January 5 – United States
Politics: Senate Runoffs
In two Senate runoff races in the U.S. state of Georgia, both Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff narrowly defeat Republican incumbents. Ossoff becomes the first Jewish senator from Georgia, while Raphael Warnock, a pastor from Atlanta, is the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from Georgia. The election outcome gives Democrats control in the U.S. Senate for the next two years, although by narrowest of margins – a 50-50 tie broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrat Chuck Schumer will replace Republican Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader.
January 6 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus, or Covid-19
With only 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States has accounted for 22 percent of coronavirus deaths. In the meantime fewer than 300 Australians have died of complications from Covid-19. If the United States had the same per capita death rate, about 3,300 Americans would have died, rather than 158,000.
Australia Unlike the United States, put travel restrictions at the center of its virus response. In March, the country mandated that everyone arriving from overseas, including Australian citizens, spend two weeks quarantined in a hotel, which was strictly enforced. Their cases went significantly down by spring. Other countries, such as China, some other Asian countries, and eastern Canada, successfully followed Australia’s lead.
(Jan 15): Last spring the U.S. state of California was praised for acting swiftly to contain the coronavirus, but since November deaths went up by more than 1,000 percent. More than 31,000 people have died of the virus in the state.
(Jan 21): Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden signs a full-scale coronavirus strategy, a national plan to combat the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. It is a federal centralized response that previous President Donald Trump refused to implement. The strategy includes new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses and for international travelers to quarantine after arriving in the United States. President Biden pledges to provide 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office. His Administration is asking Congress for $1.9 trillion for pandemic relief.
(Jan 26): The number of deaths from Covid-19 in the United States reaches 420,000, the worst outbreak in the world with about 3,000 a day. However, the number of daily new cases has been declining in recent weeks.
January 6 – United States
Election certification and the Capitol insurrection
U.S. Congress is meeting to count the Electoral College votes and certify the presidential election. In the meantime, President Donald Trump meets his supporters at a rally where he calls for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the elections results, which is outside his constitutional powers. He incites the rally attendees to march to the Capitol, claiming, with no evidence, that the election was stolen from him. After his speech, hundreds of his armed supporters push through the security barriers and storm the Capitol, eventually breaking inside. The Capitol is put on lockdown, certification vote is paused, and the legislators are escorted to safe locations. Later that day the Congress resumes the joint session and certifies Joe Biden’ s win. Five people die in this attempted insurrection, including a Capitol police officer. About 140 people are injured.
January 13 – United States
Second Impeachment of President Donald Trump
The U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Donald Trump for a second time only a few days before the end of his term as president and a week after he incited a violent mob of his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop the certification of the Electoral College vote of President-elect Joe Biden. “Incitement of Insurrection ” was the only article of impeachment against Trump. This time ten Congressional Republicans voted along with the House Democrats for the impeachment. As a result, Donald Trump is the only American President in history to be impeached more than once. He faces now the second impeachment trial in the Senate to be held in February.
January 20 – United States
Politics: Transition of power
Joe Biden was sworn in as the United States’ 46th president and Kamala Harris as Vice President in a ceremony on the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The celebrations are significantly curtailed as the event takes place in the middle of the pandemic, but also because of the potential for violence near the Capitol. The National Mall is closed to the general public because of security concerns related to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol. President Donald Trump is the first president in 150 years to boycott the inauguration of his successor.
In his inaugural address, President Biden names six crises facing the U.S.: the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, growing inequality, racism, America’s global standing, and an attack on truth and democracy. He also promises to implement a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Hours after the swearing ceremony, Biden signs 17 executive orders and directives that dismantle Trump administration policies that he saw harmful to the country. They include strengthening protections for young immigrants, ending construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall, an end to a travel ban, and prioritizing racial equity.
February 3 – United States
New Start Nuclear Arms Control Treaty
The United States extends the New Start nuclear arms control treaty with Russia for the next five years, the last remaining nuclear arms deal between the two countries. The treaty limits each country to 1,550 long-range nuclear warheads (a lower number than under the previous Start deal). Each country is also allowed to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear arms. Another 100 are allowed if they are not operationally deployed.
February 4 – United States
U.S. President Joe Biden announces an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen’s civil war, saying it has “created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe”. His Administration is also reviewing U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia approved by the Trump Administration. Biden is appointing a special envoy for Yemen and plans to revive stalled peace talks. The six-year war in Yemen has left 11,000 people dead and put millions to the brink of starvation.
February 13 – United States
Impeachment trial of former President Trump
U.S. Senate acquits former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection in his second impeachment trial. Majority senators, 57, vote “guilty” and 43 senators vote “not guilty”. A two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, is needed to convict. Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives twice, and the first to be tried for impeachment after leaving office.
February 22 – United States
Global Health: coronavirus, or COVID-19
U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the nation as the country surpasses 500,000 deaths from Covid-19, the highest number in the world. He opens his speech by saying that the number is higher than the death toll from World War One, World War Two, and the Vietnam War combined. He also, together with Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses, observes a moment of silence in a candle-lighting ceremony to honor those who succumbed to the virus.
The U.S. has 28.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, twice as many as the second highest country of India and Brazil. But in terms of deaths per 100,000 population, the U.S. ranks ninth after the UK and Italy. The positive news is that hospital admissions have fallen and 1.7 million people are being vaccinated each day since Biden took office.
February 26 – United States
In a newly issued report, Amnesty International accuses Eritrean forces of massacring hundreds of unarmed civilians in the city of Axum in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray last November. It also says this could amount to a crime against humanity. Responding to the report the United States calls for Ethiopia and Eritrea to cease fighting in the Tigray region and the withdrawal of their forces from the region.
February 26 – United States
Murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
A declassified report from the US intelligence on the 2018 killing of Saudi activist and journalist Jamal Khashoggi who worked for Washington Post says Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman approved the operation to kill him. The United States announces visa restrictions for 76 Saudis involved in his killing. However, no sanctions are applied to the crown prince.
Background: Jamal Khashoggi used to be an adviser to the Saudi government and close to the royal family but he fell out of favor and went into self-imposed exile in the U.S. in 2017. He wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post that was critical of Prince Mohammed policies.
March 4 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus, or Covid-19
The U.S. has administered more than two million vaccine shots per day over the past week. So far, about 148.6 million Americans (56 percent of adults) have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. This also means that everyone could get a shot this year, although some people are hesitant or unwilling to get a shot. Also, vaccine has yet to be authorized for children under 16. It is estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of the total population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus, when transmission of the virus substantially slows because enough people have been protected through infection or vaccination.
(Mar 6): A more contagious and more lethal UK coronavirus variant (first discovered in the U.K.) is spreading fast in the U.S. and accounts for more than 20 percent of new U.S. cases. However, the overall cases are at the lowest level since October. In addition to this UK variant, there have been also Brazilian and South African variants identified, which however, make up a small fraction of total cases so far.
March 7 – United States
The U.S. Senate approves $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, aimed at boosting the economy and providing help to Americans from the coronavirus pandemic. The bill passes along the party lines, 50–49 vote, with one Republican absent. Every Democrat voted in favor and every Republican against it. Much of the aid in the bill is directed toward low- and middle-income families rather than businesses. The money will go for stimulus checks to individuals, unemployment benefits, child tax credit, vaccine and Covid testing programs, state, local, and territorial governments, and for school reopening efforts. In the long term, the bill is expected to cut poverty by a third this year, and is hoped to become permanent and cut child poverty by half.
April 12 – United States
The United States comes to a deal on immigration, which makes Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala commit more troops to tighten their borders and keep down the flow of migrants crossing into the U.S. US Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 172,000 people attempting to cross the US-Mexico border in March, a 71 percent increase from February. They also detained a record number of unaccompanied minors, with 18,890 in March, twice as many as in February. The Biden Administration is engaging with the leaders from countries in Central America to address the root causes of the migration by improving job opportunities and living conditions in their region.
April 15 – United States
Sanctions on Russia
U.S. President Joe Biden announces extensive new sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals in return for cyber attacks on U.S. government agencies and companies, and for disinformation efforts and interference in the 2020 presidential election. Ten Russian diplomats, most of them identified as intelligence operatives, are expelled from the Russian Embassy in Washington. The Biden administration also bans American banks from purchasing newly issued Russian government debt. The U.S. has also sent diplomatic messages to Russia expressing concerns about intelligence reports that Russia had paid bounties to encourage Taliban attacks on American troops. The United States also joins its European partners to impose sanctions on eight people and entities associated with Russia’s annexation from Ukraine and occupation of Crimea in 2014. Russia promises retaliation.
April 21 – United States
Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate
During the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders, U.S. President Joe Biden pledges to cut carbon emissions in the United States between 50 and 52 percent by 2030, below 2005 levels. The United Kingdom also announces climate change commitments to cut carbon emissions to 78 percent of 1990 levels before 2035.
April 27 – United States
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population has grown only 7.4 percent between 2010 and 2020 and is at 331.5 million people. This is the smallest increase since the 1930s. One cause of slow population growth is declining birthrate, with 17 percent fewer children than in 1990, or 50 percent fewer than in 1960. There are now more Americans 80 and older than 2 or younger. The second reason is a decline in legal immigration.
April 30 – United States
After 20 years of military engagement in Afghanistan, the United States begins the withdrawal process under the President Biden’s orders, which is supposed to be completed by September 11. This includes 2,500 US troops, several hundred special operations forces, as well as US contractors and government workers. While the U.S. lawmakers express concerns that the U.S. withdrawal will allow the Taliban and other rebel groups reverse the gains made for Afghan women, democracy, and civil society, President Biden argues the original purpose of going after al Qaeda terrorists and Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks has been achieved.
May 6 – United States
U.S. population decline
According to a report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the birth rate in the United States fell in 2020 for the sixth consecutive year, a four-percent decline from the year before, with the lowest number of babies born since 1979. Some experts say it is a trend across the world accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the general fertility rate in the US was about 56 births per 1,000 women, about half of what it was in the early 1960s.
May 7 – United States
A ransomware cyberattack shuts down Colonial Pipeline, one of the United States largest pipelines. The attack affects computerized equipment that manages the pipeline; the company is forced to stop all its operations to contain the attack. Colonial Pipeline is 5,500 miles long and carries 45 percent of the country’s gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel from Texas through the southern states and up the East Coast. The hackers, believed to belong to the criminal hacking group DarkSide that operates from Russia, hold the company’s data hostage demanding a ransom of $4.4 million in bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that makes it harder to track. The interruption in the pipeline operations causes the gasoline prices to go up, as well as shortages and long lines at fuel gas stations. Cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure are more frequent, revealing the vulnerability of the Internet infrastructure.
(June 7): The US Department of Justice says it was able to track the ransom money paid to DarkSide hackers by Colonial Pipeline and recovers about $2.3 million.
May 30 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus, or COVID-19
More than half of all adults in the U.S. have now been fully vaccinated getting closer to President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4. About 23,000 new infections are being reported daily, the lowest number in nearly a year.
June 15 – United States
Global Health: coronavirus, or COVID-19
Death toll from Covid-19 in the United States passes 600,000. At the same time, New York and California, two states hit hard by the pandemic early on, with California being the first state to shut down last year, are now fully reopening lifting most of the pandemic restrictions. At the height of the pandemic, New York had a positivity rate of 48.16 percent, the highest in the country. Now it is the lowest of only 0.4 percent.
June 15 – Untied States
Global Health: coronavirus, or COVID-19
Four dominant variants of SARS-CoV-2 spreading globally have been identified: the Alpha Variant (formerly called the UK Variant as it was first detected in the United Kingdom), the Beta Variant (formerly called the South Africa Variant), the Gamma Variant (formerly called the Brazil Variant), and the Delta Variant (formerly called the India Variant). These variants spread more easily and much faster, and make the disease more severe, especially the Delta variant. An increase in the number of cases puts more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
Less than 0.004 percent of people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experience a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, and less than 0.001 percent have died from the disease.
To stop the spread of Covid-19 variants, at least 80 percent of people or higher need to be vaccinated. So far 52.6 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 43.9 percent are fully vaccinated.
June 17 – United States
Juneteenth, as a federal holiday
The U.S. Congress makes Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the U.S., a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day on June 19, 1865, when US Army General Gordon Grainger told enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation enacted two-and-a-half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln. Texas was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.
July 8 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus, or COVID-19
The number of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide surpasses 4 million. It took nine months for the virus to claim one million lives. The second million were lost in three and a half months, the third in three months, and the fourth in about two and a half months.
Spikes in new Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths caused by the new variant and low vaccination rates take place throughout Africa, Asia, and the Latin American region. In Brazil, Covid-19 had has led to a significant decrease in life expectancy. To date, about 3.3 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. Regions where large numbers of people have been vaccinated, like the United States and much of Europe, have seen sharply lower death rates. In the United States, about 63 percent of adults have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. In general, the West and Northeast in the U.S. have relatively high rates of vaccination (about 70 percent are fully vaccinated), while the South and Northwest have the least (with Idaho and Mississippi at only 40 percent).
July 14 – United States
Environment: Plan to Cut Fossil Fuel
The European Union unveils a detailed plan to a significant cut of fossil fuels, 55 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels reaching a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. The plan also means the end of sales in the European Union of new gas- and diesel-powered cars in just 14 years and imposes tariffs on some imports from countries with looser environmental rules. In comparison, the United States has promised to reduce emissions 40 to 43 percent by 2030. China, the United States, and the EU are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world.
