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The wildest headlines to come out of 2021

by Ashima

Welcome to Masala‘s official year-end recap!

By Ashima Sethi


  • Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Kamala Harris became the first Black, Indian, and woman Vice President of the USA.
  • Donald Trump was impeached for a second time. He is the only President and federal official in history to be impeached and then acquitted twice.
  • A mob of President Trump supporters attacked the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. with the aim of overturning his defeat in the 2020 Presidential Elections. The riots resulted in five deaths and 691 people charged with various crimes.
  • Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump due to his problematic, misleading tweets.
  • Over 250 million labourers joined the ongoing farmers protests in India, taking to the streets to voice their frustration with the government’s new deregulation laws that would make them vulnerable to big corporations.
  • Multiple women resort to social media to accuse actor Armie Hammer of sexual violence, emotional abuse, and cannibalistic tendencies.
  • Elon Musk surpasses Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person.
  • A group of amateur stock investors collaborated via Reddit in order to take on Wall Street in the fight for the value of the GameStop stock.


(Photo by Sai Aung Main / AFP)
  • The USA becomes the first country in the world to surpass 500,000 deaths from COVID-19.
  • Tensions escalated in Myanmar after a coup d’état removed Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials and the military took over. This led to a state of emergency where the junta brutally killed protestors and forced a media and social media blackout.
  • Winter Storm Uri hits the USA causing 9.9 million power outages and 237 deaths.
  • The NCB begin questioning Bollywood celebrities about their supposed involvement in a drug cartel. This ‘investigation’ continues throughout the year, targeting the likes of Karan Johar, Deepika Padukone, and others.


  • Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani meet in Iraq, marking the first-ever meeting between a pope and a grand ayatollah.
  • One of the largest container ships in the world, the Ever Given, gets stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking global trade until it was freed at the end of the month.
  • Oprah Winfrey interviewed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry about their decision to leave the royal family. The controversial television interview saw the couple critique the British monarchy as an institution.
  • Eight people, including six Asian-American women, were killed in a series of shootings in Atlanta.
  • China orders Jack Ma and Alibaba to pay a record fine of $2.8 billion after the country’s anti-trust regulators claim the business is acting as a monopoly.
  • Scientists formally announce that they were able to successfully inject human stem cells into the embryos of monkeys, thus creating ‘chimera-embryos.’
  • Coinbase becomes the first major cryptocurrency platform to be listed on NASDAQ.
  • Thailand reports its first locally transmitted cases of a new COVID-19 variant. The 24 cases are linked to a string of clubs in Thonglor and marked the beginning of a very grim, very long third wave.


  • 12 football clubs from a mix of leagues including English Premier League, and Serie A, agree to join a new European Super League. This leads to a lot of controversy amongst fans.
  • Global COVID-19 cases escalate rapidly, with India reporting a whopping 315,000 infections in 24 hours, the highest one-day tally recorded to date.
  • The Indonesian Navy reports that the KRI Nanggala has sunk, with the nation putting forth an international search and rescue eff ort to no avail. The tragedy claimed the lives of 53 crew members and is the largest loss of life aboard a submarine since the early 2000s.
  • University of Oxford announces a major breakthrough in their malaria vaccine development campaign, stating that their R21/Matrix-M vaccine has a high-level of efficacy at 77 percent.
  • Derek Chauvin is found guilty on all three charges related to George Floyd’s death.
  • The crypto-world sees an NFT boom.


  • The Israel-Palestine crisis escalates immensely as people are forcibly removed from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The death toll exceeds 150 after an Israeli airstrike destroys offices in Gaza occupied by AP, Al Jazeera, and other global media outlets.
  • Italian band Måneskin wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 that was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • WHO announces a new system for naming COVID-19 variants using the Greek alphabet to avoid any discrimination against countries where variants were found.
  • A mass grave with 215 children was found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. This put a spotlight on the nation’s dark past associated with ‘reform schools.’
  • Microsoft announces that support for Internet Explorer will officially end in 2022.
  • Mass wildfires in Greece result in the prompt evacuation of several villages.
  • The state of Gujarat in India was hit by Cyclone Tauktae, the strongest storm to hit the region since 1998.
  • Chrissy Teigen is ‘cancelled’ after several women, including Courtney Stodden, come forth with damning evidence of Chrissy bullying them. She subsequently loses several endorsements as a result of the fallout.
  • The cast of Friends returned to the show’s original soundstage for a special reunion episode.


  • Four people are killed after a man purposely drives his truck into a Pakistani family in London, Ontario, Canada as part of an Islamaphobic attack.
  • Sarah Everard’s murder rocks the UK. Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens is arrested for kidnapping, rape, and murder shortly after.
  • Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez get back together for round two of #Bennifer.
  • El Salvador becomes the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. Bill Cosby is released from prison after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction.
  • Kanye West and Kim Kardashian reportedly split up. Bizarre rumours circulate that it’s because he had an affair with Jeffree Star.


