Year-End Round Up 2014: A World On Fire

Greetings from chilly Pakistan! News trickles through via this blog’s current wireless situation so the below has been added at various times — apologies for outdated information here and there. To wrap up 2014, it has been a year of incredible ups and downs — police killings of African American men finally attracted global attention, militant group Daesh/ISIS has risen to be an international terrorist killing machine, Ukraine saw dramatic clashes with Russia, protesters in Mexico and Hong Kong produced student-led riots, Ebola engulfed West Africa, the longest war for many of us finally ended in Afghanistan, a massacre of school children shook an exhausted Pakistan to the core, India saw the world’s largest ever democratic exercise resulting in the election of Narendra Modi, Israel and Gaza went to war in a tragic and futile clash, a Malaysian plane went mysteriously missing and has yet to be found, and a Thai coup briefly gripped the country. South Korea was hit with tragedy when a ferry boat sunk, killing predominately children, while terrorism carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria led to brief interest in #BringBackOurGirls and a movement to locate hundreds of kidnapped school children.

That was hardly the end — Germany took a hard-won first place in the FIFA World Cup (controversially hosted in Brazil), feminism roared its head yet again on a global scale (and saw an endorsement from Beyoncé), North Korea and the United States clashed over the internet and a comedy, Turks protested their government en masse, Malala Yousafzai become the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and much of the Middle East appeared divided on its future following a series of uprisings in 2011. LGBTQ issues are more prevalent now than ever before, and the world’s transgender community is finally beginning to see representation in the media.

As  we move into 2015, this blog wishes all of its readers a safe and happy new year! Regularly scheduled updates won’t return until mid-January, but in the mean time worry not — once your blogger returns from Asia so too will the news. A look back over the year:

