Category Archives: National/International News

Hurricanes Devastate America and Caribbean… Story by Lydia Martin

The southern part of the United States has been hammered twice within the past three weeks with torrential rain, violent winds, and engulfing floods. The first visitor was Hurricane Harvey which landed in Texas on August 25, 2017 and throughout its stay it has caused critical loss. Millions have been without electricity, running water, and homes. Over 136,000 buildings have been flooded and demolished by water and rain resulting in billions of dollars in damages.

The Aftermath…A smashed car sits outside a demolished building after Harvey hit Rockport, Texas Photo by: Courtney Sacco/Corpus via AP
The Aftermath…A smashed car sits outside a demolished building after Harvey hit Rockport, Texas. Photo by:  Courtney Sacco/Corpus via AP

The hurricane, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain, has caused cities that were once abundant to be reduced to nothing but murky water and debris. Not only have people lost their homes, but also friends and family. The total death toll is now up to 70 people and will continue to rise as the floodwaters recede.

Another major disaster that has swept Texas is the loss of cattle to the flood waters. Cattle is such an immense industry in Texas, plus the fact that most ranchers don’t ensure their livestock. The cattle owners could be in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars. Is this loss of livestock going to affect meat prices? David Anderson, an A&M professor and agriculture economist said that he doesn’t expect the losses to affect meat prices, because the number of cattle lost in Harvey won’t be enough to impact the national beef market, which is expected to yield a record amount next year.

Not long after Harvey hit Texas and parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. Like Harvey, Irma has caused millions more to be without homes and has also caused over billions of dollars in damages. People are without power because of falling trees and high winds. Thankfully, it has been downgraded to a tropical storm but not without causing a lot of chaos.

Beat and Battered… A destroyed neighborhood seen after hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys. Photo by: Matt McClain/Getty Images
Beat and Battered… A destroyed neighborhood seen after hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys. Photo by: Matt McClain/Getty Images

The total death toll is a staggering 68–32 of those people in America, the rest being in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is struggling right now as food and supplies are running low and people have no place to go. Since homes are vacant because of people being evacuated, others have been arrested for looting homes and businesses.

It is going to take years and cost billion upon billions of dollars to repair what has been lost. The government has donated millions for relief, but even with that money will we ever recover from this catastrophe?

Labor Day Smoke… Story by Catherine Ross

Labor Day of 2017 in Sandpoint was the worst in the entire country of the United States. The taste of smoke hung in the air and burned your throat and eyes. Each breath felt as if it were killing you. Which it was in a sense. On this Labor Day, the smoke in Sandpoint, Idaho was above 418 which is at very unhealthy and hazardous levels. The ranges of air quality that authorities and business judge from is simply good to hazardous. Good means the air quality is zero to fifty. However a hazardous day means the air quality is 301 to 500 and over. For Sandpoint, this meant that the young, old, and anyone with any respiratory illnesses or conditions were advised to stay indoors.

Burning up Idaho and Montana… This photo was taken on September 3, 2017, showing the heat that was detected by satellites. Photo by Wildfire Today.
Burning up Idaho and Montana… This photo was taken on September 3, 2017, showing the heat that was detected by satellites. Photo by Wildfire Today

The beautiful lake that many come from all over to see was covered in thick, heavy, gray clouds of smoke. Local boat rentals closed down that day, calling all their rentals back in, refusing to let anyone expose themselves to the dangerous air quality, but also the possibility of getting into an accident due to low visibility. These businesses were Action Water Sports and Sandpoint Marine Boat Rentals. While wildfires in Sandpoint, or in Northern Idaho haven’t been reported, the surrounding states have been in an unforgivable battle with the flames.

For around the past six months there have been wildfires that over 24,000 fire fighters have been battling. Usually around the third week of September, the fire season is mostly over, and the risks drop considerably. But this year, that’s not really the case. Montana, Southern Idaho, Washington, California, and Utah have been hit the worse. In Southern Idaho, 23 fires are currently active, one fire being the Payette Wilderness fire which is 87,496 acres in size. In fact, on Labor Day, the National Forest of Boise caught on fire, which led to harmful air quality there as well.

Smoke by Sandpoint... Visibility was low among Sandpoint's roads because of the smoke, and air quality was horrendous. Photo by Kai Eagley
Smoke by Sandpoint… Visibility was low among Sandpoint’s roads because of the smoke, and air quality was horrendous. Photo by Kai Eagley

The fire season this year is so bad due to how dry and hot it was all summer. The rainfall began to disappear as we headed into the warmer months, which created the perfect playground for fires to ravage. Many of these fires were in fact started by lightning, this especially applies to the Idaho fires.

Currently in Sandpoint the air quality is returning to normal and it’s becoming safer for people to open windows and enjoy whatever fresh air they can enjoy. However there are still some who are getting effected by the current weather. Many students with asthma are still wearing masks or at least having them with them whenever they go outside. While they aren’t the best thing to keep the smoke out, they do help filter it so it’s safer for the individual to breathe. It is no longer hazardous for people and animals, so life is slowly turning to normal once again, but the concern that a fire could possibly start closer to home is still in the air.

 

 

Politicians Debate Climate Change, Citizens left with the Blame…. Story by Davey Breakey

The Idaho senate has recently approved new K-12 science standards with the notable absence of key references to human caused climate change. Our state has had trouble agreeing on public science standards for the past three years. References to global warming and the origin of the universe were not accepted by the state in recent years because the “language did not offer alternative views.” However, this does not mean climate change cannot be taught in schools, standards are simply a minimum of what students are expected to know. To be clear, climate change is something that has been happening for millions of years, and we know this. Pollution and climate change due to human activity is a more closely related subject than one might think.

More than 97% of peer reviewed scientists say that humans are having an impact on the environment and we need to change our ways to prevent further harm to our Earth, but whose fault is it really? Is it us, the consumer, or the corporations?

Climate Change Graphed… Nasa shares data on the unnatural rise of carbon in our atmosphere
Climate Change Graphed… NASA shares data on the unnatural rise of carbon in our atmosphere

Blame for climate change and human pollution goes to the average person, but is it really our fault? The huge majority of modern manufacturers are using the cheapest material possible in order to produce the cheapest product possible without giving any care as to the impact it has on our environment. It is possible to seek out and only use products manufactured with clean energy and materials, however it is very difficult to do so in today’s society. The truth is that most people just don’t have time to do the research and are not willing to pay a higher price for a comparable product. The big corporate powers are only concerned with profit and will do whatever it takes to deceive consumers in order to sell more of their products. So, in all reality, it’s the major corporations of today’s society that need to make a change. But how will this change ever happen when these companies would never make any changes that could possibly reduce profits in any way? What we need is a nationwide policy that will give major corporations incentive to move to renewable energy.

There have been many attempts over the past few decades to bring attention to climate change and the detrimental effects it’s having on our Earth, just last week there was a nation-wide climate march where tens of thousands of people showed up in D.C. alone to show their concern for the future of our planet. While these events are great for bringing attention to the issue of climate change, something needs to be done, and quickly too. One organization that’s gaining traction across the U.S. is the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and their compelling solution to the problem.

Concerned citizens… sandpoint locals participate in the nationwide march for a livable planet
Concerned citizens… Sandpoint locals participate in the nationwide march for a livable planet

The CCL is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Their goal is to educate the public about climate change and take action across the nation, encouraging members to contact and influence their elected officials in the federal government. The CCL has equal support from conservatives and liberals alike. Keeping the organization non-partisan is very important to them because a livable planet is something people on both sides are concerned about and can only be achieved with combined efforts.

