Category Archives: News

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.

Prominent NBA Writer Sekou Smith Lost His Battle With COVID-19

Atlanta —- On Jan. 26, NBA writer Sekou Smith died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 48. 

Based in his hometown of Atlanta, Smith was a rising journalist and voice for the entire NBA. 

The Atlanta Hawks, the NBA TV Atlanta studios, and Turner Network Television (TNT) studios will honor Smith by renaming the broadcasting workroom in State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, after him. 

In addition, the Atlanta Hawks yearly summer league team, which coincidentally was deactivated for the past summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be named after Smith.

Also, according to NBA.com, one journalism student will be selected from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) will be chosen to be a beat writer for the Atlanta Hawks NBA Summer League team.

Turner sports released a statement via CNN detailing, “We are all heartbroken over Sekou’s tragic passing.” 

According to the same source, Smith covered NBA action for more than two decades, including 11 years with Turner Sports.

According to CNN and Smith’s LinkedIn profile, Smith “started his career as a sports reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1994.” 

He also worked as a journalist in Indianapolis and Atlanta before representing Turner Sports.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement specifying Smith’s role and place in the NBA family.

“The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA family. Sekou was one of the most affable and dedicated reporters in the NBA and a terrific friend to so many across the league.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly, and Cameron.

Although Smith was never a player at the highest level, the NBA, or a player at any professional stage, his passion for the game was illustrious and renowned. 

Silver continued a statement entailing Smith’s eternal connection to the game, “Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everyone who knew him, and it always shined through in his work.”

The Hawks also released a statement via CNN, “The Hawks organization is heartbroken by the passing of Sekou Smith. 

The Hawks’ beat writer for the AJC from 05-09, Sekou provided our fans with honest & fair coverage, sharing incredible insight on the team while establishing himself as one of the NBA’s top personalities.” 

While COVID-19 protocols have been thoroughly established in the NBA, professional sports, intercollegiate sports, and sports worldwide, necessary precautions and testing tend to obstruct sports, and sports, in general, tend to interrupt the intention of medical advice.

“I think for all of us, this COVID thing has been painful, to say the least. But when you lose somebody that you know, and that you admire and respect and who is young,” said current New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Stan Van Gundy in a statement released by ESPN, “This thing is so scary and has brought so much grief to so many people. Today is one of those days. There’s a lot of people in Atlanta today grieving a great man in Sekou.”

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.

Remembering Peggy Fulton Hora

January 20, 1946 — October 31, 2020

Resident of Walnut Creek, CA

Judge Peggy Fulton Hora, a retired California Superior Court Judge, died unexpectedly on October 31, 2020. She was 74 years old. Known for her quick wit and encyclopedic mind, she was an avid reader and movie buff who didn’t own a television for over 30 years. She enjoyed the symphony, ballet, and fine dining. Two sons — Paul (Jamie) Hora of Danville and Erik (Linda) Hora of Alamo — survive her; Tim Spangler of Manteca predeceased her. Known to her eight grandchildren, Dillon, Kyle, Madison, Nathan, Kevin, Emily, Tommy, and Joseph, as “’Venture Grandma,” she traveled with them all over the world and sent hundreds of postcards from over 61 countries. 

Judge Hora was born in Oakland and reared in Castro Valley. She graduated from Castro Valley High School, Chabot College, California State University, Hayward, and the University of San Francisco School of Law. Elected to the bench in 1984, she was the first woman judge in Southern Alameda County. She was recognized as an innovator and founder of the drug treatment court movement. Judge Hora lectured nationally and internationally and wrote extensively on substance abuse issues, pregnant and parenting women, drug treatment courts, and therapeutic jurisprudence. She was cited over 100 times by the appellate court and various journals.

She was elected to the trial bench in 1984 and retired after serving 21 years. She had a criminal assignment that included presiding over the Hayward Drug Treatment Court. She returned to sit on assignments in 2008 and especially enjoyed presiding over the drug, domestic violence, and mental health courts. Speaking of her work as a drug treatment court judge, she said, “Few callings compare with the opportunity to leave a legacy that enhances the community, strengthens the criminal justice system, mends families, and restores individuals. ”She was the dean of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College of California and was on the faculty of the National Judicial College for over fifteen years. She was the 2004 recipient of the Bernard S. Jefferson Judicial Education Award from the California Judges’ Association. In 2008, she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame of Alameda County.

Judge Hora loved to travel and was known throughout the world for her drug court work. She helped courts in Chile, Israel, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Australia. She served as the 2009-2010 Adelaide Thinker in Residence, the first in the field of law. She was appointed by the Premier of South Australia, and her report, “Smart Justice,” was distributed internationally. 

Never one to sit still for long, in 2015, Peggy, along with Brian MacKenzie and David Wallace, founded the Justice Speakers Institute (JSI). JSI has become a leader in the education of Justice System leaders worldwide. Its founders and associates are internationally recognized experts with decades of experience and mastery of more than 300 subjects impacting the justice system. Among her many accomplishments, as president of JSI, Peggy coedited the Science Benchbook for Judges, published by the National Judicial College.

