Quick Quotes

“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”

Foreign Minister of Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad Zarif, after what appears to be the targeted killing of an Iranian scientist, allegedly involved in developing nuclear weapons..

“The real question we’ve been asking ourselves is, is this momentum sustainable?”

Economist, Pooja Sriram, Barclays, on a slight rise in consumer spending last month – the data released on the same day as the U.S. reported an increase in the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment.

"I'm talking to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe and I think it's going to be a common theme across the board."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on potentially requiring international passengers to show proof they received the COVID-19 vaccine as a “passport” to travel.

“Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic."

AstraZeneca’s CEO as the company becomes the third pharmaceutical company in recent weeks to announce promising clinical trial results for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Sometimes when we go indoors, and we're with friends and family, we just assume that if you look ok, you are ok."

White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx on the risk of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, particularly among those under 35.

“It’s tragic.”

Los Angeles County coroner’s office spokesman Capt. Stacy Spell on Los Angeles reaching 300 homicides so far in 2020 – this hasn’t happened in more than a decade.

Stories
Now You Know

The Show Must Go On!

A holiday tradition for nearly 100 years, the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will march into the history books during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now You Know

The First Parade

  • The first Macy’s parade was a Christmas Parade in 1924. 10,000 spectators came out for the event.
  • Macy’s employees asked the company to have a parade for giving thanks and celebrating the coming of Christmas.
  • It was six miles long, had horses pulling floats, and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. There were elephants, tigers, camels — and Santa Claus made a special appearance.
Now You Know

History of the Parade

  • In 1927, balloons replaced live animals (one report says zoo animals scared children along the path). One of the first balloons? A 60-foot dinosaur.
  • The parade has only missed 3 years in its 96-year history. Macy’s suspended the parade during WWII (1942-1944) and donated rubber supplies from balloons to the military.
  • First broadcast via radio; televised nationally after WWII.
Now You Know

The 2020 Parade

  • The parade, which normally sees over 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile parade route, will take place in front of Macy’s famous 34th Street store — without any spectators, but with plenty of cameras for the television audience.
  • Performers such as Dolly Parton and Pentatonix will appear live, while other performances have been prerecorded and will air throughout the televised parade.
Now You Know

“Under the unique challenges of these unparalleled times, we felt it was important to continue this cherished American tradition that has been the opening act to the holiday season for generations of families.”

Macy's on why they decided not to cancel this year's Thanksgiving Day Parade despite COVID-19 safety concerns. They reduced the parade's participants by 88%, excluded child volunteers, and added plenty of personal protective equipment.
Now You Know

New balloons being featured this year are Red Titan and Boss Baby, pulled by special vehicles rather than held by volunteers. 1 in 6 Americans are expected to watch the parade this year.

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Now You Know

What Did They Eat?

First Thanksgiving Feast

Pigeons potentially served alongside turkey…venison instead of ham…maybe a side of eel…but definitely…
NO PIE.

Now You Know

“… no, the pastry isn’t there. That is a blank in the table, for an English eye … So what are they putting on instead? I think meat, meat and more meat.”

Kathleen Wall, culinarian at the Plimoth Plantation -- a "living museum" in Massachusetts where the Pilgrims landed accidentally in 1620 -- explains that they were lacking butter and flour to make pie crust. Their first Thanksgiving in 1621 celebrated surviving their first year in a new land.
Now You Know

MAJOR MEATS

  • Surviving letters from the time period describe hunts for “wild fowl” — likely wild turkey, geese, duck, and potentially flocks of passenger pigeons.
  • Venison (aka DEER) meat was contributed by local Native Americans, the Wampanoag Indians, who helped teach the pilgrims how to hunt, fish & harvest the area of modern-day Cape Cod.
Now You Know

LASTING DISHES

LIKELY during Thanksgiving 1621:
Wild turkey
Corn (dried), beans & carrots
Pumpkins (squash)
Mussels, eel or shellfish

LIKELY NOT:
Potatoes (not in North America)
Cranberry sauce (not talked about for another 50 yrs) — plus, sugar was scarce.

Now You Know

NAME TO KNOW:
Sarah Josepha Hale

  • Original poet of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” & editor of woman’s mag “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” where she wrote about American issues & customs.
  • Wrote editorials & petitions for more than two decades encouraging politicians to make Thanksgiving a national (instead of regional) holiday.
Now You Know

Hale's work paid off. A letter to Pres. Lincoln in Sept. 1863 is thought to have inspired his proclamation to make Thanksgiving a national holiday on November's third Thursday. He did this during the Civil War in 1863 (the same year he delivered the Gettysburg Address) as a way to unify the country around a common history. Read Hale's letter here:

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Now You Know

The Gift of Gratitude

The science (and health benefits) of giving thanks

Now You Know

“If we have learned one thing from the science of gratitude … [it] is that there is no resilience without gratitude. It’s impossible. Gratitude is absolutely indispensable for growing an unshakable core of calm, strength, and happiness.”

Prof. Robert Emmons, PhD, of University of California, Davis -- a research leader in the study of gratitude. He says the physical benefits of "the practice of gratitude" incl. lower blood pressure and a better-functioning immune system.
Now You Know

Studying Gratitude

  • Scientists have studied the benefits of gratitude for those who give thanks, those who receive thanks, and even those who *observe* thanks.
  • Wide-ranging research shows gratitude can improve our overall well-being, from mind to body.
  • UC Berkeley’s “Greater Good Science Center” has a special project dedicated specifically to gratitude research.
Now You Know

What Studies Say:

  • Those who wrote gratitude lists for 2 weeks (5 items daily) reported increases in “happiness and life satisfaction” & decreases in depression.
  • Those in therapy who wrote letters “expressing gratitude to others” reported improved mental health vs. those journaling about stressful events.
  • Those expressing gratitude showed higher brain activity in an area linked to “social bonding & stress relief.”
Now You Know

“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health.”

Prof. Paul Mills, PhD, University of California, San Diego studied patients with asymptomatic heart failure. Those patients who scored higher in gratitude *also* scored higher in mood, sleep and heart health; "a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart."
Now You Know

Something To Consider

  • One recent study used “thank you” notes, comparing how the writer felt about expressing “thanks” to how the receiver felt receiving it.
  • “Thank you” card writers “overestimated how awkward recipients would feel and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.”
  • Conclusion: Our biases may keep us from the benefits of sharing gratitude.
Now You Know

We highlighted several points of research and linked to them on our source page. In many cases, scientists point out the challenges to studying and measuring gratitude (how can you measure your true gratefulness?) but the conclusions they reach are sure to spark conversation -- or even a little "thanks."

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Current Events

How one small action by a government official you may not be familiar with just led to a noteworthy development in the 2020 presidential race.

Current Events

What Is USGSA?

U.S. General Services Administration

Think of this agency like a huge office manager for the federal government, with oversight over real estate, office space, technology and supplies.

An important function: “ascertain” (not name or choose) who the next administration will be and facilitate the transition to a new team.

Current Events

Backstory:

  • The head of the GSA, Emily Murphy, did not “ascertain” the presidency was won by fmr. VP Joe Biden when media outlets initially called the race based on state results.
  • Many, incl. Republican & Democrat lawmakers, pressured her to do so based on preliminary election results.
  • Nov. 23: Murphy announced “based on the law and available facts” that VP Biden is the “apparent winner.”
Current Events

“…in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Pres. Trump on the announcement by the GSA administrator. The GSA does not need approval from the U.S. President to begin the early process of a transition to a new administration; the power to do so belongs to the GSA under federal law. The Electoral College will *officially* vote for Pres. on Dec. 14th.
Current Events

Why This Matters:

Practically: This development by the GSA releases $6+ million to the Biden transition team to hire staff members and start preparing their new administration.

Symbolically: This is the first “nod” from the Trump administration that VP Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 election.

Current Events

On this day, Michigan certified its election results, declaring VP Joe Biden the winner. VP Biden has begun announcing team members he intends to nominate, including high-profile members of his cabinet. While Pres. Trump voiced his support for the GSA, he has yet to officially concede.

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Health

What to know as the U.S. reports more than 1 million COVID-19 cases among the youngest Americans.

Health

The Latest

Last Week: The *total* number of cases among children surpassed 1 million as America also reported 1 mil *new* cases.

This Week: The country’s largest school district (NYC) reverted back to remote-only learning.

Next Week: At least two states (Kentucky & West Virginia) will temporarily cease all in-person school instruction.

 

Health

The Latest Data

According to COVID-19 data compiled in a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association, as of November 12:

  • 1 mil+ children (0 – 20) have tested positive — that’s 11.5% of all U.S. cases.
  • Last week was the largest one-week increase among cases in children: 112,000 — and a 22% rise over two weeks.
Health

More Context

  • The data comes from 49 states & D.C., but states differed in the type of data reported (ex: cases vs. hospitalizations vs. deaths) AND definition of “child” (ex: 0 – 14 yrs, 0 – 20 yrs).
  • The hospitalization rate among children was 1.6% based on the 23 states and NYC providing hospitalization data.
  • Of the 42 states providing fatality data, children made up less than 1% of deaths.
Health

“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic.”

