California Passes New York in Covid Related Deaths

California has officially passed New York as the state with the most deaths related to Coronavirus.

As of March 18, the number of deaths currently sits at 56,952 and continues to rise every day.

That being said, the statistics are beginning to show a move in a positive direction. As of February 17, the reported coronavirus cases were down 43%. According to the LA Times, confirmed cases in hospitals have also decreased by 40.3 percent from two weeks ago.

According to 24/7 Wall Street, there is still an average of 3,298 COVID cases confirmed per week in California, as of the week of March 16, and this means that businesses continue to remain at limited capacity, restaurants remain limited to outdoor seating. Hospital beds remain regularly occupied by coronavirus patients.

However, as the vaccine is slowly distributed to the public, the key for California remains limiting the spread of the virus. There is no official timetable for when every person will be eligible for the vaccine currently.

Sabrina, a quality assurance employee for a large produce distributor in California, was eligible for the vaccine because her job involves agriculture. “They basically told everyone in the office it was optional to get the vaccine, but most employees did receive the vaccine now. It’s going to be a lot less stressful knowing we can feel a little more comfortable in the office together,” says Sabrina.

Jared, an EMT in the bay area, received a vaccine very soon after it became available to first medical employees. “It’s just a huge relief. After worrying about a lot of things during the pandemic, it feels good knowing I can still work and go visit my parents with a lower risk of exposing them to anything.”

According to California state health director Dr. Mark Ghaly, “starting March 15, people between ages 16-64 who are severely disabled, and those with health conditions that put them at high risk can get in line for shots.”

Joe Biden has ordered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines to boost the number of shots available for Americans.

To help slow the spread of germs, the Center for Disease Control has recently endorsed double masking to ensure a tight fit on the mask and to allow fewer respiratory droplets out.

As double masking is thought to lower the risk of exposure, there is no mandate on wearing two masks. The California department of public health’s guidance remains that Californians must wear face coverings in public spaces, especially indoors and in areas where physical distancing is not possible.

Another facet that could lead to potentially more cases of coronavirus is in-person learning at schools. As many schools remain online, some schools have taken specific measures to return for the fall semester of 2021.

UC Berkeley began a lockdown on campus on Feb 1 as over 400 people contracted coronavirus. With about 2000 students living on campus, students were required to remain in their rooms at all times. Students were only permitted to leave for seeking medical attention, going to the bathroom, and picking up food.

Violation of these lockdown rules by any student could have resulted in suspension.

The campus quarantine was proved effective as cases dropped, and the school lifted the lockdown on February 15th.

It is essential to stay informed on when vaccine distribution is available to you. You can keep track of this information at covid19.ca.gov.

GameStop, AMC, and the Stock Market

GameStop Stock and AMC stocks seemed to skyrocket after a Reddit post began, now apps like Robinhood have set limits on the number of shares available for purchase. Small independent stock buyers are calling this unfair and only beneficial to the one percent. 

Companies such as GameStop and AMC were at a low in the market early in 2020, once the pandemic hit their values dropped. Gamestop locations are to this day closing their doors permanently, and AMC in most areas have not reopened their doors. 

A subreddit began by a group of the name the WallStreetBets, here anyone could discuss any information on stocks and investments. Here traders have been known to take a gamble on stocks and “meme stocks” quickly caught their attention. (Many of these meme stocks were in correlation with failing companies) 

Add the addition of Elon Musk simply tweeting out “Doge” on Feb 3, and “ur welcome” knowing it would gain major value for the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. 

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that has mainly been seen as a joke in comparison to its top competitor, Bitcoin, has had a value typically under one penny for most of 2020. 

When the value of Dogecoin reached one penny, purchases skyrocketed. Cryptocurrency is a currency, that when purchased, can rise or fall in value, and can be resold for US currency without the effects of government regulation. (Some countries have banned cryptocurrency) 

Gamestop stocks increased over 400% within the last month according to Robinhood. Musk also tweeted out “Gamestonk!!” on Jan 26 with a direct link to the WallStreetbets. Though AMC has dropped down, most likely due to Robinhood’s (an online brokerage app for buying/selling stocks and cryptocurrency) limits on share buying, there is still talk of it increasing again. 

