. Trevor Noah. Alas, he hasn’t been able to draw the audiences that his predecessor Jon Stewart did, but – to his credit - he never watered down the sarcasm in a misguided attempt to woo viewers.
8. Lin Manuel Miranda. The Puerto Rican kid from Washington Heights continues to relish his 15 minutes of fame, both as the star of the Broadway blockbuster “Hamilton” and as the unofficial spokesman for “Actors Against Trump” – a role that was unexpectedly foisted upon him when patrons booed President-Elect Pence at a performance of the show, prompting one of Trump’s retaliatory tweets.
9. Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her 90th year of opening things, knighting people, keeping hats hip, and waving to the masses at public events.
10. Bill Murray. The comedian isn’t really doing anything specific – we just love the quirky way he has of showing up unexpectedly in cameo roles, wedding photos, and Instagram posts.
11. Joe Biden. Somewhere along the line, Joe Biden transformed from a punchline into the spunky, eccentric politician we all admire and love to meme about.
PEOPLE WHO HAD A BAD 2014
1. Hillary Clinton. Really, it doesn’t get much worse than losing a presidential election to Donald Trump.
2. Jeb Bush. The guy who supposedly had the Republican nomination sewed up just kind of fizzzzzzz …. I suppose I could go into more detail, but I get bored evening thinking about it.
3. James Comey, the FBI director who first decided not to prosecute Hillary over her use of a private email account, earning the wrath of Republicans, then changed his mind after new emails surfaced and announced that he might reopen the investigation, earning the wrath of Democrats. Usually public servants who have achieved such high positions are much more adept brown-nosers.
4. Chris Christie. One of the few Republicans to throw his support behind Trump, the Donald promptly proceeded to humiliate him in every conceivable way. Thus ends a once-promising political career.
5. Germany. Since WW2, Germany has never shied away from opportunities to adopt a leadership role in humanitarian efforts. Unfortunately, their efforts to drag the EU into welcoming Syrian immigrants may have been a step too far. Once the EU’s stern but fair grandmom, the country is increasingly regarded as the EU’s crazy cat lady. (“Come on, guys, there’s always room for a few more cats!”)
6. DC Metro. First they spent half the year shutting down huge sections of the system in order to conduct safety inspections, then they had the nerve to complain about reduced ridership. Their newly announced 11pm closing time (no exceptions), starting Jan 1, is sure to be a hit with D.C. residents – except those who were planning to use metro to attending sporting events, concerts, shows, plays, protests, exhibits, parties, or evening events.
7. Harambe. An ape at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed when a 3-yr old climbed into his enclosure, but it appears his legacy will live on in outraged Facebook posts and memes.
8. Fidel Castro. When people burst into cheering upon news of your death, you really need to consider reevaluating your legacy.
9. Anyone Who’s Relying on Obamacare to provide their health care. Your days of coverage are numbered. Enjoy Trumpcare, aka Open a Savings Account and Start Making Deposits, Because You’re Going to Need It.
NOTABLE DEATHS. It doesn't take more than the first few entries to understand why so many people dubbed 2016 a particularly catastrophic year for celebrity deaths.
1. Edward Albee, U.S. playwright
2. Muhammad Ali, boxer
3. David Bowie, singer/entertainer
4. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, U.N. Secretary General
5. Fidel Castro, president of Cuba
6. Leonard Cohen, singer/songwriter
7. Natalie Cole, singer
8. Patty Duke, actress
9. Umberto Eco, writer
10. Carrie Fisher, actress
11. Glenn Frey, musician (Eagles)
12. Merle Haggard, country music singer/songwriter
13. Florence Henderson, actress
14. Gwen Ifill, journalist/TV news anchor
15. Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress/celebrity
16. John Glenn, astronaut/Senator, first man to walk on moon
17. Gordie Howe, hall of fame hockey player
18. George Kennedy, actor
19. W.P. Kinsella, author
20. Harper Lee, writer
21. Garry Marshall, writer/movie director
22. George Martin, Beatles music producer
23. John McLaughlin, political commentator
24. George Michael, singer
25. Shimon Peres, former Israeli president
26. Arnold Palmer, professional golfer
27. Prince, singer/entertainer
28. Nancy Reagan, presidential spouse
29. Janet Reno, U.S’s first female Attorney General
30. Debby Reynolds, actress/singer/dancer
31. Alan Rickman, actor
32. Morley Safer, TV news anchor/journalist
33. Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice
34. Peter Shaffer, playwright
35. Garry Shandling, comedian
36. Pat Summitt, basketball coach
37. Alan Thicke, actor
38. Maurice White, singer (Earth, Wind & Fire)
39. Elie Wiesel, author/activist
40. Gene Wilder, actor
1. Football. Super Bowl 50 was far from a tour de force for legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw for only 141 yards, with no touchdowns. But Denver’s 24-10 victory over the Panthers gave Manning an NFL record 200th career victory, his second Super Bowl title and guaranteed him a place among the all-time greats.
