All posts by Nick Shepard

Culinary Class Caters Elementary Reading Program

by Madison Marko – Photographer

Culinary students catered Grass Lake’s Prime Time Family Reading, a six-week program held at the Covington Library that is worked to promote literacy skills in economically and educationally vulnerable families. Starting on Jan. 9, 25 Grass Lake families were invited to meet weekly at the for the event.

The culinary students prepared a variety of meals, including chicken soft tacos, chili, baked potatoes, and cheese raviolis. Mario Molinero Villagomez (11), a culinary student who helped, said, “I like collaborating with other people, and cooking for them. It is fun to see their reactions toward the food and hear the different opinions. Hearing people critique the work we have done helps us improve in the future.”

Maddie Gwynne (11) said, “My favorite part has been getting to see all the kids and interact with them. It is fun to serve them—they either love salad, or they hate salad, they all have their own preferences.”

The first half-hour of Prime Time is dedicated to enjoying the meal, and the rest is for books. At every session, three books are sent home with the families to read, and then these books are discussed in the following meet-up. Alison Fraiman, a Grass Lake teacher, facilitates the discussions. Fraiman said, “Each week there is a theme, and we do not come right out and tell the families what the theme is, so the questions I ask help them find that connecting idea between the books. We are trying to encourage parents to read with their children, and be able to ask questions that make them think deeper about the stories.”

Noelia Lozano-Sanchez, a fourth-grader at Grass Lake, said, “I like when Mrs. Fraiman asks questions about the reading. They help me to imagine the themes we are discussing and experience the book in a new way.”

While the students and parents are involved in discussion, the siblings are invited into the Storytime Room to do an activity relating to a book they read.

Monica Sands, the Children’s Librarian at the Covington Library, said, “Families are reading together, and as more people are getting involved it is reaching beyond even just the families that are here. There is so much room for growth in this setting.”

Declassified GOP Memo Causes Controversy

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Recently, a GOP memo was released, accusing the FBI of abusing their authority in the investigation of Russian influence into President Trump’s campaign. The memo by Devin Nunes, a noted Republican, accuses the FBI of inappropriately relying on information from former British spy Christopher Steele, who was working on a project funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign, to attain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, suspected of being a Russian agent.

The memo goes on to argue that the Justice Department, in applying for said warrant, failed to mention that the information was based on Democrat funded research, a potential source of bias. It also mentions Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supported the renewal of the warrant after Trump took office.

It paints a compromising picture of a faulty surveillance warrant, flawed in its conception and application. Indignant, Democrats who reviewed the memo before its release said that details were cherry-picked to support the Republican agenda, according to The Washington Post.

There was much controversy surrounding the memo’s release, the FBI lobbying to keep the memo from being released before it was seen by both the FBI and the Justice Department. According to ABC, the FBI expressed ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,’ citing these reasons as justification to block the declassification.

As a response, the Democrats have put together their own 10-page memo they say refutes the arguments in the GOP memo by bringing forward details they accuse the Republicans had left out. However, the Republican majority has so far blocked attempts to release the Democratic memo with the GOP one.

The few Democrats allowed to view the memo before release have complained about structural changes to the memo between their review of it and its declassification, but the Republicans have responded by saying the only changes were minor grammar corrections and suggestions by the Democrats themselves; according to the New York Times, they called it strange that the Democrats were trying so hard to prevent the publishing of the memo.

This controversy over the GOP memo is a microcosm of the US government as a whole, representing the growing divide with the FBI and Justice Department on one side, and the White House and the Republican majority of Congress on the other.

FBI Releases Photo of Deceased Child for Identification

by Katie May – Staff Writer

According to NBC News, the boy was between the ages of three to four. Detective Banks told Dateline that “Little Jacob” had bruises and injuries of prior neglect and abuse.

Detective Jeff Banks said the boy did not have water in his lungs, meaning police believe the boy they’ve named ‘Little Jacob’ was dead before his body was dumped in the water(metro.co.uk). Nobody knows how the little boy died, all we know is he didn’t die from neglect, but he didn’t die from drowning either, because he was dead prior to being put into the water. ‘“Information obtained at autopsy shows that Little Jacob was deceased prior to going into the water and did not die as a result of drowning,”’ Detective Banks said, nbc news.

