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.”

New KSD Technology Aims to Promote Learning

by Symantha Edwards – Staff Writer

As our world progresses each day, the push for new technology is affecting the way we travel, the way we communicate and now, the way we learn. Schools all over America are pushing for technology advances, and schools right here in Kent are no different. 14 million computers are already available at different school across the countries, but Patrick Regnart, former principal at Neely O’brien and current director of technology for the Kent school district, disagrees that computers are as essential as we make them seem.

While an advocate for technology being available to students, Regnart noticed the effect typing had on the overall thinking process of his students. He watched younger students struggle with keyboards so much that they could barely articulate the thoughts they were trying to express. “Technology allows us to do more in less time, but it does not always foster learning,” said Regnart. “If we want students to synthesize material, draw inferences, see new connections, evaluate evidence and apply concepts, we need fewer gigs — more brain power.”

The solution to this dilemma? Convertible laptops, similar to tablets. With these devices, students can still type, but are also enabled to draw directly on the screen with a stylus or make handwritten notes in the margins of articles. Many studies have shown that writing further helps students to retain and understand information more than typing ever has.

Along with all of the above-mentioned benefits, the tablets will reduce sheets of paper getting lost and mangled in students backpacks.

About 900 tablets were distributed to Kent elementary schools this past November and plans to distribute more in the next couple years are in place.

As new technology advances, school wills try to keep up to better our leaning experience, and that is positive change.

Iceland Takes Action Against Pay Inequality

by Megan Monahan – Staff Writer

Iceland’s taking a leap forward for women’s equality by making it illegal to underpay woman with a possible fine of five hundred dollars to any company who does.

Worldwide many are applauding Iceland for becoming the First Country in the World to require equal pay for women. This plan has been coming to action since March of 2017 with Iceland’s Prime Minister Bjarni Bendeiktsson stating on last years International Women’s Day that, “Gender quality benefits all of us.” The law is the first of its kind at the National level and applies to all countries with more than 25 employees. Companies must undergo certification every three years to ensure that their pay policies follow the rules. “There is a standard which we have already taken up,” said Bendeiktsson, “but not all are following it.”

Many are speaking up about the new legislation praising Iceland for its step toward women’s equality. American tennis player Billie Jean King stated that, “Iceland again leading in the quality movement. A new Female Prime Minister, and a Parliament where nearly half of its members are women. Equal representation benefits everyone!” King is not the only one praising Iceland’s efforts. CEO Sam Smethers, a women’s rights supporter said that equal pay “isn’t just about women’s interests.” She emphasized that “Holding women back holds our economy back. Tackling gender inequality and discrimination is good for business and for all of us.”

The United States is trying to follow in Iceland’s footsteps and is attempting to close the wage gap. Some of these attempts have been successful, however the wage gap still remains wide. In January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the most recent date showed that women were still earning “83 percent of men’s median weekly earnings,” which is a point two percent increase from 2012. The only state that is taking strong effort in trying to close the wage gap is Minnesota. Minnesota has its own gender pay equity law that has been in place since December 31, 2012, however it is yet to prove a major difference in the wage gap.

Walt Disney: Master Animator, or Copycat Extraordinaire?

by Elizabeth Gerken – Staff Writer

Walt Disney; just the mere mention of his name conjures vivid and colorful images of the princesses, castles and talking animals we all know and love from our childhood. His influence on the film industry can be seen everywhere, especially in the modern format for western film which essentially copies the format of his earlier works. However, that magical castle Disney rules is built on a foundation of shady marketing and stolen ideas, most of which have flown under the radar of the general public for far too long.

Disney is not a demon for his copycat tendencies, but it should be recognized that he was not very original in his lifetime. For example, only 5 out of the 19 movies he made in his lifetime were original. Everything else was based off of children’s books or old fairytales that he made more appropriate for his young audience. This fact is even more shocking when you realize that almost all of the originals were complete box office flops or were not even released in theaters.