  • An explosion ignites a fire at a factory in Samut Prakan. One person is killed, 29 injured, and thousands were asked to evacuate the immediate area.
  • The 2020 Summer Olympics took place in Tokyo. Thailand won two medals including one gold, while India won seven including one gold.
  • Simon Biles shockingly quit the Olympics because of stress and anxiety, reminding everyone that even elite athletes are not superhuman.
  • A gas leak in Mexico causes a fi re to break out on the ocean’s surface. Viral videos lead to netizens dubbing the blaze as the ‘eye of fire.’
  • Richard Branson and his team travel into space on the VSS Unity operated by Virgin Galactic.
  • Italy defeats England to win Euro 2020.
  • Argentina beats Brazil to win the 2021 Copa América.
  • Two of Lebanon’s biggest power stations are shut down due to a lack of fuel leaving most of the country without any power.
  • An investigation revealed that Israel’s NSO Group had sold spyware called ‘Pegasus’ to different international governments for the purpose of spying on heads of state, activists, journalists, and dissidents.
  • Over 53 people are killed by lightning strikes in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Jeff Bezos, his brother, and associates at Blue Origin launch its first crew onboard the New Shepard rocket to outer space.
  • Heavy rain across the UK and Europe cause severe floods that resulted in over 220 deaths.


  • The United States officially ends its ‘military mission’ in Afghanistan after 20+ years, withdrawing all of their troops. The country is then seized by the Taliban.
  • Thailand reports a record 20,200 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the nationwide confirmed total number of cases to over 670,000.
  • OnlyFans makes an announcement they will be banning any pornographic content, only to reverse their decision shortly after due to major backlash.
  • Andrew Cuomo resigns as Governor of New York following allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • A 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastates Haiti, killing thousands of people.
  • The 2020 Summer Paralympics take place in Tokyo with no spectators allowed due to Japan’s ongoing state of emergency.
  • Thailand legalises kratom, reclassifying the plant as one that can be legally grown and used under the nation’s amended Narcotics Act.


  • Hurricane Ida hits the eastern coast of the USA, killing over 115 people.
  • Emma Raducanu of GB defeats Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the final of the 2021 US Open Women’s Singles to become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.
  • China rules that all financial transactions involving cryptocurrency are illegal.
  • Travel blogger Gabby Petito is reported missing and her remains are found three weeks later. Her fiancé Brian Laundrie who is a prime suspect in the case mysteriously disappears. His remains are then found in a reserve he used to frequent.
  • Evergrande, China’s largest property developer, misses an interest payment deadline of $83.5 million, concerns are raised that they are bankrupt.
  • Squid Game is released on Netflix and takes the world by storm.


  • The WHO endorses the first effective malaria vaccine.
  • Halyna Hutchins is killed during the production of Rust after Alec Baldwin accidentally shoots a loaded gun. The film’s director was also left in critical condition.
  • Four farmers are killed after a BJP convoy runs them over in Uttar Pradesh.
  • SRK‘s son Aryan Khan is arrested on drugs charges. The decision to hold him for weeks is met with a lot of controversy.
  • 11.9 million documents are leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that expose hidden wealth, tax evasion, and money laundering among 300+ politicians, national leaders, celebrities, and billionaires. This is the largest offshore data leak in history.
  • Yulia Pereslid, a Russian actress, is launched to the International Space Station to film the first feature-length movie in outer space.
  • The UK experiences a fuel shortage that leaves many people stranded.
  • Facebook. Inc., renames itself to Meta to reflect ‘the company’s diversification into other areas including virtual reality.’
  • The UK sees a rise in ‘needle spiking’ cases with over 300 reported in a month.


(Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
  • The number of recorded deaths from COVID-19 surpasses 5 million.
  • A deadly crowd crush takes place at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld Festival leaving over 10 dead and thousands seriously injured.
  • Britney Spears is officially freed from her long and miserable conservatorship.
  • Several provinces in Thailand are hit by heavy floods as a result of monsoon rain. Bangkok’s riverside is on high alert.
  • Kangana Ranaut was awarded a Padma Shri but then went on to make some controversial comments about India’s independence, which leads to many asking for her award to be revoked.
  • Vir Das stirs up controversy with his live performance of ‘Two Indias.’

Notable deaths:

Phil Spector, Larry King, Sir Tom Moore, Christopher Plummer, Leon Spinks, Rush Limbaugh, DMX, Prince Philip, Bernie Madoff , Milkha Singh, John McAfee, Dilip Kumar, Surekha Sikri, Michael K. Williams, Willie Garson, Helen McCrory, Jessica Walter, Dustin Diamond, Cicely Tyson, and Tanya Roberts.

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