Major news recap: Summer 2017

Bree Scott, Reporter

Photo courtesy of Susan Walsh, State Impact.A crowd gathers outside the White House in protest of Trump’s decision to pull out from the Paris Climate Agreement.

A lot has happened over the summer, both exciting and terrible, scientific and political. It’s important to outline some of these rather big events, as some of them may affect the future or become part of history.

President Trump announced June 1 his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement if the agreement was not reconfigured in the U.S.’ best interests. The announcement was quickly followed by a large amount of criticism, even by former President Barak Obama. Andrew Restuccia and Matthew Nussbaum wrote in an article published in POLITICO, “a U.S. withdrawal will deal a severe blow to global cohesion on climate change at a time when scientists say the world has few years left to head off the worst impacts of warming temperatures and rising seas. U.S. intelligence and military leaders have described climate change as a security problem, warning it could cause mass migrations and inflame global conflicts.”

The Illinois budget for higher education, a stalemate that lasted two years, finally came to an end July 6. The final budget provides $365 million in MAP funding for the 2016-2017 school year in addition to $401 million for the 2017-2018 school year. Illinois Students Assistance Comission  grants and other scholarship programs are also included in the budget.

Violence erupted in Virginia Aug. 12 when white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis took to the streets of Charlottesville in the “Unite the Right” rally to protest against the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. A great number of counterprotesters were also present in order to act as a voice for all those who were at the brunt of each racial slur, chant, confederate flag and Nazi symbol showcased in the rally. Many of the protestors behind the symbols and slurs sported red “Make America Great Again” ball caps, which is widely known as the Trump campaign’s slogan. In the early afternoon, a car driven by 20-year-old James Alex Fields rammed through a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Fields was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. Trump claimed the horrific act as an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

On Aug. 21, the U.S. was treated to a solar eclipse for exactly 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the first visible total eclipse in 99 years. The path of totality reached 14 states, including Illinois, while the rest of the U.S. was able to view a partial eclipse. Many Americans grabbed their eclipse-viewing glasses and flocked to states in which it was possible to observe the total eclipse of the sun, which in turn caused enormous traffic jams. Despite momentary cloud coverage in the Chicago area, the sky opened up at just the right time for the eclipse to be fully visible.

Ashley Zizich, English major and senior, pulled her son and daughter out of school in order to view the eclipse. “It was important for me to have them view it,” she said, “We had been talking about it previous to it happening, and for them to be able to experience something that may only happen once in their lifetime was important.”

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