The year in review

War, inflation, climate change and a word on those who passed  

As this week’s Sun newspapers focus on the top stories of the year in South Jersey, we thought we’d examine here some of the major national stories that got our attention, and what 2024 may portend.

Let’s start with something we know about the new year already: Wars in Ukraine and Gaza will continue into 2024. The former has reached an unsteady stalemate after nearly two years of fighting that began with Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February of 2022. A reported 200,000 soldiers and citizens on both sides had died as of last month. 

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The Gaza war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel and killed 1,200 of its citizens. Since then, about 20,000 Palestinians and Hamas members have died as Israel pursues its U.S.-supported goal of rooting out the terrorist group in the Mideast territory.

All eyes will be on courtrooms around the country next year as Donald Trump again pursues the GOP nomination for president while some of the 91 felony charges against him are adjudicated. It should be noted that Trump’s poll numbers in 2023 have not been diminished by the charges; his commanding lead over other GOP candidates has only increased. 

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden faced the headwinds of displeasure from Americans in 2023 who blame him for high inflation – since significantly cooled – high mortgage rates and other economic issues. Despite a number of legislative successes like getting Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time and an infrastructure bill to fix the country’s aged roadways, the president’s poll numbers are dismal. Some voters see him as too old, while dependable Democratic constituencies like Blacks and young voters are less than satisfied. 

One idea that got nowhere in Congress in 2023 was gun control, even though as of early December, there were just over 600 mass shootings across the nation that took the lives of 1,336 people.  

Biden has rightly focused some of his energy on climate change, as scientists and others warn about what can happen if we don’t adapt to cleaner energy, among other called-for measures. To wit: 2023 saw ominous disasters like melting glaciers and record heat. 

On a lighter note, it was Taylor Swift’s year in popular culture. The singer has billions of fans around the world, and even scored at the box office in late 2023 with a film of her concert tour. But she wasn’t the only one again drawing people to movie theaters after a long drought. The films “Barbie” and “Opponheimer” set unexpected records in July for telling the stories of a play doll and a scientist who helped create the atomic bomb.

Stories were also told about the major figures in politics, government and popular culture who died in 2023, including Henry Kissinger and Sandra Day O’Connor, Tina Turner and Tony Bennett, Norman Lear, Rosalynn Carter, Matthew Perry, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Harry Belafonte, Pat Robertson, Dick Butkus, Bobby Knight and rapper BTB Savage.

We haven’t meant to be all-inclusive here, but if there is any subject you’d like to weigh in on, let us know by following the directive below.

And here’s to a happier 2024.

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