QAnon: What is it, and is it Dangerous?

According to several news sources such as CNN, many of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol building yesterday were part of extreme factions including QAnon. So what, exactly, is QAnon?

QAnon is a group of conspiracy theorists that are reaching hundreds of followers every day. This is happening because people spend immense amounts of time on the internet due to boredom from the pandemic. It is estimated QAnon has at least 100,000 followers, according to Julia Carrie Wong from Theguardian.com. The FBI has even labeled the group as domestic terrorism. QAnon didn’t just show up entirely out of the blue, however. It has its origin and history. The popularity of this conspiracy theory has skyrocketed over the past few months. Though QAnon is primarily concerned with North American politics, some other countries like Latin America and Europe believe in it. 

QAnon followers believe an anonymous online figure called Q posts clues and information about a large-scale conspiracy where Donald Trump is in a battle with secret democrats, Hollywood elites, and billionaires such as Bill Gates.

QAnon had its start on the 4Chan and 8Chan subculture websites where people can post anonymously. 4-Chan has an alt-right user base often spreading doctored images and misinformation, says Oscar Gonzalez from Cnet.com. QAnon believers will gravitate to particular anonymous posts on 4Chan and other alt-right websites where they interpret the post as relevant to their grand conspiracy. Supposedly Q has a trip code that makes his posts recognizable from other anonymous users. Most of these conspiracies fade away, but according to Theguardian.com, QAnon had help. Three unnamed conspiracy theorists dug deep to supposedly translate Q’s posts to make it more digestible for a typical audience. 

The prime concern of QAnon followers is that they think the types of people listed above have links to pedophilia, child trafficking, and even satanism. They also believe these people drain the blood from abused children to harvest a life-extending chemical from the blood called Adrenochrome supposedly. This is derived from the anti-Semitic belief that Jewish people would murder Christian children and use their blood for drinking and baking. All of this has been debunked many, many years ago, as reported by Theguardian.com. 

Megan Cutter is the acting director of the US National Human Trafficking Hotline operated by Polaris. Polaris is a nonprofit organization that works to fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery says, NationalPublicRadio.org. Cutter states that “So far, these (conspiracies) are unproven and are taking away from the discourse around how trafficking happens.” QAnon is creating more of a roadblock for helping trafficked children. It is spreading incorrect information about how trafficking works. Megan Cutter said that QAnon believers see child trafficking as violently stealing children out on the streets and taking them away, which can be the case but is rarer. The most common child trafficking strategy is when the child knows their trafficker before they know their intentions. They build trust with the person. Traffickers will also go for more vulnerable children like children that have been abused, have poverty issues, or have faced systemic racism.  

So why should we be concerned about any of this? Unfortunately, conspiracy theories like this can have real-life implications and consequences. With the popularity of QAnon on the rise, believers can vote in candidates that have QAnon beliefs or similar beliefs. This could affect state governments, the national government, and even the presidency. In this last election, there were candidates for important government offices who do believe in this conspiracy. 

Majorie Taylor Greene, the 2020 winner of a House seat in Georgia, is a firm believer in the QAnon conspiracies. She is now recognized as QAnon’s first political victory, as reported by Kevin Roose from the NewYorkTimes.com. While Greene is a firm believer, some candidates only believe in certain aspects of the conspiracy theory. Republican candidate Lauren Boebert says she doesn’t engage with conspiracy theories. Still, she has openly stated that she hopes Q is real, according to Em Steck, Nathan McDermott, and Christopher Hickey on CNN.com. Another Republican candidate Mike Cargile says, “I started checking into it. And a lot of it I agree with. There’s are some fringe elements I don’t agree with,” An independent candidate, KW Miller, has posted numerous QAnon hashtags, engages in the conspiracies, and has promoted QAnon through Facebook ads. He claims that he does not endorse QAnon, but his followers do. Catherine Purcell, an Independent Party of Delaware candidate, has reposted many QAnon hashtags and content and claimed that not all of the posts are her beliefs, says CNN.com.

A doctor by the name of Hadi Halazun tells NBC News that on his Facebook page, a man left messages saying that, “No one’s dying” (of COVID19) and that it is all “Fake news.” Halazun tried to tell his first-hand experience with dealing with the virus. In a reply, he was told by another user that he wasn’t a real doctor because he attended concerts and music festivals. They even asked for his credentials, and once Hadi Halazun did so, he was kicked off their wall. Dr. Duncan Maru, a physician, and epidemiologist in Queens, New York, heard from his colleagues that a young man went into the emergency room. It turns out it was from drinking bleach that damaged his intestinal tract. President Trump did suggest injecting disinfectants into our bodies as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Some think that QAnon will fizzle away now that President Trump has lost the 2020 election, but others feel that QAnon may stick around for a long time or at least awhile. What do you think?

Story by Marni Scholl
Image licensed from Vectorstock.com

Alex Trebek, Legendary Host of “Jeopardy!” Has Died From Cancer Complications

This TV show host holds the Guinness World Record for “most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter.” Who is Alex Trebek (1940 – 2020)?

Trebek, an international icon and entertainer, was the host of “Jeopardy!” from 1984 till the end of 2020. Trebek passed away in his home on the morning of Nov. 8, 2020 at the age of 80. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for over a year, first announcing it to the public in March of 2019. While his death was a surprise to most, it had been expected to come soon. To celebrate his life, here are some of his many achievements throughout his life.

On July 22, 1940, he was born to his French Canadian Mother Lucille Lagacé and Ukranian Immigrant George Edward Trebek. His heritage as a French Canadian, allowed him to be fluent in both French and English. Before Jeopardy! Trebek hosted other TV programs, such as “Music Hop” (1963-64) and “Reach for the Top” (1966-73). In 1973, he and fellow Canadian Alan Thicke travelled to the United States to host the NBC game show “The Wizard of Odds” (1973-74). This led to Trebek hosting more shows in America, such as CBS’s “Double Dare” (1976-77), “The $128,000 Question” (1977-78) and NBC’s “The New High Rollers” (1979-80). In 1984, Trebek assumed his most memorable role as the host of the trivia show “Jeopardy!” a show that tested the average person’s intelligence for a large sum of money. 

In his lifetime, he won six Daytime Emmy Awards, the Gold Medal in 2010, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys in 2011, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal from the National Geographic Society in 2013 and the Burpee Medal in 2015 from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Trebek was an important part of many peoples’ lives, including students and staff here at Jeff High. “It was tragic. I was devastated. I grew up watching that show,”  says Patrick Wentworth, an AP English and English 11 teacher at Jeff. 

Trebek’s final recording day was Oct. 29, and the final new episode featuring him will air on Dec. 25, 2020. He hosted more than 8,200 episodes of “Jeopardy!”, and he finished his final episodes just two weeks after having cancer-related surgery. Trebek will always be remembered for the colorful humor, quick wit, and love of knowledge he brought to the television night after night.

Written by Chloey Trinkle

GCCS, Jeff High Teachers Keep an Eye on Safety

The school district and teachers have implemented many rules for student safety during COVID-19

Fear, panic and anxiety are just a few of the many feelings students could have about going to school during a global pandemic. For many this can cause worry and doubt about attending school, and can even drive some students to enroll into the online schooling. While other students continue to attend in person school with precautions. To reduce the risk of students catching COVID, many schools have mandatory procedures and precautions such as wearing masks. Some teachers have started to make rules of their own to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom. 

Jeffersonville High School students have chosen from three options for learning during the 2020-2021 school year. The first of these options is the traditional learning provided by GCCS, in which students go to school five days a week for in-person classes. The second option provided is My School Online. In this option, students remain at home and continue to interact with Jeff High teachers via the internet. The third and final option provided by GCCS is their Virtual Academy program. This program costs $50 a semester and allows students to learn at their own pace via online communications with non- Jeffersonville High School teachers. On the GCCS website it states, “Whether students are attending school virtually or in person, Greater Clark has created challenging curriculum that will prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs and opportunities.” There are also some “hybrid” students, who attend some classes in person and other classes through My School Online.

Greater Clark County Schools, like many other school districts, has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in areas of the school in which it is difficult or impossible to social distance. Jeff High has also changed their cafeteria to allow for more distance between students while they eat by opening up hallways and areas of the gym so traditional students can enjoy a safe eating environment while they enjoy their lunch with friends.

The mandatory school rules aren’t the only thing changing, though. Justin Linde, a Jeff High English teacher, has also made changes. “The main thing that I’ve implemented in my classroom is to convert the classroom into a completely digital environment,¨ he says.

English teacher Justin Linde (photo by Paige Moore)

Jeff High science teacher Jessica Lacobee has digitized all of her work in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect both the students and herself from the virus. ¨I find that if students have a specific point in which they are all to walk to and turn something in it creates an unnecessary gathering,¨ she says.  Lacobee also does not want the risk of an assignment turned in from a student to make its way home and spread to people outside of school grounds. ¨I want to avoid any contamination as far as me bringing it home to grade papers and the potential of anything being in my home,¨ she says.

Science teacher Jessica Lacobee (photo by Lydia Church)

Lacobee believes that running her class digitally is also easier as it partially negates the trouble of trying to run a digital and traditional classroom at the same time. “A lot of teachers were starting the school year with the idea that you could run a traditional classroom and an online classroom at the same time efficiently and I have found that that has not worked,” she says.  While the experience has been a tough obstacle, Lacobee and many other teachers are finding ways around the problems COVID brings and teaching their students in a safe and efficient environment.

While teachers are doing their best to contain the pandemic, students appear to be trying to stop the spread rate of the virus as well. “I will say that by and large, the majority of students are adhering to the social distances rules pretty well,” Lacobee says. She also says that students have even taken to advocating and regulating mask wearing among their peers. “They [students] take it off or they pull it down to talk and then someone immediately jumps on them,” she says. She believes this is because students worry a lot about being quarantined and are ensuring their own safety. Linde says that he has noticed students keeping themselves safe. ¨I have observed students being very mindful of students using hand sanitizer, being safe, keeping their masks on, and being aware and taking the situation very seriously, even more so than their adult counterparts.¨

Written by Lily Hughes

Teachers and Students Pivot and Adjust to a New Way of Learning

Coronavirus forces sacrifice and leads to innovation

Teachers have always been subject to a certain societal pressure to succeed: they are accountable for educating the next generation, after all. They are having to face new challenges teaching in the global pandemic. Crucial to academic development, teachers are given little leniency amid this global crisis, especially when the safety concerns are, now more than ever, absolute. For example, teachers must enforce the mask mandate and are expected to correct misbehavior regarding it. Jeffersonville High School is a school that relied on traditional means of education, the norm was physically going to school. However, which path is the right way is no longer clear, and the traditional method no longer stands alone.

Ahnya Evinger, a grade 9 English teacher, is balancing the needs of both traditional and online students. “It is important to understand that different students have different needs, and different families have different needs,” she said. Teachers must now cater to two different student bodies in the same classroom atmosphere. “It’s like everything else at the beginning of the year: getting into the swing of things, and starting to adjust to having students simultaneously in both methods.”

Ahnya Evinger, grade 9 English teacher

Teachers must familiarize themselves with new online systems and can no longer rely on physical work alone. Traditional schooling presents challenges, and they are expected to adhere to safety regulations as well as enforce them. Since going back, they must follow a new protocol, which includes wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, and cleaning desks between classes. With this new year, despite its massive shifts, they are prepared.

“I appreciate that Greater Clark County Schools is on the cutting edge as far as technology goes,” said Evinger. “When we had to shut down in March, we were prepared for E-Learning. We had already practiced that.” They had insight into what the future may look like despite COVID developments, which gave them leverage when it came to schooling online.

Students are also learning how to navigate this new online system and adjust to other changes. For example, block scheduling was implemented this year. Evinger says the block schedule allows for more time to interact with students. “It also gives me that time to really get to know my students right off the bat,” Evinger said. “I’m spending more than an hour with them everytime I’m with them.” A large influx of collaborative effort has also poured into the new year as well. Teachers are relying on one another a lot more and depending on their students to continue doing their part whether they are in the classroom or not.

Learning to prioritize certain matters and procedures has been instrumental in establishing these new grounds. There are times where safety takes precedence, even if that means taking the last few minutes of class to sanitize the room. 

Essentially, the current circumstances have required trade-offs and sacrifices, while also revealing opportunities to make learning more effective for everyone. “There are teachers all over the building who are pivoting what they’re doing. They’ve realized that what they’ve worked on and done in the past might not work this year, and so they’ve had to pivot in a new direction […] and finding new ways to reach their audience,” Evinger stated. This new year has proved the resilience among staff and students, and we can only hope it will continue to expand.

Written by Amber Walker

So … What Happened Election Night?

So, what’s going on? First, we do not have a winner at the presidential level. Despite what either candidate says, there is no winner. Second, the Senate is also still up for grabs as many close elections go uncalled. Finally, Democrats early in the night did claim a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, per multiple sources. 

So here are some answers to many of your lingering questions about this election.

Why is this election taking longer to count than past elections?

This election broke records for early voting (both in-person or mail-in), in most cases, these ballots take more time to count. This is also complicated as some states allow mail-in ballots to be counted after election day if they are postmarked by election day. This is why it is taking much longer to count.

When will we know the results?

Each state is different, so it is difficult to know when the election results from each state will be final. For example, North Carolina can accept mail-in ballots until November 12, so it is difficult to predict an outcome especially if the outstanding ballots could change the results. But one thing is for sure, election results are final when, and only when, all the votes are counted, despite what either candidate claims.

At the presidential level what states are still up for grabs?

As of 7 a.m., based on ABC News projections, there are still nine states uncalled. While some of these (such as Arizona) have been called on other broadcasts, ABC News has not called the state. The states that are still uncalled are: Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia. 

Why did President Donald Trump claim victory?

While most candidates often speak in optimistic hyperbole, this claim is verifiably false at this point. He has not won the election. 

Will this election be decided in the courts?

There is no definitive answer to this question at the moment. Elections have always been litigated and argued over (think Bush v. Gore). And even in this election there were many legal suits brought over election law. However, what the president is suggesting would be a challenge to election law after the election. While this wouldn’t be unprecedented, courts are much less likely to alter results after the election. 

Who’s up, who’s down?

At the moment, Joe Biden is in a better place than the president, at 7 a.m. based on ABC News projections, Biden has an electoral vote lead of 225 to 213. However, this race is far from over; while Biden is favored, Trump still has a chance. In this election each state is different, and each state has different votes left.

One thing that complicates the results is the stark divide between early votes and in person votes. Election data and polling numbers indicate that early voting across the country was much more advantageous for Democrats, while election day voting was much more positive for Republicans. This means that what kind of votes are left to count is key to predicting the results. So let’s look at the states.

  • Alaska – With about 36% reporting, Trump is leading big (61%-35%). However, with such a small amount of votes, it is hard to extrapolate from the data. Despite this, Trump was predicted to win the state.
  • Arizona – While ABC has not called the state, many other outlets such as Fox News have called the race for Joe Biden. This is because with over 80% reporting Biden is leading by 5 points. 
  • Georgia – Early in the night, Georgia looked like it was going to go into Trump’s column, but now with 92% reporting, Trump leads by 2 percentage points (50%-48%). The reason this race has not been called is because of where the outstanding ballots are from. For example, in heavily democratic leaning areas such as Atlanta, there are many votes left to count. 
  • Maine – Maine has been a surprise, not because of the results, but because of how slow they have been when it comes to counting. Despite this, most news outlets have called Maine for Joe Biden. As of right now with over 70% reporting, Biden leads by 13 points.
  • Michigan – Michigan is tight with Trump in a narrow lead with 86% reporting. The state has not been called because the remaining votes are primarily early votes which favor the challenger, Biden.
  • Nevada – With 86% reporting, the state is virtually tied. The remaining votes are expected to be early votes, which is expected to favor Biden. 
  • North Carolina – North Carolina stands with a 1 point lead for Trump with 95% of votes reported. The reason for the state not being called is that ballots can still be received until November 12.
  • Pennsylvania – In the state that was expected to decide it all Trump is leading by a 9 point lead with 75% of the votes reported. While this seems like a large lead, there are still tons of votes to count in left leaning counties such as Alleghany and Philadelphia. 
  • Wisconsin – Joe Biden holds a narrow lead with 97% of vote reported. The remaining vote is expected to favor Biden, but the results will be close.

As of right now, Biden definitely has an easier path to victory than Trump, but it is not over, and Trump has come from behind before.

What is next?

Ahead there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of counting. It’s important to remember that despite ensuing chaos and false claims, it’s not over until the last vote is counted.

Editor’s notes:

  • ABC News predictions were chosen for this article because of their tendency to make calls conservatively and wait until there is overwhelming evidence of a victory.
  • The data and results in this article are constantly changing, The Hyphen recommends following major news outlets for the latest results.

Written by Max Fisher

Election 2020: Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on the Issues

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, one other news story has been a constant this year: the presidential election. Although many people have already voted by mail or in early in-person voting, still many more are going to the polls today. Current President Donald Trump and former Vice president Joe Biden are leading the charge for the major parties. Howie Hawkins and Jo Jorgensen are running for the Green and Libertarian parties. 

With only two presidential debates leading up to election day, voters had fewer opportunities than usual to hear directly from the candidates side-by-side. However, the debates and campaign speeches do reveal a lot about where the candidates stand on some of the major issues of interest to Jeff High students:

COVID-19

COVID-19 has been a major topic through all debates and campaign events. During a rally in Wisconsin, Trump said,” We are rounding a corner. We got the vaccines …. but even without it, we’re rounding the corner.” Biden struck a different note in the final Presidential debate, saying “We’re not learning to live with it. We’re learning to die with it.” He has advocated for stronger mask mandates and vowed to make the vaccine free for everyone once it is cleared by the FDA.

Taxes

At many campaign events, Biden has spoken about a new tax proposal. Biden wants to increase income and payroll taxes on high earners (defined as those earning more than $400,000 a year), while expanding tax credits for lower-income and middle class Americans. Trump has spoken out against the plan, calling it a tax hike. His running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, said at the vice presidential debate that Biden’s plan would end up raising taxes “on every American.” 

Unemployment and Job Creation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.9 percent of Americans are unemployed in September of this year. At a rally in Michigan, Trump spoke out about how his administration has helped create jobs, citing the number of car plants that have been developed since his first term and will continue to grow during his second term. Biden, meanwhile, has touted his plan to “modernize American manufacturing and technology, to ensure that the future is made in America.” One part of that plan is to “impose a tax penalty on companies that avoid paying U.S. taxes by offshoring jobs and manufacturing, only to sell those goods back to the American people.” 

Race Relations

Protests and rallies have been held all throughout the nation following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Jacob Blake. Both Trump and Biden have spoken about these events. Trump has said many times that he wants to stop the protests. “Think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America,” he said. On the other hand, Biden said he believes there is a difference between protests and riots. “I want a safe America,” he said, and then added, “Safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.”

Although there are many more issues at play in this election, these are some of the key topics. Although their plans look different and they stand for different things, Biden and Trump both have one thing in common: they want the best for this country. 

Written by Rachel Lowe

Election Day By the Numbers: 2020 Features High-Stakes Races and High Voter Turnout

Heading into election day, over 95 million Americans have already voted according to the U.S. Elections Project. This record level of early voting is indicative of one of the most hotly contested and divisive elections in U.S. history. 

The election has also been complicated by COVID-19. States and localities have had to scramble to find the resources, money, and people needed to hold a high-turnout election safely. In many states, the solution was to expand mail-in and early, in-person. This adds a new level uncertainty as the different levels of government attempt to deal with the unprecedented levels of early voting. This could also lead to delayed election results, as certain states allow ballots to be received after election day. 

In America, election administration is given as a state duty by the constitution. This results in many different systems and rules based on the location. Also, as the election is playing out, many lawsuits have been decided or are being litigated to decide which ballots will count. This uncertainty has many on the left worried that the president will use this uncertainty to claim victory with a lack of any evidence. 

What is clear is what’s at stake on this election day: Democrats are on offense with a chance to claim a trifecta (Control of the House, Senate, and Presidency) at the federal level. Starting with the House, FiveThirtyEight (a data-focused news outlet that predicts election results based on polling and other variables) gives the Democrats a 98 percent chance of keeping control of the chamber. The Senate is a little tougher but still has Democrats optimistic. FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 76 percent chance of holding on to the chamber. And finally, at the presidential level, the site says Joe Biden has a 90 percent chance of winning the presidency. It should be noted that the forecasts do not factor in judicial challenges to the results. 

