Gun control in the United States

In the United States, gun control is a topic that is always being talked about. Some people want more freedom with guns, and others feel that gun laws should be more restrictive. Every time a school shooting, or tragedy having to do with guns, happens more laws are passed, but they do little to prevent the next event that is inevitable.

Some of the gun laws that the U.S. has right now include: you have to be at least 18 to buy a gun, and fugitives, people who are deemed a danger to society, people involuntarily admitted into mental institutions, and people with felony convictions are restricted from buying guns and owning them.

Most states require permits to own a handgun. They also run a background check on you before you can buy the gun, although sometimes the background checks are not thorough enough to keep guns out of the hands of people planning to do harm with them. In the South, gun laws tend to be more loose, and in the North, they tend to be more restrictive.

In the past 10-20 years school shootings, and attempted school shootings, have become a big issue. The first school shooting was on April 20, 1999, when two boys named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They killed 13 people and injured 20.

Image taken from:

The school shooting of Sandy Hook Elementary, I think, sent the most shockwaves across the nation.

The last school shooting to happen, was at Parkland High School in Florida. 17 lost their lives, and their classmates are taking a stand because they feel that gun control laws need to be passed so more innocent lives can be saved. There have been laws/policies passed to make it harder to obtain guns including: in some stores the age to buy guns has been raised to 21, background checks are getting more thorough, and bump stocks are being banned in some states. Only time will tell if these laws are going to be effective.

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What is happening with the stock market?

Financial data on a monitor, Stock market data on LED image taken from:

On Monday, February 5, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,597 points, the most it had ever dropped in the middle of a single trading day. The Dow had recently hit a record high of 26,616 points on January 26. According to The Wall Street Journal, as of Friday, February 9, the Dow had dipped 2426 points from that high, a 9% decrease, dangerously close to what is known as a stock market “correction,” a 10% decrease after an extended time of growth. This sounds very bad, but what does it even mean?

Investopedia gives information about the stock market, including how the stock market itself, describes the trading of shares (put simply, an investment in a corporation). The Dow Jones Industrial Average, as well as the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Stock Market, are measures of the average trading value of stocks based on the stock prices of several major corporations. When they decline, that means stocks are less valuable. For people with money invested in the market, this is bad. But, it is not necessarily bad for most Americans, and it could even be good for new investors.

According to Slate, the reason for the downturn in the stock market actually has to do with recent news that is good for Americans. On February 2, the U.S. Labor Department announced that workers were being paid more than economists predicted they would be. To stock traders, this meant that the Federal Reserve would probably raise interest rates on stocks to compensate, meaning they would have to pay more money to their investors. Thus, they sold many stocks quickly and for decreased value, creating the downturn. This downturn had knock-on effects around the world, most noticeably in markets in Japan and Hong Kong.

As reported by CNN, this does not mean the US, or the world, is going through an economic recession, as it did in 2008. Most economists say that this downturn was bound to happen; the stock market had grown consistently since the Great Recession, and especially so since the election of President Donald Trump. Economists advise people with stocks not to sell, but to hold their stocks until better conditions come about. As for new investors, now is as good a time as any to invest.

President Trump had been claiming, before the decline, the tremendous stock market growth seen during his presidency as one of his greatest achievements. When the downturn occurred, Trump commented on Twitter, “In the ‘old days,’ when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!” This is not historically accurate according to the Huffington Post. News of wage increases has sent the stock market into a panic before.

MarketWatch reports that the stock market decline is nothing to worry about for the average American; its most recent fluctuation is totally natural. The Dow Jones is still up (24,609 points, as of February 12), and gaining more-and-more of its lost ground each day. CNN Money predicts that the incoming corporate tax cuts, part of the Republican Senate tax bill, will only help increase stock values, also.

