Category Archives: Harris Yun

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.

Seattle’s Drink Tax Unfairly Targets the Poor

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Recently in Seattle, a tax was proposed and accepted that would add an extra cost to sweetened beverages. Under the tax, any sweetened beverage imported into Seattle for retail sale will be charged an extra $.0175 per ounce, unless the manufacturer grosses under $5 million globally, in which case they are charged a lower rate or exempted from the tax altogether.

The law defines a sweetened beverage as any liquid substance intended for human consumption with something in the drink that adds both calories and is perceived by humans as sweet. The tax is only on distributors who purchase the drinks for retail sale, because lawmakers do not want the consumer or small businesses who sell these drinks to pick up the cost of the tax. However, this is a moot point, as distributors will push the extra costs onto retailers, who in turn push those extra costs onto consumers. The way it looks right now, the tax can have one of two outcomes. The first (and much less likely) outcome would be the tax actually discouraging people from purchasing these drinks, promoting public health. With average price per ounce of these drinks, the tax would increase the cost of them by around 70% or more. This large increase would seem like it would stop people buying these unhealthy drinks, but the reality is much more likely to be far from that outcome.

The fact of the matter is, people like soda too much. Sugary drinks are an addiction in today’s America. If anything, this tax will function much like a cigarette tax – it might stop people from starting the cycle of sugary drink addiction, but will not do anything for the people currently drinking soda more than they drink water. If anything, this will only hurt the poor more than they already are being hurt by various taxes around Seattle. It is a proven statistic that poorer families consume more soda on average than a richer family, and this tax will provide corporations a larger excuse to charge more on things that they know are basically unavoidable costs for people. This tax might have started out with good intentions, but now it seems like the only reason it exists is to allow corporations to suck more money out of the lower class in Seattle.

Make it Past January: How to Keep your New Years Resolution?

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Every new year, we have a tradition of making goals for ourselves that we want to achieve throughout or by the end of the brand new year. Usually it’s something we’d always wanted to do but never had the excuse to start, like going to the gym, or eat healthier. Other times it’s large lifestyle changes, such as going vegan or ‘stop procrastinating so much’. The one thing all of these have in common, though, is the fact that by Valentines day, over 80% of us fail to keep these resolutions.

With that in mind, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to switch from unachievable, oft-forgotten resolutions to more realistic, easily fulfilled resolutions. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, set up easier resolutions. Waking up 5 minutes earlier every day because you’re always late to class is much more realistic than raising all your grades to an A. Going to the gym more isn’t only the most failed resolution – it’s also extremely vague. Try walking for 30 minutes twice a week; it’s both easier and much more specific. Realistic resolutions are much more likely to have an actual impact on your new year, and they feel so much better because you know that yes, you actually can do this, and yes, you absolutely will.

Start 2018 right. Don’t make an impossible to achieve resolution, and instead start the year out positively. Push back against the global climate of negativity threatening to sweep over the nation and accomplish something this year.

Voices of Victims: The Social Revolution Sweeping the Nation Hits Alarmingly Close to Home for Students

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Reading about sexual harassment in the news, it seems so far away. A distant crime that, while horrible, could never happen here at Kentlake – but it can. Even worse, it has.

Sexual harassment is defined as “harassment in a professional or social situation involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.” It is not just limited to inappropriate contact, but even extremely lewd remarks fall under this umbrella of sexual harassment. School is the last place anybody should feel unsafe, but unfortunately, it does happen.

It is so common, in fact, that you probably personally know someone who has been harassed. It is not just limited to women; anybody can be a victim. The thing is, everybody is too scared or ashamed to talk about it – and for good reason.

In today’s high school culture, it is seen as an embarrassment to be sexually harassed. In the commons, you hear students talking about rumors of people being harassed, you see people getting catcalled, and people don’t do anything about it. It’s so ingrained in our society as the normal way of things that people are afraid to ‘make waves’ and come forward with accusations or evidence. And, when they finally work up the nerve to say something, the knee jerk reaction some people have is to get angry about them coming forward, accusing the victims of seeking attention.

To truly fight this growing tide of sexual harassment, we need to foster a safer environment. We need to reduce the stigma of being harassed. A victim is not less of a person for being a victim. Kentlake should be a place where anyone can talk about sensitive subjects without being a target of ridicule.

