Friday, March 25, 2016

The Week of 3/21 in a Glance

Hello all! Hope everybody has a wonderful Easter, if you celebrate!

By Maddy Art

    For the first time in eight-eight years, the president of the United States has taken a trip to Cuba. Why is this a big deal? Well, the United States has historically had a rocky relationship with Cuba. Issue the countries have had with each other include differences of opinion on human rights, the USSR docking missiles on the island, which appeared as a threat to the United States, and persistent communism. Due to these and other reasons, a trade embargo was set on Cuba in 1996. A trade embargo limits or restricts commerce with the country. Recently, the countries have once again begun to share diplomatic relations, the US has reopened its embassy in Cuba, and travel restrictions have lessened. By taking this trip, Obama is hoping to get the message across that the trade embargo is overkill.

Water Hearing
By Owen Tucker-Smith

This past week, EPA head chief Gina McCarthy and Michigan governor Rick Snyder played the blame game as they sat in court. They were at a hearing for that mess that happened in Flint a little while ago.

What mess? A while back, Flint’s water supply was switched from Detroit’s supply the Flint river for financial reasons. It was supposed to be beneficial as it would cut costs. It might’ve cut costs, but it wasn’t beneficial. The river has high amounts of iron, and children tested in Flint had doubling levels of lead in their blood. (Hint, hint, we wrote a post on all this, 2nd one down.) The problem was, nobody noticed enough, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the governor didn’t act on the issue soon enough, and that is where this hearing comes in.

What did they say? McCarthy from the EPA wouldn’t apologize, saying that the EPA wasn’t at the helm of the ship in terms of the water when the crisis occurred, state management was in charge. She said that it was the state officials that didn’t require that the water be tested. Snyder also blamed officials, but ones at the Michigan department of Environmental Quality. He said that they were telling him that the water was safe. So it was “a miscommunication issue.”

The result? Lawmakers didn’t care about who the two blamed. Many said that the governor should have pushed against the state officials, and the EPA should have acted more strongly and taken a larger role. Lawmakers asked both to resign. They didn’t.

At a glance: These two really messed up, and they are truly not taking enough blame for themselves. Cue steady waves of criticism flowing into their mailboxes.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Week of 3/14 in a Glance

Hello everybody! Hope everybody is doing well. In addition to this week’s news, we would like to notify you all that Lanesborough approved the school building project! It won with 55.9% of the vote. So, we will be getting a new building! Thank you for reading, and remember to comment and remind your friends to read as well.

North Korea
By Rose Gotlieb

This week in Pyongyang, North Korea, a 21-year-old American tourist was sentenced to fifteen years in prison with hard labor.
Why? Apparently, the tourist attempted to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel. When North Korea asked him why, he said that it was a trophy for his friend’s mother, and she wanted to hang it up in her church. He also said she offered a used car worth $10,000 dollars to him for it, and if he didn’t make it back, his mother would get 200,000 dollars. Apparently, he needed the money.
And anything else we should know? Well, tensions have been high between
North Korea and the US ever since North Korea tested its nuclear bomb in the winter. So this is just another drop in the bucket.

Ankara News
By Maddy Art

    On Sunday, March 13, a car bomb attack in the capital of Turkey caused considerable damage. At least 37 people were killed and over 100 more were injured. It is likely that this is the workings of Kurdish separatists, either from Turkey or Syria. Turkish Kurds have been fighting to become independant from the country for decades, and this often leads to violence. For example, the Turkish government suspects that a separate attack last month in Ankara was also the fault of a Kurdish group. Not only has the Turkish government had issue with Kurds in their own country, but they are now encountering problems with Kurds in Syria, which is directly south of Turkey. To further complicate matters, both Syrian Kurds and Turkey are helping the United States in various ways in the fight against ISIS. Because Turkey is having issues with both ISIS and Kurdish rebels, it puts them in a rough position.

The Pinky Promise
By Owen Tucker-Smith

Two days ago, Obama started to play congress’ minds. He nominated a new judge to the supreme court, and basically dared them to turn him down like they said they would to anyone that Obama nominated.

Back up... A little while ago, a judge from the supreme court died. His name was Antonin Scalia (We wrote an article about his death a little while ago) Of the supreme court justices, Scalia was the super conservative one, so to keep the court in the same balance as it was, another super conservative candidate would need to be elected. And these judges aren’t picked for four or eight years, like the president. They serve for life, so this is an important decision. Here’s the way new justices are brought by into the court: the president nominates them, and then congress either approves them or rejects them. The thing is, congress is currently run by republicans. So they made a pinky promise to reject whoever Obama picks. Why? Because maybe a republican will be elected president and they will nominate someone that congress really likes! But now, Obama is forcing Congress to think about that pinky promise...

