Stories
Quote of the Day

“Life is a great adventure…accept it in such a spirit.“

Quote of the Day

At 43, Roosevelt became the youngest president to serve, after the assassination of Pres. McKinley. Grief led him to explore and love the wild American west as a young man and conservationism became a part of his legacy. He preserved hundreds of millions of acres of public lands, such as the Grand Canyon.

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Current Events

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Three Historic Firsts For The 115th Justice

Current Events

First Nominated & Confirmed Within 3 Months Before Election

  • Justice Barrett is the only nominee ever appointed & confirmed within three months prior to Election Day.
  • Sept 26: Nomination; Oct 12: 1st Senate cmte hearing; Oct 26: Final Senate vote.
  • 43: Average # of days from nomination to 1st Senate cmte hearing. 70: Average # of days from nomination to final Senate vote.
Current Events

First Mother:
School-Aged Children

  • Justice Barrett is the only mother of school-aged kids to serve on the Court.
  • Justice Barrett is the fifth woman and third mother to join the Court. Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg had older children when sworn in.
  • Justice Barrett is a mother of seven – six of whom are under age 18. Her eldest is a college student.
Current Events

First From Notre Dame

  • Justice Barrett is the only sitting justice who didn’t graduate from either Harvard or Yale law schools.
  • Justice Barrett is the only justice ever to graduate from Notre Dame Law School.
  • Justice Barrett is the most recent justice to graduate from a non-Ivy league law school, the first since Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010.
Current Events

The Senate Historical Office says this is the first time in 150 years no one from the minority party voted for the majority's choice. Speaking of firsts...One of the first cases that will be heard by the full (9-justice) U.S. Supreme Court is a constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

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Politics

BATTLEGROUND

2020

A deeper dive on some of the states up for grabs in this presidential election & why they matter.

Politics

THE BASICS

  • The Electoral College has 538 electors. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
  • Each state receives the # of electors equal to its # of senators (two) & representatives (based on population).
  • 48 states & DC allocate electoral votes in an all or nothing manner based on the state’s popular vote winner.
  • Pres. Trump won the Electoral College votes (304 v. 227); Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (48% v. 46%).
Politics

ARIZONA

The Grand Canyon State

  • Electoral College Votes: 11
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by less than 92K votes
  • FYI: No Democrat pres. candidate has won AZ since 1996 (Bill Clinton), but there was a notable purple wave during the 2018 midterm elections.
Politics

FLORIDA

The Sunshine State

  • Electoral College Votes: 29
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by over 112K votes
  • FYI: The last Republican pres. candidate to win without FL was Calvin Coolidge (1924). Only two Democrat candidates have ever made it to the White House without FL – John Kennedy (1960) and Bill Clinton (1992).
Politics

GEORGIA

The Peach State

  • Electoral College Votes: 16
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by more than 210,000 votes.
  • FYI: No Democrat pres. candidate has won GA since 1992 (Bill Clinton), but Democrats made significant inroads during the 2018 midterm elections.
Politics

IOWA

The Hawkeye State

  • Electoral College Votes: 6
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by over 145K votes.
  • FYI: In the last 12 presidential elections, IA voted for Republicans six times and for Democrats six times.
Politics

MICHIGAN

The Great Lakes State

  • Electoral College Votes: 16
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by less than 11K votes.
  • FYI: 2016 was the first time MI voted Republican during a presidential election since 1988 (George H. W. Bush).
Politics

OHIO

The Buckeye State

  • Electoral College Votes: 18
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by less than 450K votes.
  • FYI: No Republican candidate has made it to the White House without winning OH dating all the way back to 1860 (Abraham Lincoln). No candidate has won the presidency without winning OH since 1960.
Politics

PENNSYLVANIA

The Keystone State

  • Electoral College Votes: 20
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by less than 45K votes.
  • FYI: 2016 was the first time PA voted Republican during a pres. election since 1988 (George H. W. Bush).
Politics

WISCONSIN

The Badger State

  • Electoral College Votes: 10
  • 2016 Popular Vote: Pres. Trump won by less than 23K votes.
  • FYI: 2016 was the first time WI voted Republican during a presidential election since 1984 (Ronald Reagan).
Politics

These aren't the only states to watch this year. Expect to hear a lot about others that have voted consistently for one party but where margins have tightened in recent years - like Minnesota, which has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1972. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state, but by less than 45,000 votes.