2. Basketball. No major sports team in Cleveland had won a title since the Cleveland Browns had won the NFL championship in 1964. When LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent, he vowed to make the city a title town again. But it looked like 2016 was going to be a lost opportunity after the Cavaliers fell behind , 3-1, in the NBA Finals in June. James didn’t give up though, and led a remarkable comeback as Cleveland won three in a row.
3. Baseball. It only took 108 years for the Cubs to win another World Series title, as Bill Murray’s favorite team rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians in November. It was a 108-year stretch that transformed black cats and billy goats into symbols of futility. To end the streak, the Cubs absorbed a series of knockout blows from the Indians, survived a collapse by their flame-throwing closer and weathered a storm sweeping off Lake Erie in an 8-7 victory in 10 innings.
4. Summer Olympics.
a. One of the few discordant notes in this sports year grew louder as the Rio Games approached. That was Russian cheating. The depth and breadth of Russia’s diabolical plan to win world and Olympic medals while covering up the use of performance-enhancing drugs by its athletes was breathtaking.
b. U.S. women’s gymnast Simone Biles departed the Olympic Games with five medals , four of them gold. The teenager from Spring, Texas, joined three other women in winning four gymnastics golds at an Olympics, last accomplished 32 years ago by Ekaterina Szabo of Romania.
c. In August, in his final race at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, led the U.S. to victory in the 400-meter medley relay, ending his Olympic career with 28 medals, 23 of them gold. No other athlete in any sport has more than nine gold medals.
d. On a pleasant Sunday night in Rio’s Olympic Stadium, Usian Bolt, the fastest human in history, became the first to ever win the 100-m sprint in three straight Games, finishing with a time of 9.81.
The best television of 2016, according to Metacritic (a website that performs a metanalysis of other review websites)
1. Rectify, Season 4
2. OJ: Made in America
3. The Americans: Season 4
4. Transparent: Season 3
5. The Night Of
6. Atlanta: Season 1
7. The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story Season 1
8. Silicon Valley: Season 3
9. BoJack Horseman: Season 3
10. Fleabag: Season 1
11. Veep: Season 5
12. Casual: Season 2
13. Catastrophe: Season 2
14. UnReal: Season 2
15. Broad City: Season 3
16. Orange is the New Black: Season 4
17. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 2
18. You’re the Worst: Season 3
19. Better Call Saul: Season 2
20. Lady Dynamite: Season 1
Most watched television shows of 2016, according to Nielson ratings
1. Sunday Night Football
2. Empire. Fox’s hip hop soap opera boasted a strong second season
3. Thursday Night Football
4. Big Bang Theory. The sitcom is still going strong in it’s 9th season.
5. X-Files. A limited-run revival paid off.
6. Grey’s Anatomy. The medical drama still has a pulse after 12 seasons.
7. How to Get Away With Murder.
8. Modern Family. Proving that family sitcoms never die, they just get updated
10. The Voice. TV’s top-rated reality show discovers and mentors young singers.
12. NCIS. Still cracking cases after 13 seasons
13. The Bachelor. Embarassing but true
14. American Idol. It’s last season
15. The Blacklist. Ordinary thriller with extraordinary performances
16. Criminal Minds.
17. Survivor. The one that began it all ….
18. Chicago Fire
19. The Goldbergs
Shows that ended their run in 2016. There were, of course, over 100 shows that ended their run in 2016; this list includes the one I recognize or deem worthy of mention. (If you want editorial neutrality, don’t go to blog sites for your news.)
1. American Gothic
2. The McLaughlin Group
3. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
5. Houdini & Doyle
6. Inspetor Lewis
7. Top Gear
8. Penny Dreadful
11. The Mysteries of Laura
14. The Muppets
1. Movie News
a. Star Wars is back, all rebooted and made new.
b. Harry Potter also returned, launching a new series called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
c. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the Oscar he’s been chasing since he was, like, 12 years old
d. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie broke up. No more Brangelina? Say it isn’t so!
2. Top grossing movies of the year
a. Finding Dory
b. Captain America: Civil War
c. The Secret Life of Pets
d. The Jungle Book
g. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
h. Suicide Squad
i. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
j. Doctor Strange
k. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
m. Jason Bourne
n. Star Trek Beyond
o. X-Men Apocalypse
3. 88th annual Academy Awards
a. Best picture: Spotlight (other nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room)
b. Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
c. Actress: Brie Larson, Room
d. Supporting actor: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
e. Supporting actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
f. Animated Feature Film: Inside Out
g. Documentary (feature): Amy
4. Best movies of the year. Talk about a lack of consensus! No two lists that I reviewed shared more than 2-3 movies in common, so I’ve merged a few of them together into a list that’s much longer than it should be.
a. (4 votes) LALA LAND. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, reteaming from 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love (with sparks intact), play struggling young artists in modern-day Los Angeles whose dreams seem out of reach. At least until they find each other in, of all places, a traffic jam on the 105 that erupts into a showstopping frenzy of singing and dancing. The next 120 minutes are just as intoxicating—an irresistible cocktail of heart-swelling joy and heartrending sadness as we follow the ups and downs of their relationship. Nostalgic without seeming old-fashioned, La La Land is pure movie magic. It’s a testament to the timeless, transporting power of cinema.
b. (4 votes) ‘MOONLIGHT’ Bathed in blue and anguish, Mr. Jenkins’s elegiac film traces a single life across three chapters. There’s much to love and admire about this haunting movie, including its lapidary visuals. Here, every moment — light flooding a darkened room, an oceanic baptism and a halo of shampoo crowning the head of an abandoned child — speaks more eloquently than most of its dialogue, though the words are very fine, too.
c. (3 votes) HELL OR HIGH WATER. You might have to go all the way back to 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde to find a film about outlaws on the run that feels as timely as David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water. A folk-hero ballad for the age of predatory lending, the film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as West Texas brothers who set off on a string of bank heists to save their late mother’s ranch (which happens to sit on millions in untapped crude). You could call Hell or High Water a modern-day Western, I suppose. But it’s the best kind of Western: the kind where the heroes and the villains are impossible to tell apart.
d. (3 votes) MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. An ornery Boston janitor (Casey Affleck) loses his older brother (Kyle Chandler) and is forced to return to his hometown to care for his teen nephew (Lucas Hedges). Those are the bones of it, at least, but Lonergan fills every frame with the clarity and compassion of his vision. (Whatever you’ve heard about a to-be-revealed tragedy is true; what gets mentioned less is that the movie is also funny as hell.) The exquisitely crafted, emotionally ragged Manchester doesn’t just ask for time and effort; it earns it.
e. (3 votes) ‘TONI ERDMANN’ The filmmaker Maren Ade’s latest is a perfectly directed and performed movie about a father, his daughter and the ludicrous gag teeth that help close this pair’s generational, economic and social divide. It couldn’t be timelier in how it considers the consequences of neoliberalism, wherein all human interactions are reduced to market relations, but it also has a beat you can dance to.
f. (2 votes) ‘THE HANDMAIDEN’ Set in Korea in the 1930s, the latest from Park Chan-wook involves two women, one a Japanese heiress and prisoner, the other an impoverished Korean con artist who could pick pockets for Fagin. Their delectable relationship takes them and the movie to places you might not imagine, while advancing an argument about gender, desire, erotica and pornography that is more complex than the movie’s slickness suggests.
