Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Comey Hearing raises more questions than answers

Owen Roberts
Staff Writer

The Trump-Russia connection seems to keep getting more complicated. On Tuesday, FBI director James Comey testified in front of congress and the intelligence committee about the alleged ties between the Trump Campaign and Russia. Although in November many criticized Comey for supposedly handing the election to Trump by the timing of his email announcements, he continues to be disruptive to both parties. In his hearing, Comey refuted President Trumps wiretapping claims, saying that “[he had] no information that supports those tweets,"
 He testified extensively on the Russian Connection, saying that the FBI was actively investigating the scandal. Vladimir Putin had a clear favorite, according to Comey: “It wasn't Hillary Clinton.” Furthermore, Comey said: “He -- Putin -- hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”
 Democrats and Republicans at the hearing both tried to change the direction of the hearing. While Democrats wanted to hear more about the Russian connection, Republicans were more interested in where the leaks about former National Security Advisor Flynn came from.
 Representative Trey Gowdy attempted to discover who was behind the leaks by asking Comey if several Obama-Era officials would have had access to the top secret information. The FBI director confirmed that they might have, but he was unable to comment any further.

 The Comey hearing confirmed important information about the case, but even with the testimony of one of the top intelligence officials, the firestorm in Washington continues to grow. Partisanship is at an all time high in America and these hearings feed the flames of the Trump presidency.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Read Across America Starts at The LES and UES

Amanda Horak and Parker Miele
Staff Writers

On Thursday, March 2, a small group of high school students went down to read to the children at the Lower and Upper Elementary Schools. In the morning, a few high school students went to the LES and in the afternoon, more high school students went to the UES. The students were paired up to go into each of the classrooms to read to them on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The high school students mainly tried to read Dr. Seuss books for his birthday. Some of the students, who are Spanish students in the high school, read Spanish books to some of the younger kids as well.
 Emily Madara, Key Club’s co-president, said that this event was “a huge success for Key Club.”
 They had a lot of volunteers from the club, who also enjoyed themselves. The kids also really enjoyed listening to the high school students read.
 “The kids were always smiling and laughing as we read to them,” said other co-president Michaela Park.
 Key Club Adviser, Ms. Schwander, said: “This event was both rewarding for the elementary and high school students because the elementary school students love when the older kids come and read to them. They really enjoy the company.”

 We have to thank the people who made this event happen, not only for the younger students but the high school students as well. The people who did this amazing job were Dr. Lengyel, our reading specialist, Ms. Rachlin, the LES reading specialist, Ms. Rader, the LES librarian, Ms. Loving, the UES librarian, and Ms. Iannacone, the UES reading specialist. The event was a huge success thanks to them and the volunteers!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Students enjoy ski trip despite less than ideal conditions

Tara Cooney and Devon Beacham
Staff Writers

The 2017 New Hope-Solebury Ski Club Trip was a success! Students departed from the school at 3:15 p.m. on Friday. After several hours on the bus, the group stopped at a rest stop for a quick snack and a much needed stretch of the legs. In a half hour, everybody was back on the bus and on the way to Vermont. At about 9 p.m., the New Hope buses pulled into the Holiday Inn in Rutland. Before bed, some students opted to take a quick swim in the pool. After lights out at 11 p.m., the students passed out, getting their rest for the big day of skiing ahead.
 Once the group arrived at Killington Mountain the next morning, everybody was pumped and ready for the day. At first conditions were rough. There was an immense amount of fog, and the warm weather caused quite a bit of slush. As the day progressed, however, the fog cleared for a very successful day of skiing. The group retreated back to the hotel, where some students swam while others played cards and poker. After dinner the students continued to hang out and have fun. Once again, lights out at 11 p.m. to prepare for the second day of skiing.
 At the mountain the next morning, the weather was colder, and the ground had hardened from the day before. With the exception of a couple icy patches, it was a beautiful day for skiing with great conditions. At 2:15 p.m., the bus pulled out of the Killington Mountain parking lot for the last time, and the students began the six hour drive back to New Hope. After a quick refresh at a rest stop halfway through the drive, the group arrived at the school at about 8:45 p.m. Everybody rushed to grab their stuff and get home, making sure to thank the chaperones for such a fun trip.
 MacKenzie Meyers, a freshman that attended the ski trip said: “The conditions weren’t very good, but I had a ton of fun with my friends. It was a great time. I’m really happy I went and will definitely be going again next year!”

 The weekend of skiing was an amazing experience for everybody involved, and the students were very glad to have gone.

St. Baldrick's fundraiser ignites community

Danny Doherty
Features Editor

After months of preparation of fundraising, New Hope-Solebury hosted the most successful fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s foundation in the history of the event in our area. Just two years ago, Laurie Palau organized the first event at our school, with the event raising over $30,000. Last year over 500 local members turned out, 80 people shaved their heads, and over $74,000 was raised. This year, nearly a thousand members of the community turned out, over 100 people shaved their heads, and over $110,000 was raised according to the St. Baldrick’s website.
 The first two years of the event, it raised money in the honor of Ethan Toohey and Robert Nagg, two students that we lost to childhood cancer some years ago. This year was no different, but as well the memory of another lost soul, Dominic Liples of Doylestown was honored. Dominic was nine years old when he lost a nine-month battle with cancer. Just over $48,500 was donated in the memory of Dominic.
 The event is always a day full of fun. Friends and family get their heads shaved, play games, eat some food, and make some arts and crafts. Local businesses come and sell their products, and silent auctions are held. As always, the event this year was a fun place for the greater New Hope community to gather and have a good time in the memory of loved ones lost, and in the fight to stop childhood cancer altogether.
 Our high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society has helped run a portion of the event over the years, and this year was no different. Last year’s crew raised a few hundred dollars for the cause, and this year’s raised $2,017 through fundraisers during Spirit Week and the Holiday pie contest. Efforts lead by President Bella Devito and advisors Mrs. Shade and Mrs. Anderson allowed the group to take the fundraising to new heights.
 Without a doubt, if you missed it this year, be sure to attend next year to support a great cause!

Poker Pros Flushed out by Computer

Joshua House
Staff Writer

In a recent 20-day no-limit Texas Hold'em competition, “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” an AI by the name Libratus, took down poker pros by a margin of over 1.75 million chips. This took place from Jan. 11 and finished up on Jan. 30 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. Libratus was developed by a team at Carnegie Mellon University including Prof. Tuomas Sandholm and Ph. D. student Noam Brown.  Last year, a similar system named Claudico that was developed by the same team lost by over 750,000 chips to four other poker pros.
 This might not seem like a big deal, but it is shocking for both the poker community and the programming one. First of all, people have been trying for years to develop computers that could beat the best of the best in given games. A turning point came in May 1997  when the IBM Deep Blue Computer beat Chess Grandmaster Gary Kasparov. The difference between a computer beating someone in chess and beating a player in poker is in the game. Chess is a game that is all strategy and a computer can calculate out all possible moves and outcomes. Poker is a whole different game due to how it involves both skill, luck, and a lot of bluffing. In poker there are situations that players and the computer can’t really prepare for just because of how infrequently they happen. Thus the AI has to develop its own unique way of thinking, which has been a game changer for human players.
 Libratus over-bets frequently, wagering far more to win a hand than is currently up for grabs in the pot.
 “If you have $200 in the middle and $20,000 in your stack, you can bet that,” says Doug Polk, a poker pro who bested a previous AI built by CMU in 2015. “But humans don’t really like that. It feels like you’re risking a lot of money to win so little. The computer doesn’t have that psychology. It just looks at the best play.”  
 The way that the computer was able to pull this off came from its ability to learn from its mistakes and its complete disregard for the value of money. Unlike a human, Libratus doesn’t have any plans to use money to buy items it wants; it only wants to win. When Libratus messed up early on, the poker pros found that it rarely ever made the same mistake twice. It kept changing its game and remained unpredictable for even the best to figure out. Also Libratus would do insane overbet bluffs for a small pot of chips that poker pros would be forced to fold.  When the poker pros were sleeping in between eight-hour sessions, the computer would still be busy at work learning from itself. What is kind of scary in itself is that the actual creators of this system do not even know how the computer itself plays.
 But what are the implications of Libratus to the programming community?
 Frank Pfenning Head of the Carnegie Mellon school of Computer Science stated when asked about the big win: “Developing an AI that can do that successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications. Imagine that your smartphone will someday be able to negotiate the best price on a new car for you. That's just the beginning.”

