Iceland’s Proposed Ban on Male Circumcision upsets Jews, Muslims

By: Michelle See

Staff Writer


Iceland is receiving backlash from religious communities about a proposed bill to ban non-medically requirement on male circumcision for babies. Icelandic progressive party MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdottir said, “Those procedures are unnecessary, done without their informed consent, non-reversible and can cause all kinds of severe complications, disfigurations and even death.”  But then, Silja said, “ A child should be old enough to give informed consent for the procedure and defended the proposed ban as being about protecting children’s right, adding that it would not go against the religious right of their parents.”


One in three men globally is estimated to be circumcised, with the majority for religious and cultural reasons. If the ban were to come effectively, it will be a “violation to the right of religious freedom,” according to Imam Ahmad of the Islamic Cultural Centre Of Iceland and estimates the Muslim community to have at least 2,500 members.


The health benefits of circumcision include lower risks of acquiring HIV, genital herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis. Circumcision also lowers the risk of penile cancer over a lifetime; reduces the risk of cervical cancer in sexual partners, and lowers the risk of urinary tract infections in the first year of life. However, the study also found that the procedure poses risks such as “bleeding and swelling.”


The new bill in Iceland, where female circumcision was banned by law in 2005 was put forward by representatives from four of Iceland’s political parties. It is “uncertain” when discussions on the bill about boys will conclude and what the outcome of the vote will be.

NBC Apologizes to South Koreans for Offensive Comments




Staff Writer

In the Pyeongchang Opening Ceremony, reporter Joshua Cooper Ramo discussed the significance of the games to Korea with Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, but offended many in his attempt. He said,”every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.” This comment raises so much controversy because of the brutal treatment inflicted on Korea from Japan’s harsh colonial and imperialist rule. Not only is it offensive, but called inaccurate by many other viewers. In response, thousands of people signed a petition demanding an apology from NBC news. This same topic has sparked controversy among Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who almost didn’t attend the Olympics because of Japan’s refusal to apologize for their ruthless actions to Korean women. This is not the only remark the commentator made that caused an uproar. He also said that these next few Olympic games will be an opportunity to experience “Asian cultures”, referring to these games in South Korea, the 2020 games in Japan, and the 2022 games in China. Some see this as inaccurately portraying that all Asian cultures are similar, just because they are Asian. To some, it seems to undermine the complexity of these different cultures. Consequently, Joshua Cooper Ramo has been reassigned.

Cyril Ramaphosa Confirmed as South Africa’s New President After Zuma Resigns

new pres


By JUSTIN EVANS                    

Staff Writer             


Cyril Ramaphosa was confirmed Thursday as South Africa’s new President hours after scandal-plagued leader Jacob Zuma resigned. Ramaphosa, 65, the chairman of the ruling African National Congress party since December, was the only candidate nominated during a conference of the South African Parliament.


Some lawmakers in the National Assembly in Cape Town acknowledged the announcement on Ramaphosa, though members of the opposing Economic Freedom Fighters party walked out of the chamber in protest during the debate. “I truly feel humbled to have been given this great privilege of being able to serve our people,” Ramaphosa stated in an address to Parliament moments after he became President. He pledged to act as a “servant of our people” and mentioned that he intended to lead with “humility, faithfulness and dignity.”


“I will try to work very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Supporters of the new leader sang and danced outside the National Assembly after his speech.

Ramaphosa’s elevation caps a dramatic week that saw Zuma, plagued with corruption allegations for years, effectively departed from office by his own party. Zuma denies all the corruption allegations against him.


Parliament had been due to hold a no-confidence vote Thursday to remove Zuma from office.

But in a nationally televised address on Wednesday night, Zuma declared his resignation, saying he had been disturbed about what he described as “instances of violence” outside the party’s headquarters. “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the republic with immediate effect,” Zuma said. “Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.”

God’s New Angels

By Violet Verver

Staff Writer


17 lives were taken by a gunman named Nicholas Cruz. Families are ruined and worldwide hearts are broken. Everybody should know who Nicholas Cruz murdered.


Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Alyssa, 14, was a student at Stoneman Douglas and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer.

Lori Alhadeff, Alyssa’s mother, told HLN she dropped her daughter off at school Wednesday and said, “I love you.” When the mother heard about the shooting, she hustled to school, but was too late.

“I knew at that point she was gone. I felt it in my heart,” she said. “Alyssa was a beautiful, smart, talented, successful, awesome, amazing soccer player. You’ll be greatly missed, Alyssa. We love you so much. You’ll always, always be in our hearts.”

