Quick Quotes

"What happened here today is a terrible tragedy and I’m heartbroken that this awful incident occurred in one of our schools."

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas on the fatal shooting at a Knoxville, TN high school.

"We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession."

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Mayor Mike Elliot on the fatal police shooting of Duante Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old black man, during a traffic stop.

"This vaccine may be a good vaccine in terms of covering all different types of strains."

Dir. of Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, on the Army testing a new Covid-19 vaccine.

"There’s unity and ambition for a joint diplomatic process."

Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora, European Union’s diplomatic service on new talks between America, Iran and European counterparts concerning the “Iran Nuclear Deal.”

"In most situations, regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergent, not necessarily disinfecting those surfaces, is enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread."

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky describing why the CDC updated its guidance for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces given the low risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"We're talking about the potential of about (480) million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area,"

Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes near Tampa Bay, Florida – where a wastewater reservoir threatens to fail, raising fears of a “catastrophic flood.”

Stories
Quote of the Day

“I’m into making people happy. So, whenever I leave the house, I just try to do a good deed.”

Quote of the Day

Shaq said he didn't intend for this story to get out, but someone captured him on camera picking up the tab for a young man who had put an engagement ring on layaway at Zales. Shaq, who has a jewelry line at Zales, talked about the power of random acts of kindness. Separately, food for thought: the president of Zales recently said the pandemic has boosted jewelry sales, specifically of engagement rings!

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Current Events

Historic Pace

Different storylines have swirled about what’s happening at the U.S. Southwest border – here’s what the numbers show.

Current Events

The Numbers: March 2021

  • “172,000 persons attempting entry along the Southwest border” – highest single-month number in modern data collection (2012). Perspective: second highest – 144,000+ in May 2019.
  • 71% increase over the previous month, February 2021.
  • U.S. govt. expelled 103,900 people (citing a provision re: public health safety during a pandemic); 28% had been expelled once before.
Current Events

100% Increase

18,890 unaccompanied children (17-and-younger without a guardian) – a 100% increase from February. 

Highest monthly number in recent data records (2010). Perspective: the second highest was in May 2019: 11,800+.

“Largest demographic group” in border patrol custody.

Current Events

CONTEXT

  • U.S. govt. has repeatedly stated border “encounters” have increased since last April. This is true but needs context.
  • Border encounters (for single adults, minors, etc.) dramatically dropped in March-April 2020 w/the border closing due to the pandemic. Since then, the numbers have increaseddata shows a significant increase in recent months.
  • Encounters last April: 17,100+. Dec. 2020: 74,000+. March 2021: 172,000+.
Current Events

The U.S. govt. says numbers have increased because of "violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America." According to available data, this is the largest monthly number of border encounters in history.

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Quote of the Day

“You have to be a fighter and no matter what people say about you, you still have to stand up for what you know is right.”

Quote of the Day

#OTD in 1990 Ryan White, one of the first American children to contract the AIDS virus, passed away at age 18. Ryan became an advocate for those living with AIDS, fighting discrimination in court, incl. an effort to bar him from school out of fear he could spread the virus through casual contact (like sneezing). Congress named the largest federally funded AIDS program after him.

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Current Events

LEVEL UP?

A new study says ceiling ventilation may be more important than social distancing.

Why this matters for classrooms and beyond.

Current Events

The Study

  • University of Central Florida, Dept. of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.
  • Researchers built computer models of classrooms with a group of students sitting in rows and a teacher in the front – all wearing masks.
  • The models replicated different routes for airborne disease transmission.
  • Classrooms with ventilation (with a good air filter) reduced transmission by 40-50%.
Current Events

Why Does It Work?

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets – the fewer infected droplets hanging out in your space, the better.
  • Ventilation keeps the air in the room circulating – it also pulls warm air droplets HIGHER.
  • Study co-author: With both ventilation & masks, droplets tend to go “up” and away from others, rather than “out” towards people.
Current Events

“The risk from airborne SARS-CoV-2 exposure does not appear to be strongly correlated with the distance, and many of the peak exposures were observed outside of physical-distancing guidelines.”

The study went on to say that "mask mandates, well designed HVAC systems, and the combination of exposure time with number of occupants are of increased importance compared to physical distancing."
Current Events

“We don’t want to relax mask usage. We want to relax social distancing…”

Dr. Michael Kinzel, one of the co-authors of the study, tells SmartHER News a surprising finding in his research: how much variation existed in a classroom between “safe” vs. “unsafe” areas without ventilation – some areas would have very little risk and others very high. Kinzel said he expected a difference but did not expect such a large discrepancy.
Current Events

Something To Consider:

  • So… do you need a new ventilation system? Maybe. Kinzel says masks ultimately help us get closer more safely, but the right ventilation system can help increase capacity and speed up our return to “normal.”
  • Why not open a window? YES! The whole point of any ventilation is to prevent buildup of contaminated droplets; cooler rooms are better than warmer rooms since warm air (your breath) rises.
Current Events

Why did aerospace engineers run this study? Professor Kinzel has an expertise in fluid mechanics (think of all that goes into making an engine work, as liquid gas is turned into mist and combined with air to ignite) so the team applied their knowledge of “fluids” to respiratory droplets.

