November 2014 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of November 2014.
One World Trade Center Opens (Nov. 3): More than 13 years since the twin towers were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, One World Trade Center opens for tenants in lower Manhattan. The new building is 1,776 feet high. Magazine publisher Condé Nast becomes the building's first tenant, occupying one third of the 104-story building.
Republicans Take Control of Senate in Midterm Elections (Nov. 4): Republicans take back the majority in the Senate for the first time since 2006, while also adding to their majority in the House. The GOP even made huge gains by winning governor races in states that usually lean Democratic, such as Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Three Senate races are yet to be settled, but the Republicans already have 52 seats. Senate races in both Virginia and Arkansas races are still too close to call. Meanwhile, a Dec. 6 runoff is set between three-term Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy in Louisiana. As for the House, Republicans are set to have at least 246 seats, a number they haven't had since Harry S. Truman was president.
Two More States Legalize Marijuana (Nov. 4): Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. vote on marijuana legalization ballot measures similar to those that passed in Colorado and Washington two years ago. In all three, voters approve them. Oregon's law, which passes by 54%, plans to create a commercial regulatory system for the distribution and sale of marijuana, like Washington and Colorado did. Alaska's new law is also similar. The measure in Washington D.C. passes with nearly 65% of the vote. That new measure will allow anyone age 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use and grow no more than six cannabis plants in their home. However, not every state votes in favor of marijuana. Florida voters decide against a measure to legalize the use of medical marijuana in their state.
Off the Field Headlines Continue to Dominate NFL (Nov. 4): Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleads no contest to the charge of misdemeanor reckless assault of a child in Texas. (Nov. 16): Drug Enforcement Administration agents make unannounced visits to multiple teams as part of an investigation on whether their medical staffs are mishandling prescription drugs. The investigation is due to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by former players that claims the NFL, its teams, medical staff, and trainers acted without regard for players' health by handing out prescription painkillers to hide the pain and maximize playing time. (Nov. 18): The NFL bans Peterson for the rest of the year, citing the league's new conduct policy, which calls for a six-game suspension for first time domestic abuse offenders. (Nov. 28): Judge Barbara Jones rules that the NFL and Commissioner Goodell had no new evidence in Sept. when they increased Ray Rice's suspension. Therefore, Rice wins his appeal and can be reinstated to the NFL. The league accepts Jones' decision, but it is unclear if a team will sign Rice.
Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Marriage in South Carolina (Nov. 20): The U.S. Supreme Court denies a request to block same-sex marriage in South Carolina. Thus, South Carolina becomes the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal. It is the latest in a string of same-sex marriage victories this month, including the U.S. Supreme Court allowing gay marriage in Kansas and a federal judge striking down Montana's ban that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Obama Takes Executive Action on Immigration (Nov. 20): In a prime-time, televised speech, President Barack Obama announces he is taking executive action to delay the deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants. During the speech, Obama challenges those in Congress who oppose the policy to pass new immigration legislation. Under the new policy about 4 million people who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents will receive deportation deferrals and authorization to work legally if they have been in the U.S. for more than five years and pass background checks. The deferrals are renewable. Obama's action also amends the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows people under age 31 who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for two-year deportation deferrals and work permits. Obama's policy change lifts the age ceiling and adds a year to the deferral period. However, neither program offers the immigrants a path to citizenship.
Chuck Hagel Resigns as Defense Secretary (Nov. 24): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigns. With Hagel next to him, President Obama announces the resignation. Hagel will remain in the job until the Senate confirms a successor. The decision comes after a series of meetings between Hagel and Obama. Officials point to the rising threat from ISIS, which requires a different skill set than Hagel brings to the position, as the reason for the resignation. A combat veteran, Hagel had been brought in to manage the shrinking defense budget and the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.
Missouri Grand Jury Makes Decision in Michael Brown Shooting (Nov. 24): A grand jury in Missouri has reached a decision on whether or not Officer Darren Wilson should be indicted in the August 9 fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown. The decision will be announced later in the day. To prepare for the announcement, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon calls up the National Guard. Local police are also on alert and prepared to control any riots or violence, especially if Officer Wilson is not indicted. Michael Brown Sr., the victim's father, asks protesters for nonviolence and for a moment of silence for his son after the announcement is made. Hours later, in the late evening, the announcement is made that the grand jury decides not to indict Officer Wilson. While some people respond to the decision with peaceful protests, others set fire to police cars, loot, and destroy buildings. Several buildings are severely damaged. Dozens of protestors are arrested. Protests spread to other cities, including Boston, Chicago, and New York. (Nov. 25): Gov. Nixon asks for more National Guard troops to help control the violence in Ferguson. Meanwhile, the Justice Department and FBI continue to look at the case for possible violations to civil rights. Protests continue for a second night in Ferguson and more cities across the country, including Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. Some arrests are made, but overall the demonstrations are less violent than the previous night. (Nov. 30): Protests continue all over the country. Five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams run onto their home field before a game with their hands raised, a tribute to Brown, who had been unarmed when he was shot. The act causes an uproar. The St. Louis Police Officers Association demands an apology, saying in a statement that the players' actions were "tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory."