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“Late Term Abortion”

The Washington Post points out there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and “many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading.”

The Daily Beast also notes that only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the idea that a woman can get an abortion moments before giving birth is “not how medical care works.”

The use of “dog whistles” aka “coded” labels has been common for many years but until recently has been out of the mainstream of conversation. The current administration aided by a neer do well Congress has brought these “coded” statements and words to common use. Along with this common usage the administration has trashed agreements put in place to prevent war and improve trade. Tariffs (taxes) put in place to offset the “tax” policy that was supposed to benefit everyday Americans and threats to bad actors who were in a state of containment with the approval of our now alienated allies. The administration has in a few years undermined our economy, foreign affairs and put us on an isolation footing all because of “dog whistles”.

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January 14, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson Jan 15 Yesterday, by a vote of 6 to 3, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with more than 100 employees address the coronavirus pandemic by making employees either get vaccines or, if they choose not to be vaccinated, to test weekly and wear a mask at work. Employees who work exclusively at home or mostly outside were exempted from the requirement, as were those with a religious exemption. President Joe Biden took office vowing to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. By April 2021, his administration’s efforts to make vaccines available and get them into people’s arms were so successful that in early May he vowed to reach a 70% vaccination rate among those then eligible for the vaccine by July 4. Promptly, political opponents began to undermine confidence in the vaccine, and vaccination rates fell off dramatically.In July, the administration tried to encourage vaccinations by requiring vaccines or testing for federal workers and for those contracting with the federal government. In November, the administration expanded those requirements with a new one under the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), established in the Department of Labor under Republican President Richard M. Nixon in 1970 to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA announced a vaccine or testing requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees.  The mandate would have covered about 84.2 million Americans (our population is about 332 million). OSHA estimated (before Omicron) that the rule would save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over a six-month period. Employers claimed that the mandate would cost billions of dollars to implement and hundreds of thousands of employees would quit (although the actual numbers of those quitting their jobs over vaccine mandates turned out to be significantly lower than threatened). A number of Republican-dominated state legislatures, including those of Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, fought the mandate by extending unemployment benefits to those fired for refusing to get the vaccine.Those objecting to the mandate got the extremely conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas and which Trump skewed even more extremely to the right, to stop it.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, also right-leaning but less extreme, lifted the stay, permitting the rule to go into effect. Now, in a case titled National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the Supreme Court has restored the stay.The six justices in the majority ruled that OSHA did not have the authority to require vaccinations or masks and testing because the coronavirus is not specific to the workplace. OSHA’s responsibility is only to make sure that conditions related to the workplace are safe; it cannot regulate a workplace for a virus that is everywhere, even if people catch it at work.The three justices who dissented, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, seemed incredulous: “COVID-19 poses grave dangers to the citizens of this country—and particularly, to its workers,” they wrote. “The disease has by now killed almost 1 million Americans and hospitalized almost 4 million. It spreads by person-to-person contact in confined indoor spaces, so causes harm in nearly all workplace environments. And in those environments, more than any others, individuals have little control, and therefore little capacity to mitigate risk. COVID-19, in short, is a menace in work settings. The proof is all around us: Since the disease’s onset, most Americans have seen their workplaces transformed. So the administrative agency charged with ensuring health and safety in workplaces did what Congress commanded it to: It took action to address COVID-19’s continuing threat in those spaces.” At stake in the case is not only many thousands of American lives and restoring the stability of society, but also the same issue at the heart of our current struggle over voting rights: the relationship of the federal government to the states.Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito began their decision opposing the mandate by saying, “The central question we face today is: Who decides?” Can a federal agency charged with workplace safety mandate vaccines, or should the work of combating coronavirus belong to state and local governments and Congress? The right-wing justices came down firmly against the federal government, using two doctrines that, if fully deployed, will destroy the modern U.S. system.In his opinion, Gorsuch explicitly raised the concept of the “nondelegation doctrine” and the related concept of the “major questions doctrine.” The nondelegation doctrine relies on our government’s separation of powers. It says that, as its own branch of government, Congress cannot delegate regulatory authority to the executive branch, where agencies like OSHA live.But, since Congress has, in fact, been delegating authority to the executive branch since the administration of President George Washington, those who want to reduce federal authority sometimes rely instead on the more limited major questions doctrine, which says that although Congress can delegate minor authority to administrative agencies, it cannot delegate major questions (although just how to define a major question is unclear). A recent study by University of Southern California professor of public policy Dr. Pamela Clouser McCann and University of Michigan professor of social science Dr. Charles R. Shipan, both experts on intergovernmental delegation, found that 99% of today’s federal laws involve delegation. Unwinding them and requiring Congress to make all its own regulatory decisions would paralyze the modern government.Those who support the idea of nondelegation argue that it guarantees government by the people rather than by an unelected bureaucracy, and this is a worthy thought. But unfortunately, it depends on the goodwill of those elected to state legislatures, and because those lawmakers also get to decide who votes in their states, that goodwill can be thin on the ground. At heart, this is the same states’ rights argument that the U.S. has grappled with since the 1830s. Since that time, while some state legislatures have used their power to reflect the will of the people, others have limited the vote, putting a small group of people into power. Once in power, they have used the state government to promote their own interests. States’ rights advocates have consistently said that any federal interference with a state’s unfair laws is tyranny.Since the 1930s, though, lawmakers have used the federal government to combat unfair state laws. They have regulated businesses when state lawmakers wouldn’t, protected civil rights from discriminatory state laws, and, ultimately, guaranteed the right to vote in states that kept their citizens from the polls, with the expectation that if everyone could vote, they would, indeed, create state governments that reflected the will of the majority.The Supreme Court—which, in an ironic echo of Gorsuch’s complaints about unelected bureaucrats, is not elected—is working with today’s Republicans to dismantle this modern system, yesterday embracing the nondelegation doctrine to undercut federal regulation, even though this decision clearly will cost American lives. Also yesterday, the court upheld a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring vaccination for healthcare workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, both of which are funded by the federal government. It supported that mandate only by a vote of 5 to 4; four of the justices did not believe the Department of Health and Human Services has the right to require vaccines in a healthcare facility.Meanwhile, Biden is deploying another 1000 military personnel to hospitals, which are overwhelmed with unvaccinated coronavirus patients.—
Notes:https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-require-all-federal-workers-be-vaccinated-source-2021-09-09/https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-agency-powerhttps://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/551741-biden-to-set-goal-of-at-least-one-shot-to-70-percent-of-adults-by-july-4?rl=1https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/nov/15/fifth-circuit-court-appeals-most-extreme-ushttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/16/1056121842/biden-lawsuit-osha-vaccine-mandate-court-lotteryhttps://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/us/politics/supreme-court-biden-vaccine-mandate.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/12/27/5-gop-led-states-extend-unemployment-aid-workers-who-lose-jobs-over-vaccine-mandates/https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/29/supreme-court-just-took-case-epas-authority-its-decision-could-undo-most-major-federal-laws/https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/01/13/1072902744/ers-are-overwhelmed-as-omicron-continues-to-flood-them-with-patientshttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21a240_d18e.pdfhttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21a244_hgci.pdfShare
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Phil Hands Comic Strip for January 13, 2022
9 to 5 Comic Strip for January 13, 2022
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January 12, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 13The struggle between the Trump-backed forces of authoritarianism and those of us defending democracy is coming down to the fight over whether the Democrats can get the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through the Senate. It’s worth reading what’s actually in the bills because, to my mind, it is bananas that they are in any way controversial. The Freedom to Vote Act is a trimmed version of the For the People Act the House passed at the beginning of this congressional session. It establishes a baseline for access to the ballot across all states. That baseline includes at least two weeks of early voting for any town of more than 3000 people, including on nights and weekends, for at least 10 hours a day. It permits people to vote by mail, or to drop their ballots into either a polling place or a drop box, and guarantees those votes will be counted so long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive at the polling place within a week. It makes Election Day a holiday. It provides uniform standards for voter IDs in states that require them. The Freedom to Vote Act cracks down on voter suppression. It makes it a federal crime to lie to voters in order to deter them from voting (distributing official-looking flyers with the wrong dates for an election or locations of a polling place, for example), and it increases the penalties for voter intimidation. It restores federal voting rights for people who have served time in jail, creating a uniform system out of the current patchwork one. It requires states to guarantee that no one has to wait more than 30 minutes to vote.Using measures already in place in a number of states, the Freedom to Vote Act provides uniform voter registration rules. It establishes automatic voter registration at state Departments of Motor Vehicles, permits same-day voter registration, allows online voter registration, and protects voters from the purges that have plagued voting registrations for decades now, requiring that voters be notified if they are dropped from the rolls and given information on how to get back on them. The Freedom to Vote Act bans partisan gerrymandering.The Freedom to Vote Act requires any entity that spends more than $10,000 in an election to disclose all its major donors, thus cleaning up dark money in politics. It requires all advertisements to identify who is paying for them. It makes it harder for political action committees (PACs) to coordinate with candidates, and it beefs up the power of the Federal Election Commission that ensures candidates run their campaigns legally. The Freedom to Vote Act also addresses the laws Republican-dominated states have passed in the last year to guarantee that Republicans win future elections. It protects local election officers from intimidation and firing for partisan purposes. It expands penalties for tampering with ballots after an election (as happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the Cyber Ninjas investigating the results did not use standard protection for them and have been unable to produce documents for a freedom of information lawsuit, leading to fines of $50,000 a day and the company’s dissolution). If someone does tamper with the results or refuses to certify them, voters can sue.  