“Alyssa Alhadeff was a loved and well respected member of our club and community,” Parkland Travel Soccer said on Facebook. “Alyssa will be greatly missed.”



Scott Beigel, 35

Beigel, a geography teacher, was killed as he tried to usher students back into his classroom when the shooting broke out.

Kelsey Friend, one of Beigel’s students, told CNN in an emotional interview that he was shot outside the classroom door and that he saved her life.

“Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” she said. “I am alive today because of him.”

Kelsey said the teacher was an amazing person and his memory would live on with her.

“If I could see him right now … I’d give him a huge teddy bear to say thank you. But unfortunately I can’t do that,” she said.


Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Miguel Duque mourned the loss of his younger brother, Martin, and set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for funeral expenses.

“He was a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet. He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family. Most of all he was my baby brother,” Miguel said on the page.

“My family and I have no words to describe the event that’s has happened on this date, all my prayers to the lost ones. My family and I will appreciate anything that we can get helped with. R.I.P Martin Duque.”


Nicholas Dworet, 17

Nicholas, a 17-year-old senior, was killed in the shooting, the University of Indianapolis confirmed. He was recruited for the university swim team and would have been an incoming freshman this fall.

“Nick’s death is a reminder that we are connected to the larger world, and when tragedy hits in places around the world, it oftentimes affects us at home,” said Robert L. Manuel, University of Indianapolis president.

“Today, and in the coming days, I hope you will hold Nick, his family, all of the victims, as well as the Parkland community and first responders in your prayers.”


Aaron Feis, 37

Feis, an assistant football coach, was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them from oncoming bullets, according to football program spokeswoman Denis Lehtio. Feis, 37, suffered a gunshot wound and died after he was rushed into surgery, Lehtio said.

“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” she said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

Colton Haab, a 17-year-old junior who had a close relationship with Feis, told CNN he saw the coach running toward the sounds of gunshots.

“That’s Coach Feis. He wants to make sure everybody is safe before himself,” he said.

“(He) made sure everyone else’s needs were met before his own. He was a hard worker. He worked after school, on the weekends, mowing lawns, just helping as many people as possible.”

Chad Lyons, a student and football player, said Feis was there for him when he was going through leukemia treatments.

“He guided me through them. He would send me prayers. He would send me Bible scripts and just stuff to cheer up my day. Funny memes,” the player said.

“He was just an amazing person to be led on and taught by, and I’m thankful enough to even be in his presence, just going through high school.”


Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Jaime, 14, was among the victims, according to a Facebook post by her father, Fred.

“My heart is broken. Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister.

“I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this. We appreciate all of the calls and messages and we apologize for not reacting to everyone individually,” he added. “Hugs to all and hold your children tight.”

Skidmore College, where Fred Guttenberg attended, released a statement saying their hearts go out to Jaime’s parents and others affected by the tragedy.

“There really are no words to lessen the suffering that the families of victims are feeling at this moment, but perhaps knowing that we stand with them can provide some small measure of solace,” the college said.


Chris Hixon, 49

His widow, Debra, was telling CNN that he was “probably the best man that I … ” when she couldn’t go on.

She had just described Chris Hixon — who was the school’s athletic director — as an awesome husband, father and American.

“Every one of those students he thought of as his own kid,” she said earlier.

Hixon, 49 would give students rides or lunch money and, if they needed it, open up his home to them. “He just loved being around kids and giving back to the community,” Debra Hixon said.

A Naval reservist, Chris Hixon deployed to Iraq in 2007.

“He loved being an American and serving his country and he instilled that in our kids,” she said.

Hixon was also the school’s wrestling coach, something that was his passion.


Luke Hoyer, 15

The killing shocked Luke’s close-knit family.

Grandparents Eddie and Janice Stroud in Simpsonville, South Carolina, learned about the news of the shooting from TV reports, they told CNN affiliate WYFF in Greenville.

“The day went by and we didn’t hear anything about Luke. We kept hoping they would find him wandering around in shock,” Janice Stroud told the station.

“By 7 o’clock, I said, ‘I don’t like this. This is not good,’ ” her husband said, according to WYFF. “Finally, (police) called us at 1 a.m. and said Luke was among the students that had been killed.”

Janice Stroud said, “He was a good kid. He … never got in trouble. He was the last of my daughter’s children who still lived at home.”

Cousin Grant Cox called Luke “an amazing individual. Always happy, always smiling. His smile was contagious, and so was his laugh.

