2016: The Year That Was

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2016. A year of unexpected victories, devestating losses and of course, memes.

With a few hours left until the world enters 2017, our upcoming News Director Avanti Oberoi has taken the opportunity to collate, commentate and analyse the most influential news stories of the last 12 months. From January to December, David Bowie to Carrie Fisher, the Australian Open to the US Election – what were the events that shaped our year, both domestically and internationally, into the one that we are about to bid farewell to? This is Radio Monash’s “2016: The Year The Was”

JANUARY 

  • A complete mystery in Dubai, the UAE: a fire at skyscraper in the city on New Years Eve left the world completely baffled, particularly given authorities’ denial of anything resembling terrorism. Conspiracy theories galore!
  • David Bowie; English singer, songwriter and actor, loses his fight with cancer aged 69.
  • North Korea – or the DPRK to you IR nerds – announced yet another round of weapons tests; namely the hydrogen bomb tests. If the test was held, it would be the country’s fourth since 2006.
  • World leaders from over 150 countries gathered together in Paris to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Russian incursions into Turkish airspace became a top headline (continuing for several months) as the push to eradicate Daesh militarily from Syria became a top Russian Foreign Policy objective.
  • Serena Williams suffered an astonishing loss to youngster Angelique Kerber during the Aus Open in Melbs; similarly Novak Djokovic destroyed Andy Murray in the men’s final.
  • Alan Rickman – aka the Judge in Sweeney Todd, Professor Snape in HP, Colonel whatshisface in Sense and Sensibility died of cancer, surrounded by his family.

FEBRUARY

  • Syrian Peace talks begin in Geneva, mediated by the UN the day after a suicide attack in Damascus leaves 70 people dead. One delegation included representatives from the essentially exiled Assad government. Simultaneously, a donor conference in London sees $10bn raised for aid programs in Syria, with the US, Germany, Norway, and Kuwait being among the top donors.
  • North Korea once more made headlines by launching a satellite into orbit for allegedly peaceful purposes. A screw up by someone in their version of NASA? They’ll never tell. XOXO, Pyongyang Girl.
  • The Chinese amp up their gunboat diplomacy on disputed islands in the South China Seas, doing nothing to diffuse tension in the region since Vietnam, the Philippines, and a few other states have also claimed the islands belong to them. The Chinese MoD makes no comment, while secretly cheers on the Donald’s plan to return the US to isolationism so it can really go to town in maritime warfare.
  • Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, died in her sleep in her home town of Monroeville aged 89.

MARCH

  • Attacks in Metro stations in Brussels left over 30 people dead, as the beginning of terrorism really takes off in Europe. Two brothers, later found in the Belgian capitol were found to be the culprits.
  • Belgian police arrested Salah Abdeslam on Friday, March 18. Abdeslam is believed to be the ISIS logistics chief for the Paris attacks, and the only major player in the Paris attacks that is still alive.
  • The US Primary race ramps up massively with its first of two Super Tuesdays seeing Democrat frontrunner Hilary Clinton, and dark horse asshole Donald Trump swoop ahead of their competitors.
  • Brazilian presidential candidate Lula was questioned and subsequently blocked by the country’s High Court from taking the presidency, basically the same day as the entire planet was going nuts about Trump’s victory in the States. He was then taken into custody after police raided his Sao Paolo home.
  • Deathtoll rises to 70 in Pakistani Punjab, Lahore province after an attack on civilians in a local park. Culprits at large.
  • In Calcutta, India, a flyover (ie highway bridge-type infrastructure thing) collapses, leaving dozens seriously injured as well as dead in a freak (or not so freak if you observe the donations from cement companies into political parties) accident.
  • In a deal reached with the European Union on March 18, 2016, Turkey agreed to take steps to curb the tide of migrants leaving Turkey and heading for Greece. In addition, Turkey said it would accept migrants back from Greece who are not eligible for asylum beginning in early April. Europe has been struggling under the strain of people fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places embroiled in conflict.
  • Obama became the first US President to visit Cuba in 58 years. He toured the country with wife, First Lady Michelle, and his two daughters Sasha and Malia. What a hell of a state department-sanctioned trip if you’re drinking mojitos #amirite?

