Category Archives: News/Op-Ed

News/Op-Ed: The Problem With Legal Fairness, And How To Depoliticize the Federal Courts

by Joaquin Medrano, Managing Editor

As tensions keep rising inside the government due to the nomination for the vacancy in the Supreme Court, the question of loyalty versus honest service alarms the American people.

“He [the president] shall have Power… [to] appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” US Constitution Article II, Section 2, Clause 2.

Included as one of the presidential powers, the appointment of a nominee for the Supreme Court is heavily discussed, as Presidents will most likely favor members of their political party.

It is no surprise really that President Trump would do the same, as a Supreme Court position is vacant after the death of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

In historic events, the second President of the United States, John Adams, appointed 42 judges to both circuit courts and the Supreme Court on his last day as president in what is referred to as the “midnight judges”, in order to keep his political party’s interests dominant for a while.

The job of a Supreme Court Justice is essential for the American government, as they hold great authority over the law and order in the country, having the power of judicial review, where they can literally change or add a change to the Constitution, creating a whole new system.

But, what is the problem when parties take over the system to look over their interest instead of the people’s interest? Is judicial review too much power for a person to have, and should the people elect Supreme Court Justices, instead of the president having the full power to appoint someone from within party lines?

Well, while many theories can be created on whether the system is rigged, or possible changes to the system, the problem is obvious, as it is one that has granted presidents to keep their power going even after they leave office through the Supreme Court Justices they nominated to stay politically loyal. 

The nine Justices that serve on the highest court are all selected at one point in a presidency, by whoever is President when a vacancy needs to be filled, whether it is a conservative or liberal president. They decide on cases based on the ideologies of their parties and try to support their claims by deeming something constitutional or unconstitutional as their power allows them to. 

Now, if taken into consideration that human rights and the well-being of a state has nothing to do with power and political loyalty, why is this still a big part of the US system?

The short answer would be power, money, and hierarchies, but the answer as a whole is way more complex and has to do with history and the foundations that lay out the powers of government, the Constitution.

In a heavily politicized world from the beginning, the Constitution was created to settle the responsibilities of the government, and what is deemed legally right, and what is not. 

Whether they were based on principles of truth or not, the United States was divided between federalists and anti-federalists, which influenced the decision making into what the constitution was and how everything was modeled after.

Now, to discuss what could have happened in history is not the point, but rather how society can move on from the past and look into the future.

In a system where the courts decide on the future of a nation, politics has nothing to do with the decision-making process.

Looking for loyalties in order to keep a job defeats the purpose of Democracy, of a Republic and a legitimate state.

Nominees for the Supreme Court and any other high circuit courts in the nation should be nonpartisan and defend the constitution and the right of the people, and whatever that means for everyone is up to interpretation – but they should not show allegiance to a particular party. 

Whether more justices from a nonpartisan perspective are added, or all nine justices are remodeled to defend the law without any worries of political strategy, the system needs to be changed, and if it doesn’t change, peace around the country is only a utopian dream rather than a reality.

Cases such as Roe v. Wade show that it is possible to break party lines when deciding cases, as the majority of the Court was conservative, yet they decided to put those values aside and interpret their best version of law without putting party loyalties before the country. 

Rights are established, they are not controlled by a single party or the mentality of a single person, rather by what neutral law explains, which is that the sense of freedom and what is needed for life to be enjoyable are the qualities a government offers to the people but never controls.

Even as nominees can now serve as a way to entertain the people on whether the candidate answers something wrong, and then people mock them, it is really a decision of life and death. If the nominee does not serve for the country over their party, it can move a regime from democracy to authoritarianism in a manner that is technically considered legal under the Constitution. 

George Washington, the first President of the United States, advised the people to not make these mistakes in his farewell address by saying that political factions can only be effective when destroying the integrity and unity of the nation, while preventing the branches of government from working to help the people.

It is not a matter of left or right, blue or red, or right versus wrong; it is about country, the United States, and the powers of the Supreme Court are greatly influential in the system of the creating order, which may spur political parties to work hard and prevent success from happening in this vast nation. 

News/Op-Ed: President Trump And Former V.P. Biden Spar In Newly Formatted, But mOre conventional, Debate

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

On Thursday night, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in the first debate since September 29th and the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis, with new regulations set by the Debate Commission in order to prevent the difficult conundrum and vitriol faced in the first debate. 

US President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden clash during the final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, October 22, 2020.

Since the first presidential debate on September 29th in Cleveland, Ohio, the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have embarked on two completely different paths as the country nears Election Day. Just two days after the first presidential debate, on October 1st, President Trump, his wife Melania, and youngest son Barron all tested positive for COVID-19. After roughly two weeks of recovery and a controversial stay at Walter Reed National Medical Center, the President has gone back to holding campaign events and downplaying the virus in order to maintain a stranglehold on his base of support. 