Jan 27 AMC stock values were rising, due to subreddits, and the next day was predicted to blow up. Whether a gain or rise in value, traders were ready to buy. But traders quickly realized their orders weren’t submitting on Robinhood, the app was extremely overwhelmed. 

On Jan 28 a message was sent to its users through the app, “Our mission at Robinhood is to democratize finance for all … In light of recent volatility, we restricted transactions for certain securities to the position closing only. We also raised margin requirements for certain securities.” 

The initial message didn’t give direct information on why certain shares (Gamestop and AMC) were taken off and left it’s users in a vague state. The message did state how the app has helped small traders learn about the stock market, “In 2020, more than 3.3 million people read out articles through Robinhood Learn.” Robinhood claims they’re determined to continue their work in making sure everyone has the help “for their long-term financial futures.”

Chris Cuomo of CNN spoke with the CEO of Robinhood, Vlad Tenev, on why they would limit shares on an app that supposedly is to “take from the rich and give to the poor” as Cuomo put it “starve the little guy.” on Jan 29. 

Cuomo’s main criticism surrounded the idea that the limitations only seemed to be placed because it had begun hurting large investors, including one of Robinhood’s main investors. 

Cuomo asks why should people believe Robinhood did this for the right reasons, Tenev responded, “We have no choice, we have to comply with all financial requirements,” Cuomo points out the (SCC) hasn’t declared any of Robinhoods actions as necessary. 

Tenev reinstates that certain brokers have to follow guidelines and regulations and it was in no intention to put anyone down, just necessary precautions. 

Planet Money, a podcast hosted by Nick Fountain and Mary Childs spoke with Annie Masa, an investing reporter at Bloomberg News, on Feb 3. Masa broke down why there are delays whenever purchasing from a brokerage app, and what that means for companies like Robinhood.

Masa starts off by comparing how buying stocks have changed. People would have to call their broker over the phone and place an order for their stock, the broker then would call over to someone who works on the trading floor, New York Stock Exchange for example, who is also making negotiation with yet a third person on the floor who sells the stock, and eventually gets back to the ordinal broker. 

Buyers not only would have to pay for the stock purchase but the broker for the labor. When online brokerage apps became available this cut out having to make calls and prices dropped immensely, but Masa explains that there is still a middleman when you submit an order from Robinhood. 

Robinhood sends your order over to other firms like Citadel Securities, “the company’s in the business of matching people who want to buy stock with people who wants to sell stock,” host Childs summarizes how Robinhood gets paid by Citadel to do this process, and in return, Citadel makes a small profit when there’s a small difference between what buyers are offering and what sellers asking. 

Citadel securities pay Robinhood to make sure that there are smaller traders buying because if there are only big companies selling stocks, Citadel would actually lose money. They need the back and forth trade to make a profit themselves.

Brokerages have to post money (to a clearinghouse) for stock purchases in between the waiting period before you own the stock to guarantee trades, in case buyers decide they want to opt-out. So when hundreds of thousands of people were trying to buy GameStop and AMC, Robinhood would have had to post 3 billion dollars. 

This was a heavy demand for Robinhood, “An order of magnitude,” Tenev stated on social media, one which they did not have. So when the limitations took place on those certain stocks, this was in order to not have to put up the entire 3 billion Robinhood did not have. 

Fountain and Childs make it clear that there is no evidence of market manipulation, however, at this point internet stock traders were wildly upset as they believed they were “pumping up the stock” as Fountain put it. 

On Feb 4, Robinhood had reopened trading for Gamestop and AMC, but the criticism has left a sour taste in most small traders’ mouths, many have now considered other options. 

On Feb 3 Investorjunkie put out its list for its top alternatives to use instead of Robinhood:

  1. Ally Invest 
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. E* TRADE
  4. Public
  5. Charles Schwab 
  6. WeBull 

While many brokerage apps went through similar approaches like Robinhood, the damage had been done, and although thousands still use the apps, others are starting to gain much more attraction as thousands continue to join the stock market.

Gavin Newsom Proposes New Plan for Reopening Schools

On Mar. 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a news conference California’s plan to reopen schools around the state. Legislative leaders joined Newsom to discuss the state’s multibillion-dollar plan to incentivize K-12 schools into reopening. The bill would give power to the state’s 58 counties to decide when to reopen schools. 

