Domestic terrorism ravages US

By Billy Ung & Kylie Cheng

While politicians argue over admitting refugees out of worry about terrorist attacks from outside the nation, incidents of terrorism already occur within the US.  The San Bernardino and Colorado Springs shootings both occurred within two weeks; however, media portrays the two shootings differently.  The Planned Parenthood shooting was seen as a less threatening shooting, perhaps because the shooter was not Muslim, while the San Bernardino shooting was seen as further evidence for Muslims being terrorists.

On Wed., Dec. 2, a married Muslim couple opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif.  Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, husband and wife, dressed in “assault style clothing” and “armed with assault rifles and handguns,” killed 14 people and injured at least 17, according to The Wall Street Journal.  The shooting took place before noon, and around 3pm police surrounded an SUV on East San Bernardino Ave.  The two suspects were killed and an officer was wounded.

Five days earlier, on Nov. 27, a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. killed three people and wounded nine, according to CNN.  After a six-hour shootout, police arrested the suspect Robert Louis Dear, 57, who was formally charged last Wednesday.  One police officer and two civilians were killed, while all Planned Parenthood staff members and patients were accounted for.

Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik were both radicalized.  Just before the attack, Ms. Malik posted a Facebook message, pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS (Islamic State).

Investigators determined that the couple practiced shooting days before the attack.  Furthermore, they found out that the couple had amassed an arsenal of weapons costing about $6500 at the time of the San Bernardino shootings, getting around California’s strict but complicated gun laws.

Mr. Dear, after his arrest, muttered anti-government and anti-abortion comments about “baby parts.”  Although no motive has been announced, officials infer that he attacked Planned Parenthood with anti-abortion intent.  Investigators who found propane tanks in the vicinity of his car suspect that he wanted to blow up the clinic.

While in court last Wednesday to be formally advised for a total of 179 charges against him, Mr. Dear admitted guilt and shouted that he was “a warrior for the babies,” according to USA Today.  He also refused to be examined for mental illness.  In the past, he was accused of domestic abuse and animal cruelty.  His former wife called him deeply religious but conflicted, and indicated that he likely targeted Planned Parenthood because of abortion.

The shooting at San Bernardino furthers the misconception that all Muslims are terrorists.  In response to the San Bernardino shooting, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump called for “complete shutdown” on Muslims trying to enter the US.  Almost all headlines describe the San Bernardino shooting as an act of terrorism.

The attack on Planned Parenthood occurred while the organization faced responses to videos released by an anti-abortion group.  The tapes, which Planned Parenthood disputes as heavily edited and distorted, showed the clinic selling body parts of aborted fetuses for profit.  Debate about the organization’s morality ensued, and on Thurs., Dec. 3, the Senate passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  The Colorado Springs shooting, along with vandalism and violence directed at other clinics, has largely been glossed over in comparison to the San Bernardino shooting, even though officials such as Planned Parenthood chief experience officer Dawn Laguens has called it “domestic terrorism.”


PHHS ends semester with winter festivities

By Hannah Tong

F.03. Winter Rally.Hannah.Angelina Nguyen

Photo caption: WATCH ME! Indian Club performs their dance at the winter rally.

As the long winter break finally approaches, Piedmont Hills finished off the holiday season with a final winter rally, holiday-themed spirit days and a memorable winter ball.

Starting from Mon., Nov. 30 to Fri., Dec. 4, ASB created festive spirit days for the school to assure that the enthusiasm started early.  Students were able to participate in Fuzzy Socks Monday, Toys Tuesday, Ugly Sweater Wednesday, Santa Thursday and Class Color Friday.

These spirit days were a perfect way to kick off the chilly winter weather.

However, ASB did not end it all there.

On Fri., Dec. 4, all the students and staff came together to pull off one last rally for the semester.

Hints of yellow, orange, green and purple could be seen in the stands as the different classes squeezed into the gym.

After a warm welcome from Pep Commissioner Jordan Covington, all the classes were ready to watch what the last rally had prepared from them.

The rally started off with junior Rianna Gallardo singing the National Anthem.

Afterwards, three dance clubs, Dance Junkies, Indian Club and Seoul Xtreme Choreography, who each performed their own self-choreographed dance, showed off their moves in which they had been working hard on all semester long.

Aside from the rally, the students of Piedmont Hills also originally planned on coming together one last time to host its last and final dance of the semester, the “SnowBall” on Sat., Dec. 5.

However due to the few tickets sold, the dance had to be cancelled.

In the end, Piedmont Hills had the spirit days to thank for commencing the holiday season.

“Fuzzy socks, toys, ugly sweaters, and the idea of Santa bring back warm, fuzzy memories of the wintery Christmas feeling!” exclaims Sophomore Class President Natalie Yeh.

In addition to winter rally, Leadership collaborated together to perform their Charlie Brown Christmas skit.

During the plot, each class raised their lights from their phones to compete for the class with the best “Christmas lights”.

Lastly, before finishing off the rally with the final class call, ASB put together a Christmas game where all the classes turned on their competitive side and fought to become the winner of the class competition.

Three participants from each class raced to wrap their “Christmas tree”, who was really just one of the three students, the fastest with streamers to become the winner.

“Surprisingly, it was a lot harder than it looked, making sure the streamers wouldn’t rip,” describes junior Martin Ruiz.   “I had a lot of fun though!”

With all these winter activities in one week, students were able to relieve the stress of finals from their shoulders.

“I’m just [going to] do my best for finals weeks and enjoy my Christmas break,” expresses senior Jeffrey Tran. “I’ve been looking forward to that ever since Thanksgiving break!”

In all, Piedmont Hills closes the 2015 school year with the incoming start of the joyful and holiday season.

Starbucks Christmas cups spark controversy

By Tiffany Lee

Furious Christians have gathered to fight against alleged anti-Christianity, brought about by the infamous red cup.  But since the majority of Christians peacefully sip their lattes, the ones teeming with anger seem almost illogical.

According to evangelists like Joshua Feuerstein, whose Facebook video has been viewed over 16 million times, Starbucks “wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups; that’s why they’re just plain red.”  Basically, Feuerstein and other like-minded Christians believe that previous years’ designs, with symbols like pine trees, snowflakes and snowmen, accurately represent Christ and Christmas.  However, such symbols aren’t particularly mentioned in the Bible, rendering the argument invalid.  Starbucks still heavily represents Christmas, as the franchise has advent calendars and Christmas coffee blends in every store.

The viral video started a movement, in which angry Christians go to Starbucks stores, order a festive drink and claim their name is “Merry Christmas” to trick the baristas into following Christianity.  But perhaps a standard boycott would’ve been more effective, as these believes of Christ have actually fooled themselves into giving the franchise both money and publicity.

Battling the trending #MerryChristmasStarbucks started by Feuerstein, many Christians and other people in general started another trending hashtag: #ItsJustACup.  According to USA Today, the people standing behind this hashtag believe there are simply bigger issues in the world to be worried about, claiming the cup is a “first-world problem.”  They also acknowledge that a cup doesn’t define an entire religion, because it’s just a cup.

Perhaps Starbucks’ inclusivity bothers some Christians because Christianity isn’t the only religion in the spotlight anymore.  Regardless, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists have never created such a large fuss over their lack of representation in Starbucks cups, maybe because, like mentioned before, there are bigger problems in the world to worry about, like the recent attacks of terrorism and racism.  The exaggerated outrage sadly makes a mockery of the religion itself, not the cup.

Rain comes down, water comes up

By Kylie Cheng

Here in California, we joke about welcoming severe rainstorms with open reservoirs.  This year, though, the predicted most powerful El Niño on record has started changing annual weather patterns and increasing the destructive forces of weather-related disasters.  Floods and droughts alike can wreck havoc on countries and on lives.

In a normal year, trade winds push warm ocean surface water toward the west, allowing cool water to rise in the Pacific Ocean.  In an El Niño year, the winds push more weakly, so the mass of warm water settles around the west of Peru.  Because of that shift, El Niño impacts weather all over the globe.  This year, the effects are even more powerful due to rising ocean temperatures.  According to the LA Times, this year’s El Niño will be stronger than the one of the previous record-setting year of 1997.

The typical monsoons in India have contributed to floods throughout the country.  Heavy rain from tropical lows has caused devastating floods and landslides.  As the levels in dams rise and piping breaks down, water fills even the streets.  The Times of India states that strong currents lead to drownings even with low water inflow.  Flooding in Chennai, capital of the Tamil Nadu state in southeastern India, was exacerbated by poor infrastructure unprepared to handle the rain.  Residents remain marooned.

Flooding in Brazil, although incited by dam-building mistakes rather than rain, also spells disaster.  The collapse of two mining dams released waste-contaminated water from Minas Gerais, which has killed wildlife and could irreversibly damage the ecosystem as it further pollutes the Rio Doce, according to Reuters.  In the short term, Brazil’s current drought, brought by El Niño conditions, coupled with its now tainted water supply spells a lack of clean drinking water.

These examples may have made the news awhile back, but the effects of weather tragedies persist long after they hit the headlines.  Climatologists cannot predict exactly what El Niño will bring, and it should not take the blame for every storm that hits California.  When we joke about it, we demonstrate our lack of understanding of how other parts of the world suffer from bad weather outside of our sights.  We must drop our quips and become aware of the reality, not just for our own safety, but also for the sake of others.

Pirate supports family


By Diane Tran

Fellow PHHS senior Michael Tran has started to sell his personal clothes and longboards for money starting in October because his father has been laid off.

