2014 in Review: National Headlines

Major stories in 2014 had consistent depth that resonated across New England

Reform in health care was a major victory for the White House in 2013, but the roll out of Obamacare was a stumble online. It made the beginning of 2014 a headache for the administration and millions of uninsured Americans.

Donald sterling was far from the most successful owner in the NBA, but his epic fall from grace was stunning nonetheless. Undone by a mistress and recorded private conversation with racist remarks brought a lifetime ban from the sport and the sale of his team.

A decorated veteran respected by all could not recover from a scandal over health care at the Veterans Administration. A whistle blower in Arizona revealed wait times and falsified records that lead to the resignation of Eric Shinseki.

On February 7, General Motors, recalled almost 800,000 cars for faulty ignition switches. Congress began looking for answers when the problem was linked to at least 13 deaths in 35 crashes. By the end of the year there were 45 recalls of more than 28 million cars worldwide for a problem the company may have known about for 10 years.

For three decades the fight for immigration reform has bedeviled both democratic and republican administrations. Meanwhile the number of undocumented workers has risen to over 11 million. This year President Obama took executive action on two different occasions in an attempt to break the gridlock. Opponents promised to fight back, but for now, a ray of hope for 5 million who may soon legally come out of the shadows.

The fall of one beloved comedy icon and the death of another triggered strongly different reactions in 2014. Bill Cosby earned the role of America’s dad with two generations, but renewed allegations put a stain on his reputation and brought dialogue about power, sexual abuse and even rape.

The loss of Robin Williams generated a different reaction. Beyond tragedy, his choice to end his life with suicide, prompted conversation about depression and drugs that resonated with many families across the country.

The image of Ray Rice striking his wife to the ground and dragging her off an elevator struck a raw nerve. The NFL star was punished when the images went public and when other players with issues of family violence became public. America’s game was forced to take action across the league.

At the beginning of 2014, Ebola was just an epidemic crippling countries in West Africa. American care providers rushed to help. When several became infected with the virus, they came to the United States for treatment and were cured. When Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola, and later died at a Dallas hospital, the virus hit home in a way that changed the country.

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by white police officer Darren Wilson in late summer, was the trigger for an examination of conscience about the racial divide that has persisted for generations. Other shootings in Staten Island, Cleveland and subsequent decisions by grand juries not to indict, caused demonstrations and protests that suggest a headline from 2014 will echo forward into 2015. 

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