Presidency

At the presidential level, Joe Biden is squarely in the lead, and unless there is an unprecedented polling error, President Donald Trump will have to run the tables in all the battleground states. 

How Trump Could Win: To win, Trump will have to make up a large deficit in the polls to Biden, and he will have to rely on key demographics in swing states to reach 270. First Trump has to hold onto the states that he didn’t think he’d have to defend. Most major pollsters show races in Texas, Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio are close to a dead heat in polling; Trump carried these states handily last time. If Trump doesn’t hold on to all four of these toss-ups, the race is over for him. On top of that Trump will also have to win in three swing states in the South, as well as North Carolina, Arizona and Florida. Without these three states the president has little chance of prevailing. And finally, on top of all of that he would have to come from behind to win in Pennsylvania where the most recent New York Times poll has Biden leading by six points. While it may be easy to count the president out, it was only four years ago when the political outsider shocked the world by crushing his predictions and winning the White House.

How Biden Could Win: Biden’s path to 270 electoral votes isn’t complicated or nearly as hard as Trump’s. Simply put, out of the eight competitive states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa and Texas), Biden needs to win one. If he is able to capture just one of these states he will win the presidency. Despite what seems like an easy task, the left is still haunted by their false optimism four years ago.

Senate 

The outcome of the senate will have a large effect on the governing success of whomever wins the White House. Right now, the Senate is composed of 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. And Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama is very unlikely to win reelection. This means that to control the senate, the Democrats will need to gain four seats if Biden wins and five seats if he doesn’t win. (The reason for this difference: the Vice President would cast the deciding vote in a tie, meaning that Democrat Kamala Harris would add another vote if Biden wins). 

Democrats are favored to take back seats in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Arizona. They also have a nearly 50-50 chance of taking two seats, in Georgia and Iowa. They also have an outside shot of picking up seats in Montana, South Carolina, Alaska and Kansas. There will also most likely be a runoff in Georgia for its second Senate senate seat later this year (a runoff occurs when no candidate reaches 50 percent in the first election, then the top two candidates face off.)

House

For the Republicans to even have a chance to win the House, there would need to be a massive polling error, in which the news media dramatically misrepresented the views of the American public. The Democrats are almost certain to retain a majority in the house.

The Bottom Line

While each individual race is local and has many issues that depend on the state, the stakes at the national level are clear: if Biden wins on election night and Democrats retake the Senate while holding on the House, the Democratic Party will have a trifecta for the first time since Barack Obama’s first term. 

Written by Max Fisher

The 2020 Crisis Around the World

From China to Yemen to Lebanon and more, the events of 2020 have affected others in the world

With everything that has happened so far this year, it’s not a stretch to call 2020 a crisis. It has been filled with unexpected events, such as COVID-19, racial justice protests, and even murder hornets. The rest of the world has not had it easy either and not just because of the pandemic. Yemen, Lebanon, and China have also experienced tragedies. Lebanon’s tragic event was abrupt, but what is going on in Yemen and China has been going on for years. 

On August 4 in Beirut, Lebanon, at least 154 were killed, and thousands were left injured, in a gigantic explosion at a warehouse in the Port of Beirut. The force from the blast left vast amounts of damage to the surrounding buildings and neighborhoods and produced a mushroom cloud of fumes and debris, a lot of which was harmful to breathe. The explosion was so powerful it could be felt 150 miles away. The explosion was caused by an ignited cache of ammonium nitrate, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used in fertilizers, but it can also be used to make explosives.  It was held at the site for over six years.

The ammonium nitrate was originally on a ship that was supposed to be delivered to the country of Georgia in 2013. Due to technical difficulties with the boat, it had to be docked in Beirut, and it was later abandoned there. The ammonium nitrate was stored in the warehouse that was supposed to dispose of the chemical safely. Officials at the port are now under house arrest as the investigation continues, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

More than a million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minority groups are being held in the Xinjiang region of China. Uighurs are a Turkic speaking minority ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and East Asia. There has been conflict with China and Uighurs since 1931. China is referring to these sites as transformation camps. A woman named Gulzira who told her story to PBS Frontline said she was surrounded by mesh, barbed wire, cameras, and brutal treatment. She said that twice she had to sit on a hard chair for 24 hours and use the bathroom where she sat. She also told PBS, “If you exceeded two minutes in the toilet, they hit our heads with an electric prod.” 