The act also prevents attempts to overturn elections by requiring audits after elections, making sure those audits have clearly defined rules and procedures. And it prohibits voting machines that don’t leave a paper record. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) takes on issues of discrimination in voting by updating and restoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) that the Supreme Court gutted in 2013 and 2021. The VRA required that states with a history of discrimination in voting get the Department of Justice to approve any changes they wanted to make in their voting laws before they went into effect, and in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court struck that requirement down, in part because the justices felt the formula in the law was outdated.The VRAA provides a new, modern formula for determining which states need preapproval, based on how many voting rights violations they’ve had in the past 25 years. After ten years without violations, they will no longer need preclearance. It also establishes some practices that must always be cleared, such as getting rid of ballots printed in different languages (as required in the U.S. since 1975). The VRAA also restores the ability of voters to sue if their rights are violated, something the 2021 Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee decision makes difficult. The VRAA directly addresses the ability of Indigenous Americans, who face unique voting problems, to vote. It requires at least one polling place on tribal lands, for example, and requires states to accept tribal or federal IDs. That’s it. It is off-the-charts astonishing that no Republicans are willing to entertain these common-sense measures, especially since there are in the Senate a number of Republicans who voted in 2006 to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act the VRAA is designed to restore. McConnell today revealed his discomfort with President Joe Biden’s speech yesterday at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, when Biden pointed out that “[h]istory has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights. And it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion.” Biden asked Republican senators to choose between our history’s advocates of voting rights and those who opposed such rights. He asked: “Do you want to be…on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor?  Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?Today, McConnell, who never complained about the intemperate speeches of former president Donald Trump, said Biden’s speech revealed him to be “profoundly, profoundly unpresidential.”The voting rights measures appear to have the support of the Senate Democrats, but because of the Senate filibuster, which makes it possible for senators to block any measure unless a supermajority of 60 senators are willing to vote for it, voting rights cannot pass unless Democrats are willing to figure out a way to bypass the filibuster. Two Democratic senators—Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)—are currently unwilling to do that. Nine Democratic senators eager to pass this measure met with Sinema for two and a half hours last night and for another hour with Manchin this morning in an attempt to get them to a place where they are willing to change the rules of the Senate filibuster to protect our right to vote. They have not yet found a solution.This evening, Senate Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would bring voting rights legislation to the Senate floor for debate—which Republicans have rejected—by avoiding a Republican filibuster through a complicated workaround. When the House and Senate disagree on a bill (which is almost always), they send it back and forth with revisions until they reach a final version. According to Democracy Docket, after it has gone back and forth three times, a motion to proceed on it cannot be filibustered. So, Democrats in the House are going to take a bill that has already hit the three-trip mark and substitute for that bill the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. They’ll pass the combined bill and send it to the Senate, where debate over it can’t be filibustered.And so, Republican senators will have to explain to the people why they oppose what appear to be common-sense voting rules.—Notes:https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/freedom-vote-acthttps://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/john-lewis-voting-rights-advancement-acthttps://talkingpointsmemo.com/live-blog/senate-schumer-voting-rights-filibuster-sinema-manchinDemocracy Docket @DemocracyDocket🚨BREAKING: Senator Schumer announces plan to push through filibuster and proceed with voting rights legislation using a procedure known as “messages between the Houses” in a caucus memo. Here’s what you need to know🧵👇January 12th 20227,125 Retweets25,023 Likes​​https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/us/cyber-ninjas-arizona-vote-review.htmlEric Michael Garcia @EricMGarciaMcConnell calls Biden “profoundly, profoundly unpresidential” and says “I did not recognize the man at the podium” yesterday when Biden said people who oppose voting rights were akin to Jefferson Davis and Bull ConnorJanuary 12th 202224 Retweets218 LikesDemocracy Docket @DemocracyDocket🚨BREAKING: Senator Schumer announces plan to push through filibuster and proceed with voting rights legislation using a procedure known as “messages between the Houses” in a caucus memo. Here’s what you need to know🧵👇January 12th 20227,125 Retweets25,023 LikesShare
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Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 10, 2022
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Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American

