The 5 Biggest News Stories You Missed in 2021


AJ Skidmore, Staff Writer

2021 has been, to say the least, an eventful year. It was full of important stories about COVID-19, vaccination, inflation and Afghanistan. Although these important events did get coverage, many others didn’t. That’s because much of the media was focused on vacuous “culture war” stories about critical race theory, Dr. Seuss, cancel culture and many others. The media has an important job, to inform the public about stories that matter. Unfortunately, many outlets -especially on the right- have shown themselves to be ambivalent about that responsibility. They opt instead to focus on divisive, attention grabbing culture stories that get click and start fights, but are forgotten about completely after just a few months. Because these stories got so much coverage throughout the year, lots of important stories fell through the cracks, so in honor of the start of the new year, let’s review the 5 most important stories you missed in 2021.

Wildcat Strikes

2021 saw a historic surge in wildcat strikes, or strikes that have not been approved by a labor union. Despite the historical significance, they went largely ignored by most media outlets. Journalist Mike Elk identified over 1,100 strikes as of March 2021, as well as over 6,000 strikes associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, which were largely left out of coverage of the BLM protests. This isn’t specific to the US, as strikes were even more frequent outside of the country, especially in India, where over 250 million agricultural workers went on strike, representing the biggest strike in world history. This level of strikes is unprecedented, and represents a massive global paradigm shift in labor relations. COVID-19 brought with it a great deal of unemployment benefits, meaning that a lot of people don’t absolutely need to work anymore, which takes away the need for people to accept whatever terms of employment their prospective employers choose. These strikes may represent a fundamental and permanent shift in the power dynamic between workers and their bosses. It’s also possible that workers lose their power as soon as these unemployment benefits go away. In any case, workers the world over have gained unprecedented power.

Canary Mission

“Cancel Culture” was considered a major issue in 2021, often to massively hyperbolic extent. Despite this, the single most overt example of cancel culture from the last few years got practically no media attention. Canary Mission is a covertly run, well funded, blacklisting site that targeted supporters of Palestine. It primarily targets students with the intention of destroying academic careers before they begin. It’s been know to blacklist students who do as little as attend a single pro Palestine rally or are suspected of voting for resolutions that crititical of Israel as members of student governments, labeling them as terrorists or anti-semites. It’s blacklists have been used in interrogations by the FBI and Israeli security officials. In addition to students, Canary Mission targets Palestinians and supporters of the BDS movement, an activist group that uses boycotts to pressure Israel into obeying international law, as well as respecting Palestinian’s sovereignty and human rights. This blacklisting has a chilling effect on free speech, as many blacklisted activists have received death threats for their work, and run the risk of interrogation by the FBI or Israeli Security officials. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, exclusion of Palestinians from Irsaeli public services, and killings Palestinian civilians and peaceful protesters are well documented and have been condemned by the international community. Canary Mission seeks to brand those who oppose these reprehensible actions as terrorists, anti semites, or whatever label will disparage them and have their concerns disregarded. It seems that the only effective way to counter pro Palestine activists is to intimidate, slander, or disregard them.

Pfizer Delays Global Immunization

In the process of global vaccine distribution, Pfizer has proven itself to be more focused on its bottom line than on global health. In negotiations with South American countries, Pfizer demanded not to be held legally liable for acts of negligence, fraud or malice that it commits. They also demanded that property of that country, including military bases and embassy buildings, be put up as a guarantee against any future legal costs. This is directly related to patent protections for the COVID-19 vaccine, which puts the jab out of the price range of impoverished countries. Patent protections create legally protected monopolies, allowing vaccine distributors to charge effectively whatever they want. This has led to massive discrepancies in global vaccination rates and, by conservative estimates, has increased the cost of vaccinating the world’s population by a factor of five.

Forced sterilizations

The US Mexico border has a long history of using sterilizations going back decades. In fact, US facilities on the boarder have been cited by Nazi Germany as inspiration for their sterilization regimens. Patterns of discriminatory and coercive sterilations, targeting largely impoverished Hispanic immigrants, have been uncovered time and time again, spanning several decades. Border facilities have historically concealed these practices, meaning they only enter the public eye when whistleblowers alert the media. The newest leak from nurse Dawn Wooten, accuses Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia of involuntary hysterectomies. In one case, a detained woman said she asked three different employees about what her upcoming medical procedure was, and got a different answer each time. When she woke up from her procedure, she was informed that uterus had been removed. Involuntary sterilizations, including the ones at these camps, are considered a form of genocide by international law. In all likelihood, the bulk of this genocide is not known to the public, as these camps have historically concealed and lied about actions like these.

Polarization in Latin America

Major political shifts in Latin America came about in 2021 elections across several countries. This created a shift in power defined by polarization and rejection of incumbent politicians. In Bolivia, the left wing Movement for Socialism party took power through the election of Luis Arce. This comes just a few years after the coup of President Evo Morales, also of the Movement for Socialism, who was replaced by the fascist, Christian nationalist, Jeanine Áñez. These election results show that the popular will in Bolivia is still on the side of the Movement for socialism. Left wing parties also took power in Peru and Chile. Ecuador, on the other hand, radicalized to the right instead of the left. The new President, Guillermo Lasso, won about 52 percent of the vote, taking the Presidency in the process. Lasso is a center right businessman and politician, the first right wing candidate to win the presidency in nearly two decades. These elections are showing a paradigm shift in Latin America, not defined by an embrace of any particular ideology, but rather a rejection of the status quo, and a polarization to either side. Which ideology eventually wins out is yet to be determined, but it’s clear that major ideological battles will be taking place in Latin America for years to come.