As the year comes to a close, it's time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2014, a particularly brutal year. Among the events covered in this essay (the last of a three-part photo summary of the year): severe drought in California, Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement protests, raging battles and U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, victories for same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S., the successful test launch of NASA's new Orion spacecraft, and crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Be sure to see part 1 and part 2 posted earlier. The series comprises 120 images in all. Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content. [40 photos total]

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A protester holds her hands up in front of a police car in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 25, 2014 during demonstrations a day after violent protests and looting following the grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of a 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown. Protest marches sprang up in cities across the US on November 25, amid a tense security operation in Ferguson, the Missouri town at the center of the country's latest racially-charged stand-off. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images) #
A child waves a pro-independence "Yes" flag on the streets of Aberdeen in Scotland, on September 15, 2014. Scotland held an independence referendum on September 18, asking simply "Should Scotland be an independent country?" The answer was "No", with 55.3% of the votes. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images) #
House boats are dwarfed by the steep banks of a shrinking Lake Oroville on August 19, 2014 in Oroville, California. As the severe drought in California continues for a third straight year, water levels in the State's lakes and reservoirs reached historic lows. Lake Oroville is currently at 32 percent of its capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) #
Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, on September 30, 2014. Three members of District 13 ambulance service traveled to the village to pickup six suspected Ebola sufferers that had been quarantined. Months into the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak, and the first to happen in an unprepared West Africa, the gap between what has been sent by other countries and private groups and what is desperately needed is huge. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures while speaking to a huge audience at Madison Square Garden in New York, during a visit to the United States, September 28, 2014. Modi was sworn in as India's newest Prime Minister in May of 2014. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #
Leng Yuting, 26, poses underwater for her wedding pictures at a photo studio in Shanghai on September 3, 2014, ahead of her wedding next year. Her fiance Riyang said they had their wedding photographs taken underwater because "it's romantic and beautiful." (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #
The Meadow Fire burns in Yosemite National Park, California, on September 8, 2014. The fire, which flared out of control on Sunday afternoon, stranded 85 hikers on top of Half Dome, the park's signature rock formation, requiring them to be flown out by helicopter, Yosemite spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said. (Reuters/Jeffrey Trust/National Park Service) #
A Palestinian man plays with his baby on a beach in Gaza city on September 7, 2014. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images) #
An aerial picture taken on September 14, 2014 shows a plane flying over the Bardarbunga volcano spewing lava and smoke in southeast Iceland. The Bardarbunga volcano system has been rocked by hundreds of tremors daily since mid-August, prompting fears the volcano could explode. Bardarbunga, at 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), is Iceland's second-highest peak and is located under Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajoekull. (Bernard Meric/AFP/Getty Images) #
The body of Tatiana Medvedeva, killed in an attack on a bus, covered by a jacket in the town of Donetsk, on September 16, 2014. Battles in eastern Ukraine killed more than 4,250 people in 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) #
"Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" by artist Paul Cummins, under construction in the moat of the Tower of London on September 10, 2014. Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies represents an allied victim of the First World War, which started 100 years ago, in 1914. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A temple stands amid the waters of the overflowing river Tawi during heavy rains in Jammu on September 6, 2014. Authorities declared a disaster alert in the northern region after heavy rain hit villages across the Kashmir valley, causing the worst flooding in decades. (Reuters/Mukesh Gupta) #
The top layer of muskeg and earth (right), and the underlying tar sands (left) after the removal of the muskeg, at the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on September 17, 2014. The Alberta tar sands are currently producing around two million barrels of oil per day, with plans to increase that to nearly four million barrels per day by 2022. (Reuters/Todd Korol) #
Zhiliang, whose fiancee was onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which disappeared on March 8, 2014, sits silhouetted in an empty house which he had planned to decorate with her for their marriage, in Tianjin, on August 26, 2014. Photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon: "Almost six months had passed since the Malaysian Airlines MH370 disappeared. Although authorities concluded that the plane crashed in the remote Indian Ocean and lost all the passengers, many family members refuse to accept that conclusion. They hope that they are still alive. However, public interest towards this incident faded, so I decided to record what these family members are still going through and shed light on this mysterious incident once again. I thought that portrait-style pictures showing family members together with the missing passengers' mementos would tell a story. I was very careful not to hurt their feelings or invade their privacy when taking these pictures. My first priority was showing my respect for the family members, so before photographing them, I would wait to ask their permission to take pictures until I felt that they were ready and would always spend some time listening to them talk. Sometimes this brought tears to my eyes". (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
Activist Cornel West is knocked over during a scuffle with police during a protest at the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri, on October 13, 2014. Hundreds of protesters converged in the pouring rain on the Ferguson police department as they launched another day of demonstrations over the August killing by police of an unarmed black teenager. (Reuters/Jim Young) #
The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket explodes in the air during a test flight on October 31, 2014. The explosion killed a pilot aboard and seriously injured another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert. (AP Photo/Kenneth Brown) #
A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on September 28, 2014. Hong Kong police used tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protests and baton-charged the crowd blocking a key road in the government district after Hong Kong and Chinese officials warned against illegal demonstrations. Protesters were, and still are, calling for open elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu) #
Police forces march toward pro-democracy protesters holding umbrellas during a standoff outside the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 14, 2014. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #
People walk through an empty tunnel on the main road in the occupied areas in Central, Hong Kong Thursday, October 9, 2014. Talks between the Hong Kong government and student leaders of a democracy protest that has blocked main roads in the Asian financial hub for nearly two weeks were canceled because they were unlikely to be constructive, a senior government official said. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) #
Police officers gather near a pro-democracy protest in the Central district of Hong Kong on October 13, 2014. (Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images) #
The far side of the Moon, with Earth in the background, imaged by China's lunar test probe Chang'e 5-TI, as it looped around the Moon on October 28, 2014. (CNSA) #
Demonstrators march to protest the disappearance of 43 students from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college, in Mexico City, on October 22, 2014. Tens of thousands marched in Mexico City's main avenue demanding the return of the missing students. The Mexican government says it still does not know what happened to the young people after they were rounded up by local police in Iguala, a town in southern Mexico, and allegedly handed over to gunmen from a drug cartel on September 26, even though authorities have arrested 50 people allegedly involved, including police officers and alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) #
Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers is applauded in the House of Commons in Ottawa on October 23, 2014. Vickers was credited with shooting an armed suspect during a shooting incident October 22, in which the gunman killed a soldier and ran through Parliament shooting before being shot dead himself. (Reuters/Chris Wattie) #
A picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is displayed on a damaged structure at the entrance of al-Dukhaneya neighborhood near Damascus, as civilians carry their belongings recovered from their homes after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad regained control of the area from rebel fighters on October 7, 2014. (Reuters/Omar Sanadiki) #
A cradle left behind by Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing ISIS attacks lies at the Turkish-Syrian border near Suruc, in this September 27, 2014 photo. Photographer Murad Sezer: "A crossing point along the Turkish-Syrian border frontier was normally a hive of activity, with wailing children and families desperately trying to carry whatever they could manage across the dusty terrain. To my surprise on this particular day, the refugee collection didn't start. Bewildered, I started to look around me. My eyes fell on an empty baby's cradle and I thought: 'How is it possible for someone to leave behind such a basic, but important, thing for a baby? Were the owners in a hurry? Was there no space in the bus or truck?' As I photographed the cradle I thought how lonely and sad it seemed. For me, it signified a kind of hopelessness. If its owners had felt hope, perhaps they would not have left it. I took four images using a 24mm wide-angle lens and photographed the deserted border area in the background aiming to illustrate the desperation the refugees feel, and the harshness of the environment, where baking sun can turn to driving rain in an instant". (Reuters/Murad Sezer) #
Feifei, 21, undergoes breast implant surgery at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province, China. Feifei, who is a third-year university student and a part-time model, received free breast implant surgery which costs about 300,000 yuan ($48,881), in return for advertising for the hospital. Around 10 days after the operation, she won a prize at a local beauty contest, reported local media. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Russian Interior Ministry members stand guard as Muslims attend an Eid al-Adha mass prayer in Moscow on October 4, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
An Israeli woman (center) and a Palestinian woman gesture at one another during a protest by Palestinian women against Jewish visitors to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City in this October 14, 2014 photo. Photographer Finbarr O'Reilly: "The Palestinian women were singing and chanting in Arabic while heavily armed Israeli border police looked on and occasionally pushed them back to make way for Jewish worshipers going to the Western Wall. The Palestinian women shouted and harassed Jewish passersby while Orthodox Jews living in apartments above the street threw bottles and water down at the Palestinian women. About half a dozen Orthodox Jewish worshipers wanted to pass along the narrow street toward the Western Wall and the Israeli border police created a passageway through the crowd of Palestinian women. As the Israelis walked between the shouting protesters I focused on the woman in the center of the scene. When she was right in front of me, she turned and gestured to the Palestinian woman. It wasn't something done for the camera - I don't think she even realized I was there. It was only when I looked at the picture afterward that I realized that the Palestinian woman had returned the gesture, which in this part of the world is the equivalent to giving someone the middle finger". (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
Jefferson Ruck (left) and his partner Thomas Topovski, both of Nevada, hug after getting their marriage license at the Clark County Marriage Bureau on October 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The county began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after a conservative group removed its opposition to the ruling on October 7 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Nevada and Idaho's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage proponents made huge legal and legislative strides in 2014, with same-sex marriage now legal in 35 of the 50 states in the U.S. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) #
African migrants sit atop a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories, between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Melilla, as golfers play on a course in the foreground, on October 22, 2014. Around 400 migrants attempted to cross the border into Spain. (Reuters/Jose Palazon) #
An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft aboard, as it suffered a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on October 28, 2014, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft was filled with about 5,000 pounds of supplies slated for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. (AP Photo/NASA, Joel Kowsky) #
Zheng Feng, an amateur climber takes wedding pictures with his bride on a cliff in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, October 26, 2014. (Reuters/China Daily) #
Anti-government protesters take over the parliament building in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on October 30, 2014. Widespread protests against President Blaise Compaore and plans to amend the constitution to extend his 27 years in office led to takeovers of government facilities in the capital. Compaore soon resigned, as the military dissolved the existing government, and took control until a promised 2015 election. (Reuters/Joe Penney) #
ISIS militants are caught on the edge of an air strike explosion on Tilsehir hill near Kobane, Syria, on October 23, 2014. Through the latter half of the year, ISIS militants fought to gain control of the northern Syrian town of Kobane, opposed by locals and Kurdish fighters on the ground and by a U.S.-led coalition providing airstrikes from above. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) #
A voter gestures as Senate Minority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell votes in the midterm elections at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 4, 2014. The overall result of the election was a resounding win for the Republican Party. Republicans will gain control of the Senate next year, and will increase their existing majority in the House of Representatives. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images) #
Storm clouds and snow blows off Lake Erie in Buffalo, New York, on November 18, 2014, bringing 6-10 feet of snow to some areas. (Reuters/Lindsay DeDario) #
A bull with flammable balls of tar attached to its horns during the "Toro de Jubilo" fire bull festival on November 16, 2014 in Medinaceli, Spain. Toro de Jubilo, a Fire Bull festival, is an ancient tradition held annually at midnight in the Spanish town of Medinaceli. The event starts when flammable balls attached to a bull's horns are set alight. The animal is then untied and revelers dodge it until the flammable material is consumed. The bull is covered with a thick layer of mud on the back and face to protect it from burns. (Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) #
Odell Beckham of the New York Giants makes a remarkable one-handed (three-fingered), over-the-head-while-falling-backward catch, scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on November 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Al Bello/Getty Images) #
Navy divers, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Mobile Dive and Salvage Company 11-7, attach a towing bridle to the Orion Crew Module during the first Exploration Flight Test of the NASA Orion Program following its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex on December 5, 2014 in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles southwest of San Diego. The Orion spacecraft orbited Earth twice, reaching an altitude of approximately 3,600 miles above Earth before landing. The amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage transported the module safely to shore. (U.S. Navy via Getty Images) #
A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

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