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.”

Recall Election

In this Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines his 2021-2022 state budget proposal during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Law enforcement officials are investigating escalating threats of death and violence against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, his family and the the wineries, shops and other businesses he founded. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

In recent polls across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has dropped in approval rating. Since winning 62% of the vote in 2018 by 24 points, Newsom has had a consistent approval rating, but according to UC Berkeley’s latest poll released Feb 2, 2021, his approval has dropped below 50%. 

This notice comes as signatures mount up at the end of the sixth petition to recall Newsom, where supporters have until Mar 17, 2021, to collect the 1,495,709 signatures needed to trigger a recall election. 

Newsom has suffered a string of bad press in the last year. Like most states, any problems before were accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. No exception for the Governor of California as the homelessness rate increased, wildfires ravaged the state, sanctuary city policy was disputed, water rationing was fought by farmers, affordable housing fell behind and inflation of real estate continues on the up. 

The mishandling of the pandemic lockdowns has led to the massive increase of disapprovals and signatures for the petition. As lockdowns would set in, Newsom could not stop the morbidity rate from rising. “It’s like all that education has caused him to look past the simple solutions, while they take their time all us small folk are suffering,” Bay Area community leader Phillip Martinez.

ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 16: California Gov. Gavin Newsom bumps elbows with a teacher as he tours the newly reopened Ruby Bridges Elementary School on March 16, 2021 in Alameda, California. Gov. Newsom is traveling throughout California to highlight the state’s efforts to reopen schools and businesses as he faces the threat of recall. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Considering, families are hurting financially and emotionally from the rippling effects of the virus. Already branded as elitist and privileged, it did not help Newsom’s image when seen at the French Laundry restaurant for a birthday party.

Newsom’s children are still able to be privately home schooled, all while many are awaiting public schools’ reopening. The Governor displays corruption and the separation of privilege in the state. 

Randy Economy, a longtime California political strategist who is advising the recall effort, spoke to CNN.”That changed everything in such a powerful manner,” Economy said. People looked at the pictures and asked, ” ‘Why can’t I do that?’ ” he said.

“It will go down in his political obituary,” Economy argued, “because that’s the day he lost all sense of reality — that’s the day every person in California saw through their own eyes exactly who this man was.”

Newsom said in his apology that he’d made a “bad mistake.” Upon realizing the group was larger than anticipated, he said he should have “stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove out to my [his] house.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference at the Bloom Energy Sunnyvale campus on March 28, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

In the wake of the polls reaching headlines, several Republicans, entrepreneurs, and business owners have taken the chance to be on the offensive in California blue politics announcing their candidacy. Calling out a recall or not, they plan on running against the Democratic governor. 

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a moderate Republican, officially launched his campaign in front of an elementary school that he says “Should be filled with students,” drawing attention to Newsom’s pandemic response. Faulconer plans on running from his response to San Diego’s homeless community and the 2017 Hepatitis A outbreak that killed 20 and spread to hundreds. However, Newsom has criticized him for being ineffective, neglectful, and dependent on law enforcement to clean up the streets. 

Faulconer rebuts, “I did not allow tents on the sidewalk in San Diego because I believe if you allow someone to live in a tent on a sidewalk, you’re condemning them to die on that sidewalk.”

Faulconer declared, “sending unemployment checks to convicted murderers isn’t progressive, letting people live on the streets isn’t compassion, partying with lobbyists during a lockdown isn’t leadership, the Governor’s actions have made this pandemic so much worse.”

Republican businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018, says he’ll run for governor a second time if a recall election is held, “I’m a businessman, not a politician, let’s lower housing costs and get people back to work … It’s time for a fresh start,” Cox says in his ad. 

In the past, Cox began as a Democrat before switching to the Republican party, losing twice in Illinois, once for Congress, and once for a Senate seat before trying his bid in California. His focus is on improving the economy, trying to spark the similarities between Faulconer and Newsom as incompetent politicians. 

The number of petition signatures has reached about 1.3 million and still needs to be verified. Recall officials are placing a goal at 2 million knowing some signatures will be invalid. The recall election would be held this summer if passed through California’s multistep process of recall.

The Republican Party can then pursue a recall at any time. What is necessary for success is 12% of voter turnout from the previous election. This explains the 1,495,709 signatures needed. The state gives 160 days to gather all the signatures. Due to the pandemic and the trouble with conducting in-person signature collecting. The courts extended the deadline to collect and turn in signatures until Mar. 17, 2021.

The recall pursuers then have 30 days to have the signatures verified. If the signatures checkout, there is then a waiting period for people to withdraw signatures. If they hold up the recall is on. The Lt. Governor will schedule a date within 60-80 days. For Newsom, this would be during the summer or early fall. 

In the election, the voters will be asked two questions on the ballot. First, voters will be asked if they want to vote yes for a recall or no, against a recall. If more than 50% of voters vote no, then the current governor remains.

In the second part, the voter is asked to pick a replacement for the Governor, where they can pick whoever they choose. Once votes are certified by the Secretary of State, the candidate with the most votes becomes the Governor. Demonstrating how a Hollywood action star and Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor. 

Those who remember Gov.  Gray Davis’s recall in 2003 will remember that truly anyone can jump into the fray. “Schwarzenegger. We had Gary Coleman. We had Arianna Huffington … a porn star. It was all over the place,” Spivak Joshua Spivak, author of “The Recall Elections Blog,” told ABC News.

Major businesses have yet to pull endorsement of Newsom, telling there’s no need to fear too much over the recall petition or polls dropping. “I would say still at this point, big business is not participating in the recall,” said Tom Del Beccaro, chair of Rescue California, one of the committees driving the recall. “Honestly, I think big business is willing to continue to play the game of trying to get along with the governor, or they’re leaving the state,”

Veteran California Democratic strategist Bill Carrick pointed out that “Democrats now outnumber Republicans 2-1 and Public Policy Institute of California surveys have consistently shown that the state’s independent voters lean Democratic. With that built-in advantage, Newsom’s current numbers don’t show him to be in dangerous political territory yet.”

“There’s been a whole bunch of issues that have been very tough to solve,” Carrick said. “Things are going to get better because the vaccine is going to get more universally available to people. And so that’s going to change a lot of people’s attitudes.”

Gov. Davis said, “There will come a point … where the light bulb goes on in everyone’s mind, and they realize this is going to end, and we can finally get back to not exactly normal but pretty close to normal,” Davis told Newsweek.”He still has decent favorability ratings, and with good news happening in [2021] I would bet on him more than anyone else.” This was said after Davis saw Newsom weather the storm of bad times at a 58 approval rating in November. 

Contreras, a correctional officer and Republican from Modesto says “I don’t see Newsom compromising or in alignment with my values. I also don’t see him being recalled. They (Democrats) are changing the principles our nation was founded on. Newsom is a part of that movement away from what we have. Newsom isn’t the enemy but if we can get someone else in office. Then I’ll sign the petition.” 

California has been a proving ground for credibility and experience because of demographics and sheer size. Names will continue to come out of the woodwork for some of the recognition given to candidates in California. Not as conservative as Texas or Florida but it was not long ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor replacing Gray Davis in 2003 during the first recall election in California history. If the recall effort is successful, Newsom would be the second California governor recalled.

Bay Bridge connecting Treasure Island to San Francisco

Vaccines Developing; Variants Rising

United Kingdom – a new variant of COVID-19 known as B.1.1.7, an even more deadly version of the pandemic-causing Coronavirus has made its mark in certain areas, with a 64% greater chance of mortality. 

According to the British Medical Journal, or BMJ, this variant of the virus can spread more quickly than the original version.

According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, the actual deadliness of the virus is coupled with bacterial infections from being in the hospital for an extended period and the instance of blood clots in COVID-19 patients. 

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick in the UK, said “This study confirms previous work showing that infection with the B.1.1.7 virus variant is associated with an increased risk of death. The precise mechanisms responsible for increased mortality associated with the variant remain uncertain but could be related to higher levels of virus replication as well as increased transmissibility.”

According to a press release by CNN, “The variant is spreading in the United States, for instance, and health officials warn it “might become dominant” in the country.”

