- A San Diego woman named Amber Gilles posted a photo to Facebook last month in an effort to shame a Starbucks barista, Lenin Gutierrez, for refusing to serve her because she wasn’t wearing a mask.
- However, many supported the barista, raising over $105,000 for him through a GoFundMe campaign.
- Now Gilles says she wants to sue for half, claiming she was discriminated against and can’t wear a mask for medical reasons.
- As proof, she provided a local TV station with results from a 2015 pelvic exam and a chiropractor’s note saying she had “underlying breath conditions.”
- She also added, “I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat. And I do have asthma as well, and I do get maskne (mask-acne). So there’s several things going on and not only that, but it doesn’t even work.”
Barista Earns Support After Viral Post
A California woman says she wants to sue for half of the $100,000 raised for a Starbuck barista in San Diego who refused to serve her unless she put on a mask.
Last month, Amber Gilles went viral after she tried to shame the barista on Facebook. In a now-deleted post, she shared a photo of the employee and wrote, “Meet Lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”
The post definitely caught people’s attention but didn’t really bring in the reactions she was hoping for. In fact, internet users all over the world praised the employee, Lenin Gutierrez. Eventually, a man by the name of Matt Cowan even started a GoFundMe campaign to raise tips for him.
Gutierrez was overwhelmed by the support he received following the incident and posted a video on Facebook last month thanking people for their kindness. In that video, he also talked a little more about how Gilles behaved on the day of their interaction.
He said he asked Gilles if she had a mask, and she told him no, she didn’t need one. Then, he said he was about to show her a paper that employees had been provided announcing the mask requirement, but she didn’t give him the chance to.
“Before I can say anything, she flipped me off. She said, ‘no, I don’t need one’ and she started cursing up a storm.”
“She started calling people sheep and then she left, and then within a few minutes, she came back and she asked for my name…She took a photo of me and said ‘I’m calling corporate and started cursing some more at everyone and just left. And this time for good,” he added.
Support continued to pour in as his story spread online and by the time the GoFundMe campaign closed, it had raised over $105,000.
Cowan personally delivered the money to Gutierrez earlier this month, loading all the cash into a briefcase. Cowan and his friend, Will Collette, actually documented that moment and uploaded it to YouTube. When speaking with them, Gutierrez said he wants to use the funds to help him study Kinesiology at Cal State Fullerton and pursue his dream of becoming a dancer. He said he also wants to donate some of the money to charity.
Woman Wants Half of the Funds Raised
Now, that would’ve been a positive way to close this whole ordeal, but of course, the story doesn’t end there. That’s because Gilles spoke to a local ABC affiliate station this week to say that she was the one actually wronged.
“It was discrimination and everybody is okay with it and enabling and rewarding that behavior,” she told 10News.
She also claimed she was going to take legal action for half of the GoFundMe money raised for Gutierrez, saying “I don’t care if he gave it to Lenin, I’m going to sue him for half of it.”
She told the station she had spoken to a few lawyers about taking her case, but because they’re so expensive she’s also started her own GoFundMe campaign.
As far as her stance on masks, she told the station she believes they are not effective but also gave some details about the medical issues that prevent her from wearing one.
“One of them I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat. And I do have asthma as well, and I do get maskne (mask-acne). So there’s several things going on and not only that but it doesn’t even work.”
To prove that she is exempt from wearing a mask, she provided the station with two documents. One was a 2015 pelvic exam report that shows an analysis of her uterus and an ovarian cyst. The second was a handwritten note with a letterhead from a San Diego chiropractor that Gillies asked the station not to show.
That note says she “has underlying breath conditions that prevent her from wearing a mask or any type of facial covering whatsoever.”
The station reached out to the chiropractor, but he declined to speak about Gilles. When asked why a chiropractor had given her a medical note for a breathing issue, Gilles said it was “because they are dedicated to providing non-invasive personalized care and treatment. They are real doctors.”
Finally, when asked if she had an apology of message for the public, she said, “Uh, pfffttt. No, absolutely not. I feel like I need the apology. I’ve been discriminated against. I’m the one who’s sick.”
See what others are saying: (10News) (Insider) (Fox Business)
Lawmakers Call For Action as Oil Companies Post Record Profits Amid Rising Gas Prices
A recent analysis from the Center for American Progress found that the top five oil companies earned over 300% more in profits during the first quarter of 2022 than the same period last year.
As Consumer Prices Climb, Big Oil Profits
American oil companies are facing increased scrutiny over profiteering practices as gas prices continue to surpass record highs driven by Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
Last week, costs surged to above $4 per gallon in all 50 states for the first time ever, according to the auto club AAA. Prices are currently averaging over $4.59 per gallon nationwide, which is 50% higher than they were this time last year.
In addition to consumers hurting at the pump, there are also rising concerns for industries that rely on fuel and oil like trucking, freight, airlines, and plastic manufacturers.
To account for high prices, some in sectors have responded by ramping up prices further down the supply chain to account for costs, putting even more of a burden on consumers to pay for everyday items.
But as Americans struggle with sky-high gas prices at a time of record inflation, recently released earnings reports show that many of the world’s largest oil companies thrived in the first quarter of 2022.
ExxonMobil more than doubled its earnings from the same period last year, reporting a net profit of $5.5 billion. Meanwhile, Chevron logged its best quarterly earnings in almost a decade, and Shell had its highest earnings ever.
According to a new analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress, the top five oil companies — including the three mentioned above — earned over 300% more in profits this quarter than during the same time last year.
“In fact, these five companies’ first-quarter profits alone are equivalent to almost 28 percent of what Americans spent to fill up their gas tanks in the same time period,” the report noted.
Per Insider, for at least four of those companies, that growth marks a tremendous increase in profits from even before the pandemic.
Lawmakers Ramp-Up Efforts to Reduce Prices
To address these startling disparities, federal lawmakers have moved in recent weeks to increase pressure on oil companies and take steps to lower prices.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill proposed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Ca.) that aims to reduce gas prices. The legislation, called The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, would give the president the authority to issue an Energy Emergency Declaration that would be effective for up to 30 days with the possibility of being renewed.
In that emergency period, it would be illegal for anyone to increase gas or home energy fuel prices to a level that is exploitative or “unconscionably excessive.”
The proposal would also give the Federal Trade Commission the power to investigate and manage instances of price gouging from larger companies and give state authorities the ability to enforce price-gouging violations in civil courts.
The bill, which has already seen widespread opposition from Republicans and extensive lobbying from pro-oil interest groups, faces an uphill battle in the 50-50 split Senate.
During debate on the act Thursday, Rep. Porter delivered an impassioned speech accusing oil companies of driving their record profits by using their market power to unfairly increase prices.
“The oil and gas industry currently has more than 9,000 permits to drill for oil on federal land, but they are deliberately keeping production low to please their investors and increase their short-term profits,” she said. “Even when the price of crude oil falls, oil and gas companies have refused to pass those savings on to consumers.”
“Let me be clear: price gouging is anti-capitalist,” Porter continued. “It exploits a lack of competition, which is a hallmark of capitalism. It is an effort to juice corporate profits at the expense of customers. Energy markets are reeling because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Big oil companies, however, are using this temporary chaos to cover up their abuse.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Vox) (NPR)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.