New Apple Emoji Signals Nationwide Acceptance

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

Apple recently released the list of new emojis to be added in their next iOS update, iOS 11.1. Included on the list is the return of the vomit emoji, which was removed early last year (to much dismay), and the introduction of what people are already calling the ‘Colbert emoji’, a face with one eyebrow raised in classic Stephen Colbert fashion. Other emoji added include a T. rex, the orange heart, and ‘I love you’ in sign language. Most important, however is the inclusion of three gender-neutral emoji and a woman wearing a hijab.

As America becomes increasingly divided, this is extremely important. Islamophobia is at an all time high, and the transgender question is slowly becoming more and more relevant on the country’s social agenda. With the recent ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, it’s more important than ever that we as a country show our support for those who struggle with their gender identity. Similarly, while attitudes towards muslims are gradually becoming more and more extreme, in some cases even inciting hate crimes, the inclusion of a hijab-wearing woman is an encouraging signal that muslims are slowly becoming more integrated into American society and are being seen as part of America, instead of temporarily-sheltered strangers.

Some people might scoff, asking “what’s the big deal? They are just pictures…” but in reality, this is extremely important. Sure, they might be small symbols that people probably will not ever use, but the fact that they have even been included is a strong signal that America is finally ready to accept these often marginalized groups. They are pushing the idea that muslim and transgender individuals are part of mainstream society, and that they should be included in everything, even something as small as a choice of what emoji you use in a small text message. It is not a big step, but it is a step in the right direction – an America where everybody is treated equally, not just in theory, but in reality.

Respecting the Flag: Pro vs. Con

by Joshua Manning and Harris Yun – Staff Writers

Con

Respecting the flag is something that in my opinion is very poorly defined. What exactly does it mean to disrespect the flag? Why does the flag deserve our undying respect? Why is it looked down on to not respect a piece of cloth? Well, most would argue that the flag represents something more than just a cloth, it represents the nation and everyone who has fought for it. In that case, the question of “should we respect the flag?” turns into the question “should we respect the nation?”. Well that depends on what you mean by respect, if by respect you mean having sympathy for all the causes of the nation no matter what, then you can count me out and here is why.

There is no set of beliefs, ideas, or organizations that are granted special privilege and are exempt from criticism. The nation itself doesn’t have the right to not be questioned and it most certainly shouldn’t expect that from citizens who are granted the right to freedom of thought and expression through its government. The nation’s ideals can and should be brought into question by the public, that is how we start new conversations about how our legislature should and shouldn’t change. How are we supposed to know if people are unhappy with current laws and regulations if all we see is everyone showing unquestioned loyalty towards the nation and what it stands for.

The recent case of athletes kneeling during the national anthem is a prime example of people using symbolic speech (something that is protected by the first amendment) to raise awareness of issues they have with the nation in which they are affected by. Kneeling during the anthem is a perfectly safe and valid way of protesting a set of ideas which they feel haven’t properly represented their best interests. Collin Kaepernick for instance kneeled because he feels as though police brutality is currently a huge issue which the government has not done much about and he wanted to bring attention to that through symbolic speech of kneeling during the anthem.

It should not be considered taboo to criticize your own country, in fact it should be the norm. Criticizing something means you have legitimate concerns about it and, most importantly, shows that you care about it. Too often I see the conflation of ideas and beliefs with people, and they are not the same thing. Nations and the things they stand for (their ideas) are not people, they don’t have the right to not be harshly criticized, quite the opposite in fact. We should criticize the nation and what it stands for if we feel we have legitimate concerns. If we do not raise our voice then our problems with the nation in which we are a part and therefore directly affects us will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes and our right to freedom of speech will have been utterly wasted.

Pro

There has been some recent controversy over football players kneeling during the national anthem. Some people feel like disrespecting the flag and what it stands for is the best way to speak out against the issues that people in America face today. This, however, both misrepresents the stance of the people who do not respect the flag and overall further fractures the country.

The flag represents more than the current country – it represents the ideals the country was founded upon. You might not agree with the current president’s policies, or the laws in this country, or who enforces those laws, but the flag is something above; it is the ideal image of equality and just treatment. By not showing proper respect for it, someone gives off the impression that they do not agree with those ideals, not merely the way the government chooses to interpret those ideals; the ideals that all men (and women) are created equal, that everybody has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Furthermore, this is unnecessarily fracturing the country when unity is needed most. In order to fight the injustices that people are facing, we need to unify, not divide. The 60s civil rights movement would not have been possible without unity on the side of the protesters. The only way they were able to right the injustices they saw in the system was to unify behind a cohesive message, with clearly defined goals. Not respecting the flag is both highly divisive and does not send a clear message. There are those who are on the fence, and this only hurts the cause by creating more confusion and driving them away.

