Chabot Professor Leads Educational Trip

Chabot College history professor Rick Moniz organized an educational group trip to Cuba in January 2020. Moniz has led such visits since the 1990s as a program known as the Faces of Cuba. The U.S. Department of State’s website says that tourist visits to Cuba are prohibited and that trips for “certain specific activities” are allowed with restrictions. Moniz explained that educational trips are one of the permitted exceptions.

Moniz has been to Cuba 40 times. The trip in 2019 was going to be his last, but people requested one more. Around fifteen people, the majority unaffiliated with Chabot arrived at Havana’s airport on January 3 for a ten-day stay.

A third of the people on the trip were fluent Spanish speakers, one of whom knew the dialect because he was born and raised in Cuba. On the other hand, the son of a host family was able to speak English.

The group visited several museums around the country: the National Art Museum; the Jose Martí Museum, a history museum dedicated to an early Cuban independence advocate; an Afro-Cuban heritage museum in Havana; and one covering the 1961 national literacy campaign, which resulted in today’s 99.8% literacy rate, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The group visited an organic farm. These farms originated from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The loss of a significant trade partner forced Cubans to be more self-sufficient. In addition, the end of Soviet pesticide imports led Cubans to resort to organic farming.

Much of the tour was spent in places where Cubans work today. A Red Cross office building works on monitoring hurricanes, assessing damages, and rebuilding. According to the Red Cross, Cuba experiences hurricanes so often that the people are familiar with how to evacuate and thus have a low fatality rate. A center for climate change monitors how Cuba will be affected by hurricanes in the future.

The group visited a polyclinic, but some members got to experience Cuban health care firsthand a few days earlier when one person was injured in a fall. According to Craig Shira, who was at the hospital with this person, after the wound was cleaned and given a compress to stop the bleeding, the whole process took 90 minutes, including stitches, an X-ray, and receiving medication.

Throughout the trip, the visitors stayed at host family houses, which are government-approved and identified on the outside with a blue anchor. These families hosted two to six guests each.

On the sixth night, however, everyone stayed at a hotel in Havana, which is the capital and largest city in Cuba. The reason for a hotel stay at that point in the trip was to provide a contrast.

According to Moniz, tourism is an essential industry in Cuba because the American embargo holds back other business sectors. However, outsiders who stay isolated to hotels and typical tourist sites learn nothing about the Cuban people.

Chabot economics professor Ken Williams took the opportunity to speak with locals about money. Williams says, “Cubans pay one twenty-fourth of [the prices that outsiders pay],” due to Cuba having dual currency to protect its economy from outside influence. Cubans use pesos in everyday life; outsiders must use the “convertible peso,” which is also called the cuc (pronounced “kook”) or Cuban dollar.

The group exchanged money at the official rate when they first arrived at the airport. Williams was also interested to hear about the existence of hundreds of paladares, private restaurants allowed by the communist government.

The day before the hotel, the group had visited the site of the United States’ unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Later that day, the visitors went east and met a community defense group. Moniz compares them to a neighborhood watch.

Originally created to stop counter-revolutionaries, today such groups function as community organizers. The visitors gave hygiene supplies to the group, who then distributed them to the community based on need.

The arts were not forgotten. The visitors went to an art show featuring local artist Lester Campa. Later that week was a dance company that combined Spanish and African influences and related to the Santeria religion.

A fortress in Havana has hosted a cannon ceremony every night at 9 p.m. for the last 200 years. The ritual originally signified that the port gates were closed for the night, but is now done for tradition.

The group was also able to attend the national semifinal baseball game, Havana’s Industriales, against Camagüey’s Toros.

Iran and America: The Lasting Effects of Soleimani

On Jan. 3, 2020, an American drone sent a missile toward the Baghdad Airport, killing Iranian Major General Quassem Soleimani, thus creating more tension in an already strained relationship. Our overthrowing of Pahlavi was a more quiet issue. But, President Donald Trump was extremely vocal about the killing of Soleimani.

Long seen as a terrorist by the United States (sanctioned under both former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama), Soleimani was divisive for Iranian citizens, said an unnamed student (who we will call Leyla) the first generation daughter of an Iranian immigrant family in an interview.

“It’s honestly a complicated picture,” said Leyla, “ … and even Iranian expatriates and Iranian-Americans can’t fully understand it. Some Iranians (the same ones who are loyal to the regime and support the more conservative version of Islam) saw him as a hero. They say Soleimani fought ISIS and Israel. Other Iranians see him as a terrorist himself. As for Iranian-Americans/expatriates, they almost universally hated him before and hate him now, just as they do the Islamic regime as a whole.”

Furthermore, after Soleimani’s death, thousands of his supporters flooded the streets to grieve their “martyr,” as Leyla described (although there is a belief among critics of Soleimani that these mourners were paid by the government). Leyla sees hope for U.S. — Iranian relations, however: “It seems that both the U.S. and Iran are interested in de-escalation, which is a surprise for me considering both of these governments are stubborn and confrontational.”

Should war actually occur, Iranian citizens will be hurt most, said Leyla. “Just like how it was Iraqi civilians who paid the price for America’s war in their country. At a minimum, I foresee even more sanctions by the U.S. against Iran. These sanctions prevent the Iranian people from acquiring necessary medications and raise prices of all goods to a point where the masses can’t afford them. Warfare by economic sanctions doesn’t hurt the Ayatollah and his followers. It hurts the people of Iran.”

Looking into the history of the two nations, Chabot history Professor Rick Moniz gave us some more insight. In 2015, the Obama administration, along with multiple countries, agreed with Iran that periodical check-ins would occur after the discovery that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. In return, sanctions would be lifted, thus returning some economic power. This deal, however, was abandoned by President Donald Trump in 2018.

Professor Moniz made it clear that the diplomacy of previous administrations should be considered when interacting with other nations stating that “we had a policy in place that was seeking to begin to if not normalize relations with Iran, at least try to prevent them as best as possible from developing nuclear weapons. And by all accounts, that was seemingly working. Independent observers were monitoring. The question in my mind is, every time we get a new administration, is that open season on policy? And in my thinking, no, it can’t be open season. You’ve got to have consistency in policy.”

Professor Moniz also elaborated on the dangerous patriotism in both America and Iran. “I don’t think that there’s any intention by the administration to do anything to ratchet up the pressure that’s already in place with its sanctions … and [Iran]’s bellicose jingoistic policy … And we don’t learn anything … this isn’t the first time we’ve engaged in this kind of behavior with other nations. With similar, poorer results. If the desired result is regime change, it’s not oftentimes what happens.”

Just as Leyla stated earlier, Professor Moniz reminds us that the American people are not invincible; that the citizenry will suffer first. “It’s in the President’s hands, and that’s a lot of power we give to one individual … So if Congress isn’t going to put a leash on the President, and he can just go stumble into any conflict he wants, then we the American people are left with what the consequences are.” Professor Moniz said as he shifted in his chair, considering the outcome of further aggression.

Moniz continues saying that the consequences “could be another war, where we send men and women to fight. What’s Iran in the scheme of things? There’s a hell of a lot of oil there. Our policy is often predicated on what are the resources that a nation has that we want?’ … we support the Saudis. One could argue that they don’t make for a very good ally. But they have a lot of oil. Are we being manipulated? Are we going to go to war with Israel over Iran? The American people need to say wait a minute, is that in our best interest? And your conclusion would probably be not.”

As with previous interactions with world leaders, President Donald Trump was quick to speak on the power of the U.S. only three days after the death of Soleimani.

The President stated, “Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”

In response to Trump’s statement, the Chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned on state television “to withdraw from this field,” and that if the withdrawal does not occur, the U.S. “will definitely regret it.”

The tension is still ever-present, but it seems that both countries have laid down arms at this point. Given the American role in the Iranian Revolution, it’s important to remember that Iran has a right to be angry with America.

We overthrew the democratically elected Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and replaced him with the dictator Khomeini. There is, without a doubt, fault on both sides. What must be considered, however, is who will suffer from these faults.

San Francisco Giants Hire First Female Manager

With the addition of Gabe Kalper as the new manager, the SF Giants also hired the first female coach in Major League Baseball, Alyssa Nakken.

According to KRON 4, Nakken, a former softball player for Sacramento State University, has now become the first full-time female coach on a major league staff.

In 2014 she began working as an intern with the Giants in Baseball operations.

In an interview with KRON 4, Kapler said: “Alyssa and Mark are highly respected members of the organization, and I’m delighted that they will now focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse.”

Mark Hallberg was also hired on as an Assistant Coach with Nakken.