Under the bill, schools are not required to open. Instead, those that do will receive financial compensation. The package will allocate a total of $6.6 billion to entice and push public schools to reopen and bring students back into classrooms. At least $2 billion of the fund will be grants given to schools that temporarily open kindergarten through second grade by Apr. 1 and bring back at-risk students in all grades.

“Our plan is also geared toward providing schools the resources and incentives that they need to ensure that education can be all things for every child in California,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon at the event. 

The bill aims to safely phase in younger students who are most at risk and benefit the most from in-person learning. Those most at risk include foster and homeless youth and children of color disproportionately affected by the pandemic. A study done by Common Sense and Boston Consulting Group found that at least 15 to 16 million students live in households without internet access or the proper device for distance learning at home. 

Under the proposal, school districts must reopen Kindergarten through second grade classrooms by Apr. 1 to receive funding from the $2 billion in grants. 

However, those that open after Apr. 1 will receive smaller cash grants, and those that don’t open by May 15 would lose their share of the funding. The funds could pay for summer school activities and in-person services like tutoring. 

The plan would allow all districts to start slowly phasing in students, even those in the “purple-tier”- the most restrictive level of California’s COVID-19 tier system- as long as the daily rate of COVID-19 cases is less than 25 per 100,000 residents. 

Once counties move into the red tier — daily case rates below 7 per 100,000 residents — schools that are eligible for grant funding must open all elementary grades, as well as at least one grade in middle and high school. As of Mar. 9, California has 34 counties in the purple tier and 20 counties in the red tier. 

Over 75,000 vaccines will be pushed aside from educators and school employees, Newsom said, and school staff will be prioritized in the distribution of vaccines as well as seniors and those most vulnerable. At least 15 million vaccines have already been administered in California. Schools will also require staff and students to wear masks while in school. 

On Mar. 3, the Newsom administration announced it would dedicate 40% of available COVID-19 vaccines to residents in the most disadvantaged areas across the state, as reported by the LA Times. 

Legislators have also acknowledged how challenging online learning is for students, from technological challenges to mental health issues. 

“This package of funding and supports for our schools recognizes that in-person education is essential to meet not only the learning needs but the mental health and social-emotional needs of our kids — especially the youngest and the most vulnerable,” said Gov. Newsom at a virtual signing ceremony of the bill.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, many schools have been shut down and forced to switch to remote learning. Almost a full year of online schooling across the nation has taken a toll on students, families, and the education system. It’s even more challenging for those who lack the technological resources to access an education. 

For younger students, in-person learning is fundamental to build social and emotional skills. The social environment of schools is critical in children’s development as they engage with others in an academic setting. For older students in high school and college, online learning has negatively impacted many students’ mental health. 

A report from Best Colleges found that 95% of college students have had “negative mental health symptoms as a result of COVID-19 related circumstances.” Out of the 702 college students surveyed, almost half struggle with isolation, anxiety, and a lack of focus. 

“College years are a pivotal time for young adults as they pursue their chosen academic field and have the opportunity to gain independence and learn more about themselves,” said Dr. Melissa Venable, Education Advisor for Best Colleges.

As schools plan to return to in-person instruction, Venable encourages schools to “do all they can to support students as they experience a range of mental health concerns.” 

The Safe Schools for All plan comes after ongoing concerns from parents and schools about reopening districts in a safe manner.

By slowly opening schools and phasing in students through safety precautions and measures, the state hopes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, schools will continue to offer online learning for students and families who are still hesitant to send their children back to school.

Jeff Bezos speaking at Amazon SPheres Grand Opening in Seattle

Jeff Bezos’s Pledge to Addressing Climate Change: The Bezos Earth Fund

Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced on Feb. 2 that he’d be stepping down as CEO of Amazon later this year to become its executive chair. Bezos explains his decision to focus his energy on his projects in a letter to his employees, including his $10 billion pledge to fight climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund. 

The Bezos Earth Fund, first launched last February, will be used to combat the effects of climate change by providing grants to fund scientists, activists, and other nongovernmental organizations in an attempt to “amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”

In November, Bezos announced in an Instagram post the first 16 recipients of the Earth Fund, committing to “protect Earth’s future.”

