NEW MAYOR IN NEW YORK CITY
It’s official- democratic candidate Eric Adams has defeated republican candidate Curtis Silwa in the 2021 New York City mayoral race. Adams, who successfully secured 66.5% of the votes, has won in a landslide election, and will claim his seat in office on January 1st, marking the end of de Blasio's eight year stand as mayor. However, many citizens of NYC are unaware of what Adams stands for, and what he plans to do during his term as mayor, so let's look into it.
Eric Adams was born in Brownsville and raised in South Jamaica, in a household with five other siblings. His family was poor, and oftentimes struggled to provide for their kids. At the age of fifteen, he was beaten by a police officer, and decided that he wanted to make some changes to the NYPD, and he did so by joining the police force.
He participated in civil rights movements to protest and behavior by cops, and eventually was promoted to the position of captain. He helped make major strides in improving the NYPD and their treatment of innocent civilians, and in 2013 he was elected Brooklyn borough president.
One of Adams’ beliefs that has caught the attention of many voters is his belief on how our government responds to crisis’s. Adams claims that the cities government seems to “lurch from crisis to crisis”, and goes on to reference the most recent crisis that we have faced, the COVID pandemic. Additionally, he says that the black and brown communities always end up facing the worst of any crisis, and that the mis of inequality and inefficiency have led to injustice.
His main plan to counter this is to incorporate more efficient and effective methods to counter any upcoming problems, and to divert the cites abundant resources to the communities that need it the most, not just the ones who already have access to them.
Adams also has pointed out the main flaw in our economy- the large and ever growing wealth gap that has only been accelerated by the pandemic. He points out that before the pandemic, Black and Latino households averaged about half of the income of white households, and the gap is continuing to widen.
Adams believes that the most prominent solution to this issue is to maximize resources and to use regulatory powers in order to rebuild our economy, and patch up social issues caused by the wealth gap and general inequality. More specifically, he wants to rebuild the tourism and hospitality industries, and help create more inclusive job opportunities and to expand the economy in underdeveloped communities.
NEW YORK'S GARBAGE PROBLEM
Ever notice the piled up bags of trash on sidewalks and street corners outside of homes and businesses? Recently, in the ongoing winter months, many complaints have aroused in NYC neighborhoods regarding delays and gaps in trash pickup.
Mountains of trash are predominantly seen in areas of South Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. More specifically neighborhoods such as Midwood, Harlem and Richmond, Staten Island. A lot of local New Yorkers seem to be frustrated with the sanitation workers who were protesting in October against the vaccine mandate. Many city unions are going against this mandate, which passed recently on October 29th, by delaying garbage collection. As of October 27th 2021, about 65% of the city sanitation department is vaccinated. Since roughly a third of sanitation workers were not vaccinated, former mayor de Blasio was easy going to admit workers could be easily replaced. The conflict between union workers and the state seems to be heated. One side claims that protesting is a right of American citizens and that essential workers, including sanitation workers were helping out with the city during the worst of the pandemic while the wealthy went upstate or to the hamptons. While the other sides claim they can be easily restored by people abiding to the law and willing to do work, follow the law and protect the people around them. Regardless, in just the month of October alone, the DSNY saw around 9000 trash complaints. Despite this conflict, data shows how this mandate has pushed and increased unvaccinated workers to get the shot. Now, almost all of the DSNY is vaccinated and the number increases daily.
Effects of aggrieved workers and local NY’s led to numerous sanitation workers displacing some of the city’s trash on the lawn of former New York mayor, Bill de Blasio.
Staff shortages seem to not
With an estimated 12,000 tons of trash disposed daily in NYC, to get back on schedule is difficult and will take some time. Workers will work 12 hour shifts and on Sundays to
In general with the pandemic, last year there have been labor shortages in various cities
Similarly, NYC firefighters have been responding the same way to the mandate. Calling in sick and missing work.
COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOTS
United States President Joe Biden received the COVID-19 booster shot in the White House on September 27, days after booster doses were approved by health officials. Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shots were approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration under emergency use for those 65 and older as well as employees of high-risk infections due to their jobs. The COVID booster is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the original COVID vaccine’s protection against the virus decreases and is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer. The third dose of the mRNA vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna, is identical to the first 2 doses and is available 28 days after the second dose as the CDC recommends getting the dose of the same brand as the original vaccine they received.
The process of authorizing the emergency use of a booster dose was done by the FDA analyzing safety and immune responses from a group of participants from the original clinical trial of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Immune responses of approximately 200 participants through 18 and 55 years of age were assessed through a period of about 6 months. Finally, the antibody response against the virus one month after a booster dose compared to the response one month after the two-dose primary vaccine in the same individuals demonstrated the response to the booster as a whole. The participants were followed for an average of 2 months for safety regulations and the most commonly reported side effects were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, and chills. Swollen lymph nodes in the underarm were observed more frequently due to the booster dose than the original two doses.
Despite the symptoms, it is important to get the booster dose because scientists say vaccine protection wears out 6 months after the second shot. That is why booster doses are only eligible to certain age groups six months after they receive their initial vaccine dose. New Yorkers from ages 18-49 with underlying health conditions or who work in settings with risk of COVID exposure may receive the booster from Pfizer. According to the CDC, people with compromised immune systems are vulnerable to COVID-19, and may not build the same level of immunity to the two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised, so they should receive a third dose. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson booster vaccine is recommended two months after the first dose.
In conclusion, the booster dose is a vaccine recommended for those who have weak immune responses and need to seek better protection against the virus. People interviewed by CNBC who are amongst the first Americans to receive the booster have reported that they got the dose in order to protect themselves and their families against the Delta variant. These people who were eligible to receive the vaccine due to their age and employment said that the booster vaccines were painless and only suffered from mild symptoms. However, they felt reassured about getting the vaccine and encouraged others to receive it as well, stressing the importance of being vaccinated against COVID-19.
TRUMP - WILL HE RUN AGAIN?
Former president Donald J. Trump has said time and time again that he is the one who should be in office. He has gone to extreme lengths to scare all of those who do not agree with him, but despite all of its chaos he still was forced to give up his seat in the oval office and allow Biden to take his place. However, as we get closer and closer to 2024, many have pondered the question- will Trump run for office again?
To accurately determine if Trump will or will not run again in 2024, we first have to look at the factors. Over the past year, the Biden administration has been working vigorously to reverse many of the policies that Trump had put into place over the duration of his four years in office.
Within his first hundred days in office, Biden issued 60 executive orders, 24 of which were reverals for Trump’s policies. Biden as well as the democrats as a whole have used their platform to criticize Trump nonstop since the election, especially since there are many people who Trump still has convinced that he actually won the election.
All of this most likely caused a great amount of anger and frustration for Trump, especially since he hasn't gotten the chance to speak out against Biden on his main platform, twitter. However, Trump is continuing to find ways to communicate with his supporters, and he is increasingly showing signs that he may run for office once again in 2024.
According to Desert News, Trump has been raising money throughout all of 2021, and had raised about $102 million as of June 30. Normally, a former president would not be raising this amount of money, unless they were planning to use it in the near future for some kind of political gain.
Trump has also continued to send emails to people who subscribed to his email service during the election, keeping them “informed” on what is happening. He has not only been slandering Biden and the democrats through these emails, but also asking his supporters to take surveys, and persistently asking for donations, all to keep his supporters on their toes for something that he has not even guaranteed will happen.
However, if Trump truly wants a shot at being able to win back the presidency, he will need the support of the republican party, which it seems like he has. According to Pew Research Center, two thirds of GOP members want Trump to remain as a prominent political figure, while 44% want to see him run for president in 2024.
Trump clearly has all the support he needs to run again, and based on Trump's actions in the past he will not let his political career end in a loss. Trump has proven time and time again that he will do anything to protect his ego, and to keep himself relevant. 2024 may be a long way away, but one thing that you can almost certainly count on is Donald J. Trump running for office once again.
NYC PRIMARY ELECTIONS
The Democratic ticket for the New York City mayoral race is stacked with worthy candidates and with early voting already underway, this race is headed towards the photo finish that many political analysts are predicting. With strong contenders leading the pack like current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former Presidential Contender Andrew Yang, there still remains a significant swath of the electorate undecided as shown in recent polling. Civil Rights Activist Maya Wiley has recently scored some key progressive endorsements from figures such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and former presidential candidate and senator Elizabeth Warren, though she trails the top candidates in the polls. An early leader in the race, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has been caught up in some political scandals dealing with sexual misconduct as of late, leading some to question whether he is right for the job. Kathryn Garcia, current commissioner of the Sanitation department, is seen to be extremely credible due to her years in public office and having experience working with the mayors office. To look more at what issues each candidate supports and to see their views, take this quiz.
In addition to this race being packed with candidates, it also will be the first major political race in New York to utilize ranked choice voting. This change to the voting structure means that voters can put down up to five candidates, in order of preference, on their ballot. The votes are then tallied and whichever candidate receives the majority of first-choice votes wins. More information can be found here about ranked choice voting.
Aside from the mayor's race, there are also elections happening for Comptroller, District Attorney, as well as many community positions, so be sure to explore all of the races on your ticket, and vote!
THE FETAL HEARTBEAT BILL
On May 19th of 2021, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abott signed the Fetal Heartbeat Bill which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected which is possibly as early as 6 weeks. This signing also makes Texas a part of the dozens of other American states that have put this law into action. As many activists and citizens of America are enraged with this law passing in Texas and other states, the controversy lies within the fact that the law prohibits abortion for many women before they even know they are pregnant. Because these ‘heartbeat’ bills vary by state with each one being more restrictive than the other, activists and citizens of America have become worried. These bills will lay the foundation for the ban of abortion altogether without the consideration of human’s right for their own body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, which is more than twice of the time a woman is allowed to get an abortion in Texas. In addition to this, when advanced technology can detect the “flutter” of the heartbeat as early as 6 weeks, the embryo isn’t a fetus yet and doesn’t have a heart because an embryo is termed a fetus in the 11th week of pregnancy. The notion of the heartbeat being clear as early as six weeks into the pregnancy is used to market the anti-abortion laws. The concept was originated by Ohio’s anti-abortion activist Janet Folger Porter, who had wrote in an email that the slogan, “Abortion stops a beating heart,” is an effective way to emphasize what she believes is the injustice and inhumanity of abortion. With this, she was able to urge supporters to “take heart,” and convince lawmakers to “have a heart” and vote “yes.” The ban connected to the “fetal heartbeat” scandal has been signed into Ohio and 13 other states, but has yet to be taken into effect.
Other states such as Georgia had signed into law the “heartbeat bill” in 2019 and was the fourth state to do so that year. The bill includes a penalty of 10 years in prison for those who perform abortions, but doesn’t explicitly state regulations or consequences for women who perform their abortions themselves. These heartbeat bills spreading across the country follow a model legislation by Faith2Action, which claims itself as “the nation’s largest network of pro-family groups.” The model legislation states that if a patient is seeking an abortion, the doctor must perform a “standard medical procedure” to decipher whether the fetus has a heartbeat and if there is a heartbeat, the doctor is prohibited from performing an abortion, unless it is necessary for the mother’s health. The legislation also does not exempt rape of incest because Faith2Action believes no law should kill an “innocent child” for the crime of their father. The bills do not cite a specific time limit for abortions, but reproductive rights groups argue that the bills amount to a ban on abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy.
“Heartbeat bills” vary between each state despite following the same model legislation. Ohio signed into the law in April 2019 and the determination of a heartbeat is up to the Ohio Department of Health. A doctor who performs abortions in Ohio, Dr. Catherine Romanos had stated that only a small minority of women who recognize they are pregnant will be able to get an abortion immediately. The law in Ohio exempts consequences from women whose lives are in danger, but not for victims of rape or incest. In Georgia, the law does include exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies, but will hurt patients in Georgia as it has come of the highest rates of maternal mortality. The Texas law makes an exception for medical emergencies and allows citizens to sue doctors who perform abortions past the point of detecting a flutter of a heartbeat, letting anyone who is biased against abortions to sue clinics. Before signing the bill, Texas governor, Greg Abott, had said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas we work to save those lives," according to a video posted on Facebook.
Fortunately, none of the laws that have been signed into many states across the country have taken effect due to legal challenges and constitutional laws. In the United States, a fetus that is viable outside the womb, at around 24 weeks into the pregnancy is widely considered when abortions are prohibited for women. However, these states and their leaders are urging for abortiosn to be banned even before a woman knows she is pregnant, therefore oppressing her bodily rights.
SUMMER CAMPS - WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?
After last summer, which was mostly spent at home in quarantine, many people are excited to finally get out of the house and do something, and for children this means returning to summer camp. However, there are certain precautions that have to be taken before anyone can go back, and other measures that will ensure the safety of everyone attending camps around the country.
To start off, it is very important to understand that summer camps will not be the same this year. According to Washingtonian, summer camps will have to make some crucial changes to stay open this year. First off, campers will be practicing social distancing and will have to wear masks. This should not come as a surprise, since the pandemic is still going on, and not everyone is fully vaccinated yet. Camps will also practice a number of virus control measures, such as sterilizing camp equipment and testing their campers frequently
Camps will also split up campers into groups, or “cohorts” such as many schools have done over the past few months. This means that if one person gets COVID, the entire camp is not at risk of getting it- only people within that group will be the ones at risk. Camps are also limiting the amount of campers they are accepting, to make sure that there will always be enough distance between groups and that the camp is not overcrowded.
According to GoodHouseKeeping, CDC guidelines require some sleep away camps to ask any incoming camper to quarantine for two weeks before coming to camp. This may be hard for some campers who have to attend school in the weeks before camp, so there will most likely be exceptions to this rule. Camps are also planning out isolation policies for campers who get sick during camp, whether it is with COVID or another virus.
Many sleep away camps are planning to send campers who have fallen ill home, and will be asking the parents of the sick child to pick them up within 24 hours of that camper's diagnosis. This policy may be hard on some parents, considering that most of them do not live close to the camp, but it should help campers stay on high alert and report any symptoms they may be experiencing to a staff member immediately, so they don't spread it to anyone else.
Even though camps will do everything they can to keep their campers safe, there is still no guarantee that kids will not get COVID at camp, but there are ways that they can keep themselves safe while still having fun. Any kid who isn't vaccinated should wear a mask whenever they are in an indoor area, or are playing a sport where they are coming in close contact with others. They should also try to sanitize their hands frequently, and continue to follow guidelines that have been in the police since the start of COVID, such as do not touch your eyes or mouth and try to maintain a good distance from others.
In conclusion, there is some risk when attending a camp this summer, but as long as you follow the guidelines and use common sense to determine what you should and should not do, everything should be fine and there won't be anything to worry about.
THE FUTURE OF COVID
Elijah Marcel Rabin
The coronavirus has been around for over a year now, and many of us are starting to wonder if it’s almost over. Life definitely does not feel like it did a year ago, but things don't quite feel like they are back to normal yet. But we also have to keep in mind that things are going to be different, and our new normal is not going to be the same as the normal we were used to before the pandemic hit. Even after everyone is vaccinated there are still going to be precautions that we all have to take, and today we are going to explore what this new normal is going to look like.
A lot of things are unclear but there is one thing that is obvious - our post pandemic lives will be very different from our lives before the pandemic. To start off, let's consider what 2022 will look like. 2022 is still 7 months away, but many are wondering how different it will be from 2021. Well for starters, the 2021-2022 school year is expected to be in person in many places, including New York City.
Across the country schools have started to open up, and due to recent developments in the vaccine, that number is expected to rise significantly at the beginning of the next school year. According to The Washington Post, almost half of all schools have opened up. This was back in March, so the number has most likely gone up since then. The rising number of schools opening up conveys a new sense of normality. This will help allow for other things to open up, such as restaurants and their business which were affected over the course of the pandemic.
However, for things to really get back to normal we need students to be willing to show up to school, but thankfully we are starting to see that as well. According to an article published in April by The 74 Million, around 60% of students have opted in to go in person. At the start of the pandemic, schools were forced to shut down, but the main reason they weren’t able to reopen was because students and teachers refused to go back. The risks were still high and there was no vaccine, and people were just frightened of what might happen if they or a loved one got COVID. But, thankfully things have changed. The infection rate is at its lowest since September, and there is a vaccine that has just been approved for 12-15 year olds, so there is much promise for returning back to school next semester.
Once schools are able to get back to normal, we should start to see other things that we have missed doing for over a year. Places like restaurants, movie theaters, shops and other businesses deemed “non-essential” have suffered greatly over the course of the pandemic. They all saw a huge decrease in business, and many failed to keep their heads above the water, and unfortunately had to close indefinitely.
Shopping is a huge part of the American economy, and a big part of the day to day lives of many Americans. Over the course of the pandemic, many people have turned to online retailers for all of their shopping needs, which is great for efficiency and customer satisfaction, but is not good for small businesses.
According to Seller Snap, the pandemic helped big companies like Amazon outsource their smaller competitors, and due to the strict no contact policies put in place to stop people from spreading COVID, even small towns which relied on their local businesses starting shopping at big name stores, for both their prices and their convenience during a time where human contact was forbidden.
The worst part about all of this, is that many people have gotten used to shopping online, and have completely grown accustomed to the luxury of being able to order something and have it arrive at your doorstep without needing to leave the comfort of their home. There are many issues with this, but the main one is that without leaving your home, you cant discover new places, and support your local businesses. Local businesses don’t have nearly as large of a consumer base as online based retailers, so they need the support of the people in their communities.
After children start heading back to school and adults start going back to work, hopefully people will start to ease back into doing things they would normally do, like hanging out with friends, going out to dinner, shopping at stores and so on. We can’t tell what the future holds, but things are starting to get better, and slowly but surely, we will get back to normal.
THE PAUSE ON THE JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE
From April 13th, 2021 to April 23rd, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 came to a sudden distribution and use pause as U.S. Federal health agencies examined a rare blood clotting disorder that emerged in six people who had received it. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the U.S. before the CDC and FDA began investigating the blood clotting cases. On February 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was developed by the Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson and distributed to people 18 and older. It doesn’t use the Messenger RNA the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use and instead consists of a COVID-19 protein injected into the cells.
On April 13th, the vaccine came to a sudden halt as six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare-blood clotting illness within 1 to 3 weeks of receiving the vaccine. One woman in Virginia died while another woman in Nebraska had been hospitalized in critical condition. In the United States, 300,000 to 600,000 people develop blood clots in a year, according to CDC data. Public health officials had warned that anyone who develops a severe headache or leg or abdominal pain after receiving the vaccine should seek immediate attention.
However, these six cases involved a rare combination of symptoms as the clots occurred in the brain and they were accompanied by low levels of platelets that normally help heal wounds. The European Medicines Agency reported one case of blood clots occuring in the clinical trial that took place before the vaccine was authorized and three cases during its rollout on April 9th. However, it wasn’t clear whether the vaccine was to blame. Since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses adenoviruses to carry DNA into human cells to begin the process of generating immunity to the virus, researchers have speculated that DNA carried by the adenoviruses may set off the immune response, which causes the blood clot.
By the evening of April 13th every state in the U.S. announced a pause in the J&J vaccine injections, as well as the U.S. military, federally run vaccination sites and pharmacies. Because of this, many challenges arose regarding the pause such as jeopardizing the global vaccine effect as the company was expected to provide up to a billion doses worldwide, but it only manufactured a fraction of that amount before the pause. Johnson & Johnson decided to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe, where several countries were expected to start administering it this week. South Africa is devastated by a more contagious variant of the virus and the vaccine was also suspended there and Australia announced it wouldn’t purchase any doses as well. The pause could have made it difficult for hard-to-reach populations to get a shot. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which need to be placed in certain temperatures, the J&J vaccine only needs to be kept in a standard refrigerator. This makes it easier for mass vaccination sites and mobile vans to store the vaccine. For prisoners who are changing facilities or homeless people who don’t have permanent residences, administering a two-dose vaccine can be a challenge.
Fortunately, the pause on the vaccine had been lifted on April 23 following a thorough safety review and two meetings between the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and FDA. During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined data to assess the risk of the disease having to do with the blood clots, known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Extensive research was also conducted to providers of the vaccine in order to ensure they were able to manage and recognize the treatment needed for TTS. The CDC and FDA had also determined that the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing Covid and the potential benefits of the vaccine outweighs its risks in individuals 18 and older, as well as that the risk of getting TTS is very low. As of April 23, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) had gained reports of a total of 15 cases of TTS with all the cases occurring in women between the ages of 18 and 59. The FDA claims that they and CDC are continuing to monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and their adverse effects. Receivers of the vaccine will be given an information sheet mentioning the rare clotting disease and the symptoms to be aware of.
The pause on the J&J vaccine vaccine had lasted 10 days due to the CDC and FDA’s immediate response and security checks of the adverse effects. However, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, less than half of Americans are confident in the safety of the vaccine following the pause. 2,097 randomly selected adults ages 18 and older from April 15 to April 29 took the survey by Kaiser. 46% of the respondents replied that they were at least somewhat confident in the J&J vaccine and 69% had the same for both Pfizer and Moderna. One in 5 respondents who weren’t vaccinated said the news had altered their view about getting the vaccine for various reasons. 7% said it made them less likely to get any of the vaccines while 9% had revealed they were less likely to receive the vaccine from J&J, but their views on Moderna and Pfizer remained the same. As women were the only group affected by the adverse effects of the vaccine, they were more likely to say that their views on the J&J vaccine were altered due to news than men.
Nevertheless, the Kaiser survey had reported that the respondents who say they have received a shot increased from last month’s survey from 32% to 56%. Eager Americans ready to receive the vaccine have already received it as vaccinations are in the millions per day, proving that the pause on the J&J vaccine did not have a direct effect on the number of people vaccinated. The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had proposed a lot of challenges in regards to vaccine hesitancy and distribution, but as more Americans are getting vaccinated and the pause has been lifted, the world can only hope for life to turn back to normal.
PRESIDENT BIDEN'S IMPACT ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Archi Das Gupta
37 days into Biden’s presidential term, he carried out an airstrike on eastern Syria, a site suspected to be controlled by Iranian-backed militias. In Biden’s campaign to be president, he promised an end to “forever wars”, as he stated that he would bring back the majority of American troops from Afghanistan and just focus on Al-Qaeda and ISIS. To some extent, this is true as according to the latest timeline for the US–Taliban agreement signed in February, only 2,500 US service members will remain in Afghanistan, down from 13,000 at the time of the agreement. However, he has become the 5th consecutive U.S president to carry out attacks on the Middle East. According to sources, the Pentagon wanted a larger group of targets however, Biden wanted to minimize the attacks. Therefore, the military’s response was to drop seven 500-pound bombs on a small cluster of buildings on the Syria-Iraq border instead. The Pentagon stated that they consulted with the coalition partners in order to carry out “diplomatic measures” but they didn’t consult their plans with Congress. However, this action was viewed as a disciplined approach for some as the proposed strikes in Syria were established and executed in collaboration with the Iraqi government. With this attack Biden wants his intentions to be clear as he will not tolerate specific behaviors.
The United States has always had a strong, overbearing presence in the Middle East, and Biden will be no exception. Biden wants Iran to join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which is a nuclear pact. Biden intends to resolve other concerns within Iran, such as human rights violations, but not until Iran complies. Unlike Trump, Biden emphasizes the importance of US sanctions not impeding Iran's efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Biden pledged to improve transatlantic cooperation on Iran, overcoming four years of developments and growing the prospects of a political settlement that is fair to all parties affected.
Biden’s passiveness is another way he is impacting the Middle East such as his “stand-back” approach with Israel-Palestine conflicts. The presidents that served before him promised some kind of compromise between the Israel-Palestine, and that came with no success. Biden, however, has made no such promises and instead veered his focus to China as Israel doesn’t seem like an ideal partner for America. However, his political party is urging him to become more involved. Finally, on May 11th the Officials from the Biden administration formally urged both Israel and Palestine to exercise caution on Tuesday. US officials have pressured Israeli and Palestinian officials in private discussions to prevent escalating tensions, and they have successfully petitioned an Israeli court to suspend an Israeli court decision on the evacuation of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem, which has contributed to recent clashes in the capital. Though the Biden Administration does intend on reinstating diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, Biden plans to restore US assistance services that promote Palestinian economic growth and humanitarian assistance.
Conclusively, Biden will follow in the footsteps of his predecessors in that he will continue to play an indispensable role within the Middle East. As Martin S. Indyk, a retired U.S. ambassador to Israel and a former special diplomat for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, states “The problem with the Middle East is that you can try to turn your back on it, but it won’t turn its back on you”.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE DEAD AT 93
Late last evening each news station on television and radio as well as each as every online news publication had the same somber news to deliver: Walter Mondale, the 42nd Vice President of the United States, had passed away. He had lived a long life , and it was now his time to go.
Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale was born on January 5th back in 1928 to a Norwegian-American family in rural Minnesota. He had a relatively modest upbringing as the son of a minister, and attended the state University of Minnesota. He couldn’t afford a subsequent education in law, so he enlisted in the Army to fight in the Korean War. After returning home, Mondale was finally able to enroll in the UMinnesota School of Law. He already had some experience in politics, having helped future and fellow Vice President Hubert H, Humphrey win his first term in the United States Senate in 1948. This, combined with his eventual legal education, helped Mondale break into state politics as the Attorney General of Minnesota where he assembled a decidedly pro-citizens rights record in cases such as the guarantee of the right to legal counsel in state court cases.
Mondale was appointed to the Senate in 1964 by Governor Karl Rolvaag after Humphrey became the Vice President of Lyndon B. Johnson. He proved to be a popular Senator during his two terms in that office, winning both his elections by safe margins even as the Republicans gained control of Washington in the late 1960s. He was the driving force behind the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in an effort to reduce the even worse housing discrimination of the time and was a decidedly pro-labor Senator in a state distinctly shaped by dense agricultural and industrial unions. He also worked for transparency in the federal government, being one of the few Senators to attempt to hold NASA accountable for the mismanagement of the Apollo One fire.
In 1976, then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter tapped Mondale to be his running mate in the 1976 Presidential election against incumbent President Gerald Ford, who had ascended to the Presidency in the wake of Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal. Watergate would prove fatal for Ford, as Carter and Mondale emerged victorious in that election. Mondale would prove to be something of a pioneer as Vice President. Today most people know the names Harris, Pence, Biden, and Cheney, but in 1976 Vice Presidents were largely anonymous figures serving in almost ceremonial roles. This changed under Mondale, as he took an active role in the Carter Administration, participating in diplomacy and involving himself in policymaking discussions. He was Carter’s partner in politicking, a true “Vice President” and Carter recently described him as the “greatest VP in our nation’s history”. Sadly for Mondale, his Vice Presidency would come to an abrupt halt after the 1980 election, where Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would beat Carter and Mondale in a landslide.
Mondale would return for a rematch with Reagan and Bush in the 1984 election, and he had what was then considered a shocking VP pick: Queens congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a ticket. Ferraro rocked the political world, and she backed it up by performing brilliantly in her debate against Bush. But sadly (again) for Mondale, he wouldn’t fare any better in ‘84 than ‘80, as the incredibly popular Reagan won in a historic blowout, with Mondale and Ferraro only carrying deep-blue Washington, D.C. and Minnesota, the state that he had worked for since he was a teenager and that had again and again reciprocated. A term as Attorney General, two as Senator, two votes for him as VP, and now it was beyond doubt that he was their man even in a historic landslide against him. Bumper-stickers would be spotted in the following years that said “You Can’t Blame Minnesota''.
Mondale would have one final role in public service, serving as President Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1996, continuing a legacy of diplomacy. He’d lose one final bid for the Senate in 2002, but had his revenge in the 2008 election where he played a massive role in getting Al Franken elected and flipping that seat back to the Democrats, just as he had when he started his career in politics in 1948.
This full-circle career displays Mondale’s lifelong commitment to being a servant of the people. His long and largely successful career will be more than deserving of a spot in the history books, and they’ll tell of a man who definitely deserved to Rest In Peace. Farewell, Mr. Vice President.
SARAH EVERARD AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Tensions are rising regarding the treatment of women and the increase in crimes against women internationally. Over the past 3 months, there have been a number of cases that demonstrate the abuse that many women face. The case of Sarah Everard, a young woman who was murdered in London, has sent shock waves throughout the UK and has gained a lot of traction globally. Heads are now turned towards the evident widespread violence and many are considering ways to protect women.
Sarah Everard was a 33-year-old Marketing Executive living in the Brixton Hill area of London. On the night of March 3rd, Sarah disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house. One week later, the police discovered Sarah’s dead body in a nearby woodland in Ashford, Kent. Despite calling her boyfriend for a duration on her trip and walking down a well-lit path, Sarah was still kidnapped and murdered. Her murderer? Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old Metropolitan Police Officer. On March 12th, following the discovery of Sarah’s body, Couzens was charged with kidnapping and murder. Many women are now questioning the precautions they are often encouraged to take. Women and girls are instructed by officials to walk with or call a loved one, to take relatively busy routes, and to complete several other “preventative actions”. Though these measures may aid in the protection of women, they don’t combat the real issue: gender-based violence against women. Evidently, it will take more than subtle lifestyle changes to keep women safe.
A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that 1 in 3 women have been subjected to either physical or sexual violence by either a partner or non-partner (not including sexual harassment). Around the world, in India and Jamaica, women are attempting to reduce the growing female-targeted offensive. A 2019 statistic completed in India reads, “According to the latest Indian government data, crimes against women increased 6 percent in 2017 over the previous year. Police registered 33,658 cases of rape – an average of 92 every day.” Since then, the violence against women in India has and continues to rise. Recently in Jamaica, a young woman named Khanice Jackson was killed by a 50-year-old mechanic after the two engaged in a minor dispute. Situations similar to these are common in Jamaica and have been slowly increasing to the point of social turmoil. In both India and Jamaica, women are speaking out against the violence they often face and are hoping for a change in dynamic.
Since Sarah Everard’s murder, people have staged protests opposing the neverending violence towards women. In London, women and supporters of the “Violence Against Women” movement gathered at Sarah Everard’s vigil. What started as a commemoration of the dead-ended as a rally against gender-based violence. The police present responded to the growing outrage by arresting 4 women on the count of COVID-19 violations. The police grew extremely violent and enforced COVID laws with extreme intensity, which has not been seen before. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London has said, “The scenes from Clapham Common are unacceptable. The police have a responsibility to enforce Covid laws, but from images, I’ve seen it’s clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate”. People are now questioning if the police are supportive of the anti-violence movements. Or if they are more concerned for their fellow officer who was caught committing a completely heinous crime.
Sarah Everard is just one of many women who have died at the hands of a society that perpetuates patriarchy and a system that fails to address it. Emotions are high and women are more fearful for their lives in public spaces. Here are some behaviors and social gestures for people, especially men/masculine-presenting individuals, to help women feel safe.
THE 1918 PANDEMIC VS. COVID-19
Elijah Marcel Rabin
World War One was one of the first major conflicts on a global scale after the industrial revolution. Its effects were devastating to the world, but after four long years, the fighting was finally over, and people had hope that their lives could go back to normal. However, something else was about to hit, something that would rock the foundation of mankind for decades to come: a virus better known as The Spanish Flu.
Over the course of World War One, many new technologies were introduced. These amazing new technologies include but are not limited to: tanks, aircrafts, submarines, stronger naval ships, and the increasingly popular automobile, better known as the car. These new modes of transportation allowed large numbers of troops to be deployed to any location around the world in a fraction of the time that it would normally take, which meant fighting on a much larger scale.
This mass mobilization of troops led to many foreseeable issues - food and ammunition shortage, need for doctors and nurses, and an overall lack of organization, but the most unforeseeable effect was the quick spread of disease. During this time period, medicine was extremely undeveloped, and something like a cut or a scrape could be lethal if not treated correctly. World War One was also when trench warfare was introduced, which meant soldiers would spend weeks, or even months crammed together in filthy, over crowded trenches without being able to do as much as get up to stretch their legs.
Many new diseases emerged because of these harsh conditions, such as trench foot, trench fever and typhoid, all which usually led to either amputation or death, but these did not spread as rapidly and were nowhere near as deadly as the flu. The flu was believed to start in Spain, but because all of Europe was locked in battle, they didn't have time to think about a virus and how to prevent it, continuing to fight until the war came to an end in 1918, but by then it was too late.
The mass mobilization of troops and the close quarters combat gave the virus the opportunity to spread without anyone realizing it. It spread throughout Europe, and was brought back to America by the soldiers who were returned home from their mission overseas. People could go outside without fear of getting killed, and, of course, there was celebration. However, this created even more of an outlet for the flu to spread.
The flu hit its peak around November, 1918 and its effects were devastating. People infected with the virus laid in cots, in huge rooms filled with other infected patients. Those who were not yet infected wore masks, and had to be extremely careful that they did not get exposed. In the end, the virus killed approximately 50 million people, and infected 500 million in total.
People often compare the coronavirus to the Spanish Flu outbreak, since it was the only other major pandemic that has taken place within the last 150 years, but the main difference between these pandemics are the death rates. The Spanish Flu had a death rate of about 10%, while COVID’s death rate is now around 2%. The difference may not seem like much, but since both viruses were so widespread and infected so many people even a one percent increase in the death rate would lead to many more deaths.
All in all, while the 1918 pandemic was certainly worse then the one we are facing now, that does not mean that what we are facing now is not a serious threat. Even though we do have a vaccine, people are still at risk of contracting and spreading the virus even without knowing they have it. We all have to remember that this is not over and probably won't be over for a good amount of time. We must continue to follow the standard safety precautions such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and quarantining ourselves when we are sick. It may not be easy, but together we will all be able to beat this virus, and hopefully we will be able to get things back to normal soon.
HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED THE WEALTH GAP IN NYC?
While Lamborghinis are parked outside expensive restaurants in SoHo, the number of homeless people going to sleep hungry is increasing. Since the peak of the pandemic, hotels have been used as homeless shelters. Approximately 139 hotels in NYC are housing the homeless. High rent, taxes, and the rise in unemployment rates cause an increase in crime and people to leave the city.
Wage and income inequality were present even before the pandemic. Before the coronavirus, nearly 4 out of 10 American adults said they would have difficulty covering a 400 dollar unexpected expense. The pandemic has only intensified the inequities in income and housing that have been existing for a long time. The pandemic illustrates the need to change the economic system and to align with a road of more equal economic model and development. A statistic from the US Dept. of Labor and Institute for Policy Studies shows that more than 29 million people are collecting unemployment benefits while at the top end of the economic ladder during the first 3 months of the pandemic, the net worth of 600 billionaires in the US grew by 20%. This statistic, in and of itself, demonstrates the extreme ends of the wealth spectrum. Billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, have doubled their revenue since the start of the pandemic mainly due to a skyrocket in online shopping and the constant demands for necessities and daily life.
Many people who can afford to move out, have moved out of homes in the city and are continuing to do so. Real estate agents describe a “red hot market” in Upstate New York where prices of homes are ranging from 200,000 to 1 million dollars. According to CNBC, real estate prices in the Hamptons jumped 46% in the third quarter, as sales soared by over 50%. The median sale price in the Hamptons was higher than Manhattan's during the summer of 2020, at $1.2 million, as more of the city's wealthy fled.
A very crucial part of the city are food cart vendors and they depend on sales to feed their families and children, without the interaction and buying of food, their businesses will fall and a struggle for survival will begin for them. Before COVID, the restaurant industry in NYC employed 300,000 people, and it was a place of creativity, training, and tours attracting skilled chefs and students from all over the world. Today the industry is slowly recovering from COVID and the harsh restrictions and policies that slowed the speed of their redemption. Another harsh reality that is prevalent is the negative impact the pandemic left on people working in the entertainment, services, and arts industries. Behind the scenes workers and performers at Broadway have been let down and are struggling to deal with this expensive city. The variety of entertainment services such as shows and gigs represent a major part of the soul of this city, unfortunately, many have either shut down or are in the process of returning back to “normal”. Zachary Zane Purtzer, an artist based in New York City says in a NYT interview, “So many people, including many of my friends, are working at bars, at restaurants, which are now closed. And now we are all at home wondering can we make it another month? Do we just need to go back and start working, just so we can help our own families, the people that we love the most, stay in the homes that we grew up in?” Purtzer is only one of many creators struggling to make ends meet and questioning the crucial decision of staying in this creative city or not.
According to the Harvard Business Review, social distancing, intended to physically disrupt the spread, has severed the flow of goods and people, stalled economies, and is in the process of delivering a global recession. That is why medical and policy innovations are crucial for the recovery of the economy. The pandemic has shined a light on the inequities and issues that can be fixed regarding the wealth gap and the transportation of knowledge, goods, and money in order to remain a healthy and fair economic system.
THE TIGRAY GENOCIDE
*multiple mentions of sexual assault and murder*
There has been ongoing tension between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray’s People Liberation Front since 2018 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was elected. After decades of TPLF rule, Abiy Ahmed made it his focus to centralize and unify the nation. The Prime Minister restricted the power of regional governments, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he postponed regional parliamentary elections across Ethiopia. Tigray, however, violated the cancellation and proceeded with the elections, consequently, lawmakers cut funding to the region. The growing hostility between the two parties reached its peak on November 4th, 2020 when the Ethiopian government launched a six-month-long state of emergency on the Tigray and shut down Tigrayan internet and phone connections. Government officials have claimed that a reported attack on federal militia from TPLF in Tigray triggered the issuing of the state of emergency. Since then, a series of unfortunate events encompassing death, illness, starvation, and diaspora have ensued in Tigray. Thousands of families are left displaced and many more dead. A copious number of Tigrayans have embarked on an exodus to neighboring countries seeking asylum; hundreds of these being orphaned children. Ethnic targeting and cleansing have become a nightmare turned reality for Tigrayans and it doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon.
Tigrayans citizens are currently facing a communications blackout and are unable to speak out about the atrocities occurring in their homeland. Electricity has been restored in some areas of Tigray, yet the vast majority do not have access to phone services and even light. An anonymous business owner living in an area where power was restored stated, “The lights came on Sunday, while on and off, telecom services were working since Sunday. My immediate family is safe, but I don't have information on the safety of other family members living in other parts of Tigray." Stuck in the middle of conflict, many Tigrayan citizens are unable to access accurate information regarding their situation and the next measures being taken towards peace. Slowly, cities in Tigray are receiving their telephone communications and electricity back, but a lot of people are still left in the dark.
The Tigrayan Crisis has left approximately 4.5 million people in need of urgent assistance and aid. Over 2 million people were left displaced and have abandoned their homes to seek refuge in neighboring countries like Sudan. Multiple reports have expressed a very clear concern and fear for their lives in this conflict. As the crisis ensues, Tigrayan citizens are still targeted by Ethiopian militia and killed or attacked for no reason other than being from the region. Another citizen who wished to remain anonymous stated, “I personally attended the funeral of three people. But I know many more people that were killed by Ethiopian security forces, mostly soldiers when they allegedly broke the curfew.” Along with the troubling number of civilian murders, many homes, businesses, and hospitals have been looted and have left Tigrayans with little fundamental supplies or resources. Additionally, there have been a high number of reports regarding rape and sexual assault. Some Tigrayans have spoken out and stated that family members were forced to have sex with other family members by order of Ethiopian defenses. A large number of women have attested to being raped by members of the militia or forced to have sex for basic supplies and necessities. As the rate at which Tigrayan women and girls are raped accelerates, sexually transmitted diseases grow in numbers among the population.
One cannot determine the outcome of this civil unrest, however, there are things that you can do to assist the Tigrayans in these pressing times. The region of Tigray is in desperate need of humanitarian aid and philanthropic workers are unable to access their location. One thing that you can do is to share and spread awareness on the genocide, tell your loved ones! Additionally, if you can, please donate to the children and families in Tigray as many are facing food insecurities and homelessness. The site savethechildren.org is currently accepting donations, proceeds will go to those suffering in Tigray. Like Mark Twain said, “History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes” and ethnic cleansing often fueled by this feeling of superiority is something we have seen several times throughout history.
THE MYANMAR COUP D’ETAT OF 2021
Myanmar is a fairly small Southeast Asian nation with a diverse population, but since February 1st, the nation’s democratic government has been overthrown by the military. The cruel military of Myanmar had detained several civilian leaders, including state counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They also shut down the country’s internet and cut off all lights. Myanmar had been a democracy ever since 2011, but the coup d’etat turned the country into a full military rule, the first carried out since 1962.
The main reason the military has decided to perform a coup d’etat over the country is due to the tensions between Myanmar’s democratic party and its army-backed opposition. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won the parliamentary elections against the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The NLD won the election by a landslide and state counselor, Suu Kyi has gained a lot of support from the public, despite the criticism she and her party received for their response to the genocide against Rohingya Muslims in 2017. The Rohingya are one of Myanmar’s ethnic groups who faced brutal violence, rape, destruction of their homes, and were denied citizenship and excluded from Myanmar’s 2014 census because they were seen as illegal immigrants. Most of the ethnic groups evacuated the country during this time and sought refuge in Bangladesh. Despite a report made by UN investigators claiming Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and rape under “genocidal intent,” Aung San Suu Kyi denied these allegations and claimed the army was targeting militants. The USDP accused the democratic party of electoral irregularities with little evidence offered and alerted authorities to have another election that is “fair” and stated the early voting had “errors of neglect” and violated many laws and procedures. However, Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) rejected the re-run and claimed that the accusations were unfounded. Because of the anger held by the USDP toward the elections, they detained state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders.
When the military seized power in a coup, they cut off internet services and took news channels off air, except for one military-owned news channel which announced that commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing was now in power. The stock markets and commercial banks were closed, while residents were rushing ATMs and markets to stock up on food, money, and other supplies. For 50 years, the military was the most powerful institution of the country as it had control of politics, economy, and every facet of life, but there have been conflicts with ethnic minorities and soldiers have been linked to human rights abuses as can be seen with the Rohingya crisis. Min Aung Hlaing was picked as Myanmar’s commander in chief in 2011 when the transition from a military-controlled government took place and he oversaw the violence inflicted upon the Rohingya community in 2017. The United States punished Min Aung Hlaing for human rights abuses related to the Rohingya crisis in 2019, but the investigation is still ongoing. In addition to this, a 2019 UN report found that the military used its businesses and arms deals to support brutal operations such as forced labor and sexual violence against ethnic groups.
The relationship between Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi was weakening from the moment Suu Kyi took office in 2015 and was wildly popular domestically due to her standing against military rule. As a way to constrain her power, the military-drafted a constitution that bans anyone with foreign family members from becoming President as Suu Kyi had a British husband. However, the NLD created the position of a State Counsellor, making Suu Kyi the leader of the country. Days before the coup, there were intense meetings held between Ming Aung Hlaing and Suu Kyi’s envoys discussing the elections, which didn’t go well. Analysts believe that the new parliament opening in the capital was an advantageous moment for Hlaing to assert his power because the members of the parliament would be grouped in Naypyidaw. It wouldn’t be difficult for the military to put them all under house arrest at the same moment. The Myanmar Assistance Association for Political Prisoners documented that at least 133 government officials, legislators, and 14 activists have been detained as of February 2021. Suu Kyi is under house arrest and charged with breaching the Import-Export Law, while expelled President Win Myint is accused of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law. The trial for Aung San Suu Kyi began on February 16 with Suu Kyi having no legal representation and it is believed the trial could take up to a year.
Protests began in the middle of February as millions of anti-military activists went on a general strike on the country’s streets. Several protestors were killed by the military, including two unarmed protestors killed by security forces in Mandalay on February 20th. Civil servants, doctors, bank workers, and day laborers are protesting against the coup, showing the broad scale of the strike and a civil disobedience movement that paralyzed the banking system, making it difficult for the military coup to get anything done. As a way to resist the protestors, the military erected barricades, deployed soldiers in riot gear, and stationed snipers along protest routes. On February 28, the armed forces fired on demonstrators in several cities, killing 18 people and wounding some. Videos were taken of the soldiers firing at unarmed protestors at random and in the city of Dawei, the police opened fire on a crowd of hundreds, killing at least 3 people and wounding 50. Killings also took place in the cities of Yangon, Mawlamyine, Myeik, Bago, and Pokkuku as a result of ammunition being fired.
As a response to the coup d’etat, on February 10th, the president of the United States, Joe Biden said he had approved of an executive order to immediately punish the leaders responsible for the coup. He also called on the military to release the detained activists and democratic leaders. The Biden administration reported that they will be freezing U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s government and will prevent military leaders from accessing some $1 billion in Burmese funds. Many countries all over the world are also taking measures against the coup d’etat in order to prevent the military from making matters worse in Myanmar, but the military’s next steps regarding the coup are dangerously unclear.
COVID-19’S IMPACT ON THE AMERICAN ECONOMY
Elijah Marcel Rabin
Ever since March 2020, COVID-19 has ravaged our economy, left millions jobless, kept us at home for well near a year and even taken away some of our loved ones. Even now, we still feel powerless against the seemingly never ending virus, and sometimes it feels like nothing has changed since lockdown first started. However, things are getting better, and even though it might not feel like it, we are getting closer to the end of lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. There are still a lot of aspects of the economy COVID continues to affect, such as tourism and small businesses, and today I am going to look at what rebuilding will look like.
In March of 2020, the Coronavirus started to spread around the world, and towards the end of the month the World Health Organization declared the virus to be a global pandemic. We have not faced a pandemic like this since 1918, meaning virtually no one had any real experience solving pandemic related issues..
At first, the government said we needed a two week lockdown to get everything in order, then everything would be back to normal. But after those two weeks were up, people realized that this lockdown would not be so short. Americans were not eased into this lockdown either, rather it all happened at once, which ended up causing a mass panic that shook the nation. People rushed into supermarkets grabbing everything they could, especially, toilet paper.
This kind of panic frightened others, and many people were afraid to leave their homes. With this combination of total fear in America, and the fast rate which the virus was spreading not just here but also in Europe and Asia, people would not leave their homes, meaning things like theme parks, movie theaters, and restaurants, were no longer options. What this meant, was that there would be a huge decrease in tourism, causing an economic blow for the United States.
According to Brookings, in pre-COVID times, the city of Orlando was America's leading city for tourism. They raked in a whopping $26 billion dollars per year, and with new attractions always popping up, that number was sure to continue to grow. However, one of the main reasons why tourists love this city so much is that there is simply so much to do. You could go to Disney World, or Universal studios. You could travel to one of Orlando's many beaches, or visit a historical monument.
The wide variety of activities made sure that tourists always had something new to do and spend their money on. But, with the spread of COVID-19, nearly all of these places were shut down, and even if they were open, chances are people would be far too scared to show up. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida saw a 35.2% decrease in tourism in the first half of 2020, a devastating blow to the local and nationwide economy. What happened in Florida reflects what happened throughout the entire country, and the combination of Americans scared to go outside and people from other countries scared to come here caused many big businesses to lose millions, but they weren't the only ones who lost a lot.
A decrease in tourism has been one of the main economical issues coronavirus has caused, but over time we will start to see an increase in tourism again, once COVID starts to go away. So, even though America has lost a lot of money over the past year, in time that problem will end up solving itself. However, there is another issue that will not be as easy to solve, and that is the issue of small businesses.
Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen small businesses all around the country struggle to prosper, and many had to temporarily or even permanently shut down. According to The White House, over 400,000 small businesses had to temporarily shut down, meaning they would not be able to do business with any customers and their services would not be available for an unknown amount of time. This also led to many people being forced to file for unemployment, and as of March 2021 over 10 million people are still unemployed in the country. This is an improvement from where we were just a few months ago, but that number is still alarmingly high, and there is also another issue which has to be faced- businesses that closed for good.
According to PNAS, in July 2020, 1.8% of businesses said that they were closed for good. However, that number has continued to rise through the length of the pandemic, and we are still seeing a rise in small businesses having to close due to the fact that people simply don’t have extra money to spend right now. Most people are limited to spending their money on things that are essential (food, rent, and medical bills), and many people are struggling to keep up with the costs of these things.
Unfortunately, this isn't the kind of problem that can just solve itself, but there are numerous ways that it can be, not necessarily solved, but made a bit better. If you have some extra money lying around and you are debating what to spend it on, consider going out and supporting your local small business. It may not seem like much, but these small businesses need your support now more than ever. A country can not just immediately recover from an economic crisis, but if we all work together to support local businesses and manage our money wisely, we will be able to help restore America to its previous economic state.
THE BIDEN TRANSITION
Elijah Marcel Rabin
On January 20th, 2009, Joe Biden became the vice president of the United States. Eight years later, he left the white house and was replaced by Mike Pence, but now he is back, and he is no longer the vice president, he is now the president of the United States of America. Over the last four years, a lot has happened under the Trump administration, and Biden has promised the American people that he would do his best to reverse a lot of the things that Trump has done. Let’s take a look at some of the things he has already done, and some of the things he plans to do over the course of his presidency.
Most of you probably know that Biden and his supporters heavily disagree with a lot of the things Trump has done over the past four years. According to NPR, on his first day as president Biden rejoined the WHO, extended the interest pause on student loans, rejoined the Paris climate agreement, extended eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, halted the construction of the Southern Border wall, ended the Muslim travel ban, and a lot more.
This shows Biden's commitment to fulfilling the promises that he made to America, which pleased his voters, but enraged those who supported Trump and what he did. FOX News called out President Biden for signing more executive orders than any other president in history, saying his method is a “flawed substitute for legislation”. However, white house press secretary Jen Psaki saids that Biden's actions are justified due to the fact that he took office during an extremely difficult time, and that these decisions required “additional executive action”.
Although it may seem like Biden has already done a lot, there is far more work to do for him to fulfill the promises he made to the American people. One of his main promises was to rebuild the economy and send out more stimulus checks. According to Sky News, Biden plans to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, from its previous value of only $7.25 an hour. His economic plan will create 18 million new jobs, and he plans on reversing the tax cuts which have heavily benefited many wealthy people and big companies.
Biden has also promised to confront the issue of racial injustice heads on, something president Trump was not able to do. During the past four years, racism and injustice skyrocketed, with groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis holding large rallies and attempting to spread their influence through violent acts, threats, and media propaganda. Trump refused to condemn these groups, a large reason being that many of their followers voted for him, and he did not want to lose their support. Biden has repeatedly condemned these groups, and according to Business Insider, he turned down endorsement from neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. Biden also promised to help boost minority communities economically, and start home ownership and education programs in areas that need the extra assistance.
Another issue Biden has focused on is healthcare. During Trump's four years in office, he completely tore apart what Biden and Obama had instituted as America's health care plan. According to Sky News, Biden claims that he will reinstitute the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This means that approximately 115 million Americans will receive their health care directly from the government, through programs known as Medicare and Medicaid. Currently, you have to be 65 to apply for these programs, but Biden wants to lower the age to 60.
Trump has done a lot in the last four years, and Bidens supporters have made it clear that they want change. Biden knows if he wants to stay in office, he has to give them that change, and so far he has shown that he intends to keep his promises and bring the change that he and his supporters have called for. However, there is still a lot more for him to do before he can say he fulfilled his promises, and over the course of the next four years we will see what happens and hopefully we will be able to move forward as a country.
AN INTERVIEW WITH AMBASSADOR KARIN OLOFSDOTTER
It appears that Hunter Science has a Department of State now, as I had the great honor of being able to interview Karin Olofsdotter, the Ambassador to the United States from Sweden. I figured that something like this would be of great interest to a school that’s quite politically engaged, so I managed to get an interview over FaceTime on Thursday. We hit on subjects such as how the Ambassador got into this line of work, COVID, American and Swedish culture, climate policy, and of course, Swedish-American relations.
The first topic of discussion was how Olofsdotter rose to such a prominent foreign policy position. Sweden and the USA are close allies, both militarily and economically. Given this, I was surprised to learn that the Ambassador had never planned to enter this line of work, instead earning a degree in psychology and shooting for an HR career in the Russian private sector. These plans were derailed by the recession of the early ‘90s, and she managed to find a job at the hiring Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet). By 2011, she had become the ambassador to Hungary, a Central European country whose diplomatic relations with Sweden consist chiefly of their membership in the European Union and Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg. I asked her how that experience compared to her current ambassadorship, to which Ambassador Olofsdotter summarized that the biggest difference was the scale of duties and responsibilities that came with the job of Ambassador to the United States as opposed to Hungary.
We then delved into Sweden’s perspective on America today given the spread of the Coronavirus and flared political tensions. Ambassador Olofsdotter said that she couldn’t yet reflect on the COVID situation as the “situation was still developing”, but did call for progress and unity amidst the similar situations that Sweden and the United States had found themselves in due to our similar policies on the matter. She also took a slight jab at far-right media for their praise of Sweden after previously accusing them of succumbing to “socialism”. In regards to the current political situation, the Ambassador expressed concern about gridlock and domestic terrorism while praising democracy in America and emphasizing its importance on the international stage, another example of the close ties between Sweden and the United States. I then followed up on the topic of American foreign relations by asking her about the new Biden administration, to which Ambassador Olofsdotter expressed enthusiastic confidence in President Biden’s ability to follow up on his campaign pledge to renew America’s engagement and image internationally after a Trump administration that had been accused of nationalist isolationism. The Ambassador said that she was particularly pleased when Biden immediately returned to the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization. I asked if the Embassy had had much contact with the Biden administration outside of celebratory formalities, to which she admitted that there hadn’t been much through the embassy but pointed out that Swedish-American relations had been very lively in the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is the single largest security organization in the world and currently led by Sweden and their Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde. I also asked about the effect that the previous Trump administration's effect on Swedish-American relations, and the Ambassador replied by emphasizing the progress that Sweden and the US made in military relations during that time despite Sweden not being in NATO. Remembering that a primary focus of Donald Trump was to get our military allies to spend more, I asked if that had panned out for him but learned in response that that goal had actually been set in 2014.
Moving on to how the embassy functioned, I asked about how they advanced the interests of a small country like Sweden in such a large and influential country, and if they focused on pressing issues like the climate and an issue like culture given the sizable number of Americans tracing their heritage back to Sweden. To the first question, Ambassador Olofsdotter responded by essentially saying that Sweden punches above its weight. It may be the size of California and with the population of Michigan, but the small country is the 15th largest investor in the US, and Swedish companies are responsible for more than 360,000 jobs across all 50 states according to the Ambassador. In other words, Sweden isn’t small potatoes in Washington. She also said that climate reform was a key issue in Swedish foreign policy, and hoped that America would follow in the footsteps of climate-friendly Sweden. An example she gave was the recent innovations in fossil-free steel by the company SSAB, and said that most Swedish ventures have paths to being green at this point. I asked her about whether Sweden’s policy on nuclear energy (which is seen as a key resource moving forwards in energy) would possibly hamper climate relations, as while President Biden seems to be moving towards expanding in that sector the Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven has been more restrictive on the matter. Ambassador Olofsdotter dismissed these concerns saying that while Sweden isn’t opening any new plants anytime soon, they are open for private ventures and will not be ramping down nuclear energy. After this, we circled back to my other question about ambassadorial priorities, Swedish-American cultural heritage. I asked about whether the Ambassador or the embassy engaged with Swedish-American institutions such as the Swedish Church’s American branches or the Nordstjernan (North Star) magazine. She replied that yes, they did. The Ambassador said that she was engaged with the Church and gave a speech there and read each new issue of the Nordstjernan, complimenting their work. She also highlighted the embassy’s work with universities (especially in the Swedish-heavy Upper Midwest) offering Swedish-related courses, and their work with neighboring Norwegian and Danish cultural organizations. For my final question, I turned the topic to her engagement with American culture. I chose sports as the focus, as that’s one of the few universal cultural aspects across the country. The Ambassador said that she had been exposed to some American sports culture, and said that when she met with former President Trump upon being appointed to the role of Ambassador to the United States he immediately started talking about golf (to think!) and the prowess of Swedish golfers Henrik Stenson and Annika Sörenstam. She also spoke about the many Swedish players on the NHL’s Washington Capitals, but said that she herself was not engaged with the matter. Ah well.
Thus concluded the interview with Ambassador Olofsdotter. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me, and of course incredibly interesting. I hope that you, the reader, found this summary interesting and engaging as well. Unfortunately we could not support the audio, so I hope I did a good job dictating and summarizing this. I would like to thank my friends at the Hunter Gatherer for providing some of the questions I asked, to the Swedish Embassy in Washington for organizing this, and to Ambassador Olofsdotter for being so gracious and humoring me.
THE INDIAN FARMER PROTEST
Indian farmers have staged the world's largest protest in opposition to controversial agricultural marketing bills ratified in September of 2020. President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his approval for three agricultural bills and they were passed by the Indian Parliament. The bills were as follows: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the 2020 Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Despite this protest being the world’s largest it has received little news coverage and isn’t discussed as heavily as other current events. The controversy? Three agricultural bills were passed that lower restrictions for private companies and corporations. These bills ultimately put the livelihood of independent farmers at great risk. An equally pressing issue is the enormous amount of force used against the protesters. Many protesters have attested to harassment and severe police brutality as consequences for participating in the strikes. The ongoing Indian Farmers Protest demonstrates both citizen determination within a democracy and the gravity of corruption within upper governments.
These complex ordinances essentially lessen restrictions on the agricultural markets, allow for free trade between buyers and farmers without a stock limit or license and organize a structure for contract farming. The laws were originally intended to help farmers as India has one of the least productive and competitive agricultural markets. Many farmers suffer financially and have decided to take their own life, greatly increasing the suicide rate. The farming laws remove certain regulations and open space for private investors, assumingly encouraging them to invest in local farmers. These laws would also allow smaller-scale farms to sell outside of marketplaces and directly with agricultural business firms. Although these ordinances were designed to facilitate farmers in their trade, they put farmers at a disadvantage, and here’s why. The government purchases stocks of wheat and paddy rice from Punjab and Haryana farmers, providing a guaranteed minimum support price. The deregulation of farming markets ultimately allows private buyers to lower prices, influence crop prices to their favor through the exploitation of stock limits and crop supply, and the government to get rid of the minimum support price system. All putting a hindrance on the farmer’s ability to make adequate sales and money.
In August of 2020, Punjab and Haryana farmers began protesting these bills on a small scale. Soon, farmers across India contributed to the protests and too voiced their opposition and fear of continual financial failure. The farmers are demanding revocation of all the three Farm Bills and legal protections on the minimum support system. On November 25th, farmers banded together in a march to New Delhi, in hopes of increasing the pressure put on the government to meet their demands. However, these protesters were met with tear gas, water cannons, barricades, and other acts of excessive force. Following this was a 24-hour drone strike on 250 million protesters. There have been over 70 deaths as a result of this protest. Many farmers have attested to extreme violence from the police and opposers have shared their testimonies of a stoppage of opinion. Executive editor Vinod K Jose of The Caravan, an Indian investigative and independent media outlet, has spoken out about the magazine’s Twitter being blocked. According to aljazeera.com, “Critics say the government has used the mass demonstrations to escalate a crackdown on free speech, arresting journalists and freezing Twitter accounts.”
The three agricultural marketing bills passed last September and the protests that have arisen from these bills have shown the world many things. The most important being that corruption within governments is extremely dangerous and ultimately puts the lives of everyday citizens at risk. Also, these protests have proven the strength of a democracy and the great determination citizens express when their freedoms are compromised. There are things that you can do to help the farmers protesting in India, the easiest being to spread awareness of this conflict. Tell your friends and family, share posts you come across, donate! Visit https://www.saveindianfarmers.org for more information and to donate.
THE ETHNIC GENOCIDE IN CHINA
Over the past few years, a broad network of high-security facilities and internment camps holding Uyghur Muslims has been built across China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang. These facilities are surrounded by high walls, barbed wire, watchtowers, and cameras. Uyghur Muslims captured in these camps face daily psychological and physical torture and forced assimilation. Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim group, primarily located in Xinjiang, China. As of 2010, Uyghurs accounted for 46% of Xinjiang’s population although the number has been much higher in the past. In 1953, Uyghurs accounted for 75% of the population. The drastic change in percentage was due to the immigration of the Han Chinese into predominantly Uyghur located areas in Xinjiang. This was seen as a threat to the Uyghur’s cultural identity and economic opportunities. Today there are an estimated 1200 camps throughout Xinjiang. The first of many were captured by satellite images. In addition, according to US intelligence reports, there are between 800,000 and 2,000,000 Uyghurs held in these camps.
Concentration camps, expose innocent lives to severe damage and trauma. In these camps, detainees are subject to constant surveillance, regular beatings, and other forms of psychological and physical abuse. Uyghur Muslims are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol which is forbidden in Islam and Uyghur women are sexually abused and scarred. The Uyghur Muslims do not have a choice in entering these camps and are separated from their families for so-called ‘crimes’. Some of the ‘crimes’ include simply downloading WhatsApp or having too many children. Inside these camps, they undergo political indoctrination and persuasion through many forms. For example, individuals are forced to listen to long nationalistic speeches and lectures, forced to sing CCP songs, and learn Mandarin. Not only that but, cases of gruesome torture are apparent. People are being strapped to tiger/iron chairs and getting electrocuted while also being psychologically affected and interrogated. Recently, news about sterilization being forced on Uyghur women has risen and come to light. The Chinese are not only forcefully assimilating a unique culture but also erasing the potential generations and lives to come. This act goes under the definition of genocide. China’s handling with the Uyghur Muslims meets the criteria in section D, article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime, genocide. Furthermore, just recently on January 19, the State Department declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its repression of the Uyghurs. Uyghur Muslims in Chinese internment camps are not only being labeled and stereotyped as extremists but they are getting killed, brainwashed, and ordered to obey and praise the CCP.
The international pressure many countries have faced throughout the last few years tie into forced labor programs and how the outcome benefits the growth of the Chinese economy, production, and manufacture. Countries primarily in Central Asia and the Middle East have stayed quiet, despite ongoing protests by the public against the concentration camps. Also, this relies on the rest of the world buying these products, and supporting these large companies would mean supporting the free and forced labor of the Uyghurs. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) estimates, since 2017, 80,000 previously detained Uyghurs have been sent to factories throughout China linked with 83 global brands, such as Nike, Apple, and Amazon.
Many individuals that are falsely imprisoned in Chinese concentration camps are academics, journalists, professors, authors, and doctors. So the label of “re-education camps'' falsely represents and under plays the significance of the situation. The argument that Chinese officials and authority make while defending the imprisonment of Uyghur Musling in Xinjiang is, to protect from “potential” terrorism and classifying a certain group as a threat in advance. The Uyghur Muslims and other ethic and religious minority groups have been convicted of no crime, faced no charges yet China believes it can determine their guilt beforehand. Claiming that certain Uyghur’s have committed a pre-crime in advance is just an outrageous statement. Meanwhile, the Chinese government's main objective is to ethnically cleanse and erase the Uyghur identity and culture through a slow and systemic process. In addition, on top of oppressing the Uyghur group for many years, the Chinese government’s aim is to occupy their resourceful territory and forcefully assimilate this ethnic and religious minority group. This can be seen through the CCP’s denial of internment camps and withholding this incident from the general public. Overall, China’s concentration camps and relationship with the Uyghurs is a crime against humanity and the most significant thing to do is spread awareness and use our power to voice these injustices.
COUNTIES THAT FLIPPED IN THE 2020 ELECTION
As we all (hopefully) know, the 2020 Presidential Election here in the USA was a close and dramatic one, ultimately won by Joe Biden of the Democratic Party over then-incumbent President Donald Trump of the Republican Party. As a consequence, relatively few state counties were flipped. President Biden won 64 that President Trump had previously carried in 2016, and Trump managed to flip 15 that Secretary Hillary Clinton had won in that 2016 election for the Democrats. Here’s a guide to these counties and a map of them with Clinton-Trump counties in red and Trump-Biden ones in blue:
ALASKA (Won by Trump):
Anchorage (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
ARIZONA (Won by Biden):
Maricopa (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1948)
CALIFORNIA (Won by Biden):
Butte (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Inyo (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
COLORADO (Won by Biden):
Alamosa (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
Chaffee (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Garfield (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1992)
Pueblo (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
DELAWARE (Won by Biden):
Kent (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
FLORIDA (Won by Trump):
Duval (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1976)
Pinellas (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Seminole (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1948)
GEORGIA (Won by Biden):
Burke (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
IDAHO (Won by Trump):
Teton (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
ILLINOIS (Won by Biden):
McLean (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Kendall (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
INDIANA (Won by Trump):
Tippecanoe (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
KANSAS (Won by Trump):
Johnson (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1916)
Riley (Flipped from Trump to Biden, never previously carried by a Democrat)
Shawnee (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1992)
MAINE (Won by Biden with 1 out of their 5 electoral votes won by Trump):
Kennebec (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
MARYLAND (Won by Biden):
Frederick (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
Kent (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Talbot (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
MICHIGAN (Won by Biden):
Leelanau (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Kent (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Saginaw (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
MINNESOTA (Won by Biden):
Blue Earth (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Clay (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Nicollet (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Winona (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
MISSISSIPPI (Won by Trump):
Warren (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
MONTANA (Won by Trump):
Blaine (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Won by Biden):
Carroll (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Hillsborough (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Rockingham (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
Sullivan (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
NEW JERSEY (Won by Biden):
Gloucester (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Morris (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
NEW YORK (Won by Biden):
Broome (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Essex (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Rensselaer (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Saratoga (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
NORTH CAROLINA (Won by Trump):
Nash (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
New Hanover (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1976)
Scotland (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1984)
OHIO (Won by Trump):
Lorain (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1984)
Mahoning (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1972)
Montgomery (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
OREGON (Won by Biden):
Deschutes (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1992)
Marion (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
PENNSYLVANIA (Won by Biden):
Erie (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Northampton (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
RHODE ISLAND (Won by Biden):
Kent (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
SOUTH CAROLINA (Won by Trump):
Clarendon (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1972)
Dillon (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1988)
SOUTH DAKOTA (Won by Trump):
Ziebach (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
TEXAS (Won by Trump):
Frio (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
Hays (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1992)
Jim Wells (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1972)
Kenedy (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2012)
Kleberg (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
La Salle (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1972)
Reeves (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
Tarrant (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
Val Verde (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 2004)
Williamson (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1976)
Zapata (Flipped from Clinton to Trump, last carried by a Republican in 1920)
UTAH (Won by Trump):
Grand (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
VIRGINIA (Won by Biden):
Chesapeake (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Chesterfield (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1948)
Lynchburg (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1948)
James City (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1968)
Stafford (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1976)
Virginia Beach (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 1964)
WASHINGTON (Won by Biden):
Clallam (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
WISCONSIN (Won by Biden):
Door (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
Sauk (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2012)
WYOMING (Won by Trump):
Albany (Flipped from Trump to Biden, last carried by a Democrat in 2008)
TRUMP'S ELECTION LAWSUITS
Elijah Marcel Rabin
The votes have been counted, and the results are in: Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the 2020 election, taking the position of president away from Donald Trump. Millions of people celebrated his victory, and Biden himself has started planning what he will do once he enters office on January 20th. However, Biden's victory came as a surprise to many, including President Donald Trump, who refused to believe that he lost the election, and is doing everything he can to stall the transition, with the hope of ultimately stopping Biden from becoming the 46th president of the United States.