This variant, according to Adalja, can pose an ‘increased risk of death.’

However, in the United States, the variant of COVID-19 has not yet made as significant of an effect as in the UK. 

In fact, Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently released a statement emphasizing the ‘return to normality in the USA. Acknowledging the risk factors and the plausibility, Gupta said, “Even after talking to the brightest epidemiologists, virologists, infectious disease experts all over the world, I wasn’t 100% sure on where the line in the sand for acceptable level of risk was drawn.” 

Dr. Gupta quoted Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on how underlying risk factors could raise the mortality rate in the United States and why those over 65 were given the valiant vaccines first. 

Accordingly, Walensky stated, “None of the unvaccinated people or any unvaccinated members of their households, for example, are an adult over age 65 or have an underlying condition such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes that could increase their risk of Covid-19 related hospitalization or death.”

“There is so much that’s critical riding on the next two months,” Walensky said Monday. “How quickly we will vaccinate versus whether we will have another surge really relies on what happens in March and April.”

Stephen Collinson, a CNN representative stated, “There are also growing concerns about the impact of spring break in Florida, where the more contagious variant of Covid-19 first found in the UK is multiplying at a rapid rate and could seed new outbreaks countrywide when partying youngsters return home.”

Collinson emphasized that 60 million Americans know that moment of euphoria that comes with getting a first dose. More than 30 million are fully protected — a figure that has just overtaken the total number of US Covid-19 cases.

Gupta also cited an explanation by Tara Kirk Sell, a ‘senior scholar’ at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “I think the guidelines are in a good middle ground,” she said. “We’re starting to go back to normal now, but it’s not going to be flipping a switch… We will make that journey towards normalcy, or at least a new normal, as more people get vaccinated.”

It is pivotal to understand that no matter how powerful the vaccines are, and no matter how secure those sheltering in place are, Gupta called the new variant of COVID-19 “dark clouds on the horizon.”

Despite the heavy warnings of UK professionals, CNN stated that travel would be allowed with a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours upon arrival and must quarantine for 14 days. 

Starting in October and ranging until the end of the year after Thanksgiving and Christmas there was a lockdown, however, a third-wave variant of COVID-19 has emerged in February 2021 and is “gathering pace,” according to CNN.

According to Diamond, the vaccine goal is to have a proper stock of vaccines by the end of May 2021, however he acknowledges that this timeline may not be met.

More than 93,600,000 doses have been administered in the US as of Wednesday morning, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the seven-day average for shots administered is now 2.17 million shots per day, which was originally 890,000 shots per day on January 20, when Biden took office.

Tax Season Extended! Hurry Up!

In Jan 2021, the US unemployment rate fell to 6.3% since the pandemic hit the US economy in 2020. With tax season in the mist, many questions are left of how unemployment benefits and stimulus checks will affect their tax returns. 

Students are often new to taxes and not always aware of what’s important to bring along when filing. A few tips on what is important to bring and keep a note of this year, and more down the line, could help benefit them in the long run. 

Important notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the due date for filing taxes has been pushed back, “the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.” stated on the official website on Mar. 17. This only applies to federal taxes. 

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig spoke on the behalf of the extension, “This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers,” Rettig understands the Coronavirus may make tax season more stressful this years, but still stresses the importance of filing your taxes as soon as possible.  

The W2 form is given to employees as a record of their income for the year prior. The W2 lays out how much money you made, how much was taxed, and what dependents are claimed. This is All that is taken into account when filing your tax return as a student.

Physical and electronic versions of the form are to be provided by the employer. 

If a student is not currently employed, an important piece of information to bring is your 1098-T. This record is your official tuition statement. Your tuition, fees billed, grants, scholarships, and 3rd party billing payments are listed on this form. The corresponding tax year to the form will help determine the amount of tax return you are eligible to claim. 

Login into Chabot-Las Positas Class Web, and type “1098-T” into the search bar where you will be able to access your tuition statement for the corresponding tax year. 

One of the simplest things to do as a student is to keep receipts of all expenses related to school. Books, school supplies, and electronics needed in order for a student to proceed in their education have the potential to be written off on. Just as business owners are able to write off purchases as business expenses. 

