Biden-Harris Administration

By Elle Baker

December 14, 2020

Following an anxiety filled and pivotal presidential election, there are a few speculations
of how successful the Biden-Harris administration will be.

As for his first 100 days, President-elect Biden has many promises to keep, as many of
his proposed policies he has said to enact once taken office will change the path of the nation
from that of the Trump Administration’s.

Throughout much of his campaign, Biden released many zealous plans ranging from
large-scale economic and environmental initiatives to ambitious actions on racial justice,
education, and health care. A significant amount of Biden’s agenda also focuses on reversing or
updating positions taken by the Trump administration, especially on immigration and foreign

While many of his plans are for the good of the people and will greatly benefit the nation,
there are a few issues the President-elect must face first: a divided Congress. Control of the
Senate is still up in the air, with two Georgia runoff elections set for January, but Republicans
are anticipated to maintain control. Democrats also have a slimmer majority in the House of
Representatives, where the GOP made gains contrary to most party leaders’ and analysts’

The political tension in Washington D.C. means Biden may have to put some policy
proposals that many on the left of his party have been pushing on health care and the
environment onto the back burner until stability re-ensues. He will likely need to focus more
immediately on issues that could attract bipartisan support, such as providing COVID-19 relief
and improving U.S. infrastructure.

During his presidential campaign, President-elect Joe Biden repeatedly noted about what
his handle on the coronavirus would be should he take office. Now that the election results are
clearly in his favor, Biden has begun creating a task force, ready to take action once Inauguration
Day comes to pass.

So far, Biden has announced Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development
agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April, Atul Gawande, the surgeon,
writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire
Hathaway-Amazon health care company, and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug

Administration official and biodefense specialist to be apart of his task force. His advisory board
will include Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician and researcher, Vivek Murthy, a former
U.S. surgeon general, and David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner, according to Stat News.
Biden has assured the public that the task force would quickly consult with state and local
health officials on how to best prevent coronavirus spread, reopen schools and businesses, and
address the racial inequality that have left communities of color harder hit than others by the
pandemic. By addressing the issues facing the nation with the scientists and experts backing his
decision making, Biden has laid down a solid solution for tackling the coronavirus as best as he

With much of his task force announced to the public, it is clear that the Biden transition
plans to take affirmative action with a wide variety of health officials to assist in his handle on
the virus. There are multiple officials who were either let go by or a part of a company put down
by the Trump administration, leading many to believe that Biden must feel they have more to
provide to the nation’s recovery than the last administration did.

Additionally, Biden has stated that will push for a COVID-19 legislation, meaning he
will begin to work on a new coronavirus aid package before officially taking office, by
coordinating with state governors, mayors and other local politicians.

Biden’s proposed COVID-19 response plan calls for expanding coronavirus testing
resources as well as for increasing the country’s capacity to make personal protective equipment
by leveraging the Defense Production Act, which is a law dating back to the early years of the
Cold War to address serious shortages of supplies needed for responding to the coronavirus. The
order states that it is imperative for all health and medical resources needed to respond to the
spread of the virus are distributed swiftly and properly throughout the healthcare system. Mr.
Trump signed this act in the early stages of the virus.

Biden has also backed legislation that would create a separate COVID-19 Racial and
Ethnic Disparities Task Force, which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris proposed in the Senate
in the spring. As part of a COVID-19 relief package, Biden has in the past called for at least
$10,000 in student loan debt to be canceled for all Americans.

“I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January with all the
resources to see how both our public health and economic response can be seen through the end,”
he said at an event in October, according to NPR news.

Among many other coronavirus related proposals, the Biden transition team has pledged
to address multiple other issues on Biden’s first day, including economic, environmental, and

Economically, he plans to reverse Trump’s corporate tax cuts to raise corporate income
taxes to 28% compared to the current 21%. This promise falls under Biden’s larger tax plan
which stresses that Americnas making less than $400,000 a year would not pay more in taxes.
Environmentally, Biden plans to reenter the U.S. into the Paris climate accord, one of his
longest-standing campaign promises. Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the agreement
became official this month after a mandatory one year waiting period that began when the
president notified the UN last November.

For immigration, the Biden administration pledges to create comprehensive immigration
legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for 11 million migrants living in the U.S.
illegally, among people requiring citizenship. He also vows to stop the separation of immigrant
families trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico by establishing a task force to focus on reuniting
the separated families at the border.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have high expectations
to meet, and if all goes well, the United States is looking at a promising future.

