Category Archives: News/Op-Ed

News/OP-ED: The Catholic World Mourns The Tragic Death Of Bishop David O’Connell

by Brett Baligad, Senior Editor

The late Bishop David O’Connell presided in Los Angeles for over forty years and brought relief to underrepresented communities. The Irish native used his platform to serve the Los Angeles community and manifested Catholic values throughout his respected pastoral career.

On Saturday, February 18, Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was found dead in his Hacienda Heights home with a gunshot wound to his upper chest. This discovery was made apparent as Bishop O’Connell was found unresponsive to a fellow deacon attempting to contact him. The accused murderer, Carlos Medina, is the husband of one of Bishop O’Connell’s longtime housekeepers and is being charged with first-degree murder.

The recent tragedy to the Catholic community has garnered much support from parishioners across the county. Over the past week, hundreds of people have paid their respects to Bishop O’Connell by hosting prayer services and placing flowers outside his Hacienda Heights home. Along with this, prominent Los Angeles Catholic icons have expressed their grief for the death of Bishop O’Connell.

Archbishop Jose Gomez released a statement saying, “Every day [Bishop O’Connell] worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant and to all those living on society’s margins. He was a good priest, a good bishop and a man of peace. And we are very sad to lose him.”

Born in 1953, Bishop O’Connell lived a life of service and empathy to the people of the Greater Los Angeles Area. Beginning his pastoral career in 1979, the Irish immigrant served as an associate pastor for nearby St. Raymond Catholic Church in Downey, California. After assisting other parishes over the years, it would not be until 1988 that he would head his own church, St. Frances X Cabrini, in South Los Angeles. From there, he would serve St. Frances X Cabrini and other South Los Angeles parishes for the majority of his pastoral life. 

Using his platform, Bishop O’Connell fought on issues regarding workers rights, gun violence and immigration. Most notably, Bishop O’ Connell helped mediate racial violence and gang activity in his community. During the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, he was a key contributor to help rebuild his community. One way he achieved this was by rebuilding the relationship between his community and law enforcement.

“That was part of our work as a Church, to try to provide spaces for conversations. And we thought we really had achieved a lot of progress. There was a trust built up between LAPD and residents,” said Bishop O’Connell in a 2020 interview with the Angelus News.

Being named bishop was not a role he always had in mind for much of his pastoral career. As a man for the people, Bishop O’Connell felt that his work was best fit on the front lines with the people that needed his support most. This is emphasized by the fact that the Irish-born pastor is fluent in Spanish. By speaking Spanish in a heavy Latino region, this was one more way Bishop O’Connell demonstrated relatability to his parishioners. In 2015, he proudly accepted the role of Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Region.

Bishop O’Connell was known by many within the Salesian community. Over the past three years, Former Salesian Provisional and current Spiritual Director of St. John Bosco High School, Fr. Ted Montemayor, shared membership on Don Bosco Technical Institute’s school board with Bishop O’Connell.

“He was very interested in assisting Don Bosco Tech because of its Salesian values and the uniqueness of the school. His goal was to help bring financial aid to kids that needed it and wanted the opportunity to get a Catholic education,” said Fr. Ted.

Don Bosco Technical Institute is St. John Bosco High School’s brother school located in Rosemead, California. Being the Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Valley, Bishop O’Connell found it to be a great necessity to continue the growth of an all boys learning environment along with the unique STEM learning integrated within the school’s curriculum.  

Bishop O’Connell’s legacy in the Catholic world will not go forgotten. Over the past week, parishioners have flooded social media with personal stories and interactions with Bishop O’Connell over the years. All stories aligned in agreement with his willingness to help the needy and sense of humor. O’Connell was not only an iconic Catholic figure, but also a well respected man within the Los Angeles area for all of his philanthropy performed over the years. 

“He [O’Connell] was a humble man and a good listener. He was not afraid to be vulnerable, which not every leader has the capability to do. David really had a care for helping the poor, the immigrant and the kids,” said Fr. Ted.

On Friday, March 3, a funeral mass will be open to the public at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles at 11:00 am. 