g. MY GOLDEN DAYS.
i. FROM THE NOTEBOOK OF …
j. THE LOBSTER.
k. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.
l. SING STREET.
m. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.
p. DON’T THINK TWICE
s. PATRIOT’S DAY
t. MILES AHEAD
x. YOUR NAME
z. ONE MORE TIME WITH FEELING
aa. THE RED TURTLE
cc. The FITS
5. Best documentaries of the year
a. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. In his thrilling documentary, Raoul Peck closes the divide between the personal and political through a portrait of James Baldwin. Expressively narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie largely draws on Baldwin’s own writing — as well as material like his F.B.I. files — to create a portrait of a man that turns into a harrowing indictment of his country.
b. 13TH. In her ferocious, intellectually galvanizing activist documentary, Ava DuVernay takes a hard look at race in the United States through the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. You may think you’ve heard it all before; you haven’t.
c. O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA. Another documentary with an almost equally great dramatic counterpart, O.J. Simpson: Made in America -- viewed as either a nearly eight-hour feature or a five-part miniseries -- is not just about the O.J. Simpson murder trial. That is the centerpiece of the documentary, though, as it first explores Simpson's early life and a history of race relations in the US, particularly in Los Angeles, which culminated in that legal circus. Then it continues the story of both the man and the country, in what would seem to be the longest epilogue ever but is one of the most astute third acts ever produced for a nonfiction film.
d. WEINER. Anthony Weiner is among the all-time greatest documentary subjects. The disgraced politician is a tragic character who opened his life up to cameras in order to document his comeback from a past sexting scandal -- only for them to capture his downfall, another sexting scandal that cost him the New York City mayoral election. Weiner is also one of the most self-aware and documentary-savvy subjects, making him fascinating to watch for his contradictory intelligence and behaviors. Weiner, which manages such penetrating access because Kriegman was a trusted ex-employee of the former congressman, is a political masterpiece and such a perfect film for what's turned out to be a crazy election year -- as well as a year that's seen the subject continue to spiral downward.
e. NO HOME MOVIE. Even without the context of Akerman's suicide last fall, No Home Movie is a significant and deeply sad effort from the feminist film legend. The personal, pensive documentary consists primarily of long, static shots inside the apartment of Akerman's mother, Natalia, focused on conversations between the two women before the elder's demise in 2014. As Akerman seeks some late understanding of her parents' story, one of the main points of discussion is Natalia's experience as a Holocaust survivor. The title has a double meaning, but it primarily addresses how Akerman still considered her mother's home to be her own -- until Natalia's death, after which Chantal had no real home at all.
g. Kate Plays Christine.
h. Under the Sun
i. Zero Days
6. Worst movies of the year
a. London has Fallen
b. Independence Day: Resurgence
c. Bad Santa 2
e. Now You See Me 2
f. Collateral Beauty
h. Dirty Grandpa
i. Mother’s Day
j. Why Him?
ENTERTAINMENT (music, plays, books, etc.)
1. Entertainment news
a. Hamilton continued to dominate Broadway.
b. Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, breaking the hearts of those who want to believe that some Hollywood romances are destined to live forever. In the meantime, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp settled a rancorous divorce battle ; a judge finalized the Lamar Odom-Khloe Kardashian divorce; Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne separated and reconciled; and Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston called it quits .
c. The presidential election ensured that some of Hollywood’s biggest names were out on the campaign trail or making TV appearances. Beyonce made a surprise appearance at a concert held to support Hillary Clinton. Katy Perry stumped for the Democratic candidate in Philadelphia, and Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi joined a Clinton rally at Independence Hall. Donald Trump’s celebrity supporters included Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Stephen Baldwin, James Woods and Clint Eastwood.
