As 2014 comes to a close, the AbridgeMe editorial team has put together our list of the 10 most discussed topics of the year…in AbridgeMe style:
100 Words or Less + Opinion-free.
We hope you and your family have a Happy New Year and that you continue to be a part of ours in 2015 as we aim to be the ‘go-to’ resource for quick, fact-based, explanations on any topic. Enjoy!
What began with just a few cases in Guinea became (and continues to be) the deadliest outbreak of Ebola on record. The virus spread rapidly throughout West Africa, with almost 20,000 confirmed cases that claimed more than 7,500 lives.
The first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the disease, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian citizen, died on October 8th in Dallas, TX. Two nurses who treated Duncan (Nina Pham and Amber Vinson) were also diagnosed with the disease and eventually released disease-free. Duncan’s death raised alarming concerns about the capacity of U.S. hospitals to effectively treat the disease.
Related: Ebola Fighters Named TIME Person of the Year
Michael Brown Shooting/Ferguson
Michael Brown was shot by police on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old African-American male with no criminal record, was killed after being shot multiple times by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. After a grand jury’s investigation into the shooting, on November 24th they decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson resigned from the police force five days later.
Racial tensions erupted as protesters clashed with police for weeks after the shooting with the violence escalating again after the grand jury voted not to indict Wilson. View on AbridgeMe.com
It was a vicious year in Iraq and Syria, as the terrorist group referring to itself as the Islamic State, or ISIS, gained serious momentum as they captured territory throughout the region, while killing thousands. The group, led by Bakr al-Baghdadi, posted multiple barbaric videos online of beheadings (including two of American journalists).
On October 15th, the United States Government officially named its military involvement against ISIS in Syria and Iraq “Operation Inherent Resolve”. According to U.S leaders, the mission intends to reflect the deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations to eliminate the terrorist group. View on AbridgeMe.com
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine began with massive protests in early 2014, which toppled the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The protesters demanded closer EU ties, while Yanukovych had just signed a controversial new agreement with Russia. In response, Russian forces occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, while pro-Russian separatists seized large portions of eastern Ukraine.
On December 18th, President Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act into law which aimed to deprive certain Russian state firms from Western financing and technology while also providing up to $350 million in military aid to Ukraine as it resists pro-Russia rebels. View on AbridgeMe.com
Children at the Border Crisis
The surge of unaccompanied children from Central America (mainly Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) seeking entrance into the United States reached crisis level proportions throughout 2014 with tens of thousands of children crossing the US-Mexico border. Many of the kids had no parent/legal guardian available to provide care or physical custody and quickly overwhelmed local border patrols.
As there is no pre-existing legal or social structure to respond to the crisis, lawmakers are forced to seek new solutions to address the immigration issue — an area that will likely continue be a point of contention in U.S. politics. View on AbridgeMe.com
U.S. Midterm Elections
On November 4th, millions of Americans hit the polls to elect 36 senators, 36 governors and all 435 members of the House of Representatives. Republicans gained the needed 6 seats in the Senate in order to control the 100-member chamber (marking the first time since the 2006 election).
Capturing the Senate gives Republicans complete control of both chambers of Congress — representing a major political shift and potentially complicating President Obama’s last two years in office. This result will give the GOP more leverage in trying to set the nation’s political agenda leading up to the 2016 presidential election. View on AbridgeMe.com
Malaysia Airlines Flights MH370 & MH17
Flight 370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th. After a several months-long air and sea hunt, searchers have failed to turn up any sign of the missing aircraft as the cause still remains a mystery. View on AbridgeMe.com
Just four months later, on July 17th, another Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight 17, carrying 298 people, was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all passengers aboard. Ukraine and U.S. officials blamed separatist fighters backed by Russia for downing the aircraft. View on AbridgeMe.com
Ray Rice Domestic Violence Scandal
On February 15th, NFL running back Ray Rice and then-fiancee Janay Palmer were arrested for assault in Atlantic City, NJ. The website TMZ first revealed the graphic footage of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of a casino elevator. Rice was indicted with third-degree assault on March 27th. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice two games for the incident — a move that was strongly questioned.
On September 8th, TMZ released additional footage of Rice assaulting Palmer, which resulted in him being suspended from the NFL indefinitely. Rice was reinstated into the NFL on November 28th after winning his appeal. View on AbridgeMe.com
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Between June and September of 2014, people around the globe shared more than 17 million Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook to raise awareness for ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The movement of dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over your head to raise awareness for the disease went viral around the world with people, celebrities, athletes, and politicians posting videos of themselves online and on TV participating in the event. According to alsa.org, the movement was a tremendous success as it not only raised awareness, but also received $115 million in donations to fight the disease. View on AbridgeMe.com
What is ALS? Get up to speed here
Sony Pictures Hacked
When Sony Pictures employees signed into their company’s network on November 24th they were greeted with an image of a skeleton and a message that said, “Hacked by #GOP” (GOP referring to “Guardians of Peace”). Along with leaking of multiple unreleased films online, the hackers allegedly stole more than 25 gigabytes of sensitive data on tens of thousands of Sony employees, including Social Security numbers, medical and salary information. The FBI announced (on Dec. 19th) that North Korea was behind the attack as a way to retaliate against the movie “The Interview”, a film about assassinating Kim Jong-Un. View on AbridgeMe.com
…And a few more topics that shaped 2014:
Donald Sterling Banned from NBA
South Korean Ferry Disaster
Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest Nobel Prize Winner
Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Scandal
Hong Kong Protests, Umbrella Movement