North Texas Daily

A year in review: Planes, strains and popping champagne

A year in review: Planes, strains and popping champagne

December 31
12:05 2014

The Editorial Board 

The new year is always exciting as folks are anxious to move forward and the parties celebrate the potential for exorbitance. But before midnight, it is quite appropriate to reflect on the year that was, ponder a year that will be and hope for wealth and prosperity.

In 2014, Denton fought hydraulic fracturing, Ebola plagued headlines, ISIS attacked and Congress sat. While it hosted the Winter Olympics, Russia prioritized on Ukraine in defiance of the West. The American economic wheels began to turn again, immigration was a hot-button issue and the world lost some shining lights.

It is hard to tell which was more feared, ISIS or Ebola. While Islamic militants terrified and decapitated, Ebola spread from border to border, making its way to Dallas with its deadly chaos. While Americans sanitized, President Obama dropped bombs, vying to prevent an Islamic State. But the battle against ISIS, also called ISIL, came to the political dismay of Obama in 2014, the same year combat missions were due to dwindle in the Middle East.

The nation continued to heal from years of war as thousands of undocumented citizens poured into the country from the Mexican border. Immigration reform proved to be a polarizing issues, as politicians of the 2014 election cycle jousted over the subject. As Republicans retook the Senate, and reenforced their populous in the House, Obama reached for solvency, taking unilateral action on immigration reform. Again, the president suffered, further strengthening the case that not even Democrats wanted anything to do with him.

But as the chief executive’s approval ratings fell, 2014 was one of the best years of his presidency. The economy awakened this year, with citizens able to spend. Now, a testament to Obama’s Affordable Care Act, more Americans are insured that at any time in history; only time will tell if the act will prove beneficial to the country. As gas prices drip down, Americans can save, able to churn the economy even more. The federal budget deficit lowered to $500 billion, down from $1.2 trillion in 2009.

While the economy grew, so too did the future of business. This year was the year for big data. As the National Security Agency continued to spy, so did the private sector. Website traffic was largely monitored by invested parties to analyze consumer habits and determine more insightful marketing methods. The state of the news media improved over the course of 2014, following analytic algorithms on websites and social media. The feature appeared more bright during 2014, even as organizations cut newsroom staffs. Websites like BuzzFeed and Vox appeared to hold an advantage over legacy companies with success among millennials.

A mystery that no algorithm can solve still puzzles the confused minds of society: what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? It appears to be the case that the missing aircraft will never be recovered. The plane vanished mid-flight, sending militaries of the world to the region, only to come up empty handed, haunting air travelers. Another plane lost contact with air traffic control before the year was up but wreckage and bodies of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 were found in Indonesian waters.

While other planes plummeted, Southwest Airlines saw the end of the Wright Amendment, a restrictive act the belittled air travel from Dallas Love Field. The airport saw an increase of air travel, forcing it to build more facilities, including a new parking garage that holds more than 1,000 vehicles.

The parking situation at UNT didn’t get helpful relief, but the parking office sure did hand out inconvenient citations. Parking officers fined while the Parking and Transportation office avoided contact. The department was routinely difficult to get hold of, uncharacteristic for UNT.

The UNT community met its newest president in February after V. Lane Rawlins retired. Neal Smatresk, former president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, replaced Rawlins. Smatresk proved to be a great addition to the university, eager to expanded and grow into a tier 1 research institution. With his playful selfies and admirable attention to students and faculty, Smatresk brought with him a playbook full of ideas aimed at creating a nationally recognized UNT.

As the leader of the student body, SGA President Troy Elliot, too, had a formidable 2014. Elliot was vocal on many social justice issues, including the protests following the jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

The deaths of Brown and Garner will go down as furthering the civil rights conversation historically. Both black men were killed during encounters with police officers in their respective communities. The conversation was ongoing since the summer, and has little sign of relenting in the early part of 2015. Violent riots and looting often overshadowed the peaceful protests, but violence has been minimal as more protests arise across the country in response to the rulings. UNT students protested in Library Mall just before finals, carrying nationally trending signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”

In sports news, 2014 had Texas A&M University saying goodbye to Johnny “Football” Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback who was picked No. 22 by the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Draft. No stranger to Cleveland, NBA superstar Lebron James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014. Winter Olympians convened in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Host country Russia raked in 33 medals, just ahead of the United States with 28. Professional football was marred by domestic abuse scandals, most notably that of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whose assault was caught on a hotel camera. Rice was recorded hitting his current fiance,  Janay Rice, in the face and dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stomached severe criticism for his handling of the situation. Goodell eventually suspended the running back, but Rice has since been allowed entrance to the league.

Americans in 2014 continued to keep up with Kim Kardashian and her marriage with rapper Kanye West. Kardashian appeared almost nude on the cover of Paper magazine in an attempt to #BreakTheInternet. The photo had little to do with her inner beauty, and more to do with her famous booty. In other derriere news, hip-hop diva Nicki Minaj twerked all over the place, releasing her latest album, which includes “Anaconda,” a song themed from Sir Mix-a-lot’s hit “Baby Got Back.”

Some notable and important figures were lost in 2014. The beloved Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman died this year, dimming Hollywood’s stars. Candid comedian Joan Rivers and author Maya Angelou also left the world while journalism lost a hero in Benjamin “Ben” Bradlee, the longtime editor of The Washington Post who helped bring the Watergate scandal to light.

As we record this next chapter in UNT/Denton history, the North Texas Daily wishes you a Happy New Year.

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