Summer of Shootings

Philando Castile was shot 4 times in Minneapolis by a police officer while reaching for his wallet, after notifying the officer that he had a gun and permit for it. His girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath as the policeman kept his gun on Castile and her daughter sat in the backseat. Alton Sterling was shot in Baton Rouge while being pinned to the ground by multiple officers, after one officer yelled “He’s got a gun!” Both shootings fueled protests across the country. One man killed 5 police officers in Dallas, telling police in the standoff before he was killed that he was upset about the recent shootings. 3 officers were shot in Baton Rouge by a man who posted videos urging people to “fight back.” The President has condemned all of the violence, and people across the country are on edge regarding what could happen next.

To read more about each incident, click the links in the summary.

Deadliest Shooting in Recent History

On June 12th,49 people were killed and 53 were injured during a shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed by police during the attack. Called a hate crime and a terrorist act, this shooting is the worst in history, and the deadliest terror attack since 9/11. During the shooting, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS, though no formal connection has been made to the American. Mateen had been interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, but was not found as a threat. This shooting came just one day after singer Christina Grimmie, from The Voice, was shot and killed after a concert in Orlando.

For more information, click here.

Sharapova Suspended for Doping

Tennis superstar Maria Sharipova has been suspended from the International Tennis Federation for 2 years for failing a drug test at the Australia Open in January. She had taken a drug called Meldonium, which is intended to treat heart conditions. When taken by a healthy person it can improve physical capacity, mental function and athletic endurance.  Sharapova states that she did not intend to cheat. The drug has only been banned by the world of sports since January 2016.  Other athletes have been caught using Meldonium, and it was reported that 2% of athletes may have used it before its ban.

For more information about her punishment, click here. For more information about Meldonium, click here.

Pope Holds Bishops Accountable for Sex Abuse Cases

Pope Frances published an apostolic letter June 4th regarding sexual abuse and the Catholic Church. The Pope clarified that one of the “serious reasons” that a negligent bishop can be removed for is failure to report cases of sexual abuse. He stated that the Vatican has the jurisdiction to remove bishops and will either encourage resignation or issue a decree of removal. In the letter he also established a panel of legal experts to advise him in cases of sexual abuse. This letter came after nearly 15 years of abuse scandals and bishops transferring priests from parish to parish instead of reporting the crimes.

For more information, click here.

Baby Chicks Spared from Death

Chick culling is a process where male chicks are ground to death at hatcheries because they cannot be used to produce eggs. The violent process will end soon however, as United Egg Producer, which represents 95% of all eggs produced in the US, has pledged to eliminate chick culling by 2020. They instead will use in-ovo egg sexing, which determines the gender of chicks before they develop inside the egg and allow for other uses of male eggs before birth. The relatively new animal rights group The Humane League is responsible for the negotiations surrounding chicken culling and saving millions of chicks as a result.

For the full story, click here.

Stanford Rape Trial Causes Outrage

Brock Turner, a 20 year old former Stanford University student, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and was sentenced to 6 months in county jail with 3 years probation. The sentence is short for 3 counts of sexual assault, which carries a minimum of two years in California, and sparked outrage from across the country. Judge Persky was accused of favoring Turner for being an All-American Swimmer, though soon after USA swimming banned Turner from ever competing again. The public was also angry at the authorities for not releasing his mugshot throughout the case. The victim made a statement in court addressing Turner, detailing the impacts of his actions and speaking for other victims. Turner’s father also wrote a letter, stating that his son is paying a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action.” Many others have written open letters in response to the situation.

To read more about the case, click here. To read the victim’s letter, click here. To read Turner’s dad’s letter, click here. To read Joe Biden’s letter, click here.

Gene Therapy Approved for Sale

Gene Therapy is a treatment that aims to cure a disease by introducing healthy copies of a gene into the body and is advantageous because it only needs to be given once to be a permanent cure. Though it first emerged 30 years ago, gene therapy hasn’t been successful until recently. Regulators have approved a gene therapy from one of the world’s largest drug company, GSK, that aims to prevent an illness that hurts babies’ immune systems. A major issue that will come as more companies produce gene therapies is how to price these one-time cures.

