Amongst the days Hills West students spent by the pool, on vacation, at summer camp, or at the beach, several monumental events in modern history occurred. Now that the seasons have shifted to fall, it is time to recap some of the most important happenings of summer 2015.
Iran Nuclear Deal
On July 14, 2015 a historic compromise was reached in Vienna between members of the United Nations Security Council and the country of Iran. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as it is formally titled, states U.N. sanctions against Iran will be lifted in exchange for the country’s agreement to halt the creation of nuclear centrifuges and dilute its current possession of uranium. These measures would increase Iran’s “breakout time”, or time required to produce the uranium needed for a nuclear weapon and open up trade opportunities between Iran and the Western World. Many fear that the deal does not do enough to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear capabilities, particularly supporters of the state of Israel, a nation historically at odds with Fundamentalist Muslim Iran. Republicans in both the House and Senate along with several Democrats, including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Huntington Representative Steve Israel, supported a resolution of disapproval against the deal, though the bipartisan coalition failed to receive enough support to override President Obama’s veto of their measure. Though the agreement is on track to take effect regardless of U.S. actions, the issue has become a major talking point of the 2016 Presidential Campaign, serving as a litmus test for candidates to gauge their support of Israel and other Middle East policies.
Summer Of Trump
An outside observer watching the 2016 Presidential race unfold this summer may have noted that it seemed Donald Trump was running unopposed for his party’s nomination, and rightfully so. The flamboyant business magnate dominated news and social media from the moment he launched his campaign in June. With stellar name recognition and a skillful use of social media networks, Trump skyrocketed in polls to become the Republican front runner. His divisive use of language has landed him in trouble with some on comments ranging from calling women ‘bimbos’ to insulting the military service of 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain. None of these comments seemed to bring down “Teflon Don,” who has maintained and, in some extents, increased his lead over the rest of the Republican field. While the Republicans saw the rise of a surprise candidate, the Democratic field saw the fall of their supposed favorite. Hillary Clinton’s summer campaign was spent bogged down by an email scandal that has so far revealed she jeopardized classified information by sending it through a private server. As Clinton dodged questions about her emails, Socialist Bernie Sanders rode a wave of populism and distrust in Clinton to cut the former first lady’s lead and even assume the top spot in early voting state polls. If the summer has been any indication, voters are in for an eventful and entertaining 2016 campaign.
Charleston Church Massacre
The summer of 2015 was unfortunately mired in a national tragedy that took place in Charleston, South Carolina. On the night of June 17, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof joined a group of worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church had a historically black congregation and was a local center for civil rights movements in the 1960’s. After praying with the parishioners for an hour, Roof opened fire, killing nine people and injuring others. Roof fled and was captured the day after the shooting, confessing his crime was racially motivated and that he intended to “start a race war.” The aftermath of the shooting saw numerous prayer vigils for the victims and a speech at the church by President Obama, who personally knew the late pastor. Controversy also followed in the wake of this tragedy, as the shooter was shown by the media in several online photos to be posing with a confederate flag, the same flag that flew on the grounds of the State Capitol of South Carolina. After several emotional legislative proceedings, the state legislature and Republican Governor Nikki Hayley announced they had passed a resolution to remove the flag from state grounds. The flag was also targeted in other states, such as in Alabama where it too was removed, and in the television show Dukes of Hazard which featured a car that had the rebel battle flag painted on its roof, promoting TV Land to pull the show from its network. While public out roar against the flag has subsided in recent weeks, the painful feelings and sharp racial tensions the Charleston massacre has left will continue to be felt for years to come.