A lawyer who asked her to perform his daughter’s wedding said of her, “Those of you who know Judge Hora see her as a fine jurist, but she is also the kind of professional I hoped my daughter would emulate. Judge Hora was not the first choice to preside over my daughter’s wedding. Or even my second or third choice. I first considered Eleanor Roosevelt but rejected her, as she is both deceased and not licensed in California. I then thought of Dorothy Parker, but she, too, is no longer with us, and she might not have shown up sober. Finally, I thought of Hillary Rodham Clinton, but I wasn’t sure she would receive the kind of unanimous reception my daughter deserves at her wedding. So I arrived at Peggy Hora’s name, a woman I equally admire and who combines the strength and compassion of Mrs. Roosevelt, the wit of Ms. Parker and the independence and vision of Sen. Clinton.”

Although no memorial is currently planned, the information will be available, and remembrances may be added online at MyKeeper.com.

Stand With Bre

On Oct. 12, bodycam footage was released of the Breonna Taylor shooting on Mar. 13, in Louisville, Kentucky. Protests have continued to soar through the nation as no officers have been charged for Taylor’s death.

Louisville had called a state of emergency on Sept. 23 as the decision for the Breonna Taylor case was underway. Protests emerged once declared that the former Louisville police detective, Brett Hankison, was charged for potentially harming others with the gunshots that went through Taylor’s apartment.

No officer has been charged for the death of Breonna Taylor. Black Lives Matter protesters emerged throughout the city of Louisville, where armed officers appeared on the scene. The national guard appeared on the scene after two officers were shot. Protests quickly railed in other cities, including Chicago, Los Angles, and New York City. 

An overwhelming amount of pain and injustice has been left in the Black community. Black artists have taken to their social media platforms to express their disappointment in the grand jury’s decision and the frustration of merely being Black under the law in America. 

Alica Keys tweeted, “This is a PRIME example of Rotten to the CORE!!! UnJust!!!! Disrespectful and BLATANT DISREGARD!!!! Infuriated!!!!!!!”

COMMON took to his Twitter to post a video of James Baldwin, author and activist born in 1924, speaking about his experience of being ripped away from his heritage and the reality of being black in the US. “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost all of the time.” 

Jessica Lussenhop of BBC News broke down “Why it’s hard to charge US police over shootings,” in her article on Breonna Taylor Sep. 24. Lussenhop stated that the main reason for holding officers accountable for shooting a person dead has to do with laws varying from state to state.

California has one of the stricter laws to hold officers accountable. A recent change in the wording of the law was made in August. In the state, an officer must believe that shooting is absolutely “necessary,” no longer just “reasonable.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the legislation, Assembly Bill 392, into law on Aug. 17, “I’m ready to sign this damn thing,” Newsom stated at a ceremony held in Sacramento along with advocates for the law change standing beside him.

The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, and Gov. Newsom hopes this sets an example for other states. 

The author of the bill, California State Assemblymember Shirley Weber, believes AB 392 is necessary to protect people and human rights. Weber spoke alongside Gov. Newsom in Sacramento.

Weber spoke proudly at the ceremony, “Far too many days have gone by with far too many deaths because of the inactions of those who have the power to enact change.” She ends her speech by embracing the change AB 392 will have around the world.

Stand With Bre is the current campaign that is dedicated to bringing Breonna Taylor justice. The campaign welcomes people to sign the petition for:

  • The Department of Justice must take immediate action to bring charges against all LMPD officers involved in Breonna’s murder.
  • Full transparency from the grand jury and an independent overhaul of its findings, including a release of the transcripts from the proceedings as requested by Breonna’s family. 
  • Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, who originally presided over Breonna’s case, must step down for his gross mishandling of the Louisville Police Department and the subsequent investigation of Breonna Taylor’s murder.
  • We must pass Breonna’s Law to ban no-knock warrants in cities across the country to prevent more murders like Breonna Taylor’s.
  • Support a new Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate for Louisville and for prosecutors’ offices across the country who can stand up for civilians against our criminal legal system’s brutality.

Stand with Bre will continue to fight not just for Breonna Taylor but also for the equality of all black lives under the law. They ask if anyone is able to give a donation at standwithbre.com.

A Pamphlet for Suicide Prevention Awareness

New Mental Health Bills passed in California

On Sept. 25, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law more than a dozen bills aiming to expand mental health coverage in California.

California’s new bills aim to increase mental health treatments, covering far more conditions than the state’s previous mental health laws, the biggest one being addiction. The bills also clarify new guidelines for insurance denials.

These bills are some of the strictest mental health bills in the nation. Federal and state law already mandates that insurance companies cover mental health treatments. But many patient advocates claim that they still allow insurance companies to pay for care only after the mental illness has reached a late-stage crisis, or even allow companies to outright deny coverage, reported by NPR.

