By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The eve of 2018 is upon us. It is time to look back at the major newsmakers of the past 12 months across this great land of ours. Of course I could note a positive top 10, but it is hard to research good things.
It seems when something nice happens, it is buried by the media, general public and those involved. People are assumed to celebrate awesomeness. But once something stupid, negative, evil or disastrous occurs, it is going viral. Worse are the people caught in the middle of the foolishness or who perpetrated the bad want to be in front of a camera.
So most of this top 10 to reflect on 2018 is not about happy occasions. From sadness in Cleveland, Ohio, to devastation in the Florida Panhandle, here are my top news stories from 2018.
- LeBron James to Lakers
On July 11, the best basketball player ever went to his third time. For 15 years in Cleveland and Miami, LeBron James has supplied us with some of the most amazing basketball memories humanly possible. Now he is performing minor miracles in Los Angeles with the storied Lakers. As some folks called The Decision 3.0, LeBron took his talents to the West Coast, looking to rebuild the Laker dynasty with the help of front office personnel like Magic Johnson.
While Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player in history, James is the best basketball player to ever walk the earth. Taking Cleveland teams to the NBA Finals in 2007 and 2018 proves he can take mediocrity and make greatness.
Let’s sit back and watch the next four years and see how LeBron adds to his overall basketball legacy. It should be fun.
- She called the police …
Racial tension is at a new high throughout our country, thanks to technology. Things that might have been hidden or overlooked now have a permanent home online. Here is the recipe: Take people doing random everyday actions, then add a person not happy with their behavior deciding to pull out their cell phone to call the police. Finally, take a bystander or several bystanders to record the caller, and then you have viral magic like BBQ Becky, Permit Patty and Cornerstore Caroline.
The common factor in those three incidents and a few others similar are white women calling police on black people. Another case was Ginger Williams in Florida. She was riding on a golf cart and called the police on a black father who was yelling instructions at his son during a youth soccer game. She was Christian with the nickname “Golfcart Gail.”
Beside the memorable hashtags, these incidents just prove we are having court in the public and through the media more often. Our phones are judge, jurors and executors. The irony with these phones is that we communicate less now. Instead of going to talk to the person and asking questions, we pull out our mobile devices to get the authorities involved.
Let’s get back to talking to each other and solving issues without the police, social media and the court of public opinion.
- 2018 Winter Olympics
Every even number year is an Olympic year now. In 2018 the Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, took place in Pyeongchang. The international winter multi-sport event was held during Feb. 9-25 throughout Korea. Despite tense relations, North Korea agreed to participate in the Games, enter with South Korea during the opening ceremony as a unified Korea and field a unified team in women’s ice hockey.
Norway is apparently good at cold weather sports, winning a total of 39 medals, best in the world. Germany racked up 31 and Canada put a freeze lock on 29 medals. The United States did well with 23 total medals, with nine being of the gold variety.
- Flu outbreak
When I was growing up, people never died from the flu. It was known as a really, really strong cold. But nothing was common about the flu in early 2018. The flu outbreak was officially named the worst outbreak in the past decade on Feb. 2. The flu affected most of America. In 49 states, people were hospitalized and died. As of Feb. 9, it was announced 63 people had died from the illness, including nearly a dozen children.
Let’s keep our immune systems strong, people.
- Justice Brett Kavanaugh justice
We have a new Supreme Court Justice. And a lot of us will remember his name in the same light of Justice Clarence Thomas. Back in the late summer, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Then allegations started to flood the headlines of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was delayed due to the FBI probe into the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford. She accused Kavanaugh of misconduct when he was a teenager. It was a case to remember with both parties testifying in Washington D.C. Kavanaugh survived the onslaught to be sworn into his spot on the Supreme Court in early October.
I’m sure Kavanaugh couldn’t imagine crazy, goofy things he did back in high school and college would come back to haunt him. Now people 30 and older have to go back and examine their not-so innocent past.
- Mueller investigation
Speaking of Trump and investigations, the ongoing Special Counsel investigation is a United States law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere, with primary focus on the 2016 presidential election. The purpose is to investigate Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether that country’s leaders coordinated with associates of Donald Trump. One side of the country sees this as a witch hunt. Meanwhile the other half thinks enough evidence can be grounds for impeachment.
