Thursday, October 27, 2016

Scientists use nanotechnology for climate change breakthrough

Owen Roberts
Staff Writer

On October 12, a group of scientists may have discovered a possible new breakthrough in fighting climate change. In a new paper published by Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee, researchers Adam Rondinone, Yang Song, and Dale Hensley detailed new findings about carbon dioxide. “We're surprised but very happy about the attention,” said Rondinone.
 Through the use of a carbon copper and nitrogen combination, scientists have discovered a way to reverse carbon combustion using a catalyst spike of carbon, copper, and nitrogen. From there, the researchers were able to create small chemical reactions in carbon dioxide, resulting in 63 percent of the CO2 being converted into ethanol.
 With this cost-efficient method, CO2 that has been dissolved in water can be changed into ethanol, which can then be used as fuel. The new discovery could be useful for making grids more efficient by giving energy companies a way to store their excess power. It could also be used to store excess energy from renewable sources such as solar panels and windmills.
 The scientists were attempting to study a more complicated reverse combustion reaction when they accidentally activated the carbon. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.” said Adam Rondinone, one of the lead researchers.
 This isn't the first time reverse carbon combustion has been talked about. In 2013, it was the main topic in that year’s American Chemical Society meeting, a group that meets to discuss important chemical discoveries. They saw it as a way to reverse engineer climate change.
 The experiment was done at a microscopic level, so it’s unclear how this would work on a large scale. But considering the effect carbon dioxide has on our atmosphere, this avenue should be explored.

Reality behind the polls may be closer than it appears

Lauren Walinski
Staff Writer

Throughout this election, polls on the percentages of people voting for each candidate have been a focus for much of the country. The polls update daily, and as of October 27, the numbers are as follows: Clinton is in the lead with 45.7% of the vote and her numbers have been increasing. Trump comes next, with 40% of the vote. Trump’s numbers are also rising. As for the third party candidates, Johnson had 5.8% of votes country-wide while Stein has 1.8%. Both of their numbers are decreasing.
 On a smaller scale there are also surveys of the individual states. As of October 27, Clinton has 47.0% of Pennsylvania vote and Trump has 42.7%. However, Clinton’s numbers appear to be falling as Trump’s appear to be rising. The percentages of the third party candidates were not listed.
 When confronted with the results of these polls, Trump claimed they were “phony” and that the media was biased against him. He was quoted telling telling a crowd: “When we do badly, I don't know about polls, right? But when we're doing well, I know about polls” and even reported telling supports “I believe we are actually winning” despite his numbers showing otherwise.
Due to Clinton’s strong lead, her campaign fears voters will assume her win is assured and supporters won’t turn out. On the opposite side, the Trump campaign worries his supports will think his loss is definite and followers won’t vote. The final vote, therefore, is expected to be very close.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kim Kardashian Gets Robbed

Chloe MacGillvray
Staff Writer

On Oct.3, a group of five men dressed as police officers entered Kim Kardashian's Paris hotel room. According to TMZ, the concierge of the exclusive hotel was gagged and tied down after the robbers entered. The men proceeded to Kim Kardashian's hotel room, where they easily entered. Kim was in bed and was immediately ordered to get up. She tried to contact her bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, but the robbers knocked her cell phone out of her hand. Her wrists were bound together with duct tape, and she was thrown into the bathtub of her hotel room. Kim Kardashian's friend, Simone Harouche, was also in the hotel room. Harouche locked herself in the bathroom when she heard the commotion, and was able to call Kourtney Kardashian and Duvier. Kim reports that she could not understand the men, but knew they had said “ring” multiple times, most likely in reference to Kardashian’s engagement ring. Kim’s children were not in the hotel at the time of the robbery, and her sisters were out shopping with her bodyguard.
 A full list of what was stolen has not yet been reported; however, we believe that two mobile phones were taken from her, along with $11 million worth of jewelry and a $4 million engagement ring. After the robbery, Kim was immediately escorted to a jet back to New York, where she met up with her husband, Kanye West.
Current suspects are known as the Pink Panthers, an organized crime group notorious for stealing valuable jewelry. No arrests have been made, however police continue to investigate the involvement of the gang.