2. Major Grammy winners
a. Record of the year: “Uptown Funk” - Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars
b. Album of the Year – “1989” – Taylor Swift
c. Song of the Year – “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge
d. Best New Artist – Meghan Trainor
3. 88th annual Tony awards, held in June
a. Best Play – The Humans (also nominated: Eclipsed, The Father, King Charles III)
b. Best Musical – Hamilton (also nominated: Bright Star, School of Rock, Shuffle Along, Waitress)
c. Best Revival of a Play – Arthur Miller’s A View from the Birdge (also nominated: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Blackbird, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Noises Off)
d. Best Revival of a Musical – The Color Purple (also nominated: Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening)
4. Groups nominated for induction into the R&R Hall of Fame: Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, N.W.A.
5. Best video games of 2016.
a. The Witness (playstation 4, xbox 1)
b. The Last Guardian (playstation 4)
c. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (playstation 4)
d. Inside (playstation 4)
e. Tharsis (PC, playstation 4)
f. Burly Men at Sea (PC, Mac, iOS, Android)
g. Super Mario Run (Nintendo)
h. Dragon Quest Builders (playstation 4)
i. Crashlands (PC)
6. Top books of the year
a. Fiction (HB=Harper’s Bazaar; NYT=New York Times; WP=Washington Post)
i. All That Man Is, David Szalay (HB, Man Booker Prize shortlist)
ii. The Association of Small Bombs, Karan Mahajan (NYT, National Book Award nominee)
iii. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett (WP)
iv. Do Not Say We Have nothing, Madeleine Thien (Man Booker Prize shortlist
v. Eileen, Jonathan Cape (Man Booker Prize shortlist)
vi. The Girls, Emma Cline (HB)
vii. Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer (HB)
viii. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (HB)
ix. Hot Milk, Hamish Hamilton (Man Booker Prize shortlist)
x. News of the World, Paulette Jiles (WP)
xi. The North Water, Ian McGuire (NYT)
xii. The Performance of Becoming Human, Daniel Borzutzky (National Book Award winner)
xiii. The Sellout, Paul Beatty (Man Booker Prize winner)
xiv. Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler (HB)
xv. Swing Time, Zadie Smith (WP, HB)
xvi. The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2016)
xvii. Trespasser, Tana French (WP)
xviii. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (NYT, WP, HB, National Book Award winner)
xix. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang (NYT)
xx. War & Turpentine (NYT)
i. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, Sarah Bakewell (NYT)
ii. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan (Pulitzer Prize for Biography, 2016)
iii. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, Joby Warrick (Pulitzer Prize for Nonficton, 2016)
iv. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen (HB)
v. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, T.J. Stiles (Pulitzer prize for History, 2016)
vi. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Jane Mayer (NYT)
vii. Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady, Susan Quinn (HB)
viii. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond (NYT, WP)
ix. The Gene: An Intimate history, Siddhartha Mukherjee (WP)
x. His Bloody Project, Contraband (Man Booker Prize shortlist)
xi. In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri (HB)
xii. In the Darkroom, Susan Faludi (NYT, HB)
xiii. Known and Strange Things, Teju Cole (HB)
xiv. March: Book 3 (National Book Award winner)
xv. The Return: Fathers, Sons & the Land in Between, Hisham Matar (NYT, WP)
xvi. Rogue Heroes, Ben Macintyre (WP)
xvii. Secondhand Time, Svetlana Alexievich (WP, Nobel Prize for Literature)
xviii. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi (National Book Award winner)
xix. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi (HB)
1. The rise of fake news. Donald Trump’s bold and unconditional acceptance of totally false information (“I would have won the popular vote had it not been for massive voter fraud” is a favorite of mine) has created a phenomenon no one saw coming, the ascendency of fake news. Suddenly all you have to do is publish something on Facebook to make it real!
2. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cast its spell at Universal Studios Hollywood in April, presenting the first challenge to the pre-eminence of Disneyland. Disney, meanwhile, expanded its empire in June with the opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort . It also began construction on its 14-acre Star Wars land at Disneyland, part of a $1-billion upgrade effort.