News/Op-Ed: National College Resources Foundation Hosts 24th Annual Black College Expo

by Noah Dawson

The Black College Expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center has been hailed as a significant success with young African American juniors and seniors from Los Angeles and Orange County in attendance. This event offers a platform for young black students to make informed decisions about their future college careers.

With over 20 years of experience, the Black College Expo has become an essential resource for young black students who may not have the same opportunities as their peers. For many students, especially those from low-income families, the cost of attending college can be a significant barrier. However, by attending events like this expo, they can learn about scholarship opportunities and other forms of financial aid that can make college more accessible.

Held last month on January 28th, the event offered numerous scholarships to deserving students. Scholarship awards ranged from a few thousand dollars to full-tuition scholarships. Many students were overjoyed about the idea of being able to pursue their dreams of higher education without having to take on large sums of student debt.

The event featured on-site acceptances where students could receive immediate admissions decisions from participating schools. These on-site acceptances offered a unique opportunity for students to fast-track their admission process, bypassing the anxiety and skipping the waiting process often associated with the traditional application process.

For many of the students in attendance, the expo was a chance to immerse themselves in a community that understands their unique experiences and challenges.

“This expo has helped me realize that there is a whole community out there that wants to support me and help me succeed. It’s like a family,” said Jazmine, a senior from Orange County.

The event was particularly impactful for students looking to attend a historically black college and unviersity, HBCU. Notable schools, such as Howard University, Hampton University, and Xavier University of Louisiana, were all in attendance providing students with the opportunity to connect with representatives, learn about the schools’ programs, admissions requirements and campus culture. Many students were able to walk away with on-site acceptances to their dream schools.

“I got accepted into my top-choice school, Xavier University [of Louisiana],” said David, a senior from South Central LA. “I never thought it would happen so quickly, but now I know where I’m going, and I can focus on my studies.”

The event also featured a captivating step team performance that left the crowd on their feet. Comprised of students from local high schools, the step team showcased their talent while highlighting the vibrant cultural traditions often associated with HBCUs. The performance was a visual reminder of the spirit, unity and cultural pride that HBCUs embody.

For local vendors, the event provided an opportunity to connect with the community and gain exposure. Numerous vendors were on hand, offering items ranging from college gear to natural hair products. Small businesses, in particular, found the event to be a valuable platform for connecting with potential customers. Kim, the owner of a local college apparel company, expressed her gratitude for the event.

“The Black College Expo provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with the community and show our support for young black students who are pursuing higher education. It’s an excellent way to showcase our products and make a positive impact,” said Kim.

Events like the Black College Expo provide an opportunity for young black students to overcome obstacles and pursue their dreams of higher education. It is a reminder that opportunities should not be defined by race or socioeconomic status and that everyone deserves a chance to succeed.

As the world becomes increasingly diverse, events like the Black College Expo play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and equity. The expo provides a safe space for young black students to share their stories and connect with others who have faced similar challenges.

Many of the students who attended the event left feeling inspired and empowered as they became armed with the knowledge and resources they need to pursue their dreams. For students like David, the event was life-changing, and he will forever be grateful for the opportunity.

“Without the Black College Expo, I don’t know where I would be,” he said. “I have a full scholarship to my dream school, and I know that anything is possible if I work hard and believe in myself.”

In addition to the positive impact the event had on students, it also served as a reminder to the broader community of the importance of investing in education. By supporting events like the Black College Expo, we can create a more equitable and just society that provides equal opportunities for all.

News/Op-Ed: Florida Department of Education Claims AP African American Studies “Lacks Educational Value”

by Mark Lutke

The College Board has confirmed that AP African American Studies will become an official course in the Advanced Placement Program entering the 2024-2025 school year, with many state governments and politicians opposing this educational opportunity.

Photo by Natalie Cheng, The California Aggie

Previously, this class was only available in a select number of high schools, but it will now be available nationwide to any high school that is interested. This announcement was met with a varied response. Some praised the new class as inclusive and inspiring, but others condemned the new Advanced Placement course as “non-educational” and “anti-American.”

