Wednesday, February 21, 2018

SpaceX launches new beginning

By: Sydney Sayre
SpaceX launched its new Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6. This rocket is designed with two boosters that will separate from the center core engine when it throttles down and return to Earth at designated locations. The center core engines then throttle back up.
      “The Falcon Heavy rocket is the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two”, according to SpaceX.
The purpose of this rocket is to deliver certain things to space. Cargo, satellites, and people can be carried in this rocket. Large loads can be taken into orbit inside the composite fairing, which is a structure that protects satellites during delivery into orbit and beyond. The shell breaks loose when it is safely inside space and releases whatever it is carrying. This isn’t normal for most rockets.
This Falcon Heavy rocket can also carry the Dragon, a free-flying spacecraft that can carry cargo and people. The Dragon made history in 2012 when it delivered cargo to the International Space Station and returned more cargo to Earth. This was previously only done by governments. It is expected to make a test flight as early as 2018 with a manned flight.
Recently, SpaceX did a test launch of this rocket, which carried a 2008 Tesla Roadster in the composite fairing of the rocket. The Tesla came complete with a dummy driver, nicknamed ‘Starman’ to join the car on its journey around the Sun.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX said, “Just bear in mind that there is a good chance this monster rocket blows up.”
However, that wasn’t the case. The test launch successfully placed the Tesla into orbit. It is said to eventually reach Mars’ orbit as well as stay in space for millions of years. The rocket will soon launch a series of satellites in bid to have internet cast down on Earth, making it easier to access for everyone.

School Shootings: A millennial norm

By: Maisie Stout
Many people are having trouble coming to terms with the fact that school shootings are now a norm in our society. If recent events have proven anything, school shootings are far from being over. Yet, an article published by USA Today entitled “School shootings are not the new normal” begs to differ.
       “Of course, I don’t mean to minimize any of the one-per week on average school shootings, but they should not be conflated with the most deadly but rare events. Unfortunately, most readers and viewers don’t appreciate the distinction when statistics including non-fatal school shootings are cited whenever there is mass killing at a school,” states the article by James Alan Fox.
         As a teenager, I would be terrified if someone brought a gun into our school whether they ended up shooting someone or not. While this article focuses on the misleading facts that people like to jump to, it does not do much to validate all the deaths that have occurred on school grounds across the United States. The point of school shootings being the norm is not that a lot of school shootings where multiple people die occur, it is that no gun should ever be brought into a school ever. It is a scary time to be a student when schools are not safe and the government does nothing to make it better.
         As millennials, we grew up in the shadow of Columbine, the first real school shooting worthy of noting. Thirteen people died that day in April of 1999. Most high school students today were not born yet, or were just being born. Our parents could not have predicted that we would grow up learning what to do in code red drills and how to defend ourselves against attackers.
Many other school shootings occurred after that, but none were as impactful in millennial lives as Sandy Hook Elementary. That day, 27 people died, most of them under the age of 10. Ten-year-olds dying because of what? Mental illness? Guns? Video games? We can accuse the person and not the gun, or vice versa, but that will not change the fact that 27 people died that day.
Flash forward to the year 2018, where we were not even three months into the new year when catastrophe struck. A 19-year-old male went into a high school with the sole purpose of murdering as many people as he could with an assault rifle. Speculations have risen that he had a troubled past. He is said to have been bullied by his peers. His mother died last November. No matter the justification, there is nothing- home life, mental illness, bullying-  that excuses an act this profound. People struggle with these issues every day without becoming murderers. Students should not have to live in a world where they are scared to go to school, and our government should be doing something to solve the problem.
But what really can be done to prevent school shootings? In a rational government like so many others in the world, a ban on guns would suffice. Even a ban on only semi-automatic guns would stop the slaughtering of so many people at once. After a violent massacre in Port Arthur, Australia, the Australian government put in place many restrictions and policies for owning guns. These restrictions reduced gun violence in Australia by over 50%. So, it is not impossible to have successful gun control, but it may be more difficult for the U.S.
        Not only does the U.S. have a constitutional right to bear arms, it has over 270 million guns distributed throughout its population. There is also the National Rifle Association that makes sure to step in after any gun violence incident to remind lawmakers of that fact. Based on our current legislators’ lack of action, a lot more people will have to die before our government even thinks about banning assault weapons. Although, the survivors of the Florida shooting are certainly making their voices be heard by everyone and even directly addressing President Trump on the issue. These are the same victims who are speaking their minds on Twitter by slamming critics, organizing groups to perform demonstrations like “March for Our Lives,” all while attending their classmates’ funerals. This group is planning a nationwide student walkout on March 14, with hopes that teachers and students will all walkout of school for 17 minutes starting at 10 a.m. to show respect for the 17 people that died in Florida this year. Other groups are also planning nationwide walk outs, like the one set for April 20th, the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.
While it is unlikely that these walkouts will influence anyone in government today, it is still important to stand up for what you believe in. If you agree with other students throughout the nation, you can participate in the walk outs or contact your state representatives and tell them what you would like to be done. Our generation may not be old enough to really understand the shady morals of the government, but we are tired of being put in harm’s way. It is time for change.