One thing that isn’t new but perhaps not well known, is that your unemployment benefits are taxable. As a receiver of unemployment benefits, you can choose to be “opt-into as withholding” or you can opt-out, but will have to pay back the specified amount. 

Where and/or how to get your taxes done are big questions to consider, especially for students. 

Sparkpoint is a soon-to-be-open service for students that will be offered at Chabot College. No official date has been posted, this service is stated to be:

1. Income Supports: Access to public benefits, food assistance, and free tax preparation

2. Education & Workforce: Going back to school, career advancement, and job search assistance

3. Financial Empowerment: Budgeting and saving, financial coaching, credit repair, and debt consolidation

Under Chabot’s Student Services page, followed by the student equity page you can find Sparkpoint. 

They state, “SparkPoint Centers operate a variety of models to support the diverse families and households throughout the Bay Area”

The IRS’s official website reads, “you must file a 2020 tax return, even if you aren’t required to file.” It lists that anyone with an annual income of $72,000, or less, can file their taxes for free electronically under the IRS Free File Program.

Many people also use experienced tax filers from chains such as H&R Block or TurboTax. H&R Block has a series of packages that claim free for students, but if needed assistance from an analyst, prices begin at $69 online.

In 2020, many locations followed a strictly “drop off” type of service. Where instead of meeting with an expert, or filing online, a client would bring in all their information and have it saved for an expert to look over in a few days and approve. 

The charges for these services are higher, around $200. 

An Important notice under H&R Block’s Website: 

“Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students: If you received any emergency financial aid grants as a student, you don’t need to report this on your return. This is true even if you spent it on unexpected food, housing, health care, or child care expenses.”

IRS employer Tina Chavez has been working as a tax examiner for 30 years now. Chavez believes the best thing for new tax fillers, like students, is to go to a professional. 

Throughout 2020, there were two stimulus checks issued out to the public. The first one issued out for up to $1200 and the second $600. This came after the approval of the 2020s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act which became official on Mar 27, 2020. 

“You’ll be able to file a credit if you didn’t receive the stimulus check,” Chavez stated, when filing for your 2020 taxes, you can be eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. 

For unemployment H&RBlock states, “You’ll report this (unemployment benefits) as income on your return. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, you might be able to exclude up to $10,200 of your unemployment from your taxable income.”

The IRS also states that the fastest way to receive and return or stimulus checks are to have the money directly deposited into your bank account. 

Sooner is always better when it comes to filing taxes, no comments have been made on how the extension will affect the following tax year.

Angelo Quinto, Mental Health and Policing

On December 23, 2020, Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran, was experiencing a mental health crisis, and instead of helping him, the police killed him in a similar manner to George Floyd, with a knee to his neck. 

Cassandra Quinto-Collins, Quinto’s mother was told by the officer who knelt on her son’s neck for over 4 minutes that what he was doing was standard protocol for sedating a person experiencing a mental breakdown. 

She told Associated Press, she was watching the whole time and “just trusted that they knew what they were doing.” When she began filming him, he was already unresponsive, never regaining consciousness and passing away 3 days later.

Quinto’s sister had called 911 for help calming him down during an episode of paranoia on Dec. 23. His family, who live in Antioch, said Quinto didn’t resist the officers — one who pushed his knee on the back of his neck, and another who restrained his legs — and the only noise he made was when he twice cried out, “Please don’t kill me.”

The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, as it took the police department over a month to share the details of the circumstances of Quinto’s death. Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks said, “At no point did any officer use a knee, or other body parts to gain leverage or apply pressure to Angelo’s head, neck, or throat, which is outside of our police and training” and “at one point an officer repositioned to control Quinto’s legs, which officers say were thrashing around. Officers called an ambulance and more police arrived on the scene. After, Quinto was no longer conscious and was “immediately” rushed to the hospital. He was later transferred to an intensive care unit, where he died three days later.” However, the department did not make details of Quinto’s death public until questioned by East Bay Times, and the investigation is still ongoing.

John Burris, the Quinto’s attorney said along with claims of a knee restraint, there were other issues with the officers’ response, including how they didn’t try to de-escalate and first talk to Quinto, and how they failed to turn on their body cameras and the camera in their patrol car. Police are typically taught how to de-escalate situations in their jobs however when it comes to mental health they receive little to no training, they are not taught to listen and be non violent when it comes to such situations.

Mentally challenged individuals have always been a target of the police and when contacted for help, their situations are typically met with unnecessary violence that at times can lead to their death. This is not the first case recorded of a family member calling the police for assistance with their child or sibling, but this one has sparked outrage as it acknowledges police brutality, in the way they handle mental health issues. 

According to Treatment Advocacy Center, a site that discusses the criminalization of mental health, people with mental health are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. According to John Snook, a co-author in this study, he addressed this issue as “patently unfair, illogical and proving harmful both to the individuals in desperate need of care and the officer who is forced to respond.” By not having legislative policies address this issue, it causes these mental health crises and neither party knows how to deal with the problem in a safe manner.

Proposals for additional training when dealing with mental health are being pushed. Antioch is now in the process of developing a mental health crisis team and a requirement of the use of body cameras.

March Madness Elevates, Delivers

Indianapolis — After a yearlong hiatus from intercollegiate athletics, one of the most hyped tournaments, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, returned to form in a thrilling exposition. The teams accumulated throughout the process of Selection Sunday, a tradition by which the most impressive 68 contenders were selected to participate in the tournament, posted a flurry of electrifying matchups that went down to wire.

On March 21, 2020, the NCAA announced it would postpone the convention, leaving many athletes that were college seniors having to decide how to continue their careers.

Of the 68 teams competing, 32 teams received an automatic bid from winning their conference tournaments. The remaining 36 teams received a bid from the NCAA selection committee.

Historically, the college with the most championships is UCLA, with 11 total championships.

UCLA made a historic run in the 2021 ‘Big Dance.’ They were selected as a member of the First Four but annihilated their way through the tournament. 

They advanced all the way to face no. 1 seed Gonzaga, who was undefeated during the matchup with UCLA. In an astounding thriller that went down to the wire, Gonzaga’s guard Jalen Suggs hit a desperation three from just past half-court to win the game.

Unfortunately for the powerhouse Gonzaga Bulldogs team, the championship game after that featured a battle-tested and weathered Baylor Bears team that so decisively pounded Gonzaga from the beginning of the match up until the final buzzer. In the end, Baylor emerged victorious and ended Gonzaga’s winning streak.

The final night of the NCAA tournament was a stunning ride. “We’re really good defensively. I thought we made things tough tonight,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Gonzaga missed some shots that they probably normally make. But credit our guys for making everything difficult.”

“They were just so much more aggressive than us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They just literally busted us out of anything we could possibly do on offense.”

“They punched us in the mouth right at the get-go,” Gonzaga star Corey Kispert said. “And it took a long, long time for us to recover and start playing them even again. But then it was too late.”

According to CNN reporter Steve Almasy, Few said he never saw his team play as if they were weighted down by the pressure to go undefeated.

Baylor star Jared Butler explained his insights from the game, “I was struggling the whole tournament probably until the Final Four,” Butler said. “And as a shooter, it’s hard. Like, it just makes the days longer, and you think about it all day long. But I knew … I couldn’t go the whole tournament and not shoot well.” Butler had 22 points to lead the Bears.

Few explained his team ” … loves one another. Just such a positive spirit yet such a competitive spirit.”

Nonetheless, Drew acknowledged the historic run for the Bears and how it felt for Texas. “Look at how much great basketball we have (in Texas) from high school, AAU, junior college, college,” Drew said. “And we haven’t won a national championship since ’66. It’s long overdue for the state, and I’m so pleased for all of them.”

The Baylor Bears’ season was justified after giving up their perfect record to Kansas and Oklahoma State. They retaliated against this star-studded Gonzaga offense and prolific Gonzaga defense to capture the 2021 NCAA title. This was Baylor’s first Intercollegiate title for Men’s Basketball. The Baylor Women’s Intercollegiate Basketball team has won the tournament three times, including one in 2019.