The one success from the original movies was Fantasia, but it was a critical flop directly after its release in 1940 that almost drove the company into bankruptcy and tarnished Disney’s reputation with critics who enjoyed his pre-established mold of unoriginal fairytales. The only other originals with revenue information available are Melody Time which was released in 1948 made 1.85 million us dollars, and Make Mine Music, released in 1946, made 2.25 dollars. These numbers seem small initially but appear even smaller when you realize that these were all off rentals of the movies years after they came out. Now the more popular but unoriginal movies like Snow White made 418 million dollars at the box office from its 1938 release. This massive jump in revenue may be the driving reason for Disney making unoriginal content; everybody knows the story of Snow White and will go see a movie on it but nobody knows the stories of movies like Melody Time because its new and so they wont want to go see it.

Wanting to make money is something that is seen in every facet of life, so Disney wanting to is nothing new and, while him making primarily unoriginal content is not the most respectable thing, it is understandable. The thing that is harder to understand and by far the most unacceptable is one of his major claims to fame: that he was the first to make animation with synchronized sound. This is an outright lie that few people know. The pioneers of sound animation were Max and Dave Fleisher, two brothers from New York running their own animation studio. They are the ones responsible for characters like Betty Boop and Popeye. Although these characters were their big success, their biggest accomplishment was the creation of Song Car-Tunes. Song Car-Tunes were a series of “follow the bouncing ball” style sing-along animations that ran from May 1924 to September 1927. Steamboat Mickey, the supposed original sound animation, was released in November of 1928, over a year after the final Song Car-Tune was released. Disney was able to propel his animation into the spotlight by convincing news outlets to call his the first and not mention the Fleisher’s at all. This shady business worked, leaving Disney with the fame and the Fleisher brothers buried under him in animation history.

Overall, he is not a monster, but he was not a hero either. The combination of unoriginal content and aggressive marketing practices make his good reputation as a filmmaker questionable. He will forever be an icon of animation and a household name across the world but that does not mean that how he became that should be hidden.

Newest Tax Reform a Huge Blow for Working Americans

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

On December 22, 2017, President Trump held and emergency bill signing in order to sign the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. This bill cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, effective in 2018. The seven income tax brackets stay, but the rates of each bracket are lowered, the individual tax rate drops to 37%, it doubles the standard deduction, eliminates personal exemptions, and repeals the estate tax. These individual tax changes expire in 2025, but the corporate tax cut is permanent. This is an outraging piece of legislature to be passed at a time like this. To be middle class you should be making $200-250k a year, and the majority of America makes around $100k or less. This bill is going to cripple the middle class while handing huge tax cuts to billionaires and corporations, so that they can stack their money higher and watch the rest of America suffer.

Tax reform is incredibly complicated, and the details of this bill are still being analyzed by the media, but the changes listed are the main tenants of the bill, and create the problem we’ve had in this country with trickle-down economics for the better part of 30 years. Corporations, when given tax cuts and subsidies, do not invest in their employees. Some may invest in some new factories or a new department, but the wealthiest corporations in this nation have the finances to do that whenever they want. One part of this legislature about business that sticks out is that it allows companies to repatriate the collective $2.6 trillion they have held in foreign stockpiles, at a one-time tax rate of 15.5% on funds and 8% the value of physical equipment. This type of ‘tax holiday’ was administered in 2004, and was measured to have not done much to boost the economy. Most companies were reported as distributing repatriation checks to their shareholders, rather their employees, in order to boost investment and increase their stock value. This is the same thing they do with the cuts to their actual tax rate. They may invest a little in employees as PR, to keep enough of the public divided on whether or not trickle-down works, and then they send the rest to their shareholders and executives. This goes to show how we’ve seen this same legislature tried multiple times in recent history, seen it not work, and continued to do it.