Fri 1/7/2022 1:40 AM

January 6, 2022 Heather Cox Richardson Jan 7

Just before sunrise on a November day in 1861, Massachusetts abolitionist Julia Ward Howe woke up in the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. She got out of bed, found a pen, and began to write about the struggle in which the country was engaged: could any nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” survive, or would such a nation inevitably descend into hierarchies and minority rule?   Howe had faith in America. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” she wrote in the gray dawn. “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on.” She thought of the young soldiers she had seen the day before, huddled around fires in the raw winter weather, ringing the city to protect it from the soldiers of the Confederacy who were fighting to create a nation that rejected the idea that all men were created equal: “I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps, His day is marching on.” Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic became inspiration for the soldiers protecting the United States government. And in a four-year war that took hundreds of thousands of lives, they prevailed. Despite the threats to Washington, D.C., and the terrible toll the war took, they made sure the Confederate flag never flew in the U.S. Capitol.   That changed a year ago today. On January 6, 2021, insurrectionists determined to overturn an election and undermine our democracy carried that flag into the seat of our government. Worse, they did so with the encouragement of former president Trump and members of his party. This morning, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol tweeted out a brief timeline of what happened: At 8:17 in the morning, Trump lied that states wanted to correct their electoral votes and pressured Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to the states. If Pence would cooperate, he tweeted, “WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” Starting at 12:00 noon, Trump spoke for an hour to supporters at the Ellipse, telling them, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country any more.” He urged them to march to the Capitol.  Between 12:52 and 1:49, pipe bombs were found near the Capitol grounds at Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee headquarters. (We learned today that Vice President–elect Kamala Harris, then a senator from California, was in the DNC at the time.) At 1:00, Congress met in joint session to count the certified electoral ballots, confirming Biden as president. Pence began to count the ballots. He refused to reject the ballots Trump wanted thrown out, writing in a letter before the joint session, “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” From 1:00 to 1:13, the mob began to charge the Capitol. Between 1:30 and 1:59, Trump supporters continued to move from the Ellipse to the Capitol, overwhelming the Capitol Police, who were ordered to pull back and request support. Between 2:12 and 2:30, the mob broke into the Capitol building, one man carrying the Confederate battle flag. Both the House and the Senate adjourned, and members began to evacuate their chambers. From 2:24 to 3:13, with the rioters inside the Capitol, Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done…. USA demands the truth!” and then “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement…. Stay peaceful!” (One of Trump’s aides today revealed that the former president did not want to tweet the words “stay peaceful” and was “very reluctant to put out anything when it was unfolding.”) At 4:17, shortly after Biden had publicly called on Trump to end the siege, Trump issued a video insisting that the election was fraudulent but nonetheless telling the mob to “go home. We love you, you’re very special.” At 5:20, the first of the National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol. Law enforcement began to push the insurrectionists out of the building and secure it.  At 8:06, the building was secured. Pence reopened the Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reopened the House.  When the counting of the ballots resumed, 147 Republicans maintained their objections to at least one certified state ballot. Early on the morning of January 7, Congress confirmed that Joe Biden had been elected president with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. It was not a particularly close election: Biden’s victory in the popular vote was more than 7 million. For almost a year, President Joe Biden has tried to weaken Republican insurrectionists by ignoring Trump and working to create a bipartisan majority devoted to ending the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy. But Republican leaders have refused to abandon the Big Lie and have prolonged the pandemic by undercutting attempts to get Americans vaccinated.  Although he continued to pledge that he would always work with Republicans who believe in “the rule of law and not the rule of a single man,” today Biden called out former president Trump and his loyalists for the insurrection. “Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so” acted “not in service of America, but rather in service of one man” who “has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election… because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own Attorney General, his own Vice President, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said: He lost.” Biden urged Americans not to succumb to autocracy, but to come together to defend our democracy, “to keep the promise of America alive,” and to protect what we stand for: “the right to vote, the right to govern ourselves, the right to determine our own destiny.” “This is not a land of kings or dictators or autocrats,” he said. “We’re a nation of laws; of order, not chaos; of peace, not violence. Here in America, the people rule through the ballot, and their will prevails.” “I will stand in this breach,” Biden vowed. “I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy.” He urged Americans to defend the principles of equality and the rule of law. “Together, we’re one nation, under God, indivisible;… today, tomorrow, and forever, at our best, we are the United States of America.” —
Notes: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/06/kamala-harris-was-at-dnc-on-jan-6-when-pipe-bomb-was-found-outside.html
https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/06/politics/trump-tweet-january-6/index.html January 6th Committee @January6thCmte 🧵 On January 6th, 2021, our democracy was on the brink of catastrophe. The American people witnessed a violent attempt to overturn an election that came perilously close to succeeding. Today, we highlight some of the events that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. January 6th 2022 7,051 Retweets23,071 Likes   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-07/donald-trump-urges-us-capitol-protesters-go-home-biden-end-siege/13038224 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/01/06/remarks-by-president-biden-to-mark-one-year-since-the-january-6th-deadly-assault-on-the-u-s-capitol/
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Phil Hands Comic Strip for January 06, 2022
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December 30, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson. Dec 31.
