The Year in Review: 2016

From Aleppo to Zika, the year 2016 will go down as a year when history was reshaped. Across the globe, we saw a return to nationalism and protectionism, despite the onward march of a globalized economy and shared prosperity.
Overseas, the Syrian civil war came to head in Aleppo, as rebels and Assan’s forces battled, creating misery and death for civilians trapped between forces. Russian forces, siding with Assan, bombed the city to force rebels out. At the end of December, a short-lived cease fire gave way to more attacks, and finally a last ditch rescue to get civilians out of the area which was halted and resumed several times.
Terrorist attacks in Belgium in March, Lahore, France, and Istanbul marked the year. The Turkish government was almost overthrown by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces. President Erdogan  quashed the coup and ordered mass arrests, holding a tenuous grip on power. In December, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an art gallery, prompting fears of retaliation. Also at the end of the year, a possible terrorist attack in Berlin prompted fears of another rash of ISIS inspired bombings.
Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, “Brexit,” shocked many in Europe — including Britons themselves. As a result of the vote, Prime Minister Cameron resigned an Theresa May became PM of an increasingly divided Britain.
The world came together, more or less, for the Summer Olympic Games in Rio, which was tainted by fears of the Zika virus and pollution, poor planning, and the Russian doping scandal. However, there were some amazing performances by world-class athletes. The women’s swim team blew everyone out of the water with gold medals for Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Lilly King, while Michael Phelps continued to shine on the men’s team. The U.S. Gymnastics team also stood out in the 2016 Olympics — and for all the right reasons, defying expectations and gravity. Medalist Brian Lochte and other U.S. swimmers lied about being robbed in Rio, and were roundly condemned, fined, and threatened with jail time.
The big story in the U.S. was the presidential election, which was marked by some of the dirtiest campaigning in modern history. The Republican field of 16 candidates was narrowed to just one, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, but not without major controversies, including allegations of the candidate’s groping of women (to name just one). Hillary Clinton successfully fended off Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, but scandals involving e-mail servers and Clinton Foundation influence hampered her bid. Though most pollsters had her winning by a narrow margin, Trump emerged triumphant November 9 (although Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million nationwide). Controversy still surrounds the president-elect, including questions about the qualifications of cabinet picks, his continued involvement in the Trump business (which sets up conflicts of interest), his children’s involvement in the administration, possible Russian interference in the election, and several more issues that have yet to be resolved. Vice-president elect Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, has been in charge of the transition team, getting intelligence briefings, and seems to be on his way to becoming one of most powerful VP’s in modern history.
The national spotlight shone brightly on Indiana thanks to Pence’s role as VP candidate. Possibly due to his influence, Carrier announced it would keep 800 jobs in Indianapolis in November, after announcing it would move 1,500 jobs to Mexico earlier in the year. Thanks to Pence and Trump’s intervention, Carrier agreed to keep some jobs at the Indianapolis plant, in exchange for about $7 million in grants and concessions. Other companies, including Rexnord, who also will be shuttering operations in the state and moving to Mexico, did not fare as well. Despite these high-profile layoffs, Indiana’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, and job creation remains strong.
“Surprise” tornadoes in mid- and late August swept through north central Indiana, Hendricks County, and Indianapolis and while there was a great deal of property damage around Kokomo, there were no fatalities and only one person reported slight injuries.
The opiod addiction and overdose rates in Indiana continued to rise, straining the mental health and justice systems nearly to the breaking point. Indianapolis saw the homicide rate inch upwards again, which police think could be linked to the heroin trade. Two police district headquarters were shot at in summer, and officials caught the suspect. In Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett proposed new initiatives to combat crime in the city of Indianapolis, including a new justice center and jail. The proposal is still in the trial balloon stage.
As 2016 drew to a close, Indianapolis lost its beloved former Mayor Bill Hudnut. Tributes to his strong leadership and huge heart poured in from all over the city and state.
This year’s world stage is a little less sparkling as well, with losses that broke hearts. Actors Alan Rickman, Abe Vigoda, George Kennedy, Ken Howard, Alan Thicke, Patty Duke, Garry Shandling, Garry Marshall,Doris Roberts, Gene Wilder, plus Hoosiers Florence Henderson and Ron Glass, passed away this year. Professional celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor died at the age of 99. Rockers David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Keith Emerson, Leon Russell, and Greg Lake died, and musicians/songwriters Merle Haggard, Maurice White, and Leonard Cohen wrote their last. “Fifth Beatle” producer George Martin died this year. Legendary athletes Muhammad Ali and Gordie Howe died. The literary world lost Harper Lee, Peter Shaffer, Alvin Toffler, and Elie Wiesel. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly, opening up a controversy about his replacement. Political figures Nancy Reagan, Phyllis Schlafly, Shimon Peres, and Janet Reno passed away. Fidel Castro, dictator of Cuba, died. Astronaut and political figure John Glenn was remembered as a hero.
In all, 2016 was a year most people would like to forget. But at least the Cubs won the World Series!