2016 news, notes of the year

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIMMONS Deb­o­rah Simmons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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.

Tran­si­tions

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!

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