For more information, click here.

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like Ali

Three-time Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali passed away Friday June 3rd at the age of 74. Ali dominated the boxing world at a time when the sport was at its peak, compiling a career record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts. Outside of the ring, Ali earned the nickname of "The Louisville Lip" through his numerous memorable quotes and statements, as well as through his work as a Civil Rights activist. Ali's latter years were spent battling Parkinson's Disease, which he fought for over 30 years in typical Ali fashion - until the final bell.

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Volcano Erupts in Indonesia, Kills 7

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted Saturday, May 21st and killed 7 people in the Gembar village. Gembar, and 3 other villages, were declared a danger zone in 2014. Almost 5,000 residents were evacuated then, and since Mount Sinabung is still on the highest alert level, the National Disaster Management Agency has ordered the immediate evacuation of everyone in the zone.

For more information, click here.

Supreme Court Rules to Remove Race Discrimination from Juries

Foster v. Chatman was originally a case about Timothy Foster, a black man who was accused of killing a 79-year-old white woman in Georgia in 1986. But the case that was brought to the Supreme Court earlier this month was about the racial makeup of the jury. The defense argued that the prosecution had removed all of the black potential jurors because of their race. Using precedent set by a previous case, Batson v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court upheld (7-1) that it was unconstitutional to base jury selection on race, overturning Foster’s death sentence, and safeguarding against future racial disparities.

Click here for more information on the role race plays in jury decisions.

Aurora, CO Uses Weed Tax to Help the Homeless

Aurora Colorado is using the $1.5 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana to fund programs that support homeless people. The City Council voted to use that money from the city’s budget to support services like the Colfax Community Network, which provides for families who live in motels. The state of Colorado is also using marijuana legalization for the public good by committing the first $40 million of marijuana tax revenue to public school construction.

For more information, click the links in the summary.

The Ferguson Effect

In the past year, homicide rates have risen 17% in America’s 56 largest cities. Crime is going up and police are retreating in what many are calling “The Ferguson Effect.” Heather MacDonald, who supports this theory, suggests that protests against police made them afraid to do their job and resulted in higher violent crime rates. Critics of this theory, including criminologists and the FBI Director, are afraid that calling it the “Ferguson effect” fails to fully analyze the problem. They don’t believe the rise in nationwide crime is that monumental, but do agree that homicides are increasing due to less proactive policing. Both sides agree that the community needs to get involved to help.

For more information on the theory, click here.

Baylor Coach Fired

Thursday, May 26th, Baylor University made big changes after a report on their wrongful handling of sexual assault cases was released. The report found that athletic administrators and football coaches were denying victims the right to a fair investigation, and overlooking football recruits’ violent histories. The school also ignored federal regulations requiring hiring a Title IX coordinator. Coach Art Briles, who led Baylor to a winning dynasty of 50-15 over the past 5 seasons, has been fired. Baylor’s President has been demoted and the Athletic Director is on probation as well.

For more information, click the links in the summary. 

Speedy Trial, Slow Sentencing

The case Betterman v. Montana was brought to the Supreme Court because the defendant believed that being given his seven-year prison sentence over a year after he originally pleaded guilty was a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court specified that there are 3 stages to criminal proceedings: investigation, trial, and sentencing, and that each stage has separate protections. Because of that, the Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial does not continue after a guilty conviction.

For more information, click the link in the summary.

Obama Doubles Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that contains rules that apply to minimum wages and overtime pay of workers. Overtime pay is federally regulated to be 1.5 times normal pay, unless an individual is exempted, which means they receive a salary of over $23,660 a year. That standard hasn’t been raised in 12 years, despite inflation. The Obama Administration has announced a new rule in the act that will double the overtime pay standard. It is effective December 1 and will automatically increase every three years. Critics, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, say that this rule will backfire because of the enormous cost, reducing the quantity of labor employed.

Click the links in the summary to learn more.