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SmartHER News

Marking 9 Months Of COVID-19 in America

VIDEO: The impact of the pandemic on women.

SmartHER News

A closer look at the ripple effects of the pandemic for women - news on the economy, psychology and physical impact of the pandemic....and what we now know. WATCH HERE on our source page.

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Quote of the Day

“A people fired … with love of their country and of liberty, a zeal for the public good, and a noble emulation of glory, will not be disheartened or dispirited by a succession of unfortunate events. But … may we learn by defeat the power of becoming invincible.”

Quote of the Day

On October 25, 1764, Abigail Smith marries John Adams, a union that spans the American Revolution & independence, presidencies, and continents. Anti-slavery and pro-women rights, Abigail remained not only a key advisor to her husband, the nation's second president, but friend of Pres. George Washington, his wife Martha, & Pres. Thomas Jefferson.

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Current Events

“A Critical Phase”

A vaccine (in limited supply) potentially by the end of the year & other headlines from the latest CDC media briefing.

Current Events

“Distressing Trend”

The CDC provided an overview of COVID-19 in America:

  • Higher levels of infections & deaths – cases increasing in nearly 75% of U.S.
  • Concern isn’t limited to specific region – but Midwest is a current focus.
  • Rise in infections potentially due to activities moving indoors due to colder weather, as well as an increase in small gatherings of family & friends.
Current Events

“We all want to live as safely as we can.”

CDC Deputy Dir. for Infectious Diseases Dr. Jay Butler says the following factors “translate” to higher risk:

  • The more closely you interact w/ others
  • The longer you interact w/ others
  • Indoor (vs outdoor) interaction
  • Interaction w/ larger number of people
Current Events

“…as we get more data and understand the science of COVID, we are going to continue to incorporate that in our recommendations.”

CDC Director Dr. Redfield on *updated* guidance. Previously, the CDC recommended quarantining if you came within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for more than 15 consecutive minutes. Now, the CDC defines "high risk" as including a series of shorter contacts that *add up* to more than 15 minutes.
Current Events

“…(We are) concurrently manufacturing commercial scale production of all six of the vaccines that we have investments or contracts with.”

HHS Sec. Alex Azar. The gov't says they believe at least one vaccine, maybe more, will be available before the end of the year, and emphasized Operation Warp Speed (the gov't program to invest in producing vaccines while trials are ongoing) will result in enough supply to start distributing the vaccine if and when it gets the green light from the FDA.
Current Events

VACCINE: WHO & WHEN

Health & Human Services Sec. Azar gave this potential timeline – once a safe, effective vaccine is approved:

  • By end of 2020: enough vaccines for vulnerable individuals.
  • By end of January: enough vaccines for seniors and first responders.
  • By end of March / early April: enough vaccines for every American who wants one.
Current Events

"We get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it’s ever been and I’d say it’s more important than ever as we move into the fall season.” Dr. Jay Butler. Alex Azar, Sec. of Health & Human Services, added the "3 W's": Wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear your face coverings.

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Politics

When Will I Know?

Election Results 2020

A Supreme Court ruling on voting in a critical swing state highlights why we *might* not know the results of the 2020 election on Election Day.

Politics

BIG PICTURE

  • Mail-in, absentee & early voting laws vary by state. Many states expanded these options due to COVID-19.
  • With less than two weeks to go, we’ve already seen an unprecedented number of people casting their votes early or using mail-in & absentee ballots, rather than waiting to vote on Election Day.
  • State rules differ on poll closing times and when election officials can begin counting votes (incl. mail-in ballots).
Politics

CAN’T TOUCH THIS

  • Many swing states have policies that all but ensure delays in results.
  • Mail-in ballots can’t be counted until Election Day (Nov. 3) in some states, like Georgia, Michigan & Wisconsin.
  • In Nevada, ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 10 may be counted – so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
  • In Pennsylvania, absentee ballots received up to Nov. 6 may be counted  – even if Nov. 3. postmark is unclear.
Politics

“The longer it takes for the election results to be known, the greater the risk that they’re going to be questioned and second-guessed, and that we’re going to be that national news story that we really don’t want to be.”

Lisa Schaefer, Executive Dir. at County Commissioners Assoc. of Pennsylvania, ahead of this week's U.S. Supreme Court's 4-4 ruling rejecting GOP efforts to require absentee ballots be received by Election Day in order to be counted.
Politics

“A lot of people are worried that if it takes a long time to count, people are going to use that to say we can’t trust the results, when in fact it’s the exact opposite. It’s taking so long because of all these security measures to make sure the count is as accurate as possible.”

Lawrence Norden, Dir. of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program at New York University, on why he believes time preserves election integrity.
Politics

Proceed cautiously with reports of early, absentee, and mail-in voting numbers - early reports indicate more Democrats are voting early or by mail, whereas more Republicans are expected to wait until Election Day. Concerns about election fraud and reliability of results is a truly bipartisan issue according to one recent poll. Read more on our source page.

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Health

“BRAIN FOG”

One mysterious, lingering symptom of COVID-19 catches the attention of top health officials & perplexes doctors, sufferers alike.

Health

“If you talk to a significant number of people, they will tell you that, for anywhere from weeks to months and possibly longer, that they have symptoms that are characterized by fatigue and a thing that they refer to as brain fog, which really means the difficulty concentrating.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci revealing during an interview with '60 Minutes' one of his concerns over the long-term impact of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Health

“It’s all related. The fact that people are losing their sense of smell, the fact that people are losing their sense of taste, and the brain fog — all this whole system is neurological.”

Stanford researcher Dr. Kari Nadeau leads an ongoing Stanford study on long-term immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Patients recovering from COVID, across age groups and gender, have described "brain fog" (a lack of mental clarity, confusion) since early in the pandemic.
Health

“Everything in my brain was white static … I was sitting on the edge of the bed, crying and feeling ‘something’s wrong, I should be asking for help,’ but I couldn’t remember who or what I should be asking. I forgot who I was and where I was.”

31-year-old Erica Taylor who says her "brain fog" after COVID-19 became so debilitating she was forced to take a temporary leave from her job.
Health

What Do We Know:

“It’s subtle, but it is very real.”

  • The “dysfunction” some have experienced usually won’t surface during a brain scan, according to neurologist Dr. Joanna Hellmuth at University of California, San Francisco.
  • Hellmuth says she sees the impact on cognitive tests, consistent with other viruses that can impact cognitive health.
Health

Why?

No one knows 100%.

Here’s some early thinking:

  • Brain cells *can* (though rarely) become infected with COVID-19.
  • Inflammation of the body can lead to issues including small, subtle strokes.
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood can have an impact.
  • An exhausted immune system could play a role.
Health

One encouraging note: Doctors and those recovering from COVID-19 say this fog can "lift" - that it's not permanent. A reminder: This week marks 9 months since the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in America; research on the impact of COVID - both mentally and physically - remains limited.

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On This Day

October 15, 1860

 

 

 

How a little girl’s “beauty advice” to Abraham Lincoln may have shaped the future (& face) of America.

On This Day

“If you let your whiskers grow, I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”

11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, NY writing to then-candidate Abraham Lincoln during his presidential campaign. Shortly after, Lincoln started growing a beard and he had a full beard on the day of his inauguration several months later.
On This Day

“Some three months ago, I received a letter from a young lady here; it was a very pretty letter, and she advised me to let my whiskers grow, as it would improve my personal appearance; acting partly upon her suggestion, I have done so; and now, if she is here, I would like to see her.”

President-Elect Lincoln during a brief stop in Westfield, NY on the way to his inauguration celebration in 1861.
On This Day

Guided By Grace?

Grace wrote the letter in Oct 1860, just weeks before Election Day.

In his response to Grace, Lincoln asked whether he might be made fun of for suddenly growing a beard; he was!

The beard likely didn’t impact his victory, BUT it did affect his appearance as the 16th President and his legacy.

On This Day

Pres. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have one thing going for both of them this Election Day — NO facial hair. Researchers say beards are perceived as a sign of masculinity and self-confidence, yet no sitting president has sported facial hair in over a century.

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Now You Know

COVID “Cocooning”

As COVID case numbers trend higher, a *new* social mitigation strategy presents another *potential* option to severe lockdowns.

What It Is & Why It Matters

Now You Know

What Is Cocooning?