The initial recipients will receive $791 million from Bezos’s donation of $10 billion, accounting for only 7% of the allotted fund. 

Four of the most established environmental groups in the country — the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Wildlife Fund, will be receiving $100 million from Bezos’s fund. 

Most grantees are being awarded money for specific projects, while others have been allowed to re-grant money to other nonprofits. “[World Resource Institute (WRI)] is pleased to announce that it has been selected to receive a grant from the Bezos Earth Fund for two major initiatives in support of global climate action,” says the company in a news release. 

The WRI announced on Mar. 9, its President and CEO, Dr. Andrew Steer, will be stepping down to become President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. In a series of tweets, Steer offered up a few more details about the Earth fund, including that Bezos’s “goal is to spend it down between now and 2030.” This means that the Earth Fund will award about $1 billion a year for the next decade.

The WRI ($100 million), a global sustainability-research organization, will develop a satellite-based system that monitors carbon emissions and captures changes in the world’s wildlife. 

The Bezos Earth Fund has also awarded $151 million, so far, to groups that are dedicated to environmental justice. Those include; The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund ($43 million), Dream Corps Green For All ($10 million), The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice ($43 million), NDN Collective ($12 million), and The Solutions Project ($43 million). 

The rest of the grantees are ClimateWorks Foundation ($50 million), Eden Reforestation Projects ($5 million), Energy Foundation ($30 million), Rocky Mountain Institute ($10 million), Salk Institute for Biological Studies ($30 million), and Union of Concerned Scientists ($15 million). 

Bezos’s Earth Fund comes after ‘ongoing concerns’ about Amazon’s environmental policies. Amazon has long faced pressures from within the company and others to address concerns surrounding its contribution to global carbon emission. 

In Sep. 2019, the company signed a climate pledge amid employee activism, asking for more comprehensive environmental policies. Amazon committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, 10 years earlier than the deadline set by the Paris Climate Accord. Amazon plans to operate with 100% renewable energy by 2025. The company will also invest $2 billion in technologies that will reduce carbon emissions. 

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of workers concerned with Amazon’s business within the oil and gas industry, praised Bezos Earth Fund and Amazon’s climate pledge- but said there’s still more to do in addressing the climate crisis. 

“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the activist group said in a statement on Feb. 17. “The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil & gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells?”

Image of a look inside the impeachment trial. Many people sitting at desks reviewing documents.

Impeachment Trial Review

Former President Donald Trump has been acquitted after being impeached for incitement of insurrection, alleging that he incited his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol building.

In February, the acquittal of the former President by the Senate was voted through. This was just days after the House Democrats voted to impeach Donald Trump an unprecedented second time.

Although seven Republican congressmen and women voted with the democrats, a different story was told in the Senate where Trump would not be acquitted. Senate Democrats and impeachment managers from Congress debated Trump’s behavior in the time leading up to the siege on the Capitol.

“Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander in chief and became the inciter in chief of a dangerous insurrection, … He named the date, he named the time, he brought them here, and now he must pay the price … He told them to ‘fight like hell … and they brought us hell that day.’” Lead Impeachment manager Dem. of Maryland James Raskin stated.

In Congress, the argument was focused on three main points: The Big Lie, which stated Donald Trump as the proprietor promoting false, baseless, and debunked claims questioning the integrity of the 2020 election. Stop the Steal, which was said to be Trump’s campaign delegitimizing President Biden’s term. Trump did this by suing numerous states, supporting the rejection and denial of the election results. Fight like Hell was the last point noting Trump’s words argued by democrats to directly incite rioters to the Capitol hours before the insurrection on Jan 6.

“The base was completely prepared to believe the kind of outlandish things that Trump said,” said Rick Hasen, a professor and election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told NBC News.

Democrats pleaded the danger that fell before the Capitol, stating someone must be held responsible for the damage and harm condoned. “Perimeters were broken, and the Capitol was breached,” Congressman and impeachment manager Eric Swalwell said.

In the Senate trial, the impeachment managers used unseen audio, video, and security footage displaying visceral and explicit evidence of rioters ravaging the Capitol. In the footage shown, Senators and Capitol employees are seen running for their lives. This all was occurring while Capitol Police constantly fought to keep them safe.

