Monthly Archives: May 2021

California Washed in Purple

From the beginning of March of 2020, businesses have experienced lockdown and quarantine due to the widespread of the COVID19 pandemic, resulting in mass restrictions and closures. 

Business owners all over the nation have had to reluctantly close their businesses for the sake of health safety. Moreover, those that remained open have had to follow strict guidelines on how they operate during the pandemic. 

There are 4 tier-level color coded systems used to track the lockdown that ranges from purple, red, orange and yellow. Purple, representing widespread cases, was a fixed veil over the State of California. In this tier, schools, businesses, and activities that promoted large gatherings were restricted to maintain social distancing. Moreover, social-distancing required people to stay 6 feet apart from each other. Most importantly, masks are mandatory to go inside a business or building that acquires many people. 

During the lockdown employers and employees, especially within the food industry, felt the impact heavily. While they were allowed to open for business, they were not able to accept customers inside their restaurants. 

Christine Aguado, a former employee at Gerry’s Grill, a very popular and often frequented Filipino restaurant in Union City, explained, “The restaurant I worked for had to close at the beginning of the pandemic [and] two months after we started to operate on a take-out only basis. This meant that only 20% of our staff got back on the payroll; just the kitchen staff and the host who were in charge of answering the phone…it was hard to keep up with the increasing demand.”

The biggest problem we had to deal with was the lack of staff willing to go back because they were scared of getting exposed to Covid.” 

Counties all over the state shut down effectively and swiftly following the announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 12,2020. However, many businesses and residents alike posed immense displeasure at the inconvenience and loss they were experiencing. 

Throughout the summer months of 2020, multiple protests against mask wearing popped up all over the United States, with people declaring  their individual rights and liberties against wearing a mask. An article from Forbes Jul 2020 highlighted one protestor, Tara Hill, an avid anti-mask Florida activist, quoting, “This is a virus that is very well contained. Everyone is responsible for their own healthcare decisions…We want our choices respected as well.” 

Despite ongoing backlash from anti-mask wearers, the majority of the US residents abided by the guidelines and followed restrictions. Workers, such as Lupe Hernandez, who continued to work through the pandemic shared her experience as a restaurant host and cafe employee, “When the pandemic first initially hit, the coffee shop that I work at had to close for a few months. When a few coworkers did test positive for the virus, we closed again for almost two months. It was hard not knowing when would be a safe time to return to work.” 

Small businesses were hit the hardest by the pandemic and their survival counted on daily foot traffic, but because of the lockdown they barely made ends meet. Most owners made the drastic decision to file bankruptcy and close permanently. These types of measures are what business owners and employees hope to prevent and while they are obedient to the guidelines, they hold bitterness towards lack of government aid and programs to help them stay afloat.

The wait for vaccines seemed to rile up the most anxiety upon workers who desire to get back to work.

“I think the government has tried, but it’s never enough, especially when it comes to small business.” Hernandez expressed,  “There wasn’t much that could have been done except wait for the tests and vaccines to emerge. The gov’t needs to continue to provide access to the tests and vaccines, and also healthcare to low-income families in order to make sure people can stay healthy and go to work.”

With an increase in vaccine distribution and healthcare organizations and citizens rushing to get their vaccinations, hope for a safer environment is on the rise. As of May 2020, California released news of counties switching to Red and Orange zones meaning, business and outdoor activities may now be observed in limited capacities, mandatory mask wearing and being fully vaccinated. 

Hernandez exclaims, “Now that there’s a vaccine I definitely feel safer in my work environment. My current job is at the coffee shop and all my coworkers including myself have gotten the vaccine. We definitely feel like we can move forward working together with a little less stress.

In light of recent events, slowly but surely, California and the rest of the nation is coming back to their “normal” daily lives with the ease of restrictions and guidelines. Businesses who have had to close down and employees who were laidoff are now have a chance in renewing their hopes in restoring what they lost due to the pandemic. All we may do now as a society is to keep up our patience and teamwork in opening up our counties once again. 

Hopefully, we will see California in the “yellow tier” soon.” 

2021 Chabot College Graduation!

Chabot College Graduates will be honored on May 29 in a virtual ceremony. A drive-through reception will also be offered. 

This is Chabot College’s 59th commencement ceremony. The ceremony is for students of the fall 2020 semester, 2021 spring, and students completing requirements for the 2021 summer semester. The virtual ceremony will start at 10 a.m., while a drive-through ceremony will start at 3 p.m.

The drive-through deadline for students to sign up is May 20. Chabot’s website states, “Graduates will drive around the campus for congratulatory greetings, a professional graduation photo will be taken, and grads will receive a special graduation gift.” There are three time slots to sign up for. 

Students can have family/friends in the car or another vehicle behind them as long as everyone remains in the vehicle. They also note that the photo op is ONLY for the students graduating. Guests are to stay in the vehicle. 

For graduates arriving on public transportation, there will be vehicles provided. “Come to the check-in table by the bookstore in parking lot B.” instructed on the website. 

