2020 Women’s March on Raleigh


Since 2017, Americans across the nation have come together during the month of January with a common goal: the advancement and protection of women’s rights. Every week it seems there’s another push to limit a woman’s right to an abortion, another sexual assault case from Hollywood, and another politician making degrading comments about their female peers. The statistics for sexual violence against women in the United States are too high- one in three women, to be exact. Too many women are silenced from sharing their stories.

The Women’s March is a chance for women to unapologetically speak out and raise their concerns for this country. On January 26th, at Halifax Mall, speakers of all different races, religions, ages, and backgrounds talked about the discrimination against women-of-color, domestic violence, and the importance of voting. This year’s theme, “Women Protecting the Future,” is especially important, as the Primary Elections for president are upon us, and the General Election is in November. Women must take to the polls to vote for candidates who will protect their rights.

I’ve attended the March on Raleigh since 2018, and I will continue to do so. Let it be known that our generation is one of new ideas and unity: a generation of bright minds and hard-workers. I know that this year will be the year of change. The year where women will finally be heard.

The March (Photographer: Sam Weisz)

Walking in from the march

The Rally

Kobe Bryant


January 26, 2020 was a normal Sunday, until surprising news shook the nation and the world: “Kobe Bryant is one of 9 people killed in a helicopter crash.” More surprising and heartbreaking news: “His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also victim to the crash.” The victims that died alongside Kobe and Gianna were Sarah and Payton Chester (a mother and daughter), John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, a coach for Mamba Academy, Christina Mauser, and Kobe’s captain Ara Zobayan, who had 20 years of flight experience. 

Everyone knows who Kobe Bryant is. Bryant was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, but forced a post-draft trade to the Lakers, saying it was the only team he would join. Bryant spent his entire 20-season basketball career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships. He retired in 2016, after scoring 60 points in his final game. His uniform numbers, 8 and 24, were both retired by the Lakers, making him the only NBA star to have two numbers retired with the same team.

Currently, the National Transportation Safety Board continues to lead an investigation that is looking into the pilot, helicopter maintenance records, and the weather conditions at the time the helicopter took off for reasons behind the accident.

After the horrific accident with the basketball star on board, fans across the country paid tribute.  The tweets starting pouring in. Shrines of flowers, drawings, and notes were assembled outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Kobe played during his career. Shrines were also built in his high school near Philadelphia, where it all started. Players around the NBA honored Bryant by holding the ball for 24 seconds (one of his jersey numbers) for a 24-second shot clock violation at the start of games. The Grammy Awards, which were scheduled for that day, had moments honoring Kobe’s life as well. 

This news came as a shock to everyone. It awakened people to reality. The reality that life is unpredictable, unreliable, and shorter than you think. Kobe’s death affected the entire world as purple and yellow lights are lit up worldwide. It shows how much Kobe impacted people, and though he is dead, Kobe is and will continue to be a legend known across the world, with legacy that will continue to live on through generations to come.  

Oscar Nominations 2020: Analysis and Predictions


In a year full of movies with big budgets, but low ratings, the best picture race pulls films from all over the place: a supervillain origin story holds the most nominations, two Netflix dramas are strong contenders, and a subtitled South Korean comedy-thriller-drama competes against a movie about a little boy whose imaginary best friend is Hitler. Of course, there’s also the period pieces: six out of the nine Best Picture nominees are set in the past, though how historically accurate they are varies significantly.

This year’s best director race has been tight from the start, with Martin Scorsese, Bong Joon Ho, and Sam Mendes seeming like the frontrunners since the Golden Globes, and Noah Baumbach, Quentin Tarantino, Greta Gerwig, and Pedro Almodóvar also seeming like safe choices. However, once the nominations were released, people on Twitter were quick to point out that no women were nominated for the second year in a row. Considering that many of the most highly acclaimed movies of the year were directed by women— The Farewell, Little Women, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Atlantics all have at least 95% on Rotten Tomatoes— this comes as a surprise. The acting nominations also have little diversity, with white actors receiving all but one of the nominations over stars like Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, and Awkwafina. However, Bong Joon Ho became the first ever Korean director to receive a nomination, and his film Parasite is the first Korean film to be nominated for either Best International Feature Film or Best Picture.

Other snubs were the lack of nominations for horror movies like Us, Midsommar, or The Lighthouse, though this is hardly a surprise— only six horror movies have been nominated for Best Picture out of a total 563, and The Silence of the Lambs is the only one out of those six to win. Marvel had campaigned for a Best Picture nomination for Avengers Endgame in the fall, perhaps hoping that the Academy would give it a win as a way to honor all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the way it did with the last Lord of the Rings movie, but Joker seems to have taken the spotlight from other superhero movies. And Knives Out, with its star-studded cast and stellar reception, was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Frozen II was left out of the nominations for Best Animated Feature Film, despite becoming the highest-grossing animated movie ever. It’s possible that Frozen II’s lack of nominations could be because voters had assumed it was a shoe-in and voted for less popular movies like I Lost My Body. Last year it was theorized that the same thing had happened when the highly respected Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was left out of the nominations, although Frozen II does have significantly lower reviews than Won’t You Be My Neighbor? did.

After a review of other film awards shows, critic reviews, and overall popularity of the nominated movies, here are the predictions for the 2020 Oscars.


Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit


Little Women

Marriage Story

1917 – Predicted Winner

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood



Antonio Banderas

Leonardo DiCaprio

Adam Driver

Joaquin Phoenix – Predicted Winner

Jonathan Pryce

Actress in a Leading Role

Cynthia Erivo

Scarlett Johansson

Saoirse Ronan

Charlize Thero

Renée Zellweger – Predicted Winner


Tom Hanks

Anthony Hopkins

Al Pacino

Joe Pesci

Brad Pitt – Predicted Winner


Kathy Bates

Laura Dern – Predicted Winner

Scarlett Johansson

Florence Pugh

Margot Robbie


Martin Scorsese

Todd Phillips

Sam Mendes

Quentin Tarantino

Bong Joon Ho – Predicted Winner


Knives Out – Predicted Winner

Marriage Story


Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood



The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit


Little Women – Predicted Winner

The Two Popes

Animated Feature Film

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body


Missing Link

Toy Story 4 – Predicted Winner


The Irishman


The Lighthouse

1917 – Predicted Winner

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Costume Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit


Little Women – Predicted Winner

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Documentary Feature

American Factory 

The Cave

The Edge of Democracy

For Sama – Predicted Winner


Documentary Short Feature

In the Absence

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) – Predicted Winner

Life Overtakes Me

St. Louis Superman

Walk Run Cha-Cha


Ford v Ferrari – Predicted Winner

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit



International Feature Film

Corpus Christi


Les Misérables

Pain and Glory

Parasite – Predicted Winner

Makeup and Hairstyling

Bombshell – Predicted Winner



Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


Original Score


Little Women

Marriage Story


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Predicted Winner

Original Song

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman – Predicted Winner

“I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough

“Into the Unknown” from Frozen II

“Stand Up” from Harriet

Production Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

1917 – Predicted Winner

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood


Animated Short Film

Dcera (Daughter)

Hair Love – Predicted Winner




Live-Action Short Film

Brotherhood – Predicted Winner

Nefta Football Club

The Neighbor’s Window


A Sister

Sound Editing

Ford v Ferrari – Predicted Winner



Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Sound Mixing

Ad Astra

Ford v Ferrari


1917 – Predicted Winner

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Visual Effects

Avengers: Endgame – Predicted Winner

The Irishman

The Lion King


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

You don’t have to forgive. 


Let’s get one thing straight, it is okay to get mad, to get completely pissed, to get freaking angry. IT IS OKAY. A few weeks, we saw the brother, Brandt Jean, of the shooting victim, Botham Jean, hug murderer Amber G-. Now, this exchange has mixed feelings, some being with it and some being totally against it. This was just another example of how black forgiveness is something we feel as if we have to do, however, think about if the opposite happened, would a white person forgive and hug a black person. It’s evident that white people have the privilege of being forgiven, but do they actually deserve it? 

Since the beginning, black people have been made criminal just because of the color of their skin. From 1619 to fugitive slave laws to Jim Crow and to the current constant murder and criminalization of innocent unarmed black people. I am tired of seeing stories of people being killed when they are just playing in the park, walking home, playing video games with their nephew; I mean when will it stop. It’s constant. Black people are constantly harmed— generational harm— so please stop asking us to forgive, but at this point, it is like we are no longer being asked, but expected. Black people have the stereotype of being aggressive, so if someone does us wrong, we’re looked at closely; people are examining how and if we are going to retaliate. The forgiveness narrative is so harmful. Black people are being murdered and people are only thinking about giving hugs and being polite to the murderers. Why does the public vilify the Ferguson protesters but praise Brandt Jean? This is the system that white supremacy oversees: the oppressed are told to forgive and forget, whereas the oppressors feel good knowing that what they did was not wrong enough and that there’s no resentment towards them. Black people are not allowed to be mad, to show anger, to show the hurt caused by the systems, policies, and hands of others but it shows the unjust. It shows that something is broken, so honestly show it. 

Socialized Healthcare: Innate Right or Avoidable Wreck?


Note: All sources can be found at the bottom of this article

One of the biggest political debates today surrounds the issue of socialized healthcare, also known as medicare-for-all. With most major democratic candidates supporting the idea and most conservatives staunchly against it, the policy is guaranteed to be a major issue in the next presidential election. Before understanding the consequences of such a plan, what is socialized healthcare? Socialized healthcare, also known as single-payer health care or universalized healthcare, is a term for a policy in which the government would provide mandatory medical insurance for all its citizens through a mixture of taxation and subsidies. Many supporters claim that healthcare must be seen as a fundamental right and a socialized policy is the only way this right can be upheld. Research has shown a socialized policy is simply unimplementable as it is exorbitantly expensive.

According to the Washington Post, a single payer system would cost the US government $33 trillion by 2031. This number figures out to additional government spending of $2.8 trillion annually. It’s worth noting that the entire US budget in 2019 was $4.45 trillion. The establishment of medicare-for-all would increase the national budget by approximately 63%. This money can’t come from nowhere, and the sourcing of these funds is one of the biggest problems facing the plan. The most commonly cited plan is simply taking money from military/ defense spending. The main problem is that the US Military received less than $700 billion in 2019. If 100% of these funds went directly to funding medicare-for-all, it would foot less than a fourth of the annual bill. 

In order to implement a socialized medicare plan, there is no side stepping the fact a majority would need to be paid for through increased taxes. A common plan, and one spear headed by Elizabeth Warren, is simply raising taxes on the rich. A report from the bipartisan research organization CRFB found than even if the tax rate of the top two tax brackets was raised to 100% (which is by itself impossible) there still would not be nearly enough money to fund medicare-for-all. A study from the Mercatus Center found that even if all individual AND corporate taxes in the entire country were doubled, the funds would still be insufficient to reach 2.8 billion annually. Bernie Sanders, the politician who introduced the medicare-for-all bill, has stated that “It is appropriate to acknowledge taxes would go up.” So the question is raised: are all Americans prepared to face a significant tax hike? The answer is a resounding no. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of Americans felt their taxes were too high, 48% felt they were about right, 4% felt their taxes were too low, and 3% had no opinion. With stark statistics like this, the chance of any significant tax hike being passed is extremely unlikely in a representative democracy such as ours.

As appealing as a single-payer system is, there’s no avoiding the fact that our democracy is simply unable to fund such a project. One of the most important skills in our modern political era of Twitter and “fake news” is the ability to fact check politicians. Next time a politician proposes a plan too good to be true — it probably is.

Protesting ICE: A Perspective From the Frontlines


My siblings and I left home at 11:30. We arrived in Graham after the hour and a half drive at 1. The speeches began at 1:20. The crowd marched at 2:00. The crowd was stopped by police barricades at 2:05. We sat Shiva, a Jewish mourning ritual involving song, prayer, and kneeling, for the lives lost in US detention centers in the middle of an intersection at 2:30. The riot gear emerged at 3:00. Sound cannons went off at 3:15. Tear gas was threatened at 3:45. At 4:00, the arrests began. We retreated to private property. At 4:12, a girl in front of me was pulled from the curb into the road by an officer and arrested. At 4:15 we resumed singing, louder than the sound cannon could ever blare. We faced off with the police for another hour, face to face. And they had clubs. 

This is the reality of peaceful protests in 2019. 

On November 24th, Never Again action, a Jewish organization sponsoring protests against ICE detention center across America, held its first event in North Carolina. Approximately 300 Jewish, Latinx, and black activists and their allies met at the Center for Spiritual Living in Graham to end Alamance County’s $2.3 million contract with ICE, signed by Sheriff Terry Johnson. For months, Johnson’s policies have terrorized Alamance communities, resulting in the arrests and detainments of hundreds of immigrants in deplorable conditions. One speaker recounted his detainment before we began marching. He described the injuries he received there, sexual abuse he suffered, and the complete absence of health services. Another speaker explained that when she was arrested for a traffic violation, the police took her passport and work visa. It took weeks for her to get those documents back, weeks she lived in constant fear of deportation. 

As my sister and I stood at the frontlines, facing the armed and armored police directly, we began to get a small glimpse of the all-consuming terror immigrants feel day-to-day living in Alamance County. We felt it creep up on us as police apprehended and arrested two women simply standing on the public sidewalk across from our group, watching and filming the protest. I saw it in the flash of fear in the eyes of a woman behind me, who told me I reminded her of her daughter before handing me a small mask to cover my nose and mouth when we heard the police threaten that they had tear gas ready. It gripped me in the smallness, the unimportance, I felt as we sat Shiva, the mourning prayer of my people, and the police laughed at us, trampling over our strong silence. 

November 24, 2019 was the first day I felt truly connected to my Jewish community. It was also the day I lost all trust in the police. I wish I could have experienced the spiritual empowerment of our gathering without the violence and horror of the police response. Peaceful protest should never be met with unflinching brutality and fear tactics. Especially not when the majority of those demonstrating are minority groups. My involvement in this event taught me one very important thing, a lesson clear in the stark imagery of armed police lined up before strangers hugging and crying and singing as one: violence is the weapon of the oppressor, but love creates change.    

Pictured: Bec Horowitz (in orange pants) and their sister (in green plaid) listen to speakers before marching. 

Photo Credits: Anthony Crider

Cr: Anthony Crider

Bec Horowitz (author) pictured right. Cr: Anthony Crider (above and below)

A Recap of the Fifth Democratic Debates

(Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times)


The fifth Democratic debate took place on Thursday, November 20th with ten hopefuls still vying for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. The remaining candidates and debaters include the following: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobucher, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. At the start of the debate, the frontrunners were considered to be Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg. Following the debate, these four remain at the top. MSNBC and the Washington Post co-sponsored the debate. Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Ashley Parker, and Kristin Welker moderating. Maddow is the host of the MSNBC nightly news show The Rachel Maddow Show and a political commentator; Mitchell is the NBC news foreign affairs correspondent and host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC; Parker is White House reporter for the Washington Post; Welker is NBC News’ White House correspondent.

We chose three main topics of the debate that caused disagreements between the candidates, highlighting some of their fundamental differences. Let’s take a look at these categories and see what each candidate had to say.

The Impeachment Inquiry:

Warren began the debate, focusing on the Mueller report and the evidence it provides to show that the president attempted to obstruct justice. She also discussed Ambassador Sondland as an example of the corruption in Washington, seeing that he has no qualifications for his position. Klobuchar responded with an attack on President Trump, saying that he “is a president that not only with regard to his conduct with Ukraine, but every step of the way puts his own private interests, his own partisan interests, his own political interests in front of our country’s interest.” Sanders focused on the American people—specifically those struggling within the country. Following the first three speakers, Senator Harris and Mayor Buttigieg both contributed to the discussion of the criminal conduct on the President.


Division of the Democratic Party over Medicare was a large topic of the night. Senator Warren and Senator Sanders are running on Medicare for all and former Vice President Biden is running on rebuilding Obamacare. Warren discussed her plan to bring down the cost of prescriptions, defend the Affordable Care Act, and bring 135 million people into Medicare for free in her first 100 days as president. Sanders followed Warren’s plan with his own—to introduce Medicare for all in the first week of his administration. Biden rebuked both of these plans, saying that they would never pass in the Senate with the Democrats right now. He provided his plan to build on Obamacare, add a Medicare option, and allow the people to choose what they wanted. 