7 Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in a shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 16. Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing 132 children and 10 teachers, in the latest militant violence to hit the already troubled region.
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in a shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 16. Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city, killing 132 children and 10 teachers, in the latest militant violence to hit the already troubled region.
Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 25.
Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 25.
Kurds in the Turkish village of Caykara stand in line during a solidarity rally with the Syrian city of Kobani, on the Turkey-Syria border, on Nov. 11. Hundreds of volunteers, predominantly Kurdish Turks, keep watch on the border with Syria, looking out for potential ISIS fighters attempting to cross into Kobani. The Syrian city has been besieged since mid-September by ISIS and defended by Kurdish Syrian fighters known as the People's Protection Units.
Kurds in the Turkish village of Caykara stand in line during a solidarity rally with the Syrian city of Kobani, on the Turkey-Syria border, on Nov. 11. Hundreds of volunteers, predominantly Kurdish Turks, keep watch on the border with Syria, looking out for potential ISIS fighters attempting to cross into Kobani. The Syrian city has been besieged since mid-September by ISIS and defended by Kurdish Syrian fighters known as the People’s Protection Units.
A demonstrator walks down the street after getting tear gas in her face in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 24.
A demonstrator walks down the street after getting tear gas in her face in Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 24.
Ten-year-old Macy Friday looks back at her family after meeting Hillary Clinton during a campaign event for Sen. Mark Udall in Denver's Union Station on Oct. 13.
Ten-year-old Macy Friday looks back at her family after meeting Hillary Clinton during a campaign event for Sen. Mark Udall in Denver’s Union Station on Oct. 13.
A Kurdish woman runs away from a water cannon near the Syrian border after Turkish authorities temporarily closed the border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey's Sanliurfa province on Sept. 22. Turkey said that some 130,000 people had flooded across its border from Syria as Kurdish fighters battled ISIS militants trying to capture a strategic town.
A Kurdish woman runs away from a water cannon near the Syrian border after Turkish authorities temporarily closed the border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province on Sept. 22. Turkey said that some 130,000 people had flooded across its border from Syria as Kurdish fighters battled ISIS militants trying to capture a strategic town.
Thousands of walruses gather on the northwest coast of Alaska on Sept. 23. Pacific walrus looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in record numbers, according to NOAA. An estimated 35,000 total walruses were spotted Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, Alaska.
Thousands of walruses gather on the northwest coast of Alaska on Sept. 23. Pacific walrus looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in record numbers, according to NOAA. An estimated 35,000 total walruses were spotted Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, Alaska.
Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 30. Three members of District 13 ambulance service traveled to the village to pickup six suspected Ebola sufferers that had been quarantined by villagers. Aid donations are still inadequate, as the international community tries to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the disease which has hit Liberia the hardest.
Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 30. Three members of District 13 ambulance service traveled to the village to pickup six suspected Ebola sufferers that had been quarantined by villagers. Aid donations are still inadequate, as the international community tries to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the disease which has hit Liberia the hardest.
A Honduran immigrant entertains a child in front of a map of Mexico showing train routes leading north at a shelter for undocumented Central American immigrants on September 14, in Tenosique, Mexico.  Many immigrants risk riding on top of "La Bestia" or The Beast, a freight train which passes through Tenosique in Mexico's southern state of Tabasco. The number of immigrants making the perilous trek has diminished since spring because of Mexican and U.S. law enforcement operations attempting to stem the flow.
A Honduran immigrant entertains a child in front of a map of Mexico showing train routes leading north at a shelter for undocumented Central American immigrants on September 14, in Tenosique, Mexico.
Many immigrants risk riding on top of “La Bestia” or The Beast, a freight train which passes through Tenosique in Mexico’s southern state of Tabasco. The number of immigrants making the perilous trek has diminished since spring because of Mexican and U.S. law enforcement operations attempting to stem the flow.
Dr. Kent Brantly is released from Emory University hospital following his battle with Ebola.
Dr. Kent Brantly is released from Emory University hospital following his battle with Ebola.
An Afghan refugee child chases bubbles released by other children, while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 8. For more than three decades, Pakistan has been home to one of the world’s largest refugee communities: hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have fled the repeated wars and fighting in their country
An Afghan refugee child chases bubbles released by other children, while playing on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 8. For more than three decades, Pakistan has been home to one of the world’s largest refugee communities: hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have fled the repeated wars and fighting in their country
An injured girl cries in the corridor of the Ludian hospital in Zhaotong, China on Aug. 4. Sunday's 6.1-magnitude quake that struck in a mountainous part of Yunnan province left 589 dead as of Wednesday, and brought forth a massive effort to clear roads and enter isolated mountain communities where people were still feared to be trapped in collapsed homes.
An injured girl cries in the corridor of the Ludian hospital in Zhaotong, China on Aug. 4. Sunday’s 6.1-magnitude quake that struck in a mountainous part of Yunnan province left 589 dead as of Wednesday, and brought forth a massive effort to clear roads and enter isolated mountain communities where people were still feared to be trapped in collapsed homes.
nbcnews / Fernandinho of Brazil reacts after a goal was scored by Toni Kroos of Germany during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on July 8.  Host country Brazil’s dreams were cut short by a shocking 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany on Tuesday.
Fernandinho of Brazil reacts after a goal was scored by Toni Kroos of Germany during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on July 8.
Host country Brazil’s dreams were cut short by a shocking 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany on Tuesday.
reuters / Same-sex marriage supporters Gregory and Banerjee smile in Portland
reuters / Same-sex marriage supporters Gregory and Banerjee smile in Portland, OR.
reuters / families protest the likely boko haram-led kidnapping of over 200 girls in nigeria
reuters / Families protest the  Boko Haram-led kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria.
reuters / an iraqi voter raises her finger
reuters / An Iraqi voter raises her finger.
Israeli soldiers, family and friends mourn over the grave of Sergeant Sagi Erez, an infantry soldier training to be a squad commander, during his funeral at the military cemetery in Haifa, Israel, on July 29. Erez, 19, was killed Monday in combat after Gaza militants used a tunnel to sneak into Israel.
Israeli soldiers, family and friends mourn over the grave of Sergeant Sagi Erez, an infantry soldier training to be a squad commander, during his funeral at the military cemetery in Haifa, Israel, on July 29. Erez, 19, was killed Monday in combat after Gaza militants used a tunnel to sneak into Israel.
A Palestinian father of one of eight dead children cries outside the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on July 28.
A Palestinian father of one of eight dead children cries outside the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on July 28.
1 A Maasai warrior makes the high jump, in which athletes must touch a high line with the top of their heads, at the annual Maasai Olympics in the Sidai Oleng Wildlife Sanctuary near to Mt. Kilimanjaro, in southern Kenya on Dec. 13. Maasai men and women from the Amboseli and Tsavo region compete for medals and prizes in the event which aims for a sports competition of Maasai skills such as running, jumping, and throwing, to replace lion-hunting as the traditional warrior activity.

