National News

From Trump to tattoos: The top national stories of 2018

Posted December 27, 2018 8:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 29, 2018 3:01 p.m. EST

Political scandals, tragic deaths and a girl's unique name topped headlines in 2018. As the year comes to a close, take a look at the most popular national stories on WRAL.com this year.

New York Times, Trump clash over president's threats against journalism

President Donald Trump clashed with the publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, in July after Trump accused the Times and other newspapers of putting lives at risk with irresponsible reporting.

On Twitter, Trump said he and Sulzberger discussed "the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’"

The pair met at a July 20 meeting, but Trump continued to assail the media throughout the year and suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta's White House press pass.

Winner of huge Powerball jackpot allowed to shield her identity

A judge in March ruled that a New Hampshire woman who won a Jan. 6 Powerball jackpot worth nearly $560 million would be allowed to keep her identify secret from the public.

The woman had signed her ticket after winning, but later learned that she could have protected her identify by writing the name of a trust. The woman's lawyer's argued her privacy interest outweighed the public's right to know who won the money.

The judge agreed that disclosing the woman's name would be an invasion of privacy, but that lottery officials could release her hometown.

12 killed in shooting rampage at California bar

A Marine combat veteran took his own life after killing 12 people at a country music bar in California in November.

Using a handgun with an illegal, extra-capacity magazine, gunman Ian David Long, 28, shot a security guard outside the bar before taking aim at employees and patrons.

Among those killed was a man who had survived the 2017 mass shooting at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas.

Deadliest mass shootings in the United States

There is no set definition for the term "mass shooting" but in 2015 the Congressional Research Service produced a report that limited "mass shooting" to those that in which four or more people were killed. That is the measure used for this chart.

While most of the shootings listed here occurred since 2000, Columbine is included because of its notoriety; the 1986 shooting at the post office in Edmond, Okla., is included because it is the origin of the grim term "going postal."

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Source: Media reports, compiled by WRAL

Former Playboy centerfold jumps to death with son

A former Playboy centerfold involved in a custody battle apparently jumped with her 7-year-old son from the 25th floor of a Manhattan hotel in May.

Stephanie Adams had checked into the hotel just hours after telling the New York Post that her husband and his lawyers were blocking her from taking her son on vacation.

Adams and her husband had been involved in a contentious custody and the couple typically handed off their son to each other at a local police precinct.

Adams had been Playboy's "Miss November" centerfold in 1992 and appeared in the magazine again in 2003.

Sarah Sanders kicked out of Virginia restaurant

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant by the owner in June because she worked for President Donald Trump.

"Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left," Sanders posted on Twitter following the incident.

The restaurant's website crashed in the days following the incident as Trump took to twitter to insult the restaurant.

The owner of the Red Hen restaurant resigned from the top post of a local business group following the incident.

Smart TVs are tracking your data

In July, the New York Times shed light on the fact that new technology could immediately identify what people are watching on internet-connected TVs in order to send targeted advertisements to other devices in the home.

Samba TV, which has placed software of certain models of more than a dozen TV brands, encourages users to enable the service but does not detail how much information is collected by the company.

Once enabled, Samba TV can track everything that appears on a TV screen, including video games, and can even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watched liberal or conservative media.

Companies such as Samba TV have come under scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates about a lack of transparency.

Facebook removes pages linked to Russia

Facebook in October quietly revealed that it had removed 66 accounts, pages and apps linked to Russian firms that build facial recognition software for the Russian government.

Facebook said the accounts associated with SocialDataHub and its sister firm, Fubtech, violated the website's policies by scraping data from the social network.

The announcement from Facebook game on the same day the social media giant announced that it had carried out the biggest purge of American accounts disseminating disinformation.

Good Samaritan learns she helped Keith Urban

When Ruth Reed made a resolution to help customers inside a New Jersey Wawa in August, she had no idea she would be lending a helping hand to one of the biggest names in country music.

Reed, a substitute teacher, noticed that the man in front of her in line was a few dollars short, she jumped into action.

When she commented that the man looked like Urban, he revealed his identity.

Mom says airline agent mocked her daughter's name

A mother in November said a Southwest Airlines agent posted a photo of her daughter's boarding pass on social media to make fun of her name.

Traci Redford's daughter is named Abcde, which is pronounced "aHB-sih-dee."

Redford said she notified the airline when she saw her daughter's boarding pass had been posted on social media and the airline issued a statement of apology to the family.

Face tattoos go mainstream

In August, the New York Times posted a story about the growing popularity of face tattoos among both musicians and the general public.

Once referred to as "job stoppers," face tattoos have become more popular as tattoos in general have become more ubiquitous.

As Americans have embraced body art, those who wanted to stand out began embracing tattoos above the neckline.