What went wrong at Astroworld? Everything. – USA TODAY

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As tragedy unfurled at Astroworld, medics and fire were unable to directly communicate. A federal watchdog said 13 Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act. And gas prices are soaring to great new heights.

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As disaster unfolded, medics and city fire lost touch

As one of the deadliest concert disasters in U.S. history unfolded at Astroworld Festival in Houston, fire officials – perched outside the festival grounds – had no way to directly communicate with the festival medic group contracted to provide treatment to fans. As singer Travis Scott performed, the crowd surged, crushing and trampling each other. Unconscious victims were crowd-surfed to medics as EMTs and concertgoers rushed to revive them, but the fire department was unable to directly contact the ParaDocs team of doctors, nurses and paramedics. The ParaDocs team was suddenly inundated with crushed bodies and unconscious, dying visitors, and was quickly overwhelmed. The breakdown in communication with ParaDocs cost the Houston Fire Department valuable minutes in launching a robust medical response as people were trampled, crushed and gasping for final breaths while authorities struggled to get information and create a rescue plan, fire officials said. Eight people, ranging in age from 14 to 27, died after being pulled from the crowds, and dozens more were ferried to nearby hospitals. 

A violation of the Hatch Act

More than a dozen high-level Trump administration officials improperly used their official government powers to try to influence the 2020 election, according to a federal watchdog’s investigation released Tuesday. Among the 13 officials accused of engaging in illegal campaign activity: President Donald Trump’s secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; his acting homeland security chief, Chad Wolf; and counselor Kellyanne Conway. The investigation was conducted by the federal Office of Special Counsel, which received a stream of ethics complaints during the 2020 election, and describes a pervasive willingness inside the Trump White House to flout the law and suggests, in Pompeo’s case at least, that the president himself may have encouraged the illegal activity. The federal Hatch Act bars government officials from engaging in partisan political activity. Because none of these officials remains in office, the watchdog report noted that it has no authority to pursue these cases beyond issuing Tuesday’s report. 

What everyone’s talking about

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The blue wall of silence

To many in law enforcement, speaking out against another officer is a betrayal that can’t go unpunished. Those who enforce this code – the blue wall of silence – have stuffed dead rats and feces into fellow officers’ lockers. They’ve issued death threats, ignored requests for backup, threatened family members and planted drugs on the officers who spoke up. The pattern of behavior is both destructive and widespread throughout policing, a USA TODAY investigation has found. Departments across the country have adopted an unofficial system of retaliation that allows misconduct to persist and helps police leaders avoid accountability. Read more about  how law enforcement punishes whistleblowers.

What man accused in Arbery’s murder told police after the shooting

Greg McMichael didn’t know whether Ahmaud Arbery was armed or where he was running last year when he grabbed his gun and began chasing him, an officer testified Tuesday. McMichael is one of three defendants charged with murder in Arbery’s death early last year in a neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot by McMichael’s son, Travis, after they and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan spotted him running in their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police that he believed Arbery was responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood, and got his own weapon before pursuing him because he didn’t know whether Arbery was armed. Prosecutors say Arbery, 25, committed no crimes and was killed because the three defendants made a series of “assumptions” about what Arbery was doing in their neighborhood that day.

Real quick

Gas prices are off the chart 

It’s a bit pricey at the pump these days. Gas prices are at a seven-year high, reaching a nationwide average of $3.42 as of Tuesday, according to data from the American Automobile Association. Given a typical 15-gallon gas tank, that means Americans are spending on average about $19.65 more each time they go to the pump, compared with the same time a year ago. Gasoline demand has been steadily rising over the past few weeks and is the reason behind the price increases, AAA says. But some possible good news: Daylight saving time may reduce demand, relieving some of the soaring prices.

A break from the news

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