On the flip side, former Vice President Joe Biden has continuously tested negative for COVID-19, while exhibiting extreme caution and hosting either socially distanced or virtual campaign events as he holds on to a national lead in the polls and in various battleground states. 

While the campaigns of both candidates have continued to operate in their usual different ways, both President Trump and former Vice President Biden have taken outside hits with alleged corruption scandals. On the Democratic side, Vice President Biden has faced a myriad of criticism from the President and the GOP after reports that his son, Hunter Biden, received $3.5 Million dollars from Russian and Ukranian shady business deals, which Vice President Biden allegedly knew about, though reports are conflicting, with former intelligence officials believing the scandal – first reported by the New York Post – to be Russian disinformation.

Meanwhile, President Trump has had his fair share of corruption accusations and scandals levied against him in the past few weeks. Recently, a report from the New York Times revealed that the President had a Chinese bank account, which resulted in the President paying almost $200,000 in taxes to the Chinese government. Furthermore, Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City and a member of President Trump’s legal team, has been mired in controversy after he was egregiously caught making a seemingly obscene advance toward a woman in a scene from the mockumentary comedy film “Borat 2”, as well as delving heavily into the investigation of Hunter Biden’s purported Ukranian corruption.

On Thursday, October 22 at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, the collected and settled Biden and the unpredictable, unorthodox Trump sparred once again in a much more controlled debate due to changes made by the Debate Commission three days before the debate. The Debate Commission, after the chaotic first debate, ruled that the two candidates would have their mics muted while the other candidate delivered their two minute opening remarks to each one of the questions from the six debate topics, as well as any interruptions made by either candidate counting against their allotted speaking times. 

In the actual debate itself, the American people received what they didn’t in the first debate – a decent and controlled debate in which both candidates were able to debate policy and visions without hapless, cynical remarks and interruptions. The moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC, did a fantastic job handling the two personalities and ensuring each candidate was able to speak in their allotted times. 

In turn, the mere atmosphere of the debate for every American viewing at home was much less polarizing and contentious, and most certainly less of an anomaly than what Americans saw unfold last month in the first debate.

In every facet, the debate commissions rule changes, as well as moderator Kristen Welker’s conviction to uphold those rules, revitalized, even if in a very small way, the integrity of the debates, and allowed the American people to sit back, relax, and listen to the two candidates debate policy rather than deliver ineffective, mudslinging one-liners. 

The egregious debacle faced by Moderator Chris Wallace in the first debate was quelled by the compliance of the two candidates, the commission’s formatting changes, and Welker’s upholding of the integrity of the event. 

While critics may contend that the debate commission needing to make such changes is reflective of how traditional debate etiquette has gone awry, it may be a format the commission may continue to employ in future years to limit on-stage mudslinging, which may galvanize candidates into debating policy rather than engage in political food fights.

Most notably, President Trump appeared much more controlled and reserved than he was in the first debate, while former Vice President Joe Biden once again cleared the very low bar set on him by the President and right-wing media outlets by speaking directly to the American people and discussing his policies in detail. 

Despite the foregoing compliments on both candidates, it is imperative to understand that while the debate was controlled, it did not come without intensity and mudslinging. At the very beginning of the debate, when moderator Kristen Welker asked the candidates about COVID-19, President Trump instead touted the economy while also promising a vaccine to be distributed by the military “within weeks” while also saying that the virus is “going away”, to which the former Vice President responded by saying that the President does not hold himself accountable, nor does he have an adequate plan to reopen the economy, combat the virus, and put America back on track. 

Much like the first debate, there was a clear difference in rhetoric between the two candidates, with President Trump blaming Democrat Governors and “blue states” such as New York for their “failures” in controlling the virus, while the former Vice President said that he does not see the states as “red” or “blue”, but as simply the United States of America. 

Then, when it came to talks of foreign policy and protecting the elections from foreign interference, the mudslinging truly began, even if in a much more controlled manner than in the first debate. 

The former Vice President stated that if he were President, Russia and Iran would pay the price for interfering with American sovereignty and meddling with elections, while calling out President Trump for his ineptitude in responding to Russia and Vladimir Putin’s interference in the 2016 election. In response, President Trump erroneously claimed that Russia and Iran did not want him to win reelection, basically hinting at the fact that if the election results were meddled with, it would be skewed in favor of Vice President Biden, not him.

Furthermore, President Trump levied an attack on the former Vice President as well as his son, Hunter Biden, on the aforementioned purported claims that the former Vice President used his position of power in order to benefit his son and the rest of the Biden family, receiving millions of dollars from Russia for shady business deals. 

One of the highlights of the night came when President Trump was talking about his great relationship with the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un and touting his foreign policy handlings because there “is no war” and there hasn’t been any nuclear tests, to which Vice President Biden responded, “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded the rest of Europe.”

The difference in vision was evident, with the President once again promising a health care plan that has seemingly gone astray throughout the President’s first term, while attacking Obamacare and saying that the former Vice President is turning to “socialized medicine.”

Nearing the end of the debate, President Trump slightly loses his cool, bringing up New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for their Environmental and Health Care plans, to which the former Vice President responded that the President is running against him, not them. 

The final question of the debate from Kristen Welker asked both candidates what they’d say to Americans who didn’t vote for them on Inauguration Day in January, and both candidates answered in a way that has reflected the way each has campaigned in 2020 and have spoken to the American people rhetorically throughout their political careers.

Vice President Biden responded by saying he would be sure to highlight that he is an American President and will represent all Americans in every state, while being a President who unifies by choosing hope over fear and science over fiction. President Trump responded by saying that success would bring people together, but still did not provide words of unity, continuing the divisive rhetoric he has relied on throughout his Presidency and campaign.

The presidential debate cycles are over – if there is anything to take from them, it’s that both candidates were galvanized to speak policy when it mattered most, engendering them to make a last push for the votes of the American people and secure the Presidency. 

News/Op-Ed: President Trump And First Lady Test Positive For Covid-19, Former V.P. Biden Tests Negative

By Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

Just two days after the first presidential debate in Cleveland, and only one day after a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, announced on Twitter late Thursday night that they both tested positive for COVID-19, were quarantined and beginning their process of recovery.

President Donald Trump stands on stage with first lady Melania Trump after the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The bombshell announcement comes merely hours after the announcement that one of the President’s top aides – Hope Hicks – tested positive for COVID-19 and had been exposed to the President numerous times, as she accompanied he and his team on Air Force One numerous times throughout the week.

Per usual for President Trump and his administration, the fundraising event in Minnesota – while outdoors – featured no social distancing, with the President failing to inform the crowd that he had been exposed to the COVID-19 positive Hicks.

After criticizing Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden at the debate on Tuesday for his consistent mask wearing as well as his socially distanced and virtual campaign events, the President has now contracted the same virus he’s been “downplaying,” according to interview recordings by journalist Bob Woodward, since its initial onset.

On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden stated on Twitter that he and his wife, former Second Lady Jill Biden, tested negative for COVID-19, while continuing to champion the same trust in science during the pandemic that has not been proactively vocalized by the President’s reelection campaign.

Throughout the year 2020, President Trump and his administration have remained consistent in their flagrant refusals to wear masks publicly, hosting indoor and outdoor campaign events with little to no social distancing and calling for cities to reopen the economy and scale back on restrictions brought upon by the pandemic. Most recently senior Trump officials were the only one’s in Tuesday night’s debate hall at the Cleveland Clinic to ignore mask wearing guidelines. Unlike some of the President’s family and closest advisers, who arrived at the debate without masks, First Lady Melania Trump was seen wearing a mask entering the debate hall, yet took it off after taking her seat.

Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for the virus on Friday morning and is still in good health. Furthermore, Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court Nominee put forward by Trump to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has also tested negative for the virus.

In just one month, the American people will head to polling locations and cast their ballots on Election Day. Over a million roughly have already voted. Heading into the final stretch of campaigning for President Trump and former Vice President Biden, it’s a disastrous development for a Trump Campaign that is attempting to weather low approval ratings and slipping poll numbers. Not to mention that there are two more debates coming up – one, as of now, scheduled on President Trump’s final day of quarantine.

On Friday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows continued to emphasize the fact that President Trump was still handling business as usual while recuperating from the virus at the White House. Originally, the President’s staff thought he’d be able to recover from the West Wing, but after experiencing mild symptoms Friday, President Trump was checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He will remain there a few days, according to administration officials.

Meadows also admitted that the President and his staff knew about Hicks’ positive test – as well as knowing they were exposed to her and could potentially have the virus. Nonetheless, the administration chose to move forward with a Thursday fundraising event in New Jersey as well as press briefings.

All year long, the President and his administration have been attempting to quell concerns among the American people by baselessly emphasizing that the peak of the pandemic was already behind them. Nonetheless, in the best case scenario, the President, who is at higher risk of struggling more with the virus due to his age and clinical obesity, can recover and not be seriously affected by it. But the short-term is a worst case scenario for the President, temporarily halting campaign events and putting the status of the October 15 second presidential debate in Miami in jeopardy.