January 6, insurrectionists trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election stormed the U.S. Capitol and sent our lawmakers into hiding. Since President Joe Biden took office on January 20, just two weeks after the attack, we have been engaged in a great struggle between those trying to restore our democracy and those determined to undermine it. Biden committed to restoring our democracy after the strains it had endured. When he took office, we were in the midst of a global pandemic whose official death toll in the U.S. was at 407,000. Our economy was in tatters, our foreign alliances weakened, and our government under siege by insurrectionists, some of whom were lawmakers themselves. In his inaugural address, Biden implored Americans to come together to face these crises. He recalled the Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the attacks of 9/11, noting that “[i]n each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.” “It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do,” he said. He asked Americans to “write an American story of hope, not fear… [a] story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history…. That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived. ”Later that day, he headed to the Oval Office. “I thought there’s no time to wait. Get to work immediately,” he said. Rather than permitting the Trump Republicans who were still insisting Trump had won the election to frame the national conversation, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the Democrats in Congress, ignored them and set out to prove that our government can work for ordinary Americans. Biden vowed to overcome Covid, trying to rally Republicans to join Democrats behind a “war” on the global ​​pandemic. The Trump team had refused to confer during the transition period with the Biden team, who discovered that the previous administration had never had a plan for federal delivery of covid vaccines, simply planning to give them to the states and then let the cash-strapped states figure out how to get them into arms. “What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said to reporters on January 21. Biden immediately invoked the Defense Production Act, bought more vaccines, worked with states to establish vaccine sites and transportation to them, and established vaccine centers in pharmacies across the country. As vaccination rates climbed, he vowed to make sure that 70% of the U.S. adult population would have one vaccine shot and 160 million U.S. adults would be fully vaccinated by July 4th.   At the same time, the Democrats undertook to repair the economy, badly damaged by the pandemic. In March, without a single Republican vote, they passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to jump-start the economy by putting money into the pockets of ordinary Americans. It worked. The new law cut child poverty in half by putting $66 billion into 36 million households. It expanded access to the Affordable Care Act, enabling more than 4.6 million Americans who were not previously insured to get healthcare coverage, bringing the total covered to a record 13.6 million. As vaccinated people started to venture out again, this support for consumers bolstered U.S. companies, which by the end of the year were showing profit margins higher than they have been since 1950, at 15%. Companies reduced their debt, which translated to a strong stock market. In February, Biden’s first month in office, the jobless rate was 6.2%; by December it had dropped to 4.2%. This means that 4.1 million jobs were created in the Biden administration’s first year, more than were created in the 12 years of the Trump and George W. Bush administrations combined. In November, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will repair bridges and roads and get broadband to places that still don’t have it, and negotiations continue on a larger infrastructure package that will support child care and elder care, as well as education and measures to address climate change.Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal report that U.S. economic output jumped more than 7% in the last three months of 2021. Overall growth for 2021 should be about 6%, and economists predict growth of around 4% in 2022—the highest numbers the U.S. has seen in decades. China’s growth in the same period will be 4%, and the eurozone (the member countries of the European Union that use the euro) will grow at 2%. The U.S. is “outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century,” wrote Matthew A. Winkler in Bloomberg, “and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” With more experience in foreign affairs than any president since George H. W. Bush, Biden set out to rebuild our strained alliances and modernize the war on terror. On January 20, he took steps to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords, which his predecessor had rejected. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that Biden’s leadership team believed foreign and domestic policy to be profoundly linked. They promised to support democracy at home and abroad to combat the authoritarianism rising around the world. “The more we and other democracies can show the world that we can deliver, not only for our people, but also for each other, the more we can refute the lie that authoritarian countries love to tell, that theirs is the better way to meet people’s fundamental needs and hopes. It’s on us to prove them wrong,” Blinken said. Biden and Blinken increased the use of sanctions against those suspected of funding terrorism. Declaring it vital to national security to stop corruption in order to prevent illicit money from undermining democracies, Biden convened a Summit for Democracy, where leaders from more than 110 countries discussed how best to combat authoritarianism and corruption, and to protect human rights. Biden began to shift American foreign policy most noticeably by withdrawing from the nation’s twenty-year war in Afghanistan. He inherited the previous president’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, so long as the Taliban did not kill any more Americans. By the time Biden took office, the U.S. had withdrawn all but 2500 troops from the country. He could either go back on Trump’s agreement—meaning the Taliban would again begin attacking U.S. service people, forcing the U.S. to pour in troops and sustain casualties—or get out of what had become a meandering, expensive, unpopular war, one that Biden himself had wanted to leave since the Obama administration. In April, Biden said he would honor the agreement he had inherited from Trump, beginning, not ending, the troop withdrawal on May 1. He said he would have everyone out by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks that took us there in the first place. (He later adjusted that to August 31.) He promised to evacuate the country “responsibly, deliberately, and safely” and assured Americans that the U.S. had “trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel” who would “continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost. ”Instead, the Afghan army crumbled as the U.S began to pull its remaining troops out in July. By mid-August, the Taliban had taken control of the capital, Kabul, and the leaders of the Afghan government fled, abandoning the country to chaos. People rushed to the airport to escape and seven Afghans died, either crushed in the crowds or killed when they fell from planes to which they had clung in hopes of getting out. Then, on August 26, two explosions outside the Kabul airport killed at least 60 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. troops. More than 100 Afghans and 15 U.S. service members were wounded. In the aftermath, the U.S. military conducted the largest human airlift in U.S. history, moving more than 100,000 people without further casualties, and on August 30, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, boarded a cargo plane at Kabul airport, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan was over. (Evacuations have continued on planes chartered by other countries.) With the end of that war, Biden has focused on using financial pressure and alliances rather than military might to achieve foreign policy goals. He has worked with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to counter increasing aggression from Russian president Vladimir Putin, strengthening NATO, while suggesting publicly that further Russian incursions into Ukraine will have serious financial repercussions.In any ordinary time, Biden’s demonstration that democracy can work for ordinary people in three major areas would have been an astonishing success. But these are not ordinary times.Biden and the Democrats have had