American Academy of Pediatrics President Sally Goza, M.D., FAAP, on the more than 1 million cases among children. She also notes that while severe illness among children with COVID-19 is rare, the secondary effects -- such as school disruptions and family stress -- also weigh heavily on children during the pandemic.
Health

Based on what we know so far, most children experience milder symptoms of COVID-19 than adults, and some who test positive may not have any symptoms at all but still can spread illness. While some argue schools risk higher infection rates, others say school rules help keep families safe. What do you think?

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On This Day

November 19, 1863

Pres. Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

But the famous speech would not have happened without this one man whose name isn’t as well known.

On This Day

“It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the Great Battle here, to have you here personally.”

Gettysburg Attorney David Wills, who wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln on November 2, 1863, inviting him to speak at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19.
On This Day

David Wills

  • 32 years old when the Civil War battle raged between Union & Confederate soldiers.
  • Helped provide care for those injured, clear the battlefield of dead, communicate with families looking for missing relatives.
  • One of the main forces behind purchasing 17 acres for a cemetery to honor the fallen.
On This Day

The Battle of Gettysburg

  • Brutal battle: July 1-3, 1863
  • 100,000+ Americans fought; 1 in 5 killed, wounded or missing.
  • Union soldiers pushed back Confederates, the victory arguably a tipping point in the war.
  • It took nearly another 2 years of fighting until the South officially surrendered.
On This Day

David Wills' home is still standing in Gettysburg, PA. You can visit the room where Pres. Lincoln slept the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Re-read the whole speech on our source page.

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Current Events

News of a U.S. troop drawdown overseas comes under controversy here at home.

Here’s what to know

Current Events

The Latest

The Pentagon announced U.S. troop levels will be reduced in Afghanistan and Iraq – leaving roughly 2500 troops in each country.

U.S. troops will continue to “defend” embassies and “the other agencies of the U.S. gov’t doing important work…They’ll defend our diplomats and they’ll deter our foes.” White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien

Current Events

“I believe these additional reductions of American troops from terrorist areas are a mistake… (The Taliban have) done nothing — met no condition — that would justify this cut.”

Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, on the troop drawdown -- from an est. 4,500 soldiers in Afghanistan to 2,500, & from an est. 3,000 troops to 2,500 in Iraq. The U.S. has held "peace talks" w/the Taliban & Afghan gov't.
Current Events

Context To Consider:
Afghanistan

  • The Taliban currently control more territory than at any point in the war.
  • The Taliban provided “safe haven” to al-Qaeda to train and plan the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reports: The relationship between the two groups remains strong.
  • The Islamic State has also made inroads in Afghanistan (at odds w/the Taliban).
Current Events

Context to Consider: Iraq

“Our goal is to keep ISIS at a level where ultimately they’ll be able to be handled by local security elements with minimal assistance from any other entity — to include external entities like the coalition, NATO, or us.”

Gen. Frank McKenzie, U.S. Central Command in September, continuing that Iraq was a "little ways away from that" but improved from past years.
Current Events

The Timeline

  • Pres. Trump promised to reduce American troops overseas as part of his platform to end “endless wars.”
  • According to the Pentagon’s announcement, troops would return home by January 15th – 5 days before inauguration day for the next presidential term.
  • This move may present a challenge to an administration pursuing a different strategy.
Current Events

Why This Matters:

  • Thousands of Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq & Afghanistan. Tens of thousands injured. Millions of American families impacted by deployments.
  • Debate continues about how the U.S. can best confront, defend against & ultimately destroy Islamic terrorism.
  • Lingering question: What does it take to win? What’s the most effective use of U.S. forces?
Current Events

Early reports from Iraq: two rockets were fired at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad after news of the drawdown was announced. Read more about why on our source page and see our stories on Afghanistan & Iraq over the last several years - including how the pandemic has impacted U.S. strategy to bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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Now You Know

Safe Harbor

AFTER you cast a ballot, and BEFORE the Electoral College votes, there’s another critical part of the electoral process in a presidential election.

How states reach “safe harbor.”

Now You Know

BACKGROUND

  • Before Election Day: Each state’s political parties nominate electors (Electoral College members).
  • Election Day: When you vote, you’re actually voting for a slate of electors who pledge to vote for the candidate of the party who nominated them.
  • After Election Day: States use popular vote results to appoint electors.
  • December 14th: The 538 appointed electors vote – majority (270) wins.
Now You Know

The “Safe Harbor” Deadline

  • States have several weeks to confirm and certify federal election results.
  • During this time, the state government, campaigns, or citizens can take action — such as auditing results, presenting legal challenges, requesting recounts.
  • States must finalize results & name voting electors (chosen by the winning party) 6 days before the Electoral College votes in order for the results to be deemed “conclusive.”
Now You Know

Why It Matters:

“Losing the safe harbor protection leaves Congress to decide which electors to count from a state, without mandatory deference to the preferences of either the state’s voters or legislature.”

