xoNEWS: A School Shooting Thwarted, $22 Million Raised For ALS, And More

All the headlines you might have missed, neatly summarized.
Amanda Lauren
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All the headlines you might have missed, neatly summarized.


Welcome to the mid-week edition of xoNews. A lot of violence going on this week, both nationally and internationally. However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom. While I try to keep my own opinion out of this column and give you a basic recap of the news, I just couldn’t hold back for one particular story. After reading it, I hope you’ll understand why.

I read every comment and try to cover stories I believe the largest amount of readers find the most interesting. I’m a writer, not a psychic, so please share your opinions and suggestions with me in the comments or tweet me @AmandaLauren.  

School Shooting Thwarted

A major crisis was averted outside Los Angeles on Monday when police thwarted a school shooting at South Pasadena High School. Two incoming seniors who have yet to be named as of Tuesday, devised a plan to “murder as many students as possible,” in addition to three specific teachers. 

Last Thursday, the school alerted authorities when they learned of the plan. The police investigated and placed the boys under constant surveillance. According to police, they boys researched “rifles, submachine guns, bombs and other explosives, especially propane.” However, no weapons were found where they lived.

On Monday, the police arrested the suspects at their respective homes. One suspect was arrested without incident, but the other resisted and attempted to flee. The police were ultimately able to capture him. The boys were booked on suspicion of conspiracy and making criminal threats.

The mother of one of the boys said she was “completely shocked and never saw this coming.” One suspect’s father also stated “[my] son had no intention of hurting anyone at the school and [we are] just very worried about [our] boy."

Gaza Ceasefire Ends

The five-day-long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended on Monday when rockets were fired into Israel, who responded by pulling out of peace talks in Cairo. Six rockets hit Netivo, Ashdod and Beersheba, and two more were intercepted. There were no casualties. 

Mark Regrev, who is a spokesman for the Israeli government said that, “[The] rocket attack on Beersheba is a grave and direct violation of the cease-fire to which Hamas committed itself. This is the 11th cease-fire that Hamas has either rejected or violated.”

Hamas denies they launched the rockets and their spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri stated, “Hamas does not have any information about the launching of any rockets from Gaza. The Israeli occupation is aiming through this escalation in the region to abort the talks in Cairo.”

The New York Times thinks a smaller terrorist group could have been behind the bombing. However, it doesn’t look like either side will yield, and it seems like the cycle of ceasefires broken by violence will continue. 

Ferguson Update

The violence in Ferguson, Missouri has escalated since last week, when the police department released a surveillance video allegedly showing Michael Brown robbing a convenience store only hours before the incident that lead to his death. While the two incidents are completely unrelated -- as the officer in question, Darren Wilson, did not know Michael Brown was a suspect at the time of their encounter -- this information has led to increased support for Wilson, who is responsible for shooting Brown to death. On Sunday, over 100 people gathered to support the officer in a downtown St. Louis Park. A Facebook page was also created to support the officer and as of today, has over 43,000 Likes. 

While there have been a number of peaceful protests, violence from both sides has increased. On Monday night, 78 people were arrested for refusing to disperse. Police report being shot at, and having Moltov Cocktails thrown at them. In turn, the police have resorted to using tear gas to control protestors. 

The situation is so out of control that the governor of Missouri has sent the National Guard over. They will be under the direction of the state Highway Patrol. As a result, the governor lifted the Midnight to 5:00 a.m. local curfew. 

President Obama has responded to the violence and said: 

Let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let's seek to heal rather than to wound each other. As Americans, we've got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity that's been laid bare by this moment.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

For several weeks, you’ve probably been inundated with videos from the Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS association. The challenge is simple: Pour a bucket of ice water over your head and donate $10 to ALS or stay dry and donate $100, then nominate three other people to do the same. Countless celebrities have made videos including Jamie Kennedy, Chris Pratt and Ben Affleck. As of Tuesday, this effort has raised over $22 million.

While the origins of the Ice Bucket Challenge are unrelated to the ALS Association, Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease at age 27, made the challenge a national phenomenon. He posted a video asking others to participate the in challenge, since he was physically unable to at the time.

If you are wondering what ALS is, it stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When someone has ALS, control of all of his or her bodily functions -- from basic movement to breathing, speaking, and so on -- is gradually lost, while the mind remains fully intact. Founding member and Former Chairman of the Board of the ALS Association Allen L. Finkelstein (who, to be fully candid, just happens to be my father) gave an exclusive statement to xoJane: 

Who would have thought even one month ago that anything like this could have happened? ALS involves 30,000 patients in the U.S. It is characterized as “an orphan disease” yet in the last several weeks, nearly 200,000 people have donated substantial sums to find the cause and cure for this tragic ailment. It is the ALS Association’s responsibility to all these donors to make that happen. On behalf of the ALS Association, we thank each and every donor, small and large. This unprecedented level of giving is unlike anything the ALS cause has ever seen before. I am so tremendously thankful that so many people have directed their Ice Bucket Challenge donations to the ALS Association. The awareness alone is so incredibly valuable and in years from now, this time in our history will be viewed as a real game changer for the disease.  


• Ma’lik Richmond, who was one of two teens convicted of raping a sixteen-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has been allowed to return to the Steubenville high school football team. Richmond must also register as a Tier II sex offender for the next 20 years.

• MMA Fighter “War Machine,” whose real name is Jonathan Koppenhaver, was captured in a hotel room outside Los Angeles. He was on the run from police after brutally beating adult film star, Christy Mack, as well as a male friend of hers, Corey Thomas. After being arrested, Koppenhaver was taken into custody for attempted murder.

• Breaking News: Late on Tuesday, ISIS released a video, which showed American journalist James Foley being beheaded. ISIS is also currently threatening to behead another American journalist, who is believed to be Steven Sotloff. More details to come for the Friday edition of xoNews.