Dutch Church Protects Family from Deportation

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Since 1:30 pm on October 26, Bethel Church in The Hague (a Dutch church in the Netherlands) has been running a non-stop service to prevent a family’s deportation. It all began when an Armenian family granted conditional asylum in April of 2010 was denied further political asylum and was told to leave the country.

The Netherlands’ 2010 General Act of Entry states that police cannot enter a space intended for religious or reflective meetings of a philosophical nature during the worship or reflection meeting. The church that the Armenian family regularly attends decided to use that law to their advantage to save the family from deportation.

For over a month, the church has been holding a continuous service, now surpassing 800 hours, because of the law that permits officers from entering during service. One volunteer stated that the plan was made in secret, and the church prepared by compiling every sermon they delivered in the past ten years into one document. The church has succeeded in doing so thanks to outside support, especially the 400 pastors from around the country that came to keep the service running. Since the family’s plea for asylum has been denied, a legal advisor in the Netherlands informed CNN that the family could theoretically get a children’s pardon and that the parents could apply for a resident permit with that pardon, but it is unsure if the family has applied.

Even though the fate of the family is unsure, one of the pastors stated that the church service will continue until it is clear that the Armenian family can stay.

The Creep Before Christmas

BY RILEY BERGAMASCO

We’ve finally made it to winter break, but you would have to be blind to not have noticed that the holiday season’s been here for a while already. Stores are filled to the brim with Christmas decoration from lights to trees to candy canes. December is the month of Christmas… but according to stores, so are November, October, and sometimes even September. As strange as it seems, most people aren’t surprised when they see these products filling stores as early as September. It has become a normal occurrence due to a marketing technique used by almost the entire western retail industry.

“Christmas Creep” is a merchandising phenomenon in which retailers advertise Christmas-themed products earlier than the traditional Christmas season. In many cases, Santa store displays go up in October, radio stations begin playing Christmas music in November, and people become sick of Christmas before December even starts. For some, the earlier and longer holiday season spoils the excitement of Christmas. Others argue that the increased commercialism ruins the family aspect of Christmas as well as its religious roots. But the most noticeable and likely impactful consequence of Christmas Creep is the effect it has on retailers.

Because many stores rely on the holiday season to make a large portion of their profits, they take advantage of this phenomenon to increase the length of sales. The holiday season grows each year and with it, the sales. These sales are not exclusively related to Christmas—they also include Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales which often last at least a week each, if not more. When people believe they are getting a good deal, they are more likely to spend more money, so retailers take advantage of the holiday season to increase their profits. It doesn’t always work out though. These increased sales create a sense of mutually assured destruction for businesses. If one refuses to drop their prices, they will lose out to the others that do, causing retailers to continually cut prices and often lose profits.

Despite the downsides and irritation it may cause, Christmas Creep is not always bad. For example, people in Finland can’t wait for the lights to go up because the sun sets so early. And ultimately, for people with an undying love for Christmas music and Santa decorations, a longer holiday season is a longer period of joy.

GM to Restructure; Shutter Five North American Plants

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

General Motors announced a string of changes as part of an ongoing effort to keep the automaker relevant in a changing market. As part of the changes, the company announced a sweeping staffing overhaul, cutting 25% of executives and 15% of the total salaried workforce. In a press release outlining the changes, GM announced three assembly plants: Oshawa, Detroit-Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-tram-ick), and Lordstown as well as two propulsion plants: Baltimore and Warren will be unallocated. The three assemblies all manufacture cars (i.e. sedans and coupes) which are declining in popularity as crossovers, SUVs, and trucks take larger and larger shares of the market..

These closures affect approximately 15,000 employees, infuriating American and Canadian officials. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deep disappointment” with the decision in a phone call with GM CEO Mary Barra, and U.S. President Donald Trump, who staked much of his campaign on the renaissance of American manufacturing, threatened to cut all government subsidies benefiting the company. Ms. Barra described the moves as being taken to “continue [GM’s] transformation to be “highly agile, resilient, and profitable.”

GM officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While GM has announced the closures as official, Unifor (a Canadian trade union) promised “one hell of a fight” over the Oshawa plant being shuttered, and the United Automobile Workers (America’s automotive trade union) vowed to fight any U.S. plant shutdowns. As well, many in Detroit are enraged as GM plans to close the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. Residents unconnected with the auto industry nonetheless recall the controversial use of eminent domain and the razing of a Hamtramck neighborhood. Many are concerned that the plant’s closing will make the relocation of hundreds of families for naught.

GM choosing to downsize seems strange considering the company is currently quite successful financially. Since being bailed out by Congress, the automaker has found broad success, making an initial public offering and returning to profit in 2010, the year after it received Federal monies for relief. However, the moves are intended to prevent the company from falling behind as consumers shift away from cars and towards larger vehicles. Said Barra, “These actions will…improve resilience through the cycle,” suggesting GM is becoming more adaptable, striving to avoid another corporate collapse.

A Brief History of America’s No-Good, Very-Bad, Horrible 25-Year Import Rule

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

Most station wagons are not fast cars. They sit one step above minivans in terms of coolness. Of course, the Audi RS4 Avant isn’t most station wagons. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s an all-around great car. Everything about it screams performance and luxury, and there’s enough cargo space to actually haul things. But we here in the US can’t have it. Americans have decided that SUVs are the way to haul the family and cargo. Thus, Audi hasn’t made the car available for sale here. With most other products, that wouldn’t be a very big deal. One would simply buy the car in Europe and ship it here (cheaper than you might think). There’s only one small problem: You can’t actually import most European cars.

US Customs and Border Protection will deny entry to any car not made compliant with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) unless it is at least 25 years old. In addition, cars less than 21 years old are required to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, ostensibly to ensure emissions are within acceptable ranges. American standards are far less stringent than European ones, and emissions are emphasized much more in European marketing. Since most European (Euro-spec) cars are in fact compliant with US standards, they should be eligible for import. However, the EPA requires the vehicle pass a series of tests set up by the EPA inn order to be deemed compliant with US standards. Because Euro-spec cars aren’t built for the US, manufacturers don’t bother getting them certified. Thus, many perfectly good cars are ineligible for import. As an example, the British Honda Civic Type R, engineered for speed and not economy, gets 30.6 MPG for the British model compared to only 25 in the US. That said, the engine is exactly the same, meaning the difference comes in tuning. The banned car is more efficient than the legal one.

As for safety, the US and European Union (EU) use very similar ratings systems for crash tests. While the RS4 Avant hasn’t been tested by Euro-NCAP (Europe’s automotive safety authority), the A4 (on which the RS4 is based) received five stars from the agency. However, neither the Euro-spec A4 nor the RS4 is legal for import. The most absurd part of the safety argument is that while the RS4, with its cutting-edge safety technology is banned in the United States, a Yugo could be imported despite its not having a single airbag. The US-spec A4, with the exact same safety features, earned Good safety ratings across the board in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the American crash test agency). Some will argue that the rule exists to shield Americans from inferior cars such as the Nissan Tsuru (basically a ’90s Sentra built for the Mexican market), but Europe and Japan are all members of the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations which seeks to create a uniform set of regulations that protect car-owners.

As a result, the US has several options to make it easier to import these safe vehicles that automakers consider unprofitable for the American market. The best option is to simply join the World Forum and become signatory to prior agreements on the matter, allowing a universal standard of vehicle codes to regulate American automobiles. This would result in the free trade of automobiles across the world while not compromising safety. With this increased trade comes the greatest part of all, cheaper cars for Americans. When the American market opens to the whole world, there is more competition in the US market (not to mention considerably more supply). This results in Americans having to spend far less for cars that are just as safe as their modern family-moves. For high schoolers in particular, this would lead to newer, safer, more efficient cars becoming within reach, saving them thousands of dollars.

“Cary’s Got Talent” Overview

BY ELISE BAGLEY

“Cary’s Got Talent”  showcased a wide variety of our student body’s wacky and impressive talents. This year’s eclectic array of acts ranged from singing and dancing to grape throwing and ventriloquism! Here are some fast facts about the winning talents:

In 3rd place… Michael Faltz and Micah Patchin!

These two Cary High seniors, opening the second half of the show, engrossed the audience with their extraordinary grape throwing (and catching) skills. Michael even caught one thrown across the auditorium!

In 2nd place…  Allie Jessee and Mr. Jessee!

Allie sang “Gravity” while Mr. Jessee accompanied her on the piano. It was a beautiful performance and a heartwarming father-daughter moment thoroughly enjoyed by those in attendance.

In 1st place… Abby Davis!

Abby played the guitar while performing her original song “Take it All.” Abby is an aspiring musician whose most recent album, Bonus Room, is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. Read her interview with The Page‘s Jake Bryant.

Best Overall… the Super Skippers: Elise Bagley, Megan Mersh, Scott Venable, and Sam Denham!

The Super Skippers were entertaining as always, jumping and flipping in and out of ropes as the crowd watched in awe. What ultimately gave this group the “Best Overall” title was the ever iconic “butt jump roping” act (often featured at Cary High Pep Rallies)!

Overall, “Cary’s Got Talent” was a blast, and hopefully we’ll see you there next year!

Affirmative Action: The Facts

BY ELISE BAGLEY

Affirmative action has been a controversial program ever since its initiation in 1961. The latest controversy comes from Students for Fair Admissions, which originally sued Harvard in 2014 over their affirmative action policy.

What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action is defined as a policy that favors groups of people who tend to suffer from discrimination. In 1961 President Kennedy issued an executive order that instructed federal contractors to use affirmative action to ensure that minority applicants receive the same consideration in employment applications. This policy is frequently used in the college admissions process for elite schools such as Harvard and Yale. Universities are allowed to consider race as a part of their admissions process, but the school cannot have a quota on the number of minority students that they admit.

What are the Benefits of Affirmative Action?

While it may seem counterintuitive to consider race in the admissions process, it has proved to be beneficial to the campus as a whole. Affirmative action has increased diversity by 23% in universities which plays a major role in a student’s education. Diversity drives innovation and fosters creativity in students while promoting student growth and understanding of the world around them. In order to succeed in an increasingly global business world, one must be able to collaborate and understand different backgrounds, cultures, and religions.

What are the Drawbacks of Affirmative Action?

This program may have been implemented to put an end to discrimination, but it can potentially promote “reverse discrimination” by accepting less qualified applicants because they are a minority. This can lead to an overall less qualified student body and high dropout rates of minorities in affirmative action schools.

What About the Harvard Case?

This case is different than many previous because it alleges that the Harvard undergraduate admissions program is “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies and procedures” against Asian-American applicants. Past lawsuits have not gained such national momentum, as they often feature a white student suing, but this time it’s a minority group. Harvard has denied these claims and defends their use of race in admissions, yet continues to state that race is never used against an applicant or as a deciding factor for any applicant. Students for Fair Admissions filed the case in November 2014 and the case is expected to head to the Supreme Court. Over the course of the hearings, Harvard has been forced to reveal some of their admissions policies, and it has been confirmed that it is harder for Asian American students to be admitted into the school. The arguments on this topic are complete in federal court, but it is likely it will take a few months to hear a decision. Considering the current status of the trial, it is possible it may end up in the Supreme Court.

Toyota Announces 2019 Supra to Debut at Detroit Auto Show

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

In a press release just before Halloween, Toyota announced that the long-awaited 2019 Supra will debut in January at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The release described the release timeline as “one of the worst-kept secrets in the auto industry.” It’s the one part of the car that has been so poorly masked. Toyota has tantalizingly held the car just barely in the public eye for some time, debuting only masked versions thus far. Having whet the appetite of both auto enthusiasts who remember the original and new enthusiasts, the reveal will be one of the most anticipated events at the Auto Show this year.

If leaks are to be believed, the car will have a straight-six powertrain producing 335bhp and 332 lbs ft of torque, which will allow its 3300 lbs to careen to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Toyota developed the car with BMW, who was working on a replacement of the Z4, another well-respected sports car. The motor is part of the German partnership, as is the gearbox, which is purported to be an eight-speed automatic. The top speed is unknown as of yet.

Though the release date and some specs have been common knowledge for some time now, much remains to be seen. For example, we’ve never seen it except in camo. We don’t have any idea what the interior will look like. What is clear so far is that whenever the Supra finally comes to production, we’ll have a fun-to-drive, quick, aggressive, bona fide Porsche killer.