Extended Care Facilities Need Extra Care

By Preeti Minhas

COVID-19 has greatly affected everyone’s lives, from contracting the virus to death to unemployment. However, we may not have thought about the many people in senior centers across America that have struggled with the transition from the old world into a world of isolation. The seniors at long term care facilities in New York City have been affected negatively by the coronavirus at disproportionately high rates. There was a sense of uncertainty and confusion during the beginning of the transition and now seniors have to face the feeling of isolation. The staff, the elderly and families of the elderly have all had to make adjustments and have been hit hard by the coronavirus. They have worked very hard to provide the previous level of care while maintaining CDC guidelines and staying cautious. The people involved in long term care have all faced troubling times since last March and it is important to appreciate and applaud the work they have done to ensure the safety of many lives.

Firstly, it is proven by scientific data that long term care facilities (LTC) were hit hardest between the months of April and August. One analysis was completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and showcased how the number of cases and number of deaths in LTCs changed over that time period. In fact, the study indicated that although the number of cases LTCs had were only about 8% of the total coronavirus cases, the number of deaths were about 40% of the total coronavirus deaths. The reason federally available, facility specific data does not include the months of March and April, is because it only became a requirement for facilities to report information after the date of May 7th. This excludes when the number of cases and number of deaths peaked the most. Initially, in mid-April, there were 10,000 deaths and 50,000 cases in LTCs; in August, 70,000 deaths and 400,000 cases were reported in LTCs. It was also shown that these patterns connected to national patterns indicating a link between community spreading of cases and deaths to LTCs. This analysis clearly illustrates the connection between LTCs and the spread of COVID-19. The global pandemic has severely disproportionately impacted long term care facilities.

Secondly, a simple virtual meeting with the elderly in your local senior centers can help their mental state immensely. As a matter of fact, John Leland interviewed many seniors for a The New York Times article voicing their thoughts on life before and after the outbreak of the virus. He visited the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center and quoted the following from Anna Reifman, “I’m really isolated now. This isn’t just about lunch. I come here to talk to people other than my cat.”. Another article by Naveen Dhaliwal for ABC7 News stated that bi-weekly meetings improved the seniors’ mental and physical health. An example of this is when seniors called cardiologist, Dr. Narendra Bhalodkar, after meetings to tell him that their blood pressure would go back to normal levels and they would feel less depressed by just talking to each other. Something as simple as having a conversation can help tremendously with mental health and help them get through the anxiety they face over being isolated or in response to the pandemic in general.

What can we do to help? There are many ways to contribute to boosting the health of the elderly, but ultimately it depends on the facility. You can contact your local senior center or elderly home and ask how you can help make them feel better. Some facilities are accepting handmade cards, virtual cards, Zoom Meetings and even recorded videos of yourself with nice messages to the elderly. Your school may also have clubs or events that collaborate with facilities in order to interact with the elderly. For instance, the Academy of American Studies has a Glamour Gals Chapter in which they create virtual cards for the elderly to read, so that they know we miss them and hope to see them soon. Any small act of kindness can make a huge difference for them.Personally, my volunteer experiences taught me about easing the emotional state of extended care facility residents and the happiness it can bring them. They desired conversation with our members much more than the manicures my club, Glamour Gals, provided them. I’ve made deep connections with a few women from the Queens Boulevard Extended Care Facility, and they express to me how much they appreciate and value the time I spend with them. Therefore, it is important to the elderly to create intergenerational connections by helping those who feel the most secluded. If you are able to, please contact a local facility and find out how you can safely contribute to helping improve the mental and physical health of our elderly. The countless long term care facilities all across the country cannot be forgotten as they are affected deeply and need special care.

Punjabi Farmers

By Tashi Lhamo

Our everyday household items are very crucial to our routines, from our morning breakfast to our dinner. Goods such as rice, lentils, spices, and cotton are all exported from India. India produces 70% of the world’s spices while also being the largest producer of rice, lentils, and cotton, states the India Brand Equity Foundation. Farmers that grow these products in India come from a generational Punjabi farmer background. India has passed laws that help large corporations and hurt local farmers. Farmers were outraged thus leading to the biggest protest in history from people protesting worldwide. However, the peaceful protest of the Punjabis has only led to them getting violent responses from the Indian government through the use of tear gas and hands-on action.

Before continuing, it is noteworthy to know the history behind these farmers to understand their circumstances. It had all started when India was a new nation and free from British rule. As a new nation that had become used to having a ruler for the last two centuries, India faced famine, and to combat it, they used the green revolution program in 1966. CNN explains that the program used new technologies, irrigation systems, chemicals, and engineered seeds and the Punjabi farmers come into the story as they were put under this program. Although the program helped to calm down the famine, over time, it had only seemed to exaggerate the issues that lay between the farmers and the government. Farmers were not guaranteed profit, and the cost to produce in many cases overrode the profit made. Disturbingly, according to the Punjab Agricultural University, 8 out of 10 farmers have debt.

The government states that they work in favor of the farmers however, they do not protect these family-owned farms from giant corporations. Malkit Singh, a member of the Sher Singh Wala village and many others believe that the government continues to pass reforms that inevitably harm them. Not to mention the strict seed policies that further put these farmers in debt. These seed policies do not allow farmers to keep extra seeds for the following year. The government has been exploiting these farmers for decades while also ignoring the dangers. The technologies from the green revolution program have been found to increase the rates of cancer. It is alarming that, in villages like Sher Singh Wala in the northern state of Punjab, 18 people fall ill with cancer every day. Skyrocketing cancer in the community has been linked to the harsh chemicals and pesticides as well as contaminated water used in these very farms. Singh commented in the Pri radio, “The overall responsibility goes to the government, and the people are also responsible because they have not made an issue of it”. Many seem to agree with Singh as the government had failed to notice this pattern until the social groups sent letters to the Punjabi government. Many families cannot afford the medications needed for treatment as pharmacies are allowed to sell medicine for ten times the original price of 20,000 rupees ($400) a month due to the lack of regulation according to the Pri radio program.

The lack of support from the government, debt, and super high price tags for medications have all caused a Punjabi farmer to commit suicide every 30 minutes according, to studies conducted by the New York University in 2011 reported by Forbes. The Suicide rates led up to mass protests around the world as Punjabi farmers and allies have started calling for justice. Farmers have been blocking major entry points of the capital (Delhi) while removing police barricades. BBC covered the moment when the whole world’s spark ignited when viral images had been passed around as police repeatedly hit elders with batons and tear-gassed protesters. The Indian police violently injured respected elders and peaceful protestors which has only worsened the situation. Large groups of communities in countries such as Canada have been holding up banners in the freezing streets in support of the generational farmers according to Aljazeera news. Social media and Generation Z have continued spreading information, and while educating the young impressionable demographic, many people have also stepped into organizing fundraisers. These organizers have raised substantial funds, the Guru Nanak Langar Sewa Society has raised $90,000 worldwide alone within a window of 2 months on a go fund me page. 

Local Punjabi farmers that produce most of the world’s staple home goods are heavily affected by the reforms passed as well as the lack of regulations by the Indian government. These farmers request aid as they drown in debts and lack healthcare. Unprecedented times have led to high numbers of suicide per day. People around the world can also help by taking part in the movement whether it be protesting in your city, signing petitions, donating on go fund me, or letting your area know about the situations that these farmers are doomed with.

How will NYC Restaurants fare after being struck by pandemic?

By Sami Chen

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have chosen to isolate themselves at home. But as a result, thousands of restaurants are struggling to stay in business. In New York City, many of these restaurants were permanently shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers unemployed and hitting the restaurant industry hard. However, Rockwell Group, an architecture and design firm, and the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an association created to represent and serve restaurants, created a new system called DineOut NYC built to meet the current health guidelines. Additionally, the City of New York established a year-round program called Open Restaurants that allows restaurants to have outdoor dining, and they have announced this on their official website.

Applying to the Open Restaurants program isn’t as simple as it seems. Restaurants must meet specific requirements in order to be eligible and agree to multiple conditions, such as making sure that the seating doesn’t take up too much space on the road and doesn’t block off public structures, like bus stops and parking meters, which can be found on the Open Restaurants website.

Depending on the location of the restaurant, restaurant owners may have to follow requirements for roadway seating, such as providing a secure barrier but also keeping traffic in consideration. The Open Restaurants website lists the rules such as,”Not place seating or barriers within 8’ of a crosswalk, to provide for safe vehicle turns and avoid crowding,” “significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway,” and “Not place seating or barriers within 8’ of a crosswalk, to provide for safe vehicle turns and avoid crowding.”

How does the DineOut NYC program affect restaurants in NYC? So far, DineOut has helped 6 restaurants in the 5 boroughs with outdoor dining. An example is Mott Street in Chinatown, where DineOut provided the restaurants with a cost effective, yet stylish design template. Even parts of the community chimed in to help out, beautifying the establishments with pleasant colors.  As stated by an article by 6sqft.com, “Local artist Sammi Qu-Kwok made stencils of different dim sum designs on the dining modules and students from the nearby Transfiguration School painted them in bright colors. Think! Chinatown artist James Chan also contributed stunning artwork as interactive tabletop designs, equipped with scannable QR codes.” 

Two more restaurants on 37th Road in Jackson Heights were chosen by DineOut. A fifty foot long installation was placed in the parking lanes in front of the establishments, consisting of pavilions with banquette seating. The back of the modules were decorated by Nitin Mukul, a local artist, and  the designs displayed the restaurants’ Indian and South Asian cultures. And on Woodside Avenue, DineOut supplied an installation that could hold 66 seats across 5 dining pavilions. Puwana Prathuangsuk created a mural for the Elmhurst dining experience, featuring an elephant for Thailand and a panda for China.

David Rockwell, founder of the Rockwell Group, wants to continue helping struggling restaurants and expand DineOut NYC. Rockwell Group will be partnering with Cosentini-A Tetra Tech Company to update HVAC systems at each restaurant, as well as start creating templates for indoor dining. From an article published by amny.com, David Rockwell said,

”With the return of limited indoor dining we are looking to find ways to expand our learnings from the initial DineOut NYC program to create an integrated model that allows restaurant owners to more seamlessly utilize all of these spaces in a safe and comfortable way for indoor dining, outdoor dining and takeout.” 

How are restaurants in NYC doing during the pandemic?  As restaurants shifted from outdoor dining to indoors, the Times wrote, “New York City’s restaurant owners have warned that their businesses, many of which operate on tight margins in the best of times, are on the edge of financial collapse. Thousands of employees, many of them low-wage workers, have been laid off since March, and their jobs have yet to fully return.” 

While Open Restaurants became permanent year-round in the fall, a large portion of the city’s restaurants haven’t taken part in it. Only 44 percent of restaurants used outdoor seating last summer, according to the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Structures used for outdoor dining cost several thousands of dollars to set up, and the payoff can vary. In an article from Restaurant Dive, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, stated, 

”Less than half of New York City’s restaurants, or about 11,000 restaurants, participated. How helpful [outdoor dining was to these restaurants] was also based on how much outdoor space you had. Restaurants had limitations if there was a bus stop, fire hydrant or other obstruction near their business. Outdoor dining was never intended to help save the industry…it was intended to get a little more occupancy outdoors from what we lost indoors.” These establishments have also faced conflict within their communities about taking up space on the street. An article from Eater reported, “Over 4,400 complaints have been logged through 311 regarding outdoor dining structures in NYC since July.” 

With a lack of guidance and financial assistance from the government, the restaurant industry is slowly trying to figure out how to survive on their own. Quoted from the Times, Jonathan Forgash, an executive director of Queens Together, a group that reached out to some restaurants to raise money, described some ways restaurants are trying to adapt to the pandemic. He said,

”Some are reducing offerings on their menus to limit the cost of food supplies, [space], and labor, others are trying to reach a bigger customer base through third-party delivery apps, despite the added cost of using the apps. And still others are repurposing their dining areas into markets. People are literally throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what is sticking or working for now.” 

Stephanie Carreto and David Clervil, students from Academy, were interviewed about their thoughts on eating at restaurants. Both prefer eating indoors at home because it feels safer and is more comfortable for them. Clervil stated that he would be okay with eating at a restaurant during the pandemic if the restaurants were following health guidelines and keeping a safe distance from other tables. Carreto said she would be too worried about getting sick, but it wouldn’t stop her from ordering food from restaurants. Even if she wore a mask and was 6 feet away from other tables, her concern was that it was still risky because you have to take off your mask whilst eating. She also supports restaurants staying open during the pandemic, because it’s one of the few sources of income some families may have in this situation, and despite the risks, they can take health precautions such as checking the temperature of incoming customers, distancing tables, and offer delivery instead of outdoor dining. Clervil believes that restaurants should only stay closed for indoor dining, and offer only delivery or pick-up, or even partner with food delivery companies to get food to the customer.

Restaurants have been a significant source of employment for residents of NYC, providing over 300,000 jobs in 2019. They are also a way for people to experience different cultures, and have been a part of the city’s community. In this current crisis, dining at restaurants has become a temporary escape for some who want relief from the pandemic. Supporting the restaurants is important, because it shows signs that community spirit is still going strong in this bleak situation. However, what’s most important for everyone is to stay safe. As quoted from an article from 6sqft.com, David Rockwell said in a press release, “Restaurants have never been more important to the vitality of our City. In addition to their importance to the local economy, they create a sense of urban vitality by serving neighbors and visitors and attracting people to different parts of the City. What happens on our sidewalks and streets, we are learning,  is critical to how we pull through this as a City. It is a moment for us to rethink the value of urban space and ensure that it is used to the benefit of the City.”

The Detrimental Effects of Air Pollution in South Asia

By Prarthana Biswas

In the present day, South Asia is most commonly associated with overpopulation, third world countries, and air pollution. But did you know that these characteristics are all related to each other? India, a country known for its diverse cultures and multiple ethnicities, has the 5th worst air pollution ranking and is the 2nd most populated country in the world. Its neighbor, Bangladesh, also has a high air pollution rating (ranked 1st) and a high population (8th most populated). Their capital cities, New Delhi, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh, are the top two polluted in the world. Besides their pollution and population, India and Bangladesh’s exploitation is also prevalent. In fact, it’s the prime cause of their pollution. Although Dhaka is most dangerously affected by the textile industry from water pollution, it is still impacted by the release of carbon, dust, smog, and other gaseous substances.  Bangladesh is home to thousands of sweatshops for garment factories and many of them are unregulated and have horrific working conditions. There are 3.5 million Bangladeshi workers for these garment factories and they only make 3,000 taka ($35.40 USD) a month, which is not enough for a standard lifestyle that consists of food, healthcare, and shelter. The type of people working in these sweatshops are mainly female; in fact, 85% of the workforce for the textile industry accounts for women, and studies show that approximately 15% of women in similar countries work in the garment industry from ages 16-30(UNICEF and War on Want – Activism for Global Justice).

Although air pollution harms our planet, it also places a heavy burden on the health of those who are impacted by it. The World Health Organization believes reducing air pollution can lessen stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, as well as chronic and acute respiratory diseases. According to the National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), nearly seven million people in Bangladesh suffer from asthma, more than half of them are children. Realizing the detrimental effects of air pollution on the lives of daily citizens is one way to persuade industries, such as the garment industry, to adjust their methods to better suit the environment. To better understand the circumstances of the countries, I conducted interviews with citizens from Bangladesh and India. P. Rai, a Literature Professor at the University of Chittagong, says, “It’s always dusty on the roads and many of my students have developed asthma as well as coughing hazards from traveling to the class.” Mr. Rai commutes to the campus daily from his home via auto-rickshaw, commonly known as CNG’s in Bangladesh due to their main fuel source: Compressed Natural Gas. This gas was introduced to combat air pollution, for CNG lowers air pollutant emissions. In India, B. Musa, a government worker in the city of Kolkata, experiences similar dust problems found in Bangladesh, such that he frequents the doctor often. “The clinic has become my second home. The doctor and I even go by a first-name basis now”, Musa laughingly tells us. It is unfortunate that such conditions have become normalized for citizens. Both Musa and Rai are local citizens of their respective countries but they have been victimized by climate change. “I do not want my children to experience this as they grow up”, Rai voices as the father of two. “My daughter will be turning 2 very soon and I always live in the fear of her health collapsing just from playing outside,” Musa says. 

That being said, with such a growing awareness of climate change, governments of such developing countries have not been blind to air pollution. The Bangladeshi Government negotiated with the World Bank for $62 million USD to the CASE (Clean Air and Sustainable Environment) Project which aims to improve air quality as well as create cleaner energy-efficient technology. Furthermore, the Department of Environment signed an agreement with the Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU) that will provide Bangladesh 1.3 million USD for air quality research. However, the government does not acknowledge the mistreatment of employees under the industries that cause the growing air pollution the same way. There have been many uprisings about this issue, but they all result in little to no achievements. Back in December 2016, 1,500 garment workers went on a week-long strike, fighting for wages that are at least triple the amount they received. Hundreds of workers walked out of their factories in protests to show their discontent with the working conditions as well as wages. Instead of receiving support and a helpful compromise, the workers were shot with rubber bullets by the police force, for protests which were deemed illegal. Countries like Bangladesh continue to fight for better working conditions to not only satisfy their survival needs but also to help their ecosystems and homes. (The Guardian)

Although Bangladesh’s economy has improved with such garment factories, its air pollution has risen as well. Citizens of the country feel the need to ensure their safety, including working conditions that help them as well as the reduction of air pollution. Although there are multiple proposed solutions by environmentalists and scientists, there are certain measures that we, as the common folk, can take (Stockholm Environment Institute). As global citizens, it is important to understand how we can commit to the cause of climate change and figuring out how to reduce its effects. Some ways we can do so is reducing our plastic bag usage and wasting as little water as possible. There are multiple other ways we can counter climate change by researching specific ways we can help using resources like The Natural Resources Defense Council

Return of Elmhurst’s… Landmark?

By Sam Wang

Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Playground has been an iconic part of my childhood. Though it was rarely in a good condition, this used to be a place where I would meet all sorts of people and spend time with them. It was a place for me to actually socialize with my friends and play with kids that lived in the area. Suddenly, in March 2019, the park had been closed off. The park was placed under renovation, making changes to the design of the park. Finally, the park was reopened by November 2020.

This park has always been around since the mid-1900s and served as something like a landmark for the locals living in the area. However, the park had to go through a small series of events to be recognized as a park.

Going back to the 1600s, this land had an origin like no other. Reverend John Moore, one of the earliest settlers, built his first home in the village just off Broadway at St. James Avenue. After this house was gone, John Moore bought land from the Native Americans and granted his son, Captain Samuel Moore 80 acres of land with his house built in the center. This land, once known as Newtown, eventually became the city that we call Elmhurst. The Moore family lived in this house until the death of John Jacob Moore in 1879.

Eventually, Robert Moses, head of the Parks department had the empty land turned into a park by 1954. By 1987, the city government decided to rename the park, The Moore Homestead Playground in memory of the family that lived there (qchron.com). Thus, this park had become a famous landmark for Elmhurst as it is associated with its origin.

For how important this park is historically to the city of Elmhurst, it makes sense to keep this park in the best form it can be. For all the years it existed, this area continues to attract many people to spend some time there. So what did people think of this park in its previous condition?

For some people, Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Playground was still impressive despite how many years passed. After reminiscing about his childhood memory, local resident Darren Chen comments “I had often visited this park before the construction took place. I would go here to play so much as a child. The renovation didn’t seem necessary at all.” As someone who grew up in the area, it makes sense that Chen would be fond of how the park was originally designed. High school student, Anthony Lam also notes “This park is more of a play area rather than a park for walking and sightseeing which is very different from Flushing Meadow Park.” 

Despite all the respect people give the park, there are bound to be some that completely disagree. Simrun Islam, another local resident in Elmhurst mentions “I live by the park but I don’t really stop by the park all too often. There just isn’t any reason to when there are other places.” Despite the fact that this park allows for all kinds of activities, there are more places in Elmhurst that many people can see. A resident of Flushing, Nelson Lin, argued “Although the environment is great, it’s like any other park that offers activities.”

Ultimately, the park has recently completed its renovation and the most people can do is see how they feel about it. What will people expect of this place when they find time to visit?

Changes to any local facility should always aim to benefit the community and it seems that this was the intention. The NYC Parks Department shows this when they claim “The goal of this project was to create more welcoming pedestrian entrances, increase ADA access, replace the outdated playground equipment, remove and even lower fencing around the park and provide flexible open space for community events.” The park had only five entrances around its perimeter despite being an incredibly large area. On top of that, Lam also expresses that the park was crowded when he went.

Along with the upgrade for the equipment, there is a support for new activities. The NYC Parks Department worked on adding a volleyball court and two ping pong tables to the lower level of the park. Through the addition of new sports, there is sure to be more attraction and reason to visit this park. Immediately after hearing this, Lam responds “As a Volleyball player, I look forward to the fact that they are adding courts to the park.” Lin also shares “As someone who wants to workout, I’m looking forward to the addition of a variety of sports.” The park was was used for its handball and basketball courts and the addition of two new sports is sure to welcome new visitors.
For its historical significance, it is important to be able to attract more people to the best of its ability. There are people who are clearly fond of this playground and want to see its success. Some people may prefer the original park while others may eventually accept the changes. Perhaps people should consider visiting this park. The renovation might mark this place as Elmhurst’s greatest landmark.

Potholes vs. Automobiles Who Wins?

By Adam Mostafa

You are driving in the street and everything is calm. You feel the pressure of the gas pedal and you are in sync with your movements of change between the brakes and gas pedals. Then out of nowhere BOOM, your car feels as if it falls and you feel your car shake for a quick second. Terrified, you look around wondering if your car is the problem or you pressed something you shouldn’t have but no worries it was just a pothole. A pothole is an inverted circle that when a tire goes over it, it damages your car.  In 2017, there were approximately 60,712 total complaints regarding potholes in New York city. The effect that these potholes have on vehicles and the rate at which they are fixed is very slow. A study done by IJCRT explains the traffic congestion caused by potholes may lead to a waste of fuel and increasing air pollution. The release of carbon monoxide and other pollutants by congested cars also account for environmental concerns and health problems. This accounts for the wear and tear on vehicles that occur because of idling in traffic and frequent acceleration and braking, which may lead to more frequent repairs and replacements. Frustration that comes from slow, stop and go conditions of the traffic causes discomfort for passengers and leads to weakness of vehicles that affect it`s engine and suspension. Congestion increases the tendency of collision which may lead to a series of injuries and fatalities.

The types of damage that a pothole can inflict on a vehicle are both varied and expensive. Most commonly, potholes harm a vehicle’s tires. As the tires of a vehicle are continuously in contact with the road, it puts them within the front lines of a pothole’s incursion. When an automobile’s tire enters a pothole, the drive on the tires, which is relatively adjusted on a level surface, is now not evenly distributed. As the tire drops into a pothole, the vehicle is not level, and the weight starts to move more intensely onto the tire that’s generally lower than the tires on the normal street surface. The harm happens when the tire exits the pothole. With an uneven amount of weight on the submerged tire, the damage when coming out the pothole is serious. In the event that it is serious enough, possible damage could misshape the tire, break it, or twist its edge.

Additionally, The damage can extend towards the suspension.  A vehicle’s suspension framework, which basically works as a safeguard, is made up of springs. Research done by Pothole.Info states that these springs, beneath ordinary constraint, will wear out after a few tens of thousands of miles, but potholes impact their life expectancy. This damage will decrease the value of the car and could also put the driver’s life at risk. While being a burden for vehicles, potholes can also affect vehicular traffic. While driving, a driver must be aware of all their surroundings. A study done by IJCRT, a Scholarly journal on the subject, further highlights the effect on vehicular traffic. It summarizes how people would react when they see a pothole; they tend to slow down and proceed to take their time to minimize damage. This leads to a motion of deceleration and even stoppage in streets and even highways. A driver may even take drastic measures to not hit a pothole and could cause an accident. This can lead to small injuries or even severe ones. Furthermore, the increased traffic from a pothole can lead to more pollution in the air. When cars burn gasoline, they emit pollutants. When cars drive more, they are emitting more pollutants, which negatively affects the air we breathe in. Drivers have to burn more gas and produce more carbon pollution to go the same distance. 

I asked a neighbor — Teresa Jennings— to weigh in on our area’s pothole problem and to speak on her experience with them. Jennings has been a resident of the area for 13 years and has seen a fair share of potholes.

“All of a sudden there was this loud noise, like an explosion underneath my car,” said the Queens resident. “I was like ‘Oh my God, my car!’ The tire was completely flat, like flat right to the rim.”Pictures she took of the damage shows the mangled tire. She also took pictures of the offending pothole and tried to report it to the Department of Transportation, but nobody returned her call, she said. After getting her tire fixed, Jennings submitted the $269 bill to the Department for reimbursement and waited for a response. Six months later she finally heard back. Her claim was denied.

She said “It’s very frustrating. I was told every time I called that the lawyer handling my case was in a meeting. Every single time he was in a meeting” When asked what happened next, she responded with, “You would think the law would be a little more supportive of people who suffer damages to their cars because we can’t maintain our own roads” Jennings stated that pothole claims can seem like a waste of time because they are so difficult to win.

While drivers take precautions in order to avoid potholes the best solution is to fix them. But is this really the case? Nothing is more important than response time to fix a pothole. Using data collected and  provided by NYC Open Data on potholes and the city’s response time to repair them, Diamond Injury Law was able to discover that on average, it takes New York city road crews about two and a half days to respond to a pothole complaint. Each borough differs. For example Brooklyn averages around 3.9 days for the road crew response, which is the longest. While Staten Island is 1 day and 5 hours (fastest). Each area has more potholes than others so it does make sense.  Not only does it have a high amount of potholes it just showcases more car damage for the car driver. 

The effect of potholes could cause a variety of problems. So what could drivers do to battle the unfavorable impact of potholes? Indeed, from a driving viewpoint, very little. Things like dodging potholes and keeping a protected vehicle are acceptable deterrent methods, however aren’t generally viable or possible. If you were to get into an accident with a pothole and it has affected your car horribly, I`d suggest going to your nearest mechanic workshop and let them know that a pothole did this to your car and give them the speed you were going when you ran over the pothole. Those two variables are very important when fixing your vehicle. Just remember to avoid potholes to the best of your ability and stay safe.

Covid Steals the Show

By Sara Ares

Have you ever loved something so much and worked so hard for it only to see it then get snatched from you? Have you ever wondered why this happened to me now? Well, in March of 2020 that is what the graduating seniors  from Frank Sinatra High School were thinking. Students at Frank Sinatra had been rehearsing and practicing for their big debut in Hairspray the Musical since the summer of 2019. They worked after school and on the weekend for long hours to perfect their show. However, the seniors were looking forward to it the most because this was their last show and they were electrified for the show.They were even going to perform on Broadway, but when it finally came time for the opening, they were shut down and sent home. Right then and there was the day that the Seniors’ lives started to go downhill. They had worked so hard for nothing, or did they? 

My sister Sofia Ares was one of the people I interviewed. She was a senior at Frank Sinatra and had the lead role in the musical as Tracy Turnblad. This was her first leading role in her whole 4 years of attending high school. When asked how she felt when landing the role she told me how she was so shocked and did not believe it was real. She then went on to talk about when she heard the news she was actually about to go on stage to perform the musical Annie Jr. and said she cried. She had stated that the auditions started when they got their parts in June of 2019 and that summer they had to memorize all lines and songs. They had to  memorize everything by the first day of school and rehearsal which was September 5th. She had stated, “There would be rehearsal everyday after school until 6pm  and a lot of the times we stayed ate until 8pm. On Saturdays we would have rehearsals from 9am to 6pm” When Covid19 was first starting and being talked about she did not believe it would lead to the show being cancelled. She said that the cast got a text saying they would continue. However, later that day the lead roles were called to the principal’s office. She had said that as they were walking to the office she knew that the show was being canceled even though they all tried to think of different outcomes. When finding out the news she had said that everyone was crying and so upset. She was really upset and said for months that a lot of the actors would cry trying to get over it. As I was finishing the interview I could see in her eyes the sadness and frustration she had when they first announced the cancellation of the show. I asked her if the cancellation impacted the rest of her senior year. With that she replied yes. She said that the show was supposed to be the start of all the amazing and fun activities of senior year but that unfortunately did not happen. There was one word she said that she and everyone else felt and that word was hopeless. 

The cast was devastated. They were very upset, but they tried to not let it ruin the beautiful work they did. They tried and succeeded in continuing the show in a different way. They decided to do a performance that you can watch from the comfort and safety of your home. They had performed in live shows with the other cast who consisted of different actors because the show was double casted. The live shows were everyday and recordings of the show and they were posted on the High school website. You can still go there and find it if you want to watch it. Just simply go to franksinatraschoolthearts.org and look up Hairspray and find it. When the news about the cancelation and what they were doing went public, they were getting a lot of attention on social media and they were all getting support.

While the way they were performing wasn’t the same. They were persistent and made sure they were able to show up and perform their last show no matter what. This story of these seniors trying to make their last hoorah in their last year of High School as best they could really opened a lot of people’s eyes. These teenagers took all their time and power to make sure that they would still show their talent and hard work. They were determined to prove the Covid19 could not stop them from doing what they love. Even if it was not the most normal solution it was the best for them. So when you stop reading this article and go back to your everyday lives and an obstacle tries to stop you from doing what you need or want to do, remember these seniors are not even letting a Global Pandemic stop them.

The Future of Automobiles

By David Cueva

Technology has been improving every year at unprecedented rates and it has affected our daily lives. One of the essential parts of life that it has impacted is transportation. Every year the world’s top innovators attempt to make transportation more efficient, cost-friendly, and safer for the environment. This has led to the rise of the electric car industry because of its many benefits. The electric car industry is growing every year at an exponential rate and one of the leading companies in this industry is Tesla. The value of electric vehicle companies’ stocks have skyrocketed and it has shown that people believe this will be the future of automobiles. Based on Thomson Reuter’s speculations, at the current pace the electric car is growing, it is a possibility that it can outgrow the automobile industry and make it obsolete at one point in the future. 

The electric car industry has attracted its customers due to the many benefits it has. One of the benefits that these lucrative cars offer is that in the long run, it is cheaper to maintain than gasoline-based cars. According to USCUSA, an electric car owner can save anywhere from 440 to 1,070 dollars yearly. Electric car owners can use these funds for other necessities, which has caught the eye of many people. The maintenance of electric cars is cheaper than a traditional automobile because the parts for electric cars tend to be cheaper. Electric car owners tend to save money because refueling an electric car is a lot cheaper than refueling a car with gasoline. Many locations in big cities offer free refueling. Owners of electric cars also get tax credits, so many consumers who pay great amounts in taxes have started to become more inclined to purchase electric cars because of this very reason. This endorsement of the government for electric cars has brought up the question of why governments support the purchase of electric cars.

Governments have been supportive of the electric car industry for a very long time due to their environmental benefits compared to a gasoline-based automobile. It is well known that automobiles have been a great factor in the rise of global warming because of the harmful emissions that they release into the atmosphere. As more people have gained access to cars it has meant that more emissions have been released which has depleted the atmosphere. As a result of this, the United States government has attempted to promote the purchase of electric cars. They have done so because electric cars release less carbon dioxide according to the Department of Energy. In attempts to preserve the Earth, the government has passed bills to provide tax incentives for those who own electric cars in hopes that more people will purchase them. “President Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill that will allow federal employees to use their government purchase cards to charge government-owned electric vehicles, which can save taxpayer dollars and improve energy efficiency” (GOVEXEC). Electric cars can contribute to a cleaner environment, but many people aren’t aware of why it can help with this issue.

Electric cars can help clean up the Earth by reducing the number of harmful emissions and this is critical in the efforts to decelerate climate change. One of the main reasons that pollution has increased in the past decades is due to the upsurge of cars and their accessibility. Cars use petroleum and when it is burned it releases harmful gasses, which in turn depletes the atmosphere and this allows for more sunlight to come in. When more sunlight can go through the atmosphere, the temperature of the Earth goes up and it has led to the melting of the ice caps. (USCSCA). According to the Department of Energy, electric vehicles can improve public health and minimize ecological damage. Furthermore, the increased use of electric vehicles will help reduce the dependency on petroleum and will open the doors to other resources. This will help everyone in the future because it’ll help prevent shortages of petroleum due to overuse. Without a doubt, electric cars have many attractive features, but many people wonder whether electric cars can become more popular than gasoline-based cars.