  • A term for prioritizing & shielding vulnerable populations most susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19, such as nursing home residents.
  • Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to social mitigation, the strategy suggests doubling-down protection efforts for those most vulnerable.
  • Those cocooning would follow strict social distancing measures, essentially self-isolate, work from home, etc.
Now You Know

The Recent Research

  • University of Texas, Austin.
  • Researchers analyzed transmission & case data of the “fastest-growing large city area” in the U.S. — Austin, Texas.
  • One Take-Away:postponing relaxation (of social mitigation efforts) will only delay future disease waves.”
  • Researchers argue cocooning prevents higher hospitalizations and deaths, preserving resources & saving lives, while allowing others to “relax.”
Now You Know

“Leaky cocooning can substantially undermine containment.”

Research published by The University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University this summer presented a strategy that includes cocooning as part of a way to "toggle" between enforcing and relaxing stay-at-home orders, as long as strict adherence for those "cocooned" takes place.
Now You Know

While COVID cases climb in certain states, the national average of new daily cases currently hovers at 50,000. In July, it topped 66,000. Researchers on cocooning aren't saying we'd never have to lockdown again but argue cocooning could reduce the length and severity of other mitigation measures during infection spikes.

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On This Day

October 13, 1792

“May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

The cornerstone of the White House was laid.

On This Day

Not A Natural White

“…a quality of toughness without brittle hardness.”

A description of the unusual sandstone used to the build the White House. The stone was not *naturally* white - but "light gray or tan, and is streaked or clouded with buff, yellow, or red colors that give it a warm tone," according to the U.S. geographical survey.
On This Day

Why “White” House?

  • The Contrast: Traditionally, buildings of the era were constructed in red brick.
  • The “White Wash”: The original sandstone weathered poorly so after the British burned parts of the White House in the War of 1812, repairs incl. white-washing & painting the exterior.
  • The Style: Irish-born architect modeled the White House from a famous, grand mansion in Ireland.
On This Day

“The Seat Of The Empire”

  • Pres. Washington chose the location of the “executive mansion”, strategically near rivers (& his home in Mt. Vernon).
  • Maryland & Virginia each gave a little land to create the District of Colombia.
  • D.C. straddles the North & South, “harnessing” wealthy southern states to help pay the federal gov’t’s war debt.
  • What’s inside:  28 fireplaces, 132 rooms, & 35 bathrooms. The President’s residence has 6 levels.

 

On This Day

Whoever "wins the White House" this year will follow a tradition of every U.S, president since Pres. John Adams, the first inhabitant, in 1800 - a full 8 years after construction began. Adams wrote the line on the front of our card stack in a letter to his wife Abigail a day after moving in.

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Health

The Sniff Test

A testing method for COVID-19 puts the spotlight squarely on man’s best friend.

Can Dogs Save The World?

 

Health

BACKSTORY

  • The Theory: Diseases have unique “odorprints.”
  • Past research has shown dogs can “sniff out” diabetes, malaria and different forms of cancer.
  • Early in the pandemic, researchers started studying dogs to see if they can detect COVID. Preliminary research shows promise for detecting cases *before* symptoms emerge.
Health

“As far as we know, no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19.”

Director of Helsinki Airport, Ulla Lettijeff, where a recently launched pilot program is using COVID-sniffing dogs. Dogs do not sniff people directly but a wipe given to passengers (to wipe their skin, i.e. neck or wrist) and dropped in a cup. Dogs respond in 10 seconds. Preliminary research from COVID-sniffing dogs used in Dubai's airport shows over 90% accuracy.
Health

“With covid detection, you are not recognizing the virus. You are recognizing the volatile byproducts of cells dying because they have been infected with the virus.”

Professor of chemistry Kenneth Suslick, University of Illinois, invented an electronic nose to sniff out explosives and diseases. He says research in this area continues to expand. What do dogs actually smell? Chemicals omitted in our sweat, saliva, and breath.
Health

“Their noses work very differently than ours. We breathe in and out through the same passages. But dogs breathe in one passage and out another so they can separate out the odor that they want to focus on.”

Founder of BioScent K9, Heather Junqueira, a U.S. nonprofit training beagles and beagle-basset hound mixes to sniff out COVID-19. She says ideally a "positive" detection by a dog will be followed with an instant saliva test.
Health

Those optimistic think dogs may be more accurate than current testing, offering a powerful surveillance tool for returning communities back to "normal" by working at schools, stadiums and airports. Critics say training dogs is too expensive and time consuming to scale effectively.

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