A Maasai warrior makes the high jump, in which athletes must touch a high line with the top of their heads, at the annual Maasai Olympics in the Sidai Oleng Wildlife Sanctuary near to Mt. Kilimanjaro, in southern Kenya on Dec. 13. Maasai men and women from the Amboseli and Tsavo region compete for medals and prizes in the event which aims for a sports competition of Maasai skills such as running, jumping, and throwing, to replace lion-hunting as the traditional warrior activity.
Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, left, scuffles with an Israeli border policeman near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Dec. 10. Abu Ein died shortly after being hit by Israeli soldiers during a protest on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, a Reuters photographer who witnessed the incident and a Palestinian medic said. Ziad Abu Ein, a minister without portfolio who was in his early 50s, died en route to the nearby Palestinian city of Ramallah.  Israeli and Palestinian pathologists disagree on whether a blow to the body or a bad heart was the main cause of death of Abu Ein, who collapsed shortly after scuffling with Israeli troops during a West Bank protest on Dec. 10.
Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein, left, scuffles with an Israeli border policeman near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Dec. 10. Abu Ein died shortly after being hit by Israeli soldiers during a protest on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, a Reuters photographer who witnessed the incident and a Palestinian medic said. Ziad Abu Ein, a minister without portfolio who was in his early 50s, died en route to the nearby Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli and Palestinian pathologists disagree on whether a blow to the body or a bad heart was the main cause of death of Abu Ein, who collapsed shortly after scuffling with Israeli troops during a West Bank protest on Dec. 10.
Tens of thousands of protesters march accross the Elisabeth Bridge during a rally against a plan by the Hungarian government to tax Internet use from 2015, in Budapest on Oct. 28.  The rally, the second in three days objecting to the scheme, was also a sign of growing discontent among mostly younger citizens against Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policies centralizing power and increasing the role of the state to the detriment of private enterprise.
Tens of thousands of protesters march accross the Elisabeth Bridge during a rally against a plan by the Hungarian government to tax Internet use from 2015, in Budapest on Oct. 28.
The rally, the second in three days objecting to the scheme, was also a sign of growing discontent among mostly younger citizens against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies centralizing power and increasing the role of the state to the detriment of private enterprise.
Indian youth make a human pyramid to reach and break the “Dahi Handi,” an earthen pot filled with yogurt, as they celebrate Janamashtami in Mumbai, India, on Aug. 18. Janmashtami is the festival that marks the birth of Hindu god Krishna.
Indian youth make a human pyramid to reach and break the “Dahi Handi,” an earthen pot filled with yogurt, as they celebrate Janamashtami in Mumbai, India, on Aug. 18. Janmashtami is the festival that marks the birth of Hindu god Krishna.
A Palestinian man cries as he holds the dead body of his younger brother in the morgue of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 16. His brother was one of four boys from the Bakr family killed in what appeared to be Israeli naval shelling near Gaza City as they played football on a beach.
A Palestinian man cries as he holds the dead body of his younger brother in the morgue of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 16. His brother was one of four boys from the Bakr family killed in what appeared to be Israeli naval shelling near Gaza City as they played football on a beach.
An Afghan refugee carries her child at a special medical camp organized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the coordination of Pakistan Medical Dental Association to mark World Refugees Day in Islamabad on June 20. The UNHCR said there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2013, a full six million higher than the previous year
An Afghan refugee carries her child at a special medical camp organized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the coordination of Pakistan Medical Dental Association to mark World Refugees Day in Islamabad on June 20. The UNHCR said there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2013, a full six million higher than the previous year

all images from nbcnews unless indicated otherwise

Via WaPo’s Read In morning update:

The Associated Press’s top 10 news stories of the year, as voted by U.S. editors and news directors: 1. Police killings of African American men, from Michael Brown to Eric Garner. 2. The West African Ebola outbreak. 3. The shocking rise of the Islamic State. 4. Republicans sweep the midterm elections. 5. Millions of Americans sign up for ObamaCare. 6. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. 7. President Obama takes executive action on immigration. 8. Unrest in Ukraine, from Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster in February to Russian annexation of Crimea and rebel control of the east. 9. Nineteen state bans on gay marriage fall after a wave of federal court rulings. 10. A scandal in the Department of Veterans Affairs cost Secretary Eric Shinseki his job. (Associated Press)

Not on the list: The first legal pot was sold in Washington and Colorado. Israel’s 50-day incursion into Gaza after a barrage of Hamas rockets. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls in Nigeria. The South Korean ferry disaster. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down by pro-Russian separatists over Ukraine. The survey was conducted before President Obama announced the new U.S. attitude towards Cuba.

Other 2014 Reviews:

This Year In War ; NYT Year In Pictures ; 50 Stories from 50 States

Read on for older news from the past two weeks:

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