Tuskan Times volume 9 issue 1

Page 1

October 2020 Issue

International School of Florence

Volume 9, Issue 1


Co-Editors Omid Sheikh Peter Wood Layout Editor Greta Fischer

Artists Luisa Rego, Eva Goulder, Matteo Mastrangelo and Greta Fischer Advisor John Pitonzo Front cover by Luisa Rego and Greta Fischer Back cover by Matteo Mastrangelo

DEAR STRAIGHT PEOPLE By Thomas Accatatis and Greta Fischer

We are writing to you on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community because discussion and education on the topics of sexuality and gender are sorely lacking. We are often asked why we are so vocal about spreading awareness on issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community. It is simple: if we don’t open your eyes to the realities of sexuality and gender-based discrimination, no one will. You would otherwise keep living in a bubble where you assume everyone around you is straight because that’s just the “normal” way of being, right? You would keep holding on to damaging gender norms that only perpetuate violence against women and minority social groups, as well as causing emotional harm to men. We insist on being vocal because, if not, violence against us, us queer people, will only continue indefinitely. Some of you might feel like this is an attack on straight people, but it isn’t; it’s just the truth. And sometimes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. We invite you to read this letter with an open mind in the hope that we can establish a mutual understanding between queer and non-queer people. All over the world, LGBTQ+ people are oppressed and denied certain basic rights and protections. Here are some quick facts: 72 jurisdictions still hold laws criminalising consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples; 11 of those have the death penalty as maximum punishment. However, even in countries where there are no laws criminalising the existence of queer people, discrimination and violence against us persist. Not all jurisdictions protect queer people from discrimination in other areas of daily life, such as in the workplace, in housing, and in medical care.

However, even when the law is on our side, the public’s attitudes often aren’t. Queer people are more likely to be the victims of hate-crimes and other forms of physical and verbal harassment. I could go on to list statistics about how LGBT people are more likely to self-harm, how they struggle to access appropriate health care, how they are more likely to be involved in the use of hard drugs, and how they report overall lower life satisfaction than their non-queer counterparts, but the message should already be clear: society’s current attitudes towards matters of sexuality and gender identity make life harder for queer people. Why? Homophobia is the result of ignorance and draconian attitudes cemented by society’s limited views on gender and sexuality. If you think this issue is irrelevant to you, you couldn’t be more wrong. You often assume that everyone around you is straight, and you never stop to think that maybe your friend or an acquaintance of yours is struggling with their identity. You forget that queer people exist everywhere in every sector of society: we are artists, we are scientists, we are students, we are athletes, we are teachers, we are leaders. We are the doctors and nurses you cheer-on and applaud as we save lives in this pandemic. We are functioning members of society, yet we still aren’t treated as such. We continuously face homophobia and its many ugly faces and forms throughout our daily lives: ridicule, microaggressions, and institutionalized discriminiation.




One social setting where homophobia is commonplace is in schools. Children grow up with stereotypes of how boys and girls should behave: that boys should like girls, girls should like boys, and it’s always the knight in shining armour who saves the princess. This phenomenon is called heteronormativity, where society drills into the minds of children the idea that heterosexuality is the default mode, and anyone who strays from that is abnormal and should be shunned. As a result of this, from a young age, we develop a prejudiced mentality. In elementary school, children start singling out and marginalising those who don’t fit “regular” gender norms. We are taught by society that it is not attractive for a person to deviate from these norms. We build a mentality where stereotypically feminine traits are viewed as negative in boys, and where girls are forced to adhere to their gender roles. For example, girls can’t play football with the boys, boys can’t wear pink, boys are not supposed to cry. As children grow into adolescents, society perpetuates this farce of toxic masculinity even further. This view of masculinity centres around men as physically strong, aggressive, and assertive beings who dominate women, and oftentimes this leads to instances of sexual violence. This definition is limiting and damaging. As well as contributing to violence against women, this view of masculinity implies that having homosexual tendencies makes a man less of a man. As a consequence of this, sexuality and gender identity have become taboo subjects, so much so that people will go to great lengths just to avoid saying the letters LGBTQ.

This generates ignorance on the subject, thus recycling these toxic and homophobic beliefs, and it also means that people can’t have open discussions on sexuality and gender. It leaves us queer people isolated and vulnerable. Hence why we experience higher rates of suicide and substance abuse than our straight peers. This neglect of our needs also means that we have little to no experience in dating: a social experience that most other people take for granted. As a consequence of this, we’re often vulnerable to predatory sexual behaviour. The bottom line is: toxic masculinity perpetuates homophobic attitudes, and it is hurting queer lives, mentally and physically. Because of these attitudes, queer teens like us don’t trust coming out to our families, friends, and classmates. We fear that people will look at us differently when we are in fact the same. We fear that we may even be attacked for being who we are. It doesn’t help that our identities come with stereotypes and misconceptions attached. One of the many annoying things lesbian, gay, or bisexual teens often hear from others upon coming out is: “ok, so does that mean you’re attracted to me?” A person coming out to you isn’t about you, it’s about them, and your only obligation is to be a supportive and accepting friend. Our sexual identities only indicate a preference for a certain gender or genders, it doesn’t mean we don’t have standards. For those who insist on invalidating bisexual people’s identities: no, bisexuals are not “afraid to come out completely;” no, bisexuals are not promiscuous for liking both men and women; no, bisexuality isn’t a phase or really any sexual or gender identity for that matter.



We didn’t spend all of our time in the closet questioning our identities, just so you can do the same to us. A lot of you might also say that “nowadays, being queer is a trend,” and we would be delighted to inform you that this is just another homophobic comment thrown around by people in order to invalidate queer people’s identities and experiences. Queer people of all different flavours and colours have existed since the dawn of humanity. The only thing that’s changed between then and now is that the current generations are slowly opening their minds to the realities of human gender and sexual identity, and we now have a wide range of terms to describe these identities. Another remark that we hear being tossed around, usually when talking about transgender people, is: “there are only two genders.” This is false and only goes to show the level of ignorance there is on the topic of gender identity. Where most people fall short in is understanding the difference between sex and gender. Sex is a term referring to the various biological traits that we use to classify people into “female” and “male,” however we also forget that there are people who do not fit into these categories: intersex people. Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that do not fit the binary divisions of male and female. These people may have different sex chromosome combinations such as XXY, XXX, or others. Gender, on the other hand, is a completely separate phenomenon from sex. Gender is the set of social and psychological characteristics that society groups into different categories, which can vary from society to society.

