Beyond Boone (January 2019 Issue)

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Beyond Boone (January 2019 Issue)

Samuel Colmar

Samuel Colmar

Samuel Colmar

Samuel Colmar and Sam Holbrook

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France postpones fuel tax during deadly ‘Yellow Vest’ riots

By Samuel Colmar

A planned fuel tax in France was postponed for six-months in early December when the tax proposal led to the riots that caused four deaths, hundreds of injuries and 412 arrests.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal that originally planned for a 25 cent equivalent increase of gas prices starting Jan. 1, sparked the violent “Yellow Vest” protest movement (which acquired its name from the bright vests participants wear) with nearly 300,000 people participating worldwide. Many have dubbed the riots in France as “the worst in a generation.”

President Macron explained in a French newspaper interview that his intentions were pure, and the purpose of the tax was to protect the environment and cut down on fossil fuels by encouraging citizens to purchase electric cars, but leaders of the Yellow Vest movement claim the majority of French citizens cannot afford to make the switch.

Benjamin Cauchy, spokesman of the Yellow Vest movement, expressed his dissatisfaction with Macron’s postponement, and announced that he plans to continue the protesting until the tax proposal is no more. “We will not settle for a crumb,” Cauchy said in a statement to French reporters.

Though the protests began mid-November, it was at its worse yet on the weekend of Dec. 1, with France considering the imposition of a state of emergency as the damage done to the “Arc de Trimphe,” a French landmark, reaches over $8 million. A large number of other French monuments also suffered vandalism, though the total damage from the riots has not yet been assessed.

The Interior Ministry of France reported that the movement required over 100,000 law enforcement officials to control the protests just over that weekend alone.

Riot control weapons such as tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades have been used by the officials to combat the violent methods of the Yellow Vest movement.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe urged for the violent protests to stop on a televised statement Dec. 4, saying “No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger … We need to calm the situation down to prevent its degenerating.”

An online petition that garnered over a million signatures and advocated “For a drop in fuel prices at the pump” sparked the Yellow Vest movement last summer. French resident and author of the petition, Priscillia Ludosky, wrote of her disapproval of Macron’s proposal, noting the already sharp price increase of fuel that took place in the beginning of 2018, and the fact that electric cars are too expensive for the general population of France.

Despite only being elected in 2017, French President Macron’s approval rating since the tax proposal dropped 23 percent, which matches his predecessor Francois Hollande, who was widely disliked and known to be one the least popular French leaders since the countries foundation.  French Prime Minister Philippe’s rating dropped 10 points to 26 percent.

Macron is expected to meet with pivotal members of the Yellow Vest movement in the upcoming months to put a stop the riots and come up with a compromise.

Migrants stopped at US border

By Sam Holbrook

The hot button issue of illegal immigration just got hotter as a migrant caravan emerging from Central America reached the U.S. southern border. President Donald Trump claims that the caravan consists of those seeking asylum but also criminals, and on the other side, critics say the migrants are just looking for a safe place to live and a job.

While the president continues to deny their entrance into the country, critics claim it is for asylum, which would mean they must be allowed entrance by law. The president has continually ignored these claims for asylum, but has rather deported numerous migrants.

In response to the news of the asylum-seeking migrants being deported, a judge had threatened to hold Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general of the United States, in contempt if the situation was not solved.

On the other side, President Trump has proven his claim that criminals travel with the caravan true when an MS-13 gang member was caught parting from the caravan and arrested in Arizona. When questioned, the member told officials he traveled with the migrant caravan through the dangerous part of Mexico.

After a thorough background check was run on the man, it was also discovered that the man already had a criminal record in the U.S., therefore he had crossed the border illegally and entered Arizona.

As time progresses, there is still little cooperation within congress between the two parties on how to handle the mass caravan that remains at the southern border. No conclusions are drawn and no progression is made, therefore Mexican border cities continually are being filled with migrants from Central America looking northward towards America.

NASA lands first Mars rover since 1997

By Sam Holbrook

The year was 1997. Bill Clinton was in office, the first Harry Potter book was published, and the “Titanic” movie was released.

1997 also served as the last time the United States successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars. On July 4 of that year, NASA landed the Mars Pathfinder after a journey of one and a half years.

21 years later, NASA has once again successfully landed another spacecraft on Mars. On Nov. 26, 2018, InSight touched down on Mars.

InSight was launched on May 5, taking only six months to touch down. It is planned to remain on Mars for about two years.

The spacecraft was sent to a calm, flat region of Mars called Elysium Planitia. Here, it will be able to provide information to scientists to help them study and understand more about Mars’ interior.

Therefore, the spacecraft will not have an ultimate goal of returning with rocks and other physical features, but rather important data that has never been collected before. In order to collect information on the deeper interior, InSight will collect information on things such as seismic wave activites and inner planet heat.

Chris Carberry, executive director of Explore Mars, has expressed gratitude towards NASA for its successful landing on Mars and has gone on to say that he believes this landing could improve chances of humans landing on the red planet. In an interview with Fox News on the subject, Carberry said, “this is yet another important step that we hope will lead to humans landing on Mars in the 2030s.”

Technology is improving rapidly, which means so is spacecraft. Advancements like the landing on Mars in six short months may raise the question among the upcoming generation: how much longer will it be until people are able to vacation to the Moon or take a trip to Mars?