Bald Eales Return to Long Island

A bald eagle (not on Long Island)

For a long time, bald eagles were a rare sight on Long Island. But recently, more and more of these majestic birds have been showing up here, mirroring an increased eagle populations all over the country.

Bald Eagles used to be common all over the country, but by the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs left in the lower 48 states. This was due to the pesticide DDT, which caused eagle’s eggs to become extremely brittle and make them break easily, making it almost impossible for eagles to reproduce. DDT was banned in 1972, which has led to a massive recovery of the bald eagle population. Now there are well over 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in America’s lower 48!

In 1972, there was only one nesting pair of bald eagles left in NY state. In 1975, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation introduced nearly 200 bald eagles from Alaska and other states to New York, but all of these either nested upstate or left New York entirely.It was only in the last decade or so that bald eagles began to nest on Long Island again.

During last year’s breeding season, there were several bald eagle nests on Long Island, including on Gardiner’s Island, in Shirley, Centerport, and Hempstead Lake State Park. There was even one in Great Neck!

Next time you’re outside and find yourself near a river or lake, keep an eye out for an eagle, because you might just see one!

Trump orders missile strike on Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack earlier this month.

On Saturday April 7th, dozens of people died in a chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, Syria. Blood and urine samples from the attack tested positive for the use of chemical weapons.

The samples collected indicated the use of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent. Although U.S. officials weren’t 100% certain, they said they were confident with these findings as the Assad regime is known to have stocks of the nerve agent sarin, and has in the past used both sarin and chlorine gas in their attacks. Despite all of these findings, Russia and Syria both have denied any involvement in the attacks.

U.S. missile viewed from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In response to the attacks, U.S. President, Donald Trump, alongside France and the United Kingdom, ordered the U.S. military to launch missile strikes on Syria, intending to hit sites “associated with the chemical weapons capabilities”.

On Saturday at the emergency meeting held by the U.N. Security Council, President Putin reiterated Russia’s belief that the chemical attack in Syria was a fake. Putin criticized the U.S. and its allies for launching the missile strike too soon after the attack without the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sending their inspectors to verify the facts around the attack.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. and its allies struck multiple targets involved with Syria’s chemical weapons program. Dunford explained that the U.S. identified specific targets to limit civilian casualties, damage to unrelated structures, and “the risk of Russian forces being involved.”

In a series of tweets, Trump criticized both Russia and Iran, saying “[They] are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.”

Trump’s decision to launch a military strike on Syria after a chemical attack is nothing new. Last year on April 6th, Trump launched multiple military strikes on Syrian airfields in response to attacks allegedly containing chlorine gas, as well as the nerve agent sarin.

Hicksville Middle School Students Face Possibility of Consequences After Walk Out

It does not seem that the Hicksville Public School District is very supportive of the nation-wide walk out that took place on March 14th. For example, there was an event that went on in Hicksville Middle School.

Students nation-wide walked out in protest of gun violence.

Because of the tragic events that ocurred in Parkland, Florida, on March 14th, students across the country walked walked out of their schools at 10 am and spent 17 minutes memorializing the lives lost in Parkland.

Here on Long Island, this included students at Hicksville Middle School, who walked in protest of what is considered a nation-wide epidemic. The students had seemingly good intentions; they were however prevented from going outside by their assistant principals. It was said that both assistant principals Barbara Morzik and Todd Wallace were pulling them by their clothes.  

Superintendent Carl Bonuso stated,“To [walkout] would not only interrupt the educational program but also miss an opportunity to engage students in lessons about what it means to unify as a school family and effectively communicate our opinions and ideas”.

The proof is in social media videos that students posted. The students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by 17 minutes of silence for each of the 17 victims, and then went back to class. Also captured on video was the assistant principal physically preventing some students from going outside. The 47 students that did walk out and protested are receiving punishments as the school administrator said that they broke school rules. The assistant principal didn’t believe it was right for the students to walk out of their classes.

Sherly Castaneda, a parent in the school district claimed, “My husband received a phone call from the assistant principal, stating that the number of children who did walk out would have to have some kind of consequences because they broke the school rules for walking out.”

According to Gabrielle Drapeylo, a student at the school,“He was pulling all the kids by their shirts and their hoodies and also there was people by the stairwell, like the teachers and the monitors blocking the stairways and blocking all the doors”. Student Anaya Raymond said, “One of the assistant principals stopped me and he said that if I went outside I would get suspended.”

A student named Keylla Torres said, “I have lunch detention on Friday, but she said to me that she’s being generous by not giving me anything more.”

The students had good intentions, as stated by student Julie Castaneda who said, “We wanted to honor their lives because their lives matter- they deserve it.” Castaneda also said, “They said that I was going to be suspended which later changed to in- school suspension and now it’s a detention which is outrageous because I’m here protesting because this is something I believe in.”

John Rodriguez, another parent, thought it was unfair that these students are being punished. He says, “Exercise her right to be heard, exercise her right to protest. She did so and to punish her seems to be teaching a bad lesson.”

On Wednesday night, a public spokesperson said that no students will be facing any sort of consequence for their actions and it was decided that the students who participated will instead be invited to a special lunch to have an open dialogue about social activism. 

Florida Passes Gun Bill

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On March 7th, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that would put some restrictions on firearms and also allow some school staff to be armed. The bill raises the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, and requires gun sales to have a 3 day waiting period. Other provisions of the bill are an increase in funding for school security and an expansion of mental health services. People who have been deemed mentally incompetent by a judge or have institutionalized will be unable to buy a gun. Under the new laws, police would be able to bar a person deemed dangerous by a court from owning firearms for up to a year. It would also ban bump stocks, a kind of device that allows guns to fire extremely fast. The bill still needs to be signed by governor Rick Scott before it goes into effect.

Valentine’s Day Shooting

Parkland students participate in a candlelight vigil on February 15, the day after the shooting.

On Valentine’s day, Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, entered the school armed with an AR-15. Cruz was wearing a gas mask and threw smoke grenades before pulling the fire alarm. This caused students to exit their classrooms into the hallway, where Cruz opened fire. He shot at least 31 students and staff before he was captured by police. The death toll is 17, and students who were in critical condition have stabilized, since the writing of this article. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Unfair Punishment for Disciplined Student In Anti-Bullying Video

A junior at Lebanon High School felt that she should make an anti-bullying video after her classmate committed suicide as a result of bullying. Emily Gipson, the creator of this video, posted it to YouTube and it went viral. The video was recorded in a classroom at the high school after school hours. Because she was not authorized to use this classroom after school hours and didn’t have permission, Gipson got into trouble. It was not the video’s content itself that got her into trouble. 

The content of this video was asking for people to be respectful of each other. In the video, Gipson says, “Welcome to Lebanon High School, where you come to be

Emily Gipson speaking in the aforementioned video in an attempt to help bullying victims and promote positivity.

analyzed from head-to-toe every day by people you don’t even know.”

Gipson had said in response to News 4, a local Lebanon news station, “I’ve seen problems with bullying, problem with bullying not being dealt with, and I feel like some things are just put aside.” Gipson also had said that the video is for anyone who feels like they are getting bullied and also spoke about how she recognizes that bullying occurs in every school. “Anywhere I can make a difference I’d love to,” said Gipson.

Gipson has indeed made a difference in people’s lives with this video – she says she’s received numerous messages from people who watched her video, and that these were all extremely supportive messages. One girl even said the video saved her life.

The punishment Gipson received for recording this video in a classroom at school was two days of in-school suspension.

I understand that the school had to take some sort of action as Gipson did not receive consent to use the classroom and anything that is filmed on campus can be interpreted as school district endorsement, which is why students’ need to get approval first.  And, most likely, the school district did not disagree with what Gipson’s message was at all.  However, I still do not feel that this punishment was fair. Although Gipson should have asked to use this classroom first, I feel like her video was such a good deed that she should have been given a lesser punishment and actually given some praise for what she did!

I think that they should have done a one period or week’s detention, but not in-school suspension. Gipson deserved to see the video her effects have had in her school and how good her deed was. At the same time, however, she does need a little bit of a gentle reminder that she cannot film videos in classrooms without permission. Therefore, I think detention is a better idea than two days of in-school suspension. The school administrators should also talk to her, and perhaps the entire school, about why students cannot film videos in classrooms.

The idea behind the video was to help her peers and teens in general think of themselves in an increasingly positive matter. Because she wasn’t screaming into the void like thousands of other anti-bullying videos and notably saved lives, I feel that they should have recognized her good deed in some way.  

As a student who has been bullied a lot in the past, I know that I would’ve heavily benefitted from a teen my age making this video. It’s people who witness bullying and other forms of hate but don’t do anything who seem, to me at least, the most harmful – these are the bystanders who could have helped, but did not. And when a bystander steps forward and stands up to a bully, through any means possible and in an effective way, it really makes a difference. This video made a huge difference in people’s lives and I feel that that matters more than whether or not Gipson had gotten prior consent to use a school classroom as a backdrop to her powerful and positive message.

The HBC’s Plans For the Budget and Why It’s Harmful to the Future of America

Congress recently released what they want the federal budget to be for the next 10 years. With the U.S. approaching nearly $20 trillion dollars in debt, Congress is doing everything it can to try to balance the budget and reduce this burden of debt as fast as possible. The budget deficit of Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion. This year it is set to be around $443 billion and be exactly the same for 2020 and not balance it until 2026. This plan would accumulate more debt than we have accumulated in the past 8 years. This is only if we follow the same tax plan as we have followed under Obama and Trump plans to cut taxes for everyone – so this will most likely be much, much worse. The three things the U.S. government spent the most on in 2016 are healthcare, Social Security and Unemployment Benefits, and the military which add up to 76% of the budget. You would think the HBC would want to start making cuts to these or try and find out how to carry out these programs in in cheaper, yet still efficient way. But no, they do not. $120 billion is added to military, no changes to Social Security are made to try and control the increased spending every year, and Medicaid spending is cut slightly while Medicare spending is still being allowed to expand every year with no changes to the program. Major cuts however are made to education (2% of the budget), public broadcasting (> 1% of the budget), and agriculture (3% of the budget).

The purple is where US troops are stationed

The purple is where US troops are stationed.

There are countless ways to balance the budget in faster and more efficient ways. In 2016 the US spent more on military than the next seven countries behind us combined. The next country behind us, China spent $155.6 billion dollars on military last year, just a little more than 1/4th of our $585 billion dollars spent. Adding $120 billion to this will make us spend more than the next 10 countries combined. Some might say that this is necessary for defense against terrorism. They should see where our troops are stationed. The US has troops stationed in six out of seven continents on the globe and in 74 countries. We could put more troops in the Middle East and still fight terrorism more than we need to and still cut military spending almost in half. We even spend $5.9 billion dollars a year paying for the military of other countries.

The US also spends the most in the world on healthcare. This might come as a surprise to you, considering the US does not have universal healthcare like many other countries in the world. I’m sure the first thing that just popped into your head is, “Well our population is higher than those countries”. That is a natural thing to think and would be a good argument if it made a difference. The US federal healthcare spending is 17.7% of our overall GDP and 9% of the US is uninsured. The next country behind us, The Netherlands’ federal healthcare spending is 11.9% of their GDP and has universal healthcare. We spend the most in the world on healthcare by far and we have 9% uninsured. In countries like Canada and many European countries, healthcare is very cheap because of how cheap their medicine is. Opening up trade for medicine with these countries would bring the cost of our medicine down and ultimately making healthcare must cheaper. We do not need single-payer to have universal healthcare either. Many countries have achieved universal healthcare without single payer. Germany has achieved universal healthcare through a mix of public and private insurance. Their spending on healthcare is 11% of their GDP (7th highest in world) and their life expectancy for average citizens there is 81.0 years as opposed to our 78.7 years. The US can follow this system and save a lot of money while still having very high quality insurance. While making cuts to Social Security is not wanted by most people and is immoral, we can stop the growth of Social Security spending by raising the retirement age from 62 to 66 or higher. Critics of raising the retirement age would say its not right to give people a longer working life and take less time away from their retirement. If Social Security is going insolvent soon, then it is better for this generation to get less than for every generation 20 years from now to get none. We should also cap benefits so that the rich and others who do not need social security at all don’t receive it. This may also seem unfair and almost seem like discrimination if everyone is paying into it their whole lives, then everyone should get it back. Again, it is better for some to not get it than for every generation after 2035 to get none at all.

