The Year in Review

Anna Vander Kooi, Staff Reporter

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As the year closes, here’s a look back at 12 major events that shaped 2016:


January: Taiwan elected its first female president. Tsai Ing-wen, a Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman, made history when she became the first woman to the Taiwanese presidency (with 56.1% of votes). This election marked the first time in 8 years that the country had been out of the control of the Nationalist Party. However, many were concerned with the election’s effect on Taiwan’s relationship with China, upheld by the Nationalist Party. As of December 2016, there has been no real conflict, but the possibility of economic and military confrontation continues to test the fragile relationship between the two countries.

February: Crisis continued in Syria. As the month opened, the United Nations planned peace talks regarding Syrian violence and war. The talks were cancelled, with U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura stating there was, “…more work to be done, not only by us but by the stakeholders. I’m not prepared to have talks for the sake of talks.” However, the United States, Germany, Norway, and Kuwait continued to support Syria’s fleeing civilians with a $10 billion donation.

March: Republican Party Candidates in the U.S. 2016 Election dropped like flies. In March, both Ben Carson and Marco Rubio dropped out of the race after suffering losses in primaries and caucuses. This left the presidential nomination for the Republican Party between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Kasich and Cruz soon after withdrew, leaving Donald Trump as the Republican Party Nominee.

April: Harriet Tubman replaced Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made a final decision to print twenty dollar bills featuring Harriet Tubman, well known for her work with the Underground Railroad during the era of slavery. This decision marked the first time in 100 years that a woman would appear on United States Currency. Tubman would also be the first African American to grace any US bill. Andrew Jackson became a staple of the back of the bill, with his picture printed next to the White House.

May: NASA discovered 1,284 new planets in the galaxy. Using a Kepler telescope, NASA found there to be double the amount of Kepler’s known planets. This discovery also raised curiosity surrounding the possibility of discovering a second life-supporting Earth.

June: Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, left close to 100 injured or killed. In the largest mass shooting in United States history, Omar Saddiqui Mateen attacked and killed 49 patrons of a gay nightclub on June 12. Mateen cited his allegiance to terrorist group ISIL as the cause for his attack. During a standoff lasting three hours, he was shot and killed by Orlando police. The country grieved with vigils, statements from both President Obama and 2016 election candidates, and expressions of grief from various political and foreign leaders as well as celebrities.

July: Andy Murray and Serena Williams won big time. As the Wimbledon Finals closed, both Serena Williams and Andy Murray once again were champions. Serena’s win versus Angelique Kerbler marked her 22nd grand slam title, while Murray became the second English player to win the trophy twice.

August: The Zika virus spread. In Florida, ten more civilians were pronounced infected with the harmful virus. This instance as well as the four cases reported in July, led the Center for Disease Control to issue a travel warning to pregnant women entering the Miami area. This warning became the first for the continental United States, and health concerns in the country heightened following its release.

September: Mother Teresa became Saint Teresa. As a result of her philanthropic efforts during her lifetime, Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa as a saint. Following Saint Teresa’s death, the church claimed that she cured an Indian woman of stomach cancer, thereby making her a saint by its standards. Although the decision was met with levels of scrutiny, 120,000 celebrated her sainthood in Vatican City.

October: Chicago Cubs won it all. After a 108 year wait, Chicago Cubs baseball fans rejoiced as the team won their first World Series since 1908. The Cubs faced off against the Cleveland Indians, but defeated them in a 4-3 victory in the series. The final score of the 7th game was 8-7. Generating the most views for any baseball game in 25 years, the game kept fans on the edge of their seats with a rain delay. Chicago celebrated the win the following Friday with a parade that drew 5 million fans.

November: Wildfires swept Tennessee. Throughout the Smoky Mountains, wildfires spread. Specifically in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, fires killed 4 and injured close to 50. Rescue squads worked through the towns to find missing persons in homes and other buildings. Many were forced to evacuate the popular tourist site. As the fires grew, more destruction spread, wreaking havoc on the beautiful mountain ranges.

December: United States astronaut John Glenn and TV star Alan Thicke died. Tragedy struck when American hero John Glenn and Canadian actor Alan Thicke passed away within days of each other. Glenn was the first United States astronaut to be sent to orbit the Earth, but his legacy will also be in regards to his heroic reputation. His driving morale inspired Americans as they competed in the space race with Russia. Glenn passed away at 95 in Columbus, Ohio. Alan Thicke, well known for his role as the father on “Growing Pains,” died suddenly at 69 as a result of a heart attack. Thicke most recently appeared in the family sitcom “Fuller House,” as well as making a guest appearance on the NBC show “This is Us.” There has been an outpouring of celebrity support for the Thicke family, including his singer son Robin Thicke.

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