The Dems are in the Building

On Thursday January 3, history was made in the United States government as the new, diverse freshman class was sworn in as part of the 116th Congress. The group included 42 new women and raised minority numbers to 55 African-American members, 45 Hispanic members, seventeen Asian-American members, and ten openly LGBTQ+ members. The class also included other firsts such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) as the first Somali-American member to serve along with one of the first Muslim women, and Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) as one of the first Native American members.

Among the powerful women sworn in is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who becomes the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at only the age of 29. Ocasio-Cortez’s platform includes the abolishment of ICE, medicare for all, and tuition-free public college. However, her progressive platform has not come without consequence. The representative has faced brutal attacks on her character, policies, and background from both Republicans and Democrats. Florida Republican Ron DeSantis went as far as to describe Ocasio-Cortez as “that girl … whatever she is.” Former Senator Claire McCaskill described the representative as “nothing more than a bright shiny new object.” However, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t come to Congress to mess around. She mocks her critics in a nasally voice. “We’re not scared of you,” she says, “we’re laughing at you!”

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Haaland, Congress will be joined by Veronica Escobar (D) and Sylvia Garcia (D), the first two Latina congresswomen from Texas. Andy Kim (D-NJ) makes strides as the first Korean-American elected from his state, along with Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn), who became the first African-American women to represent their states. Angie Craig (D-Minn) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) join the House as open members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) becomes the first Palestinian-American woman to serve. In fact, she swore in wearing traditional Palestinian attire, as did Rep. Haaland, who wore Pueblo attire.

Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM)
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn)
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex)
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)
Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich)
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn)
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex)

Davis Police Officer Killed During Active Shootout

A Davis police officer was shot and killed on Thursday evening while responding to a traffic accident near the areas of 5th and D Streets downtown. Officer Natalie Corona was immediately rushed to the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where she passed. The gunman was found dead on Friday morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The suspect fled the scene resulting in an active manhunt that lasted from 7 p.m. Thursday evening until just before 1 a.m. Friday morning. UC Davis WarnMe systems had issued a shelter-in-place for students on campus and police were advising citizens to stay clear of the downtown area and remain indoors until further notice. Neighboring police departments from Vacaville, Woodland, Rancho Cordova, and even as far as San Francisco arrived in Davis to assist the Davis Police Department.

Around 10 p.m. on Thursday evening, police stated that they had a lead near the area of 5th and C Street which was later narrowed to a house on 5th and E, directly across from the Davis fire department. Police stationed outside the home until 1 a.m. Friday morning when the suspect was confirmed dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Currently, there is no information regarding the suspect’s identity or the reason for the shooting. Police Chief Darren Pytel stated that the “case is currently under investigation, and there’s an active investigation going on. At this point, we’ve turned over the criminal investigation to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. They told us that they would take the lead, and we’re allowing that to happen.”

Pytel addressed the press in a statement around 11:50 p.m. Thursday evening regarding Officer Corona. Corona was 22 years old and had recently graduated the police academy in August of 2018. According to Pytel, Corona had finished field training right before Christmas and had only been on her own for a couple of weeks. She is survived by her parents; her father Merced Corona spent 26 years as a Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy.

“She was just an absolute star in the department and somebody that pretty much every department member really looked to as a close friend, a sister,” Pytel said. “Natalie was just full of life and full of energy and just an absolute pleasure to be around. She loved being around everyone in the department and she just worked like you can’t believe.”

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Remembering 41

“Where we goin’, Bake?” former President George H.W. Bush asked, prompted by a visit from longtime friend and former Secretary of State, James Baker. “We’re going to heaven” Mr. Baker responded, “That’s where I want to go” Mr. Bush uttered.

It was on that day, only 13 hours later, at 10:10 PM,  that President George H.W. Bush’s monumental and prestigious story would come to an end. Minutes before, former President George W. Bush received a phone call, where he was informed his father had just moments to live. Put on speaker phone, unsure of whether or not he could be heard, he said “Dad, I love you and you’ve been a wonderful father”. Despite suffering from Vascular Parkinsonism, making breathing and speaking incredibly difficult, “I love you, too” his father responded.

Surrounded by family, pastors, caregivers and aides, Mr. Baker characterized his passing as “gentle”, noting that “If those things could be sweet, It was sweet”.  Shortly after death, the former President’s body was flown from Texas to Washington D.C., in the Presidential Plane on a journey aptly named “Special Mission 41”. His body laid in the rotunda of the United States Capitol from Monday, December 3rd at 7:30 PM to Wednesday, December 5th, at 7:00 AM. Following a memorial service at the national cathedral, he was flown back to Texas where he laid at Texas A&M university for a short while, before being buried in his Presidential library. President Bush now lays next to his wife, Barbara Bush, and his daughter, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush.