California’s Disappointing Election Results

By Lola Weber

November 9, 2020

November 3rd didn’t necessarily provide any closure for those following the painful presidential race, however, it did give invaluable insight on the mindset and priorities of California voters. Local elections hold the same, if not more, value to people as presidential elections do, but this consistently fails to be noticed. 

    There were several ballot measures a part of this year’s general election for California, which had strong significance for the working class, homeless, and marginalized communities. California tends to pride itself on being one of the most progressive states, however when it comes down to the choice for people to instill protective measures and propositions, California fails to do so. 

  Proposition 15, was one of these measure results that exemplified California’s lack of concern for public funding, and further protected corporate hoarding of wealth. This measure was an initiative to close the tax loophole which allowed commercial property owners along with investors to keep billions of dollars through avoidance of corporate real estate taxation. These billions of dollars would have been reallocated to funding public K-12 education, along with community colleges and libraries. 

   The results of proposition 15 are still trailing, however there is a clear margin against passing this measure, which is an extreme disappointment. With an initiative such as proposition 15 failing, which would have provided much needed support for the vast majority of Californians, it is evident that California has a long way to go in terms of truly progressive policy and concern for public institutions. 

   Proposition 21 was another ballot measure that failed to push through, with nearly 60% of voters in opposition to the measure. Proposition 21 would have modified the ‘Costa Hawkins’ state law, essentially eliminating the rule that properties built after 1995 could not have applied rent control. Both of California’s major cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have pressing housing crises, and propositions that provide rent protection can mitigate these issues and protect more people. 

   Proposition 16, which would have ended the ban on affirmative action, was an initiative to overturn the “California Civil Right Initiative” set forth by wealthy white California Republicans in the mid 90s. Again, California voters took a firm opposition to this measure, proving that a lot of the activism and strong support for people and communities of color in recent months were merely actions to gain social capital, rather than real change. 

   In what became one of the most controversial measures of this election, proposition 22 ended up passing with a nearly 60% margin, being a huge victory for silicon valley. Proposition 22 was written up by tech companies to change their workers’ classification from employees to independent contractors. This meant that these companies were no longer responsible for providing basic worker ‘benefits’ such as minimum wage and healthcare. 

   This measure was a clear attempt for these companies to further exploit their workers and their labor to the fullest extent imaginable, all under the weak mask of protecting gig-workers. Rideshare and service apps such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash all spent a record 200 million dollars on promoting Proposition 22, making this the most expensive measure campaign to date. 

   Unfortunately, a clear majority of California voters were influenced by this expensive campaign, leading to the passing of this measure. This was a pitiful blow to the rights of workers, emboldening the very prevalent neoliberalism of California. 

The Bizarre Candidacy of Kanye West

By Francheska Lupo

November 2, 2020

Kanye West shocked everyone at the 2015 VMAs when he announced that he would be running for president in the 2020 elections, but many are confused about the rapper’s actual standings in the elections this year. 

     West missed the filing deadlines to put his name on the ballot for most states and his name ended up on 12 states’ presidential ballots, but this is obviously not going to get him very far. On Tuesday the 13 however, West enthusiastically took to Twitter to celebrate his supposed results in Kentucky, where it appeared he had beaten both Biden and Trump with 19% of the votes. This was quickly debunked as faulty results due to technical difficulties, unfortunately for West

His entire campaign has been extremely confusing to fans and voters alike. His party is called the “Birthday Party” and he has said almost nothing as to what he plans to do as president. His objectives are vague, like how he wants to revive prayer in the classroom, reform the police, and reduce student and household debt. He has also voiced his opposition to abortion. Although he does not wish to make it illegal, he would instead reform the orphanage system to encourage people to go to adoption as their first choice. He also said back in July that “The maximum increase would be everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars or something in that range” ( in order to encourage giving birth instead of aborting as childbirth was “the greatest gift of life.” His first piece of campaign art hardly cleared up anything as it featured the editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour, and actress Kirsten Dunst, who expressed her confusion on Twitter. “What’s the message here? And why am I a part of it?” She tweeted.

      West’s name surprisingly made its way onto the official California ballot, not as president, but vice president on Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente’s American Independent Party run. West stated in a press release that this was not his intention and he had wanted to be president, not VP. “Californians, I ask for your vote for president and urge you to write in ‘Kanye West’” (, he stated in his campaign issued press release.

 It seems that his main demographic are young people around 18-25 years old and possibly people trying to syphon votes from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Experts say that the only significant impact he might have on the elections is being a spoiler candidate, taking away votes from both Donald Trump and Biden.

    West even poured about $3 million from his own pockets into the campaign, raising only $14,254.66 in contributions as of August.

  West and his fans have mostly been using the presidential election as promotion for his new freestyle track, and it seems clear that he will come nowhere close to winning the presidential election.

My Experience at the City Council Student Forum

By Taylor Tomlinson

November 2, 2020

We gathered on Zoom almost a week before the debate. Five students, including me and co-Editor-in-Chief Bailey Mathews, along with other seniors, Kimya Afshar, Davis Kerbeck, and Ava Bradley, were chosen to be student moderators at the next City Council Debate. We would be developing the questions, organizing them, and finally, delivering them to the candidates. This was a very exciting opportunity for us all, and not one we were planning on taking lightly. 

  The five of us spent an evening thinking about what questions we wanted to ask. First off, we wanted this debate not to be like any other previous city council debate. We wanted to stay away from the questions that have been rehearsed countlessly by the candidates. Most importantly, we needed to ask questions that mattered to us the most. With eight candidates, all men over 50, some would say that youth perspectives were needed. The environment, policing, and homelessness were all topics we wanted to hit hard. By the end, we had devised around 12 questions. 

   At the next meeting, we prepared for how the debate would practically run down. We assigned roles and made cuts to accommodate for our two-hour time limit. By Wednesday night, we were ready for the forum

  The debate began at 4:00, with all the candidates appearing in their home offices 15 minutes prior, their campaign office. All except Andy Lyon, who arrived right at 4:00 in his backyard with his spraypainted sign in the background. After a quick speech from State Senator Henry Stern, the debate opened with the Environment section, moderated by Bailey Mathews. All candidates seemed particularly concerned with Climate Change’s role in the wildfires. California wildfires have increasingly worsened in recent years, with Malibu feeling its full effects with the 2018 Woolsey Fire. Many listed ideas of increased environmental protection in Malibu. Some candidates, such as Steve Uhring, have based much of their campaign on promises of environmental protections. Fire preparation was also brought up during these sections. The City of Malibu’s response to the Woolsey Fire was highly criticized by the citizens. These candidates proposed their suggestions on how another wildfire would be handled. 

  Homelessness was the following section and a rather contentious section among Malibu citizens. Many feel that the homeless population is a danger to public safety, while others feel that they need humanitarian assistance and help from the city. Moderated by Davis Kerbeck, the section allowed candidates to respond on how they would handle the homelessness issues in Malibu. Some candidates, such as Andy Lyon, Doug Stewart, and Bruce Silverstein have been increasingly outspoken about their concerns. Many candidates felt that some of the homeless are true “down on their luck” and deserve assistance, but others, some of who may be mentally ill or facing addiction, are not the responsibility of the city. This has been an issue that has caused tension in our city, and a pressing one that the candidates needed to address.

 Policing and Public Safety has the following section. Some have called into question the city’s spending 8 million dollars on outsourcing to the Los Angeles Police Department. Some of the candidates defended that spending with some implying that we may need to spend more to see the money being put to good use. Policing issues have been a hot-button topic, particularly this summer with the Black Lives Matter movement. Pacific Coast Highway has been a critical public safety issue. Car clubs and street racers create excessive amounts of noise, along with danger for regular commuters. The City Council candidates seemed determined to make PCH a safer road. Some detailed plans to lower the speed limit, while one candidate, Lance Simmons, discussed a plan to add onto the highway. 

   The final two sections, moderated by Kimya Afshar, was business and education. Longtime Malibu residents will notice the quick turnover of local businesses. Owning a business is tough, but in Malibu, high rents and a global pandemic make it nearly impossible. Some candidates favor more government support with our local businesses, while others felt that much couldn’t be done. In the education section, the candidates were asked if they supported a reopening of Malibu schools. Paul Grisanti, Andy Lyon, and Doug Stewart were adamant on a school reopening, while candidates like Lance Simmons, Mark Wetton, and Steve Uhring seemed mostly for it, but with strict precautions. Candidate Bruce Silverstein was completely against, despite the suggested compromises, claiming that it would not be safe for students to return to the classrooms.