Furthermore, the discourse surrounding this new AP class is politically charged and has caught the attention of United States lawmakers due to its content. The Florida Department of Education decided to block the class from its state’s schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended his state’s rejection of the course in a press conference, referring to it as part of a “political agenda.”

“We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them,” said Governor DeSantis.

This led the College Board to engage with the Florida Department of Education in an attempt to understand their grievances with the newly proposed curriculum. Although many discussions were held, the College Board states that no specific critiques or solutions were presented by the FDOE. They were instead met with “vague, uninformed questions.”

“We had no negotiations about the content of this course with Florida or any other state, nor did we receive any requests, suggestions, or feedback,” the College Board wrote in a statement.

Despite this, the College Board still implemented changes to the new AP course that appeared to align with FDOE complaints. This was seen as a political victory for Governor DeSantis, a 2024 presidential hopeful, and caused further backlash for the College Board, this time from their own supporters. Many believed the changes to be unnecessary and simply an attempt to avoid political controversy. The College Board, now backed into a corner, decided to respond with a more hostile demeanor towards the FDOE.

“We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” wrote the College Board.

They also claimed that the imposed modifications were not due to political pressure and had been planned for months. 

Governor DeSantis would respond to this by generally blaming the College Board for the controversy, claiming topics featured in AP African American studies violate Florida’s “anti-woke” laws. These laws were put in place to prohibit K-12 teachings that suggest any individual “bears responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress” for historical acts of racism.

As it stands, it is unclear what part of AP African American Studies curriculum violates these laws specifically. Despite this lack of clarity, Governor DeSantis is now threatening to completely sever Florida’s ties with the College Board.

“This College Board, like, nobody elected them to anything. They’re just kind of there, and they’re providing services. So you can either utilize those services or not. And they’ve provided these AP courses for a long time, but, you know, there are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better,” Governor DeSantis said during a press conference. 

The College Board has not yet responded to these statements, and it is unknown whether Florida will continue to support Advanced Placement courses administered by the College Board. 

News/Op-Ed: Pope Benedict XVI’s Impact on the Salesian Community

by Connor Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief

The reluctant pontificate has passed away, and as the Catholic world grieves the loss of the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, his colorful papacy leaves a strong impact on the Salesian order and community.

Photo by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, the birthname of Pope Benedict XVI, was one of the more controversial and complex popes of the 21st century. A fierce defender of Catholic tradition, he fought for cornerstones of the faith such as the doctrine and the liturgy. 

Pope Benedict’s resignation in February 2013, is notable for being the first modern pope in six centuries to resign since Pope Gregory XII, who was, unlike Benedict, forced to resign from the papacy. 

He began his faith journey in the midst of World War II. Seeing his family forced into Nazism, he developed a disdain for fascism and grew strong in his Catholic faith. He served as a teacher, like St. John Bosco, of young minds as a professor of Theology at the University of Bonn, the University of Tubingen and the University of Regensburg for the first decades of his time as a priest.

Pope Benedict believed that education was vital, as he saw places of Catholic education as “a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.”

Indeed, Pope Benedict believed that Salesians play a critical and active role in the education of Catholic youth throughout the world. Addressing the Salesian Order, he praised the tradition that Don Bosco pioneered when he stated, “The special tenderness and commitment to young people… are characteristic of Don Bosco’s charism.”

Pope Benedict, indeed, held a great love for Don Bosco. He addressed the saint as a “shining example of a life marked by apostolic zeal” and praised his motto of “give me souls, take away the rest.”

St. John Bosco students can see that motto everyday on the outer wall of the pool written in Latin and facing the stadium parking lot.

Like we emphasize in Salesianity, Pope Benedict was a strong advocate of the arts as a core aspect of the Catholic faith tradition and a device for the expression of those traditions.

“The great music born in the Church makes the truth of our faith audible and perceivable,” Pope Benedict said.

The pope undoubtedly held the Salesians in high regard, seen when he humbly spoke of his stay at a Salesian Parish, St. Paul, in Luanda, Angola, when they celebrated mass there in 2009.