I respect people’s right to free speech, and by no means am I telling them that they should be punished for this, or that this should be illegal; merely saying that those who wish to unify the country against these issues would be better served by making a public statement instead of spitting in the symbol of the very ideals they wish was a reality.

Culminating Project a Hassle For Seniors

stressed student

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

As seniors enter their (hopefully) final year of highschool, there is plenty enough hanging over them. However, one thing stands out in particular – the culminating project. It is supposed to represent the final ‘culmination’ of our high school experience and learning, and prepare us for life after government-mandated education. While well-intentioned, however, this is an outdated and frankly, ridiculous requirement for graduation.

Ask any senior in the halls, and they will tell you that the culminating project sucks. It constantly hovers over us, and it is incredibly stressful. It is a project that we have to complete in order to graduate, and most of us do not really see the point. Sure, the whole thing takes only about a week to do (minus the community service), but in the end, it is a week of wasted time; time that could be used to actually prepare seniors for the ‘real world’.

In reality, the culminating project is kind of outdated. Every year, more and more seniors by the time they graduate either already have a job or are not planning to get one anytime soon, in which case the culminating project loses its purpose. In addition, the project pushes us towards college, even if we do not really want to go. In fact, in recent years, the amount of students who go to college without really knowing what they wanted to do, only going because they were told it was the right choice, has risen dramatically. This, obviously, is problematic.

Past that, there are better ways to prepare students for life after high school than a mandatory project. The resources spent on presenting and evaluating the project could instead be put towards a class on budgeting, or changing the project altogether into something that would actually prepare us for the world of bills and taxes in life after we move out of our parents’ houses. In fact, instead of using countless hours of homeroom time (something that has also been shortened) for this outdated project, you could use that time to teach students real life skills.

Sure, the community service is nice for getting students to connect with their community, but the fact of the matter is that either people will do the bare minimum required to graduate, or get over 50 hours a year – there is basically no in-between.

In the end, though, the culminating project is a ridiculous requirement for graduation and does not help students for life after high school at all – and we need to either change it, or get rid of it altogether.

Islamophobia still Present in America Today

by Harris Yun – Staff Writer

America is no stranger to prejudice. Ever since the conception of our country there has always been a group of people that gets oppressed and hated, for no reason other than the idea that they challenge the status quo. As a Muslim myself, you can believe me when I say that these days, that group is Muslims, and it is just as damaging to the country as when that group was African-Americans.

Post-9/11, Muslim discrimination was at an all time high, but over the past decade, it has slowly been ebbing away. However, in the past year, a huge resurgence can be seen. Thanks to things like the recent travel ban, which aimed to prevent people from mostly Muslim countries from traveling into America, or President Trump’s actively hostile stance towards Islam, America is slowly working itself back into a frenzy of Islamophobia and all the horrible things that happen as a result.

No matter where you look, there is rampant prejudice against Muslims. Online, you just have to look at any news article that even mentions them, and you’ll see hundreds of comments raving about Muslims and how they need to be ‘dealt with’ – for example, on articles about the recent bombing of a mosque in Minnesota you can find comments in the vein of “I hope it was full of Muslim trash” and “Burn em ALL!!!!!!”

This hate is not just confined to the internet. All over the US, Islamophobia has led to thousands of people protesting the spread of Islam, even in places as liberal as Seattle; several demonstrations at mosques in the past three months turned violent, forcing police officers to use pepper spray to break up the crowds. They cite the reason that they “don’t want America to be taken over by Sharia law”, but that is not what most American Muslims want, either. Most are refugees from the turmoil in the Middle East, escaping the so-called ‘Sharia law’ implemented by ISIL and other similar groups – the last thing they want is for it to come to America, the land where anyone can do anything. The real reason they protest is because they want somebody to blame, some group they can point their fingers at and say ‘Look at them – they’re the problem.’ Even here, in the Kentlake area, when my family members go out with their hijab on they get strange looks filled with suspicion and fear, and once we even got outright told that we do not belong here, that ‘our people’ are the reason America is facing all the problems it is today.

However, wherever there is hatred, there are people fighting against it. The vocal minority, however vocal they may be, will always be a minority. A few outspoken critics should not, can not, be taken as representative of America as a whole. If you are truly an American, you will understand that Americans come from many diverse backgrounds, and trying to exclude a group of people just because they have differing religious beliefs is not just rude, it’s downright unpatriotic. Represent our country, stand in the face of prejudice, and support your Muslim countrymen and women.