Jeffersonville High School special education teacher David Russell taught in China for a while and has first hand experience seeing the work of the Chinese government. 

Russell says China likes the idea of complete conformity. “Any nail that sticks up is hammered down,” he says. That is why China has targeted those who follow certain religions. “I witnessed anti-Christian persecution. People got arrested for going to church. Their form of anti-Islam is just not conforming,” Russell says. “It’s Orwellian, and it’s gotten worse.” It will take many Chinese activists because many websites reporting on it are shut down, and the people running them are being arrested. However, Russell says that he doesn’t want to reflect poorly on the Chinese since he enjoyed his time living there, and he enjoyed the people he met.

Yemen is also harshly affected by the events of 2020, but it’s an existing problem that has become worse in their case. According to Islamic Relief USA, for about five years, Yemen has been in a famine. Famine is the extreme scarcity of food and is often caused by droughts. More than 85,000 children have died from the famine as of 2018. In May of 2020, UNICEF described Yemen as the most massive humanitarian crisis in the world. They are already starved, and as COVID-19 sweeps the area, their ability to find resources has worsened. Over 24 million people are in need. Hospitals often have no staff, no equipment, or even electricity. The doctors are so overwhelmed that they have to turn people away. Yemen’s child malnutrition rates are some of the highest in the world. About half of the children under five years old are growth stunted. 

Yemen is also a war-torn country where civil war has taken a terrible toll on the resources and infrastructure necessary to keep people healthy. This civil war resulted from continued violence and unrest from the Arab Spring (2014), where the people rose and tried to create a democracy.

Even as America is hit hard with COVID-19 and all the other challenges of 2020, often it is easy to forget the many other challenges happening all across the world. 

Written by Marni Scholl

GCCS Board Approves Revised Spring Semester Calendar

During last night’s meeting of the Greater Clark County School Corporation Board of School Trustees, school board members approved a revised calendar for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. The approved calendar is similar to what had been previously approved by the board — with the same dates for semester start, semester end, graduation, and spring break — but with the addition of seven additional e-learning days. 

The e-learning days will be asynchronous and will take place every other Friday. According to a message sent to parents and staff, these built-in days will “allow GCCS staff the ability to increase parent communication, hold in-person assessment opportunities for online students, and receive ongoing professional development.” 

In presenting the calendar to the board, Superintendent Mark Laughner called the plan a “very good compromise” and noted that the district is “trying to balance the needs of all stakeholders, which in this situation is very difficult.” He also noted that the Clark county health department or the state could require the district to switch to e-learning at any time.

The approved calendar preserves a two-week spring break starting March 22. The calendar does not call for e-learning over spring break. 

The majority of the discussion prior to voting was not about the dates on the calendar, but rather about how much notice and involvement parents should have in the calendar approval process. Board members commented that they had received two kinds of input leading up to the meeting: some parents and businesses asked for a quick decision on the calendar so they could make plans, while others pushed for more time to review the proposal before a vote. Laughner noted that with the exception of COVID-19 and moving to a balanced schedule, “we typically do not survey parents.” In the end, the board was split on their vote but did approve the calendar as submitted.

As for Jeff High students, they see good and bad sides of the plan. Junior Abby Napper said, “I wish they would’ve kept the 2 weeks on, and 1 week off, but I like it the way it is now.” Junior Benjamin Broady says the smaller number of e-learning days would be okay “if they weren’t so scattered in nature.” However, Broady noted, “I guess it makes more room for more instructional time.”

Written by The Hyphen News staff

Jeff High’s Confusing First Quarter

As students wrap up the first quarter, the hallways are much less crowded than in years past.

As the first quarter nears the end, Jeffersonville High School students are wrapping up a first nine weeks like none before. The school year began with a virtual week and there have been non-stop changes ever since. On September 25, Jeff High will complete its first quarter with more than one-third the days being e-learning and more than half of the student body working through MySchool Online. 

While the year has been abnormal, Jeffersonville High School Principal Pam Hall is proud of how the students have handled the changes. “I have been so pleasantly surprised,” says Hall. You [students] all have been so compliant, behavior has been wonderful. You all had a lot of changes thrown at you.” 