3. Bob Dylan won the Noble Prize for Literature
4. Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill signed an Ecumenical Declaration in the first such meeting between leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches since their split in 1054
5. Live broadcasting on Snapchat and Facebook became a thing.
6. Vaping was a thing … until it wasn’t. More and more establishments are now specifically banning vaping on their premesis
7. Solo travel and dining also became okay, with some restaurants even establishing “tasting booths” to help solo diners focus on their dining experience.
MEMES OF THE YEAR
1. Mannequin Challenge. Planking was SO 2015!
2. Joe Biden & Barrack Obama “bromance.” In this series of memes, Obama is typically depicted as the straightman feeding lines to Biden, who swats them back with witty or snarky retorts. (Ex: “Did you really replace all the toiletries with travel size bottles?” “He has small hands, Barack. I want him to feel welcome.”)
3. Chewbacca mom
4. Damn, Daniel
5. Water bottle flipping
1. One of the darlings of Los Angeles’ start-up scene announced in July that it was cashing in on a $1-billion payday. Its business? Razors. Dollar Shave Club’s sale to consumer products titan Unilever is the biggest acquisition ever of a venture-backed start-up in Los Angeles. And it’s a vote of confidence in the city’s start-up scene — one that has quietly emerged as a hub for e-commerce.
2. It's a Hollywood tale for the ages, colored by power struggles , family rifts, sex and a vast fortune. That, in a nutshell, was the story of Viacom, the struggling media company whose assets include MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures. Sumner Redstone, the 93-year-old patriarch of a family that controls Viacom and CBS Corp, reunited with his daughter, Shari Redstone, after years of sniping to solidify control of their empire in August — forcing out former girlfriends and entrenched management.
3. Gawker, the Internet’s loudest and most adversarial news outlet, shut down in August after 14 years in operation. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy after being hit with $140 million in legal damages after the site published a sex tape of pro wrestler Terry Bollea, known to the world as Hulk Hogan, and Bollea won a lawsuit in Florida. The suit, ultimately settled for $31 million, was bankrolled by Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal, in retaliation against the site for outing him as gay back in the 2000s.
4. In December 2013, the Los Angeles Times uncovered a high-pressure sales environment at Wells Fargo Bank. The story led to a $185-million settlement in September and government investigations which revealed that bank workers has opened as many as 2 million accounts without customers’ knowledge. Former CEO John Stumpf resigned in October.
5. In October, AT&T reached a deal to buy Time Warner Inc. for $85.4 billion — a merger that would transform the telephone company into the nation’s largest entertainment company with a portfolio that includes Warner Bros., HBO, CNN and TNT. The election of Donald Trump could threaten AT&T's plans . Trump initially declared that it was “a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few” but Wall Street is betting the deal will go through.
1. After many attempts, Elon Musk’s SpaceX commercial rocket company finally successfully landed a rocket on it’s off-shore platform.
2. And speaking of Elon Musk, his Tesla electric car company unveiled the Tesla Model 3, its first mid-priced offering.
3. Car makers and ride-hailing companies are racing to develop autonomous vehicles , and that includes big-rig trucks . In September — the same month that Uber introduced a small fleet of self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh — the Department of Transportation issued far-reaching guidelines that pave the way for self-driving cars to hit the roads without much red tape.
5. The “Internet of Things” suffered a setback in 2016 as concerns rose over the ease of hacking into home systems via portals as innocent as interactive children’s toys.
6. Net Neutrality. In June, a court ruled that federal regulators can strictly oversee the Internet to ensure that content flows freely to consumers — a major victory for President Obama and other supporters of the long-pursued concept of net neutrality.
7. All was not happy in the world of tech today! USA Today’s top tech flops of 2016 include the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which developed a propensity for bursting suddenly into flames; GoPro’s Karma drone, which tended to lose power mid-flight and plummet unexpectedly towards the ground; Apples iphone which was introduced without a headphone jack or slots for charging; and chatbox’s such as Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa, which proved annoyingly buggy when asked even the simplest queries.
