The year 2022 is drawing to a close and with it another 365 eventful days across the United States and Canada.
The political drama surrounding former US President Donald Trump continued as the Republican leader faced scrutiny over his business dealings, handling of classified documents and baseless allegations of fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
Those claims helped fuel an attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters tried to disrupt the certification of election results.
Throughout 2022, the US Department of Justice took legal action against hundreds of participants in the attack, and a House committee convened to investigate the events leading up to the attack.
But Trump’s successor, Democratic President Joe Biden, faced obstacles of his own in 2022. Democrats went through a close midterm race in November, while high-profile court cases challenged Democratic policy on abortion and immigration. .
To the north, Canada continued to grapple with a legacy of violence against indigenous peoples. Pope Francis visited the country in July in an attempt to address the role of the Catholic Church in that violence.
Here are the stories that defined the last year in the US and Canada:
January 6 Panel Recommends Criminal Charges Against Trump
Months of investigation and prime-time hearings culminated in a Democratic-led congressional committee formally recommending criminal charges, including for “inciting, aiding, or aiding insurrection,” against former President Trump.
While the recommendations are not binding, the announcement capped a difficult year for the former president, who has been the subject of countless investigations since leaving the White House.
In August, federal agents recovered more than 100 documents marked classified from the Trump estate at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
And in early December, a New York court found the Trump Organization guilty of tax fraud, though Trump himself was not charged in the case.
Meanwhile, an investigation into possible election interference in Georgia is reportedly drawing to a close. Members of Trump’s inner circle, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were called to testify about allegations that the former president and his aides tried to influence the state’s vote count.
Trump recently announced that he intends to run for president again in 2024.
Repeal of Roe v Wade
Recent appointments to the US Supreme Court have left the nine-member caucus with a solid conservative majority. And in May, a draft opinion was leaked indicating the court was prepared to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that upheld abortion as a constitutionally protected right.
Abortion rights advocates braced for the official decision, which finally came in June.
The ruling kicked off a whirlwind of legal challenges and questions, as some states sought to instantly enact bans and others moved to codify protections for abortion access into their constitution.
As of December, according to a Reuters analysis, 10 states had banned abortions outright and eight others had paused bans pending court challenges. Several conservative-controlled state legislatures are expected to seek further restrictions in the new year.
Gun murders in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York
High rates of gun violence in the US continued into 2022, with the non-profit research archive Gun Violence Archive recording 636 mass shootings, defined as single incidents in which four or more victims were shot.
One of the most high-profile attacks occurred on May 14, when a gunman motivated by racist hatred opened fire at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people.
Then, 10 days later, 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, an attack that echoed the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
In both school shootings, as in the Buffalo attack, the gunman had used a semi-automatic weapon.
The public outcry prompted passage of the first substantial federal gun control package in decades, which strengthened some background checks and closed a loophole on gun purchases.
But the legislation fell short of the broader reforms advocates sought, including a ban on military-style “assault” weapons and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm.
The ‘red wave’ of partial exams does not materialize
Republicans had hoped to defeat Democrats in the US midterm elections in November, buoyed by economic distress, a seemingly unpopular Democratic president and historical trends.
Instead, the “red wave” turned out to be nothing more than a wave, with Democrats holding their majority in the Senate and Republicans getting a narrower-than-expected majority in the House of Representatives.
Several close gubernatorial races also swung in favor of the Democrats, with Democrats shifting control of the state executive branch in Maryland, Massachusetts and Arizona. However, the incumbent Democratic governor of the swing state of Nevada lost his re-election bid.
The midterm results cast doubt on the viability of Trump-style politicians in the Republican Party moving forward, and the former president’s endorsement of some conspiracy theorists and election deniers was seen as hurting the party’s overall success.
The Pope apologizes to the indigenous communities of Canada
It was an apology that had been decades in the making: In July, Pope Francis arrived in Canada to denounce the “evil” of church-run residential schools that served as institutions of forced assimilation for First Nations, Inuit and Metis children. from the end of the 19th century.
“I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is to ask your forgiveness again, to tell you once again that I am deeply sorry,” Pope Francis said, following a visit to the former site of the Ermineskin Indian Residential School. . in Maskwacis, Alberta.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were separated from their families and forced into residential schools, where they were subjected to widespread physical, psychological and sexual abuse. They were also prevented from speaking indigenous languages and practicing cultural traditions.
Thousands of children are believed to have died while attending schools. Speaking to reporters, Pope Francis confirmed that he felt the residential schools were part of a “genocide” against indigenous peoples.
Elon Musk buys Twitter
As part of a $44 billion buyout he couldn’t get out of, tech billionaire Elon Musk took the reins at social media giant Twitter in October.
His first months as CEO were chaotic. Musk oversaw a mass layoff at the company and enacted controversial policies, including changes to content moderation and a paid service for accounts to receive blue check verification.
Facing backlash to his leadership, Musk posted a poll on Twitter in December asking users if he should step down. After 57.5 percent of those polled voted for him, he announced that he would resign as soon as he found “someone dumb enough to take the job.”
Brittney Griner released from Russian detention
Arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, American basketball star Brittney Griner became an emblem of the collapse of US-Russia relations.
Russian authorities arrested Griner, a WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, after they said they found cannabis oil in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on drug charges.
The US State Department denounced his detention as “unfair” and vowed to make Griner’s return to the US a “priority.”
Months of negotiations culminated in December with Griner’s release in a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year US prison sentence for “aiding terrorism.”
Critics said the trade was lopsided, with the US failing to secure the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, whom Russia accused of spying, though the US State Department said he was “convicted of false charges”.
Hurricane Ian hits the southeastern US.
Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, battered parts of the southern US and made landfall in Florida in late September before continuing into the Carolinas.
The Florida Commission of Medical Examiners attributed 144 deaths to the hurricane as of December 9, making it the deadliest storm to hit the state since 1935.
With its strong winds and flooding, the storm was estimated to have caused at least $50 billion in damage. Experts warn that hurricanes will increase in intensity and duration as a result of climate change.
Asylum seekers die in closed trailer in Texas
In a stark reminder of the desperate journeys of migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter the US, 53 people died after being left inside a sweltering tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, in June.
The incident was one of the deadliest human trafficking tragedies along the US-Mexico border in recent history. It came as the administration of Democratic President Biden grappled with an increase in border crossings.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced it would rescind Title 42, a controversial policy that allowed border agents to turn away asylum seekers as a health measure against COVID-19.
Invoked in 2020, under then-President Trump, Title 42 has nonetheless remained in effect, and some lawmakers have filed lawsuits to keep the policy in place.
In November, a US district court judge ruled that the Biden administration had five weeks to end Title 42. But in December, with days remaining on the policy’s expiration, the US Supreme Court The US issued a temporary order to preserve it.
NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully alters asteroid’s trajectory
It was a historic test of humanity’s ability to avoid doom, and the US space agency surpassed it.
NASA sent out the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) that slammed into asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, causing the massive cosmic object to change its orbit.
While that space rock posed no threat, the test was hailed as proof of concept that should an asteroid be on a collision course with Earth, humanity might have a fighting chance.
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