Hall also feels that the school has dealt with the challenges well and was well prepared for the situation. She says they are constantly getting guidance from the health department, and they have a well-tested system in place.

When Hall is informed of a positive test of a Jeff High student, she asks the student a series of questions to better understand their activities and how to proceed with contact tracing. This includes retracing the infectected person’s location to assess who they were in close contact with and to find others possibly infected. Then she lets the central office know of the case. The nurse determines the contact tracing time frame, and then in building personnel find and alert students that have been in close contact.

One of the most dynamic aspects of this school year is the decision-making on in-person schooling. While the decision is made at the district level, Hall says they decide based on the quality of work students would receive. For example, she cites the school closure for the week of August 17-21. For this week, many teachers were out for legitimate reasons and in looking at the numbers they came to the decision that students would be better academically served by an e-learning week. 

Despite cooperation from students, parents, teachers, and staff, some aspects of high school are impossible to replicate at this point in time. And for Hall, that’s what makes her most disappointed especially for the seniors. 

Looking forward, Hall would love to get back to a normal school environment, saying, “I miss the excitement. I miss all the things that come with school.” But she acknowledges the reality of this year.  “I don’t know if after this school year it will ever look like it did before.”

Jeff High Graduate Virginia Moore: “Shocking” Fame Provides a Platform to Help Others

For many people in our area, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s daily COVID-19 briefing became a staple of their daily routines. The briefings inspired virtual meet-ups, catchphrases like “you can’t be doin’ that” and even a meme group on Facebook that grew to more than 200,000 members. One aspect of the briefing — and the memes — that got a lot of attention is the sign language interpreter, Virginia Moore. However, most don’t know Moore is a Red Devil.

Moore grew up with both of her parents and two of her siblings being deaf. “My first language was sign language,” she says. However, leaving Jeff High she never thought her career would involve Sign Language, and after graduating in 1980 she attended Michigan State to study criminology.

Her plans changed when she came home from MSU after her father was involved in a car accident. She opted to complete her degree at Indiana University, and to pick up some extra cash she began interpreting for students. After going between different jobs, she would find her career path.

She became the interpreter for the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Over the years she worked her way through the agency, eventually becoming the Executive Director. The main operation of the agency is to provide advice to the governor’s office on policies affecting the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

However, it was only recently that Moore entered the spotlight as she began interpreting for the Governor at his COVID-19 briefings. 

virginia-meme

Jeffersonville High School graduate Virginia Moore gained meme-worthy fame as sign language interpreter for Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

While most of the attention she receives is for her interpretation, Moore and the agency continue to advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing during the pandemic, and it’s at times like these that their work is most important. 

Often, the needs of these communities are not factored in. For example, as the prison system was adapting to the pandemic they began issuing masks. However, many deaf and hard of hearing individuals rely on lip reading to understand others. So Moore and the agency advocated to provide clear masks.

While she has been busy, Moore has noticed the fame she has acquired, “It has been a little bit shocking,” she says. But Moore sees this publicity as more of an asset than anything else. “As COVID is a very horrible virus…there’s this little gold nugget. What we’ve been able to accomplish in the last three months is more than I’ve been able to accomplish in the twenty years prior,” she says.

Over the course of the pandemic, she says she has identified one thing more effective than any other: unity. Moore says, “In order to get something accomplished there is no Republican or Democrat… we can’t have these divisions at the beginning of something like this.”

But through it all she maintains an optimistic view, especially for students. Speaking to the Jeff High graduates and students she says.”This generation of graduates are truly the most creative… This is the one generation that everyone will remember.”

Governor Holcomb closes Indiana Schools for the Remainder of the 2019-2020 School Year

On April 2, 2020, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced all schools in the state of Indiana will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Schools are required to complete 160 total instructional days (20 more after April 2). 

Students attending any schools in Indiana are still heavily encouraged to follow the social distancing measures and complete their e-learning work when assigned. As of April 2, there have been 78 total Coronavirus deaths and over 3,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Indiana. The best way to fight the sickness, Holcomb stated is to continue to socially distance as much as you can, and to avoid going outside unless for necessary means. An announcement from Greater Clark County Schools is expected Friday, April 3.