The year that ends at midnight has been something to remember.
Yes, 2017 was a wild one in almost every sense, from the political to the artistic to the violent.
Another year in which mass shootings plagued America. Madmen with guns are killing too many people and ruining too many families far too often — and we can’t expect much improvement in 2018.
We’ve spent the past few days poking around to decide on the year’s top stories, but frankly, there are simply too many to list in this space. And while many of 2017’s stories have been labeled fake by so many people, most of them are anything but fake. In fact, we wish many of these stories were not real.
For example, the world could have done without three powerful hurricanes, for sure. Harvey flooded major portions of Houston. Irma smacked the Caribbean then roared up through Florida. Maria decimated Puerto Rico, leaving a level of devastation from which the island nation and its people may never recover.
And unless you’re one of the very few climate-change skeptics, you will bank on what science experts predict — more and more-powerful storms, hotter summers and colder winters.
Weather was a big factor for us here on the Central Coast. A long, severe drought was mitigated, a little, by last winter’s rains, but dry conditions are back upon us.
The drought, and then rain, worsened our fire season, which thanks to the Thomas fire lasted through the final day of 2017.
Thomas became California’s biggest wildfire, scorching well over a quarter-million acres, destroying hundreds of homes, and killing two people, including a firefighter. In all, California wildfires have consumed nearly 700,000 acres since Jan. 1.
This was also the year so many courageous women decided to tell their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. Sexual misconduct on a national scale was the No.1 Associated Press story of the year, followed closely by Donald Trump’s chaotic first year as president, which included a serious flirtation with global war, triggered by North Korea’s nuclear arms development and general resistance to world leaders’ pleas to stand down.
Somewhere in the top-stories-of-the-year mix is the FBI and special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and ways in which Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Also in the mix are the Trump administration’s deconstruction of policies put into place by his predecessor, Barack Obama, ranging from threatening nearly 800,000 people via elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, to overturning net neutrality, to shrinking national monument lands, among others.
This was a very good year for our local high school sports teams, some of which attained heights not reached in decades.
It also was a year in which several local communities decided to come to grips with youth violence and gang problems, and switch from at-large to district elections.
We’ve focused on a lot of bad things that happened in 2017, because bad things generally are what make headlines and breaking-news reports on TV. But, in fact, it was a good year in many respects. Lots more people have jobs, the housing markets continue to firm up, and year-end philanthropy and acts of charity have proven, once again, that we care about our neighbors, and will come to their aid when needed.
Be safe tonight.