Their answer to reversing climate change is called the Carbon Fee and Dividend policy (CF&D). This policy would implement a rising fee on carbon emissions generated by major corporations throughout the nation. The revenue generated from this fee would be returned to American households as a dividend. This policy would create millions of jobs due to increased renewable energy useage and as a result would also boost our economy. If you want to learn about CCL and exactly how CF&D policy would work, you can check out their website here: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/. A local chapter for CCL has been formulated right here in sandpoint  recently and there will be a free presentation on Saturday, May 20th from 4:00 – 5:00 pm at the Forrest Bird Charter High School. CCL’s regional Northwest coordinator, Tim Dec, will be speaking on CCLs Balanced Climate Solution.

 

Assad, Chemical Weapons, and MOAB, Oh My! … by Jada Giddings

Recently in the past two weeks, the U.S. fired the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), or “Mother of All Bombs,” into a network of tunnels filled with ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. Killing at least ninety-four ISIS militants terrorizing the Afghan people, a majority of the citizens of Afghanistan supported this bomb dropped. This weapon, MOAB, was the first time the United States military have used it.

The Mother of All Bombs.
The Mother of All Bombs.

The bomb was dropped from the C130 Hercules jet and guided to its target with a GPS of sorts. It accelerated thirty-two feet per second from where it was dropped causing it to be pulled down by gravity at insane speeds. The bomb has a one mile range and practically flattened everything in its blast radius. Despite the high casualty rate of this air strike, ISIS fighters continue to attack American troops and Afghan security forces, which led the U.S. to threaten to call in more airstrikes to known militant positions throughout Afghanistan.

 

Along with last week’s event of MOAB, Bashar al-Assad committed genocide against the Syrian peoples in Khan Sheikhoun. After this chemical attack, the United States responded by holding the entire Assad regime accountable for the blatant human rights violations. Killing around five-hundred thousand innocent lives, the United States is taking Syria’s disregard for human rights seriously. It is intended that all financial networks that participated in the making of chemical weapons, used to attack these many innocent lives, will be shut down. Though, it is little known that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons before. “In response to findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, that the Syrian regime was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015,” A recent press release stated, shedding new light on chemical attacks by Assad. Why he has committed genocide against the people of Syria; a mystery. Just the week after the 2017 chemical attacks took place, China and Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution that was backed up by the West, the resolution imposing sanctions in Syria of its chemical weapons.

Assad“It was the seventh time that Russia, Syria’s top military ally, has used its veto power to shield the Damascus regime,” AFP reported. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, claimed it was “completely inappropriate” to impose sanctions on their ally, Syria, believing that it would disrupt the peace talks with them.

North Korea’s Nuclear Temper Tantrum… Story by Cathrine Ross

Nuclear war. That’s what’s on everyone’s mind recently. North Korea, also nicknamed the Hermit Kingdom, has been causing much tension around the world. They are known for their threats towards other countries, focusing on nuclear weapons for said threats. Though their nuclear weapons, until recently, have been washed away as they have failed and haven’t proven to be a big threat. Their weapons aren’t as developed as other countries, causing North Korea to be put on the back burner per say. However, now they are no longer on that back burner. North Korea has displayed their advancements in nuclear weapons with testing and a showing of them during their military parade on the 105th birthday of their former leader Kim Il-sung. During this celebration, there was a concert where a propaganda video was played in the background. In this video, there was a CGI missile that was launched and it showed that it hit San Francisco, California. A burning American flag and white crosses were displayed and a dominate North Korean flag was also shown, and then that was the end of the performance.  This display of hostility towards the United States didn’t go unnoticed by the President, nor the other leaders of the world. Many world leaders have warned North Korea about starting nuclear warfare, however, they have not listened and continue to put pressure on the United States and other nearby countries with their nuclear weapon tests. According to CNN, North Korean government officials have stated that the nuclear tests ‘will never stop’. Expert studies and various classified intelligence reports have come to the conclusion that the country is actually capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, with what the C.I.A. calls “the disco ball.” The sphere is supposedly a nuclear weapon, shrunken to fit inside the nose cone of a missile. Credit: Korean Central News Agency
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, with what the C.I.A. calls “the disco ball.” The sphere is supposedly a nuclear weapon, shrunken to fit inside the nose cone of a missile. Credit: Korean Central News Agency

This, however, hasn’t been officially confirmed as experts are working only with the limited information they can access. Though this is proving to be a cause of stress for the U.S. President Trump and the other world leaders.  The world leaders are unable to access all the possible current information from North Korea, which is causing the world leaders to fear that they are actually running out of time. In a rare event, President Trump called all 100 senators to the White House in a closed-door meeting, discussing how to handle North Korea, which is “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.”