More specifically, gender identity is the way a person identifies themselves according to a certain gender’s established traits and is usually conveyed through mediums such as clothing, makeup, speech, and body language. Because of this widespread ignorance regarding gender, the transgender community is one of the most misunderstood within the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes even other queer people can be transphobic. Transgender people have a gender identity that differs from that of their assigned gender at birth, hence they are often distressed when their identity does not match their assigned gender characteristics. This distress may be due to an interior conflict regarding the physical characteristics (sex characteristics), or the social aspects, attributed to different genders. This is called gender dysphoria. The struggle of gender dysphoria is always creeping in on transgender individuals, ready to scrutinize their every action, continuously questioning whether or not they are successfully projecting their gender identity. This persistent self-scrutiny builds up feelings of frustration, which might explain why in a 2015 US survey of transgender individuals 40% had reported attempting suicide at some point in their life. This rate is greater, by a large margin, compared to other social groups. These high rates of suicide can be explained by the fact that transgender people have to struggle with g e n d e r i d e n t i t y, m e n t a l i l l n e s s , a n d discrimination. The personal struggles are clear, and on top of that transgender people face discrimination and microaggressions from others in their daily lives.



Many transgender people have to go through a lot of humiliation, for example misgendering or deadnaming, others are kicked out of their homes by their parents. The most painful forms of humiliation are those coming from family and friends who do so intentionally and behind their backs. Being misgendered may not sound like a “big deal,” but you don’t understand what it feels like to be misgendered, do you? Misgendering sends a signal to transgender people that their identity is not valid, and that they are not doing enough to pass as the gender they identify as. If someone asks you to use certain pronouns when referring to them, do it. It’s not difficult. Do you know when hormone therapy for transgender people was made freely available in Italy? October 1st, 2020. Transgender people have not yet obtained their rights like most of us in the LGBT+ community and regardless, obtaining laws and rights that support transgender people does not equate to being respected by others. The question: How do we move forward from here? How can you contribute to the cause of LGBTQ+ equality? A good place to start is by acknowledging one’s own inherent biases, which goes for everyone, not just straight people. We’ve all grown up in the same system, so prejudice towards queer people is often engrained in our minds; we have a term for this: internalised homophobia. Another important step is to acknowledge one’s privilege; this goes for most people, as even within the queer community some have more privilege than others. From there, combating homophobia in daily life involves educating people. Education is vital for dispelling harmful misconceptions and stereotypes

Another key step is to begin to recognise and point out homophobia in daily life, especially in its more subtle forms, whether it be a minor comment or a slur. More importantly: action is the key to moving forward. Waiting for the situation to improve on its own will not solve anything. So you have a choice: you can acknowledge your prejudice and your privilege and be part of the solution, or you can go on the way society always has and stand in the way of equality for LGBTQ+ people. We have had enough of being marginalized, stigmatized, and degraded. We have had enough of being indoctrinated with limited views of sexuality and gender, and toxic notions of masculinity and femininity. We are tired of being treated as “other,” as outliers, as deviants. We are tired of our identities being taboo. We are tired of seeing that here and all over the world, society is failing us, and our needs. It’s the constant influx of headlines, and breaking news about attack, after attack, after attack, verbal or physical, directed at our community, that slowly chips away at our will to thrive as free and unique individuals, eroding our only remaining hope in humanity’s capability for progress. We don’t want pity. We want respect and dignity. Yours Truly, Greta Fischer and Thomas Accattatis



HOW A PANDEMIC TOOK A COUNTRY BY STORM, AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM IT By Lorenzo Budroni As the United States approaches its 2020 election, the separation between the Republican and Democratic party has never been so polarized. According to a Gallup article, President Trump’s third year in office saw an 82 percentage point gap in approval between Republicans (89%) and Democrats (7%), the largest it has ever been since the poll began in 1945. This division has been sustained as the country has been swarmed with events such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests following the controversial death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, as well as an ongoing pandemic that has rapidly become one of the top priorities of the Trump administration. That being said, how has Donald Trump responded to the ongoing public health crisis? And how has that affected his candidacy as the 2020 election approaches? According to a recent case count conducted by the New York Times on the 20th of September, the U.S. has more than 6.8 million cases of COVID-19 with at least 199,361 reported deaths, averaging around 41,101 cases per day in the past week.

While this is in part due to the United States ramping up their production of test kits greatly since April of this year, reaching a record high of around 1.06 million daily tests conducted on September 19th, it could also due to the mixed messages being sent from the White House. As the New York Times’ Editorial Board stated directly from a Trump claim “Like so much about the pandemic, questions about the death toll have become a source of public confusion and partisan friction — one that the president has done nothing to tamp down.” (The Editorial Board, 2020). This ambiguity of where the administration stands regarding social distancing guidelines, statistical figures, and policies has been a source of controversy throughout the general public and state level. An example of such controversies are the anti-lockdown rallies that have occurred in states such as Colorado and Pennsylvania, protesting lockdown rules that were introduced by state Governors. The matter of the fact is that COVID-19 is not the first public health crisis that the U.S. has faced, the 2001 ‘Anthrax Letter Attacks’ and the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009 during the Obama administration are among the most famous past examples. Although, this means that the U.S. has had a considerable amount of time to prepare for any similar crises in the future, and while guidelines were indeed made, the question remains: To what extent were they implemented?



This is best observed through what has probably become one of the biggest controversies surrounding the pandemic in the U.S, the utilization of masks. In an April 3rd White House press conference, Surgeon General Jerome Adams explained the evolution of face mask policies and how it transitioned from the CDC advising the public to not wear masks as a way of limiting the spread of the coronavirus in early March, to a promask policy as a direct result of new information, this claim although was not supported by President Trump as he repeatedly mentioned that he “Won’t be doing it personally”. And it is partially this conflict of opinion that has led to such a great extent of politicization of masks and furthermore, a divide in the general public on what precautions to take during the pandemic. So what does this mean for Donald Trump in the coming 2020 election? There is no doubt that President Trump has had his fair share of criticisms on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this does not mean that his policies have not evolved throughout his presidency. In fact, in a Washington press conference on July 21st, Trump’s statements seemed to emulate a lot of what many public health experts had been advising and saying for a while now. Mainly advising to social distance and wear masks in situations where social distancing is not possible, as well as letting the public know that “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better”, referring to the situation at the time with surging cases of COVID-19.