1. Next year, after 13 years providing us an unprecedented look at Saturn, orbiter Cassini's mission will come to an end. But there's a new project happening. This year, after five years in transit, Juno finally arrived in position in orbit around Jupiter, and will spend the next few years travelling around the gas giant sending us new information. We've already had photos from the first flyby that show us there's nothing else like Jupiter's north pole in the solar system. With 36 flybys to go, we're in for an awesome ride.Juno Reaches Jupiter. NASA's Juno spacecraft enters orbit around Jupiter and begins a 20-month survey of the planet. It is slated to spend the next few years travelling around the gas giant sending us new information. We’ve already had photos from the first flyby that show us there’s nothing else like Jupiter’s north pole in the solar system. With 36 flybys to go, we’re in for an awesome ride.
2. Cassini Mission Nears End. NASA’s Cassini finds liquid-filled canyons on Saturn’s moon Titan. The Grand Canyon has some cosmic competition. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is home to massive canyons flooded with liquid hydrocarbons, according to a study published in August. Researchers analyzed 2013 data from NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft to determine that dark channels branching out from Titan’s Ligeia Mar sea are filled with liquid, the study said. The research marks the first time scientists have evidence there are liquid-filled canyons on Titan, NASA said in a statement. Alas, Cassini’s 13-year mission is due to come to an end next year, but the data collected thus far will provide decades worth of grist for astrophysicists, geophysicists, and other scientists worldwide.
3. Gravitational Waves are Real! You know how radio telescopy changed astronomy and was able to detect stuff visible light telescopes couldn’t? This is like that: a brand new era of space discovery. There’s even been a second detection already. If you didn’t bounce around in excitement in the wake of this announcement, you have a cold, dead heart.
4. Brain Implants for Paralysis. Some types of paralysis used to be permanent conditions, but thanks to recent breakthroughs in brain implant technology, there’s hope for the future. Building on years of prior research, this year we saw a man paralyzed from the neck down pick up a guitar and play Guitar Hero, thanks to a microelectrode array implanted in his motor cortex. And a woman with ALS was able, thanks to a groundbreaking at-home brain implant, to communicate via a computer. How inspiring is that?
5. Kepler keeps on giving. The search for extraterrestrial life is ongoing and may never yield results in our lifetime, but Kepler, originally slated for a 3.5 year mission, has now been hanging out in orbit around the sun looking for exoplanets for 7 years, 9 months and counting. The number of confirmed planets is 3431 as of December 2016, a number swelled by the discovery of 1284 confirmed planes in May 2016 and 104 in June 2016. This latter number may not seem high, but it’s the largest number discovered yet by K2, the spacecraft’s second round of planet-hunting.
6. A Habitable Planet? Scientists discover Earth-like planet orbiting star closest to sun. An Earth-sized planet orbiting the star nearest our sun could have conditions similar to those on Earth, according to a study published in August. The planet, called Proxima b, lies in the "habitable zone," where liquid water is possible. While researchers have identified a plethora of planets outside our solar system that both resemble Earth in size and dwell in the “habitable zone,” no other Earth-like planet outside our solar system is as close to humans and their observatories as this new world, making it the best possible hunting ground for living organisms. So, when will we know if the planet harbors life? When NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018, researchers may be able to detect whether the planet has an atmosphere or if it's airless like the moon,Business Insider reported.
7. Supermassive Black Hole. Hubble telescope spots “supermassive” black hole. In February, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a photo of a distant galaxy that’s home to one of the most massive black holes astronomers have ever discovered. The black hole is located 300 million light years away in the center of the Coma Cluster of the galaxy NGC 4889, according to a statement from NASA and the ESA.
8. Rover Continues to Rove Across Mars. Curiosity Rover confirms strange meteroite on Mars using laser. In November, NASA’s Curiosity Rover spotted a dark, golf ball-sized object on Mars that looked completely different than the typical rocks found on the red planet. So, was it an alien's toy? Not quite. The rover used an onboard laser to zap the object and confirm that it was an iron-nickel meteorite, which fell from the martian sky, according to a statement from NASA. The object, which was named “Egg Rock,” after a site in Maine, is the first object to be tested with the rover’s laser-firing ChemCam instrument, NASA said.