While she is the first female coach in the MLB, another Bay Area team, the San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl with the first female coach in the NFL, assistant offensive line coach, Katie Sowers.

The Bay Area teams have some strong female representation in their coaching staff, and it is continuing to grow.

Transfer Tuesday Was a Success!

“Exploring transfer opportunities?” says a campuswide email sent by Chabot College to students. For those who haven’t got the message, the Transfer Center is organizing Tuesday workshops this semester to help students transfer to their university of choice on Feb. 11, Feb. 18, March 17, March 31, April 14, and April 21. All workshops are from 12-1 p.m. in room 758.

Topics being covered will include the basics of transferring, funding your transfer education, transfer admission guarantees, and applying to schools like CSUs, UCs, and private schools. Representatives from universities will also be present to talk with students looking for specific school-related information. Students will be asked to bring copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, high school transcripts, and any Advanced Placement (AP) scores and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores.

Sponsored by the Chabot College Transfer Center located on the second floor of Building 700, the Center provides services and resources to support students through the transfer process. The Center hosts workshops every year, and this semester is the first time all workshops will be part of a titled series.

Frances Fon, a counselor who’s been working with the Transfer Center for ten years, is organizing the series of events. She came up with the idea of the series through looking at the most common topics brought up by students she’s seen. “I’m finding that if we put it together as a series, students can learn and obtain more information that they want and digest information that they need. They can then partner with their counselor to take the implications from what they learned and develop their plan for transfer.”

To expand outreach, Chabot College sent out a campuswide email to students on January 30. Transferring student Lydia Vasquez heard of Transfer Tuesdays, but does not intend to go. However, she “feels as though for students who don’t know a lot of these things, this would be really helpful. Especially when there are other students going through the same thing as you there, and you get to have small group discussions to figure things out.”

Fon hopes that through attending, “students will not only have more clarity in their own transfer direction, but I hope they can walk away with their personal next steps. That’s my goal, to make students feel they know where they’re at in the transfer process, and then the next step can be to go see a counselor, or to go talk to a college representative.”

Chabot’s Gladiator Day

Chabot College held this semesters Gladiator Days on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and Wednesday, Jan. 29. The event ran in the cafeteria in building 2300, from noon to 1 p.m. both days.

“I think it’s a great day to become aware of other clubs and programs on this campus and a great day to connect and socialize with your fellow classmates and teachers,” said Gustavo Y., a Chabot student who went to the event.

Numerous clubs had tables. Some have been at the college for many years, and a few are new this semester. Some new clubs in attendance include the Animation Club, CATE Club (Chabot Association of Teacher Education), Chabot Cheer Team, and Computer Hardware Club.

The Student Senate gave a free lunch to those who filled out a bingo card with stamps from the tables.

Chabot also had tables to promote its various services, programs, and academic departments. These included: APIEA (Asian Pacific Islander Education Association), CalWORKS, Chabot Library, Disabled Students’ Programs & Services, El Centro, EOPS/CARE, Financial Aid Office, FRESH Food Pantry, Learning Connection, MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement), PACE (Program for Adult College Education), Pathway Program, RISE (Restorative Integrated Self-Education), Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, TRiO, and Veterans Resource Center.

A handful of outside groups even showed up: Census 2020, Friends of Chabot College, and League of Women Voters.

There are some clubs and Chabot programs that were not present at the event. A complete list of clubs can be found at the Chabot College website.

Recapping With the Basketball Team

While the majority of the campus was on winter break, the Men’s Gladiator basketball team was still playing hard.

The team maintained a 3-4 win-loss ratio, which brings their current record to a 13-7. They currently average 78 points a game.

Their latest game was in San Francisco and was a devastating loss by 30 points. Their next game is on Feb. 5 at home against Cañada College.

When talking to Coach McMiller about the team’s improvement since the beginning of the season, he said, “I’ve seen improvements with these guys. They are maturing and evaluating things more. They are all growing in a positive direction, and as a team, they have grown together.”

There has been a ton of growth this season compared to recent ones. The accomplishments made this season compared to the last two have been monumental, but there is no reason to stop there.

Coach McMiller said this when talking about how they are doing this season compared to others “Obviously a huge improvement on every level. The last two years we have won 11 games in total, this year we have won 13 with eight more to go…”

After their game on Wednesday, Jan. 29 Isaiah Veal, number 3, said this when asked about what their biggest challenge as a team is, “It’s trusting each other to make forward progress, we need to trust each other more.”

