The highs and lows that defined the news of 2022

As we wrap up 2022, we take a look back at some of the biggest moments that shaped the past year, and how the PBS NewsHour covered them.

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  • John Yang:

    With only a few hours left in 2022 in North America, we take a look back at some of the moments that shaped the past year and how we covered them. Our collection of the highs and lows of the roller coaster that was 2022.

    At the start of the year, a new word emerged in the vocabulary: Omicron. In January, the COVID variant and the surge it caused helped push worldwide confirmed cases past 300 million.

    As the pandemic wore on, more milestones. By the end of January, 10 billion vaccinations globally.

    In March, the global death toll passed 6 million.

    And in May, U.S. deaths reached 1 million.

  • Judy Woodruff, PBS News Anchor:

    It is the highest reported death toll of any country. And this terrible, largely preventable milestone comes as cases are once again on the rise.

  • John Yang:

    Along with the human toll, new research found that, for the first time, humans had passed COVID to wild animals.

  • Unidentified Male:

    If you look back there, you can simply see them interacting. There are quite a lot.

  • Unidentified Male:

    They`re all very packed together.

  • Unidentified Male:

    They`re all huddled up and given what we know about the amount of virus that these deer had, its very easy to see why they were so susceptible. And it spread explosively in herds.

  • John Yang:

    And in November, scientists announced they`d found evidence of white-tailed deer passing COVID back to humans, a development with wide implications for the future course of the pandemic.

    In February, the world`s geopolitical order was thrown into turmoil with Russian president Vladimir Putin`s invasion of Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians fled their homes.

  • Maria Triger, Displaced Kyiv Resident:

    We packed all our stuff in 15 minutes and we left our house locked. And I don`t know when we will come back.

  • Unidentified Male:

    How do you think one person doing something here in Lviv can help Ukraine take on Russia?

  • Unidentified Female:

    If one person starts doing something extraordinary and something that can actually help if we deliver a message to society, it will respond.

  • John Yang:

    Ordinary Ukrainians resisting Russian soldiers with significant U.S. support has stymied Putin and dealt Russia unexpected setbacks. With the war now in its 10th month, the U.S. military estimates 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded.

    And an estimated 6,000 to 40,000 civilians have died. As temperatures climbed in 2022, no corner of the globe was untouched by the effects of climate change and the extreme weather accompanying it.

    Glacier melt continued unabated, the worst year on record for melting in the Alps, where glaciers lost 6 percent of their remaining volume.

    Cyclones pummeled the African island nation of Madagascar. In a season that normally sees one cyclone, there were six.

    Floods ravaged Pakistan, killing more than 1,700 people and leaving hundreds of thousands more without shelter, a humanitarian crisis triggered by heavy monsoon rains and above-normal glacier melt.

  • Unidentified Female (through translator):

    Our homes were destroyed with our belongings inside. Even some thatched huts fell down upon children.

  • John Yang:

    In this hemisphere, there were 14 named tropical storms, an average number for hurricane season. But two late-season storms proved catastrophic for Puerto Rico and Florida.

    Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico in September and caused an island wide blackout as well as extensive flooding. Fast on its heels came hurricane Ian. The path of destruction was widespread and devastating. Wind and walls of water pounded the Gulf Coast of Florida. Some communities were flattened, others inundated.

    How deep is this now?

  • Unidentified Male:

    Oh, this is at least 2- 2.5 feet. And it gets deeper as we go that way.

  • John Yang:

    By some estimates, Ian was one of the 10 costliest storms in U.S. history.

    From too much water to not enough. Wildfires raged around the world this summer. In the wheat fields of Spain to the forests of California. The lack of rain in the Western United States caused a mega drought. Utah`s Great Salt Lake is at its lowest level in history.

  • Unidentified Female:

    I feel like we are in the middle of just a dead zone here. It feels like another planet.

  • Unidentified Female:

    So it is like a dead coral reef. It`s like a cemetery.

  • John Yang:

    And as climate disasters continued to affect communities across the globe, international negotiators meeting in Egypt made little headway on agreeing on measures to avoid the gravest consequences of climate change.

    There was agreement to establish a fund to compensate poorer countries for the ravages of climate disasters caused by pollution from richer, industrialized nations.

  • Unidentified Male:

    Good evening. We begin tonight in Buffalo, New York, where there is grief, shock and anger.

  • John Yang:

    Back at home, the list of cities whose names became synonymous with a mass shooting continued to grow. Buffalo, New York; in May, 10 people, all of them Black, were targeted and killed at a grocery store.

    The alleged shooter has been charged with federal hate crimes. Just 10 days later, Uvalde, Texas: a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school. More than 375 law enforcement officers responded. But for more than an hour, none of them acted to subdue the shooter.

  • Chloe Sotelo Uvalde Resident:

    I texted my sister because she texted me. She was like, I love you if anything. Just remember that.

    And I texted her, like, are you OK?

    Like, you`ll be fine.

    Because I did not know what was going to happen. I didn`t know (INAUDIBLE).

  • John Yang:

    Highland Park, Illinois: a gunman opened fire during a July 4 parade, killing seven people.

