At the start of every new year, predictions are made about what the social, economic, and political landscape will look like both domestically and abroad. Some of the most talked-about issues of 2016 addressed crime, immigration, violence, the U.S. presidential election, and the environment. It was a challenging year and many of these were not resolved. If anything many have escalated.
The incoming Trump administration doesn't appear to prioritize most of these problems. It seems that folks on both sides of some of the most divisive issues in the nation's history are determined to stay as far away from the bargaining table as possible. The extent to which the problems this country faces are solved hinges heavily on Trump's ability to bring people together. The outlook on the possibility of unity through compromise is grim. Know that the issues which had taken up residence in everybody's mind in 2016 have signed an extended lease--one that won't expire for at least 4 years. Here's a look at some of the topics that rocked the world in 2016.
2016 Forgot About The Refugee Crisis
In spite of media coverage and activism, not much more than a band aid was put on the hemorrhaging flow of innocent people attempting to escape their war-torn homelands. Over 5,000 refugees lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Ocean in 2016. This is the highest death toll in three years where we saw 3,771 perish in 2015 and 3,272 in 2014. Most refugees have been forced to either live in refugee camps or are being sent back to their homes. The plight of refugees will likely worsen before it improves.
In an interview with
Al Jazeera, migration lawyer Simon Cox predicts that the following trends will continue in 2017:
1) Refugee self-determination. People under threat fighting to reach safety and stay there; 2) Solidarity. Ordinary people organizing outside current failed structures to rescue, support and defend refugees; 3) Exporting control. Rich countries demanding poor countries obstruct and accommodate refugees; 4) Monetization. Corrupt regimes such as Afghanistan and Niger taking Western money and charging more bribes for border-crossers; 5) Circular refugees. Research suggests three out four of Afghans sent "home" make their way back to Europe.
While much has been done to promote progress in the movement to halt and reverse the effects of global warming and the resulting condition called climate change, activists fear what the #TrumpEffect will be during the new administration. The incoming leader of the free world has repeatedly expressed his disbelief that climate change is real and has harshly condemned the Obama administration's policies as well as the role of the EPA. His cabinet choices reflect a push towards traditional energy as opposed to green energy, building factories, reduced/relaxed/removed EPA guidelines. This fight is just warming up.
The Year Of The Hack
Internet security was a huge issue in 2016, capped off with Yahoo's latest breach which affected over 500 million users. They also uncovered a breach back in 2013 which compromised over 1 billion accounts. There have been varying opinions regarding the extent to which Yahoo account holders personal information has been exposed.
Many are saying that there is nothing to really worry about as only passwords were likely stolen. However, US-based security analyst Robert Siciliano said in an Al Jazeera interview that, "Simply everyone that has a Yahoo account should be concerned. Once a criminal hacker has access to your email, that is a portal to reset the passwords for all of your critical accounts, which that Yahoo account is associated with."
With the uncertainty surrounding what hackers actually have access to, internet security will continue to be a hot topic of discussion for 2017.
The Presidential Election
The outcome of this year's election left many stunned and scrambling. The fate of the country is in the hands of someone who has a very different idea of what making America "great again" looks like. Trump's campaign rhetoric and his cabinet choices are setting the stage for a regime that stands to undo much of what the Obama administration has accomplished over the last 8 years. Both domestically and overseas, grave concerns are being expressed about issues ranging from immigration policies, to the environment, to the fate of public services, social justice, and the even job market. It seems that Congress will be even more divided even less likely to work with Trump than they did with Obama. With talks of impeachment before he can even be sworn in, this year promises to be one that will keep the world on the edge of its seat.
#BlackLivesMatter and Social Activism
This was a huge year for online activism. Issues like police brutality (#BlackLivesMatter and #BoycottBlackFriday) and the Dakota Access Pipeline debate (#DAPL) dominated the news cycle. Social media has become an efficient way to organize and galvanize protests, economic boycotts, circulate petitions and calls to action, and even broadcast criminal acts while in progress via mediums like Facebook Live. This trend has no signs of slowing down and 2017 is sure to see even more of the same.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to uphold the 2nd Amendment. It has been reported that gun sales and permits have increased significantly since Obama has been in office and have spiked at alarming rates since the 2016 presidential election. Fear and hatred are in the minds of people on both sides of this debate. The consensus is that as a first-world developed country, the U.S. is far more violent than other countries. The availability of guns and the number of deaths that result from it present an alarming correlation. The new administration will be watched very closely on this issue.
ISIS And Its High-Tech Organization
For all of the good that technology has and continues to do in improving quality of life, Isis has found many ways using cell phones and apps to make itself an even greater threat to communities around the globe. There has been much heated debate about privacy and the role that tech companies should play in helping law enforcement apprehend terrorists. A major concern is the company's right to break into security-protected apps on electronic devices owned by private citizens. One such case involved the highly-publicized
battle between Apple and the FBI over the unlocking of the iPhone that belonged to mass murderer Syed Farook of San Bernardino, California. Plan to say tuned on this issue as well.