Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chechnya’s government is rounding up gay and bisexual men

Lauren Walinski
Staff Writer

Gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a Russian republic, are being arrested by Chechen authorities and sent to camps to be beaten and tortured. Men who have escaped reported being taken to camps where they were beaten. They have also reported being shocked repeatedly while being interrogated. Authorities reportedly wanted the names of other gay or bisexual men.
 Authorities are said to be posing as gay men online to lure out others, meeting with them in order to arrest them. The Novaya Gazeta, the paper which originally carried this story in April, reported that over 100 men had been arrested and at least three were dead. More recently, the death toll has risen to at least 26 with even more arrests. Many of these deaths have come from “honor killings” by families, where men are released only to be killed by relatives for their sexual orientations. These killings have been encouraged by authorities.
 When asked about the torture, Alvi Karimov, the spokesman of Chechnya leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov, claimed there was no were no camps because gay people did not exist in Chechnya. Kadyrov himself called these reports “libelous.” Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary, claimed the reports were false because no one had officially reported the attacks to Chechnya police, though human rights activists have pointed out people weren't likely to come out as victims to police for fear of arrest. Despite the denial by authorities, the truth of the reports has been confirmed by groups such as the Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.
 The Russian LGBT Network has been working on treating injured people and helping them escape Chechnya, but they do not have the funding they need to help everyone. The only action the United States government has taken in response to this violence has been to deny visas to gay men fleeing prosecution. President Trump has been silent on this issue, though a spokesman of the State Department released a statement saying the United States is “concerned” about the situation.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Senate receives classified briefing on North Korea

Owen Roberts
Staff Writer

In an unusual move on Wednesday, April 26, the White House hosted the entire Senate for a top secret briefing on North Korea. This comes after a time of increased tensions between the United States, North Korea, and China. North Korea has been increasing the speed and intensity of its missile production and missile tests since the inauguration of President Trump, who has promised to take a stronger approach than the Obama Administration.
 Senate briefings on important issues are common, but are not often hosted at the White House, which lacks the kind of secure conference rooms required for such briefings. The senators were bussed to the White House from the Senate in the morning. Key members of the cabinet, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefed the senators, and President Trump himself also made an appearance.
 Tensions with North Korea have been rising since the election. The new administration is moving away from what it calls the “strategic patience” of the Obama White House. After meeting with President XI Jinping and chinese officials, the president claimed they had talked about North Korea. The US and China seem to increasingly be finding common ground on China's longtime ally, with China stepping up sanctions on the rogue nation. Despite this, the DPRK is not backing down. It recently celebrated its seventieth anniversary since its founding with a parade and a massive artillery drill that included over 300 long range guns.
 Despite this, most senators coming out of the briefing were not impressed.

 "We learned nothing you couldn't read in the newspaper," said Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.. Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, said it was “Okay,” while John McCain said: “Nothing New, but still very serious.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Students enjoy Q&A with Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E Editor

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick came to visit New Hope-Solebury High School, Tuesday, April 18. At this visit he spoke to students about Congress, and the current political climate, before opening the floor up for a Q&A session. The questions asked by students from a variety of different classes, with varying political opinions, created a great conversation, and allowed everyone present to get a better sense of their congressman. Questions ranged from his opinions on government involvement, healthcare, “career” politicians, immigration, fake news, cutting welfare programs, the internet privacy repeal, and much more.
 New Hope students enjoyed getting to hear from their representative, as well as participating in a group selfie that was later posted to his personal Instagram.
 Junior Chloe Miller was pleasantly surprised by what he had to say: “Congressman Fitzpatrick was really interesting to listen to and his stances were much more moderate than I expected. I like that he talked about how Congress should focus on the bill at hand, not who proposed it and what party it came from.”
 During the Q&A, students were able to learn more about the man representing them in Congress and his own views. He really stressed the idea of focusing on ideas and solutions rather than focusing on political parties and voting to “fit a party.” This pleased Junior Bernadette del Prado, who said: “I like that he didn’t feel the need to use labels like Democrat or Republican for everything, and that his goal was to satisfy everyone’s political ideals and not just his own party. Especially because Bucks County is very mixed, politically.”
 Bucks County happens to be very evenly split between Democratic and Republican voters, making it one of the true swing areas in the U.S.  
 Fitzpatrick’s visit was written about in the Intelligencer, where New Hope students were quoted, as well as the organizer of the event, AP Government and Non-Western World teacher at New Hope, Mr. Nord.
 Not only did Fitzpatrick’s visit further inform everyone present, but hopefully helped to inspire students who make up, or will soon be a part of, the population of young voters; whether it be to get involved in politics/political science, to vote whenever they have the opportunity, develop stances on issues facing the country and become more informed about them, become an advocate for a party, candidate, or issue, etc.

