Back To The Future
Now 14 years into a new millennium, the year jerked us back to a past we thought we’d left behind: Beheadings, race riots, Soviet-style conflict, and runaway epidemics
By Mindy Belz
(WNS)–In the subterranean reaches of ancient churches in Mosul, Iraq—turned suddenly and in broad daylight to ISIS shrines—the captives of the 21st century met an abyss of medieval-minded militants, and the unenlightened dawn of a new dark age.
The year turned on regifting. Like the stiff-necked aunt who keeps handing out fruitcake after all the relatives say, “Enough!” 2014 gave us ample taste of old and familiar history only wrapped in new paper.
With Ferguson, Mo., the streets of America demanded a new civil rights era, six years into the first African-American presidency and half a century since legal remedies took shape to end a long U.S. history of injustice to blacks.
Vladimir Putin responded to U.S. sponsored revolts in Kiev, Ukraine, taking us back to Cold War days with an audacious takeover of Crimea. Putin said, “In spite of our unprecedented openness and readiness to cooperate on the most difficult questions, and even though we regard our enemies of yesterday as our closest friends and allies, we no longer have any doubt that they would happily see us disintegrate like Yugoslavia. We did not let that happen when Hitler tried it. Let everyone remember how those kinds of things end.”
Putin said pressure in the form of economic sanctions must drive Russians to develop their own economy, and that Russia will not allow itself to become internationally isolated. A few short months later China and Russia announced the largest gas deal in Russian history reported to total over $400 Billion.
Africa’s Ebola epidemic proved resilient to the world’s best public health protocols—affecting more than 25 countries on six continents and continuing unabated, with more than 18,000 cases and nearly 7,000 confirmed deaths by year’s end.
A long-ignored ISIS rebranded itself as the Islamic State and served notice on the United States with the August beheading of journalist James Foley that war in Iraq was not over.
President Obama, who came into office pledging to end that war, found himself standing before the American people ordering airstrikes and then more military personnel to Iraq again. He pledged a “relentless effort” to help ensure that “those who offer only hate and destruction [are] vanquished from the Earth.”
Despite that pledge, ISIS by year’s end controlled nearly all the same territory it captured in 2014. With oil supplies and other revenue, it appeared poised to mount a bigger threat than al-Qaeda prior to 9/11.
Lost in the takeover: the destruction of Christian institutions in Syria and Iraq—a civilization stretching back to the first century. In Mosul the militants destroyed or converted to mosques 45 Christian churches or institutions, all now flying the black ISIS flag.
During a standing-room-only service in Rome that included Pope Francis, the Orthodox bishop of Damascus Jean Kawak recounted stories of starving, homeless Christians: “How much longer denied, we believers? We are not resigned to the darkness of evil. We are not people of resignation or despair. Christians are the people of faith and hope. … The anonymous prayer of many people has changed the course of history.”
Domestically amid a growing world disorder came midterm elections securing Republican control of Congress, falling oil prices, and signs of economic recovery. Unemployment rates dropped but remain stubbornly high for 20- to 30-year-olds (in some places above 10 percent).
With a changing economy, plus changing values, the American family slid further into decline—under half as many new households (559,000) formed in the United States in the five years ending with 2014, compared to the five years before 2009 (1.2 million).
At the same time America’s “non-religious bloc” has nearly doubled to over 17 percent, prompting researchers to conclude, “The religious canvas of American life is being repainted before our eyes.”
In this sea of old and new, there is a gift we never tire of, and a Regifter who breaks through our retrograde tragedies moment by moment. One who knows our frame and remembers we are but dust.
“The answer to the WHY is WHO,” wrote Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini from prison in a September letter on his daughter’s eighth birthday. “The confusion of ‘WHY has all of this happened?’ and ‘WHY your prayers are not answered yet’ is resolved with understanding WHO is in control … LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD!”
Once again, but in a new millennium, we learn from a prison epistle the story of triumph despite a year’s suffering. “And so I want you to know that the answer to all of your prayers is that God is in control,” wrote Abedini, “and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives and all around the world.”
Here are some of the key players and events in the year gone by:
Islamic State militants on June 30 take part in a parade in the Raqqa province of northern Syria to celebrate the declaration of an Islamic caliphate. Throughout the year the al-Qaeda offshoot gained territory while fighting against Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces, brutally ousting Christian and Yezidi residents from the region.