The 2018 Winter Olympics and North Korean involvement

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. The Winter Olympics are an international multi-sport competition held once every four years in a different country. They are staggered with the Summer Olympics, which are also held once every four years, so that an Olympic Games occurs once every two years. It was first announced that South Korea would host in 2011. It will be the country’s second time hosting the Olympics. It hosted the Summer Games in 1988 (

As reported by CNN, the 2018 Winter Olympics has brought about great controversy for North Korea’s involvement in it. North Korea (officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) and South Korea separated in 1945. Shortly after the separation, the Korean War occurred (1950-1953), which ended in stalemate. Since then, the two Koreas have been separated by a demilitarized zone (DMZ). According to Sky News, relations between the countries has been tense, to say the least. North Korea is a communist dictatorship and South Korea is a liberal democracy, diametrically opposed types of government, but both claim rightful leadership of Korea in totality.

North Korea has been performing nuclear weapons tests since 2006 (most recently on September 3, 2017, “a perfect success,” according to the North Koreans), much to the consternation of South Korea and many Western democracies, including the United States, as noted by the BBC. Delegates from North and South Korea met for peace talks on September, 9, but North Korea continued to test its ballistic missiles afterwards. CNN has even reported that South Korea claims to have a plan to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if they feel too threatened.

So, with the threat of nuclear war looming, many wondered how South Korea would handle the 2018 Winter Olympics, and what North Korea’s involvement in them would be. Fortunately, it appears that the Olympics have only helped to bring the two countries closer together.

In his 2017 New Year address, Kim Jong Un wished the South Koreans luck in hosting the Games, offered to send a North Korean delegation, and said he wished for a “peaceful resolution with our Southern border [DMZ]” (CNN). Two North Korean figure skaters, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, qualified for the Olympics on September, 29, but were not entered by the deadline of December, 21. According to an NRP report, after negotiations between the two Koreas on January 9, it was announced that North Korea would send a delegation of 22 athletes, including the two aforementioned figure skaters. In addition, there will be a united Korean squad playing in women’s ice hockey. North Korea’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics could be a sign of more diplomacy to come between the two Koreas and the rest of the world.

But, not everyone is happy with North Korea’s involvement in the Olympics. According to The Telegraph, some human rights groups think that allowing North Korea to hold any events, as the South Korean minister of sports has gone so far as to recommend, would be an immoral endorsement of authoritarianism, similar to the 1936 Berlin Olympics held in Nazi Germany. The Wall Street Journal has also reported that some see North Korea’s participation as unsafe. France said they would not compete if safety could not be ensured according to Reuters. The Trump-appointed, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said, “it’s an open question.” Later, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on December, 7, “no official decision has been made” on US involvement in the Games, though she, quite contradictory, also said the US “looks forward to participating” as reported by USA Today.

Whether the US will boycott the 2018 Winter Olympics remains to be seen, but it now appears quite unlikely, with the announcement, reported by ABC News, on January, 10, that Vice President Mike Pence and his wife will attend the opening ceremony of the Games. Still, the Trump administration’s messages are mixed. Is North Korea’s newfound sense of diplomacy genuine, or just a ploy?

Exciting year for the royal family

KINGHAM, OXFORDSHIRE – AUGUST 28: Mike Tindall, Zara Tindell and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James’ Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

On Friday January 5th, officials announced that Zara Tindall, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, is pregnant again. Mrs. Tindall is also the daughter of Princess Anne. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said, “The Queen and members of the royal family were very pleased to hear this news.”

The baby will the second child of Zara and her husband, Mike Tindall, a rugby star. The couple already have a 3 year old daughter, Mia Tindall. Mia is known for stealing the spotlight, and getting cuddles and kisses from Prince Harry at polo events. Many times, she had happily shown off Queen Elizabeth II’s purse during official photo shoots.

ABERFELDY, SCOTLAND – JULY 11: Zara Phillips and daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph after husband Ex England rugby star Mike Tindall finished the grueling Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon in Loch Tay Scotland on July 11, 2015 in Aberfeldy, Scotland. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for Artemis Quadrathlon)

Mia was also there to help her parents’ difficult time when Zara had a miscarriage days before Christmas 2016. Mike Tindall told The Sunday Times, “The saving grace for us was Mia, our daughter who is now 3.” Mike also talked about how he was able to spend more time with Mia now, since he retired from rugby. The spokesperson also stated that the child will be due this summer, arriving a few months after Duchess Kate’s baby, who is due to arrive in April.

Back in October, Kensington Palace made the announcement that Duchess Kate was expecting another baby after the 12-week scan. Duchess Kate Middleton has had hyperemesis gravid arum (severe morning sickness) during her last two pregnancies, which is why the pregnancy was announced early. The pregnancy was initially announced on September 4, when Duchess Kate cancelled a visit to the London’s Children Centre because of severe morning sickness.

This is an exciting year for the royal family as Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding is due to be happening around May, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be welcoming their third child in April, and in the summer, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, Zara, will be adding another member to the royal family.

Chocolate is going extinct

Scientists have recently had theories that support the idea that chocolate will go extinct in the next 30 years. Right now, the main producers of cacao plants (chocolate) are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Unfortunately, the arable land in both of those places is a being greatly affected due to climate change. The air and soil temperatures are changing, and the way the beans are growing has changed.

The next biggest reason the plants may go extinct, is because of an insect-spread fungal diseases called “witch’s broom” and “frosty pod.” These diseases have already destroyed many of the cacao trees in Central America; their original natural home. Scientists, and farmers alike, are currently trying to find ways to keep those diseases contained, and not let them spread to the new chocolate empires.

800,000, out of the 25 million people, in Ghana, farm chocolate as their main crop. If these plants go extinct, not only would those people lose their biggest crop, and therefore their biggest source of income, the economy would be greatly affected. Most of Ghana’s economy comes from chocolate. Without that crop being exported, they would lose out on billions of dollars.

For more information, please visit:

“Chocolate Is a Bittersweet Way of Life in Ghana.”

Lee, Bruce Y. “Could Chocolate Actually Go Extinct In 40 Years?” Forbes

Freelanceqz. “The world’s two largest cocoa producers want you to buy their chocolate, not just their beans.” Quartz

California wildfires

In Southern California, many are being forced to flee because of the wildfires. Officials refer to the wildfires as the “Thomas Fire.” The “Thomas Fire” started on Dec. 4th, about 69 miles from Los Angeles. According to Fox News, about 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Officials had not yet figure out what caused the “Thomas Fire” to start in the first place. On Dec. 6th, another wildfire erupted known as the “Skirball Fire.” It burned about 422 acres and was around in the area of Bel-Air neighborhood. The “Skirball Fire” started because of an illegal cooking fire under the San Diego Freeway.

Scott McLean, an information officer at the California Department Of Forestry and Fire explained that the wildfires have been so destructive recently because of the drought that California has had for the last 5 years, which created a lot of dead vegetation. This year, California had a good amount of rainfall during the spring, but the summer heat dried out the growth of the vegetation.

Firefighters monitor the Thomas fire as it burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The autumn winds is also something to worry about. It is fueling the wildfires, causing the wildfires to spread faster and cover more area. This year, primarily, it is the Santa Ana winds that are fueling a lot of the wildfires. Usually, most winds will blow off to the Pacific Ocean, but the Santa Ana winds blow off into the desert of Arizona, then move west toward California. The millions of dead trees also allows wildfires to move quicker, scorching more land.

On Dec. 11th, the Santa Ana winds begin cooperating by pushing the fire away from the nearby communities, which allowed firefighters to see and help people. The “Thomas Fire” has destroyed around 1,000 structures. There has been only one death so far, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola died in a car crash while trying to evacuate from the “Thomas Fire.” A firefighter was injured while 3 other people were burned trying to retrieve the woman’s body.

Later, a firefighter was killed by the “Thomas Fire.” According to CNN, Lynne Tolmachoff, the spokesperson for The California Department Of Forestry and Fire Protection, the firefighter was driving on a fire engine on the east flank of the “Thomas Fire.” The man had not been identified at the time of this article, but he was pronounced dead on the scene by a medical team.

CNN meteorologist, Brandon Miller, reported that the winds had been picking up again and would make the job tougher for the 8,000 firefighters. CalFire had reported that about 1,000 fire engines, and 27 helicopters are involved in dealing with the “Thomas Fire” alone. The winds continue to be fierce, with the wind going 60 mph in the mountains, and about 35-50 mph in the valley-coastal areas.



The Harvey Weinstein effect

Sexual assault has been one of the most heated topics of 2017. Since the initial allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein in October, a stream, or rather a torrent, of allegations of sexual misconduct have been leveled at many other significant figures in entertainment, politics, and journalism, including: Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and even Minnesota senator Al Franken, who has now said that he intends to resign from his position (MinnPost). The phenomenon has been dubbed, “The Harvey Weinstein effect” as reported by USA Today.

The allegations have ranged in severity from rape, to sexual assault or abuse, to sexual misconduct, and the reactions to these allegations have been mixed, but dramatic, to say the least. According to a USA Today article, many of the accused have been fired or resigned from their jobs or projects (Weinstein, Spacey, Lauer), more have apologized (C.K., Franken, George H.W. Bush) or denied the allegations (Roy Moore), or a combination of the three.

Republican politician Roy Moore’s case has been particularly controversial as he was, when the allegations were made, running in a Senate election (ABC News). He was accused by eight women, according to a Washington Post article, two of which were 14, below the Alabama age of consent of 16, when they claim the misconduct occurred. Moore specifically denied the allegations of two of his accusers and continued to run despite them, and requests from Democrat and Republican senators, such as John McCain, who said on the Senate Government website, “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying,” and he should resign.

These allegations, and their outcomes, are enough to give anyone pause. Almost everyone opposes sexual abuse in any form, but it can sometimes be hard to tell whether an allegation is valid, and, if so, how specifically to respond; especially when the allegations are being made at such an alarming rate. This question is of particular importance when it comes to public servants such as Roy Moore or even Donald Trump, who been accused of various degrees of sexual misconduct by 15 different women (CNN Politics).

The Alabama Senate elections results were officially released by The New York Times on Thursday, December 14. Roy Moore lost by a narrow margin to Doug Jones, 49.9% to 48.4%, with the rest of the votes being write-ins. The loss is still surprising, however, as Doug Jones was considered an outsider and a long shot in Alabama, a state which hadn’t had a Democratic senator in 20 years, before eight women came out against Moore.

TIME Magazine has awarded “The Silence Breakers” (those who came out against sexual abusers), the distinction of “People of the Year.” Without a doubt, the unraveling of the Harvey Weinstein effect will come to be seen as a defining event of our contemporary epoch in later years.

Christmas around the world

Christmas is one of the most known and celebrated holidays with all age groups. Christmas mostly comes from Christianity, and is celebrated each year, but what’s to stop it from being celebrated in other countries around the world? Each place celebrates Christmas differently: from the decorations, to how long Christmas lasts, to when it starts. While most celebrate Christmas over a week, or two days, some celebrate it as a month longer festival which starts on November 26, and goes to January 6.; Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and other countries follow this tradition.

In Russian, Grandfather Frost (known in Russia as Ded Moroz) brings forth presents to the children while being accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka. On Christmas Eve, people in Russia don’t eat until the first star has appeared in the sky. People then eat a traditional porridge called “Sochivo” or “Kutia” made of wheat or rice mixed with honey, poppy seeds, and fruit. People don’t eat fish or meat during their Christmas Eve feast. They eat Sochivo from a special common bowl, which symbolizes unity. Sometimes, families throw a spoonful of Sochivo onto the ceiling and if it sticks then that would mean a good harvest and good luck in their future. On Christmas Day, the meal consists of 12 meals representing the 12 disciples of Jesus. After the feast, and attendance to church, the kids go out caroling, and wishing a happy new year, which they’re usually rewarded with cookies, sweets and money.

In Mexico, on December 16, through Christmas Eve, children often perform “Posadas” which is Spanish for inn or lodging. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary went looking from somewhere to stay. The children sing to the baby Jesus for all the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Each night a different house holds a Posada party and at the end, the last house they set out the baby Jesus in the manger and everyone gathers there to go to the midnight church service. After the church service, there is an arrangement of fireworks to celebrate the coming of Christmas. The outside of houses are typically decorated with evergreens, moss, and paper lanterns. A game often played at Posada parties is pinata, where the kids gather around and hit it with a stick while being blindfolded. The pinata is often decorated with seven peaks and spikes to represent “The seven deadly sins.” A nativity scene, or in Mexico called “nacimiento,” which is a scene with clay figures, represents the gathering of Jesus’s birth. Poinsettia are known as the flowers of Christmas Eve and are bought at stores or even grown. On “el Dia de los Reyes” (Day of the three kings) kids often get gifts left by the three kings which are put into shoes left by the children. Presents can also be left by El Ninito Dios ( Baby Jesus) or Santa Clos (Santa Claus).