to face an opposition that is working to undermine the government. Even after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, 147 Republican members of Congress voted to challenge at least one of the certified state electoral votes, propping up the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Many of them continue to plug that lie, convincing 68% of Republicans that Biden is an illegitimate president. This lie has justified the passage in 19 Republican-dominated states of 33 new laws to suppress voting or to take the counting of votes out of the hands of non-partisan officials altogether and turn that process over to Republicans. Republicans have stoked opposition to the Democrats by feeding the culture wars, skipping negotiations on the American Rescue Plan, for example, to complain that the toymaker Hasbro was introducing a gender-neutral Potato Head toy, and that the estate of Dr. Seuss was ceasing publication of some of his lesser-known books that bore racist pictures or themes. They created a firestorm over Critical Race Theory, an advanced legal theory, insisting that it, and the teaching of issues of race in the schools, was teaching white children to hate themselves. Most notably, though, as Biden’s coronavirus vaccination program appeared to be meeting his ambitious goals, Republicans suggested that government vaccine outreach was overreach, pushing the government into people’s lives. Vaccination rates began to drop off, and Biden’s July 4 goal went unmet just as the more contagious Delta variant began to rage across the country. In July, Biden required federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated; in November, the administration said that workers at businesses with more than 100 employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or frequently tested. Rejecting the vaccine became a badge of opposition to the Biden administration. By early December, fewer than 10% of adult Democrats were unvaccinated, compared with 40% of Republicans. This means that Republicans are three times more likely than Democrats to die of Covid, and as the new Omicron variant rages across the country, Republicans are blaming Biden for not stopping the pandemic. Covid has now killed more than 800,000 Americans. While Biden and the Democrats have made many missteps this year—missing that the Afghan government would collapse, hitting an Afghan family in a drone strike, underplaying Covid testing, prioritizing infrastructure over voting rights—the Democrats’ biggest miscalculation might well be refusing to address the disinformation of the Republicans directly in order to promote bipartisanship and move the country forward together. With the lies of Trump Republicans largely unchallenged by Democratic lawmakers or the media, Republicans have swung almost entirely into the Trump camp. The former president has worked to purge from the state and national party anyone he considers insufficiently loyal to him, and his closest supporters have become so extreme that they are openly supporting authoritarianism and talking of Democrats as “vermin. ”Some are talking about a “national divorce,” which observers have interpreted as a call for secession, like the Confederates tried in 1860. But in fact, Trump Republicans do not want to form their own country. Rather, they want to cement minority rule in this one, keeping themselves in power over the will of the majority. It seems that in some ways we are ending 2021 as we began it. Although Biden and the Democrats have indeed demonstrated that our government, properly run, can work for the people to combat a deadly pandemic, create a booming economy, and stop unpopular wars, that same authoritarian minority that tried to overturn the 2020 election on January 6 is more deeply entrenched than it was a year ago. And yet, as we move into 2022, the ground is shifting. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is starting to show what it has learned from the testimony of more than 300 witnesses and a review of more than 35,000 documents. The fact that those closest to Trump are refusing to testify suggests that the hearings in the new year will be compelling and will help people to understand just how close we came to an authoritarian takeover last January. And then, as soon as the Senate resumes work in the new year, it will take up measures to restore the voting rights and election integrity Republican legislatures have stripped away, giving back to the people the power to guard against such an authoritarian coup happening again. It looks like 2022 is going to be a choppy ride, but its outcome is in our hands. As Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who was beaten almost to death in his quest to protect the right to vote, wrote to us when he passed: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.”—
Notes:​​https://khn.org/morning-breakout/covid-deaths-skew-higher-than-ever-in-red-states/https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/581708-unvaccinated-adults-more-than-three-times-as-likely-to-lean-republican-kffhttps://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/04/fact-sheet-biden-administration-announces-details-of-two-major-vaccination-policies/https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/10/why-do-some-still-deny-bidens-2020-victory-heres-what-data-says/https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.htmlThe “vermin” and “national divorce” quotations are tweets from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) but I didn’t want to spread them on social media. They were retweeted by several other Republicans. httpshttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/opinion/john-lewis-civil-rights-america.html
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Looking at all of the “news” regarding Nato, Russia, Afghanistan and Federal Government, there is one connection among all of them: President Biden. Aside from the garbage left by the former guy, we have Russia, the Taliban, Iran and China all vying for word wide attention as they ply their trade in aggression at home and abroad. These being normal things in the grand scheme of things. In the US we have the aftermath of January 6th which has shown how divided we are as a country with a raging pandemic assisted by folks who refuse to get the jabs because of previous harm done by the medical community and mass media mis information. Years ago, when Polio, smallpox, measles and chickenpox were prevalent, there were mandates to get vaccinated, we went willingly without a whimper, and we were better for it (we still have those mandates in order for children to begin school). According to the experts who are studying this onslaught of disease daily, if we have at least 70% of the population vaxxed we stand a chance of curbing it’s spread. We have Political leaders (who have gotten their shots) railing against mandated vaccination while their constituents are falling ill in 100’s and thousands around them. WE have a Congress blocking legislation that would provide work and income for the unemployed while rebuilding infrastructure, but a so-called Tax reform took money from those who made less than $400,000 annually (90% or more of Americans) was passed with no regard to how much the deficit grew. This fiasco was sold as a win for the working class, don’t see that yet. We as voters need to stop the current GOP from gaining power in the Congress or Whitehouse as this will maintain the status quo while doing nothing to improve current conditions HealthWise and financially. This is not to say the Democrats will necessarily do better but on the face of what we see now, they may be an improvement. On the subject of Russia, I am not an ambassador, politician or military expert but I believe it is NATO’s job to deal with Russia, Iran, the Taliban and China. First make Ukraine and Taiwan members of Nato, that will end the Russian and Chinese threats, then impose more severe sanctions on Iran, the Taliban to bring them to the table. This is my take on what should be considered or done.

