Biggest news stories of 2022: Supreme Court, Russia-Ukraine top headlines
It was another turbulent year in the U.S. and across the globe.
From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to soaring inflation to the biggest invasion in Europe since World War II, here’s a look back at some of the biggest news stories of 2022.
COVID-19 pandemic enters year 3
It was the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 300 million more cases reported worldwide in 2022. The biggest surges were largely because of the Omicron variant, which became dominant in the U.S. in March. Cases fell over the summer, but winter and the holidays are bringing higher case counts.
(Photo by John Paraskevas/Newsday RM vis Getty Images)
Combined with flu and RSV, the "tripledemic" doctors have warned about has overwhelmed some hospitals and healthcare systems across the U.S.
2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
The Olympic Rings illuminated by the sun seen at Genting Snow Park, on January 26, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Despite the pandemic and China’s restrictive "zero COVID" policy, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games were still held in Beijing and labeled a success. The government there used a segregated system that effectively turned Beijing into two cities — one sequestered for the Olympic community, and one proceeding very much as normal.
Unlike the first pandemic Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, which featured all but empty seats at the opening and closing, a modest but energetic crowd populated the seats of Beijing’s "Bird’s Nest." It was the first city to host both the summer and winter games.
Russia invades Ukraine
Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on February 24, 2022 (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
On Feb. 24, Russia sent troops into neighboring Ukraine for the start of what’s become a nearly year-old invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to justify the attack with claims that Ukraine was threatening Russia and being governed by "Nazis."
The Kremlin expected the conflict to last days, but they grossly underestimated the Ukrainian military and support from the U.S. and other NATO allies. Ukrainian troops stopped Russia from taking Kyiv, eventually forcing Russian troops to retreat back to the far east and southern parts of Ukraine.
Inflation reaches highest levels in decades
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one factor that led to soaring costs around the globe — and the worst inflation crisis the U.S. has seen in four decades. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates aggressively throughout 2022 in an effort to tame rising prices and avoid a recession.
Inflation has retreated from the four-decade high it reached this summer, but it’s still sapping the spending power of consumers. Prices rose 7.1% in November from a year ago, down from a peak of 9.1% in June.
Overall spending has slowed from the pandemic-infused splurges and shifted increasingly toward necessities like food, while spending on electronics, furniture, new clothes and other non-necessities has faded. Many shoppers have been trading down to private label goods, which are typically less expensive than national brands. They’ve been going to cheaper stores like dollar chains and big box stores like Walmart.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard face off in court
Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury leave the courtroom for a lunch break at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 16, 2022. (Photo by STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Millions of people tuned when actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard faced off in court. The ex-couple sued each other for defamation after Heard claimed that Depp was physically abusive during their relationship.
After a six-week trial, the jury largely sided with Depp, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. For Heard’s countersuit, the jury awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages, but no money for punitive damages.
Monkeypox outbreak spreads across the globe
Health workers sit at a check-in table at a pop-up monkeypox vaccination clinic which opened today by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at the West Hollywood Library on August 3, 2022 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mario Ta
Health officials scrambled at the start of the summer when a monkeypox outbreak was reported in the UK. It quickly spread across the world, infecting people in all 50 states and killing at least six people before vaccination efforts helped quell the spread.
The virus has mainly spread among gay and bisexual men, though health officials continue to stress that anyone can be infected. The outbreak peaked in the U.S. in early August.
Uvalde, Texas school shooting
On Tuesday, May 24, a gunman stormed the campus of Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in nearly a decade.
A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Investigative reports have concluded that officials failed to follow active shooter protocol when they waited more than an hour to confront the attacker inside a fourth-grade classroom. Two officers have been fired because of their actions at the scene and others have resigned or been placed on leave.
In October, Col. Steve McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, acknowledged mistakes by officers but defended his agency, saying they "did not fail" Uvalde.
Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade
People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court's decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe
The U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in what became one of the court’s most consequential decisions in decades. The court’s conservative majority ruled in June that abortion is not a constitutional right, which led to abortion bans in more than a dozen states.
Justice Clarence Thomas implied in a concurrent ruling that the court could review other constitutional rights, like same-sex marriage and access to birth control.
Jan. 6 committee hearings
The House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol held a series of public hearings this year to identify who was to blame.