George H. W. Bush is often cited as one of the most impactful single-term Presidents of the United States, and It’s not hard to see why.  Graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he had already been accepted into Yale University when he made the decision to not attend, and instead to enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserve. At 18 years old, he was the youngest pilot in the United States Navy. During his service he was shot down by enemy combatants over the pacific ocean. After graduating yale with a B.A. in economics he refused a job at his father’s prestigious banking firm, and instead worked manual labor for an oilfield supply company. In 1964, he ran for U.S. Senate but was defeated by future President Lyndon B. Johnson, but just 2 years later he became the first Republican to ever represent Houston in Congress. Vying again for that Texas senate seat, he was again defeated. However, his efforts did not go unnoticed. President Nixon tapped H.W. Bush for Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973, Director of the C.I.A in ‘76, and special Envoy to China in 1974.

He would end up running for President in 1980, but as the story goes, his party gave the nomination to President Ronald Reagan. Shockingly, President Reagan tapped H.W. Bush to be his Vice President, and they won in 2 of the largest political landslides of American history. What would end up being his final stint of public service, he was elected President in 1988. While in office, he signed the landmark piece of civil rights legislation known as the “Americans with Disabilities Act”. A committed environmental activist, President George H. W. Bush appointed the first professional environmentalist to lead the E.P.A and signed a series of landmark environmental bills in the form of the “Clean Air Act”.

Former President George H. W. Bush lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Washington. (Pool photo by Morry Gash via AP) (Morry Gash)

President H.W. Bush is understandably lauded for his foreign policy. In 1989, Bush’s foreign policy team became aware of a coup brewing in Panama, aiming to take out military dictator Manuel Noriega, but refused to aid the coup, calling it “unorganized” and “sketchy”. Though congressional Democrats criticized the President for failing to seize an opportunity, his instincts proved correct. Bush would lead “Operation Just Cause” a few months later, which successfully brought Manuel Noriega back to the United States and sent him to prison. President Bush also presided over the reunification of Germany after the Cold War, and negotiated a historic arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. Most notably, President George H.W. Bush received congressional authorization to begin “Operation Desert Storm” and in less than 2 months, Bush had successfully ensured the sovereignty of Kuwait and the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military. Bush’s successes, and his failures were informed by a 23-word creed: “Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your Best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. All that kind of thing.”

Lights shining on the U.S. Capitol the night that former President George H.W. Bush arrived, December 3rd, 10:32 PM. (Blayne Clegg)

What was a lively, bustling hall filled with tourists and guides, myself among them, was turned into a solemn funeral hall for a titan, overnight. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans from all across the country, we mourned the loss of a dedicated public servant. Standing in the rotunda, with my eyes enamored by the deep blues and powerful maroons of the American flag draped over his casket, I had no concern for the latest controversy at the top of my twitter feed. Being able to hear the echo of tear drops hitting the floor, and of fathers pulling their sons just a little closer than normal, made me nostalgic for a period in time I never got to experience. Watching the changing of the guards, who saluted for hours on end, stood in stark contrast to the status quo of American politics: toxicity, resent, and triviality. There is no rule, no natural law, that says that nations like America must exist, or will continue to do so. It is Much like a ship, we require renewal, upkeep, and maintenance, and it isn’t easy. We require a captain, and that captain might not always be your fist pick, but nonetheless, captain they are. Before you hit send on your provocative tweet, or impugn his motives, or offer your snide disregard, sympathize with the difficulty of what being that captain entails. George Herbert Walker Bush was given a single opportunity to be that captain, and with a steady hand, he stayed the course, and we are all better off because of him.

Secondhand Smoking?

In late November of this year, air quality in Davis reached unhealthy levels, prompting many schools to cancel classes until air quality improved. UC Davis was one of the first to close its campus due to health concerns on Tuesday November, 13th.  While DJUSD closed campuses on Thursday of that week. What are the health effects of smoke, and why do they warrant closing down schools?

The fact is that particulate matter in the air can potentially be very dangerous, even with only short term exposure.Nathan Kwan, Da Vinci Environmental Science teacher, recommended that if you are bicycling in smoke you should try to get to your destination as quickly as possible without over exerting yourself. He also highly recommended purchasing a filtration mask.

The smoke made the air hazy and apocalyptic.

Two main types of mask seem to be popular, both produced by 3M: the N95 and N99. Their names reflect the approximate percentage of pollutants of a size .2 microns or larger, 95% for the N95 and 99% for the N99. While this is good, it was estimated by the EPA that around 50% of the toxic particles in the air were smaller than that and also more dangerous.

The smaller particles can penetrate much deeper in the lungs than the larger ones and pose a threat to both healthy and unhealthy people alike. Some side effects include aggravation and swelling of the lung aolia. While a very small percentage of the side effects are permanent or life threatening, the EPA’s top recommendation is to stay inside as much as humanly possible.

The Pipe Bomb Scandal

As pipe bombs are delivered to many political leaders as well as news sources in America, Da Vinci students weigh in.

Throughout the past week, October 22-26, thirteen pipe bombs were mailed to different public figures and news outlets. Luckily, all of the packages were intercepted before detonation and none of the intended recipients were harmed. Some of these recipients included past presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, actor Robert De Niro, and senator Kamala Harris (D- CA). Other state representatives, news analysts, political donors and vice presidents were targeted by these pipe bombs.

Some of the packages did not solely include a bomb; the ones that were sent to Barack Obama, Maxine Waters (D-CA), former CIA director John Brennan and political philanthropist George Soros included a photo of each target marked with a large red “X”.

One of the packages containing pipe bombs sent from the address of a Florida senator

On Friday, October 26th, law enforcement officials arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man who was arrested numerous times before and had a history of making bomb threats. FBI agents discovered Sayoc based on a single fingerprint. With this evidence, as well as his extensive background of criminal behavior, it was clear that the officials had found the culprit.

Many Da Vinci students had already heard of the events, as the story has made national news.

When asked what they knew about the bombs and how they felt, the students had different ideas as well as views that were common throughout the group. Junior Clark LiWang says, “Personally, since I support Trump, it kind of puts a bad reputation on Republicans because not everyone is going to send bombs to people – if we’re going to have an argument it’s going to be a civil discussion.”  

Other students thought that the access to media that everyone has nowadays could have led to his radicalization. “I would say that the internet is a big component in this,” senior Eleanor Jacobo-Becker said, “It spreads ideas that…can be harmful to people and it helps people that might have otherwise been considered crazy, it kind of reinforces them like ‘Oh I’m not crazy other people think the same way I do.’”

As for the way it made them feel, most students were not worried for their own safety. Junior CJ Fabionar said, “It’s not like I’m going to see a bomb when I open the mail from now on, but it’s scary to think that there are bombs out there.” Senior Ramiro Cabanillas-Lesdesma said, “It doesn’t particularly scare me, it just surprises me.”

Luckily, the suspect has been caught and this string of attacks is over. It is unknown what kind of events like this will occur in the future, but one thing we can count on, is the fact that Da Vinci students will be well informed!


Tree of Life Shooting

On October 27th, 2018, gunman Robert Bowers took the lives of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Amongst the dead were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.

The gunman, Robert Bowers, had a track-record of deeply anti-semitic behavior. In addition to yelling anti-semitic epithets, he also attacked on Saturday, which for observers of Judaism is Shabbat, a day of rest and relaxation. Shortly before entering the building, Bowers posted a message on social-media platform Gab.

Gab, a website with almost no content restrictions, is favored and used by many fringe radicals. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in,” the post wrote.

Bowers is being charged with 44 criminal counts, 11 of which are federal hate crimes, all of which carry the maximum penalty of death. U.S Attorney Scott Brady is leading the charge to prosecute this act of grotesque violence, and he has filed motions to pursue the death penalty.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both signaled their interest in pursuing the death penalty, with President Trump not mincing words: “When people do this, they should get the death penalty”.

Beyond anti-semitism, It is unclear what motivated Bowers. Bowers said in a post on Gab four hours before the shooting, that he didn’t vote for President Trump, because he perceived President Trump to be too supportive of the Jewish community. President Trump visited the scene, placing a stone he brought from the White House on the fence outside of the synagogue, with the First Lady placing a white rose, both Jewish burial traditions. As President Trump’s motorcade passed by protestors, he spent more than an hour at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center visiting victims and police officers.

In the wake of the shooting, many have taken steps to politicize the massacre. Many opponents of the President have accused him of being partially responsible for what happened on the 27th of October. Paul Carberry, a resident of the neighborhood where the shooting happened told the Star Tribune that “He didn’t pull the trigger, but his verbiage and actions don’t help.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement where she urged congress to “finally act on commonsense, bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation”.

However, Shayna Marcus, a nurse who helped victims on-scene shortly after the shooting believed focusing on the President wasn’t the right thing to do, “I don’t think focusing on Trump is the answer — or on politics”, Kellyanne Conway, counsel to the President, buffed the sentiment, stating “If people are there to protest, that’s their right. For the president, it was not a moment for politics”. Neither Democratic or Republican leaders were present in Pittsburgh after the shooting, despite being invited by the President.


Gun Violence in Our Nation

On February 14th, 2018 a gunman massacred 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. What followed this tragic incident was the beginning of a national debate we have frequently in the United States: what do we do about guns in our society?

The shooting, in addition to sparking nationwide debate on firearms, also inspired local action. On April 20th, 2018, several hundred Davis High Students walked out of class to meet with Davis Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and express their concerns about their safety to him. Eleanor Richter, a former Senior at Davis Senior High School read the names of the students slain in Parkland and added “that could’ve very well been us”

Though the fears held by High School students are legitimate, author and Harvard professor David Ropeik writes in the New York Times that: “the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000. And since the 1990s, shootings at schools have been getting less common.”

Though school shootings and violence generally are becoming rarer, many still want change, Including progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who said in an Interview with NBC news on February 18th, 2018 that “I believe that we should not be selling assault weapons in this country. These weapons [AR-15’s] are not for hunting, they are for killing human beings.” Despite attacks on AR-15’s specifically, they account for relatively few murders nationwide. A study by the National Shooting Sports foundation and the FBI found that despite AR-15 sales soaring in 2012, murder by rifle accounted for only 374/10,303 or 0.036% of all gun deaths in 2016.

However, this isn’t to say that Congress is at a dead stop. Laws and regulations are being worked on in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. President Donald Trump on October 1st, 2018, said that his administration is in the ‘final stages’ of a nationwide ban on ‘bump stocks’ the tool used by the Las Vegas shooter to mimic full automatic firing. “We’re knocking out bump stocks,” Trump told reporters at a press conference “I have told the N.R.A — bump stocks are gone”. In addition, conservative activist and shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv has been quietly working with Senate Republicans to pass safety measures. Meekly and quietly, Kashuv has represented a rebuke to his fellow survivors, mostly advocates of gun control. Despite being in the minority, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have secured funding on a “Stop School Violence Act’, and have managed to have their bill passed in the house, awaiting a vote in the Senate. However, It remains to be seen if the Senators and the President can get their policy proposals fully implemented. Just this April, Kashuv flew out to Nebraska to escort a high school senior to her prom after she had discovered Kashuv when he rose to prominence. In the debate about gun violence It is easy to dehumanize the opposition, however moments like these help to remind us of just how human we really are.

Gov. Brown Rejects Statewide Late Start Bill; Davis Dep. Superintendent Speaks Out

After narrowly passing the state senate and assembly, Governor Jerry Brown officially vetoed the hugely controversial SB-328, commonly referred to as the California Late Start Bill, on Thursday, September 20 with the notion that the issue was one better addressed at the district level as opposed to statewide. The Senate measure would have mandated that all California middle and high schools, both public and charter, should begin the school day no earlier than 8:30 am with the exception of those in rural areas. Additionally, individual school districts would have been “encouraged” to promote the new regulations by informing community members by any means they see fit of relevant research on teenage sleep deprivation, the benefits of a later start time and how students and families can adapt to these changes. “This is a one-size-fits-all approach that is opposed by teachers and school boards,” Brown said in an official veto message. “These are the types of decisions best handled in the local community.”

The California Late Start Bill was officially introduced in February of 2017 by Senator Anthony Portantino, a Democratic representative of California’s 25th senate district. It received immediate backing from Terra Ziporyn Snider, a medical writer and co-founder of the non-profit School Start Later organization, which advocates for the pushback of school start times on the basis of research into the correlation between unhealthy teenage sleep patterns and poor academic performance. “These early hours, set in the mid-20th century largely to save money on buses, interfere with the quality, quantity, consistency, and timing of adolescent sleep and create a huge sleep debt every week of the school year,” writes Snider on the need for legislation similar to Portantino’s bill. “School communities need help recognizing that sleep and sleep-friendly school hours are critical matters of child health and safety.”

In the year and seven months before passing the senate and assembly floors by a landslide, the bill received an unexpected wave of criticism from opposition lobbyists. Many of these organizations and unions were widely influential forces in California education, most notably the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association. Among their top concerns were possible complications with student transportation (i.e. parents arriving to work on time, public transit schedules) as well as the belief that costly funding towards before-school supervision and activities would inevitably cut into money set aside for extracurriculars, classrooms, and other school necessities.

“Individual school boards should be able to explore whether later start times make sense for their communities, but this approach should not be required,” reads the CSBA’s official website. “Local students, parents and teachers understand their needs better than Sacramento legislators and have the most stake in doing what’s right for children and families.” This was a viewpoint echoed by Governor Brown when denying the passage of Portantino’s Late Start Bill.

Even with the failure of a statewide solution, a small number of California school districts have already established similar policies addressing the issue of start time at a local level.  Back in 2014, in response to a recommendation from the American Association of Pediatrics, Davis Joint Unified School District’s Deputy Superintendent Matt Best proposed a “Late Start Initiative” for all three Davis middle schools in addition to Davis Senior High School and Da Vinci Charter Academy. The district was faced with concerns, similar to those of the Senate bill’s opposition lobbyists, from students who took issue with how these schedule changes would affect after-school athletics. Additionally, parents grew anxious over the likelihood of traffic congestion on 14th street, which is shared by DHS, North Davis Elementary and St. James.

“We were ahead of the game and had a pretty progressive view of how you go about solving this,” says Best. “And [the process] still took almost two years.” Nevertheless, concerns from community members were ultimately addressed and later start times were officially implemented beginning with the 2017-18 school year. Since then, the changes have proven to be greatly impactful on student life, with numbers reporting a decrease in tardiness at the junior high level as well as a self-reported survey of DHS students showing that students were getting more sleep overall.

While Best says he felt Gov. Brown’s veto of the California Late Start Bill was “a smart decision” and that solving this problem is “done better locally,” he feels that the success of Davis’s “Late Start Initiative” may inspire other districts throughout California and the country as a whole to rethink how an early start to the school day impacts student’s sleep patterns and performance in school. “We did a pretty good job of capturing our process,” he says. “It’s not impossible. You can do it through through thoughtful planning and the engagement of your community.”


What’s New with California’s Net Neutrality Regulations?

On Sunday, September 24, Governor of California Jerry Brown signed a comprehensive net neutrality bill, marking the return of Obama era regulations on internet providers, however the Trump administration’s Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the bill for violating Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. As of 2015, the FCC had created regulations that ensured the internet remained net neutral, but those were almost completely repealed recently by the Trump administration’s FCC.

While the senate did pass a resolution too reverse this, it is uncertain whether it will be approved by the House of Representatives and the President. After successfully passing the bill through the legislature, Senator Scott Wiener, of District 11, says about the FCC repeal “when Donald Trump’s FCC decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet.”

However, the Trump administration’s Justice Department will soon take California to court over these new laws. The grounds for the suit is that under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, Congress has the exclusive right “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;” and since the internet is a form of interstate commerce, California doesn’t have the right to regulate net neutrality.

Ajit Pai, current chairman of the FCC, added “Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers. The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits.” It is true that California’s new laws would ban a service termed “zero rating” which is defined in the bill as “exempting some Internet traffic from a customer’s data usage allowance.”

Here to share her thoughts and opinions on this is Gretchen Connors, DVCA’s senior Political Studies/Economics teacher, who kindly agreed to interview on very short notice.

Ms. Connors first brings up that there isn’t a simple answer to the question of net neutrality, saying “For me, it’s a double edged sword of like.” She points out that competition leads to more innovations from corporations. And since they are viewed in Federal law as people, it’s really a question of “whose rights are you willing to infringe?”

On the topic of the zero rating ban, Ms. Connors hypothesized about the future effects of zero rating, saying “if I’m a new startup trying to break into this industry, I’m not going to be able to afford this zero rating … so you’re going to see monopolies and so down the road. … How can you compete against Netflix when you can’t even get the deal and get the zero rating?” Netflix is used here a possible candidate for using the zero rating system to become a monopoly.

Finally, when the DOJ’s claims that only the Federal government should be allowed to regulate the internet, Ms. Connors pointed out that buying products on the internet is technically an interstate transaction, and yet state taxes apply, and wondered “is this a stepping stone to attacking that issue too? … I mean that’s in theory kind of the same thing.” This could lead to the Federal Government taking more direct control of state tax laws.