Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Remembering 2016: 16 things that shook the world


The year 2016 has drawn to a complete closure and it made so much headlines than any other year I can remember for, from continuous terrorist attacks, rise of authoritarianism, human rights, any other headline I can think of that made the world a much louder place to live.

So, as we are nearing the year's end to give way to the year 2017, what are the 16 things that shook the world news by storm?

1) Tsai ing-wen - Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, emerged as the winner of the Taiwanese presidential elections last January, defeating Nationalist Party candidate Eric Chu. By winning the election, Tsai became the first female leader of Taiwan and the Democratic Progressive Party will return to power after an eight-year opposition.

2) North Korea's two nuclear tests - The Korean Peninsula conducted not just one but for the first time since 10 years of their first test in 2006, two nuclear tests; One by January of this year and the latest since September. Following those tests, the international community are still dealing with further sanctions to be implemented against North Korea, which continues its further provocations against them by test firing missiles and continuous development at their nuclear facilities.

3) The Brussels terror attack - Following last week's Paris attacks that placed the entire European Union on full alert, the capital city of Belgium, that is Brussels, faced a deadly series of attacks; one at Brussels' Zaventem airport and another at the Maelbeek metro station. About 34 people were killed and the Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the attacks.

4) Kumamoto quakes - It was the middle of April 2016 when series of powerful quakes struck the Kumamoto prefecture of Japan. About 46 people are died and over ten thousands of people were dislocated from their homes. Given to the extent of this damage, this prefecture became eligible for state-run repairs.

5) Ecuador quake - Over 600 people were reportedly died in one of the most powerful quakes that struck the South American country days following series of Kumamoto quakes in Japan. According to the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the quake, which is the strongest in history, occurred near Ecuador's northern coast at 2359 hours UTC and its focus was about 10km deep. A tsunami warning as high as one meter could hit the coast but three hours later, the warning was lifted.

6) Rodrigo Roa Duterte - Once as the infamous Davao City Mayor who was allegedly killed dozens of criminals during his over two decade rule and allegedly involved with the Davao Death Squad, he rose to power as the 16th President of the Philippines who won the May 2016 elections by a landslide. Duterte was feared and respected by the international community, political oppositions, and his supporters for his infamous law and order approach and his bloody war on drugs. He was nicknamed as the "Trump of the East" due to his harsh rhetorics similar to Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.

7) Extrajudicial killings - Ever since Duterte became the 16th President of the Philippines, his bloody war on drugs has commenced and a series of extrajudicial killings plagued through the nation, with over 5,000 drug suspects killed by either the law enforcement or vigilantes similar to the infamous Davao Death Squad, causing massive attention to the international public, especially US President Barack Obama.

8) Brexit - June 24, 2016, a day after people of the United Kingdom rushed to their nearest polling station to decide the fate of the nation in the European Union. Even though experts believed that it could be a close match between the REMAIN side and LEAVE side, it's official that 51.9% of the voters voted LEAVE while 48.1% of the voters voted REMAIN. This result will change the course of the history as Great Britain will be remembered as the first European nation in the union to leave via referendum and as what UKIP leader Nigel Farage, one of the spearheaders of the LEAVE campaign, said, it will be remembered as "Independence Day".

9) Theresa May - In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned from his position and in his place, he named UK Home Secretary Theresa May as his successor. In her first day, May has appointed pro-,anti-Brexit campaigners to key Cabinet posts, in an apparent bid to seek domestic reconciliation, including former London city mayor and key Brexit person Boris Johnson as the nation's new foreign minister.

10) Turkey's failed coup plot - A faction of the Turkish military attempted to over the government after dark, deploying tanks and attack helicopters at both capital city Ankara and the largest city Istanbul. Some soldiers temporarily seized the offices of the state-run media where they forced an announcer to read out a statement declaring they have seized power as well as curfew declaration. Even the Turkish branch of CNN were unsafe from this short-lived uprising as well. Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his supporters to take on the streets on Istanbul, where they overpowered the coup soldiers, even they're trying to called on everyone to stay indoors. As dawn approaches, the coup plotting to overthrow the government came to a premature end and the Turkish leader announced that the coup is over, but fighting in the capital city is still going on. Based on the reports, over 1,500 were arrested, over 90 were killed, and 1,150 injured in the failed coup attempt.

11) The Bastille Day incident - It was nighttime in Nice, France, during the Bastille Day celebration, when a truck driver rammed them through the streets. The Islamic State militants claimed responsibility from the recent terror attack in Nice, France that left 84 dead and more than 200 wounded. The assailant identified to be Tunisian and he was once arrested for violence but unclear of his terrorist links.

12) The Dilma Rousseff impeachment case - Days before the Rio 2016 Olympics began, a majority of the Senate voted in favor of ousting the suspended President Dilma Rousseff accused of breaking fiscal laws and mishandling the country's budget. Rousseff, age 68, was Brazil's first female president when she took office five years ago and won her second term two years ago with a majority of over 54 million votes. She is a former guerrilla fighter who was jailed and tortured during the country's dictatorship in the 1970s, and drew a connection between her past and the current situation. Following her removal from office, Vice President Michel Temer was named as the country's acting president.

13) Aleppo - As the civil wars in Syria continue to ravage, the city of Aleppo draws one of the most noteworthy attention in the international press, especially when netizens react to a photo of a seriously wounded child who were one of the survivors in the war-torn city of Aleppo. As of right now, rebel forces announced that they are withdrawing from Aleppo.

14) Donald J. Trump - A business tycoon that made famous for presenting a hit reality TV show franchise, The Apprentice, he became a surprise winner against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, although she won the popular vote. This is the fifth time a president who lost the popular vote won the election by electoral vote since George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by a similar matter. Trump's infamous rhetorics attacked a majority of Mexican immigrants, Muslims, PWDs, war veterans, even women, among many others. He once called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese and therefore threatening to withdraw USA's participation to the Paris treaty. Assuming to replace Obama next month, Trump's goals in his first four years involve restoring America's economy, military, and political power, all in the name of his "Make America Great Again" slogan. There were reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated the hacks on the American elections to give Trump a fighting chance, not to mention Clinton's controversial e-mails that rattled her successful campaign.

15) Marcos burial - In mid-November, 2016, the remains of the late Filipino dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos, were buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in a "surprise" ceremony despite petitions rooting against the decision to bury the late dictator to the said cemetery following his crimes in human rights.  The sudden burial comes following the Supreme Court decision dismissing petitions asking for it to be blocked for being illegal and for being an insult to the victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos administration. Today's Philippine President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte vowed during the election campaign that he would have Marcos buried at the military cemetery and that decision to bury Marcos did not violate international laws or go beyond his authority by ordering the burial. Following the "sudden" burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos, most Filipinos have condemned the surprise burial at the LNMB, in fact they are so disgusted from what happened today, although there are a few people who believed that the Marcos burial is the only way to unify the deeply divided country or so they thought.

16) Negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty in 2017 - It was the late of October 2016 when the UN General Assembly committee has approved a resolution calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Japan was among the countries that opposed it along with nuclear powers including the United States.  The resolution was adopted on Thursday by a majority vote at the General Assembly's First Committee on Disarmament. 123 countries voted in favor while 38 voted against. Meanwhile in December during the Christmas season, following reports that President-elect Trump said he will expand his nation's nuclear arsenal and collaborate with Russia's Vladimir Putin for an unprecedented scale of arms race a few days ago, the UN General Assembly approved a historic resolution to launch negotiations in March 2017 on a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons once and for all. 113 countries supported it while 35 have opposed it and 13 are abstaining it. The majority of the support for a nuclear ban comes from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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