Bay Area and Beyond News Roundup for Feb. 9 – Feb. 15, 2018
This week’s Bay Area and Beyond News Roundup is fraught with some tragic and disturbing themes, and one boat trip gone wrong.
South Florida’s school massacre
A 19-year-old male is suspected of showing up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkside burb of South Florida armed with a gas mask, smoke bombs, an AR-15 and “countless magazines”. It was Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. He reportedly set off the fire alarm and stood ready outside the building as students and faculty evacuated…and then he opened fire. He continued his attack inside the school, where other students were hiding under and behind anything they could find – some texted their parents and others recorded the terror. It was an active shooter scene for about an hour as police tried to control the situation and the injured were gathered for triage. The suspect, who had been previously expelled from the high school, was apprehended alive less than a mile away from the campus. The 17 people that died and the many others injured weren’t so lucky.
The New York Times reports that the suspect, who we have chosen not to name, has since been charged with 17 counts of murder premeditated murder. Trump offered condolences Wednesday and quickly laid the blame on the shooter’s mental state, not once mentioning the need to reform gun control regulations.
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Wednesday’s massacre was at least the 18th school shooting of 2018 – that’s one every 2.5 days. Each one ends the same way, with horrific footage and pictures of people crying, parents desperate to find out if their kids are okay, thoughts and prayers get thrown around on social media, politicians call for gun control reform and then nothing…the scene fades and nothing is done. Nothing at all. The NRA gets its way and we’re left to silently hope it’s not our own kids next time. That right there, that’s the real State of the Union.
Protecting Pot: Berkeley leads charge against Jeff Sessions
In light of threats by Attorney General Sessions regarding a misguided crackdown on our democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis, we have become what may be the first city in the country to declare ourselves a sanctuary city for cannabis. #berkmtg
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) February 14, 2018
Berkeley was already deemed a sanctuary city for their efforts to protect illegal immigrants, but they’ve just doubled down by establishing themselves as a sanctuary for cannabis as well. In a unanimous vote, City Council approved a measure Tuesday that prohibits any city employee, official, department, agency (you get the point) from participating in federal cannabis enforcement, courtesy of Jess Sessions. The attorney general’s rescinding of Obama’s Cole Memo, which curbed federal enforcement in states with marijuana laws, isn’t sitting too well in states like California. Berkeleyside reports that the city may be the first in the nation to take such a stand.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin issued the following statement: “Millions of peaceful Americans have been fined, arrested, imprisoned, or otherwise needlessly criminalized and stigmatized, sometimes for life, because of their use of marijuana. This War on Drugs has cost over $1 trillion dollars and turned the U.S. into a nation of mass incarceration — imprisoning 2 million American citizens. Worse, the enforcement of marijuana and other drug laws has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. Ending this misguided policy is long overdue.”
West Oakland fire claims the life of one man
A fire broke out in one of Oakland’s largest homeless encampments early Monday, according to the East Bay Times
The issue of fires at homeless encampments has been a point of recent contention, following another fire that broke out in Berkeley at the location of the old City Hall. The origin of that fire is still under dispute, although media was quick to make assumptions and the city was quick to disband the encampment as a result.
Bird tour boat runs aground
Forty-one people and a dog were on a boat name the “Osprey” Saturday morning when the vessel reportedly ran into wreckage in the Berkeley Reef. The group was on a chartered bird watching trip as part of the Audubon Society. Although there are markers identifying the reef area, the boat was operating at 13.5 knots during a very low tide and ended up stuck, requiring a rescue by the Coast Guard. All humans and the dog aboard made it out safely, but the captain has since been placed on leave pending an internal investigation regarding the unusually high speed of the boat in low tide conditions.
It’s been a hectic week in Washington D.C. and not for reasons Trump would prefer. Two White House aides were either fired or let go following public discovery of their domestic violence backgrounds. First, it was Rob Porter on Feb. 7, who was accused by two ex-wives of domestic abuse. Chief of Staff John Kelly and the president are under fire for defending Porter and the question of what they knew and when dominated national coverage for days in a row. David Sorensen, a White House speech writer, resigned amid domestic violence allegations made by his former wife, as reported by The Hill. The two departures have raised the question about how well “the best people” are vetted before given some of the most important jobs in the country.