The Climate Crisis:

Climate change was another big topic of the evening, especially on the candidates’ plans to ensure bipartisan support would be there to continue the fight against climate change. Gabbard discussed one of her plans for the first time that evening, stating that she would “[transition] our country off of fossil fuels and [end] the nearly $30 billion in subsidies that we as taxpayers are currently giving to the fossil fuel industry, instead investing in a green renewable energy economy…” She continued on to say that the United States should invest more in local agriculture. Moderator Maddow gave Tom Steyer the chance to jump in because one of Steyer’s main political points is climate change. He was quick to say that he would declare climate change a national emergency on day one of his presidency, and that he would “make sure that [his] climate policy was led by environmental justice and members of the communities where this society has chosen to put our air and water pollution.” Biden responded by stating that he believes climate change to be an existential threat to humanity, adding that he “[passed] the first climate change bill… managed the $90 billion recovery plan, [invested] more money in infrastructure that related to clean energy than any time we’ve ever done it.” Sanders interjected to state that climate change is happening now, and that we don’t have decades to do something about it. He also said that he will possibly prosecute the fossil fuel industry, to let them know that “their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.”

Additional Resources:

Candidates’ websites:

https://elizabethwarren.com/, https://berniesanders.com/, https://joebiden.com/, https://peteforamerica.com/meet-pete/, https://kamalaharris.org/, https://corybooker.com/, https://amyklobuchar.com/, https://www.tulsi2020.com/, https://www.yang2020.com/, and https://www.tomsteyer.com/

The full transcript of the debate: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/read-democratic-debate-transcript-november-20-2019-n1088186?yptr=yahoo

Mr Yasick: The NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year


Mr. Yasick—Cary High’s outstanding chorus teacher, the “godfather of the fine arts department” in the words of Mr. Bryant, and now the NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year. Mr. Yasick was recognized for this well-deserved honor at the Honors Chorus performance in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 10th. The Teacher of the Year award has been given prior to the performance each year since 2001, making, Mr. Yasick the 19th recipient.

A great deal of work went into the consideration of Mr. Yasick for the Teacher of the Year award. The process starts with a nomination by another choral director in the state of North Carolina. The criteria for a nominee includes: being an active member of NCMEA and teaching in North Carolina for at least five years. In addition to these qualifications, a letter of recommendation citing the merits of the candidate must be submitted by the nominator, and the nominee must send in an updated resume, including their philosophy of teaching. Following this process, five or six choral directors are nominated for the final vote, which takes place at All-State in April. The voting body includes the high school choral teachers in the state of North Carolina.

Mr. Yasick met all the criteria. He was a member of the board from 2006-2018, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award during his last year on the board. He first became involved with NCMEA when former Enloe High School Choral teacher Anne Huff asked him if he wanted to become the Choral Activities Chair. From this position, he went on to become the Chair of the Board of NCMEA for two years. In addition to being involved with NCMEA, Mr. Yasick has been teaching at Cary High for 24 years, helping the choral program grow from 33 to 200 students. When asked how the arts department has evolved during his time here, he responded, “The program was nowhere near as big as it is now. I mean, we never did Galas and all the stuff that we do now together with the band and orchestra and having the art people in the same building and everything else.” He has helped transform the Cary High School arts department throughout the past 24 years. 

Mr. Yasick shown being crowned by Mr. Bryant to recognize his award (WCPSS)

When asked what this award means to him, Mr. Yasick smiled and said, “It’s just a real honor. I mean, it’s such an honor, and it’s really nice to be recognized by your peers across the state that know the work that you do and be able to give you an award that recognizes people who made a difference in choral music in North Carolina.” To celebrate Mr. Yasick earning this well-deserved award, Mrs. McCormick gathered a group of about 50 people to surprise him in Winston-Salem last Sunday. They sat out of sight in the last three rows of the Stevens Center, making themselves known by screaming and clapping when Mr. Yasick’s name was announced. That was not the only surprise. On Wednesday morning the second period performing arts students had the chance to celebrate Mr. Yasick on his way to class—rolling out the red carpet and showering confetti on his head while he walked down the hall to the chorus room.

Cary High is lucky to have the newest NCMEA Choral Teacher of the Year producing and inspiring generations of talented musicians. This honor is truly well-deserved, and we are so proud of Mr. Yasick and the work that he has done and continues to do for all of his 200 students and counting.

