The Mercury’s Summer Wrap-up


On July 17, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Ukrainian air space, killing 298 passengers and crew. As investigators and medical experts struggled to reach the crash site in pro-separatist eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian separatists and Russian president Vladimir Putin denied having fired the surface-to-air missile that took down the plane. The incident led to more fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces around the crash site, and international investigators finally reached the site 13 days after the event. The crash could have possibly knelled the death toll for Ukraine-Russian negotiations in the future. The United States imposed more sanctions on Russia following the crash and is forcing the European Union into a corner over its stance on Russia. Russia, on the other hand, continues to exercise control over Crimea and east Ukraine, supporting pro-separatist rebels against Kiev, in an attempt to retain strategic control over the country and prevent it from joining NATO.   — Anwesha Bhattacharjee


Many cases on the Supreme Court’s docket go overlooked, but every so often there is one that is so compelling it gets the whole nation in an uproar. SCOTUS’s 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby’s claim that a government mandate of for-profit corporations to cover contraception for female employees was against its religious beliefs was one of those cases. Those on the right hailed the decision as the judicial branch curbing back the government’s power to require private citizens and businesses to partake in actions that potentially violate their religious beliefs, while people on the left lamented the thousands of female employees of Hobby Lobby that now lose coverage of a basic healthcare item. No matter what opinion anyone has on the case, it will surely be remembered as a landmark moment in the history of the Supreme Court.   — Esteban Bustillos


In June 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an extremist wing of Al-Qaeda, took over several major Iraqi cities including Tikrit and Mosul and strategic crossings that connect Iraq with Jordan and Syria in a lightning takeover. The group is persecuting Shia Muslims and minorities, forcing Christians to either convert to Islam, flee the country or pay a tax. ISIS’s takeover is a cause for worry because it now controls parts of Syria and large parts of Iraq, redefining borders of the Middle East as we know it in a country that has barely recovered from U.S. military operations.  — Anwesha Bhattacharjee


Saving sports fans from the usually slow sports-less summer, the 2014 World Cup was one for the ages. This year’s Cup, hosted by five-time champ Brazil, featured some of the closest matches and most entertaining moments in tournament history. From Luis Suarez of Uruguay taking a chomp out of his opponent to U.S. keeper Tim Howard holding off a Belgian onslaught, there was not a moment to be missed. Ultimately won by Germany, who became the first European team to win the Cup in the Americas, in a tightly contested final against Argentina, this tournament had everything a sports fan could want. Underdogs like Costa Rica advanced deep into the brackets while classic giants of the game like England, Italy, Portugal and Spain all collapsed in the first round. This was a World Cup that will surely be fondly remembered for years to come.     — Esteban Bustillos


With Maya Angelou’s death in late May and Nadine Gordimer’s death later in July, the world suffered a huge loss in important literary icons. An incredibly multifaceted artist, Angelou is most recognized for her 1969 autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” Gordimer, a South African writer and Nobel laureate, was an active voice in understanding race and politics in her home country. Although his passing occurred early in April, Gabriel Garcia Marquez must also be mentioned. A pioneer of the magical realism literary style, the Colombian novelist won the Nobel Prize in 1982 and helped carve new paths for contemporary Latin American writers. Their combined voices helped shape not only modern literature but the world at large.  — Miguel Perez


Even the making of this summer’s indie hit “Boyhood” deserves to be its own movie. Filmed by director Richard Linklater in a span of 12 years, “Boyhood” follows Ellar Coltrane as a six year old in the first grade to an 18-year-old college freshman in real time. In lesser hands, the real-time format might have been a silly gimmick. But Linklater’s humanistic approach and casual style empower the film. “Boyhood” isn’t driving toward a single dramatic set piece or moment. Rather, the issue at hand is life. Like life, transitions in time over years are barely felt, but audiences will be able to gleam them from subtle references to technology and pop culture. The script is loosely based on the personal growth of the lead actor and has dialogue that is so authentic it may feel improvised at times. There are many human, relatable moments in the film like how sometimes the best advice we get is from the people we least expect. Linklater understands that people are flawed and doesn’t judge them for it.  — Shyam Vedantam


Formed in 2012, Death Grips has always been a band that thwarted conventional practices. Known for releasing albums for free at the behest of its label and recklessly abandoning scheduled concerts, the band has always done what it felt was best. With the unexpected release of the first half of its newest, and now final album, “The Powers That B: Niggas On The Moon,” the band has reached its Mount Olympus. Every release before this has seemed to steadily build into the colossal wall of sound that is this album, instilling sensory overload into the listener. Björk has lent her voice on this album, yet, in typical Death Grips fashion, she is not adding any sorts of lyricism. Instead, her voice is used as an instrument, adding even more to the complexity and technicality of the project. The band’s recent demise may have come as a shock to some, but as drummer Zack Hill stated in his handwritten explanation, “Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision.” In a world where artists are governed by an unwritten set of rules, Death Grips has proven that it is unnecessary.       — Humza Khan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *