COVID-19 "I Want You"

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by Bianca Cataldo

March 22, 2020

This is a world that always runs and never stops! People live busy lives with packed schedules and they always run… to school, to work… Stop! Streets are empty. Schools, gyms, malls, everything closes. Ghost towns. It seems a movie, it is an apocalyptic scenario, an unprecedented situation. But it is a worldwide situation. This is not something trivial, things are getting really crazy. Coronavirus cases top 300,000 worldwide with more than 10,000 deaths! 30,000 cases, 400 deaths and almost 800 people in critical conditions only in the U.S.

It is a hecatomb. It is a war, but we are not fighting it with weapons, rather by staying at home. Now we are called to stay at home and to social distancing. Wherever people followed these strategies, the spreading of COVID-19 slowed down! So, right now, this is the most straight-forward and maybe fastest way to fight it and to prevent further deaths. These are all strategies to slow the spread of this virus, this is all we have at the moment. If people keep recovering, and there are no more new cases, we might even stop Coronavirus and go back to our normal lives!

Join the fight! I know how it feels right now. It is a sacrifice. We were living a frenetic and full life, we always ran, we didn’t have time for ourselves! And now, we are on the other extreme, where everything is frozen and we just have to stay at home, we are left with ourselves and everything else just disappears. The school, the workplace for many of you, the gym, the mall, there is none of it.

Now, you just move for essential needs, you go to the grocery and even there, the scenario is apocalyptic! The streets are almost empty, no traffic. The shelves of the grocery store are almost empty as well, you don’t find water, stores are even running out of pans! Because people were not used to cook, they used to eat out, or to eat fast food. They didn’t have time to cook, or to eat!

Maybe we needed to stop. So, 2020 brought us a pandemic that stopped us. Now, we have the time to think and really understand how, in our everyday life, we don’t take time, we don’t know how to take time, but we take everything for granted. We never appreciated what we have, while now even going to the grocery is a joy because it’s the only time you go out! Now, we have to social distancing and we notice how far we already were! Maybe after this period, we’ll know the value of what and who we have.

In the end, we will know how to appreciate things. We’ll go back to school, we’ll go back to work, we’ll be able to go to the mall again, to Starbucks, to McDonald’s, to downtown, we’ll see each other again, we’ll hug each other again! But for now, we must protect ourselves and protect everybody else. That’s our time to be selfless, to stop, and to think. When everything ends, we’ll be new people, we’ll be people that know how to sacrifice, people that fought a war, like our ancestors. So “I want you” to fight.

Today we stay at home. Tomorrow we’ll be stronger.

HLC Morton College 2020

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The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is a regional accreditor for Morton College and other institutions that looks at the institution as a whole to assure the students receive the highest quality educational experience. In 2018, Morton College accreditation was in doubt, in fact the HLC decided to put the institution “on notice” since it was not meeting one or more Criteria of Accreditation.

by Bianca Cataldo

March 20, 2020

Morton College has to host a Notice Evaluation within April 2020 to show improvements on the criteria it did not previously meet. Reading HLC’s action letter, these criteria concerned the governing board of the institution and the operation and behavior of its board members.

In fact, one of the board’s policies that was not followed in the past was to schedule regular board meetings due to schedule contrasts with its board members.

However in the meantime, Morton College has been working to ameliorate those aspects, and it was engaged in improving the governing board. From 2018, each forth wednesday of the month, Morton College held regular meetings of the Board of Trustees on campus at 11:00 a.m. and everyone was welcome to attend.

This spring the HLC was going to make an evaluation that will lead to a decision about the College this fall (November 2020).

What is important to know is that a College or University that is on sanction is still accredited, so Morton College is accredited, which means that other Colleges or Universities will accept the Institution’s credits in transfer or for admission. If the college closes or loses its accreditation, a degree earned or a course completed (while the college was accredited) is and remains valid.

Please note that when a college loses its accreditation, a degree earned after that, will not be accepted by other institutions, and therefore does not have value. Moreover, the institution loses every further federal and state funding.

So, we still have to take action to save the college! Although the meetings of the board were far more regular than before, there are still members that complained about the schedule, and about the fact that the meetings were held in the mid of the day. So, it is important to pick a time that works for everyone, and it is also important to elect members that can attend the meetings and that are responsible and committed to the college.

Losing Morton College will hurt the community because it is an amazing institution, and most important it is very affordable for a community with low-income. We have everything we need structure-wise and concerning the staff. So, this school will not lose its accreditation, we cannot allow it. Morton College is worthy!

Coronasafety

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It did not follow a particular order. Scientists and institutions have been fighting it for days. Biologists, virologists, hospitals and doctors fight on the first line. Then, governments take actions with legislative provisions. Lives are at stake.

by Bianca Cataldo

March 6, 2020

New updates confirm coronavirus cases in the United States of America. American authorities report more than 250 cases of coronavirus. There must be a lot more infections, but they have not been identified yet. The three outbreaks seem to be New York, Washington State and North California.

It is a pandemic on a planetary scale, in fact there are more than 100.000 cases worldwide. People do not know how dangerous or aggressive this virus is. It seems that its deadliness ranges from 2 to 4%. All we know is that it is spreading rapidly.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe. Coronavirus is a complex of viruses that can cause fever, cough or cold. This is why some people identify it as a common flu. However, it can also become more aggressive and attack the respiratory system. People do not know how dangerous and easy to spread this virus is.

At the moment in China, three thousand persons died of coronavirus and there are cases all over the world. Italy ordered closure of all schools and universities, as well as discos, stadiums, gyms and public places. In fact, the Italian government is trying to prevent the spreading of coronavirus by limiting human contacts. France as well had to close schools in some areas due to coronavirus.

In this period, you can breathe fear and panic, many people are afraid for this virus, other people are angry, and others are scared for the economy of their countries. However, safety and health are a priority and there is no reason to be angry or scared, but the situation cannot be underestimated either. This period will end. Everything has an end. If people want this period to go by faster, then everyone has to contribute by following safety measures.

A strong way of preventing and fighting this virus is by keeping at least 6 feet of distance from one another. There is no reason to panic, by following the right safety measures, this virus can be defeated. The best thing we can do is to limit movements and to avoid crowded places, such as gyms, bars, restaurants etc.moreover, hygiene is the key to prevent any virus. We must wash or disinfect our hands whenever we come in contact with others.

Plus, it’s useless to wear masks if you are healthy since viruses pass through the mask anyway, but if you are sick you have to wear masks to protect others because they filter the saliva when people sneeze or cough.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and everyone can do their part to respond to this public health emergency. Together we can make the difference.

Vote Aqui, Vote Here

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Politics is toxic. And so people don’t talk about politics. Voting doesn’t matter. And so people don’t vote. Time is money. And so people work. Health care is expensive. And so 68,000 Americans died last year because they couldn’t afford it.

Register to vote and lookup your polling place with your ZIP code at: https://www.elections.il.gov

by James M Abrusci

Feb. 28, 2020

Millennials are the first generation in American history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. From endless wars in the Middle East, to the largest drug crisis in history, to an increase in racially-motivated hate crimes, to the largest gun violence epidemic in history, to an increase in police-involved deaths, to the increase in depression and other mental illness, a rise in work-related stress, a rise in gang violence, bullying on social media, millennials are dying in mass amounts.

And then there’s the cost of health care. According to a study, conducted by Yale, and published on February 15th, 2020 in the prestigious British journal The Lancet, 68,000 Americans die each and every year because they cannot afford health care. More than 500,000 Americans declare medical bankruptcy every year. Just giving birth to a child via C-Section will cost you $50,000—with insurance.

And then there’s the cost of education. Morton students will be familiar with the tuition that 4-year institutions charge. It’s outrageous. While the average student loan debt is $37,000, some students graduate $100,000 or more in debt, simply for wanting to make a better life for their family.

To all Morton College students that think politics is toxic, the 68,000 people that are killed by the political cost of health care every year agree.

To all Morton College students that want to know how to make a difference: stand up, show up, and vote.

In 2020 so far, young voter turnout is up 33% above average. This is being fueled by policies such as free public colleges and Medicare for all, which stand to benefit young and old people.

Latino voters have doubled in the last 4 years. This is also being driven by policies which impact the Latino community specifically, such as reinstating DACA protections, and decriminalizing border crossing.

Enthusiasm among Democratic candidates is high, and some early exit polls indicate that turnout could be as high as 2008, when Barack Obama ran for president.

The Democratic Primary in Illinois is on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. While many Americans are out drinking themselves to sleep, Morton College students, and the young people of America, have an opportunity to wake up to a full-ride scholarship to public university, simply for showing up at a polling place for 5 minutes.

Bring your friends!

There is Nothing that You Can’t do

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A wise man once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Find yourself and fulfill your dreams.

by Bianca Cataldo

Feb. 18, 2020

Keep in mind that every moment of your life is the right moment to decide, to change things around, to chase your dreams. It’s never too late, never too early, this moment comes whenever you are ready. Sometimes, however, the difficult part is figuring out who you are and who you want to be.

The issue is that you don’t know what you need in your life, or where you want to be, until you understand who you are. Too many times, I heard people saying they don’t have a dream, they don’t have a passion, they didn’t figure out their path. In fact, everyone has potential, but turning that potential in a career is another story.

What’s worse, many times once people figured out their path, figured out their passion, they start to wonder how am I going to make it, it’s too late, I don’t have the means to make it, am I going to fail, am I going to look like a fool… I saw people giving up on their dreams before trying to pursue them.

What’s stopping you? There is really nothing that you can’t do. To succeed, you just have to find that will and that determination that makes you do what you want to do and move it forward. So how do you find it?

First, Find Yourself

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. How I interpret it is that going on a walk with nature, you can find an opportunity to gain perspective. In a walk with nature, you are able to think and listen to your inner self. It grounds you.

In this world, a world that pushes people to run, that overwhelms people with information, in this rowdy world, it is difficult to stop and listen to ourselves, but we need to do it. Then, stop. Go on a walk, meditate, do whatever it takes to turn off the volume of the outside world and listen to your inside world. Take control over your mind, over your thoughts.

Ask yourself where do you want to be, what are your talents, what do you enjoy doing, what is that makes you feel free? Find the answer.

And, Fulfill Your Dreams

Once you found that answer, do it. Do what makes you feel free. Learn what it takes to do it, give it one more day, one more month, move it forward, do it without haste, but without a break. You will see that you can make it. If you have that will power, if you have that fire, that passion, if you love to do something, you will make it. It’s up to you, and you can really do it by yourself, more than counting on everybody else.

Celebrate Love: Get Ready for Valentine’s Day!

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Anyone can celebrate Valentine’s Day! It is a time when people show love, so it’s about expressing thoughts, feelings and emotions.

by Bianca Cataldo

Feb. 12, 2020

Valentine’s Day is approaching and romance is in the air. Someone is focusing on love and relationships, but there is more to it. In fact, Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic love, but in some parts of the world it is observed as a day for expressing love between family members and friends, rather than between couples.

Whether you have a partner or not, you can always celebrate love.

Spend this day showing love to your family, your friends, and to a special person. It is important to appreciate this day, valuing and cherishing the love you are surrounded with every day. Understand that you need to nourish this love because you never stop building it. The point is that there will always be something you can do to make it grow and flourish. So, take this day as an opportunity to do something special!

Love is in the details of everyday life, and you show it by being generous, taking care of the other, and keeping that flame lit. Sometimes showing love is easier than you think, you can show it through the smallest attentions, and through the smallest gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a gaze, a smile, a hug…

The secret is to make the other person feel special and unique, so show admiration and respect, desire and affection.

Make this Valentine’s Day a special day for you and for all the people that really matter. Show how much you love your mom, your dad, your siblings, your best friend, your partner, or that special person in your life. Show it. Give them your full attention, tell them how special they are to you and why, write them a letter, buy them flowers. Do something special, go crazy. It’s your chance to express what you feel.

Make it a day to remember!

Is Marijuana as Safe as You Think?

In this 2008 file photo, a person demonstrates how to smoke a marijuana joint in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP)
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Via legislative process, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize the consumption and sale of recreational marijuana (adult use). Legal sales began on January 1, 2020.

by Bianca Cataldo

Feb. 7, 2020

The legalization of recreational marijuana has been the center of many debates, and now, public opinion has supported it.

In fact, people see marijuana as less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes. Plus, regular users perceive marijuana smoking as an enjoyable activity. As an evidence that weed is not harmful, people mention its widespread use for medical and recreational reasons. That makes people believe cannabis products are harmless.

The point is, there are no harmless drugs.

In fact, to change your mood, these drugs act on your brain. The immediate damage, in the case of low use of cannabis, can be modest, but if used repeatedly it is dangerous. Each drug is addictive, so that you need to use it more frequently, until (after physical effects) it leads you to a moral deterioration.

In specific, marijuana is a psychoactive drug, and its main psychoactive part is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC acts like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body: cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception.

In fact, THC attaches to these receptors to affect a person’s pleasure. This is why smoking, vaping… makes you feel “high”, happy, relaxed, euphoric, creative, amused, you name it.

On the other side, keep in mind what other aspects of the brain these receptors are associated with. In fact, current research indicates that THC ingestion results in THC binding to receptor sites associated with memory loss.

Focusing also on mental/physical effects, THC binding to receptors in the cerebellum decreases your motor coordination and your ability to maintain balance. Plus, it affects your sensory awareness, so that a distorted sense of time takes place, along with a damage to your short-term memory, and a reduction in your ability to think and talk.

At higher doses, paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, psychological problems and serious mental illnesses take place.

Keep in mind that marijuana has both short and long term effects on your body. When you inhale marijuana smoke into your lungs, the drug is quickly released into your bloodstream and makes its way to your brain, but also other organs. Over time, weed can cause serious health issues. Just to mention one, THC increases your heart rate, your supine blood pressure, and on occasion produces orthostatic hypotension.

Although there are not many research on it, in some cases, marijuana can lead to death. There are in fact cases of young men that experienced fatal cardiovascular events brought on by cannabis.

This is not a discussion on whether marijuana should be legal or not since in my point of view it is not relevant. Rather, this is a discussion that makes you aware of weed’s dangers. Marijuana is as harmful as cigarettes and alcohol. Smoking, vaping, do not erase your problems, these actions only increase them. Is that temporary and short sensation of pleasure really worth the risk?

Turning Point: Home-Office Journey becomes part of Working Hours!

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If you are in the car, on the bus, or on the train, and you answer to colleagues’ phone calls, or to e-mails on your laptop, then you are working. In Switzerland, federal civil workers, who find themselves in this position, request this work to be included in the calculation of their working day!

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 24, 2020

On average, it seems that Swiss workers spend at least one hour on the home-office journey, so the idea would be to occupy workers during these hours of travel to reduce time spent behind the desk. After all, “Nowadays, flexible work forms have become a necessity” recognizes Anand Jagtap, head of human resources for Swiss public offices. This is an idea that most Swiss commuters would not mind.

The majority of commuters reveal that for them, the home-office journey is an office or a “consuming life” experience: people explain that they spend eight hours working, plus one, two, three or more hours on their home-office journey, as a consequence, they don’t have a lot of free time left. Therefore, there is a widespread civil unrest.

After the battle fought by four unions, Bern (capital of the Swiss Confederation) approved this change. However, the authorization of superiors is necessary, and each case is going to be examined based on its peculiar characteristics.

This idea could sign a turning point for the life of these Swiss workers, and why not, a turning point for the life of workers all over the world. It is a new point of view that could potentially improve people lives.

If people could make up the time they lose on their home-work journey, and as a consequence, work less hours in office, they could have more free time to spend for themselves, their families or to do what they need to.

There are limits and cons to take into consideration, but it can become something that, if done in the right way, improves the quality of our lives and also our working experiences. It can really be a turning point for this new generation.

Protections for American Workers are Minimal

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Among the leading economies of the world, the United States is one of the most reticent Countries to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. In detail, it is the only Country, among the highly developed Countries, without the duty for employers to grant paid vacation days, or a federal paid maternal leave, and the list goes on...

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 20, 2020

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization is a United Nations service that promotes social justice and productive work in conditions of equity, freedom, and security.

The U.S. is a party to only 14 of the 189 labor conventions. Most important, it has only ratified two of the eight core ILO conventions (abolition of forced labor and abolition of the worst forms of child labor). However, the majority of ILO member states and all the European nations have ratified at least four core conventions. Lastly, 138 ILO members have ratified all eight core conventions.

Federal Law for Employers and Employees

Federal law does not provide for vacation pay. In fact, employees are not legally entitled to paid vacation time or paid holidays, but it is based upon an agreement between the employer and the employee. Although some work positions have paid vacations, sick days, etc. others do not offer these privileges.

Research found that out of the 21 most developed Countries in the World, the U.S. is the only economy that does not have a federal paid vacation policy. The disparity between the U.S. and the rest of these Countries is significant. In fact, while European Countries have at the very least four weeks or twenty days of paid vacation, and other Countries have at least six paid holidays a year, the U.S. has none.

Moreover, in the U.S. there is no National requirement for paid sick days either. Some employers allow workers unpaid time off for medical leave. Comparing this reality to the reality of other developed Countries, we observe how in these Countries the right to health is recognized as a fundamental right by law. Therefore, to safeguard it, the employee receives a paid sick leave on days when working capacity is reduced due to illness or injury.

Lastly, many Countries all over the world adopted maternity and/or parental leave programs, usually parents receive days of paid parental leave (it can be at 100% of their pay, 80%, etc.). However, in the U.S. even though women can receive up to 12 weeks of parental leave (under the Family and Medical Leave Act) they do not have the right to be paid during this period.

In the U.S. there are no National requirements that protect workers. This is just a part of the issues that afflict American workers. Considering that the U.S. is a developed Country, this reality is mind-blowing, and it has to change.

2020 Authentic Resolutions

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“For a new year to bring you something new, make a move, like a butterfly tearing its cocoon! Make a move!” the Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Ildan said that and it means so much. Thanks to the holiday period, the beginning of the new year usually makes us feel energetic and ready to change. Then, let’s make this move!

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 8, 2020

It will not be a new year, if nothing new happens in our lives, right? New Year’s resolutions are a tradition where people set goals trying to improve their lives. Everyone has new goals, but in the end, few are the people that reach them!

Along the way, it seems that the target is moving away, rather than getting closer. Our actions seem unnecessary, and even counterproductive. This is the point where we just let go. We give up and fall into our routines. But why? Probably because the goal that we set for ourselves, wasn’t really ours.

In fact, when we think about New Year’s resolutions, almost everyone wants to “go to the gym”, “get fit”, “go on a diet”, “be rich”…”boost motivation”, and so on.

How is it possible that everyone has the same exact goals to achieve? Maybe because these targets are not personal. They are not something that we want to achieve, rather something that society wants us to achieve.

Well, no one is going to fight for something they don’t truly want. That’s why people let go. So, make sure that your 2020 resolutions are authentic.

When you set yourself a goal, consider if the needs you want to satisfy and the motivations behind your actions are really yours. Ask yourself if you are moving to achieve something that you really want. If so, you will not fail, you will not give up because that crave and motivation will come from within.

Think about a passion that you have, or something that is missing in your life, think about your feelings, your sensations, your life, you balance,listen to yourself.

What do you want to improve, what do you really want to change, or add to your life? Does it have a value for you? Do you need this in your life, would it make you feel satisfied? If so, make your move to reach it!

Good luck!