Thursday, January 22, 2015

Track Review

Pinnacle High School’s track season as a whole

As the Pinnacle High School’s track season comes to a close, the athletes look back on the amazing year they all had.
                 Sophomore Bethany Harris participated at track meets. She competed in the 100, 400, and 800 meter dashes.
                 “My overall record was pretty good, I even placed second in the 400 against Boulder Creek. I feel like I have improved a lot since the start of this season.” Harris said.
                  The team, as a whole, did great. They beat Horizon, Desert Mountain and Shadow Mountain at the individual meets. Compared to other schools, the Pinnacle boys team placed in the middle of the pack but the girls ranked in the upper half of all the schools that competed. The individuals did great as well. Harris, for example, placed second at the meet against Boulder Creek.
                  Sophomore Malhia Best also competed at the track meets. She competed in the 100 and 200 meter races.
                   “Overall, I believe I have improved from last year and I learned new things like techniques that will help me run faster and I worked on fixing my form which also helped with speed. That has helped me be more successful on the track. I love meeting people and competing against my friends is such a thrill,” said Best.
                    However, the season was not always a breeze. Many athletes became afflicted with several injuries either during practice or at a meet. Many people suffered with shin splints or overall just being sore.
                   “People got hurt at practice because they were not stretching enough so they couldn’t put forth all their effort at the meets,” Best said. Luckily for Best and Harris, they did not get injured.
                    The track season is a grueling one, but for both Best and Harris, they would like to come back next year and do it all again, if time allows.

Jordyn Shevat | Staff Writer, December 2013

An Olympic Threat

Extremists threaten the security of the 2014 Winter Olympics  
At 12:45 Moscow time, December 29, 2013, a suicide bomb detonated inside the Volgograd-1 Railway Station killing 18 people and injuring 44. A day later, a second bombing occurred on a trolley bus in downtown Volgograd, killing 16 more. In preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, approximately 600 miles from Volgograd, Russia stepped up its defense.
            In what has been called “The Ring of Steel”, Russian President Vladimir Putin is organizing one of the largest security efforts in the history of the Olympic Games. So far, 40,000 police and security forces, including interior ministry troops and counter-terrorism units, will be deployed for the Olympics. There will also be regular soldiers stationed at multiple checkpoints, divers scanning the Black Sea coastline and anti-air missile batteries prepared to shoot down any aerial attack. If that is not enough, drones overwatch from above while Russia’s elite Spetsnaz commandos examine the countryside in case any terrorists try to cross the border. Security on this scale is unprecedented.
             Yet it is to be expected. President Putin invested over $50 billion into hosting the Winter Olympics. According to the Los Angeles Times, the total cost of the Sochi Games costs more than all of the past Winter Olympic Games put together. Olympic officials have stated that the cost is mainly due to the lack of infrastructure needed to make the games happen, reinforcing an earlier statement that it was previously a difficult location to hold them in the first place. Yet, since Russia won the bid for host country, it would just take more time and money in order to create the infrastructure. Originally starting from scratch, these games are to be extravagant. For Putin, all eyes are on how he executes his operation, making the Game’s defense critical. However, besides the economic value the games hold, multiple credible threats have come to light.  
            For starters, Russia put out a national warning for suspected “black widows.” Black widows are typically women who lost their husbands, radical extremists killed by the Russian military, and now retaliate as suicide bombers. As of now, Russian police distributed fliers and contacted local hotels and restaurants to be on the look out for three potential “black widows.” Other than the black widows, there lies a deeper radical Islamic threat to the Sochi Olympics, lone wolves. Recently, a video surfaced on a Chechen extremist website possibly revealing the two suicide bombers from Volgograd. From the grave, the duo announced that they have a “surprise package” in store for the Olympics. The video also included footage of the two men creating their bombs, driving to their targets and the detonation footage of the two Volgograd bombings. All of these attacks were called for by Doku Umarov, leader of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, back in July 2013. While the Russian government claim Umarov was killed and is no longer a threat, many skeptics are unsure due to the absence of any evidence of his death.
            While Russia believes it has a secure hold on the games, many other foreign delegations still fear for their athletes on Russian soil. The U.S. government has offered help and security measures to the Russians who have politely declined. However, the U.S. remains undeterred, for as we speak two U.S. warships are enroute to Sochi in case of emergency evacuation of U.S athletes. Also, with close co-operation from private companies and the Russian government, more detailed emergency plans for creating rally points and shelters are in the works.
            Currently, the Sochi Olympics are less than two weeks away. The U.S has the largest delegation of all the participating countries and is expecting between 10,000 and 15,000 American spectators to watch the games. In preparation for these events, no country is taking security for granted. Athletes, and spectators alike, are worried for their safety while attending this event. While the eyes of the world are watching the Olympic Torch become lit from their homes, those attending in Sochi, Russia will be alert to whatever danger may be brewing from behind the scenes.  

