Teachers Strike in Chicago
Before this year, Chicago teachers had not gone on strike for 25 years. With 675 public schools and 402,000 students, this nine-day strike forced churches, park day camps, and public libraries to care for thousands of young people. According to the teachers, the dispute was as much about winning resources for their students as it was about their own working conditions. On Oct. 2, the teachers union voted to accept a new contract—good for three years—with Chicago Public Schools, thereby ending the strike.
Benghazi US Consulate Attacked
U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens was killed after unidentified assailants stormed the embassy in the eastern city of Benghazi on Sept. 11. Three other Americans were killed in the attack. Stevens died of smoke inhalation after an armed mob set fire to the consulate building. The White House called the killings a terrorist act. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that her office was responsible for security at the consulate in the Benghazi.
General Petraeus Resigns
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus, a decorated four-star general, resigned Nov. 9 after it was revealed that he was involved in an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Petraeus publicly confirmed the affair. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) described the situation of Petraeus leaving office under such circumstances as “a heartbreaker.” She said that the timing of his resignation had nothing to do with the investigation into the assault on Benghazi, Libya.
Changing Marijuana Laws
The 2012 election was a game changer in U.S. marijuana laws—for the first time in over 70 years, two states legalized the plant for recreational use. To date, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, but voters in Colorado and Washington took another step: ending prohibition. While the two laws differ on details, voter referendums passed in both states essentially grant cannabis the same restrictions as alcohol: permitted only for adults over 21.
Bradley Manning Still Detained
Bradley Manning has been detained since 2010 for sending sensitive battlefield reports to WikiLeaks. In March, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture said that Manning had been abused while in custody in Quantico, Va. In November, Manning testified in court that he thought he was “going to die” while in custody. Although his lawyers cite that the severe pretrial detainment is enough to throw the trial out, he is offering to plead guilty to several charges. Manning’s trial is set for February 2013.
Constructing the Keystone Pipeline
On Jan. 18, the Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal to construct on federal land. In March, the Senate rejected a Republican-sponsored bill that would have sped up construction of the pipeline. However, TransCanada, the funding company, has been able to etch out the pipeline’s path via eminent domain, which allows a company to settle with private landowners. A Texas judge ordered a temporary suspension on construction in December due to a dispute with a private landowner, but on Dec. 13 the order was lifted.
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