2016 news, notes of the year
2 016. Whew!
It was an exhausting year, and it ain’t over yet.
The joys and the pains weren’t so much like sunshine and rain as profound lessons from mystical Father Time, who is about to flip his hourglass, and Mother Earth, the giver, nurturer and sustainer of life.
Without further ado, the 2016 notables list:
Heroes and heroines of the year
Every soul who gave money, artifacts and personal memorabilia to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September.
All Smithsonian museums are American treasure chests, of course, and the African American is no exception. As the trove at the museum continues to expand, let us remind curators that Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill both made history in 1991, even if you didn’t like the outcome.
A hit and a miss of the year
The U.S. Justice Department made a monumental announcement in August to stop using private prisons. If you hadn’t heard, that wouldn’t be shocking since a “robbery” at the Olympic Games in Rio of an American swimmer named Ryan Lochte was grabbing headlines around the globe. The robbery report proved to be untrue, and Mr. Lochte wouldn’t be spending any time in a Brazilian prison anyway.
The Obama Justice Department, meanwhile, got the ball rolling in 2016 on how to house an estimated 195,000 federal prisoners. In 2017 the prison keys are handed over to Donald Trump, whose rhetorical mantra could be “Take No Prisoners.” So we’ll have to wait and see.
TV show of the year
Television drama in recent years has often spun around dark, disturbing plots, including “Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter.” Thank the heavens NBC stepped way back, looked at its catalog and plucked “This Is Us.”
It’s certainly a modern-day comedydrama with cultural storylines that delve into weight, race, adoption and drug abuse, and takes you on a sentimental journey via flashbacks to 1980s Pittsburgh. It’s refreshing for network TV. Sports event of the year
I know, I know. How could I pick a sports event for 2016 and not mention the King of Cleveland (LeBron James)? Well, as pundits are quick to point out, the American Revolution ended all empires in America.
Winning streaks don’t last forever either, as the Purple Raiders of the University of Mount Union learned this year. The NCAA Division III footbal team was in the defensive battle of the playoffs earlier this month when it lost 31-28 to John Carroll University. The loss ended the Purple Raiders’ regularseason winning streak at 112 games — and they lost at home. Double ouch!
Public works crisis of the year The people of Flint, Michigan, still cannot drink from their own spigots. This, following bureaucratic foul-ups, lawsuits and indictments.
Government officials initially said in 2007 that they were changing water sources to save money. Screech! The goal should have been to save lives. Quote of the year
Denzel Washington is quite an accomplished actor. He’s become an accomplished director with “Fences,” his directorial take on Augus Wilson’s award-winning play set it Pittsburgh. Perhaps, unknowingly, he’s given a heads-up to journalists who query film directors.
Mr. Washington offered this during a recent “Fences” interview: “People talk about the difficulty of making a movie, and I’m like, send your son to Iraq — that’s difficult. It’s just a movie.” Thank-you effort of the year Police get bad raps. So check out this do-good short story: An off-duty Virginia state trooper was headed toward Blacksburg to take his daughter to college. Driving along Route 13 in Temperance, he spotted a toddler wandering in the middle of the road around the week of Fourth of July travel.
Trooper Johnny Godwin didn’t wonder what race, creed or gender the tyke was. He simply used his vehicle to block traffic and scooped the child up from harm’s way — and stayed with the toddler until a Child Protective Services representative arrived.
Give thanks for law enforcers who are also child protectors when they are on duty and off duty.
You’ve seen and heard the reports and the chatter about the long list of well-known people who died in 2016. The list includes David Bowie, Prince and Florence Henderson; Antonin Scalia, Alan Thicke, Arnold Palmer and John Glenn; Nancy Reagan and Zsa Zsa Gabor; Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Craig Sager and Christopher Barry, son of the late D.C. mayor, Marion, and wife Effi.
On Dec. 21 Robert Hulseman, 84, died at his home in Illinois. He was the inventor of the Red Solo Cup. Cheers!