A year in review: 2017

Harley LaRue, Writer and Editor

In 2017, billions wished for the best after the year 2016 finally came to an end. 2017 felt like the last chance for peace in not only the United States of America but around the world.

This past year was filled with tears and laughter while the world continuously changed.

In the end, what did 2017 bring to the table? Was it another fruitless year, or did 2017 set global standards?

Music. When it comes to music, many Americans are rather close-minded, choosing to stick to songs only sung in English rather than exploring different genres and languages. It is not uncommon to hear English phrases in foreign songs. However, in 2017, “Despacito,” a Spanish song sung Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, topped the charts in the summer of 2017 after Justin Bieber was featured on the song in a remix. “Despacito” stayed #1 on the charts for sixteen weeks, challenging Mariah Carey’s hit “One Sweet Day” for most weeks spent as #1 on the Billboard Music charts.

Spanish wasn’t the only language being sung in the states. BTS, a worldwide famous South Korean boy band, made their debut in America for the first time. On May 21st, 2017, the band was invited to the Billboard Music Awards as they were nominated for the Top Social Artist award. Aforementioned pop star Justin Bieber’s 6-year streak with this award was broken. Still known for breaking barriers, BTS were the first ever K-Pop group to make it into the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 with their newest album “LOVE YOURSELF 承: Her.”

On November 19th, BTS were invited back to the United States for another award show: the AMAs. While they were not nominated for an award, they performed two of their hit songs, DNA and Mic Drop remix with Steve Aoki. This performance was followed up by TV performances with Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden where BTS performed and played mini games.

Cardi B is a name worshiped by many. The Dominican female rapper broke Lauryn Hill’s record for Longest Running No. 1 by a Female Rapper. Her song “Bodak Yellow” topped the charts for 3 weeks. Not only did “Bodak Yellow” make the charts, two of her other songs also entered the top 10. She’s featured on both G-Eazy’s “No Limit” and Migos’ “Motorsport.” Having said that, Cardi B joined the Beatles and many more in breaking the record for having 3 songs in the top 10.

Celebrity Harassment. 2017 might’ve been the worst year for celebrities in a long time. It is no surprise to anyone in Hollywood to hear about the sexual harassment and assault that has occurred. Accusations first pointed at Harvey Weinstein this year. Since the first accusation, over eighty-four women in Hollywood have admitted to being sexually harassed by Weinstein, dating back to the early 90’s. Celebrities who have worked with Weinstein are beginning to describe their experiences to prevent this from ever happening again.

Over 50 celebrities, men and women, have been accused of sexual harassment since Weinstein. Many celebrities have joined together in order stop the harassment that occurs domestically around the world. The hashtag #MeToo is giving men and women an outlet to draw attention to the horrible crimes committed every day in the hope to finally put an end to sexual assault.

A Push for Equality. When the United States legalized gay marriage in 2015, much of Europe called it old news. But in many countries, citizens are not allowed to express their sexuality. On May 9th, Moon Jae-in was elected into office as the new South Korean president after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. The new president has expressed his distaste for same-sex marriage. While South Korean citizens have never been allowed to enjoy the freedom of same-sex marriage, many citizens are beginning to riot against the restriction. Shortly after the election of the new president, one Christian group posted anti-gay posters in front of the Deoksugung Palace in downtown Seoul on April 13, 2017. Gay marriage is seen as taboo in South Korea, but that hasn’t stopped couples from leaving the country to get married.

Nevertheless, in 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that the law outlawing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  The legislature has been given two years to fix current laws or make new ones that allow gay marriage. Citizens could be seen crowding the streets in celebration and dressing up in all colors of the rainbow to represent gay pride. If Taiwan’s government decides to allow same-sex marriage, they will be the first country in Asia to do so.

Trouble in Paradise. Donald Trump successfully fulfilled one year of his presidency in 2017. While the new president has seen his approval ratings fall, he has stuck to many of his campaign promises. Perhaps one of his most notable achievements in 2017 was his tremendous tax bill. The corporate tax rate has been slashed from 35% to 21% which also reduces individual rates by a much smaller fraction. It was the biggest piece of tax legislation passed by Congress since 1986. This bill tore down many existing government conservation projects and the like. For example, it has subjected the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. While it does not do much for middle class citizens, millions rally in support for Trump’s never ending determination.

