You can, of course, say many things about 2016.
You can be happy about it. You might be optimistic about the uncertainty we face going into the next year. The status quo is a distant memory, and that can go right or wrong. You may be nervous, or apprehensive; we have been outnumbered by political upsets on all fronts, and depending on who you are, the future can seem bright, or not very bright at all.
As always the sound mind should be somewhere between these two poles. This year has shown us possibilities we did not know existed and many of us now fear. Our truth is being chased, and changed, and now more than ever the information can turn the table on our reality. Above all else, we must stay sharp, keep up, and keep thinking for ourselves.
All of us at No Majesty wish you a happy new year.
An outbreak with many consequences
On January 28th the World Health Organisation announced an outbreak of the Zika Virus, transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. The outbreak was first recorded this year in Brazil, and quickly spread to multiple other areas, many of which have declared a state of emergency in response to the virus.
The Zika virus is particularly problematic as it can cause infections during pregnancy and lead to certain birth defects. The outbreak lead to many athletes due to participate in the summer Olympics in Brazil to withdraw.
Kim Jong-Un launches a long-range missile into space, violating multiple UN treaties.
Terror in Europe and South Asia, and crisis in the East.
This year saw a terrifying manifestation of terrorists represented by ISIL, a group formed over the past few years which has captured the attention of the world, and caused panic within security forces, government and the public.
On the morning of 22 March, three bombings in Belgium killed at least 32 and injured at least 300 others. The coordinated attacks, two located in Brussels Airport, and one at a Metro Station, are the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history. Jihadist militants from ISIL were later apprehended for the killings.
Five days later on 27 March, a suicide blast in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore killed 75 people and injured around 340 others, with a militant Sunni Islamic organization claiming responsibility for targeting Christians who were celebrating Easter.
A pitiful string of attacks across the developed and underdeveloped nations of the world appear throughout this year in review. I sincerely hope that we never again see the level of terror, and subsequent polarising discriminating politics, spread throughout our society, as we have seen in 2016.
The Panama Papers
On 3 April, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published a set of 11.5 million confidential documents from the Panamanian corporate Mossack Fonseca. Dubbed the ‘Panama Papers’ they provide detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, and identify notable personalities and heads of state as shareholders.
Leicester City F.C beat bookies 5,000-1 prediction by winning the Premier League title.
Labour candidate Sadiq Khan wins the London Mayoral election, beating Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith with 44.2% of the capital’s vote.
A Very British Exit
Euroscepticism has been a staple of fringe politics in Britain since the 1960s, when voices began to rally against the European Economic Community, as was the name then. Linking with the general anti-establishment sentiment of the disenfranchised in the country, those against the EU managed to secure the possibility of an exit, or Brexit, when a referendum was announced by David Cameron in January 2013.
Pro and against EU campaigners waged a war of statistics for the coming years, culminating in a fear mongering, and hate filled campaign that blighted much of June. Finally, in a result which shocked pollsters and voters alike, on 23 June The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister the very same day. Many believe the marginal win for Eurosceptics has significant implications for the wider European community.
The World Health Organisation declares the most recent West African Ebola virus epidemic over. The last case had tested negative in Monrovia on 28 April.
ISIL claims responsibility for attacking Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, killing 45 and injuring around 230
Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of The United kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. May is the UK’s second female Prime Minister.
In Nice, France, a cargo truck is deliberately driven into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day. The attack lead to 86 deaths and many more injuries. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, and President François Hollande extends the state of emergency which had been in place since November the previous year, following the shootings in Paris.
Rio 2016 Summer Olympics (followed by the Paralympic Games from 7 September)
This year’s olympic games was surrounded by controversy from the start, and intertwined with many cultural events such as the migrant crisis and poverty in Rio De Janeiro. Economists criticized the Olympics being hosted in a city with such poverty, when the cost of the event dwarfs the wealth of Rio De Janeiro residents.
The European migrant crisis led the International Olympic Committee to allow athletes to compete as independents under the Olympic flag, as they could not represent their own countries. The previous year this permission was not given by the IOC. Athletes from Kuwait, whose own National Olympic Committee had been suspended, won their nation’s first gold medal under independent status.
Britain broke several records in this year’s Olympics. Ethiopian born Mo Farah won gold in the 10,000 metres for the second time in a row, finishing the race in an astounding 27 minutes and 5 seconds. 23 year old Max Whitlock won Great Britain’s first ever olympic gold medal in gymnastics.
The government of North Korea draws condemnation from world leaders by conducting its fifth and reportedly biggest nuclear test.
International investigators conclude that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (shot down on 17 July) was targeted by a Buk missile that came from an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
Populism in the USA
The US presidential election stage was set with Donal Trump, who had shocked the world by defeating Republican opponents to the nomination, opposing Hillary Clinton, who had defeated Bernie Sanders to the Democratic nomination. Both campaigns were unconventional, and Trump’s saw a crusade of vitriol, particularly towards women, causing an unprecedented stir in US politics.
Despite this, on 9th November Trump, the first presidential candidate in history to have no prior experience in public service, defeated Hillary Clinton in the electoral college vote to become President Elect of the United States of America.
An ISIL affiliated jihadist drives a truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring at least 56 others.
The early part of 2016 saw the death of David Bowie at the age of 69, and less than a week later, screen legend Alan Rickman passed away, also at the age of 69. Before long, remarks had been made about 2016 being the year for celebrity deaths. Famous people in our culture die each year, of course, but nobody could say that those taken from us this year were anything short of the very best our culture had to offer. Some of their names, are listed here:
8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016
On January 10th, after an unprecedented career in music spanning five decades, Starman David Bowie died aged 69.
21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016
Sir Terry Wogan
3 August 1938 – 31 January 2016
14 November 1922 – 16 February 2016
28 April 1926 – 19 February 2016
4 December 1930 – 31 March 2016
June 7 1958 – April 21 2016
Legendary artist Prince, responsible for an incredible discography of music that spanned genres and decades, died earlier in the year, after suffering an addiction to his pain medication.
17 January 1942 – 3 June 2016
11 June 1933 – 29 August 2016
21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016
On 7 November, Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer and poet who gave the world ‘Hallelujah’, died aged 82. His songwriting spoke of love, loss, and finally explored the concept of mortality with his final album You Want it Darker, released three weeks before his passing.
13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016
Perhaps the most influential revolutionary of the 20th century, Fidel Castro died on 25 November aged 90. His passing sparked a wave of both celebration and mourning across the Republic of Cuba, where he served as Prime minister and President between 1976 and 2008.
Zsar Zsar Gabor
6 February 1917 – 18 December 2016
25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016
21 October 1956 – 27 December 2016