2016 turned out to be a troubling year on several fronts… from multiple terror attacks and unexpected deaths among our favorite entertainers to the shocking results from the Brexit referendum and American presidential election. Here are the news events by month which consumed our attention during 2016…
January 2016: The world was stunned when we heard that one of the music industry’s most iconic artist, British singer David Bowie, had died 2 days after his 69th birthday on January 10th 2016.
February 2016: Although first announced on January 28th, it would be during the month of February 2016 when news of the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil would consume our attention just 6 months before thousands of the world’s top athletes were planning to head to Rio de Janiero
March 2016: On March 22, terrorists simultaneously attacked multiple locations in Brussels including its international airport and public transport metro system. 32 people were killed and hundreds were were injured.
April 2016: The world was once again stunned on April 21st when a second musical icon, 53-year old American singer-songwriter Prince, was found dead in his home, Paisley Park, in Minnesota.
May 2016: On May 19th, EgyptAir Flight 804 with 66 people aboard disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea during a routine flight from Paris to Cairo. The two black boxes wouldn’t be recovered until mid June and because they were damaged, they data couldn’t be accessed until August. Neither provided enough information to pinpoint the exact cause, but TNT residue found on some recovered airplane and passenger debris indicate an explosion.
June 2016: Although polls showed a tight contest going into the June 23rd UK referendum vote on European Union membership, almost all of them had projected the leave referendum being defeated. Britons and the world were shocked to learn the next morning that the Brexit referendum had passed by a margin of 52%-48%. Regionally, the referendum had passed in England in Wales and been defeated in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The vote sent world financial markets into a tailspin.
July 2016: Still reeling from the Brexit vote, the world was once again shocked when tragedy struck France in the form of a Bastille Day terrorist attack on July 14th. A truck driven into a crowd which had gathered to watch fireworks in the southern city of Nice killed 86 people and injured an additional 434.
August 2016: Although plagued by problems (such as the murky green water in the diving pool), the world breathed a sigh of relief when the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics ended without any major catastrophes or attacks. Highlights from the games included the team and individual performances of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team as well as the most decorated Olympic athlete in history, 31-year old American swimmer Michael Phelps, collecting an additional 6 medals (5 gold, 1 silver).
September 2016: On September 2nd, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung, issued a worldwide Note 7 product recall due to the possibility of fire and injury caused by the battery. Although the company originally thought the problem to be associated with the first batch of phones produced, it soon found out that replacement phones from a later batch were suffering from the same problem. The Note 7 recall is one of the largest electrical device recalls in history. Production of the Note 7 was completely discontinued in October 2016.
October 2016: Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 145 mph when it landed a direct hit on the island nation of Haiti on October 4th (the strongest to hit the country in more than 50 years). The infrastructure was obliterated with bridges, roads and power lines washed away and thousands of homes destroyed. The storm moved on causing further damage in places like Cuba and the United States, but in the end it was Haiti which was hardest hit, with 546 confirmed deaths (hundreds of more unconfirmed) and property damage estimated at $1.89 billion.
November 2016: People around the world watched in stunned disbelief as Donald Trump emerged the victor of the November 8th American presidential elections, by way of the electoral college system. His opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first ever female nominee from a major party, would wind up losing the election despite amassing nearly 3 million more votes at the polls.
December 2016: The last month of 2016 has been highlighted by more shocking events which reflect just how difficult a year it has been. On December 19th, a terrorist with ties to ISIL, drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others. The suspect escaped the scene, but 4 days later was killed in a shootout with Italian police near Milan. On Christmas Day, the world lost another British musical icon when George Michael was found dead at age 53. Two days later, actress Carrie Fisher, known throughout the world as Princess Leia from the Star Wars movie series, died in an LA hospital after suffering a heart attack on a London-Los Angeles flight. She was 60 years old. As if things couldn’t get worse, the very next day, her mother, beloved Hollywood icon Debby Reynolds, died from a stroke suffered while planning her daughter’s funeral.
I, for one, am ready to see 2016 come to an end, with the hope that 2017 will be a brighter year illuminated by stories of love rather than hate, peace rather than war and progress rather than setbacks.