Pierce Pioneer

2020: A Year in Music

 

 

To say that this year was difficult for the average college student would be the understatement of a century. Whether you were attempting to start your life at a new university, preparing to complete a graduate course digitally or perhaps you were sequestered in your dorm for too many hours to count, new music helped us battle our way through the quarantine depression. 

 

With many artists bunkered in as well, we saw many ordinary homes turned into creative spaces that were used to generate some of the best music we’ve been presented in years. Here are 20 albums that made my year as a fledgling college student easier.

20.BUBBA by Kaytranda 

Genre: Dance/Electronic & R&B

Release date: December 13, 2019

A swan song to life prior to quarantine, BUBBA is a euphoric collaborative dance album. It’s lowkey afrobeats are fit for any blood pumping experience, but within it’s dance worthy beats lies a political and social subtext that feels poignant now as it did a year prior. Rounding out at around an hour in length, the album progresses both easily and smoothly, never missing a beat as Kaytranada opens the floor to a bevy of collaborators, including Kali Uchis and Pharell Williams. The result is one of the best dance records in recent memory, and is a worthwhile listen to anybody interested in Boiler Room sets and easygoing beats.

Buy here

19. Good News by Megan Thee Stallion

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Release date: November 20, 2020

Operating within a male dominated genre that seeks to objectify and sexualize black women at any moment of success, few have truly refound their agency in the same way Megan Thee Stallion has on Good News. Her debut record is jam packed with filthy sex jams and earworm hooks that are sure to populate your TikTok for months to come. Megan feels more like a larger-than-life character than ever before, performing tracks that represent her southern and black pride in joyful ways that enable necessary conversations. It is the essential rap album of the year, and is sure to please anybody looking for an introduction to her sound.

Buy here

18. Róisín Machine by Róisín Murphy

Genre: Disco

Release date: October 2, 2020

After quarantine mandates closed down the clubs, several of pop music and electronic’s biggest heads ensured that the party continued in our homes. On Róisín Machine, Róisín Murphy provides some of her best tracks that have been in the works for over a decade. An incredibly fun nu-disco album, Murphy takes the traditional disco sounds we expect and expands onto them in ways that are danceable and entrancing, but also incredibly smart and deliberate. A perfect record for anybody yearning to get their groove on, my personal recommendation is to replace the standard tracks with their extended counterparts.

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17. Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Genre: Disco & Pop

Release date: March 27, 2020

When we first met Dua Lipa, she seemed like a young pop star in search of a larger identity and star power. She has always had the production power and songwriting chops, evidenced by hit “New Rules”, but prior to this year the general populace couldn’t quite make her out. Now, she welcomes us into club Future Nostalgia, where disco is new once again. Revitalizing the genre within modern pop music, Lipa crafts an album that feels timeless and quick-pact. Its short runtime allows for each track to feel substantial, and the result presents the young artist as a pop star worthy of the crown.

Buy here

16.

Lianne La Havas by Lianne La Havas

Genre: Neo-Soul & Folk

Release date: July 17, 2020

Inspired by cycles of love and the birth and rebirth of nature surrounding her, Lianne La Havas’ self-titled and self-produced third LP feels like a serene waterfall hike. Fluttered throughout with pleasant acoustic guitars, soulful jams, and emotional ballads that feel made for television’s most dramatic moments, La Havas directly opposes those same neo-soul stylings by clashing them with rock sounds. The heavier moments on this record, such as its Radiohead cover, “Weird Fishes” feel like beautiful storms within a gorgeous forest. This album is certain to please those searching for an R&B record with edge, or perhaps a folk music fan looking for something to dance to.

Buy here

15.

KiCk i by Arca

Genre: Dance/Electronic & Pop

Release date: June 26, 2020

Beyond the incredibly harsh tones and glitchy surface of KiCk i, any listener will hear the sound of self realization. An artist coming into her form, Arca feels more realized than ever before, finetuning her sound into a place that is both listenable to longterm fans seeking the bizarre sounds of her early work and new fans seeking conventional but off-the-wall electro-pop. The result is an album that features some of the singers best performances and production, and promises an even brighter future for what could become of the pioneering electronic artists sound.

 

Buy here

14.

SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama

Genre: Pop & Nu-Metal

Release date: April 17, 2020

Any longtime fan of Rina Sawayama will tell you that a major label debut has been a promising idea for years. It’s arrival feels like a blessing to pop fans around the world, a fun album inspired heavily by Y2K pop and nu-metal. Despite its clearly dated inspiration points, SAWAYAMA feels incredibly modern, relying heavily on modern pop stylings and fusing them with the characteristic production of collaborator, Clarence Clarity. It’s an album that’ll transport any listener into a nostalgic buzz, one that will feel especially poignant within the record’s political subtext. It’s a necessary album for anybody interested in sophisticated pop music that pushes the boundaries of its genre.

Buy here

13.

how i’m feeling now by Charli XCX

Genre: Dance/Electronic & Pop

Release date: May 15, 2020

One of the earliest popular musicians to declare publicly that she would be releasing a “quarantine album”, how i’m feeling now manages to arguably be Charli XCX’s best album to date. Fusing modern hyperpop sounds with her knack for writing impactful pop hooks and the nostalgic clubby experimentation presented in her debut, the album manages to strengthen many of the elements at play in her previous full-length. Abandoning her frequent reliance on collaborators to create a personal pop album with old and new producers, the album highlights Charli’s attention to detail and refrain, stripping her larger than life sound into a more intimate and approachable affair. A digestible album for any person in search of exuberant pop sounds.

Buy here

12.

5EPs by Dirty Projectors

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Release date: November 20, 2020

Releasing five EPs throughout the course of the year alongside his newly introduced lineup of performers, David Longstreth latest Dirty Projectors piece is an inviting and incredibly ranged piece of indie pop. Drifting by as though a breeze in a park, the album flows masterfully within each respected EP, and its result is a compilation piece that shows a band coming into full unity. There are several moments on the album about love and the power that it has over others. But its best moments are its most intelligent, subtly telling political stories in an accessible and creative manner. It is an essential indie album that jumps from genre inspiration, but is sure to please all listeners at some point.

 

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11. What’s Your Pleasure by Jessie Ware

Genre: Disco & Pop

Release date: June 26, 2020

Disco definitely found new footing this year within the pop landscape, but this was no more clear and effective than Jessie Ware’s latest effort. What’s Your Pleasure feels like an effortless display of good pop and dance music. With an emotional opener that is certain to grasp listeners, and grooves that are fluent and evocative throughout, Ware set out to do what the best escapist music does, “Will this make people want to have sex? And will this make people want to dance?”. That idea is prevalent in fun and sweat-soaked anthems throughout, an album certain to please any listener hoping to get their groove on.

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10. Shamir by Shamir

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: October 2, 2020

Upon the release of his critically acclaimed debut record, Ratchet, it seemed Shamir was primed for indie fame with an already viral classic under his belt. In the years following that, he left XL Recordings and self-released four records that took inspiration from “outsider music, country & punk”. These ideas come to full fruition on the singer’s latest self-titled album, which contains the finest moments of the young artist’s career in a brief, engaging record. Featuring memorable lyrics and earworm hooks that are accompanied by a DIY-rock sound, you’ve got an essential lofi-indie rock that is certain to please any fan of the genre.

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9. WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 by Yaeji

Genre: Dance/Electronic & K-Pop

Release date: April 2, 2020

Signing with XL Recordings, Yaeji was inspired by the support systems within her life to create her most playful and collaborative music yet. Whilst still clubby and fun throughout, WHAT WE DREW largely contrasts the moodier sounds of her previous EPs, with moments on this record coming across as bubbly and bouncy. The record, which was entirely self-produced by Yaeji, is at its best when it manages to fuse these unlikely elements into dance tracks that feel substantial and are easily danceable. Above all, WHAT WE DREW is the artist’s most diverse body of music to date and promises an exceptional full-length debut.

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8.The Angel You Don’t Know by Amaarae

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap & Afro-Pop

Release date: November 12, 2020

Amaarae is an up-and-coming Ghanian-American artist whose steadily subverting expectations with her progressive and stylish brand of afro-pop. Inspired by a multitude of stylistic genres, including southern trap and mall rock, The Angel You Don’t Know is wildly experimental and written exceptionally well also. The best tracks feel layered and sultry, combined by Amaarae distinctive whispery vocals. The end result is an incredibly enjoyable pop record that is fueled by its fun collaborations and genre-bouncing tracklist.

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7. Every Bad by Porridge Radio

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: March 13, 2020

It’s always a dream when a band grows with their second record, and Every Bad is an example of this. An incredibly enrapturing rock album, Porridge Radio presents a series of truths, dreams and realities, and incredibly emotional themes that are later propelled by the band’s brash sound. At its heaviest, lead singer Dana Margolin vocals highlight a harshness to the bands songwriting, which is sometimes counteracted by the bands brighter, pop rock production pieces. While its tougher moments are cathartic and encasing, the album’s strongest elements are its dramatic builds throughout, with each song feeling large and climatic. It is an enjoyable rock record and is certain to please any fan of the genre.

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6. St. Cloud by Waxahatchee

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Folk

Release date: March 27, 2020

Amassing a decent cult following and building a reputation for herself with the indie music scene as a promising songwriter, St. Cloud feels like an exuberant highlight within the young artists building discography. Where her previous records were somber and sparse, an intimacy that highlighted her prowess as a songwriter, the ‘90s rock sound exhilarating. The result is an American folk record that fits as well into indie circuit radios as it might on a big country festival stage. Featuring some of the most stylistically bright music in the young artists career, it is a transformative album that is certain to leave any willing listener impacted by the end of its concise runtime.

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5.All the Time by Jessy Lanza

Genre: Dance/Electronic & R&B

Release date: July 24, 2020

Completely uprooting her life in her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Jessy Lanza prepared for a new journey as a budding popstar. Now, her most energetic record must live within the walls of a quarantined New York apartment; however that doesn’t deprive the record of its deeply effective grooves and sensations. Writing some of the smartest dance tracks in her career, Lanza pitches and plays with her vocals in fresh ways that create variance throughout the album. However, that is already easily done by the immaculately understated production that is on display by Lanza and club-pop musician, Jeremy Greenspan. Several tracks on this record depict Lanza’s resentment and emotionality towards the duo’s relationship, and when paired with glossy pop and R&B-adjacent productions, the result is sickeningly sweet and fun.

Buy here

4. Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Genre: Pop & R&B

Release date: June 12, 2020

With a Disney acting role inbound, and an incredibly underrated debut record in the foreground, the sister duo expands on almost every element on their debut record with an instant-classic R&B record. With religious imagery that is utilized effectively throughout the record, Ungodly Hour is consistent in quality and sound throughout. Having found a bouncy, club-pop lane within the modern R&B landscape, they greatly avoid the failures of their contemporaries with a non-excessive runtime and varied emotionality. Ungodly Hour promises sultry and romantic, if not downright sexy, jams and empowering anthems that are bouncy and relatable, yet subtle. Its pop hooks are catchy, and its production quality is airtight, which is further highlighted by the duo’s resiliency in live performances and shows. If anything, the greatest takeaway is that Chloe x Halle seemed primed for R&B royalty, with a backing system that is determined to see success.

Buy here

3. Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Release date: April 17, 2020

What will probably go down as the critical quintessential quarantine record, Fiona Apple’s magnum opus record is incredibly expansive and nuanced. Incorporating the best elements of her phenomenal discography, Fetch the Bolt Cutters began as a conceptual album about her Venice home and grew into a political record for the times. While the sentiment “fetch the bolt cutters” is certain to feel relatable in a time of quarantining with financial insecurity and political unrest, Apple’s themes of freedom from oppression will be deeply relatable to anybody who’s felt cast aside by society. With songs written over the course of a decade and inspired by several relationships and lived experiences, the result is an almost confoundingly infectious record, with its best tracks making philosophical assertions seem effortless.

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2. Women in Music Pt. III by HAIM

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Rock

Release date: June 26, 2020

HAIM has quietly been a force within the indie-pop genre, with their debut album Days Are Gone being a deliberate take on the blown-out pop productions of the early-2010s. While this momentum may have been stifled by their second record, which leaned heavier into country and pop genre-stylings than their previous had, it was evident that the band’s inspiration points, including Joni Mitchell, Destiny’s Child, and Blondie, were resulting in groovy nostalgic pop that was occasionally overcrowded. This is a critique that is nearly totally resolved by the bands euphoric and genre-fluid third record. Mastering their production with Rostam, formerly of Vampire Weekend, the result is incredibly explorative and fully realized. No melody on this record sounds like another present here, and that is quantified by Danielle Haim’s songwriting, which is stronger than ever at effectively telling stories with simple words. Women in Music Pt. III is by far the most fun album of the year, occasionally campy, entirely sentimental, and briefly political at times throughout.

Buy here

1. Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

Genre: Alternative/Indie & Folk

Release date: April 10, 2020

Inspired by global chaos and political turmoil, as well as the 2009 novel Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou, British songwriter Laura Marling welcomes audiences into her northeast London home with a beautifully simplistic folk record. Written to a theoretical daughter, and more generally mothers and women as a unity, Marling writes ten straightforward, endearing and coyly political tracks that continue to demonstrate her unmatched talents as songwriter. Occasionally joined by sparse percussion, Song for Our Daughter mostly features Marling alongside her guitar, orchestrating heart wrenching ballads and serenades that pull on the strings of any romantic listener. Marling demonstrates a knowledge beyond her years, always skeptical of those around her and the love that she both must give and receive. While most of the themes on this record can be directly tied to Marlings visions and expectations of motherhood, Marling continues to touch on themes related to her livelihood as a woman operating love and romance in a world that allows men to control every aspect of their lives and fails to allow said security to women. One of the best tracks on the album, “Strange Girl” feels jubilant, intelligent, and above all fun on a folk album that is otherwise emotionally charged and generally weary. Even at the record’s most somber moments, Marlings vocals feel hopeful and enticing, and when the record ends on a joyfully aware note of appreciation and understanding, listeners feel as though they’ve come to understand Marling in a new way. It is the best folk album of the year, and album of the year because it manages to display emotionally fragility, strength and growth over a stunning and deliberate 37-minute runtime, a feat worth praising. It is the serene and insightful record that we all needed during our clamorous year, and is sure to be enjoyed by romantics and those with an appreciation for delicate lyricism.

Buy here

COVID Affecting the Holiday Spirit

How online shopping and COVID restrictions is affecting our yearly holiday festivities

This time of year my family would be overjoyed with the Christmas spirit. We’d watch movies and drink hot chocolate together as we’d happily wrap gifts for everyone. But now it’s different; I feel depressed and not in the mood to do anything festive this year.

This is especially the case after Thanksgiving, where all we did was buy food and go to my grandma’s house for the holiday. After we ate, we left because everyone was tired. This pandemic has affected my family so much, and has left many of us stressed and drained.

For me, it’s having to do schoolwork online with the pressure to pass that has affected my holidays. On the other hand, my parents are worried about money and having to work during the pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee put the restrictions to prevent more cases, such as limiting group sizes for gatherings or in-store shopping. Yet many people, including my family, have gone Black Friday shopping, by either using curbside pickups or shopping online. 

I thought Black Friday wasn’t going to be a big thing like the years before. However, while it was, it mostly took place online with events like Cyber Monday. But to me, shopping online isn’t the same as going to the store and picking the item out yourself, wrapping it and giving it to someone. Instead, if you shop online, you can just ship the gift to the person.

Many things have changed since the pandemic, but we can change too. We might not be able to shop like we could previously, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do for the holidays. Doing little things at home, such as baking and giving them to our families can return some of that festive spirit that seems to be missing.

One other thing people can do to make this year a little better is visit the Pierce County Light Shows, with the Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Lake Park, located on 14905 Bresemann Blvd. South, Spanaway, taking place daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. all the way until Jan. 3.

This can make someone’s day, even if that something is as little as baking cookies, watching a movie, or just driving around seeing Christmas decorations. So let’s not be as gloomy as the Grinch and get up. Watch something with your family and do the traditional things you would before. COVID does not have to define how you end your year.

Hanukkah Dishes for the Holidays

A list of dishes and recipes for those looking to diversify their tables for this year’s holidays.

The holidays are a lovely time of year for everyone, as well for me; Hanukkah is an especially great time of year because it means some of the tastiest dishes of our culture get to be indulged in for eight days. Here is a list of all my personal favorite foods to eat during Hanukkah and what makes them so special!

 

Brisket

 


What it is: Braised beef.
What it means: Chances are you’ve already heard of brisket, it’s a popular meat all over the world. My grandma used to serve brisket at all of our holidays, Hanukkah, Passover, etc. The braising of the meat makes it tender and juicy and very flavorful, making it a year-round favorite for the community.

Gelt

 


What it is: Milk chocolate circles wrapped in colored foil that resemble Jewish coins.
What it means: Gelt is something akin to an edible poker chip for anyone playing a game of dreidel. Everyone starts out with about 10 pieces of gelt and then takes turns spinning the dreidel, depending on which of the four sides it lands on you’ll either take all the gelt in the pile, take half of the gelt in the pile, lose all your gelt, or do nothing and move on to the next person. Aside from being a game currency, gelt is also gifted to children during the holidays.

Gelt can be bought from a multitude of places in Pierce County, including the Cost Plus World Market in Tacoma and Party City in Lakewood. Gelt can also be ordered on Amazon.

 

Knishes

 

What it is: Fried dough stuffed with either meat or potatoes.
What it means: Unlike the other items on this list, knishes are a more unorthodox choice for Hanukkah, but since they’re usually fried I like to eat them around this time of year. In theory, stuffing a pastry full of mashed potatoes or ground beef may sound strange, but really knishes are just the Jewish version of an empanada or a samosa.

 

 

Latkes


What it is: Fried potato pancakes, usually topped with applesauce and sour cream.
What it means: Next to matzo, latkes are somewhat of a staple dish in the Jewish community; they’re easy to make and a lot of regular grocery stores carry the ingredients or even have latke mix to make them. On Hanukkah latkes are one of the stars of the show since they are fried in oil, but they also make for a delicious breakfast with some cold applesauce and sour cream to complement this hot dish.

Sufganiyot


What it is: Powdered jelly donuts.
What it means: Sufganiyot, pronounced soof-gah-nee-ah or soof-gah-nee-oht, are little fried balls of dough filled with jelly or sometimes custard and they are almost exclusive to Hanukkah. Like regular doughnuts, sufganiyot can be made differently and depending on where you go, they can range from pretty basic to very extravagant; but, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the classics.



Moving here was a bit of a culture shock for me, I didn’t realize how used I was to being surrounded by stores and delis that had everything my family needed until I was over a thousand miles away from it. 

Even though the Jewish community here is small, it still exists and with several places in Seattle like Dingfelders and Zyldberschteins that have some classic Jewish soul-food. So whether you’re a fellow Jew looking to reach out to another member of the community or you’re just looking to expand your culinary horizons, don’t be afraid to spice up the holiday season with a few new dishes this year!

Gov. Inslee extends state COVID restrictions to Jan. 4

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that current state restrictions have been extended to Jan. 4, past its original end-date of Dec. 14. Inslee has since partnered with Lisa Brown, the department of commerce director, to announ+ce an additional $50 million care package plan for small businesses in Wash.
As reported on the gov.’s official site, this three-week extension follows healthcare systems nearing high occupancy levels coming from the aftermath of Thanksgiving. With the number of potential cases not yet known, the extension allows medical systems time to increase ICU capacity before it risks being overwhelmed.
Secretary of Health John Wiesman, as cited by the Medium, goes on to state what officials aim to gain from this extension. “We all hoped a fall surge would not materialize. Sadly, that was not the case and our hospital systems continue to be heavily impacted by rising cases,” Wiesman said.
“It’s important we stay the course right now. We cannot let our guard down, even though it’s hard and we’re tired. We need people to mask up, stay home as much as possible and delay gatherings with anyone outside your home.”
Since restrictions first began, Wash. has provided billions in federal and state funds to assist small businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, according to the Medium. However, this $50 million will be strictly for businesses usage, as it comes from the Working Washington grants. Businesses meant to benefit from this care package include restaurants, gyms, venues and fitness centers.
“The needs among our small businesses are profound, and speed is of the essence,” Brown said. “This additional funding allows us to double the number of small businesses we can provide aid to, but we know it’s not enough. As we battle the toughest months of this pandemic, we need Congress to step up so we can support our businesses and workers as we continue asking them to do these hard things.”
Currently, Wash. roughly totals in 195,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 20,000 of those cases stemming from Pierce County alone, as reported by Google statistics. Despite this, Wash. ranks 15th in lowest number of cases in the United States, based on weekly case reports provided by the CDC’s official site.
Alongside this information, the Washington State Department of Health announced that since the release of WA-Notify, more than a million users have joined within 24 hours of its availability. Whether or not an app meant to help users stay on top of potential COVID exposures will help the curve in the long-run, remains to be seen.
Regular updates on COVID restrictions in Wash. are provided in full on Inslee’s official site. Quick updates on this story will continue to be uploaded here in the meantime.

Understanding the Murder Hornets and the potential threat posed to the Northwest environment

On Oct. 22, the forests of Blaine, Wash., became a hub for local entomologists, scientists whose area of study involves insects, as the trees around them buzzed with a new, unprecedented life that came in the form of a hornet’s nest.

Washington is no stranger to invasive species — from the Himalayan Blackberry, a behemoth of a rose bush that uses its strong thickets to trample over native flora; to the Gypsy Moth, an insect whose lack of predators allows it to breed rapidly and consume trees and plants just as fast. And as of December 2019, Washington now homes the Asian-Giant Hornet, aptly nicknamed the “Murder Hornet.”

This invasive insect originates from Japan and its surrounding countries in East Asia. Much like their other relatives in the Vespidae family, they’re somewhat easy to spot. With their large frame being over 2 inches long and brightly colored orange and black bodies with long stingers; these ones, however, deliver a potent venom to anyone on the receiving end. 

Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwestern Biological Institute and University of Arizona, states that an Asian-Giant Hornet’s sting is equivalent to three to 10 yellow jacket stings at once. However, Schmidt adds that despite the intensity of their sting, Japan’s death toll reveals that these hornets are responsible for less than 50 deaths a year, including those with allergies.

Murder Hornets earn their title because their main targets are the honeybees. These hornets form organized, raiding parties and with just a few small fleets are able to wipe out an entire hive. 

Naturally, this causes problems for the ecosystem as humans depend on bees for pollination, something that researcher James Crall emphasizes in an interview with The Harvard Gazette. Bees are incredibly important for human well-being, including both managed honeybees and wild bees,” Crall said. 

“Put simply: About one in three bites of food comes from crops that depend on animals for pollination, and bees are the most important group of pollinators. Losing pollinators means less healthy food and worse health outcomes for humans. Of course, beyond their role in food production, bees are incredibly important for preserving biodiversity, more generally.”

Nina Pullano, a writer for Inverse, goes on to state what makes these hornets dangerous. “Their greatest threat to humans is not their sting. Instead, it’s their proclivity for killing other insects — insects that we very much need to keep alive because of their effects on the ecosystem and agriculture.”

Bees are valuable pollinators and by extinguishing them humans and animals lose food sources, emptying out a very important niche within the ecosystem. The deaths of the bees also has an effect on their other native predators who are now cut short on their food source, making these hornets a much bigger threat to the wildlife rather than to humans and domesticated animals. 

The threat level truly depends on whether or not the hornets continue to reproduce and survive in their new environments. “It will have a massive impact on the bees, who have been facing a rapid decline in the last 10 years, as well as human agriculture which largely depends on pollinator biodiversity.” Pullano stated.

The WSDA is encouraging people to report any sightings of the giant hornets to them and to refrain from taking any direct action of their own, as even typical beekeeping gear is not enough to protect you from their stingers. You can also help the ecosystem not just by looking for the hornets, but by looking out for other insects as well.

According to Eric Lee-Mäder, a co-director of the pollinator program at the Xerxes Society, peoples’ fear of the hornets is affecting other insects in the area. “Fear of these insects seems to be driving people to kill bees and wasps that aren’t Vespa mandarinia,” Lee-Mäder stated.

Invasive species can be a threat to any environment, especially when their targets are such pivotal members of the ecosystem and agriculture. Exterminating the hornets is a careful and time-consuming process and the best way Washingtonians can support our state’s ecosystem and the scientists protecting it is to remain calm, report any possible sightings to the proper people, and to avoid doing any further harm by killing unrelated wasps and bees.

WA Notify – A New COVID Exposure Tool

On. Nov. 30, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health launched the app WA Notify. The Washington Exposure Notifications will alert smartphone users of nearby residences exposed to COVID-19, without releasing personal information.

“Secure, private and anonymous exposure notification technology is an important tool for Washington,” Inslee said. “We’ve deployed WA Notify in 29 languages so as many Washington residents as possible can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. I encourage everyone to start using WA Notify today so we can continue to work together to contain this virus.”

As posted on DOH’s official site, WA Notify, if activated, will exchange anonymous codes with nearby phones who have also enabled the app. Patients who’ve recently tested positive for COVID will be asked by public health officials if they wish to use the app. If so, their code will anonymously alert those who’ve spent a significant amount of time with said patient regarding their potential exposure.

“If WA Notify detects you may have been exposed, a notification on your phone will direct you to a website with information about what you should do next,” DOH stated. “This includes how and where to get tested, information about keeping yourself and those close to you safe, and resources to answer your questions.”

For users concerned with privacy, DOH informed that the only piece of information being shared from users’ smartphones is the randomly generated codes they’ve entered. “We will not voluntarily collect or share any of your information with anyone, unless you choose to enter a verification code,” DOH stated. 

“If you do so, WA Notify will share your random codes with other smartphones that have been near your smartphone. The verification code cannot be linked back to you by someone who does not have access to your smartphone.”

DOH added that WA Notify is free and voluntary, meaning users have the choice of opting in. “You can opt-out at any time,” DOH stated. “Simply turn the feature off or delete the app. All random codes the phone has stored from other nearby users will be deleted and cannot be recovered.”

WA Notify can be found and installed through users’ Apple or Google app stores; this app will not self-download onto users’ phones. The app only works, however, on iPhones containing iOS versions 13.7 or later, along with 13.5: 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, Xr, Xs, Xs Max, X, SE second generation, and 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE first generations. Android users whose phones supports Bluetooth Low Energy or versions six and above can also download the app.

“Studies have found that the more people who use exposure notification, the greater the benefit,” DOH stated. “Models based on three counties in Washington state show that even a small number of people there using WA Notify would reduce infections and deaths. Just like wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping gatherings small, WA Notify is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

A deepdive into ‘fake news’ and how readers can spot when they’re being given false information

A deepdive into ‘fake news’ and how readers can spot when they’re being given false information

The Gallup and Knight Foundation polled 20,000 Americans in August regarding news media biases and trust. This study found that 46% of Americans believe the media are biased, with over 80% believing the media is to blame for today’s political divide. 

Much of this mistrust stems from the fear of being misinformed, with 74% of Americans reported by Gallup and Knight believing misinformation to be the leading issue with news today. The true number of misinformation being presented by the media does not support this however. 

A study conducted by Science Advance following the 2016 elections revealed that on average people consume between five to 10 minutes of news media daily, with misinformation accounting for only about a minute of that time. 

“Turning to TV, there are no objectively fake news stations of the sort that exist online, i.e., that are exclusively or near exclusively devoted to disseminating deliberate falsehoods while masquerading as legitimate news organizations,” Science Advance stated. “Nonetheless, misinformation construed more broadly can also manifest itself in regular news programming in the form of selective attention, framing, “spin,” false equivalence and other forms of bias.”

False information makes up only a fragment of consumer’s time, but its effects continue to create distrust between viewers and their news each passing year. While the reasoning for this mistrust remains to be observed, one important thing readers can do to avoid being misinformed on news is by being aware of the tactics.

For those hoping to better gage where they can find less biased news, here’s how readers can spot the trends and tricks being used today.

What is “fake news”?

As defined by Webwise, “fake news”, or false information, is stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. 

With the emphasis being on news, this could range from a reporter’s negligence to fact check to a newsroom purposely running a politically charged headline.