He started using Facebook to advertise his personal items.

“Basically I looked at what I had, and I was like no; I had way too much right now and I didn’t need all of this.  I need to clean out my stuff and be able to sustain myself because my parents are barely able to sustain the house so how are they supposed to buy me food.”

Recently, his dad got laid off and Michael needs to raise as much money as he can for himself to use because he might lose his house.  He started selling his things to help his parents.

“My dad got laid off a couple months ago, and my mom hasn’t been able to sustain us with my dad’s unemployment.  He’s been thinking of reaching into his retirement funds, but you don’t want that because it’s your retirement funds.”

Michael has definitely been persevering through all of his problems.

“Well this is the worst time too because college apps are coming up.  I felt kind of overwhelmed by it all; not only do I have to worry about my future, but I also have to worry about right now and how to get by.  Eventually, I was able to calm down and figure out ways to go for it.  Now, a way for me to get money is to potentially intern at Zeemee, a way for colleges to know you more as a person.”

His friends are supportive of Michael. Randy Tau, PHHS alumnus, explains, “I saw that he was selling his belongings. I didn’t want to buy something that he once valued so I got him a 50 dollar gift card to Safeway.”

In addition he has been trying to sell his items and thinking about intern shipping, Michael also does custom design on cruiser boards with wood staining and graphics for $110.

November 13 Paris Attacks

By Walt Leung

On Nov. 13, a series of attacks claimed by ISIS was coordinated across Paris, with 482 to 488 casualties reported.

Social media followed the November Paris attacks closely, with Facebook releasing a feature that allowed people to “check in” and confirm their safety.  On Twitter, people across the world used “#prayfortheworld” to show their support for the French.   On Instagram, Jean Julien’s “Peace for Paris” went viral after being shared on Instagram’s official account.

The attacks were carried about by three different teams.  In the suburbs of Saint-Denis, three suicide bombers detonated their explosives near the national sports stadium at 9:20, 9:30 and 9:53pm.  Fortunately, none passed security and into the stadium, where possibility of collateral damage may have been far worse.

At the same time, the first shooting occurred at the rue Bitchat and rue Alibert, where people were shot outside a café, bar and restaurant.  Perpetrators fled from the scene in vehicles after causing 25 casualties.

Seven minutes later at 9:32pm, 13 casualties were reported outside Café Bonne Biere, where a gunman fired at bystanders using a machine gun.

Four minutes after the shooting at Café Bonne Biere, 28 casualties were reported after two gunmen fired at the restaurant La Belle Equipe.

Two minutes later at 9:40pm, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the Comptoir Voltaire café, causing 15 casualties.

At the exact same time, a mass shooting and hostage situation occurred at the Bataclan theater.  Three men wielding assault rifles stormed the hall and seized the theater.  By the time police had finally retaken the theater, 89 hostages had already been killed, with more wounded.

Although much is not known about the planning of the attacks, France had been on alert ever since January and had increased its security detail in preparation for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.  This was further compounded by ISIS (now being referred to by some global leaders as Daesh) claiming responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger flight and suicide bombings in Beirut just a few days earlier.  Intelligence experts also warned French authorities of an impending attack, but to no avail.

ASB amends gram delivery

By Rosa Lin

Starting this year, ASB is implementing new regulations in regards to gram delivery.  In the past, these grams were preordered through booths in the hallways and delivered by students during 5th or 6th period.

“From now on until finals week, grams can be dropped off during break and lunch for teachers to pass out during 4th and 6th period,” explains senior class president Megan Huang.  “We have to have permission from the teachers though.”

Many students have expressed mixed opinions about the new gram delivery rule.

“During finals week grams have to be passed out during break, lunch or afterschool,” reveals ASB Secretary Sydnie Tanujaya.  “It makes things more inconvenient, but I understand how the teachers feel.”

Since these grams are delivered to students during class time, some teachers feel as if both the receiver and deliverer of the grams are letting valuable class time go to waste. Some students also feel that their concentration is shattered every time their class is interrupted.

“You’re trying to listen to the teacher, but then they (the grams) take the attention away from the teacher,” expresses senior Matthew Enriquez.  On the other hand, other students still appreciate the in class gram delivery.

“Personally I don’t find the grams distracting at all,”  says senior Iris Chiang.  “Receiving the grams is a nice reminder that someone cares about you, especially considering how high stress school can be.”

“They may be a brief distraction, but I like them because of that.  It’s like a breath of fresh air from the lesson,” laughs Matthew.

Although the new rules bring complications, ASB understands the reasoning behind the change, and hope the new rule minimizes classroom disruptions and accommodates to the wishes of both the students and staff on campus.