“It looked like a medieval battle scene, some of the most brutal combat I have ever encountered. At one point, I got tazed. People were yelling at me. ‘Y’all, we got one! We got one!’” A 20-year veteran of Capitol Police officer Micheal Pinome

Pinome is seen on footage during the trial as just one of three officers dragged down the stairs of the Capitol. Rioters then stole his badge, his radio, ammunition magazine and tazed him, triggering a heart attack during the attack. 

Congressman Swalwell and Raskin ran through the timeline of the siege on the Capitol, footage of the timeline, and the course of the rioters from the initial break into the final Police securing of the Capitol. But their choice of argument and strategy of not using witnesses fell short. 

The Senate voted to acquit Trump, 57 Guilty to 43, Not Guilty. Raskin claimed he did not attempt to bring in witnesses because “The point is that no number of witnesses demonstrating Donald Trump continued to incite the insurrectionists even after the invasion of the Capitol would convince them, they wouldn’t be convinced,” James Raskins told the public.

Upon the arrival of the Senate, vote not to convict former President Donald Trump. Chuck Schumer, Majority leader of Democrats, was left with distaste as he said, “My Fellow Americans never forget that day, Jan. 6th. There is nothing more un-American, nothing more antithetical, nothing more insulting to the Americans that gave their lives … look at what Republicans have chosen to forgive … over half the Senate Republican conference has voted to condone … the most despicable act any President has ever committed and the Majority of Republicans cannot summon courage or morality to condemn it. This trial was not about choosing country over party. It was about choosing this country over Donald J. Trump, and they chose Trump.”

Senate minority leader of Republicans, Mitch McConnell, a staple in the GOP through the Senate floor for a surprise as his ending statement was pushing back against his party.

 “There is no question; none, that Donald Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of the day, the people who stormed this building thought they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President. Rioters were assaulting Capitol in his name. The criminals were carrying his banner, hanging his flag, and screaming loyalty to him. It was obvious,” 

This may sound contradictory to his vote of acquittal, but “He didn’t get away with anything, yet,” McConnell said, noting that “we have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being [held] accountable by either one.”

The storming of the Capitol came after a speech on January 6 by former president Trump where he claimed that he won the election and his followers need to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal” of the election. Trump’s legal team argued that he used the term “fight” only a few times and every time the word was used figuratively. Not in a way to sway followers to physically fight.

The legal team pointed out that Donald Trump did not go with the mob to the capital or tell them to storm the building in his speech on January 6th.

There was even a question of the validity of the argument that Trump’s speech was inciting violence as he said during his speech, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building peacefully to patriotically make your voices heard.”

The defense team also played a video montage of democrats using the word fight in speeches of their own to show that it’s a common phrase in politics that is not meant to be taken literally.

Trump’s team also argued that impeaching the former president would violate his first amendment rights. The legal team claims that the speech was Donald Trump exercising his freedom of speech and cannot be impeached on this basis.

Another point made by the defense team was that the legislature had no jurisdiction to impeach a former official as Mitch McConnell in an email to his colleagues stated that “While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we, therefore, lack jurisdiction.”

The validity of having an impeachment for a president no longer in office was the main topic of the first day of trial. Maintaining a verdict against impeachment is key in Trump’s plans to run for office again. With still more legal battles to come, the acquittal currently leaves the door open for a 2024 election campaign. Regardless of both sides arguing for or against, the trial continued the following days.

Trump’s team also argued that the trial should be thrown out as they were not afforded due process. The legal team argued that investigations should be held and depositions should be taken. 

The legal term Bill of attainder was brought into question on this trial. Bill of attainder is something that prohibits enacting a law that legislatively determines guilt and inflicts punishment upon an identifiable individual without provision of the protections of a judicial trial. 

Trump’s legal team is arguing that impeachment allows the legislature to attain a guilty verdict against Trump without a judicial trial as he is a private citizen who has a right to be tried for criminal prosecution before a judge. 

“Congress has no jurisdiction to try people who are not currently in office.” states political commentator and legal analyst Alan Dershowitz.

The conclusion of this trial may just be the beginning of a much larger trial, as we wait to see what will happen involving a criminal trial against Donald Trump.

Memorable Moments of the Inauguration

Inauguration Day was on Wednesday, Jan. 20. President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn into office on a day full of unforgettable moments. 