Chris Harlig | Staff Writer, December 2014

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie
A series of terror attacks rock France

It was wednesday morning at the Charlie Hebdo Offices, most of the people that worked there had already arrived and begun to do their daily routine. Nothing was different about the day, just the normal, everyday working day. That would soon change. Around 11:30 a.m. three masked gunman appeared to blocks away from the offices, they began to head down the street, looking for the Offices in an organized fashion. An officer on security detail stood in front of the building,\The Armed men shot him, and proceeded towards the offices. A woman was walking out of the offices at the moment, they stopped her and demanded that she escort them into the building. She did as requested, hoping that her life would be spared. Once they infiltrated the building, carnage ensued.
Overall 12 people would die that day, sparking a man hunt that would lead the deaths of the terrorists involved, and eventually to a shootout in a kosher market. Employees that were in the building describe their experience to reporters, saying that the terrorists barged into the room during an editorial meeting. There they separated the men from the women, then shouted out the names of the people they were about to kill. Dr. Jerald Kierzek was a physician on  the scene shortly after the carnage, trying to treat survivors. He explained how the shots were dealt with deadly precision.
“The gunmen said they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed and shouted "Allahu akbar," which translates to "God is great," Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.
The attack was years in the making, after a controversial comic of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad was released by the magazine. The attack was for justified by the terrorists as vengeance for their prophet. This wasn’t the first attempt to deal damage to the offices, in 2011  a firebomb went off at the office,  However no injuries were reported.
After the terrorists managed to escape the offices, the manhunt ensued, turning Paris into a warzone. One terrorist involved with the attack, 18 year old Hamid Morad,  turned himself into police later that day. He did so after seeing his name was mentioned Social Media, The next day, Thursday, people dressed in similar attire to those that attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices shot a female police officer in some of the suburbs of Paris. She would later be pronounced dead from her wounds. Later that afternoon, Prime Minister Manuel Valls raised the terror threat level to the highest level in the heat of the manhunt.
Friday morning, French officials were able to catch up to two of the terrorists in a print shop. The two terrorists were held up inside, hoping to die martyrs. Many schools in the area were placed on lockdown, shops were told to close, and residents told to stay inside. The Police would raid the building, were the two terrorists, supposedly brothers, would die in a firefight.
Later that Friday, a gunman linked to the terror attacks from the days previous took people hostage in a kosher market in a Paris suburb. After a standoff with police a gunfight ensued, killing the terrorist, now known at the this point as Amedy Coulibaly, while injuring some police officers. Four hostages were killed, while the other fifteen were able to escape. Apparently, while the hostages were running from the store, an accomplice to the terrorist, known as Hayat Boumediene escaped from the store.
The attacks were brutal, and horrific. But in the amidst the chaos of the three days, came unity. Many French citizens would rally, holding signs saying “Je suis Charlie” which translates to “I am Charlie.” Many called the attacks an attack on free speech, that served to scare the french people, as well as create distrust in the community. However the opposite happened, the French would not succumb to what the terrorists wanted, they would rally for days. A unity rally was then planned, and nearly 3.7 million people attended from several countries. This included many world leaders, who all walked arm in arm down a Paris street. The terrorist's plan had failed in the end, and France had won. 
Bastion Zuzu | Staff Writer, January 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Freshman on Varsity

