Author Archives: Gabriella Mendez

Abortion in Quarantine

The coronavirus has everyone concerned with their health. Facemasks and gloves are a must during this time — but some lawmakers are using coronavirus to push a different healthcare agenda.

In February 2020, Florida state legislators passed a bill requiring minors to ask for parental consent when seeking an abortion. As COVID-19 slowly began to spread, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas ordered an immediate halt to all non-necessary surgeries — including abortions where the mother’s life is not at risk. 

In an interview with Vice News, one 17-year-old “Jane Doe” explained the process of getting an abortion in Florida. Fortunately, she was able to get a judicial bypass: the approval from a judge to receive the abortion, so long as the request was filed in the same county as the minor lives. After reaching out to Jane’s Due Process, a facility that helps women navigate the abortion system, she explained how the legal system treated her.

“[The judge] asked why I didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy, and if I knew the abortion could risk my fertility. That kind of scared me, but the person I was talking to at Jane’s Due Process already prepared me for that and told me that wasn’t true.”

According to Dr. Jen Gunter of the New York Times, abortion is not linked to a risk of infertility, as shown in data collected by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

As of March 1, only 29 states require that sex-education be given, 27 of which include HIV and AIDS education. As for Florida, sex-ed options are left up to the various school districts, many of which follow abstinence-only teaching.

Other restrictions in Florida include:

  • In-person, state-mandated counseling is necessary in order to influence the decision of the person seeking an abortion. 
  • An ultrasound is required before the abortion occurs; these two can happen on the same day. 
  • Only a licensed physician can perform the abortion, regardless of the qualifications of other healthcare professionals. 

In regards to the Texas abortion ban, neighboring states have seen an increase in their abortion rates as a result. NPR reports that “clinics in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada saw 129 patients from Texas between March 23 and April 14, compared with 16 Texas patients during the entire month of February.”

But as Dr. Kristina Tocce explains in her NPR interview, these restrictions ultimately endanger women in more ways than one, as travel is not currently safe. The fight against abortion risks the safety of countless people.
There are more than one health concerns to consider during this pandemic. Fortunately, there are still facilities and officials fighting for women’s right to choose. Many Planned Parenthood locations are still open with reduced hours. See for more information and how help is still available.

Tiger King First Impressions

By: Gabriella Mendez

Staff Writer

Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic have become household names within the past few weeks; with everyone binging during the quarantine, “Tiger King” has emerged as one of Netflix’s top 10 series in the United States. 

Initially jumping between the perspectives of three owners of private zoos, the viewer expects nothing more than an exposé of the illegal animal trade, or perhaps an investigation of the government’s role in ignoring it. But the main appeal of the series is the lack of morality from nearly every party.

Among the initial three owners (Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and Doc Antle), a moral hierarchy begins to form in the viewer’s mind. Joe prides himself in employing the less fortunate, Carole in her humane treatment of her animals, and Doc on…himself. But as the producers continue to introduce more characters — and yes, they are characters — it becomes clear that there is no single “bad guy”.

There seem to be only few people with a moral backbone, most notably “Saff”, Rick Kirkham, and Joshua Dial. All once employed by Joe Exotic, they are the closest thing to a voice of reason in this entire series. They provide testimony for the unthinkable claims made, and become the only people that the viewer can really believe — despite the fact that they are too have profited off of the illegal animal trade.

As the documentary carries on, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the outlandish stories and conspiracies brought to light: did Carol Baskin kill her husband? Were Joe’s husbands really gay? Is Doc Antle’s zoo a sex cult? These questions sweep the viewer into a gossipy and taboo narrative that ultimately has nothing to do with big cats. 

So much of the documentary focuses on the relationships of the zoo owners, that the lives of the animals fall into the background. The viewer completely forgets that the animals are guilty of nothing, and yet continue to be taken advantage of.

According to the New York Times, multiple interviewees had been told that the film was to be the “Blackfish” for big cats: referring to the 2013 documentary that exposed the dangerous and unethical practices of SeaWorld. The plight of the animals is only touched on in the last few moments of the series, which is admittedly upsetting.

After the premiere of the series, Netflix released a remote follow-up episode interviewing some of the key players. Erik Cowie, formerly employed by Joe Exotic, expressed his pure disdain for the now incarcerated Tiger King, saying that he was “here for the cats”. Offering even more insight into the workings of the zoos, the sequel answers a great deal of questions that the viewer may have afterwards.

Delving into the world of private zoos, “Tiger King” is more than a six-part documentary. Viewers are subjected to countless plot twists and absurd events straight out of a fever dream, but ultimately have to remember that the animals are still suffering. Regardless, the series is undeniably captivating, and should absolutely be binged in one sitting.