Another relative, Mary Beth Stroud-Gibbs, posted on Facebook that the family is “very close” and it is “devastated by this senseless shooting.”

“Our Luke was a precious child.”


Cara Loughran, 14

Cara danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida.

“Cara was a beautiful soul and always had a smile on her face,” the dance studio said in a statement. “We are heartbroken as we send our love and support to her family during this horrible time.”

Danny Vogel, a neighbor, posted condolences on Facebook.

“It is with a heavy heart and much regret that I write these words. Our next-door neighbor’s daughter was one of the lives taken (too) soon by a senseless act of violence at Stoneman Douglas High School.

“RIP Cara, and fly with the angels. You will be greatly missed, and we will always love you and celebrate your beautiful life.”


Gina Montalto, 14

Gina was a member of the winter guard on the school’s marching band.

The Winter Guard International mourned her death Thursday, saying, “Unfortunately, one of the victims in yesterday’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a member of the school’s winter guard.

“No student should ever go to school afraid,” the group said.

One of her middle school color guard instructors told The Miami Herald that Gina “was the sweetest soul ever.”

“My heart is broken into pieces. I will forever remember you, my sweet angel,” Manuel Miranda told the paper.

Shawn Sherlock, Gina’s aunt, posted a tribute on Facebook, describing her niece as a gifted artist.

“I know somewhere in the heavens she’s designing the latest and greatest trends and has her art book she always carried with her as well,” she wrote.


Joaquin Oliver, 17

Joaquin was born in Venezuela, moved to the United States when he was 3 and became a naturalized citizen in January 2017, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“Among friends at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he was known as ‘Guac,’ a moniker that appeared on his Instagram account. His interests: football, basketball, the Venezuelan national soccer team, urban graffiti and hip-hop,” the paper said.

An Instagram post dated December 31 was his final social media post — a message to his girlfriend, the paper said.

“Thank you lord for putting a greater blessing than I could ever imagine into my life this past year,” he said. “I love you with all my heart.”


Alaina Petty, 14

Alaina’s family said she was vibrant and determined. She had volunteered after Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September.

“Alaina loved to serve,” the statement from her family said.

She was also a part of the “Helping Hands” program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective,” her family said.

Alaina, 14, was also a member of the junior ROTC at her school, a leadership program taught by retired Army personnel.


Meadow Pollack, 18

Meadow, 18, had been accepted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, spokeswoman Jamie D’Aria said.

“Meadow was a lovely young woman, who was full of energy. We were very much looking forward to having her join our community in the fall,” D’Aria said.

Condolences were posted on an online guestbook kept by Star of David Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Funeral Chapel.

“Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your beautiful daughter, Meadow. May she rest in peace. Your family is in my continued prayers,” said Alisa Thomas of Youngstown, Ohio.

Friend GII Lovito said on Facebook: “Please say a prayer for the family of an amazing girl I got to call my best friend growing up Meadow Pollack … her life was taken way too soon and I have no words to describe how this feels. Rest In Peace my beautiful angel.

“You are and forever will be loved.”


Helena Ramsay, 17

“My family lost an absolutely beautiful member today, due to a senseless school shooting,” Curtis Page Jr. said in a Facebook post about Helena, who would have started college next year.

“Helena was a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her. She was so brilliant and witty, and I’m still wrestling with the idea that she is actually gone.”

Page said he hopes others can be inspired by Helena’s “life well lived, no matter how short.”

Fena Cooper, identifying herself as a cousin, said in a Facebook posting, “Valentine’s Day will never look the same for my family.

“Helena, we miss you dearly and are so incredibly sorry that your life was cut short. You didn’t deserve this. We love you so much and will miss you greatly.”


Alex Schachter, 14

Alex participated in the school marching band and orchestra, playing baritone in the former and trombone in the latter, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“I felt he really had a bright future on the trombone,” Alexander Kaminsky, director of bands at the Parkland high school, told the paper.

A Go Fund Me page was set up by Alex’s family as a scholarship fund.

“In an effort to continue his memory, this scholarship is being created to help other students experience the joys of music as well as fund increased security at schools. Please help keep Alex’s spirit alive,” the page said. “The money raised will be sent to the Stoneman Douglas Marching Eagles.”


Carmen Schentrup, 16

Carmen was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.

“Marjory Stoneman Douglas had 10 students qualify as semifinalists for 2018, which is the second year in a row 10 students have qualified,” the Eagle Eye student blog said.

Carmen was mourned in the community and on social media.

