Month-by-Month

This section is a series of monthly snapshots that will grow into a contextual narrative of each year, covering developments in politics at home and abroad, media and Baseball; all leading up to how the playing field will look for the 2024 elections.

Partly inspired by Amy Siskind’s book The List, or Matt Kiser’s WTF Just Happened Today, the idea is to provide a quick memory-jogger at a time when – even though the previous administration has gone – events continue to unfold with alarming speed.

Want to know what happened today or yesterday? Go to the Latest page

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December 2022

Joel Pett for the Lexington Herald-Leader

With delightful geeky enthusiasm, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced an  “historic breakthrough” in nuclear fusion that could, somewhere down the road, mark a milestone in clean energy. Pretty far down the road, though, since this project produced about as much energy as is needed to boil a couple of gallons of water. But after decades of work, it is the concept of a “net gain” in energy generation that is genuinely – potentially – worth celebrating.

In other topics with the heat of a thousand suns, the impending implosion of Twitter appeared to actually be on the verge of being real.

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Read my Q&A with technology researcher Alina Utrata on Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter here.

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Meanwhile, our endless political division continued with the release of both Donald Trump’s tax information  and the Jan 6th Committee final report, showing the sheer breadth of support for the attempted insurrection among elected GOP officials.

Taking a leaf from the former president’s playbook, defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake lost a legal attempt to overturn her election result but said her “fight” would continue; while Trump himself released a set of digital trading cards. Because of course…

Congress did, however, manage to pass a $1.7trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the government running, but there looks to be plenty more trouble ahead next month when it comes to renewing the debt ceiling. The ever-stranger story of George Santos continued to unfold as he ended up admitting his life story was not as he’d represented it during his election campaign, but that he still intends to serve his term in Congress. No-one in any position of responsibility in the GOP seems too concerned.

As the fallout from the collapse of crypto market FTX created yet more first world problems for many dudes, SBF was eventually extradited from the Bahamas. What happens to his political donations seems to be something that needs some scrutiny…?

As Russia continued its attacks on infrastructure in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy visited Washington amid hovering doubts about the future of funding to arm Ukrainian forces when the Republicans take over the House next month.

China wrestled with a new, widespread Covid surge, with fears over new variants and concern about unrestricted travel to neighbouring countries.

Finally, a remarkable World Cup final ended a win-win tournament for Qatar and Fifa.

Sadly, prominent US soccer journalist Grant Wahl passed away while covering the tournament.

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Read my post-WC – and 2022’s final – Q&A with Baltimore-based soccer writer and betting strategist Ian Nicholas Quillen here.

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In journalism this month, a one-day strike at the New York Times played havoc with Wordle streaks; while an uncertain situation for newspaper staffers everywhere was summed up by the Washington Post’s announcement of job cuts and the shuttering of its Sunday magazine.

Fox chief Rupert Murdoch’s deposition in the Dominion voting machines case was delayed, and Trevor Noah announced he was leaving The Daily Show.

Baseball’s winter meetings resulted in some pretty big contracts for some pretty big names and a bi-coastal saga surrounding Carlos Correa that was like watching a slow-motion train wreck and ended up with him staying where he was.

Click here to read more of December…

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November 2022

The midterm elections set the tone and political ground rules for the next two years, with Democrats performing better than expected and retaining control of the Senate. Republicans will “control” the House of Representatives, but the winning margin was so small it will be a challenge for the incoming Speaker – presumably Kevin McCarthy – to keep a fragmented caucus united.

Read initial thoughts on the midterms here: Democracy Dodges a Bullet… For Now

It appeared that the big political “winner” was Florida Gov Ron DeSantis. Nevertheless, we look set to endure another Trump presidential campaign, even as the various legal walls surrounding him continue to close in. Attorney-General Merrick Garland announced he had moved to appoint a Special Counsel to take over the two DOJ investigations involving the former president. Jack Smith will oversee the probes into both the Jan 6th insurrection and the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

The DOJ said it would seek to obtain testimony from former VP Mike Pence, whose book “tour” may have only succeeded in attracting attention to his role on Jan 6th.

House leader Nancy Pelosi announced she would “pass the torch to a new generation” of leaders, and octogenarians Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn will be handing over their Congressional leadership roles to Hakeem Jeffries, Katharine Clark and Pete Aguilar.

GOP Congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy saw off initial challenges in both GOP caucuses – but face a difficult two years in clear opposition in the upper chamber and trying to control a deeply fractious grouping in the House.

After running on the economy, crime and immigration during the midterms, the GOP said its first priority is to investigate Hunter Biden.

