The Echo The Student News Site of Neuqua Valley High School Tue, 03 Mar 2020 15:03:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, From the Eyes of an Unreliable Narrator Tue, 03 Mar 2020 14:48:03 +0000 ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’, was released on February 7th, 2020. It is part of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and takes place a little after the movie ‘Suicide Squad’. Margot Robbie comes back to play her brilliantly-casted role as the infamous Harley Quinn, who was previously known as Harleen Quinzel, until she ran away and joined the circus and fell in love with the Joker. 


It opens with Harley talking about her origins and giving her audience a backstory that helps us understand where all her underlying anger and dysfunctional behavior stems from. For those unfamiliar with the comics or any previous adaptations, it’s a good way to lay some exposition.


Harley Quinn is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and she flashes back and forth through the whole plot. She skips important details and whizzes us back when she eventually remembers them by encountering a plot hole. But in the end, the story does get across well, and we get the whole picture by almost exclusively following the lives of just the female characters. 


Ella Jay Basco does a wonderful job at thirteen-years-old, playing Cassandra Cain, the young ‘problem child’ who picks the wrong pocket and is a catalyst for everything that happens in the movie. And it’s worth mentioning that both the producer, the screenwriter and the director are women. It really does feel like an all female ensemble, on and off camera.


Director Cathy Yan did a very good job incorporating diversity into her cast. The ensemble is almost fully female, and yet it doesn’t seem to overbearingly scream ‘girl power’ into our faces. The introduction of a female squad is seamless as they bond together over problems that are very subtly female, like getting cheated out of a promotion, trying to keep your head down at work while simultaneously protecting women that are being harassed. There are women of colour and gay characters, but they are so well integrated that they don’t seem to exist for brownie points.


The fight sequences are a little lackluster in terms of fight scenes as a whole, but maybe we have to accept that nothing can live up to Endgame’s final battle. Like a well-choreographed dance, the fight sequences in Birds of Prey are still beautiful to look at. The movie’s saturated colours glow bright neon and Cathy Yan gets a chance to play with mirrors, as they slide into a House of Mirrors. 


This fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn, filled to the brim with insanity and colors brings her story to life in a way her previous adaptations did not. It takes away the single biggest thing that makes Harley herself, and the very reason her character was created, and that is her relationship with the Joker. 


In this movie, she finally breaks up with him, which she publicizes by blowing up the chemical factory where they fell in love. It explodes in a burst of color, maybe symbolizing Harley’s explosive fun self that she finally separated from a toxic relationship. 


While the movie takes away the very reason Harley was made, they still retain an essence that is purely Harley Quinn. The quick outfit changes, an action scene in rollerblades, an impromptu dance number  and a pet hyena are all something you look at, and then dismiss. Harley is telling us this story after all. We see things how she sees things. 


When Harley Quinn was introduced into the DC universe, through an animated TV show, she was made solely for the purpose of being the Joker’s love interest. It is an essential part of Harley, that she remains in love with this madman, forever and always wanting to live in servitude of her Mister J. But this movie specifically drags her away from that, instead opting to focus on her relationship with the world around her, and more significantly, the women around her. 


Overall, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey manages to portray a good story of female camaraderie and their relationship to the world around them. The cinematography is well done and pleasant to look at albeit a little underlit at times. It is one of the better movies DC has made, and far better than its predecessor ‘Suicide Squad’. It did well in the box office, making 33 million domestically and 81 million worldwide. It goes to show that women, as villains or heroes, may just be the future of the cinematic universe.

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Anthony Tegtmeyer wins award for PLTW Engineering Teacher of the Year Tue, 03 Mar 2020 14:36:17 +0000 “If you work hard enough, you can accomplish many things.” This is the classroom philosophy of Anthony Tegtmeyer, Technology & Engineering (TEE) Teacher, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Master Teacher, Girls in STEM Advisor, Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) Advisor and Science Olympiad Coach here at Neuqua Valley. Though he has clearly involved himself in many ways as an advisor for various activities, he has also proven himself as an exceptional teacher within the classroom. He was recently recognized as the PLTW Engineering Teacher of the Year at PLTW Summit Indianapolis. This prestigious award is only presented to one PLTW teacher in the entire country, so Tegtmeyer finds it to be a great honor that he was chosen. Based on merit, the award recognizes those teachers who closely adhere to the PLTW mission, as listed on their website, which is “exceptional commitment to students; school leadership; and evidence of meaningful involvement in PLTW curriculum, assessment, and professional development.”

Tegtmeyer earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and started working on his master’s in Aerospace Engineering. He explained how the president, at the time, gave his job as well as his coworkers’ jobs to the Russians. This change of plans forced him to delve more into his engineering degree and start a business alongside it. He spent multiple years at this job designing, manufacturing and marketing his own product. Eventually, his wife suggested this crazy idea that he become a teacher. Laughing at the idea originally, Tegtmeyer gave in to the possibilities and worked as a sub. He described this experience by saying “If you like the part of teaching where students abuse you, then you will be ready for anything.” This was the beginning of his transition into becoming a teacher. A position opened at Neuqua Valley in the brand-new PLTW department which would combine engineering and technology, two subjects he was very familiar with. He has been working here since that decision to accept the job. 

With more experience on the job today, he describes that the best part of teaching is “seeing a student struggle but research and try, then getting that sense of accomplishment after they see their success.” Tegtmeyer recalls multiple situations throughout his career where students have completely turned things around and surprised him. This part of teaching taught him a lesson that he still truly values today: to never judge a student. At the end of the day, he loves his job and all the fascinating experiences that it has given him over the years. Today, Tegtmeyer remains extremely grateful to his wife that she originally proposed the idea to him.

One goal Tegtmeyer has for the future is to see more girls involved in the different STEM careers. Working on a new class idea, Tegtmeyer hopes to bring in a new group of interest and innovation to the table as the careers for women in these fields continue to expand. Though the class idea is still a work-in-progress, he is very excited to share what he has been working on with these new students.

For more information on the PLTW program and the different classes it offers, visit their website

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Reflection: Why We Still Need Black History Month Wed, 26 Feb 2020 21:34:55 +0000 Black history is so easy, yet such a complex thing to understand. Everyone has their own opinions on it rather we need it or not. I think my father explained it to me the best. He said “It’s not like black people want a month, we need one.” We need one because our contributions to America are not acknowledged until February 1st, and quickly forgotten about on February 28th (or 29th in this case). Black people are basically insignificant until you’re sitting in an American history class and the unit is slavery. However, if we do that, then that’s only focusing on the bad part of what we went through. During Black History Month, we want to celebrate the great things that black people have done, not only in America, but what we did for America.

It’s not like black people want a month, we need one.”

— Leonard Ross III

Did you know that the greatest potato chip company Lays wouldn’t even be a thing if it wasn’t for George Crum?! George Crum was the inventor of the potato chip, and he was a black man! I bet you didn’t know that, but I bet you can tell me who gave the “I Have A Dream” speech. We love us some Dr. King, but we also need to love us some Ruby Bridges, Viola Davis, Katherine Johnson and Garret Morgan as well. That’s another reason why we need Black History Month; we need some variety in what and who we talk about. They all contributed to black culture, and we never talk about any of them. Ruby Bridges was only six years old when she walked into an all white school with her head held high. Katherine Johnson, who just passed away this week at the age of 101, was 39-years-old when she was added to the NASA team which was strictly whites only until she came in. There’s so many off the radar black people that I wish I could tell you guys about, but there’s not enough time in the world for us to make that happen.

All those great people don’t get the recognition that they need because we get lazy during Black History Month. As I stated before, we talk about slavery, the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights movement, and that’s all. That’s not the end of the story, though; we should never stop there. Slavery especially is a sensitive topic in this month because people don’t understand that slavery isn’t a part of our history, and we don’t want to remember that during our month. I don’t think anyone has said it better than dub poet Allen Hope, better known as Mutabaruka, : “Slavery isn’t African history, it interrupted African history.” This quote really breaks it down in the best way possible. African culture existed before slavery happened, and it is still happening today after slavery happened. We don’t want to remember what our ancestors had to go through and how they had everything but their dignity stripped away from them. That’s why when we talk about Black History Month I feel like slavery should be left out of the conversation, period.

Another thing you have to understand when you are thinking about Black History Month is that it’s not supposed to make white people feel bad. And I’m sorry, but I’m about to be really honest, if you feel that it is “unfair” that black people have a month and white people don’t, then that’s a selfish way to think about it. Black History Month is for uplifting black people to make us feel like we are actually acknowledged and appreciated by the country we felt the most hurt by, and that should not make anyone feel upset. If we just think of the nature of the question – “why isn’t there a white history month?” – and the fact that it only comes up when we talk about Black History Month, it is sad. There is something selfish about thinking that white people need a month when already so much of our history classes are surrounded by what the white people in it did. 

Black History Month isn’t supposed to be something extra for black people, but something that instead levels the playing field. However, if we really think about it, and you think about your history classes, when else do we talk about what black people have done? Until you get to the sixties when you HAVE to talk about the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, black people are basically extinct after Harriet Tubman and slavery. That’s not good enough; there are things that we use everyday, and no one wants to acknowledge that we only have those things because a black person saw there was a need for it and they changed something. Did you know that the first successful open heart surgery was performed by a black man? His name was Daniel Hale Williams. 

The fact that we are taught that the history of the US started in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence instead of in 1619 when the first slaves arrived to help build this country is just sad. Daniel Hale is just one person that has helped save thousands of lives because of something that he did. As much as I wish that we didn’t actually need a Black History Month, we do. Until we actually get to the point where black people are represented just as much as white people and celebrated just as much for the things that they’ve done, we’re going to need one. Black History Month is a reminder: yes we have come far, but we haven’t gone far enough.

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Pentagon funds diverted for border wall Wed, 26 Feb 2020 14:20:47 +0000 On Feb. 13, the Trump Administration announced plans to reassign $3.8 billion from the defense budget to fund the wall at the southern border. 

The funds were not originally set aside for building barriers but for other uses, such as purchasing equipment for the National Guard. The announcement drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats who believe that the money is needed where it was previously allocated. In the notice to Congress that explained the change, the administration claimed it was necessary for “higher priority items.” Those in support of the administration’s decision blame Congress for not allocating more funding to the southern border. 

Currently, not including the newest funds, the construction of the barrier along the US-Mexico border has about $11 billion to fund it. Some of these funds were provided by Congress, and some came from other diversions to the budget the Trump administration made, primarily from military and counternarcotics spending. 

Some Congress members believe that the administration’s actions are an overreach of power, as the Constitution grants the legislative branch (Congress) the power to control the budget. They do not believe the executive branch (the President and administration) should be able to alter funding without Congressional approval. 

Both the necessity of the new wall at the border and the actions taken to fund and construct it have raised controversy.

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Milyn’s Meddlesome Mentions Mon, 24 Feb 2020 15:03:16 +0000 Hello beautiful people! It is now second semester and this is the very first edition of Meddlesome Mentions in 2020! Are y’all excited? Because I am definitely excited. Sorry I haven’t added to this column in a minute there were other pressing matters to get to. Don’t worry though, Milyn has been meddling and I have some good ones for you. So let’s just get right to it.


“The scariest thing I’ve ever seen: a child.”

I hope y’all are thinking about what I’m thinking about. That vine when the characters in the show are in the conference room and he says “there’s only one thing worse than a rapist…” and then he rips off the paper cover it and the other guy goes “a child” and he’s like “No” because that’s not what it’s supposed to be at all. But come on, let’s be honest here children can be absolutely terrifying. Especially when they don’t get their way or something then it all goes downhill let me tell you. They start throwing all their limbs everywhere and anywhere and they don’t care who they hit because all they want is the thing that they saw.


“When I get home, I want to take a long bath in Dr. Pepper.”

Why? Just why…? I don’t understand what the appeal would be here. I don’t know. Maybe I am missing something here, but all I can imagine is those fizzy bubbles and that does not seem like something I would want on my body. When you get out of it, you’re gonna be all sticky and then after that if you try to towel dry of you’re gonna have all these fuzzy things  on your body. I just am not seeing why you would even want to do it. But maybe I am missing something you know; someone explain it to me if you actually see the appeal to this.


