A lot of stuff can happen in a year. And because one major story dominated the news landscape this year (it rhymes with "bothersome erection"), a lot of smaller stories got pushed aside, including some that were pretty damned important. Here, then, for your election-ignoring pleasure, are some of the huge stories of 2016 that you might have missed.
82016 Was The New Hottest Year On Record
Look, if you don't believe that climate change is real, there's probably not a whole lot we're going to say in the next couple of paragraphs that will change your mind (although you'll no doubt read it anyway to try to refute us in the comments, so thanks for that). If you don't want to take responsibility for the state of the planet, that's on you. The rest of us are going to talk about our options.
Which means this probably isn't going to be a safe record for long.
The fallout from this is anywhere you care to look. Yes, California's epic drought has improved, and is now "terrible" instead of "calamitous," but did you know New England is also currently in a drought? Dry wells, thirsty residents, and massive amounts of dead fish -- so all the fun parts of the Bible, then. Another fun factoid: In 2010, New Orleans had 13 nights when the temperature didn't drop below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This year, it was 43. Combined with the fact that about one-third of New Orleans' population doesn't have air conditioning, that alone could have been one of the biggest missed stories of the year, considering the misery it caused.
Oh. And the ground in Siberia is now wobbling.
The good news is that we can still take action. It'd be helpful if we took that action now, mind you, and also took it 20 years ago, if possible. But we can still do something now. Each and every one of us should be pestering our politicians to take action on climate change, planting several trees a day, and trying to do all our grocery shopping in one, maybe four trips a week. That'll ensure that ... well 2017 is already almost certainly fucked.
It'll help 2117 not look like The Road Warrior, maybe.
7Obama's Really, Really, Really Good Year
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For a long time, Obama's 2008 campaign promise of "Hope" looked like it was going to be a little bit off the mark. Bipartisanship is worse than ever. Obamacare has faced challenges its whole existence -- at this very moment, it's looking at the prospect of skyrocketing costs. America's drone strikes kill unintended targets 90 percent of the time. And clowns now roam the streets without fear.
Oh, and Prince died.
But that's maybe being a little too negative. A 2015 poll of political science scholars ranked Obama as 18th-best out of 42 presidents. That's not too shabby, even if it is a little premature, since he still has a couple months left to take all our guns. And he's currently on track to keep 77 percent of his campaign promises. This is all solid B-student stuff. Essentially competent.
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Not, like, doctor material, but you'd let him fix your car.
And despite the endless congressional gridlock he's faced, Obama has had a number of legislative successes this year. He ended No Child Left Behind with a bill which seems to have involved actual, mythical bipartisan compromise. He signed a two-year budget bill which allowed the country to avoid defaulting on its debt. And he signed a bipartisan bill addressing the ongoing opioid crisis (more on this later).
It's a doozy. Buckle up.
On top of that, he's been commuting the shit out of sentences for prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. And improving medical access for transgender people. And his administration revealed a law which would give millions of workers overtime pay. (That law's facing lawsuits, because exploiters gotta exploit, but that's to be expected these days.) And, just as a cherry on top, because of comparisons to the historically unpopular candidates currently running for office, Obama's approval rating is at a second-term high.
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Probably feeling like he's on some of those opioids right now, in fact.
So maybe he isn't so ineffective after all. Which is good news for salaried workers, we suppose, although still quite bad for anyone unfortunate enough to be standing underneath an American drone.