The US has ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to mounting concern over the North’s nuclear and missile tests. Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/US Navy from Getty Images
The US has ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to mounting concern over the North’s nuclear and missile tests. Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/US Navy from Getty Images

The President has been focusing on putting pressure on North Korea since he first got into office, wanting to put more outside restrictions and pressure on them, so they wouldn’t be able to feel comfortable being aggressive and destructive towards those who are not their allies. According to Fox News, America’s Pacific forces commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., reported to Congress, stating that the installment of the the U.S. missile defense system against North Korea would be finished in a few days, the location being that of South Korea. He said that any North Korean missile fired at U.S. forces would be destroyed. “If it flies, it dies.” With the pressure of North Korea’s threats on mind, many Americans are getting anxious. It seems that no matter how much the country is advised against nuclear war, they are insisting that they won’t stop what they are doing, and that the U.S. is the one encouraging a nuclear holocaust. Tension between the countries of the world are rising as everyone, especially the U.S., is trying to figure out what to do. North Korea threatening San Francisco and even Seattle with their missiles, the government is preparing for a military response immediately if this threat become any bigger of a threat. So, what exactly is going on with North Korea? Are they right to say that the United States are attempting to start a nuclear holocaust? Or are they just doing this in order to gain more support from surrounding Asian countries? There is no way to confirm whether or not North Korea is able to successfully create missiles that have the power to actually hit American soil. All the specialists can do right now, with their limited information, is estimate the damage that North Korean weapons could possibly have on our country. Are we at risk of being attacked? Is a nuclear war on the brink of starting? Or will this once again get buried underneath failed nuclear tests, like before.

 

French Elections: A Test for the EU… Story by Isaac Solly

French Elections: A Test for the EU                                                Isaac Solly

On April 23, France will hold the first round of their presidential election. The current leader from the Socialist Party, President Hollande, has chosen not to run due to low popularity averaging around 20%. This is the first French president not to run for reelection in modern times, and a power vacuum has led to no clear front runner. Main candidates include the moderate-liberal Emmanuel Macron, the right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen, and the conservative Francios Fillion.

The French electoral system is different from a simple popular vote—there are two rounds of voting, where presidential-hopefuls will be filtered out to two candidates. Such a process favors more radical groups in the first stage, but works against them in the second as coalition groups often form to appose hard-liners.

French Election: From April 23 to May 7, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron will likely face off for the Presidency. Photo by: Getty Images

So far, Marine le Pen is poised to win the first round with around 28%, but Macron is close behind with 25%. Because these two candidates would be the only to make it to the second round, the votes of the less popular candidates would be split between them—polls suggest Macron would end up with 62% to Le Pen’s 38%.

Fillion’s bid was looking as probable up until the last few weeks, when a payment scandal emerged revealing that his wife had a government salary for doing no work. While the Republican Party did not abandon him completely, his popularity sunk, and his many notable figures inside his campaign resigned. Such shows the unpredictability in presidential races—a similar scandal could severely hurt Macron. Le Pen is already under investigation for mismanagement of EU funds, but her base has remained loyal to her.

Round Two Matchups: The three top candidates in a hypothetical second round election. Photo by: frenchelection.online
Round Two Matchups: The three top candidates in a hypothetical second round election. Photo by: frenchelection.online

Le Pen seems to be trying to ride a wave of nationalist sentiment that elected Donald Trump and voted for Brexit. Her policies are anti-Islamic and xenophobic, but are also in the wake of many major terrorist attacks on French soil. This is not her first time running either—her Popular Front has been running in every election as a fringe group, only recently gaining a chance at the French Presidency. Despite this success, Le Pen would struggle to create a Parliamentary majority, and would likely be in the center of a deadlock in politics.