News/Op-Ed: Pardon the Interruption… President Trump, Former V.P. Biden Collide In Chaotic First Debate

By Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

On Tuesday night, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in one of the most chaotic, insult-laden presidential debates in history, leaving political pundits stunned, American families appalled and the country in an untenable struggle for decency and civility. 

US President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden exchange arguments as moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace (C) raises his hands to stop them during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

Throughout the past few months, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has been subject to a litany of insults from President Donald Trump and his administration, who have directly attacked the former Vice President’s mental acuity as well as his record as a senator and the eight years he served under President Barack Obama. Despite the personal attacks and insults that Former Vice President Biden and his family have faced at the hands of the President, the former Vice President has maintained a stranglehold on his leads in the polls, while his opponent has continued to ignite his base despite low approval ratings. 

On Tuesday at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, the seasoned, veteran debater in the form of Joe Biden and the unpredictable, unorthodox debater in the form of President Trump had the opportunity to put the months of insults to rest and appeal to the American people by discussing policy, visions, and providing a semblance of unity through their rhetoric in a time where the country is experiencing tremendous political polarization. 

Instead of getting a civil, decent, and controlled debate, the American people witnessed a nightmare unfold right before their very eyes. The moderator, widely respected Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace, seemingly struggled to control the personality of President Trump, who continuously interrupted the former Vice President more times than Biden was even able to speak. Rather than employ a message of unity, optimism, and leadership, the President continued to evoke rhetoric that was divisive, despicable and abrasive – yet another trampling over norms of presidential etiquette by an administration that has continually embraced the unconventional, regardless of cultural backlash. 

This debate, amidst all the issues currently going on throughout America and on the global stage, could have been huge. One may argue that perhaps this debate could have been the one to change poll numbers, make undecided voters commit to a candidate or even change the tightly held perceptions some people have regarding the character of both candidates. The debate had all the potential in the world, and certainty all the subject matter that America cares about during this election cycle. The topics that were supposed to be discussed in detail, chosen by Wallace, were as follows: the Supreme Court and Trump’s nomination, the COVID-19 Pandemic that has killed 200,000 and counting, the state of affairs in America economically, the battles for racial justice, and the integrity of the election itself. 

The debate could have been memorable, an opportunity for both of the candidates to be a shining star during a time in our country where everything is bleak – but the American people were left with more questions than answers. Immediately following the debate, Americans on Twitter, reporters on CNN and Fox News, and many politicians were quick to discuss what they had just seen.

The debate had no clear winner. President Trump rarely followed the rules agreed upon by the campaigns, driving the discussion into tangents of low-blow attacks against the former Vice President, while Biden cleared a very low bar set by months of smears against his mental acuity. 

In every way possible, no matter how people now and in the future decide to digest and analyze this debate, one thing is clear – the losers in this debate are the American people, as well as the integrity of our Democracy that is being taken down and overthrown by thuggish rhetoric. The people are suffering because of the utter embarrassment and shame that comes with seeing two grown American men – who are in a battle to run the free world – unable to engage in a debate that should have been civil, informative and unifying for a country that is bleeding for hope and leadership. 

After everything the American people have been through in 2020, Tuesday served as an opportunity to provide optimism in a better direction for the future and ignite the bases of two campaigns that have many flaws. Instead, it was the American people who suffered and were left with nothing to cheer for, nothing to feel proud of, nothing gained in terms of who has a better vision for our nation. 

In lieu of finally getting an opportunity to see what former Vice President Joe Biden would do differently than Trump as President to fix the economy, healthcare, the environment and social injustice, the American people weren’t able to hear his words over President Trump’s consistent interruptions, side comments and insults. The highlights of the debate for former Vice President Biden came in the form of him telling the President to “shut up, man” as well as calling him a “clown.”

On the flip side, President Trump had a debate performance that can only be described as unpresidential. Entering this debate amidst slipping poll numbers, President Trump truly needed a magical – or, at the very least, adequate – debate performance in order to give more fight and direction to his reelection campaign. Yet, he failed to do so.

All night, the President butted in, hurling insults toward the former Vice President in an attempt to get his challenger to make a big mistake – but it never happened. It almost seems as if Biden, the 47-year political veteran, the elder statesman in government is immune to the mudslinging and diabolical rhetoric that the President and his campaign choose to employ day-to-day on the campaign trail. When former Vice President Biden brought up his deceased son Beau Biden’s military service, the President brushed it off, choosing instead to insult Biden’s living son, Hunter. 

Furthermore, the President chose not to condemn white supremacists and far right extremist groups when asked to do so, instead telling the Proud Boys – a far right extremist group that promotes violence – to “stand by.”

In the midst of a pandemic and increased racial tensions, President Trump offered no solutions – only insults and green lights to alt-right militia groups – saying that the reason former Vice President Biden did not host in-person rallies and campaign events was not due to COVID-19 concerns, but because “no one would show up.”

Instead of raising the bar for a man he calls “sleepy” and “unfit for the job” of president, he has lowered it, while making the former Vice President look competitive for telling the President to “get out of his bunker.” All the while, former Vice President Biden has furthered the concerns amongst Americans that he is not energetic enough to truly bridge the divide between the left and the right and excite Americans enough to get tremendous voter turnout.

As both of their respective campaigns continue to play out, the former Vice President has continued to tout that the country is in “a battle for the soul of America.” Meanwhile, the President has continue to maintain a stranglehold on his base of support by promising to take down the “radical left” and to “Keep America Great.”

But, if the debate is any indication of what is in store for this country in the next few weeks, rhetoric will not be a reliable source of optimism, and traditional etiquette in American Democracy might be a thing of the past. 

News/Op-Ed: COVID-19 Responses Around the Globe Highlight U.S. Challenges

by John Udabe

As the United States persists months into the pandemic, people have continually adapted to an ever-changing “new normal.” Places in the U.S. then began to open up, and then some inevitably began to close again. Some cities around the country are in a perpetual state of cautious phased reopening, while other places remain open as if a pandemic weren’t occurring at all. Around the world, other countries have responded differently to the virus. 

Some countries now appear to be over the hump, while others are resisting a second wave of cases. Some places have returned to nearly normal, others are on their way, and some expect a return in a distant future. Quick and enforced policy appears to have been the key element to striking the problem early, as can be seen throughout the world.

Let’s take a closer look at Taiwan. An extensive list published by the American Medical Association shows that Taiwan was one of the first countries to initiate protocols regarding the virus, with health screenings on flights from Wuhan beginning as early as December 31, 2019. In the months following, Taiwan began more extensive travel restrictions and public safety measures in response to the virus. Tours and transiting to China were soon suspended. 

Places like Taiwan would likely be cautious regardless of public policy. Taiwanese citizens are no strangers to being in the worldy neighborhood of deadly viruses. The effect of the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, for example, which also originated in mainland China, likely remains in their memories.

By February 1st, roughly 4 million masks were being locally manufactured and sent out, with a set price of about $0.20 per mask, making them widely accessible. A few days later, the mobilization of resources, provided by government and private organizations, allowed for ten million masks to be made per day. 

By the beginning of February, a break in quarantine protocol for positive cases could warrant up to a $10,000 fine. An extended winter break allowed for preparation of returning students. As the months progressed, enforced entry bans and mandatory quarantining led to a relatively minimal effect from COVID-19. According to the CDC, as of last week, Taiwan currently has a reported 509 total cases, with seven deaths nationwide.

These swift actions have had beneficial repercussions to the country. A minimal effect was felt on education especially, and other than a two week buffer in February during winter break, no other time was lost for in-person instruction. School began as normal this school year as well. 

For a large time, Taiwan had launched the only professional baseball season in the entire world. And now, you can even catch a game in person at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium in Taipei after a temperature check and taking your seat in adequately spaced stands. Catching a live baseball game is a rare sight anywhere in the world, and as the MLB begins to enter the postseason in the US, it is a sorely missed sight.

New Zealand has also been notably effective in controlling the virus and is finally in the stages of reopening. Their COVID-19 response is obviously unique, as they are an island nation. Spikes in new cases have been minimal for the past few months, likely due to their strict lockdown measures. From May to August, new cases were extremely rare, and despite a small spike since then, it appears that New Zealand has the virus relatively under control. 

As of September 30th, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health states that there have been 1,480 cases, only about 200 in the last month, and 25 deaths total. Until Wednesday, September 23rd, citizens were not allowed to gather in groups greater than ten. Since April, new daily cases have been kept under 20, and cities are beginning to lift restrictions; the current plan is to slowly lift them and eliminate them completely within two weeks.

Egypt’s COVID-19 response, on the other hand, has been deemed ineffective by many. The World Health Organization states that the North African nation has accumulated over 103 thousand cases with over 5,900 total deaths to date. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, Egypt’s measures apparently failed to effectively contain the virus, which was comparable to other countries at the time, such as the U.S., United Kingdom, Italy, and others. 

According to the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, a government-mandated lockdown was initiated in March, when there were less than 500 cases reported. Public areas such as restaurants and mosques, as well as schools were promptly shut down, and a curfew and flight restrictions were put in place. Yet due to a number of factors, these actions were partly in vain. It is alleged that Egypt did not record data properly, inferring that a large number of cases went unreported and therefore void from precautionary measures. 