“Rest In Peace Carmen Schentrup,” one tweet said. “You family is forever in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so sorry.”

Rest In Peace Carmen Schentrup ❤️, your family is forever in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so sorry.


Peter Wang, 15

Peter had been a member of the junior ROTC program, and his parents owned a restaurant in West Palm Beach, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Kelsey Friend, who shared a culinary class with Peter, said she “started screaming and crying” when she found out about her friend’s death by looking at images on Google of those who had died.

“I am wearing my culinary shirt right now, to remember him,” she told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.

Kelsey said Peter had been excited about the Chinese New Year, which fell on Friday.

“Me and my family celebrated it for him, eating Chinese,” she said.

Kelsey said the two of them were close.

“It’s hard to not have him in the hallways anymore because me and him used to laugh with each other. He used to make me smile. And now he’s gone.”

Kelsey and other friends said Peter was shot while holding a door open to let fellow classmates get to safety. Thousands of people have signed a White House petition asking for him to be buried with military honors.

“His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area,” the petition says.

Jesse Pan, a real estate agent in Parkland, posted images of the boy on Facebook, including a couple of him wearing his ROTC uniform.

“Rest in Peace Peter!!!” he said.

Two Shot Near Visalia Middle School




Staff Writer


Monday February 19th, around 10 pm, officers were dispatched to a home in the 1600 block of North Mooney Boulevard. Witnesses reported hearing many shots ring out down the street from Green Acres. When officers arrived they learned that the woman with the rifle was shooting in self defense.

Abraham Medrano, 47 went to his girlfriends home where a fight broke out between two women and Medrano. Medrano then pulled out a gun and and shot one round. He fled on foot and returned within an hour. When he returned the women were armed with a rifle. Medrano tried taking the rifle away and it accidentally shot off injuring the other woman. She was rushed to Kaweah Delta Medical Center.

Medrano was struck by the gun because the women feared for her life. After Medrano was medically cleared he was booked into Tulare County Pretrial Facility on suspicion of attempted homicide.

This Time, it’s Okay to Fail.


In the scary fast world we live in, many of us don’t stop to focus on who people actually are, and what they are about. A very common topic of discussion in our world today is the fact that many teens and children are depressed or suicidal and most of the others on the outside don’t know. Well, this is me. I am a suicide attempt survivor.

Suicide is a very serious and real threat. But the worst part about it is that sometimes, no one may even know that someone is planning to kill themselves. A couple of months ago, things started to go bad in my life. I didn’t feel like me, I felt like I was out of my body and watching someone else take control of my life. Like the decisions I was making were being made by someone else, like everything I was doing was predestined.

I found myself lost in the deepest pits of self-hate and pain. But I wouldn’t let anyone see me there. I had too much pride in myself to tell someone I needed help. I denied everything. I couldn’t believe it, but I had become what I despise the most. The feeling that I’m not good enough was the one that I felt the most. In these times, it was like there was this wall between myself and getting better, I wouldn’t let anyone past it or in it. There was only darkness, I could not see anything past these walls of the threat of suicide. I had reached a point in my life that I believed the only way to stop this was suicide.

Sadly, there was almost no one there to stop me.

As I looked down at my wrists bleeding, I realized that I couldn’t feel this pain anymore. It was silent around me, but I could see the EMT’s coming into my room trying to save me.

When I woke in the hospital, I knew what had happened and I knew that it would forever change me. Something changed that day. I saw the sun shine through the clouds, the birds chirping in the trees, and I noticed one more thing: The fact that I was alive that day. That somehow, I had crawled out of the deep, dark pits of self-hate and harm and found myself in the light.

Suicide defines someone. If affected too much, it kills them. It defines who I am because it still affects me to this day. Everytime I hear that suicide is being threatened with any person, I am there. No one in this world deserves to have their life taken away prematurely, because suicide doesn’t make the issues better, it gives up on the chance to make things better.

I am here today, as a suicide attempt survivor, to tell you that what happened to me is very much real. Suicide is a topic that is pushed to the side and not dealt with until it happens to someone close to you. It’s an unreal thought. I’ve now been on both sides of suicide, the one trying to talk them down and the one who is stuck. This defines me. I am who I am today because of what I’ve done and the scars it left on me. I am a better person because of what happened to me. My life has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it, as it has made me into the person I am today. It made me stronger, smarter and more resilient to these things.

To anyone struggling with this horrible thing called suicide, please. Stick around. It is worth it, I can absolutely guarantee that. To those who need to hear it: You are loved, people do care, and you will be better for this. For those who have been where I am, do not be ashamed. Rise and stand with me, and look on with helpful eyes, waiting to help those in need.