Who did he nominate? Obama nominated Merrick Garland. Who is this guy? Well, he is the highest judge in the court of appeals in DC. So, he has experience. But the more important part is that he is known for being loved by everyone; he is pretty moderate, and both sides of the aisle kind of like him. So Obama’s thinking is that Garland, because he is known for appealing to everyone, might get in the way of Congress’s pinky promise and make them think twice.

So how are they responding? Pinky promises are stronger than you may think. After Obama dared them to turn down such a good nominee, they leaned back towards their vow to block Obama’s nominees. But people do break away from the crowd, and with a nominee like Garland, this is not unlikely to happen. But congress is still trying as hard as they can to keep their promise, even with this hard psychological element on hand.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Week of 2/29 in a Glance

Hi all! Hope this news makes everybody's week more interesting! Middle schoolers - don't forget that you can email us with questions or suggestions.

Super Tuesday
By Rose Gotlieb

This Tuesday, not only did Williamstown vote on the new school, (which was approved), but Massachusetts and other states voted on something much bigger on the National scale. Here’s who won which states:
Donald Trump - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia. He now has 319 delegates.
Ted Cruz - Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas. He now has 226 delegates.
Marco Rubio - Minnesota. He now has 110 delegates.
John Kasich - 0. He now has 25 delegates.
Ben Carson - 0. He now has 8 delegates.

Hillary Clinton - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. She now has 1052 delegates.
Bernie Sanders - Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont. He now has 427 delegates.
To win their party’s nomination, Republicans must have a total of 1,237 delegates. Democrats need 2,382 delegates.

A Supremely Powerful Decision
By Maddy Art

             Do you remember two decades ago? Me neither, but America remembers it as the last major case that the Supreme Court heard on abortion. That is about to change. On Wednesday March 2, the Supreme Court heard a case about a controversial Texas law. This law requires all abortion clinics to be in hospital conditions. While this sounds like a good thing, opposers are saying that the laws do not actually provide aid to women's health in any way, shape, or form. On the contrary, the law only makes it much harder for women who are in need of an abortion to have access to one. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that abortions are legal in all 50 states, so that is not up for debate. However, laws like these make abortion clinics much more scarce. Defenders of this law claim that they are in favor of it because it is beneficial to women's health, but speculation has occurred as to whether those opposed are really just opposed because they would like as few abortion clinics as possible. Another complication: the Supreme Court currently consists of only eight justices (as opposed to nine), due to the recent  death of the very conservative Justice Scalia. Having an even number of justices means that an even split is entirely possible, and in this case, probable. A decision will likely be made by June. Here is yet another instance of a primarily male panel making decisions about women's reproductive rights. Yay.

If you are unsure of what an abortion is, click here.

Go Leo!
By Owen Tucker-Smith

This past Sunday, the academy brought the best of the filming industry to Hollywood to see who was the best. Among the top issues in this year’s academy awards were diversity and Leonardo Di Caprio.

What about diversity? This year, no Black actors were nominated for an academy award. With events going on around the country, this timing isn’t so great. Many people decided that the academy was racist for their choices of nominees. But this isn’t the first year for this to happen. Last year, of the 4 actor categories and 20 nominees, none of them were black. Protesters on social media used the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, but that just turned into #OscarsStillSoWhite. And the emcee was Chris Rock, a Black comedian. And in his opening monologue, he really stepped out there. He spared no one, criticizing both sides. After talking about the “liberals” who “don’t hire black people,” he got right to the point, asking, “Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist.” But it wasn’t that simple. He also criticised the protesters who had started boycotting the Oscars, like Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock was harsh, at a time that this harshness was appreciated.

Who won? Well the only person that really won was our Leonardo DiCaprio. He got a standing ovation, because people were thinking, finally! This was Leo’s sixth nomination, but first win at the Academy Awards! He won best actor for The Revenant. Best Picture went to Spotlight, a film about investigations of priests molesting young boys. Spotlight also got the award for Best Original Screenplay. Brie Larson one Best Actress for her role in Room. Other award winners were:

  • Mark Rylance, Best Supporting Actor, Bridge of Spies
  • Alicia Vikander, Best Supporting Actress, The Danish Girl
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Best Director, The Revenant
  • Writing’s on the Wall, Best Original Song, Sam Smith
  • Inside Out, Best Animated Feature Film
  • Amy, Best Documentary Feature
  • The Hateful Eight, Best Original Music Score
To get a full list of Oscar winners, click here