Macron is winning in the polls, but such predictions have failed en mass in the last world elections. Some French voters believe that his moderate tone resonations too much with the previous president and President Hollande’s failed promises. The French recovery from the 2008 financial crisis has been slow and unemployment remains high at 9%. France’s final results on May 7th will prove to be a crucial testing ground in the EU from center-left leaders. Germany’s Angela Merkel is up for reelection soon as well and faces similar opposition from nationalist parties. France’s upcoming election will give hints on whether or not nationalism is indeed tearing Europe apart.

Works cited:

“France Presidential Election 2017.” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Featured Photo by Kamil Zihnioglu

Trumpcare Derailed: The Republican Foray into Healthcare… Story by Isaac Solly

On March 6th, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, to the house floor. Since 2009, the Affordable Health Care Act or ObamaCare had been in place, and now Ryan proposed a vote on it’s 7th anniversary, March 23rd. President Trump tweeted his support of the bill, calling it “our wonderful new Healthcare Bill” and adding “ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster” in his usual form.

Both moderate and extreme conservatives immediately criticized AHCA, and cast into doubt the solidarity of the ruling party. Notably the Freedom Caucasus, 29 members strong, disliked the similarities to ObamaCare and promised a “no” vote. The current party divisions in the house left 194 democrats and 241 Republicans—for ACHA to pass, only 23 Republican dissents were necessary. The bill needed a simple majority, but all democrats were vocally opposed to the replacement plan.

The Bill’s Advocates: Ryan and Trump closely coordinated in trying to convince representatives to vote “yes.” Photo By: Win McNamee
The Bill’s Advocates: Ryan and Trump closely coordinated in trying to convince representatives to vote “yes.” Photo By: Win McNamee

The bill’s policies kept in place policies such as coverage under parents’ plans until age 26 and clauses that prevented companies denying coverage based on health. In fact, what it did change were laws that determined premiums based on wealth and replaced them with costs determined by user age—essentially, this helped young adults and the rich but harmed older and poorer citizens. AHCA also came with cuts to Medicaid and Medicare programs that help those with disabilities, low income, or who are over 65.

Federal healthcare is reliant on a varied user base in order to balance costs between those who are healthier or in poor conditions. ACHA removed many incentives for healthier people to stay on the plan and as such, costs would probably go up for most users. However, AHCA does include around $337 billion in savings over 10 years, a very significant decrease in costs from previous healthcare bills.

Supporting Republicans coined the bill as “universal access” rather than “universal coverage”—President Trump touted both phrases over the campaign and in the Oval Office. The shift in wording makes a large impact in the legislation, and instead of promising health care for all it gives the impression that people will be able to have more choice. This promise of choice came at a great cost, however; the CBO (Congressional Budgetary Office) as a non-partisan group estimated 24 million additional people would lose insurance over 8 years. To put this into context, 28 million people are currently uninsured, and the bill would nearly double that.

Uninsured America: The percentage of Americans without healthcare is projected to rise under AHCA.
Uninsured America: The percentage of Americans without healthcare is projected to rise under AHCA.

Trump used this opportunity to showcase his negotiating prowess, one of his traits he often cited in the campaign trail. He and Ryan made changes to try and appease more conservative members of the house who were opposed to AHCA by lowering maternal care and deductions. However, by the 23rd the votes were not there, and anywhere from 28 to 30 Republicans were poised to defect, and polling in the public showed abysmal support of around 17%. After a similar battle on the 24th, the date to which Republicans moved back the vote, Trump conceded and pulled the bill, though not before blaming Democrats, saying they “own[ed] ObamaCare.”