This statement although, should not be taken as a sign of admittance to mishandling, rather the fact that Trump acknowledges the reality of the situation shows that, like other public health officials, he too has evolved his opinions as the body of knowledge on COVID-19 grows, and this has allowed for his administration to become more coherent in their statements towards the public. That being said, this sudden change of opinion could, according to a Guardian article, be the product of Trump’s effort to change his appearance amid negative polling, “A whiplash reversal by Trump, who was facing a Republican mutiny.” (McCarthy). As for his handling of the situation, it is clear that situations like these were planned for. The U.S. had the benefit of knowing what to do in a similar crisis, and yet a lot of this knowledge was never implemented as a way of mitigating the effect of the pandemic. It is important in times like these that we elect leaders who are willing to listen to science, as well as act upon it. This, of course, applies not only to the United States but to every other country that has suffered from the pandemic. Progress is not made through uninformed decisions, and therefore it is imperative as a society, both on a local and global level, that we learn to trust our experts and each other.



One of the proposed countermeasures that came as a direct result of these previous public health crises is the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) manual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created these guidelines in 2014 as a method of mitigating similar public health crises that could occur in the future. Each section is divided into dealing with different areas of society during a crisis. And one of these areas is the spokesperson. The spokesperson is the designated speaker on the matter at hand and it is a crucial job when it comes to communicating with the public. According to the former CDC Chief of Media Relations, Glen Nowak, communications in a public health crisis is about “Setting, guiding, and managing people’s expectations”. This means that “How a spokesperson handles public and media inquiries, in addition to what he or she says, helps establish credibility for an organization.” (CERC: Spokesperson, 2014), and it is the idea of credibility that is so central to the spokesperson and the organization they represent. In order for an organization or government to be credible or trustworthy, the spokesperson must be someone who is fluent in the subject area, as well as someone who can clearly convey ideas without raising controversy or doubts. This is why having politicians in this position is a bad idea because they are not likely to get bipartisan support from their constituents, regarding the decisions and policies put forth by their administration. Furthermore, politicians tend to not be fluent in the subject matter and this can cause a lot of confusion, especially when the public receives conflicting messages from the same source.

This, of course, does not mean that government leaders cannot be involved in communicating to the public, as they should only be exempt from speaking on the subject matter at hand, as well as the science. So how has the Trump administration put this into practice? While there were many politicians as well as public health experts present at The White House press conferences such as the CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat and NIH Director Dr Anthony Fauci, press conferences were often led by President Trump, and this led to a lot of contradictions regarding topics such as when a possible vaccine would be available as well as expected case numbers. Due to these mixed messages, many Americans are ultimately forced to pick a side. Do you believe your elected leaders or public health officials? This situation, of course, gets worse as the media gets a hold of this conflicting information, and consequently runs the risk of politicizing it. Accusing the government of being inconsistent while further propagating the possibility of distrust among the public towards the government and its representatives. This apparent inconsistency can make a dire situation worse if information begins to change, which it inevitably does during a pandemic. Beliefs and prior statements can get updated as new information and data come to light, because while it may appear that government agencies are being inconsistent as they change policies, rules, and statements; the reality is that they are simply updating their beliefs as the situation evolves.



MR WHITEHEAD ON PERSONAL CHALLENGES, VALUES, AND SCHOOL PLANS Maria Leal As a member of ISF, it’s important to have good communication and relations with the representatives of the school. Below are bits from an interview with the current Upper School principal, Mr Whitehead. When did you join ISF? “I came as a full-time member of staff in August 2019, but the year before I came as an educational consultant working with a group of teachers on research projects.” It’s known that you were stepped up from teacher to principal very unexpectedly. How did you feel during this transition? What motivated you to approach this eagerly? “Well, I came here as director of learning and research, so I didn’t come as a teacher. My job was to work with teachers to help them think about how they could get better at teaching. When we got to February, and we had the Spring break last year, Mr Watson left, and because I was Senior Leader, and because of my background: I’ve been principal before, I’ve been Head of the school three times before - it wasn’t really a big step-up in terms of knowing what to do with the job. The difficulty was that I did three days and then school closed down. So I think that was the biggest transition that I’ve had to make in my whole life! To go from physically on campus, with students, to going into a kind of solitary position or being in a house, with a table and a computer and trying to basically run the school from there. The job would’ve been impossible if it hadn’t been for Ms Blain and Mr Dean, who I worked really closely with at that time.

It really helped in terms of how we could make that transition from a campus space to virtual learning. That was the bigger challenge for me than being a principal because I understood what you had to do to be a principal. But it’s different in every school, so actually coming into (this) school as a principal was difficult to get to know all the routines” What is your mission? In other words, what are your plans or goals for the school? “What we want for the school is always a discussion. It’s never- or it should never be one person who comes in with one view of how it should be. I’ve worked with Mr Murray, with Ms Emma from junior school, and we sit down regularly and talk about what that means for the Upper school. The biggest decisions we had to make at the time were around a new timetable. We knew we wanted to introduce a new timetable because we thought, very strongly, that the school needed a better provision for PE. We wanted students to have the opportunity to do proper physical activity and there was never that opportunity here (ISF) because there was nowhere to get changed, the facilities were poor so we knew that that was the priority: to get a timetable that enabled us to do PE. Also, Mr Dean and I agreed with, and felt very strongly about introducing a ‘tutor group’ system; so that students in the morning would come to their tutor and it was a more positive, healthy start to the day, where the tutor got to know the students and could be a support for them. Also, we wanted to increase the opportunities for students who wanted to do the Arts as well as Languages.



It’s a lot of important things that we wanted to introduce into the school curriculum, (and) the students’ experiences, that we knew we needed a new timetable. Alongside that, we also knew that the curriculum at ISF, particularly for Middle school, needed to be looked at again- schools do this very regularly. We knew that it needed to be much more coherent.” What influence do you wish to have on the students and the community as a whole? “I think I’ve always felt- as a teacher, and a headteacher, and someone who’s involved in education at lots of different levels- that for me, it’s important that students see learning as a lifelong thing that it doesn’t just happen in school: learning happens in lots of different places and that we’re always in a position to learn. For me coming here, as I said, is very much about encouraging teachers to see themselves as learners- to do the sorts of things that we ask students to do. We ask students to be inquirers and be curious. I want teachers to be inquirers, researchers, and curious as well. I think for me, that’s one of the most important things: to see learning as something that we should be curious about and that you can do it in lots of different ways” What legacy would you like to leave behind? “I’m not a great fan of legacy. I think in all the schools I’ve worked in, you do things while you’re there, and try and make life as enjoyable and as valued to the people and that to me, is really important. As soon as you leave the school and new people come in, they want to do things their way and the last thing they want to hear is,