Assembly Bill 2112, introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland), establishes an Office of Suicide Prevention within the State Department of Health. This office would help providers share their best practices in helping treat youths contemplating suicide.

The office would focus and help groups most at risk such as youth, Native American youth, older adults, veterans, and LGBTQ+ people. This bill has determined that suicide is a public health crisis that has warranted a response from the state.

Over the last three years, suicide rates have gone up 34% between the ages of 15 and 19. And is the second leading cause of death among young people, reported by the CDC. The added stress related to the coronavirus pandemic has increased mental health issues as well. Hotlines have seen a dramatic increase in calls, according to the San Jose Spotlight. Yet, many people don’t have mental health coverage under their insurance plans.

The new laws signed on Sept. 25 defines the term “medical necessity”, a measure obligating private health insurance companies to pay more for substance abuse and mental health programs. Current state laws call for health plans to cover treatment for just nine serious mental illnesses.

Senate Bill 855, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would provide coverage for medically necessary care of mental health and substance abuse disorders based on the same standards of physical treatments. Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, eating disorders, and opioid and alcohol use disorders are those not covered by the state’s previous mental health parity law, according to Wiener.

Mental health treatment would now be equal to physical health conditions in terms of providing the same coverage.

“Mental health care is essential to a person’s overall health, and today, we reaffirmed that people must have access to care for mental health and addiction challenges,” Weiner said about the new bill passing.

Weiner also claims that California’s mental health parity law has huge loopholes, which has allowed the insurance industry to deny important care.

Senate Bill 854, introduced by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would help offer treatment to those who suffer from substance abuse. The bill would cover all medically necessary prescription drugs, approved by the FDA, for treating substance use disorders. It would also place all outpatient prescription drugs on the lowest copayment tier maintained by the health care service plan.

Many health insurance companies opposed the new bills, claiming that increased mental health and substance use services could lead to higher costs and premiums.

The California Association of Health Plans, one of the state’s insurance regulators, claims that the “mental health parity laws are well-established both in state and federal law.” In their press release about the new bills, they argued that the defined term “medical necessity” will restrict the “ability of the provider to determine what is clinically appropriate for the individual – ultimately putting vulnerable patients at risk.”

The new laws will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

TikTok Broadcasting Racism

On Aug. 23 in Kenosha, WI 29 Black male Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police officers. A video of the scene has gone viral showcasing Blake walking into a car as the officers pull out their weapons. Social media has opened opportunities for people to speak out on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Once the video was posted and had begun gaining attraction, within hours protests began through the city. Blake’s shooting added more to the injustice of the Black Lives Matter movement that has been occurring over the summer since the killing of Geroge Floyd. 

Twitter and Facebook have created a source for people to express their frustration with the lack of justice done in the US. With more people joining in on social media outlets, calls to action for the Black Lives Matter movement have reached people all over the world. 

TikTok is a relatively new app compared to its competitors but downloaded over 7.5 million times in the US within the month of June. Viral videos include people going out to peaceful protests, as well as discouraging acts of racism against black people. 

Sammy Hager lives from Meridian, ID. She’s a journalist and a civil rights activist. She has taken some of her work on her TikTok account @sammyhager2020. She has over 45k followers and continues to spread the reality of injustice done to marginalized groups in the US. 

When asked how social media has affected the  injustices in the US Hager said, “You can’t give people the ‘benefit of the doubt’ anymore and assume the white cop is telling the truth as a white privileged person when the videos clearly show otherwise.” Hager notes that it has become much easier to showcase systemic racism. 

Hagger grew up in Covina, CA. The settings from the two states are incredibly different. She notes that she has always been aware of racism but wasn’t as blatant as it is in Idaho. Hager describes racism as, “alive, unapologetic, and vile.” She adds that even in more progressive towns like Bosie, ID you still see Nazi flags and hear the N-word regularly. 

Hager started her account not really thinking anyone would notice or care. She was working on the Bernie Sanders campaign and calling out corruption in politics. Hager eventually gained the attention of Idaho Republicans and even police officers. 

All forms of threats have been made on her, from blackmail to guns being pulled out to her, to even political figures threatening her. The police have even been to Hager’s home. Articles have been written throughout the state comparing her to a terrorist. 

On Jul. 7 Hager shared in a TikTok video that she would never purposely harm herself, that’s she’s not depressed or would hurt anyone, “If any of those things happen to me, you know what happened to me,” referring to the fact that someone else must have been the reason for any physical harm done to her. 

Hager is running for election to the Idaho House of Representatives to represent District 20B under the Democratic party. Hager isn’t running for the sake of winning, but the message she wants to send out to her heavily red state. She wants the politicians of Idaho to know that their positions aren’t permanent, nor are they untouchable. 

Hager will proudly continue her videos,  “This is the largest protest (BLM) in American history and I only see it growing thanks to these videos of protestors being unjustly injured and BIPOC being discriminated against.” Hager believes apps like TikTok are key to the revolution she sees coming.