1.) The ISIS threat in Iraq – U.S. involvement

Just when troops began arriving home from the Iraq War that officially ended in 2011, insurgents struggling for national power against the local government made gains in the northern regions of the country in July 2014, specifically the militant extremist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Their treatment to locals of the region included acts like forced religious conversion and public executions. Iraq’s and international community’s pleas for action have prompted the United States to drone airstrike their territories in efforts to help the Iraqi military contain the crisis. Pres. Obama has said in televised statements that he has no plans to “put boots on the ground” in Iraq anytime soon.

2.) Montevallo Cat Killer

A former UM student accused of torturing and displaying dead cats around the UM campus in Nov. 2012 was granted youthful offender status on the charges. Christian Slaton, 21, of Madison, AL faces a four-count indictment charging him with first-degree cruelty to felines. His granting of youthful offender status means that a judge cannot impose consecutive probation periods or consecutive sentences if the total of either exceeds three years. He was 19 when he was unconditionally expelled after he “intentionally torture(d)” several cats, one of which was “hung up for display” at the flagpole on Main Quad. Two more cats were found in a wooded area near the Falcon Manor apartment complex and dismembered on the lawn of Flowerhill. It is unclear on when court hearings will proceed in Columbiana.

3.) Heave-Ho on Same Sex Marriage Issue

Over the course of three months, the number of states that allow same-sex couples to seek marriage licenses jumped from 17 to 20. Two states that have stayed rulings, Virginia and Utah, are currently appealing directly to the Supreme Court of the United States for a definite, more clear ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage than the 2013 Hollingsworth v. Perry decision. In Alabama, three separate lawsuits (Aaron-Brush v. Bentley, Hard v. Bentley, and Searcy v. Bentley) are suing the state over the 2006 “Sanctity of Marriage” Amendment in the state’s constitution that bans same-sex marriage.

4.) Surge of Immigrant Children

The multitudes of unaccompanied children arriving on our Southwest border caused a political panic this summer. As some 50,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador made their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, Gov. Robert Bentley confirmed in late July that in response to the surge, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base would be one of the sites considered as a housing location for the unaccompanied minors. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, stated, “Should Maxwell Air Force Base be selected as a site, we as Alabamians, as we have always done, must rise to the call of duty and follow the law.”

5.) Ebola in the U.S.

Panic over the threat of the Ebola virus arose in opinions on social media outlets as Dr. Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to Atlanta in early August. Brantly, an American citizen, contracted the deadly Ebola virus while treating patients in Africa. He was one of two Americans sickened by the deadly viral hemorrhagic fever last month while on the front lines of a major outbreak in West Africa. After being treated in Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, Brantly was discharged on Aug. 20 after being declared non-contagious and is the first ever known Ebola patient to be treated on United States soil. Ebola has a 10% survival rate and so far, 1,200 plus have died from the disease since the summer outbreak according to the World Health Organization.