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2015 in Review: Politics, pop culture, the world

By Staff | Nov 30, 2015

Notable U.S. Events:

Jan. 31 – Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, is found face down and unresponsive in a bathtub full of water.

Feb. 24 – The use and possession of marijuana becomes legal in Alaska.

Feb. 26 – Marijuana use and the possession of up to two ounces of the drug becomes legal in Washington D.C.

March 2 – The New York Times reports that, during her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was using her personal email for official business.

March 3 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner.

March 26 – Indiana Governor Mike Pence signs the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

April 1 – California Governor Jerry Brown imposes mandatory water restrictions as the state’s historic drought continues to worsen, reducing water use by 25 percent.

April 19 – After his arrest on April 12th, Freddie Gray dies from a spinal injury while in the custody of Baltimore police.

April 24 – During an interview with ABC, former Olympian and reality star Bruce Jenner tells Diane Sawyer, “Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”

April 27 – Peaceful protests quickly become violent as rioting in Baltimore, Maryland, begins after Freddie Gray’s funeral.

May 2 – “The Fight of the Century:” Floyd Mayweather claims a unanimous points victory against Manny Pacquiao takes place, remaining undefeated.

May 12 – Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derails in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200, as the train goes 106 mph into a curve that had a speed limit of 50 mph.

May 17 – Gunfire breaks out in Waco, Texas, between two rival biker gangs. They also shoot at intervening police, who return fire. Nine people are killed, and at least 18 are injured. Additionally, 177 people are arrested.

June 6 – Two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York.

June 16 – Rachel Dolezal, recently resigned head of the local NAACP in Spokane, Washington, states during an interview on the Today show that she identifies as black. This is in response to the claim that Dolezal has been misrepresenting herself as black for years; even her own parents have said she’s not African American or biracial.

June 17 – Dylann Roof, 21, allegedly kills nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina.

June 25 – The Supreme Court rules 6-3 in favor of upholding all of the Obamacare subsidies for low-income Americans trying to purchase insurance.

June 26 – The Supreme Court rules 5-4 in favor of same sex marriage, making it legal in all 50 states.

June 26 – Richard Matt, one of the two men who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility, is shot and killed by police officers.

June 28 – David Sweat, the second of the two men who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility, is shot and captured alive by police.

July 14 – NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft completes its first-ever flyby of Pluto, giving researchers an up-close look at the planet.

July 16 – In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mohammed Abdulazeez opens fire on a military recruitment center followed by a naval reserve facility seven miles away. Five people are killed, and Abdulazeez is shot and killed in a gunfight with police.

July 23 – John Russell Houser shoots 11 people in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two people are killed and nine are wounded. Houser kills himself after police arrive on the scene.

Aug. 5 – The Animas River in Colorado turns orange after millions of gallons of contaminated water poured out of an abandoned mine. The accident occurs when EPA officials try to safely pump and treat the toxic water.

Aug. 5 – Vincente David Montano is shot and killed by police in Nashville, Tennessee, after he attacks moviegoers during a screening of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Three people are pepper sprayed, and one sustains a minor injury.

Aug. 12 – Former President Jimmy Carter announces that he has cancer and that it has spread to other areas of his body.

Aug. 20 – Former President Carter announces that his cancer has spread to his brain and that he will be receiving treatment.

Aug. 26 – Ex-reporter Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known by his on-air name Bryce Williams, shoots and kills WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward during a live broadcast. Vicki Gardner, the woman being interviewed, is also shot during the altercation. Flanagan commits suicide after being tracked down by the police.

Sept. 22-28 – Pope Francis becomes the “fourth head of the Church to visit the United States, nearly 50 years after Pope Paul VI made the first visit by a pontiff to the country in Nov. 1965.” While in the United States, Pope Francis visits Washington, D.C., speaks at a joint meeting of Congress, addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and holds Mass at Madison Square Garden, and attends the Festival of Families in Philadelphia.

Oct. 1 – Gunman Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer shoots and kills nine people, injuring another nine, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter commits suicide after exchanging gunfire with officers.

Oct. 24 – Four are killed and almost 50 are hurt when Adacia Chambers crashes a car into a crowd of spectators at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Oct. 29 – Paul Ryan officially becomes the 54th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing the retiring John Boehner.

Notable International Events:

Jan. 7 – Two gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi, attack the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, wounding 11 and killing 12. The gunmen attack Charlie Hebdo in order to punish the magazine for the publication of cartoons that mocked the Prophet Mohammad. Later on Jan. 9, the Kouachi brothers are shot and killed in a standoff with police in Dammartin-en-Goele, France.

Jan. 9 – Amedy Coulibaly, an associate of Said and Cherif Kouachi, attacks a Jewish grocery store in Paris taking more than a dozen people hostage and killing four. Coulibaly also shot and killed a policewoman on January 8. Couliably is killed when police stormed the kosher market in the evening.

March 18 – Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected prime minister of Israel.

March 27 – Italy’s Supreme Court overturns Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s murder convictions for the death of Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher in November 2007.

April 2 – Four masked gunmen attack Garissa University College in eastern Kenya, killing 147 people and injuring 104. The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group claims responsibility for the attack.

April 25 – A 7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Nepal, near Kathmandu, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring 17,866. Just weeks later on May 12 a second 7.3-magnitude earthquake strikes the country.

May 2 – The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her second child with Prince William. Their daughter, weighing 8lbs 3oz, will be known as Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

May 9 – The World Health Organization declares the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia over, after more than a year.

July 11 – Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escapes from the Altiplano Federal Prison in Mexico. He escapes through a subterranean tunnel that ran to the shower area of his cell.

July 14 – A deal is reached to substantially limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In exchange, various international sanctions on Iran will be loosened.

July 20 – Cuba and the United States officially re-establish diplomatic relations after 54 years.

July 31 – Beijing is chosen to host of the 2022 Olympic and Paraympic Winter Games. This will make Beijing the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics in the 120-year history of the modern games.

Aug. 12 – Explosions occur at a warehouse in Tianjin, China, killing over a hundred people and injuring more than 700. The blasts are estimated to be the equivalent of a 2.9 magnitude earthquake.

Aug. 20 – Greece receives the first portion of its third bailout. All of the countries that use the euro have agreed in principle to the bailout; however, the IMF did not contribute direct financial support, unlike in previous bailouts and is only monitoring the situation. This package is worth up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion).

Sept. 19 – Pope Francis visits Cuba for the first time and praises the reconciliations taking place between Cuba and the United States. Francis also asks Cuba to allow for more religious freedom as the communist country prepares to build the first Catholic Church since the Cuban Revolution.

Sept. 24 – During the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a stampede kills more than 700 people and injures nearly 900 others, according to state media. The incident occurs during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Oct. 23 – Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded makes landfall as a Category 5 storm over southwestern Mexico.

Oct. 31 – Kogalymavia Flight 9268, a Russian passenger plane breaks into pieces before hitting the ground in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

Nov. 13 – A series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in the French capital of Paris and its northern suburb of Saint-Denis. 128 people were killed, the deadliest attack being at the Bataclan theatre, where the attackers took hostages before engaging in a stand-off with police. ISIS took credit for the attacks, prompting France to wage air strikes.

Information taken from and compiled by CNN. Up-to-date through Nov. 17 press time.