 

 

 

False information can be presented in a number of ways that may otherwise be undetectable if a reader has no reason to suspect the writer may be misinforming them. Referencing the Public Library, methods considered to be false information include (in order by severity):

 

 

 

Writen by, Lizbeth Martinez-Santos

Grocery stores in the Pierce and King County area have seen a spike in shoppers, with many aisles empty approaching the holidays. This follows Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement Nov. 15, which would have state-wide restrictions on social gatherings taking place until Dec. 14.

In a matter of hours following the announcement, people began stockpiling groceries from store to store, buying food and supplies. One such store hit hard by panic-buyers includes Costco, as the store quickly sold out of items such as bottled water and toilet paper.

As reported by Kara Kostanich from Komo News, panic-buying across the region had grown worse within 24 hours of the announcement. “A small line formed outside Costco in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood,” Kostanich stated. “A drastic difference from Sunday when lines wrapped around Costco warehouses across Puget Sound.” At one point, Costco placed a white board outside their store which listed what they did and did not have in stock.

Shopping increased over the last two weeks, but not because of the holidays. Despite being around the corner, shoppers aren’t actually thinking of the holidays at all. Most shoppers are simply looking to have enough to eat this Thanksgiving week. According to an annual report conducted by the WSU Insider, 83% of shoppers do not plan to do any in-store shopping for Thanksgiving, while 77% said the same for Black Friday.

As stores like Costco or Winco continue to resupply during the uprise in buyers, shoppers could consider visiting other stores not hit as hard by shoppers, such as Target. As of Nov. 25, Target continues to have most of its supply in stock. El Jalapeño, a small business located on 1012 72nd St E in Tacoma, is another grocery store stocked with food and supplies, having in-store shopping for all customers.

Shoppers should look into attending smaller stores within their community if trying to avoid big crowds or a shortage in supply. Going to stores such as Fred Meyer and Target make good alternatives for places like Costco. More information will be available on this topic in the following weeks.

Statewide Restrictions for Washington Are Here

Washington State issues a statewide four-week restriction on social gatherings amidst rising COVID-19 cases, taking full effect following Monday, Nov. 15. These restrictions will carry through the upcoming holidays, including Thanksgiving, with a suspected end-date of Dec. 14. This announcement comes from Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference held on Sunday.

Inslee spoke on a potential third wave of cases projected to hit Washington during the holidays, this being the restriction’s main motivator. “Inaction here is not an option,” Inslee said. “We have to take bold, decisive action and we are doing that today.”

“Average daily cases in [Washington] have doubled just in the last two weeks. It cannot go on like this. We have to get this under control, or our medical system will soon be overwhelmed.”

As reported by Google statistics, Washington has seen a sharp increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,753 new cases being last reported on Monday alone. Washington state currently has 135,365 confirmed cases, with Pierce County making up 14,453 of these cases. This follows the increase of cases in Pierce County by 2,694 people since Nov. 2.

Source: www.governor.wa.gov An infographic of new cases in Washington State provided by Governor Jay Inslee

Monday’s new restrictions will primarily affect indoor gatherings and operations, as Inslee aims to limit the amount of in-person contact. K-12, higher education, child care, and court related proceedings will not be affected by new restrictions however, as stated by the Medium. Restaurants will also continue to provide take-out and delivery services as before.

Indoor gatherings have been prohibited, with gathering capacities being no more than five people at a time. Restaurants and bars will be closing indoor services as well, with religious gatherings, in-store retail and grocery stores limiting to 25% capacity. Fitness facilities and gyms will also close, alongside zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters and museums. 

For those looking to best prepare for upcoming restrictions, this week would be the week to get groceries and supplies. As these restrictions approach and certain facilities begin closing, shoppers have already begun stockpiling groceries and cleaning supplies, similarly to when restrictions were first introduced in March. Whatsmore, with Thanksgiving only a week away, there may be a potential shortage in groceries, as more places across the country report a rise in shoppers.

The Washington Emergency Management Division has since released a statement on Monday regarding the increase in shoppers this week. “We see the bare shelves in some places and recognize that some folks are panic buying,” the division states.

“Grocery stores are continuing to receive supplies like normal. The supply chains will remain strong as long as people only buy what they need. Don’t forget your mask and to maintain social distance in stores and please stay patient with hardworking employees, who are just trying to do their job.”

These restrictions will be here until Dec. 14. For more information on COVID-19 in Washington state and the current guidelines being placed by county, Inslee regularly reports any announcements on his personal site. Any further information and updates will be provided here until then.

How Pierce College Sees Our Presidential Candidates

Pierce College students and professors weigh in on the many ups and downs of this year’s presidential debates

From shouting interruptions and a lost message in the first Presidential debate to snarls and civilized conversations in the Vice Presidential debate, the American people were reminded of the divisiveness that continues to polarize the nation. 

In the first debate, we saw moderator Chris Wallace struggle to maintain order between the two candidates as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in the first presidential debate on Sep. 29. The following Vice Presidential debate featured Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, who provided more policy substance in a calm and civilized manner.

Yet the vastly different debates did not change the opinions of these Pierce College students and faculty, as America gets closer to what Donald Trump and Barack Obama deem the most important election in our lifetime.

In the first Presidential debate, Trump tallied a total of 145 interruptions while Biden totaled 67 interruptions according to a Fox News analysis. Political Science professor Chris Roberts, a current council member for the City of Shoreline, was surprised by how the president conducted himself. “The fact that he was interrupting, it didn’t resemble traditional debates in that sense,” he said. 

Moreover, the constant interruptions from both candidates disallowed the American people to hear the candidates stances going into this election. Running start student Courtney Oller believed that the two candidates acted childish by talking over each other. “The President is supposed to set an example for the country,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s just that one debate that made up my mind, but I don’t feel like either of them were showing an actual maturity to be the President for the country.” 

Likewise, Eli Haugen, who plans to work in administry and is a first time voter, compared the debate to his life at home. “I felt like that was the glimpse of my childhood,” he said. “That was like my mom trying to separate me and my siblings from arguing. After a little while, I didn’t really feel like the debate was going in a good direction and it felt very out of control fast.”

Throughout the unconventional debate, each candidate had their strong moments with Trump pressuring his stance on packing the supreme court, while Biden countered with Trump’s COVID-19 response. Professor Roberts touched on Trump’s ability to stay on message and fluster his opponents. “He really stays consistent in terms of what he always comes back to his talking points,” he said. “He always comes back to his core messages and he really doesn’t let anything distract him from that.”

For Biden’s strength during the debate, Roberts pointed to his ability to stay composed. “I think the Vice President did fairly well at presenting what he wanted to present,” he said. “Sort of a calm stable feature if he was going to become president. I think that people comparing the two really got a sense of the difference in personality between the two candidates.” 

Besides character differences between the two candidates, each has different ways of handling the economy. On one hand, Joe Biden plans to raise taxes and has thought about another economic shutdown if scientists advise him to; while on the other hand, Donald Trump plans to keep his tax cuts and keep the economy open.

Running Start student Michael Seebold, looked into both candidates’ plans for the economy and doesn’t believe in Biden’s economic policy to shut down. “I don’t agree with that, I don’t want the economy to shut down. I like what Trump is doing with the economy, like getting the manufacturing jobs and making the U.S. population dependent upon itself so we’re not outsourcing everything, and not relying on other countries for goods.”

With the policies and personalities of both candidates considered, Haugen and Seebold believed that there was no clear winner for the Presidential debate. Meanwhile Oller, who was also torn between both candidates, said that Biden won the first presidential debate due to his policies. “I kind of put it into sections for what they’re talking about,” Oller said. “For the first section definitely Biden, but I think Trump did have him in the next one. But overall, in the entire debate, I do think Biden had more respect; more overall better opinions.”

Moving forward a week later, the Vice Presidential debate served a more calm and organized structure which differed from the Presidential debate. The debate also carried a viral sensation with a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head, giving everyone watching something to unite with. 

According to Roberts, the Vice Presidential debate carried less stakes in the November election. He believed each candidate had a different purpose they were aiming for during the debate. “I think Senator Harris had the job of introducing herself to the nation; and I think that Vice President Pence had more of a goal of working to articulate and defend the President’s record.”

Oller, who believed that Kamala won the debate, noticed a difference in character between the two debates. “Even just sitting in the living room, you can feel the different attitude,” she said. “The way Kamala Harris would talk about something then Mike Pence would talk about something; even though he kept interrupting her, they were very much more mature than the president.”

Furthermore, Harris’ performance reminded Oller of a potentially bright future under her administration. “Kamala Harris has a lot of good ideas,” Oller said. “Honestly, as a woman myself, seeing another woman talk about all of these great expectations has really influenced me. That is what we need to see from a Vice President.”

Seebold believed that Mike Pence won the Vice Presidential debate, believing Pence put the American people first and focused on independent freedoms, while Kamala Harris planned to shut down the economy. “Kamala Harris was saying all of these restrictions that she is going to place because of Covid,” Seebold said. “I don’t have a problem with wearing a mask, it’s fine, it’s constricting my breathing; but actually quarantining and shutting down the economy, having to stay at home even though you don’t have it, I don’t agree with it.”

Going into this 2020 election, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and others have deemed this election the most important in our lifetime. This year’s election is projected to curtail the highest voter turnout in a century with over 80 million ballots already casted. Young voters are expected to sway the 2020 election by shattering their previous turnout records.

Yet, Roberts argues that this election is not the most important in our history and points to the potential political realignment in 2020. “I believe that we are at the tail end of the Reagan political era,” he said. “This election is going to really determine if we are resetting a new political cycle or if the 2016 election was the beginning of the new political cycle. I think that’s why the importance in the stakes of this election seems to be higher than most previous elections.”

According to Haugen, this election will change our country’s direction and history. “There is so much that hangs on this election,” he said. “I think that there’s a lot more that’s going on behind the scenes than what some people know. Depending on the results of this election, things that are going on behind the scenes are going to come to light whether that be even more conspiracy theories or fraud voting or whatever. I think that this election is going to change the course of our American history.”

A look at the 2020 Washington voters’ candidates and what stances are being put on the spotlight

The United States nears the end of its election season, as the final day to vote remains Nov. 3, less than a week away. As tensions between parties continue to rise, many outlets, including the Washington Post and CNBC, are reporting record numbers for early-voters.

The presidential vote comes down to former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump. While the nation collectively decides on its next president, local state government positions are also being put to the vote.

As of Oct. 20, 1.2 million early-voters have been reported by the Washington Post, a number less than those voting in the 2016 elections. While it’s easier to focus on the presidential elections, a state governor can be just as important as the next elected president. 

State laws and policies are much more likely to affect a citizen’s life on a day-to-day standpoint, as it can include issues such as taxes, travel, and local health and education. With a number of proposals being placed on this year’s ballots, including a potential new state governor, it is important to be up-to-date on what laws or restrictions might be passed this upcoming year.

While many topics and candidates are up for vote, here are the big topics being discussed on this year’s ballots:

Washington State Governor

Running for state governor this year includes Republican nominee Loren Culp, and the Democratic nominee and current state Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee seeks out a third-term win after having served two prior as Washington’s state governor. Meanwhile Culp, while having no prior experience in politics, is a military veteran with more than 20 years of business experience.