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the day was that former President Donald Trump did not attend the ceremony. Early that morning, Trump left the White House, where he gave a final speech at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and then boarded Air Force One for the last time bound for Florida. 

Trump is the fourth outgoing president not to attend the incoming president’s inauguration. John Adams did not attend Thomas Jefferson’s swearing-in. (1801) John Q. Adams (Son of John Adams) did not attend Andrew Jackson’s inauguration (1829) Andrew Johnson missed on Ulysses S. Grant’s swearing-in. (1869) 

Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans was a livestreamed event hosted by actress/activist Keke Palmer. Palmer spoke with several American historians and authors before the inauguration began. 

Historian David Kennedy described the tension that has been created due to former President Donald Trump’s absence at the ceremony, “A sign of just how divided the country was at those times and is now.” Kennedy refers to the mobs that invaded the US Capitol, where one group tried to disrupt the democratic process. 

An inspirational moment was when Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor (nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2009), the first Latina on the supreme justice, swore in Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, African American of South Asian descent. 

In President Biden’s inauguration address, he emphasizes the matter of change, “Today we mark the swearing-in of the first women in American history elected to the office, Vice President Kamala Harris.” Biden recalls 108 years ago, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, when the Women’s Suffrage Parade took place. 

While the women fought for their right to vote and equality, many harassed and beat the women. Police made little to no effort to intervene, and over 100 women ended up in the hospital. 

A much more lighthearted moment that took over social media was the first bump exchange between President Biden and former President Barack Obama as President Biden and the first lady walked out to the ceremony. President Biden and Obama have many fun photos from the Obama administration (2008-2016), such as waving pride flags around the white house, wearing matching suits, or playing golf. 

Olivia Rodrigo, a 17-year-old Asian American singer, and actress spoke briefly during the Our White House’s livestream. Rodrigo was the first-ever Asian American to reach number one on the Apple Music Top 100 Global chart and became an inspiration for many teens across the nation. Rodrigo encouraged teens to get involved in their government and be aware of the politics even if they’re not yet eligible to vote. 

Celebrity performances were made by Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem before Vice President Harris was sworn in. Jennifer Lopez then came out to stage to sing “This Land is Your Land” and “America The Beautiful.” Lopez did include a line from her song, “Let’s Get Loud,” which surprised many and was quickly popularized on Twitter. 

A single picture of Sen. Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair before the ceremony wearing a pair of mittens has become a meme. Edits of Bernie include him sitting in the middle of a subway, the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, or at a Marvel Avengers meeting. 

The last performer was a Black poet and social justice activist, Amanda Gorman. Gorman was named the first national youth poet laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University. 

Gorman’s poem that she recited at the inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” left a message for the country to try to do better than we were for the last four years. Gorman is the youngest person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate.

In her poem, one of her last words is, “So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with,” which has resonated across America. Gorman’s poem emphasizes the power the country has to always try to better itself.

Chabot Stays Online

Chabot College will remain predominantly online for the spring 2021 semester.

Remaining online ensures all Chabot students’ safety while we remain in the midst of a pandemic that has no current end date.

Classes will continue as they have during the fall semester. Chabot has shifted online and quickly adapted to offer many, if not all, of the same services online that would typically be provided on campus.

There’s currently state guidance for colleges, released by California’s Department of Public Health, that addresses schools’ concerns opening back up during the pandemic.

The 34-page state guidance states that most California colleges must offer classes virtually except for limited hands-on courses that will require social distancing.

This guidance has various rules and mandates for schools electing to return to in-person classes next semester. However, Chabot has decided to forego the risk and remain online in the spring, giving students one less place where they could potentially be exposed to the Coronavirus.

So when will it be safe to go back to campus? Some states have already resumed in-person teaching to mixed results.

In Oregon, the Department of Education, Colt Gill, estimates that they currently have 600,000 students participating in in-person classes. Gill remains optimistic that all schools will transition online.

The Oregon Health Authority has reported that 160 COVID-19 cases spread across 83 schools in Oregon over November.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas has many in-person schools in session, with an estimated 2.8 million students currently attending school in person.

The Texas Health and Human Services reported 6,835 positive COVID-19 tests by students just in the week of December 6th.

We may not know precisely when it will be safe to go back to in-person classes. Still, we know Chabot is putting student safety as its top priority.

Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in as Supreme Court Justice.

Who Is the New Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett?

Amy Coney Barrett, 48, was confirmed on October 26, as the youngest Supreme Court justice in an unprecedented manner. She replaces the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion for women’s rights and equality, as the ninth justice.

Barrett was able to get confirmed just a couple of weeks before the election, an issue that Republicans had during Associate Justice Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing back in 2016. The justification was that the public should be allowed input by voting for the next president.

Barrett is President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice nominee.

But who is she, and what does she mean for the Supreme Court?

Barrett was born on January 28, 1972, and grew up in a suburban town in New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up, she received a Catholic education at St. Catherine of Siena elementary school and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

She graduated Magna cum laude from Tennessee’s Rhodes College with a B.A. in English in 1994. She graduated top of her class from Notre Dame Law School in 1997. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit. She later clerked for her mentor, the late former Associate Justice Antonia Scalia of the Supreme Court, who influenced Barett’s philosophy.

In May 2017, Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

During her confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pointed to an article Barrett had written that commented that Catholic judges should withdraw from cases surrounding the death penalty and abortion. Feinstein probed whether Barrett’s religious beliefs would influence her ruling, saying: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”

Barret responded to Feinstein’s statement, “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

Barrett was confirmed by a 55-43 vote, with three Democrats voting in favor of her confirmation.

During her three years on the Seventh Circuit, she authored around 100 opinions that reinforced her reputation as a textualist and originalist, a philosophy in which the interpretation of the law is based primarily on the original text of the Constitution or statute and tries to apply the same intention of the framers.

Barrett is a favorite among social conservatives who view her record as anti-abortion rights.

Her opinions include cases on second amendment rights, immigration, sexual assault on campuses, and discrimination in the workplace. Most notable are her rulings dealing with abortion rights.

During her short stint on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has already viewed two abortion cases and ruled against abortion rights in both of them. A panel of judges blocked a law in Indiana that would make it harder for minors to have an abortion without notifying the parents. Barrett had voted to have the case reheard by the full court, according to AP News.

In 2019’s gun-rights case Kanter v. Barr, Barrett was the only one who objected and argued that Rickey Kanter’s conviction of a nonviolent felony-mail fraud shouldn’t bar him from owning a gun.

Barrett wrote a 37-page opposition to the ruling, citing the history of gun rules for convicted criminals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her dissent is consistent with interpreting laws and the Constitution according to what the framers had initially intended. “Founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons,” she wrote.

Once again, Barrett dissented when Cook County v. Wolf upheld the blockage of the Trump administration policy that would make it difficult for immigrants relying on public assistance, food stamps and Medicaid, to earn permanent resident status. Barrett argued that the courts were “not the vehicle” for resolving controversial policies.

In the case of campus sexual assault, Barrett ruled, in a unanimous decision, to make it easier for men alleged to have committed sexual assaults on campus to challenge the case against them.

A female student at Purdue University alleged that her boyfriend had sexually assaulted her. John Doe, the boyfriend, filed a case against Purdue claiming sex discrimination after he was suspended for a year and his Navy ROTC scholarship was taken away. Barrett wrote that ultimately the case came down to a ‘he said/she said’ scenario.

In 2019, a unanimous decision was made that upheld the dismissal of a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by Terry Smith, a Black Illinois transportation employee who sued after he was fired, according to AP News. Smith claimed he was called a racial slur by his supervisor Lloyd Colbert.

Barrett wrote that “Smith can’t win simply by proving that the word was uttered. He must also demonstrate that Colbert’s use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.”

With Barrett’s confirmation, the Supreme Court has firmly tipped to a more conservative ideology, perhaps for decades to come.

Google Logos

Google proposes a new town in Silicon Valley

Coming to a neighborhood near you, Google is looking to build a new, town-like campus near its headquarters in Silicon Valley, called Downtown West. The new project was announced on Sept. 1, though it may take a couple of years for the project to come to fruition.

On Sept.1, the company unveiled its proposal for their new town in the city of Mountain View. The proposition would renovate Middlefield Park, a 40-acre site, into a “mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented neighborhood.” According to Business Insider, the new town would include a park’s network, retail space, office space, and even a public pool and sports field.