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NPR

By Domenico MontanaroPublished December 29, 2021 at 4:00 AM CST

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


From the Capitol riot to abortion rights, here are the


From the Capitol riot to abortion rights, here are the top political stories of 2021

NPR

By Domenico MontanaroPublished December 29, 2021 at 4:00 AM CST

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.
A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

This year was supposed to be one of recovery, but it has been far from that.

It began with the insurrection at the Capitol, a second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump and President Biden’s inauguration. As the year went on, Trump continued to lie about the election results while he remained one of the most popular figures among Republicans.

With new coronavirus variants, the deadly pandemic has continued to drag on. And even though the stock market has boomed and unemployment is down, Americans have felt the pinch of rising prices. Biden has paid the political price, ending the year with his approval ratings at their lowest point since he took office.

As we count down to the new year, we asked our readers what they thought were the top political stories of 2021. More than 1,000 responded. Here’s what they picked:

10. Afghanistan withdrawal

As he promised on the campaign trail, Biden ended the United States’ almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the withdrawal of troops was chaotic and deadly with 13 U.S. servicemembers and some 170 Afghans killed in a suicide bombing by the Kabul airport. The U.S. and its Afghan allies didn’t foresee the speed at which the Taliban would take control of the country. It has meant a reversal of years of progress for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and it hurt U.S. credibility abroad and Biden’s credibility at home that he could govern competently.

9. Extreme weather events

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.
The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees on Sept. 21 near California Hot Springs.

Floods, tornadoes, fires and drought — all were too common in 2021. Multiple one-in-1,000-year events aren’t supposed to happen in a single year, but that’s exactly what happened in 2021 as the climate continues to change and legislators appear paralyzed to find solutions. And as global emissions and temperatures rise, the number of weather disasters is likely only to increase.

8. Rise of the far right in the House

This year has seen the Trump wing of the Republican Party continue to be ascendant, led by brash and controversial far-right voices in the House. GOP members like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado seem more in touch with the base than Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The intraparty divisions came to a head with an altered anime video by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that portrayed him killing New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden with knives. The House censured Gosar, but only two Republicans voted with Democrats — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom have already broken with Trump.

7. Biden and Harris take office

President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.
President Biden and Vice President Harris arrive on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15 for a signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill.

They were elected largely in response to Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Trump was one of the most divisive figures in the history of the office, and Biden ran as something of a panacea. And his running mate, Kamala Harris, was a historic pick: the first woman, first Asian American and first Black vice president.

Their supporters saw a brighter day on the horizon, but that would soon dim. Biden was able to get through a COVID-19 relief bill and eventually infrastructure legislation, but Democratic infighting got most of the attention. The right found its footing in opposition to Biden; Biden’s popularity hit its lowest point at the end of the year; and Harris’ favorability ratings tanked. The duo has to hope for a turnaround in the pandemic and for inflation to recede to turn around their prospects.

6. Jan. 6 committee investigation

The Democratic-led congressional committee looking into what happened on Jan. 6 hit its stride toward the end of the year. It issued dozens of subpoenas, held Trump officials who didn’t cooperate in contempt, and read explosive text messages from the former president’s son and Fox News personalities, all urging Trump’s then-chief of staff to get him to call off the insurrection. The clock is ticking on the committee, however, if it hopes to piece together all of what was happening behind the scenes. Republicans are favored to take back control of the House in 2022 and in all likelihood would shut down the investigation.

5. Trump’s continued lies about the election

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, but he was never able to accept that. For a man who built his brand on “winning,” losing was unacceptable. He’s lost plenty in his life. He’s taken businesses into bankruptcy and written off almost $1 billion in losses. But he was always able to spin his way out of those things. That was far more difficult to do with a presidential election. So his only off-ramp was to lie about what happened. Trump has continued to falsely assert that he won when he didn’t and managed to convince millions of his followers of the same — the first time since the Civil War that there wasn’t a peaceful transfer of power with both sides accepting the outcome.

4. New restrictive voting laws

Demonstrators gather outside of the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.
Demonstrators gather outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin during a voting rights rally on July 8.

States have moved in opposite directions this year when it comes to voting laws: Democratic-led states like Nevada or California have codified expansions offered during the pandemic, while Republican-led states have enacted new restrictions on voting. The most notable changes have happened in those GOP-led states, like Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Most of these states enacted an omnibus package with many new restrictions, such as to mail-in voting, all in the name of “restoring election integrity.” Some other key states would have joined them, had they not had Democratic governors veto the legislation.

3. Ongoing coronavirus pandemic

More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Biden was close to declaring independence from the coronavirus in July as a result of widespread distribution of the vaccine and dropping case numbers. But the delta variant led to more infections and more restrictions, and fears began to rise again toward the end of the year with the massive surge in cases due to the omicron variant, which has infected many who are vaccinated.