“Finally, let me offer a particular greeting to the Salesian community and the faithful of this parish of Saint Paul; they have welcomed us to their church, without hesitating to yield the place which is usually theirs in the liturgical assembly. I know that they are gathered in the field next door, and I hope, at the end of this Eucharist, to see them and give them my blessing, but even now I say to them: ‘Many thanks! May God raise up in you, and through you, many apostles modeled on your Patron,” said Pope Benedict.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVII lies at rest in the Monastero Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican City.

The Salesian Community offers the same greeting to the Pope Emeritus Benedict – may God raise him up and the apostolic lineage continue to be strong. Requiescat in pace, Papa. 

New/Op-Ed: With No End in Sight, the War in Ukraine Continues

by Dominic Ramirez

It’s been two months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and amid widespread sanctions and disapproval, Russian forces are continuing to focus their attacks on the east side of the country, with progress being slow due to the resistance efforts of the Ukrainian military.

Despite having superior air power, Russia still struggles to gain control of air supremacy. Russia has one of the largest air forces in the world and extensive experience in conducting air raids, but so far, Ukrainian pilots continue to resist the Russian attack.

After ten weeks, invading Russian troops still haven’t taken control of any major cities. They have control over areas of Kharkiv and continue air raids in cities like Mariupol, Mariupol, and Odesa.

Another important part of land Russia has gained control of is the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. On February 24, Russian forces seized control of the power plant. Because of an explosion there in 1986, the power plant still leaks out radiation to the surrounding area. 

The Russian troops who took control of the facility failed to take proper safety precautions to prevent the spread of radiation. Places in the facility where Russian troops were staying were later tested for radiation, and scientists found that the troops were exposed to dangerous amounts. This is due to Russian forces traveling through a radioactive forest on their way to gain control of the power plant. The dirt and debris that was tracked in on their shoes was full of nuclear waste, that was spread throughout the facility.

This isn’t the only part of the war where Russia’s military ethics are brought into question. Near Ukraine’s capital, in the town of Bucha, the bodies of 20 men were found lined in the street. Some of the men were tied and gagged, suggesting that this was an intentional execution of civilians.

United States President Joe Biden is responding to the conflict in Ukraine by putting harsh new sanctions on Russia. 

Joe Biden has also publicly called out Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, during a speech he gave in Warsaw

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” said President Biden.

This message sparked outrage from the Russian government, as it is the first time a White House official has publicly stated that they believe Russia needs a new leader. 

Dmitry Peskov, a Russian spokesperson for Vladimir Putin responded to Biden’s speech.

“This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden. It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation,” said Peskov.

To send help to Ukraine, organizations like Revived Soldiers Ukraine, The Ukraine red cross and Project HOPE are all non-profit organizations that are directly aiding the Ukrainian people.

News/Op-Ed: Gas Prices Continue to Spike in the United States

By Ethan Gibbs

In California and across the United States, the cost of gas continues to increase amid global crises and uncertainty, such as inflation and the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia is one of the world’s most important and largest oil exporters. Despite the fact that just a little amount of Russian oil reaches U.S. consumers, oil is priced on global markets. As a result of the consequences of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the disruption in Russian oil supply has made prices start to rise. In the last two months, the average retail gallon of gasoline has increased by nearly 25 %, and President Joe Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports from the United States is pushing prices higher.

In California, gas prices are rising above the national average, continuing a trend of the last couple weeks. The average cost of a gallon is $5.44 in the Golden State, with prices being higher in large cities such as Los Angeles. California is the only state that has an average cost of more than five dollars per gallon. 

“Defending freedom is going to cost,” said President Biden 

With the war between Ukraine and Russia going on, President Biden wants to make an impact on Russia’s economy. On Tuesday, March 8th, Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports. Although this decision harms the economy of Russia, it also contributes to the increasing gas prices here in the U.S.

In addition, President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting the import of essential Russian items, such as vodka, as well as the export of high-end brands such as luxury cars and designer clothes to Russia. The U.S. and its allies will be able to add higher taxes on select Russian imports, further isolating the Russian economy.

