2016 is the year of the monkey for anyone who follows the Chinese zodiac. For the United Nations, 2016 is the International Year of Pulses, highlighting sustainable food production and food security. The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) jointly declared 2016 to be the International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU),whatever that means
. Even small organizations are putting their own frame on 2016, with the Communist Party in the Russian city of Penza declaring 2016 the year of Stalin,according to BBC News
. Even in its infancy, 2016 has already had its share of ups, such as the ever-escalating Powerball jackpot, and downs, the recent death of pop icon David Bowie, for example. But what are the major stories that could very well define the year? Find out in this slideshow.10 Tech Trends for 2016
Like it or not, with 2016 being an election year, Americans are in for a year dominated by political news, with the race for the presidency to be headline news daily. Given the number of contenders seeking to be the Republican presidential candidate, a protracted primary contest is possible. Last month, news emerged that top members of the GOP, including party chairman Reince Priebus, had discussed the possibility ofa brokered or contested convention
, a process triggered if no candidate secures the majority of delegates needed to be the party's representative on the 2016 ballot. As November draws nearer, every word uttered by the candidates and their surrogates will be parsed for its possible effect on the vote. News developments from around the world will also shape the race in unexpected ways, with media outlets assuredly looking for the fabled October Surprise that could change the dynamics of the election at the last minute.How States' Political Tides Turn Over Time
The 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro. Leading up to August 5, the start of the Olympics, expect a steady stream of stories questioning Brazil's preparedness. Only last week, the track-and-field stadium that will be used for the Olympicswent dark over unpaid bills
. The Olympics will also take place against a backdrop of political and economic turmoil in Brazil, with President Dilma Rousseff. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) conceded last month that Brazil's severe recession will inevitably affect the games.Best and Worst Olympic Cities
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Shootings by police officers around the country drew national attention throughout 2015, with various media outlets running tallies documenting how many people were killed at the hands of police over the course of the year. The long tail of these incidents, particularly those where suspects were unarmed, ensure that they will continue to be discussed in 2016. And in spite of all of the attention they received in 2015, new episodes involving questionable use of force will almost certainly be major news this year as well, even as some police departments across the country adjust training programs and guidance given to officers and implement body cameras.10 Signs You're Living in a Police State
USA.Gov/Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
The Syrian civil war closes its fifth year in 2016, and its effects will continue to reverberate throughout the year. In Syria, no end appears near, and President Bashar al-Assad, who enjoys the support of Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, is unlikely to leave power any time soon despite past Western calls for him to step down. The United Nations is currently leading talks to bring the war to a resolution, an effort that so far hasn't been strained by tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran,according to a U.N. envoy
. Arab nations, Turkey and European countries are dealing with millions of refugees seeking to escape the violence in Syria caused by clashes among Syrian government, rebel, Kurdish and Islamic State forces. More waves of refugees are expected in 2016, particularly in Europe, which has struggled to cope with a historic test of its open-border policy and unity.Arab Spring to Winter: 5 Years Later
The Islamic State, a byproduct of the civil war in Syria, was a mainstay of the news in 2015, terrorizing civilians in the Middle East and the West. More than a dozen countries, some of which aren't exactly friendly with one another, are engaged in military campaigns against ISIS, most of which targets the group with aerial bombardment. Although the campaign on multiple fronts is weakening ISIS, forcing it to withdraw from territory in Syria and Iraq, more attacks organized or at least inspired by ISIS in 2016 seem likely as the Islamic State increasingly takes its terror global.Paris Attacks Reveal 'Next Stage of ISIS': Experts
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, turns 90 this April, an occasion to be marked with celebrations in the United Kingdom this spring. Within hours of going on sale, 25,000 tickets to thequeen's three-day celebration in May
were claimed by members of the public. The event will feature 900 horses and over 1,500 performers from around the world to honor the queen's 63 years of service as well as her birthday. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will also be turning 95 this June. He similarly will have a public celebration, beginning with a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.Queen Elizabeth II and Other Record-Breaking Monarchs
Last year, the United States and other world powers reached a historic accord with Iran to limit the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. In exchange, sanctions on banking and commerce that limited Iran's access to global markets would be lifted. Secretary of State John Kerry, seen in this photo taken last year with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said last week that Iran was "days away" from complying with the agreement reached last summer, which would compel the United States and its partners to begin fulfilling its obligations. Despite the fanfare with which the deal was announced and the progress since, the agreement could still fall apart if one side fails to honor its terms. Last October, Iran conducted a test of a ballistic missile capable of bearing a nuclear warhead, a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution. The test did not contradict the terms of the agreement reached in July, but was condemned by the United States, France and others.Video: What Daily Life is Like in Iran
Mother Teresa of Kolkata will become a saint in 2016, her canonization sure to be a major event of the Catholic Church. Beautified in 2003, Pope Francis recognized a second miracle attributed to the Albanian nun last year, paving the way for her sainthood. During her life, Mother Teresa was a global icon known for her commitment to the poor in India, founding the Missionaries of Charity. Her organization has raised millions of dollars from around the world for their cause and currently has more than 4,000 sisters in over 130 countries.Video: Where the Catholic Church Stands on Science
In 2015, 195 nations reached a historic agreement to combat climate change through government action and investment. In 2016, the world will find out which countries follow through, signing the deal and later adhering to its provisions. The accord will be open for signatures beginning in April, and will enter into force only if 55 countries that produce at least 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gases ratify the agreement,according to the United Nations
. Should countries accept the agreement, but not adhere to its terms, the penalty is exactly nil from an enforcement standpoint. The only real sanction would be the continued and accelerated degradation of the environment should nations not fulfill their commitments.What's Ahead for Climate Change in 2016?
We've all heard the odds: Your chances of holding Wednesday's winning Powerball lottery ticket (at this time an estimated staggering $1.4 billion jackpot) are just one in 292.2 million.
That's worse than being struck by lightning (576,000 to 1) and much worse than dating a supermodel (88,000 to 1). Still, thousands are flocking to buy their chance at becoming filthy rich. As unlikely a scenario it may be, would you even know what to do if you had the winning ticket?
First, do nothing, says Rene Lynch of the LaTimes. Resist the urge to post it on Facebook, experts agree. Just put the ticket somewhere safe (make sure it’s signed), and host a quiet celebration with yourself.
Second, after you’ve pinched yourself and triple-checked the winning number, call in a lawyer or financial planner. Preferably both. Start planning.
Third, splurge. Take that vacation or go house-hunting. Do one of the things you dreamed about doing if you won. Make a list of the rest, to discuss with your financial team. Don McNay, author of the book “Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery,” told the Associated Press that nine out of 10 winners burn through their winnings in five years or less. “It’s too much, too fast,” he says. “Nobody is around them putting the brakes on the situation.”
Fourth, protect yourself. Keep the news as private as possible. Past winners advise against giving money away, especially publicly. Even if you can tell the difference between your long lost cousin’s request for help financing culinary school and a Ponzi scheme, you probably don’t want to spend your time sifting through requests for cash.
Fifth, take the annual payments, unless you are financially savvy (and disciplined) enough to manage the lump sum. According to the New York Times, if you win, you could choose an $868 million cash payment or $1.4 billion doled out in annual payments over 29 years. Taxes would cut the winnings of either option in half.
What makes us continue to buy lottery tickets when the odds are so against us anyhow?
It’s simple: Hope.
Dr. James Gottfurcht, who specializes in the “psychology of money,” told NBC that humans are “wired for hope. And the lottery gives them that and more.”