Saturday, May 18

This Week: April 5

Photo credit: Helen Quach

Aid workers killed in Gaza. Baltimore Key Bridge collapses. Podcasts contributors Kayla Hayempour and Lucy Netchvolodoff discuss with Podcasts editor Jack Garland. City and crime editor Sharla Steinman joins the show to discuss Pluto TV rally on April Fools’ Day.

Jack Garland: Today is Friday, April 5, and you’re listening to “This Week” by Daily Bruin Podcasts.

We’re back with our first episode since spring break. This is the podcast where we give college students weekly updates on international, national and campus news. I’m Jack Garland, and I’m the Podcasts editor.

Kayla Hayempour: I’m Kayla Hayempour, a third-year Podcasts contributor and today’s international correspondent.

Lucy Netchvolodoff: I am Lucy Netchvolodoff, a Podcasts contributor and today’s national news correspondent.

Sharla Steinman: I’m Sharla Steinman, the city and crime editor.

JG: Alright, so we’re entering the last quarter of the year.

LN: Your last quarter ever.

JG: My last quarter ever. Yep. Very sad. What are your goals for this quarter?

KH: Somebody asked me that the other day. I’ve never set a goal for the quarter. But I feel like I should have done this like three years ago. Now, this sounds bad, but my goal this quarter is to do less school because I think I take myself way too seriously when it comes to academics, and I just need to have some fun being an upperclassman. I’m almost out of here, which is scary to think about.

LN: No, totally. My goal is to keep it cool, keep my cool this quarter. Don’t get too stressed.

JG: I just want to enjoy my last 10 weeks at UCLA.

LN: What were you saying before? You were saying you’re going to savor it?

KH: Do you have things on your bucket list you have to cross off?

JG: Yeah, I do actually. I am planning on going to a live Jeopardy! recording.

LN: Oh my god!

JG: And I might do a podcast about it too, so stay tuned for that.

KH: Keep an eye out listeners, coming soon!

JG: Alright, so now let’s get into the news. We’re going to start with international news like always. Kayla, what are the top stories from this past week?

KH: We have a devastating recent update on the Israel-Hamas war. Seven food aid workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed in Gaza after an Israeli drone airstrike. The workers were traveling in three clearly marked World Central Kitchen vehicles, two of which were armored and were carrying over 100 tons of humanitarian aid. These vans were also traveling on a designated road coordinated with the Israeli government, leaving the world wondering how such a mistake could have happened given the circumstances.

JG: So what is the Israeli government saying about how this happened?

KH: Lieutenant General Hersey Halevy, Chief of Staff of the Israeli military, claims that the strike was a misidentification made by AI-controlled drones. But chef José Andrés, founder of the World Central Kitchen, believes these vans were directly targeted.

JG: Israel has seen global support for their war effort declined dramatically since October. What is the global community saying now about this latest development?

KH: There has been a huge international outcry following the deaths of these aid workers, especially after the Israeli government’s response. Netanyahu responded with, “This happens in wartime.” The victims consisted of a US-Canada national, a Palestinian, three Brits, an Australian and one Pole. Each of their respective countries are demanding answers, and many are launching their own respective investigations into the incident. The majority of these countries are also allies of Israel. So this attack has definitely put a strain on those relations. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk posted on X that Netanyahu is testing Poland’s solidarity with Israel. President Joe Biden even came out with his strongest response to Israel since the beginning of the war, condemning the actions and stating that the US will continue doing all they can to facilitate aid to Gaza.

JG: The Israel-Hamas war is something that we cover often on the show. Can you remind us about how this affects UCLA students?

KH: Definitely, as we’ve seen on campus since Oct. 7, whether it be through vigils or protests, many students have personal connections to this war. Even for those who don’t, this issue has been at the top of headlines for months, so many Bruins are definitely following any updates or news closely.

JG: And what else happened this past week around the world?

KH: Well, Taiwan experienced a deadly 7.4 magnitude earthquake. It’s the strongest in 25 years and had 6.5 magnitude aftershocks with more expected to come in the next few days. The most recent information comes from Thursday afternoon, with the death toll rising to 10 and over 1000 people injured. These numbers don’t even account for the estimated 705 people trapped and 15 missing. The photos of the damage are terrifying, so I really hope they can find all of those affected soon.

Turkey’s opposition party won control of key municipalities in their recent election, a huge blow to President Erdoğan. This is the worst defeat for Erdoğan’s party since he came to power 21 years ago, also making it the opposition party’s largest victory since that time.

JG: I saw a headline this week about Germany being flooded with elephants and I thought it was some sort of figure of speech so I ignored it. But apparently the headline was literal. Can you tell us about it?

KH: I definitely can, and I also agree with you when I first read this I did not believe my eyes. Botswana basically threatened to send Germany 20,000 elephants, Germany’s environment ministry is seeking to ban the importation of hunting trophies. But this actually poses quite a risk to Botswana who needs German poachers to keep their overabundant elephant population in check. President Masisi of Botswana said that his threat is “not a joke.” So if anyone’s looking for some pet elephants and also wants to help out Botswana, give them a call. I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

JG: I’ll pass along the message. Thanks, Kayla.

So now we’re going to turn to Lucy for the national news. What is the top story from this week?