“I hope this guy spits on me when I go to the concert.”

I don’t know who you are going to see in concert but… please don’t want that. Spit is really bad. I don’t like this. You are valuable, and I don’t know who needs to hear this but like… SPIT is really disrespectful. I’m probably not even allowed to say this but if someone spits on me, it’s over. That’s like the worst thing that you can do. But I guess to each their own, so if you want someone to spit on you then it’s okay. However, I would urge you to NOT want to get spit on because it’s nasty.


“Don’t tell anyone… well, a lot of people already know… but don’t like SPREAD it.”

I don’t even know why this is so funny to me, but like, I think it’s so funny, you know. This girl is like telling her friend not to spread AS she’s spreading the very thing she doesn’t want to be spread. But we can’t just come for her because we are all guilty of it. We pass on the juiciest gossip that we heard that day because it’s interesting. I don’t think people should do it, but it’s so easy to get caught up in it. Also at the same time, I guess if it’s your business to tell I guess it’s a little different but if you’re just passing on something that Billy told Jilly that got told by Sally because she heard it from Jamie and it’s about Sam, then I don’t think that’s right and I think that we all need to start making a conscious effort to not do that anymore.


“It’s in the water but you ride it on land.”

Okay so I actually have a bit of context for this one. Basically they were playing charades and he was trying to explain seahorse without actually using any of those words. I’m gonna be completely honest and I really don’t know how to feel. I think he could’ve said something a little different. Maybe something like “the thing that Spongebob rode on” and then maybe the fact that “only the males get pregnant” I don’t know. But there is a bunch of stuff that he maybe could’ve said that would’ve been better for his groups you know.

Alright that’s a wrap on this edition of Milyn’s Meddlesome mentions. Thank you for spending a little bit of your time reading my work. I hope you guys like them, and if you have any crazy quotes that you want me to interpret then leave them in the comments. These quotes honestly make my day, and I appreciate you my fellow Wildcats for indulging in this tomfoolery with me. Hear you next time!

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South Dakota bill introduced to challenge the right to marriage Mon, 24 Feb 2020 14:26:14 +0000 In South Dakota, a set of bills was introduced that targets LGBTQ+ citizens in the state. 

One such bill, House Bill 1057 (HB 1057), was recently killed by a Senate committee that voted to postpone the bill past the end of the legislature’s schedule. The bill included penalties for medical professionals who helped transgender minors transition. Had the bill been passed, doctors could have been penalized for performing gender-affirming surgeries, administering hormone therapy and administering puberty blockers. The bill passed the House of Representatives before being referred to the Senate committee that postponed it. 

HB 1057 is not the only bill that has targeted the LGBTQ+ community. According to the South Dakota Legislature’s website, House Bill 1215 (HB 1215) would “prohibit the state from endorsing or enforcing certain policies regarding domestic relations.” The bill would, among other things, prohibit gay marriage, the protection of LBGTQ+ people from discrimination based on their identities and the recognition of transgender and nonbinary individuals’ gender identities on any legal documents. If passed, the bill would also prevent the state from banning conversation therapy and would group homosexaulity and being transgender with “zoophilia.”

Some believe the bill, like the bills passed on abortion rights in some states, is actually intended to get the issue brought up in the Supreme Court. In this case, the goal would seem to be overturning the national right to gay marriage, as this is one of the things the law would seek to change. Under the current Supreme Court verdict, banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, therefore that particular section of the bill would be in conflict with federal regulations. 

The bill was introduced to the house floor on Jan. 30 by Representative Tony Randolph. Randolph also helped sponsor HB 1057 and bills on other controversial topics such as abortion and sex education. So far, HB 1215 remains in the House of Representatives. 