Just a week into Trump’s presidency, he introduced a travel ban. The president ran with intent to crack down on immigration, but his bold first move shocked millions around the globe. The nations banned were predominantly Muslim countries. Immigration from these countries was outlawed, and many citizens who attempted to fly back to their home country were not allowed to. At the end of 2017, some part of this ban still exists.

One of Trump’s boldest moves was threatening a ban on transgender people from being able to join or serve in the military. As expected, this ban infuriated not only those who identified as transgender but also those that didn’t. Opposition came in form of tweets, protests, and letters sent to state representatives to do anything. The reason behind Trump’s madness was brief. The government simply spent too much money on hormones that transgender people in the army needed. After the threat was released, many decided to do their own investigating into just how much the government spent. Forbes reported that the government spent approximately 8.4 million dollars out of the Defense Department’s $50 billion dollar budget on giving transgender soldiers and officers the medication they need. Those 8.4 million dollars are just 0.017% of the budget. Not to mention, there are only 1,320-6,630 transgender people serving in the military, or roughly 0.51%. Forbes also reported that, in 2016, the Department of Defense spent nearly 84.25 million dollars on erectile dysfunction prescriptions. That’s 10 times what was spent on the prescriptions needed by transgender soldiers and officers. A giant misconception being made by those who supported the ban dealt with gender reassignment surgery. It is highly unlikely that surgery would be paid by the government rather than the person who wishes to have the surgery. The other main argument in support of the ban stated that transgender people are unfit to join the military and are more prone to mental illnesses that would interfere with tasks. This statement is simply untrue with no data to back it up.

After Trump’s first year in office, opinions are still split. Will 2018 bring any unity back to the country?

Health. It has been an unbelievable year for global health. The World Health Organization revealed a new vaccine to end Cholera. Cholera is a disease that can kill in just hours in untreated, and nearly 143,000 people die from this disease each year. The vaccine is effective and cheap. It is set to end one of the vilest diseases on Earth.

Not only are new vaccines being created every day, the need for vaccines is greatly dropping. Many diseases and cancers are beginning to slow down. Cancer deaths have dropped by 25% in the U.S. since 1991 while breast cancer deaths have fallen by 39%!

Infections, viruses, and diseases, such as AIDS, HIV, Zika, and Trachoma, have plummeted in 2017. UNAIDS, the main advocate for global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, reported that AIDS deaths have been sliced in half since 2005. And, for the first time in history, half of those with HIV are being treated. Cases of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean plummeted in 2017. Most people in these areas are now immune to the disease. Mexico became the first country to eliminate Trachoma, an infection which leads to blindness. It also lost its status as a public health problem in Oman and Morocco.

Global Conservation. 

Within the last 10 years, conservationists have protested deforestation as it ruins animals’ natural habitats, reduces the amount of oxygen being produced, and ruins the soil. In 2017, countries around the world have begun to plant trees to make up for the loss of what once was. In July, 1.5 million people in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh set a new Guinness world record by planting more than 67 million trees in a 12 hour time period. Another province in Pakistan announced that due to the floods in 2015 they will be planting 1 billion trees in 2019. Brazil has begun a project to plant 73 million trees, or the largest tropical reforestation in history.

Pollution finding its way into the ocean has also been another large concern for the ecosystem. Millions of animals die each year due to the plastic bags and straws floating throughout the ocean. China, Indonesia, Kenya, and Chile have begun to address the issue of ocean pollution, joining the other 30 countries who have bans in place to conserve marine life.

China has invested nearly one hundred billion dollars into treating and preventing water pollution. They have since launched 8,000 water clean up projects.

Indonesia pledged one billion dollars to clean up plastic from the sea.

Kenya announced a ban on plastic bags, and Chile banned plastic bags from its coastal cities.

Canada’s government and Inuit groups teamed up to create a marine reserve, the largest reserve created in the country’s history. Mexico also created an ocean reserve in order to conserve hundreds of species, including humpback whales and sea turtles.

2017 has truly been a great year for conservation.

Here at GNA. Near the end of the 2016-2017 school year, GNA began the long road to reconstruction. The Kennedy Early Childhood Center was torn down as summer break began. Major progress was made over the summer, and as children returned back to school in late August, the building was coming together. GNA’s school newspaper, The GNA Insider, began to upload articles online via the new website thegnainsider.com. Since announcing the new website, The GNA Insider has created a YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitter account which can be found linked on the website.

Another year is gone, and so many things have changed. What will change in 2018?