Coach McMiller said this about heading into the final stretch of the season, “Now that we are in the last 3rd of the season, we are trying to polish up things and to get ready for a playoff run. We are in good shape and have been dancing between second and third place. If we continue to strive and do well, we can take second place.”

When asked about the mentality going into these last games, Izayah Talmadge, number 2, said this” We need this one.”

That’s how it is, and they are currently down three games with seven more left in the season. The Gladiators team needs to make something superb happen to end the season right.

Talking with Rashad Faust, number 0, he said that a highlight of this season was seeing that there were a ton of guys who wanted to play, and we got them to play.

Lastly, Coach wanted to end with this “I appreciate the community coming out, and I hope we can grow our community and get them to come and support the program.”

Get a Clipper, It’ll Save You Money

Bus fares for AC Transit were raised on January 1, 2020, for the Adult, Youth, Senior, and Disabled single ride cash fares. However, switching to a clipper card rather than paying as you ride can help riders save during their daily commutes.

Robert Lyles, Media Affairs manager of AC Transit, confirmed that although single ride cash fares have gone up, clipper cards offer a discount. 

Adult prices were raised from $2.35 to $2.50. Youth, seniors, and disabled fares were raised from $1.15 to $1.25. With the clipper card, adults can save ten cents from the previous pricing, paying $2.25. Youth, seniors, and disabled fares can save up to 13 cents. This makes the single-ride fare $1.12.

Lyles also added that “AC Transit also conducted significant public outreach six months in advance of the fare change — specifically intended for riders to offer their feedback on any proposed changes. We also conducted a Title VI Equity Analysis. This analysis specifically seeks to determine if fare changes create disproportionate impacts on low-income populations and people of color. The Title VI Equity Analysis determined that the July 1, 2019 fare change would not cause an adverse impact.”

Natasha Larsen is 18 years old and attends Chabot College. Luckily for her, she only has to pay youth prices for the bus. Adult pricing begins at the age of 19. When asked if she was aware of the single-ride cash fare raise, she replied that she had no idea. Larsen buys the day pass at $2.75, allowing her to ride the bus as many times as she needs within that day.

I asked Larsen why she doesn’t use a Clipper Card, since it eliminates the use of having to carry cash, and you can reload it at the BART station. She replied, “Every time I go to BART, I’m usually running late, I don’t have time to actually set anything up.” 

It is possible to set up youth discounts with a clipper card through applications that must be sent in via email, mail, or fax.

I asked Larsen If it’s an inconvenience, she stated, “Kind of. As someone who’s in a rush a lot, it’s hard for me to get around to it. But then I never do because as soon as I get home, my mind is off of all that stuff.”

The BART’s official YouTube page “BARTable” has a simple two-minute video on how to reload your card at the station. Clipper has created not just several ways for their customers to get a hold of a card, but also several ways to get discounts.

R.I.P. Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba

Known to the world as one of the best NBA players to have graced the court and referred to as The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players to wear an NBA uniform. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for all 20 seasons of his career and led the team to five NBA titles. 

Bryant, born Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, PA, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, in Calabasas, California, at the age of 41 alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna” Gigi” Bryant and seven others.

Wearing the number 24, Bryant was a shooting guard, and an 18-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP. Bryant averaged 25 points a game in his career and ended as the NBA’s fourth-highest scorer of all time and the NBA’s first guard to play for 20 seasons. 

Bryant started his career with the Lakers in 1996. He was the youngest person ever to play in an NBA game. Bryant was just 17-years-old when he signed with the Lakers, but he didn’t play in an official NBA game till he was 18. 

In April 2001, Bryant married 19-year-old Vanessa Laine, and the two stayed married through all their trials and tribulations. 

The basketball legend partnered with the nonprofit After-School All-Stars as part of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. He also ran an annual summer camp called the Kobe Basketball Academy.

In November 2015, he announced that he would retire at the end of the season. On Apr. 13, 2016, Bryant sold-out the Staples Center and gave fans everywhere a magnificent performance in the last game of his career, scoring 60 points and leading the Lakers to a win against the Utah Jazz. 

Bryant leaves behind his wife and three daughters Natalia Diamante, 17, Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri Kobe, 7-months. His parents Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and Pam Bryant, along with his two sisters Sharia and Shaya Bryant.

A public memorial service will be held Monday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m., in Downtown Los Angeles, at the Staples Center.