APRIL

  • Mossack Fonseca leaks what became the most talked about set of documents that dominated discourse for about three weeks until a Karadashian stirred up trouble again: the Panama Papers. These outlined the alleged financial corruption of several global celebs and leaders, including the likes of Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, and closer to my heart David Cameron and Malcolm Turnbull.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry becomes the highest level US official to visit the Hiroshima memorial in Japan, with fellow G7 foreign ministers.
  • Pope Francis visits the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos, Saturday April 16, 2016. Pope Francis travelled to Greece for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey. Papa Francesco then took back 12 refugees with him to the Holy See. (Vatican city for you plebs)
  • The award-winning singer, songwriter and actor became an international superstar and one of the best selling artists of all time, Prince, was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota from an accidental fentanyl overdose on April 24th.
  • One of the most legendary comedic actresses of our time, Doris Roberts, passed away on April 18th. Radio Monash’s Connor Johnston wrote that “There is a reason why the passing of Doris Roberts is going to make even those who only knew her from her TV appearances feel as though they lost a member of their own family.” – Read RadMon’s own tribute to the TV icon here: http://radiomonash.net/vale-doris-roberts-1925-2016/

MAY

  • ISIS claims responsibility for the bombings that occured May 11, 2016, in Baghdad, Iraq. The three bombs kill 80 people and wound many more. The largest of the attacks is a car bomb that detonates, killing 66 people, destroying 30 stores and burning at least 20 cars. Later that day another bomb explodes in the Kadhmiya neighbourhood, killing 17 people; another attack in the Jamiya neighbourhood, kills nine. Later that week, ISIS claims responsibility for another attack on a Baghdad gas plant. Two suicide bombers detonate, throwing the place into flames while six ISIS militants attempt to storm the building but are held off. Five police officers are killed in the attack.
  • The U.S. Justice Department opens an investigation of Russia’s systematic doping The prosecutors believe that many Russian athletes have used banned performance enhancing drugs during international sporting events. In the face of charges of fraud and conspiracy, the Russian government first denies the accusations, but some of those involved—including a doctor—speak out and tell the world that the scandal is true. Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Sports Minister, states that Russian officials, athletes, and coaches “made some serious mistakes,” but doesn’t go into more detail.
  • Two of the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram more than two years ago in Nigeriaare found. In April 2014, the group kidnapped about 280 girls from a school in the northeast with the intention of making them sex slaves; 218 are still missing. The girls, Amina Ali and Serah Luka, are found separately. Amina Luka, with her new child, meets the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari in the capital. Later that same day they announce that another girl, Serah Luka, is found wandering in the same forest where Ali was discovered.
  • President Obama confirms that on May 21, the leader of the Afghanistan Talibanis killed in a U.S. drone strike targeting his car in Pakistan. President Obama calls the death of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour an important milestone in the fight against terrorism. Within a week, however, on May 25, the Afghan Taliban names a new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, an extremist scholar with no military experience.
  • On May 27, 2016, President Obama becomes the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima and meet with survivors. During his time in Japan the president gives a speech in which he discusses how humanity has the means to destroy itself and nuclear weapons are a clear example. He believes that with technology progressing as quickly as it is, we need a “moral revolution.” While he did not go so far as to apologize for the attack, President Obama did meet with many survivors who were glad to see him acknowledging what happened in Hiroshima.
  • The Iraqi army storms Falluja, Iraqon May 30, 2016. With the help of United States air protection, the Iraqi army is able to undermine the Islamic State’s hold on a police station and launches a direct attack on the ISIS militants. Falluja is turning out to be one of the most highly contested areas in Iraq.
  • On May 9th, after the second defeat of the Coalition Government’s ABCC legislation; we see both houses of parliament dissolved and a double dissolution election triggered. A massive 8 week long election period is called.

JUNE

  • An attack in Orlando, Florida sees the tragic shooting of a number of attendees of the Pulse Gay Nightclub, by a man only later discovered to be a sociopath suffering weird rejection and self esteem issues with his own latent homosexuality rather than a terrorist attack.
  • A terrorist attack strikes France once again. On June 13, 2016 the Eiffel Tower was to be lit up in rainbow colours as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting. However, before the tower is lit, a man named Larossi Abballa attacks and kills two officers in the town of Magnanville, France, a suburb located 32 miles outside of Paris. Officers storm the residence and kill Abballa, and rescue a child inside the home. The country is currently on high alert after the two bloody terrorists attacks of last year and now this. ISIS claims responsibility.
  • ISIS is cast out of Fallujah in Iraq after more than two years after it was seized.
  • As the 2016 Olympic games draw near, the number of high-profile athletes choosing to skip Rio grows, thanks to concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika Virus that is prevalent in Rio de Janeiro. The most recent athlete bowing out is world famous golfer Rory McIlroy from Ireland, who announces on June 22, 2016, that he will not be attending. He joins American cyclist Tejay van Garderen and the golfers Marc Leishman of Australia and Vijay Singh of Fiji who also will not be participating in the games.
  • Announcing a cessation of hostilities on June 22, 2016, Columbians can celebrate the end of a costly war that beleaguered the country for more than half a century, causing more than 220,00 deaths and 6 million people to be displaced. An official ceasefire between the Colombian government and the Farc guerrillas will now go to referendum.
  • Godfuckingdamn Brexit happens. Brexit. Fucking Farage. Fucking Boris fucking Johnson. Goodbye David. Hello Mrs May. Britain is screwed, RIP thanks to the alt right. This is the first to fall.
  • One of the greatest and most charismatic sportsman of all time, Muhammad Ali, died after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease aged 74.

