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2021: A look at some of the biggest stories of the year

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2021 has been a year that many people would rather forget than remember, but for others it was the year that was

Many of us went into 2021 full of hope and ambition. Coming off the back of 2020 – the year when COVID was born – there was hope that a global vaccine rollout would allow people to get on with their lives and do the things we love.

But, as the world learnt about the different strains of COVID-19, and we began to see how rapidly a single variant such as Delta spread like wildfire, it became evident to us that 2021 was pretty much 2020, part two.

Besides the fact that the pandemic was dominating the headlines around the world, there were plenty of other big events that will be remembered.

COVID continues to dominate much of the world / Image: File

January 6 Capitol Riots

On January 6, 2021, as Congress convened to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory, hundreds of protesters who were in Washington DC for the “Save America” rally violently breached the U.S. Capitol building – storming it in protest.

Rioters made it as far as the Senate Chamber, killing one Capitol police officer, and injuring more than 140 others.

The insurrectionists, comprised largely of pro-Trump supporters, caused roughly $1.5 million in damages, according to The Washington Post.

At the time, then-President Donald Trump took to social media to claim that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, after losing to Joe Biden.

Rather than encouraging a peaceful transfer of power—a fundamental tenet of American democracy – President Donald Trump stoked the flames of insurrection with rhetoric about the election being fraudulent, stolen, and called on supporters to take action.

Those actions quickly saw Trump blocked off social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which many say he used as a platform to ‘incite the January 6 violence.’

Since the riot, ongoing investigations remain, as well as a Congressional Committee Hearing, which heard evidence provided by close allies of former President Donald Trump.

On January 13, with one week remaining in his term, Trump was impeached— for an unprecedented second time—for “incitement of insurrection.”

More than 700 people involved in the riots have been charged with various crimes so far.

Hundreds took to the Capitol on Jan 6 / Image: File

President Joe Biden’s Inauguration

The inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20 marked a transition of power, following the 2020 U.S. election.

The transition of power changed the political rhetoric from “America First” to “America is Back.”

Former US President Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s victory of 306 electoral votes. That’s when his supporters – with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud – used as a rallying cry for the Capitol insurrection one week prior.

Vice President Kamala Harris makes history

Biden’s inauguration was historic, not only because a transition of power was achieved despite efforts to subvert this democratic norm, but also because Kamala Harris became the first woman and first person of African-American and South Asian descent to serve in the role of vice-president of the United States.

Myanmar coup

Mass protests have been taking place across Myanmar since the military seized control on 1 February.

Elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy party had been among those detained.

Hundreds of people, including children, have since been killed as violent protest against the military junta poured onto the streets.

The military is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency.

It seized control on 1 February following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by a landslide.

The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.

The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.

The coup took place as a new session of Parliament was set to open.

Suu Kyi has since been jailed after being convicted with multiple offences.

People stand on a barricade during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar March 27, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

Supply chains halt as the EverGiven ship gets stuck

In March, a massive cargo ship carrying more than 18,000 containers of consumer goods, got suck in the Suez Canal after over-turning.

For a long six days, the EverGiven ship blocked the passage of more than 400 other ships, stalling an already-tenuous global supply chain.

Analysts have estimated that the ripple effect was 60-day shipping delays for roughly $60 billion worth of products.

Many experts say that the costly error shone a light on the outdated infrastructure of freight shipping.

A short time after the ship was freed, it was seized by the Suez Canal Authority and held for more than 100 days as compensation negotiations ensued.

The sum demanded by the Canal Authority was initially $900 million, but that total figure was later lowered to $550 million.

EverGiven’s owners as well as its insurers, and Egyptian authorities reached a settlement on July 7, the terms of which were not disclosed.

The ship was suck for almost a week / Image: File

COVID vaccines rollout across the world

By May 1st – a year-and-a-half into the COVID pandemic – much of the world was beginning to receive shipments of the COVID vaccine by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Nations like the United States, Israel, UK and much of Europe began administering jabs, as the rollout quickly began the ticket back to normality.

The technology behind the vaccine was highly praised. Both Pfizer and Moderna use a novel mRNA technology to create their vaccines, while AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine uses more traditional, pre-existing information-delivery technology.

It was a milestone in the pandemic that many met with hope, relief, and, for some, hesitancy.

With the introduction of the COVID jabs, reported cases slowly began to decline as well as the hospitalisation and death rate across many parts of the world.