Regional Parks Remain Open as COVID-19 Peaks

Oakland – Regional Parks in the East Bay, notably all over the map of Alameda County, have vouched to remain open while the deadly pandemic slowly translates from the stage of shelter-in-place to vaccine distribution and possibly a new tier of safety measures. 

According to the East Bay Regional Parks conductor Dave Mason, Parks would rather close based on wind warnings rather than the perilous pandemic.

Mason said, “High winds can cause falling trees and branches, which can cause injury and create safety hazards.”

Anthony Chabot and Del Valle family campgrounds, according to Mason have opened on Feb. 11, 2021. “Del Valle campground has NO water until mid-March. Portable toilets will be available; BYO drinking water & RVs must fill water tanks before arriving,” Mason said. 

Mason also released a statement saying, “There are normal seasonal closures at Anthony Chabot, Morgan Territory and Black Diamond.”

This astounding choice to stay open and close based on only seasonal circumstances and wind warnings is an alarming shock to the efforts of the American people who are fighting a massive pandemic and are socially distancing, wearing masks and awaiting a pivotal vaccine to defeat a deadly virus.

However, the online press release for the East Bay Regional Parks District claims they are following COVID-19 protocol. The website for EBRPD, contrary to the word of park rangers, claims that, “COVID-19 guidelines for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties were recently updated to allow for additional outdoor recreational activities.”

In addition to emphasizing the reopening of the East Bay Regional Parks during this trying time, the parks will be open, without displaying measures of social distancing or mandatory masks, “The plan being developed will restore native grassland habitat and include paths and facilities for walking, jogging, and picnicking.” Mason said. 

The least dire consolidation for COVID-19 by the Regional Parks website will be a zoom meeting for, “Habitat restoration, recreation, and public access planning, A summary of existing conditions, constraints, and opportunities, and Project timeline and other opportunities to be involved.”

In addition to the lack of restrictions, unlike some Regional Parks in California, Mason proposed that fires and barbeque sites would remain open, limited backpacking sites in the Ohlone wilderness and Sunol are to remain open, but Round Valley backpack camp is closed due to fire warnings. 

In a press release from the East Bay Regional Parks District, it was stated, “The Park District, in collaboration with Doug McConnell (host of NBC’s OpenRoad) and other regional park agencies, recently launched a new series of Parks Are Essential public service announcements (PSAs) highlighting visitor safety during COVID-19.”

Both Mason and the East Bay Regional Parks news release failed to explain their ideals behind leaving Alameda County’s parks open. 

Nowhere does it clarify that fishing, barbequing, hiking, backpacking, or dog walking is limited by the effects of COVID-19 nor does it implement any safety measures for the said virus.

Alameda County residents continue to be able to access Regional Parks based on permits rather than safety measures. This distressing and questionable decision by Alameda County park rangers such as Dave Mason is a controversial subject of the total COVID-19 protocol.

$1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan

On March 11, this year, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. The Biden Administration’s primary ambition was to restabilize the economy. The nation is on the verge of emerging again to normalcy as vaccines roll out and COVID deaths drop.

But Americans across the U.S. are still under strain from the lasting effects of COVID’s hit on the economy. According to CNBC, over 20 million people are on some form of assistance for unemployment benefits. The bill features several aspects aiming to reallocate direct funds to businesses and people. One of the most expensive parts of the bill is the payments of up to $1,400 to almost every American citizen, as most are undergoing financial strain.

Caroline Huntsman, a local resident and employed in the bay, says, “I’ve had a job almost all of my life. I’ve waited tables, worked the bar, been a cashier, but once I lost my position from the pandemic. I struggled with money and spent most of my savings to stay afloat. It has been so tough to find work and now reliable hours are hard to come by.” Ms. Huntsman also said she “is fortunate to have a job … but I can feel myself slipping under still and into more debt as things pick back up slowly,”.

With millions of households struggling to afford food and housing, Democrats say the bill will decrease family and child poverty. It will send more than $120 billion to K-12 schools across the nation.

They are also increasing the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 15% through September. While nearly $30 billion will go toward restaurants seeking aid, expanding tax credits will help businesses keep employees on the payroll as well. The legislation will also boost provisions to make health care more affordable.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said to CNBC before signing the legislation. “And giving people in this nation, working people, middle-class folks, the people who built this country, a fighting chance.

The Bill includes a full $1,400 check for adults who earned $75,000 or less, married couples who earned $150,000 or less, and heads of household who earned $112,500 or less.

People eligible for a reduced check are adults who earned between $75,000 and $80,000, married couples who earned between $150,000 and $160,000, and heads of household who earned between $112,500 and $120,000.

Adults who earned more than $80,000, married couples who earned more than $160,000, and heads of households who earned more than $120,00 are ineligible.

The Democrats were able to pass the relief bill through reconciliation. Usually, a simple majority of 60 votes are needed to pass legislation and hurdle the filibuster. But the Senate is split 50-50, Republican to Democrat caucus members, requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to vote and disappointing Republican Senate members as they felt bypassed during what they thought would be a bipartisan bill.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R) Utah told reporters inside the Capitol, “If some Republican amendments got into the bill, some of his colleagues may support it … But my guess is it’s not likely that many of our amendments will get any Democrat support, so I think it’s very unlikely that any Republicans will support the final bill.”

Since the campaign trail, the Biden Administration has been promoting their “reach across the aisle” mantra. But major Senate members have critiqued the Democrat’s ability and willingness to meet them with closer compromises.

Rumors from the Capitol say Democrats are not “picking up their phone calls,” As both Senate Republicans’ infrastructure projects were dropped from the relief bill following deliberations with key Senate officials.

Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said, “the bill’s funding for an expansion of the BART, a subway system serving the San Francisco Bay Area, was struck from the bill because it was “part of a pilot project.”

Despite the omissions from Democrats, the Republicans from the Senate feel the bill features many infrastructure and economic breaks. The tax credit is one piece Republicans saw as not relevant to COVID relief.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) Florida said the Democrats’ proposal would turn the credit into “welfare,” adding the benefit should be tied to employment. Rubio, and some other Republican senators, have proposed their own changes to the child tax credit and stand against the permanent expansion of the credit.

In the same aisle, Republicans plead the relief bill, although passed, is unnecessary as the economy begins to rise on its own as people get back out and businesses open back up.

“They want to send wheelbarrows of cash to state and local bureaucrats to bail out mismanagement from before the pandemic,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky told CNN. “They’re changing the previous bipartisan funding formula in ways that will especially bias the money toward big blue states.”

Republicans believe the revenue decline to be from a history of budget mismanagement. There is also the truth that blue states have higher unemployment and steep revenue losses from policies to shut down businesses during the pandemic. Marissa Payne of The Gazette analyzed the claim of a bailout for blue states, and blue states do benefit more when all dollars are added up.

According to the review from the Tax Foundation, a think tank in Washington D.C. studying Federal and State tax policy, $121.4 billion are being allocated to the state legislature and the governor’s seat of 23 Republican-run states. $130.1 billion will be allocated to 15 Democratic-run states, including D.C. The last 11 states with split control will receive $6.4 billion.

If Reevaluated for population, the analysis shows blue states would get more aid in the amount of $1,278 per capita. While on average red states receive $1,017 per capita, and split states receive $1,041.

In 2020 10 blue states, including D.C. and 13 red states, as well as four split states, all lost revenue in the fight to handle COVID. What hasn’t been said is the bill would send aid to all states, whether or not they lost revenue.

But the “formula for allocating funding takes into account each state’s share of the nation’s unemployed workers. The average unemployment rate is 5.03 percent for red states, 7.61 percent for blue states and Washington and 6.09 percent for split states, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.”

When Marissa Payne, a fact-checker for the Gazette, was asked in blunt terms if this was a bailout for blue states once the data is put through the formula?

She said, “On average, these (blue) governments lost less revenue but have higher unemployment rates, and do benefit the most on many accounts.”

She did leave the caveat that “these (blue) states encompass the nation’s largest and most populous cities, like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, where there is typically a much higher cost of living than in rural areas. Urban counties are also more racially and ethnically diverse, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges minorities are more likely to contract COVID-19 and die from it.”