Republican Party headquarters firebombed

Victoria Siano
News Editor

Just three weeks before the presidential election an event occurred that has been considered an attack on our democracy. On Saturday night, Oct. 15, a firebomb was found to have been set off in the Republican headquarters in Orange County, North Carolina. Additionally, graffiti messages had been painted on the building next door warning Republicans to flee town.
 According to pictures posted on Twitter by the Republican party early Sunday morning, the building inside has been completely destroyed, with blackened walls, burned campaigns signs for several Republican candidates, and charred furniture. As if this weren’t bad enough, pictures of the scene displayed graffiti that included a swastika and the terrifying message stating “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”
 This immense damage, however, had not been discovered until the next day by a business owner who called the authorities by around 9:00 a.m., Sunday morning. After receiving this call, the Hillsborough police quickly started their investigation; analyzing the scene of the political terrorist attack as well as working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in order to track down whoever was behind it. From their examinations, they have concluded that building had been destroyed by a bottle of flammable liquid reading the words “Freedom Speaks” which was thrown through one of the front windows of the building.
 In a statement to the New York Times, Mayor of Hillsboro, Tom Stevens, stated: “This highly disturbing act goes far beyond vandalizing property; it willfully threatens our community's safety via fire, and its hateful message undermines the decency, respect, and integrity of civic participation.” Along with this, Mayor Stevens also discussed the fact that North Carolina law enforcement is responding quickly to investigate the matter and “prosecute the perpetrators.”
 North Carolina law enforcement is not the only group that has responded to this act of political terror, however. Despite supposedly being held accountable for the act by none other than presidential candidate Donald Trump, the Democratic party started a GoFundMe campaign Sunday night, Oct. 16, in order to help raise money to rebuild the Republican Party headquarters. As of Monday morning, the campaign had already raised $13,000.

War continues in Aleppo after 3 day humanitarian ceasefire fails

Lexi Anderson

A humanitarian pause of the bombings in Aleppo took place on Thursday and extended into Saturday in an effort to help civilians escape the war ridden area, but this so-called plan to evacuate injured and vulnerable people was unsuccessful as the United Nations failed to gain access to Eastern Aleppo and aborted their plan. The violence has sinced resumed in the city, causing hope in Aleppo to decrease even more.
 This momentary ceasefire commenced on Thursday, Oct. 20 and ended on Saturday, Oct. 22, and was supposed to be a way for civilians to escape, however the United Nations has since aborted their plan, and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien claimed: “The evacuations were obstructed by various factors, including delays in receiving the necessary approvals from local authorities in eastern Aleppo, conditions placed by non-state armed groups and the government of Syria’s objection to allowing medical and other relief supplies into the eastern part of the city.”  
 According to Russia, the period of “humanitarian” time was meant to differentiate moderate fighters from extremists, but rebel fighters, including Al-Farouk Abu Bakr--a commander of the Islamic group Ahrar al-Sham--said that they would not be leaving and would not back down, stating: “When we took up arms at the start of the revolution to defend our abandoned people we promised God that we would not lay them down until the downfall of this criminal regime.”
 The rebel fighters stuck to their word during the ceasefire, with none of them accepting the pause in fighting. This did nothing to help the United Nations, and according to O’Brien, no families or civilians were evacuated during the three-day pause. In addition, since Saturday, bombings and ground fighting have continued and even increased, according to the Observatory for Human Rights.
 At the start of the Syrian civil war, Aleppo was the most populous city in Syria. It was a place of pride for the country, boasting success in the textile, soap, and gold industries, which could be found across the Middle Eastern markets. The city was cherished and enjoyed by tourists coming to explore the medieval marketplace and venture into one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to B.C. when it was a spot on the Silk Road.
 However, since the Syrian War has ravaged Syria, Aleppo has been hit harder than any place. The city has been split, with opposition forces in the East and Bashar al-Assad’s government controlling the West. Russia, in support of Assad, has been continually bombing and destroying the Eastern half of Aleppo, causing over hundreds of thousands of deaths, including 218 civilian deaths in opposition held areas and 178 in government held areas in August alone. European foreign ministers have severely criticized Assad, Russia, and other allies for the outrageous and unreasonable bombings that have hit Aleppo and continue to kill hundreds of innocent people each month. They even have recently amounted the terror to war crime status.
  Before this ceasefire started, the United Nations stated that they couldn’t guarantee that they would be able to effectively carry out any aid operations, and had proposed a resolution to stop the bombing in Aleppo in order to establish real humanitarian aid. However, Moscow vetoed this resolution.
 Aleppo is on the brink of extinction. Contrary to what some may think, such as presidential candidate Donald Trump who believes Aleppo has indeed fallen, there is still time to save the city, however action is needed now. According to the Syrian envoy of the United Nations, if we cannot find any solution to save Aleppo between now and December, it will no longer exist. As more and more people continue to die each day without any clear resolution in the horizon it is imperative that stronger actions must take place or else this historic and iconic city will fall.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