Seniors prepare to leave for APEX

Alexandra Buchler
Staff Writer

On May 12 the seniors will depart the high school and begin their APEX projects. All of the seniors will begin doing things such as community service, volunteer work, or working at a small business in order to be exposed to work. Many of the jobs that seniors are leaving for include construction, pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, and entrepreneurship.
 “I am jealous that they get to leave school early!” sophomore Kelly Hauch said.
 Once the seniors have left, however, there will be some negative repercussions along with the benefits. Unfortunately, many classes will be soon emptied or nearly emptied with the lack of these seniors. Also, many of the sports team who have seniors on them may be missing key players at times. Due to their volunteer requirements they must meet, some seniors may not be able to make some of the practices and some of the sports events, which may be an unfortunate thing for some of our sports teams.
 On the flip side, the hallways and lunchrooms will be less crowded and teachers may be able to have more one on one time with students who are left in empty classrooms where seniors used to be. The seniors will return in June to give short presentations about their APEX experiences and share what they learned. Students will be able to sign up for which presentation they want to see. The underclassmen all wish the seniors the best of luck!

 Sophomore Claire Ullom says, “I'm glad the halls and cafeterias will be less crowded!” On the other hand, senior Dave Shonis claims, “It's sad that I get less time with my underclassmen friends, but I'm happy that I get to leave!”

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.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

President Obama’s strikes chords of hope in Farewell Address

Liz Donahue
Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in his hometown of Chicago, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, gave his farewell address. Wife Michelle and daughter Malia were both in attendance, however his younger daughter, Sasha, was not there, sparking attention. However, it was later learned that she stayed in Washington D.C. to study for an exam she had the next morning.
 After beginning his speech and recapping a bit, the crowd started chanting “four more years,” to which he replied that he couldn’t.
 He took on the topic of national security, saying: “Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, [but] our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Bin Laden...and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.”
He also reminded the audience that betraying American principles would be the country’s downfall, claiming that “Rivals like Russia and China cannot match our influence around the world — unless we give up what stand for… we’re all in this together...we rise or fall as one.” The former president also addressed religion, women, and LGBT rights in his speech. He honored all those that have served our country.
 President Obama also gave a shout out which, to some, felt like more of a love letter, to now-former First Lady Michelle Obama, stating: "For the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn't ask for, and you made it your own, with grace and with grit and with style… you have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.”
 Next, he addressed his two daughters. He described them both as “kind and thoughtful and full of passion.” There was no mention of Sasha’s absence.
 Finally, he turned to his vice president, Joe Biden. "You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain I gained a brother."

 Towards the end of his speech, Obama does arguably what he does best: stirring up emotions in the crowd. He said that he had done the “job of his life” and made it clear that he won’t be retiring anytime soon. He used his speech to send out the overall message that American democracy is only possible because of the promise of inclusiveness and diversity. He used his speech to once again relay the idea that we need to stand together as one nation and to remember the diversity between us, something that he's worked hard to maintain and foster throughout his presidency.