If the US were to do all outlined above and raise individual income taxes on the upper middle class and up, balancing the budget would be no problem. Cutting taxes when $19 trillion dollars in debt is plain irresponsible. This is not fiscally conservative. Cutting back on education spending is going to do little to nothing to reduce the deficit and will be harmful for America’s children. The HBC needs to cut back on what we actually spend excessively on and possibly reinstate PART (Program Rating Assessment Tool) in order to get rid of waste and balance the budget. While private citizens have no say in the budget we can vote in people who can vote on the budget. Our next chance is in 2018; vote safely and smartly.

The Truth About Chemtrails

Chemtrails and Contails Comparison

Chemtrails and Contails Comparison

A billowing trail of clouds from an airplane high up, flying across the sky can mesmerize children and adults alike. While it’s beautiful to some, to others, it is a very concerning and scary sight. Air traffic has become very common throughout the recent years, so it”s not a rare sight to see these streaks from the planes, but some folks know the truth: that they themselves and everybody else are being polluted with toxins. It is very hard to tell the difference between a contrail and a chemtrail. A contrail is just condensation from NORMAL, commercial planes which are used for transporting passengers and cargo.

But here’s the big giveaway. The model that is normally used for The UN (United Nations) has proved the fact that we are being poisoned by our own government. These streaks in the sky are heavily polluting us with aluminium, barium, lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, selenium, and silver. This has all lead to various and deadly health problems and diseases such as neurological effects, heart damage, eyesight issues, reproduction failures, immune system damage, gastrointestinal disorders, damaged kidney, damaged liver, hormonal problems, and more. The government is doing this in hopes of population reduction. They are known to have used these chemtrails as biological testing agents on the population, while they continue to just say it’s no more than water vapor. If you are are still skeptical, do yourself a favor and watch this video of Rosalind Peterson, the president of Agriculture Defence Coalition, addressing the United Nations on using chemtrails, geoengineering, and weather modification: https://youtu.be/L5is16A8pfw.

There is also a leaked document from the U.S government literally said they are going to use said methods: (http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/documents/19680002906_1968002906.pdf0

 

U.S Missile Defense System Sparks Controversy

Putin cries all the time, in this institution: http://bit.ly/1NbhPpb

Putin cries all the time, in this institution: http://bit.ly/1NbhPpb

On March 12th, the U.S launched a long-anticipated 800 million dollar missile defense system in Romania, sparking international controversy. An additional system is currently being built in Poland, which is expected to become operational in 2018. The missile defense system, also known as the “Aegis ashore system”, will be operated by NATO, historically a coalition against the Soviet Union, and has already been certified for operations by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. In the same address, the Secretary General also insisted that the system is purely for defense purposes. U.S officials say that is intended for defense specifically against “rogue states”, such as Iran.

The fortuitous timing of the defense system’s completion coincides with recent controversy over Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, among other threatened bordering nations. In spite of these recent imbroglios, Russian officials have shifted the blame to the U.S, claiming that the missile defense system violates the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was a bilateral agreement between the U.S and the USSR. In fact, there is no evidence that the Obama administration has any plans to challenge Russia in the immediate future; back in 2009, Obama canceled a similar Bush-era plan to station land-based interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic. At the time, many members of NATO were concerned that the U.S had totally abandoned the missile defense project. It is speculated by experts that the Obama administration was in the process of trying to repair relations with Russia by signing an arms reduction treaty, also known as the “New START” treaty, thus signalling that the missile defense system truly was not directed towards it.
It seems that Russia was not convinced by Obama’s gesture of good faith, and has already responded by implementing a railroad-based missile system. Russia has also drawn support from Belarus, which pledges to aid Russia in countering NATO’s missile defense program. Belarus and Russia have already established a “union state” and continue to strengthen military ties. The Belarusian foreign minister simply recited concerns similar to those posed by the Russians, saying that NATO actions have only increased tensions.

The World’s First Solar Plane!

Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2

Beginning in 2015, the world’s very first attempt to fly around the world in the world’s first solar plane took place. The plane’s name is Solar Impulse 2.

Pilots Bertrand Piccard André Borschberg, who were also the founders of this project, flew from from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in March and have been flying since, obviously with stops. The plane was scheduled to return to Abu Dhabi back in August 2015; however, in June of that year, after flying through all of Asia, they hit Hawaii and the aircraft batteries suffered major thermal damage that took months to repair. Finally, on April 21st of this year, the Solar Impulse resumed its flight and landed in California on April 23rd, and on May 2nd, started on its way to Phoenix, Arizona.