Everywhere, around the world, Christmas is celebrated differently and often brings family and friends closer together whether it comes from just sitting down and eating together, to just celebrating this holiday which is important to them. Each different place has its unique way to celebrate; if its from food, to decorations, or ways the people give gifts, it’s all special, and a way to celebrate the Christmas spirit.

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  4. 4.

Save your Internet

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is what gives us the freedom to browse the Internet. It’s what prevents big phone and cable companies from controlling what we access and browse. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) give us the platforms to post what we want. They provide the freedom and platforms for our speech. Net Neutrality prevents the ISP’s from controlling how fast or slow our Internet access is. It gives everyone on the Internet an equal experience.

What’s happening to Net Neutrality?

There has been concern that we could lose our Net Neutrality. Soon, the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) will vote to determine the status of Net Neutrality. Since 2015, the FCC has tried their hardest to change the rule of Net Neutrality. If things were to change, that means ISP’s would have control over what we do. Not only could they speed up or slow down our Internet access, but they could determine what is posted. The loss of Net Neutrality means potentially paying for the sites we want to access. It would be like subscribing to a magazine, making daily tasks harder.

Who will be affected?

Without knowing, everyone is affected. Whether you’re trying to roam the Internet or you’re trying to check out a business, it can be harder to access their content. Losing the ability to share online will make it harder for certain events. This means that groups such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ will have a hard time planning their events. Anyone who depends on the Internet to receive or put out information will have a hard time.

How can this change be prevented?

If you have social media, you’ve probably seen the petitions going around. You may be wondering “How does a lousy petition help?” The FCC doesn’t think many people understand Net Neutrality. These signatures bring it to their attention that we care about our Internet. Now, will this prevent Net Neutrality from changing? Possibly. Many have taken the opportunity to call the FCC and tell them what it means to lose their Net neutrality. Taking action by simply signing a petition can possibly stop us from losing our Internet freedom. 

To help prevent Net Neutrality, visit the petition below:

For more information about Net Neutrality, please visit:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially engaged

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Clarence House (office of Prince Charles) announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Monday, November 27. The announcement shocked the world greatly, and after the announcement, the two made a brief appearance in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace. Harry told the reporters that he knew Meghan Markle was “the one from the first time they met.” The prince declined to tell the story of the proposal, but when he was asked if it was romantic or not, he answered “Of course it was.” Meghan Markle said she was very happy and flashed the engagement ring to the reporters.

According to Kensington Palace, Harry designed the engagement ring with a gold band, a large diamond from Botswana, and two smaller diamonds from a collection of Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Botswana is a significant place for Prince Harry and Meghan because they had spent time together there in the past year and a half. Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers, and Medallists were some of the companies that made the ring.

The couple plans to marry in spring 2018, and live at Nottingham Cottage, at Kensington Palace, where Prince Harry currently lives. Meghan Markle will be the first American to marry a British Royal since the marriage of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. Harry’s grandparents are delighted and wishes the couple every happiness.

Harry also sought Markle’s parents and had received their blessings already. Her parent’s statement said, “We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter had always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9243878t)
Britain’s Prince Harry pose with Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace in London, Britain, 27 November. Clarence House earlier 27 November 2017 announced the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. ‘His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.’ the statement said.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement in Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom – 27 Nov 2017

Prince William had just finished attending a charity event in Finland when he was asked about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement. He replied with “Wishing them all the happiness in this very exciting time. Very excited and delighted for them both.” Then he added, “For me personally, I hope it means he stays out of my fridge, and stop him scrounging over my food like he’s done over these past few years, I’m pretty excited.” He also confirmed that Prince Harry and Markle are absolutely in love and wishes them all the happiness and success in the wedding preparations.