Mr. Yasick shown conducting his chorus class. (WCPSS)

Syria, Turkey, and the Plight of the Kurds



Just a few weeks ago, the centuries-old conflict between the Kurds, an ethnic minority group based in parts of the Middle East, and the country of Turkey was thrust into the international spotlight. The reason for this newfound deluge of worldwide attention? The Trump administration decision to withdraw American troops from the Syrian border, where they were allied with Kurdish forces in defeating ISIS. 

The Kurds comprise the largest ethnic minority group in Syria, making up between five to ten percent of the total population. They are mostly concentrated in the northern region of Syria, which shares a border with Turkey. Large Kurdish communities also exist in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, but no country in the world has a majority Kurdish population. The Kurdish population in Syria gained international recognition for their boots-on-the-ground efforts to eradicate the terrorist organization known as ISIS, or the Islamic State, which gained power after the turmoil of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Their involvement began after the United States joined a multinational coalition in 2014 aimed at defeating ISIS; this coalition soon allied with Kurdish militant groups who consistently proved themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the region. 

While the Kurds are heroes to the free world, Turkey is distrustful of them: the Kurdish militia that proved itself irreplaceable in the fight against ISIS is considered by some to be a subsidiary of a Kurdish insurgency group within Turkey known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. This subset of the Kurdish Turkic population has brewed guerilla violence for decades upon decades, leading Turkey and the United States to label it a terrorist group. Turkey sees Kurdish reclamation of land formerly controlled by ISIS as a threat to their national security, and fears that Kurdish extremists could convert those fighting for freedom into those fighting for insurgency. The Obama administration tried to smooth over this conflict of interest by encouraging the Kurdish militia to adopt a different name and enlist more non-Kurdish freedom fighters. This policy enjoyed moderate success, as the group has since been renamed to the Syrian Democratic Forces and about 40 percent of its members are non-Kurds. As a show of good will, under Obama, American troops stationed in the region began patrols of the Turkish border to preserve peace. American goals of Turkish appeasement even went so far as to convince the Kurdish administration to retreat from the border and dismantle some of their defensive capabilities. 

However, President Trump has largely been an opponent of continued United States presence in Syria and what he views as “endless wars.” Campaign trail promises to his supporters finally came to fruition as he led an official order for American troops to leave the Syria/Turkey border after consulting with the Turkish president on October 6th, 2019. The American retreat effectively opened up the region to Turkish attack. An alliance of Turkish troops and Syrian Arabs began an invasion of Kurdish-held territory on October 9th. The invasion quickly devolved into chaos; American troops experienced several close calls with Turkish firepower while attempting to retreat. As a result, the Pentagon reevaluated the situation, and orders have now been sent for a full withdrawal from northern Syria. While President Trump has slapped Turkey with economic penalties for their invasion and treatment of Kurds, Americans, and their allies in the region, all that will be left of the American footprint is a small base in southern Syria. 

What does this mean for the rest of the world? Firstly, Turkey and their allies immediately benefit: Turkey can reclaim land from groups it views as dangerous, with over 75 square miles of Syrian-turned-ISIS-turned-Kurdish territory seized by the Turks in just one weekend. Secondly, Russian support of Syria turned insidious: the Syrian regime is taking back power previously held by Kurdish forces, supported by money and influence from the Kremlin. The Putin administration has even emerged as the main intermediary between the Kurds, Syria, and Turkey, expanding their power in the region to the detriment of United States interests. The final concern is perhaps the most widely recognizable and most widely feared: the resurgence of ISIS. The Kurdish militia no longer has the capabilities or support to attack remaining terrorist cells or guard the over 11,000 captured ISIS militants in the region. 

Abandoned by America, Kurdish freedom fighters are alone in the region, surrounded by enemies on all fronts: Syria, ISIS and Turkey, with Russia pulling the strings. Only two questions remain–will the international community ignore the anguish of our allies? Or will we help them as they so bravely helped us?

American Companies and the Controversy They Spark in Hong Kong


Hong Kong citizens have protested every weekend for the past four months. Recently these protests have escalated in violence, but why should we care about the protests happening in Hong Kong? The answer: it’s complicated.

