KINCADE FIRE BURNS THROUGH CALIFORNIA AS THEIR BIGGEST FIRE YET
The Kincade forest fire began to spread through California on Tuesday, October 29th and is said to be the state’s biggest wildfire this year. Since it start, 68% of the fire has been contained and it has burned over 77,758 acres. Large areas of the state remained under “red flag” warnings for the days after the fire began. As of November 1, 352 structures have been destroyed, 17 of which were homes.
Minor (and even a few major) forest fires have been frequent in California for the past few years, including fires such as Cedar, Thomas, and the Mendocino Complex fires. Forest fires can occur for a few reasons. When electrical lines and related equipment break in high winds and spark, they can ignite tinder-dry vegetation whose fire spreads quickly in high winds. Other origins of forest fires include campfires that have been left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, intentional acts of arson, and lightning strikes. In California, forest fires are primarily due to dried-up tinder wood being ignited due to heat and drought. This is why California has more wildfires than most other states. As a result of the fires, many people are forced to evacuate from their neighborhoods and homes and say goodbye to their possessions.
MASS SHOOTINGS: THE NEW NORMAL?
Lulu (Katherine) Morse
America has become desensitized to the senseless slaughter of its citizens. The Gun Violence Archive, an online database of gun violence incidents in the U.S., defines mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people – excluding the shooter – are shot or killed. Using this definition, 373 people died in these incidents in 2018. Regardless of the carnage, a pattern of disinterest ensues. Initial cries for change and action are replaced with apathy and disinterest, until the next tragedy strikes and grabs America’s attention, thus perpetuating the unfortunate cycle.
The recent shootings in Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Cincinnati are pertinent examples of this phenomenon. Whereas each tragedy received heavy news coverage, an element of dissipation seemed to follow soon after. For example, Google search data for the September 6th Cincinnati shooting shows an initial spike in attention, followed by a swift drop to near normal search rates in the days following.
This trend is illustrated in Figure 1, provided by Google Trends. This chart shows Google search trends for “Cincinnati shooting” in the aftermath of a mass shooting on Thursday, September 6, 2018:
It is obvious that the elements of shock and trauma normally associated with these types of tragedies have disappeared from the American radar.
The question is why?
After a shooting, Americans everywhere use their voices to spread the word for change and action. The debate over guns and gun violence begins on public platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Occasionally, bills are introduced into Congress; however, debate emerges over the Second Amendment, creating a type of stalling action. So even as America continually experiences extraordinary levels of gun violence, nothing changes due to the significant roadblocks that exist.
Research shows that the number of guns and gun violence are directly linked. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that an increase in guns directly results in more violence. Data compiled from Mother Jones (Figure 2) supports this link on a state by state basis:
Furthermore, Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet they own roughly forty-five percent of all the world’s privately held firearms. America’s gun violence rates are higher than any other developed country in the world. The United States has nearly six times the gun homicide rate as Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly sixteen times as high as Germany, according to UN data compiled by the Guardian.
Additionally, on a global scale of developed nations, Figure 3, based on data from GunPolicy.org, shows the increased amount of gun violence in America:
Next, further intensification of the issue persists when blame for these mass shootings is placed upon the mentally ill. Michael Stone, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of mass shooters, wrote in a 2015 analysis that only fifty-two out of the two hundred thirty-five killers in the database, or about twenty-two percent, were mentally ill. “The mentally ill should not bear the burden of being regarded as the ‘chief’ perpetrators of mass murder,” Stone concluded. Yet, the largest contributing factor of America’s apathy is gun ownership and the thought that more guns will prevent attacks.
In a study reported by the Washington Post, individuals placed in active shooter simulations were unable to stop the shooter, and more likely to get themselves killed in the process. The Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center has consistently found that when controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not only with homicides, but also with suicides, police, and with domestic violence disturbances.
So why is there still a push for guns? In short, it’s because of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is undoubtedly the most powerful organization when it comes to guns. Any time there is a gun control bill in motion, the NRA rallies gun owners and other opponents of gun control to kill the bill. Although according to the Washington Post these gun owners are roughly only thirty percent of Americans, this percentage is large, and the voters in this group are active. Legislators, therefore, fear they will lose their position if they receive a poor grade from the NRA. Some conservative legislators and media even end up taking the NRA’s support, binding them to the NRA’s will completely.
Furthermore, the NRA owes its success to its backers. They use their funds to fill campaigns, run ads, send out mailers for and against candidates, and provide other services, such as NRA TV. Their main sponsors are big corporations, many of whom are within the gun industry, as well as individual donors. Since the NRA can’t accept corporate backing for their political initiative, they rely on private donors. Since 2005, the NRA Political Victory Fund has received nearly $85 million in contributions from individual donors, according to CNN.
This is not to say that action has not been taken on a state level. Washington State and Oregon have passed laws in the last few years, ensuring all guns have to go through background checks, including those sold between individuals. However, state laws are simply not enough because they are often undercut by federal laws that make it easy for a person to buy a gun in a state with more relaxed gun laws: thus, the term “the Iron Pipeline.” This national occurrence can only be stopped with a federal law that establishes consistent guidelines for gun laws in each state.
In fairness, gun supporters claim that according to the Gun Violence Archive, gun-related deaths excluding suicide total 12,509, and only three hundred of them were from mass shootings. Yet it is still the mass shootings that are most likely to grab the attention of the public, even if it is for a short period of time.
Therefore, if not for the sake of safety and decency, then for the sake of change and reform, we must not let shootings become a normal occurrence. When this happens, we become desensitized to them. Once we normalize shootings, they no longer warrant the attention and outrage they deserve. There will no longer be a push for action, more shootings will happen, and more people will be murdered, leaving the lives of survivors and the families of victims destitute and broken. Mass shootings have caused the fear factor to be intertwined in all of our lives, but we cannot let them become the new normal.
Do you support gun reform and want to take action? Here are seven things you can do:
Contact your elected representatives and demand they support and advocate for effective gun violence prevention legislation.
Call your U.S. Senators and Representative via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and tell them that you SUPPORT a federal ban on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and “bump fire” stocks and similar devices, and that you OPPOSE legislation that would deregulate firearm silencers and allow federally mandated concealed carry.
Sign a petition supporting your views through organizations such as March For Our Lives by going on their website.
Make an online tax-deductible contribution to the Violence Policy Center.
Create your own online fundraiser with websites like Gofundme, Crowdrise, or Mightycause.
Join a local gun violence prevention organization. The national umbrella organization such as States United to Prevent Gun Violence and others can help you to find a group in your state.
Educate your friends and family about the matter and join forces to support a strong cause and bring awareness.
EQUAL PAY IN NATIONAL SOCCER
The United States Women's National Soccer Team won their second consecutive Women’s World Cup in Paris on July 7, 2019. They proved that they are the best women’s soccer team in the world. They were dominant in all of their games during the tournament. After the team’s win, American fans broke into chants of “Equal Pay.” A week later the team was celebrated with a ticker-tape parade in New York where the fans once again chanted “Equal Pay” along the parade route. These people who shouted “Equal Pay” were chanting in support of the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s Team to receive similar pay and playing conditions to the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
There are a number of factors which back the U.S. Women's Soccer Team’s claim. The United States Women’s National Soccer Team is the most successful national team in soccer, having won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. They have outscored their opponents by many goals over the years and continue to raise the level of their game. In contrast, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team has been average at best. The men did not even qualify for the last World Cup and have never been a force in the sport. However, male soccer players are paid much higher salaries and performance bonuses than female soccer players. Based on their records, it seems the women would actually deserve to get paid more than the men.
The women’s team reports more revenue from ticket sales than the men’s team does, and their games are always well attended. In addition, the Women’s National Soccer Team is often assigned to play on fields with worse conditions than the Men’s National Team, such as having to play on artificial surfaces other than grass. The men’s team also receives better travel perks than the women’s team does. Overall, the women soccer players maintain high standards and have provided goals for all female athletes to reach.
THE NFL SEASON
The 2019-2020 NFL season kicked off on September 5th, 2019 with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Chicago Bears, 10-3. This season will be the National Football Association’s 100th season, which will culminate at the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020. So far, all NFL teams have played at least 6 games. All 32 teams of the NFL are divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), which are then divided into four divisions: East, West, North, and South. Each division contains 4 teams. Week 10 of 17 just ended and currently, the teams holding the number 1 spot for their division are the New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers, and the New Orleans Saints. The Cincinnati Bengals are the only winless team so far with a record of 0-8.
Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers leads the NFL with 14 touchdowns, scoring in 7 out of 10 games. Other players leading in stat categories are quarterback Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers, who has thrown the ball for a total of 2,816 yards, Blake Martinez, a defensive player of the Green Bay Packers, with 102 tackles, and Minkah Fitzpatrick a defensive player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Devin McCourty from the Patriots who both have 5 interceptions- meaning that he has caught the opposing quarterback’s throw a total of 5 times. Also leading a stat category is Shaquil Barret of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who has 11.5 sacks. A sack is when a player tackles a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage (the imaginary line separating the teams at the beginning of a play) before he can throw a pass. The .5, known as a half-sack is gained when multiple players sack the quarterback at the same time. To celebrate the NFL’s one-hundredth season, each player has a “100” patch on the back of their helmets and on the collar of their jerseys. These “100” patches will be worn throughout the 2019-2020 season. The 100-year marking is also on every game ball, NFL football field, and more. Overall, there is much to look forward to for this year’s season.
Sitting on the couch with friends and family watching NFL football on Thanksgiving is a well-loved tradition. This past Thanksgiving, three games were played. Two of those games were hosted by the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, who each host a game every Thanksgiving. The third game took place in Atlanta, where the Falcons played the New Orleans Saints.
Hosting the Thanksgiving game has been an annual tradition for the Detroit Lions. It started in 1934 when the biggest crowd they managed to draw to their games was 15,000 people, filling only 60% of the University of Detroit Stadium seats, their home field in 1934 (currently, they play in Ford Stadium). Desperate for more fans, the owner of the team, George A. Richards, had the idea to play on Thanksgiving. Richards owned one of the biggest radio stations in the country, so getting the word out was easy -- he convinced NBC to broadcast the game on 94 stations. The plan worked seamlessly. The stadium was filled, and fans were being turned away at the gate. Although the Lions lost the Thanksgiving game, the tradition continued, and the Lions have played on Thanksgiving every year since.
The Dallas Cowboys started playing on Thanksgiving in 1966, for the same reason as the Lions. The NFL was worried that Texans would not warm up to the idea of Thanksgiving football as easily as people from Detroit had. However, these worries turned out to be pointless; 82,259 fans swarmed the stadium, breaking the team’s attendance record.
This year, the Lions played against the Chicago Bears and lost 24-20. The Cowboys played against the Buffalo Bills and lost 26-15. In the Falcons vs. Saints game, the Saints beat the Falcons 26-18. Happy Thanksgiving!
BANNING PLASTIC STRAWS
In the United States, 500 million straws are used every day. While that is a crazy amount of straws, that number makes up only four percent of our waste. So what is our obsession with banning straws? The major problem associated with straws is that they hurt our aquatic life, particularly the sea turtles. Often sea turtles confuse straws for food, or the straws get caught in their noses, making it difficult for them to breathe. Sea turtles are already on the endangered species list, and with six out of seven species endangered, straws aren’t helping anything. Research has found that 70 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of sea turtles have some amount of plastic in their systems.
So what can we do? You can’t recycle the straws because they are too small and worthless, and even if you are recycling your straws, when recyclables are sorted they inevitably go to landfills. During the process of making these straws, we create pollution and sacrifice finite resources such as fossil fuels; we hurt the environment by both making and using straws. However, the reason behind these bans on plastic straws comes not from the “large” amount of waste that comes specifically from straws, but from the minimal effect on life. In 2019, California passed a law stating that straws are not to be given unless asked for. Why? Because they are unnecessary. Even though I may like to drink iced coffee from a straw, I don't need to. Many cities and states are also attempting to follow this strawless approach, including Washington D.C., Hawaii, and New York City. Phasing out straws is step one for creating a greener environment; by eliminating straws we can move forward to eliminate other unnecessary plastics. Even if you love drinking from a straw, there are plenty of alternatives that you can purchase at cheap prices, such as paper straws, metal straws, glass straws, and even bamboo straws.
Even though straws aren’t the biggest plastic problem, it’s the easiest problem to solve. By eliminating straws we can go on to tackle other plastic problems, such as plastic bags and other single-use plastics. This is step one of our attempt to fix the plastic problem. As fears for our environment grow more apparent, we must take this first and simplest step to begin limiting our pollution of the air, water, and land, and to protect Mother Earth -- before it’s too late.
MIRACLE WATER MACHINE CREATING WATER AND JOBS OUT OF THIN AIR
The statistics are staggering. Across the world, 844 million people have no access to clean water. In America alone, 77 million people have been exposed to unsafe water, including to high levels of toxic arsenic, lead, and other chemicals. And one-third of schools globally cannot access and provide clean water for their students.
However, an Israeli based company has a solution. With the vision of securing the right of every human to have access to fresh, clean, and safe drinking water, Watergen provides the world with a new and renewable source of pure drinking water. This amazing technology can take place regardless of air quality or local water availability. It makes water solely out of the air you breathe; it can be available anywhere, immediately, and at a reasonable cost.
Watergen’s goal is to spread its products across the world to provide pure water wherever it is needed. With the patented, most energy-efficient module in the world, it can serve the water needs of a small house, whole villages, or an entire country. The company has recently created a factory in South Carolina. The President of Watergen USA reported the company “likes working with its allies.” And this is precisely what they did. In South Carolina alone, over 400 people have been employed in their first plant, with more factory openings planned over the next few years.
Watergen’s line of products ranges from smaller household units to large scale units, producing clean, safe and abundant water at just 8 cents a gallon. Generating water directly from the air allows for direct filtration, a process unlike that of simply purifying already existing water. This process is unique, allowing for heavily polluted water or air, such as that of overpopulated cities, to cease to be a deterrent for a clean water source. Ranging from water-deficient African regions to cities close to Americans’ hearts such as Flint, Michigan, Watergen solves their problems producing water simply out of the air.
Requiring only electricity and no infrastructure, Watergen was chosen as one of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies. The units are equipped to handle emergencies and benefit victims in relief efforts. In the United States, Watergen USA is speaking with officials on federal and state levels to set up preventative measures against contaminated water resources.
Founded nine years ago, Watergen continues to make a remarkable impact on a worldwide scale, creating more innovative ideas and machines that are brought to towns and people in need. One of the continents the company places a particular emphasis on is Africa. For example, in March Watergen was brought to Sierra Leone in West Africa. Sierra Leone is a country in which half of the population has no access to clean water, since much of their water sources have been contaminated. In providing Sierra Leone with clean and readily available drinking water, Watergen is decreasing the number of people who will be infected by water-borne infections and parasites that cause typhoid fever and hepatitis A. In May, discussions were held to finalize putting Watergen units in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, Watergen unveiled a new water-producing device that is placed in cars; this would allow passengers to have their own faucet providing them with pure, safe drinking water while they travel.
To date, Watergen has had incredible success with its products in the United States, as well as in its worldwide ventures. It is opening up avenues for employment and producing much needed low-cost water.
2019 LIKELY TO BE SECOND HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD
The National Centers for Environmental Information recently revealed September 2019 to be the hottest month recorded, virtually tied with September 2016. Combined land and ocean anomalies show global temperatures to be .95°C above average. According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, global temperatures were 1.2°C above average. NASA also reported September 2019 to be the second hottest month on record, only .1°C behind September 2016.
Differences in rankings are accounted for by varying methods of data collection from areas such as the Arctic regions. Regardless, all sources reveal a substantial concurrent increase in global temperature. Annual climate reports indicate increasingly drastic differences in temperature since the first accurate global recordings were reported in 1880. With the exception of 1998, all ten of the warmest years on record occurred within the last decade. Nearing the conclusion of the year, scientists predict that 2019 will likely become the second warmest year on record.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), combined land and ocean anomalies for 2019 currently show global temperatures .94°C above average. Reported annual values are bound to change as the year has yet to conclude. However, NOAA analysis reveals an almost guaranteed placement of 2019 in the top five of the hottest years on record. This is represented in the chart above, depicting global temperature anomaly trends from 1880 to 2019.
CANCER BREAKTHROUGH IN ISRAEL
Recently, Israel has had an incredible cancer breakthrough. Although Israel is a small country, the nation is extremely advanced in technology and experiences many successful scientific breakthroughs. Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases and is the second leading cause of death globally. Approximately 18.1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide, with an estimated 9.6 million fatal cases in 2018, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
A small team of scientists in Israel thinks they may have found the first full cure for cancer. On January 28, 2019, Dan Aridor, founder of the company Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies (AEBi), said in the Jerusalem Post, “Our results are consistent and repeatable.” He further claimed that “it will be brief, cheap and effective and will have no or minimal side-effects.” AEBi discussed the beginning of clinical trials that are expected to be completed within a few years.