Katherine Johnson: Among the Stars

Known for her work in trajectory and flight analysis for NASA, Katherine Johnson’s story was made mainstream in the movie Hidden Figures. Johnson made immense strides for not only space travel, but additionally racial integration as an African-American woman in the 50s.

Born Aug. 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, WV, Johnson died on Feb. 24, 2020 in Newport News, VA from natural causes in her retirement home at the age of 101. 

A member of NACA (now NASA)’s Space Task Group, Johnson was tasked with trajectory analysis for Mission Freedom 7 in 1961; the U.S.’s first manned spaceflight. Shortly after, Johnson and fellow engineer Ted Skopinski co-wrote, “Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position”, which detailed the equations in which the landing position of an orbital spacecraft is specified.

Chosen as one of three black women to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools, Johnson was a gifted child early in life, attending the local high school for classes at just 13 years old. She graduated from West Virginia State with a Ph.D. in mathematics with the highest honors; the third African-American to do so.

Johnson was married to and raised her three daughters with James Goble from 1939 to 1956, until he passed away from cancer. In 1959, she remarried Jim Johnson and remained married until his death in 2019.

In 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama for her work in space and flight, and NASA recognized her “historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist.” 

Multiple facilities at NASA have also been established in Johnson’s name, and in 2016 during the dedication of the “Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility”, she was also awarded NASA’s coveted Silver Snoopy award for her “outstanding contributions to flight safety and mission success.”

Johnson is survived by two of her daughters Katherine and Joylette Goble, her six grandchildren, and her 11 great-grandchildren.

Johnson’s memorial service was held on Mar. 7, at Hampton University Convocation Center in Hampton, VA.

Iowa Caucus Fiasco

The 2020 Iowa Caucuses was held on Feb. 3 and for the first time ever, a mobile app was used for the voting process. Privately run by political parties themselves rather than state/local governments, the caucuses are most often associated with the decision of a presidential nominee.

While intentions were good, the app created several major issues, leading to a conversation on the way caucuses should be run — or if they should exist in the first place.

The app was created by a company called Shadow Inc. The young startup had a history in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, as well as developing several apps for current Democratic Presidential candidates. 

The app boasted that it would give precinct leaders the ability to report results, as well as keep poll data updated for voters. On the day of the caucuses, only certain districts’ apps were functioning, and many encountered multiple issues.

Many voters had waited until the day of the caucus to download the app, leading to error messages and problems with instructions. Most were unaware that they should bring their phones in the first place.

These issues led to a larger discussion of what the caucuses offer us as a nation, and if they should exist in the first place.

As Chabot College political science professor Jamilya Ukudeeva explains, caucuses are a very divisive concept for Americans. “On one side, we have people who love caucuses because of how engaging they are and how involved people get.”

While they can be perceived as a democratic necessity, they can also be extremely complex and time-consuming. “There has been a movement for many years in the Democratic National Committee (DNC)” says Professor Ukudeeva. “They’ve been trying to push states to give up caucuses and move to the primary elections, the way we do in California.” 

The DNC will be using Iowa as another argument for the elimination. Now, there’s talk of eliminating the caucuses altogether. 

Professor Ukudeeva also touched on the ramifications of Iowa, stating that the main election has to be “transparent” and “reliable” — two words that don’t describe the recent caucus. 

“We already have a problem with nonparticipation and low voter turnout. When voters see mishandling at this level, the trust goes lower and people are even less likely to vote.” Damage is done to the entire electoral system, not just the caucus.

The possibility of hacking and tampering in our elections, another issue arises in the use of digital mediums in politics. When asked about the plausibility of foreign interference, Professor Ukudeeva admitted that “Russia’s interference is very likely, and that’s actually my number one fear. You can call me paranoid, but I’m watching out for that.” 

Furthermore, with the recent situation and death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, another threat is just as possible.

It’s clear that change has already occurred; with digital election processes and Americans’ reliance on the internet, our democracy is changing. The Iowa caucus showed us that progress is possible — but returning to older methods may not be such a bad choice for the nation.

Grab-and-Go Meals

Countless students rely on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year; but with the current pandemic, those options are now heavily restricted. Fortunately, several school districts and franchises are helping feed those children in different ways. Here are several resources that may help you.

Schools Serving Food:


Served from Mar. 17-27, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday-Friday. Must be under 18, no ID required.

Cherryland Elementary456 Laurel Ave.
Fairview Elementary23515 Maud Ave.
Longwood Elementary850 Longwood Ave.
Park Elementary411 Larchmont St.
Schafer Park Elementary26268 Flamingo Ave
Treeview Elementary30565 Treeview St.
Tyrrell Elementary27000 Tyrrell Ave.
Hayward High School1633 East Ave.
Tennyson High School27035 Whitman St.
Mt. Eden High School2300 Panama St.


Served from 8 a.m.-12 p.m., Monday and Thursday. Must be under 18. Please bring a bag to take home food.

Sanfoka Academy581 61st St.
West Oakland Middle School991 14th St.
Hoover Elementary890 Brockhurst St.
Oakland High School1023 MacArthur Blvd.
Garfield Elementary1640 22nd Ave.
Bret Harte Middle School3700 Coolidge Ave.
Life Academy/United for Success Academy2101 35th Ave.
Coliseum College Prep Academy1390 66th Ave.
Madison Park Academy, Upper400 Capistrano Dr.
Fremont High School4610 Foothill Blvd.
Elmhurst United Middle School1800 98th Ave.
Castlemont High School8601 MacArthur Blvd.

Castro Valley

Served Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m. depending on location. Must be under 18.

Creekside Middle School (11-12:30)19722 Center St
Castro Valley Elementary (11:30-12:30)20185 San Miguel Ave
Stanton Elementary (11:30-12:30)2644 Somerset Ave

Nothing near you? This map was developed by Stanford students to help Bay Area families find lunch nearby.

Bay Area School Meal Pick ups

Burger King is also offering 2 free kid’s meals with every adult meal purchased. (Mar. 23-Apr. 6, or as long as supplies last). The coupon is only available online or in the Burger King app, and cannot be used for delivery, only pickup. 

In addition to this, several chains have offered free delivery (such as Chipotle and Popeye’s), and food delivery services like GrubHub and UberEats are waiving select delivery fees as well.

Coronavirus: Not to Be Taken Lightly

Originating from the Wuhan, China, the coronavirus (now renamed Covid-19) has spread to multiple countries across the globe, including North America. The virus likely spread from bats to humans, similar to the Ebola virus.

Microscopic virus

This recent outbreak has caused paranoia and fear among American citizens, but another unintended consequence has occurred: discrimination. 

Because Covid-19 came from Wuhan, countless photos and videos of Asians and Asian Americans experiencing prejudice have gone, for lack of a better word, viral.

Furthermore, many of those who fear Covid-19 use it as an excuse to group Asian people and Asian communities with fear, to be avoided, and as a cause for disgust.

Sean Day, the adviser of the International Club, and ShuMing Tan, one of his students from Hubei: a province near Wuhan. Day expressed the negative consequences of equating illness with an ethnic background.

“I think it reinforces the idea of otherness, and you know, there’s such divisive communication now in our society that highlighting that or pointing that out …” He paused, thinking it over once more, “people are already scared and apprehensive. But in the news there are reports of people not being treated equally … there’s just a lot of fear. It’s just like throwing oil on a fire.”

Day also touched on how the crisis is now a trending joke. “Humor is sort of a natural reaction that people use to lighten situations, especially the ones that they’re fearful about. But you need to be very sensitive when doing that, and very careful,” he said.

Mexicans are not the only ones who have immigrated to the U.S. Ramiez strongly believes that those trying to make it to the U.S. just want a chance at a better life.

“The biggest concern I hear from my students is not knowing whether they can go home. And if they do go home, can they come back to the U. S.? Students may have friends or relatives who are classmates, who might be affected by this, so making a joke might ease someone’s feelings about it, but how it’s perceived by other people who are already very anxious … it’s just really insensitive.”

Tan wants people to know that it’s not fair to associate Asian people with the disease. “I feel this is very far away from me because I’m in the United States,” she said. 

She explained to us that even though she is an international student, she resides in America; she shouldn’t feel like an outsider in a country that she currently considers home. 

Day reminded us of the resources available to students and courses of action that can be taken to prevent ignorance regarding the virus. “Know first that there are people, representatives in school that are concerned about this …[Chabot] President Sperling sent out a very timely and thoughtful message reminding everyone that we adhere to nondiscrimination,” he said. 

“I think it’s important to present actual, factual information. I hear so many things, rumors. And it’s not helpful. I contacted our international students, letting them know that there are the actual websites of the CDC to look at.” 

Day then informed us that the Covid-19 mortality rate is not outrageous and that the flu is a far more likely disease to contract at the moment. “The fact that this is coming from Asia seems to strike fear in many people. So just presenting facts about good cleanliness and hygiene to protect yourself regardless of what name the virus has.”

It’s important to understand that not only are people of Chinese descent, not an automatic virus hazard, but no one of any Asian descent should receive prejudiced comments as a result of the outbreak. To assume that someone is sick based on their appearance is undeniably racist.

See for more information.

Iran and America: The Lasting Effects of Soleimani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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