Electric cars are growing at a very fast rate and every year electric car companies are selling more electric cars than they did the previous year. A few years ago many people didn’t believe that electric cars would ever catch up to the sales of regular automobiles, but electric cars have been able to cut some gaps in sales. Last year electric cars sold an all-time high of 2.1 million vehicles, and 7.1 million traditional cars were sold last year. This has been the closest the gap between the two vehicles has reached, so now many people have been convinced that electric cars might be the future. The stock prices of electric car companies have begun to soar and a recent example of this was Nikola, which quickly rose this year after the announcement of new products. The large investment in electric cars has allowed electric cars to grow and develop their services. Although the sales of electric cars have been rising, it still seems unlikely that by 2030 there will be more electric cars than regular automobiles with the projections from the Edison Electric Institute. According to IEA, there will be 44 million electric cars and a total of 259 million regular cars in the world. Regular cars are still more convenient for most people because they are still much cheaper and many people live in areas where there aren’t charging stations near them so it wouldn’t be practical. So, electric cars are still a long way from replacing gasoline-based cars, but if it keeps growing the way it has it is impossible to rule out electric cars from  potentially overtaking regular cars. The electric car industry is a lucrative business that has benefited those who have bought them while helping out the Earth. According to a local Tesla owner, Mr. Rey, he has had a great experience with his electric car because of the many upsides it has. He has stated, “It is great to know that I am helping to reduce toxic emissions to the atmosphere, while saving money on gasoline as well.” He also mentioned that there are charging centers around Queens where it is free to charge Teslas and a nearby area is the Queens Center Mall. This is a great way to save money yearly by not having to spend money on gasoline weekly. Without a doubt, electric cars will shape the automotive industry and it is worth keeping an eye out to see if it will outperform the traditional gasoline automobile industry.

A Violent Year for New York City: Do NY Residents Feel Safe?

By Pallavi Das

Since the start of the global pandemic and quarantining, New York has been through a rough patch. With the rise of protesting for civil rights movements like Black Lives Matter, rioting, the presidential elections, as well as circumstances due to COVID-19, crime has been on the rise. It also doesn’t help that recent issues with police brutality have brought tensions between civilians and the police. In light of these events and issues, it brings the question, do New York residents feel safe? Do they feel protected by the police and laws or threatened instead? 

In this year alone, there has been a 130% increase in the number of shooting incidents and a 102% increase in shooting victims. According to Insider, “crime stat analysts have revealed that they anticipated a decrease in crime due to the pandemic as the majority would work remotely and no one would take the subway anymore.” According to city crime statistics, “there has been a 33.2% increase in the number of murders compared to the same time last year.” It has been an unprecedented time for NY as the state has been going through a pandemic, anti-racism and police reform protests, and a presidential election all within the same time frame. Recent bail reform efforts that have been demanded throughout the years may also play a part in the rising crime. COVID plays a big factor in these events along with unemployment and mental health.

Photo by Alexny Gonzalez Protests in Sunnyside, Queens 

The number of shootings in New York City so far this year is more than twice as high as all of 2019. Violence has been felt across all the boroughs. Here are examples of some crimes detailing the dangers during this time. October 2020 in South Jamaica, Queens , a 27 year old man was shot and critically injured in a drive-by shooting in the presence of his girlfriend and 7 year old child, AMNY reported. In November 2020, right outside a Bronx subway station, the NY POST  reported 3 victims shot, a 16-year old in the left leg, 22 year old in the left shoulder, and 23 year old in the right leg all taken to hospitals expected to survive.In Bedford- Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, an 80 year old woman was shot in the face aboard a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus in broad daylight with other passengers as witnesses reported by CBS. 

These are only 3 out of hundreds of shooting incidents that happen weekly in NYC. Even with strict gun laws and regulations through the SAFE act and more legislation on top of that, 

according to state figures , just last year  “there were 7,885 violent crimes committed with firearms in New York. More than 4,200 of those crimes were in New York City’s five boroughs. 

Citizens across the city have been uneasy and stressed during this time not only dealing with the global pandemic but other unforeseen circumstances such as the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting, and election tensions. Namgyal Tsomo, manager of Butlers at a 5 star hotel has been working late hours during this pandemic. She has expressed concern with her safety at times especially during the nationwide protests. “ People vandalizing buildings, stealing, fighting in the streets. Going home is a problem because of all the people blocking exits and entrances as well as the presence of police which wasn’t very reassuring in light of recent events “ Tsomo recalled. When asked if police made her feel safe, Tsomo said, “ Maybe in the years before but right now, I don’t trust the police if I have problems and I feel a little scared of them. The way some of the police act here reminds me of the police back home in India.” As an immigrant from India, uneasiness is expected, but what about from someone born and raised here? Hana Park, an 18 year old college student brought up an app called Citizen that gives alerts when crimes happen in the neighborhoods. “ I’ve always gotten alerts all the time living in Woodside. Reports of assaults and robberies, but never anything too serious until now. There have been many shootings and violent crimes these past few months which surprised me so much” said Kim. When asked if she feels safe going out at night she replied, “ My parents don’t even want me out in the mornings. With the current pandemic and all the animosity, I’d rather not go out at all. According to The City , “ The city is expected to finish 2021 with a 14-year high in that category of violence. NYPD records show that murders are up 40% compared to 2019.

Violence and crime in a community has shown to negatively impact society. Community members may be victimized directly, witness violence or property crimes in their community, or hear about crime and violence from other residents. Low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be affected by crime and property crime than high-income neighborhoods. 

The NYPD has provided crime prevention safety tips and protocols to help ensure a better and safer community. There is the crime stoppers initiative where there are rewards for anonymous tips and information. This program has helped solve more than 5,300 violent crimes, including over 1,400 murders and attempted murders. The NYPD also offers security and safety services for those who want to be proactive and involved in their community. More details can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/services/law-enforcement/law-enforcement-landing.page For those who don’t trust the police, there have always been neighborhood policing groups that have served for the sole purpose of maintaining peace in the communities. One of the most well-known groups are the Guardian Angels. They patrol all over the city including subway stations. In light of the pandemic and anti-asian sentiment, the Guardian Angels have been policing areas that are densely populated by Chinese-American folks like Chinatown and Flushing according to Curtis Silwa, the founder of the volunteer crime-prevention organization.

