2017 Paris attack: Orly Airport

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, a 39-year-old man by the name of Ziyed Ben Belgacom attacked the Orly airport in Paris, France. Belgacom held a female French soldier at gunpoint and shouted, “I am here to die in the name of Allah… There will be deaths,” before being shot to death by two soldiers patrolling the airport. According to French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Belgacom was shot after tackling the female soldier,  using her as a human shield, and attempting to take her weapon.

Thousands of travelers were evacuated and rerouted to other airports near by. Belgacom was the only casualty. Earlier that day, Belgacom stole a car from a French woman and shot a police officer after stealing his weapon. Officials said the officer didn’t suffer from any life threatening injuries. Francois Molins, a French prosecutor, was the one who identified the attacker as  Ziyed Ben Belgacom. Molins claims that Belgacom had a previous arrest record, such as arrests for violence and theft, including one five-year sentence that began in 2009.

However, Belgacom’s father insists that he is not a terrorist, and instead blames his actions on his drugs use. “My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed and he drank,” said Belgacom’s father. “This is what happens under the influence of drink and cannabis.” A toxicology report showed that Belgacon was in fact under the influence, as he had alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana in his system.

There were also a number of Belgacom relatives taken into custody and questioned. His father was released the next day, Sunday March 19. He stated that his son had called him after the first shooting and had sounded “very angry.” “He said to me: ‘Daddy, please forgive me. I’ve screwed up with a police officer,'” the father said. “I said I didn’t forgive him ‘because you hurt a policeman.'”

Great news at Highland

On Friday, March 24th, there was a college fair here at Highland. In the morning two students, Mason Corhouse and Vanessa De La Vega Meza, were presented with scholarships (Dease Scholarship ) to the University of St. Thomas, from a St. Thomas representative.

The Dease Scholarship Program was created by St. Thomas’ 14th President, Dennis Dease. He initiated this program to increase access to a St. Thomas education for students historically underrepresented at the school. These (full-tuition) scholarship are generally awarded to students of color, first generation students, and graduates from urban high schools.

I was able to ask our lucky winners some questions about the scholarship, and how they felt. This is what Vanessa had to say:

photo courtesy of Vanessa

Q: What did you have to do in order to apply for this scholarship?

A: Well in order to apply to the scholarship I first had to be accepted to St. Thomas. Then I had to fill out an application, and write some essays!

Q: Why did you pick St. Thomas?

A: The reason I decided to go to St. Thomas is because it really is such a wonderful school. I have family members who went to St. Thomas and they have always spoken about St. Thomas in such a good manner! I also had a ton of people tell me that it was an excellent school. So I did some research and I was actually excited about this school. I then did a campus visit, as well as an overnight visit and I was thrilled. As I visited the school I noticed a lot of things that I loved about St. Thomas! But the way that St. Thomas treats their students truly got me. They treat their students like actual people, rather than just a number.

Q: Do you know your major? If so, what is it and why did you pick it?

A: The major that I would like to pursue is Civil Engineering. The reason behind this is because I have always been interested by the structures of buildings and bridges and such. At one point I thought I wanted to be an architect, but I realized that just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be a part of the math behind the building, and to be a part of the safety of the building. It was then that I found civil engineering, which incorporates everything that I desired to be in my future.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you were chosen out of the 300 applicants?

A: It feels crazy to think that I was chosen out of 300 applicants! Even thinking of it today I am still astounded to think that I was chosen. It really does feel like I am living in a dream!

Q: Fun fact about yourself? 

A: Hmmm I can’t really think of a fun fact.

 

photo courtesy of Mason

Here is what Mason had to say:

Q: What did you have to do in order to apply for this scholarship?

A: To apply for the Dease scholarship, I had to be an accepted student, fill out a scholarship application with information about myself, and complete 2 essays. I don’t recall if letters of recommendation were required though.

Q: Why did you pick St.Thomas?

A: I chose The University of St. Thomas because it is a beautiful school with great programs and educational opportunities.

Q: Do you know your major? If so, what is it and why did you pick it?

A:  The major I am seeking is Actuarial Science, and I am seeking this major because it is very rigorous and requires a lot of mathematics which I enjoy.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you were chosen out of 300 applicants?

A: I am very proud that I was selected for the Dease scholarship; it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Q: Fun fact about yourself?

A: A fun fact about me is that I can bench my own weight.
Mason and Vanessa both have an incredible things ahead for them. Make sure to congratulate them when you them!

Hope

The years 2016 and 2017 will probably live on as infamous years in history books. Lots of bad things have happened. There have been numerous terrorist attacks, the Western World has been engaged in a sort of cultural civil war, and a Cheeto was elected President of the United States. Harambe was killed. Celebrities were dying left and right. Climate Change brought on the hottest months on record. Right Wing Populism had a massive resurgence with rioting against an overly politically correct left, and there was an influx of refugees from wars these people created.

But I am not here to talk about that. You see, news is a product, just like food or mobile devices. You are essentially paying someone to watch a source – such as the war in Syria or one of President Trump’s signings – and give a summary. It’s too dangerous to fly out to Mosul and interview a member of ISIS about their views. Similarly, it’s boring to fly out to Washington DC and hear Trump talk about mining for an hour.

And people buy what they like to hear. News is a product, and they sell it to a certain type of customer. Breitbart sells to disenfranchised white teenagers, and BBC sells to everyone. They all cater to a view.

And while the world is depressing, it is also amazing, magical, and wonderous. Human beings can be needlessly cruel, but they can also be mind numbingly brilliant.

A Russian company 3D printed a 400 sq ft house in 24 hours. AIs can accurately predict people who are about to commit suicide, so clinics can help them. Robotic bees will pollinate crops. There will be birth control for men. Smart glasses change aperture automatically to make you see farther. Green energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. There will be a universal income. Super sponges have been developed that can absorb toxic spills. Uber has made self driving cars. New gun holsters force body cams to record when their gun is drawn. Elon Musk will make humanity a multi-planet civilization. Tesla is now worth more than Ford.

So to you, I say, the future lies with people like Elon Musk.

For more information about the brilliant things listed above:

http://mashable.com/2017/03/03/3d-house-24-hours.amp

https://news.fsu.edu/news/health-medicine/2017/02/28/how-artificial-intelligence-save-lives-21st-century/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120832-robotic-bee-could-help-pollinate-crops-as-real-bees-decline/

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/07/successful-male-contraceptive-gel-trial-brings-new-form-of-birth-control-closer-vasalgel

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/these-smart-glasses-adjust-your-vision-automatically-180962078/

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/solar-and-wind-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-for-the-first-time-a7509251.html

https://news.fastcompany.com/tag/universal-basic-income

http://sciencenewsjournal.com/newly-developed-nanotech-super-sponge-removes-mercury-water-less-5-seconds-make-effective-toxic-cleanup-lakes-possible-future/

https://www.recode.net/2017/3/16/14938116/uber-travis-kalanick-self-driving-internal-metrics-slow-progress

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/02/axon-signal-sidearm-automatic-body-cam/

https://www.inverse.com/article/27353-elon-musk-donald-trump-qu

https://electrek.co/2017/03/27/tesla-tsla-valuable-ford/