(L-R) U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) (L), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), listen during a hearing on the January 6th in
After nine hearings and explosive testimony from a number of witnesses, committee members sent criminal referrals to the U.S. Justice Department against former President Donald Trump and his top allies.
FBI seizes top-secret documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Police outside of Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Aug. 9, 2022, the day after the FBI searched Donald Trump's estate. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
In August, the FBI searched Trump’s private residence in Palm Beach, Florida, where agents seized hundreds of documents from his home, some of them marked top-secret.
Along with highly classified government documents, the FBI agents who searched the Mar-a-Lago estate found dozens of empty folders marked classified but with nothing inside and no explanation of what might have been there.
The agents also found more than 10,000 other government documents kept by Trump with no classification marked.
Presidential records are required by law to be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration. The Archives had tried unsuccessfully for months to secure their return from Trump and then contacted the FBI after locating classified information in a batch of 15 boxes it received in January.
Boris Johnson resigns
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned his position in July after a series of personal scandals and ethical lapses.
(L-R) Former UK Prime Ministers Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown during the National Service Of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
The brash, 58-year-old politician who took Britain out of the European Union and steered it through COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine was brought down by one scandal too many — this one involving his appointment of a politician who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Liz Truss took over in early September, but she only lasted six weeks in office. She, too, was forced to resign, becoming the shortest lived prime minister in British history.
Queen Elizabeth II dies
Queen Elizabeth II tours Queen Mother Square on October 27, 2016 in Poundbury, Dorset. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, died Sept. 8 after 70 years on the throne. She was 96 years old. Her death sent shock waves around the world, as the monarch served as a constant, stabilizing force throughout her reign — and most people alive today don’t know a world without her in it.
Elizabeth’s son Charles was crowned King Charles III after 64 years as heir to the throne.
Hurricanes Fiona, Ian wreak havoc
September started with a pair of hurricanes that wreaked major havoc in Puerto Rico and Florida.
Hurricane Fiona brought widespread flooding and power outages to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic before heading far north and slamming Canada as a powerful cyclone with 100-mph winds.
Two weeks later, Hurricane Ian struck southwest Florida, becoming the deadliest hurricane to hit the state in more than 80 years.
Pro-democracy protests in Iran
A pro-democracy movement is growing in Iran. Protests there began in September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in custody of the country’s morality police. She’d been detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022, shows Iranian demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Protests have continued for months despite a deadly crackdown.
Human Rights Activists in Iran, a U.S.-based group that has been closely tracking the protests since they erupted, says 451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest. They estimate more than 18,000 people have been detained.
The World Cup
The 2022 World Cup took place in the Middle East for the first time in history. Qatar, a conservative Muslim emirate that restricts alcohol, bans drugs and suppresses free speech, hosted the world’s biggest party, banning alcohol sales in World Cup stadiums just two days before it began.
(Photo by Qatar 2022/Supreme Committee via Getty Images)
In probably the wildest final in the tournament’s 92-year history, Argentina won its third World Cup title by beating France 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 3-3 draw featuring two goals from the 35-year-old Lionel Messi and a hat trick by his heir apparent, France forward Kylian Mbappé.
Elon Musk buys Twitter
Billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27 after buying the social media company for $44 billion.
(Photo by -/Twitter account of Elon Musk/AFP via Getty Images)
Since buying Twitter, the Tesla CEO has presided over a dizzying series of changes that have unnerved advertisers and turned off users. He fired half the staff, axed contract content moderators and disbanded a council of trust and safety advisors. He has also dropped enforcement of COVID-19 misinformation rules and called for criminal charges against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert.
Musk reinstated the account of former President Donald Trump, who was permanently banned following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He also authorized the release of the so-called "Twitter files," showing alleged misconduct by former employees in the leadup to the 2020 election.
Republicans take House in midterm elections
The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the midterm elections, but there was no "red wave" as anticipated. Republicans secured a slim House majority, and Democrats gained a seat in the Senate.
Still, the GOP will have notable power. Republicans will take control of key committees, giving them the ability to shape legislation and launch probes of Biden, his family and his administration. There’s particular interest in investigating the overseas business dealings of the president’s son Hunter Biden.
Some of the most conservative lawmakers have raised the prospect of impeaching Biden, though that will be much harder for the party to accomplish with a tight majority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.