2. Abortion restrictions and court battles

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 as the justices hear arguments in a key case about a Mississippi abortion law.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in this country appears in jeopardy. Trump’s appointment of three conservative-leaning justices has meant that this year the high court took steps to gut Roe v. Wade. All indications are that it will uphold restrictions, like a 15-week ban in Mississippi, and it has so far let a Texas law stand that has all but shut down access to abortion in the state.

1. Jan. 6 insurrection

No shock here. This was an unprecedented event that capped off a chaotic Trump presidency. A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and marauded through the halls in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial counting of states’ votes that confirmed Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite the violent images broadcast on television, the handful of deaths, 140 members of law enforcement who were injured and more than $1 million in damage as a result, some on the right continue to dismiss what happened, calling it a peaceful protest. So far, more than 700 people have been charged with crimes due to their actions that day.

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December 28, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson
Dec 29.
On the clear, cold morning of December 29, 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, three U.S. soldiers tried to wrench a valuable Winchester away from a young Lakota man. He refused to give up his hunting weapon; it was the only thing standing between his family and starvation. As the men struggled, the gun fired into the sky. Before the echoes died, troops fired a volley that brought down half of the Lakota men and boys the soldiers had captured the night before, as well as a number of soldiers surrounding the Lakotas. The uninjured Lakota men attacked the soldiers with knives, guns they snatched from wounded soldiers, and their fists. As the men fought hand-to-hand, the Lakota women who had been hitching their horses to wagons for the day’s travel tried to flee along the nearby road or up a dry ravine behind the camp. The soldiers on a slight rise above the camp turned rapid-fire mountain guns on them. Then, over the next two hours, troops on horseback hunted down and slaughtered all the Lakotas they could find: about 250 men, women, and children. But it is not December 29 that haunts me. It is the night of December 28, the night before the killing. On December 28, there was still time to avert the Wounded Knee Massacre. In the early afternoon, the Lakota leader Big Foot—Sitanka—had urged his people to surrender to the soldiers looking for them. Sitanka was desperately ill with pneumonia, and the people in his band were hungry, underdressed, and exhausted. They were making their way south across South Dakota from their own reservation in the northern part of the state to the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, they planned to take shelter with another famous Lakota chief, Red Cloud. His people had done as Sitanka asked, and the soldiers escorted the Lakotas to a camp on South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek, inside the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation. For the soldiers, the surrender of Sitanka’s band marked the end of the Ghost Dance Uprising. It had been a tense month. Troops had pushed into the South Dakota reservations in November, prompting a band of terrified men who had embraced the Ghost Dance religion to gather their wives and children and ride out to the Badlands. But, at long last, army officers and negotiators had convinced those Ghost Dancers to go back to Pine Ridge and turn themselves in to authorities before winter hit in earnest. Sitanka’s people were not part of the Badlands group and, for the most part, were not Ghost Dancers. They had fled from their own northern reservation two weeks before when they learned that officers had murdered the great leader Sitting Bull in his own home. Army officers were anxious to find and corral Sitanka’s missing Lakotas before they carried the news that Sitting Bull had been killed to those who had taken refuge in the Badlands. Army leaders were certain the information would spook the Ghost Dancers and send them flying back to the Badlands. They were determined to make sure the two bands did not meet.But South Dakota is a big state, and it was not until late in the afternoon of December 28 that the soldiers finally made contact with Sitanka’s band, and it didn’t go quite as the officers planned: a group of soldiers were watering their horses in a stream when some of the traveling Lakotas surprised them. The Lakotas let the soldiers go, and the men promptly reported to their officers, who marched on the Lakotas as if they were going to war. Sitanka, who had always gotten along well with army officers, assured the commander that his band was on its way to Pine Ridge anyway, and asked his men to surrender unconditionally. They did. By this time, Sitanka was so ill he couldn’t sit up and his nose was dripping blood. Soldiers lifted him into an army ambulance—an old wagon—for the trip to the Wounded Knee camp. His ragtag band followed behind. Once there, the soldiers gave the Lakotas an evening ration, and lent army tents to those who wanted them. Then the soldiers settled into guarding the camp. And they celebrated, for they were heroes of a great war, and it had been bloodless, and now, with the Lakotas’ surrender, they would be demobilized back to their home bases before the South Dakota winter closed in. As they celebrated, more and more troops poured in. It had been a long hunt across South Dakota for Sitanka and his band, and officers were determined the group would not escape them again. In came the Seventh Cavalry, whose men had not forgotten that their former leader George Armstrong Custer had been killed by a band of Lakota in 1876. In came three mountain guns, which the soldiers trained on the Lakota encampment from a slight rise above the camp. For their part, the Lakotas were frightened. If their surrender was welcome and they were going to go with the soldiers to Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, as they had planned all along, why were there so many soldiers, with so many guns? On this day and hour in 1890, in the cold and dark of a South Dakota December night, there were soldiers drinking, singing and visiting with each other, and anxious Lakotas either talking to each other in low voices or trying to sleep. No one knew what the next day would bring, but no one expected what was going to happen. One of the curses of history is that we cannot go back and change the course leading to disasters, no matter how much we might wish to. The past has its own terrible inevitability. But it is never too late to change the future.

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