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.