Walking in a Winter Concert Land

By Angelina Nguyen and Yen Linh Duong

The doors of the L-Building opened up, welcoming folks of all ages to enjoy two wonderful concerts brought by the PHHS Music Department students.  Part one of the Winter Concert began with A ‘Suite’ Sleigh Ride, the instrumental concert, on Dec. 4 and ended with Home for the Holidays, the choir concert, which took place last Wednesday.

During the piece ‘Today is the Gift’, the drama and Concert Choir students made a special appearance.  The choir members, together with the chosen vocalists and egg shakers from the Wind Ensemble, sang a simple hymn after the riveting Martin Luther King Jr. ‘I Have a Dream’ speech spoken by drama students.

Concert choir introduced a new technique using mason jars and their cellphones during ‘Sympathy.’  The audience members were asked to type in links from the back of the pamphlet on their smartphones.  Each attendee opened a different link according to the section they were sitting in.  Right before Concert Choir sang, the sounds of birds chirping erupted throughout the L-Building.

“It’s based on a poem called ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and we have recordings of these little birds tweeting and we put the recordings inside the mason jars,” mentions Concert Choir member Athena Nguyen.  “The song is about how a bird is trapped in its cage so we’re trying to give an image of an actual bird trapped inside the jar to make the (performance) come to life.  Also, there is a soloist and she has a recording of her singing at the end of the song and the very last words that she sings (are) ‘I know why the caged bird sings.’  She put this really big jar on top of the recording when it says (that) and it represents a bird singing inside of the jar.”

After the intermission, the Percussion Ensemble enchanted the audience with their unique pieces ‘Cloud Forest’ and the ‘Nutcracker to Go!’  The Percussion Ensemble is not a music class at PHHS, but is a group of percussionists from Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra gathered together.  They practice once a week during seventh period or after school.

“We are just doing it [Percussion Ensemble] for fun. We have really good percussionists at this school,” comments orchestra teacher Emily Ray.  “Last year I started the Percussion Ensemble and I found this piece that was really hard, and had a couple of them practiced over the summer.  So when they came back in August they were pretty good at it, and we just kept practicing.  That was a college level piece [‘Cloud Forest’] that they played.”

According to Ms. Ray, the Percussion Ensemble have only practiced ‘Nutcracker to Go!’ for less than two weeks since she didn’t give them the music until just before Thanksgiving break.

The choir students have started working on the new pieces for the Winter Concert since the end of the Fall Concert which amounts to about seven weeks.  The pieces were chosen based on the strengths and weakness of the choral students.

“After the first concert of this year, we completely moved on.  We immediately started to practice (and) we (have) constantly been practicing,” says concert choir sophomore member Steven Lu.

A $5 admission fee was required to enter the show.  Delectable treats such as cookies, custard-filled donut holes and hot chocolate were sold at a concession stand, providing warmth and comfort for all who watched the show.  All of the money earned through the concerts will fund the music programs, allowing them to buy new equipment and go on more trips, such as this coming trip to Italy.

World leaders unite to combat terrorism

By Billy Ung

The Paris attack on Fri., Nov 13, has prompted world leaders to take action against the rise of terrorism.  The US, Russia and France are working out plans to fight against ISIS.

“The killing of innocent people based on a twisted ideology is an attack not just on France,” President Obama responds to the Paris massacre at Group of 20 summit at Antalya, Turkey last month.  “It’s an attack on the civilized world.”  World leaders at the G20 summit vow a forceful response following the Daesh (an Arabic acronym for ISIS) attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a deeper international partnership, citing the attack on Paris, in the war against the Daesh at the G20 summit.

“It seems to me that everyone is coming around to the realization that we can wage an effective fight only together,” comments President Putin, after leaders at the summit agreed that “defeating ISIS is a major priority for all of our countries” and pledged allegiance.  The allegiance promises to accelerate “the measures to combat cybercrime and trade in illegal firearms, improve the exchange information and clamp down on the financing of criminal networks,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

France swore its loyalty to the allegiance by striking back at ISIS headquarter in Al-Raqqah, Syria.  This was the first offensive move that came from France after French President François Hollande declared war on ISIS after the Paris attack on Nov. 13.  The airstrike was coordinated with the US and the coalition fighting against a common enemy.  French aircraft managed to destroy a Daesh command center, an arms depot, a recruiting post and a training camp.  Airstrike will be the coalition’s continuing effort to combat the Islamic State.

The cause of the Nov. 13 massacre was partly because Europe opened the border to Syrian refugees; so the question to all the US politicians is “should the Syrian refugees be allowed to come into the United States?”  While almost all Democrats grant Syrians permission to enter the US, the Republicans don’t want Syrian refugees to enter.  23 Republican governors don’t want to see Muslim refugees in their home state.  Furthermore, “Congress passed a new bill that requires the nation’s top security officials to personally certify that each refugee admitted from Iraq or Syria is not a threat,” according to American political commentator Stephen Colbert.