‘We used to do it this way.’ Likewise when someone new comes into the school and they start talking about, ‘Well, in my last school the last thing we did was like this.’ I just think you have to do things while you’re there, in the moment, and do your best to plan for the best kinds of futuresbut I’m not really interested in what I leave behind. What I’d like to leave behind is that people say, ‘Well, he had everybody’s interests at heart and he was a nice person.’ I’m happy with that. Is there something you found especially challenging as principal? How did you overcome it? “I think the most difficult, for me, was that all through my career in education, the best kinds of learning have been having good relationships with people. I think that it’s very difficult to have the best kinds of relationships with people when you’re looking at a screen. If I’m in a classroom, I like to be busy and move about. I like to watch what people are doing. I like to see how they’re reacting to what I’m saying. I want to see if I’m sending them to sleep or if they’ve lost interest. If that’s the case, then I need to change what I’m doing and that was very difficult: to see exactly how people were reacting. It’s like when you send an email to somebody and they send an email back and you’re kind of like, ‘Hmm, what do they mean by that? I don’t really understand- is there a tone in that email that I’m missing somewhere?’ It’s really hard cause it’s an email! You don’t know whether somebody’s angry, happy, sad. It’s very hard to gauge people’s reactions in virtual learning.”



Is there something you have particularly enjoyed as a principal at ISF? For me, it’s always, always, the people that you work with. One of the reasons I was looking forward to coming here was because I met such really good people when I came to do the consultancy here. I really like the people I work with: I like their energy, I like the way that they cared for the students.� With that last question, we conclude the interview on a practical note. A massive thanks to Mr Whitehead for being so kind and flexible. The Tuskan Times really appreciates his enthusiastic participation in the interview.




The author is to remain anonymous as by their own will

With schools reopening across Italy, safety protocols need to be put in place to prevent a repeat on the lockdown. Given that many CAS events, tests and exams were cancelled and how the grading process for seniors last year went, it should come as no surprise that these regulations should be strictly adhered to. This makes it all the more peculiar when ISF decided to hastily reopen at the beginning of September. Schools across the country had a common reopening date of September 14th. However, ISF decided to reopen on the 3rd of September instead. In an attempt to minimize the risk of COVID, free tests were given at appointed dates from the end of August up until the 2nd of September. The obvious risk factor here is that blood tests take at least 2 to 3 days for results to return, meaning that if anyone was positive between September 1st and 2nd, the school could have been compromised on the first day.

Since it is nearly unanimous that students do not prefer the environment of distance learning, as well as how much the lockdown threw a wrench into the academic schedule, the idea that a single positive case can cause a whole grade to lose school days is disconcerting. This was seen with second grade at the junior school where, as a precaution against a suspected infection, members of the second grade were advised to stay home. The worst of their fears were confirmed true when a swab test taken after the blood test immediately confirmed that they were positive, causing 14 students and 2 teachers to stay home as a result.

While the school has put mask wearing, packed lunches and hand sanitizers into effect, this does not justify the early opening of the school that could have put many more grades at risk if there happened to be more people with COVID. Moving forward, ISF should try to monitor risks of transmission as closely as possible after this event, especially if a repeat of distance learning is not wanted. The opportunity to accomplish what ISF can fully offer should not be jeopardized, especially for those who are relying on the IB program in the following year. LOCAL AND CULTURE


 by Mathias Volkai & Lorenzo Budroni

The week between the 26th of September and the 2nd of October, our school celebrated the European Language Day“ maybe the language teachers forgot their mathematical abilities and thought a day was a week, or they just got confused with all the languages they speak. For our school language department, including English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish this week represented a chance to spread the multiculturalism and multilingualism present in both the school and Europe.

Our International School of Florence is famously a hub for different cultures and nationalities. If you have ever taken the time to gaze up at the facade of our school building, you may have noticed the array of national flags, where each flag is representative of the individual countries and cultural backgrounds that ISF students originate from. This is further shown by the multitude of languages spoken by our classmates and ourselves, for example, I, Lorenzo Budroni, was born in Italy, lived in Turkey for 15 years, speak four languages (If you count Australian), and have Italian and Australian nationality.

While I, Mathias Volkai, was born in Switzerland, speak four languages, and have Italian and Hungarian nationality. But why is it good to be multilingual? By being multilingual and multicultural we open ourselves to the experiences of others. On a personal level, we become more invested, more approachable, and more cooperative with other people, and this holds true for our governments and leaders as well. When governments recognize a variety of languages, it gives people from those different cultures a voice and representation in their respective countries. Furthermore, by having an open mind to diverse cultures, this gives a greater value to minorities’ cultures and languages, some of which might be on their way to extinction. Talking about Europe in particular, due to its complex and extensive history, its languages give an overview of the cultures, especially in cases where they are not limited by countries borders. For example, German is the most spoken language in Europe, with around 16% of the population speaking it, followed closely by other languages like Italian, French, Spanish, and English. As a matter of fact, these five languages are the institutional languages of the European Union, and they are all taught at ISF. We are all so lucky to experience such a diverse environment, and we should use all the tools available, and also online apps such as Duolingo, to work on it and become a part of it.




Following the death of George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, millions of people around the world have taken a stand against police brutality. Now, five months after the killing, we have started to notice more and more action being taken against police brutality, as people continue to fight for the issue. However, since the George Floyd killing the peaceful protests have grown more violent and many people have been victims of these hateful acts. There have been numerous reports and videos of police officers beating, pepper-spraying, and driving through crowds of people. People have been killed for peacefully protesting. One of the victims was 22-year-old Italia Marie Kelly, who was killed on June 1st by a stray bullet as she was leaving a protest. There have also been reports of White Supremacists disguising themselves as protesters and looting shops. An example of this was on May 27, when a man dressed in black with a gas mask, carrying an umbrella and a sledgehammer, was recorded breaking windows and spray painting walls at an AutoZone store.The suspect, known as “Umbrella Man” has not yet been charged for his crimes. Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, protestors have started taking more confrontational approaches by moving the marches into white residential neighborhoods. The Black Lives Matter movement has caused a lot of unrest within the United States and is still an ongoing issue even though, according to CNN, in September only 55% of adults reported that they supported the Black Lives Matter movement; 12% less than in June.

George Floyd’s murderers were all convicted; Derek Chauvin, charged with second-degree murder, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J Alexander Kueng charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. This being said Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, and other people’s killers have not been charged. They have not even faced consequences.



MAIL VOTES BLOCKED By Jack Bach President Trump has openly expressed cynicism and contempt for mail balloting as a means of voting for the November 3rd presidential election. Now, what exactly does that mean? Well for starters, it means he’s openly and shamelessly negating concrete proof while sprouting claims that have absolutely no evidence. But since when has that been newsworthy? Here’s why; these newest outlandish claims in Trump’s arsenal can and will majorly tamper with the casting of ballots this year. Consequences of which could either sway the vote towards himself or be used to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the entire election should Trump not be re-elected. Now talk on Twitter is just talk, but what is president Trump actually doing that has any effect on the 2020 election? In an act of cynicism towards “mail voting”, Trump has opposed a $25 billion-dollar emergency-injection into the United States Postal Service (USPS); and an additional $3.6 billions dollars that would add to election funding. Both of these proposed funds were a product of the additional help needed to procure proper COVID-19 measures while voting for the election. When declaring that both these requests would be opposed, Trump claimed that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud and would lead to a rigged election. Trump has continuously slandered mailin voting for its potential of fraud to such an extent that one could even call it a “War on Mail in Voting”. If one actually wanted to hold the president’s inaccuracies accountable, they could look and see if this form of voting had any real potential to tamper with the election.

“An American is more likely to be struck by lightning than that they will impersonate another voter at the polls,” says an election security expert from the Brennan Center for Justice. Rick Hansen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine continues by saying that to tamper with even a local election is extremely difficult and would involve a scheme of a substantial number of people. Now if a local election is that difficult to scam, a presidential election would be near impossible. In fact, over 20 million fraudulent ballots would need to be cast for President Trump’s figures of fraud to be accurate. By cutting off roughly $25 billion to the USPS and an additional $3.6 billion used for funding the election and combating COVID spread, Trump could cause widespread delays, long lines in person, and voter disenfranchisement. With inperson voting centres being overwhelmed, crowded, and more prone to spread COVID, the option to vote by mail will be far more incentivized. With more people voting by mail, and over 180 million Americans eligible to do so, President Trump can continue to slander and undermine mail-votes at a larger scale. Should he win the election, his narrative will drive that the great American people were able to sway the vote of integrity away from the fraudulent Democrats, who couldn’t win the election even after tampering with votes, that not even the “Chinavirus” could keep the people from their god. Should he lose, Trump will use mail-votes as a scapegoat and cast doubt over the legitimacy of the entire election.



INSTABILITY IN BELARUS: WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING? By Peter Wood As I’m sure everyone has noticed, lately there has been some interesting news coming from eastern Europe in the ex-Soviet Republic of Belarus. Images and videos on TV show people going on the streets in various Belarusian cities, waving a red and white flag in protest of the last elections which saw president Aljaksandr Lukašėnka, from the political party Belaja Rus', as the victor for his 6th term. The protests started getting more serious after the results of the elections were made public, showing Lukašėnka as having 80% of the votes. However, the opposition, lead by Svjatlana Cichanoŭskaja, sustains she got around 60-70% of the votes, thus suggesting that Lukašėnka rigged the elections to stay in power. Svjatlana has since fled to Lithuania to escape arrest. Since then, there have been several developments, the most important coming from the EU which recently signed a bill allowing its members to impose sanctions on Belarus in order to pressure the government, thus strengthening the opposition.

Upon first glance, it is plausible to assume that the elections might have been rigged, however, so far the only possible indication of foul play are the claims of the opposition, which are backed by several pro-EU news outlets. The EU itself hasn’t even called for a recount, and instead supports the creation of a new government and the dissolution of the current one. Lukašėnka has been the president of Belarus since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and it is thanks to his leadership that Belarus hasn’t descended into an economic collapse, similar to that of other ex-Soviet states like Ukraine. Unlike the aforementioned Ukraine, Belarus followed a very different economic path which focused more on the investment in state owned enterprises rather than the mass privatization of land and resources, effectively making Belarus the last remnant of a Soviet-like economy in eastern Europe. The success of the Belarusian economy poses a threat to the EU because it could influence some countries’s decisions for joining or leaving, such as Latvia which has seen a rise in poverty levels after having joined the EU. Lukašėnka also proved himself to be an enemy of NATO after visiting Yugoslavia in the 1990s and supporting the government which was under constant attack by NATO.



Lukašėnka is by no means a perfect president. However, supporting the use of sanctions against his government simply because he “has been in power for too long,” or because the elections may have been rigged is ridiculous and only serves to further prove that the EU has ulterior motives for supporting a coup in the country. When looking at Belarus’ geopolitical situation, it is understandable that NATO would want a friendly government in order to threaten their enemy, the Russian Federation, which directly borders Belarus. The truth is that this is yet another demonstration of European imperialism caused by a desire to destabilize a country which isn’t 100% capitalist. Western media such as the BBC has gone so far as to interview Polish neo-nazis on their opinion about the protests in order to feed their antisocialist agenda.

The situation seems to parallel what happened in Venezuela a few years back, with Maduro being elected as president followed by claims of foul play in the elections and an attempted coup by Juan Guaidò, who was supported by the US and its allies. If we want Belarus to not suffer the same fate as the Ukraine, which is now one of the most dangerous countries to visit in all of Europe, we must stand with Lukašėnka and against the imperialist alliance between the EU and NATO. If Lukašėnka is taken out of power in favour of the opposition, the Belarusian workers will be the ones suffering the most from the mass privatization of state owned enterprises, which will occur without a doubt if NATO wins.




The new time-table in place has received very scant praise from the ISF student body and faculty. In fact, from a survey sent to 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students, 72% of the respondents said they did not like the new schedule, and 59% said they preferred previous years time-table. These statistics aren’t just meant to be complaints about the sake of complaining; the reasons people don’t like this new schedule are abundantly clear: the 40 minute periods are too short, the 80 periods are too long, and nobody wants to go home an hour later on Tuesday.

On the other end of the spectrum, students and teachers alike are concerned that the 40-minute classes are far too short due to constant room changes, and that the 5-minute blocks in between each class were taken away. With the new schedule, a 40 minute period is automatically decreased to 30-35 minutes of class time. Because there is no longer any time accounted for students to transition between classes, the time it takes for students and teachers to walk to each classroom bleeds into their instructional time. But, in an interview with an IB teacher at ISF, it was made abundantly clear the struggle for productive class time doesn’t stop there. Due to the many room changes and absence of time in the middle of classes, teachers are similarly late to their classes. According to this specific teacher, walking into their own classes later than their students hinders their ability to create an environment where efficient learning can take

Consequently, since all classes are composed

place. The teacher not only has to log into

of 40 minute periods, many of these periods

iSAMS and take attendance, but also has to take

stack and create 80-minute classes. Several

time to shift the students engagement towards

students who responded to the survey expressed

the lesson plan of the day. This all takes time

concern over these 80-minute classes: they said

valuable time away from student learning.

it was a struggle to stay focused for the entire

Contrary to how it may seem, the new

period, and usually lost focus in the last 20

schedule wasn’t made to harm students. In fact,


the new schedule planned to introduce many new opportunities. During an interview with Ms Kelly, the Vice Principal of Learning, I was informed of the advantages of this new change.



According to Ms Kelly, the main goal with this A balanced curriculum and a variety of time-table was to have a balanced curriculum for classes are both crucial when it comes to a the students in 9th and 10th grade, allowing them students learning experience. 9th and 10th to take art and music along with a third language. graders can now move forward with a more Additionally, 9th and 10th graders now have the well-rounded education, having more emphasis option to take drama as an art – a class that, last on world languages and the arts. Not only that, year, was exclusive to the Middle School. This but students in 11th grade now have the opportunity to take ESS, a science that has new schedule also allows for more balanced never before been offered at ISF! These changes learning because each subject has been allocated a are all great, but at what cost have they come? similar amount of time each week. All in all, the new schedule has allowed 9th and 10th graders to Are a few new courses beneficial if students have a larger variety of classes of similar time and don’t feel like they have enough time for the importance. And, for 11th-grade students, the classes that have been offered for a long amount additional IB class, Environmental Systems and of time? Can variety account for the Societies (ESS), can now be accommodated for bewilderment many students and some teachers because of the schedule changes. feel as they switch between classes? This is for each and every student and teacher to consider: One important misconception that should be was it worth it? cleared up is that the new time-table has nothing to do with COVID-19 precautions. As a matter of fact, Ms Kelly informed me she was approached with the idea of the time-table last year before everyone went into quarantine. The only change that has been made in regards to the schedule has been the room allocations by Italian law, only a certain number of people can sit in each classroom if its size does not have enough space for proper distancing between students. LOCAL AND CULTURE


JOJO RABBIT & CAGING SKIES ACTIVISM IS BACK IN STYLE By Camelia Pallanti Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film by Taika Waititi, inspired by the 2009 novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. The movie's plot follows the childhood of a boy named Johannes in Nazi Germany and his imaginary friend Hitler. Johannes soon discovered that his mother, Rosie, is hiding a Jew person in their attic. The Film takes significant creative liberties but stays true to the main themes of the Novel: Blinding patriotism, nationalism, acceptance, and love. The movie attempts to make people remember that hate is taught, and no one is born truly with it in their heart. Ă‚ Having both read the novel and seen the Film, I have certain opinions on the adaptation. The screen adaptation is more of a whimsy coming of age tale, whereas the Novel is a tale of dark hearts and broken people, and takes a more serious and dark approach. The Novel's characters aren't as whimsical and lighthearted as those of the Film, seeing Waititi's style that was to be expected. The significant differences between the novel and the movie are: 1. In the Novel, Jojo doesn't have such a childish nickname; instead, he is simply called Johannes. 2. There is no mention of an imaginary Hitler in the Novel, nor does he physically appear throughout the Novel. 3. Jojo's correspondence with Elsa takes place over the years, not weeks.Ă‚ 4. The Film ends roughly towards the middle of the Novel. 5. At the end of the Film, Jojo's lie about the Germans winning the war only lasts about a couple of minutes, whereas in the Novel, Jojo keeps up this lie for several years.

Something that I found to be particularly apt was oscar-winning composer Micheal Giacchino's musical score. At the beginning of the film, we see a montage of Hitler rallies and compare them to Beatles concerts. In this montage background, you can hear a rendition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles sung in German. Another memorable song choice was at the end of the film when Elsa and Jojo dance to "We Could be Heroes" sung in German.



I have to say when watching the movie, seeing as the songs are so well known and almost everyone knows the lyrics you can hardly even notice that the songs were sung in a different language; now, looking back, I praise the composer and director for these details that add so much to the Film. As far as the tone of the movie goes, it's been criticized by many for having too much levity and humor for such a serious topic as Nazi Germany; personally, I believe the humor adds to the appeal and talks to the ingenuity of the director, as well as the story being told from the perspective of a child making the humor make all the more sense. To take such a serious topic and add humor without undercutting the main themes is no small feat, unlike Taika Waititi's last film “Thor Ragnarok," where I felt the comedy undermined the purpose of the Film in the franchise. Overall, Jojo Rabbit is definitely worth a watch and is a good representation of Taika Waititi's niche.




On the 20th and 21st of September, in certain Italian regions, people had the possibility to vote and choose the next president of their region. The regions were: Tuscany, Campania, Veneto, Marche and Puglia. In each of these regions, there were three major candidates: one from the centre-left, one from the centre-right, and one from the “Movimento 5 Stelle,” which does not align itself with left or right, encourages different ideologies among its members, and is effectively populism; and other minor ones. For the regions discussed,however, the only real contenders were the centre-left, represented by the Democratic Party (PD), and the centre-right, with Fratelli d’Italia and Salvini’s Lega Nord. Some of the results were fairly predictable, such as the ones in Veneto, where the centre-right candidate, Luca Zaia, won 76,8% of the votes; or in Campania, where the centre-left candidate Vincenzo De Luca won with 69,5% of votes – mainly thanks to their performances during the lockdown and how they handled the pandemic. What came as a surprise to many, however, is the victory of Francesco Acquaroli in the Marche, with 49,1% of votes. He was the first centre-right candidate to win in the Marche in the past25 years, further highlighting the unfortunate growth of the right in italian politics. This trend can also be seen in Puglia where, even though Michele Emiliano, the centre-left candidate, won with 46,8% of votes, the centre-right wasn’t too far off with 38,9% of votes. The most anticipated elections were probably the ones in Tuscany which has always been a left leaning region in Italy, but the results were pretty alarming. region such as Tuscany.

The winner was the centre-left candidate Eugenio Giani with 48,6% of votes; however, the centreright candidate Susanna Ceccardi won 40,5% of votes, which is a ridiculously alarming number for a region such as Tuscany. The candidates in Tuscany were 7: 4 left or centre-left wing candidates, 2 different populist candidates, and only 1 right wing candidate. Several of the centre-left parties backed Giani, while the other 3 candidates were each from separate leftist parties: The Italian Communist Party (PCI), the Communist Party, and a party known as Toscana a sinistra. As can be seen the italian left is very divided, and this is creating a distrust towards major parties like the democratic party (PD), and is inclining voters to vote for right wing parties instead, regardless of what crimes people like Salvini commit against refugees. This problem is reflected very well in the referendum which took place at the same time as the elections. The referendum was about cutting costs in parliament by reducing the number of parliamentary seats, and was backed by almost every party including the PD.



In reality however, this can be simplified as another move by the right to gain more power by limiting the number of people who can participate in parliament, seeing as the amount of money saved from voting yes would be about “0.007 percent of public spending” according to the Director of the IMF Tax Affairs Department Carlo Cottarelli. For this reason every party to the left of the PD strongly advised voting no instead, because a vote for yes would be a vote against democracy. Unfortunately enough, the right had the upper hand and the referendum turned out with a 69,64% vote in favour of the yes; however it should be noted that not many people voted, with only a little over 50% of italians voting in total.

The results of the referendum clearly show that most italians either didn’t understand the purpose of the vote or simply didn't care enough to vote. Voting is a vital part of our democracy, and the right wants to take that part away to run their own oligarchy just so they can refuse entry to more immigrants. When will the italian people understand that the right doesn’t have the people’s interest in mind? Hopefully it won’t be too late.



 ABOUT IT? By Camilla Ruini On April 9th, 2009 a woman by the name of Alyssa McLemore called 911 but moments after the operator answered, the line went silent. The police went to the woman's house but she wasn’t there. In 2019, Aubrey Dameron went missing and the last time she was seen was in Grove, Oklahoma on Sept 3. These women are one of the many Native American women who have gone missing, and you would think that law enforcement would have done something about it by now, and that is exactly the problem, not enough has been done. However, the biggest problem here is that the Native American reservations in the US usually do not provide law enforcement as it quotes “State police or the local non-native police typically have no jurisdiction to investigate”(‘Native women are vanishing across the U.S. Inside an aunt’s desperate search for her niece’ Los Angeles Times) which comes as a disadvantage for the people living in the reservations as they have to solely rely on the efforts of the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs).

However, even if the state police was provided in the reservations these women wouldn’t count as a missing person but would rather be “simply discounted because of their race or involvement in prostitution”. Therefore, the accountability law enforcement has for these cases is inexistent. Roxanne White is a Native American activist and a victim of sex-trafficking herself; she explains in an article by CNN: “Why do so many Native American women go missing? Congress aims to find out” why people hardly know about 5,712 reports of Native American women that have gone missing 2016 alone. In Canada, the problem is so acute that it sparked a national inquiry due to wrap up this month, but in the United States, "It hardly gets talked about,". Washington state is one of the very few states that lawmakers there have passed a new law requiring the state police to gather data on the number of missing and murdered Native women.” Still many Native American women are being captured and taken away from their loved ones but no one knows about the traumatic experience that the victims and their family are dealing with, quote by Roxanne White "People are getting killed, and it's swept under the rug," "To me out there, it's like the wild wild west." OPINION



DEAR HEATHER By Riley Lamanteer

Dear Heather, It’s crazy to think that your looks can get you anywhere. Personality is great, but looks are what get you through in society. The way you look gets you everything you want and need. But I mean “how could I hate you? Cause, you know, you’re such an angel.” Right? It hurts to watch you get everything you want just because you’re pretty. Yet that reminds me of something far more important: who I am on the inside is way more valuable than the way I appear on the outside. Unlike what society says, I don’t have to have bright blue eyes or bewitching blonde hair like you. I don’t need “him” or anyone else who doesn’t feel that my appearance is more important than my personality. The way anyone else looks doesn’t make them any less, or any more, important. Society’s standard for beauty is superficial. It ignores the spirit of someone’s heart and immediately judges your looks: your weight, your skin color, your body type, your facial features. However, no matter what anyone says, everyone is perfect the way they are and I’m grateful that you, Heather, reminded me of that. Sincerely, Everygirl <3



HOW HAS ROMANTIC LIFE AMONGST TEENAGERS IN FLORENCE BEEN AFFECTED BY COVID -19 By Edoardo Cariati How has romantic life amongst teenagers in Florence been affected by Covid-19? In a post-pandemic period, like the one the world is currently living in, it is easy for social and romantic relationships to slowly fade away. Right now, we live surrounded by a bubble of both trust and insecurity towards the government and our friends. Our system is today, more than ever, founded on the values of trust and respect. We continuously exchange trust. We trust others to get tested for the coronavirus. We trust people to stay home so as not to spread the infection. We believe our friends’ word that they are not infected when they take off their masks. Even with the accuracy of scientific knowledge. We fail to have a clear vision of who we should or should not stay with. I was wondering if all of this trust and responsibility is involved in today's society, why are we, teenagers, so careless of how we behave? To understand why or even if teenagers are worried about the current situation, I pursued an investigation in my school community. What I also sought to find was whether the closest type of relationships, romantic ones, were affected by this situation or whether man's attraction to others led to carelessness and irresponsibility.

In a survey I sent to students at ISF, I posed questions, quite private ones actually, to find answers to my research. Amongst them, I asked: "Have your relationships with other people changed since the beginning of lockdown?", "Did the pandemic outbreak affect the way you try to romantically approach a boy/girl?", "Would you ever ask anyone whether he/she's had received a swab before kissing/dating him/her?", and "How are you dealing with this situation?". I also chose to leave an open field in which people could write thoughts or ideas. I did this to leave space for imagination and creativity as I think multiple choice questions do not give the fairest idea of a survey-taker. In doing so, I achieved impressive results. Many students gave very extensive, deep answers. This could mean that they were telling the truth and expressing their pure thoughts. When asked the question: "are you worried about the current pandemic situation?" 60% of students said they are worried, 15% percent said that they used to be more worried, and 25% are not worried at all.



  The results show positive answers: three out of four people, the vast majority, are concerned about the pandemic. Other results supporting this are that 60% of survey takers say that social relationships have changed since the lockdown. I thought that if relationships have changed during the lockdown, why shouldn't romantic relationships have changed? I posed questions to verify this theory. These yielded mixed responses. To the question "did the pandemic affect the way you approach a boy/girl?", over 80% said that it did not. In contrast, one of the people who said Covid-19 affected the way she approaches boys says: "I don't greet people I've known the same way anymore; it's become common to bump elbows or just wave to say hello now." I f it has become common use to keep distances with others, why doesn't the other 85% think the same? Why are the majority of teenagers worried about the situation, but only 15% are worried about approaching a new person? Results were more mixed when facing the question of whether they would ask their date if they had a swab. 40% answered they would not, the same number said they would, and 15% said that it depends on how well you know that person.

Though, it appears that teenagers would behave correctly if their partner or their date tests positive to Covid-19. One person said that she would do everything to stay away from her grandparents, who are the most at danger right now. 70% said they would either put themselves under quarantine or have a swab. Overall results were mixed. We, however, understood that when it comes to dating, teenagers cannot resist. Should our generation be more worried about the virus, what should parents do to instill a different behavior? Regardless of any possible change, we at least know that everybody understands the possibility of someone close to them testing positive to Covid-19 and they would respond correctly in such a scenario.



 COLLAPSE OF THE COMMONWEALTH: BARBADOS By Carlo Vitale “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.” These were the words of the governor-general of Barbados, Sandra Mason, who earlier this week spoke with regards to her country becoming a republic and leaving the British commonwealth in the near future. The commonwealth is an association of various former British territories that keep the Queen or King of England, as a monarch over these countries. Years ago there was some resistance towards this indirect way of rule, and the country of Barbados rebelled effectively. In 1966 Barbados claimed its independence from Britain but decided to remain a part of the commonwealth. This meant that they would keep the Queen as head of state and would manage their country similar to the British: with an English style parliament and a prime minister. Over the years, however, it seemed that this opposition to the commonwealth had simmered down. Now it seems that with the rise of new movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement which inspire a sense of independence, there may be some disturbance within the commonwealth. This first is to be seen on the small island in the Caribbean known as Barbados. On the sixteenth of September, the country declared that they would be removing Queen Elizabeth as their head of state and become a republic by November of the upcoming year. Mason also said, “Having obtained independence half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance”. They seem to believe that after all these years of foreign governance, it is finally time to take their governmental matters into their own hands and separate from the commonwealth.

Although their exit may not seem like a big deal, it could bring along massive consequences for the British. The Caribbean has slowly started to break away from the commonwealth with Trinidad and Tobago as well as Mauritius. However, this was almost thirty years ago. As Richard Drayton, a professor of Imperial History at Kings College said, “Barbados could be a tipping point”. If Barbados manages to leave it could reinspire previous territories who thought of abandoning the commonwealth such as Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines. This could lead to the commonwealth’s complete collapse and in a few years, it may not even exist anymore. Overall, although just one country leaving the commonwealth and becoming a republic may not seem like a big deal now, in a few years if we see other territories follow suit, we’ll know and remember the root of what caused the collapse of this association.




On September 14, 2020, there was a new planet added to the list of potentially habitable worlds in the solar system. That planet was Venus. Astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life on the surface of the planet Venus’s toxic atmosphere: they found the presence of phosphine gas on Venus’s atmosphere. Phosphine is a colourless, flammable, and explosive gas which can be found on Earth. This deadly gas can result from several processes that are unrelated to life, such as lightning, meteor impacts or even volcanic activity. It was used as a chemical weapon during world war 1 and is extremely dangerous to anything that breathes oxygen. However, just because something doesn’t require oxygen to live, doesn’t mean it’s lifeless, meaning that inside the phosphene clouds of venus, there could be anaerobic bacteria (organisms that don’t require oxygen to survive), therefore they could be living on venus and producing this phosphine gas. This is what astronomers and scientists they think they’ve discovered. The discovery of phosphine gas in the middle layer of the atmosphere of the planet Venus raises the alluring possibility that something is alive on our planetary neighbour. On the other hand, some researchers doubt this hypothesis and suggest that the gas could result from unexplained atmospheric or geologic processes on the planet that remains undiscovered. Despite the acid, the clouds of the atmosphere of Venus carry the basic ingredients for life as we know it, therefore sunlight, water, and organic molecules are present.

This discovery is one of the most exciting one made about Venus in a very long time and opens up a new set of possibilities and hopes for further exploration in search of life in the solar system. Scientists have been keeping an eye on Venus for all of 2020.

What would it mean for us humans? As it stands now we wouldn't be able to see life on Venus with our naked eye, tt’s all bacteria and microbes. With phosphine, it makes it dangerous for humans to visit venus, so we won’t be visiting this life form anytime soon. This exciting discovery implies that these Alien life forms don’t have to be something with two or four legs which humans can interact with, and it’s interesting to wonder what this new life form could turn into. Who knows? In billions of years, we could see venus into a planet with organic life, and it might not even be limited to organisms living in phosphine gas. Experts believe that due to all the extreme climates on the planet, life could form almost anywhere, and it goes for the rest of the solar system too.



BOOM! IT’S A BOY By Katherine Dick

The On Saturday, the 5th of September, expecting parents decided to throw a gender reveal party in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, California. The party would become the spark of a massive fire spreading across the state. The idea of a gender reveal party has become very popular yet controversial over the past decade. Originally created by a blogger named Jenna Karvunidis, the party is meant to announce the sex of the baby. It started with a doctor writing the sex of the fetus in a sealed envelope and giving it to the parents. The parents would hand the still sealed envelope to a baker who would then bake a pink or blue cake depending on whether it was a boy or girl. At the party, the cake would be cut open and the sex of the baby would be revealed. In other cases the parents would give the envelope to a balloon vendor who would fill balloons with pink or blue confetti. These balloons would then be popped at the party announcing the sex.


Over the years, these gender reveal parties have become progressively more extravagant. Some expecting parents began to use fireworks, coloured smoke, homemade cannons, BB guns, and many other methods. The main problem many people have with these parties is that they are called gender reveal parties. Gender, by definition, is “based on the individual's personal awareness or identity.” For this reason, many people find it offensive to call it a gender reveal party as people’s gender should be decided by themselves, not by their parents before they’re even born. These parties also give in to gender stereotypes by assigning pink to girls and blue to boys. The couple who threw a gender reveal party a few weeks ago decided to use a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device commonly used in commercial fireworks. This device works by using exothermic chemical reactions to make heat, light, gas, smoke, and sound. This specific party produced the spark of the El Dorado fire. Over the course of two weeks, the fire has spread across 90 square kilometers and forced 20,000 people to evacuate their homes. On Thursday, 17 of September, a firefighter was killed battling the flames. In addition to this tragedy, 12 people have been injured and several buildings have been destroyed. As of Sunday, 20th of September, the fire is 59% contained with over 1,200 firefighters trying to extinguish it. The fire is being directed toward the burn scar of 2015’s Lake fire, which burned 127 square kilometers. The burnt land creates a barrier where there’s nothing left to burn, and the fire therefore stops spreading.



  Two weeks of fire and smoke have left the state with air pollution. The air quality is expected to remain unhealthy for sensitive groups for the next few days. It is recommended that these groups wear face masks, stay inside, keep all windows closed, use a home air purifier, and install a home air quality monitor. Officials think this will be the worst of it, and the air will improve in the coming days. It can be hard to believe that the immense destruction of forest land was caused by a gender reveal party gone wrong. What will the boy think when he grows up and discovers this awful mistake?