MALAYSIAN AIRLINES PLANE SHOT DOWN

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was show down over a pro-Russian territory in Ukraine in July during the height of the Russia-Ukraine unrest. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board were killed. Pro-Russian separatists were accused of shooting down the plane. Russia blamed the Ukrainian government for the shootdown.

OBAMA TAKES ACTION ON IMMIGRATION

President Obama took immigration reform into his own hands — at the ire of conservatives — as he put forth executive actions in an effort to spare nearly 5 million immigrants from deportation. His actions come after thousands of immigrants illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, overwhelming Border Security. Many immigrants were then sent to detention centers across the U.S. Following Obama’s executive actions, many states have sued the administration, calling the executive actions unconstitutional.

REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF CONGRESS

It’s going to be a long two years as Barack Obama winds down his presidency. Republicans took control of the Senate, and widened their lead in the House, as Democrats got crushed during November’s midterm elections. The GOP taking control of both chambers of Congress was fueled by Obama’s unpopularity heading into the elections. Big issues the GOP will be taking up, and butting heads with Obama over the next two years, will be immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, among others.

THE RISE OF ISIS

The world became aware of the brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group as terrorists beheaded American journalists and British aid workers on video. The terror group known as ISIS took over a swath of land in Iraq and Syria in an effort to create a caliphate. The United States and its allies began an air campaign to take out ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Some are calling for the U.S. to put boots on the ground to take on ISIS terrorists.

EBOLA OUTBREAK

The Ebola outbreak ran rampant in West Africa this year, killing more than 7,000 people. And it was just a matter of time before the deadly disease hit American shores, as an infected Liberian man died from Ebola at a Dallas hospital. Two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan fell ill with the virus, but both are now disease-free. The disease also made its way to New York as a doctor treating patients in Guinea was diagnosed with Ebola. He has also been declared disease-free and there are now no current Ebola cases in the U.S.

SONY CYBERATTACK

A cyberattack at the hands of North Korea crippled Sony Pictures Entertainment, with embarrassing emails from executives released and causing “The Interview” to be canceled. These attacks were sparked by “The Interview,” a movie starring James Franco and Seth Rogen about the assassination of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Theaters were threatened if they showed the movie, which led to Sony cancelling its wide release. Sony is now saying that “The Interview” will eventually be released. Brown, Garner

MICHAEL BROWN, ERIC GARNER PROTESTS

Separate police killings of two unarmed black men sparked months of nationwide protests against law enforcement brutality. The Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the New York City chokehold death of Eric Garner sparked sometimes violent protests over use of force by law enforcement and highlighted racial tension between police and African-Americans. Grand juries declined to indict either white officer for wrongdoing, erupting federal investigations and ongoing debates of lethal force by police.

BILL COSBY SEX ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS

Comedian and TV icon Bill Cosby is accused of targeting, grooming, drugging and then raping 27 young women since as early as the 1970s. The slew of sexual assault accusations have never gone to court and Cosby has declined any and all such claims amid the cancellation of several of his ongoing tour shows. Mainly of the nearly 30 women accusing Cosby of sexual assault have only recently stepped forward, prompting national debates on domestic violence among celebrity couples. The highly detailed accusations include renowned model and fashion icon Beverly Johnson’s claims of being drugged and violently assaulted by the TV icon in the mid-1980s.

U.S.-CUBA POLICY

President Barack Obama made historic changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy by restoring diplomatic relations with the country in December 2014. The historic shift culminated after 18 months of secret talks between longtime foes which included a series of meetings in Canada and the involvement of Pope Francis at the Vatican. The president spoke with Cuba’s leader, Raul Castro, on the phone for nearly an hour, making it the first presidential-level call between the two nations’ leaders since the 1959 Cuban revolution. American Alan Gross, a government contract worker who had been held in Cuba for five years, was allowed to return back to the U.S. in exchange for imprisoned Cuban spies. Obama’s plans for re-establishing relations with Cuba include expanding economic ties, opening an embassy in Havana, easing travel restrictions to Cuba, and sending high-ranking U.S. officials to visit and review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

MISSING MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT

One of the greatest mysteries this year has been the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. The plane departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 8 and was due to arrive in Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members. But Malaysia Airlines lost contact with the plane less than an hour after takeoff and no distress signal or message was sent. Since the planes’ disappearance, millions of dollars have been spent searching for the plane’s wreckage in the Indian Ocean where it is believed to have crashed.

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