There have been many cases like this in the past. Another detective working on this case is Detective Lois Gibson, who has worked on six criminal cases like this in the past. One of them, “Baby grace” who he identified as, Riley Ann Sawyers; after her grandmother identified her. Riley was abused and died because of her two parents who were convicted of murder after giving this two-year-old an all-day punishment that included many violent.

The two cases are similar in that both children were brutally abused, except for one fact is that the autopsy for “Little Jacob” showed that the abuse was not fatal. meaning he did not die because of the abuse, according to nbc news. No one has yet been able to identify “Little Jacob”. The FBI and police depend on the public to bring justice and peace to the little boy and his family, ‘“It’s heartbreaking that no one has come forward to identify this boy or offer any clues as to what happened to him.”’, nbc news.

Flu Claims 150 Lives in Washington

by Nolan James – Staff Writer

People are dying from the flu. Over 150 people have died so far from the illness in Washington State alone. While the reports are constantly being updated, the last data published was from Feb. 3, in which there were 151 reported deaths from the influenza virus, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

According to this report, of the 151 individuals, no one between the ages of five and 24 have died from the virus. Nearly 80 percent of the individuals who have died were of the age group 65 and above, but officials say the disease can still be a threat to younger people, especially infants. Since 2010, in Washington, over 800 flu deaths have occurred.

Officials at the Washington State Department of Health state that the best way to protect yourself from disease is by getting vaccinated. However, in recent years vaccinations have become rather controversial. In regard to this controversy, The Department of Health has claimed, “hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines.”

Despite this claim, many individuals claim that vaccination can have damaging side effects. However, according to the Department of Health, the only side effects of the flu vaccine are that of “any medical product”, and can cause “soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot, headache, fever, nausea, muscle aches,” and sometimes fainting. They also mention, however, that a nerve-damaging disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), has been connected to the vaccine, though “fewer than 1 or 2 cases of GBS per one million people vaccinated” have been proven, and GBS “also, rarely, occurs after the flu illness.”

The Department of Health did give symptoms to look for, such as “a high fever, behavior changes, or signs of a severe allergic reaction.” They also said that “life threatening allergic

reactions to the flu shot are rare. These signs would most likely happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine is given.” Another worry addressed is that of whether the vaccine can give you the flu, which the Department of Health claims it cannot. They also say that anyone past 6 months of age should get an annual flu shot.

If cost is an issue, the vaccination is also free for children 18 and under. Other ways to protect yourself and others, according to the Department of Health, is to “covering you cough/proper hand washing and staying home from school or work when you are sick.”

Lunar Phenomenons Coincide for Rare Event

by Taylor Bailey – Staff Writer

All around the world, people will be able to witness the Moon go through four phenomena all on the day Jan 31 in a special event known as the Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. This strange event has not occurred in one hundred and fifty years.

As the name suggests, the Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse is the time when a Super-moon, a Blue moon, a Blood moon, and a Lunar Eclipse all happen within the same day, and on the 31 they happened at the same time.

The Super-moon, is a phenomenon when the moon looks very large in the sky, coinciding with the moon being the closest it can get to Earth with the occurrence of a new or full moon. The Blue moon is the second phenomenon by which the moon appears to have a bluish tint due to dust or smoke in the air. The Blood moon is the third phenomenon and it happens when the moon, in total eclipse looks to be red in its color as it illuminates by the sunlight, which is then filtered and arched to the Earth. Since the Blue moon and Blood moon occurred at the same time, the large moon, created by the Super-moon, had a bright orange look to it.

The final phenomenon was the eclipse which occurs when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, and on the 31, it was in darkness for one and a quarter hour.

Washington, being in the west, gave the perfect opportunity for people to witness this phenomenon, however, it was quite cloudy the night of the Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. “For the (continental) U.S., the viewing will be best in the West,” Gordon Johnston said, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.”

Band Accepted to Play in Portland

by Morgan Marko – Sports Editor

The band has recently gotten the news that they were accepted into the Grand Floral Parade at the Portland Rose Festival. This news was long awaited, as it took either two to three months to arrive. Cayla Dreisbach, a junior in band had a huge role in the outcome.