TThe defeat of AHCA is a Democrat victory, though it may be short lived. Republican interparty problems are what destroyed the bill, and their reasons for dissent are the polar opposite of Democrat opposition. On the other hand, President Trump gave an ultimatum and ultimately failed to pass a bill and repeal ObamaCare. Not only this, but his agenda is now derailed and he has lost an initiative on health care. Republicans will try and lick their wounds, but if they cannot pass legislation even with a friendly president and majority in Congress, the next 4 years are going to be disappointing for their voters.

 

Works Cited

“Donald Trump’s US Healthcare Bill Withdrawn.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Mar. 2017,       www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39387550. 

Glenza, Jessica, and Lauren Gambino. “Republican Healthcare Plan: 24 Million           People Could Lose Coverage, CBO Reports.” The Guardian, Guardian News          and Media, 13 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/us-     news/2017/mar/13/budget-office-republican-healthcare-coverage-deficit-       costs.

 

 

 

Pakistan Troubles…Story by Isaac Solly

Over the past few weeks, Pakistan has seen a spike in suicide bombings around the country. The trend began on the 13th of February, where 13 were killed and over 100 wounded during a protest in Lahore, a city near to the Indian border and host to attacks in the past. Two days later, suicide bombers targeted a government compound and a government van in Northwest Pakistan near to Peshawar. Seven people died in the two separate attacks, both of which were claimed by the Taliban.

Sufi Shrine: The source of the explosion in southern Pakistan, wounding over 250 people, and leading to a military crackdown. Source: Yousuf Nagori, NBC
Sufi Shrine: The source of the explosion in southern Pakistan, wounding over 250 people, and leading to a military crackdown. Source: Yousuf Nagori, NBC
The violence culminated on the 16th, when an attack on a Sufi Shrine in Sehwan killed 75 people and wounded over 250 of the religious minority. Unlike the previous bombings, ISIS claimed the killings. Islamic State holds a relatively small presence in Pakistan, but as with other branches of the terrorist organization it has grownin significance while ISIS loses land in Iraq and Syria. (Masood)
Pakistan’s military has responded with raids targeting suspected terrorist and militant groups, specifically in the northwest of the country and the province where the Sufi shrine attacks occurred. 100 militants were reported to have been killed in this retaliation; however, the specifics of these operations are unknown and possibly exaggerated. This was coupled with the military firing two missiles and closing off borders crossings with Afghanistan. (BBC)

Afghanistan has also come under Pakistani scrutiny of late, despite the country’s leaders condemning the attacks. Pakistan claims that Afghanistan has been supporting militants involved in the attacks, claims that are denied furiously by Afghanistan. Moreover, the Afghan government has also expressed dismay about the now-closed border crossings, and accused Pakistan of using them as a scapegoat for the attacks. (Hashim)

What little trust the two nations shared is now rapidly falling apart. In fact, this blame game is part of Pakistan’s hatred of India, and India’s friendship with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s dislike for India comes from the partitioning of the British Raj—each country has fought each other in multiple wars and holds different religions. The military response and political conflict with Afghanistan is likely a move to save face for Pakistan, as the government promised an end to fighting with militants last year, a promise now shattered by the instability created from terrorism.
Bloody week: Pakistan is plagued with internal extremism and terrorist attacks. Source: BBC
Bloody week: Pakistan is plagued with internal extremism and terrorist attacks. Source: BBC

It is in the region’s interest to secure Pakistani stability, especially considering that the nation holds nuclear capabilities. Pakistan can also be a useful regional ally in defeating local terrorism, and needs to stamp out internal extremism.

Works Cited
Masood, Salman. “Pakistan Shrine Bombing Kills Scores in Worst Attack inMonths.”
The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
“Pakistan ‘kills 100 Militants’ after Sufi Shrine Attack.” BBC News. BBC, 17 Feb. 2017.Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
Hashim, Asad. “Pakistan Mourns Attack Victims as Security Stepped up.”Pakistan News | Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: How Uber Story By Mack Jastle

Controversy….Uber is once again in the public crosshairs after a recent account describes rampant favoritism and sexism within the management structure. Photo-by: Telhelka
Controversy….Uber is once again in the public crosshairs after a recent account describes rampant favoritism and sexism within the management structure. Photo-by: Telhelka

It’s been a rough few months for Uber.  From the #DeleteUber that went trending January in response to a perceived strike break, to mounting concerns over invasive privacy settings and user tracking, to perceived support for President Trump’s travel ban forcing CEO Travis Kalanick to resign from the President’s security council, the company has faced near constant anger and outrage from both users of the app and the media itself.

Recent allegations of sexism and sexual harassment within the company’s upper echelons have revitalized the growing discontent with Uber and its business practices, and prompted several other former software engineers from Uber to speak out.  Suddenly, just as #DeleteUber was on death’s door, it was given new life.0o

The genesis for these new accusations is an account by a former software engineer for the company, Susan Fowler, who worked in Uber’s software engineering department as a software reliability engineer from November 2015 to December 2016.  Titled: “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” and written on Fowler’s personal blog, the post describes widespread sexism and chaos within the organization, and outlines a meritocracy where managers and supervisors routinely undermined their superiors in an attempt to take their job and curry favor with the organization.

Rough Year…Uber’s 2017 has been very tough, with the hashtag #DeleteUber permeating the company for the last several weeks. Photo-by: Cato Institute
Rough Year…Uber’s 2017 has been very tough, with the hashtag #DeleteUber permeating the company for the last several weeks. Photo-by: Cato Institute

Fowler writes that on her first official day working for the company, she was propositioned by her manager for sex over the company chat.  When she screen-shotted the messages and reported him to the human resources department, she was told that he was a “high performer” on his performance reviews, and they didn’t ‘feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.’  Fowler was told that since it was the manager’s first offense, they didn’t want to ruin his career by putting it on his record.    HR then gave Fowler an ultimatum; either she transfer teams and never see the manager again, or stay on the team and likely receive a poor performance review from the manager.  When Fowler tried to talk with HR or escalate the situation, she was given the same decision, and was told that it would not be retaliation if she received a negative review because she had been given a choice.

Fowler then transferred to a different team, where she came into contact with other women engineers, some of whom had also encountered the same manager propositioning them, well before Fowler was part of the company.  In short, the HR department had lied to Fowler and the other women, and had allowed this harassment to continue.  Meetings with HR were scheduled by Fowler and a few other women in an attempt to do something about the situation.

In the meeting, the HR representative maintained that the only offense on record was Fowler’s, and that none of the other women had any complaints about him, and thus nothing would change.

Fowler was berated for keeping a record of all the sexist emails and remarks she had received, and was told that sending emails to HR about these issues was unprofessional.

At the time of Fowler joining the company, about 25% of the company’s engineers were female.  Re-calculating the numbers on the day she left reveals that only 3% of the engineers in the company were female.

Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick have denounced the behavior described in the account, and have launched investigations into the matter.

However, these investigations may be too little, too late.  Uber is still recovering from losing 200,000 users over the perceived strike break, and just when the effects of that calamity have started to fade, these recent allegations make #DeleteUber trend again.

If Uber wants to stay #1 in the rideshare business, it’s going to have a make a real and concentrated effort to distance itself from this kind of behavior, and it has to make it fast.

Otherwise, people will have no trouble catching a Lyft instead.

 

 

 

Greece: Euros to Dollars?…Story by Jada Giddings

Recently Britain pulled away from the European Union and Greece may follow. With the euro slowly diminishing as a currency, Greece

A photo of the Greek flag shattering to express the fall of Greece.
A photo of the Greek flag shattering to express the fall of Greece.

has been pondering if they should switch to the United States dollar. Since Britain, a rich counter within the European Union, has left the

European Union, Germany is left to stand with the next richest country in the organization of countries. With the act of Brexit taking place, Greece fears that the country may become

unsustainable if the Euro becomes l

A protester against the European Union, protesting that Greece is falling.
A protester against the European Union, protesting that Greece is falling.

ess valuable because of Britain supporting the widely used

currency. Thus, leading Greece to begin to think about commencing Grexit.