A Boeing 777 that went missing over the Indian Ocean. Search efforts in the months since have failed to locate the plane, which had 239 persons on board, or any wreckage from it.
U.S. Sen.-elect Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Iowa, and her victory was part of a nationwide wave that handed Republicans control of the U.S. Senate for the final two years of the Obama administration.
The deadliest outbreak of Ebola on record infected 18,000 persons in Africa in 2014, killing more than 6,000 of them, and for the first time spread to the United States and other Western nations.
On Oct. 22, a Muslim terrorist, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and then entered the Parliament buildings where Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers shot and killed the assailant.
Muslims from the terrorist group Boko Haram on April 14 abducted more than 200 Christian girls from a school in Chibok.
On June 30 the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision protected the religious freedom of employers to opt out of the requirement to provide contraception to employees under the Affordable Care Act. The case involved the craft store chain Hobby Lobby.
Former IRS official Lois Lerner swears to tell the truth before invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify at a House hearing on March 5. The hearing investigated whether the IRS had targeted conservative groups based on their political beliefs. The IRS later reported pertinent emails from Lerner had disappeared in a computer crash. A Treasury inspector general in late November found the emails.
South Korean Ferry
On April 16 a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea. Only 172 of the 476 passengers and crew survived the sinking. The ship’s captain, Lee Jun-Seok, later received a 36-year jail term on convictions of gross negligence and dereliction of duty.
U.S. Border Patrol agents on May 23 arrested migrants trying to cross the border illegally in McAllen, Texas. Tens of thousands of mostly unaccompanied minors from Central America crossed into the United States, causing a humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Russian soldiers seized control of Crimea, Ukraine. As part of ongoing violence there, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down with all sides pointing fingers at each other. All 298 persons on board were killed.
Tens of thousands of Yezidis and Christians fled Iraq this year from advancing Islamic State forces, which brutalized and killed Yezidis and Christians in their path.
What Was Hot
Apple led the way once again with wait-in-line technology, this time breaking ground in its iPhone6 with Apple Pay—an attempt to use existing technology to change the way we buy things. With fingerprint identification to access a default credit card, customers at select retailers can now pay without their wallets.
Laser tag, for real
The U.S. Navy’s newest weapon is ready for deployment. A laser weapons system dubbed LaWS performed flawlessly in tests aboard a ship in the Arabian Gulf in late 2014. It can shoot down drones and helicopters, performed perfectly even in high winds, and costs less than a dollar a pop.
Powerful emergency contraceptives became easier for young girls to obtain thanks to a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a February letter to drug manufacturers, the FDA said it would allow pharmacies to sell generic versions of Plan B One-Step—known as the morning-after pill—over the counter without age restrictions.
Same-sex marriage march
At the start of 2014, 18 states had overturned marriage amendments or had legalized same-sex marriage—and by year’s end with more marriage amendments overturned or ruled unconstitutional, 35 states had some form of legalized same-sex marriage. Judges acting at all levels kept the state of marriage in some states in legal limbo. Until 2003, same-sex marriage was illegal in all 50 states.
Cyber-attacks were a common trend on various company credit cards. Michaels, P.F. Chang’s, and Home Depot were among the retailers that had millions of customer credit card numbers stolen in data breaches. Sony cancelled the debut of a movie due to purported international cyber-attacks. Security experts expect such attacks to continue in 2015.
Finding limits in space
Commercial spaceflight faced major setbacks, as disastrous accidents dealt a blow to the private industries that make up “New Space.” An unpiloted Antares rocket operated by Orbital Sciences Corp. exploded on launch Oct. 28—part of a $1.9 billion NASA ferry cargo to the International Space Station. Only three days later, Virgin Galactic’s test vehicle crashed in the Mojave Desert, killing the pilot. All the while, India and Russia succeeded in launching their own spacecraft.
Touchdown on a comet
The Philae lander heads to comet 67P. The comet was traveling at 80,000 miles per hour about 300 million miles from Earth—and the European Space Agency managed to land a probe on it. Physics World called the successful landing of the Philae probe the “breakthrough of the year.”