LN: So the top story this week is that on March 26, a cargo ship rammed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing the bridge to collapse into the Patapsco River. The operators of the ship issued a mayday call moments before the crash reporting that the vessel had lost power, and federal investigators have ruled the crash an accident. The ship’s warning did give authorities the chance to hold vehicle traffic on the span of the bridge. And luckily the crash happened in the wee hours of the morning, long before the morning rush of traffic. However, very sadly, of the eight construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge at the moment of the crash, only two have survived and the other six are presumed dead.

JG: Wow. So what does this bridge collapse mean for the US economy?

LN: Yeah, so the collapse has triggered extensive and costly logistics diversions at the Port of Baltimore, which is one of the most important ports in America, based on the value of consumer goods, automobiles, coal and other shipments that move through the port each week. Business analytics group Dun & Bradstreet has estimated the weekly impact of the port closure to be around $1.7 billion. Companies importing and exporting vehicles and heavy machinery seem to be the most vulnerable to the impact of the port closure. According to the Maryland Port Administration, the Port of Baltimore handled about 847,000 cars and light trucks last year – the most in the country. And the port also stands as a busy gateway for heavy farm and construction machinery. Port officials have not yet indicated when they plan to reopen the shipping channel to vessels. The collapse has also pushed traffic onto alternate roads, raising time and cost for truckers.

JG: Yeah, this sounds like a logistical nightmare. What are officials doing now to keep trade flowing?

LN: So in the meantime, officials have been rerouting what shipments they can and authorities at ports from New York, New Jersey to Savannah, Georgia have all said they have the capacity to handle the diverted cargoes. The Port of Virginia has also extended some operating hours to handle any extra volume. However, this is a massive logistics undertaking that involves operators of major automakers, local truckers and railroad workers as well as other exporters and importers from across the globe. This is still a developing story.

JG: And so what’s the Bruin angle on this?

LN: So the collapse may have happened in a land far away on the east coast, but it still threatens to raise prices on a number of goods. And it also reminds us not to take important infrastructure like bridges and highways for granted.

JG: And what else is going on across the country this week?

LN: So right here in the state of California, we raised the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new law in September, but it has just taken effect this week. The law specifically requires that fast food restaurants with 60 or more locations nationwide increase their workers’ pay to $20 an hour which is $4 higher than the state’s minimum wage, and $12.75 higher than the federal minimum wage. The law also establishes a fast food council, which will be composed of industry representatives and restaurant workers themselves. The council is authorized to boost fast food workers minimum wage annually by up to 3.5% based on inflation. The council will also advise on health and safety standards for fast food workers and combat issues like wage theft.

JG: So as an AT&T user, there was a story this week that got my attention. Can you tell us about that?

LN: This week, AT&T confirmed that the data of 73 million users was leaked in a data breach dating back to 2021. As a result of the leak, users’ personal data is now circulating on the dark web. The leaked data includes personal information like social security numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and it affects both current and former account holders. AT&T revealed that among the impacted people 7.6 million are current account holders.

And also, I want to note that the next total solar eclipse visible in the United States will be this coming Monday. So get out there and take a look at it if you can, because the next one won’t be until 2044.

JG: Great. Thanks for those updates, Lucy.

LN: Thanks for having me.

JG: And now we’re going to go to Sharla, who’s going to give us a Daily Bruin News update. Thanks for coming on, Sharla.

SS: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me, Jack.

JG: So, what story are you talking about today?

SS: So we’re going to be talking about a story that Zoya Alam wrote on Monday for April Fools’. Pluto TV staff and community members celebrated the streaming services 10th anniversary, which called for Pluto to be reinstated as a planet. The rally kicked off Monday morning in Bruin Plaza and included speeches by researcher Alan Stern, Pluto TV associates, and a recorded message from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Attendees were encouraged to sign a petition to make Pluto a planet again, chanting slogans like “we can’t make Pluto a planet without you” and “Pluto is the planet you can’t ignore.”

JG: And can you remind us about why Pluto is not a planet anymore?

SS: Yeah, so a 2006 vote from the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from its planetary status that it was given during its initial discovery. Stern said that votes aren’t how science works. So it was a bit of a bogus process. He claimed that to scientists, Pluto has always been a planet. Stern also criticized Tyson in his speech for not taking a clear stance on Pluto’s planethood. In one recording played, Tyson said that Pluto should not be named a planet. But in another, he said he considers dwarf planets to be planets too. In an emailed statement to the Bruin, Val Kaplan, Global Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing at Pluto TV, said that it’s remarkable to see how far Pluto TV has come since being introduced on April Fool’s Day back in 2014.

JG: So this is a marketing ploy by Pluto TV. What did UCLA students at the rally have to say?

SS: Multiple students said that they believed that Pluto deserves to be part of the interstellar community considering how long it had been part of the solar system already. Other students called for a revote on Pluto’s planetary status. The story ended with a quote by Stern, which I thought encapsulated the rally really well: “Is a chihuahua a dog? Of course, a Chihuahua is a dog. Is a bungalow a home? Of course it’s a home. Dwarf planets like Pluto are planets too. Pluto is a planet.”

JG: Those are very inspiring words. Thanks for that, Sharla.

SS: Of course, Jack. Thanks for having me on.

KH: Thanks for listening to this episode of “This Week.” We’ll catch you next Friday.

Jack Garland
Kayla Hayempour
Lucy Netchvolodoff
City and Crime Editor

Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.

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