By Veronica Mackey
Shocking and unbelievably long. From exploding cell phones to the reality that there will be a President Trump, 2016 has been everything except boring.
We thought the presidential election would never end. Billed as one of the nastiest campaigns in recent history, the Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton contest concluded on Nov. 8. And despite proof that the Russians hacked into the Democrat’s data base to help Trump win, Trump’s own emotional instability, blatant racist and sexist comments, and support from the Ku Klux Klan, the Republican candidate was victorious.
While Clinton won the popular vote, Trump won more electoral votes, prompting some Democrats like former Attorney General Eric Holder to call for the abolishment of the electoral college. Shocked and angry Clinton supporters took to the streets to protest election results.
The Zika virus set off all kinds of alarms. But it couldn’t stop us. There were concerns of athletes contracting Zika in Rio, where the Summer Olympic Games were held, but Team USA marched on and won the most gold. Gymnast Simone Biles won 14 gold medals and quickly became America’s sweetheart, while disgraced swimmer Ryan Lochte embarrassed us by getting caught in a lie that he was robbed at gunpoint by Rio police.
California farm workers saw economic justice this year, that puts them on par with workers in other industries. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law mandatory overtime pay for farm laborers who work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.
Excessive force by police officers against black men continued to dominate the news, and came to a peak during the summer. Videos of police shooting Alton Sterling point blank while he was restrained and on the ground sparked outrage, as did another incident a day later. Black motorist Philando Castile was shot in his car trying to reach for his ID. Castile’s girlfriend filmed the shooting live from her cell phone. A vigilante assassin in Dallas sought revenge by killing 5 police officers, assigned to protect citizens during a peaceful protest of the shootings.
In Inglewood, however, protestors were allowed to peacefully assemble without any police interference. When Black Lives Matter members led a march down Manchester, there was no visible police presence. Officers were ordered to stay away from protestors, but were stationed close enough to respond in case the crowd got out of hand. They didn’t.
Democrats staged a sit-in to protest failure of the GOP Senate to pass gun control legislation. Meanwhile, California law makers came up with their own bills to curb gun violence. Gov. Brown signed into law 6 gun control bills in July. Some automatic rifles were re-classified as assault weapons because of some of the features. California outlawed assault weapons in 1989.
This year we saw exploding cell phones, thanks to a defect which causes the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to catch fire. “Hamilton” took the world by storm, with some seeing the theatrical sensation multiple times.
Long standing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died at the age of 90, marking what many hope will be the end of heavy-handed leadership and the beginning of democracy. Those close to power say don’t hold your breath on this one.
Deaths? There were way too many to count this year for both the famous and non-famous. Noted celebrity deaths include David Bowie, Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Glenn Frey (The Eagles), Prince, Muhammad Ali, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, Gwen Ifill (journalist), George Michael, Zsa Zsa Gabor, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Vanity, Gene Wilder, Jose Fernandez, Garry Shandling, Arnold Palmer, and John Glenn.