Poisoning of Vladimir Kara-Murza

Owen Roberts
Staff Writer

Vladimir Karza-Murza, a prominent critic of Russian politics, especially the Putin administration, was rushed to the hospital on the 7th after experiencing a heightened heart rate and difficulty breathing. He is currently in critical condition and has fallen into a coma. In 2015, he experienced almost identical symptoms, which has led many, including his wife, to expect foul play.
 Vladimir Kara-Murza is an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, and an advocate for Open Russia, a company who works for human rights in Russia. Although he lives in the US, he frequently returns to russia to organize protests. He was visiting Russia most recently to film a documentary about Boris Nemtsov, another Putin critic and opposition leader who was murdered in 2015.
 Many believe that Kara Murza has been poisoned, including his wife, who told the times that the doctor identified “acute intoxication by an unidentified substance” as the cause of his comatose state.

 This certainly wouldn't be the first suspected political assassination for the Putin Administration. In 2006, the Russian Parliament created a law allowing the president to use special forces to kill extremists outside of Russia’s borders. The law defines extremists as “those slandering the individual occupying the post of president of the Russian Federation.” Maybe the highest profile case of a suspected poisoning would be the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian journalist and critic who was hospitalized for radiation poisoning after he met with two former KGB agents. The poisoning was attributed to polonium-210, seemingly slipped into his food during lunch.

Friday, February 17, 2017

National Security Advisor Resigns Under Pressure

Katie Steele

Late on Monday, Feb. 13, the acting national security advisor to the president of the United States, Michael T. Flynn, resigned under mounting pressure from the press and the public.
 Days before President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, a report surfaced that Flynn had been in contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, as early as Dec. 29—the same day that then-President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia following their involvement in the hacking of U.S. political groups. The fact that the call was made on the same day that the White House reprimanded Russia raised eyebrows and heightened speculation about the phone call between Flynn and Kislyak. While it’s not unusual for White House officials to contact ambassadors to the U.S. during transitional periods, it would be a massive violation of protocol for Flynn to have discussed President Obama’s sanctions with the ambassador—and if Flynn made any promises of contrary action after the inauguration, his activity could be deemed illegal under the 1799 Logan Act.
 Trump officials, at the time the report surfaced, confirmed the phone call, but said that their understanding was that the sanctions had not been discussed. When questioned in an interview about the content of the phone call, Flynn stated twice that he had not discussed the sanctions with Kislyak, but later backtracked, claiming that he could not recall exactly what the conversation had entailed. As recently as this month, Vice President Mike Pence also denied the claim that Flynn had spoken of specific policy imposed by the Obama administration, noting that he (Flynn) had briefed the vice president and other White House officials on the matter.
 This was all in spite of the fact that, last month, acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn had misled officials on what had been discussed, and asserted that the Justice Department worried that the situation could expose the national security advisor to blackmail by Russia. The White House chose not to act. Yates was fired soon after for refusing to defend President Trump’s refugee ban. The issue eventually boiled over as a result of increased media attention and growing mistrust of Flynn within White House circles.
 The question many are asking now is whether or not Flynn was receiving direction on what to discuss with the Russian ambassador, and if other senior advisors or even the president himself were aware of what was a possibly-illegal exchange. The House Oversight Committee, however, has stated that they will not pursue an investigation into Flynn’s actions.

 General Keith Kellogg is now serving as the temporary national security advisor while the White House searches for a permanent replacement.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Questions continue to swirl about Russia's influence in the 2016 election

