On Tuesday, March 7th, the Statue of Liberty temporarily went dark from 10:00 PM to 11:30 PM. With her entire body and robe completely covered in darkness, only her crown and torch was left glowing on the New York Harbor. Ironically, the incident took place on International Women’s Day, making timing of Lady Liberty’s blackout appear all too coincidental to some. Although the official twitter account of the Statue of Liberty National Monument posted the morning after the incident, “Some lights on the Statue were temporarily off tonight. Likely related to new emergency generator/Hurricane Sandy recovery project work,” some viewed the glitch as intentional. Organizers of the Women’s March called on thousands to strike on “A Day Without a Woman.” Some believe that perhaps America’s most illustrious woman took the opportunity to be the very first to speak and protest on the special day. According to the Women’s March website, their group’s strike intended to acknowledge, “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system, while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurity.” Lady Liberty making her presence known during the effort was not gone unrecognized by the group, and the official Twitter account of the Women’s March posted, “Thank you Lady Liberty for standing with the resistance and going dark for #DayWithoutAWoman.” Others who also saw deeper meaning in Lady Liberty’s break from her normal illuminating self also took advantage and went to Twitter to post their opinions. Raymond Braun posted, “CNN has just reported that the Statue of Liberty has gone dark tonight. Power failure or social commentary?” Aparna Nancherla posted, “Apparently the Statue of Liberty lights went out due to a power failure. But I would argue women are also protesting due to a power failure.” Unfortunately, the activists were shut down to the idea that the recent happenings were purposely caused. Jerry Willis from the National Parks Service provided an explanation as to why everything happened the way it did, “ The temporary, unplanned outage occurred after a lighting system controller was switched off to change out faulty lighting equipment. When the repair was completed, the lighting system controller wasn’t properly reset, leading to the outage.” Deeper meaning and symbolism can still be found, for everything does happen for a reason, and Lady Liberty could not have picked a more perfect time to draw attention to herself. Fortunately, she has now gone back to her usual, shining self.
Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the Broadway hit Hamilton, is set to replace Josh Groban in the new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.
Onaodowan will play Pierre, a wealthy aristocrat going through an existential crisis. Groban will depart the show on July 2, and Onaodowan will replace him the day afterward and stay until September 4. This will be his fourth Broadway show after Cyrano de Bergerac, Rocky, and Hamilton.
The musical, often called simply Great Comet, is an electropop adaptation of a seventy-page portion of War and Peace. Onaodowan, the son of Nigerian immigrants, will play opposite Denée Benton as Natasha, so the two leads will be played by black actors despite the show taking place in nineteenth-century Russia.
“Having the opportunity to have two black actors star is, to me, irrefutably huge,” Benton said to the New York Times about the casting choice. “Actors of color definitely feel the limitation to have to tell the stories the world has decided are your own, when if you look at the breadth of characters handsome white males can play, they’re given access to the whole range. It’s exciting to have that same opportunity.”
Onaodowan, who is known for his range and versatility as an actor, will have to learn to play the accordion and focus more on singing than rapping, giving audiences a chance to see more of his skills. “It’s very different from what I’ve done before–there’s a lot to dig into,” he said.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, defied the UN by firing two “medium” missiles into the Sea of Japan. Rumors have circulated that they were meant to attack Japan/ South Korea (allies of the US, though relations between the two aren’t friendly.) Either way, the North Korean government could be trying to provoke the US. Since then, more sanctions have been put in place and strengthened by the US. It’s estimated that North Korea has 10 to 16 nuclear warheads, and currently working on an intercontinental ballistic to deliver them.
UPDATE: Five more missiles were launched into the Sea of Japan. They were short range and North Korea plans on putting more nuclear tests into action. China, North Korea’s only large supporter, is advising them to stop.
The UN is very upset and has demanded that North Korea completely and irreversibly dismantle their nuclear missile testing program. Apparently they have been testing missiles for a while until they were found by the US- sanction representatives to have a large amount of uranium in their possession.
Here is what you need to know:
TIME: Arrive by 10:45– WE ARE LINING UP AT 11:30.
WHAT TO WEAR: Wear your Village Vikings gear (if you bought something), Bathing suit under your clothing, hat, gloves, warm socks and boots. It’s best to overdress and take off layers rather than wear too little!!
WHAT TO BRING: A towel or robe for after the jump. You should be able to put back on the same things you wear to the plunge. But, in case things get wet, have an extra sweatshirt and socks, just in case! Also bring a plastic bag for any wet clothing.
**Put your cell in a ziplock JUST IN CASE!!
**You don’t have to plunge in order to join the fun– students, family, and friends who are coming just for moral support are more than welcome! Land-lovers should bring their phones/cameras and snap as many pics as they can!!
Since the 2016 presidential campaign trail began for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, the two senators had notably been absent on Capitol Hill lately, having missed the third highest and highest number of U.S. Senate votes in 2015, respectively. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid found Rubio’s attendance so lacking that he went so far as to suggest that the Senate resign his seat. The heavy lack of attendance to the Capitol was surprisingly interrupted by, surprisingly, North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.
A vote on the sanctioning of North Korea and its current dictator yanked Cruz and Rubio off the campaign trail and onto the Senate floor on Wednesday. When asked why he diverted from his campaign trail to vote on this issue, Cruz replied that, “the national security threat is serious.” Rubio’s aide, Alex Burgos, made an extra effort to wave off reporters as his boss entered the Senate Wednesday evening. When asked why he wanted to vote, Rubio, while entering the Senate floor, replied, “it’s an important issue.”
The legislation on the North Korea issue is obviously important to national security, and if the two Senators had to pick something to eventually vote for, this one is definitely one of the more important ones. However, one factor as to why the two decided to come back, is to avoid looking weak. A presidential candidate should look strong on matters of national security, and an opposing senator in the race could have attacked in an upcoming debate or on the campaign trail for not voting on an important matter of national security. There’s nothing wrong with this—strategy is obviously needed in a presidential election. However, it’s the duty of a U.S. Senator to vote on these issues, whether it affects their poll numbers or not.
Recently, there has been some… hostility here at Village. And yes, after Credit Boards it seems to be getting better, but we all can clearly sense that Village is not as friendly as it used to be and certainly not as much as it used to be!
After a recent general meeting, Steve talked about and addressed the problem. Later that day, I think we could all tell that tensions were lowered. About a week later, we were all much better but there still seems to be hostility. How can we fix this? I interviewed Steve, our principal, and he shared good words of wisdom, “Mostly, I think talking things out is a good move”, he said. But he also admitted that though it sometimes works, you can’t hit things when they are hot, because that might end up blowing up in your face and exacerbating a situation.
So it seems true that the best way to solve problems is to talk them out, but how can we do this in a productive, effective way? Well, family meetings, so to speak, held once a week or every other week might be the answer. In these meetings, we can talk to each other in a non-hostile, friendly environment, and explain what school, teacher, student or even family matters is making us stressed and agitated.
While someone might argue that these meetings would just be a bunch of people yelling at each other and fighting, if we organize it well and go into it with the mindset that we are going to solve our problems rather than just make new ones, then everyone will be able to stay calm and communicate effectively. Communication is key in order for a functioning family to work, and at the end of the day that is all what we really are, a family.
What if the issues we are dealing with are private ones? “Sometimes the issues involve private items and so they can’t really be discussed in a big forum, but I think in a place like this we can get closer to private than in a bigger school,” Steve told me. We all know each other, we should be able to help each other not only with in- school problems but with possible home or other personal issues. People here should be happy and able to learn, without having to burden Lisa with every problem we have with someone. When we have a problem with someone, the best way to deal with it is not to tell everyone else, but address the person in question, and tell them what is wrong, whether it is about something that happened during lunch or during class. The communication skills that we learn during these meetings could carry over into these smaller, one-on-one interactions and later in life.
While the whole school is obviously never going to be perfect and there will always be people that don’t like each other, we should never use the word “hate” when talking about a classmate– we should all be able to tolerate each other. At the end of the day, we are all in the same school and in close proximity to each other. The more tension there is, the worse it is going to get. So, if we don’t want to hinder our ability to earn credit in our classes, we should all just sit down and have mellow conversations about what is bothering us. And, if your behavior (directly or indirectly) is being addressed, try to take that feedback and use it constructively to make better choices later on.
So how might this all work? One way is to only have the students who are having issues come in to talk, but Steve said by not meeting with everyone, “I’m punishing [the students without issues] by depriving them of not knowing what’s going on in the school.” Whether you agree with the whole concept of having a meeting with everyone involved, one can understand where Steve is coming from; he wants everyone to know that if there is indeed a problem, it should be shared and solved, not ignored. Some students may even think that not being invited to the meeting means that they are the ones being talked about. It seems best then, if we were to have bi-weekly or even monthly meetings in which everyone is invited and everyone- the involved and not involved- can voice their opinions and give suggestions.
Looking to Village School history can help guide us when it comes to these issues. Steve himself has been here for about 20 years, and has been principal for 15. When we discussed whether or not there have ever been meetings like this in the past, he said that through the years, from meetings, and reforms to the school, he is proud to say he is a part of the Village School community. But 20 years ago, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to work here. I think that this really says a lot about the power that meetings can have on the school culture. From just 15 minutes of talking about what is wrong and how it can be fixed, Steve was able to help transform the school into something that we can all agree is really great.
At the end of the day, we have to coexist because none of us want to have to leave the school because of something someone did or something we did, because as we all know and say often, we really are all here for a reason and this school has helped each and every one of us. If we are aware of our faults, then we can try to work on them and make changes. That way, we can all focus on what really matters here, doing well academically and giving ourselves the opportunity to go somewhere in life. That is, after all, the ultimate goal of school, and yes, this is a real school.