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Politics

THE VOTE

Georgia’s new election law sparks a debate over voter suppression vs. election security.

What To Know.
Why It Matters.

Politics

Why It Matters:

  • New: Georgia’s new election law is the first major state-level election law to pass after the heavily contested 2020 election. Hundreds of election bills are working through state houses nationwide.
  • Notable: Georgia’s election was particularly close in both presidential & senatorial races, with Dems winning all 3 elections (the first presidential election won by a Democrat in GA in 3 decades).
Politics

What Happened:

“We quickly began working with the House and Senate on further reforms to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The bill I signed into law does just that.”

GA Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on the election law created by Republicans after the November 2020 election and passed along party lines (Republicans have the majority). The law includes many different provisions – we highlight several here.
Politics

ABSENTEE VOTING

  • Voters may request a ballot 78 – 11 days before an election. Previously, they could start requesting ballots 180 days before, and (in most counties) up until the Friday before Election Day.
  • Voters must verify their identity via their SSN or a # from a state-issued ID; before, they could just sign their name.
  • The new law requires drop boxes to be available for absentee voters, but limits the number, location & hours of operation.
Politics

EARLY VOTING

  • Counties are now required to offer in-person early voting for general elections on two Saturdays, with Sundays being optional. Previously, only one Saturday was required.
  • Early voting is prohibited before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Previously, counties could set their own hours.
  • For runoff elections, early voting will take place for about a week. Previously, it took place for 3 weeks.
Politics

OTHER PROVISIONS

  • Voters who vote in person but outside their designated precinct will only have their vote counted if they vote after 5 p.m.
  • The legislature has more influence over the State Election Board, which has more power over county election officials and may suspend them.
  • It’s now a crime to hand out water/food within 150 ft. of a polling station and within 25 ft. of a person in line to vote.
Politics

“I told him exactly how I felt: that these bills were not only voter suppression, but they were in fact racist, and they are an attempt to turn back time to Jim Crow.”

Bishop Reginald Jackson, leader of the African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia, recalling his conversation with Georgia's Lt. Gov. He argues the laws will deter voters, especially black voters in urban neighborhoods, and harken back to prior laws that purposefully prevented black people from voting.
Politics

“There’s a real — and bipartisan — misunderstanding about whether making it easier or harder to vote, especially by mail, has a significant effect on turnout or electoral outcomes. The evidence suggests it does not.”

Correspondent Nate Cohn, The New York Times, says research shows election laws don't impact voters as much as headlines & political fights suggest. Inspired voters vote; uninspired voters do not.
Politics

Remember - states remain in charge of state/federal elections but Georgia's law already faces a number of legal challenges by critics. Separately, the federal govt. is also weighing the establishment of federal election standards. The "For the People Act" passed the Democrat-controlled House in March.

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Quote of the Day

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘look under foot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think.”

Quote of the Day

Writer John Burroughs, born on April 3, 1837, followed in the path of Henry David Thoreau composing American nature essays that influenced American thinking (and potentially leadership!). The former farmer & Treasury worker befriended Walt Whitman, John Muir & traveled with President Theodore Roosevelt in Yellowstone National Park.

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Current Events

“Vaccine Passport”

New York becomes the first state in America to unveil a COVID-19 “digital pass.”

What It Does.
Why It Matters.

Current Events

“Excelsior Pass”

  • A free app that reveals your COVID-19 vaccine or test status.
  • Where will it be used? “Theaters, Major Stadiums and Arenas, Weddings Receptions, Catered Events & Other Events in Accordance with New York State Guidelines.” The state *ALREADY* requires testing or vaccine records for specific events – this app centralizes the process.
  • Voluntary for NY’ers and businesses.
Current Events

“The reopening of key economic activities in New York State, such as arts and entertainment venues, stadiums and arenas, and weddings and catered events, will require proof of a vaccine or negative test for attendees.”

New York Forward website on how this app will be used. The app, developed with IBM, links your personal information with the state database to confirm "digital proof of a test result and/or vaccine."
Current Events

How Do You Qualify?

No positive COVID-19 test within the last ten days and:

  • at least two weeks since your final vaccine dose, OR
  • negative PCR test w/in the last 3 days, OR
  • negative antigen (rapid test) within the last 6 hours.
  • Tests must be administered in the state of New York.