 

The candidates

 

 

 

Jay Inslee

Inslee

Is for raising minimum wage

Supports paid leave

Is for placing bans on assault weapons

Is for abortion rights

Is for COVID-19 Social Distancing Restrictions

 

 

 

Loren Culp

Culp

Is against new state-income taxes/raising property taxes
Supports minimal government involvement
Is against stricter gun laws
Is against the Right to Work Legislation, or workers choice to joining unions

 

Referendum Measure No. 90
The Sex Education in Public Schools Measure

A Senate Bill passed in March 2019, Referendum 90 would provide a broader sexual health education for students within sixth through twelfth grade if approved. “Instruction would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12,” stated Ballotpedia.

If Referendum 90 is not approved, public schools would not be required to provide extensive health education to students.

 

 

Proposed Constitutional Amendment
The Authorize Fund Investment of Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Account Amendment

If rejected, Washington Legislatures would not be granted the ability to invest the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment, limiting investment for the accounts to government and corporate bonds and certificates of deposit.

However, if approved, Washington Legislatures will be given the ability to take these existing accounts and place funding into stocks or other methods of investment

 

Washington Advisory Vote 32
Washington Advisory Vote 32, Nonbinding Question on Carryout Bag Tax

This concerns the maintenance or repeal of Senate Bill 5323, regarding the taxation of carryout bags in certain counties.

If voting to maintain, this would continue to impose taxes on certain carryout bags provided by retailers. If rejected, this would repeal this tax.

 

Nov. 3 is the final day for all votes to be submitted if there are any stances here you want your voice to be a part of. Votes are continuing to be held through mail in ballots, online, or in-person throughout Washington state. There is no time to waste.

Shelitia Pratt, Pierce College student and friend of George Floyd’s cousin, shares her thoughts and experience regarding racial injustices and the global pandemic.

I was born in Centreville, Illinois, and raised in Lovejoy, Illinois before I moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  I identify as African American, and recently I found out that through my father’s side I am multicultural – black, white, creole and native.  

The town that I grew up in was a settlement of African Americans escaping slavery; it later became the first black town in America to be incorporated and named after Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois in 1837.  

My morals and beliefs were embedded in me through my grandparents who raised me.  They taught me to love myself before I love someone else; be honest with others and myself; be loyal; trust no one; do my best at everything I do, and treat people how I want to be treated. They also taught me that hard work pays off; two wrongs don’t make a right; silence is golden, and every response doesn’t need a reaction.  I learned to abide and respect these things as I grew older and later taught these same things to my children.  

Today these guidelines, along with my life experiences and things I have seen, have supported making me who I am today.  I believe that what makes me unique is that my heart always looks out for the best interest of others, and I tend to often recognize my blessings because I give generously. This quarter, I gave a lot.

Being biracial myself, I have never completely “taken a side”.  However because of the one-drop-rule, I do know that I am African American and will always be looked at in this manner, because of the color of my skin. Black lives and every life has always mattered to me growing up.

These days I have been speechless, confused, depressed, and anxious back using my meds to support my anxiety along with increased blood pressure. My reaction to the injustice black Americans have recently faced is mind-blowing, but it does not surprise me at all. 

These injustices have been this way for hundreds of years and nothing has changed.  I have raised my children here in Puyallup, Washington and we all have faced injustice, discrimination, and racial profiling. 

Not all cops are bad and not all black people are criminals, but to wake up every day and know that because of my color I have to work harder than average and still get turned down opportunities, not because of my educational background, but because of the color of my skin; it breaks my soul and aches my heart, to the point that I continue to educate my children, siblings, and nephews.  

Black communities, and other communities, are in pain due to recent events and how things have continued to play out along with our President.  I am friends with George Floyd’s cousin and I’ve had to be a huge support for him, allowing him to vent to me on his feelings, and the family and him just needing a safe place to come to and get away from things. 

During the protesting, my friend got a call from his son’s friend in Bellevue. His son had been racially profiled and the police had his son and three of his biracial friends handcuffed on the curb. He saw his son on television while talking to me about the protest the night before that he and his family attended.  

I am not sure how the Pierce College community can help support those of us who are grieving the injustices that communities of color face. I personally have been just over it and have given up; I have never done that on my education or anything. I’m afraid every time my kids leave my home, and I call them more often because of it.

If someone has to be harassed or killed for being black, out of my children and family, I would rather it be me. I am aware that I should not feel this way, but it’s been a norm to live a life like this; from my hometown to here and across the world, this is the life of being black in the world.

My experiences during this pandemic and social unrest have been very hard to describe. Right now however, I am most concerned for my family. If things open too quickly in Phase Two, they may get sick. I am also concerned about whether my children and I will pass our online classes during this time. 

I have been attending Pierce College for the last three quarters taking classes to finish up getting my degree in human services, along with taking some CMST courses to better educate myself on some of the cultures that I work within my career field.

When I learned that Pierce College was going online, I was planning to withdraw because I am a hands-on learner and learn best being in a classroom. I freaked out a bit and asked my college student kids who have taken online classes what it would be like.  

I anticipated being frustrated often because I don’t navigate computers as well as I could. This online journey has been a struggle for me, as I anticipated it would be, but 10 times worse given how much of my time was devoted to serving others.

I realize this year has been especially hard on several families. At times, I wasn’t even aware of my own coming and going and just stress ate to the point where I gained over 10 pounds.

My household went from two people to six. My two college students came home from Canada and the other from Eastern Washington. I struggle with health issues myself, and fear for my daughter-in-law who works in an emergency room dealing with COVID-19 patients. I fear for my two-year-old granddaughter,  and for my daughter who has one kidney; all-the-while, I continued to fear every day that I could lose my salon business. It is important that I go to work to support my family and keep the business I built.

I was able to navigate through those challenges with lots of prayers; reaching out to my instructors, my supervisors, and my co-workers; and being honest to my building owners about what was truly going on in my life. If only they could have seen how regularly my eyes filled with tears and how constantly my voice cracked. Things constantly happened in my family.

I will do it all over again until I complete it to my satisfaction, but I will be glad when it’s over and I will continue to fight for injustice and peace.

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