Uplifting News Stories From 2016 You May Have Missed

“Man, 2016 was great!” said no one. And why would they? 2016 was a horrible year, what with all the deaths and political stuff. Man, last year sucked, fuck 2016! But let’s be fair here, 2016 wasn’t all bad. Okay, a lot of famous people died, but none of the deaths were really shocking. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Terry Wogan all died of cancer. Sure it was shocking to us because we didn’t know about it, they kept it secret, but the fact is people don’t always survive cancer. Which is why we should donate more to cancer research.

As for everyone else, Debbie Reynolds was in her 80’s and died of a stroke, which, I hear, isn’t uncommon. Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack in her sixties, which isn’t really surprising when you consider her past drug abuse and alcohol problems. Prince died of an overdose, and I’m sure everyone knew that a ton of drugs will kill you. George Kennedy died of heart disease in his 90’s, and old people tend to die often. George Martin was also 90 when he died and George Michael, another former drug user, died in his fifties of heart failure. And again drug habits tend to have that effect.

Merle Haggard was in his late 70’s and had suffered from ill health since the 1990’s. Kenny Baker lived to his 80’s, which is good for someone with dwarfism, and Gene Wilder was also in his 80’s and had Alzheimer’s. Pete Burns had suffered several health problems brought on by his surgery. Leonard Cohen had a fall at 82 which is fatal for some elderly people. Janet Reno (a name any Offspring fan will recognise) had suffered from Parkinson’s since the mid-90’s. Robert Vaughn died of leukemia in his 80’s and Andrew Sachs was also in his 80’s and had dementia. British actors Peter Vaughn and Liz Smith were in their 90’s, while Zsa Zsa Gabor was 99!

Sure, that’s three paragraphs worth of deaths right there, but all of those mentioned were either really old, had cancer or other health problems, or had done drugs. So really, no surprises there. As for politics, sure people were upset about Brexit and Donald Trump being elected, which led many Americans to consider moving to Canada rather than, y’know, deal with the situation like mature adults. But here’s the thing, the people who are upset about those are the people who voted against them, so of course they’d be upset. And rather than hope for the best in the unforeseeable future, they all went “ah fuck this, we’re screwed!”

But with all this shit going on, there’s a ton of good stuff that everyone has ignored.

 

Kirk Douglas celebrated his 100th Birthday

Kirk Douglas

It seems that everyone in Hollywood was dropping like flies last year, with stars like Alan Rickman, Kenny Baker, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds all dying. But while they were shuffling off their mortal coil, Kirk Douglas was kicking death’s ass! On December 9th, the famous Hollywood actor, known for films like Spartacus, Paths of Glory and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to name just a few, celebrated his 100th Birthday with his family and friends, including Steven Spielberg and his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Meanwhile, he is said to be in good shape, despite having suffered a stroke and losing some of his speech only to come back and say “Fuck you!” after regaining the ability to speak in 1996. Elsewhere, he has donated up to $40 million since the early 1990’s to an Alzheimer’s hospital to care for patients at a motion picture retirement home. He has written ten books, and still semi-regularly blogs on the Huffington Post website, making him the oldest blogger in the world – surely.

 

Chuck Berry announced one last album at the age of 90

Chuck Berry
Image Source:
Daniel Hartwig

And while Hollywood stars weren’t busy dying, musicians were dropping down dead everywhere too, like the aforementioned David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and George Michael, just to name a small handful. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, because rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry turned 90, and with that announced his first album since 1979.

Probably best known for songs like Maybelline and most notably Johnny B. Goode, Berry was one of the first people to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it began in 1986. His first album was released sixty years ago in 1957, and his new album will be released in 2017 and will also feature his children, Ingrid and Charles Berry Jr.

 

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill sign an Ecumenical Declaration

Pope Francis
Image Source:
Republic of Korea

For those of you not into religion, this bit won’t interest you. But do read because history was made in 2016 when the coolest Pope in history signed a joint declaration with Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill. This all relates to the East/West Schism which saw a break of communion between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This came from disputes over stuff like the source of the Holy Spirit and what bread should be used in the Eucharist, otherwise known as the Holy Communion.