National Security Agency Contractor Arrested for Theft of Top-Secret Data

Katie Steele
News Editor

In August, the FBI. secretly arrested Harold T. Martin III, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor suspected of stealing classified government information. The source codes he is being investigated for stealing were reportedly developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments. At the time of his alleged theft, Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton (Edward Snowden’s former employer), a U.S. consultancy firm which aids in the government’s handling of defense and intelligence issues. The company rakes in billions of dollars every year from government contracts; in 2013, Bloomberg called Booz Allen the world’s most profitable spy organization.
 And even though the government relies heavily on Booz Allen Hamilton and its workers for intelligence-- a former company executive, James Clapper, currently serves as the Director of National Intelligence, which makes him President Obama’s top intelligence advisor-- this is not the first time the company has suffered a security breach. In 2013, while working at Booz Allen, Edward Snowden perpetrated what has been called the most significant leak in political history, copying and releasing an estimated 1.7 million NSA documents to the public. The recent arrest of Martin has renewed examinations of the firm’s operations and the safety measures that they have in place.
 In August, some of the top-secret files that have since been found in Martin’s possession were offered for sale on the internet by an anonymous group. Investigators have found that the trail leads back to his home computer, but are struggling to say definitively whether or not he deliberately sold them to the group that posted them online, or if they hacked his computer and found them without his knowledge. He claims that he amassed his massive collection of files with no plan to pass them along.
 Two months after the arrest, authorities are still uncertain if Martin is telling the truth. Authorities have estimated that he stole 50 terabytes (TB) of data, beginning in his first year working for the company in 1996. For reference, IBM’s supercomputer Watson has only 16 TB of RAM. In its first 20 years of observation, the Hubble Space telescope captured only 45 TB of data. The Justice Department has called the theft “breathtaking in its longevity and scale,” and it places Martin just behind Snowden, who stole an estimated 60 TB of NSA information.
 Martin was originally charged only with the unauthorized removal of classified materials, but federal prosecutors have since moved to charge him under the Espionage Act. Espionage charges will carry much larger penalties for him.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Educating Syrian refugee children in Lebanon

Jess Mullen
Staff Writer

 The Syrian civil war began in 2011 from a pro-democracy uprising, known as the Arab Spring, and has resulted in 13.5 million Syrians who require humanitarian assistance, 6.5 million who are displaced within Syria, and 4.8 million who are refugees. Refugees do not have access to basic needs including; food, shelter, clothing, clean drinking water, toys, and education for children. According to the United Nations, in 2009, 94% of children in Syria were in school, whereas now just 40% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are receiving a primary or secondary level education.
 George and Amal Clooney are launching an initiative to educate the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, with the financial aid of Google. The White House says that corporate commitment for refugee relief reaches a whopping $650 million, yet that money is only able to provide employment for 220,000 refugees and education for 80,000 refugee children. With the aid of Google, the Clooneys look to provide more than 250,000 children with education; this is approximately half of the school-age children in Lebanon.
 George Clooney told USA Today that a lack of education “leads to a horrible outcome a decade from now, a generation from now. Let’s not lose an entire generation of people because they happened to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
 Clooney’s words flow into his goal of desiring to enroll 10,000 refugee children by September 2017 and another 50,000 children by 2018. He hopes to enroll them in English speaking schools that teach them everything from math to human rights to computer coding.
 Amal shared how “[they] want to get every single out-of-school child in Lebanon an education.”
 Amal herself left Lebanon due to war when she was younger, remains thankful she received an education, and wishes to pass that on to other children.
 The Clooney Foundation for Justice has been working with SABIS, an education provider, who has already had success providing schooling in Lebanon. Amal states that she and George have learned about a specific school in Mtein, Lebanon and they wish to use a model of that specific school and apply it on a larger scale.
 SABIS President Carl Bistany says that temporary schools with technology will be set up in areas containing larger concentrations of refugee children: “The plan is to launch ten schools as close as possible to the communities with the highest need in September 2017.”
 Google director, Jacquelline Fuller, also voices how important it is that Syrian refugee children get a first-rate education. She explains that at Google, “access to learning and access to information is so much a core part of [their] values.” She expresses how having a quarter million refugee children in Lebanon with half of them not in school is an entire generation who could be contributing to society and “this is a cohort of children we need to invest in.”
 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon need to be provided an education that the Clooney’s are striving to give with the aid of Google in order to equip them with the education they need to better their futures.