“It has caused the Russian economy to, quite frankly, crater.  The Russian ruble is now down 50 percent since Putin announced his war,” said President Biden 

According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States imported roughly 672,000 barrels per day from Russia in 2021. This represents around eight percent of total oil and refined product imports into the United States. As the U.S. suddenly cut that off, gas prices obviously rose. Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo and Napa now have gas prices that exceed $5.50 a gallon. In Bellflower, gas is $5.29, in Downey, gas is $5.36, in Long Beach and Huntington Beach, gas is $5.19 and in Inglewood, gas is $5.14. 

Inflation in the United States has already risen to 7.9 % in the last year, and that is the highest it has been since 1982, and it is expected to increase even more if the war in Ukraine continues. 

As traders began to view Russian crude exports as untouchable, oil prices soared. This has led to concerns about how that supply of four to five million barrels per day will be restored, especially when demand for gasoline typically rises throughout the summer. 

On Tuesday, March 8th, Governor Newsom proposed a tax rebate to bring into light the rising gas prices. Newsom believes that if the U.S. continues to drill oil, then that will cause more extreme weather, more extreme drought and more wildfires. A solution that Newsom suggested is that the world’s largest lithium reserves can be tapped into.  

Furthermore, China’s resolve to prevent the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a lockdown in the tech capital of Shenzhen. Combined with the new regulations in Shanghai, less people will be outside of their homes, which may mean that the country will require less energy. On a daily basis, China imports around eleven million barrels of oil, and this decline in oil prices helps to keep gasoline costs in the United States from rising.

The gas crisis is an interesting conflict regarding the balance between defending allies and democracy around the world and the economic interest of the United States, as they are at odds with each other in this scenario.

News/Op-Ed: Russia Begins Invasion of Ukraine

by Nicholas Neoman

Russian troops have started to invade Ukraine’s borders, and for days on end, Ukraine has been under severe attack from the Russian invasion, forcing millions to flee major cities like Kyiv. 

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he is sending these troops as peacekeepers, backing separatist states in eastern Ukraine that want to break away from the democratic country. Hundreds of military caravans have started to fill out eastern Ukraine as the world now starts to speculate the dangers that this could impose. 

Putin has yet to state what the extent of this invasion is. While some believe that it is a tactic to weaken Ukraine and free some lands, others speculate that Russia wants to overthrow Ukraine’s government. Putin’s reasoning behind these attacks is to create the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine. However, these claims have been proven to be utterly false as Ukraine’s president is Jewish and there is no report of mass genocide occurring in Ukraine.

Early Thursday morning, air raid sirens could be heard wailing in major cities of Ukraine. Russia deployed missiles to attack these cities. These attacks are believed to be the most life-threatening air attacks since World War II with the Nazi Blitzkrieg. It also could point to a possibility of war on the horizon for not just Ukraine but all of Europe.

Today Russian forces are growing closer to conquering Kyiv as the death toll rises. Millions were fleeing the city of Kyiv today as fears of more invasion, both aerial and ground, began to grow. 

Increasing Russian units continue to pour into Ukraine as more innocent civilians are forced out of their homes. The Ukrainian government is running wild, trying to find an area to put displaced citizens while trying to mount some form of defense against the Russian government.

The Kremlin issued statements saying Vladimir Putin would eventually reveal how long this invasion would occur and what the goal of this attack is. As the world waits to see what Russia does next, it is interesting to imagine what could occur as a result of these attacks. After World War II, NATO was created, where Western allies would fight for each other in the event of an attack. Ukraine is not a part of this NATO agreement, however. 

US President Joe Biden has stated that the United States would not be defending Ukraine in any physical skirmishes. Unless Russia continues its march through Eastern Europe and attacks Baltic nations in NATO, the United States would remain neutral. Other forces like the United Kingdom and France also follow this same sentiment. 

However, President Biden has created sanctions on Russia economically which includes blocks on technology and special rules and laws for Russian banks. The Biden administration believes that this will hurt the Russian economy both immediately and over time.

Historians speculate that Russia and China, two strong Communist countries, could form an alliance against the world. If these two nations ally together, the US and other democratic nations around the world may be forced into a total war. 