The tryouts for the competition involved a promotional video of the band, a few photos of the band, and drum majors. Dreisbach made a short compilation from 2014 to 2017 and sent it in for the promo video. Dreisbach said the wait was especially nerve wracking because, “I would have personally felt at great fault if we weren’t accepted, mainly because the promotional video I put together kind of determined our outcome.” Thanks to Dreisbach and all their hard work, the band made it in.

After a rough year last year, with the cancellation of the Victoria field trip, the band is pumped and ready to get back into the swing of parades. “our band wants to show everyone that we are strong and can come together to man an amazing sound no matter where we play.” Said Dreisbach

To ensure success the band needs to be “organized and ready to fire” said Dreisbach. It’s more than just the music that goes into the parade, costumes also play a key factor. Mr. Urmenita, the band instructor said, “[the band] needs to make sure they have something that puts them over the top, something different. We can’t play the marching band game, everyone’s got uniforms or a drum line, since we don’t have those things what do we have? We’ve got the costumes, we’ve got the custom music.”

With the competition set for June 9th, the band has lots of time to prepare. And there are a few things in mind, “Always the quality of sound, the marching, although that’s not a huge priority in our program. We’re more of a street brass band kind of thing. And definitely showman ship, I think high school kids like to be the center of attention as long as they’re not the center of attention.one you put eyes on ‘em every kid shuts down. We got to get more of that Johnny U inside of them, like the entire school’s looking at you and you’re still going to act like that. Over the top showman ship, it’s that big vibrato showmanship, without that you don’t have a show,” says Urmenita.

The theme for the Grand Floral Parade is Super Smash Brothers, and the band can’t wait to smash the competiton.

Yemen Faces Humanitarian Crisis

by Taylor Bailey – Staff Writer

The Republic of Yemen, is a country in the southern part of the Middle East near the Arabian Peninsula. The people of Yemen have been going through some harsh and terrifying situations recently. This is not only due to the actions of Saudi Arabia, but also due to the funding of The United States of America.

Saudi Arabia created a blockade that has made it nearly impossible for food and water to get to the civilians of Yemen. The blockade has halted humanitarian aid from reaching the people of Yemen. Because of this, the people of Yemen are starving.

Not only has Saudi Arabia been starving Yemen, they have also caused the worst outbreak of cholera in modern history and they are having a civil war with Yemen. Ever since 2014, when Houthi rebels of Yemen took control of the capital Sanaa, the military campaign has caused much suffering in Yemen.

Here is where the US comes in. During his presidency, Barack Obama decided to help Saudi Arabia with their civil war and start funding them. However, during his final days, President Obama did show some resentment by funding the war by stopping some intelligence sharing and postponing a key arms deal. However, since President Trump has come into office, he has been serious about funding Saudi Arabia’s war. Now there is more funding, arms, and logistical support going to Saudi Arabia. The war with Saudi Arabia has caused the deaths of over 5,000 deaths in Yemen.

While the war is hurting Yemen greatly, the blockade could be worse. Due to the blockade 80 percent of Yemen’s population has no access to food. The United Nations have estimated that 7 million out of the 28 million people in Yemen are facing famine. “That blockade has been partially wound down but not fully wound down. It needs to be fully wound down if we are to avoid an atrocious humanitarian tragedy involving the loss of millions of lives, the like of which the world has not seen for many decades,” said U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock.

If the funding doesn’t stop, if the war doesn’t stop, and if the blockade doesn’t get removed, the people of Yemen have some painful times ahead of them.

Israeli Activist Arrested After Video Goes Viral

by Cooper Lewis – Photographer

The last couple of years have been booming with human rights activists blowing up on social media. Platforms like twitter and Instagram have spread the word about thousands of problems through out the world and the people standing up against them. This time the activist was 16 year old Ahed Tamimi.

A video of Tamimi has gone viral of Tamimi slapping and kicking a guard standing outside her house, after the guards forced themselves into her home and shot her brother. After the video had spread through Israeli media, people had started calling for her arrest. A few days later soldiers had evaded the Tamimi household at three in the morning and brutally arrested Ahed Tamimi, while flipping the house upside down.

