AP poll: Police killings of blacks voted top story of 2014
NEW YORK, (AP):
The police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere and the investigations and tumultuous protests they inspired, was the top news story of 2014, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of United States editors and news directors.
Some witnesses said 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender; others said he was making a charge. But there was no dispute he was unarmed and shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson. In New York City, another unarmed black, Eric Garner, was killed after a white officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest for unauthorised cigarette sales. After grand juries opted not to indict the officers, protests erupted across the country, punctuated by chants of "Hands up, don't shoot!" and "I can't breathe." In both cases, federal officials launched investigations.
The first wave of Ebola deaths, early in the year, attracted little notice. By March, the World Health Organization was monitoring the outbreak. By midsummer, it was the worst Ebola epidemic on record, with a death toll now approaching 7,000, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. A Liberian man with the disease died at a Dallas hospital, followed by a few other cases involving US health workers, sparking worries about the readiness of the US health system.
Militant fighters from the Islamic State group startled the world with rapid, brutal seizures of territory in Iraq and Syria. The US and its allies responded with air strikes, hoping that Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground could retake captured areas. Revulsion towards the Islamic State intensified as it broadcast videos of its beheadings of several Western hostages.
For months, political odds-makers sought to calculate if Republicans had a chance to gain control of the US Senate. It turned out there was no suspense. The GOP won 54 of the Senate's 100 seats, expanded its already strong majority in the House of Representatives, and gained at the state level, where Republicans now hold 31 governorships.
Millions more Americans signed up to be covered under President Obama's health care initiative, but controversy about 'Obamacare' raged on. Criticism from Republicans in Congress was relentless; many GOP-governed states balked at participation; and opinion polls suggested most Americans remained skeptical about the programme.
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 mobilised to look in vain for the wreckage on the Indian Ocean floor. To date, there is no consensus as to why the plane vanished.
Frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions in November to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the US illegally. GOP leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president's moves. Prospects for reform
legislation were dimmed earlier in the year by the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the US border, causing shelter overloads and case backlogs.
TURMOiL IN UKRAINE:
A sometimes bloody revolt that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February triggered a chain of events that continued to roil Ukraine as the year drew to a close. Russia, worried that Ukraine would tilt increasingly towards the West, annexed the Crimean peninsula in March, and backed an armed separatist insurgency in coal-rich eastern regions of Ukraine. The US and its allies responded with sanctions against Russia.
Due to a wave of federal court rulings, 19 more US states began allowing same-sex marriages, raising the total to 35 states encompassing about 64 per cent of the population. Given that one US court of appeals bucked the trend by upholding state bans on gay marriage, there was widespread expectation that the US Supreme Court will take up
the issue and make a national ruling.
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.