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E editor

 Recent allegations that Russia swayed the 2016 presidential election have erupted around the country, causing a national upset and the finger-pointing. President-elect Donald Trump’s response to such allegations is to point fingers at China, and the possibility that the culprit could have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
        The first incidence of hacking within the election occurred on Jun. 14, when Russian government hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee and gained access to their database of opposition research on the GOP. Wikileaks released the first series of emails obtained through the hacking on Jul. 22. The emails reportedly came from the accounts of several key figures within the DNC, and lead to the resignation of some of them, such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC. A few days following the publication of the leaked emails, the FBI announced that they would be investigating the hacking. Another round of emails were leaked at the beginning of October, followed by an additional batch a month later. By Dec. 9 the CIA was confident that Russia had hacked the DNC with the intentions of helping Trump win the election. Trump has repeatedly rejected this conclusion, despite the support of the CIA’s findings from various Republican figures.
 President Obama ordered the intelligence community to review potential foreign interference, going back as far as the 2008 election. Obama received the briefing on these findings on the 5 of January, with Trump receiving them the following day. Intelligence chiefs then proceeded to go to Capitol Hill and give the basics of their report to the public. There, they announced that the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, directly ordered the hackings, with the intent to sway the United States’ 2016 presidential election.
Trump has previously denied the accusations made towards Russia, which has caused some people to believe that he is being blackmailed. This suspicion was further supported when a retired British intelligence operative gathered together memos that suggest Putin has looked to establish influence over Trump for years, and also feature Trump in compromising situations. US officials have deemed the British intelligence officer to be a reliable source.     
In more recent news, members of Trump’s campaign and administration are said to have had contact with Russian Intelligence officials leading up to the election. Trump’s national security advisor, Michael T. Flynn, has resigned due to controversy over his communication with a Russian ambassador, although the knowledge of such communications surfaced over a month before his resignation. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Vietnam Veteran Visits History Through Film Class

Chloe MacGillvray
Staff Writer

In Mr. Elvey’s history through film classes, students watched the movie We Were Soldiers, to learn about the brutal realities of the Vietnam War, in addition to reading a few chapters of the novel, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young. Captain Robert Edwards visited the class to discuss his personal experience, and to take any questions that students might have.
 We Were Soldiers Once...and Young begins with a line referring to Edwards himself; “The small bloody in the ground that was Captain Bob Edward’s Charlie Company command post was crowded with men”. He was mentioned not only here, but throughout the rest of the novel, which would attempt to tell the story of la Drang Valley. This novel inevitably led to the production of We Were Soldiers, which accurately depicts Edwards being shot. It was very exciting for the students to meet Edwards promptly after they finished the movie.
 Edwards served for the army for about five years, and was a captain for one and a half of them. He also served for the C Company for 19 months.Throughout his time fighting, he worked with extremely well trained soldiers with fantastic communication skills, making the fight against 2,000+ Vietnamese soldiers in the Valley of la Drang much smoother. The battle occurred mid-November of 1965, where they found the enemy in far greater numbers than expected, leading to three day long battle. With no serious enemy contact for the past three months, the  sudden battle was intense. During the battle, he happened to stand at the wrong time and was shot in the shoulder, putting him in the hospital and temporarily out of service.
 A multitude of questions were asked of Captain Edwards, starting with the reason he joined the military. He simply stated that during his time at Lafayette College, you had to join the ROTC program for at least two years--unless you were physically unable. He personally enjoyed the program, and decided to continue with his service beyond those two years by applying for the advanced program. In the end he served for a total of 23 years and was ranked as a Colonel, but told the class he would have preferred to be a general. Edwards was also asked about his shot to the shoulder- could he feel it, or did the adrenaline mask the pain? He most certainly felt it, but the adrenaline rush kept him going.   One question Edwards received took him by surprise- did you change as a person after going through war? After taking a moment to ponder the question, Edwards stated he has not changed. He described himself as a more serious person as a result of war, but his personality has not changed. He hasn’t experienced any common post-war issues, for example PTSD. He couldn’t recall any times he wished that he had not gone to war, and there wasn’t a time that he believed that he was going to die- even when he was shot. He described his thoughts after being shot, “After the shock of being hit, you can sense if it’s serious or not, I had some time to think. I haven't passed out, it doesn’t feel like I’m gonna pass out”.

 For the students, it was an honor to hear from Captain Edwards himself. He created a great environment for the class to feel comfortable asking any questions, and shared some fantastic stories regarding his experiences during the war, something many students will never have the chance to hear.