“Why should I care about this?” you ask? I mean yeah, bread is a silly thing to have a fallout over, but there are loads of other stuff I’m not doing into (like stuff regarding Constantinople, and no I don’t mean the song by The Residents). And to be fair a friend of mine fell out with me over a Nokia N-Gage, which is worth considerably less than bread. What makes this interesting however is this all happened in the year 1054, almost a thousand years ago! Now THAT’S history.

 

Hissène Habré was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity

Hissène Habré
Image Source:
Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes it can seem like there’s no justice in the world, what with terrorism running rampant so much that it’s almost become part of our daily lives. And not to mention criminals walking the street, sometimes it’s hard to feel safe and we all complain that not enough is being done in regards to our welfare. Well, if that’s the way you think then this story is bang up your alley. Hissène Habré is a name a lot of people may not recognise, so here’s a little history lesson.

Habré was the president of Chad (the country, not just some guy) from 1982 to 1990. During that time he set up his own secret police force who took part in atrocities like ethnic cleansing, torture and execution (usually by burning, spraying gas in people’s eyes, ears and nose, and forcing car exhaust pipe’s into people’s mouths while the car was running) of his opponents. Meanwhile Habré took part in rape and sexual slavery. And you thought Trump was bad.

He was on trial for quite a while. But you’ll be happy to hear that last year Hissène Habré was found guilty of the aforementioned crimes (he ordered the murder of 40,000 people) and was given life in prison. This is also the first time a court backed by the African Union has convicted a former ruler for human rights abuses, so justice has been served.

 

We have a vaccine for Ebola!

Image Source:
NIAID

The Ebola virus was discovered way back in the 70’s, although it came to most people’s attention during the massive outbreak in West Africa in 2013, and is still going on. And while people have been cured of the deadly disease, which is spread through bodily fluids, there’s never been a proven vaccine for the virus. And like my mom says, prevention is better than cure.

Well on December 22nd Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus–Zaire Ebola virus (or rVSV-ZEBOV for short) was proved to work as a vaccine for Ebola, which is a massive step forward. But before you jump for joy I should say that we still don’t know how long it lasts. And there are side effects which include joint pains, tiredness, headaches, pain at the site of injection, and muscle pains, although they all pale in comparison to death.

In closing, sure 2016 had its downs, but it also has its ups. And to paraphrase the rooster from Disney’s Robin Hood, sometimes the downs outnumber the ups, but sometimes the ups outnumber the downs. As for 2017, guess what? More people are going to die. But that doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end. And to those people saying ‘let’s hope this year is better than the last’, in my opinion you should be wishing that regardless of how good or bad the previous year was. I mean, no one’s ever come out and said “this new year will suck!”

Oh wait, that’s kinda what we did last year. This time last year Jeb Lund of Rolling Stone predicted that 2016 would suck. He wrote, and I quote: “We’re going to keep fucking up the planet”. True but let’s face it, that’s like saying in 2016 a fish will swim, well yeah. He also said “We’re not going to get any less racist or sexist anytime soon”. Which again, is totally true, and he closed with “You’re going to encounter an unbelievable amount of shitty pop-psych political analysis this year”. Which, by the way, was accompanied by a photo of Donald Trump giving a thumbs up. Don’t believe me, take a look for yourselves.

And it wasn’t just him, loads of people were predicting 2016 would suck. And of course people are already predicting that 2017 will suck, and so I have to wonder, will it really suck? There was a lot of tragedy last year, but there was a lot of tragedy the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and so on and so on. But did any of it affect me? Hell no.

We’re all still going to work, we’re still watching TV, reading the papers, blogging or emailing or whatever the fuck you do at home. No one has quit their job and gone to live as a hermit. You’re all still living your lives and you will continue doing so until you die, whenever that may be. So how about you stop moaning and cheer the fuck up for once.

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