What's Going On?
By Ubunifu Mwandishi
In the seven days since I wrote the last What’s Going On? sports fans, America, and the world has suffered a tragic loss. We’ve been reminded of the fragility, evanescence, and preciousness of life. One can only hope this will change the way we all view life and treat others. As for now, too many Americans continue to operate without scruples. And sadly, this past week saw senseless violence, and thus senseless loss. Please visit our Facebook page for more on the points that follow.
• On Sunday, January 26, 2020, America lost a superstar. Kobe Bean Bryant (August 23, 1978 – January 26, 2020), retired shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. The five-time NBA Champion and 2008 NBA MVP died among eight other passengers, one of which was his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Kobe leaves behind a wife, Vanessa, and three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
• Please be careful while pumping your gas. Unfortunately, sick individuals are still placing needles in the handles of gas pumps. WKRG reports that a driver in Loxley, AL, stopped to pump gas and was stuck by an IV needle when he reached for the gas pump handle.
For More: WKRG
• According to the Daily News, 8-year-old Thomas Valva froze to death after his father, an NYPD transit officer, Michael Valva, forced him to spend the night in their garage. On January 16th, Michael beat Thomas, who was autistic, before leaving him in the garage as punishment. The transit officer put his son’s frozen, dead body in a warm bath in an attempt to raise its temperature. Michael told the police his son had fallen in the driveway as he was waiting for his school bus. In continuing with the cover up, Michael was performing CPR on Thomas when the police arrived.
To make matters worse, Michael had been in a custody battle with Thomas’ mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, after the couple’s divorce in 2016. He won custody of Thomas and his two brothers in 2017. It appears Michael may have been shown preferential treatment because he was an NYPD officer. In 2018, Zubko-Valva took to social media to illuminate the abuse her sons were enduring at the hands of Michael and his fiancé, Angela Pollina. Angela also had three children living in the home.
As with so many cases of child abuse, the people in place to protect the children were aware of the abuse, but nobody stepped in to save Thomas’ life. A nanny, Amanda Wildman, who had worked for the engaged couple from January 2017 to January 2018, said she quit due to the verbal abuse the kids had suffered. A 2018 report from the children’s school district noted that Michael and Angela had neglected Thomas and his brother Anthony. The district stated the children came to school hungry and were afraid to go into the nurse’s office because Michael and Angela had told them not to. Child protection workers had even been required, per court order, to visit the home for a year. The same court order required Michael and Angela to “refrain from harmful behaviors toward the children.” Finally, the police performed a wellness check in May of 2019.
You have to wonder, why was Michael granted custody over Justyna? And after so many reports of abuse and neglect, how was he allowed to keep the children? Had the children been given to Justyna, Thomas may be alive today! Michael and Angela were charged with second-degree murder. If Michael could abuse his own son, just imagine how he may have treated the citizens of New York City that he was paid to protect…
For More: NY Daily News
• Sauntore Thomas, from Detroit, is suing TCF Bank for not cashing or depositing a settlement check he received from his former employer, Enterprise Leasing Company, for a racial discrimination lawsuit. If everything works in Sauntore’s favor, he will be cashing another settlement check soon, just not at TCF Bank. According to the New York Post, Sauntore has had an account with TCF Bank for almost two years; however, the bank questioned him like a criminal, used several excuses to not deposit or cash the check and even called the police on him. Sauntore called his lawyer, Deborah Gordon, to help prove the check was legitimate, but that did nothing to ameliorate the ordeal. Gordon believes Sauntore was denied because he is Black. He left TCF Bank, opened a new account at Chase Bank, and the check cleared about 12 hours later.
For More: NY Post
• No good deed goes unpunished, a good Samaritan in Roswell, Georgia learned last week. It’s a common scheme among thieves, prey on people’s good heart, pretend you’re in need and then rob them. This time it happened at a Chevron gas station, a woman approached a man that was pumping gas, it was cold, she was shivering and pretending to be in distress. First he told her no, then he relented and gave the woman a ride to a LaQuinta Inn. As reported by WSB-TV, as the victim dropped the woman off, an armed man opened the passenger-side door and took the victim’s cash and car keys.
For More: WSBTV
• What do you know, the police do know how to arrest people without incident, even people who have shot at them? WMAR reports that a Harford County, Maryland man, 43-year-old Benjamin Murdy, fired roughly 200 rounds at Harford County Sheriff’s deputies in an hour-and-a-half long standoff. The most amazing part, the deputies didn’t fire a single shot at Murdy. Murdy is being held without bail.
For More: WMAR
• They called it ding-dong ditch, others call it knock-knock zoom zoom, either way, it’s a game that many kids have played. Someone knocks on a front door or rings the doorbell and before anyone can answer the kid(s) run off. It’s an adrenaline rush but no one expects to die. This is just what happened on Sunday, January 19th, except, the homeowner, 42-year-old Anurag Chandra, lost total control of his emotions or maybe he never had any in the first place, and 3 teenagers lost their lives. NBC News reports that six teens were playing the game Sunday night in Temescal Valley, California. One teen got out of a Toyota Prius and rang Chandra’s doorbell. The teen ran back to the Prius being driven by Sergio Campusano, 18, and they drove off. Chandra and his 42 years of wisdom, got into his car and began to chase the teens, ramming his car into the back of the Prius, causing it to crash into a tree. The three teens that passed were only 16 years old.
For More: NBC News
• The older you get, the wiser you get… well, we’re learning that this adage hasn’t held up against today’s ignorance. Much like 42-year-old Chandra, but a lot less pernicious, a 54-year-old Kannapolis dad was arrested for tackling his son’s wrestling opponent during the match. That’s right, Barry Lee Jones is teaching his son all about controlling his emotions.
For More: TMZ