Monthly Archives: December 2020

A look back on the Election

After a long and eventful year, the 2020 presidential election has finally come to an end. Former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared the projected winner of the election and will become the 46th president of the United States.

As with anything in the year 2020, the road to this election has not been simple. Current President Donald Trump, who argues that he is, in fact, the winner of the 2020 election, is currently filing lawsuits to challenge the validity of the election results. These actions by our President should not come as a surprise as these questions of voting credibility have lingered all year by the white house staff.

Many things this year have led to a split in the country regarding our democracy and how our elections are being run. This election has sparked debates on issues such as voter fraud, mail-in voting validity, misinformation via news outlets, and alleged claims of election rigging, among other things.

Voter fraud has not been an issue in any elections in recent history. With today’s laws and technology in place preventing nearly all cases of voter fraud. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, the Brennan Center for Justice New York University School of Law found that rates of voter fraud committed were somewhere between .0003 and .0025 percent.

Despite the statistics against the likelihood of mass voter fraud occurring in this election, President Trump remains adamant that this election has been rampant with fraudulent votes.

As the pandemic raged on, voters remained wary of in-person voting. A risk-free option to voting is to simply mail in your vote.

According to MIT political scientist, after analyzing numbers from the Heritage foundation’s election fraud database, they concluded that only 0.00006 percent of the 250 million votes by mail in the 2016 election were fraudulent.

President Donald Trump has argued that the post office can not handle the amount of mail-in votes in time to receive and count them all during this election.

Although the number of mail-in ballots could increase greatly this year due to the pandemic, the post office has shown no concern about not being able to handle the extra workload.

News stations during the election have had facts and information vary depending on which station you’re watching. This can be said for most elections as some news stations tend to lean one way or another politically.

What has gotten out of hand this election is the fact that President Trump and his team have argued and disregarded facts concerning election results to a point where Twitter has started censoring the president’s tweets.

As President Trump tweets about voter fraud and how he has in fact won this election, Twitter has had to label these with a warning.

“Some or all of this content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” messages can now be found throughout President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed to warn followers of potential misinformation.

Both sides of this election have somewhat been accused of attempting to rig the election in their favor. A very serious allegation.

President Donald Trump has been accused of attempting to dismantle the post office as many of his supporters will be voting in person and many of Joe Biden’s supporters will be voting by mail.

Pictures of mailboxes being removed have gone viral and accusations of voter suppression have risen.

While the Trump administration has tried to argue that mail-in ballots should not be counted after election day so a winner may be announced immediately.

“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate.” stated the President.

The President also raised concerns about the validity of the vote counting, expressing concerns for mail-in ballot dumps being counted for almost exclusively Biden at times.

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled… Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted, very strange, and the pollsters got it completely and historically wrong.” expressed President Trump.

There is no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims on the counting of ballots. 

Officials have been speculating for months that the surge of mail-in votes would be immense and large floods of ballots were expected to occur at times during the counting process and a  result of the post office slowly delivering large amounts of ballots to counting locations after election day.

As we approach the conclusion of a strange year, we can only hope that we have reached the conclusion of a strange election as well. Only time will tell how our democracy will handle things if President Donald Trump refuses the election results.

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.

What jobs are Essential?

As the coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise this year, the country’s workforce was put into a difficult situation.

While most businesses shut down to avoid spreading the virus, some had to remain open through the pandemic as they were labeled essential.

What exactly qualifies as an essential worker?

The label of an essential worker varies from state to state, but according to the U.S. Department of Homeland security, “essential workers are those who conduct a range of operations that are typically needed to continue critical infrastructure operations.”

There are some obvious professions that should be labeled as essential to society, such as, health care workers, law enforcement or first responders, and food and ag workers.

The line of essential becomes more blurred as we see minimum wage workers being forced to work at jobs that are necessarily needed for survival during a pandemic.

Must fast-food restaurants stay open while grocery stores are there to supply us with food?

Is it essential for retail stores to remain open, so people can buy new clothes, at a time when everyone is encouraged to remain at home?

Leonard, a retail worker that has not stopped working through the pandemic, shared his thoughts on if feels his job is essential states, “No, it’s not. You don’t need clothes to survive a pandemic.”

“I think my job could be labeled essential for high-risk people that can’t go out and get their own food.” stated Jacob, a pizza delivery worker, “but I still feel that there are ways to order groceries nowadays and have them delivered so that I don’t have to put myself at risk too.”

Mercedes, an employee at an auto parts store, also sees both sides of the term essential from her job. “I see my job as essential because what if there’s a doctor or someone important that needs a part for their car to get to work, but I don’t feel that I see people coming into the store for only essential items. I’ve had customers coming in and leisurely shopping for things that can wait until after the pandemic.”

The economy is now in a difficult situation as small businesses have been forced to close their doors, most closing for good, and big businesses have been allowed to bend the rules to remain open.

Some may argue that these minimum wage workers should be happy to be employed at a time when most people had no choice but to lose their jobs at the hands of the pandemic.

Although it’s questionable how much of a choice these “essential workers” really have been given.

These workers have two choices. Put themselves at risk of catching the virus every day at work, or quit their job and attempt to rely on the government’s unemployment plan and nonexistent stimulus plan to pay their bills.

With no real relief funding in place these workers can’t afford to quit their jobs and fall behind on their bills. As most minimum wage workers are living paycheck to paycheck before the financial strains of the pandemic.

Leonards view on why he continues to go to work, “my bills didn’t quit so why should.” he continued, “I don’t feel that the government can consistently support me financially right now and I have a mortgage payment that needs to be paid every month.”

Jacob also is wary of government support, “I make more money going to work right now than I would make on unemployment and I still want to keep my job after the pandemic. So quitting doesn’t seem like an option right now.”

With a vaccine on the way, the country is hoping to put the pandemic behind us and return everyone to work safely. Until that time employees will continue to work and continue to put their health at risk.

Row of vaccines on counter top

Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine

On Nov 9th, the drugmaker Pfizer announced that Phase 3 of their coronavirus vaccine trial yielded positive findings and was effective in preventing Covid-19.

In July, Pfizer and its partner, the German company, BioNTech, conducted a late-stage clinical trial on the coronavirus vaccine. Half of the people in the experiment received the vaccine, while the rest received a placebo of the vaccine. Out of the 44,000-plus participants in the study, only 170 of them contracted the coronavirus.

An independent board of experts analyzed the data and found that the vaccine is at least 95% effective. Vaccines can typically take up to ten years to be fully researched and manufactured. However, in an unprecedented manner, Pfizer was able to fast-track the vaccine, alongside some other drug companies, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Alfonso Alvarado, Chabot’s immunization coordinator, explained that in order to create a vaccine, scientists and manufacturers must first figure out the components of a virus and what the body needs to fight it. Vaccine trials are done in controlled clinical studies and are limited to a specific age group.

The Pfizer vaccine didn’t include pregnant women or children in their studies meaning they excluded these populations in the findings, which could impact the coronavirus’s effective rate down the road.

Pfizer’s current findings show that the vaccine is 95% effective when it’s second shot is administered after three weeks. Without the booster shot, its efficiency goes down to 52%. The yearly influenza shot is typically around 50%-60% effective.

According to Alvarado, the coronavirus vaccine effective rate could stay at 95% or it could drop lower, because we haven’t immunized everyone so we don’t know the response.

The flu vaccine has a lower effective rate because the virus mutates at a much faster rate and the flu strains change more frequently than the coronavirus. The influenza virus has millions of billions of different strains, so it’s difficult to figure out the type of strain that we’re exposed to, Alvarado clarified.

Herd immunity, a phrase being thrown around a lot more recently, is when most of the population is immune to a disease, and provides indirect protection against it. And in order for that to be achieved, at least 70% of the world population needs to be vaccinated.

“To end the pandemic, we need to end the transmission of the virus, and to do that we need to develop some kind of population-wide immunity,” said Dr. Katy Stephenson, a physician-scientist who specializes in infectious diseases and HIV immunology and does vaccine development at Harvard.

However, Alvarado stressed that it usually “takes a couple of weeks to get immune, depending on the vaccine. Once you’re actually in contact with that virus and you’re exposed to it, you may be protected against the most malignant part of the virus. But some patients build immunity from the vaccine and some don’t.”

Alvarado says that once people receive the vaccine, they should still follow CDC guidelines, meaning to continue to social distance and wear masks. He explains that just because people are given the vaccine, it doesn’t mean they have full immunity.

Pfizer’s chief executive says that it could have between 15 to 20 million doses of the vaccine available by the end of the year. Those who qualify for the initial dose have not been announced, however, those at a higher risk of infection or those more susceptible, are likely to have higher priority. This could include health care workers, like nurses and doctors, and older Americans who live in long-term care homes.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 8, a portion of people in the United Kingdom have already been administered the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Britain is trying to roll out the vaccination of tens of millions of people against Covid-19 in just a matter of months.

The U.S. could begin the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine as early as Dec. 14. Roughly 327,000 doses are expected to be available during the first round of vaccines that’ll arrive in California as early as Dec. 15. On top of that, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state of California could receive a little more than two million doses of the vaccine by the end of December from both Pfizer and Moderna.

This comes at a time where 51 out of 58 of the counties in California are in the ‘purple-tier’, the most restrictive level on the state’s reopening tier system.

The likelihood of schools reopening in California for the 2020-2021 school year seems unlikely. As cases continue to go up, many counties are holding off on announcing the reopening of schools. It’ll also take some time for the majority of Californians to receive the vaccine, even then safety measures will still most likely be in place.