In addition to inaccurate numbers, many places in Egypt did not have proper resources available, especially in rural and urban areas, where clean water and proper sanitation is not adequate. A lot of effort by the government focused more on preserving the economy, namely in their oil, gas, and Suez canal infrastructure, and a failed social safety net has thrown many into poverty. The amalgamation of fragile healthcare, ineffective and ill-directed policy, diverse socioeconomic statuses, and contrasting geographic areas have all led Egypt down an undesirable path.

There is no faultless way to deal with a worldwide virus, especially in this day and age, where international travel has never been so conventional. The success of a pandemic response varies from country to country. Coming up with a standard worldwide response would be utterly futile, as effectiveness is contingent upon how a specific society functions. 

The United States is a demonstration of this: states, counties, even cities are reacting to COVID-19 policies differently. Some areas embrace the ideas of social distancing and mask wearing, while others are repulsed by the idea and see the virus as a hoax. 

News/Op-Ed: Biden Holds Steady Lead Over Trump Nationally In Election Defined By Covid-19

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

Throughout the Summer, Democratic presidential nominee and former-Vice President Joe Biden united his party and continued his measured rhetoric amidst widespread racial tension, the rising COVID-19 death toll and a downed economy. Meanwhile, incumbent President Donald Trump maintained a stranglehold on his base of support, weathering low net approval ratings and criticism regarding his administration’s COVID-19 response.

Throughout the past year and a half, the President has been under intense scrutiny from Democrats after a failed impeachment attempt, as he now attempts to change the narrative surrounding his administration’s pandemic response. Despite the chaos that has occurred over President Trump’s term, the President himself continues to avert attention from his perceived “downplaying” of the pandemic and its dangers, attacking the left for creating “fake news” in the media and attempting to block his agenda from coming into fruition. 

As a result of the continuous division of the United States, as well as the disappearance of bipartisanship, the upcoming election will be one of the most consequential in recent history. The most recent Real Clear Politics average of up-to-date polling data shows former-Vice President Biden leading the President by about 6 points nationally. 

At the Democratic National Convention last month, the party called for unity, strength and perseverance in a time where, they claimed, the country is in dire need of moral leadership. In his nomination acceptance speech, the former-Vice President displayed the reason why Democrats across the country entrusted him with the tremendous responsibility of representing their party when many in their ranks feel the man currently sitting in the Oval Office poses an existential threat.

“Love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark,” said the former-Vice President.

In the midst of unforeseen, unpredictable times brought upon by the spread of COVID-19, the ensuing economic collapse and widespread racial injustice, Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, have stuck to a message of national unity, moral leadership and trust in science. President Trump, on the other hand, has struggled to exhibit acumen and accountability in these areas, touting record numbers in Wall Street markets as Main Street awaits another government stimulus hung up in gridlock between House Democrats and Republicans. 

Contrary to the Biden/Harris call for unity and leadership, President Trump and Vice President Pence have continued their “America First” rhetoric, as well as ramping up the insult-laden campaigning that won them the Presidency in 2016. From calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocohontas,” to branding the former-Vice President as “Sleepy Joe” and a man “Hiding in the basement,” the Trump Train is still rolling, albeit in a different way than in 2016.

Instead of prioritizing the preservation of American lives and establishing a national sense of unity, the President doubled-down on a rhetoric of divisiveness that was foreshadowed during his 2016 campaign. 

In lieu of finally taking the high road and expressing some sense of empathy for the American people in a time where two pandemics are spreading rapidly – COVID-19 and Racism – the President employed dark, pessimistic, and ironic rhetoric at the Republican National Convention last month. 

In a direct attack on the opposing Biden, Trump stated, “No one will be safe in Biden’s America.” 

All the while, protests, riots as well as anti-fascist and right-wing extremist movements have increased under the President’s watch, as he has done little to set the record straight or mend the wounds the American people have been subjected to under his very own leadership.

At an ABC News Town Hall on Tuesday, Trump struggled to answer voter questions, speaking little to their immediate concerns and pivoting to praising himself and his administration. However, the President has found it difficult to get ahead of the media narrative regarding his failed response to COVID-19, as the American death toll edges toward 200,000. 

Nearly 48 years after investigating the Watergate Scandal and exposing an election cover-up by then-President Richard Nixon, famed investigative journalist Bob Woodward is back at it in 2020, this time exposing President Trump on COVID-19. After a March phone call with the President, Woodward recently revealed the content of their conversation, and even by the President’s standards, it’s stunning. 

According to Woodward, President Trump was warned in a briefing on January 28th that the virus would be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans. And still, despite assembling a coronavirus task force, the President “downplay[ed],” to use the President’s own word, the dangers of the virus in public and concealed information from the American people. 

As Woodward pressed Trump in following phone calls, the President admitted that he liked downplaying the pandemic because he did not want to create a panic. Yet, hundreds of thousands of lives later, he still does, ignoring science while casting doubt on the unanimous scientific consensus on mask wearing and calling for a full reopening of the economy and schools. The most recent example was Wednesday when the president contradicted sworn congressional testimony from his Center of Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield on the importance of mask wearing and the availability of a vaccine to the general public. 

While President Trump has been out on the campaign trail playing to large, maskless crowds, sometimes even indoors, the former-Vice President Bident has exhibited extreme caution. Tonight voters will get a chance to hear from the candidate in a townhall of his own on CNN.

News/Op-Ed: Not So Fast… California to begin phases of reopening in wake of COVID-19

With states across America aiming to slowly reopen, California Governor Gavin Newsom aims to begin this week with phased reopening starting with public beaches and small businesses.

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With California nearly approaching two months since social distancing guidelines have been put into effect, the virus has strongly affected small businesses, and the Governor’s announcement would put them back into business, although they still have to maintain the distancing guidelines. Curbside pickup and delivery, according to Governor Newsom in a press conference on Tuesday, would be the way that these businesses would operate starting as soon as last Friday. Businesses must need the proper protective gear and constant deep cleaning is necessary for these small businesses. Governor Newsom is set to offer the full guidelines to the small businesses in coming days.

Among re-openings were also public beaches, which were reopened for only a short time before mass crowds caused the Governor to close them again. This led to protesters scattered across California, but mainly in Huntington Beach, where a mass gathering protested wanting their beaches reopened. People have had little to do in the last two months, and as the weather warms, many are getting antsy. These protests have worked and Newsom has begun reopening select beaches in Huntington Beach, Dana Point and Seal Beach. Huntington and Dana Point had filed suits against the closures. Also Laguna Beach and San Clemente have gained approval for the same phased reopenings. More reopenings are to slowly take place with Newsom aiming for phased reopening across California.

The updated Covid-19 number of cases in California is nearly 70,000, including almost 3,000 deaths. As the Governor takes steps to reopen the state, new measures are also being taken to combat another peak spread of the virus. To help healthcare workers and businesses, Newsom has an inventory of 19.3 million masks to help fight the spread of the virus. In a new measure, Newsom also announced the deployment of nearly 2,800 “disease detectives” to track and quarantine infected Californians. This as the state expects to have more available “drive-by” tests and more testing in general.

The phase two of the reopenings, according to Governor Newsom, will slowly begin close to the end of this week, defining it as a low-risk portion of the reopenings. Newsom wants to modify the stay-at-home order, and these changes will begin in the near future. If the cases begin to rise again then the restrictions will tighten again, according to the Governor. Governor Newsom sums up his plan for reopening California with it’s not “ready, fire, aim”, but it’s “ready, aim, fire.”

News/Op-Ed: Pope Francis Leads Faithful Through Pandemic Crisis

by Ryan Tavera

In this time of angst and uncertainty, Pope Francis hopes to shine a light through this cloud of darkness by delivering a prayer in a desolate St Peter’s Square. 

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It was a rainy Friday in Vatican City as Pope Francis delivered his Urbi et Orbi blessing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which has left more than 18,000 people dead in Italy. The Pope delivered the blessing in front of an empty St Peter’s Square in the heart of the Vatican City.

Speaking through the rain, Francis read from the Gospel where he urged the world to create a sense of unity and to comfort each other as times get tougher. Millions of people from around the world were able to tune into the Pope’s message via television and social media while remaining quarantined.

“We have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other,” said Pope Francis.

Amidst the empty square, Francis stressed the importance of hope and faith. The leader of 1.3 billion Roman Catholics was asking for perseverance from his people.

“Reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support, and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering,” said Pope Francis.

Pope Francis believes the crisis has shown the depth of our sense of helplessness before the present crisis, Francis suggested, is a measure of our modern overconfidence in “ordinary” times.

“False . . . certainties we have constructed around which we have constructed our . . . projects. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls. We have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything,” said Pope Francis

Likewise, Francis also praised the heroes who are on the front lines fighting this battle such as doctors, nurses, health care providers, police, grocery store employees and volunteers.

“Writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, deacons, religious men and women and so very many others.We remember our families and the efforts of each of us to care for our families and our neighbors,” said Pope Francis.

The Vatican called the service “An Extraordinary Prayer in the Time of Pandemic,” and this pandemic is unfortunately still going strong. Nearly reaching 2,000,000 total confirmed cases worldwide, the USA currently having the most confirmed cases at over 500,000.

