North Korea tests new weapons and releases more propaganda

Kim Jong-un at the Sohae Space Center to view an intercontinental missile test.

On Mar. 2nd, the United Nations enacted to curtail North Korea’s weapons program. In response, the isolated country has continued to test both nuclear devices and long-range missiles. In addition, North Korea released a propaganda video depicting the destruction of the White House in Washington D.C. on Mar. 26th.

In response to numerous weapons tests in North Korea, the United Nations voted on Mar. 2nd to increase restrictions on the country’s weapons program. The restrictions are intended to limit North Korea’s ability to obtain resources it would need to further develop its weapons program. These new constraints, according to Somini Sengupta and Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times, include the requirement that “all countries to inspect all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea.” The country is also prohibited “from sending martial arts experts to train police officers in foreign countries.”

In addition, goods such as “luxury watches, Jet Skis and snowmobiles worth more than $2,000” have been banned as these are commonly used by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to gain support among the wealthy individuals in the country.

However, North Korea has proceeded to continue testing a variety of weapons over the past few months. Recently, the state media announced that it “had successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine,” according to the Guardian. The state has also declared that it has “miniaturised a thermonuclear warhead that can fit on a ballistic missile”.

One of the causes for the tension between North Korea and the United Nations is the increased United States military activity in South Korea, and North Korea has expressed its distaste for this through an assortment of propaganda videos. As the Guardian reports, “[a]ngered by continuing large-scale South Korea-US military drills, Pyongyang has [maintained a] daily barrage of threats against both Seoul and Washington.” One of these threats took the form of a video with the title “Last Chance” which was released by North Korea on Mar. 26th that, according to Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times, “depicts a nuclear strike on Washington, along with a warning to ‘American imperialists’ not to provoke the North.”

While it is uncertain whether North Korea has merely claimed to have completed these numerous weapons tests, as the Guardian reports, there is a “consensus that North Korea has made progress towards its goal of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear bomb to the continental United States”.

Tyra Zeigler, Reporter

Sanders calls Clinton "unqualified"

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaking at a town hall in Iowa earlier in his campaign (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Recently, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders caused a huge uproar among Democratic voters by saying that Hillary Clinton is “unqualified” to be the President of the United States. Sanders supporters applauded and agreed with this statement, while Clinton and her supporters were very offended.

Sanders made this comment in reaction to what he believed was Clinton calling him “not qualified”, however, she did not say that. Clinton failed to say that he was, in fact, qualified, but she never claimed that he was unqualified. Nevertheless, Sanders was very taken aback by this and responded with four reasons why he believes Clinton is unqualified herself.

Making very bold statements, Sanders said that Clinton is “unqualified” if she is “through her Super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds”, getting “15 million dollars from Wall Street through [her] Super PAC”, voting “for the disastrous war in Iraq”, and supporting “virtually every disastrous trade agreement which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs”.

After every statement about Clinton’s reasons for not being qualified to be President of the United States, Sanders supporters cheered and applauded. However, Clinton supporters had quite a different reaction.

On Twitter, Clinton supporters responded with the hashtag #HillarySoQualified, such as a Tweet from Twitter user @kimfrederi that stated, “#HillarySoQualified she got 8M children insured while you renamed two post office boxes. #ImWithHer”.

However, Clinton supporters didn’t anticipate a backlash from the Twitter campaign, with Sanders supporters tweeting comebacks such as a Tweet from Twitter user @DemSocialists saying, “#HillarySoQualified to lose presidential elections. She's done it before and she's getting very good at it! #WeNeedBernie”. One Twitter user, under the handle @WhichhHillary, found some humor in the situation, joking that “#HillarySoQualified that her supporters make hashtags that end up not helping her.”

The presidential race for the Democratic nomination started off calm but has progressively gotten more intense and insult-driven. As more and more state primaries near, voters will see how much more the two candidates are willing to say about the other.

