Well, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas trees are going up, mall parking lots are more like war zones, and everyone starts thinking about what they want the next year to look like.
But before we plunge into that conversation, let’s take a minute to reflect on the big stories that dominated headlines this year. 2014 was a big one.
The Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Way back in March, a flight took off from Malaysia with over 200 people on board. It was heading to China, but about halfway through a completely normal flight, it simply vanished.
Poof, gone. Vanished from sight and radar. 239 people, including crew, and a huge Boeing jet, simply disappeared.
Searches have been going on all year. Still, nothing to report. Not a blip on a radar, not a flare seen. No report from survivors, no discoveries of debris or wreckage.
Will the mystery be solved in 2015? Will it ever be solved? For the families and friends of those 239 people, I truly hope so.
Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapping
In mid-April, a Nigerian terrorist cell broke into a school and abducted 230 schoolgirls.
With the extremist view that women should be at home, married and raising children, tending to the home, the abductors took the girls into the jungle and they have not yet been released, despite widespread efforts from aid agencies and international groups.
In October, 4 girls escaped, and emerged after walking for 3 weeks from where they were being held in Cameroon. They reported that the other girls were still being held, subject to daily abuses.
The Ebola Epidemic
While it has not spread beyond Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, the outbreak of ebola has killed thousands and thousands of people. With a mortality rate of over 70% in the standard strain, the emergence of the Zaire strain caused extreme distress with its mortality rate of 90%.
The United States had 4 reported cases and 1 fatality, but the virus was contained by extremely proactive quarantine and monitoring processes.
Crisis in the Ukraine
Civil unrest in the Ukraine in February led the President to abandon the capital, Kiev. Soon after, pro-Russian forces joined with Russian militants to take over the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has come under extreme criticism for his encouragement of the overturn of Ukrainian independence. Russian troops have been amassing at the border, with no end in sight to the potential aggression. The Ukraine could be absorbed into the Russian Republic if things do not unwind – or a war in Eastern Europe could be on the horizon.
Even worse is that another Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down by separatists while flying over the Ukraine – killing 298 innocent civilians from completely uninvolved countries. Russia has been subjected to economic sanctions as a result.