News/Op-Ed: Disneyland Closes for the First Time Since 9/11

by Christian Bode

California is on “lockdown,” from schools to sporting events, concerts, and other large public gatherings, which inevitably hit one of the biggest tourist attractions on the planet: Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, which will remain closed indefinitely.

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These lockdowns have affected us in many different ways. L.A County is on lockdown, with schools being shut down, and non-essential outings and groups of 10 or more being banned. This, of course, would inevitably hit one of the biggest corporations and hangout places on the planet. Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure have been closed till March 31’st. This is not a shocker to anyone, but for people who know Disneyland. There is no other place that has the resilience to stay open through other hardships but it seems as though this is too hard for them. The reason this is big news is that through thick and thin, Disneyland has stayed open. Through the Ebola outbreak from Africa, Sars, and many other viruses. Through rainy days and earthquakes, Disneyland Theme Parks have stayed open. 

The last time Disneyland closed, to the public without any prior notice, was on September 11, 2001. This date was due to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York which shook the nation to its core. For many people, Disneyland closure is scary, as it may make some people realize just how bad and dangerous this virus is. On the Disneyland website, you can find a notice about the epidemic and the reason for their closure.

“While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort to date, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order, and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we have closed Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure Park,” the statement reads.

The Disney Company has also announced that they will be pausing all charges for all pass holders, so you are not charged seventy-four dollars a month while not able to go. Many people were petitioning for this, as it was very important to many who did not have enough money to even survive the quarantine. The Disney Company paid attention to their family and kept their promise. Walt Disney did always care for everyone, no matter what race or gender someone was. He always put forward the safety of his guests and cared for them. You can still see his ideals shine bright today with his theme parks. As Walt Disney once said, “A man should never neglect his family or business”. We are all his family and will always be forever. 

One final major issue is that of the workers. The Hollywood Reporter has announced recently that Disney will start to Furlough, Grant leave of absence to the staff that have non-essential jobs at this time. This process will begin on April 19th and could affect more families than previously thought. It is not clear on how many employees will be affected but is very scary for those who work as food vendors, or ride operators. As there are no guests to give them work. We must pray for all of those that will be and already were affected by the current situations in the world.

 

News/OP-Ed: Biden Continues to Dominate Primary Race with Huge Delegate Lead, Amid Coronavirus Postponements

by Timothy Levine, Executive Editor

Following the conclusion of Super Tuesday, nine more states have held their Democratic Primaries. All but one of these states went to Joe Biden, who now takes a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates that seems to secure his spot as the inevitable nominee.

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It seemed that Biden had all the momentum following a surprisingly dominant performance on Super Tuesday, one that saw him win ten of the 14 states available off the endorsements of Klobuchar and Buttigieg. This momentum did not slow down in any way, as he won big the following week with victories in key states such as Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. These states were key for Bernie Sanders to make a comeback and build momentum for upcoming races, however, he performed worse than poll-predictions in these states and suffered from low youth-voter turnout.

Biden did not stop there, as he continued to widen his lead to his almost assured victory, sweeping the three primary races held on March 17. These states were Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, three big delegate states with 440 delegates combined of which Biden won 295 off, nearly 70 percent. This huge delegate victory comes from the margin that Biden is winning by, as he dominated in Florida with 62 percent of the vote, well above poll projections. Biden now has 1217 delegates, a 303 delegate lead over Sanders, virtually guaranteeing his victory. He will almost certainly win the delegate lead, it is now just a matter of if he wins the nomination outright or at the convention.

Sanders still can remain in the race and push for a contested convention, which is what he intends to do according to his campaign. He may also benefit from postponements in 14 states due to the Coronavirus. The postponement of states such as New York and Pennslyvania to as late as June, with New York’s being postponed to June 23, could help halt Biden’s momentum. Many states have also decided to switch to voting by mail with extended deadlines as well. Sanders has also gained some momentum himself for his criticism of the Coronavirus relief bill that was pushed in the Senate, which could help him, as the issue becomes more pressing and of concern to voters.

However, Sanders would have to dominantly win the remaining states to stay competitive and just push for a contested convention, which would not favor Sanders as many superdelegates have stated their intent to block a Sanders nomination. So this momentum is too little and too late, and Sanders’s choice remaining in the race can hurt the democratic party in its general election campaign. Similar to 2016, Sanders’s plan to remain in race hurts unification plans, which could lead to many distraught Bernie supporters staying at home rather than supporting who they view as corporate and status-quo.

With the Convention getting even closer, it appears that the race is nearing its conclusion, as Biden will work to expand his support and bring the party together for the general election. His Vice President pick will also be essential and it appears that it will be coming soon, as he is reported to have a shortlist of 10-12 women that he is deciding between according to CNN.

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