JULY

  • Three recent and major attacks in Middle Eastern cities were ISIS inspired—proof that the radical extremist group is actively and successfully recruiting members from a variety of backgrounds throughout many countries. The first attack happened on July 2, 2016, in Dhaka, Bangladesh involving five wealthy young men who storm the scene armed with knives and guns. They first exchange gunfire with officers, killing two. Then the group seizes a restaurant, where they kill 20 hostages. The boys had gone missing six months before, but the families’ attempts to find them failed. ISIS claims responsibility.
    The second attack also occurs on July 2. As people were out celebrating the end of Ramadan, a truck packed with explosives detonates in a crowded shopping center in Baghdad, Iraq. The death toll stands at 137 killed, 200 wounded, and 37 still missing. ISIS claims responsibility.
    In a third attack, a suicide bomber targets the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. The city is particularly holy because it is where the Prophet Mohammed is buried. The suicide bomber kills 4 people, and injures another. ISIS has yet to claim responsibility but analysts suspect that the Islamic State is behind this act of terror.
  • Oscar Pistorius is sentenced for the infamous murder of his fiancée as part of what seemed like a neverending legal saga. In any event, he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
  • Pokemon Go ruined all our lives for a four month period given every asshole on the road and in a parking lot was being a wanker rather than paying attention to what they were doing. Needless to say, Monash was the absolute worst.
  • The Wimbledon Finals take place on July 10, 2016 at the All England Club with Serena Williams and Andy Murray taking home the trophies. Serena Williams defeats Angelique Kerber in a 7–5 and 6–3 final; this is her 22nd grand slam title. Kerber had previously defeated Williams at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Andy Murray win the men’s finals against Milos Raonic in a 6–4, 7–6, 7–6 match. Murray is the second player from England to win Wimbledon twice since Fred Perry in 1936.
  • #jobsandgrowthforever
  • Mrs May wins the internal party election among the Tories, is crowned woman who has to survive the Brexit nightmare and proceed with the process before invoking article 57.
  • On July 12, 2016, an international court in The Hague rebukes China’s actions in the South China Sea. This is the first time China is summoned by the international justice system. The suit is brought by the Philippines and all five judges unanimously rule against China. China claims historic rights to the sea. However, the tribunal says that China violated international law by causing irreversible damage to the sea environment, they are endangering Philippine ships and trade routes, as well as interfering with Philippine fishing. Although the decision is legally binding, there is no way to enforce the decision. The Chinese Foreign Ministry states, “The tribunal’s decision is invalid and has no binding force, China does not accept or recognize it.” Ie, China’s doing what they want, and they know they can because we still don’t have an international police force.
  • Tragedy strikes France again on Thursday, July 14, 2016. The country is in full party mode, celebrating its most important holiday, Bastille Day, when a large truck is driven through a crowd in the southern city of Nice, France. The truck barrels through the crowds, fatally crushing 84 people and injuring more than 200, children included. The driver is a Frenchman of Tunisian origin, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who is shot and killed by police officers responding to the attack. Many ISIS-related websites applaud the attack, but the terrorist group has yet to officially claim responsibility.
  • On July 15, 2016, Turkey experiences an attempted coup by a group of soldiers within the country’s military. Gunfire and explosions are seen throughout two majors cities of Turkey: Istanbul and Ankara, as the government, the military faction, and the people of Turkey clash in the streets. Around 60 people are reportedly dead and 300 have so far been arrested for their participation in the coup. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the people involved in the coup “will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey.”
  • July sees a spate of violence in Germany, with the alt right gaining ground given those attacks were carried out by young refugee men from the Middle East.
  • On July 26, 2016 two men storm into Saint-Ètienne-du-Rouvray Church in Normandy, France and take five people hostage, including the priest, two nuns, and two parishioners. The men force Father Jacques Hamel to kneel before the altar and they cut his throat, preaching in Arabic while filming the whole ordeal. The assailants leave one of the parishioners in critical condition. As they depart the church, the attackers use the hostages as protection but are shot dead by police. According to the Amaq News, the news site for the Islamic State, the two men were followers of ISIS.

AUGUST

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  • Russia launches an airstrike on Syria from an airbase in Iran on August 16, 2016. The United States is upset by this move, claiming that the airstrike out of Iran might violate the U.N. Security Council resolution 2231. U.S. lawyers are investigating if this is a violation but Russia defends the action, saying the airstrike struck two ISIS command posts and killed 150 ISIS militants. Russia states that the international law prohibits the selling of weapons to Iran for internal use but there is no law against using Iranian airbases.
  • On August 20, 2016, a suicide bomber in Turkey attacked a wedding ceremony, killing more than 50 people. Turkish authorities name ISIS as the perpetrators. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu states that Turkey has become a target for the Islamic State because the country makes efforts to stop recruits and makes arrests of suspects in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also made a statement claiming ISIS did “not represent Islam,” making Turkey an even larger target. This is the deadliest attack in Turkey this year.
  • On August 23, 2016, it is reported that there are more than 1,900 deaths in the Philippines due to extrajudicial killings of drug peddlers, traffickers, criminals, and addicts. These deaths are a direct result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s encouragement of vigilante-style justice. President Duterte entered office seven weeks ago and made a commitment to eradicate crime in the country that has a long history of drug-related violence; his actions as president are attracting a lot of attention from the United Nations and Human Rights Watch as the country devolves into violence. The president enjoys a high approval rating from the citizens of the Philippines. Though, the numbers are likely skewed given he’s as tolerant of negative press as Kim Jong Il was.
  • On August 31, 2016, ISIS announces the killing of the second-in-command of the jihadist group, Mohammad al-Adnani. This is the highest-profile killing yet of an ISIS member and while the group does not reveal the cause of death, it does release a statement pledging revenge. Al-Adnani was the spokesman for ISIS, but his role in the jihadist group was much more meaningful; he is believed to have masterminded large-scale terrorist attacks against countries who were allies of the United States, including France, as well as overseeing international and lone wolf attacks.
  • An icon of comedy, Gene Wilder – best known for staring in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Little Prince, The Producers and Young Frankenstein, died at home from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, aged 83.

SEPTEMBER

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  • On Sunday September 4, 2016, Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa, officially making her Saint Teresa. The celebration takes place in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City amongst a large crowd of people from all around the world. A woman from India, the home of St. Teresa, said “We are proud of her, all of India is proud. She may no longer be there, but we still feel her spirit around us.”
  • Hong Kong holds its legislative elections on September 4, 2016, and has the highest turnout of voters in the territory’s history. More than half the population comes out to vote, voicing their discontent for China’s attempt to stifle democracy. The results from the election shock China’s leadership; for the first time, the localists have gained seats, reflecting a growing belief that Hong Kong should be able to make its own decisions regardless of what the Chinese government wants.
  • On Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, the United Russia party wins 343 seats out of 450 in Russian Parliament, the Duma. This win for Vladimir Putin’s party secures his fourth term as president of Russia. Some experts see this as proof that change is afoot—4 million fewer Russians voted for the United Russia party compared to the results of 2011. Voter turnout also fell from 60% to 40% in this election. #sosofreeandfair
  • The Syrian ceasefire lasted a record short time, and civilians across the country continue to die at horrific numbers.

OCTOBER

Cuba's President Raul Castro (C), Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, react after the signing of a historic ceasefire deal between the Colombian government and FARC rebels in Havana, Cuba, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa - RTX2HV5L

  • On October 2, 2016, the Colombian peace deal between the government and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is defeated by voters. The deal was intended to end the 52-year war between the rebels and the government. The vote is close, with 50.2% against and 49.8% for the peace deal. The question read, “Do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and construct a stable and enduring peace?” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announces that although the vote is a “no” the cease-fire that was signed with FARC will remain in effect.
  • A new fresh political hell: On Oct. 20, 2016, the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, announces his “separation” from the United States—politically, economically, and militarily. Duterte makes the announcement in a speech in Beijing to over 200 Chinese and Philippine businesspeople, as well as the Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. The president plans to sign $13.5 billion in deals while he is in China.

NOVEMBER

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  • On Nov. 1, 2016, Iraqi forces enter the city limits of Mosul for the first time in two years. Iraq’s elite counterterrorism group face ISIS’s artillery, snipers, and suicide attackers as they enter the city, which has been under the Islamic State’s control since 2014. The efforts to reclaim Mosul started on October 17 as Iraqi and Kurdish forces and Sunni tribal fighters advanced from the east through villages surrounding the city. On Tuesday, the forces reach the town of Gojali, the first town within city limits, and overtake it after hours of resistance. The top counterterrorism force commander, General Taleb Shighati al-Kenani comments, “Now is the beginning of the true liberation of the city of Mosul.”
  • On Nov. 3, 2016, the High Court in Britain rules that Parliament must approve Brexit before the process of leaving the European Union can begin. This is a setback for Prime Minister Theresa May, who wanted to start the process as soon as it was approved by voters back in June; 52% of the population voted to leave the EU. This ruling by the High Court will force May to cooperate with Parliament, and entails her giving them a detailed strategy for Britain’s future.
  • On Nov. 7, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping blocks two separatists politicians from taking seats in Hong Kong’s legislature. This move indicates a Chinese limit on its tolerance for Hong Kong, which has usually been allowed leniency regarding policies, demonstrations, and news. When Hong Kong was returned to China two decades ago it was promised a “high degree of autonomy.” The two politicians are blocked because they have shown outright defiance for Chinese rule and are advocates for the independence of Hong Kong from China.
  • Leonard Cohen died aged 82 in LA.
  • Fidel Castro died. And good damnable riddance, Raoul his brother the current President may be able to really bring Cuba into the new century.
  • Actor Florence Henderson who was best known for her role as the kindly matriarch Carol Brady, the much loved mum in The Brady Bunch, dies.
  • Horror of horrors, both Connor’s and my birthday present ended up being Donald Trump crowned as Mr President Elect, and all hope in this world is drained out of us.

DECEMBER

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  • Radio Monash becomes the first student and community run media organisation to be invited to cover the Australian Academy of Film and Television Arts awards.
  • On Dec. 4, 2016, Italy is plunged into economical and political uncertainty as the current Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi resigns. The announcement comes after his reform to the constitution is rejected by voters who are of the anti-establishment mindset. He explains, “The “no” won in an incredibly clear way… I assume all the responsibility of the defeat…my experience of government ends here.”
  • On Dec. 11, 2016, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) retook the city of Palmyra in Syria. In a major advance, the militants take advantage of Russian and Syrian troops being distracted in Aleppo, Syria to retake the city from which they were expelled nine months ago. The city of Palmyra is an ancient city with 2,000-year-old ruins and great symbolic meaning. The city is also an important part of the ongoing Syrian civil war because of its central location. The last time ISIS occupied Palmyra, they destroyed ancient temples and other artifacts.
  • On Dec. 11, 2016, the airplane manufacturing company Boeing agrees to sell 80 aircraft to Iran Air for $16.6 billion. Boeing will give Iran Air 50 737s and 30 777s. This is the largest business deal between a United States company and an Iranian company since the 1979 revolution, when sanctions were placed on Iran. The deal is made possible by the Obama Administration, which lifted the economic sanctions on Iran in September. Part of the deal are promises by Iran to curtail its nuclear programs and not use the planes for military use. Iran Air is trying to modernize its outdated air fleet, which is dangerously behind in safety and technology. This FYI is the definition of neoliberal foreign policy which WORKS.
  • As Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, is giving a speech on December 19, 2016, in an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, he is fatally shot in the back by an off-duty policeman. The gunman shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” as he assassinated Karlov. Three others are injured in the attack and the gunman is killed by special forces. Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan says the attack is “an attempt to undermine NATO-member Turkey’s relations with Russia.” Russian president Putin orders higher security for all Russian missions and announces that “the bandits” will feel retribution.
  • ISIS claims responsibility for an attack involving a truck jumping the sidewalk and crashing into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 19, 2016. The truck plows into the pedestrians, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. The attack happens near Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, whose jagged spiral is a reminder of World War II, an important symbol in Berlin. The police arrest, then release a suspect; two days after the attack, the perpetrator is still at large.
  • Radio Monash hosts and records their first multi-host live show in front of a live audience to celebrate the holiday season.
  • George Michael, Musical Icon and Hero to a Generation, dies on Christmas – December 25th.
  • Debbie Reynolds, one of the most iconic personalities of Hollywood’s Golden Age, star of Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, sadly passed away. This news came just one day after the death of her daughter, the equally memorable and inspiring Carrie Fisher who was known both for her work as a speaker on mental health and substance addiction, as well as of course her monumental role in the Star Wars
A Oberoi

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