As in years past, 2015 had its share of highs and lows, unique twists and turns that sometimes made us gasp and shake our heads in disbelief. This year was anything but dull. The top stories of 2015 are more than time or space will allow, but here is a snapshot of the year that is now coming to an end:
Cosby accusers hit the 50 mark — Mounting allegations against iconic comedian Bill Cosby that resurfaced late in 2014 of sexual assault and drugging — and which he has vehemently denied — continued throughout this year. By now, more than 50 women have come forward, some of whom were featured on a striking cover story for New York magazine. The former sitcom star will be deposed early next year in a case involving one of his accusers, and he has counter-sued seven of the women who have made allegations against him, claiming they have caused him “severe emotional distress.”
Black Lives Matter Gains Momentum – Deaths of nonviolent and unarmed black men Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and several others by police officers took public outcry to a whole new level. The Black Lives Matter Movement, which began in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, picked up momentum in 2015. Cell phone footage of Scott being fatally shot in the back as he ran away from police in April was among several videos uploaded on social media which severely discredited statements made by police.
Good guys fight back –Three Americans found themselves harnessing their power to thwart a gunman's public attack. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler were traveling on a train in France when they heard gunshots. With Skarlatos' cry to, "Get him," Stone jumped out of his seat to tackle the gunman, with his two friends and fellow passenger British consultant Chris Norma following closely behind. After wrestling with the attacker, the four men managed to restrain the gunman, saving hundreds of lives in the process.
Paris Terrorist Attacks—The November 13, 2015 terror attacks in Paris killed at least 130 people and wounded hundreds. The attackers, armed with assault rifles and explosives, targeted six locations across the city. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Two related incidents which occurred in late December brought a sense of hope and justice. The Pentagon announced on Dec. 29th that Charaffe al Mouadan, an associate of the ringleader of the Paris terror attacks was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria. The Islamic State operative had connections in Europe and was planning further attacks against the West.
Also, an end-of-year miracle occurred when singer Laura Croix woke up from a coma after being shot six times in the chest and stomach during the Paris massacre at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theatre.
San Bernardino Attacks—Two weeks later, on December 2, 2015, terrorism struck again during a mass shooting and an attempted bombing, in San Bernardino, California. Fourteen people were killed, and 22 were seriously injured. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple living in the city of Redlands, targeted employees at a holiday party, then
fled in a rented sport utility vehicle (SUV). Four hours later, police pursued their vehicle and killed them in a shootout.
Lawmakers Supported Measures that Actually Made a Difference
The Obama administration announced in December that the U.S. Department of Education would cancel $27.8 million in federal student loans owed by former students of defunct for-profit school chain Corinthian Colleges Inc. who were duped into taking on the debt.
The Confederate flag came tumbling down at the South Carolina courthouse after 54 years. Calls for its removal came after admitted murderer and white supremacist Dylan Roof killed nine black people in a Charleston, South Carolina church and photos surfaced of him posing with the flag.
The flag is considered a long standing symbol of racism by Black Americans. Black Twitter launched the #TakeItDown campaign. “Symbols alone won’t change the dynamics,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of social justice organization Color of Change, told HuffPost. "But it’s important that if we are going to change the landscape that we change the symbols that people have to live under.”
Facebook Mogul Does Good—CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he's giving away 99% of his Facebook shares — valued at $45 billion today —during his lifetime.
In a letter to his newborn daughter, Max, Zuckerberg said he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would donate the shares through their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Its mission includes personalized learning, curing diseases, and connecting people. He also made a bold statement for moms and dads everywhere when he announced he’d be taking two months off after the birth of his daughter.