9. In a rare bright spot for global environmental news, atmospheric scientists reported in 2016 that the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica is beginning to heal. Their data nail the case that the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty drawn up in 1987 to limit the use of ozone-destroying chemicals, is working. The Antarctic ozone hole forms every Southern Hemisphere spring, when chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine break apart the oxygen atoms that make up ozone molecules. Less protective ozone means that more ultraviolet radiation reaches Earth, where it can damage DNA and lead to higher rates of skin cancer, among other threats. The Montreal Protocol cut back drastically on the manufacture of ozone-destroying compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which had been used in air conditioners, refrigerators and other products. It went into force in 1989 and phased out CFCs by 2010. This year, 150 nations met at the UNEP summit in Rwanda agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
10. A study found that the VSV-EBOV vaccine against the Ebola virus is between 70-100% effective, thus making it the first proven vaccine against the disease
11. Google AI. Google’s working on AI, and it’s making some pretty fascinating headway. Last year we saw Deep Dream’s crazy image recognition software. This year we saw DeepMind beat world Go champion Lee Sedol in four out of five matches, DeepMind outperform a professional lipreader, TensorFlow help track endangered manatees by spotting them in aerial photographs, artificial intelligence improve Google Translate, and WaveNet learn how to produce sounds almost indistinguishable from human speech. We don’t know what Google is planning to do with all this, but it’s going to be fun finding out.
1. The rise of flexitarianism. This new word is meant to encompass all the folks eating modified diets – the vegetarians, the vegans, the gluten frees, the paleos, etc. With avocado prices soaring, a New York Times food author suggested supplementing your guac with crushed peas. Least welcome advice of 2015?
2. Fermentation. As food additives and artificial preservatives continue to receive criticism, interest in natural prices like fermentation is growing.
3. Drinking your vegetables. Huge growth in super premium juice category; or, people are just buying mammoth juicers and creating their own concoctions
4. The Hotter the better. Sriracha has been the go-=to hot sauce for the past few years, but it’s been joined by some new, spicy friends include dukka, ghost pepper, gochujang, harissa sambal, and sumac
5. Comfort foods redux. Meatballs, stews, pierogis, bao buns and dumplings are known for beng no-frilled staples in their countries of origin, but they’re becoming staples for gourmet restaurants everywhere.
6. Waste not want now. Restaurants, media, and trendy grocery outlets spent the year convincing us that ugly vegetables (misshapen tubers, blotchy bananas, etc.) deserve just as much respect as their genetically more fortunate brothers and sisters.
7. Blackened is the new “burned.” If you’re a fan of marshmallows burned black and the crispiest of bacon, you’re in luck. 2016 was all about seriously grilled, with roasted options showing up in all the best restaurants.
8. Fast food gets an upgrade. The line between fast casual and fast food continued to blur as fast-food chains upgraded their menus* and amenities to compete with pop-up fast casual chains such as Chipotle, 5 Guys, and a bunch of new sub chains (Jimmy Jeans, Firehouse Subs, etc.). Even McDonalds is now offering happy meals with apple slices, milk and juice as options.
WORDS OF THE YEAR
1. Adulting. Behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks
2. Atl-right. An ideological grouping associatred with extreme conservative or reactionary vewpoitns characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.
3. Brexit. The world coined to describe Britian’s vote to exit the European Union.
4. Emoji. Those little symbols that stand in for emotions in text messaging
5. Ghosting. To abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication
6. On fleek. An adjective meaning excellent, or impeccable.
7. Post-truth. An adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influenctila in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal believe. See “fake news”
8. Superdelegates. No one know what they were before this presidential election. Most people still don’t.
9. They (as a gender-neutral pronoun). Finally, the American Dialect Society has proclaimed that “they” can be used as an acceptable substitute for the far more cumbersome “his or her”
10. Xenophobia. Just when you thought the only word that started with x is x-ray, Donald Trump’s ascendancy gave new life to this heretofore rarely used adjective to describe “fear of anything foreign, especially when applied to people of different races, cultures, and religions.”
11. Yaaaaassssss! And expression of excitement, approval, or strong agreement.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump, 1/24/16
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