 In the future these forms of computers could have use in  military strategy, business-to-business negotiations, finance, and even in the medical field due to its ability to make split second decisions.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blue denies Gold the opportunity of a 4-peat

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E editor

Spirit Week 2017 has definitely been one to remember, with the Blue team taking home the victory this year. The theme the student government decided on this year was Pixar, which has been very popular among students. Junior Erica Brennan loves this year’s theme: “The theme this year reminds me of my childhood, and makes me feel really nostalgic!”
 Each grade was assigned a different Pixar movie to decorate their hallway:  Freshman, A Bug's Life; Sophomore, Finding Nemo; Juniors, Toy Story, and the Seniors,  UP. Different Pixar movies were also used as themes for the different activities that were held at night at the school.
 On Monday night the school hosted its annual Luau, but this year it modeled itself after the movie Ratatouille, and featured Remy’s Bake Off. Students competed for their team by bringing in homemade baked goods to be judged. On Tuesday, there was a girls’ basketball game, which was orange-themed in honour of Melanie Abele being cancer free. Wednesday and Thursday night were dedicated to decorating the hallways.
 There were two competitions held before the Friday finale. On Wednesday, the Student Government hosted a Pixar-themed Family Feud contest during fifth period. The Blue team proved to know the teachers best, winning the game show. Then on Thursday the famous “talent show for the untalented”--now known as “New Hope’s Got Talent”--was held during third period. Many humorous acts performed. One of the Gold team’s acts secured the first place spot while the Blue team took home second and third.
  Then came the tallies for the coin and the can drives. On Thursday the coins from the coin wars were counted after school, and the Blue team brought in the winning total of $1400 compared to the  Gold team’s with $700. Finally, on Friday, the final day of Spirit Week, the cans were counted. The Gold team beat out Blue with 2500 pounds versus 500 pounds. All of the coins and cans went to charity, making it impossible for anyone to truly “lose.” With the Blue team winning the coins and the Gold team winning the cans, it all came down to the hallways and the games.
 The last two periods of Friday were dedicated to the Spirit Week games. Students from every grade competed in multiple events: the obstacle courses, izzy dizzy, tug of war, one-on-one tug of war, half-court basketball shot, trash can basketball, and more. During the games, the winners of the hallway competition were announced. The senior class took first place, freshman got second, sophomores took third, and juniors earned fourth. When the games came to an end, it was finally time to tally the points and announce the winner of Spirit Week. The usual unity speeches were made, and then Mr. G took the floor, students on both teams in the bleachers cheering for their team as he held up gold and blue pompoms, until finally throwing up the blue one, granting the senior class their second Spirit Week win, and the freshman’s first.

 Winning or losing didn’t seem to matter to students because that night many could be seen in attendance at the annual “I Heart Techno” dance. The dance helped to bring all of the grades back together, and draw to a close the end of an awesome week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

North Korea Nuclear Missile Test rattles South Pacific and Washington

Victoria Siano
News Editor

On Monday, Feb. 13, North Korea announced that it had managed to successfully test a new kind of nuclear-capable missile, called Pukguksong-2, that uses solid-fuel technology.
 The test itself had taken place on Sunday, where the tested missile traveled about 310 miles and fell harmlessly into the sea after taking a high-trajectory that had taken it into space. Despite this impressive range, the importance of the launch lies in the fact that now it will be much harder for the South Korea, Japan, and the United States to have any warning of a launch in a real conflict between the countries. Unlike previous rockets, solid-fuel rockets like Pukguksong-2, could provide little advanced warning time, seeing as it can be stored on mobile launchers and can be ready to launch in just a few minutes.
 The news was broken to President Trump Saturday evening (Sunday in North Korea) right after officials received news of the testing, and with it came new complications, as the weapon would make it harder to counter the country’s missile and nuclear program, and make it more difficult to threaten to strike North Korean launch sites.
 In regards to America’s response to this, it is still unclear what course of action the Trump administration will take, however, the American Ambassador for the United Nations Security Council, Nikki R. Haley, has warned that the Trump administration will see that it will hold Pyongyang accountable “not with [its] words, but with [its] actions.”