all quick reads

Health

LEVEL UP?

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

Why this matters for classrooms and beyond.

Health

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%.

Health

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.

Health

“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."

Health

“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.

Health

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.

Health

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.

Apr 8, 2021

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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.”

RYAN WHITE

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.

Apr 8, 2021

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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 particular close for both President & the Senate, with dems winning all three elections (the first presidential election 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 after the November 2020 election by republicans and passed along party lines (republicans have the majority). The law includes many different provisions – we highlighted several.

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 for absentee voters to use, 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 5pm.
  • The legislature has more influence over the State Election Board, which has more power over county election officials and may intervene as they fit.
  • 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 past laws put in place to purposefully prevent black voters.

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, 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 gov't is also weighing establishing federal election standards. The "For the People Act" passed the Democrat-controlled House in March.

Apr 6, 2021

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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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Mar 27, 2021

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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.“

DIANA ROSS

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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Mar 26, 2021

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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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Mar 25, 2021

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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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Mar 25, 2021

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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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Mar 23, 2021

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Current Events


Clever or Creepy?

From free donuts to bonus pay, some companies offer incentives for you to get the COVID-19 vaccine.


Smart policy or strange times?
(or a little bit of both)

Current Events


“Krispy Kreme is finding ways to be sweet as the U.S. continues to scale COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Krispy Kreme's latest incentive includes one free glazed doughnut to those who show their COVID-19 vaccination records. Those who qualify can receive one doughnut a day, no purchase necessary. Food for thought: the CDC says weight is a factor for incidence of severity with COVID-19; obesity may put people at triple the risk of hospitalization.

Current Events

“Generally, providing an incentive is a legal method for employers to encourage vaccination…”

The National Law Review writes that private businesses *can* legally require vaccinations (with exceptions for those who decline) – and advises incentives need exceptions, too. For example, Krispy Kreme is offering a free coffee and doughnut for anyone on Mondays during this campaign, even without a vaccination record.

Current Events


BIG PICTURE

  • Incentives for customers w/proof of the COVID-19 vaccine are rare *so far*: Krispy Kreme is the first major U.S. brand to offer something *to customers* on a national level.
  • Incentives for employees to receive the vaccine are on the rise: often in the form of bonus pay for stores like Kroger, Trader Joe’s, & Dollar General. Target’s includes bonus pay and $ for a ride to and from the vaccination site.

Current Events


Businesses are offering everything from gift cards, to discounts on purchases, and even "joints for jabs" - yes, you read that correctly: pre-rolled marijuana joints for those with proof of vaccination. Instead of quoting from the experts, we wanted to toss this question to YOU: Will these incentives be effective? What do you think of them?

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Mar 23, 2021

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Current Events


PRICES AT THE PUMP

Since Thanksgiving, the price of gas has risen nationwide.

Where It’s Heading
& Why It Matters

Current Events

What To Know:

  • In the last month, the national gas price average rose by almost 40 cents.
  • As of the date of this publishing (March 18th) the national average is up 78 cents since Thanksgiving, according to AAA.
  • Gas prices have increased since Thanksgiving but have consistently risen for the last 10 weeks.
  • Gas prices vary depending on where you live, mostly because of the way different states tax gasoline sales.

Current Events

“As Americans turn optimistic on COVID-19 recovery, we’ve been seeing insatiable demand for gasoline, which continues to recover far faster than oil production.”

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, says large oil companies had to lay off employees and shutter some facilities in the last year due to the pandemic. Companies cannot adjust as quickly as consumers. Lower supply + higher demand = higher prices.

Current Events

Something to Consider:

Variables factoring into pricing:

  • Demand – The price for oil is increasing as the economy is heating up again.
  • Historic winter storm in Texas – Supply is down as demand is increasing; bad weather impacted 1/5 of all U.S. refineries.
  • Spring Switch – Refineries have to blend more efficient, less volatile, higher-priced fuel in spring/summer due to EPA regs.

Current Events

One More Thing:

“The heating up of what’s commonly understood as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen is just adding to the bullish oil price fever.”

Oil market analyst Louise Dickson, Rystad Energy. Tensions in the Middle East add to higher oil prices, which in turn impact prices of gasoline and other petroleum byproducts.

Current Events


Bottom Line: If you're paying more for gas, that means less money for other items. Higher gas prices, creeping up right as Americans are receiving stimulus checks, may slow the economic recovery. AAA says gas prices may reach $4 a gallon by this summer. GasBuddy.com helps you find the cheapest gas - check it out on our source page.