These things define me. I am a survivor of self-harm, a survivor of suicidal thoughts and actions, and now a helper of those who need help with these things.

  •         Local Community Mental Health Resources
  •         (559) 627-1490                       Visalia Youth Services
  •         (559) 635-4292                       Synchrony of Visalia
  •         (559) 784-0192                       Central California Family Crisis Center
  •         National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  •         800-273-TALK (8255) or text “go” to 741741 (24/7)
  •         Local Call Lines
  •         (559) 627-1490                       Visalia Youth Crisis Line (8:00am-5:00pm)
  •         (559) 730-9922                       Visalia Crisis Line (after hours and weekends)
  •         1-877-306-2413                      Tulare County Warmline (24/7)
  •         1-866-488-7386                      Trevor Helpline/LG+

True to me

By Violet Verver

Staff Writer


You always answer when I call,

help me up if I should fall,

And you never complain at all


You confront me when I am wrong

But will never scold me for long,

Instead, you try to keep me strong


You know the funny things to say

To make me laugh my fears away.

Like the sun, you brighten my day


You see in me gifts I deny

And urge me to give things a try.

You spread for me my wings to fly


You always perceive what I need

And offer it before I plead.

Just like a book, my mind you read


You value little things I do

But won’t brag of what you do too.

How can I ever repay you


And greatest of all I have found

When times are tough and I’m down,

You are the one who sticks around,

I love you

Different Times


Staff Writer


I see you standing there but you don’t see me

I see you talking to him but you don’t notice me

Even after all those good times you still don’t see me

You say hello but I know you don’t mean it

We’re in different times in our lives, but I’m willing to pause it for you

We don’t see eye to eye but I’m willing to change for you

I’d move mountains for you, part the great blue

But we’re in different times and we are not ready

Saturation III Review



By Devin Prado

Staff Writer
Saturation III is the third and final installment of Brockhampton’s Saturation series. It was released December 15, 2017. All three albums of the Saturation series were released in 2017, each consisting a full tracklist, and every single one feeling perfectly executed and put together. That, in its own is a huge feat for Brockhampton, most artists drop an album every few years or maybe and album of year, but they dropped three full albums in one year. None of the albums are sloppy or feel thrown together, each song tells a story and each one is perfectly executed. Overall, the album is in a hip-hop style but accented by a use of some odd samples and wacky choices. Kevin abstract often times having his voice auto tuned to create a almost feminine sound within the songs. I would rate this album a full 10/10, it lives up to the quality and success of the other 2 albums, and is a perfect finale to the series.

North Korea Cheer Squad

cheer squad

Staff Writer

North Korea, or the so-called “hermit kingdom” has seen the PyeongChang Olympic games as their chance to change perceptions of their country as a backwards and isolated nation. Deemed “the army of beauties”, 229 women have been chosen as the North Korean intermediary to the west. This cheer squad can be seen performing choreographed and synchronized chants in exact unison.

While some see them as harmless peacemakers, others, like Mike Pence, are wary of these performers and of falling for North Korea’s “propaganda”, and as a way for North Korea to normalize their country and its citizens. Some see them as a “old-fashioned” and isolated to Western ideas. At 1 hockey game, for example, while a man proposed to his girlfriend on the kiss cam, they continued to cheer, while the rest of the stadium erupted in cheer. These instances highlight the isolation of North Koreans to the rest of the world and the continuing differences culturally, between North and South Koreans. Additionally during a game they once cheered “My Home Town”, referring to the old Korean song “Spring Season of My Hometown.” People see this as North Korea trying to trick the west as being benign and humane. People may also be reminded of the corruption and concentrated wealth in North Korean society because each of these women are chosen from strict criteria of family ranking and height. A woman is unlikely to defect as each one comes from an aristocratic family and is allegiant to the government.

While they are a symbol of nationalism and strength in North Korea, their symbol in the Olympics has become one of unification and peace against the fractured Koreas.  The cheer squad supports the unified Korea team that has come under a joint flags for the games as a display of reconciliation. This is not the first time “the army of beauties” has made their appearance. Most recently, they attended the Asian Athletic Championships in 2005. Even though this isn’t the first time the world has seen them, many people and journalists are eager to catch a glimpse and ask them about their lives in North Korea. Unfortunately, they are under tight control and do not interact with others.

Time will only tell if the cheer squad will change the world’s perception as one of the most isolated places on the face of the planet.