August 29, 2018

The Real Death Toll in Puerto Rico: 2975; Bi-Partisan Love for Senator John McCain; and (Early) Happy Labor Day!

As initially reported, the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria was estimated by the government at just 16. That was revised early on, but only to a lowly 64. Many doubted these figures, specifically including Mayor Carmen Yulen Cruz of San Juan, who advocated passionately for a greater governmental response in the wake of the devastating damage. The badly hobbled electrical grid resulted in black-outs that for some lasted many months. Fatalities resulted not just from the brunt of the storm itself, but also – and unnecessarily -- from the inability of initial survivors to obtain necessary supplies, medical treatment, or even just potable water. These deaths were tracked in a study at George Washington University that found the true death count from the storm – which included all directly-caused deaths in the six months after – was at least 2975. Mayer Cruz pointed out in subsequent interviews that those stranded in Puerto Rico were left to die. It cannot be ignored that this was far different than the rescue efforts afforded to those placed in peril on the American mainland by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Mayer Cruz also gave thanks for the substantial assistance given by private citizens and humanitarian organizations, who desperately tried to pick up the slack. But for this assistance, the death toll no doubt would be much greater.

Arizona’s favorite son, Senator John McCain passed away on Saturday, following a difficult battle with brain cancer. McCain long has been an American hero. He famously is known for setting a powerful example relating to the need to eliminate privilege. When captured in Vietnam, McCain was offered an early release because of his status. McCain’s father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain refused early release, instead honoring the military code of conduct that prisoners of war should be released in order of their capture. McCain served as U.S. senator for near forty years, often reaching across the aisle for bipartisan solutions. Presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama are scheduled to speak at his eulogy.

And it’s Labor Day! Well, almost . . . Do take the time to focus on unity and to reflect on why we celebrate this day as a nation. Do also have some fun. It’s back-to-the-books afterward. For you first-years, the rest of the school year may just a blur!  

August 12, 2018

Lots of Love for LeBron’s “I Promise School”: Tributes for Heather Heyer on the One-Year Anniversary of Charlottesville; and Orientation Week at Loyola!

NBA star LeBron James sported his altruism when he cut the ribbon to open the “I Promise School,” a public grade school in Akron, Ohio. The school enrolled 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. Courtesy of LeBron, each student received a free uniform and a bicycle. Meals also are provided and there is extensive mentorship. Eventually, each student will receive guaranteed tuition at the University of Akron. The goal is not only to provide a solid chalk-and-talk education, but to also better the lives of at-risk children in their community. That is why it was so important to LeBron to provide each student with a bicycle. LeBron shared that when he was a child, his bicycle represented freedom. It enabled him to travel around town with his friends. He was quoted as saying: “Everything I do comes from my childhood, from my growing up, and what I feel was part of my success.” LeBron is paying it forward. His initial financial contribution has been estimated at two million dollars in start-up costs. His foundation will continue to provide financial and other resources as the school moves toward annual enrollment of 1000 students (grades 1 through 8) by 2022. But not everyone is a fan. LeBron was criticized by President Trump following a CNN interview given by LeBron promoting the school. Yet just about everyone in the world sided with LeBron, even including First Lady Melania Trump, who tweeted her support and her willingness to visit the “I Promise School.” No doubt, LeBron’s legacy will extend well beyond the basketball court. For more information about the “I Promise School,” click here

August 12, 2018 marked the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville riots that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, an activist for equality who was employed in the legal community as a paralegal. Heather was killed when a white supremacist purposefully drove his vehicle through a crowd of counter-protestors at an “Unite the Right” rally. At least 19 others were injured. While white nationalists sought to commemorate the Charlottesville events with a new “Unite the Right” rally in Washington D.C., the memo may have gotten lost. Attendees at the high-profile march were estimated at about 30. (No, that’s not a typo: thirty.) By contrast, counter-protestors numbered in the thousands. So strong was the counter-message, that the white nationalists had to be escorted away by police in vans. In Charlottesville, Heather’s family and friends mourned the anniversary of her death. She was heralded as a “sweet soul” who regularly spoke out against inequality. Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, carries on Heather’s fight through the Heather Heyer Foundation. A placard next to her desk captures her daughter’s favorite motto: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Speaking of paying attention . . . It’s Orientation Week at Loyola! Have you got your books? Already working on that first assignment? Still wondering why the law school is in DTLA instead of by the beach at LMU’s Westchester campus? If any of this describes you, it might mean you’re a member of Loyola’s incoming first-year class. The first year of law school famously is tough, but you’ll find that you have lots of support. You’ll form friendships that will be with you for the rest of our life. And at the end of it all, you’ll be an attorney. For the rest of you who are one year closer to that goal, Loyola’s staff, faculty and administrators enthusiastically welcome you back! Put simply, the campus is not the same without your inquisitive minds and vibrant energy. Together, we all can change the world!

Editor’s Note: EQ4AL@LLS loves LeBron. And that’s not just because he’s now a L.A. Laker! LeBron long has used his platform to fight for equality and equity for all, specifically including supporting impoverished youth. The “I Promise School” is a wonderful model that can and should be emulated in communities across the nation to support at-risk children. In terms of civility, LeBron also is quite the role model. He even called former Laker Cedric Ceballos for permission to use Cedric’s jersey number upon joining the team. Way to go, Number #23!  

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