Markets around the world have become more and more politicized following the Hong Kong protests. Controversies have arisen as the protests have garnered the sympathy and support of American companies. The New York Times lists some of these controversies with Western companies. Coach, Givenchy, and Versace produced shirts that identified Hong Kong as an independent country. Tiffany & Co ran an ad in which a model held her hand over her right eye (a reference to the protester in Hong Kong getting shot in the eye). Other companies have acted in support of the Chinese government. Two of the biggest are Blizzard and the NBA. (New York Times Business, 2019)

Blizzard is a video game developer and publisher whose credits include games such as Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. On October 6th, immediately after winning one of the largest Hearthstone tournaments in the East, professional video game player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was banned from playing Hearthstone for a year, and all his outstanding prize money was revoked. The punishment came after a post-game interview in which Blitzchung said, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” This punishment by Blizzard resulted in extreme backlash from players, fans, and even employees of Blizzard. As a result of public backlash to Blitzchung’s ban, Blizzard reduced both Blitzchung’s and the casters who conducted the interview’s bans from a year to six months. Blitzchung also received all the prize money he was owed, but the damage was already done. This situation sparked a bipartisan agreement between Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida reprimanding Blizzard’s censorship. Following this incident, many well-known players have stated that they will not cast at BlizzCon 2019 from November 1-3. Other game developers are responding to Blitzchung’s controversial punishment as well. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, tweeted out that “That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.” (Beauchamp, 2019)

Recently, the NBA has found itself in a similar situation as Blizzard. According to TIME.com, “The controversy erupted after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets… 

appeared to support Hong Kong demonstrators in a tweet late Friday.” (Wallbank and Cang, 2019) The tweet was quickly deleted, but the Chinese saw the incident as an additional Westerm company questioning the motives and control mainland China has over Hong Kong. China is the NBA’s leading market internationally, leading to extremely profitable licensing/retail deals growing for the past 11 years. The NBA is now at risk of losing all of this. The tweet by Morey contained an image that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Multiple companies such as Li Ning Co. (sportswear) and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Credit Card Center have already suspended cooperation with the Rockets, and Rockets gear doesn’t come up anymore when searched for on Chinese e-commerce sites operated by JD.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Following Morey’s tweet, the NBA released an apology calling Morey’s statement regrettable and that the business is “deeply disappointed about Morey’s inappropriate comment” and that “he undoubtedly has hurt Chinese fans’ feelings severely.” (Wallbank and Cang, 2019) With their cautious approach to handling the situation, the NBA’s actions, much like Blizzard’s, led to bipartisan criticism. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas blasted the NBA for “shamefully retreating”, with both Democratic presidential candidates from Texas agreeing; O’Rourke called the apology “an embarrassment” and presidential nominee Julián Castro stated that Americans can’t be “bullied by an authoritarian government.” (Wallbank and Cang, 2019) Some players have unintentionally gotten involved in this larger controversy. On October 14th, LeBron James was interviewed and stated  “we do have freedom of speech. But there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.” The international backlash was immediate. In Hong Kong on Tuesday, October 15th, a group of around 200 gathered on a basketball court to chant their support for Morey and direct obscenities towards James, with one throwing a basketball at a picture of James and trampling on his jersey. Some protesters in Hong Kong even burned his jersey. James Lo, a web designer that runs a basketball fan page in Hong Kong said that, “James’s comments had infuriated many in Hong Kong… We just can’t accept that.” (Guardian, 2019) 

As American companies take a stance on Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s craving for independence gains more publicity every day. This has created a cycle where more companies are being forced to choose between their economic interests and their morals. If they side with China, they have access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world; however, is that worth widespread criticism and boycotts back in the states? When this cycle forces massive corporations such as the NBA and Blizzard to take a stance, our entire nation’s foreign policy is affected. This directly shows how incredibly powerful protesting for what you believe in can truly be. To learn more about the background of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, check out this article.

Further Reading:

Companies involved in China controversies: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/09/business/dealbook/china-companies-nba.html

All there is to know about Blizzard: https://www.cnet.com/news/blizzard-hearthstone-and-the-hong-kong-protests-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

Info about Morey: https://time.com/5694150/nba-china-hong-kong/

Why Hong Kong hates LeBron: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/oct/15/hong-kong-protestors-burn-lebron-james-jerseys-nba