Courtney Dorning

Updated December 1, 2021 at 9:01 AM ET

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are behind us for the year, but the holiday shopping season isn't over just yet. It's always been a time when Americans buy more, but nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans are spending way more — outsize amounts of money on things.

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Thousands of workers across the U.S. are on strike, demanding better wages, better working conditions and more benefits.

In what some have called "Striketober," workers in factories as well as the health care and food industries have either started or authorized strikes in the past month.

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SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: I'm Sarah McCammon on the bayou south of New Orleans, where just weeks ago, Hurricane Ida slammed ashore, its 150-mile-an-hour winds causing death and devastation across the region.

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The Hammond organ makes a singular jazz sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOU DONALDSON'S "ALLIGATOR BOGALOO")

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It was July 8, some two months ago, when President Biden recommitted to ending America's longest war.

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As President Biden laid out his plan to combat this latest surge of the coronavirus, he asked doctors to help.

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You know, this is the third school year that's been disrupted because of coronavirus, and so many of the challenges that made spring 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 so tough...

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This year would have been the 40th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

(SOUNDBITE OF JEREMIAH CLARKE'S "THE PRINCE OF DENMARK'S MARCH")

Updated August 14, 2021 at 10:58 AM ET

Many people were calling this the "hot vax summer," as growing vaccination numbers against the coronavirus meant a rebound in travel, and early summer CDC guidance said it was safe to return to eating indoors at restaurants and bars.

At the height of his career, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S., heading the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Last week, he became the first U.S. Cardinal to be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, making the 91-year-old the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in the country to face criminal charges for clergy sexual abuse.

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On April 30 of last year, armed militiamen entered the Michigan State Capitol Building looking for Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Yelling) Open the door.

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After a long, dark year, social muscles have atrophied. In-person gatherings now call for weighty questions about COVID-19 safety. And many people, who during the pandemic found relief in empty calendars, don't want to go back to the world as they knew it.

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Look. I wouldn't know what to do if a duck started nesting in a planter on my ninth floor balcony, but Steve Stuttard, an avid bird lover and retired Royal Navy specialist, was just the man for the job.

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