Words of the year
Oxford Dictionary: VAPE (as in vapor, trending in the e-cigarette movement)
Meriam-Webster: CULTURE (based on the biggest spike in look-ups this year, up 15 percent from a year ago)
Dictionary.com: EXPOSURE (as in, to Ebola)
Not everyone went with North, as Kim Kardashian did a year ago, or Kaya Evdokia, or as Hayden Panettiere did in welcoming babies in 2014 with one-of-a-kind names. Sophia and Emma continued to be the most popular baby girl names in America, while Jackson and Aiden vied for top names among baby boys.
10 most popular girl names of 2014:
10 most popular boy names of 2014:
A Timeline of the Biggest Events of the Past Year
By Kristin Chapman
1 | Colorado becomes the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
3 | The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) storms Fallujah, cutting power, killing civilians, and claiming the area as an Islamic state.
6 | Florida State triumphs over Auburn to take home the BCS National Championship title.
10 | Target reveals a post-Thanksgiving data breach is broader than originally believed. Hackers also infiltrated at least four other stores including Neiman Marcus.
13 | The U.S. Supreme Court rejects Arizona’s bid to defend its ban on abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy.
14 | A federal judge in Tulsa rules Oklahoma’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
15 | A Senate Intelligence Committee report determines that the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented.
20 | Iranian scientists suspend high levels of uranium enrichment at nuclear facilities across Iran as required under an interim nuclear agreement.
28 | Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns as anti-government protests spread through the nation.
2 | The Seattle Seahawks win their first Super Bowl title, defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8.
3 | Janet Yellen becomes chairman of the Federal Reserve, the first woman to lead the institution.
7 | The Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, Russia.
10 | U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Department of Justice will expand legal protections to include same-sex couples, regardless of state laws on homosexual marriage.
The Obama administration delays the employer healthcare mandate for one year for companies with 50-99 employees.
12 | Edward O. Blews Jr. sues the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities for $2.2 million in lost wages, saying the group fired him without cause and tarnished his reputation.
13 | Belgium legalizes euthanasia for terminally ill children, without an age limit.
A federal judge rules Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
17 | Jimmy Fallon makes his first appearance as The Tonight Show host, replacing Jay Leno.
21 | Ukraine’s leaders agree to a compromise with opposition groups. Lawmakers once loyal to President Viktor Yanukovych break ranks and vote to oust him along with cabinet ministers.
22 | Mexican authorities capture Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, ending a 13-year manhunt for the head of the world’s largest drug cartel.
24 | Boko Haram gunmen kill 59 students in northeast Nigeria and torch 24 buildings of the Buni Yadi secondary school in Yobe state.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signs into law a bill criminalizing homosexual activity.
27 | North Korea’s military regime fires four short-range Scud missiles. The tests are repeated March 3.
28 | Russian forces, wearing uniforms without insignia, occupy strategic positions and infrastructure across the Crimean Peninsula.
2 | At the Oscars, 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture while Gravity nets seven awards.
4 | A day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal for the Romeikes, a German homeschooling family threatened with deportation, the Department of Homeland Security grants the family “indefinite deferred status.”
5 | The Obama administration says it will allow insurers to continue offering individual plans that don’t meet the healthcare law’s new insurance requirements through 2016.
6 | Evangelical leader Bill Gothard—under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment and abuse—resigns as president of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
8 | Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears off radar, leaving no trace of the plane or the 239 persons on board.
11 | Dallas Seavey wins Alaska’s Iditarod dogsled race, in a record eight days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 19 seconds.
16 | Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
23 | The limited release God’s Not Dead film is a surprise hit, taking fourth place at the weekend box office, earning $9.2 million.
24 | A British news station reveals that government-run hospitals in the UK sometimes burn the bodies of aborted or miscarried babies in trash incinerators for fuel.
Gov. Mike Pence signs a law making Indiana the first state to reject the national Common Core education standards after originally adopting them.
26 | World Vision reverses a controversial decision to hire gays in same-sex marriages.
28 | LaKisha Wilson, 22, dies after undergoing a late-term abortion at Cleveland’s Preterm abortion center.
2 | Spc. Ivan. A. Lopez opens fire at Fort Hood, killing three soldiers and injuring 16 persons before shooting himself.
4 | A federal judge in Ohio says he plans to strike down the state’s ban on gay marriage.