Sammi Payne, Reporter

ISIS Destroys Islamic State Archaeological Sites

 
Temple of Bel before and after ISIS bombed it. (Photo courtesy of France24)

Experts are assessing the damage that the Islamic State has done to many ancient archaeological sites. These excavations have been destroyed by ISIS in order to either raise attention or loot the sites for profit.

Some of the most popular religious sites that have been destroyed in Palmyra, Syria are: the Statue of Athena, the Palmyra Triumphal Arches, ST. Elijah’s Monastery, and the Temple of Bel.

The Islamic State gains value from the attention lately through media coverage. ISIS has released a video showing their military demolishing ancient sites in Northern Iraq, resulting in it spreading throughout the media widely increasing the recruits.

In addition to gaining more recruits executions are being filmed in the Roman theater. A member from the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Matthew Hall, shared with the press that the Islamic State is, “keenly aware that Palmyra offers a prominent stage.”

The Roman Theater was a popular site for the large network of Looters to steal from. According to the New York Times, “The Islamic State took advantage of an already thriving trade in looted antiquities.” The damage was discovered when the jihadists publicly beheaded Palmyra’s retired chief, Khalid al-Asaad.

In addition to gaining attention and merchandise, ISIS has other reasons to destroy ancient artifacts. One of which is targeting sites of significance to Christians. The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, a 1,400-year-old stone structure, was bombed and resulted in dust. “Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of grey-white dust. They destroyed it completely,” imagery analyst, Stephen Wood, shared with The Guardian.

People may wonder if anyone has gotten involved with stopping ISIS in their path of destruction. The Syrian government finally stepped in and reclaimed Palmyra from ISIS with the help of Russian airstrikes.

Hailey McReynolds, Reporter

Painkiller abuse becomes national epidemic

Obama speaking at National Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Photo Courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

A recent rise in opioid and heroin addiction within the United States has lead officials to seek change with regards to how drug abuse is handled.

Patients becoming addicted to opioids has become a very common issue within the medical field. According to Helen Ouyang, an emergency physician at Newyork-Presbyterian Hospital, stated that, “Two-thirds of emergency room visits involving overdoses are due to prescription drugs.” In addition, she states that, “The highest number of deaths caused by opioid painkillers was in 2014.”

Constantly seeking a higher high, opioid addicts move to more powerful drugs, such as heroin. This has led the opioid addiction epidemic to slowly transform into a heroin epidemic, which has slowly lead to “a fentanyl epidemic” as Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts stated.

Fentanyl, a deadly cousin to heroin, is a powerful synthetic painkiller. Katharine Q. Seelye, a reporter for the New York Times stated that, “It is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine.” She also goes on to state that even a “tiny bit can be fatal.”

Many officials have recognized that the rise in heroin and painkiller abuse is beginning to become a deadly epidemic, and have begun to take necessary steps and precautions to stop the issue. For example, some states have already established systems to combat the development of opioid addiction. As Ouyang states, New York state has recently developed a, “higher-level electronic prescribing system,” in order to, “closely track and protect against narcotic painkiller over-prescribing.” In addition, Ouyang also states that Massachusetts has passed a law to, “limit narcotic prescribing to a seven-day supply after a surgery or injury.”

The majority of officials, however, believe that there is more to stopping opioid addiction than just prescription laws. President Obama recently visited Atlanta to respond to the nation’s spiraling prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic were he stated, “I think the public doesn't fully appreciate yet the scope of the problem." In addition, Obama stated that he plans to use, “$1.1 billion in tax dollars to fight drug addiction,” by funding, “agreements with states to expand medication-assisted treatment.”

Looking to the future, many believe that in order to stop drug abuse in the United States, we must stop the problem at its roots, by placing more regulations around prescription drug administering, as well as creating and funding more drug abuse treatment programs available to the public.

Tristan Shank, Reporter

Three bombings shake Brussels

Third airport bomber suspect still at large.  Photo courtesy of NBC News

On Tuesday, March 22, two bombings killed thirty-one people and injured 270 in Brussels, Belgium’s capital. ISIS has claimed to be behind these attacks.

The two attacks happened one after the other. According to CNN, the first was at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem. At least ten people were killed when two suicide bombs went off, one going off in front of the check point area. A third bomb was found at the scene, left there by a third bomber. It went off as well but not until after the bomb squad arrived. Wednesday, Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw stated that the final bomb was the most destructive, and casualties were avoided due to “the professionalism of authorities at the scene.”

The second bombing took place at the Maelbeek metro station “about an hour later” according to CNN. One suicide bomb went off a little after rush hour ended, and according to New York Times, killed at least twenty people. This bomber has been identified as Khalid El Bakraoui, a twenty-seven year old from Brussels.

In response to his slipping votes, Rubio quickly positioned himself as the only candidate who could stand against the Republican front runner, Donald Trump. He repeatedly warned that current politics were leading to a "fractured nation." At the GOP debate in Houston, Rubio released a torrent of campaign insults against Trump. In addition, he let loose several school yard level insults, including mention of the size of Trump’s hands and alluding to his manhood. Unfortunately for Rubio, Trump only capitalized on Rubio’s insults and returned in kind with a crude joke, calling him “little Rubio.” Rubio only lost momentum after this instead of gaining after these attacks.

The ensuing investigation showed the three bombers from the airport, two of them have been identified. CNN reports that one was named Najim Laachraoui, and is possibly the one who made the bombs. The other one who was killed in the blast was Ibrahim El Bakraoui, twenty-nine years old, and brother of Khalid. Both brothers have had a history of violence, according to New York Times, they went from “carjackers to terrorists.” On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that a man named Fayçal Cheffou was arrested as the third man. However Monday the 28th New York Times reported that he was wrongfully accused and released. He is a “freelance journalist” who was picked out of a lineup by a taxi driver, yet the other evidence did not add up.

ISIS has claimed to be behind this attack. According to both CNN and New York Times, a news bulletin connected to the Islamic State, claimed to be behind the attack nearly eight hours after the attacks. In this bulletin, Belgium was identified as, “a country participating in the coalition against the Islamic State.”

This attack was not wholly unexpected, as CNN reports that Belgium has been one of the most vocal in the antiterrorism. “The Belgians have been sitting on a ticking time bomb,” commented a U.S. counterterrorism official. New York Times also state that Belgium is the seat of the European Union government and the object of investigations especially after the Paris Attacks in 2015.

L Maura Moffat, Reporter

Marco Rubio drops out of the presidential election

Senator Marco Rubio speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

On March 16, 2016 Marco Rubio dropped out of the presidential election. His run of misfortunes, mainly due to Trump, and bad timing led to being below third place in every poll, with the exception of Minnesota.

Rubio is a 44-year-old senator from Florida who campaigned “for the future of our country.” His campaign slogan, according to his website, is “a new American century”, which helped to show his youth and fresh taste in politics. He believed that a new generation was needed to lead the country. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep up with front runner Donald Trump.

CNN.com stated that, at first, Rubio tried to keep himself above Trumps level of politics and focused on his closest competitors like Ted Cruz. However, they went on to say that this did not work as Trump continued to gain the majority vote in the race and “Cruz came along in second, sweeping up all the votes Trump didn’t take.”

In response to his slipping votes, Rubio quickly positioned himself as the only candidate who could stand against the Republican front runner, Donald Trump. He repeatedly warned that current politics were leading to a "fractured nation." At the GOP debate in Houston, Rubio released a torrent of campaign insults against Trump. In addition, he let loose several school yard level insults, including mention of the size of Trump’s hands and alluding to his manhood. Unfortunately for Rubio, Trump only capitalized on Rubio’s insults and returned in kind with a crude joke, calling him “little Rubio.” Rubio only lost momentum after this instead of gaining after these attacks.

However, Rubio and his advisers were still hopeful, especially after Bush dropped out, that he would get the establishment vote and win in larger states. As expected, there was a huge rush of establishment Republicans to endorse him such as the governors of Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee and New Mexico, according to NPR.com

Yet Rubio went on to lose every one of those states.

His last hope was to win in his home state, Florida. When the polls closed at 8 p.m. it was clear that Trump had won again.

Kollee King, Reporter

Putin announces Russian troop withdrawl from Syria

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with the Defense Ministry

On March 14th, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said he planned to withdraw the majority of Russian troops from the conflict in Syria.

At a meeting with his defense and foreign ministers, Putin said that the goals of Russia’s military and Ministry of Defense had been met, so he would “withdraw the main part of the military deployment to Syria, starting Tuesday,” according to the Washington Post. Although the majority of Russian troops are to return home, Russian air bases and naval bases in Syria will remain open.

There are a great number of theories as to why Putin decided to pull his armed forces from Syria at this time. On the very day Putin announced this military transition, a British newspaper, The Guardian, wrote that his decision was “clearly designed to coincide with the start of Syrian peace talks” and gives the impression that Russia believes Assad’s regime is safe after their military intervention. NBC reported James Nixey, head of the “Russian program at UK-based think tank Chatham House” said Russia aims to solidify its control over political conflicts happening in the Middle East and rise “from the ashes of international isolation brought on by its intervention in Ukraine.”

New York Times analysts list the previous theories as legitimate reasons why Putin took forces out of Syria. They also claim that the withdrawl may be an attempt “to thwart another Western attempt to push leadership change in Syria,” “to show that Moscow is a more reliable ally than Washington,” to restore Russia to “global problem-solver” status, “to distract attention from the war in Ukraine and to get lifted the economic sanctions imposed on Russia,” and lastly, “to show off the effectiveness of a new generation of weaponry from Russia.”

The long term impacts of this change are still under much speculation. Adam Schiff, an United States Congressman from California, predicts that “with his protector leaving, Assad may have to be more amenable to a phasing out of his rule,” but Senator John McCain thinks that Putin may have “bombed and killed enough of the opponents of the murderous Assad regime to ensure its survival.”

Peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups are continuing. All 15 members of the UN Security Council view Russia’s choice as a “positive” one.

Kate Zeldenrust, Reporter

Scientists make breakthroughs fighting a variety of cancers

Colored ribbons represent support and advocacy for various types of cancer.

Every day around the world there are teams of scientists, doctors, and researchers searching for and developing ways to cure cancer. Recently, teams have found what they hope to be the Achilles heel of cancer.

The treatment, which involves taking the patient's immune cells and rapidly multiplying them in a lab, is hoped to work for all strings of cancer, as described by science editor Sarah Knapton. The way that this new treatment will work is by fishing out the body’s immune cells, and multiplying them faster than the cancer cells can take them over.

By using the body’s own disease fighting cells, rather than trying to fight these fast changing cells, the body can attack the cancer on its own. Chemo and Radiation therapies and the popular most used cancer drugs have not been as successful in trials as this new treatment because of how rapidly the cancer cells mutate, multiply, and disguise themselves. Dr. Sergio Quezada wants people to think of cancer this way, “a patient's cancer cells all start off with the same tree trunk, but then grow different kinds of branches. The new research shows certain immune cells can "chop the tree at the trunk rather than just pruning the branches.”

Individualism is key to cancer treatment. This specific new treatment is extremely individualized to each patient. The importance of individualized treatment is because everybody has different genes, and gene mutations, and while cancer usually targets specific genetic mutations, everybody’s cancer is still completely different, with no two cases being the same.

Brain cancer, more specifically Glioblastoma(GBM), also has exciting new treatments. From personal experiences with several neurologists and oncologists, a glio is the deadliest and aggressive type of brain tumor a person can get. Along with being one of the deadliest, it is also the most untreatable type of tumor out there. There have been no significant advances in a cure for these tumors in over 30 years, but now scientists have found a possible new way to cure this deadly disease. According to the researchers on this project from North Carolina, these treatments include taking the body's skin cells and turning them into cancer fighting cells. To do this researcher need to reprogram skin cells, fibroblasts, to become brain stem cells. So far doing this on mice has worked extremely well.

Doctors and researchers in Australia have also found a way that could cure pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most incurable forms of cancer, due to lack of knowledge and research. The Australian Pancreatic Genome Initiative, which is led by a team at the Garvan Institute and Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Sydney, has been working on this international study. This project has discovered the molecular subtypes of pancreatic cancer, which show the exact recipe of the cancer. The key to finding a cure for each patient is: finding the immunogenic subtype of the cancer, so the doctors can know what needs to be done, and which treatment to use.

Basal cell carcinoma is an extremely common form of skin cancer is also in the process of receiving new forms of treatments. For the first time ever scientists have discovered the exact DNA of basal cell carcinoma, and have discovered the 3 key genes which are in each individual case of this form of cancer. Knowing this, scientists can develop prescription drugs that can be directly targeted to specific gene mutations, causing less damage to a patient's body.

So far, 2016 has been a great year in terms of cancer research development, and doctors and scientists around the world have made groundbreaking progressions in the industry that could save millions of lives each year.

Ashley Mixon, Reporter

Women Helping Women act

Republican supporter of the Women Helping Women act, Lynda Wilson

The Women Helping Women Act is a proposed bill which aims to transfer funds already made off of taxing feminine hygiene products into programs which aim to support women in need.

Many argue that this is a very logical redirection of the tax dollars. According to the bill, since “feminine hygiene products are a medical necessity for most females”, this bill would make the act of paying these taxes beneficial to the group who is buying them, or rather the portion of the group which needs help.

These funds would be distributed in a way which would have a positive impact on the women of Washington. Each county would receive funds based on its population in proportion with the State of Washington's. The funds each county received would then be evenly distributed between law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, in order to support female “victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and the children of victims”.

Supporters also argue that this would be a good way for women to support one another, with little to no effort. According to State Representative Lynda Wilson, “The taxes we, as women, pay individually for feminine hygiene products is a drop in the bucket, but collectively this money adds up quickly and would really benefit women and their children who are victims of domestic violence” Wilson also insisted that “These are products that only women purchase. What better way for women to help one another and promote safer communities than by directing these tax dollars to the vulnerable women who need it to restore their sense of security and independence?”

If passed, this bill has the potential to benefit many women. Depending on the needs of each individual county, the money could go towards decreasing Sexual Assault Examination Kit backlogs, reform centers, education programs, or anything else that addresses violent acts against women.

Sexual assault examination kits, more commonly known as rape kits, can contain biological evidence left behind after a sexual assault, such as saliva, blood, or semen. Despite passing of previous legislation requiring that sexual assault examination kits to be requested for submission to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory within 30 days--the department still needs funding in order to successful comply with the bill. This is especially important in regards to addressing Washington State’s backlog, which according to the Endthebacklog website, “as of March 2015, [was] a total of 6,000 untested kits”.

Reform centers could also have a big impact on those who have already suffered from some form of sexual assault. Already existing programs, such as the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, or WCSAP, aim to “provide information, training and expertise to program and individual members who support victims, family and friends, the general public, and all those whose lives have been affected by sexual assault.” The WCSAP also stresses the importance of “equal access… [and] to treat individuals with fairness, dignity, and respect”.

But unlike reform centers, education programs could also help in preventing these sexual assaults from happening at all. Also according to WSCAP, the best way to stop these horrid events from occurring in the first place would be “to change the norms, values, beliefs, and attitudes that cause sexual violence through the shifting of ownership of solutions from social services to the community”. In other words, educating the populace would result in “meaningful change rather than [treatment of the] symptom”.

Alicia Barrientes, Reporter

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