  With that final question, the debate was finished. I was extremely grateful for being able to participate in my local government, even if I am not able to vote in this election. All of the students involved were incredibly passionate about local issues, and it was frankly, very cool to be a part of that. It is never too early to care about your city and want to make a difference. 

“Boycott France”

By Maya Mellberg

November 2, 2020

As police continued to investigate, they discovered there were thousands of people attending rallies across France to honor Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded after showing his students cartoons of Mohammed.

    Prior to Mr. Paty’s assassination he had received multiple threats after showing these cartoons to his class, he wanted to bring attention to the cause of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Charlie Hebdo was a French satirical newspaper that made numerous jokes regarding Muslims and Islam. There was a terrorist shooting were two gunmen entered the office during a meeting and shot journalists, these men killed a total of ten people that day. Mr. Paty showed his class these cartoons to bring light to the tragic murders on the 5th anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo murders. On Friday the 16 of October 2020, Paty was attacked and stabbed with a knife before he was beheaded. Witnesses claim that they hear the attacker scream “Allahu Akbar’’ which translates to “God is greatest”. Police fired at the unknown attacker, killing him, the murder weapon of Samuel Paty, a 12-inch blade, was found nearby. The Killer was identified as Abdoulakh A., an 18-year old from Moscow with no known connection to Samuel Paty. Abdoulakh was found to have a small criminal record with only minor misdemeanor charges. 

    He previously taught lessons regarding freedom of speech, including these cartoons of Muhammad. He had told his pupils that if they were Muslim, he advised them to look away as they might be offended. This caused issues with the school and parents came to complain and were angry with Paty’s choice to show these cartoons. One parent accompanied by Abdelhakim Sefrioui, a preacher and activist, created videos calling Paty a “thug” and demanded he be suspended from teaching. Upon this discovery, police noted Sefrioui had been known to French Intelligence for years before; he is now in custody with the parent he accompanied.

   The horrific murder resulted in people throughout France rallying to protest the death of Samuel Paty and demonstrate they have “zero tolerance to all enemies of the Republic”. Many spoke out against the murder, including Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer who said France would defeat their enemies of the democracy and that French teachers needed support. On the 21st of October, there would be a national tribute paid to Mr. Paty. An Imam of a mosque in Bordeaux, Tareq Oubrou, said “A civilization does not kill an innocent person, barbarism does.” 

    As a result of the support for Samuel Paty, France is receiving extreme backlash from countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. French products in stores have been taken off the shelves as a boycott of French goods has taken place. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron spoke out in support of freedom of speech and the right of Mr. Paty to display the cartoons to his class. Macron received backlash from Turkey and Pakistan where he was accused of not respecting “freedom of belief” for the millions of Muslims in France. The President of Turkey attacked Macron again, suggesting he seeks a “mental check” for his opinion and views on Islam. As tension rises the boycott becomes more and more extreme, government officials in many Islamic countries are urging citizens to continue this boycott of French goods. A massive rally including 40,000 people took place in Bangladesh, participants marched through the capital of Dhaka towards the French embassy. This rally demanded the boycott of all french goods because of France’s stance on radical Islam. During this rally, a statue of Macron was burned and he has now become a target in many Muslim countries. This conflict continues to develop and the tensions between the Muslim countries and France drastically increases.

What’s Up with the Presidential Debates?

By Elle Baker

November 2, 2020

Even before the first Presidential Debate came to pass, most Americans had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen: complete and utter chaos. 

The first debate took place on September 29th at the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio. At the beginning of the debate, many spectators and reporters had high hopes for civility between the two candidates, as they are both grown and educated men. With the very reasonable rules set by The Commission on Presidential Debates prior to the start of the debate including, two uninterrupted minutes of response time for both candidates, we can assume they were to be followed. Unfortunately, this was not the case. 

To be frank, both President Trump and Vice President Biden disregarded the simple rule of allowing their opponent to speak uninterrupted for two minutes following a prompted question, however, the President violated this rule many more times than Biden did. 

At times it seemed like all you could hear was bickering between two children over who could eat the last cookie, meaning one candidate talking loudly and obnoxiously over the other, with the moderator thrown in occasionally. Honestly, it was difficult to get a straight response from either respondent as some of their time to answer the question was simply spent making crude remarks about the other candidate, as well as, that candidate’s failure to properly react to the issue brought up by the moderator.  

In regards to the actual content covered, the topics ranged from the supreme court nomination to the environment and COVID-19. Even with the wide variety of pressing current issues with questions needed to be answered from both parties, neither gave the response spectators and reporters had hoped. Trump often gave half-answers, if any at all relating to the question, more often bashing Biden for things completely off-topic. Biden gave somewhat more of a structured response most times, however, it all seemed very vague and indirect at the end of it all. 

It is really hard to say who came out on top after  this first debate, but in terms of speaking to the people, many reporters and journalists would say Biden was able to reach folks at home to sway them to vote blue than Trump did to reassure his slowly diminishing followers and supporters.

Following this disaster of a “debate”, many were wary about the next one scheduled to have been on October 15th on an online platform now well known: Zoom. The president was uneasy about having an online debate, some say because he did not like the feature where his microphone could be turned off while he is speaking. 

Trump ended up refusing to have the debate online, a format considered by the Committee only because of his newly released contraction of the novel coronavirus at the beginning of October and the anticipated format of the second debate: a town hall meeting with questions from average voters, according to AP News. Following the president’s test release, the debate had been canceled and replaced by town hall meetings held by each candidate.

The interesting thing about this solution is that Trump decided it would be a good idea to hold his meeting at the exact same time as Biden, meaning the people had to choose which stream to watch. The reasoning behind this decision was Trump wanted to increase his ratings to be higher than Biden’s. Contrary to his hopes, Trump received nearly 2 million fewer views than Biden did, even while streaming on three different channels. Not quite sure if that was the outcome he was looking for, but ok Mr. Trump, whatever you want.

The nation is to receive a final presidential debate on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. With the previous issues regarding the candidates and the overall debates themselves, there were some changes made to the format of the final debate, including, the candidate whose turn it isn’t to speak will have his microphone cut off, according to Washington Post. Now there will be a feature for the moderator to stop the microphone of a candidate who is talking over their time limit or they are interrupting their opponent.

Additionally, another new rule has been made where anyone who removes their mask after entering the debate hall will be thrown out. This was added because many members of the Trump family did in fact wear masks to the first debate, but they took them off once they entered the building. To ensure the safety of everyone in that debate room, all spectators must wear their mask, regardless of their status in the room, with the exception of the two candidates and the moderator. 

With these new rules in mind, it was safe to say that the last Presidential Debate would be significantly better than the first, regardless of all of the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the debates this year. 

Following its conclusion, the debate was notably less chaotic and less finger-pointing than the previous debate. While in  the beginning, there seemed to be some usage of the muting of microphones, however, when it was really needed, it was not used at all. The first 50 minutes of the debate were well versed and considerably more civil than the entirety of the first debate. This being said, President Trump seemed to disregard his administration’s advice for the last 40 minutes of the debate, falling back into his interrupting, talking over his time limit, and speaking over the moderator when she was trying to move onto another subject. This was the very time the spectators and reporters expected the mute function to be utilized, however, it was nowhere to be heard, or rather not heard. 

Regardless of the microphone disappointment, the debate itself is something to be noted. President Trump came into the debate  level-headed and more dialed in on policy than his expected nasty attitude, it, unfortunately, did not last. When asked about his response and responsibility for COVID-19, his finances with China and Ukraine, and his tax returns, Trump resorted to his deflecting and subject changing that we are all so accustomed to.

For instance, when he was asked about his responsibility for the impact of the coronavirus on the United States, his response was quite cynical and not surprising, “‘I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault,’” according to the LA Times. It is quite baffling that he would blatantly agree and then deflect the responsibility in the same breath. It is unclear what his thoughts were as to why he would say something so laughable at the presidential debate that could potentially cost him his reelection. 

Aside from this response, President Trump did very little to change the minds of the American people to vote for him. Rather, he more enforced their opinions and reasons why they strongly oppose him and what he stands for. Biden came across more on the offensive side, pushing for a response on Trump’s federal tax returns among other things. Biden was able to lay out his own policy agenda, significantly more than he managed in the first debate, calling for large-scale economic stimulus spending, new aid to states battling the pandemic, and an expansion of healthcare and worker benefits nationwide, according to the NY Times. It seemed that Biden truly did no wrong, nothing that could come to haunt him in the last few days of the election.