Freshman Taylor Black shoots for the top on Girls Varsity Basketball
       The crowd erupts as Taylor Black scores a basket during a Pinnacle Varsity Basketball game. Ever since third grade, Black had a knack for basketball. All through the years, Black’s family and friends pushed her to be the best player that she can be. Black plays on Junior Varsity and Varsity girls basketball. Her main positions are guard and forward.
       “ Basketball taught me that a team isn’t just yourself and you have to trust your teammates,” Black explains.
       Black never stops playing. Even on weekends, Black is out on the courts practicing her shot. Although these aren’t traditional ways of improving skills,  Black practices ball handling with tennis balls and volleyballs in her room.
       When Black is out of high school, she hopes to make it to a Division One college for basketball.  Meanwhile, the time for club season is almost starting, Black will be playing basketball for “The Rebels.” 

Sydeny Shevat | Staff Writer, May 2014

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Keeping an Eye on the Unknown

Agatha Andersen, a star astronomer, peeks into space 
Andersen’s job teaching physics is just one part of her amazing contribution in the world of science. Working on telescopes on the coast of Washington state, doing research at the University of Arizona (UA), and working in an observatory add to her life in astronomy and physics.
                Andersen describes her time working on the telescope enthusiastically saying things like “it was really fun.” She talks about how a professional photographer came and got his work published in actual magazines and how she got to work with some pretty big name people in the science world but it didn’t faze her then since she was so young but now looking back at it, she says the experience was amazing.
Andersen got to work on the telescope because of her professor. He needed some assistance so he chose her as well as two other of his students to help him with this task. While doing research there she got the opportunity to work on writing a computer program, which helps greatly in astronomy.
                Andersen says some of the best things about working on the telescope were doing all the troubleshooting that you need to be an astronomer, staying up late working and just living the life of a scientist. She describes this story about how one night she was walking back to her basement apartment near the observatory and all of a sudden, a deer popped out of nowhere. She was shocked and, obviously, caught off guard, but she thought that this must be what all astronomers go through while being out in the middle of nowhere, all the random wildlife popping out.
                She describes some of her favorite things about working on research at the University of Arizona. She says that it was a collaborative effort, so even if it wasn’t her research, she still got to work on it. She also said it was fun to not be by yourself wondering, “what do I do next?” She could just go up to her boss or colleague and ask them what to do.
                Andersen decided to go into the field of astronomy because she always admired people who knew so much about astronomy.
                “Why admire other people, when I can do it myself?” She said. Originally, she actually was getting her major in biology but switched to astronomy. Then she figured out that she only needed a few more classes to add physics to her degree so she thought, why not?
Working on the telescope helped her with teaching. Every time a student asks a question about astronomy, she has real life information and experiences. Since astronomy is among the most interesting topics for students in physics, it benefits her greatly and she loves teaching it as well.
Andersen eventually does want to go and work on telescopes again. She thinks it is so interesting and she misses that challenge of being an astronomer.

