North Korea Update

As you may know relations between the US and North Korea have not been positive and as tensions heighten, the fear of a nuclear war grows stronger and more probable. Both North Korea and the US are in a war of words as Kim Jong-un is determined to set off their sixth nuclear bomb testing.

Donald Trump has warned that military action may be possible as he moves anti-missile systems, submarines, and aircraft carriers into the North Korean region. North Korea said on May 15th that they had successfully tested a missile that would put US bases in the Pacific within reach of its destruction. Even countries such as China and Russia have both said that they’re fearful about the possible outcome of these heated arguments between the US and North Korea. Recently, however, Russia has declared that Donald Trump is “more dangerous” than Kim Jong-un. Russian reporter Dmitry Kiselyov said: “The world is a hair's breadth from nuclear war. War can break out as a result of confrontation between two personalities: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Both are dangerous, but who is more dangerous? Trump is.”

In response to these heightened fears of a nuclear war, China has started to test a range of new missiles and weapons to “enhance” their “combat skills”. The military testing was held in the north-eastern Bahai Sea and were said to be “successful” by Chinese officials. According to reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing a large sweep of modernizing the Chinese military.

All in all we’re on the brink of another large war. Tensions are growing between nations and the thirst to be better than all is starting to become more apparent of a desire by these large military powers. As the US and U.N. try to prevent any kind of war and nuclear testing, the only thing us citizens can do is wait and see how all of this is going to turn out.

 

Plastics Sub-Hub

Billions of plastic materials—grocery bags, packaging, and bottles—are displaced around the world each year. To make it worse, those materials are not just toxic to people when used inappropriately, but are harming other organisms as well. Having a dead whale, dolphin, or shark wash ashore with 20 to 30 plastic bags, mistaken as jellyfish, in their stomachs, is like a toddler mistaking pills for candy. People have started to notice the responsibility upon humankind to preserve the environment in order to secure the future for the generations to come.

Recently, many bright minds of varying ages have come up with ways to decrease the amount of plastic all over the world. According to The Huffington Post, a group of elderly ladies in Tennessee came together to create sleeping mats made out of plastic grocery bags for the homeless nationwide. Not only do these ladies see this as a way to help their community, but also as a way to spend their golden years decreasing the many dangers of plastic bags.

There has also been a development of creating non-plastic common grocery bags with the ability to biodegrade within a two to three months. Ashwath Hedge, the founder of EnviGreen came up with a way to create plastic-like grocery bags made out of natural starches and vegetable oil. Another biodegradable material used for replacing plastic bags is a derivative of glucose from shrimp, crab, and lobster shells. The material is later created into a man-made polymer called chitosan. This discovery was found and experimented by a bioengineer from University of Nottingham, Nicola Everitt. Everitt and her colleagues are currently working on creating a breathable plastic-like substance for food packaging. Not only is chitosan biodegradable, it has shown evidence of lowering carbon emissions and plastic packaging waste.

More than 200,000 plastic bottles are displaced across the globe every five minutes instead of being recycled. This means the bottle industries are creating a mass problem for the environment. A plastic bottle cutter is the efficient solution today. It cuts plastic bottles into long strips of plastic line which can be used in multiple ways. Even though it doesn’t decrease the amount of plastic displaced, it minimizes the volume of it.

There is also an invention for edible biodegradable water bottles. It is called Ooho. The bottle is made out of a strong seaweed and calcium chloride membrane. It is able to hold one serving of water. The membrane is edible and could eventually rid the world of plastic packaging and bottles.

People have come up with so many extraordinary ideas to help rid the world of plastic. Maybe in twenty years, the world will be headed in a new direction to successfully save the Earth.

April Fools

April Fools

Same as every year, April Fools’ comes again, a day famous for playing tricks and pranks on friends and family. These vary from the simple joke to more complex, thought-out pranks. April Fools’ can also come as purposeful hoaxes spread by newspapers for a joke, which all believe to be real, and then the next day the papers release a retraction explaining it to be a joke. The way to play these jokes and pranks is to be playful. The wrong way to go about this day is with spiteful pranks and insulting jokes.

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Neil Gorsuch

On March 20th, a confirmation hearing was held regarding Donald Trump’s appointed pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. As protests arose due to Trump’s pick, there was also tension from the senate as senators and house members clashed on the reason President Obama’s supreme court pick, Merrick Garland, was denied a hearing even though Judge Antonin Scalia died over thirteen months ago.

Neil Gorsuch’s nomination was subject to a lot of controversy, as his appointment would cause a five to four republican ratio, a clear advantage for the Republican Party and for Donald Trump in any cases that were to go all the way to the Supreme Court level. Gorsuch is a firm believer in the Constitution and the separation of power, and stands to uphold many of the beliefs of the founding fathers. He has never handled the subjects of abortion or making LGBTQ+ marriage legal. It is still up in the air on whether or not he will side with pro-lifers or pro-choicers, an extremely relevant topic as of late, if and when the time comes.

During the election of 2016, Donald Trump vowed to appoint judges that were pro-life. Gorsuch’s stance on abortion has been unclear, especially regarding Roe v. Wade. Abortion has been a rising topic as more controversy comes surrounding the issue. The pressure is on Gorsuch to pick a side that would either pin the United States as being considered progressive or conservative.

There is still no clear reason as to why Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, was denied a hearing for replacing Scalia. A democratic pick, if Garland was put in for Scalia, would have kept the liberal advantage within the Supreme Court, a huge advantage and the cause for many civil rights advances made in recent years, particularly the decision for making LGBTQ+ marriages legal. It is extremely strange that Obama didn’t have a hearing for his pick, and Gorsuch was appointed many months later, showing the current advantage Donald Trump is pulling from the legal side of the country now.

As Gorsuch is appointed, it is important to remember that there is a separation between houses and powers. That the influence our president has on these will never tear down the power of our democracy. It will never silence our voices, especially on the issues that matter to the people, such as the rights on abortion or those who are being unheard by the government.

 

Oregon Budget Deficit

Oregon Budget Deficit

The state of Oregon is facing a large financial crisis currently, one that will affect the course of our state's spending over the next few years. This is a result of Measure 97 not being passed, which would have provided an additional $6 billion to the state over the next two year budget cycle. Measure 97 is a proposed measure that would tax businesses that have a revenue of $25 million in Oregon sales.

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The Ban on Bannon

“I’m a leninist. [Lenin] wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment,” ― Steve Bannon, November 12th, 2013, (Daily Beast).

 

Leninism, brought about by Vladimir Lenin, was the emphasis on dictatorship of the proletariat. He was the first leader of the Russian Communist Party and Soviet Union. As Bannon has been quoted saying in the above statement, it’s proven to be quite controversial as our current assistant to Donald Trump and chief strategist seem to be agreeing with someone our government actively despised. Steve Bannon has been promoted to the National Security Council and now holds extreme power in political office, which has caused a backlash in the government itself and within small communities.

    Bannon, who worked as a banker and film maker before taking political office under Donald Trump, and is now the newest addition to the National Security Council, also seems to have a love affair with war. Plainly put, this man loves the concept of war. Julia Jones, Bannon’s former Hollywood writer and friend, told the Daily Beast, “[Steve’s] in love with war—it’s almost poetry to him.” She went on to add that he often read books about war and even wrote a few articles for Breitbart News Network before leaving the company.

Breitbart is a far-right commentary website that was founded by Andrew Breitbart. After Breitbart’s death in 2012, Bannon took over as the executive chair for the company, for which he was a founding member. Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller of Time said that Breitbart News “pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right.” Bannon verbally confirmed this in 2016 when he said that Breitbart was a “platform for the alt-right.” For those who don’t know what “alt-right” is, it stands for “alternative-right,” a group that is extremely right wing and white nationalists. That’s the nice way of saying they’re white supremacists. They’ve been recorded quoting Hitler’s extremely anti-semitic ideologies, and the founder once got hit in the face with human feces during a protest.

While saying this is controversial is a bit of an understatement. It’s clear that Steve Bannon lets his news platform be a platform for the white supremacists who call themselves “alt-right,” and therefore supports them in doing so. While he severed ties with them in 2016 to focus on the campaign of Donald Trump, he and the president both refer to this news source when citing a source for their claims.

Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator, has been publically claiming that Bannon should be removed from the National Security Council, saying that it isn’t the place for “an extreme right-wing political operative.” Central Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Morell called Bannon’s new political role “unprecedented” on CBS This Morning. Senator John McCain of Arizona applauded the national security team, but expressed concern over Bannon’s appointment. He called it a “radical departure from any National Security Council in history.”

Steve Bannon is an extremely controversial part of our country’s political team. The outcry from other politicians has become overwhelming and the evidence as to why Bannon should be cut from the National Security Council and from our nation’s capitol is clear and understandable. The current evidence from his behavior points towards a threat to our country and it’s stability. Holding the platform for white supremacists, the ban on Bannon is apparent and needs to be taken into consideration if not immediate action.


 

March for Science

Upon recent events involving the censoring of scientists in mainstream media, scientists are taking up in arms and building up their cause. With a mission founded on the idea of publically funded and publicly informed science, scientists as well as science lovers are forming together in April, on Earth Day, to march for what they believe in.