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Mar 19, 2021

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Current Events

“Worst mass killing in the U.S. in almost two years.”

The latest on a Georgia shooting in the national spotlight.

The facts we know – the ones we don’t – and the context that matters.

Current Events


The Details:

Who: 8 people shot and killed (7 women, 1 man). At least 6 of the victims were Asian women. 21-year-old Robert Long, a white man, has been arrested and is in custody.

What: 3 local massage parlors and spas.

Where: Atlanta area, Georgia.

When: Tuesday evening.

Current Events

“They’re very distraught, and they were very helpful in this apprehension.”

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says Long's parents recognized his photo and aided in his arrest. Investigators report Long says he has a "sex addiction" and was targeting sites of temptation. A mass killing is defined as one resulting in the death of four or more people (not including the perpetrator), according to a database complied by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University tracking these crimes.

Current Events

Something To Consider:

  • Initial reports: Crime was racially motivated.
  • 24 hours after the attack investigators say it’s too early to confirm motive.
  • Broader context: The shooting comes amid reports of a wave of violent and verbal attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic. A new report details nearly 3,800 “hate incidents” in the last year against Asian Americans, the majority targeting women.

Current Events

“We’re not yet clear about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people.”

Vice Pres. Kamala Harris, the nation's first VP of South Asian descent, joined Pres. Biden in condemning the shooting. Prior to Tuesday's shooting, Congress scheduled a hearing for tomorrow on the rise of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.

Current Events

What To Know:

  • Under federal law, a hate crime is one motivated in whole or in part by a bias against a disability, ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. The FBI’s 2020 hate crime report is not yet available.
  • Most states, including Georgia, have hate crime laws which add a penalty enhancement for crimes motivated by hate (what *qualifies* under that varies state to state).

Current Events


THIS IS A QUICKLY DEVELOPING STORY. Investigators say Long, who was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, planned to continue his crime spree in neighboring Florida to target “some type of porn industry.” The FBI is working alongside local law enforcement in the investigation.

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Mar 18, 2021

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Politics

Wild West Showdown

Political forces face off.

The road ahead for America’s most populated state (and a peek at its unique past) as California’s governor confronts a recall effort.

Politics

RECALL 101

  • 19 states and D.C. allow voters to recall an elected state official. Most states, incl. CA, don’t require a specific reason.
  • Organizers first apply with the state for a recall petition. Next, they circulate the petition to gather the required number of signatures (varies by state).
  • If req’d # of signatures are verified, a recall measure goes on the ballot asking voters IF they want a recall & WHOM they want as the replacement.


Politics

What’s Happening Now

This recall effort against Gov. Newsom beginning last year – some report February; others say June – is the sixth recall attempt since his 2018 election.
The momentum to recall Gov. Newsom gathered steam as controversy over his strict COVID policies (and his behavior at times, such as violating his own COVID rules at a famous upscale restaurant) received national attention.

Politics

HISTORICAL CONTEXT:

  • Recall efforts are rare nationwide, but they’re not so unusual in California.
  • History: Since 1913, there have been 179 attempted recalls in CA. 10 made it to the ballot, resulting in the recall of 6 elected officials – incl. 1 governor. The only other state to successfully recall a governor was North Dakota in 1912.
  • Recalls have real consequences: CA voters recalled Gov. Davis (D) and elected Gov. Schwarzenegger (R).

Politics

“Unaffordable housing. Record homelessness. Rising crime. Failing schools. Independent contractors thrown out of work. Exploding pension debt. And now, a locked down population while the prisons are emptied. Hold Gavin Newsom accountable. Gavin Newsom must go.”

From RecallGavin2020.com. A key organizer said, "This recall is driven by the people of California. It encompasses the entire political spectrum."

Politics

“It’s about immigration. It’s about our health care policies. It’s about our criminal justice reform. It’s about the diversity of the state. It’s about our clean air, clean water programs, meeting our environmental strategies.”

Gov. Newsom launched his own campaign to counter the effort to recall him, adding, "I won’t be distracted by this partisan, Republican recall -- but I will fight it."

Politics

Why It Matters: California, the most populated state in the nation, has one of the largest economies in the world. Gov. Newsom has been a rising star in the Democratic party, with eyes towards the White House. The deadline to collect signatures supporting the recall is March 17th – signatures will need to be verified before next steps.

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Mar 17, 2021

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