Outside the School #8 – New Zealand terror attack, college cheating scandal, and more


Ethiopian Airlines plane crash

Last Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines’ brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 boarded 157 people. Headed for Nairobi, Kenya, the plane took off from Addis Abbab, Ethiopia; warning signs rang from the beginning, the plane accelerating strangely after takeoff.

The pilot, citing “flight control problems,” made a distress call, requesting return to the airport; just minutes later, the plane vanished from radar, indicating the moment of its harrowing crash, in which all 157 aboard were killed.

Ethiopian authorities have thus committed to investigation with the aid of a multitude of international experts. Already, the airline has reported that the Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder have been recovered and sent for investigation. Depending on the condition, reports back from the recorders may take weeks.

Though the exact cause of the crash is still unknown, the nature of the plane’s behavior and the crash suggest a software malfunction. As a result, a part of the flight’s control software, MCAS, is now under intense investigation, especially considering the similarities between this tragedy and another plane crash involving the same plane and software last year.

With all the scrutiny and controversy and public outcry, all 371 Max 8 planes have been grounded as the investigation continues and the world mourns a true international tragedy.

College cheating scandal

Exploding onto the media was news of the college cheating scandal. This past week, the Department of Justice indicted 50 people, including a number of prominent wealthy figures, for their part in bribing colleges for admission.

The fifty people included 33 parents of high school students who paid $15 to $500 thousand in order to grant their children college admission. The remaining indicted were college coaches, administrators, exam proctors, etc. Colleges at the forefront of the scandal include UCLA, USC, Stanford, and more.

Founder of college counseling service Edge College & Career Network and non-profit The Key Worldwide Foundation, William Singer is the man behind the entire operation. Parents would “donate” to The Key to cheat their child’s standardized test scores or use connections to D1 athletics to orchestrate false sports recruits.

Test scores were cheated by bribing exam administrators “to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams,” either by having someone else pose as the student and take the exam, providing answers to the students, or correcting answers following the exams. Sometimes, learning disabilities would be faked so that students could take exams in centers Singer had control of. For parents, this would cost from $15 to $75 thousand per test.

As for the athletic recruits, Singer would bribe college coaches to mark the students as recruits “regardless of athletic abilities.” Reportedly, Singer would even use stock photos of athletes from the internet and edit his clients’ faces onto them to embellish the scam.

Notable parents to have paid for Singer’s services include actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman paid $15,000 for her daughter’s 1420 on the SAT, while Loughlin of Full House fame and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 for their two daughters’ admissions into USC based on recruit for the crew team, though neither girls ever rowed.

Overall Singer allegedly made $25 million from the scam. Thus, he is now charged with Racketeering, Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Obstruction of Justice; he has pleaded guilty to all charges.

New Zealand shooting

On Friday in a bloodthirsty terror attack, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people.

Tarrant streamed live video of his crime on Facebook and also posted a racist manifesto, which was sent to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just minutes before the first shots were fired.

Tarrant was charged with murder and seen before a courtroom this morning; police say he can expect more charges added to the list. Another 18-year-old man was also charged with “intent excited hostility or ill-will,” while a third, unidentified accomplice was also charged. All three of them have clean records, with Tarrant filling his time with travel to a number of countries, including predominantly Muslim countries like Pakistan and Turkey.

Now as New Zealand mourns the tragic loss of 49 loved ones, the call for gun control arises loud and clear. Tarrant was said to have been armed with five legally-obtained guns, two of which were semiautomatic, and in the aftermath of his heinous attack, Prime Minister Ardern has promised that “gun laws will change,” specifically surrounding semiautomatic weapons.

Despite the government’s vow to not follow in America’s footsteps of passivity in the face of tragedy, the surge in gun control efforts has been met with some opposition. New Zealand is home to many gun owners who purchase and own with little restriction.

Though there has already been pushback from gun owners of New Zealand, it seems the government and prime minister have their minds set on reform and prevention.