SECRET SERVICE FAILURES
A series of White House security breaches had many questioning the Secret Service Agency’s ability to protect President Barack Obama and his family. Numerous scandals dating back to 2009 lead to the director stepping down.
THE RISE OF ISIS
The world became aware of the brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group as terrorists beheaded American journalists and British aid workers on video. The terror group known as ISIS took over a swath of land in Iraq and Syria in an effort to create a caliphate. The United States and its allies began an air campaign to take out ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Some are calling for the U.S. to put boots on the ground to take on ISIS terrorists.
The Ebola outbreak ran rampant in West Africa this year, killing more than 7,000 people. And it was just a matter of time before the deadly disease hit American shores, as an infected Liberian man died from Ebola at a Dallas hospital. Two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan fell ill with the virus, but both are now disease-free. The disease also made its way to New York as a doctor treating patients in Guinea was diagnosed with Ebola. He has also been declared disease-free and there are now no current Ebola cases in the U.S.
MICHAEL BROWN, ERIC GARNER PROTESTS
Separate police killings of two unarmed black men sparked months of nationwide protests against law enforcement brutality. The Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the New York City chokehold death of Eric Garner sparked sometimes violent protests over use of force by law enforcement and highlighted racial tension between police and African-Americans. Grand juries declined to indict either white officer for wrongdoing, erupting federal investigations and ongoing debates of lethal force by police.
BILL COSBY SEX ALLEGATIONS
Comedian and TV icon Bill Cosby is accused of targeting, grooming, drugging and then raping 27 young women since as early as the 1970s. The slew of sexual assault accusations have never gone to court and Cosby has declined any and all such claims amid the cancellation of several of his ongoing tour shows. Mainly of the nearly 30 women accusing Cosby of sexual assault have only recently stepped forward, prompting national debates on domestic violence among celebrity couples. The highly detailed accusations include renowned model and fashion icon Beverly Johnson’s claims of being drugged and violently assaulted by the TV icon in the mid-1980s.
U.S. CUBA POLICY
President Barack Obama made historic changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy by restoring diplomatic relations with the country in December 2014. The historic shift culminated after 18 months of secret talks between longtime foes which included a series of meetings in Canada and the involvement of Pope Francis at the Vatican. The president spoke with Cuba’s leader, Raul Castro, on the phone for nearly an hour, making it the first presidential-level call between the two nations’ leaders since the 1959 Cuban revolution. American Alan Gross, a government contract worker who had been held in Cuba for five years, was allowed to return back to the U.S. in exchange for imprisoned Cuban spies. Obama’s plans for re-establishing relations with Cuba include expanding economic ties, opening an embassy in Havana, easing travel restrictions to Cuba, and sending high-ranking U.S. officials to visit and review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
DEATH OF MARION BARRY, S. TRUETT CATHY AND HERMAN RUSSELL
Atlanta lost a man who helped build much of the city’s skyline in November, self-made millionaire Herman J Russell. Russell was responsible for some of the city’s biggest construction projects including Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, Turner Field, Philips Arena, and the Georgia Dome. Also, Marion Barry the man who served as the mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 1999 died at the age of 78 from cardiac arrest. Finally, S. Truett Cathy the man behind the success of Chic-Fil-A died at the age of 92.
CORRUPTION TRIAL OF DEKALB CEO BURRELL ELLIS
Ellis was accused of strong-arming county vendors into donating to his re-election campaign. The trial ended in a mis-trial after more than ten days of deliberations. DeKalb District Attorney Robert James has announced he will retry Ellis in 2015.
APS CHEATING TRIAL
The criminal trial of Atlanta Public School employees accused of conspiring to alter and boost student standardized test scores got underway in late September.
ATLANTA HAWKS RACIST COMMENTS
In early September the Atlanta Hawks front office officials came under fire amid the controversy over racially charged remarks. Separate comments by partial owner Bruce Levenson and General Manager Danny Ferry sent ripples through the Hawks organization.
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