Feb. 11 Weekly News Digest: Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping case, politicization of COVID and the Beijing Winter Olympics 


State qualifiers and medal awardees Chanel Wilson, Jaydon Kelly, Nadia Abbott, Wendy Miedema, Neyda Isidoro-Martinez, Anna Miedema, Max Belin, Ari Johnson, Javon Harris, Sequoya Morning, Trevor Watts, Caleb Jackson, Meilie Diaz, Jaquan Jennings, Amady Mboup, Aliah Ward, Nateya Thomas, Jackson Bergan, and Gavin Gardner pose for a photo with their medals alongside advisor Atiba Ward. Not pictured are Tamisha Smith and Meilie Diaz who are both qualifiers for the state competition.

News Team

COVID Updates

According to The New York Times’ COVID dashboard, there have been over 240 thousand new cases each day of COVID-19 in the United States, as of February 8. Around seven thousand cases are concentrated in Michigan and out of the new daily Michigan cases, roughly 184 being in Kalamazoo County.


Local News

There was a parent-led protest of the districts “count day” outside of Loy Norrix and Kalamazoo Central on February 9. According to the Black Lives Matter chapter of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, the protest was to push for “remote options, staff replacement for those treating Black students inhumanely, retirement of SROs in schools replaced with community role models, and the resignation of the Superintendent.” 

The protestors also set up a casket at the front of Norrix to symbolize the students in the Kalamazoo community who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Lawmakers are currently proposing legislation in Michigan’s Senate and House of Representatives to clean up the Kalamazoo River. Around two years ago, Morrow Dam released over 350 thousand yards of sediment which damaged the river’s natural ecosystem. Senator Sean McCann and Representative Julie Rogers have proposed a bill to strengthen protections for Michgian’s natural waterways.


State News

Kaleb Franks from Waterford Township pled guilty to planning the kidnapping of Gretchen Whitmer. Franks and the five others that were working with him were angry over the COVID restrictions that Whitmer had been putting in place. They were all arrested in October of 2020. 

University of Michigan economist and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Susan M. Collins will become the Federal Reserve bank of Boston’s president. Upon her official appointment, she will become the first black woman to run a regional Federal Reserve bank. 


National News

With the conversations surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine becoming increasingly politicized, the Biden administration has begun a different approach to building trust in the vaccine. According to NPR, “On Tuesday, the Health Resources and Services Administration is distributing $66.5 million to community groups working in 38 states and in Washington, D.C.” 

By distributing this money, the White House is giving community groups the resources they need to try and build trust around the vaccine. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra told NPR, “The program that we’re announcing this week is to provide additional resources to trusted voices in our communities throughout the country so that they can reach folks.” Communities RISE Together, a Public Health Organization supported initiative, has received more than $11 million. 

On Wednesday, February 2, Minneapolis police shot Amir Locke while they were entering his home under a no-knock warrant. Locke’s name was not on the warrant and bodycam footage showed him asleep before waking up and grabbing a legally-acquired firearm. Minneapolis has been under fire for the actions of their police over the past year, stemming from the murder of George Floyd in November. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is currently investigating the situation. 


International News

The British foreign minister met with the Russian foreign minister in an attempt to urge Russia to withdraw their troops from the Ukrainian  border. Sergey V. Lavrov, Russian Foriegn Minister, says the West has to “prove that we [Russia] are the ones who created this tense situation” according to The New York Times

The UK and US are continuing to urge Russia to withdraw troops and act peacefully and Russia is continuing to say they will not invade Ukraine. However, Russia has started military drills in facilities in Belarus on Thursday, causing Western countries to watch carefully. 

Over the past three weeks, many truckers and people across the world, mainly in Canada, rallied behind the name “Freedom Convoy 2022” as they blocked off major roadways in protest of vaccination mandates. The truckers blocked off crucial supply routes from Canada to the U.S. sparking fears about further constrictions on the supply chain.  

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games, being held in Beijing, China, began on Friday, Feb 4. So far, the United States has been awarded ten medals: four gold, five silver and one bronze, leaving them in fourth place. 

As of Feb 10, Germany sits in first with nine medals, six of which are gold. Medal winning athletes and teams in the United States as of Feb 10 are…

  • Nathan Chen – Men Single Skating (Gold)
  • Mixed Team Aerials – Ice Skating (Gold)
  • Lindsay Jacob Ellis – Women’s Snowboard Cross (Gold)
  • Chloe Kim – Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe (Gold)
  • Ryan Cochran-Siegle – Men’s Super-G (Silver)
  • Team Event – Figure Skating (Silver)
  • Colby Stevenson – Men’s Freeski Big Air (Silver)
  • Jaelin Kauf – Women’s Moguls (Silver)
  • Julia Marino – Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle (Silver)
  • Jessie Diggins – Women’s Sprint Free (Bronze)

The United States Men’s hockey team beat China, 8-0, in a preliminary game on Thursday Feb 10 and will play Canada in another preliminary match on Saturday, Feb 12.