In the News 3/18

“Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Controversy has erupted over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and its unfairness. The bill, which has passed Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives, prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” Supporters of the bill claim it grants parents greater control over their child’s education while critics argue that a ban on classroom conversations about LGBTQ+ people or issues, including same-sex marriage and the history of the AIDS epidemic, marginalizes the LGBTQ+ community. If signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has widely expressed support for the legislation, the Parental Rights in Education act will go into effect on July 1.


Violence Against Women Act


On Wednesday, President Biden reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. This act “creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking” (NNEDV). The original piece of legislation was written in 1994 and needs renewal every five years. Disputed aspects of the legislation, specifically what relationship between two people (“spouse” or “any dating partner”) bans the partner convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm, have led to the legislation taking seven years to renew. While Biden is pleased with the renewal of this legislation, he states that there is still much to be done pertaining to the issue of domestic violence in America.  


COVID Update


In recent days, a new subvariant, BA.2, of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has caused a large increase in cases in China. The variant has predominantly impacted Hong Kong where there are relatively low vaccination rates for elderly people and generally low immunity. The country is initiating lockdown measures to combat its spread. Additionally, Europe has been witnessing a significant rise in cases since they reduced their virus restrictions a few weeks ago. Here in New York, the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and confirmed deaths continue to decrease. There were reportedly a total of 2,089 positive cases yesterday. Hospitalizations are now under 1,000 and there were a total of 16 COVID deaths in the entire state yesterday. 


Conflict Between Ukraine and Russia


As days go on, Ukraine’s cities and citizens face more devastation while Russian troops continue to invade. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been photographed showing complete destruction of the city’s once astounding architecture. In terms of human life, the United Nations concluded that, as of March 10, Ukraine has suffered 549 civilian deaths and 957 injuries, and these numbers are predicted to get much higher. On March 17, President Biden called out Vladimir V. Putin out for being a “murderous dictator, a pure thug.” Last week, the US Congress also approved a $13.6 billion aid bill to Ukraine; It includes relief and health supplies, food, water treatment equipment, weapons, and military aid, among other things. 

March Madness

As we enter the third week of March, the 2022 NCAA men’s and women’s championship grips the nation. Brackets have been made, Americans are expected to wager over $3 billion, and it all leads up to the April 3 (women’s) and April 4 (men’s) championship games that will be watched by millions. Thursday, Doug Edert of No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s made a crucial three-pointer to upset one of this year’s favorites, the Kentucky Wildcats. In contrast to recent years, where the women’s tournament has been full of surprises, so far, in the first round, outcomes have remained predictable. March Madness will be watched by fans in anticipation over the next three weeks and will be a way for Americans to find common ground in this time of uncertainty and crisis.