To focus a little closer on the legislation for individuals, the Tax Policy Center broke down the bill and determined that it helps higher-income families disproportionately more than the rest. Families and individuals in the lowest-earning fifth of the population would see a .4% income increase. Those in the next highest fifth would see a 1.2% boost, then a 1.6% and 1.9% for the next two-fifths. The highest-earning fifth would receive a 2.9% income boost, which is not where the money needs to be going. This isn’t a tax cut for the working class citizen, it’s a boost to the already thriving members of society. Additionally, the budget-conscious party added $1.5 trillion to the national debt, while creating $700 billion in growth due to the repeal of the ACA individual mandate, which will throw 13 million people off of health insurance because they no longer receive the necessary subsidies needed. This will hike health insurance costs because less people will be able to afford care until they need emergency care, which is exponentially more expensive than preventative care. The U.S. Treasury, which is still a partisan bureaucracy, claims that this bill will bring in $1.8 trillion in new revenue, under the assumption that Trump passes his infrastructure spending plans, deregulation, welfare reform, and other of his promises. In reality, this number is pure speculation, given the current turbulent path of our Commander-in-Chief and his agenda. Given that this revenue is over 10 years, and we already have $20 trillion of debt, it isn’t going to fix the immediate problem of hitting the debt ceiling.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a disgrace to modern democracy and the rights of people to have a fair shot at earning a living and providing for their families. It gives corporations and rich elites more fiscal power that they don’t need, so they can sit on the money that the common man is sacrificing so much to try to attain. Eugene V. Debs once said, “Those who produce should have, but we know that

those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.” These words couldn’t be truer of today’s world. I’m not advocating for communism or total wealth sharing, but oligarchy and social democracy can’t coexist, and for some reason people think they can.

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.

The School System Has Screwed Me Over

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

When I think back to my freshman year and what I learned, all that comes to mind is a blank, fuzzy screen, and a small, broken voice that rasps, “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. I think I just remember that because at one time it was a meme. This, academically, is the only small morsel of knowledge that comes to mind when I think back to those nervous, fidgety 180 days of my life.

I have some qualms with the school system.

The system teaches a twisted and useless version of success. To fulfill its demands, you are taught to retain knowledge only for as long as it is relevant—and that is often the day of the test. After the test is over, the information no longer serves you, and so it is gone in a puff of smoke.

Do not fear; you got an A. It does not matter that you only have a vague recollection of the knowledge you used to recite in your sleep three days ago, because you have achieved success. Now, pat yourself on the back and move onto your next fruitless venture.

In this way, the system promotes a careless, uniform, and mundane society. If success ends at personal gain in the form of a few chicken-scratched A’s on your papers, nothing will ever change or grow. Interest in others, the world around us, and passions that you have not explored, will fade.

The kids who will grow up to drive change are not the “school-system-success-stories”, but those who have the courage to write their own purpose and definition of accomplishment. They have not allowed the system to limit them, and constantly work outside of the box. They have pursued what they are passionate about, even if this means pushing aside the system does not inspire them.

The things we remember are the things we care about. Whether that be anthropology, agriculture, or archaeology, if you are passionate about it, it will stick with you.

This is where the school system needs to step up. If I’m not passionate about it, I can try my very hardest to care, but the burden should not be all on the students to desperately try to make long-term meaning out of heaps of information. Teachers need to teach beyond the test, and to do that, the state needs to lighten the burden and stress of standardized testing.

If you do not pass the SBA, you cannot graduate. Those are high stakes. Teachers should be given the freedom to explore and experiment with what works for the long-term benefit of students, without fear that they are withholding knowledge that could keep students from the supposed end-all—graduation.

The Kent School District boasts, “Successfully preparing all students for their futures” on their many domains. Is this true if I graduate uninspired, directionless, with little to show for twelve years of my life except for a transcript of my apparent “success” or “failure”?

Be Selfish; It’s Okay

by Madison Marko – Head Photographer

You follow the man as he pursues his ambitions, chase after the woman who has promised you her love later, and follow your heart to the edge. You jump off—for the goodwill of another. At the bottom you are a pile of crumbled bones, a pool of flesh, and a mumbling mouth that says, “I am quite alright.” But, forever will you bear scars from all the times you put another before yourself.

We need to put ourselves first.

Placing societal standards above yourself is damaging. I discovered this in my youth—trying desperately to uphold the ideals that were “acceptable” in my schoolmates’ eyes. I would repeat their jokes in my head, trying to find the humor that seemed so nonexistent. I wore basketball shorts every day of my life. I tried to fulfill an image that did not match who I wanted to be. Then, sophomore year rolled around and I decided I was fed up. Done with trying to be social when I knew I was perfectly antisocial! Done with wearing what other people wore! Done with putting other people’s ideals above my happiness and desired image!