Google also plans to add residential housing, adding as many as 5,000 residential units. The company aims to make at least 25% of the units affordable housing. This follows Google’s $1 billion pledge made last year to develop at least 20,000 new homes over the next decade in the Bay Area.

Google will maintain most of the ownership but plan to set aside half the site for residential and public use, such as multiple parks, a recreational center, and an aquatic center. At least 15 acres of the proposed plan are dedicated to parks, plazas, and green space.

“It’s certainly one of the ideas in the Precise Plan to create a mixed-use neighborhood where a lot of the needs and services are within walking distance from where you live and work,” Google’s real estate director Michael Tymoff told Mountain View Voice.

Google also plans to incorporate deep environmental sustainability into the town’s framework, aiming to improve the health of people and the planet. They are committed to green building certification through LEED, Leadership in Energy, and Environmental Design.

Many of the buildings will include biophilic designs, meaning to connect building designs more closely to nature. The buildings will also utilize technology and materials that minimize environmental impact and reduce heating and cooling inside the buildings.

Downtown West would also try to reduce carbon emissions and aim to not result in any additional net emission of greenhouse gases. Google plans to do this by increasing energy efficiency through solar panels and renewable energy sources.

The new town will be designed to promote transit ridership through multi-use trails, public transportation, and creating a micro-mobility environment to encourage walking and biking.

Google had submitted its initial plans for the project last October, but the plans are still in the early stages and still have to go through city approval, which could take until summer 2021.

Chabot FRESH Food Distribution

A new food drive location has opened up at Chabot College to address food insecurity in Hayward. The new site will serve as a drive-thru, no contact food distribution.

Chabot’s student-led organization, FRESH -Food, Resources, and Education to Stop Hunger- Food and Life Pantry, has partnered with the City of Hayward to battle hunger in the community. The food drive is hosted every Thursday from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

Food insecurity in the Bay Area has risen dramatically in recent months due to widespread layoffs related to COVID-19’s impact. Millions of people have had to limit themselves to pay for basic necessities.

Roughly, 4.6 million California residents are facing food insecurity, according to CalFresh, which helps millions of families afford food each month. On average, 1 out of 8 people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

The food drive at Chabot offers fresh produce, canned and dry goods, and dairy products. All resources and free to anyone in the community. Each distribution is based on the number of people in your household.

FRESH first began to serve the community in May 2017. Previously, FRESH had hosted a farmers market-style food distribution twice a month, with food provisions from the City of Hayward and the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). By the end of July, the City of Hayward had reached out to Chabot’s FRESH to make a plan for a food drive distribution.

Besides ACCFB, Sewa International, Columbus Meats, and Hope 4 the Heart have all reached out to Chabot to help with food donations.

FRESH serves, on average, 3,700 individuals and 800 families a week. Of those, about 163 of them are students at Chabot. Sofia Sanchez Pillot Saavedra, a former student at Chabot, was one of the student organizers for FRESH. She started officially as a FRESH staff last year after graduating from UC Berkeley.

Sofia would often ask herself, “Why are our students hungry?”

She noticed that when she was a student at Chabot that there was a demand for students needing food. “Food is such a basic thing. If they’re not eating how do we expect them to learn?”

Traffic control, along with food distribution, were some difficulties FRESH had to workaround during this year with the addition to COVID-19. Many people would show up early in the morning, that it would trickle down closer to the main road. FRESH would then need to decide as to whether or not to open early to alleviate traffic congestion, according to Sofia.

It’s been a work in progress, but now “we’re pretty good at being able to estimate how much to distribute to each car, to make it stretch throughout the day,” Sofia said. “If people come around 11, they’re guaranteed, whereas if they show up after 12:30, we might or might not have enough food.”

The food drive has been very beneficial to the community and its students, according to Sofia. “If the students’ families are struggling, so will the students. I think Chabot partnering with the City of Hayward is a great thing because we are serving very similar populations. Our students are not separate from the community, they are a part of it as well.”

For potential volunteers at Chabot, you can help out during the Thanksgiving week distribution on Tuesday, November 24th, and during the Christmas week distribution on Tuesday, December 22nd.

Please contact Zach Ebadi from the City of Hayward if you have any questions, or are interested in volunteering.

[email protected]