Boy, what a year has it been. From the rise of the Islamic State, to landing a spacecraft on a comet for the first time in human history, there have been stories that instilled hope in me for the future and others that made the destruction of humanity seem inevitable. Here are the stories that made this year unique.
- A Texas district court ruled that a Fort Worth hospital may not keep a brain-dead thirty-three year old woman on life support. Marlise Munoz collapsed on her kitchen floor late one might because of a blood clot in her lung. During that time, she was not breathing and thus suffered irreparable brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. The hospital refused to take the woman off of life support because she was pregnant. The court ruled in favor of Mrs. Munoz’s husband and told the hospital they must take the women off life support.
- Colorado becomes the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. Weed is taxed at a rate of 25% percent plus the 2.9% sales tax. The state is poised to make over $67 million a year in taxes off of marijuana sales, $27.5 million of which is going to be used towards building schools. While many conservatives believed that Colorado would turn into a Mad Max-style dystopia after legalization, it’s actually doing relatively well.
- After the rejection of a free trade agreement that would have brought the Ukraine closer to the European Union, thousands of protesters flooded the streets. In response to the massive protests and civil disobedience dubbed ‘Euromaidan’, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a set of anti-demonstration laws. The laws allowed the Ukrainian government to block access to the internet as they see fit, imposed strict and harsh penalties on those who participated in mass disruptions, prevented protesters from handing out “extremist” materials such as pamphlets, and exempted public officials and police officers who had committed crimes from punishment, among other things.
- A storage tank full of toxic and hazardous chemicals leaks into the Elk River, which ultimately drains into the Mississippi River, leaving an estimated 300,000 people in West Virginia without clean water.
- After an entire season of anticipation and hype, Super Bowl XLVIII goes down at the MetLife Stadium in New Jesery. This Super Bowl saw two teams from states that had legalized recreational marijuana (Washington and Colorado) pitted against each other. The Seattle Seahawks went on to blow the Denver Broncos out of the water 43 to 8 in their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
- The Ebola virus epidemic begins in West Africa and begins spreading at an alarming rate. Since then, there have been over 20,000 reported cases in West Africa with nearly 8,000 deaths.
- American science educator and engineer Bill Nye “the Science Guy” debated creationist Ken Ham on the topic of evolution and whether or not it should be taught in public schools as well as the true age and origins of this planet. Needless to say, Nye ‘won’ the debate with his use of scientific and empirical data as opposed to Ham’s use of a 2,000 year-old piece of literature and faith.
- The 2014 winter Olympics take place in Sochi, Russia. The crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s poor human rights record, Putin’s treatment of the LBGT community, and safety concerns plagued the games.
- President Obama signs an executive order effectively raising minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10. This comes a month after thirteen states raise their minimum wage.
- Federal judges rule same-sex marriage bans in three states (Texas, Virginia, and Kentucky) as unconstitutional, but immediately stays the ruling effectively halting any further legal action.
- Belgium legalizes euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age, a first for a nation.
- After months of civil unrest, the Ukrainian Parliament votes to oust President Viktor Yanukovych from office and place Oleksandr Turchynov as intern president.
- On the heels of the vote, the Russian federation sends troops to the Crimea region in Ukraine in order to support the pro-Russia rebels in the region. Russia subsequently annexes the region, causing even more tension and drawing the ire of the Western world.
- Facebook buys virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion.
- Malaysia Airline flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanishes into thin air over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. An extensive search throughout the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea did not return even the slightest sign of the downed airplane. Nine months later and no wreckage has been found, though theories of the plane’s final resting spot remain.
- Russia formally annexes Crimea, to which the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada respond by voting to temporarily ban Russia from the G8. In a similar vein, the United Nations passes a resolution recognizing Crimea to be within Ukraine’s international borders.
- Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare) health insurance marketplace ends with more than the expected amount of 7 million registering.
- Protests in Albuquerque, New Mexico flare up after the release of video footage showing a fatal altercation between Albuquerque police officers and James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless mentally ill man. One of the officer’s body cams show four officers and a K9 unit closing in on Boyd, who was camping in an unauthorized area in the foothills. Boyd becomes a bit agitated, but begins to gather his possessions as one of the police officers throws a stun grenade at him. As Boyd lays on the ground, pleading with the officers not to hurt him, the police shoots him with beanbag rounds and lets the K9 attack Boyd. Boyd died from the use of excessive force.
- Army Specialist Ivan Lopez goes on a shooting rampage throughout the Fort Hood military base in Texas. When the dust settled, four people (including the gunman) were dead and another sixteen people injured. Fort Hood was the site of a massacre in 2009 perpetuated by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, in which he killed thirteen people and left another thirty injured.
- In a 5-4 ruling, the United States Supreme court strikes down the limit on the amount of money individuals can donate to a campaign during two-year election cycles.
- Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist organization based in Nigeria rounded up and kidnapped 276 Nigerian school girls from the town of Chibok. The men rounded up the girls in trucks and drove them into the Nigerian jungle, where they have fortified bases. While some girls were able to escape, most were not that lucky. The girls were forced to convert to Islam and sold as slaves and prostitutes to members of Boko Haram and to men in neighboring countries. Those girls who did manage to escape say that they subjected to rape and physically abuse by their captors.
- A grazing dispute between rancher Cliven Bundy and federal officials quickly devolves into a standoff in the Mojave desert. Bundy enlisted the help of a bunch of gun-toting ‘patriots’ from across the country in his standoff against agents of the Bureau of Land Management. Despite having absolutely no claim to the land other than his family grazing there for generations, Bundy grazed his cattle on public domain land while refusing to pay taxes. This lead to the BLM to confiscate his cattle, which was automatically seen as a violation of Bundy’s freedoms by conservative pundits and militiamen alike. Bundy’s comments that African Americans were actually better off being slaves led many on the right who previously supported him to denounce him.
- A Korean ferry capsizes, leaving 304 people (mainly high school students) dead.
- The United States places even heavier economic sanctions on Russia and people close to President Vladimir Putin.
- A private conversation between the Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend gets leaked to TMZ, in which Sterling makes wildly racists comments towards African Americans. The NBA voted to ban him from attending games or conducting any business with the NBA. Sterling was also fined $2.5 million dollars and subsequently forced to sell the team.
- Boko Haram militants attack the towns of towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Nigeria. The twelve-hour long attack left over 300 dead.
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki is subpoenaed and called to testify in front of Congress after reports of veterans getting outrageous wait times for care or not getting care at all. This lead to the death of nearly 40 veterans who only needed simple procedures done. The scandal forced Shinseki to resign as secretary later that month.
- 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers goes on a shooting and stabbing rampage throughout the college neighborhood of Isla Vista, Santa Barbara. Prior to the rampage, Rodgers posted a video on YouTube in which he blames women’s lack of sexual attraction to him the reason he’s doing it. In writings of his discovered after the fact, he is found to be a racist misogynist.
- After months of protests and near civil war-level conflict, Petro Poroshenko is elected as the fifth and current President of Ukraine. He got 54% of the vote. Poroshenko endorsed the Euromaidan protesters and also provided them with financial support, which made his popularity among Ukrainians surge. Poroshenko is much more pro-Western than his predecessor and is in the works of getting Ukraine into the European Union and NATO.
- A military coup in Thailand overthrows the serving Prime Minister, who himself had came into power after the previous Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was deposed from power.
- The Taliban release Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who was captured back in 2009. His release was secured in exchange for the freedom of 5 Taliban prisoners, lead many to call the exchange illegal.
- Federal judges ruled bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansa, Pennsylvania, and Oregon to be unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage goes into effect immediately in Pennsylvania and Oregon.
- Seattle becomes the city in the nation with the highest minimum wage when the City Council votes to raise it to $15 and hour.
- House majority whip Eric Cantor becomes the first sitting House majority leader to lose a primary since 1899 with his defeat at the hands of Dave Brat.
- I turned 18!
- The 2014 FIFA World Cup is held Brazil. The home team gets destroyed 1-7 by the Germans in the semi finals. Germany goes on to defeat Argentina in the World Cup championship 1-0.
- Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs defeat Lebron James and the Miami Heat 4 games to 1 in the 2014 NBA Finals.
- The extremist group known as the Islamic State spreads at an alarming rate through Syria and Northern Iraq. They capture key cities such as Fallujah and Mosul and come a little too close to comfort of the capital city Baghdad.
- 15-year-old Jared Padgett goes on a shooting spree through Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon. He managed to kill a student and wound a teacher before taking his own life. This shooting marked the 74th school shooting incident since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.
