Top headlines of 2014: War, Ebola and racial divide

Posted at 4:34 PM, Dec 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-30 16:03:54-05

War, disease and racial tension dominated headlines throughout 2014 in a year where the nation’s economy showed further healing.

Police shootings, international problems from Russia-backed rebels in Ukraine and Ebola in West Africa drew attention and headlines worldwide.

Here is a look at 10 big stories of 2014.

Officer Darren Wilson kills Michael Brown

On Aug. 9, Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson told Michael Brown to get out of the middle of the road.

What ensued led to a mix of peaceful protests, racial tension, looted businesses and a steady stream of anger about a dead 18-year-old black male, a cleared white police officer and a host of questions and about what happened that day.

A grand jury chose not to indict Wilson, who resigned without a severance package.

The case drew President Barack Obama’s attention, and he has pushed for more body cameras for officers among other changes.

Shortly after Wilson was cleared, New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo also was cleared of a July chokehold death of unarmed black 43-year old Eric Garner.

Ebola in America

Americans somewhat ignored Ebola when people in West Africa started contracting the disease in March, but that all changed when people started to come to the United States from Africa after becoming infected with disease.

The African crisis became major news in the United States when Thomas Eric Duncan was sent home from a Dallas hospital and then later returned. He was diagnosed with Ebola on his second visit Sept. 28.

Duncan died Oct. 8 and set off a storm after two nurses who treated him also contracted the disease. Both nurses recovered.

The issue turned into one of public safety versus individual rights with discussions of quarantines, protocols and self-monitoring.

Officials have said the risk of isolated incidents of people coming to America with Ebola exists until the crisis has been stopped in Africa.

Obama declares war on ISIS

President Barack Obama promises to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the Islamic State militant group that occupied huge swaths of the Middle East and beheaded several western citizens.

"So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities," he said. "If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region — including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies."

Donald Sterling loses Clippers

Few could consider Donald Sterling’s tenure as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers a success, but few would have predicted such a sudden and stark demise for an owner who had survived decades of losing,

But then TMZ published a recorded conversation of Sterling making racist remark to confidant V. Stiviano during the NBA playoffs and within weeks, Sterling was banned from the NBA for life.

Lots of legal maneuvers followed, but the Sterlings ended up selling the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

NFL flubs Ray Rice punishment

Months after former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancee and now wife Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator.

Rice received a two-game suspension until a new video emerged showing the assault. At that point, Rice’s suspension extended to indefinitely, and the Ravens cut Rice from the team.

The issue became embarrassing for the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who pundits said should have seen the video long before it became publicly available.

Goodell also tried to say that Rice mislead him regarding what happened in the elevator, but Former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones threw out the indefinite suspension ruling that Rice did not mislead the commissioner.

The incident brought domestic violence to the forefront of the sports landscape.

Russian-backed separatists blow up plane over Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was blown out of the sky in the middle of a battle between Ukraine and Russian-based separatists.

U.S. officials said pro-Russian militants shot down the plane, which had 298 people on board. 

Thousands reportedly have died in the conflict that has led to U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears

A Malaysia Airlines flight departed from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board and disappeared on March 8.

The plane has not been located despite a massive international hunt for the plane and its passengers. The disappearance led to all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Several tips proved to be incorrect and the plane is still missing.

Israel vs. Hamas

Three young Israeli students were murdered on June 10. Israel responded with a manhunt in Palestinian territory.

Rocket fire ensued and on July 17, Israel invaded Gaza. Nearly 2,000 people died in the fighting before Israel withdrew its troops on August 5.

School shootings

A number of school shootings again roiled communities throughout the nation.

University of California Santa Barbara, Seattle Pacific University and Florida State University all had deadly shooting incidents with multiple people injured and where the shooter randomly fired at people.

In the Florida State case, only the shooter died, but three were injured.

In the UC Santa Barbara incident, seven people, including the shooter, died while 13 were injured.

Some of the other deadly shootings included Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington also had a deadly shooting where five teenagers, including the shooter. Reynolds High School in Oregon also had a deadly shooting.

In addition, three people died following multiple shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas.

GM recalls

General Motors recalled more than 30 million vehicles throughout the world in 2014. The problems started early in the year, but continued in embarrassing fashion when the company awarded World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner a truck that had been recalled. 

The recalls have drawn questions regarding when GM CEO Mary Barra knew about the problems and if the company was slow to take action.