Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018


15 of 2015

What’s a year without a year in review?  Here’s our top 15 of 2015 in headlines, politics and pop culture.


1. 2016 Presidential Race
More than a dozen people — and Donald Trump — have signed up to become the Republican candidate in the 2016 campaign. And Trump is the frontrunner. On the Democrat side, there are only two names most people remember; Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

2. Marriage Equality
With more than half of the 50 states legalizing same sex marriage, the Supreme Court of the United States raised a rainbow gavel and ruled 5-4 in favor of same sex marriage. “No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

3. Black Lives Matter
The death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man, who suffered a broken neck and spinal injury in the back of a police transport van, continues to make headlines as a jury determines the officer’s guilt. In another courtroom in South Carolina, 21-year-old Dylan Roof pled not guilty over the summer after fatally shooting nine people who were conducting a Bible study inside the Emanuel AME Church.

4. Shootings
As we approach the end of 2015, here’s a scary statistic—there have been more shootings than days in the year. So far this year, there have been 355 mass shootings in the U.S.  The December massacre in San Bernardino, California is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook three years ago.

5. Hurricane Katrina
August marked 10 years since the Category 3 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans killing at least 1,800 people, displacing 400,000 more and causing $100 billion in damages. This summer we looked back at the slow-moving progress and what else needs to be done.

6. Planned Parenthood
From the movement to defund it to the tragic shooting at one of its facilities in Colorado, Planned Parenthood has been in the news almost daily since this summer. Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina and some videos—that may or not may exist—get most of the credit for that.

7. Mars
This year the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft had spotted hydrated salt minerals on the Red Planet. Translation: There’s water on Mars, which adds evidence to the habitability of the planet.

8. John Boehner
In September, John Boehner announced his resignation from Congress after four years with the gavel. The next month, Paul Ryan became the 54th Speaker of the House with 236 votes from Congress.

9. Jimmy Carter
The 39th president, Jimmy Carter first revealed he had cancer in August, and the prognosis was not good since the disease had spread to his brain. But the 91-year-old beat all odds and after months of treatment made another announcement that his cancer was gone. Carter is highly-regarded for his nonprofit work with the Carter Center, which works to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering.

10. U.S.-Cuba Diplomatic Relations Restored
The Cuban embassy in Washington raised its flag, and the American embassy in Havana raised its flag, Friday, August 14. While Congress still controls the economic sanctions, U.S. travelers will be allowed, as of Jan. 1, 2016, to visit Cuba without first acquiring a government license.

11. BP Settlement Announced
The Justice Department and five states announced a $20.8 billion settlement on Oct. 5 in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The agreement is the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history and ends five years of legal fighting over the spill.

12. Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran signed in July the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and China—and Germany to monitor Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. GOP leaders in Congress hoped to override the deal but failed.

13. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act Subsidies
The Affordable Care Act survived another Supreme Court test. By a 6-3 ruling, the justices stopped a challenge that would have eliminated subsidies in at least 34 states for individuals and families buying insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace, which is a core part of the plan.

14. Kim Davis
For every party, there’s a pooper. In July 2015, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, became infamous when she was videotaped refusing marriage licenses to one gay couple. Davis, who has four marriages under her belt, was sent to jail and then became a figurehead for bigotry.

15. Shootings (Again)
Because we all need another reminder that this happening way too often.  Here’s hoping for a safer and saner 2016.



On the evening of November 13, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place in Paris and its northern suburb Saint-Denis.  Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants and a music venue in Paris. The attackers killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan theatre, where they took hostages before engaging in a stand-off with police. Seven of the attackers also died, while authorities continued to search for accomplices. The attacks were the deadliest on France since World War II and the deadliest in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was in retaliation for the French airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq.

Due to the rising number of refugees and migrants going to Europe and applying for asylum, a migrant crisis arose in 2015. Vast numbers of migrants have made their way across the Mediterranean to Europe, sparking a crisis as countries struggle to cope with the influx and creating division in the European Union over how best to deal with resettling people. More than 920,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived by sea alone so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. The conflict in Syria continues to be the biggest driver of the migration.

In August, a series of explosions killed over 100 people and injured hundreds of others at a container storage station at the Port of Tianjin in China. The cause of the explosions was not immediately known, but Chinese state media reported that at least the initial blast was from unknown hazardous materials in shipping containers. A total of 173 people were confirmed to have died from the explosions, and 797 others were injured.

In May, Ireland’s gay and lesbian community received the right to marry in a historical vote. Ireland became the first country in the world to achieve marriage equality through a popular vote. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland just 22 years ago.

In September, NASA announced that potentially life-giving water flows across the surface of Mars. NASA researchers, using an imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, confirmed the watery flows by looking at light waves returned from seasonal dark streaks on the surface, long suspected to be associated with liquid water.

In June, Greece became the first developed country to fail to make an International Monetary Fund loan repayment. Currently, Greece’s government has debts of $414 billion. Greece received its third bailout in three years to avoid expulsion from the Eurozone.

The killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old African lion, drew extensive media attention in July after Walter Palmer, a dentist and big-game hunter from the U.S., shot the lion with a rifle in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Cecil was a major attraction in the park and was being studied and tracked by the University of Oxford. The killing drew international media attention and sparked outrage among animal conservationists, politicians and celebrities, as well as a strong negative response against Palmer. Two men in Zimbabwe are being prosecuted in relation to the hunt. Palmer had a permit and was not charged with any crime.

More than 9,000 people were killed and 23,000 people were left injured after an earthquake hit Nepal in April.  It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing at least 19, making April 25, 2015 the deadliest day on the mountain in history. The earthquake triggered another huge avalanche in the Langtang valley, where 250 people were reported missing. A major aftershock occurred in May near the Chinese border between the capital of Kathmandu and Mt. Everest. More than 200 people were killed and more than 2,500 were injured by this aftershock.

Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escaped from Altiplano Federal Prison through a tunnel in one of the prison’s showers. Guzman, who heads the Sinaloa Cartel, was captured in 2014 and escaped for the second time from the maximum-security prison in July 2015. A subsequent manhunt ensued after his escape, but he has yet to be found. This wasn’t his first prison break, as Guzman escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart.

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, formed in October and made landfall near Jalisco, Mexico this year. With maximum sustained winds of 200 mph and a minimum pressure of 879 mbar, Hurricane Patricia is the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Western Hemisphere. As a tropical cyclone, Patricia’s effects in Mexico were tremendous; however, the affected areas were predominantly rural, mitigating a potential large-scale disaster. The total damage was estimated to be more than $323.3 million, with agriculture and infrastructure comprising the majority of losses.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Kate, welcomed their second child, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge this year. The royal princess was born May 2, 2015 and is the fourth in line to succeed her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, after her paternal grandfather, father and elder brother, 2-year-old Prince George.

At least 17 women have been elected to public office in Saudi Arabia, according to preliminary results published in state media. The historic elections for municipal councils marked the first time women in the country were allowed to vote and to run for office. The female winners include Salma al-Oteibi in the Mecca region, Lama al-Suleiman and Rasha Hufaithi in Jeddah, Hanouf al-Hazimi in Al Jouf province, and Sanaa al-Hammam and Masoumah Abdelreda in the Ahsa region. However, female candidates are barred from speaking to male voters and required to segregate campaign offices.

The U.S. won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup title this year in Canada, beating Japan 5-2. This was the U.S. women’s soccer team’s third World Cup title since the competition started in 1991.

Acting on a tip from spelunkers, scientists in South Africa discovered thousands of bones of a previously unidentified species of human ancestors — Homo naledi. Professor Lee Berger announced in September that besides introducing a new member of the pre-human family, the discovery suggests that some early hominins intentionally deposited bodies of their dead in a remote and largely-inaccessible cave chamber, a behavior previously considered limited to modern humans.

TIME Magazine revealed in December that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been named as Person of the Year. The magazine said that the 61-year-old world leader was chosen as Person of the Year for opening her nation’s border to hundreds of thousands of refugees and managing Europe’s debt crisis. Merkel, who became Germany’s Chancellor in 2005, is the first individual woman to receive the “Person of the Year” recognition since TIME changed its title from “Man of the Year” in 1999.



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