By Victor Schultz
BALLS: The (annotated) highlight list of 2016
A lot happened the past year. So much, in fact, that it seems prudent to use the first column of the new year to recap some of the biggest moments of 2016. Events chosen were picked based on the simple criteria of being something that will likely have an impact seen this coming year. Either that or it was something I found interesting and wanted to write about.
Highlights are listed in chronological order
We should have seen how bad 2016 was going to get when it began with two volatile nations ceasing diplomatic relations. Iran decisively cut ties with Saudi Arabia after the execution of a Shia cleric. Why should you care? They still aren’t talking. Diplomatic snubs of this type are quite common. (For example, Obama just expelled a significant number of Russian diplomatic staff) But typically such measures don’t last so long. It’s a year later and Iran and Saudi Arabia still have not restored direct communications, further destabilizing the region.
Every year someone claims that the signs of the end of days have appeared and the rapture is imminent. Of course, they often have to wait with baited breath through the year to see all the signs. But pestilence, a member of the most popular group of doomsday signals (the four horseman), showed up early last year. The Zika virus began in Uganda, and has actually been around since 1947. Due to travel habits, lack of viral mutation, or sheer dumb luck; the virus did not actually spread from that geographical location until 2015, when it was discovered in Brazil. Within a year’s time, the virus had mutated to be carried by multiple species of mosquito as well as transmitted sexually. The number of cases exploded and spread to a number of other countries across South and Central America, eventually popping up in North American and the Caribbean as well. By November, the World Health Organization declared that the virus was no longer a global emergency but noted that the virus was still a problem and would continue to be for a long time.
North Korea, not exactly a model of a country trying to promote peace and stability around the globe, launches a test of long-range missile tech into space. This action sparked international outrage, as it violated many UN treaties, some of which it had itself sponsored or signed. This marked the first of many aggressive actions it would take within the next eleven months, all dealing with the pursuit of developing nuclear arms.
Hilary Clinton wins 7 state primaries on Super Tuesday (A day when many American states hold a primary election to choose who will represent a political party on the presidential ballot in November). Later, leaked emails would reveal she spoke with Democratic Party leaders to receive advice on defeating rival Bernie Sanders. The party leaders are said to have colluded with her to keep the nomination away from Sanders. Speculation on the actual impact this had (She did win by decisive margin of ~12%) is thought to be a contributing factor to her later defeat in the November election.
Donald Trump also wins 7 state primaries. People begin to chuckle nervously, as before this point, many people outside his campaign group had not taken him seriously.
Spitting in the face of polls and predictions, the United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union in a referendum vote. The term Brexit becomes something that will be endlessly repeated in not only the UK, but also in the American Election, the French Elections, and basically anywhere else that a populist movement is swelling.
The Philippines wins an international arbitration case against China over the “nine-dash line”, which is a classic example of China’s expansionist efforts in the South China Seas. While a sure victory in principle, China refuses to recognize the ruling and does nothing to reduce the building of offshore bases and shoals.
The Rio Olympics happened. Sports.
USA and China ratify the Paris global climate agreement. The two nations together produce 40% of the global carbon emissions. Although criticized by many as not being enough, this agreement laid the foundation for more work to be done in the future.
The Maldives withdraws from Commonwealth of Nations, another example of a nation swinging away from globalized structures.
Donald Trump is formally elected as the next president of the United States of America. He secured his position through electoral votes, winning 304 against Clinton’s 227. The popular vote casts a pall over his mandate, however, as Clinton beat him there by over 1,300,000 votes.