Jordyn Shevat | Staff Writer, May 2014

Monuments Men: Behind the Scenes

Fact versus Fiction in Hollywood’s spin on the Monuments Men
In George Clooney’s most recent film venture, he and a cast of renowned actors try to recreate the stories of the Monuments Men. As depicted in the movie, the Monuments Men were a group of  experts, in the fields of art and architecture, whose task was to find and preserve famous art pieces from the terror of the Nazis. Yet how accurate is this depiction? Is this World War II comedy drama at least fairly true to its historical roots?
              Unfortunately, not as much as one would hope.“Listen the good news is that 80% of the story is still completely true and almost all the scenes happened,” George Clooney stated. However, historical critics don’t agree with him.
              “It’s accurate on a very basic level, with the idea that President Roosevelt charged these art experts, led by Americans, but also including other Western Allies… to protect cultural heritage during the war,” historian Elizabeth Campbell said.
               If thats the case, what is not historically accurate? For starters, art wasn’t even the original goal for the Monuments Men. Their original idea focused on protecting historic buildings. The men  initially planned to provide locations where bombers should not bomb, then land and start operations to restore the buildings. The venture was also started by the British  in Libya 1942, which would later inspire President Roosevelt and PM Churchill to create the “Monuments Men”. The movie depicts that the Americans created the Monuments Men group on their own accord, downplaying the significance of the British and the French.
Yet again, unlike the movie, there wasn’t an actual group of men. These experts were deployed in either one or two man teams across Europe who would only meet to avoid repetition in projects. The names of the original Monuments Men change, as to not display the originals in a bad light. Actors like John Goodman, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, and more portray only seven of the original Monuments Men.
               Unfortunately, one of the biggest historical flaws within the film comes three-fourths in when Adolph Hitler issues his Nero Decree ordering all archives and art should be burned if they were to fall to the Allies. While Hitler did issue his Nero Decree, it wasn’t for art; it was for factories, food storages and machinery. The Nazis wished to preserve the art as a sign of power. The destruction of volumes of art within the film only occurred to Surrealist, Cubist and Expressionist art. Hitler desired the art to be given to German Museums or to his massive dream project, “The Fuhrer Museum.” Most of the art was taken from the Jewish people during the initial beginning crackdown on them. It was a part of Hitler’s master plan to strip the Jews of individuality and freedom, which has hardly mentioned in the film.
               However, not all of the movie was dramatically altered. The roles the actors did play were based off of real people who played key parts in the recovery of cultural items. The female spy Rose Valland (played by Claire Blanchett as Claire Simone) valiantly kept record of the Nazi holdings of art and aided the Allies in their recovery.  The Monuments Men also recovered tens of thousands of priceless art pieces and sculptures, such as the Madonna of Bruges and the Belgian Ghent Altarpiece.
               Despite the historical artistic license taken with this movie, the film does portray the mostly unknown story of the Monuments Men in a positive light. After seeing the movie twice, I can happily say that even if the story is dramatized a bit, it does not take away from its entertainment value. I would recommend this movie to all history buffs who have an appreciation for the untold stories that have not been forgotten.

Chris Harlig | Staff Writer, November 2013

Monday, January 19, 2015

Twisted Transistor

Supergiant Games set to make another classic with Transistor
When Supergiant games released their first game in 2011, Bastion, a fantasy RPG, it took the independent gaming world by storm as it received critically acclaimed reviews, currently holding an 86 on Metacritic. Now, Supergiant looks to make it two for two as Transistor is set to release worldwide on May 20, 2014 for the PC and Playstation .
                Following its Bastion roots, Transistor is a science-fiction action RPG, where the player controls a young singer named Red, who comes into possession of the almighty powerful sword, The Transistor, as others try to hunt her down and obtain the sword for their own selfish vanity. Fans of Bastion will notice some new functions in the combat system, as how Bastion had more of a free movement and standard combat mechanics, Transistor combines free movement along with a planning mode that stops all time within the game, similar to turn based strategy. When Red’s action bar is filled all the way, she can enter this planning mode where the player can systematically choose how they handle an encounter of enemies and then execute it with super speed. It’s then required to dodge enemy attacks to build the action bar back up again. As seen in recent demos at gaming conventions such as PAX, Red earns experience points after winning battles which then can be used to spend on other abilities to aid her in battle.
               The only con of this potential hit, is its release date. May 20, 2014 is the same day highly anticipated Wolfenstein: The New Order, hits stores, followed by early game of the year candidate Watch Dogs. It’s a shame that such a unique gaming experience might go unnoticed with other big name projects releasing around the same time.
                Regardless of its untimely release date, Transistor looks to be the studios next big hit and one that could continue the ever-growing popularity of independent video games.

Tristan Biggs | Staff Writer, 2014
Photo courtesy of Supergiant Games