It is safe to say Vice President Biden’s closing statement really summed up what the results of the election would stand on when he said, “‘You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character. Our characters are on the ballot.” The nation has all they can get at this point, aside from a few lingering rallies. They must take this final Presidential Debate and what it says about the two candidates: which one can truly represent the American people in the most, ethical, supportive, transparent, and reliable way that they are able.

Azerbaijan and Armenia’s Complicated History

By Justin Higginbotham

October 19, 2020

  As conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia grow today, we must look back at a long history of conflict and violence between the two nations to understand the situation. On May 28, 1918, both Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their nations’ independence. When drawing their nations’ borders, they both laid claim to an area of land known as Nagorno-Karabakh, both nations strongly believed they had ownership of the region. As disputes raged on, they quickly escalated into violent conflicts, beginning what we know now simply as the Azerbaijani-Armenian war. War raged on for two years until 1920 where both nations joined the Soviet Union, putting a stop to the conflicts for a time, but not to the disputes. As the USSR declared Nagorno-Karabakh an Autonomous Oblast, a sense of temporary relative peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia was created and lasted until 1988 where the Armenian ethnic group of Autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh voted to be absorbed into Armenia.

    After nearly 70 years of peace, war struck again in 1988 as the conflict known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War began. Atrocities and war crimes took place on both sides, the most notable of which being The 1991-1992 Siege of Stepanakert, where Azerbaijan bombed Armenian civilians and put in place blockades to deprive the Armenians of resources. This was met with what is called today as the Khojaly Massacre, a conflict in which 161 unarmed fleeing Azerbaijan civilians were gunned down by Armenian forces. 

    As Nagorno-Karabakh was occupied by Armenia, violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan rose again for six years until May 1994 where both nations agreed upon a ceasefire. The two nations agreed to peace talks including several world powers that many criticize as having had imperialist intent with their mediation between the two former Soviet states. Despite a number of small skirmishes, an uneasy peace lasted until July 2020 where conflict struck again at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This September all tension seemingly broke as Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh all declared martial law and prepared for war, violence erupts along the Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijani border and conflicts only grow as the situation quickly escalates. It is important the world watches the extremely volatile situation especially closely to see whether it escalates into another full-blown war.

Melania Trump’s Leaked Phone Call

By Francheska Lupo

October 13, 2020

On October 1st, an audio from a phone call between First Lady Melania Trump and her former best friend and advisor in which Melania speaks on topics that range from her Christmas decoration duties to the children held at an immigration detention center was exposed on a CNN interview.

    The conversation was leaked by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who had been a good friend to Melania and hired to be her senior advisor. Wolkoff wrote speeches for Melania and helped develop the ‘Be Best’ initiative before publishing the book Melania and Me. The book documents her relationship with the First Lady and how she stopped being friends with her over the years. 

   The phone call appears to be from June 2018, when Melania visited an immigrant detention center in Texas. In the audio, Melania complains about her duties of decorating the White House for Christmas, “OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, “Oh, what about the children that they were separated?” Give me a…break”, she complains. 

    Melania Trump even spoke on the infamous jacket that she wore while visiting the Mexican border that read “I don’t really care, do you?” on the back, saying that it was a publicity stunt to make more public the fact that she was visiting the border and that she was “driving Liberals crazy for sure … And they deserve it … they’re crazy.”    In a separate recording, Mrs. Trump goes on to state that many people that are being held at the Mexican border lie in order to get there. She claims that “A lot of like moms and kids they are teached [sic] how to do it. They go over and they say like, ‘Oh, we will be killed by a gang member, we will be, you know, it’s so dangerous.’ So they are allowed to stay here.”

   Trump also claims that the children held in these centers are happy to be there and live in better conditions than in their own countries, despite being separated from their families. In the call, she says “The kids, they say, ‘Wow I will have my own bed? I will sleep on the bed? I will have a cabinet for my clothes?’ It’s so sad to hear it but they didn’t have that in their own countries, they sleep on the floor. They are taken care of nicely there. But you know, yeah, they are not with parents, it’s sad. But when they come here alone or with coyotes or illegally, you know, you need to do something.” 