- More federal courts rule same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, this time in the states of Utah and Indiana.
- In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the police must obtain a warrant to search through your phone or other digital device. The court also ruled 5 to 4 that contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act cannot be enforced on corporations in which it goes against their political beliefs
- In the first week of the month, a string of gang-related shootings take the lives of 14 people in Chicago, Illinois making it one of the most violent weekends in the city’s history. The violence in the city has earned it the name Chiraq, which is a combination of Chicago and Iraq.
- Russian Seperatists in Eastern Ukraine accidentally shoot down Malaysia Airline Flight MH17 believing it was a Ukrainian military plane. The plane departed in Amsterdam and was scheduled to land in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport. Both Russian and the Rebels deny that they shot the plane down and still blame the Ukrainian Army. 298 people, including 190 Dutch and many revered AIDS researchers/scientists, perished that day.
- President Obama announces new sanctions on Russia’s banking and economic sanctions after apparent involvement (or at least prior knowledge) of Malaysia Air Flight MH17 destruction.
- Israel launches ‘Operation Protective Edge‘ after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers. The teenagers were discovered a few days after their initial disappearance with signs that they were tortured and burned alive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that their kidnappers would suffer a brutal fate. The campaign began with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip followed by a ground invasion by Israeli troops. Over 2,000 Palestinians died, many with little to no connection to the targeted terrorist group Hamas.
- Patrick Sawyer, a health worker, becomes the first American to die due to the Ebola virus. He contracted it while delivering medical assistance in Liberia. The media immediately begins fear mongering the idea that the Ebola virus will come to the United States and spread as it has in Western Africa.
- Eric Garner gets approached by plainclothes NYPD officers on suspicion of selling loose untaxed cigarettes. After a brief verbal altercation, the officers attempt to arrest Garner. He resists and Officer Daniel Pantaleo places him in choke hold that’s been banned by the NYPD since the 1990s. Garner dies due to compression of his throat and chest made worse by his obesity and asthma. His death sparked massive protests throughout the nation.
- Due to the Islamic State’s burgeoning size and expansion, the United States announces airstrikes in the area in order to curtail the groups growth. Coalition strikes combined with Kurdish attacks helped drive back Islamic State fighters. President Obama pledged to send 300
troopsmilitary advisers to protect the US embassy in Baghdad. God forbid another Benghazi happen.
- President Obama signs into law a bill that would guarantee Veterans the financial resources needed to provide adequate care for them.
- As response to the American-led coalition strikes in Northern Iraq, the Islamic State releases a video of American journalist getting beheaded by a member of the IS.
- Beloved actor Robin Williams commits suicide after battling with a bout of dementia that was misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. Williams was in movies including Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Jumaji. He also provided the voice of the Genie in the Disney movie Aladdin.
- 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African American, gets shot and killed by white police Officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis, Missouri suburb of Ferguson. Brown, who was about to attend college, was shot six times by Wilson following an altercation between the two. Wilson states that Brown attempted to take his gun and was charging at him so, out of fear for his life, shot him six times. Many eyewitnesses claim that Brown was, in fact, not charging Wilson but rather raising his hands as if surrendering. Almost immediately, the case sparked major demonstrations in Ferguson and throughout the nation to protest the apparent case of police brutality and racism. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and soon enough Ferguson is flooding with members of the National Guard trying to disperse the protests.
- The Fappening: a group of hackers from 4chan and Reddit hack into Apple’s iCloud service and leak hundreds of private (mainly nude) pictures that belong to a group of A-list celebrities. The leak attracts the attention of the FBI, which investigated the leak.
- After a month of protests and disorder, two private security firms donate body cameras for the Ferguson police department to wear.
- IS militants behead American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff and release the video online. In a NATO summit a couple days later, President Obama announces that he will be enlisting the help of nine international allies in order to destroy the Islamic State.
- Microsoft buys the creator of popular sandbox game Minecraft Mojang for $2 billion.
- The United States along with Arab allies launch airstrikes on IS-held territory in Syria with hopes of destabilizing the group.
- Over 50 students in Mexico are kidnapped en route to a protest in Mexico City. Reports that the students were kidnapped by the Iguala police on orders of the Mayor of Iguala come out. The police then handed the students over to a local gang, who tortures and executes them before disposing their remains in a river. The obvious ties between the government, law enforcement, and cartels as well as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s inaction leads to massive protests throughout Mexico and international condemnation.
- Izamar and I begin classes at UC Riverside and UC Irvine respectively.
- After employers add 248,000 new jobs in the United States, employment levels reach 5.9% since the start of the 2008 Financial Crisis in July. While the economy is still sluggish, it has recovered progressively under President Obama.
- Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Virginia, Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nevada, West Virginia, Idaho, North Carolina, Arizona, Wyoming, and Alaska.
- Nina Pham becomes the first person to contract the Ebola virus on United States soil, prompting an investigation by the CDC and public fear that it might spread through the US.
- A report reveals that many student athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received passing grades in classes that didn’t exist to make them eligible to play sports teams. This comes after the initial academic fraud scandal in 2010.
- 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg asks his friends to join for him lunch. He enters the cafeteria and has a verbal altercation with the kids at the table. He pulls out a .40 caliber Beretta handgun and kills four of them and injures three more before taking his own life.
- Commercial spaceflight pioneer Virgin Galactic tested out their experimental spaceflight vehicle SpaceShipTwo only to have it disintegrate a few seconds into flight. It is believed that the feathering system, which is supposed to help the aircraft slowly descend, accidentally deployed itself thus causing the crash. The co-pilot died during the crash and the pilot survive with major injuries.
- One World Trade Center in New York opens thirteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
- The Republicans take both the House and Senate during the 2014 Midterm Elections.
- President Obama announces he will be sending 1,500 troops to Iraq in order to combat the Islamic State. Despite the deployment of the troops, he insists we’re not starting another war in Iraq.
- After a 10 year, 9 month journey, the European Space Agency successfully lands their probe Philae on comet 67P, marking the first time humans have landed a spacecraft on a comet. The space craft landed over 280 million miles away from earth on a 2.5-mile wide rock hurtling through space at 24,600 miles per hour. If that doesn’t amaze you, I don’t know what will.
- A grand jury finds no probable cause to press charges on Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Immediately following the announcement, people took to the streets in major cities throughout the nation to protest police brutality and the perceived miscarriage of justice. Ferguson quickly began to look like a war zone in some far away country.
- 12-year-old Tamir Rice gets shot and killed by police officers who were called in after someone reported seeing the boy with a gun at a park. The man who called told the dispatcher that the gun was probably fake. Despite this, the officers drove their cruiser right next to Tamir. Within two seconds of them showing up, one of the officers gets out and shoots Tamir, killing him.
- During the 2014 Latin Grammys, President Obama announces his plan to use executive action to provide protection to some 4.4 million undocumented immigrants in the United States all while deporting criminals. Republicans were immediately outraged but the President had a simple resolution for their anger: pass a bill.
- The University of Virginia suspends all fraternities in light of a Rolling Stone report on gang rape at the campus.
- Allegations against beloved comedian and actor Bill Cosby grow. Cosby has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting over 20 women throughout the course of his career.
- A group of hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace (GOP) hack into Sony’s database, stealing loads of personal and company information. The group claims they’re from North Korea and they hacked Sony because of their movie, The Interview. In the movie, James Franco is a celebrity interviewer that scores the interview of a lifetime with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. When the CIA hears about this, they task Franco and his director Seth Rogen with the task of assassinating un. The movie made North Korea say some pretty nasty things about the United States and Sony canceled the Christmas release of the movie due to waning support by theater branches.
- Protests in New York and throughout the nation erupt as a grand jury finds no reasonable cause to press charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shoots and murders Two NYPD officers in their cruiser later that month in “retribution” for Garner’s death.
- A coalition of Democrats release a report on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques used on prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. The report shows that the use of torture was far more widespread and far less effective than the CIA said it was.
- President Obama announces that the United States will resume normal relations with Cuba after over half a century of embargo. Fine cigar smokers rejoice.
- Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 disappears in the Java sea. After a search of where the plane was thought to be last. Traces of wreckage and bodies soon begin showing up. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
- The United States and United Kingdom have withdrawn all combat troops from Afghanistan, effectively ending our involvement in the 13-year-long conflict.
2014 was a year of great change, both personally and globally. It has been a helluva year and I’d like to thank all our readers for supporting us for another year. I am eager to see what 2015 has in store for us. So from ours to yours, I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous 2015.