Stories that defined the US and Canada in 2022 | News
The year 2022 is coming to an end and with it another eventful 365 days in the United States and Canada.
Political drama surrounding former US President Donald Trump continued as the Republican leader came under scrutiny during the 2020 presidential election over his dealings, handling of classified documents and baseless allegations of fraud.
These claims helped fuel an attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters attempted to disrupt the certification of election results.
Throughout 2022, the US Department of Justice pursued legal action against hundreds of participants in the attack, and a House of Representatives committee met to investigate the incidents leading up to it.
But Trump’s successor, Democratic President Joe Biden, faced hurdles of his own in 2022. Democrats endured a close mid-term race in November as high-profile court cases challenged Democratic abortion and immigration policies.
In the north, Canada continued to struggle with a legacy of violence against indigenous peoples. Pope Francis visited the country in July to address the Catholic Church’s role in the violence.
Here are the stories that have shaped the past year in the US and Canada:
Jan. 6 panel recommends criminal charges against Trump
Months of prime-time investigations and hearings culminated in a Democrat-led congressional committee officially recommending criminal charges — including for “instigating, aiding or abetting a riot” — against former President Trump.
While the recommendations are non-binding, the announcement capped a tough year for the ex-president, who has been the subject of countless scrutiny since leaving the White House.
In August, federal agents recovered more than a hundred documents marked as classified from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate 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, although Trump himself was not charged in the case.
Meanwhile, an investigation into possible interference in Georgia’s elections is reportedly drawing to a close. Members of Trump’s inner circle, including attorney Rudy Giuliani, have been called to testify about allegations that the former president and his aides are attempting 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 US Supreme Court appointments have given the nine-strong bank a solid Conservative majority. And in May, a draft opinion was leaked indicating the court was poised to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that enshrined abortion as a constitutionally protected right.
Abortion rights advocates braced themselves for the official decision, which finally came in June.
The ruling sparked a whirlwind of legal challenges and questions as some states sought immediate bans and others moved to codify protections for access to abortion into their constitutions.
By December, 10 states had outright bans on abortion and another eight had suspended bans pending a court challenge, according to a Reuters analysis. Several Conservative-controlled state lawmakers 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 in 2022, with the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive recording 636 mass shootings, defined as single incidents in which four or more victims were shot dead.
One of the most high-profile attacks occurred on May 14, when a racially hate gunman opened fire on a convenience store in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people.
Then, 10 days later, 19 children and two teachers were murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in an attack that mirrored the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
In both school shootings, as in the Buffalo attack, the shooter used a semi-automatic weapon.
Public outcry spurred the passage of the federal government’s first comprehensive gun control package in decades, which strengthened some background checks and closed a loophole in gun purchases.
However, the legislation fell short of major reforms advocates were seeking, including banning military-style “assault weapons” and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm.
The “red wave” of the intermediate exams is missing
Republicans had expected to beat Democrats in November’s US midterm elections, helped by economic fears, a seemingly unpopular Democratic president and historical trends.
Instead, the “red wave” turned out to be nothing more than a wave in which Democrats retained their majority in the Senate and Republicans received a narrower-than-expected majority in the House of Representatives.
Several close gubernatorial elections also fell in favor of Democrats, with Democrats reversing control of the state executive branch in Maryland, Massachusetts and Arizona. However, the incumbent Democratic governor in swing state Nevada lost his re-election bid.
The midterm results questioned the viability of Trump-style politicians in the Republican Party, with the former president’s endorsement of some conspiracy theorists and election deniers seen as detrimental to the party’s overall success.
Pope apologizes to Canada’s indigenous communities
It was a decades-old apology: In July, Pope Francis arrived in Canada to denounce the “evil” of church boarding schools, which from the late 18th century
“I am here because the first step in my pilgrimage of penance among you is to ask your forgiveness again, to tell you again that I am very sorry,” Pope Francis said after 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 have been separated from their families and forced into boarding schools where they have faced widespread physical, psychological and sexual abuse. They have also been prevented from speaking indigenous languages and practicing cultural traditions.
Thousands of children are believed to have died while attending school. In a remark to reporters, Pope Francis confirmed that he believes the hostels are part of a “genocide” against tribal peoples.
Elon Musk buys Twitter
Tech billionaire Elon Musk took over the reins of social media giant Twitter in October as part of a $44 billion buyout he couldn’t walk out of.
His first few 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 get blue check verification.
In the face of backlash against his leadership, Musk released a Twitter poll in December asking users if he should resign. After 57.5 percent of those polled voted in favour, he announced he would resign as soon as he “finds someone stupid enough to do the job”.
Brittney Griner released from Russian custody
Arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, US basketball star Brittney Griner has become a symbol of deteriorating US-Russia relations.
Russian authorities arrested Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association (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 for drug offenses.
The US State Department condemned her detention as “wrongful” and vowed to make Griner’s return to the US a “priority.”
Months of negotiations culminated in December when Griner was released in a prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in the US for “supporting terrorism.”
Critics said the deal was uneven as the US failed to secure the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, whom Russia has accused of espionage, although the US State Department said he was “convicted of false charges”.
Hurricane Ian hits the southeastern United States
Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, swept across parts of the southern United States and made landfall in Florida in late September before moving on to the Carolinas.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission attributed 144 deaths to the hurricane through December 9, making it the deadliest storm to hit the state since 1935.
With its strong winds and flooding, the storm is 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 locked tractor trailer in Texas
In a gripping reminder of the desperate journeys of migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter the US, 53 people died in June after being dumped in a muggy tractor trailer in San Antonio, Texas.
The incident was one of the deadliest human trafficking tragedies at the US-Mexico border in recent history. It came as Democratic President Biden’s administration was grappling with an increase in border crossings.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced it would repeal Title 42, a controversial policy that allowed border officials to turn away asylum seekers as a public health measure — against COVID-19.
Title 42, asserted in 2020 under then-President Trump, has nevertheless remained in effect, and some lawmakers have sued to keep the policy.
In November, a US district court judge ruled that the Biden administration had five weeks to complete Title 42.
NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully changes the asteroid’s orbit
It was a historic test of mankind’s ability to avert doom, and the US space agency passed it.
NASA sent the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) on Sept. 26, which smashed into the asteroid Dimorphos, causing the giant cosmic object to change orbit.
Although this space rock posed no threat, the test was hailed as proof of concept that humanity might have a chance if an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth.