President Trump: Top Five Changes

President Donald Trump, sworn on Jan. 20 as America’s 45th President, has already made some big changes to some controversial issues in his first week in office.

Often regarded as his more popular stance, Trump during his campaign trail often spoke very negatively of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was meant to be a free trade agreement between North American nations and developing Asian countries. Its mission, according to the Office of United States Trade Representative website, is to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the signatories’ countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”

The agreement was signed by all twelve member counties in early Feb. 2016, however, the treaty can no longer be ratified due to Trump’s executive order, signed on Jan. 23, which will effectively enable America to withdraw itself from the agreement. Trump stated many times that free trade agreements, like NAFTA, resulted in many jobs moving overseas and leaving America worse off than before.

Another major change from Trump was seen with the passage of two controversial bills vetoed by President Obama: the approval for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP). Both proposals were protested against by environmental groups and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Native Americans, as the DAP, in particular, trespasses on sacred tribal land. Pipelines have been reported to have leaked oil numerous times over the years, with the most recent one being a pipeline running through the state of Iowa on Jan. 25 of this year, leaking over 130,000 liters of oil into the surrounding landscape. However, President Trump and pipeline proponents alike cite economic benefits and the creation of supposedly thousands of jobs as being worth the potential risks to the environment.

In addition to approving the pipelines and no doubt angering environmental protesters in that regard, Trump also ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend all the grants the agency gives out to fund pollution monitoring, education, and environmental research in the country. In addition, Trump also ordered the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and the Interior from talking to the press or updating their social media accounts.

President Trump also reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the US from donating to any charity that which offers abortions or other contraception services overseas. Trump further broadened the measure by defunding the prevention of HIV/Aids as well as treatment for the disease, maternal and child health, nutrition, and domestic violence programs. The result of the initiative may lead to the death of more than 21,000 women worldwide, according to Mari Stopes International, which is a non-government organization that provides family planning services in mainly the United Kingdom but also in other countries around the globe. This measure is a part of Trump’s promise on the campaign trail to restrict access to abortions.

In stark contrast to the previous administration, Trump has made it clear from day one of his run for office that the media was biased and that much of it is dishonest. This became evident a few days after his inauguration, where Trump’s inauguration crowd was reported to have been much smaller than the one seen for President Obama in 2009 as side-by-side comparison photos were produced by multiple media outlets following inauguration day. Trump denies the evidence put forward by the media and had instead claimed that the crowds were up to 1.5 million, all gathered to see him sworn in as the 45th President.

This was exacerbated during the subsequent press conference when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denounced the media as false and it had been a largely successful and widely watched inauguration. Kellyanne Conway, advisor to President Trump, stated that Spicer was simply giving “alternate facts,” defending Spicer’s denial of the smaller crowds and suggesting that the media’s evidence is irrelevant.

Lastly, Trump committed to his long-time promise of building a wall on the Mexican-American border by issuing an executive order on Jan. 25 which intends to immediately begin its construction. Trump had promised that Mexico will “reimburse” America for the construction, which is cited as being in contrast to his earliest promise of making Mexico pay for it directly. It is assumed, then, that Trump will rely on taxpayer dollars to pay for construction, which will require the approval of Congress. It is estimated that the final construction costs may total upwards of $25 billion, according to Bernstein Research, a private Wall Street research and brokerage firm that tracks the costs of materials.

In addition to the wall, Trump also signed an action that will strip funding from cities that are “sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.” The following day, President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto canceled his diplomatic summit with President Trump.

President Trump has a lot more left on his plate despite these changes and intends on tackling his campaign promises one at a time. Trump’s State of the Union address will be given early next year where by then it will be interesting to witness what Trump’s policies in his first year brought to America and what he has left to accomplish.

 

Track Team Prepares for Spring Season

runnerscolettThe Saint Leo University’s Track team prepared to start off their Spring season on Feb. 18 in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Track program is an official part of the Saint Leo athletics department since 2014, which makes them the youngest program on campus.

Even though the program is the newest addition there have already been major successes with athletes qualifying for the National Championship and scoring major results for the University. On the men’s side, Herns Agyemang was the first male athlete to qualify for the National Meet in 2015, where he earned 13th place. On the women’s side, Colett Rampf qualified twice already in the 3000 meter steeplechase, where she earned her first All-American award in 2016 with a 5th place. In addition to that, there have been more runners that were able to run B-Provisional standards, but did not make the cut to attend the National Meet.

In the 2017 season, multiple Lions have the ability to qualify for the Championship in different events. One of the hopefuls is Rafal Matuszczak, who previously ran national standards on the track and just earned his first cross country All-American award in Fall of 2016.

“I believe this could possibly be the most successful season we have had in program history. I’m expecting a lot of good races from all of our men. It was exciting to see that everyone came back in shape and has been up for every challenge we have put in front of them these first few weeks. I believe that we have a chance to send multiple athletes to nationals this season. We have sent one male runner to nationals in the past but I believe we will see some more Lions at nationals in May right here in Florida,” said Coach Connor Callahan, who is the men’s assistant track and cross country coach.

Another hopeful is Ronald Cheserek. The Cross Country Conference champion and conference runner of the year will focus on the mid-distance events, where he hopes to earn the top 16 in the country that is required to go to the National meet.

“The women’s team is looking better each workout. I have already seen improvements coming off of the break the past two weeks. I think by the time they start racing and especially by mid-season they will be in good shape, as long as we can keep them healthy,” said Women’s Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach Katie Henriksen.

The focus on the women’s side will remain on Rampf, who owns many school records on the track and in cross country. Rampf earned Cross Country and Track All-American honors and has been constantly improving over the last few years.

“I am expecting a standout performance from Lauren Csubak. If she stays on the track she is on after coming off of her huge improvements in cross country and I think she will really rock the 800 meter this track season! If Alyssa Bayliff can stay healthy I would expect to see an awesome 5 kilometer performance from her, and I also expect Laura Tobin to run an impressive 10 kilometer,” Henriksen continued.

Both, the men’s and the women’s team seem to be very optimistic about their upcoming track season. The athletes are prepared to put in the work and represent Saint Leo University in Florida and all across the country. Since there is no track on the Saint Leo campus the closest location where the Lions can be seen are at USF and the University of Tampa.

“I think the overall goal of this track season is to improve our mentality. Specifically, I think the goal is to develop more mental toughness and be able to develop not just physically. To do so the team needs to maintain a positive attitude, and work on their overall toughness,” Henriksen added.

The Lions also plan on travelling to big national meets, where they will be able to compare themselves to some of the best athletes in the country from Division I and II. These big meets, however, require fast times to qualify, which forces the athletes to start out their season with some fast times.

“Some of the big meets we are looking forward to this season are races at USF, Raleigh Relays at NC State, and Mt. Sac or Azusa Pacific in California. All of these meets will give our athletes the chance to compete against great competition throughout the country,” said Callahan.

The Lions Pride Newspaper will keep you updated on the journey of the Lions Track Team on their quest for national qualifying standards.

Top Ten Indie Games

COpjDB0WEAEexcE.pngIn the past decade, indie games—independent games created by small companies which normally have no financial support from a publisher—have risen in popularity. Unlike highly known gaming companies, these small company teams must be both innovative and creative to sell their game. When they get everything right, indie games can prove to be more memorable than those of accomplished publishers. But which ones are the best known across the gaming community? Here is a list of the top 10 indie games.

  1. To The Moon

With the gameplay of this game being very linear and not having much action, it’s the story that keeps the player playing it. “To the Moon” has a nostalgic and emotional story that has touched the hearts of many who have bought it. With its retro-like with its pixelated style, and a massive amount of popular YouTube icons playing it, this game has been getting more recognition since its release.

  1. Bastion

In “Bastion,” the player takes on the role of “The Kid” in a strange world that has been devastated due to the clashing ideologies of two societies. Traversing floating islands and segmented land filled with creatures and items from before the world’s end, it is up to “The Kid” to either remake the world or carry on trudging through its remains. With beautiful colors, a variety of weaponry to choose from, a compelling, yet short, story, and a western/sci-fi soundtrack, this one is many gamer’s favorite lists.

  1. Dust: An Elysian Tale

Ever wish your character could just dash across the screen, sword in hand, wiping out all of the enemies that surround them? “Dust: An Elysian Tale” does just that. The story focuses around the main character, Dust, and his fight to stop an evil tyrant and learn of his past, of which he has no recollection of. With his magic talking sword in hand and his flying sidekick, Fidget, he will stop at nothing to learn who he is. “Dust: An Elysian Tale” gives players an action packed adventure with very likeable characters.

  1. Limbo

With a dark, black and white atmosphere, “Limbo” lets the player take control of a child who finds himself in a mysterious and creepy world. There are many puzzles to solve and tons of moments where the player must have a quick reaction time to keep the child alive. This game shows how interesting and inviting a game can be, even with no amount of dialogue spoke throughout it.

  1. Braid

Time control isn’t anything new to the gaming community. However, “Braid” gives a cool way to use time control. Tim, the main character, is looking for a princess, who he notes he has made a mistake to. He then travels through levels looking for keys to unlock new doors in a house to find the right door to get to the princess. Using his time controlling powers, he manipulates time to help him solve the vast number of puzzles the doors hold within themselves. With its beautiful artwork, and the music setting a relaxing atmosphere, this game became popular quickly.

  1. Stardew Valley

“Stardew Valley” is much like other farming simulation games; however, it has a few twists to it that keep it unique from others. When the player’s grandfather dies, he gives them a deed to his farm house, where they go to escape their boring desk job. Once arrived, the player can create new buildings, meet and converse with the next-door townspeople, go mining, and of course, tend to their farmland and expand. With a pixelated style and bright characters all around, a player can get lost playing this game for hours.

  1. Don’t Starve

“Don’t Starve” throws the player into the shoes of Wilson, who just wakes up in a dark forest. With supernatural creatures coming to end his life, players must find a way to survive the nights and make every second count during the day to make progress in keeping him alive for another night. This game has become even more popular with its multiplayer version “Don’t Starve Together.”

  1. Super Meat Boy

“Super Meat Boy” is a very odd game where the girlfriend of a square shaped character made of meat, rightly called Meat Boy, has been kidnapped. It is Meat Boy’s task to platform his way through many levels, defeat the evil scientist, Dr. Fetus, and save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from his evil clutches. Known as one of the hardest platformers in video game history, this game will have many ripping their hair out and rage quitting. However, the game is incredibly fun and can be very time consuming to those who are looking for something reminiscent of old platforming games.

  1. Five Nights at Freddy’s

In “Five Nights at Freedy’s,” the player takes on the role of a night guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzaria. While his shift isn’t that busy, there is one surprising thing that the player finds out: the animatronics in the building come alive at night, ready to kill anything that has a beating heart. It is the player’s job to watch the security cameras for the four different animatronics and close the two opposite doors whenever they get a little too close for comfort while also conserving the energy they have left. This franchise grew more popular with its multiple sequels and from well-known YouTube icons playing it.

  1. Undertale

“Undertale” is an RPG that has the player play as a child who has fallen down a hole into a world of monsters. Now it is up to the player to choose whether they want to destroy every opponent that comes across their path or find the right way to befriend them and spare them. With colorful characters, many hilarious jokes and moments, a magnificent and emotional story, and a fantastic soundtrack that mixes bit-music and multiple instruments together, it’s no wonder this game became as popular as it is.

New indie titles are always being released and more new titles are becoming more famous among the gaming community for both style and creativity. While mainstream games from high companies make decent games, indie games still prove that it’s not necessary to redo a formula to make something better; there just needs to be a creative idea to work off of.

Rogue One: A New Hope for Star Wars

A long time ago, in theaters far away, one single movie changed the course of the science fiction genre as we knew it. That movie was “Star Wars.” This series has been one of the longest reigning and most successful sagas in film history. Their recent entry, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” however, is a departure from the somewhat lighthearted nature for a more serious take on the space opera.

Starring Felicity Jones as female lead Jyn Erso, she and a group of Rebel fighters band together to steal the plans of the menacing Death Star as a last hope for the galaxy to fight the evils of the Galactic Empire. She is accompanied by Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a leading Rebel figure, Alan Tudyk, the voice for the wisecracking droid K-2SO, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, a blind monk who is not to be messed with, and his companion, Baze Malbus, as portrayed by Jiang Wen.

One of the draws to this film is the diversity of the cast. There are actors from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Denmark, China, and more. Plus, these actors were not made to have American accents but their own.

The film is not without controversy, however. One such point is the use of late actor Peter Cushing in the film. Using actor Guy Henry, the crew used computer animation to recreate the likeness of his original role from “A New Hope,” Grand Moff Tarkin. This has raised dispute over using a deceased actor to avoid paying any extra fees and the fact that no consent from the actor could be given. However, to some fans this is not an issue, as it shows that the crew of the film respects the actor enough to bring him back for the role, with not even death stopping their efforts to do so.

This raises questions to how they will go about this in the future with the recent passing of longtime Princess Leia actress, Carrie Fisher. “Rogue One” did digitally enhance an actress to represent a younger Leia though this was overlooked due to the fact Fisher was still alive at the time and could express her consent.

Overall, this film was extremely well done. The characters had excellent stories to each of them and had brilliant chemistry with one another. The action was some of the best seen in the series. The ending was a bit of a confusing direction to take, but the way they carried it out was a beautiful way to finish.

If fans are looking for old favorites such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, then unfortunately they are out of luck, as this film focuses on an entirely brand new cast. This does not detract from the movie at all as the characters develop wonderfully and connect well with the audience. The new cast had a large act to live up to that is the legacy that is Star Wars and they did indeed succeed in that matter. Even with the darker tone the film carries, there are still touches of humor from the characters as well.

This movie earns an A- for the diversity of the cast and the overall quality, but is docked off for controversy of using Peter Cushing’s likeness and other smaller faults. Do not let this turn you away from seeing this, as “Rogue One” is still a magnificent standalone in the Star Wars franchise.

In a sad note, however, this was technically Fisher’s last active role in the Star Wars universe as she passed away from heart complications on December 27. She will be appearing in the upcoming Star Wars “Episode VIII” as she had finished her commitments for the film as her final appearance as Princess Leia.

Fraud May be Lurking Around the Corner

fraud.jpgIn light of the most recent Wells Fargo scandal, the subject of fraud surfaces. For those who may not know, the Wells Fargo scandal involves the employees creating about 2 million fraudulent accounts. As a result, Wells Fargo has to reportedly pay a fine of $185 million dollars. This scandal is a major banking fraud; however, this is “not a classic fraud,” according to Scott. In fact, this fraud compared to other scandals may pale in comparison because the victims were not as affected as much, as each victim in this scandal is probably only owed a couple of hundred dollars.

Scott describes this scandal as “nothing like the housing crisis,” either. The housing crisis, also known as the mortgage crisis, is another major banking scandal that created a fracture in the economy due to a snowballing effect contributing to a recession known as the financial crisis in 2008. This crisis was essentially the result of many problems with mortgages, such as banks making loans with low down payment, making loans that may seem dodgy, and even making mortgages with adjustable interest rates. This crisis can be grouped with classical fraud itself as both can cause major disruptions in the economy.

“Classic fraud is done by someone who gains your trust. Often, they look the part: drive a nice car, might have a nice history of being a successful investor, or that’s the story they tell. And usually they gain trust [because they] go to same church or come from the same country or the same city [as the victims],” said Scott.

Therefore, classical fraud can happen to people due to trust. This happens in many cases of fraud, with the Bernie Madoff scandal being recent. This fraud involved Madoff, who was a trusted individual due to his previous role in launching Nasdaq stock, offering high returns to investors, but he did not have a way to make profit to fuel the returns. Instead, without the investors’ knowledge, Madoff utilized the newer investors’ funds as the returns to pay the earlier investors, according to Business Insider, and he was able to cheat victims out of $65 billion. This fraud was exposed in 2008 and was essentially a Ponzi scheme – a system named after Charles Ponzi who offered investors a large amount of return in short amount of time. Many victims of the Madoff scandal were still not able to recoup their entire investments, unlike the Wells Fargo scandal where the victims already received funds or are going to receive their funds in the near future. There are many examples of Ponzi schemes and frauds that are not as high-profiled.

“For instance, there was a fraudulent investment scheme where the man running it [Gregory Crabtree] got an ex-coach of the University of Georgia [Jim Donnan]; well, the coach believed in him. But then he had that coach who [had connections] to lots of alumni from the University of Georgia and other places he coached,” said Scott. “And so people thought this is a guy [the coach] that earns a million dollars a year … and isn’t out ripping people off because he is a millionaire. Well, he [Donnan] was involved and didn’t even know it, and so this guy, [Crabtree], got access to someone who was trusted and used that trusted person to bring in the victims.”

It’s astonishing that so many Ponzi schemes and other frauds, as with the case of the Wells Fargo scandal, can go on undetected for months or even years.

“I am still surprised when I hear commercials out in the open for investments that I know are too good to be true. So, they are setting people up for fraud. I remember a commercial just a couple years ago that ran for several months on the radio,” said Scott, “It’s a work at home, make tens of thousands of dollars with no training, no effort [program]. This is obviously a fraud. [There has to be] government employees and regulators out there that can hear this, and there is nothing they can do to stop it? Sounds insane to me.”

“This is an important thing if you’re talking about classic fraud; usually the people that are victims are victims because of their own greed. Someone sells them something that’s too good to be true and they take the bait,” said Scott. “So, if someone is telling you can get 20% return or 50% return with no risk, don’t trust them.”

Finland Reform Education System

Finland is about to reform their education system drastically. Finland has been one of the leading countries for a successful education system that has been leading international league tables for literacy and numeracy. In tests for the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Finland has been in the top three rankings with only Singapore and China being able to compete with the Scandinavian country.

The country’s education committee plans to change the teaching subjects with topics, in order to prepare students better for their work life. This massive change would need a full rewrite of the current curriculum for all classes.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning. We have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki, in an interview with the British magazine Independent.

In Finland’s capital, Helsinki, there are already test runs of the system for upper schools. The topics that the country calls “phenomenon” combine multiple subjects. For example, one topic that can be taught crossing multiple subjects is the European Union. In this topic, the students will learn a mix out of economics, history, languages, and geography.

In addition, the students will learn better communication skills when working in groups with their classmates. Through the interactive group work, a student will no longer be passively sitting there and listening to the lecture of the teacher.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow. There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s – but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century,” said Helsinki’s education manager, Marjo Kyllonen, in an interview with the Independent magazine.

Early data from the schools that adapted the topic based teaching approach have shown a positive outcome in the students’ results. The head of Finland’s education system is pushing the new approach to be applied in more schools across the country and training teachers to apply the new system.

Not only in the higher school levels is Finland revolutionizing education, but also in the pre-school and elementary school sector. The country is leading in a “playful” learning approach that should encourage students to learn in a happy, safe, and inspiring environment. In a case study that was done by the Independent, the journalists were fascinated by kids running through the corridors, while learning about different parts of Africa or kids that move around a European map on the whiteboard, while speaking a foreign language.

The big question is how other countries, like the United States, will react to Finland’s new approach when it continues to show further success in the PISA tests that are published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The education system in the United States has its roots in 1903 when John D. Rockefeller founded the General Education Board. The education board provided a standardized learning curriculum that was not designed to encourage critical thinking, but rather create a reliable, predictable, and obedient citizen, according to Thrive movement.

This education dated back to the industrial age and was designed to train employees for that age. Today, however, people live in the information age and different skills are required for people to be successful in today’s society. This conflicts with the common core and an outdated education system. According to Forbes magazine, it required communication and people skills to be successful in the current marketplace.

Only time will tell whether the United States and other western countries will be able to adjust and change their education system for the better. The education of today shapes the future of a country.