Flying High With Dr. Sanchez

Dr. Marion A Sanchez holds three world records and still somehow finds time to host a talk show called Flying High on the Chabot television station. Many students see him around the Chabot campus but only know him for his friendly personality and quirky demeanor.

Dr. Sanchez is a retired Digital media instructor at Chabot College. About a year ago, he decided to devote his free time to producing Flying High. Flying High is a once a week, unique half an hour interview with varying guests from all walks of life. 

His guests range from a former Pakistani official to Bay Area Presidential candidate Tom Steyer. Flying High is produced solely with the help of Sujoy Sarkar and Morgan Butler, two friends of Dr. Sanchez.

Even though Dr. Sanchez hosts Flying High and currently holds three world records for his age of 87 in the 50, 100 and 200-meter dash. His real calling is to try and do everything he can to help promote world peace. 

In Dr. Sanchez’s free time, he raises money to send wheelchairs to disenfranchised children overseas. So far this year, he has been able to raise enough money to send over 550 wheelchairs to children in Afghanistan, Cuba, and India.

Every year Dr. Sanchez travels to India, Thailand, Russia, and many other Southeast Asian countries to help facilitate basketball tournaments with disenfranchised youths. Recently over the summer, he assisted in the creation of an 8,000 child basketball tournament in India.

Dr. Sanchez does this yearly to keep his foot in the door method to get the attention of people in higher positions to discuss possible solutions to help achieve world peace.

Dr. Sanchez’s favorite location that he’s visited working to promote world peace is Russia. “Of all the places I’ve visited, Russia is unique. It’s such a different culture from what we are used to in America.”

Dr. Sanchez is so dedicated to world peace and unity that he even wrote a Pledge of Allegiance to the world. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the world and to all the lands and countries it represents. One World indivisible with Liberty, Justice, Freedom, and Love for all.”

All in all, Dr. Marion Sanchez is a man who strives to make the world a better and more peaceful place for the generations to come. Make sure to tune in to Dr. Sanchez’s Flying High, on Chabot TV on Comcast channels 27 and 28.

Ad Astra: To the Stars or to the Dumps?

Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt as Roy McBride is set in this dystopian future where waves coming from deep space are disrupting all the electronics across the solar system. The protagonist is set up to be this emotionless guy who split from his wife and is not even afraid of falling from the upper atmosphere. 

The pacing of the movie, for the most part, is pretty slow even the action scenes feel about as slow as the last hour of work. Not that it is a bad thing at all, it is quite refreshing, especially with the oversaturation of fast-paced action movies. 

There is one scene on the moon where some space pirates try to steal their little cart and equipment. The scene was much faster paced than any other part of the movie, even faster than the climax. I’m only bringing this up because it was the only scene where it felt out of pace with the rest of the movie. 

I have grown quite tired of all movies, books, comics, and games doing these massive exposition dumps at the beginning of the story, where the protagonists narrate their entire life story up to the point where we come in. It just feels like lazy writing to me. I would prefer being able to piece together some of the story as it came up naturally in the film.

For Ad Astra, I appreciate that they didn’t do as much of that. The significant bits of background and story came from what was currently going on. Like when we find out that these waves are not only just affecting the earth, but they are hitting both the Moon and Mars knocking out all of their electronics as well.

What this movie does well is world-building. The world that this movie exists in is not an empty or bland one. For instance, when traveling to the moon, it was an option to go commercially, and the flight attendant mentions that it is $125 for a blanket and neck pillow. As soon as Roy stepped off the ship, you can easily spot several chain restaurants and retailers showing that not even the moon can escape capitalism. 

Another stop in the movie was the dystopian surface of Mars. Mars felt more like a military base compared to the moon, where there were commercial flights to and from. There were fewer people and no mention of it being a tourist stop like the moon.

The main environment in this film was aboard spaceships, and they made it feel compact. For a good part of the movie, the protagonist is alone in a spacecraft for a few months, and the feeling of vast emptiness and isolation kicks in.

Chabot student and movie attendee, Jacob Jenkins had this to say about the movie. “I have never seen Interstellar, so I can’t make that comparison, but I really liked this one it felt super atmospheric from the environments and the world it set up was fascinating. Plus, Brad Pitt is just a solid f****** actor.” 

In the end, I really enjoyed Ad Astra. I liked the world-building the shots of open space and the super chill vibe about it.