An additional gift will be given to those who signed up for the Alumni Association. For questions, email [email protected]

The coronavirus brought an immense amount of stress to the college’s faculty and students. This is Chabot’s second virtual graduation, but many students are thankful they’re still able to be honored for all the work they powered through the pandemic. 

Lucia Belloso is graduating this weekend, like many other graduates she’s ready for this day to finally come. “Even though it is online I still want to be able to celebrate this part of the journey in my education along with my family.”

Belloso also stated that she will be the first in her family to graduate and accept a degree. 

Belloso also mentioned that when first attending Chabot, she didn’t really know what to expect out of a community college. Although at first frightening, “ I think that a lot of teachers at Chabot were really understanding and compassionate which improved my experience” However, things changed when COVID-19 came into the states. 

The campus closed last year and the transition to online classes wasn’t an easy one. For Belloso being a music major, the setup of classes was a little tricky. “ I learn the most by being in-person in class where distractions are minimized,” The online classes took some time for many “hands-on” types of classes, and Belloso expressed that after a year, things became a bit easier. 

Belloso was grateful to the Chabot teachers that were more lenient with the work and deadlines, she felt there was lots of encouragement from them to keep going. At one point (2020 Spring semester) she even believed schools were going to cut the semester short due to the intensity of the pandemic.

For upcoming graduates, Bello advises students to try to stay on track as much as possible. “Senioritis is real” As much as you may be anticipating that last day, she emphasizes for them to remember this chapter of their life. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) at the Women’s March

The Green New Deal Explained

The Green New Deal aims to reduce greenhouse gases and slow the acceleration of climate change while also addressing economic inequality and racial injustice. It was first introduced by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2018. The bill recognizes the need to create a more sustainable society to combat climate change and improve the quality of life for everyone. 

Human activity is the leading cause of climate change over the past century, as reported by the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The bill asserts that climate change “constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” as it impacts the economic, environmental, and social stability of many communities, not just in the United States but worldwide. 

Climate change has led to extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and an increase in wildfires. It disproportionately affects indigenous people, communities of color, low-income communities, women, youth, and elderly people. 

The Green New Deal acknowledges that the United States is experiencing several other related crises besides climate change. Such as a trend of wage stagnation, deindustrialization, and anti-labor policies, as well as the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression. White families, on average, have 20 times more wealth than Black families, epitomizing a large racial wealth divide. 

The United States is also experiencing a decline in life expectancy and inaccessibility to basic needs, such as clean air and water, healthy food, health care, housing, transportation, and education to many marginalized communities. 

The Green New Deal calls for securing clean air and water, food security, and a sustainable environment for all people of the United States for generations to come and promoting justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historical oppression of disenfranchised communities. 

The bill will aim to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” as well as creating millions of new high-wage jobs, ensuring economic growth and security for all people of the United States, and investing in infrastructure to meet the needs and demands of the 21st century. 

The ultimate goal of the deal is to stop using fossil fuels entirely and transition away from nuclear energy. The bill aims to be completed through a 10-year national mobilization to reduce carbon emissions in the United States. 

“We’re going to transition to a 100 percent carbon free-economy that is more unionized, more just, more dignified, and guarantees more health care and housing than we ever have before,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference. “Do we intend on sending a message to the Biden administration that we need to go bigger and bolder? The answer is absolutely yes.”

However, many Republicans have denounced the resolution, calling it “a socialist super-package.” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky), a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, claims that the deal “will only saddle hardworking taxpayers with debt and displace millions of Americans from their jobs.” 

The bill is a nonbinding resolution meaning that if it were to pass, it cannot be made into law or create any new programs. The Green New Deal is more of a proposal of what the United States should do to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable future. 

Currently, carbon emissions rates are rising at a high rate. The United States emissions rate rose by 3.4 percent in 2018 and rose globally by 2.7 percent. By continuing on our current path with no real measures done to combat climate change, we risk irrevocably damaging the earth in ways we cannot come back from.

NFT’s and their Impact

The landscape of collectibles is being changed drastically by Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), a virtual item that is represented solely online. Celebrities have jumped on this new trend causing NFT’s to go viral and the marketplace of these products to reach record highs.

An NFT can be offered as many different virtual items bound only by the creativity of the creator. Some forms of NFT’s currently in the mainstream marketplace include short video clips sold by music artists and celebrities, sports cards, and cartoon/comic book character cards.

Singer The Weeknd sold NFT’s that included exclusive songs and unique artwork at prices ranging between $100 and $490,000. While social media celebrity Jake Paul sold an NFT of a video clip of his knockout of former basketball player Nate Robinson for 10 million dollars.

The thing that makes the video clips unique is they are a part of something called a blockchain. A blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions, these video clips aretracked through every sale to verify the validity of the NFT, ensuring that it is not a fake.

The blockchain is crucial to the high price of NFTs. With so few NFTs being sold, buyers want to know the high price is for a legit product.

Uniqueness is a major factor in buying an NFT. Fans of an artist or collectors of cards want to have something that nobody else owns. Buying these NFTs while still relatively new offers buyers the lowest price for these online collectibles before the price skyrockets if or when mainstream media fully embrace NFTs.

Another reason NFTs have become popular is in the card collecting community. A start-up still in its Beta phase of release called NBATopshot has partnered with the NBA to release unique in-game moments as online trading cards.

These NBA cards are called Moments, and collectors can purchase packs ranging from $9-$1,000 that offer different levels of card types. Every Moment has a different price value depending on many factors such as the player’s popularity, the serial number of your specific Moment, and how rare the Moment is.

For example, if you were to purchase a $9 common level pack on NBATopshot and pulled a common level LeBron James Moment the current minimum resale value for the Moment is $39.

The NBA is not alone in this NFT venture as Topshot has already partnered with the UFC and the NFL Players Association to potentially release Moments of different professional sports in the future.

NFL quarterback Tom Brady has started his own NFT company stating his company named Autograph will, “bring together some of the world’s most iconic names and brands with the best in class digital artists to ideate, create, and launch NFT’s and groundbreaking experiences to a community of fans and collectors.”

Major gambling businesses are also attempting NFT sales in a unique way. PreaknessStakesNFT is a website that allows you to buy a unique virtual horse NFT and enter that horse in daily races. Races are held every hour, and you can wager any amount of money on each race.

A major question arising with the popularity of NFT’s is the environmental impacts these tokens are having. 

NFT’s are sold under the blockchain of the popular cryptocurrency Ethereum. A single transaction for Ethereum consumes enough energy to power 1 U.S household for 2.5 days, according to Digiconimist.

Cryptocurrencies remain a large threat to the environment as they consume large amounts of energy and emit massive amounts of carbon. According to a study by Cambridge University, Bitcoin, the most famous and highest priced crypto on the market, uses more electricity annually than some countries such as Argentina, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates.

Ethereum’s energy consumption is around the equivalent of the energy usage in Peru. This is a problem that Etherum is looking to address immediately. 

Currently cryptocurrencies use a system called mining, this term means gaining cryptocurrencies by solving cryptographic equations through the use of computer software. This mining process is used to verify transactions on the blockchain of cryptocurrencies and miners are rewarded with new crypto coins that they can sell for large profits.

This mining process is the main reason cryptocurrencies consume so much energy. Large mining farms have become the norm as miners fill large spaces with computers to mine these cryptos 24/7 in hopes of earning a profit.

Ethereum’s plan to phase out this process and predicts their energy consumption will drop by more than 99%, according to the Ethereum foundation.

Chabot Swim Team Returns

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Chabot student-athletes have not competed in collegiate sports for the past year. However, the Chabot College swim team plans to proceed with a 2021 season.

The swim team goes into the season led by veteran Head Coach Greg Kubicki. Kubicki has coached the team at Chabot since January of the year 2000.

Preparation for this season is unlike any Coach Kubicki has experienced before. Not only is the performance of the team going to be tested, but health and safety may play an even bigger role in this season.

“I think the athletes, for the most part, want to do it, have a competitive season this year. I think most of the coaches want to do it … in terms of sports, we’re outdoors, we’re in chlorine … … from my perspective, it’s pretty safe.” Coach Kubicki stated.

The discussion on how safety and protection against COVID will be handled this season has been spearheaded by the President of the school, the Dean of Instruction, and the Athletic Director. They have been meeting to ensure that Chabot sports follow state mandates and successfully hold an entire season of competition this year.

Part of these state mandates has affected the preparation for the season already. “They’ve allowed us since September to swim two times a week … and that’s better than nothing.” Coach Kubicki continued, “In terms of are we going to have a competitive season or not, well if we do, it’s not going to look like any other season. I’ve come to grips with that.”

With vaccines becoming available to every California resident, holding any sport or class in person seems to pose far less risk than a year ago.

Coach Kubicki, when asked if he feels sports for student-athletes is a necessity right now, “Being able to get out of the house and see other faces, look at all of the psychosocial benefits of what we’re involved with, especially with the last year we had.” Coach continued, “the seclusion, I think has caused a lot of problems for people in terms of mental health and exercise. I think being able to get out there whether it’s two days a week or four days a week it’s fantastic.”

Supporting our student-athletes may prove difficult this season. As vaccines continue to be distributed, the school awaits a return to campus at some point in the future. Currently, no fans will be allowed to attend sporting events held at Chabot.

Without fans in the stands, the team will heavily rely on its coach to get them through the season. “One of my most important jobs is just keeping a level head and keeping a positive attitude. I think that’s something the students are going to pick up on,” stated Coach Kubicki. “If I were 18 or 20 years old, I’d be looking for some leadership, and I think that’s one of the most important jobs we can provide right now.”

One way to support the swim program would be to sign up for a swim class at Chabot or even join the swim team. Every student at Chabot is welcomed to be a part of the team. Despite most students and instructors not being on campus, the pool at Chabot is one place where there is some normalcy and social interaction.

Coach Kubicki, encouraging students to consider joining the swim team, states, “I think being a part of a team is an awesome experience. I think this year in a pandemic it’s been super valuable for these young men and women to be able to set foot on this campus and hang out with each other and train.”