Tide Pod Challenge poisons youth

By: Lucas Smith

Over the last few years, many challenges have emerged on social media. These “challenges” have allowed average people to gain followers and popularity. Watching people attempt and perform these dares can be entertaining, but the dangers of said challenges are not always acknowledged. Possible dangerous consequences include the danger of the Cinnamon Challenge, danger of the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, danger of the Salt and Ice Challenge, and now- the infamous Tide Pod Challenge. 
The Tide Pod Challenge began near the end of 2017 and took off with start of the new year. It is unknown how the trend started, but it is likely that a series of memes sparked the trend to come about.
The purpose of the challenge is unknown. People are likely daring others to eat the pods or people could be consuming them for attention.
According to the AAPCC, “in 2016 and 2017, poison control center handled thirty-nine and fifty-three cases of intentional exposures, respectively, among thirteen to nineteen year olds.”
Now, we are almost two months into the new year, and there are already 175 intentional cases among the same age group. This is also according to the AAPCC.
A person might become “insta-famous” by attempting this challenge, but there are many dangers to consuming the laundry detergent. If you swallow the detergent, it can cause burns to the esophagus and stomach. Gastrointestinal stress and diarrhea is also a factor. If the detergent gets into the lungs, it can cause wheezing, coughing, and respiratory distress. Inevitably, misuse can be serious.
“Potential effects include: seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death,” according to the AAPCC.
For as little as $5.00, people can purchase a small pouch of these pods. However, grocery stores have started locking up these cheap products and other dangerous laundry detergent in order to prevent teens from buying them with the intentions of attempting the challenge.
In comparison, candy brands have taken up the “pod” endorsement. Snickers and Twix have begun to be advertised in the form of “pods.” The company “Mars” owns Snickers and Twix. The company has advertised candy under its name in “pod” form in the past. However, it seems too coincidental that the company decided to now advertise Snickers and Twix in pod form with the start of this new challenge. On the contrary, these are the types of pods a person should be eating. Not only are candy brands taking advantage of the endorsement, bartenders have taken up the art of the “Tide Pod shot.” They are using different types of alcohol to make an orange, blue, and white layered drink, similar to the colors in the original product.
All these different challenges are dangerous. However, the Tide Pod Challenge is different from other challenges because it is poisonous. The company has released many statements regarding the dangers of eating Tide Pods.
“What should Tide Pod’s be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else,” stated Tide.
Needless to stay, the company said, “Eating a Tide POD is a BAD IDEA.”

Viking Wrestlers Chase State Podium

February 10 the Ripley Vikings wrestled at regionals, individually paving their way to states. Wrestlers had to place in the top four to advance to the state tournament at the Big Sandy Arena in Huntington. The tournament takes place February 22-24.

Seven of the Vikings team qualified for states: freshman Nate Cox at 106 lbs., freshman Luke Miller at 113 lbs., junior Ethan Koontz at 120 lbs., junior Evan King at 132 lbs., senior Hunter Burdette at 145 lbs., senior Jacob Starkey at 170 lbs., and senior B.J. Haynes at 220 lbs. In this tournament, there will be eight rounds per weight class spread out over the period of three days.

Four of these Vikings have been to States before: King came just inches away from placing in his first year ever wrestling; Burdette has gone all four years placing 2nd, 3rd, and 6th;  Starkey placed 3rd twice and 4th once; and Haynes also qualified all four years, placing 6th last year. However, for others this will be their first appearance at the tournament including Cox and Miller.

“It feels great to make it to states. I have been going to the high school state tournament since I was tiny and I would dream of wrestling there. Now that I am here, I am glad that my hard work is starting to pay off,” Miller said.

These wrestlers have spent the last six months training and preparing for this upcoming weekend. It all comes down to this final moment. 

Senior Hunter Burdette said, “It would mean a lot doing well at states, with this being my last year it would mean that much more. Everyone wants to go out with a bang.”

With three of the seven wrestlers being seniors, this tournament will be important for the building of the program for the coming years, ensuring Viking Wrestling stays a name to remember.  

