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
Current Events

DEFENSE RESTS

Here are the 3 main arguments made by the defense about why the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd should be acquitted.

Current Events

“Undetermined.”

Fmr. Maryland Chief Medical Examiner Dr. David Fowler answering a question on how he would categorize George Floyd’s “cause of death.” Fowler says Floyd suffered a heart attack due to pre-existing heart disease ~ other potential factors include drugs in his system and accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Fowler’s testimony contrasted with the medical examiner who determined Floyd’s cause of death to be “homicide” — not drug use or heart disease.
Current Events

“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis police department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interaction with Mr. Floyd.”

Fmr. police officer and use of force expert Barry Vance Brodd testified that Derek Chauvin acted appropriately - adding that when justified, the use of the restraining a suspect face-down is a "control technique," not "a use of force."
Current Events

“I was concerned for the officers’ safety, yes.”

Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang, one of the officers called to the scene on May 25, 2020, testified that he was concerned for the safety of the officers that day because "the crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive." One of the arguments made by the defense is that Derek Chauvin's actions were influenced by the surrounding crowd and bystanders, which he deemed as hostile.
Current Events

Derek Chauvin declined to take the stand, invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the case against him. After both sides present their closing arguments on Monday, the judge will instruct the jury before they head into deliberations.

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Quote of the Day

“Just because something bad happened to me, doesn’t mean it has to become who I am, and we can take what happened to us, and turn around and do good things for others.”

Quote of the Day

L’Heureux is one of 260+ people injured during the 2013 terrorist attack at the iconic Boston Marathon. 3 people died, incl. an 8-year-old boy, and a MIT police officer murdered by the terrorists during the manhunt. Michelle shares what she's learned about resilience in an interview w/ SmartHER News, including how you can honor the day by random acts of kindness aka "One Boston Day."

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Current Events

PROSECUTION RESTS

Here are the 3 main arguments made by the prosecution about why a former police officer charged with killing George Floyd is guilty of murder.

Current Events

“George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from drug overdose.”

Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Rich, who reviewed George Floyd's medical records, autopsy & videos of the incident, testified that Floyd’s "absolutely preventable" death was caused by low oxygen levels "induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation,” and unrelated to drug use or pre-existing conditions.
Current Events

“Both the knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck and the prone restraint were unreasonable, excessive and contrary to generally accepted police practices.”

Law professor, fmr. police officer, & use of force expert Seth Stoughton testified that Derek Chauvin's use of force during the 9 min & 29 secs he held Floyd face down w/ his knee on Floyd's neck "had the foreseeable effect and a substantial likelihood of resulting in death or great bodily harm."
Current Events

“Once there was no longer any resistance … that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back – that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics…”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin's use of force and failure to render aid were not in line with the department's policies.
Current Events

The prosecution argued the use of force employed by Derek Chauvin against George Floyd was excessive, unreasonable, contrary to the law & police training / policy, and consequently resulted in Floyd's death. The defense will make the case that the opposite is true, and argue Floyd's death was caused by underlying health issues and / or drug use.

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Current Events

PAUSE

The U.S. has recommended a pause on use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Here’s Why:

Current Events

The Basics

  • FDA & CDC report 6 cases of “rare and severe” blood clots in women ages 18-48, causing “severe stroke-like illness.”
  • Symptoms: 6-13 days after dose.
  • 1 case was fatal; 1 patient is in critical condition.
  • Condition “very similar” to “another vaccine in Europe.” Officials did not name AstraZeneca, but concerns *have* surfaced about blood clotting and the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe.
Current Events

Why Is It Happening?

The FDA isn’t certain, but offered this:

  • A focus is the adenoviral vector vaccines. The J&J vaccine uses a shell of an adenovirus (called adenoviral vectors) as a “delivery vehicle” for the vaccine into your body. AstraZeneca uses a similar technology.
  • Doctors say that in some cases the body’s immune response to the adenovirus may lead to this very rare condition.
Current Events

The Risk

  • This condition occurred in 6 cases out of the more than 6.8 million J&J doses administered (remember, J&J is a single-dose vaccine).
  • If you received vaccine more than a month ago, health officials say risk of developing this condition is very low.
  • If you received it recently (last 3 weeks), be mindful of symptoms – such as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, & shortness of breath.
Current Events

A Little Bit More

Right now, the condition doesn’t appear to be related to birth control (birth control pills can raise risk of blood clotting) but women under 50 remain the focus.

It’s not *just* blood clotting – it’s blood clotting WITH a condition of low platelets (thrombocytopenia – which can actually cause severe internal bleeding).

Current Events

Big Picture

“We are totally aware that this is a very rare event. We want to get this worked out as quickly as we possibly can. And that’s why you see the word ‘pause.'”

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci on why the FDA & CDC is recommending (not mandating) the pause out of an "abundance of caution" while the FDA & CDC investigate and consider next steps.
Current Events

Typical treatment (i.e.: heparin) for blood clots can actually make this condition more dangerous. The govt. says over 122 million people have received at least one vaccine dose. Dr. Fauci says this particular type of clotting condition has not been detected in connection with the Moderna & Pfizer vaccines.

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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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