Mary Lou Russler receives a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a community vaccination event in Martinsburg, West Virginia, U.S., March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The billionaire space race

Who could forget the billionaire space race – an event which made history and looked to the future of space travel.

Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson all jockeyed for headlines relating to private space travel and astro tourism this year.

On July 11, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson became the first civilian aboard his own rocket ship to reach space.

Mr Branson reached an altitude of 53 miles above ground.

Tokyo Olympics

Who could forget the biggest sporting event of the year.

After being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics finally went ahead in Japan in July through to August.

It was a revolution in the way people consumed the Games – with more viewers streaming the event than ever before – some even reporting more eyes on mobile than TV free-to-air screens.

Spectators weren’t allowed to attend the Games in-person due to COVID.

Lamont Marcell Jacobs took out the blue- ribbon event, the 100m Mens Final as well as the high jump having two gold medallists.

It was the first joint-Olympic podium in Athletics since 1912.

Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo Olympics / Image: File

US withdraws from Afghanistan

On August 31 – US President Joe Biden, along with his administration withdrew the last of its troops from Afghanistan, following on with a deal reached by the Trump Administration to end the 20-year war.

The decision copped mixed emotions. Reports state that while the majority of Americans  agree that withdrawal from the country was the right decision, 40% of people believe it was handled poorly.

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The withdrawal of the US military saw the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan in just under 10 days – even before American troops had completed their evacuation.

The militant group seized control of Kabul on August 15.

In a White House Statement, President Joe Biden adamantly defended the decision and the withdrawal operation.

Taliban regained control of Afghanistan / Image: File

Violent protests erupt in world’s most locked down city

In September, Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne turned into a city of protest.

Police and demonstrators clashed following an announcement by the Victorian state government that construction workers will be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine in order to continue working.

A protest outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) headquarters in Melbourne turned violent.

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Protesters smashed glass windows, threw projectiles and caused damage to the building, prompting the deployment of riot police.

In particular, the Victorian headquarters of Australia’s major construction union, the CFMEU was vandalised.

The protests went on over multiple days, and saw thousands of police deployed to the city – including officers from the riot squad.

Construction workers protest in Melbourne over vaccine mandate / Image: File

Tennis tournaments in China scrapped amid concern for Peng Shuai

In November, the Women’s Tennis Association announced that it will immediately suspend all tennis tournaments in China as concerns grew for the safety and wellbeing of Peng Shuai.

The tennis star went missing after posting a sexual assault allegation against a top Chinese government official.

FILE PHOTO: A file photo of China’s Peng Shuai serving during a match at the Australian Open on January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Ghislaine Maxwell trial

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell began her trial after being arrested in 2019 in relation to sexual abuse allegations involving herself and Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, 59, is accused of recruiting and grooming four teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. She has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking and other crimes.

The federal court jury in Manhattan began deliberations late on Monday December 20 after three weeks of emotional testimony from four accusers.

Maxwell’s lawyers have argued that she is being “scapegoated” for Epstein’s crimes because the globetrotting investor – Maxwell’s former boyfriend and employer – took his own life in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell / Image: File

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Helicopter carrying Iran’s President Raisi crashes

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A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed on Sunday as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog.

The official said the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash”, which happened on the way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi takes off, May 19, 2024. Ali Hamed Haghdoust/IRNA/WANA via REUTERS

State TV quoted an official as saying at least one passenger and one crew member had been in contact with rescuers. It also said the helicopter had been found, though Iran’s Red Crescent denied this report.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme, sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs. #iran #trending

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Why Australia is becoming the new home of the Hollywood blockbuster

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Australia’s multimillion-dollar campaign to attract Hollywood productions to its shores appears to be paying off.

The allure of Australia lies not only in its picturesque locations but also in its competitive financial incentives.

The government offers generous rebates and tax breaks to international productions, making it an attractive proposition for filmmakers looking to maximise their budgets.

Despite the recent intake of Hollywood productions down under such as ‘The Fall Guy’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’, Aussie independents are still finding the space to carve their own creative path.

Rob Fantozzi joined the program to discuss the latest in Hollywood, and showcased his own upcoming project – ‘Omerta‘. #featured

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Portal between countries shut down after international flashing

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An international video portal has been forced to shut down after an OnlyFans model reportedly flashed passersby from across the globe.

On this episode of Ahron and Mike Live – Which would you prefer; pay rise or work perks, an international portal closes, the military reveal a submarine stingray and are you on a top or bottom burger bun?

Ticker’s Ahron Young & Mike Loder discuss. #featured #trending

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