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For Kobe: And all those we’ve lost Fri, 21 Feb 2020 14:36:50 +0000 The death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter has taken America by surprise. Bryant was only 41 and whenever people leave so unexpectedly, we all start to question our own mortality. Even as someone who couldn’t call herself a basketball fan, finding out that such an icon had just passed away left me heartbroken. Whenever a celebrity passes, I always get this way. It’s not just me either; it seems like the whole world seems to stand still. Everyone seems to mourn for the person even if they weren’t a big fan of what they did. This begs us to ask the question: why do we mourn so much when celebrities die even though we don’t personally know them. Not just Kobe, my aunt cried for three days when she found out about Prince. And over the summer, when I found out about Cameron Boyce’s passing, I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t shedding tears.

Kobe was an NBA basketball player for the Lakers and had been in the league since 1996 when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. He was chosen to play in the All-Star game 18 times. He was named the NBA’s MVP once in his career, while also earning NBA Finals MVP and the All-Star game MVP several times. He was one of the last  players who was drafted right after high school and didn’t go to college. 

Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna was only 13 when she met her untimely death. If I’m being completely honest, in times like these, I think we need complete transparency, this is what hit me hard. I have a younger sister that is Gianna Bryant’s age, and I cannot imagine losing her right now. My heart goes out to the Bryant family and all the other families who lost someone in the crash. I can’t imagine how they are feeling right now. 

When Cameron Boyce passed there was a bunch of outpour on social media. We saw all of his friends and co-stars go to social media and explain to the world what he meant to them. We also saw his co-stars that did the absolute opposite of others, and they just went completely away from social media, which makes perfect sense because everyone needs to grieve in their own way. We actually expect so much of celebrities because we want to see their reaction, because we so much of the rest of their life. Just with the way that Bryant’s wife felt like she had to make a statement on their passing, but in reality she has the right to say nothing because she needs time to grieve just like anyone else would. However, that is wrong, because whenever someone who isn’t famous loses someone, we are able to give them the space that they deserve. 

This brings us back to the bigger question of why do we feel so moved by someone we have never interacted with? Here’s my thinking: it reminds us of our own mortality. It reminds us that even though we don’t want to admit it, at some point in time, we are actually going to pass from this life. Regardless of what religion you do or don’t believe in, death is scary, and it is certain. We mourn for celebrities because in a way we are mourning for ourselves. We start to think about what if that was our loved ones, or what if that was us. It reminds us of the fact that time is not guaranteed. We don’t know when things can end. This happens whenever anyone in our circle passes away, but this feeling is emphasized with celebrities. It’s emphasized because even though we don’t know them personally, we are reminded of the fact that they are actually human.

Life is not guaranteed. However that does not mean that you should go through it waiting for that time to come. You need to be affecting the people around you, making people smile, and laugh even when they don’t want to. You can’t do anything about when it is your time to go, but you can certainly do something about what you are here. Make the most out of your time here so when you do go, people can remember those amazing times that you had together and they can remember you fondly.

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Clown Corner: 5 Minute Clowns (Crafts) Fri, 21 Feb 2020 14:26:49 +0000 One of the internet’s oldest and biggest trends is ‘life hacks’ and crafts. The Youtube field is dominated by the behemoth known as “5 Minute Crafts.” They aim to provide watchers with ‘life hacks’ and cute crafts that will improve lives. On Clown Corner this week, we discuss how clown-ish the massive channel is.

The channel loves to make up little skits to introduce their craft, and some of them are awful. If a hack relates to school, chances are it’ll be demonstrated on a math problem. An example is making a home-made eraser. But, of course, the eraser was used because the actor got 2+2 wrong. Seriously? 2+2? On God, they’re really dumb for getting that wrong. Another one of my favorites involves a girl who cannot stop taking selfies in class. First off, who can’t stop taking selfies? If you’re using your phone in class, chances are you are not taking endless pictures of yourself. But, to disguise her phone from the teacher, she hot glues colored pencils to the back of her phone. Not only would this never work, it completely defeats the purpose. In the clip, the pencils block her rear-facing phone camera and are uneven compared to other pencils. I know you don’t use the rear-facing camera for selfies, but you still use it for literally everything else.

