Inglewood Today takes a quick look back at the people and events that shaped our world in 2014.
NSA Reforms: President Barack Obama announced reforms to the NSA, the country's surveillance program. The reforms require that NSA analysts get a court order to access phone data unless in cases of emergencies; an eventual end to the collection of massive amounts of metadata by the government; and that the NSA will stop eavesdropping on leaders of allied nations.
Seattle Seahawks Win Super Bowl: The Seahawks win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, demolishing the Denver Broncos, 43–8. It is also the first championship win for head coach Pete Carroll who previously coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Carroll becomes only the third coach to have won both a Super Bowl and a college national championship. The other two coaches are Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.
Malaysia Airlines Mystery: En route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. In the weeks that followed, aircraft, ships and searchers from two-dozen countries mobilized to look in vain for the wreckage on the Indian Ocean floor. To date, there's no consensus as to why the plane vanished.
Nigerian Girls Abducted: On the night of April 14, hundreds of schoolgirls at the Chibok boarding school in northeastern Nigeria were kidnapped by Islamist militants Boko Haram. The group threatened to sell the girls as sex slaves. Their abduction sparked global outrage and a huge campaign calling for their rescue, partly propelled by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
India’s Emerging Economy: In financial news, India edged ahead of Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power.
Clippers Owner Ousted: Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling rocked the sports world when his racist comments were linked to TMZ. Sterling was fined and eventually forced to sell his team. Billionaire Steve Ballmer became the Clippers’ official new owner on August 12.
V.A. Scandal: The Department of Veterans Affairs became embroiled in a nationwide scandal over allegations of misconduct and cover-ups. Several senior officials were fired or forced to resign, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. At the heart of the scandal was the VA hospital in Phoenix; allegations surfaced that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment there.
Maya Angelou: We said goodbye to world renowned author, poet, dancer, actress, singer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who died at age 86. Angelou published seven autobiographies, including the critically acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays.
Teachers lose tenure: A California judge rules teacher tenure as unconstitutional, saying the protection keeps bad teachers in the classroom and forces out promising good ones.
JET becomes an app: The long standing Black American mini-magazine went totally digital. The last paper issue, which dates back to 1951, hit newsstands on June 9 and was replaced by the JET app on June 30.
“King” James Returns: Super Baller LeBron “King” James decides to return to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Overjoyed Cavaliers fans—the same ones who booed him when he chose to play for Miami—expressed their forgiveness, rushing to purchase LeBron James jerseys to replace the ones they burned when he left.
Ice Bucket Challenge: Also called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this idea raised awareness and millions of dollars for a disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The global challenge, which went viral on social media during July–August 2014, challenged participants to dump ice water on their heads within 24 hours of being nominated or forfeit by way of financial donations. Videos of celebrities taking the challenge kept the momentum going.
Robin Williams: Shocked fans around the world struggled with news of the sudden death of actor-comedian Robin Williams. The 63-year funnyman and Oscar winner hung himself in his bedroom after a bout with depression.
Michael Brown Verdict: The biggest domestic story of the year occurred in Ferguson, Mo., with the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. Waves of protests rocked the city near St. Louis and spread throughout the nation after Wilson escaped indictment. The protests have been ongoing and continue to dominate the news.
The incident brought to the limelight age-old problems of racial profiling, police brutality and mistrust between police and black communities. President Obama has asked for $263 million for police training and the purchase body cameras for officers.
ISIS Beheadings: American journalist James Foley, who covered the Syrian Civil War, is beheaded on videotape by the ISIS terrorists group on August 19. A second journalist, Steven Sotloff, is beheaded on Sept. 2.
NFL Scandal: Video is leaked from a surveillance camera in an elevator, catching Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée (now wife), knocking her out cold, then dragging her across the floor. The NFL initially suspended Rice for two games, then suspended him indefinitely. In November an arbitrator ruled that the league had acted improperly in banishing Rice and ordered that he be reinstated. The Rice incident raised the issue of whether professional sports franchises should allow athletes engaged in domestic violence to continue playing.
White House Jumper: A man shows just how easy it is to jump the White House fence and come within feet of where the First Family lives. Omar Gonzalez jumped the fence, ran past Secret Service agents, opened the unlocked door and got to the East Room before anyone stopped him.
Ebola: The Ebola virus takes center stage as Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national visiting family in Dallas, becomes the first person to die of the disease in the U.S. Mass hysteria follows, with politicians demanding bans on air travel from West Africa—where Ebola is the most widespread—while medical authorities try to quell the public’s fears. The Duncan case results in quarantine and treatment of medical personnel who came in contact with him. Fortunately, they recover.
Obamacare Enrollment: November 15th began the open enrollment period for Obamacare. Compared to last year’s glitch-filled rollout, families signing up for health care under the Affordable Health Care Act this year are finding the process much easier. With benefits, which include free preventive check-ups and a ceiling on out-of-pocket costs, millions now have access to affordable medical coverage. Open enrollment continues through February 15, 2015.
U.S. Elections: Republicans won 54 of the Senate's 100 seats, and expanded their majority in the House as well. With an essentially GOP-controlled Congress, Democrats will have a fight on their hands when the new Republicans are sworn in.
Immigration: Frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. GOP leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president's moves.
Civil Unrest Increases: Organized protests and rallies continued nationwide over shooting deaths and non-indictments of police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Taking advantage of the holiday shopping season, protestors gathered at malls and shut down freeways. In a separate matter, Walmart workers walked out on Black Friday to demand livable wages and benefits. Sadly, on Dec. 20, a suicidal black man shot and killed 2 police officers in New York while sitting in their patrol car—a retaliation against the Brown and Garner deaths.
Missing Plane Disaster: Eerily mirroring the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8, in which 239 passengers disappeared, an AirAsia flight en route to Singapore and carrying 162 passengers went missing. Two days later on December 30, rescuers located and began pulling bodies and debris from the plane in the Java Sea, off Indonesia.
U.S.-Cuba Agreement: In a surprising end to 2014, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced they have begun the process of normalizing relations between their respective counties. The agreement would see the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, U.S. bank access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana.