Category Archives: National

Tennessee passes bill that limits marriage equality

B:y Mya Olson – Williams

Image taken from: Tennessee Lookout

In early March, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a new bill that allows a person to refuse to conduct a marriage based on their religious and personal beliefs. This bill was presented by Representative Monty Fritts (R – Kingston).

Many believe that this law will make things easier for officiants to discriminate against same-sex, interracial, LGBTQ+, and interfaith (people of different religions) couples.

According to, these are the exact words written in House Bill 878:

“(m) A person shall not be required to solemnize a marriage if the person has an objection to solemnizing the marriage based on the person’s conscience or religious beliefs.”

There was already a law in place seeming pretty similar, but this one lets people refuse on any grounds.

Tennessee is not stopping here. They are moving to block online ordained ministers from conducting weddings. If that becomes the case, it would make it almost impossible for any interracial, same-sex, LGBTQ+, or interfaith couples to get married in the state of Tennessee.

Monty Fritts denied the fact that this bill would only allow refusal of solemnizing same-sex marriages. He believes that there’s a drive to attack “civil liberties and rights”.

There are other states going through very similar things as well. Currently there are laws in place in the states of Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, and there could be more coming in the near future.

Unfortunately, the Respect for Marriage Act, put in place in December of 2022, does not protect anyone in those few states. Same-sex couples (married or not) can still live in these places, but they can no longer get married there.

It’s commonly said that we are going backwards in time. There’s so much wrong with these laws, and many are convinced that this inequality will not stop here, but only get worse.

Winter storms across the U.S. cause deaths and power outages

By: Jamine Williams

Image taken from: /article_876feed8-8362-11eb-8b83-033c4b52ccb8.html

Around the start of March, the U.S. had faced extreme winter storms. Heavy winds, flooding, and snow began making its way to the United States. The weather advisories were being sent out to states across the country. According to ‘NPR’, several days have passed since the storm started. On Saturday evening, it left more than 850,000 people without power.

The storm moved to the South and Midwest, a minimum of 12 people died, due to heavy winds and possible tornadoes that destroyed buildings. The Northeast region was the snowstorm’s next destination, where there was another warning issued by the National Weather Service because of heavy snow and coastal flooding. On March 4th, hundreds of businesses were closed. Many canceled flights in New York, New Hampshire, and many counties of Maine; due to there being a full foot of snow. Falling trees or branches caused the death of six people in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

In Kentucky, there were five deaths related to weather, and a semi truck flew from the highway. Michigan was hit with the snowstorm on Friday, March 10th. In the afternoon it covered the state with snow. 800,000 homes and businesses lost power and the Detroit Metropolitan Airport was closed for a transitory period of time.

Over in the West, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are topped with a bunch of snow, and some snow on the Upper Great Lakes. But the West has not recovered from the storm and is still covered with snow.

In Southern California, there were people who were trapped in their homes for another week, with all highways that are near the mountains closed. More than a foot, 15 feet of snow, had landed in Yosemite National Park, and it is closed permanently. Half of the Eastern country of California will begin having warm temperatures prematurely.

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Amazons underperformance on its drone program

By: Joseph Nelson

It’s been almost ten years since Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s drone delivery program, but we still haven’t seen any sign of commercial delivery to homes. In fact, Amazon has only made 10 successful deliveries between the two states of Texas and California. Now, why is that number so low and where are our drones?

Now, Amazon isn’t trying to at all hide their underperformance as Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti doesn’t deny any of the numbers brought to her in an email from The Verge. But those numbers aren’t completely Amazon’s fault as there is a bigger factor in play than just Amazon, it’s also the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) stating to Amazon that the pilots cannot fly over roads without a pilot or a third party present. That means that the unmanned drones need to be supervised if the drone were to go over any type of road which brings a bigger challenge to the future of drone delivery.

But, this all seems odd right? I mean, we are again almost ten years from the first announcement of the program and now we are still trying to cross the street? The very future of air delivery is being held up by the laws of the roads.

It feels as though the battle between the FAA and Amazon is going at a snail’s pace. In fact, Amazon just last November, got the green light to fly its drones outside of sparsely populated areas. The drones couldn’t fly within one-hundred feet of buildings, and the requirement of drone pilots being required to have a piloting license to fly a plane, just so they can fly a drone, has completely hindered Amazon’s pilot count. Which hurts a lot when you need more than six pilots to fly just one drone.

But these training wheels the FAA put on Amazon might not be completely a bad thing, as of February 1st, there have been five drone crashes on Amazon testing sites. One of these crashes caused a twenty-five acre forest fire on the site.

But Amazon isn’t backing down from the fight whatsoever, they are pushing the FAA every day to get their drones up in the sky and deliver packages to your doorstep. As of the start of February, the FAA had approved more flight areas in Texas and California.

So, as to answer the question on where are our drones? Well, they are being held up by air laws but I still believe that we should see them in the coming years.

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West Mesa murders

By: Ren King and Violet Hirman

*Warning: This article contains information about sexual violence

The best murderers are the ones who have never been caught. Close seconds are the cases where nobody even realizes there’s been a murder.

February 2, 2009, Christine Ross took her dog Ruca on a walk on Albuquerque, New Mexico’s west side. Ruca discovered a bone sticking out of the dirt and brought it to Ross. Ross’s sister was a nurse, and confirmed it appeared to be a human femur bone. Police were called to the sight where they dug up grave after grave after grave.

In total, the skeletons from eleven bodies, and one unborn baby, were discovered, buried in makeshift graves all evenly spaced apart. They were all women, and all but one of them had ties to drugs and prostitution.

Investigators then made another chilling realization: the majority of the victims had previously been reported missing between the years 2003 and 2005.

The first to be identified was 15-year-old Syllannia Edwards in November of 2009, having been reported missing since 2003. She had last been seen in May of 2004, in the company of three other women, believed to be using the nicknames Mimi or Chocolate.

A few days later, Virginia Cloven and Evelyn Salazar were identified, gone missing in 2004.

Two months later, Salazar’s cousin, 15-year-old Jamie Barela was found, with both Barela and her cousin last seen at a family gathering in April of 2004. The two had been heading to a park in southeast Albuquerque when they disappeared. Barela was also the last victim to be dug up.

The other victims were 22-year-old Monica Candelaria, killed between 2003 and 2005. 26-year-old Victoria Chavez killed in 2005. 32-year-old Cinnamon Elks killed sometime between 2004 and 2005. 24-year-old Doreen Marquez between 2003 and 2005. 24-year-old Julie Nieto killed sometime between the same years. 28-year-old Veronica Romero between 2004 and 2005. And finally, 22-year-old Michelle Valdez between the latter years. Romero had been pregnant at the time, and the skeletal remains of her unborn child were also discovered with her.

Aerial photographs of the crime sight were discovered, and revealed off-road tire tracks in the West Mesa desert. With knowledge of grave locations, there are two identifiable graves at the time of the photo.

Right off the bat, and only seven days after Ross had discovered the bone, April Gillen, the first wife of Joseph Blea called the police saying they should look into him. Blea already faced sex-related charges and was currently serving a 90 year sentence in prison for four sexual assaults unrelated to the West Mesa Murders. His DNA was discovered on a dead prostitute in 1985, although he has never been charged in connection to that specific crime. He had more than 130 run-ins between 1990 and 2009 relating to prostitution and drugs in an area that several of the victims frequently traveled.

He had previously been reported exposing himself to women walking on Central Avenue, and investigators found rope and electrical tape in his car. More disturbingly, during the weeks following the discovery of the remains, Blea was noticed to be seemingly stalking prostitutes on the move. One woman was interviewed admitting that Blea had taken her to his house and tied her up against her will.

More and more evidence was being stacked up against Blea when his former cell-mate said he talked about the West Mesa Murders, and even said he knew the victims. He had paid them for sex acts and struck one of them when she tried to take his money.

Jewelry and women’s underwear were discovered by Blea’s daughter as well as his wife, Cheryl Blea, around the house and in their shed. One of the victim’s fathers claimed some of his daughter’s jewelry had gone missing. Due to the case still being open, forensic scientists will not release information regarding whether or not DNA on the jewelry matched that of any of the victims.

Blea’s former attorney, John McCall, claims Blea had nothing to do with the murders.

The case is still ongoing, and investigators don’t have any other leads (although they do have other suspects) to put to the test. A $100,000 reward is in place for any information leading to the conviction and incarceration of the perpetrator.. The question is: Are there other bodies yet to be discovered? And if Blea really isn’t the killer, where are they now?

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Hammer attack on Paul Pelosi. What does the assailant want?

By: Jasmine Williams

On October 28, 2022, in San Francisco, California, a man named David DePape broke into Pelosi’s house. Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was not home at that time when he broke in.

The assailant broke into the house with the hammer he had brought. While Paul was sleeping, DePape asked who he was and where Nancy Pelosi was. Although Paul Pelosi told him she will not be back for some days, he desired to stay in his house until she had arrived as stated by the federal complaint.

According to the ‘Washington Post’, a reporter named Amber Lee was told by DePape that freedom in the United States was “being killed systematically and deliberatively” and that he had discovered “names and addresses” of those he assumed was the problem.

The cause was the midterm election, where a Trump mob attacked the White House on January 6, 2021, due to the election “being rigged.” The mob wanted to keep Trump in power. As assumed by other people in Congress, DePape’s reason for the attack was that he was influenced by Donald Trump supporters. But otherwise, he had confirmed with Paul that Nancy was second in line for the presidency. DePape said, “They are all corrupt” and ”We’ve got to take them out.”

When the police had opened the door, Paul and DePape were wrestling for the hammer. DePape was told by police to let go of the hammer, but he refused. DePape managed to get the hammer out of Paul’s grip and hit Paul Pelosi on the head, leaving him unresponsive for three minutes in a pool of blood.

Good news, Paul is recovering and has had surgery. But the assailant wasn’t aiming for Paul Pelosi, he was in the way. His target was Nancy Pelosi. He claimed that she was “the leader of lies” and he was to break her kneecaps. He stated that, “She would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions.”

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Police brutality takes another life in Memphis

By: Isabelle Baidoo

Image taken from: Courtesy of Kris Volker

Law enforcement has failed another young black man in America. Tyre Nichols was a free spirited man, a father, and the youngest of four siblings. Nichols’ entire world revolved around his family, especially his son. Ben Crump, one of the families attorneys, stated in a press conference “Everything he was trying to do was to better himself as a father for his four year old son.”

His mother says that he had moved to Memphis before the COVID-19 Pandemic and got stuck there when everything shut down. But he was perfectly content with the situation because it meant he could spend even more time with his mom and family. Nichols had worked as a Fed Ex worker for about nine months during his time in Memphis and often skateboarded at Shelby Farms Park; this is the park he had skated at since he was only 6 years old.

On January 7th, 2023 Tyre Nichols was initially stopped by Memphis Police for reckless driving.

This traffic stop would lead to Nichols being violently beaten for roughly three minutes. Nichols was hospitalized and three days later, on January 10th, he died. The five officers at the scene have all since been fired from the Memphis Police Department and on January 26th, were charged with second degree murder for Tyre Nichols’ death.

According to information released by his family’s lawyers, the autopsy found that Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.” Antonio Romanucci, one of the Nichols family’s lawyers, stood by Tyre Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stated: “He was a human piñata for those police officers. Not only was it violent, it was savage.”

RowVaughn Wells stated in a press conference that “He always said he was going to be famous one day. I didn’t know this is what he meant.”

Nichols’s funeral was held on February 1, at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the service saying to Nichols’ family “The people of our country mourn with you.”

Nichols was a lover of the arts and one of his many passions was to take photos of sunsets.

In this last quote from Nichols’ personal blog, he writes:

“My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the ‘norm’ and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what I see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work.”

All Tyre Nichols ever wanted to do was to support his family and see the sun rise and set everyday, and that opportunity was abruptly stripped away from him due to America’s deeply corrupt law enforcement system.

Georgia’s Senate runoff and the effects it could have on American politics

By: Brogan Frey

According to, on Election Day, in November, 35 senate seats were up for grabs. 14 seats held by Democrats, and 21 seats held by Republicans were up for election in 2022. One of those Democratic senate seats belonged to Senator, and Pastor, Raphael Warnock of Georgia. 

Now may be a good time to explain what a runoff is. A runoff election occurs when no candidate running for a spot gets more than 50% of votes. That is what happened in the election between Raphael Warnock and Hershel Walker. 

Something that I found very interesting about this race is the fact that this was not the first time that Senator Warnock had won a runoff race. Back in 2020, he ran against then-incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, and since neither candidate got 50% of the vote, that election went to runoff as well. 

This election was a Special Senate election, because Loeffler had been appointed by Governor Brian Kemp  to fill the remaining 2 years of the six year term previously being served by former Senator Johnny Isakson, who was elected in 2016 but resigned at the end of 2019, citing his health. 

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The fact that Senator Warnock has been a part of, and won 2, senate runoff elections is incredible, and also shows how split the state of Georgia is between being Democratic or Republican. 

But on to the effect this election could have, and will have, on American politics.

This election gave the Democratic Party a very narrow advantage in the senate, with Democrats and the few similar voting Independents occupying 51 of the senate seats, with Republicans occupying the remaining 49. 

Before this election, the senate was split evenly, with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tie breaker. 

Now, with the majority, Democrats will be able to process legislation and nominations much faster, filling a Supreme Court vacancy would be easier, and Vice President Harris will not be needed as often to break up tied votes. 

So, although the Democrats didn’t continue to hold the majority in the House of Representatives, they still have control of the White House and now the Senate, allowing them to get more bills passed more efficiently. 

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The rail strike that almost cost the U.S. billions

By: Brogan Frey 

Image taken from

Although a rail strike isn’t something that most deem significant, it can actually have a crippling effect on a country’s economy. At the beginning of December, last year, the United States was on the verge of a nationwide rail strike that would have cost our country over $2 billion per day, adding up to over $14 billion that could be lost in the first week. 

It isn’t well known, but according to the Association of American Railroads, “Freight railroads account for about 40% of U.S. long distance freight volume (measured by ton-miles) – more than any other mode of transportation.” 

Now, let’s talk about some other detrimental effects this strike could have had. The money, around $2 billion a day, would have crippled our economy, which would have resulted in trouble shipping and moving goods without the help of the trains that cross our country every day. But more on that later. 

There are a few more harmful effects this strike could have had. First, the over 100,000 workers who could have lost their source of income if forced to strike. Second, the millions of job losses that could have occurred in just the first week. 

Additionally, 33% of our country’s grain, 75% of new automobiles, and many other natural resources and commodities are shipped by rail. Cutting off that flow for just a few days would have a ripple effect throughout our entire economy, and right before the holiday season, the thing nobody wants are delays. 

There are around 115,000 railroad employees in our country, who get paid anywhere from $48,000 to roughly $83,000 annually.

Now, let’s get to the big question: Why were they going to strike? According to Rutgers University, “The ongoing dispute revolves around work-life balance issues, including scheduling, time off and adequate staffing.” Rutgers also says, “The (rail) industry has been cutting staff despite reaping soaring profits for many years.”

Luckily, the strike was averted when President Biden signed legislation on December 2nd, preventing it exactly one week before the strike was expected to occur.

The 2022 US Midterm Elections: Expectations vs. Turnout

By Erin Moore

On Tuesday, November 8th, 2022, the US Midterm Elections took place. How did it go and how did those results compare to what was expected to occur? This article is here to explain just that.

Before I begin, I will note that all the information in this article was gathered from multiple sources from each side (the exact numbers used agreed upon by both Fox News and the New York Times), thus is verified information and holds no bias.

This year, the elections held were mainly for senators, representatives, and governors. Around 86% of the combined number of seats were up for election this year.

Prior to the election, the Senate had a 50-50 split between democrats and republicans. However, the Vice President breaks any voting ties within the Senate, and the current Vice President is democrat Kamala Harris. This number gave democrats a very narrow majority since the last elections were held for (some) Senate seats during the 2020 election.

The House of Representatives also had a narrow democratic majority, with 222 democratic-held seats and 213 republicans, meaning around 51% of the House of Representatives was democrats following the 2020 election.

Additionally, the president elected in the 2020 elections was a democrat (Joe Biden). This means that from 2020 following the election to 2022 prior to the election, the Senate had a slim democratic majority, the House of Representatives also had a slim democratic majority, and there was a democrat in office. 

However, the 2022 midterms looked bad for democrats for two main reasons: party in power and redistricting.

The first is significantly more simple: whichever party holds office typically loses a large amount of their seats. Since the current president of the United States is a democrat, they were projected to lose several seats in these midterms simply because of the party Joe Biden is a part of. 

The second, redistricting, is more complex. Redistricting typically takes place after a census, and it is exactly what it sounds like: the border lines for districts are changed, which typically benefits one of the two major parties. 

The most recent redistricting affected both parties. New Mexico, Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon’s districts were drawn in a way that benefited democrats. However, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Florida’s districts were beneficiary for republicans. 

When asked who redistricting would affect more in an interview with NPR, Michael Li, redistricting expert, said, “Republicans have an advantage that I think will play out.”

However, democrats greatly overperformed expectations in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

In the Senate, democrats won the majority with 50-49 seats. Georgia will hold a runoff election later, which will determine whether the seats are 50-50 with the vice president as the tiebreaker or 51-49. Either way, the democrats will hold their Senate majority for at least the next two years. 

However, in the House, the republicans have taken control with 218 seats called by various sources and 210 for democrats, with 218 seats needed for control. 

Of the thirty-six governor elections and thirty-four called races, each party has seventeen governors. In Minnesota, our governor will remain Tim Walz, another democrat. 

All in all, the election did not go as expected, and is going fairly well for both parties, with democrats coming out a bit better currently. However, there are still races left to be called. 

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Its the end of the world as we know it

(Yes like the R.E.M. song)

By: Reed Morris

All around the world, we are facing disastrous natural phenomena. The magnitude of these events seem as though they are straight out of Hollywood movies. Here is a compilation, and explanation, of some of the most major events from the late summer of 2022.

To kick off the month of August, a major flood in Kentucky had a rising death toll, passing 37 on August 2nd. In the wake of the flood, lay 12,000 powerless homes, empty schools, and millions of dollars worth of damage to local infrastructure. There was a frantic mass exodus which saw excessive looting.

Because of these factors the state was put under curfew and was essentially locked down for a short amount of time. Intervention by the federal government was eventually deemed necessary, and Biden sent federal support to Kentucky to assist localized teams of rescuers and national guardsmen in the evacuation process. 

Another case of these extremely strange and sometimes deadly weather phenomena is the case of coasts, East vs West.

Recently, at least, the US has seen an increase in extreme weather. This year was the first time we truly realized how intensely different weather can be from one side of the country to the other.

In August and September of 2022, the west coast of the United States was under extreme stress from the absurd heat that it was experiencing.

Temperatures in LA flew into the triple digits. People were asked to turn off their lights and stop using electricity to try to keep the power grid alive. With everyone living in intense heat, the power grid was struggling immensely to support the AC units needed to keep the entire population cool.

Now, we move to the east coast. For almost a month straight, during August, there was torrential rain, hail, and flooding. A direct example of this is what happened to Kentucky, as mentioned before.

We usually think of our country as better than most, but when it comes to the wrath of the sky and earth, everyone is equally powerless.

The largest of these recent natural disasters struck the Middle Eastern country of Pakistan.

While American students begrudgingly returned from their summer vacations and turned back to a life at school, children and families in Pakistan were struck by a much worse predicament.

An excess of water struck Pakistan seemingly out of nowhere. With the countries fluid infrastructure not being modern, it was quickly overrun by the extreme load. Dams lost function, levees broke, and the agricultural artery of Pakistan was its ultimate demise.

Where this really becomes truly shocking is the number of real people that have been displaced by the disaster. Over 30 million Pakistani residents have been forced to move, and over 600,000 have been forced into relief camps. One third of the country’s population is in a dire situation. This is terrifying, but it’s just the beginning.

Deadly weather phenomena are something we as a species must learn to overcome. The only issue is, we don’t know how to. Natural disasters are like our planets version of a check mate. There is nothing we can do to stop it when it happens, we can only plan to make it more difficult for our opponent to get us into that position.

This is where I must bring up global warming. We are simply not doing enough to avoid the horrendous fallout our species has laid unto ourselves. I am not going to pretend to be an atmospheric fluid dynamic professor, or a well spoken well researched activist. I’m just someone who has noticed a problem and feels that not enough people are addressing it.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do as individuals. The only chance we have is by operating together. Writing legislation and finding new ways to do what needs to be done without killing this planet that has so graciously allowed us to thrive.

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