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Murder rates spiked in 2020, and are still rising in 2021

After a year in which murders spiked in the U.S., homicides are already trending up in many cities, presaging whatis likely to be a violent summer.

Why it matters: The rise in homicides is a public health crisis that has multiple interlocking causes, which makes solving it that much more difficult. We're still a long way from the murderous days of the 1990s, but rising gun violence is destroying lives and complicating efforts to help cities recover from COVID-19.


Driving the news: From Washington to Louisville, Kentucky, New York to Oakland, California, and Kansas City to Atlanta, murder rates are trending up in U.S. cities large and small.

  • A sample of 37 cities with data available for the first three months of 2021 collected by the crime analyst Jeff Asher indicates murders are up 18% over the same period in 2020.
  • The continued increase comes after a year in which major U.S. cities experienced a 33% rise in homicides, and 63 of the 66 largest police jurisdictions saw an increase in at least one category of violent crime, according to a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Between the lines: While it may be tempting to dismiss 2020 and the early indicators in 2021 as aberrations caused by the pandemic, murder rates were already ticking upward in the years before the pandemic.

The intrigue: Criminologists still haven't settled on a single explanation for why violent crime dropped drastically from the 1990s, and they're even less certain why it's risen so dramatically over the past 16 months.

Yes, but: Even if 2021 eclipses last year's murder numbers, America will remain a far safer country than it was during the most violent years of the 1990s.

What's next: A violent summer on America's streets appears likely, given that homicide already appears to be trending above last year's spike.

  • Homicide rates historically spike during the summer months, when the hotter weather puts more people on the streets, and while vaccination coverage is increasing, the pandemic and all its knock-on effects won't be finished by then.
  • "Summer 2021 is going to be abnormally violent," John Roman, a senior fellow at the economics, justice and society group at NORC at the University of Chicago, wrote this year. "It is the new normal."

The bottom line: The historic decline in murder over the past few decades was accompanied by mass incarcerations and increasingly brutal policing, leading to what the criminologist Patrick Sharkey termed "the uneasy peace."

  • As America reckons a new murder wave with policing in the post-George Floyd killing era, it needs to find a way to a lasting peace that features both safety and justice.

Gas prices rise in several states as pipeline outage crimps supply

Gas stations in several statesare out of fuel and AAA reports the nationwide average price breached $3-per-gallon for the first time in six years amid the cyberattack-induced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Driving the news: The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the nation's largest refined fuel pipeline that extends from Texas into the Northeast, is creating a scramble as the outage persists into its sixth day.

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Read: What Liz Cheney told the House GOP behind closed doors before her ouster

"If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told House Republicans before they voted to remove her as the party's conference chair on Wednesday.

Why it matters: In her address, Cheney promised that she "will be leading the fight to restore our party" and make it "worthy again of being the party of Lincoln," signaling that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon and will continue to be a voice of dissent in the party.

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House Republicans remove Liz Cheney from leadership over Trump opposition

House Republicans voted Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair, capping months of growing backlash over her criticisms of former President Trump, according to two sources in the room.

Why it matters: The stunning removal of the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump's election lies reflects the influence the former president still retains over the GOP. It's the most significant turning point in an internal party feud that is unlikely to subside any time soon.

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Biden names third slate of judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of nominations for federal judges, with the president now having put forward 20 names to fill judicial vacancies.

Why it matters: The administration described the most recent picks as an embodiment of "the diversity of our nation," and said that Biden is continuing a trend of announcing judicial nominees at a record pace.

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Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April compared to last year

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

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What China's population woes mean for the rest of the world

China released its censusreport on Tuesday, showing that the number of births in the country last year dropped 18% from 2019. And China isn't alone — populations have been stagnating globally for decades, including in the U.S.

Why it matters: China has long relied on its large population — the biggest in the world — as a core engine for economic growth. The way that it, and officials across the globe, deal with changing demographics will lead to shifts in the economy and geopolitics.

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Inside Liz Cheney's plans to continue fighting for soul of GOP after leadership ouster

As she faces a voteto be thrown out of House Republican leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney has told associates she doesn’t plan on going anywhere — and plans to run for re-election.

What to watch: In the meantime,as she sees it, she will aggressively pursue a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, after an expected vote to strip her of her post as GOP conference chair, the party's No. 3 House post.

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Biden plans to send envoy as Israel and Hamas escalate toward war

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is considering plans to dispatch a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts, five Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Driving the news: The fighting intensified overnight, with Hamas and other militants firing a second barrage of over 100 rockets toward Tel Aviv and other nearby cities, and Israel continuing its air campaign in the Gaza Strip by destroying high-rise buildings, Hamas facilities and rocket units.

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