  • Colorado Springs, Colorado:

    an LGBTQ night club was the scene of a shooting that left five people dead. The alleged gunman has been charged with federal hate crimes.

  • Chesapeake, Virginia:

    a Walmart manager killed six people in the employee breakroom.

    All told, in the past year, there have been more than 600 shootings in the United States, in which at least four people were killed or wounded.

    In the aftermath of Uvalde, Congress passed its first major gun reform legislation in nearly three decades, enhancing background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 by allowing time for authorities to review juvenile records.

    Inflation was the major economic headline of 2022, as prices climbed at their fastest rate in nearly 40 years. At the gas pump…

  • Lindsay Bandy:

    I just had a very painful experience. I filled up my gas tank.

  • John Yang:

    — and the grocery store. The Federal Reserve used its primary tool to fight inflation, aggressively raising the key interest rate seven times this year, spurring fears of an economic slowdown in 2023.

    In June, a tectonic shift in constitutional rights. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a precedent nearly a half-century old, erasing a woman`s right to an abortion.

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Speaker: American women today have less freedom than their mothers.

    Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Leader: The voiceless will finally have a voice.

  • John Yang:

    The legality of abortion is in the hands of the states and the procedure is now illegal in 13 of them.

    When the Supreme Court began its session in October, for the first time, there was a Black female justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

    In June, a committee launched hearings into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

  • Unidentified Female:

    They`re making the case that this is a president who acted unlawfully.

  • John Yang:

    As the historic hearings unfolded, some in prime time, interviews and testimony from those closest to Donald Trump revealed how he helped incite the violence.

  • Unidentified Female:

    By and large, this is a mountain of Republican and conservative voices saying the election was not stolen. The president was told that again and again.

  • John Yang:

    In October, the committee voted to subpoena the former president.

    Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Vice Chair, U.S. House Select Committee on January 6 Attack: Our duty today is to our country and our children and our Constitution. We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion. And every American is entitled to those answers. So we can act now to protect our republic.

  • John Yang:

    The former president`s presence was felt in the midterm elections. In Wyoming, where January 6 committee co-chair Liz Cheney was up for reelection, his influence was evident.

  • Donna Harvey, Wyoming Voter:

    I think it`s just a witch hunt. Just like Trump says, and just trying to find to get something on him so that he is disqualified in 2024.

    And I think Liz has made that very apparent also.

  • Unidentified Female:

    But there have been audits in all of those other states, multiple audits run by Republicans in some of those states. And they found no election fraud.

  • Donna Harvey:

    No, that is not right.

  • Unidentified Female:

    That is what those Republicans who ran those audits said.

  • Donna Harvey:

    Well, they are covering up stuff just because they don`t want to deal with it.

  • John Yang:

    But in the end, Democrats had one of the strongest midterm performances for a party holding the White House in nearly 90 years, not losing a single Senate seat and losing 10 in the House. That was still enough to give the Republicans a House majority, leading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down from Democratic leadership.

    There were also shifting political winds overseas.

  • Boris Johnson, Former U.K. Prime Minister:

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank everybody here and (INAUDIBLE).

  • John Yang:

    U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson stepped down amid a swirl of scandals. His successor, Liz Truss, was not long for the job and holds the distinction of being the shortest-serving prime minister in British history.

    In Brazil, a former president is set to return to power. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, defeated far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

    In Israel, the return of another familiar face: Benjamin Netanyahu is back as prime minister. This time, on trial for corruption charges, he has Israel`s most right-wing governing coalition ever.

    In 2022, the world said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96, the longest-serving monarch in British history, ruling for more than 70 years.

    In Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, died at age 91. He oversaw a series of revolutionary changes that ended the Cold War.

    In Japan, former prime minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated while campaigning for a parliamentary candidate. Abe was the longest-serving leader in modern Japan. He was 67 years old.

    In the world of stage and screen, there were several final exits: actors Sidney Poitier, Angela Lansbury, William Hurt, Nichelle Nichols, James Caan, Olivia Newton-John and Kirstie Alley; Singers Loretta Lynn, Naomi Judd, Jerry Lee Lewis, Coolio and Irene Cara, among others.

  • Unidentified Male:

    And liftoff of Artemis I.

  • John Yang:

    And there were, of course, triumphs of the human mind, spirit and body, discoveries and achievements on Earth and in the heavens.

    In Antarctica, marine archaeologists found the endurance more than a century after the three-masted wooden ship was crushed by an ice pack and sank during an expedition by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

    In space, the James Webb space telescope captured the stunning first-ever images of never-before seen stars, galaxies and nebulas.

    And the more mundane, dances that went viral on social media`s fastest growing platform, TikTok. It seemed everyone was game to try a few steps.

    Athletes gathered in Beijing for the Winter Olympics even in the midst of the pandemic, with few spectators and strict quarantines and lockdowns. Snowboarder Chloe Kim, figure skater Nathan Chen and speed skater Erin Jackson were among the Americans to win gold.

    Two of the most dominant tennis greats of their generation, Serena Williams and Roger Federer, retired. And in a tournament mired in controversy from the outset over the host country`s human rights record, jubilation for Argentina after their team won the World Cup in Qatar.

    2023 has already arrived in some parts of the world. Now we see what awaits us in the new year.

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