Along with Aridor, the CEO of AEBi, Dr. Ilan Morad, said their treatment, called multi-target toxin, is a cancer antibiotic based on phage display technology. Phages are viruses that live within bacteria. Researchers used protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences, and small molecules. AEBi is also working with peptides, a compound consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain, and new proteins, as they have advantages over antibodies since they are smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce.
AEBi says their treatment, which they are calling MuTaTo, is on the scale of a cancer antibiotic. To develop the drug, they relied on the work of other scientists. For example, in 2018, a group of scientists received a Nobel Prize based on their work of phage display with new proteins.
The company is now creating patents on certain and specific peptides. So far, the company has said they have concluded their first experiment with mice, which was successful as they saw no cancer cell growth and no damage to healthy mice cells either. Along with this, they have done several in-vitro trials, hoping to begin clinical trials soon. It has almost been a year since this breakthrough, and hopefully there will be a complete cure to cancer very soon. Israel has made major strides in cancer research in the past few years and has continuously proven itself in the fields of science and medicine.
ALIVE IN THE ICE
For thousands of years, numerous organisms, some unknown to man, have been trapped in ice. Global warming threatens to melt this permafrost. Among those organisms buried in the frost are animals and humans. In thawed corpses found throughout the world, scientists uncovered Ribonucleic Acid, or RNA, fragments from the 1918 Spanish Flu virus, smallpox, and the Bubonic plague. In 1992, scientists drilled into old, untouched Tibetan mountain range ice, and sent ice back to their lab; however, they were unable to experiment on it out of fear that the sample would be vulnerable to modern contamination. Recently, scientists were finally able to thaw half an inch of ice without contaminating it. What they saw in the ice was shocking. They discovered 33 viruses, 28 of which were unknown to humans. Two of the viruses outdate the original Homo Sapiens by over one thousand years! Among the 33 viruses uncovered was the “Megavirus.” Named for its massive size, it quickly became infectious and killed many Amoeba cells in the lab. The cells uncovered are unlikely to infect human cells, as they are not evolved enough to do so; these viruses had little to no contact with humans before being frozen. While it is unlikely that these viruses will adapt, viruses are one of the fastest adapting organisms known to mankind. The human race is still unaware of many organisms stashed away in the permafrost. This may not be such a good thing, as the public panic regarding COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is already extremely significant, and many schools have been closed out of fear of the normally non-fatal virus. Imagine the public panic if a deadly virus that was dormant for thousands of years were discovered. The odds of this, again, are quite slim, as it should be assumed that the majority of these viruses have had little to no human contact during their lifespan.
NEW YORK CITY BANS THE TERM 'ILLEGAL ALIENS'
New York City’s newly imposed regulation forbidding the use of the term ‘illegal aliens,’ as well as the threat to call ICE based on a discriminatory motive, has had strong reactions from the public. On the one hand, the law has strong left-wing supporters who believe the regulation to be absolutely necessary to protect the lives and safety of illegal immigrants. Not only do these people want to outlaw this term for the simple safety of the immigrants, but an additional goal for them is to start the process of eliminating hate speech as a whole. However, there is powerful opposition to the law. The opposition stems from the fear of the threat to the First Amendment. Additionally, people are concerned that if the government is violating the First Amendment, what will be next? Many people believe terms like ‘illegal aliens’ to be necessary in society today, largely to make those illegal immigrants feel out of place and to make it understood that they are not wanted. It is for this reason as well that many people dislike the new regulation, because not only is it taking away their First Amendment right, but they feel it is showing that the government is offering more protection to people that aren’t legally part of the United States than to legitimate United States citizens.
SPIRIT DAY 2019
Say it with me: H-A-F-T-R! It’s that time of the year again! Last week students showed their HAFTR spirit at the annual Pep Rally. The day began with some delicious Dunkin Donuts in HAFTR colors. The entire school brandished all sorts of spectacular school-colored streamers and balloons. The Pep Rally itself was superb. It opened with a glorious introduction to the talented HAFTR sports teams. HAFTR students cheered as the Baseball, Volleyball, Softball, Football, Floor Hockey, and Basketball teams stormed the gym. A few students and teachers tried their luck in a game of KanJam to possibly win a prize for their grade. Unfortunately, none was successful, but some attempts were especially close. After that, the students showed their spirit with our #GOHAWKS Balloons, while a lucky few got their hands on some fabled HAFTR merch. Overall, the whole day was an absolute blast! All the students can’t wait to scream and cheer at next year’s Pep Rally! Go Hawks!
TIKTOK SUSPENDS TEEN AFTER POSTING A VIDEO CRITICIZING CHINA
Feroza Aziz began her makeup tutorial by showing viewers how to curl their eyelashes to make them longer. Suddenly, she stopped and told users to put down their eyelash curlers and use their phones to research how China is brutalizing its minority Muslim citizens. She was referring to northwest China relocating Muslims to detention centers and forcing them to act against their religion.
Her 40-second clip amassed more than 498,000 likes on TikTok. However, hours later, when fans went to see her video, they were shocked to see that her profile was suspended. TikTok, which is owned by a Beijing-based tech firm, was immediately placed under fire for regulating content and banning videos the Chinese government might not like.
Over recent months, many senators have expressed concerns that TikTok is collecting data from U.S. citizens and sharing them with the Chinese Communist Party. Due to China’s stronghold over their internet policies, the fear is that Chinese companies that travel abroad will still follow the same guidelines. And as a result, they will delete videos that criticize the Chinese regime. Alex Zhu, the head of TikTok, claimed that Chinese regulators did not influence TikTok in any way. However, that was proved incorrect when TikTok paid $5.7 million to U.S. authorities in response to the charge that they were illegally collecting personal information of children for China.
After a few days of suspension from Aziz’s account, uproar regarding her suspension spread throughout TikTok. Eric Han, head of the company’s U.S. trust and safety team, stated that “TikTok does not moderate content due to political sensitivities and did not do so in this case.” Instead, he blamed the suspension on a previous video of hers where she referenced Osama bin Laden.
Aziz is known for making videos highlighting the Islamophobia that she and other Muslims face during their everyday lives. TikTok claimed the reason for her suspension was because of a video she made. In the video, Aziz sang in front of different men that she suggested were attractive, and Osama bin Laden’s face appeared for a second. She was making a joke out of the racist remark that Muslims should marry terrorists. TikTok claimed this video consisted of terrorist content, and according to their policies prohibiting terrorist content, the app banned the account and the device on which the profile was activated.
However, Aziz and many others find it suspicious that it took ten days from the Osama bin Laden post for her account to be suspended, the exact day she posted the video criticizing China’s racism against Muslims. They hold that this was TikTok’s attempt to end the conversation regarding China. However, Aziz said that the suspension “was just a reason to speak louder.”
Chinese Muslims are currently living in detainment camps, where they face harsh conditions daily. If World War II has taught people anything, it is that we can’t stand back while people are being taken from their homes and forced into camps, where they are being intimidated and tormented. We must not allow horrible atrocities to occur to others, while we are silent.
ISRAEL TRAPPED IN A WAR WITH THE ISLAMIC JIHAD
The State of Israel and its inhabitants have been under attack from surrounding nations and organizations from the beginning of its establishment in 1948. One threat to Israel comes from the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS is infamously known for its many terrorist attacks on Israel, the U.S., and countless other countries. Recently on October 26, 2019, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed by American troops in Idlib Governorate, Syria. Even more recently, Israeli forces targeted and killed a Senior Islamic Jihad Commander named Bahaa Abu el-Atta in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Abu el-Atta was the mastermind of many recent attacks against Israel and was a "ticking time bomb."
What the Israeli government didn’t know was that over the next 48 hours, more than 450 rockets would be fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, hours after Israel's small victory. The rockets were seen as retaliation for the Senior Islamic Jihad Commander’s death and may have also been connected to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These missiles were launched at various places in Israel including Zikim, Mavkiim, Netiv HaAsara, Yad Mordechai, Nitzan, Beer Ganim, Nahal Oz, as well as many others. These rockets were launched from Gaza, including some from densely populated communities, posing a risk to Gaza’s own inhabitants.
During the strike, Israeli citizens received over 100 red alert warnings on their phones and heard sirens blaring throughout the 48 hour period. Thankfully, around 90 percent of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome. The Iron Dome defense system was invented by Israel and is currently used in other countries as well. It is a missile interception system that fires missiles at the missiles heading towards the region in which the Iron Dome is located. Each launcher, containing 20 interceptors, is independently deployed and can be operated remotely. Israel also launched a response to the rocket attacks from Gaza; 25 Palestinian terrorists were killed and several missile launchers were destroyed. After two days and nights of non-stop airstrikes, a ceasefire was finally established in order to protect the lives of the people of Israel and Gaza.
ISRAELI WOMAN ARRESTED AT MOSCOW AIRPORT FOR CARRYING DRUGS BECOMES THE FOCUS OF AN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC DISPUTE
Naama Issachar, an American-Israeli woman, was arrested at Moscow airport for carrying nine and a half grams of marijuana with her while she was transiting through Moscow on her way from India to Israel. Issachar was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on charges involving drug smuggling. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has gotten involved, claiming that Issachar’s sentence is, “disproportionate and does not fit the nature of the offense being attributed.” Netanyahu also said that he has discussed this matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin twice, attempting to exert every attempt to free her and return her to her family.
The issue is that Issachar seems to be trapped in the middle of a diplomatic dispute between Israel, Russia, and the United States. Russia is holding Issachar for the purpose of a ‘prisoner swap’ with Aleksey Burkov, a tech specialist who was wanted in the United States on charges of credit card fraud and hacking. Issachar’s family has said that Naama, who additionally holds American citizenship, is being held ‘hostage’ by Russia as the Russian government put pressure on Israel to free Burkov, who was arrested in Israel and is faced with extradition to an American prison for his malicious crimes. Russia has allegedly offered a prisoner swap between the two, which Israel has turned down. Israeli diplomats had told Moscow officials that it was nearly impossible for them to prevent the extradition of Burkov to the United States since the Israeli Supreme court had already approved the action. This brought the United States in the middle of this controversy, by now becoming the factor that decides whether Burkov should be traded as a ‘collateral’ for Issachar. Issachar’s family also claims that her conditions are much worse than any other prisoner. For instance, her sentence included a ban on family visits, phone calls, and infrequent contact with the outside world. There are many people who believe that this went far past legal considerations.
Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, had published a letter addressed to Vladimir Putin expressing her concerns for her daughter and the hope that he would make the decision to release her from prison. In this letter, Yaffa had wanted to know if Putin was behind the decision to schedule the court hearings on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; a decision Yaffa felt was anti-Semitic. Issachar’s lawyer also spoke up about Issachar’s conviction, claiming that there was never a case in Russian history where a person was arrested for smuggling drugs without having actually entered the country, meaning that her arrest had to be for more than just political reasons and possibly going into religious reasons, such as anti-Semitism. Since there was no person in Russia that has ever gotten arrested for drug smuggling, the fact that the Russian government is doing its first arrest on a Jewish woman has created religious tensions between some Israelis and the Russian government. Both this idea and the court hearing dates angered Israelis who believe that the Russian government is purposely targeting a Jew to send a message of hatred. The case is still open at this point, and many citizens of Israel are praying for Naama’s release.
-Liebermann, Oren. “Woman busted for marijuana at Moscow airport is at the center of a three-way diplomatic wrangle.” cnn.com. CNN, 14 Oct. 2019. Web. 27 Oct. 2019.
