News briefs

From the Iowan Facebook whistleblower to Iowa City’s Pride Festival, here is a recap of the latest local and national news.

Heidi Du, Print Copy Editor

Facebook whistleblower testifies

In September, West High graduate and former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen ’02 provided internal documents that led to the “Facebook Papers.” These files reveal how Facebook’s algorithms promote divisiveness and perpetuate misinformation. Haugen appeared in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Oct. 3. She believes congressional action is needed to make Facebook and Instagram safer for adolescents and testified in front of a Senate subcommittee Oct. 5.

West hosts homecoming dance

After canceling last year’s dance due to COVID-19 concerns, West High hosted its homecoming dance at the Greenstate Family Fieldhouse in Coralville Oct. 2. Masks were required and West Student Government chose the Fieldhouse to encourage spatial distancing. The dance featured a DJ, lights and a professional photo station. Mason Applegate, Miguel Cohen Suarez, Alex Curtu, Hanah Kitamoto, Cameron Reimers and Evan Zukin were named the 2021 Heroes of Troy.

West High Fall Sports

West High’s fall sports are wrapping up. The girls swim team placed third at the state meet Nov. 13 with Scarlet Martin ’22 defending her 100 butterfly title and placing second in the 100 backstroke as well as Jade Roghair ’23 placing third and sixth respectively in the 200 and 500 freestyle. The cross country team competed at the state meet Oct. 29 with Alex McKane ’22 placing second and Seth Cheney ’23 placing 25th, leading the boys team to an eighth-place finish. Cindy Wang ’24 represented the girls team and placed 34th. The Trojan football team concluded their season Oct. 22 with a 2-7 record and Mason Applegate ’22 breaking the school rushing-yard record. The volleyball team ended their season with a 16-17 overall record, losing regional finals to Pleasant Valley in four sets Oct. 26.

Iowa City hosts Pride festival

Iowa City held its Pride festival downtown Oct. 1 and 2. The ICCSD had a booth at the festival, which featured performances and presentations by the UAY Draglings and I.C. Kings. Iowa City Pride also wanted to honor the October 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, so a unity march took place instead of the usual parade. As per the Iowa City Pride website, “We wanted to show our community we are still here and we will come together to fight for our rights and the rights of others.”

Sudanese military coup

The Sudanese military illegally overthrew the government Oct. 25. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other pro-democracy leaders are currently in detention as of print time. Protests against the military government are ongoing in Sudan and around the world as of print time. The Biden administration condemned the coup and suspended $700 million in aid, which was supposed to help the country transition to a fully civilian government.

Vaccine approval and new COVID pill

Pharmaceutical company Merck announced its antiviral COVID-19 pill Oct. 1. According to Merck, the drug molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 50%. As of print time, the FDA is reviewing the use of molnupiravir in the U.S. Research suggests the drug is effective against mutations of COVID-19, and it is recommended for high-risk adults. Additionally, the CDC approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot for 5 to 11-year-olds Nov. 2.

ICCSD school board elections

The ICCSD held school board elections Nov. 2. Voters elected incumbent members J.P. Claussen and Ruthina Malone to the ICCSD Board of Directors along with newcomers Jayne Finch and Maka Pilcher-Hayek. Voters also approved two finance-related provisions, the first of which allows the school district to continue using money that the state grants for safety and technology resources until 2051. Additionally, the tax rate for those who pay property tax within ICCSD boundaries will remain at $1.34 per $1000 of property tax value.