 

Current Events

Something To Consider:

  • COVID-19 PCR tests have about a 20% false-negative rate.
  • The incubation period of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be upwards of 2 weeks. A negative test more than 24 hours before an event may not accurately represent one’s status.
  • Recent data shows promising results for COVID-19 vaccines – a recipient’s length of immunity and ability to transmit the virus remains TBD.
Current Events

“…vaccination passports could perpetuate existing inequities within countries if those who are vaccinated can enjoy the freedom to move about their community while others remain in lockdown.”

Yara Asi, University of Central Florida in Orlando, in a recent essay expressing concerns about "passports" exacerbating inequities from race, wealth, healthcare access and beyond - a class of people who have a vaccine vs. those who do not.
Current Events

“The busboy, the janitor, the waiter that works at a restaurant, wants to be surrounded by employees that are going back to work safely — and wants to have the patrons ideally be safe as well,”

Dr. Brian Anderson, Mitre – a nonprofit helping to lead an effort called the "Vaccine Credential Initiative" to help create software to support "verifiable" vaccination records. Microsoft and the Mayo Clinic also are part of this coalition.
Current Events

COVID-19 testing has long been floated as an important tool for re-opening because estimates remain that upwards of 50% of COVID-19 cases may come from asymptomatic spread. The Washington Post reports the Biden administration is working on a vaccine passport but has struggled for many reasons, including trying to coordinate with more than 17 different digital versions available. Challenges include: privacy, forgery, efficacy.

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On This Day

March 27, 1912

First Cherry Trees Planted In D.C.’s Potomac Park

How thousands of the iconic Japanese trees made their way to America’s capital.

Plus: The women who made it happen.

On This Day

Why Cherry Trees?

  • Eliza Scidmore: Well-known traveler, reporter, author, photographer, & the woman who first introduced the idea of planting flowering cherry trees in D.C.
  • 1885: After returning from a trip to Japan, she began advocating for cherry trees to be planted along the tidal wetlands near the White House & Potomac River.
  • She was repeatedly turned down for 24 years – until First Lady Helen Taft heard her idea.
On This Day

How It Happened

  • 1909: First Lady Taft introduced her plan to develop & improve Potomac Park.
  • Scidmore heard of the plans & reached out, explaining the cherry trees “would be a great showing … a rosy tunnel of interlaced branches.”
  • First Lady Taft immediately agreed. Two notable Japanese men working in D.C. – a celebrated chemist and the consul general – heard of her proposal & helped arrange a donation from Tokyo.
On This Day

The First Trees Planted

  • March 27, 1912: First Lady Taft and Iwa Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first cherry trees along the Potomac River.
  • The ceremony served as a symbol of international friendship.
  • The two trees are still standing & located near the MLK Jr. Memorial.
  • Out of the approximately 4,000 cherry trees in D.C. parks today, fewer than 100 are original trees planted in 1912.
On This Day

“Since they had to plant something in that great stretch of raw, reclaimed ground by the river bank … they might as well plant the most beautiful thing in the world—the Japanese cherry tree.”

Eliza Scidmore in a 1928 interview reflecting on why she advocated for cherry blossoms to be planted around the Tidal Basin in D.C. The land, mostly barren then, is now home to monuments such as the Jefferson Memorial and the MLK Jr. Memorial.
On This Day

Japan's initial donation of 2,000 cherry trees came two years earlier (1910). However, the trees arrived infected with insects and diseases, and had to be burned to ensure native plants would not be harmed. In March 1912, around 3,000 more cherry trees were donated (free of infections) and were quickly planted around D.C. to usher in spring.

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Quote of the Day

There are these ups and downs in your journey… That’s where all of the lessons are.

Quote of the Day

#OTD in 1944 the Queen of Motown was born. The legendary Ms. Ross rose to fame in The Supremes and went on to have a decades-long solo career in song and stage. Overall, she's sold more than 100 million records. The mother of five has won a Golden Globe and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

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Current Events

S-T-U-C-K

A traffic jam in the “world’s most important waterway” may have you running into delays and/or higher prices.

Current Events

What’s Going On?

A gigantic ship got stuck in Suez Canal.

  • Not just any ship: The Ever Given, one of the largest cargo ships in the world. Stand it up and it would be nearly as tall as the Empire State Building.
  • Not just any canal: This man-made canal is a link between the Middle East & Europe, from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Dozens of ships sail through daily, carrying everything from oil to electronics to shampoo.
Current Events

How Did This Happen?

TBD. Initial reports: bad weather (wind/dust/poor visibility) at a precarious spot in the canal.

The canal narrows at certain points which require single-direction travel.

The Ever Given is stuck in a narrow pass, almost perpendicular to the canal & touching or nearly touching each bank – effectively blocking the canal entirely.

Current Events

Why Does This Matter?

Global trade delays: About 50 ships move through this canal every day. Now 150+ are stuck, waiting for the waterway to clear.

Even if the ship is “free” by the time you read this report, the ripple effect of delays adds another variable to an already-stressed supply chain trying to get back on track during the pandemic.

Current Events

So what would it take to "go around" (Africa) and not use the canal? About 15 days, according to one estimate. And remember - it's not just manufactured goods that are potentially delayed, but also the parts used to make goods. Analysts say this event will have an effect; how BIG of an effect remains TBD.

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Current Events

The Case in Colorado

Current Events

The Victims:

Denny Stong, 20
Neven Stanisic, 23
Rikki Olds, 25
Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
Eric Talley, 51
Suzanne Fountain, 59
Teri Leiker, 51
Kevin Mahoney, 61
Lynn Murray, 62
Jodi Waters, 65

Current Events

“He loved his family more than anything. He wasn’t afraid of dying. He was afraid of putting them through it.”

Homer Talley, 74, whose son Eric Talley, 51, was among the ten victims killed in the shooting. Eric was a police officer with seven children, 7 - 20 years old.
Current Events

The Suspect:

  • Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21; resident of a Denver suburb.
  • Reportedly a naturalized U.S. citizen whose family emigrated from Syria.
  • Motive unknown. Charges include 10 counts of 1st degree murder.
  • Prior record: 2018 misdemeanor assault conviction. Police report “at least two interactions” with him in recent years.
  • Legally purchased a gun on March 16, similar to one found at the crime scene.
Current Events

The Crime:

  • March 22 (2:40 p.m.): Cops responded to calls of an active shooter at King Soopers, a local Boulder grocery store.
  • Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with a shooter wearing a “tactical vest,” targeting people in different settings: outside the grocery store, inside a vehicle, inside the store.
  • Alissa surrendered to SWAT team and asked to speak to his mother. Taken into custody at 3:28 p.m.
Current Events

“He always suspected someone was behind him, someone was chasing him.”

Ali Aliwi Alissa, the 34-year-old brother of the shooter, who said he "kept a close eye" on his brother in high school because of his increasing paranoia. Fmr. classmates described the shooter as "joyful" at times, but quick to enrage. There is no known mental health diagnosis of the shooting suspect at this time.
Current Events

“The suspect’s identity was previously known to the F.B.I. because he was linked to another individual under investigation by the bureau, according to law enforcement officials.”

The New York Times. The shooter was known to local law enforcement; this report suggests he was also known to federal authorities, raising questions about why and to what extent. How this figures into the investigation is TBD.
Current Events

The alleged shooter is expected to appear in a Colorado courtroom on Thursday. His brother added in an interview: "I never thought he would kill. I still can't believe it. I am really sad for the lives that he wasted, and I feel sorry for all those families. ... We lost a brother even if he is the killer."

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On This Day

March 23, 1857

The birthdate of the woman who revolutionized the way we cook … and why her recipes are still being used to this day.

Before Julia Child … there was Fannie Merritt Farmer.

On This Day

Fannie Merritt Farmer

  • 1857: Born in Boston.
  • Suffered from paralysis (later thought to be polio) as a teen. Wanted to be a teacher, but was unable to work for yrs.
  • Enrolled in the Boston Cooking School in her early 30s; hired as the school’s asst. director after her 1889 graduation.
  • 1896: Published The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. It quickly became a bestseller due to its reliable results & use of precise measurements.
On This Day

“Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to ensure the best results. Good judgment, with experience, has taught some to measure by sight; but the majority need definite guides.”

Fannie Merritt Farmer, "The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" (1896). Before her cookbook, recipes used general measurements such as "a handful" instead of "1 cup." Farmer, who admitted to not being the most skilled cook, believed precision was the key to success in the kitchen.
On This Day

Why She Matters:

  • Farmer wanted everyone, no matter their occupation, to understand the science of nutrition.
  • She has been “widely credited with inventing the modern recipe” (NYT) and is one of the few American women whose cooking influence has spread worldwide.
  • In 1902, she founded Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery. It operated & trained chefs for about 40 years.
On This Day

Farmer’s Legacy

  • Her cookbook is in its 13th edition & can still be found in stores today under its updated title, “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook”.
  • She is accredited with publishing one of the first chocolate brownie recipes.
  • Julia Child, another widely-known American cook, regularly referred to “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook” while growing up and followed it for recipes such as fudge & pancakes.
On This Day

21.5 million printed cookbooks were sold in 2020 as people opted for more meals at home amidst the pandemic - a 17% increase compared to 2019. But whom do we have to thank for the modern day recipe - whether in a cookbook or online? Fannie Farmer, the Boston cook who was born on this day in 1857. 

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