    Wolkoff released all of this in a CNN interview, where she expressed her criticism of Melania’s position regarding the children, as well as the decision to wear an attention grabbing jacket to garner the press’s attention while doing a good deed. However, Wolkoff is also under fire for secretly taping the First Lady’s phone call and then using it to bolster sales on her book. On CBS news, the First Lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham defended Mrs Trump by addressing this and claiming that the audio clips could have been edited.

The Legacy of RBG

By Elle Baker

October 13, 2020

  On the 18th of September, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from complications with pancreatic cancer after giving nearly 30 years of her life to serving the United States Supreme Court as one of the most respected and honored associate justices in history.   

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sometimes referred to as “RBG”, was an inspiration to the nation for her advocacy for gender equality and equal rights. She has made history, even after her death, being the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. capitol, according to NowThisNews. 

    RBG’s death was met with much controversy and upheaval because once a justice on the Supreme Court resigns or passes away, a new seat must be filled via a nomination from the president and a vote to pass in the Senate. The controversy being whether or not President Trump should be allowed to nominate a new justice just a few weeks before the 2020 Presidential Election. 

   The final wish of RBG was to have the next president fill her vacant seat, so when our current president announced he would nominate one prior, many people have voiced their opinions against his statement. When President Trump went to pay his respects at RBG’s casket, people greeted him with boos and shouts of “Honor her wish!” and “Vote him out!” according to NowThisNews.

   More than 100 of the late justice’s former law clerks stood guard at the Supreme Court, and some served as honorary casket carriers, accompanying her flag-draped casket inside the building. 

   Ginsburg was an incredible role model for young women across the country for her advocacy for women’s rights and equality during her life and time on the Court. Her legacy includes votes supporting the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage and fought against various sex discrimination laws.

   Knowing that the nine men on the Supreme Court would be unsympathetic towards the discriminations felt by women, RBG turned the argument on its head and rationalized the discriminations the men felt from these laws. It turned out to be a rather successful strategy and argument because not only was supported, it was also undeniably true. 

   The gender discriminations that were seen as more “medieval” for their cookie-cutter style households, such as the roles that steered women towards caretaking and the men towards work, were strongly advocated against by RBG. For example, Ginsburg successfully advocated in court for, among others, a father who was denied Social Security survivors benefits after the death of his wife, because the law dictated that widows were eligible but widowers were not; a woman in the Air Force whose husband was denied a spousal allowance that military wives were automatically entitled to, according to The Atlantic. These laws did not account for the people in those circumstances, and because of RBG, they now do.

   Ginsburg’s approach to her litigation work increasingly helped women carve their path in the world. Before the mid-1970s, women were often denied access to their own credit cards, “on the presumption that their husband controlled the family’s financial assets,” according to the Atlantic. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 banned such discrimination, which was extended to mortgages as well. 

   Because of RBG’s work in the legal field, the way households and household roles are shaped today has been significantly changed. She is not necessarily responsible for every woman who decided to go and get a job, however, she is responsible for the increased availability of job opportunities and the benefits those jobs entail. 

   The legacy of RBG is expansive and complex, but to sum it up, she has carved a pathway for women to have more opportunities in the workforce, for men to be able to be a stay-at-home dad, for being able to love who you love, and to not be discriminated for such decisions. The United States would not be the way it is today without her help. 

Opinion: Trump and Fascism

By Claire Buran

October 5, 2020

Author Laurence W. Britt wrote the political novel Fascism Anyone? which describes 14 common signs of a developing fascist government. According to his piece, President Donald Trump falls under a majority of such signs. While this doesn’t mean that Trump is a fascist or we are in a fascist country, it is still very concerning. A review of the elements listed by Mr.Britt uncovers a striking fit between Trump’s views and actions to these fascist categories. 

    The first sign of fascism seen in Trump’s campaign is “Powerful and continuing Nationalism”, Trump’s entire message is about putting America first and “Making America Great Again”. Most recently, he has announced the “patriotic education” commission which criticizes history teachers for teaching children to hate America by focusing on negatives from our history about times when America was wrong, especially slavery. Under Trump’s view, a patriotic education should only teach about America’s aspirations and the promises in our founding documents. While using propaganda that we are the greatest country in the history of the world ignoring the true strength and resilience of our unique national ability to face the truth and adapt from our mistakes. 

    A “Disdain for Human Rights” is the next sign, demonstrated in many of Trump’s policies. His policies about religious liberties, reproductive rights, and issues affecting people of color, immigrants, and ingenious people have affected many people’s human rights all around the country. For example, his promotion of the “global gag rule”, which is a policy that blocks federal funding for organizations around the world that provide abortion counseling or referrals, advocate to decriminalize abortion or expand abortion services. Even though abortions have been legalized and protected by the Supreme Court and affirmed as a fundamental human right by U.N. bodies and 50 countries around the world    

    Trump also uses the “identification of enemies as a unifying cause”.  In Trump’s world and life view, you either agree 100% with him or you are labeled “stupid, slow, unpatriotic, or a loser”. He does this by telling people that they need to eliminate an identified enemy. Everyone who is not a cis, white, straight, Christian conservative has at some point been identified as an “enemy” or at the very least the cause of many problems. Trump has uniquely pitted Americans against each other to satisfy his need for an enemy to direct his anger and fuel his campaign of perpetual grievance. 

    Trump continues to exhibit “rampant sexism”. There have been countless sexual assault and allegations against him. He has said creepy and predatorial things about his daughter and other women around him. This element seems obvious but is inexcusable. 

    “Controlling mass media” is another area of concern. While Trump doesn’t have full authority over the mass media, he has convinced all of his cult following that anything other than Fox News is “fake news”. This leads them to believe everything Fox News says and reports is factual and any other news source is lying. He has also called the free press an “enemy of the people”. Sowing distrust in the media is a major red flag in any democracy as authoritarian leaders seek to position themselves as the only “true source of information”. 

    Following that is an “obsession with national security”. Trump’s entire campaign in 2016 was initiated with building the wall. A wall separating Mexico from the US, to stop illegal immigration. And in his own words, Mexican immigrants are “drug-dealing rapists”. The wall becomes a symbol, both physically and metaphorically that we need to protect ourselves and rally around the flag. 

    Moving onto “Religion and Government Intertwined”, the Republican Party has integrated religion in their views for a long time before Trump. Yet Trump has captured the (white) Christian patriotism as a basic aspect of his allure. He casts himself as the protector of this group of people. He portrays himself as a man of God, a good Christian man with Christian values, yet he doesn’t even follow these values. Trump tamps into Christian fears that their moral views and families are being stolen or lost by a mob of foreigners and godless liberals. 

    Next is the “corporate power protected”,  in which Trump has appointed the most wealthy cabinet in our history. Along with constant corporate-friendly policies, such as enacting tax cuts that overwhelmingly and disproportionately favor the wealthy over the average worker. At the end of the day, Trump is a billionaire helping himself and his other billionaire friends to keep their money, while falsely marketing and branding himself as a defender of the working class. 

    The ninth sign is a “labor power suppressed”. There are multiple examples of actions that Trump has taken that have consequently hurt workers.  One could point to how he rolled back regulations that protected worker’s pay and safety. He was also trying to take away affordable healthcare from millions of working people with relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act signed into law during the Obama administration. 

    Another sign Trump has shown is his “disdain for intellectuals and the arts”. In a section of Trump’s 2021 budget proposal titled “stopping wasteful and unnecessary spending”, the activities financed by the National Endowment for the Art and the National Endowment for Humanities have been cut because they are not viewed as core Federal obligations. The NEA is an independent federal agency whose funding and support allow Americans to participate in the arts.

    Trump has also shown signs of an “obsession with crime and punishment”. This is another obvious one with his renewal of Nixon’s “law and order” rhetoric despite crime rates being at 50-year lows in the country. He has also made many comparisons to Black communities being violent hellholes. 

    Lastly “rampant cronyism and corruption”, such as the appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard to their qualifications. Trump’s swamp of cabinet members, advisors, campaign managers, and attorneys that have been convicted of felony crimes and currently reside in prison is unrivaled in our modern political history. Nepotism has run amok as he has put many of his family members in positions of power despite having no qualifications.

   Trump may not have succeeded in amassing the full powers of a true fascist but it is extremely concerning that he shows so many of its early warning signs. Shame on us, the citizens of this democracy, if we fail to take seriously the words and claims made openly by Donald Trump. We are numb from the cumulative shock and disgust from the things he says and does but we become numb at great peril to our democratic experiment. Donald Trump is exactly who he says he is, and we need to believe him, take him seriously, and vote him out of power this coming election.