On Wednesday, November 4th, when votes were still being counted, Trump filed lawsuits against Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia after Joe Biden took an unexpected lead in all three states. Trump's main reasoning is that there was fraud in many of the mail-in and early votes, which is what he believes changed the course of the entire election. However, these claims are not based on actual evidence, and according to The Washington Post, mail-in ballots only have a 0.0025% chance of fraud. This would be pretty big if Biden's victory margin was small, but he won by over 7 million votes! This means that even with the potential fraudulent votes subtracted, Biden still would win the electron by a pretty significant amount, which makes Trump’s lawsuits seem even more illogical.
Trump announced that he is suing because he believes the election was “stolen from him.” These baseless lawsuits are also due to an extreme distrust on the topic of mail-in voting in the Republican Party. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in voting has become extremely popular. However, Republicans predicted before the election that mail-in voting would result in a democratic victory, so they launched a campaign against mail-in voting, which only stopped their own supporters from using mail-in ballots. According to The Wall Street Journal, they also sued over the deadlines for accepting ballots, which shows the level of desperation they reached at that point in time.
Naturally, many republican politicians sided with Trump when he first came out with the accusations, mostly due to the fact that their own supporters also supported Trump, so if they went against him they would lose a large number of votes. However, due to the events that took place on January 6th, Trump lost nearly half of the senators who supported him, resulting in a nearly unanimous decision that Joe Biden will be transitioned into the white house on January 20th. According to Vox, the senators who objected were “Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Cynthia Lummis (WY), John Kennedy (LA), Roger Marshall (KS), Rick Scott (FL), and Tommy Tuberville (AL).” These are all well known Republican senators, who have sided with Trump on many issues in the past, so it is no surprise that they have chosen to side with him on the matter of this issue.
Trump has put a lot of money and time into these lawsuits, but it looks like it may all be for nothing. According to CNBC, on December 12th Donald Trump officially lost the election lawsuit in Wisconsin. Wisconsin was one of the main states that turned the tide of the entire election when the late mail-in votes came in predominantly for Biden. Most of the lawsuits against Pennsylvania, the state worth the most electoral votes out of all the states Trump sued, were abandoned only about a week after Trump started them, and on January 7th, Trump ended all 4 remaining lawsuits in Georgia.
Fortunately for Trump, there is a silver lining. During the duration of these lawsuits, he received a large number of donations from his supporters, and according to the New York Times, he pulled away with nearly 250 million dollars, so even though he will no longer be in the White House, he will still be doing everything in his power to try and take down Biden, and try to get himself back in power.
BIDEN'S CORONAVIRUS PLAN
Elijah Marcel Rabin
After more than a year of campaigning throughout the country, and an extremely stressful few days of tallying the votes, a winner has been declared: the democratic candidate Joe Biden. Even though many of us may feel relieved, there is still the question of what is going to happen once Joe Biden takes over. The Coronavirus is now spreading at a rapid rate across the country and many places are once again shutting down. The economy is still in a very bad state, and according to marketplace.org over 12.6 million people
are jobless. The country is still struggling with many issues, so at this time we’re asking ourselves-- what now?
Coronavirus. One of the biggest problems we have faced in modern times. Last October we never even heard of it. Now the entire world has been shut down and nearly 1.4 million have died. In America alone, we have lost over a quarter-million people and 12.3 million have been infected. We, by far, have had the worst response to this virus than any other country in the world, and we have been and still are paying for it.
The best way for us to move forward as a country is to have everyone comply with the rules by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing until a vaccine is made public, however, many people are not willing to do so and our numbers reflect that. However, considering that our current president has denounced the use of masks numerous times and has held rallies with turnout in the tens of thousands, a change of leadership may be what America truly needs. Trump's plan was a failure, and even though he is not willing to admit that, it is clear to see that it is, so what will Biden do differently than Trump?
There has recently been a surge of new COVID cases, and Biden is about to take over in the worst of it. According to CNBC the United states has reported nearly 200,000 new cases on Friday November 27th, and over 1500 deaths. The graphs show a severe spike, and we are now in an even worse situation then we were in April, which was previously the month with the worst average cases.
Bidens has to get a lot done to get America back on its feet, but he believes that before he can do that he must restore three major things- trust, credibility, and common purpose. According to Biden’s website, he wants to “Stop the political theater and willful misinformation that has heightened confusion and discrimination.” Biden wants scientists and public health leaders to be the ones who tell the people how the country will move forward, because they are the ones who know the most about the virus and how we can take preventive measures to stop it from spreading.
Trump named Mike Pence the head of the Coronavirus task force back in February, which was not the best idea. By letting Pence lead the task force Trump paved a way for the Coronavirus to become a political issue then one of science. According to The New York Times, “In taking a leading role in managing the White House’s response to the pandemic, the vice president and his team had an agenda that extended beyond public health.” This means that coming up with a good solution to the Coronavirus will take much longer than it should, because of the fact that politicians will be more concerned whether it will help their own agenda rather than if it will help the American people. Biden plans to be extremely direct with the public and plans to put experts in charge, so that a vaccine can be accurately tested and distributed to the masses as soon as possible.
Speaking of a vaccine, two have recently been found, one by BioNTech and one by Pfizer. However, distribution will not be easy, and The CDC predicts that “adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021.” Even though the news of a possible vaccine is great, there is still a lot of work to be done, which, of course, Biden has a plan for.
A main part of Biden's plan for distributing the vaccine is to have it distributed by major stores which have locations nationwide such as CVS and Walgreens. According to NBC News, Biden sees these stores as “key distribution points for the general public”. Since they are so widespread and trusted they should be the perfect places to start vaccine distribution, and hopefully convince people who may be opposed to vaccinations in general to get this vaccine. By making it easy and safe to get vaccinated, hopefully the majority of people at risk of catching the virus will be able to get a vaccine, which should reduce the spread a huge amount.
The vaccine is also supposed to be extremely effective, and according to The New York Times, Pfizer recently announced that “an early analysis showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective.” This is an incredible turnout for a vaccine candidate, and a much needed or too. To put that number in perspective, this season's flu shot is approximately 45 percent effective, which is half of the effectiveness of the Coronavirus vaccine. This should not only help reduce the spread of COVID, but may also be able to help small businesses start opening up again and can help people get back to their jobs.
Unfortunately, this vaccine will not be publicly available for quite some time, and for now the best option we gave to stay safe is wearing a mask. However, people still need to go to work and children still need to go to school, so the thing Biden must focus on now is testing.
Bidens team has agreed that the best way to encourage people to get tested is to expand the availability of cheap, easy and rapid tests. According to politico.com, Biden plans to do this by “using the Defense Production Act to beef up the supply of pipettes, chemicals and other key testing materials; and strengthening federal coordination of testing.” By doing so he will help expand rapid Coronavirus testing to all over the country which will not stop people from getting infected but will stp those who are already infected from spreading it, which can help lower the number of cases significantly until the vaccine is produced.
MODERN DAY SLAVERY FOR WOMEN
Archi Das Gupta
Currently, 24.9 million individuals are being human trafficked globally, of this number, 4 million are the victims of sex trafficking(According to ILO). 99% of the victims of sex trafficking are women as they are the most vulnerable to sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the exchange of humans with the end goal of constrained work, sexual subjection, or commercial sexual abuse for the dealer or others. Human trafficking is the elephant in the room that politicians and citizens alike are turning a blind eye to. Human trafficking comes in a multitude of forms, such as forced labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage, and other illegal activities. In terms of sexual exploitation, this includes forced prostitution and pornography. Women who are trafficked are conversant with psychological abuse, physical violence (homicide and torture), horrible living conditions, sexual violence, malnutrition, and extreme deprivation. Women are more vulnerable to sex trafficking because of sexual pleasure or marriage because it is mostly men who “purchase” these women.
Human trafficking has become a hidden epidemic that the world continually chooses to ignore. This form of modern slavery is a heinous practice but makes for a lucrative business, which is what has caused its prevalence. Human trafficking is a worldwide business worth about $150 billion a year. There are many risk factors for women that leave them vulnerable to trafficking. These variables include the inability to protect themselves, disruption of connections to social and family support, being a part of a marginalized group, prior trauma, mental and physical disabilities, and citizenship status. Traffickers tend to use the internet to seek out vulnerable people who are depressed, detached from their surroundings, and in need of job opportunities to become their next victims. Traffickers often disguise themselves as employers, potential friends, or potential romantic partners and young girls often fall prey to these traffickers through the process of grooming.
The statistics for escaping is unknown as victims often get shipped off to other parts of the country or world. However, female victims that can escape are left with permanent, invisible scars such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, becoming suicidal or suicide ideation, and dissociative disorders. Women are already more prone to depression after puberty, so imagine how damaging the effects of human trafficking has on them. There are also visible scars left on women, according to the American Psychological Association women develop “neurological issues, gastrointestinal disturbances, respiratory distress, chronic pain, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), urogenital problems, dental problems, fractures, and traumatic brain injuries.”
But there is still hope for females involved in human trafficking and things you can do to help them. Ways you can help are by staying alert to the indicators of human trafficking. Some indicators include discernable malnourishment, indications of physical wounds and abuse, appearing to stick to scripted or practiced reactions in social connection, lacking authority ID archives, and poor physical or dental wellbeing. These indicators are provided by the Polaris Project. You can support victims of human trafficking by advocating for anti-human trafficking organizations by volunteering or donating,e being aware of the human trafficking hotlines, or by supporting the people around you who are susceptible to trafficking... Ask state officials what they are doing to combat this epidemic and help make more people aware of human trafficking by organizing fundraisers and other awareness events. These are just some of the many ways you can become a part of the solution to end human trafficking.
TRUMP VS. BIDEN- STRATEGIC ADVANCES AND EFFECTIVENESS
Elijah Marcel Rabin
The year 2020 has been one of the worst years in modern times. We have experienced a pandemic the likes of which we have not seen since 1918. We watched as our cities burned to the ground because of a failed system that was meant to protect us. We have been on the brink of war multiple times and watched in fear as a small group of people decided the fate of an entire nation. And throughout all of this, one man has sat on his throne watching from his protective bubble. Now, we the people have the chance to change everything, to turn this awful year around with something as small as a slip of paper. I am talking about the 2020 election, and here is what you need to know about how each candidate is planning to rise to the top and how effective their strategies have been in this election like no other.
The Trump Strategy
President Donald J. Trump has proven that you do not need to be a politician to take the spot as President of the United States of America. In the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, President Trump emerged victoriously, however, 2020 is a much different year than 2016, so how is Trump adjusting his strategies to reach American voters in 2020?
One of Trump's main strategies is one we have seen before. Trump believes that one of the best ways to reach undecided voters is not to attack the democratic candidate, but to attack the entire democratic party A 2019 NBC News report stated that Trump claims “Democrats are becoming increasingly totalitarian,” accusing his opponents of "trying to overthrow American democracy to impose their socialism agenda”
As you can see, Trump loves attacking the Democrats and trying to “expose” them for being tyrannical and unsympathetic towards the American people. In reality, Trump is the one who has proven to be unsympathetic towards American citizens, mainly by holding large, mask-free rallies in the middle of a pandemic, yet another of Trump’s main strategies. Unfortunately for Trump, these rallies may in fact be harming his numbers more than they are helping.
Trump broadcasts tens of thousands of people in an enclosed space, none wearing masks or following social distancing procedures, he himself not wearing a mask or even encouraging the use of one, and after the rallies, an estimated 11% of people in attendance had reported that they had come down with coronavirus.
A recent CNN report claimed that “He prefers the safety and comfort of audiences that already embrace him over the uncertainty and risk of encountering those who don't.” This raises the question of Trump’s morality because he obviously knows the risks and is clearly willing to take them to gain popularity, so what does that mean for his supporters? If you are considering attending a Trump rally, please, wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing to the best of your ability, or just watch it on television and show your support another way.
One final strategy that Trump loves to use is making Biden and his family the targets of personal attacks to try to bring him down. Why does Trump do this? The answer is that Trump has simply run out of ways to convince people that Biden should not be president, and he had to resort to the worst possible thing he could do- attack Biden's family. Trump has criticized the Biden family for making deals with foreign countries and even accepting payments from them, however, these allegations all seem a bit sketchy and unbacked, and the sources they come from, seem odd as well. Another NBC News report “Giuliani claims to have obtained a trove of incriminating documents from a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden. Trump and Fox News have been obsessively pushing this all-too-convenient October surprise ever since.”
As you can see, these allegations have all come at an extremely convenient time, and Trump seems unable to NOT bring them up in a debate, which I believe is all part of something bigger. Trump has seen a huge decrease in his polling numbers, and it seems that he may lose this election altogether. That is why he has resorted to these attacks- not to help his polls but to directly hurt Bidens. Even if he does not convince these people to vote for him, all he has to do is stop people from voting for Biden.
Now that we have taken a look at Trump's strategy, it is time to take a look at the Biden strategy.
The Biden Strategy
Former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr. has been chosen as the democratic candidate in the 2020 election. The winner of this election will have to rebuild the economy, find a vaccine for the ongoing coronavirus, make some major reforms to law enforcement all over the country, and attempt to once again unite the torn apart nation. With the numerous attacks Donald Trump has used against Joe Biden and the vicious claims he has made about Biden being incapable of running the country, this all begs the question: what has Joe done to counter these attacks and how does he plan to win the presidency in the 2020 election.
As you know, Donald Trump has attacked Joe Biden at every chance he gets, and it's starting to affect Biden's bottom line. However, Trump has had more than his fair share of faults during the duration of his presidency, and Biden is willing to exploit those to help convince voters that Trump is not and never was fit to be the president.
During the duration of Trump's presidency, the American economy has tanked, and even though it has happened only very recently as a result of the coronavirus who is better to blame than the person in charge. This also gives Biden an opportunity to attack Trump for his failures, especially economically, and to announce his Build Back Better plan, which, if viewed as potentially successful, could help turn the vote in his favor.
During Obama's presidency, we saw on average annual GDP growth of 2.3%. In Trump's first years we saw annual growth of 2.5%, which beats Obama's average by 2.3%. Trump often bragged about how he has built up our economy as if Obama ruined it, saying things like “We built the greatest economy in the history of the world, and now we are doing it again.” However, things have really taken a turn for the worse for Trump and this year's numbers really do reflect that.
According to BBC News, “In the second quarter of 2020 - accounting for April, May, and June - the economy contracted by over 30%. ”In the past 70 years we have never seen a drop this large, and it doesn’t stop there. According to Market Watch, an estimated 22 million people have lost their jobs in the year 2020, and we have only been able to regain 42% of the lost jobs. This means that nearly 13 million people have lost their jobs due to the sheer incompetence of the government who have neglected the people of America and failed to stop this pandemic from having dire consequences.
Even though this pandemic and the effects it has had is at the hands of a large group of people, all heads turn towards the president who has blamed China, the democrats, and pretty much anyone he can blame to shift the attention away from himself. Biden recognizes this and has realized that he can exploit this to try and take Trump down and announce his own plan to build the economy back up once again.
Joe Biden's “Build Back Better” plan will supposedly create 5 million new jobs which would be a huge turn of events in this time of need and desperation. Biden unveiled that the plan would include a 700 billion dollar investment in procurement and research As you can tell, it will not be a cheap plan, but it will be crucial to building the American economy
Back to its previous state.
Even though Trump has failed to keep the economy stable and has caused a lot of damage throughout the country, his sensitive spot is still his coronavirus response. Trump has avoided questions about the coronavirus for a while now, and whether it's dodging them in interviews or during debates, he does not like the topic for one reason-- he has failed and cannot defend himself on that topic.
For starters, as of November 1st, the United States leads the world in Coronavirus cases and deaths, with a total of 9.4 million cases and 236,000 deaths. Trump himself has contracted the virus and was rushed to the hospital only a couple of days after. He has consistently shown his disregard for wearing masks and followed little to no safety procedures that the CDC and WHO have suggested. His general uncertainty about the entire situation was enough to sway some votes, but the fact that he was so careless as to get it himself is sure to affect many more voters' opinions on the matter.
People all over America are outraged about the virus which should've been contained and dealt with back in March. It has been said that Trump knew about the virus before it came to America and could have dealt with it long before it became what it is today. The Washington Post wrote that “President Trump’s decision to mislead the public about the severity of the crisis, his failure to listen to scientists about how to keep Americans healthy, and his refusal to implement a coordinated national plan to stop the coronavirus have all contributed to devastating results…” This really shows that Trump is more focused on his own agenda than the well being of the American people, which may have led to his downfall this election.
One simple way to summarize the 2020 election is to look at the polls. The website FiveThirtyEight has fairly accurate state-based polls. Of course, polls don't always reflect what actually happens, however they provide a somewhat realistic picture of what could happen.