Ahed wasn’t the only one to receive a punishment for this though. Her father, Bassem Tamimi, was arrested at her court trial, her mother and cousin who where both featured in the video got arrested later that morning. Ahed’ s detention was lengthened 10 more days. Ahed currently has 12 charges against her ranging from throwing rocks at soldiers to kicking and hitting them.

This isn’t Tamimi’s first time going viral on the internet. In 2012 Tamimi was recorded throwing rocks at a soldier after they had arrested her older brother, then again three years later biting and slapping a soldier who had tried to take his little brother. Tamimi is seen as a unique symbol in the middle east, being a light skin, light eyes, and light hair, she has stood up for much of her and others rights.

“We are proud of our daughter, Nour, who has been raised to resist the occupation and the injustice, an extension of her parents and grandparents, and take pride in her struggle against this terrorist state, and we warn these thugs not to touch or endanger her.” Said Bassem Tamimi. Her father who is also a human rights activist and has planned and been apart of many protests. Bassem Tamimi is proud of her daughter and the path for justice and basic human rights she has pursued.

Devestating Amtrak Train Crashes Near Tacoma

by Jillian Felker – Entertainment Editor

“It felt like the end of the world, and I was standing amid the wreckage,” Said Emma Shafer, a 20-year-old modern-dance student who was aboard the train, which carried approximately 77 people and 7 crew members. Amtrak Train No. 501 began its new route on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 from Seattle down to Portland, but this ride took an extreme turn of events.

While turning over an overpass at 7:30 a.m. south of Tacoma, about halfway to Olympia, when a passenger train jumped the tracks landing onto busy southbound lanes along I-5, two passenger coaches also fell partly onto the lanes, killing six and injuring at least 100 others. All 12 of the train’s coaches and one of its engines derailed on the turn. The train carried approximately 77 people and 7 crew members

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that the train was traveling at a speed of over three times its regulated limit, 80 MPH, far over its regulated limit of 30 MPH on the turn. It was reportedly unclear as to of why the train was traveling at this speed during the time. The tracks on which the train had derailed were practically brand new, constructed from a recent investment program, which Wa. State approximately $180 mil. to pay for.

Following the crash, attorneys for one of the conductors, who was aboard the train to observe the new faster bypass track on Dec. 18th when it crashed in Pierce County, have filed a suit against Amtrak. This suit filed on Jan. 3rd, which claimed that he has suffered from emotional shock, rib and hip injuries, as well as severe pain, is only one of the man claims and lawsuits to come following the crash, and was the second one filed on the same day.

Young Iranians Dissatisfied with Government

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Since Dec. 28, the people of Iran have been protesting the lack of economic opportunity, high prices of food and fuel, Iranian involvement in the Middle East, and the government as a whole.

President Hassan Rouhani outlined a plan during his election bid to boost the economy. However, with average Iranians not feeling the benefits of his economic agenda because they deal with growing inflation, unemployment, and restriction of their freedoms, they arranged protests.

Alireza Nader, an international policy analyst, said to CNN why the people are protesting, “The government is viewed as highly corrupt, increasing inequality is seen by the population as really a form of injustice.”

Most protesters that were arrested had been from low income families and were between 18 and 35 years old.

A South Asia and Middle East expert for the Washington-based Middle East Institute said to RadioFreeEurope, “Young Iranians hold higher expectations…and aspire to more freedoms and opportunities…they are deeply frustrated with economic and political stagnation in the country, and do not see the ruling political establishment as capable of addressing their needs.”

The protests spread to more than 80 cities and towns around Iran. They were the largest protests in Iran since 2009. More than 42,000 people took part in the protests. Around 3,700 people were arrested for their participation in the anti-government protests.

The Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafaari Dolatabadi said to the Mehr news agency, “More than 440 people who were arrested in Tehran riots have been released.”

The protests resulted in at least 25 deaths. Most killed were protestors, however some were security guards trying to keep control during the protests. At least 2 deaths occurred while in police custody.

Although the protests have ended, Siavush Randjbar-Daemi, a lecturer in Iranian history at Britain’s University of Manchester said to NBC news, “I do not think the feeling of dissent toward the regime and level of disgust for the political and economic situation has gone away.”