Ultimately, the world still waits to see what unfolds as Europe becomes a chessboard where Putin is the prime mover. Could Putin call off these attacks; or could Europe become the center of nuclear warfare? As of now, all that the world is able to do is to send prayers for those fleeing Ukraine in terror.

News/Op-Ed: World Diplomats Give the 2022 Beijing Olympics the Cold Shoulder

By Dominic Ramirez and Eric Torres, Editor-in-Chief

With the 2022 Winter Olympics set to begin next week in Beijing, the United States, along with many other nations around the world, plan a diplomatic boycott of the games due to human rights issues in the host country.

Photo by Getty Images

Other countries participating in this boycott include the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The issue of boycotting arose due to reports of the genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic group of Western China, as well as general human rights violations performed by the Chinese government.

The last time the United States fully boycotted the Olympic games was in the summer in 1980 when it was held in Moscow, where athletes were actually held out of competition. At the time, the U.S. took this action in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

On December 6th, the Biden administration announced that it would diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics by not sending an official U.S. delegation. However, this decision will not affect U.S. athletes who are still scheduled to compete.

“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang and we simply can’t do that,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a press conference.

However, to avoid penalizing American athletes who have trained very hard for the Olympics, the United States will still send all those who are to compete but hopes to send a strong and clear message with this diplomatic boycott.

“Standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights and we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond,” said Press Secretary Psaki.

The reported unlawful killing of the Uyghur people in China is a huge issue for a lot of countries. The Uyghurs are a Turkish ethnic group who live in east and central Asia. Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has placed the Uyghur people in internment camps without any legal processes.

The prisoners in these camps face cruel punishments such as forced labor, sterilization, forced abortion, organ harvesting, beatings, suspension of religious practices and even death. However, the Chinese government has denied all of these claims and does its best to cover up any evidence.

Obviously, the Chinese dispute these claims and are not in support of United States and others on this issue, as a Chinese spokesperson called the United States’ diplomatic boycott of the games a “self-directed political farce.” However, as the topic is censored on Chinese social media, and it is only a diplomatic boycott, the majority view in China is to dismiss the action as unimportant, as athletes from boycotting nations are still competing.

“No-one would care about whether these people come or not, and it has no impact whatsoever on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to be successfully held,” said Chinese spokesman Liu Pengyu, as quoted by Reuters.

Another layer to the cause of this Olympic boycott is the suspicious disappearance of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. Shuai disappeared in November shortly after accusing former high ranking CCP official Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. 

A few weeks after her disappearance, the Chinese state media relaced a screenshot of an email they claimed was written by Shuai. The email stated that she was fine and that her previous accusation was false, but it is widely believed that this email was fake.

However, she reappeared and spoke publicly a month later, again denying her previous accusations in a news interview, which raised public concern.

Furthermore, with the current tense international environment, including the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is important to ensure the safety of all involved. The debate of whether the U.S. and others are doing too much, or not enough, will continue for a long time.

Many call for a complete withdrawal from the games, while others view it as casting stones. However, the overall questions of money, fairness and standing up for human rights are tough issues, which will require solutions that are beyond the Olympic games.

Although a number of countries are boycotting the Olympics, some are not sending over government officials simply due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

News/Op-Ed: Chaos Ensues as Ten Die in Astroworld Catastrophe

by Matthew Parsons

On November 5th, tragedy struck at Astroworld Festival 2021 as ten people lost their lives and many more sustained injuries.

A crowd of 50,000 was live in Houston, Texas to watch rapper Travis Scott at his music festival, Astroworld. Throughout Travis’ set, a phenomenon known as “crowd surge” occurred, the tens of thousands who were there to witness the concert were jam packed together much too densely, leading many to lose their ability to breath. The inability to breathe is what ultimately caused these deaths.

Live Nation, the venue operator, stopped the show over a half hour after the mass casualty event began, around 30 minutes before it was planned to be over.

Scott continued to play his music and performing for the attendees, at times pausing mid-performance to acknowledge that there was something amiss in the crowd, but the show continued on.

More than 20 lawsuits have been filed that accuse organizers of failing to take crowd control more seriously and not staffing the event properly. The crowd surge was like an unstoppable wave, as although some were crowd surfed to safety, others collapsed in the crowd pleading for help and were left unable to be assisted, which led to hundreds of casualties.

Many fans in the crowd were pleading for help and the show to stop, but their cries were not answered. There were protocols for an event such as this taking place by the event organizers, but whether it was used can be called into question. According to the Houston Chronicle, there was a 56 page Event Operations Page that was there to ensure the safety of the 50,000 attendees. 

“Astroworld, as an organization, will be prepared to evaluate and respond appropriately to emergency situations, so as to prevent or minimize injury or illness to guests, event personnel and the general public,” said this document.

However, according to the Associated Press, the plan didn’t include crowd surges like the one that occurred. 

The event was severely understaffed, as the New York Times reported that 505 event security staffers, 91 armed private security officers and 76 uniformed Houston police officers were present at the festival.

Madeline Eskins, a concert goer and ICU nurse that the event asked for help, reported that the staff was missing Ambu bags, AEDs

Per Madeline Eskins’ post on Instagram, a concert goer and ICU nurse, the security staff asked for her help, the medical staff was missing Ambu bags, automated external defibrillators and experience with CPR.

“The medical staff didn’t have the tools to do their jobs, and despite the crowd around us trying to get someone to stop the concert, they just kept going, even though Travis acknowledged that someone in the crowed needed an ambulance,” said Eskins.

Travis Scott concerts have a history of injuries, and Scott himself has dealt with legal troubles concerning his performances. In 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to reckless conduct charges, in 2017, a fan who became paralyzed sued Scott and at the 2019 Astroworld Festival, a stampede left three people injured with leg injuries.

News/Op-Ed: Huntington Beach Oil Spill Leaves Many Questioning The Safety Of Our Beaches

by Andrew Fierro, Managing Editor

Early Saturday morning on October 2nd, it was announced that an oil spill mishap occurred in Huntington Beach California, which has since affected many coastal areas across California and left legal battles in its wake.

Photo by BBC News

Late Friday night, there were reports from offshore boaters in Orange County that they had smelt a petroleum like smell in the air and alerted the hazardous spill hotline soon after. The company at fault is Amplify Energy, and the amount of oil leaked is still in question.

Though there is not a confirmed set amount of oil leaked, the Coast Guard released that they estimate there was a leakage of between 25,000 and 132,000 gallons of oil.

Although initially thought to be extremely harmful to the environment, environmentalists have voiced their hope with new research pointing to the opposite, with the amount of animals being affected staying at a small amount.

Not only could there be an effect on the sea life, but as well as on human life, though the city officials for Huntington Beach have stated that the water quality will continue to be tested twice a week for at least two more weeks. 

Even with the research that points to a minimal amount of environmental damage, there will be no way of completely knowing the effect on the environment for a long period of time. With the researchers still learning more about the effects that these types of disasters have on the environments and animals, it will take time for them to fully understand what effects this specific event will have.

The cause of the oil spill is still under investigation, though. As of October 16th, it is now believed that a 1,200 foot cargo ship dragged its anchor, which ended up catching the pipeline pulling it across the ocean floor for a matter of months until a leak from the line occurred. The spill is still being investigated, as officials are still unaware of whether or not the impact is what caused the leak or if it was hit again after this occurrence. 

Though the Amplify Energy company has stated they are unaware of how much oil leaked exactly, legal officials question whether or not that is the case, as they believe that the calculations for the spill would not be hard to determine, so long as Amplify has all the data from the pipeline.

The oil from the pipeline burst has been reported across the shoreline, even having remnants all the way up to Carlsbad, which is located in San Diego County. This means that the radius of the spill seems to be large and the effect that will have on the environment will be more spread out.

There is high hope that the damages from this oil spill will be minimal, and with hard work from city officials and the Coast Guard, the cause of the oil spill will be determined and hopefully dealt with in order to avoid future problems and so the beaches can be open safely to the public.

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