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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are U.S. lawmakers more worried about protecting gun rights than children? | ticker VIEWS
Yet another mass shooting in America, and the world is reeling because change is unfortunately unlikely
As a human being, as a woman, as a Journalist, as a daughter, and as a friend, I was wholeheartedly saddened to hear of the Texas mass shooting in Uvalde, at Robb Elementary School.
I was, and still am angry, sad, and horrified, but unfortunately, not surprised.
Guns are woven into the fabric of America, in particular, Texas.
It’s becoming clearer after each senseless murder, that lawmakers are more worried about protecting their gun rights than they’re innocent people.
Enough is enough.
It’s almost ten years since the Sandy Hook mass shooting where 20 children were murdered.
You would assume that particular massacre would’ve been enough to ignite change in American gun rights, but it wasn’t.
Now, another group of children has been slaughtered in their classrooms. So what is the threshold before something is done?
"The United States has determined that owning guns has costs and one of those costs is human lives… Right now the lives of no one matters…not even our children."— TICKER NEWS (@tickerNEWSco) May 25, 2022
– @meganpratz speaks about the reality of America following the #TexasSchoolMassacre #Uvalde pic.twitter.com/SjdtbKmuzS
Children shouldn’t have to live in fear. The kids of Uvalde were just two days out from summer vacation, where they should be just that- kids.
Now, the selfish and barbaric actions of one 18-year-old individual, who had easy access to an assault rifle, stole their futures away.
Moments of silence are not enough, condolences are not enough.
This does not happen as frequently in any other country in the world. So why is the political appetite for change in America so low?
Gun law overhaul
Here’s what’s being discussed in Congress, in regards to making a change to gun rights.
Currently, federal law does not require unlicensed gun sellers to conduct background checks prior to the purchase of arms.
Dubbed the H.R. 8 bill, it would step up the required background checks before a gun is purchased.
However, it continues to be stalled in the Senate, where it needs ten Republican votes to get through.
It’s now in the process of getting on the upper chamber’s calendar, with many pushing for an urgent vote, even if it’s doomed to fail by Republicans.
They argue that background checks tarnish gun rights and will take away guns.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will also push for a gun safety bill to be voted on in June.
The proposed bill would “allow family members and law enforcement to obtain an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or to others by a federal court.”
Red flag laws are also in place, but they prove ineffective far too frequently.
They only alert a problem if someone has a criminal history or has been previously deemed mentally ill.
Meaning cases like the 18-year-old suspect in the Uvalde mass shooting slipped through the cracks.
Most regulations on gun rights vary from state to state, because gun regulation cannot pass at the Federal level, with no majority support.
Therefore, it leaves gun use and availability up to the leaders of each state.
At this point in time, gun control will not stop every horrific attack, but it will make a difference.
If you keep doing the same process in life, you will get the same outcome. A mass shooting nearly every week in America is surely enough reason to make a change?
National Rifle Association meeting
And most distastefully, the National Rifle Association convention is scheduled for this weekend in Houston, Texas.
Attendees at this convention are prohibited from “bringing firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items.”
So no guns are allowed at the NRA meeting but an 18-year-old can walk into an elementary school with an assault rifle and massacre innocent people.
The irony in that. As the NRA essentially continues to hold America hostage.
Joe and Albo already talk the same language | ticker VIEWS
The morning after the election here, President Joe Biden, in Seoul on the first leg of his first major trip to Asia to engage with the US’s principal allies in the Indo-Pacific, was on the phone to Anthony Albanese:
“President Biden spoke with Australian Prime Minister-Designate Anthony Albanese to congratulate him on his election as Australia’s 31st prime minister. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ steadfast commitment to the U.S-Australia alliance and his intent to work closely with the new government to make it stronger still. President Biden expressed deep appreciation for the Prime Minister-Designate’s own early commitment to the alliance, reflected in his decision to travel almost immediately to Tokyo to attend the Quad Summit—a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. President Biden looks forward to a close partnership between our administrations that will benefit the American people, the Australian people, and the world, starting with consequential meetings in Japan this week.”
Bruce Wolpe on ticker NEWS
The foundations of the alliance are exceptionally strong, capped last year with the announcement of the AUKUS strategic partnership.
At any summit meeting between leaders, or when they get on a video call, what becomes so important is the resonance, the chemistry between them.
That deeper personal chemistry has informed the quality of the ties between several prime ministers and presidents: Bob Hawke and George H W Bush in the first Gulf War to liberate Kuwait; Paul Keating and Bill Clinton to establish APEC; John Howard and George W Bush on 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US-Australia free trade agreement; Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama to get Australia into the G20; Julia Gillard and Obama stationing Marines in Darwin and the pivot to Asia; Scott Morrison and Donald Trump in alliance against China and exempting Australia from Trump’s trade wars.
It has not been all sweetness and light: Tony Abbott and Barack Obama famously disagreed on global warming, especially on its endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef. Their discussions were chilly while the globe warmed.
The new PM’s relationship with Biden will have a special dimension.
In Anthony Albanese, Biden will see someone very close to his life experience and values
- They both come from poorer backgrounds, and they know what it means for families to pull themselves up.
- They are both Catholic.
- They both strongly support unions and good union jobs. Biden is pro-union, pro-worker and pro-manufacturing. So is Albanese.
- They are both huge on infrastructure. It is Biden’s strongest achievement in Congress so far, and Albanese served as Infrastructure Minister for 6 years. They can talk planes, trains and broadband.
- Albanese has taken a Biden-style agenda to his campaign. Biden won office with Build Back Better and Albanese’s hopes are with A Better Future.
- They both support policies that have at their core helping working families not only with higher wages and good jobs, but also helping them shoulder the cost of living for childcare, education, medicines, and care for seniors.
- Labor is simpatico with Biden on climate, electric vehicles and renewable energy. In fact, an Albanese government can get more enacted on climate than Biden can in this or the next Congress.
Joe and Anthony will find themselves talking the same language. They already do. When they shake hands, the Prime Minster will say, “Everyone calls me Albo.” And Joe will.
At the end of the Tokyo talks, we should expect Biden to invite Albo to Washington, and for the PM to invite the President to come to Australia. They will want to spend more time together.
Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action
Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently
Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.
They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’
Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action.
However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.
Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.
A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.
Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.
Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?
Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.
This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.
The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.
The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.
The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.
Does the West need to fear China’s presence in the pacific?
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