7 | The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the case of Christian wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin who faced fines for refusing to photograph a lesbian couple’s ceremony.
8 | The discovery of a major bug known as “Heartbleed” spurs experts to recommend internet users change all passwords.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team claims the NCAA title a day after the men’s team did the same.
10 | A House committee votes to hold in contempt former IRS official Lois Lerner for refusing to testify about the extra scrutiny the IRS gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius resigns.
14 | Boko Haram gunmen abduct at least 200 teenage girls from a boarding school near Chibok in Nigeria’s Borno state.
16 | A ferry carrying 476 passengers capsizes off South Korea’s southern coast, killing nearly 300 persons, mostly students.
18 | An avalanche sweeps down Mount Everest, killing 16 Nepalese guides.
22 | Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols hits his 500th career home run.
The controversial God and the Gay Christian, by Matthew Vines, arrives on bookstore shelves.
24 | A security guard opens fire and kills American doctors Jerry Umanos and John Gabel, and Gabel’s father Gary, at a hospital compound run by CURE International in Kabul, Afghanistan.
26 | Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sparks outrage after audio emerges recording his racist rant. The NBA bans Sterling from the league and fines him $2.5 million.
27 | Pope Francis elevates to Catholic sainthood Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.
27-30 | Storms sweep through the Plains, Midwest, and South, killing at least 35 persons.
29 | Reports reveal ISIS is executing residents crucifixion-style in the predominantly Christian area of Raqqa, Syria.
30 | Iraqis vote in the first election since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011.
5 | The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-4 that it is constitutional to open legislative meetings with prayer.
9 | An Arkansas judge strikes down the state’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban without issuing a stay.
13 | A Turkish coal mine fire kills 301.
16 | The world’s largest democratic election hands victory to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, who will become India’s new prime minister.
19 | At the end of a two-month hospital stay, Iranian authorities severely beat American pastor Saeed Abedini before returning him to prison.
20 | Thailand’s military carries out a coup.
A day after a federal judge in Oregon struck down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, another federal judge does the same in Pennsylvania.
25 | Billionaire candymaker Petro Poroshenko wins more than 50 percent of the vote in Ukraine’s 21-candidate presidential race.
30 | A damning inspector general’s report on the Veterans Affairs department—with many veterans waiting months to see VA doctors and at least 40 dying as a result—prompts Eric Shinseki to resign as head of the agency.
A Department of Health and Human Services board rules that Medicare could cover sex-change surgeries after Denee Mallon, 74, born a man, filed a lawsuit for coverage.
31 | In a prisoner exchange with the United States, the Taliban releases Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years of captivity.
3 | The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down an Arizona law passed in 2012 that requires abortion doctors to follow Food and Drug Administration guidelines when conducting medical abortions.
4 | The G7 meets in Brussels after removing Russia from the G8 over its incursions into Ukraine.
8 | Spaniard Rafael Nadal won an unprecedented ninth French Open.
10 | ISIS overruns Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., becomes the first sitting House majority leader to lose a primary race—to tea party challenger David Brat.
12 | Kurdish Peshmerga forces gain control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in Iraq to prevent ISIS expanding its territory in the north.
13 | The IRS alleges a computer crash destroyed more than two years of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner to outside agencies. They are later “found.”
15 | U.S. special forces capture Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected leader of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans.
The San Antonio Spurs win 104-87 over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
16 | Two giant tornadoes hit the ground almost simultaneously and destroy the town of Pilger, Neb.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgrades its estimate for U.S. economic growth this year from 2.7 percent to a sluggish 2 percent.
17 | The Labor Department reports a sharp uptick in the Consumer Price Index, with prices rising a higher-than-expected 0.4 percent in May.
25 | The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declares Utah’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.
26 | The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer zone between sidewalk counselors and abortion facilities.
New York City officials lose their final appeal to outlaw the sale of sugary sodas.
27 | Meriam Ibrahim and her family flee to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum after officials released her from prison, re-arrested her as she attempted to flee the country, and then released her again.
30 | The U.S. Supreme Court rules that family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have religious freedom protection from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.
3 | The U.S. Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent—the lowest since September 2008.
4 | A Chinese court sentenced Zhang Shaojie, a Christian pastor from Henan province, to 12 years in prison for alleged fraud and “gathering crowds to disturb public order.”
9 | Federal Reserve officials agreed to end their bond-buying program in October.
11 | In a Sports Illustrated essay entitled “I’m Coming Home,” LeBron James announces his departure from the Miami Heat and return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
13 | Germany defeats Argentina 1-0 in extra time to win its fourth World Cup and first in 24 years.
14 | Citigroup Inc. agreed to pay a $7 billion fine to settle the U.S. government’s claim it misled investors about mortgage securities ahead of the 2008 financial meltdown.
16 | Syrian President Bashar al-Assad begins a third term, defying Western efforts to oust him in the midst of his country’s nearly 3½-year civil war.
17 | A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is shot down over embattled eastern Ukraine, killing all on board.
18 | ISIS demands that Christians in Mosul either convert to Islam or pay a penalty. The edict forces, in all, more than half a million residents to flee the city and surrounding Nineveh province.
21 | President Obama signs an executive order adding sexuality and gender identity to a list of protected hiring categories for federal contractors.
22 | A three-judge panel on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules 2-1 that Obamacare, as written, only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. The same day, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaches the opposite conclusion, saying the IRS correctly interpreted the will of Congress in doling out Obamacare subsidies.
23 | A federal judge strikes down Colorado’s voter-approved gay marriage ban.
24 | Meriam Ibrahim, 27, and her family arrive safely in Rome, bringing to an end a 10-month ordeal in Sudan.
25 | French troops locate the wreckage of an Air Algerie jet in remote Mali after it disappeared from radar a day before. None of the 116 persons aboard survived.
28 | A federal appeals court rules that the cross-shaped steel beam recovered from Ground Zero can remain on display at the 9/11 Museum in New York.
30 | In a vote of 225 to 201, the House of Representatives approves a resolution to pursue a lawsuit against President Obama on grounds he exceeded his constitutional authority by unilaterally making changes to Obamacare.
2 | American missionary physician
Kent Brantly arrives at Emory Hospital, becoming the first Ebola patient in the United States. Co-worker Nancy Writebol soon follows.
3 | A magnitude-6.1 earthquake rippled through southern China’s Yunnan province, toppling homes, killing 400 persons, and injuring 1,800 others.
8 | The U.S. military begins air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq.
9 | Police officer Darren Wilson shoots and kills unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., during an altercation, sparking protests, looting, and vandalism.
18 | Community Health Systems, a network of more than 200 hospitals in 28 states, says hackers breached its computers and stole more than 4.5 million patient records.
An uncontrolled wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park spurs the evacuation of 13,000 persons.
19 | The ALS Association says it raised $22.9 million during a three-week span featuring the internet-based Ice Bucket Challenge.
ISIS beheads American journalist James Foley.
22 | The Obama administration announces revisions to the regulations for nonprofits objecting to the contraceptive and abortifacient mandate.
Health insurance companies in California must cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials rule.
26 | After a 50-day war, Israel and Hamas reach a long-term cease-fire deal. During the conflict, 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis died.
Burger King announces an $11 billion agreement to buy Canadian breakfast chain Tim Hortons, with plans to move its headquarters to Canada to reduce its corporate tax rate.
28 | Russia invades Ukraine, sending troops and military equipment across the border.
29 | A Christian couple in upstate New York will no longer rent their farm for weddings after a judge fined them $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding.
A federal judge blocks a Texas law regulating abortion centers, saying the law places an undue burden on women’s access to abortions.
2 | ISIS beheads American journalist Steven Sotloff.
3 | A federal judge in Louisiana upholds the state’s traditional marriage law and becomes the first of 20-plus federal courts to do so since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
5 | After nearly five months of fighting, Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists sign a cease-fire deal.
8 | More than 375 persons die in floods as intense monsoon rains pound northern India and Pakistan.
10 | President Obama announces plans to eradicate the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with stepped-up U.S. military involvement.
11 | A South African court finds Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murdering his girlfriend, but later finds him guilty of culpable homicide.
12 | Eric Frein kills a Pennsylvania state trooper and injures another during an ambush outside a police barracks. Frein eluded capture for 48 days until his arrest on Oct. 31.
13 | U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron verifies an ISIS video to be the beheading of U.K. aid worker David Haines.
18 | Australian officials said they foiled a grisly plot by Islamic State militants to execute violent attacks against citizens in Australia.
Scotland opts to stay in the U.K. by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent.
Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez manages to scale a White House fence, sprint across the lawn, and enter through the unlocked front door before Secret Service agents tackle him.
22 | The U.S. military initiates airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.
23 | A judge sentences author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza to five years of probation and a $30,000 fine for orchestrating illegal straw donations for a Republican Senate candidate in 2012.
25 | Alton Nolen, a convert to Islam, allegedly beheads former co-worker Colleen Hufford at the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore, Okla.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder resigns after six years as head of the Justice Department.
28 | President Barack Obama admits on 60 Minutes his administration underestimated the strength of ISIS.
Pro-democracy demonstrations swell in Hong Kong, marking the start of the weeks-long Umbrella Movement, a response to Beijing’s ruling that Hong Kong citizens can only choose the city’s next chief executive from a list of approved candidates.
3 | ISIS says it beheaded a fourth Western hostage, Briton Alan Henning, in retaliation for airstrikes.
6 | The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals from five states seeking to protect traditional marriage.
8 | Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola inside the United States, dies. Duncan had traveled from Liberia.
14 | Mars Hill Church lead pastor Mark Driscoll resigns after months of speculation surrounding criticisms of his management and leadership.
18 | Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnap at least 60 women and girls in Nigeria’s terror-plagued East—and then kidnap 30 more boys and girls a week later.
19 | Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws his 509th and 510th career touchdown passes—more than any other player—in a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
21 | North Korea releases American detainee Jeffrey Fowle, 56, almost six months after he was arrested on accusations he left a Bible at a nightclub.
22 | Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Muslim convert, stages an attack on Canada’s House of Commons. Moments earlier he had shot and killed a ceremonial guard, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, at the nearby National War Memorial.
24 | Jaylen Ray Fryberg, 15, shoots five classmates at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Wash., before dying of a self-inflicted bullet wound.
Doctors declare Dallas nurse Nina Pham free of Ebola and release her from a Maryland hospital after Pham became the first case of Ebola transmission in the United States.
29 | The San Francisco Giants win their third World Series title in five years, defeating the Kansas City Royals 3-2.
30 | Tens of thousands of protesters demanding the ousting of Burkina Faso’s veteran President Blaise Compaore face off with security forces outside the presidential palace after burning parliament and ransacking state television.
31 | A Virgin Galactic experimental spaceship breaks up over the Mojave Desert, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another.
1 | Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who advocated for assisted-suicide since receiving a brain cancer diagnosis, ends her life.
4 | In an Election Day sweep, Republicans regain control of the Senate and won 24 of 36 gubernatorial races.
Authorities arrest Mexican Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, in connection with the disappearance of 43 students, whose bodies are later discovered.
7 | President Obama authorizes the deployment of 1,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq.
8 | North Korea releases American detainees Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller.
9 | Berlin marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
18 | Two Palestinian assailants enter a Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem and violently kill four rabbis.
20 | President Obama announces an immigration overhaul that will defer the deportation of 4 million illegal immigrants.
21 | Snow accumulations in Buffalo, N.Y., total more than 5 feet, trapping people in their homes and shutting down the city.
24 | A grand jury declines to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigns his post.
29 | Taliban militants attack a California-based NGO compound in Kabul, killing South African Werner Groenewald, his two teenage children, and two Afghans.
Al-Shabaab militants slaughter 28 people in an attack on a bus in Kenya and two weeks later 36 Christian quarry workers in northern Kenya.
3 | American couple Matthew and Grace Huang finally leave Qatar after a court cleared them in the 2012 death of their adopted daughter.
A grand jury cleared a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man stopped by police for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in New York.
4 | Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi share the year’s Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo. At 17, Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of a Nobel Prize in any category.
11 | Lawmakers reach a deal to keep the government funded via a $1 trillion spending package, passing the House just under a Dec. 11 deadline and, with an extension, the Senate by a 56-40 vote on Saturday, Dec. 13.
12 | With a rash of lame-duck appointments, the Senate votes to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein as the first non-Christian ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, a position left vacant through most of the Obama years.
16 | Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announces he plans to “actively explore” a run for president in 2016.
The Russian ruble plunges in value, falling as much as 20 percent against the dollar, as sanctions and a drop in oil prices hit home.