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Heroes Praised for Taking Action During San Diego Synagogue Shooting

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  • A gunman opened fire at a synagogue outside of San Diego, California on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three.
  • Several people, including the synagogue’s rabbi, have been applauded as heroes for their actions to help others.
  • The attacker turned himself in shortly after the shooting, and now faces one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Shooting at Chabad of Poway

A gunman opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California on Saturday, killing one woman and injuring three others.

The attacker fled the synagogue after his gun jammed, escaping by car. However, shortly after fleeing, the gunman called the California Highway Patrol to report his location. He then surrendered to a police officer who responded to the scene.

The attacker was then taken into custody and charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, according to a press release from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The press release also stated that officials believed the shooter was acting alone and gave no indication that he was part of an organization.

Heroes Emerge After Attack

Following the shooting, a number of people are being hailed as heroes for the actions they took during the crisis.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who is the leader of the synagogue, has been applauded for his efforts to protect and unify his congregation both during and after the attack. Rabbi Goldstein was preparing his sermon for the day when he heard shots ring out in the synagogue’s banquet hall.

He then turned around and was confronted by the gunman, who shot the rabbi in the hand, badly injuring him. After being shot, the Goldstein ran to help a group of children escape outside to safety.

Members of the synagogue have commended Goldstein’s leadership, saying that despite his injuries, he did not leave his congregation until he had finished calming them, speaking of resilience and unity.

Goldstein was later taken to a hospital where he lost an index finger after undergoing extensive surgery.

Others, including the rabbi himself, have applauded Oscar Stewart, a veteran who chased after the gunman and tried to tackle him. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged Stewart in a press release, saying: “Stewart risked his life to stop the shooter and saved lives in the process.”

Rabbi Goldstein also praised Johnathan Morales, an off-duty border patrol, who chased after the gunman when he fled the synagogue. Morales reportedly followed the attacker to his car and shot at the vehicle while the gunman drove away.

Donald Trump also echoed this in a tweet, thanking Morales. Although to be clear, Morales did not succeed in stopping the attacker.

Finally, Rabbi Goldstein has commended Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the member of the synagogue who was shot and killed by the gunman. During an emotional press conference on Sunday, Goldstein reflected on her life, which he believed she sacrificed for the congregation.

“In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us. She didn’t deserve to die,” said Rabbi Goldstein. “This is Lori. This is her legacy, and her legacy will continue. It could have been so much worse if the sequence of events didn’t happen the way it happened, it could have been a much worse massacre.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27.

Social Media Aspect

Saturday’s attack fell on the last day of Passover, which is one of the holiest days in Judaism. Authorities, including the mayor of Poway, have condemned the shooting as a hate crime.

The attack also comes six months to the day after a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Saturday’s attack bares another significant similarity to other religious attacks that have been seen recently: the use of social media.

According to reports, the attacker had a helmet camera and was trying to live stream the shooting, but fortunately, his video equipment failed to work. This move was seemingly inspired by the Christchurch attacker, who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand while live streaming the massacre.

Additionally, a man claiming to be the attacker posted on the anonymous message board 8chan, linking to an “open letter” and a Facebook page, claiming that the attack would be broadcast on Facebook live.

In the letter, the writer identifies as an “anti-Semite” and “white supremacist.” The writer references the shooters at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue and the New Zealand mosques as well as Adolf Hitler as role models.

The writer also confessed to setting fire to a mosque in Escondido, California last month, and explicitly dedicated the fire to the Christchurch shooter. The letter also included instructions for spreading the news of the planned shooting and called for others to commit more violent hate crimes.

Law enforcement and other authorities are still investigating if the letter was in fact written by the shooter.

The Facebook page that linked in the 8chan post has since been disabled on the platform. While Facebook was able to identify and block the page before it became widespread, the letter was reproduced on the text storage site Pastebin before Facebook was able to take it down.

The Pastebin link was circulating on Twitter for hours after the shooting, and it was shared nearly 100 times before Twitter blocked the link.

In an article, Slate reported that while Twitter and Facebook seemed to be removing the links and the open letter, the letter itself was “easily found when searching for key details about the shooting on YouTube.”

“According to the site, the video has since been removed for not adhering to its community guidelines,” Slate reported.

The letter and its social media presence were contained a lot faster than the Christchurch shooting live stream. Video of the Christchurch attack was viewed and reposted millions of times while social media sites like Facebook and Twitter scrambled to take it down. This latest attack could have had similar social media reach had the gunman been successful in his efforts to stream his crime.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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