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2017 extremely eventful, triumphs to tragedy

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What word comes to mind when you think of 2017? Whatever pops into your head, you can’t deny that it was extremely eventful. An old Chinese curse says “May you live in interesting times,” and until now, I’ve never quite understood why it was a curse. Enter 2017. From tragedies to triumphs, this year’s lap around the sun never slowed down for a second.

Government controversy
It’s hard to think of 2017 without thinking of the man who stumbled his way into the most powerful job in the country. President Donald Trump was inaugurated on January 20, and Obama stepped out the door of the White House relieved of the weight he had carried with dignity for eight years.
Although then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the attendance at the inauguration was the highest ever (hint: he’s going to keep spouting these ‘alternative facts’ until his resignation in July), the number was easily beaten by the nearly 4.5 million people that participated in the Women’s Marches held around the globe, one of the biggest single-day protests ever.
Even with the new year, the new president couldn’t shake the dark, Russia-shaped cloud that hung over his head. Starting in May, former F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel for the investigation, following the firing of F.B.I director James Comey after he refused Trump’s request to drop the investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
In the months to follow, more and more evidence came up drawing lines between the campaign and the Russian government.
Just seven days after he took office, President Trump issued an executive order that barred entry for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Massive protests were held at airports and lawyers, some still in their evening dress, dropped their schedules and offered free counsel for immigrants who were already on their flights over when the order was signed.
The ban was challenged by several federal judges and was eventually shut down. But rising again, like a corpse from a grave, another version of the ban was enacted, before being almost immediately struck down because it violated the Establishment Clause, which bars any government restrictions or endorsement of religion.
The president, of course, dismissed all criticisms and clashing viewpoints as “fake news.” He and his team seemed to be waging a war on the press, even holding a closed briefing to which major news outlets such as the New York Times and CNN were barred from attending, where Breitbart News received an invitation.
He has called news organizations he didn’t agree with the “enemy of the people” in a thinly veiled attempt to turn the American people against free press.
It may seem like just more blustering, but the media is one of the most important components of democracy and his attempts to discredit it are questionable at best.
Or, perhaps, he is just trying to guide everybody towards what he clearly thinks is the superior way to receive news: 2 a.m. tweets.
Trump’s tweets are apparently our newest link to the White House. Imagine, if you will, the President standing in front of an audience of his 20 million Twitter followers and speaking into a microphone, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
His 12:06 a.m. tweet baffled the nation, with millions of people trying to decipher the hidden code. Some thought it was an acronym. Others favored a secret code, or even a that a medical incident had him in the middle of crafting his tweet.

Divisive times
The summer had gone by without major incident, and things seemed to be going better. Confederate monuments were being taken down, buildings renamed.
It seemed like the country was making progress. But then there was Charlottesville. A clash between white supremacists who were protesting the removal of a statue and a group of counter-protesters left three people dead. Trump then proceeded to fail to condemn the neo-Nazis and blamed “both sides” for the violence.
In the middle of one of the most divisive times of the year, the whole country stopped and looked up at the sky. For the first time in three decades, a total solar eclipse was visible from the continental United States.
People flocked to the path of totality, bonded together by a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Great American Eclipse brought the country together under a night sky in the afternoon.

Environmental concern
2017 was a bad year for the environment. It was the third hottest year on record for the U.S., and it’s doubtful that that’s going to get better, because Trump pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Several national monuments were also dramatically reduced, possibly opening up the land to oil drilling. Speaking of oil, a pipeline in South Dakota spilled 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek and courts ordered that the Dakota Access pipeline be allowed to proceed.
A possible side effect of the climate change that the president refuses to acknowledge, three major hurricanes swept over the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The first, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in early September and left 82 dead.
Hurricane Irma had a similar effect on Florida a few days after, and was the least severe, although it had a death toll of 134. The last and most serious, Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico, leaving the island full of floodwater and lacking electricity, supplies, and a good water source.

Tension and tragedy
2017 was the year of old trends. Back again from past decades were crop tops, graphic tees, earth tones and the threat of nuclear war. In September, Donald Trump’s first United Nations address inflamed tensions with the increasingly dangerous North Korea and called Kim Jong-un “rocket man” and threatened to “totally destroy” the country if attacked.
North Korea took these statements as a declaration of war, and have continued their testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles.
One of the biggest tragedies of the year occurred at a place that was full of happiness and life. On October 1, at a country music festival, Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and then himself, making it the most deadly shooting in U.S. history, knocking the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando out of the top spot. Nearly 550 people were injured, and the country rallied together to offer support to the victims and those affected.

Hope for 2018
When you look back at the year, it’s easy to see everything that went wrong. But one of the biggest triumphs of the year was the denouncement of sexual assault and harassment.
Started by the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, more and more women came forward to publicly accuse their assaulters, bringing awareness to the issue and hopefully sparking the eventual downfall of the culture of harassment that seeps into Hollywood and politics. TIME’s prestigious Person of the Year award went to the “Silence Breakers”, or those that had spoken out about their experiences.
2018 will be better. We will capitalize on our successes of the past year and avoid making the same mistakes. But in order for that to happen, people will have to fight for change.
The numbers on the calendar can’t make a difference. The universe does not recognize months and years, but it does recognize actions. This year, speak up for what you believe in and make this year what you want it to be.

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2017 extremely eventful, triumphs to tragedy