The most important states in all of the elections are also known as the swing states. These states can determine the course of the entire election, and both candidates have fought ferociously to win them over. The states which have drawn the most attention of all the swing states are Florida and Pennsylvania. Florida is worth 29 electoral votes and Pennsylvania is worth 20. As of now, the polls show that Trump has 48.7% and Biden has 50.5%, an extremely narrow lead which could turn in an instant. Pennsylvania has a slightly larger margin, with Trump at 47.2% and Biden at 52.1%. Once again, this is too close to call and both states can still go either way.
Even though these states are crucial for both candidates, the swing states are usually close, and there is really no telling who they will go to just by looking at the polls. However, something else has recently come up which has undoubtedly shocked everyone. The states of Georgia and Texas, two states notorious for almost always voting red, may end up giving their electoral votes to Biden.
Georgia has not voted for a Democratic candidate since 1992, and currently, Biden is leading in the polls down in Georgia with a 1.0 point advantage. If Biden is able to claim both Georgia and Florida then he would be on course to win the election by a very slim margin. However, Georgia is not the biggest surprise in the election. The last election where texas voted for the democratic candidate was 1972, almost 50 years ago. That means it has been nearly half a century since Texas has voted for the democratic candidate. Trump currently leads Texas by a 2.1% margin, but, as we have seen before, the polls may not reflect what actually happened.
Overall, Biden is on course to win the election with a national lead of 7.3% (51% to 44%)you can’t be sure until it actually happens.
This election will be one of the most important elections in American history. We have lived through a pandemic, riots, been on the brink of war, and throughout all of it, we tried our best to make sure our voices continued to be heard, tried to keep hope and faith in our system and in one and other, and even though it may seem hard, even although all hope may seem lost, we will prevail. We will make it through this as a country, as a community, as a family. That’s why on November 3rd you must go in and cast your vote, for your future and for the futures of countless others. This is one of the most important decisions you can make, so choose it carefully and choose it wisely.
COVID-19 is a deadly virus which killed many people, it started at the end of 2019 and is ongoing with no vaccine to prevent it as of yet. This eventually led to the whole world going into lockdown. Nobody was allowed to leave their houses for months. In New York, early October, officials have reported several new clusters of Covid-19 cases and governor Cuomo laid out a new plan this week on how the affected communities will move forward. Kentucky and New York are among the 25 states reporting more new cases this week than the previous week, and Alaska and Montana reported record-high daily case counts this week. In Ohio, the governor said new cases are "trending upward," which means cases are going up everyday. At least a dozen states reported more than 1,000 new cases Monday. Four of them -- California, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- had more than 2,000 infections. Across the US, only three states report a decline in cases -- Hawaii, Iowa and South Carolina. Experts have warned the rise in cases will be followed by an uptick in hospitalizations and deaths. Researchers with the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation project the US could see more than 2,900 deaths each day by January. And in total, more than 360,000 Americans could be killed by the virus before the new year. So far, more than 7.5 million infections have been reported -- more than any other country, and more than 210,900 Americans have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Germany set a new post-peak record for new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 2,828 new cases. The number of people requiring treatment in intensive care and on ventilators also increased.
President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19 and he had some things to say. Trump turned to social media Tuesday to compare the coronavirus with the flu. "Many people every year, sometimes over 100,00, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country?" Trump posted. Trump was released from a three-day stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday where he was treated for COVID-19. In a video statement, Trump said people should not worry about contracting COVID-19. Data from Monday showed that 215,032 people in the U.S. had died from coronavirus. "No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!" (Trump on twitter) Trump has been released from the hospital after receiving special care which most people can't receive and he said on twitter, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Don’t be afraid of Covid? Don’t be afraid of a pandemic that has killed nearly 210,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide? That has run rampant without any coherent federal policy to try to combat it? If he meant when he said, “Don’t be afraid” that we actually should be terrified, that would be one thing. An advertisement released Tuesday by Republican anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project criticized President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus, specifically the American death toll.
Scientists just found out you can also get COVID-19 from cash. Recent studies show that COVID can stay on cash for upto 28 days. The coronavirus may remain infectious for weeks on banknotes, glass and other common surfaces, according to research by Australia’s top biosecurity laboratory that highlights risks from paper currency, touchscreen devices and grab handles and rails. In order to prevent Covid from getting to us we have to remember covid is still around and we have to stay quarantined. Which means, you stay at home. If you really need to leave your house, then you have to always wear a mask, gloves to protect your hands from touching anything that is infected and remain at least 6 feet away from others. The safer option is to just stay home. Your immune system needs to be strong in order to fight back. Some symptoms of COVID-19 are dry coughing, having a fever, body pain, and sometimes diarrhea.
This virus can be very deadly but there are many ways we can help reduce it. Always wash your hands in all the opportunities you get. It's safe to always carry hand sanitizer around with you so you can get rid of germs when you touch something. If we all work together and do the right thing, we can get rid of this virus. You have to make sure you're wearing a mask at all times when you are outside. If someone has the virus and you come in contact with them, wearing a mask will reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19.
THE EDUCATIONAL FUNDING ISSUE
Education is viewed as one of the most important disciplines a person can receive. It serves as a pedestal for the success of an individual because in most countries, employers tend to search for employees who have received college-level education or higher. However, in America, educational funding is massively lacking. Public schools in the country struggle to receive proper funding. In 2020, schools are lacking even more funds due to the effects of COVID-19.
Educational funding is money from local, state, or federal governments that schools use to buy essential resources students need such as textbooks, supplies, extracurricular activities or other resources that are essential to their education. The salaries of the school teachers and staff also depend on the funding schools receive. The issue with this method of giving government funding to schools is that the funding is disproportionately distributed depending on how wealthy the district is. Since a good amount of the money given to school comes from local funding, which is from property taxes, the money given to schools in wealthy communities far outweighs that given in impoverished communities. The federal government accounts for the low-income students and other students who require special needs, but it only consumes a range of 3 percent to 10 percent of the funding, depending on the state.
State funding controls most of the money that goes to school as the state decides how much money should be spent per student. The spendings range from $3,000 per student in the state of Utah to $11,000 in New York. Then the state calculates how much each school district can pay, and then pays rest of the money the district cannot. However, state funding possesses many flaws with its methodology as it is inequitable to take into consideration the cost of educating every student in a district and make it the same amount for every child, as some students require special needs and services.
Because of the outbreak of COVID-19 in America, school budgets are also expected to be cut, especially for schools that serve large populations of black, LatinX, and indigenous students. These minorities mostly live in low-income communities and districts, therefore their schools rely more on state aid rather than wealthier communities. Schools are now facing a crisis where they cannot reopen unless they can acquire billions of dollars from state aid which heavily relies on income and sales tax revenue, but the virus has caused an abrupt drop in both these sources of money. These billions of dollars account for the clean environment where students aren’t exposed to the virus or other illnesses when they walk into the school buildings. Resources such as clean bathrooms, proper ventilation, hand sanitizers, hand soap, and other hygienic necessities need to be provided for students. The federal government in most states has also decided to extend the deadline for people and corporations to pay their tax bills which only worsens the economic crisis for schools since they receive money from taxes.
The educational funding for schools may soon rise if the congress passes a bill suggested by Sen. Patty Murray in June 2020 when the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief (CCCER) Act was introduced. This bill will provide $430 billion of funding for child care, public education, postsecondary education, and workforce development. The Congress needs to pass legislation for this bill because public education is at great financial risk, especially during COVID-19. At this rate, schools may never get the necessary resources to reopen and provide students with proper education.
2020 ELECTION UPDATE: THE FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Though last night’s Presidential debate looked normal, the multitude of lies being spread held true to the insane, messy, political world that we have become so accustomed to for the last 4 years. Led by moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, answered questions on 6 topics ranging from Covid-19 to racial justice. Similar to the previous debate, both candidates had 2 minutes, uninterrupted to answer the initial question posed by the moderator. In order to allow the first 2 minutes to be truly uninterrupted, the candidate who wasn’t talking had their mic muted, a major change from the previous debate. Both candidates mostly stuck to the rules, and maintained decently respectful composers, allowing the viewers to actually hear what each candidate had to say - whether that was a good thing, is up to debate.
Though he changed his demeanor dramatically from the first presidential debate, President Trump began the night telling the multitude of lies that he is known for He continued this throughout the entire debate, painting himself as a hero of the American people - the president who combated the coronavirus from the very start, and has done more for black people than any other president than “possible Abraham Lincoln.” Though it was a welcomed change to be able to understand what either candidate was saying, this may have had the opposite effect of giving President Trump yet another platform, through which he could spread misinformation. Trump painted an unrealistic picture of his presidency and repeatedly attacked Biden for not having done anything during his lengthy political career. Trump’s goal for the night was clearly to discredit Biden’s authority and leadership, thus proving that he was the better candidate, however, as is typical of Trump, this plan backfired. Trump’s attempts to undermine Biden’s credibility caused him to contradict himself repeatedly, and stumble his points. Rather than show how much he has done in the last four years, Trump maintained his image as a political newbie who is all talk and no action by speaking in broad generalizations and refusing to directly answer any of the questions posed by the moderator.
While Biden did not have a perfect night either, the more civilized manner of the debate allowed him to speak about some of the actual policies he plans to enact as president. Biden outlined a clear plan for his response to the pandemic, his healthcare plan, and what he would do in regards to foreign interference into American politics and elections. Biden continued to divert the topic of fracking and didn’t offer a clear answer as to whether or not he would “end the oil industry,” however he did make clear the importance of environmental reform to his campaign. Biden addressed immigration reform and did something uncharacteristic of his campaign up to this point. Biden separated himself from former President Barack Obama and seemed to suggest that had he been president, things would have been done differently. Biden’s goal for the night was to simply maintain his strong position and support in the polls, and not give in to Trump’s attacks, which he seemed to accomplish.
Overall, the debate will have little effect on the outcomes of the presidential election that is rapidly approaching. This election season has been a rocky one, and we are about to round the turn to the finish. Whatever comes of this election will certainly shape the future of American Democracy - all that’s left is for the people to cast their votes, and then we will wait with bated breath to see what our future holds.
STATE SEN. JOSEPH L. BRUNO, NOTABLE NEW YORK POLITICIAN, DIES AT 91
Former boxer, State Senator, Senate Majority Leader, Lieutenant Governor, and Korean War veteran Joseph Louis Bruno (R- Brunswick) died at home on Tuesday at the ripe old age of 91 after a long fight with prostate cancer. He will be survived by five siblings, four children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Bruno was born about an hour north of Albany in Glens Falls on April 8th back in 1929 and grew up there in poverty. He would later graduate with a B.A, in Business Administration from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs and served as an infantry sergeant in the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. He then got into politics in 1966, working with numerous NY Republican groups and eventually getting elected to the State Senate in 1977 for the 41st District and transferred to the 43rd in 1982, a district in the southwestern part of the state which runs from a bit north of Poughkeepsie (the farthest north you can get on the Metro-North) upstate to the northern part of the Capital District where he took the opportunity to support such initiatives as high-speed rail, protecting consumers, and job programs. He then moved farther up the political ladder, becoming the Senate Majority Leader in 1994 and acting Lieutenant Governor in 2008 after a scandal forced Governor Eliot Spitzer out of office and elevated his Lieutenant David Paterson to the office of Governor. Bruno himself would step down from all of these posts later in 2008 ending an astounding 42-year career in New York State politics. But his story would not end there, as he would come under increasing scrutiny for the “Three Men in a Room” policies of New York’s state politic and become embroiled in a corruption scandal (unfortunately not uncommon in New York politics), being indicted on charges relating to allegations of being paid to use his position of power “to do favors for entities with business before the state” per The Saratogian. He would, however, be vindicated and cleared of all charges in a series of legal battles between 2009 and 2014 culminating in a federal trial.
So, to make this more personal you may be asking why I am memorializing this fellow, especially in this age of partisanship and government distrust. Well, I have my reasons. As I mentioned, Bruno supported many initiatives that I think are good and necessary, emphasis on high speed rail which I think will have a key place in environmental politics. He also came out in support of gay marraige which was instrumental in making it “acceptable” in this state. After all, the GOP claims to support liberty, it’s only logical. Speaking of the parties, Bruno came from an age before farther-right populism/”Trumpism” took over that party, hailing from the moderate “Rockefeller Republican” wing which had an especially strong stranglehold on the New York GOP to the extent where they got levels of support from staunchly Democratic voters including many members of my own family. He also was an advocate for building bridges and striking deals with members of that Democratic Party on the campaign trail and in the Senate, again reflecting an era that appears bygone despite the prosperity that it brought. The Northeast is a moderate region, and state politics have reflected that over the years. Bruno was also a firm advocate for the communities, towns, and counties in his district, getting them the attention and support that they deserved and they otherwise would not have received. He built special connections with those communities, something my family could attest to when he and my grandmother became good acquaintances because of his work for her (and my other) city of Saratoga Springs and the local Jewry. So, all in all, I believe that Senator Joseph L. Bruno should rest in peace. Like many, he wasn’t a perfect man but he was a good one.
2020 ELECTION UPDATE: THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
In a starkly different debate to what we saw last week, Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris took the stage to discuss issues from the Coronavirus to racial justice. The candidates were seated, 12 feet apart, with plexiglass shields separating their desks. Moderator Susan Page of USA Today outlined the rules of the debate - 9 sections which each consisted of 2 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time for each candidate, and 6 minutes of open discussion. Contrary to last week’s presidential debate, this event felt something like a return to normal politics - the candidates were actually able to talk without being berated constantly and were able to somewhat convey the policies that their President would support.
Senator Harris maintained a calm, joyful presence throughout the night, that only broke a few times where she shot Pence one of her signature “Mamala” looks. Harris referenced Vice President Biden many times throughout the night and referred to him as “Joe” in an attempt to humanize their connection. Conversely, Pence maintained the same neutral expression and remained so still that a fly that landed on his head, stayed there for the length of a full question. These drastically different appearances hold true to the image that has been portrayed by both parties throughout the entirety of the campaign - The Biden/Harris ticket is for the working-class American, while the Trump/Pence ticket represents business and conservatism.
Vice President Pence employed a more toned-down version of the tactics used by President Trump during his debate - interrupting his opponent, telling broad, sweeping generalizations rather than specific facts, and continuously ignoring the moderator and going over his allotted time. Though he didn’t answer a single question asked to him by the moderator, Pence would turn to Senator Harris and question her. His entire performance felt fake, as the picture he was painting of the Trump government was almost entirely false. His attempts at empathy came across as sickly sweet, rather than genuine emotion.
Senator Harris went into this debate with slightly less experience in this type of setting, however, she showed her strengths and succeeded in clinching a victory over Pence. Harris stayed true to the facts, something that her and Biden’s campaign has vowed to do since the beginning. Even citing sources when providing certain factual pieces, Harris provided more concrete evidence of what her ticket would do when elected president. Harris missed a few moments to refute some of Pence’s attacks, however, the majority of the time this felt like a calculated effort to not give in to vengeful arguing and to stay collected instead.
Though none of the results of this debate will change the nature of the presidential race significantly, it was a welcomed change of pace following the presidential debate of last week. Both candidates struggled to provide clear answers to every question asked, but it was easier to get a sense of where each party sees their government taking the country. Senator Kamala Harris certainly dominated this debate, but don’t forget the real winner - the fly.
ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM IN NYC
NYC is the most populated city in the US with over 8 million people in a mere 5 boroughs. This city, known as a “melting pot” for its high ethnic, linguistic and racial diversity, has one of the highest cases of environmental racism in America. Environmental racism is a relatively new kind of acknowledged racism as it developed in the 70s and 80s during the environmental justice movement. Natalie Collarossi, a journalist at Insider, defines environmental racism as “ the disproportionate impact that communities of color face by living near hazardous pollution.” There is a large concentration of power, sewage and garbage plants in areas of the city where minorities make up the majority of the population such as Harlem, the South Bronx, and inner neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens (Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Bushwick, and Jamaica). These neighborhoods are not only home to many Latinx and Black people, they are also home to many low-income families.
Environmental racism contributes to extremely high amounts of air/land pollution and dangerous toxins. Exposure to these hazardous chemicals and poisons lead to many short to long term health conditions and diseases. Pregnant people and children are especially compromised and are more likely to develop severe health conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema, cancer, accelerated lung aging and loss of lung capacity. Asthma is a very common condition developed from prolonged subjections to harsh air pollutants. In NYC, 10% of adults and 8.5% of children suffer from asthma. Of those adults and children, the majority are Hispanic/Latinx and are African American/Black. Coincidentally, these ethnicities make up the majority of the low-income population in neighborhoods that are located near sewage/power plants and industrial factories. These statistics show a trend of more pollution-based health conditions belonging to those of ethnic minorities and lower income status.
