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2021: Year in Review

COVID-19 dominated another year of our lives, impacting America's health, work, politics and culture. But there were signs of hope: protective vaccines, reopened businesses, people getting on with their lives under a "new normal." Beyond the pandemic, there was major news about Afghanistan, the economy, elections, the Supreme Court, technology, space exploration and much more. Join us as we review the year's top stories in news, business, sports, entertainment and all the rest.

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Year in Review
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    • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
2021: Year in Review
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    2021: The Year's Biggest Headlines

    2021: The Year's Biggest Headlines

    By Year in Review

    In some ways, 2021 felt like a terrible repeat of 2020. COVID-19 still dominates our lives. Last year's election still looms large in our politics. Climate change and gun violence take up too many headlines. New this year was the end of America's longest war (in a most chaotic fashion) and the first successful court challenges to Roe v. Wade in nearly five decades. There was some justice for George Floyd but a shocking rise in anti-Asian hate. Here are our picks for the top stories of the year.

    2021: Year in COVID-19

    2021: Year in COVID-19

    The world had high hopes as the pandemic entered its second year with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, AstraZeneca vaccines becoming readily available...at least for those in wealthy nations. But COVID-19 is far from eradicated. More than 5 million people worldwide have died to date, a "devastating milestone." In the U.S., President Biden fights to get Americans vaccinated but his mandates face stiff opposition. And now there's an omicron variant to worry about.

    2021: Year in Politics

    2021: Year in Politics

    It was another tumultuous year for American politics, starting with the disgraceful and violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president two weeks later and enjoyed a brief period of popularity as vaccines rolled out and Washington seemed calmer. But by the end of the year, Biden is deeply unpopular as inflation soars and COVID-19 sticks around. Recap the top stories about elections, legislation, the Supreme Court, political scandals and more.

    2021: Year in Climate Change

    2021: Year in Climate Change

    It was a whirlwind year thanks in no small part to the climate crisis, as stalled legislative progress cast a shadow on the United Nation's COP26 summit and rising greenhouse gas emissions drove extreme weather events across the globe. While plenty of ambitious efforts to limit global heating missed the mark in 2021, there were still bright spots, including a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 and a record-setting year for renewable energy.

    2021: Year in Goodbyes

    2021: Year in Goodbyes

    As the year draws to a close we remember the lives and extraordinary careers of some of the most notable figures we've lost. Find out why former Republican leader Bob Dole was so well respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Relive some of the unforgettable moments of gothic writer Anne Rice and look back on the unmistakable mark Larry King made on TV and pop culture.

    2021: Year in Good News

    2021: Year in Good News

    Following a tough year of lockdowns, postponed events and financial instability, the nation saw Kamala Harris make history as the first female and Black, South Asian person to become vice president of the United States. The much-anticipated Tokyo Olympics and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade returned. Plus, Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday and Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship came to an end. Revisit the feel-good news of this year and catch up on some you may have missed.

    2021: Year in Forgotten Stories

    2021: Year in Forgotten Stories

    With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, it's easy to have overlooked some of this year's other notable events. Consider the plight of the Afghan people under Taliban rule and the un-reunited families separated at the Mexico-U.S. border. Plenty of news slipped under the radar, such as the rise in anti-Asian hate, Canada reckoning with its shameful Indigenous past and the continuing debate over the cause of the tragic Florida condo collapse. Here's a reminder of 2021's forgotten stories.

    2021: Year in Tech

    2021: Year in Tech

    Massive cyberattacks on critical U.S. infrastructure and institutions, chip shortages, another major Facebook scandal, and Bitcoin's skyrocketing value are all some of the stories that defined tech's year. Learn more about these top stories along with the big CEO departures, Apple's antitrust woes, and more.

    2021: Year in Space

    2021: Year in Space

    Humanity really reached the heavens this year, landing multiple spacecrafts on Mars and one asteroid. Elon Musk's SpaceX made history launching its first crewed mission into space, only to be followed by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. But amid all this success, many wonder whether the money these billionaires are spending on space travel would be better spent improving things here on Earth. Learn more about our continued interest in what's beyond our planet.

    2021: Year in Business

    2021: Year in Business

    There was great optimism about the economy in January as COVID-19 vaccines rolled out and businesses started to reopen. But huge supply chain woes and worker shortages quickly became apparent, even as unemployment dropped significantly. Inflation soared as prices for just about everything rose. Working from home and shopping online remain the norm for many. Cryptocurrencies and meme stocks were all the rage. Through it all, the stock market soared for another year, reaching new highs.

    2021: Year in Sports

    2021: Year in Sports

    After a year of delays and cancelations, sports returned to a near-full slate of memorable moments, starting with Nick Saban’s record seventh college football title. From there, the storylines took us to Asia, the United States and back again. Olympians triumphed in Tokyo. The "Greek Freak" led Milwaukee to an NBA title. But as the year wound down, the world still sought answers about Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, and politics cast a pall over the fast-approaching Beijing Games.

    2021: Year in Celebrity

    2021: Year in Celebrity

    From cannibalism and dognapping to Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend's testicles, this year really did have it all. If one story dominated, it was Britney Spears' ongoing — and ultimately successful — bid to have her 13-year conservatorship overturned. As Spears turned 40 in December, she said in a video: "I'm just grateful honestly for each day, and being able to have the keys to my car and being able to be independent and feel like a woman."

    2021: Year in Movies & TV

    2021: Year in Movies & TV

    The entertainment industry continued to deal with the pandemic, with movie theaters struggling and blockbusters failing to perform at the box office. One exception: "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which broke the record for the biggest Labor Day opening ever. It was a triumph for the first Marvel movie with a majority Asian cast, in a year when AAPI representation was a hot topic. On TV, there was nice “Ted Lasso,” nasty “Succession,” and, of course, the mighty "Squid Game."

    2021: Year in Music & Culture

    2021: Year in Music & Culture

    Swedish super band Abba released their first album in almost 40 years, Adele came back with a bang, and Lil Nas X was intent on world domination. Live music continued to be off the menu for most, but performers started to consider a new venue: The metaverse. Tech made inroads in the art world too, as everyone got obsessed with NFTs. In September, Broadway theater returned after its longest ever shutdown. And one big question captured the literati: Who is the Bad Art Friend?

    2021: Year in Food

    2021: Year in Food

    As the pandemic continued, we looked at food not just in terms of the things we eat, but how it's connected to culture, politics, science and more. Sustainability was a major conversation: More restaurants embraced vegan cuisine, and we all debated how to cut our food waste. Meanwhile, one in four Americans faced food insecurity as prices look set to rise even further come 2022. And everyone watched Netflix's "High on the Hog," an exploration of how Black food is American food.

    2021: Year in Photography

    2021: Year in Photography

    On January 6, photographers captured something we’d never thought we’d see: the storming of the Capitol. The pandemic continued for another grueling year; its award-winning pictures reminding us of photography’s vital role in playing witness to history. Wildfire imagery from Greece captured orange skies, grief, and our shared climate future. Revisit the year in pictures and the stories and people behind the stunning shots.

    2021: Year in Travel

    2021: Year in Travel

    The pandemic cost the global travel industry $2 trillion this year alone, but nevertheless we persisted. We found creative ways to safely vacation, ditching hotels and cruises in favor of adventure travel, RVs and rentals. We even learned a new form of business traveling: Workcations — because why not Zoom from the beach? Beyond COVID-19 and its constant twists and turns, sustainability was top of mind in travel.

    2021: Year in Shopping

    2021: Year in Shopping

    Pandemic buying habits continued to drive online purchases, as shoppers opted for more convenient experiences using smart technology. Supply chain challenges led to a scarcity of items and fewer discounts, impacting Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending and causing higher rates of inflation. Look back at the year in retail and some of the popular products of 2021. We may receive a commission on qualifying purchases.

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