Secondly, regret will come if you do things to please someone else. Until you realize that you are worth more than what tries to confine you, soul-searching and decision making may be hard. This year, I decided to do cross country instead of volleyball. I recognized my passion for running, but I struggled with decision making. There was social approval in volleyball; the crowd of fellow students and the games, and the posters slung up around the halls. The bit of me still leeching on a desire for acceptance craved this. Was it what I truly wanted? Cross country seemed to be a team full of passionate, diverse, and hardworking people—the kind of company I always admired. Now that the season is over, I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t joined.

Lastly, if you are nt looking after yourself, no one else will. Society is selfish and egotistical. I see it at school all the time. I’m struggling, while the person next to me is soaring through each problem. I stare at them; a jealous, empty-handed kid gazing at the child across the street grasping a lollipop. But there are no licks off the lollipop-of-knowledge for me. I must hit the books myself—or else I will be left to wallow in a pit of helplessness.

Be a selfish bastard; put yourself above social standards, pleasing others, and the single-mindedness of society. Once you have what you need for yourself, you can then make the conscious decision to turn around and give to others.

Pro Versus Cons: Donald Trump’s First Year

by Nicholas Shepard – Staff Writer

Month Achievement Failure

January Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who would be seated with a vote of 54-45 on April 7th. The highly anticipated travel ban, which barred entry to the U.S. from immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries, was blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.

February Trump spoke to a joint session of congress on February 28th, which some saw as a successful attempt to unite the country while also pushing his own agenda. Michael Flynn, the shortest-serving National Security advisor in the post’s history, resigned after 24 days following reports he had lied to Vice President Pence about meetings with Russians he’d had.

March Officially proclaimed March, 2017, as Women’s History Month The doomed GOP healthcare plan is revealed by House Republicans on March 6th.

April Trump’s supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is confirmed following a vicious fight and rule change by Senate Republicans. A PR failure more than anything else, Trump launched a missile strike in Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad, prompting outrage from not just liberal doves but also conservatives who claimed it was against Trump’s America First message.

May On the flip side, those in Trump’s loyal 35% base saw Comey’s firing as an important step towards shutting down the false and phony Democratic hoax of the Russia investigation. On May 9th, Trump orders the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which only darkened the cloud of possible collusion with Russia over his administration, prompting accusations of obstruction of justice and the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia investigation.

June Fulfilling a big campaign promise, Trump begins the process of pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which he touted as a waste of trillions of American taxpayer dollars towards a fake cause. Comey testified before the Senate on June 7th, calling out the White House for “lies, plain and simple”, and saying he was fired with the intention of obstructing the investigation.

July Trump’s appearance at the G20 summit in Germany is widely Information on the now-infamous June 2016 meeting

seen as a successful first meeting for him with many world leaders. with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. came to light, wherein Trump Jr. was to find dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians. In July also came the killing of the GOP healthcare plan at the hands of loyal Republican John McCain, and a mass exodus of White House staff.

August Trump, in visiting hurricane-ravaged Texas, is seen as more presidential than he had yet, and his approval ratings saw a bump. Trump fails to condemn the neo-Nazis responsible for the death of a counter-protestor in Charlottesville, prompting bipartisan outrage and rebuke of him.

September Fulfilling to his base some of his rhetoric against immigrants, Trump announces that he will end DACA in six months unless congress comes up with a solution. Again on the flip side, Trump gets backlash for his decision on DACA by many prominent Democrats and Republicans, such as Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

October Trump begins the fulfillment of another campaign promise, the “ripping up” of the Iran Deal, by not re-certifying the deal and, once again, kicking the can to congress. On October 30th, former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are indicted by Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, appearing to bring the revelation of collusion one step closer.

November Trump visits multiple Asian nations in a 12-day trip, intending to raise pressure against North Korea’s nuclear program and push for more intense sanctions from all countries. On the election off-year, state legislatures and governorships are swept up in the “Blue Wave”, which many saw as a rebuke against Trump’s first year to date.

December On December 15th, Trump signs the GOP tax plan into law, which passed in the senate 51-48, with no Democratic support. This is the first major legislative victory in Trump’s first year, and the first major change in the U.S. tax code since the Reagan administration. On December 12th, Trump-backed Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore loses to Democrat Doug Jones in an Alabama special election, due to massive Democratic turnout in another stunning rebuke of the President.