Environmental racism not only factors into pollution and health conditions, it heavily impacts the economy of these NYC neighborhoods. Connecting back to healthcare, environmental racism and its effects on the body, call for constant doctors visits and hospital fees which hurts already struggling families. Decreases in property value is another result of environmental racism. Additionally, the unsafe living conditions from pollutants in these neighborhoods require maintenance and constant fixing, contributing to the strain on the economy. Lastly, environmental racism doesn't allow for, and limits, economic growth within a community.
Environmental racism is an issue that NYC has been facing for quite a few decades. The people most affected by the disparities in pollution are already vulnerable and have additional struggles. It is 2020, and low income communities of color continuously face oppression. The best way to combat environmental discrimination/racism is to reach out to your policy makers and push that they create regulations and restrictions on these awful practices. Signing petitions and getting involved with local organizations against environmental racism are additional things that you can do to help.
WEST COAST WILDFIRES
Millions of acres of land have been burned across the West Coast, due to devastating wildfires that have been raging throughout the summer, and have continued into the fall. California and Oregon, areas already prone to wildfires, have been dramatically hit causing rolling blackouts, evacuations, immense destruction, and loss. The intensity of the situation has been amplified by the Coronavirus Pandemic which comes with increased complications amid the execution of evacuations while states already have limited funding to deal with the virus. The increasing span of these fires has been propelled by the increasing global temperature, and the already arid climate was made drier with the heat waves that hit California. With these horrible fires still raging, local communities are struggling to figure out how to come back from the devastation that has occurred and are urging local authorities to create solutions to prevent this from occurring on this scale again.
Many of the large fire complexes (groups of small fires that have become massive fires) began as individual fires caused by the actions of people, that grew to their massive size because the area around had become so dry. One such example is the El Dorado Fire which was caused by a gender-reveal party gone wrong. It has reached an estimated size of 22,744 acres and is only 93% contained after burning for over a month (per the San Bernadino National Forest Service). This is the case with most of the fires across the west coast, with only a few being started by natural means (lightning storms, extreme temperatures). These fires rage out of control and increase in size rapidly because of the increasingly dry climate. The areas being affected in California already had relatively arid climates, however, the dramatically rising global temperatures have dried those areas out even more.
As the global temperature continues to rise, experts suggest restricting people from moving to areas that are prone to fires, increasing the amount of fire-resistant materials supplied in those areas, clearing more firebreaks (areas cleared of vegetation to slow wildfires), and increasing the number of prescribed fires set. These are fires that are purposefully set and controlled with the intention of clearing lands to allow vegetation to grow more easily. By setting these fires, officials can control the amount and intensity at which they burn, in turn preventing large and out of control blazes from spreading freely. In order for this to be considered a possibility, however, local communities need funding from the state and federal governments. This funding is essential to preventing the mass destruction that has occurred this year from being repeated in the future.
What this all comes down to is a situation that has been amplified by a government that does not take the impacts of the climate crisis seriously. The reason these fires have caused such large-scale destruction is that the increasing global temperatures furthered the effects of the fires and sped their progression making them difficult for firefighters to control. It is essential that the government start taking this seriously and put into effect policies that work to reverse the effects of the climate crisis, especially within large corporations that pose the largest threat to the environment. It is also up to the citizens of the communities being affected to speak up about how they have been affected, for others to write to local and federal employees to enact change, and for the climate crisis to be taken seriously. We only have one planet to live on and we need to protect it in order to ensure the safety and prosperity of future generations.
THE ACCELERATION OF FOOD INSECURITY IN AMERICA
Archi Das Gupta
Food insecurity is prevalent in third-world countries, yet it is just as common in America. Food insecurity is when people do not have access to a sufficient quantity of food that is affordable and nutritious. 1 in 10 Americans does not have an adequate amount of food to eat. Furthermore, currently due to the pandemic, the rate has doubled which means the pandemic hit 23% of households earlier this year. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.7 million households have endured some type of food insecurity before the pandemic. This means 35 million Americans were uncertain about when their next meal was and had nights where they had nothing to eat. Though this is nothing compared to the statistics of other countries, America’s food insecurity is still a prevalent problem.
Elderly people, who are age 60 and above, are at a greater risk of going hungry due to inaccessibility to food. In a report done by the University of Kentucky states, approximately 5.5 million Americans who were 60 and older were food insecure in 2017. Even in 2016, the number of elderly people who were food insecure was 5.3 million. Experts prognosticate that the number will grow over the years as more and more people are becoming elderly. There is also evidence that elderly people who live in a multigenerational household are more likely to experience food insecurity(15.7%) than the ones that don’t (7.3%). The reason for this might be that there are too many mouths to feed and not enough food, money, and resources to sustain them. It is estimated by 2050 that the estimated senior population will grow to 104 million and more than 8 million elderly people will become food insecure.
But the elderly population aren't the only ones who undergo food insecurity, teenagers and children face it as well. There are serious complications that occur to children when they are malnourished and don’t have access to nutritious food. More than 48 million Americans were food insecure during 2014. Food insecurity not only influences children's health but it also affects their academics. Before COVID hit, for many children school meals were their only nutritious meal of the day. Every year during summer, 18 million children lose their free school meals. But thankfully due to COVID-19, the government issued $420 worth pandemic ebt cards that compensate for the four months of lunch food the children could not eat. Frequently people sacrifice health care for food due to their financial instability. In 2017 statistics show how 15.7% of the household in America contained children who were food insecure and from half of that 8 % contained adults who were food insecure. 2.9 million households contained children and adults who were both food insecure.
In conclusion one in eight households doesn't have enough to eat according to NY TIMES and America needs to take steps towards bringing food insecurity to a halt. To help with this, support local organizations whose purpose to stop hunger by donating to them. You can hold food donation drives and help schools start donation drives as well for hungry children. Advocate for food insecurity to your local government and advocate for fair wages as unemployment and food insecurity is directly tied together.
FORCED STERILIZATION AND THE MISTREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS IN ICE
On September 14, 2020, a nurse working at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia made serious allegations about the happenings at her workplace. She claimed in her whistleblower report that the female detainees at the detention center were having forced hysterectomies, a surgery where their uteruses are removed by a gynecologist named Dr. Mahendra Amin. Wooten found out about these forced sterilizations from several women who had come up to her to ask her why they had hysterectomies, who have referred to Dr. Mahendra Amin as the “uterus collector.” Allegedly, Dr. Mahendra Amin has forced about 17 women to be sterilized along with other gynecological procedures. This complaint made by a former nurse at an ICE detention center has shed much-needed light upon how ICE and the Trump administration mistreat and dehumanize immigrants.
Forced sterilization is confirmed as a form of torture by the United Nations, but that has not stopped America from seeing it as a way to target Black and brown people in America. The alleged surgeries happening in ICE are not the first forced sterilizations to have taken place in America. In the early 20th century, government-sponsored sterilization programs sterilized an estimated 70,000 Americans, mostly Black, brown, indigenous, and disabled people, in over 32 states, stated by the Center for Constitutional Rights. In California alone, 20,000 people in state institutions were sterilized during the 1920s and 1950s, most of them being Latinx women. In North Carolina, Black women made up 65 percent of those who were sterilized in the 1960s despite being only 25 percent of the state’s population. Over one-third of women in Puerto Rico were sterilized between the 1930s and 1970s. Since ICE detains immigrants who are mostly Black or brown, these statistics of mostly Black and brown women being targeted for forced sterilizations only help to support Wooten’s allegations against the detention center.
Wooten’s allegations about the forced hysterectomies were not the only complaint she filed against the detention center she worked at. In an interview with DemocracyNow, she says the first case of COVID-19 in the detention center was not reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and no worker or detainee was provided with a mask or other PPE. She also states in her interview that despite having sickle cell and being in danger of being dramatically affected by COVID, she was still told to report to work. An article titled “Forced Sterilization Accusations at ICE Facility Fit with Trump’s Poor Treatment of Immigrants” by Brennacenter.org states that, during the pandemic, the centers have also refused to reduce the number of detainees being detained, refused to test for COVID, and did not provide basic hygienic needs to prevent the spread of the disease. ICE officials have also dehumanized and mistreated the detainees by spraying them with disinfectants that have caused them to become gravely ill and have transferred detainees to a detention center in Virginia in order for ICE officials to ride on authorized planes for their own benefits. This caused the outbreak of COVID amongst 300 people, resulting in 1 death in the detention center in Virginia. This information of how the ICE officials treat the detainees also helps to provide evidence for Wooten’s allegations about how much the workers and detainees in the detention center weren’t accommodated for during the pandemic.
ICE has responded to Dawn Wooten’s whistleblower complaint in a vague way stating that they will be investigating the detention center in Georgia and if the allegations are proven true, they will take necessary measures to prioritize the health of the people working there and the detainees. Democratic leaders are also pushing for an investigation to be made in the ICE detention centers and for ICE to be abolished. Ever since the Trump administration took over ICE in 2017, immigrant detainees have been mistreated more than ever before and it’s unfair that these immigrants, who came to America for a better life, are faced with a situation that’s much worse than the lives they lived before.
2020 ELECTION UPDATE: THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden faced off for the first presidential debate in one of the strangest situations we have seen in modern times. While many viewers expected this much-anticipated encounter to result in an epic showdown, the result was more of a confusing, jumbled shouting match, akin to two toddlers arguing over who should get a toy. Standing at podiums from opposite sides of the stage to maintain social distancing, the candidates greeted each other with a head nod rather than shaking hands as is traditionally done. The debate descended into name-calling and he-said, he-said, rather than an organized effort to portray the merits of the two candidates, as the night wore on. Neither candidate truly stood out as controlling the entire course of the debate, with Trump being too aggressive, often trampling over Biden causing him to struggle to convey a clear response.
The debate was split into six segments, selected by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. Each candidate was given two minutes of uninterrupted time to state their answer to the given question, with the remaining 13 minutes dedicated to open discussion. Both candidate’s teams had agreed to these guidelines going into the debate, so the amount of chaos that ensued seemed unwarranted. Trump spent the majority of the night talking over Biden and refusing to let his opponent speak, even when directly asked by the moderator to remain quiet to allow for equal speaking time. Trump’s overly aggressive nature caused much of the event to feel unwatchable, as at many points it was difficult to even understand who was saying what.
The few times that Biden was able to speak uninterrupted, he managed to connect with the American people. At one point, when discussing Trump’s response to the Coronavirus and the over 200,000 lives lost, Biden looked directly into the camera and offered empathy to people who “woke up with an empty chair at the table.” Biden also was able to refute the repeated attacks by President Trump in regards to his son Hunter Biden, as well as the rest of the Biden family. Trump offered Biden no sympathy for the loss of his son Beau, reinforcing how little he cares about anyone but himself.
Trump was able to overrule Biden for most of the night, and though he did not make many clear points, he did seem to succeed in making Biden stumble. With his barrage of offhanded comments, Trump maintained the image that has followed him since the 2016 election; a bully who needs to have the final word. Trump’s biggest failure of the night was when asked by moderator Chris Wallace to condemn White Supremacist groups, Trump told the militia group, Proud Boys to, “Stand back and stand by.”
The debate concluded with a discussion on the legitimacy of the upcoming election, where Biden urged viewers to vote “in any way possible,” and Trump reinforced his fear-based narrative that mail-in ballots will result in a fraudulent election. Trump, aligning with his performance throughout the entire night, seemed to be arguing that there was no longer any validity in the system of American Democracy, and nothing should be trusted.
The performances of the night wrapped up unceremoniously with a “to be continued” slapped on, as time ran out and the candidates were told to end their arguments. America used to be the model for strong democracy in the world, but this chaotic mess of a debate was just embarrassing.
2020 ELECTION UPDATE: REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
The Republican National Convention concluded Thursday evening with President Trump formally accepting his nomination in a speech given to a crowd of 1,500, on the lawn of the White House. The crowd was seen milling about, mainly maskless and with no evidence of social distancing present. Though the white house and presidential resources are officially off-limits for use while campaigning, the current administration ignored that ruling and featured speeches by the First Lady and President in front of the white house, a speech given by the Vice President at Fort Knox, and various prerecorded segments taking place in and around government facilities. These acts reflected the attitude that was presented by the people who spoke at the convention, as they presented lies about the state of the nation, and reinforced fear-based allegations that portrayed the Democratic Party as radical and demonic. The entire convention was cloaked in political fanfare typical of Trump, and this closing held true to that.
Though the Trump Supporters who spoke at the convention claimed that their party is committed to freedom and hope, they spent the majority of the event speaking negatively about the Democratic Party and Joe Biden. Countless claims were made that the nation under Biden’s leadership will descend into chaos and disrepair. Speakers compared Democrats to “vengeful mobsters” and “socialists,” and claimed that they would push the “radical left agenda” onto the country. The speakers pushed that Trump created the greatest economy in the world, and made other broad, sweeping statements in regards to his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Though the majority of their allegations were flat out lies, people believe the things that were said and that is why fact-checking and accountability for politicians is crucial.
One of the main focuses of the convention was Joe Biden’s faith (or in the speakers’ minds, his lack of faith). Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway stated that “Joe Biden is a Christian in name only.” This statement, though false, reflects the narrative that the Trump administration hopes to convey - that Joe Biden is a puppet to radical politicians and will ruin the great nation that we live in. At many points throughout the convention different speakers stated that we are “losing America.” They presented President Trump as a “hard-working man of the people,” “an outsider in Washington, and an advocate for middle America.” To back up this claim the convention featured some small business owners speaking on how Trump had helped them get through the hardships they faced because of the stay at home orders. While this may be the case for some business owners, around 30 million people are currently unemployed (Forbes) and over 180,000 people have died from COVID-19 (CDC). The US remains one of the only developed countries in the world to have this high of a rate of death, and transmission from the virus and Trump refuses to take credit for any of this.
With the election rapidly approaching, voters have an important decision on their hands. The Republicans have taken the route of fighting dirty, debasing their opponent on a personal level, and flat out lying about the state of the nation. While they claim that America is the “Greatest country in the world,” the US still does not have control of the coronavirus and is facing one of the largest social uprisings since the 1960s with people from around the country coming together to demand racial justice. The Republicans claim that “America needs saving,” but who does America really need saving from?
2020 ELECTION UPDATE: DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
“Build back better,” were the words echoed by countless politicians, public figures, and celebrities during the Democratic National Convention last week. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention, originally slated to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took place over a unique platform combining prerecorded video messages with live video conference calls the party gathered a diverse group of people to speak to the strengths of former Vice President Joe Biden, reinforcing the notion that he is the candidate America needs to combat the multitude of injustices currently facing our nation.
The Democrats opened the convention by addressing the issue of racial inequality in America. This step reflected the recent Black Lives Matter protests highlighting the horrors of systemic racism. The Climate Crisis, one of the most pressing issues facing our world, was briefly addressed on night three, with the party promising to take further steps towards reversing the extreme impacts this crisis has had. Night two featured a strong emphasis on providing health care for all people and support for military families, featuring Dr. Jill Biden delivering the keynote address where she discussed her work as second lady. The unique role call that took place virtually gave the viewers a feel for the breadth of the nation that Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will represent if elected in November. The delegates were featured in prominent locations in their states and spoke to the necessity of a candidate who can be the voice of every person across the nation.
As represented throughout the week, the convention focused on the down to earth, family man that is Joe Biden. Various people who had interacted with Biden spoke, telling anecdotal stories of how he gave his phone number out to anyone who asked, called his grandchildren every day, and rode the train home every night in order to tuck his two young children into bed. From the elevator operator who presented his nomination to Senator Amy Klobuchar, everyone who spoke had a story of Biden’s kindheartedness. The Democrats used this representation of his character to prove that as president, Biden will work to make sure every voice is heard.
The Democrats presented Biden as the candidate that will be able to govern for the entire nation. On various nights, Republican politicians, including Governor John Kasich, spoke on behalf of their party, noting that in this time of national crisis voters need to consider which candidate will truly be able to solve the issues facing the United States. The coronavirus pandemic took heavy precedence in the speeches given by politicians, with the consensus being that America needs a leader who will listen to science, acknowledge the loss that has occurred, and take the next steps needed to defeating the virus.
Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris spoke on the third night and reminded the voters watching that she will be the voice “For the People,” as she promised to govern for all of the underrepresented voices in America. Harris shared the story of her childhood and praised her mother for being a role model, thus teaching her to be the strong woman that she is. Concluding the convention, Biden took the stage on Thursday night to deliver his speech accepting the nomination to be the Democratic Presidential Candidate. In his address Biden spoke on all of the issues that had been presented throughout the week, reminding the voters watching that their voice is necessary to determine the future of this country. He spoke on the greatness of The United States and that he is proud to represent the people of this nation, urging everyone to vote. As his speech drew to a close, Biden stated that he believes “...there is only one way forward. As a United America.” In one sentence, Biden summed up the Democratic Party’s platform. They will represent all of America, and now, more than ever, that is what is needed.
UYGHUR MUSLIMS HELD IN INTERNMENT CAMPS
TW: sexual assault, abuse
For the past 3 years, a scary and disturbing truth has been withheld from the public eye. Currently, there are over 1 million Uyghur Muslims being held in ‘re-education’ camps, located all over East Turkestan, better known as Xinjiang. In these camps, Muslims have claimed to endure torture, medical experiments, and sexual assault from guards, among with tons of psychological abuse.
The vast majority of Chinese citizens are atheists, practice Buddhism, or adhere to the practices of ancient Chinese/Ethnic religions. A mere 2% of Chinese citizens make up the Muslim population, of this group, all Muslims face persecution because of their religion. Islam was introduced and brought into China in the 7th century, however, the maltreatment and oppression of Muslims began in the 18th century when officials became more restrictive and control over the areas where the majority of Muslims lived. After that, the tolerance and acceptance of Islam in China decreased greatly. Then during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 and 1969, Muslim oppression took a turn from mild to critical. Qurans were burned and destroyed, mosques were defaced and converted into Communist Party buildings, and Muslims were banned from participating in the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). Many Chinese Muslims were then sent to re-education camps.
In 2017 Chinese officials began sending Uyghur Muslims to the said re-education camps formerly known as vocational skills training camps. These camps are claimed to be for the purpose of countering terrorism and promoting Sinicization. People in these camps were not chosen due to being terrorists, they were rather chosen due to performing suspicious or what China deems as heavily religious activities. Some instances that the Chinese government believes are cause for punishment are worshipping at a mosque, wearing a hijab, or even obtaining a passport. Escapees or family members of people in these camps have attested to the horrors and torture that Muslims experience. Prisoners in the camps are punished for the tiniest of things, some of these punishments are fingernails being ripped out, being deprived of food, and being beaten by electrical batons. Muslims are subjected to medical experiments without knowledge of what is given or what effects can happen to their body. Women are also forced to have abortions, given contraceptives and injections that induce infertility. Data leaked from the Chinese government uncovers the brainwashing and psychological trauma that prisoners suffer. Translated areas of the document states orders such as, “Never allow escapes, increase discipline and punishment of behavioral violations, promote repentance and confession, make remedial Mandarin studies the top priority, encourage students to truly transform, ensure full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots.” (bbc.com). Additionally, one woman declared that she among 200 other prisoners were forced to witness the gang rape of a young woman. The former inmate states that the woman was forced to confess her sins while naked and when she finished numerous guards began to rape her. The guards checked back on the prisoner and punished the inmates that closed their eyes or had an emotional response to the assault. Another man attests that the Muslims were forced to eat pork and sing praise to the communist party; those who refused were tortured in 5 different ways. The testimonies and the data are only a small part capturing the horrors of what goes on in these internment camps.
In Xinjiang and other cities with a majority Muslim population, the Chinese government uses high surveillance and extreme security as a means to monitor Uygher Muslims. With close supervision over Muslims, the government is able to view and scrutinize the behaviors of people, more often than not, Muslims that are deemed to be suspicious and/or terrorists are thrown into these camps where they face the cruel actions that were mentioned earlier in this text. This crisis going on in China is being hidden due to restrictions on interviews and journalism in the country but mostly in Xinjiang. Individuals not being allowed to accept interviews without government approval is just one example of the measures the Chinese government is taking towards preventing the situation from being let to light. Similarly to the concentration camps Holocaust, the portrayal of these camps is that the sole purpose is for rehabilitation, education, and training, thus providing a false perspective to other countries and outsiders. These courses of action just go to exhibit the government corruption and the tight control China has over its society.
Despite countless articles on Muslims in these camps, there has been little televised coverage on this problem. The most important thing to do is to spread awareness of this dreadful situation in hopes of actions being taken against China and the brutal and inhumane actions happening to innocent Muslims.
THE FORGOTTEN CRISIS
Archi Das Gupta
Yemen, the poorest country in the middle east, is facing multiple emergencies that are detrimental to human beings. According to UNICEF, there are around 2 million children under the age of five that are malnourished in Yemen. And no one is paying attention to their cries of help around the world and news outlets are failing to cover the crisis. 24 million people require help in Yemen as they require some form of humanitarian assistance. The situation in Yemen is declared as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world which says a lot considering the other major problems in this world. Yemen’s cries didn’t start recently, it started 5 years ago when the Yemeni war started. Initially, the Yemen crisis started during the Arab Spring in 2011. The Arab Spring was a series of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa resisting and opposing their governments. For Yemen, the Arab Spring turned Yemen into civil unrest and they became a proxy war.
Yemenis opposed their president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, because he was condemned for causing unemployment and he had a role in government corruption. The Houthis, a Shia minority rebel group, had a hand in the removal of Saleh. The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) stepped in and helped the resignation of Saleh and made the former Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, president. But once Hadi became president, the pressing concerns didn’t stop, instead more problems arose than solutions. Yemen was full of problems ranging from food insecurity to corruption to civil disruption to violence. The Houthis came back into the equation and they grew stronger as they allied with former president Saleh’s allies. Together both groups gained leverage and took over Yemen’s capital. Also, other players such as Al Qaeda and Daesh took advantage of Yemen’s situation. President Hadi had fled into Saudi Arabia which prompted Saudi Arabia to become more involved in Yemen’s affairs. Speculations grew as Saudi Arabia thought that their enemy, Iran, was assisting the Houthi rebels. The Houthis were inching closer and closer to Saudi Arabia’s border which the Saudi’s saw as a threat because of their speculations. This led to the formation of Saudia Arabia’s coalition which consists of Saudi Arabia, UAE (United Arab Emirates), and many other countries. The Saudi Arabia coalition’s goal was to put Hadi back into power. To do this they began airstrikes against the Houthis and these airstrikes were supported by world powers, such as the USA, the UK, and France. The USA participated by supplying billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia with the intention to target terrorist groups in Iran.
Over 19,000 airstrikes were carried out in the last four years and unfortunately, a third of these attacks were on non-militarized zones meaning marketplaces, schools, and hospitals. In addition, in 2015 the Saudi-Coalition created air, sea, and land barriers which blocked out aid to the 18 million Yemenis who require humanitarian assistance. Currently, the coronavirus pandemic paired with the uprising Cholera cases makes an emergency inside of an emergency. The statistics are ghastly as Yemen is facing one of the largest Cholera epidemics with close to 1 million cases reported in Yemen in the last six months. Though currently, the cases of coronavirus are low, this is because some cases are largely unreported. Half of Yemen’s population is on the brink of starvation as epidemics, pandemics are ravaging Yemen paired with the proxy war going on, Yemen is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. And there’s so many things you could do to help such as donating money, time, signing petitions or contacting your local government officials to help. Just $65 is enough to help feed five to seven people an entire month if you donate to Yemen Aid (Save Children in Yemen | Food Fund for Yemen Aid). You can help the people of Yemen who are suffering from multiple emergencies.
Ways to help:
This link shows different ways to donate to Yemen or help Yemen out.
DEBUNKING CORONAVIRUS MYTHS
Archi Das Gupta
As of the writing of this article, there are currently 301,630 people who are infected with the coronavirus in the world and unfortunately, there are 12,955 people who died from the virus. But falsifications and rumors travel faster than viruses. People are affirming that this virus will be eliminated if you take warm baths, or that snow can kill this virus, or that this virus can be transmitted through mosquitoes, but these are all invalid. The virus can be transmitted ubiquitously regardless of the weather, Malaysia whose weather is annually 73°F to 91°F has 1,183 positive cases, while Russia whose mean annual temperature is 41 °F, currently has 114 positive coronavirus patients. So as you can see, the weather doesn’t affect the transmission of the virus. SARS is a virus that is similar to COVID-19 and SARS can be killed at 132.8°F which is enough to cause 1st-degree burns. Therefore the temperature in different countries doesn’t affect the transmission virus unless the temperature is extremely warm to the point where it can cause burns. Another myth is that COVID-19 can be transmitted through mosquitoes, but no evidence suggests this. The only way this virus can be transmitted is through being near a person who is infected and the droplets of phlegm and snot through the nose. Another myth is that vaccines used for pneumonia can help protect you from the virus, and though there are pneumonia-like symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, chills this virus is different and new that it requires a distinct type of vaccine. But there is some good news, there are 20 new vaccines and treatment plans that are in their clinical trials, so there is at least some hope. But for now, we have to be cautious by not going outside and staying home at all costs. And if going outside is extremely necessary then make sure that your hands are washed properly with soap.
THE CLIMATE CRISIS
We all know the basics of greenhouse gases and why they are so bad for the environment but what is the reality of the issue in our hands? Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane are produced as by-products of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. These two gases are among two of the 3 main gases that absorb infrared heat from the sun in the atmosphere. An increase of these gases due to human activity creates the greenhouse effect, where these gases are preventing rays that enter the Earth from leaving, creating the Global Warming Crisis. These rising temperatures disrupt the carefully cultivated ecosystems that are millions of years old. Raising temperatures lead to events like the melting of glaciers in the Arctic, increased wildfires across the globe, the incline of natural disasters like tsunamis and hurricanes, and the extinction of animals that cannot survive in an environment that is evolving faster than they can adapt.
Oftentimes the effects of the Climate Crisis are evident but in other circumstances, there are unseen consequences. One of the greatest unforetold impacts is the creation of feedback loops, which is defined as a process, “which exacerbates the effects of a small disturbance” (Wikipedia). This means that environmental disturbances such as the release of carbon dioxide creates a cycle that amplifies the heating of the earth exponentially. The implications of this are troubling because that means the situation is more serious than we thought. Banning the use of plastics, and the reduction in gas consumption will not be enough to stop these feedback loops. Our lackadaisical efforts to reduce carbon footprinting will be in vain unless we make efforts to fully stop the burning of fossil fuel.
Recently, there has been a rapid outbreak of Coronavirus in China and a few other places around the world. Dominic Bailey, a journalist from bbc.com, characterizes Coronavirus as “common, and typically causes mild respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose. But some are more serious - such as the deadly Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).” Coronavirus is a crown-shaped virus that invokes flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. So far, there have been 45,171 cases of corona worldwide, China has the most cases with 44,653 reported so far. There are other people that don't reside and have contracted Coronavirus are located in other areas globally. There have been approximately 1,200 deaths from Corona so far. Scientists’ and doctors’ main concern with Coronavirus is in regard to the fact that there isn’t much information on the disease and they aren’t aware of the damage and effects that this can have on our society. Without knowledge of the virus, scientists are unable to produce a vaccine against it, therefore they cannot prevent the spread of a wider epidemic. An important thing for scientists and doctors to do is to research and investigate more about the coronavirus and its different strains in order to find a treatment/cure for it. Many countries are taking steps against Coronavirus, this includes travel bans, mandatory quarantines, etc. Some important steps to take towards avoiding the Coronavirus are to avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, stay home when you are sick, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. A common myth is that face masks are able to help in the prevention of coronavirus, however, face masks should be used by people who show signs of the virus and are generally suffering from a cold or flu, not healthy individuals who are hoping to remain healthy. If experiencing signs of coronavirus, seek medical help immediately and get tested.
The case for President Trump’s pending impeachment all comes back to one call on July 25th 2019 between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Allegedly, President Trump’s motive of the call was to pressure President Volodymyr into dredging up information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Additionally, President Trump is accused of requesting help from foreign people to help meddle in and change the result of the election. The main goal of the hearings is to discover whether or not Trump put his own personal motives over the standard and morals of our nation. So far there were 9 witnesses that testified against Trump in the public hearings. However, many people refused to testify against President Trump. The witness testimonies have made one thing clear- there was an apparent ‘quid pro quo’ between President Trump and President Volodymyr. A quid pro quo is a “ a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something “. In this case, President Volodymyr would investigate Joe Biden in return for military aid for Ukraine. Additionally, another thing revealed was that Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani contributed significantly to Trump’s alleged dishonorable actions. The next step to the impeachment hearing is for the House to vote on whether or not they find Trump guilty or not.
On December 18th, 2019, Donald Trump was impeached on charges of Abuse of Power and the Obstruction of Congress. This makes him the 3rd president of the United States to ever be impeached. The House of Representatives voted on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The next step in the process in the impeachment is for the Senate to vote on whether or not he should be impeached.
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES OF 2020
Michael Bennett believes in cleaner sources of energy, a strong agricultural industry, and quality education for all. This candidate claims that if elected president, he would fight climate change, help conserve wildlife and produce more jobs.
Cory Booker believes in abortion rights and affirmative action. Booker claims that if elected president he would do more to secure racial and social justice. The candidate is also a strong adherent of the Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill.
Joe Biden is a strong supporter of a more inclusive democracy. Biden wants to recommit to allies and demonstrate respected leadership, Biden also wants to rebuild the Middle Class and reconstruct the backbone of the country.
Steve Bullock believes that everyone deserves access to Medicare. He believes that the Affordable Care Act needs to be strengthened and improved along with Medicaid coverage. Bullock supports immigration and DACA recipients.
Julian Castro is a strong supporter of the North America Free Trade Agreement, universal pre-k, and universal health care. If elected president, Castro claims he would fight climate change and implement two free years of higher education.
Pete Buttigieg believes in rights for all people. He thinks that marijuana should be legal and the death penalty shouldn’t. If elected president, he would fight to eliminate the death penalty, restore voting rights to former felons, and reverse criminal sentences for minor drug-related offenses.
John Delaney is a strong advocate for universal health care and the resolution of important social issues in America. If elected president, Delaney claims he will end for-profits prisons and end the use of money bail.
Tulsi Gabbard is a firm believer in paper ballots and a higher minimum wage. Gabbard claims that she will abolish capital punishment and eliminate private prisons if elected president.
Kamala Harris is a firm believer of tax equality. If elected president, she plans to lower the taxes on the middle class and tax the wealthy more. Kamala Harris will also enact a ban on assault weapons to civilians, promote women’s rights, and create a paid national leave program.
Amy Klobuchar is a defender of health at affordability and consumer safety. If elected president, she claims to promote and ensure election security.
Wayne Messam is a big supporter of gun safety. Wayne claims that if elected president he would repeal tax cuts, resolve the student debt crisis. And resolve climate change.
Bernie Sanders believes in housing, college, and Medicare for all and supports the Green New Deal. If elected for president the candidate would ensure workplace democracy and would expand social security.
Joe Sestak is in favor of universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Joe Sestak believes there should be some limits on abortions and he opposes Medicare for all. However, he would expand the coverage in the US.
Tom Steyer is a supporter of non-profit environmental advocacy, and he is on a political action committee. Steyer plans to reform income inequality if elected president.
Elizabeth Warren is a strong believer in Medicare for all, equal justice, and ending the corruption in Washington. Warren plans to restore the Clinton tax rates, implement revenues to make college more affordable, decrease student debt and eliminate the electoral college.
Marianne Williamson is a strong advocate for disability justice and wants crime prevention. Williamson plans to enforce the whole student plan (k-12) if elected president.
Andrew Yang is a firm supporter of Medicare for all and human-centered capitalism. If elected president, Yang claims he will implement the freedom dividend.
The five top contenders for the primary democratic nominee/ candidate are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, and Joe Biden. Sanders, Warren, and Biden have the popularity and recognition of most of the American population. However, Yang, Booker, and Sanders withhold the debate skills and aggression on the stage, which puts them ahead of the other candidates.
THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE, YOUTH AROUND THE WORLD PROTEST CLIMATE CHANGE
On Friday, September 20, 2019, four million people around the globe protested against Climate Change and informed people about what could happen to our Earth without immediate action. Many of the protesters were students who boycotted school to march the streets of their city and raise awareness on how the Earth is paying for our actions. People have hope that the Climate Strike will influence global powers and leaders to make choices and enforce rules and regulations that would help stop, and hopefully reverse the damage to Earth. Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old climate change activist from Sweden who has played a big role in the protest and helped inspire the number of people who actually showed up to support the cause. In her speech at the UN Greta said, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.” The belief being spread by her and many of her supporters is that people must stop focusing on the materialistic things and begin to focus on our environment, specifically the damage that humans have caused. Politics and money aren’t the only things that should concern people, our dying planet should be the top priority. Many other young activists released similar messages at the strike. Isra Hirisi, a 16-year-old from Minneapolis, Minnesota stated prior to the march, “I’m striking on September 20 because it’s important to represent not only myself but a community of people who are being impacted by this issue but don’t have a seat at the table.” Hisiri and millions of other young people are standing up to fight against climate change and the lack of support from our political leaders. Political leaders have a responsibility to protect the people of the world, as well as the planet that we all call home. The current political leaders aren’t assisting in the restoration of the active deterioration to Earth, which means young people need to change how things are currently run. The most concerning issue presented by these young people is the aftermath of the destruction of the planet on them. After Earth is completely damaged and we have created a toxic and uninhabitable land, what will this generation do? This is the reason for protesting and why they choose to raise awareness. Youth today are doing more for the Earth and society than past generations have done, they are inspiring other people of this generation that they have a voice and they too can help make a change.