Trump’s Proposes to end SNAP

By: Ashtun Welling

  February 12, President Donald Trump made an announcement that could potentially affect 38 million Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps, may be coming to an end. Instead, Trump has proposed the Harvest box.
  For those who qualify, SNAP in the past has loaded the cash on a card. About half of their benefits would go towards a food box. Then the rest would be loaded on a card. The box would contain shelf-life items such as peanut butter, milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, beans and canned meat, fruits, and vegetables, according to the USDA.
  Budget Director Mick Mulvaney wants to create a “Blue-Apron” program instead called Harvest Box. Supports of this program are comparing it to food delivery services that are on the rise.  The Harvest Box would contain locally grown vegetables from American farmers. However,  recipients do not get a choice in what comes in the box; the government would make the purchases.
  The government has left a lot of unanswered questions in this proposal.  A lot of American citizens have food allergies or restrictions in their diet, the administration has made it unclear how these situations will be handled. The box would contain the needed nutritional value for these families. It is still unclear on how the distributions of the food boxes will be handled. The idea is that these individuals would either have the box delivered to them or they would have to pick up the box.

    This budget plan could possibly save the government 130 billion dollars in the next 10 years. Also, it could cut back on fraud. The SNAP program makes up about 80 percent of the USDA’s national budget, making it the largest portion of the agency’s spending. In 2016 the program cost the nation nearly over 71 billion dollars.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Winter Olympics: United States of golden snowboarders

By: Maisie Stout
           The U.S. stands strong in third place overall in the Winter Olympic Games held in  Pyeongchang, South Korea. Americans are dominating the snowboarding competitions with recurring athletes and young hopefuls alike taking control of both the slopestyle and the halfpipe. So far, the only gold medals for the U.S. have been for men’s and women’s snowboarding competitions.
            Red Gerard, a 17-year-old snowboarder from Ohio, was the first person from the United States to win a gold medal in the 2018 games. He is also the youngest person to win the men’s slopestyle competition on record. Gerard went from last place to having a spot on the podium after a successful third and final go at the slope. His first two runs in the finals were flops, leaving his third run as his last hope for a spot on the podium. He surprised everyone with a run that was awarded with an 87.16, putting him in first place. The slopestyle competition consists of a variety of obstacles and slopes. Each snowboarder is scored based on amplitude of jumps, execution of tricks, and originality of their run.
The second gold medal went to Jamie Anderson, who despite rough weather conditions, was able to pull off a winning run. The weather during the event upset many riders and effected their performance, but Anderson was reportedly “down for anything” and landed all of her jumps in record perfection. This was Anderson’s second Olympics and her second gold medal in the women’s slopestyle.
The other two gold medals won by U.S. athletes were by Chloe Kim and Shaun White in the men’s and women’s halfpipe. Chloe Kim, an American citizen whose parents immigrated from South Korea in 1982, was the youngest woman in Olympic history to win the women’s snowboarding halfpipe. Kim is just 17 years old. Kim mentioned in an interview that she was snowboarding for South Korea, in spirit, and the U.S. and hoped to make both countries proud. She is only actually representing the U.S. in the games, but she wanted to also represent her Korean heritage. Her first run in the finals was the gold medal run at 93.75. No other snowboarder was able to beat that score, so her third run became a “victory lap” which ended up giving her a record-breaking score of 98.25, less than two points from a perfect score. The halfpipe is scored similarly to the slopestyle competition, but instead of boarding down a hill, they are boarding in a half pipe which is made of packed snow similar to concrete. Another female, Arielle Gold, was able to take the bronze in the halfpipe as well with a score of 85.75.
Shaun White’s journey to redemption was certainly a rough one. Just months before Olympic qualifiers, White suffered a traumatic injury while training in New Zealand. White lost control during a trick that consisted of four body rotations, resulting with his face making contact with the edge of the pipe. Many people do not know that even though the pipe is made of snow, it is packed solid and is basically concrete. White had to get 62 stitches on his face and mouth. White recovered quickly, and while the accident scared him it also motivated him to go for gold in Pyeongchang. In January of this year, White secured his spot on the Olympic team by scoring a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix.
  White’s quest ended in success as the 31-year-old became a three-time Olympic gold medalist on Tuesday. Four years ago, White had a fluke performance and received 4th place at the Sochi Olympics. Ever since, he has been determined to come back and win the gold. In qualifiers on Monday, White was set on getting the highest score to reserve going last in the finals. It is important for riders to go last so that they watch the competition and decide how they want to take their run. Most riders have a set routine before they even come to the games, but mix things up depending on how stiff the competition is. White did secure his spot as the top rider of the day by earning a 98.50 on his second run. In the finals, his first run put him on top at 94.25 which was soon bested by Ayumu Hirano from Japan with a 95.25. Both White and Hirano had “throw away” scores on their second runs, meaning they fell at some point in their run. In the final round, Hirano was still not able to get a higher score than his first. White, however, delivered a performance worthy of a gold medal. His second run, practically flawless, got him a 97.75 and a spot on top of the podium.
Other snowboarding events yet to come are men’s and women’s snowboard cross on Thursday, big air on the 19th, and the parallel giant slalom on the 22nd.