There was, however, bipartisan progress in the Senate on protecting same-sex and interracial marriage.

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed – meaning MLB will have to find new sponsors for umpires’ uniforms. It’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was the world’s youngest billionaire and the second-biggest donor to Democrats in the 2022 midterm cycle.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of biotech firm Theranos, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for defrauding investors. Meanwhile, the story of Elon Musk and his ownership of Twitter continued to spiral unabated into apparently ever-greater chaos.  

Read our conversation with Alina Utrata: ‘Musk and Managing The Message’

President Biden made a fresh effort to win support for an assault weapons ban following another series of mass shooting incidents. Five people were killed at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. As the University of Virginia at Charlottesville was in mourning after the shooting deaths of three members of the football team, there was another shooting in the state, at a WalMart in Chesapeake VA.

Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in connection with his activities on Jan 6th 2021.

Overseas, the largest political protests for many years erupted in cities across China, prompted by a fresh round of Covid lockdowns and restrictions under Xi Jinping’s “zero-covid” policy. China may or may not have subsequently backed down, easing restrictions. President Xi met President Biden at a moment when the US midterm results sent a message of reassurance to allies particularly in Asia.

Not at the G20 of course, Russian president Vladimir Putin.

As Russia retreated from Kherson, there was confusion after two people were killed inside Poland when a missile landed across the border from Ukraine.

COP 27 summit in Egypt — eventually a deal was reached for so-called developed countries to subsidise those from the developing world for “loss and damage” due to climate change, without addressing fossil fuel use.

There were also more missile launches on the Korean peninsula – amid talk of a possible successor for Kim jong Un.

In Israel, Benjamin Netanhyahu is heading back to government.

The controversial Fifa World Cup in Qatar got under way with European nations backing down over a plan to wear armbands expressing LGBTQ solidarity, while Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem in their opening game following several weeks of anti-government protests in their country. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the players thought better of a similar gesture before their next game.

US soccer administrators, meanwhile, found themselves in a row over Iran’s flag ahead of the key meeting in the final group game.

In Baseball, the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series in six games. After the Phils beat up on Lance McCullers in a rescheduled Game Three, a combined no-hitter in Game Four turned the tide and sent the series back to Houston, where Justin Verlander – who has now started a World Series game in three different decades – finally got his first Fall Classic win.

The Astros’ manager, 73-year-old Dusty Baker, added World Series champion to a resume that includes 2,093 regular-season victories, nine division titles and three pennants.

Before Game Three in Philadelphia – See Games

MLB’s Managers of the Year are Buck Showalter of the Mets in the National League and Terry Francona of the Guardians in the American League. Showalter has now won four Manager of the Year awards, with four different teams in four different decades.

Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara unanimously won the Cy Young award in the AL and NL respectively.

Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt won the AL and NL MVP respectively.

Click here to read more of November…

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October 2022

Phil Hands for the Tribune Content Agency

As campaigning intensifies ahead of the Nov 8th midterm elections, several key races – perhaps shockingly – remain in virtual margin-of-error ties.

Senior Democratic party figures are being deployed to bolster late support in places they might not have expected to be needed as the GOP’s messaging on the economy and crime seems to be cutting through with voters, despite warnings of the threat to the very democratic process itself. More than 300 election deniers are standing as Republican candidates across the country.

As still deeper entanglements emerged concerning the efforts to keep Donald Trump in power last year, the former President received a subpoena from the Jan 6th Committee, while the sedition trial of senior members of the Oath Keepers related to the attempted insurrection neared its conclusion. Radio host Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1billion to the families of the children murdered at Sandy Hook.

The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was violently attacked in the couple’s San Francisco home by a man espousing far-right views.

Overseas, uncertainty continues to cloud next steps in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid a largely successful counter-offensive and speculation about the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Protests against the state’s “morality police” continued to grow in Iran. In Beijing, China’s President Xi Jinping was “elected” to a third term while one of his predecessors was very publicly removed from the party congress. Brazil prepared for a tight presidential election run-off between incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Lula da Silva. Opec, meanwhile, made steep cuts in oil production to buoy global prices.

In Britain, Liz Truss was outlasted by a lettuce and – appropriately enough on Diwali – the country got its first Hindu Prime Minister as Conservative MPs backed Rishi Sunak over the possible return to office of Boris Johnson. Opposition parties continued to call for a General Election.

Like a dog who catches the car, Elon Musk bought Twitter, but didn’t seem sure what he wanted to do with it.

In Baseball, the World Series got under way between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros, while New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge – finally – set a new American League home run record. Hall of Fame relief pitcher Bruce Sutter passed away at 69.

Click here to read more of October…

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September 2022

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen…” – Lenin.

September felt like several of those weeks; seeing a change of both monarch and Prime Minister in Britain and ending with a modern-day Russian leader threatening the use of nuclear weapons as he annexed four regions of neighbouring Ukraine while retreating from them.

After Hurricane Fiona pummelled Puerto Rico, Hurricane Ian – projected to be one of the most damaging storms of its kind – brought havoc to southwest Florida while one of that state’s most high-profile residents continued to resist legal accountability for a number of alleged offenses and its current Governor was still explaining a political stunt involving the forced transportation of migrants.

Donald Trump and his children were sued for massive business fraud by New York state and the former president insisted he could change the national security status of documents “just by thinking about it”. He also embraced the QAnon conspiracy cult as his position of power within the GOP was tested by the remaining primaries ahead of November’s midterms. Sen Lindsey Graham introduced what would effectively be a national abortion ban, further spiking opposition from women voters ahead of what will likely be remembered as “Roevember”.

Days after the end of the official mourning period marking the close of the Elizabethan era, the IMF criticized Britain’s new government for overreaching tax cuts for the rich; a new right-wing government took power in Italy, and women in Iran led widespread protests against the state’s “morality police”.

Nasa crashed a spacecraft the size of a vending machine into a remote moonlet and expect to discover in a few weeks whether the effort of doing that produced the result they wanted.

In baseball, the playoff picture became clearer while two home run milestones were celebrated:  the Yankees’ Aaron Judge finally tied Roger Maris for the AL record of 61, set 61 years ago; and 42-year-old Albert Pujols hit his 700th round-tripper. On Roberto Clemente day, the Tampa Bay Rays fielded the first-ever all-Latino starting lineup. Great Britain qualified for next year’s World Baseball Classic for the first time.

Click here to read more of September…

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August 2022

The FBI executes a search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, leading to allegations of misuse of highly classified documents; Primaries across the country throw up some interesting outcomes, while President Biden and the Democrats get ready to kick into midterm campaign mode by trying to separate “MAGA” loyalists from what remains of the GOP; An armed Trump supporter dies after attacking the FBI office in Cincinnati; Ukraine marks its independence day on the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion; Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91.

There’s a new record price for a baseball card, while another slugger holds back time and the game loses one of its most distinctive voices; CNN cancels ‘Reliable Sources’; President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law; Author Salman Rushdie is stabbed on-stage in upstate New York; A CIA drone strike in Kabul kills Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Click here to read more of August…

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July 2022

Pressure grows on Trump as Jan 6th Committee digs deep; The Secret Service “loses” texts around the events of the insurrection; Many people are killed in storms and flooding in Kentucky; Extreme heat across the US and Europe; Sen Joe Manchin’s reversal facilitates a deal on a Climate and Tax Bill; Steve Bannon found guilty of Contempt of Congress; Biden visits Saudi Arabia.

A shooting at the Highland Park 4th of July celebration near Chicago is the 309th mass shooting in the US this year.

Click Here To Read More of July…

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June 2022

The Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade, throwing the issue of abortion rights back to individual states; With the nation mourning a series of mass shootings, Congress passes the Safer Communities Act, the first significant gun legislation in a quarter-century; The House Committee to Investigate Events of January 6th held its first prime-time televised hearing; Ukraine marked 100 days since the start of the Russian invasion.

It is Pride Month.

Click here to read more of June…

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May 2022

The nation is shocked by two mass shooting incidents: days after an avowed white supremacist killed ten Black shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, a gunman massacres 19 students and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX.

In key primaries across the country, Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP continues to be tested; There are protests after it’s leaked that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade; Amid ominous warnings on the economy, President Biden struggles with low approval ratings; Legendary New Yorker writer Roger Angell dies aged 101.

The US officially passed one million Covid-related deaths, two years after surpassing the 100,000 mark.

pic by Cuneyt Dil of Axios

Click here to read more of May…

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April 2022

Fifty days of Russia’s war on Ukraine has changed the world, as both sides dig in for what looks like being a long haul; Judge Katanji Brown Jackson is confirmed to the US Supreme Court, becoming the first African-American woman Justice; The RNC signals that it will withdraw from any future Presidential Debates; Elon Musk may or may not buy Twitter; CNN says it will shut down CNN+;

And in what is perhaps a perfect kick-start for this project, Prof Jonathan Haidt writes in The Atlantic on “Why the past ten years of American life have been uniquely stupid”.

He writes, in part:

“The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.

“It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and American history. But Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families.”

Click here to read more of April…

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Want to know what happened today? Or Yesterday? Go to the Latest page