July 17 – United States / Canada
Climate: Global Warming and Extreme Weather
The extreme weather takes place this summer across Europe and North America. Devastating and deadly floods in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands submerge towns and kill at least 165 people with hundreds missing. In the United States, the northwestern region registers record temperatures that lead to deaths from heat, while wildfires spread across 12 states. In Canada, one village is completely burned off the map. The specialists conclude that the extraordinary heat wave in the Northwestern United States in late June would not have occurred without global warming.
August 4 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus, or COVID-19
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpasses 200 million worldwide due to the spread of more infectious Delta variant and low vaccination rates, especially in poor countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters until at least 10 percent of the population in every country is vaccinated.
The United States, Brazil, Indonesia, India and Iran represent about 38 percent of all global cases each day. The United States accounts for one in every seven infections reported worldwide. Florida with its low vaccination rates becomes new epicenter of Covid cases. Unvaccinated people represent nearly 97 percent of severe cases.
(Aug 23): The F.D.A. grants full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a first for a Covid shot in the U.S. It paves the way for new vaccine mandates.
August 15 – United States
The fall of Afghanistan
After a lightning 11-day offensive on cities across Afghanistan, the Taliban fighters capture the country’s capital, Kabul, taking the U.S. and other countries by surprise. The Afghan government surrenders with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing into exile to the United Arab Emirates. The Taliban declares that the war is over, giving foreign forces until the 31st of August to leave the country. Remembering the oppressive rule of Taliban before the U.S. invasion combined with rumors of reprisal killings by the insurgents, thousands of Afghan civilians try to leave the country in panic. The U.S. and other countries are hastily evacuating all their diplomatic staff and their citizens.
(Aug 26): In the chaos of rushed evacuations, a suicide bomb at Kabul airport kills at least 182 people, including 13 U.S. service members. The attack was planned by a terrorist group, Islamic State.
(Aug 30): The United States withdraws its last remaining troops from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of operations there and efforts to create a stable democracy. Since August 14, the U.S. has managed to evacuate about 130,000 people out of Afghanistan. They include U.S. citizens and their families, permanent residents, and Afghans who worked for the American military or NATO, as well as others vulnerable under the Taliban rule such as journalists.
September 15: United States
AUKUS: trilateral security pact
Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States sign a trilateral security pact, AUKUS that includes cooperation on naval technology, closer alignment of regional policies and actions, and greater integration of the militaries and the defense industries of the three allies. The UK and the U.S. will also help Australia build its first nuclear-powered submarine fleet. The goal is to counter China’s expansion in the South China Sea and its aggressive stance towards Taiwan and to match technologically Australia’s navy with that of China’s, the world largest. Nuclear power submarines can remain at sea for up to five months and operate more quietly, evading enemy detection. Australia will be only the seventh country in the world to have submarines propelled by nuclear reactors.
September 20 – Canada
After calling a snap election two years before schedule, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party gains five additional seats in the parliament with a total of 160 seats. However, it comes short of 170 seats required to have a parliamentary majority. Canada’s second largest party, and a main rival of the Liberals, the Conservative Party, wins 119 seats, the same as in 2019 elections. Trudeau will remain prime minister, but once again as the head of a minority government. To pass laws, he will have to continue negotiate with the opposition.
September 22 – United States
Global Health: Coronavirus pandemic, or Covid-19
Each day in the United States, more than 90,000 people infected with Covid-19, mostly with the Delta variant, get admitted to the hospitals, forcing the health institutions to postpone treatments and surgeries for people with other serious conditions. Some patients have died while awaiting a spot in an acute or I.C.U. ward.
November 8 – United States
Global Health: coronavirus, or COVID-19
More than 250 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally and more than 5 million people have died from it since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March 2020. The United States, India and Brazil account for more than 40 percent of all reported cases. It is believed that actual case numbers are much higher than what is officially reported. About 4 billion people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, and about 3.1 billion people are fully vaccinated.
November 15 – United States
$1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
U.S. President Joe Biden signs into law a landmark bipartisan legislation of $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), that was passed by the House on November 5. The bill provides $550bn in new federal expenditure over the next eight years to upgrade highways, roads and bridges, as well as city transit systems and passenger rail networks. It also provides funding for clean drinking water, high speed internet, and a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations. It is the largest federal investment in the country’s infrastructure for decades and it is expected to create new jobs and boost US competitiveness.
December 28 – United States
Global Health: coronavirus, or Covid-19
The United States breaks a record for daily Covid-19 cases with 267,000 cases recorded in one day. The two main variants, Delta and Omicron overwhelm hospitals and its staff. Covid deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 800,000 with more than 1,200 people dying every day. People 65 and older make up about three-quarters of the nation’s coronavirus death toll.
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