Get The Youth To The Polls

By Munaja Mehzabin

Change starts with the youth of the world. Young people are the future. This year, the youth of America have been showing up to the polls – they wanted their voices to be heard. According to Census.gov, in 2016, only 46% of voters consisted of young voters, while 71% of voters were men and women between the ages of 65 and older. In  2020, America’s youth decided it was their time to take action and not sit back and watch others choose the fate of their country. Although the Presidential election may have been an extremely important election, it is not the only one everyone can care about. 

TuftsNow published an article on November 17, 2020, where there is an image of a map that shows what it would look like if only youth were to vote. Young voters prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump in 32 of 39 states that had been reported. In Georgia, America’s youth made up 21% of Biden’s votes, it may sound low, but considering the population of Georgia is about 10.62 million, it is an immense percent. If only youth voted, America would most likely be a Democratic country for years. As stated by MSNBC, back in 2016, approximately 44,107 young people, which consists of 18-29-year-olds, voted early in Florida. In 2020, over 257,720 young people voted early, which is almost 6 times as much. It doesn’t stop at Florida, many states have seen a higher youth voting rate this year. 

Usually, there’s a good amount of people who turn up to the polls for the presidential elections, but when that passes, some people won’t see a ballot until 4 years later. Some may not realize the importance of voting during local elections, and that does affect the state. New York tends to be behind in voter turnout but finally passed the national turnout rate in 2018. As claimed by the NYC Campaign Finance Board, in 2018, there was a 14.4 percent difference in its midterm election from the presidential election, meaning there was less of a turnout. New York is not a swing state, meaning the state can easily be a Republican state or Democratic, New York has been a blue state for many years. Democracy doesn’t end on November 3rd. A 12th grader from Academy named Alisha Eashin has said that “Presidential elections are extremely important but I believe it’s important to also vote during local elections. It focuses on a smaller group of people, and you’ll have your voices heard more.” She also believes that local elections can be more important than presidential elections. An article submitted on campuselect.org states how local elections often take place every year, and because turnout is lower than presidential elections, your vote makes more of a difference. Some may say they don’t vote since they don’t feel like their vote matters, but in a local election, it really does.

While interviewing Ms. Eashin, we touched upon why youth voting really matters. 

Interviewer: Why do you want to vote? 

Alisha: I feel like it’s my responsibility to make a difference as a citizen. I’m living here and I want to try to fix problems in my community.

Interviewer: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to vote? 

Alisha: It’s important for the youth to vote because there’s a lot of us here. We can make a difference. The youth and elders are very different, they have different interests and different things they want to change. Their priorities are different. The older generation tends to focus on the economy and the youth tends to focus on human rights. 

Interviewer: Should the voting age be 17 years old?


Alisha:
I think that if we change the voting age people will constantly change it. Yeah, I want to vote, but we should keep it at 18. What if these kids aren’t educated enough. But I also think that 17-year-olds can be capable, not many changes once someone turns 18. We would most likely have the same beliefs.
A senior from Bryant High School named Rajveer Singh has some different views from Alisha. Unlike Alisha, Raj doesn’t follow politics at all. He has the mentality that he won’t vote unless he sees someone worth voting for. He was also unaware of what local elections were, but eventually while talking to him he understood the importance of being able to help choose the best for your community. Alisha believes locals are even more important than Presidentials because since it’s closer to home, you have a better chance of being heard. Raj thinks differently, he believes presidential elections are more important as he thinks the president has a bigger voice than local representatives, and the president has a bigger impact. Ultimately, Raj and Alisha had very similar opinions and interesting points, but they wouldn’t see eye to eye in every situation.

Interviewer: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to vote? 

Raj: It’s important because it’s not a difficult task, all you need is research and an opinion. It’s a way to use your voice. It’s a citizen’s birthright to vote. 

Interviewer: Should the voting age be 17 years old?


Raj:
No, because there are idiots everywhere. I think it should be higher. The younger generation is easily persuaded and is influenced by social media, they can’t make opinions on their own. 
There are people out there who don’t think you should have a say in politics if you aren’t 18 yet. Very often on social media, there are teens who tend to say things like  “You can’t vote, why do you care so much.” It’s important to be aware at a young age, you don’t have to be 18 in order to care about your future. Next year seniors will be able to vote for NYC’s elections, including who will become the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, ⅘ Borough President’s, etc. This may be one of New York’s biggest local elections in a while. Make sure to register to vote as soon as you can, and partake in your local elections. An important way to know which candidate you may be interested in is by looking at a scorecard. A scorecard is any ranked balanced scorecard used to rank candidates for legislative office on their voting record. Here is an example of a Racial Justice scorecard created by a bi-partisan youth organization called YVote, which I am a part of. If you are interested in making a difference beyond the polls and are interested in issues like; racial justice, criminal justice, gender justice, inequality, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ justice, and immigration justice, YVote is the perfect place for you, everyone is welcoming and you can use your voice freely, it’s a judgment-free zone. All you have to do is be in high school and show interest. There are many other organizations just like YVote, if you’re interested look into IntegrateNYC and Next Generation Politics. Here are their websites so you can learn more on your own: https://integratenyc.org/, https://www.nextgenpolitics.org/. There are so many organizations just like these, they’re only a click away.