Top 5 News Stories of April

Kira Camacho, Staff Writer

1. The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The invasion first started on Feb. 24, and is still ongoing. The latest update is the “battle for Donbas,” Ukraine president Volodymr Zelenskyy explained that the Russian troops have been preparing for this battle for a long time. 

“The second phase of the war has begun,” said Presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak.

Russia is already on the offensive, with 76 battalion tactical groups in the Donbas region of Ukraine. In his recent address, Zelenskyy showed his determination.

“We will not give up anything Ukrainian,” said Zelenskyy.


2. Travel Mask Mandates 

In Florida, federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the national mask mandate for airplanes. Previously this mandate said that people would be required to wear masks while on airlines and public transportation. The Biden administration explained that the rule would not be enforced while federal agencies decided how to respond. Meanwhile, airlines are trying to make their own decisions about mask requirements, and several already announced they would drop these mandates. 

“The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s largest union of cabin crews, has recently taken a neutral position on the mask rule,” wrote Curt Anderson.

Now, the CDC is filing an appeal to overturn the voided mask mandate. In a statement, the CDC asked the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to proceed with this appeal. 

“It is the CDC’s assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.” They announced on Apr. 20. “CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary.” 

The CDC also stated that wearing masks is very beneficial in public transportation settings. It will protect those who wear masks, and those around them.  


3. Student Debt Loan

On Apr. 19, the Department of Education announced its additional steps to help at least 3.6 million student loan borrowers to move closer to debt forgiveness. They also said that 40,000 borrowers will receive immediate forgiveness. 

“The credits will help borrowers seeking to have their loans eliminated under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and through the use of income-driven repayment plans,” wrote Stacy Cowley at the New York Times

In their announcement, the Department of Education explained that these actions are part of the department’s long-time commitment to address historical failures. They recognize the pandemic, and see that this impacted many students with lower incomes and high debt loads. 

 “Today, the Department of Education will begin to remedy years of administrative failures that effectively denied the promise of loan forgiveness to certain borrowers enrolled in IDR plans,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively.”


4. Covid Hospitalizations 

Though many stores, schools, and transportation services have stopped requiring masks, new COVID-19 cases are being logged everyday. On Apr. 19, Los Angeles (LA) County logged another 3,351 new COVID-19 cases. Despite the new cases, the number of COVID-positive patients in LA hospitals is remaining stable. Unfortunately, there is a cumulative total of 2,853,706 cases in LA County.

“The county no longer reports COVID numbers on weekends,” announced City News Service

This new rise in cases has been attributed to the new BA.2 subvariant. This subvariant is a more infectious offshoot of the Omicron variant. Officials are continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated or receive booster shots.


5. Catalytic Converter Theft

Recently, catalytic converters have been stolen off of many Toyotas and Hondas in Los Angeles county. The converter changes harmful compounds from an engine’s emissions into safe gases, like steam. Technically, a car can function without one, but it is not sustainable to drive without one. 

Specifically Toyotas, Hondas, Trucks, and SUVs are being targeted for this kind of theft. Since Toyotas, specifically the Toyota Prius, is a low-emission vehicle, the converters contain larger amounts of platinum, rhodium, and palladium. These converters are easy to steal, and can earn thieves up to $700 per converter. 

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) saw this problem and held a catalytic converter etching event to combat thefts. On Apr. 16, residents attended the event to have their car’s vehicle identification number etched onto the converter. This will hopefully deter thieves from stealing the converters by making it easier to prosecute anyone caught.


Photos courtesy of COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG