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The struggle against discrimination based on gender identity has also won some significant victories. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate against transgender students, and a board within the Department of Health and Human Services decided that Medicare should cover sexual reassignment surgery. Although very few people eligible for Medicare are transgender, the decision is still important, because private insurance companies often base their coverage on what Medicare considers appropriate and necessary forms of treatment for various conditions. Undoubtedly, the fight for greater rights for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) individuals will continue.

Violence

Another running debate questions the easy accessibility of firearms. Between the spring of 1999, when two teens killed twelve of their classmates, a teacher, and themselves at their high school in Columbine, Colorado, and the early summer of 2014, fifty-two additional shootings or attempted shootings had occurred at schools ( [link] ). Nearly always, the violence was perpetrated by young people with severe mental health problems, as at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. After killing his mother at home, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza went to the school and fatally shot twenty six- and seven-year-old students, along with six adult staff members, before killing himself. Advocates of stricter gun control noted a clear relationship between access to guns and mass shootings. Gun rights advocates, however, disagreed. They argued that access to guns is merely incidental.

A photograph shows a massive crowd gathered in darkness in front of a large university building, holding candles.
A candlelight vigil at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the wake of the 2007 murder of thirty-two people by a student. The incident remains the deadliest school shooting to date. (credit: “alka3en”/Flickr)

Another shocking act of violence was the attack on the Boston Marathon. On April 15, 2013, shortly before 3:00 p.m., two bombs made from pressure cookers exploded near the finish line ( [link] ). Three people were killed, and more than 250 were injured. Three days later, two suspects were identified, and a manhunt began. Later that night, the two young men, brothers who had immigrated to the United States from Chechnya, killed a campus security officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stole a car, and fled. The older, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a fight with the police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured the next day. In his statements to the police, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reported that he and his brother, who he claimed had planned the attacks, had been influenced by the actions of fellow radical Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he denied they had been affiliated with any larger terrorist group.

A photograph shows bystanders at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, tending to the injured and carrying them to safety.
Bystanders at the finish line of the Boston Marathon help carry the injured to safety after the April 2013 attack. Two bombs exploded only a few seconds and a few hundred yards apart, killing three people. (credit: Aaron Tang)

America and the world

In May 2014, President Obama announced that, for the most part, U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan were over. Although a residual force of ninety-eight hundred soldiers will remain to continue training the Afghan army, by 2016, all U.S. troops will have left the country, except for a small number to defend U.S. diplomatic posts.

The years of warfare have brought the United States few rewards. In Iraq, 4,475 American soldiers died and 32,220 were wounded. In Afghanistan, the toll through February 2013 was 2,165 dead and 18,230 wounded. By some estimates, the total monetary cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could easily reach $4 trillion, and the Congressional Budget Office believes that the cost of providing medical care for the veterans might climb to $8 billion by 2020.

In Iraq, the coalition led by then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was able to win 92 of the 328 seats in parliament in May 2014, and he seemed poised to begin another term as the country’s ruler. The elections, however, did not stem the tide of violence in the country. In June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Islamist militant group consisting of mostly Sunni Muslims and once affiliated with al-Qaeda, seized control of Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq and Syria. On June 29, 2014, it proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, the state’s political and religious leader.

Section summary

Despite Republican resistance and political gridlock in Washington during his first term in office, President Barack Obama oversaw the distribution of the TARP program’s $7.77 trillion to help shore up the nation’s banking system, and Congress authorized $80 billion to help Chrysler and General Motors. The goals of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) were to provide all Americans with access to affordable health insurance, to require that everyone in the United States had some form of health insurance, and to lower the costs of healthcare. During his second term, the nation struggled to grow modestly, the percentage of the population living in poverty remained around 15 percent, and unemployment was still high in some areas. Acceptance of same-sex marriage grew, and the United States sharply reduced its military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Questions & Answers

what major industries emerged in the decades after the Civil war
ComicHickory Reply
Does militia men still exist in U.S.A?
Shakeel Reply
To contrast the steamboat of the antebellum to today’s technology?
Nyrah Reply
contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today.
Nyrah
I love reading books about history.
David
I reading what happened earlier so much
melanda
I meant I love to read a lot
melanda
omg I never noticed this until now.
sunny
what advantages did people in urban areas have over rural areas?
HAILEY Reply
what factors helped cause the dust bowl
HAILEY
They had easy availability of food water. They had more comfortable life style as compare to people in rural areas. Better education was at there disposal
Shakeel
why did northerners lose thier resolve to pursue reconstruction
bambi Reply
what is taring and feathering?
Dominic Reply
Isnt there any laws in place for gun control?
Ryan Reply
How would you characterize the former president’s reaction? What do you think he means by writing that the Missouri Compromise line “is a reprieve only, not a final sentence”?
Tonda Reply
Compare and contrast the steamboats of the antebellum years with technologies today. In your estimation, what modern technology compares to steamboats in its transformative power?
Tonda Reply
airplanes to jets. Another would be electric trains.
Darren
I would say the Internal Combustion engine was as if not more transformative the the Steam power which it replaced. The ability of the Steamboat to rapidly move large amounts of goods through the water ways that weave there way from town to town increased our fledgling country's economy. I can draw direct coraleris with the National highway system built during the 1950's that were soon clogged with Transport trucks using I.C.E.
Pancho
what are the impact of the missionaries on indigenous knowledge of black communities
Don Reply
What were the initial issues that lead to the introduction of legislation
Benedicta Reply
what is the main title of franklin D roosevelt
Allan Reply
the president of the USA
Yangduk
who abolish slavery
ABDOURAHMAN Reply
Abraham Lincoln
Yangduk
who was the fists empire in americans
Alex Reply
who organized the most massive attack in American History, which caused the Germans to begin to retreat in September 1918?
Jmora Reply
"Black Jack" Pershing
Victor

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Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
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