-Staff, TOI. “PM tells mother of Israeli jailed in Russia he’s ‘doing everything’ to free her.” timesofisrael.com. The Times of Israel, 12 Oct. 2019. Web. 27 Oct. 2019.
STOCKX: A NEW WAY TO SELL AND BUY NAME BRAND ITEMS
Recently, many young adults have started selling merchandise with the company StockX. StockX is a new way of selling brand name sneakers and sweatshirts. Nic Wilkins, the creator of StockX, started off with the goal to make some extra cash in college; however, StockX has managed to surpass the value of a billion dollars. The reason for the company’s success can be attributed to the way it makes it easy to sell and shop for name-brand items.
StockX makes sure to check for authenticity in the products bought and sold on their website. They make sure that the products customers receive are the real thing. SAR student Tali Rovner, who has shopped on the site, confirmed this, saying, “There is verification to make sure the brand is real and there even is a tag for proof.” When investing in a product there is always the doubt of being scammed, but not with StockX. StockX eliminates the fear of being scammed on all their items. Buyers know the products they receive are real due to the specific tags made by StockX affirming their authenticity.
According to a student from DRS, StockX seems to have “everything that is new, and everything that is popular.” Furthermore, StockX happens to be an easy and accessible company. A senior at HAFTR, Josh Melman, said he uses this company frequently because it is the “easiest place to sell” and has a platform “without various products that is easy to work with.” Since StockX is designed for only a few products and brands, it is much easier to find what you are looking for. StockX’s website opens straight to a page that is organized and categorized by price, brands, and bids. The company has constructed its website based on its audience; teenagers who are trying to make a profit or get designer items at a good price. The website itself has a very nice and welcoming feel.
Overall, StockX is a company that has blown up since its creation in 2015 and is now one of the top-selling sneaker companies. The success of StockX can also be attributed to their outreach to different companies as a means of gaining a larger following base. The company has collaborated with celebrities like Eminem and companies like Nike, Adidas, Yeezy, and Reebok. As stated in an article written by CNN, “StockX makes money through transaction fees, and sees millions of dollars in activity on its platform each day,” thus making it a very wealthy and successful company. StockX has flourished, becoming a great company that will change the way shopping has always been done.
INTERVIEW WITH MS. POSNER
Interviewer: Jeremy Haviv
Q. Hi Ms. Posner. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
“Well obviously I love to read, that is one of the reasons that I’m an English teacher. But, besides reading, I really like to go bike riding. I have a very nice road bike, and when I lived in Indiana I would go for very long rides.”
Q. What books are you currently reading?
“I just finished Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, which is about how the medical profession has taken over how we die in this country. What we need at the end of life is not medical intervention but a spiritual experience. I just started a book that Mr. Gelman gave me called Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.”
Q. Name a book that you'd like to read to (or with) your students. Describe the book and tell us why you chose it.
“The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, which is about a guy on his deathbed, and his family is only concerned about the most trivial things. He doesn’t want to talk about what they are talking about and he feels so alone. The only person who understands him and what he is going through is his servant.”
Q. Describe your college experiences.
“I went to Cornell, and that’s really where I started to explore my Jewish roots, because up until then I was raised with basically no Jewish education. My family only celebrated Hanukkah and Passover. But there are a lot of Jews at Cornell; it’s around one-fifth Jewish. I had friends who were going to Shabbat dinner at Hillel and I started going there and I became more interested in Jewish life.”
Q. Who influenced you to become a teacher?
“It is true that you remember your most influential teachers. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Lehr, had us reading Magic School Bus and made us write our own magic school bus books. Mr. Herschnik in 8th grade, who unfortunately passed away, and he always made us do really creative projects. Mr. Glasser, my 12th grade AP Western Civilization teacher. He was just fantastic. All of my favorite teachers did interdisciplinary things. They weren’t just teaching their classes, they also incorporated history, music, literature, and science sometimes. And they were all very funny and entertaining, and it was a pleasure to sit in their class. Professor Raskolnikov was one of my favorite teachers. And lastly, my adviser Professor Marks, who made me understand literature, and what it has to do with my own life and experiences.”
Q. Why did you want to become a teacher?
“My first experience teaching was in graduate school and it was just something you had to do. I discovered that I actually really liked it. I really liked talking about ideas with other people, and I liked doing discussion-based things. I learn as much from my students as I teach.”
Q. What classes do you teach?
“I teach AP English Literature to 12th graders, honors 11th grade English class, and 11th grade regular English.”
Q. Tell us about your experiences working with students at this age level.
“It has been a learning experience. I am used to teaching college students. One of the things I learned is high school students can be very impulsive and I have to adjust my expectations. If a student says something insulting or inappropriate, I have to think about the fact that their cerebral cortexes are not yet fully formed, so I have to be more forgiving, in a way that I would not be so forgiving with college students.”
Q. Describe some methods of positive reinforcement that you might use in your classroom.
“I definitely like to praise my students when they say something smart. I like to sometimes give bonus points, like when we play educational games.”
Q. In what ways do you encourage creativity in your classroom?
“Exhibit A (pointing at her wall of art), I encourage art. I had the 11th graders make a kite based on the novel The Kite Runner. I also had them do creative projects like making Hamlet’s mother and Hamlet’s girlfriend having a talk.”
Q. If I walked into your classroom on a typical afternoon, what would I see going on?
“Any number of things could be happening: We could be having a very heated discussion about something controversial in a book. I would probably be taking one side and everyone would be going against me. Or we might be talking about something that’s happening now, like political discussions and current events.”
Q. Besides lectures, what methods of teaching do you use?
“I really prefer discussion-based classes. Sometimes I have students doing group work, so I will give them a set of questions and they have to figure out the answers. Or, sometimes, I give them a clue and they have to find something in the text.”
Q. What are your classroom rules?
“No racist or homophobic language and I am very clear on that. I can’t control what happens anywhere else, but in my classroom, NO!”
Q. Without giving any names, describe the most challenging student you've ever taught.
“I mean a number of students come to mind and they are challenging in different ways. I’ve had students who will not see things from a different perspective. I never force my opinions onto anyone but I have to say that the writer of a text wanted us to see something from a perspective, and they have to at least acknowledge that that’s a perspective. Some students don’t want to do that, which is very frustrating. My strategy is to not push something beyond a certain point and instead let it sit there. Maybe they will change their minds and maybe they won’t.”
Q. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that teachers face today?
“The technology, there is no question. I think it has changed attention spans and it is harder to see people get engaged. To see an idea through, it takes a lot of logical steps and you have to concentrate. Even my brain has changed from the amount I use my phone. Of course we can still do it, but it is just harder. This is true for any subject.”
Q. Do you think it is appropriate for teenagers in school to be using the Internet?
“Under certain circumstances, but if I had my way, I would have no phones or laptops in my classroom, but I know that is unrealistic. I think your generation is so oversaturated with the Internet, and yes, it may be useful, but in other ways it isn’t. Someone I know always says, ‘We live less and less in this world,’ and I think that’s really sad. We should spend more time in it than on our phones and computers.”
Q. How have you integrated technology into your lessons?
“I love being able to show clips of movies or things from YouTube or listen to music. I love that! And I do incorporate that.”
Q. What personality traits do teachers need to be successful?
“Patience, for sure, and a lot of understanding. A curiosity and desire to keep learning and not be satisfied with what you do day in and day out. To keep learning and incorporate what you learn into your teaching.”
Q. Who are your top favorite colleagues in this school and why?
“Well, obviously, Mr. Gelman and I are great friends. He is a really good mentor for me. He is a wonderful friend and mentor.”
FIRE ON CENTRAL AVENUE
A fire tore through a row of stores diagonally across the street from HAFTR High School at 3 am on early Friday morning, November 22, 2019. The fire caused extensive damage to several stores on Central Avenue, including Mike’s Burgers, Josh’s Pizza, Ezra’s Pharmacy, an ice cream shop, and New Century Cleaners. As far as HAFTR students are concerned, the anticipated long-term closure of Mike’s Burgers and Josh’s Pizza will have the greatest effect. Both restaurants are attended daily by many HAFTR students during lunchtime. Students also shop at Ezra Pharmacy and the neighboring ice cream shop. However, the more severe impact will unfortunately be felt by the store owners, who will have to rebuild their businesses, and by their workers, who will now have to find new jobs until the stores can re-open. The exact cause of the fire is still unknown, but it appears to have started in Ezra’s Pharmacy, which suffered the worst damage, and then spread to the other stores. The stores shared a common basement that made fighting the fire more difficult. Many firemen were called in to fight the fire from nearby towns. We at HAFTR hope for a speedy rebuilding of the stores and look forward to our return to them soon.
PACKAGE THEFT IN NYC
Package theft has matured into a frequent practice, leaving thousands of New Yorkers angry and seeking various solutions. About 20 percent of all deliveries in New York City fail to reach their destinations, and roughly 90,000 packages a day are intercepted by thieves.
In an apartment building in upper Manhattan, residents designated an elderly retired woman to be the watchdog for their online deliveries and act as the package receiver for them all. Similarly, corporate mailrooms have become safe havens for deliveries, where employees ship their personal packages to work to ensure their safety. The abuse of the corporate mailroom has led many companies to ban packages. Companies have had to caution employees that their packages will be intercepted and sent back to where they come from if they keep shipping them to work.
Many retail companies themselves have also tried to stop package theft. For example, Amazon has launched a real-time tracking service for packages so that buyers can make sure to be home when their delivery arrives. Similarly, UPS is working to enable drivers to place deliveries for apartment buildings in locked package rooms.
Though consumers and sellers work simultaneously to try to buy and sell items safely, package theft will not go away so easily. Despite the various solutions that have been put forward, thieves will most likely find new and creative ways to steal even if buyers and sellers try to slow the process.
THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC
Teenagers are constantly listening to music, whether it be while studying, doing work, or relaxing. Although it can be distracting for some people, according to “10 Health Benefits of Music” by Pfizer Medical Team and “9 Health Benefits of Music” by Hospice and Palliative Care Music Therapist Max Lerman, music actually benefits a person’s health in ten different ways. The first benefit of music is that it can improve one's mood. Listening to music releases dopamine and serotonin into the brain, helping one relax. Music has the power to instantly make someone feel better. The second benefit is that songs without lyrics or with a low tempo tend to minimize the amount of stress one is dealing with. Considering all the pressure that is placed on teenagers, music is a great way to reduce stress. Many people who experience different levels of anxiety say that listening to music has helped lessen the nervousness and feelings of anxiety.
Music also tends to improve exercise. The beat playing behind the lyrics motivates the body to move more, increasing the body’s activity. Music even has the power to improve one's memory -- the rhythm of music reminds the brain as to what it is supposed to be doing. For example, if someone listens to the same five songs whenever they do their work, the brain will learn that when these songs are played, it is time to go into work mode.
Additionally, music can be very comforting. All the different genres and songs can help people endure life’s challenges. Music has evolved into a great escape to find peace and happiness. In “10 Surprising Psychological Benefits of Music,” author Kendra Cherry stated that music has become therapeutic for many people. Feeling more relaxed when listening to music is a great type of therapy. Peace and relaxation is a great solution for stress.
Music has been a part of human culture for many years, and has become an integral part of our everyday lives. It is evident that music has the power to have a positive impact on people’s lives in many ways. Overall, music has benefited society and people’s general health in various ways.
DO MUSICIANS GET MORE RECOGNITION AFTER THEY DIE?
March 15, 2020
The death of a popular musician usually warrants an enormous amount of news and social media coverage. It seems that people who might not even be fans of the artist post about the death of a musician. Oftentimes, people tend to listen to a recently deceased musician for the first time after posting or seeing a post about that musician's passing. As a result, it has become evident that musicians throughout the years have gained more fans and listeners only after they die.
The rapper Juice Wrld, who died suddenly on December 8, 2019 gained a 476% increase of streams. Preceding Juice Wrld’s death, he reached one million streams, but on December 10, two days after his passing, the number went all the way up to 5.5 million streams. According to socialblade.com, Juice Wrld has also gained around three million followers on Instagram after his death. Clearly, Juice Wrld gained popularity after his death.
This prompts a question: do musicians get more appreciation once they have passed?
Juice Wrld is not the only musician to gain popularity after his or her death. For example, following the death of the lead singer in the band Roxette, their music streams increased by 770%. XXXTENTACION, who died in 2018, has had his streams increase by 1,603%; four billion streams. Similarly, Mac Miller, who also died in 2018, had his streams raised by 970% since his death. All these people had many fans before they died, but for some reason once they passed, their recognition and listeners increased. This phenomenon goes beyond just recent deaths. Some of the biggest names in music have been gaining popularity since their deaths. For these musicians, the money earned after their deaths goes to either the label they were signed to or the inheritors in their wills. The legend himself Michael Jackson was estimated to be worth $1.2 billion, but following his death that increased by $18 million. The singer John Lennon was valued at $250 million and is now valued to be a billionaire, $188 million of which was from his time in the Beatles.
It is unclear whether or not these artists would experience this influx in popularity and money if they were still alive. It seems as though people tend to care more about others only when they are no longer here with us.
Zack O'Malley Greenburg and Natalie Robehmed. “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities Of 2018.” Forbes. Oct 31, 2018.
“Juicewrld999” (Statistics of Juice’s instagram followers). Social Blade.
Keith Caulfield. “Roxette Music Streams Increase 770% Following Marie Fredriksson's Death” MSN Entertainment.
Keith Caulfield. “XXXTentacion's Music Sales Rise 1,603% After Death, As His '?' Album Heads Back to Top 10 on Billboard 200.” Billboard.
Keith Caulfield “Mac Miller's Music Streams Increased 970% Following Death.” Billboard
Emily Blake “Juice WRLD Becomes the Most-Streamed Artist in the U.S. Following His Death.” Rolling Stone.
Sam Moore. ‘Michael Jackson is earning more in death than he did in life – here’s how much.” NME.
Daniel Grant “Is an Artist Only Appreciated After He Dies?” Huffingtonpost.
Diozzyngwie. “Why do musicians become immortalized after they die?” Amino.
E-cigarettes and tobacco products have become extremely popular among teenagers lately. Unfortunately, many teens are under the false impression that smoking e-cigarettes or vaping pose little if any risk to their health. E-cigarettes were first introduced as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, since they contain less nicotine and would help established cigarette users quit smoking. However, their sleek design and the amenity they deliver have led teenagers to use them for their flavors and nicotine buzz. In an effort to counteract the recent surge of teenage vaping, Congress has approved a bill that would raise the age requirement of buying e-cigarettes and tobacco from 18 to 21 across the country. Although many states have already raised the age to 21, the seriousness of the issue has forced the federal government to take matters into its own hands.
This surge in teenage nicotine use is probably due to the fact that e-cigarettes are extremely convenient and simple to use. The new devices are easily stored in one’s pocket and can be used discreetly in almost any location. According to the New York Times, more than a quarter of high-school students say they have vaped in the past month. Statistics show that people of all ages have suffered lung injuries due to the effects of vaping, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than six million middle and high school students have used tobacco products this year, e-cigarettes being the most prevalent, and 80% of all vaping related illnesses can be attributed to those under the age of 30. Overall, the CDC has reported that there have been 2506 cases of lung related injuries and 54 people have died. This comes as no surprise, since almost all smokers begin this addictive habit before the age of 21. Clearly, something has to be done to stop teenage smoking, and this legislation is surely a step in the right direction. However, many question whether or not such action will be sufficient enough to affect any significant change.
While many vaping-reform activists are satisfied with the new government provision, there are other actions that are still necessary for teenage prevention. Many lawmakers and public health experts call for higher taxes on tobacco products as well as tougher enforcement on sales laws. Higher taxes on these products would discourage teenagers from buying them as often or as much, and would make it harder for teenagers to obtain the money to purchase them. Tougher enforcement on sales is especially important, as many teens seem to be able to obtain vaping devices regardless of the age requirement. Micah Berman, an associate professor of public health and law at the Ohio State University, told the New York Times, “more than 20 percent of retailers who were inspected by the state [of Ohio] were found to have sold cigarettes to minors, in violation of state and federal law” (“Congress Approves Raising Age to 21 for E-Cigarette and Tobacco Sales” 19 Dec. 2019). Also, activists have been fighting for a ban on e-cigarette flavors, arguing that the “kid friendly” flavors, including cucumber, mango, fruit, and strawberry, specifically appeal to teenagers and have contributed to the recent influx of teenage vaping.
While teenage vaping is a fairly new phenomenon in recent years, the dangers of smoking and nicotine are nothing new. Still, legislators face a real dilemma in how to move forward in light of this new epidemic. While many adults have found that e-cigarettes have helped them quit smoking, these devices have been made easily accessible and especially appealing to a new generation of teenagers who are unaware of the dire consequences associated with their use. The new fight to combat this old issue will be both challenging and difficult. However, proper legislation, extensive education, and greater public awareness about the risks of vaping and the use of tobacco products—for adults and more importantly, for teens—will go a long way in preventing nicotine addiction and the related illnesses that have resulted from these devices and substances.