Beyond the Bricks week of 2/19
by Salman Mustafa | published Feb. 27th, 2018
Students, Lawmakers and President React in the Aftermath of Florida School Shooting
In the days after a gunman opened fire on a Florida high school and killed 17 students and adults, the nation grappled with the increasing frequency of mass shootings, the brief outrage and the indifference that inevitably follows.
Students across the country staged classroom walkouts and rallies calling for action against what has become an epidemic. Survivors of the school attack stormed the Florida Capitol and confronted lawmakers.
“Shame on you,” students shouted while crowding the doorway of Florida Governor Rick Scott's office. “How is an individual in society able to acquire such a gun?” one student said of the deadly AR-15 rifle that was used in the rampage.
“[There is a] true commitment in the Senate and the House to try to address issues that would prevent something this devastating from ever happening again,” said Florida State Senator Bill Galvano. It appears that lawmakers are likely to pursue legislation that is a far cry from what students are demanding, avoiding a ban on assault weapons.
Lead by Republican Governor Rick Scott, who is closely aligned with the National Rifle Association (NRA), Florida has had a long history of pro-gun politics.
President Trump cited the “evil massacre” and signed a memorandum ordering the attorney general to change regulations to ban bump stocks, molded pieces of plastic or metal that can attach to a semiautomatic weapon allowing it to fire up to 100 rounds in seven seconds. Investigators said that bump stocks were not used in the Florida massacre.
Trump also voiced support for an idea popular with the NRA — arming teachers and other school staff in order to prevent future mass shootings. Trump said he would move quickly to tighten background checks for gun buyers and would consider raising the age for buying certain types of weapons.
The shooting has revived the long-running debate about gun rights. Following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and the Las Vegas concert massacre, the Florida high school shooting marks a stunning regularity in mass shootings across the nation within a small period of time, with little to no government response.
Mueller Investigation Exposes Russian Cybersecurity Operation Targeting Unwitting American Citizens
The investigation led by Mueller revealed a sweeping social media disinformation campaign being run out of St. Petersburg, Russia. Funded by millions of dollars, the long-distance social choreography targeted multiple cities in the U.S. Facebook disclosed that roughly 130 rallies were promoted by 13 Russian pages that reached millions of Americans with controversial content on race, immigration, guns and other politically volatile issues.
The indictment asserted that the Americans engaged with Russian trolls did not know who or where they really were. The trolls were not partial to one side. It appears that they conspired to sow discontent between politically disparate groups. They created rallies favoring both sides of an issue for the same time and location, creating a face-off. One example is a pair of rallies named “Stop the Islamization of Texas” and “Save Islamic Knowledge." Those who turned up for the first event, with rifles, confederate flags and banners saying “White Lives Matter” confronted the counter-protestors who showed up for the second event. The police had to keep the crowds apart.
In addition, the indictment repeatedly stated that the operation was designed not just to provoke division among Americans but to denigrate Hillary Clinton and support her rivals. Clinton has had an adversarial history with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Since the indictment, Trump and his associates have pointed to the fact that it did not accuse them of colluding with or assisting the Russian operation.
"Black Panther" star from Rochester gives props to High School Teacher
It was Wakanda Forever last President’s Day weekend as Marvel’s "Black Panther" became the number one movie in the country and made box office history by grossing over $200 million dollars in its opening weekend.
It marks a milestone as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first film with an almost entirely black cast and crew. Prior to its release, the film had already garnered overwhelming positive feedback from critics.
One of the film’s scene stealers and antagonists, M’Baku, is played by Rochester native Winston Duke. Duke attended Brighton High School as a teenager and recently showed love to one of his high school teachers, Spanish teacher Christine Speer, in a tweet: “shout out to my high school teacher that suggested I start acting in plays.”
In an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle, Speer congratulated her former student. “Winston’s charisma and talent were apparent when I knew him as a teenager. He was mesmerizing and completely at ease in front of an audience,” said Speer.