GSA celebrates Valentine’s Day with first-ever dance

Amanda Horak, Parker Miele, and Isaac Zucker
Staff Writers

On Friday, Feb. 10, the GSA held a Valentine’s Dance for New Hope Students. President Tali Natan and Vice President Fiona Male came up with the idea and began organizing the dance last year. There was food, decorations, and great music. 
  “Everything went as planned! The food was good, decorations were beautiful, and the music was perfectly selected,” Tali Natan said. 
  Bernadette del Prado was the DJ of the dance, playing a Spotify playlist with the best current dance music. People got to take a break from all the dancing with a snack table, which included some baked goods, fruit, lemonade, and water. 
  While some just sat and enjoyed the food, many decided to dance with their friends and celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early. The night went well and everyone who attended had a lot of fun and are hoping that there will be another dance next year. 
  The proceeds from the dance went to the school club, Gender Sexuality Alliance, with the hope that they will be able to do more events and dances in the future. Thanks to all that supported the club, and for those that didn’t go hope to see you next year!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LGBTQ Rights Activists Host Dance Party Outside Mike Pence’s House

Lauren Walinski
Staff Writer

LGBTQ rights activists held a large dance party outside the temporary home of Vice President Mike Pence due to his advocacy of policies many within the community consider homophobic. The Vice President’s official place of residence is in the Naval Observatory, but Pence is to move in after inauguration. His temporary neighbors of Chevy Chase, Maryland had been putting up rainbow pride flags all throughout his stay there in opposition to Pence’s largely homophobic views.
 Pence has had a history of homophobia in office. In 2000, Pence has stated on his congressional campaign website that he wanted to move funds from organizations in support of the LBGTQ community to conversion therapy, which is a therapy meant to change a person’s sexual orientation to make the person straight. It is banned in several states for being unscientific, ineffective, and abusive, and is often used on children by homophobic parents. Pence was also against same-sex marriage. As governor of Indiana in 2015, Pence passed a bill allowing businesses to refuse services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religious freedom. Pence voted against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and against protections for employment of queer people. These laws and policies which discriminate against the LGBTQ community are what prompted the Werk for Peace event, a “going-away party” for Pence since he is to move out of the neighborhood and to his official residence. LGBTQ activists gathered around, bringing biodegradable confetti and plenty of pride flags to dance in protest of Pence’s homophobic policies. The street was closed down for the protest to block protesters from getting to Pence’s home, so activists just danced right outside the barrier. Many activists invited Pence to dance with them, though he was not home at the time. There were hundreds of dancers chanting things such as “We’re here, we’re queer, and we will dance.”

 The event was organized by Werk For Peace, who want Pence to know that his views are not okay and that “Queer people are not going away.” They believe dance is a powerful form of protest, and will be organizing more events in the future.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Surprise of a Lifetime: Vice President Biden Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Alex Taurino
Staff Writer

Days before they say goodbye to the White House, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a quaint gathering for what was described as a final tribute to the vice president. However, the event ended with a shocked Biden receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, conferred with distinction.
 The Jan. 12 ceremony honored Vice President Biden’s eight years of service, beginning with a heartfelt tribute from President Obama to one of his closest friends and confidants in Washington. As he finished his remarks, the president asked one of his military aides to come to the stage, holding the medal with a confused Biden standing by.
 “For the final time as president,” Obama began, “I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor…”
 Biden immediately turned his back towards the crowd, wiping his tearful eyes and face with his handkerchief. After receiving what could be one of the most prestigious awards of his political career, Biden was completely taken aback, as his words go to show.
 “I had no inkling,” the vice president said, “I thought we were going… to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it has been.”
 “I don’t deserve this,” he said repeatedly, “I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the president’s heart.”
 Indeed, it was quite a bittersweet moment for the two, whose close friendship has awed and entertained America for eight years. Though they will no longer be spending their days running around the White House or playing basketball with their matching friendship bracelets, their enduring brotherhood will surely last a lifetime.