Deemed ‘The March For Science,” the group running the march created a site, marchforscience.com, presenting their case in what they deem a non-political way from laying out their principles and goals, to presenting supporters with access to a funding support store for official ‘March for Science’ march.

Though claiming to be non-political, their roots lay in politics. This march was birthed from other marches that claimed to be non-political with political underlying roots and the fear and overbearing truth of policy acting upon the people. Stated in their mission on the official “March for Science” site: “Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone—without exception.” This strong belief and vicious protection of what they deem important is the driving force behind the magnitude of backers they are receiving from the public. The people are showing they in large want to be informed and the people want to listen to science.

Though not receiving as much momentum and support as January’s Women’s March, the goals and principles behind the march are well defended by the public. With their main goal being public awareness of communication of scientists and their work, their supporters are subtly demanding a swift change in policy. People are looking for a voice and communication between the public and scientists—an uncensored voice.

“It’s crazy,” said AHS teacher Mr. Baisley upon being asked about the ‘March for Science,’ “I mean, it’s great that they’re having the march but it’s crazy that it has to happen in the first place. It’s crazy that in a country as leading as we are that we still censor scientists. It’s crazy that science isn’t listened to.”

Aleppo

The battle over Aleppo started in July of 2012, and ended in July 2016. The war started out with a protest against President Bashar-al Assad on March 15, 2011. There were huge rallies supporting the president as well as mobs of rebels who demanded that Bashar-al Assad resign as President. After sixteen months of protesting, rebels from neighboring villages came in and penetrated the city of Aleppo. As rebels started to take over Aleppo, the Syrian government responded by dropping bombs over the city in hopes that they could drive out the rebels.

Most of the rebels came from Aleppo's countryside and from towns including Al-Bab, Marea, Azaz, Tel Rifaat, and Manbij. Starting in October and going to December 2015, rebels started to regain control of land, military routes, and trading routes. In mid-February of 2016,  Syrian Arab Armies and its allies launched a major offensive in the northern Aleppo countryside, with the aim of cutting off the last remaining supply routes into the city, and relieving the unorthodox siege of the Shi’a-majority towns Zahraa and Nubl to the northwest of Aleppo.

On April 13, 2016, Syrian Arab Armies started to drop bombs on the northern side of Aleppo, destroying hundreds of buildings and bombing tunnels. By the end of the attacks, Aleppo had only a couple of buildings left standing, including a bakery that would feed over a hundred and twenty thousand people. By late Spring, and early Summer, Eastern Aleppo, was in the hands of the rebels. The population had been reduced significantly. At the start of July there were  six hundred thousand unorthodox people. In four years the population has decreased by three hundred thousand people, compared to Western Aleppo’s population of  1.5 million, living in government-held Western Aleppo.

By late July, government forces had managed to cut off the rebel’s remaining supplies. On December 13, 2016, the rebels still had 5% of the land, and a ceasefire was put into place, while buses were to evacuate the remaining civilians. However, the deal unfortunately fell apart the next day and the Syrian government started bombing the Eastern side of Aleppo. By December 22, the civilians were evacuated from Eastern Aleppo and the Syrian government announced that they have reclaimed all the land that was once held by the rebels.

While most Americans supported Obama's Administration proposition to accept 10,000 refugees into the United States. Other countries near Syria have taken hundreds of thousand of immigrants. As more and more immigrants came into foreign territory, borders started to close and immigrants were stranded at the border waiting for countries to take them in.

Over time, borders started to re-open to Syrian immigrants. The war against Syria has come to a halt, and slowly but surely, Syria has regained control of their land. The United Nations has called in for an emergency meeting, and has sent thousands of people to help rebuild Syria.

Blood Drive

This year, senior Morgan Stephens organized the Blood Drive at Astoria High School on December 15th for his senior project. Countless students donated blood through the American Red Cross association and helped provide blood to the people of our community and the United States.

Senior Keldon Littell was one of the students to participate in the Blood Drive. He donated a pint of blood in just around seven minutes. “I really had to pee before I started donating so I just tried to donate the pint as fast as possible!” joked Keldon.

Some students even went as far as to donate a second pint of blood. It’s called a “Power Red” donation where students donate approximately two pints of red blood cells instead of only one. People with type O blood are highly recommended to do a “Power Red” donation if possible.

These blood drives help save millions of lives every year, and it’s a great way to get your community involved and excited for a good cause. American Red Cross even has a fast and easy way for people to set up their own blood drives. You can host through your school or on your own with the help of an American Red Cross representative.   

What’s even more exciting is that 20% of blood donations come from high school and college blood drives! This means Astoria High School is just one of the many high schools around the United States that are helping save lives in their own communities. Astoria High School is proud to be one of those community outlets, and the school is proud to participate in these events.

Photo by Andrew Flores

Photo by Andrew Flores