Author Archives: Andrew Chavez

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.

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.

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.

street mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburd face

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020. Ginsburg was a trailblazer in her profession, as only the second-ever woman to serve on the US Supreme Court. She was an advocate of gender equality, a pop culture icon, and a role model for all women.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 due to complications related to pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg served as a justice on the Supreme Court for 27 years after being appointed by President Bill Clinton. Before her time as a justice, she earned her Bachelor’s degree at Cornell. She then attended Harvard before transferring to Columbia Law School, where she graduated top of her class. Ginsburg experienced sexism throughout her education and her career as Law was not a profession women normally chose at the time. Her experiences pushed her to fight for gender equality so she and all women would be treated fairly in her position. After graduating from Law school she struggled to find a job. Eventually, she became the second-ever female Law professor at Rutgers University. Despite landing the job at Rutgers her fight against sexism continued as she had to fight for her pay to be equal to the men employed at Rutgers. After eventually joining Columbia as a Law Professor, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of ACLU. This is where she took on litigation of gender equality cases and fought the problem one law at a time, slowly changing the landscape of our legal system to recognize women’s equality in the workplace.

Before making her mark in law, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Neither of Ruth’s parents went to college but instead worked hard and pushed their children to better their lives through education. Her mother, Celia Bader, lost a battle to cancer and passed away while Ruth was still in high school. Ruth’s mother was a great influence on her and instilled the hard-working attitude Ruth carried on throughout her whole life.

While attending Cornell University Ruth met and married her husband Martin D. Ginsburg. After graduating from Cornell the couple’s first child Jane was born. Eventually, Martin took a job as a tax lawyer in New York. This led to Ruth transferring from Harvard to Columbia where she became the first woman to become a member of both schools Law Reviews. She then went on to have a law professor at Rutgers University followed by Columbia. During her tenure at Columbia, she took 6 cases before the supreme court winning 5 of them. After her impressive success against the supreme court in the 70s, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the US Court of Appeals in 1980 where she would work for the Supreme Court. This led to her eventual nomination, by President Bill Clinton, to join the Supreme Court in 1993.

In Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, she leaves behind two children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Her daughter Jane Carol Ginsburg is 65 years old with two children and pursuing a career as a lawyer. Her son James Steven Ginsburg is 55 years old with two children and a grandchild. James is currently a record label executive. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes history one last time as she is the first woman ever to lie in state at the US Capitol. Mourners held a candlelight vigil on Saturday, September 18th outside of the Supreme Court. A private ceremony at the Capitol was held for Ginsburg on September 25th. Thousands lined up outside the Supreme Court to pay their respects as Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose Wednesday, September 23rd, with many still mourning outside the building over the weekend.

Trump vs. TikTok

The Trump administration attempted to place a ban on the video-sharing app TikTok on sunday September 20th. This would have been the last day US citizens could download the Chinese owned app, but the ban is being temporarily blocked by a Federal Judge.

Federal Judge Carl Nichols wrote that although there is evidence of China being a threat to national security, “it was less clear that TikTok itself posed a risk.”

TikTok has over 100 million users in the US currently. In an executive order written by president Trump, he states, “This data collection (done by TikTok) threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information—potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo warns to only download TikTok, “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

President Trump announced his plan to ban the app on July 31st, just one month after teens using TikTok registered for thousands of free tickets to the President’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma to limit the number of attendees. This left thousands of seats empty after the administration promised to fill all seats.

President Trump has also insisted that instead of using a Chinese owned app people should use the new app Triller. Triller is almost completely similar to TikTok and has risen in popularity since the banning of TikTok.

The President and his son, Donald Trump Jr, are both verified and actively posting on Triller.

Trump Jr recently posted a 7 minute video on Triller attacking Tiktok and urging people to use Triller instead. He stated,“There’s an option that you can go to that’s an American company, that’s not saving your data, that’s not going to eventually weaponize it against your children.”

TikTok has admitted that their app, “automatically collects certain information from you when you use the Platform, including internet or other network activity information such as your IP address, geolocation-related data … unique device identifiers, browsing and search history.” However this is also true for every other social media app, including American owned app Facebook.

ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, has denied any sale of personal data to a third party and argued they do not store user data in China at all.

However, a conflicting report by encryption and cybersecurity company Protonmail warns, “the social media giant not only collects troves of personal data on you but also cooperates with the CCP, extending China’s surveillance and censorship reach beyond its borders.”

After failures to sell the App to an American based company TikTok’s answer to the ban is a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Their official statement regarding why the lawsuit was filed specifically, “By banning TikTok with no notice or opportunity to be heard (whether before or after the fact), the executive order violates the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment.”

TikTok was originally given a 45 day period after the September 20th ban to fix any cybersecurity issues and potentially be allowed back into business with Americans.

 However, since Judge Nichols put a halt to the ban, a new plan to have a US hearing decide the fate of TikTok was put into place.

The hearing is scheduled to take place the day after the Presidential election, and will officially decide whether TikTok will be allowed to remain in App stores.

person sitting at computer watching video focused on mental health

Mental Health during a Pandemic

A poll done in late April, by the Kaiser family foundation has reported that 56% of Americans have had at least one negative mental health effect related to the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.

The number of people accumulating negative health effects is staggering. A report from Well Being Trust, a foundation that provides resources in prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health and substance misuse issues, has stated that COVID-19 could lead to 75,000 additional deaths from alcohol, drug misuse, and suicide.

According to Sabrina Tinoco, a student living in Oakland and currently out of work because of the pandemic, her life in the pandemic has been difficult because “I’m used to being around my family and being away from them and not having those people to confide in has been difficult.”

As for different ways Tinoco has been coping with the pandemic, “I’ve been reading a lot more and walking my dog a lot.” Her response to the use of alcohol as a coping device, “honestly yes, I would say I definitely find myself drinking a glass of wine or two now more than I ever did before. Just because I am home and there’s only so much tv I can watch, I’m bored, so why not have a nightcap at 4 p.m.”

As for her outlook on the future of the pandemic, “I don’t feel like we’ll ever get back to normal, but I feel like we’ll have fewer restrictions. Even if it’s not required, I’ll always bring a mask with me in the future just to be cautious.”

Danny Chavez, a San Francisco State alum who now lives in Oakland, explained how his life has changed since the pandemic stated, “my world has pretty much shrunk. I’m home all the time, and I go out very rarely, maybe once every other week.”

Describing the effect the pandemic has had on Chavez’ mental health, “it does get to be too much but you just have to think, I’m going to be working from home for all of next year and this is my reality that I have to make it work. So, there are difficult times, but you just have to break through those. There are times where you get a bit of cabin fever, and you drink just because you’re bored, but I don’t think it’s gotten out of control.”

One connection that has been made between the interviewees in their handling of the pandemic is the use of alcohol to help get through the more challenging days. According to a report in June done by market research firm Nielsen, this seems to be a growing theme across the country as alcohol sales increased by 27% since the start of the pandemic.

World Health Officials have warned that consuming large amounts of alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” during the pandemic and recommends finding alternative methods.

David Irving, Mental Health Coordinator at Chabot, stated, “There are things to be mindful of, and there are things that you could add to feel better. Be mindful of certain vices people use to help themselves feel better, like drinking or taking drugs. Just have some awareness of how much and how often you’re doing that.”

Irving continued, “Make sure you’re adding to your life things that make you feel good. Going on walks, getting out of your house, going on drives. All those things can help you get a little feeling of control.”

If you need help finding alternative methods, Chabot college is doing its best to help students struggling during COVID-19 and have plenty of resources available for those who need it.

Alongside its regular scheduled counseling appointments, the school is offering online drop-in meetings with counselors. Chabot will also soon be announcing walk-in hours for students to check in with a therapist by logging onto Cranium Cafe. Available days for sessions will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

To reach out for help today the CARES Mental Health Center is offering services online. To contact them simply email [email protected] or call at 510-723-7623 and leave a voice message. Voice messages are checked daily Monday through Thursday.