Many of the hacks are completely unnecessary. They added hot glue to the top of the lighter, to ‘waterproof’ it, but to use it, they had to peel the hot glue off the lighter. For no reason, they made flip flops out of hot glue. They would not hold up and would not function anywhere near the level of regular flip-flops. Sure, you can do it. Sure, it has some purpose. But why? There is absolutely no reason to make these and use up all that hot glue. You can get a pair of flip-flops from Dollar Tree for literally a dollar instead of spending money on hot glue. I know I’m focusing way too much on these shoes, but it makes me really mad.

My final issue, and the fact that reveals the clownery in this situation, is the views this channel gets. The channel has 17 billion total views and 64 million subscribers. Videos average between 500k and upwards of 5 million views. The most viewed video has 74 million views alone. I just don’t get it. Why do these stupid crafts have millions of views? I must be the clown for not seeing it. Maybe the public are clowns for letting the channel grow this much. The public should stage a clown coup to overthrow this behemoth. Political uprisings aside, this has been clown corner. Stay clowny folks.

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Lights! Camera! Action in Africa lands a role on Neuqua’s growing list of student-run non-profit organizations Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:23:54 +0000 Action in Africa (AIA) is a non-profit organization that aims to help kids by providing adults and children with scholarships. The organization donates everything it receives to Nakuwadde Village in Uganda, where the main community center is located. They work to expand their reach by imploring high school students to open up their own chapters of this organization at their schools. One Neuqua junior, Somya Katiyar, started her own chapter of Action in Africa here at Neuqua in August of 2019. With other juniors including Jade Huang as Vice President, Ankita Sundaram as treasurer and Ritu Meda as secretary, Katiyar has worked in various ways to spread the word about the cause she is supporting. The girls have teamed up with other organizations like Colors for Change, who donated 15 pounds of crayons and supplies, and My Book Wish Illinois, who donated 8-11 pounds of books. Alongside working with other organizations, they also sell their own merchandise including bracelets, hats, shirts and popsockets.

Katiyar explains, “I wanted to be more connected with the community. I wanted to show what kids are going through in Africa and provide opportunities for the kids in Naperville to be more involved in the global problems going on especially in Africa.” She has come to realize that starting a chapter of Action in Africa has opened many doors for kids in this community to serve a purpose greater than themselves. In the end, she describes the best part of it all being “helping kids and benefitting society in Africa and making it a stronger community to provide more opportunities for kids, for people.”

As a successful leader of a non-profit organization, Katiyar has some advice for other students who wish to start their own organizations or chapters of an existing one. Katiyar advises all interested students to “know that it’s a lot of work, but communication is really important for starting any chapter or club. Communication with the executive director was the key thing to move it along to start the chapter.” Katiyar wishes to share that, “Although it is a lot of work to handle and manage, it is completely worth it in the end.”

They spread awareness about their cause through their Instagram, which is @actioninafrica_naperville. More information about purchasing their merchandise and other ways to help can be found through the contact information listed on their profile.

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Protests start in Puerto Rico over emergency relief efforts Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:59:45 +0000 In late January, protests took place in Puerto Rico. The island territory has been hit hard by natural disasters, the most recent of which was a series of earthquakes. After a video revealed that there was unused emergency aid, a number of Puerto Rican people took to the streets to protest. 

Reminiscent of last year’s protests which led to the removal of the previous governor, Ricardo Rosselló, the protests called for the current governor, Wanda Vázquez, to step down. The protesters expressed their discontent with the government’s actions through marches, signs, and a symbolic guillotine. 

Some who participated in last year’s protests have not joined this time, saying they believe that the marches may make it harder to get the necessary aid to south Puerto Rico. Instead, they have advocated for waiting until the elections in November and voting Vázquez out of office, preventing her second term. 

Those who chose to protest, however, have said that they don’t think waiting until November to call for change is not the right path. They believe it is important to act now. 

In light of the video’s release and the publicity that followed, Vázquez did remove some of the people in charge of the emergency relief efforts. She has placed part of the blame for the unused supplies on those she fired and seems to believe that the reorganization of aid efforts will help improve the situation and enable the government to reach more of the people in need. 

Currently, Vázquez remains in office and is continuing her duties. After the initial response, many of the protests seem to have calmed down. It remains to be seen what Puerto Rican voters will decide in November, and if they believe Vázquez has responded to the situation well. 


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