The investigation began May 17, 2017, conducted by the United States Department of Justice Special Counsel’s Office, headed by Robert Mueller, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As part of his investigation, Mueller also took over several existing FBI investigations, including those involving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The investigation has resulted in dozens of indictments for federal crimes and at least eight guilty pleas or convictions. In August 2018, Manafort was found guilty on eight felony counts of financial crimes. The investigation also led to Flynn pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Unfortunately, there is more to come from this investigation. I don’t think our president has to worry about impeachment. By the time they get done investigating, it will be the year 2025.
- Multiple mass shootings
Is it safe to say we’re numb to the term “mass shooting.” There have been more than 300 of them in 2018. A mass shooting is technically any firearm usage striking more than two people. But there have been countless notable devastating shooting throughout the United States this past year. One of the most shocking ones was the death of 11 worshipers at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.
A few other significant shootings were the five killed at The Capital Newspaper in Maryland on June 28. The YouTube headquarters was shot up by a female on April 3. Then closer to home in Nashville, a Waffle House shooting took place April 22.
It seems we are not safe anywhere, anymore in America. We are calling for new security measures in restaurants, churches, newspaper offices and other workplaces. We need to get busy on working on the security of people’s hearts and minds. If we can clean up those places, there is a less of a chance of a person being driven to shoot others.
- Parkland shooting
The reason I place this incident alone at No. 3 is because it is the face of mass shootings in 2018. And schools are the first home of landmark mass shootings, going back to the 1980s.
On Valentine’s Day, 17 students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The sad visual of children and educators running for their lives in a hurricane of chaos is an image I’ll never forget.
Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire. The incident became the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. An assistant football coach shielding two students died at the scene.
The event led to outcry and outrage from survivors. Now the debate of gun laws continues. It has shone a stronger spotlight on the mental health discussion. I just pray a blessing can come from this so those 17 people didn’t die in vain.
To build a wall or not to build, that is the question. Border security with enforcement of immigration laws has been a hot topic for years. But for some reason it was thrust into the main news cycle on multiple occasions throughout 2018.
Is America separating families at the border? That was the hot topic earlier in the year. Who will pay for the wall? Then thousands of migrants arrived recently to the US-Mexico border after traveling more than 2,500 miles from Central America. Those people fled to the United States to avoid persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
U.S. officials warned the migrants of facing arrest once they were the border if they tried to enter the country illegally. But still more than 7,000 Central American migrants arrived at the US-Mexico border. Let’s see how they all play out in 2019 as well.
- Natural disaster
Man can cause a lot of damage. But we’re often reminded that a Higher Power has the final say of destruction. Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States in terms of pressure.
In early October, Michael shut down parts of Florida and rivaled predecessors Hurricane Camille of 1969, Hurricane Andrew of 1992 and Hurricane Wilma of 2005.
Michael was the strongest storm on record in the Florida Panhandle and was the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane in the contiguous United States in terms of wind speed. The 13th-named storm for 2018, Michael originated from a broad low-pressure area that formed in the southwestern Caribbean Sea on Oct. 2. The disturbance became a tropical depression on Oct. 7, after nearly a week of slow development. By the next day, Michael had intensified into a hurricane near the western tip of Cuba as the hurricane moved northward. The hurricane strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico, reaching major hurricane status on Oct. 9, peaking as a high-end Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale.
Hurricane Michael caused at least $14.58 billion in damages, including $100 million in economic losses in Central America.
The hurricane’s winds left more than 200,000 people without power as the storm passed to the island’s west. Along the Florida panhandle, the cities of Mexico Beach and Panama City suffered the worst of Michael.
Just like Michael, 2018 blew in and was gone before we knew it. The historic storm left its mark and will have a strong impact on how things develop in 2019.
The same can be said for the year 2018. Let’s hope in the New Year we fix wrongs and add to rights, instead of making a flesh wound need stitches and erasing things that made us prosper.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.