National Task Force on Election Crises explaining the stakes of meeting "safe harbor" requirements 6 days before the Electoral College votes. The federal "safe harbor" law dates back to 1887.
Now You Know

Something To Consider:

  • Some call the 1887 Electoral Count Act a “morass of ambiguity.”
  • The law requires electors to vote 41 days after an election (this year, it’s Dec. 14th, which means electors have to be appointed by Dec. 8th for “safe harbor” protections).
  • If disputed results in the states still exist, the new Congress can play a role in resolving those contests. This has never happened in modern history.
Now You Know

BIG PICTURE: 2020

  • The Constitution allows citizens, states, and campaigns to challenge federal election results over a period of time before the Electoral College votes.
  • The Trump campaign can levy legal challenges, request recounts.
  • States can proactively audit results in order to meet their safe harbor deadlines and “protect” their electoral votes from federal intervention.
Now You Know

Congress played a role in deciding a presidential election in 1876 - which led to the creation of the "safe harbor" law for states. Legal scholars interpret electoral law differently, which is why you might see several scenarios if states can't confirm results by Dec. 8. We'll humbly wait and see what happens next.

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Veterans Day

“I have such pride in our country. I always was proud to be an American but it has grown immensely since my time in the Navy. You see so many different types of people working together to accomplish goals that often seem out of reach.”

LCDR Jayne Faul
Veterans Day

LCDR Jayne Faul received her commission as an officer after joining a ROTC program. She became an aircraft commander, in charge of a multi-million dollar aircraft, 12 crew members and 8-12 hour missions all over the world. Read her Q&A on our source page.

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Veterans Day

“I wish everyone could have the perspective of an individual in a war-torn country, or one who has served in a war zone…(We need to) embrace each other’s differences and grow from each other’s strengths. I’m not saying there is not room for improvement, but appreciate our fellow Americans’ hard work and put our heads together to make it better.”

SSG Kathryn Kelly
Veterans Day

SSG Kathryn Kelly joined the Army at 17, served in Iraq and now is a mother of 3, and working on the front lines to combat COVID. Read her story on our source page.

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Health

Will The Law Stand?

The U.S. Supreme Court tackles the Affordable Care Act… again.

The latest legal challenge to the ACA (aka “Obamacare”).

Health

BACKSTORY

  • 2010: ACA signed into law.
  • 2012: U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA’s “individual mandate” (requires most Americans buy insurance or pay penalty) under Congress’ tax powers, declaring the ACA constitutional.
  • 2018: After Congress eliminated the tax penalty under the GOP’s 2017 tax overhaul, a TX federal judge ruled the ACA can’t stand w/o the tax penalty. This ruling is on hold.
Health

THE CASE

  • The Court will decide if the individual mandate is unconstitutional and if Congress’ 2017 elimination of the tax penalty means the entire ACA is invalid.
  • 18 states led by TX (& backed by Trump admin) argue the mandate is central to the ACA, and w/o the penalty the ACA is unconstitutional.
  • 20 states + DC led by CA argue the mandate can be separated from the ACA so the law can still stand.
Health

2012 vs. 2020

  • None of Pres. Trump appointees (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) were members of the Court when it ruled on the ACA previously.
  • The Court now has a 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed justices.
  • Some question if Justice Barrett’s 2017 critique of Chief Justice John Roberts’ 2012 opinion upholding the law means she will vote to strike it down, but she’s said she is “not hostile to the ACA.”
Health

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Big Picture: The quality, cost & availability of healthcare in America remains a hotly debated issue.
  • Timing: The fate of the ACA is being examined smack in the middle of a global pandemic with unique challenges.
  • Unknowns: While debates continue over the value of the law, roughly 17.5M more Americans have insurance now vs. before the ACA.
Health

WHAT’S NEXT

We won’t know the results of the case until next spring, and as late as June 2021.

If the law is struck down, the ripple effects are truly TBD.

If the law is upheld, there’s still a possibility of legislative changes as Democrats discuss adding a public option, and Republicans have promised to create a separate plan.

Health

The incoming Congress could take actions (ex: eliminating the individual mandate or increasing the tax penalty to a nominal amount) which would influence how the Court ultimately rules. This is one of the reasons why the future of the Senate, with two tie-breaking seats in Georgia in a runoff for Senate party majority, matter so much.

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Quote of the Day

“What happens at your house is more important than what happens at the White House.”

Quote of the Day

National radio host & best-selling author Dave Ramsey responding to those either exuberant or depressed from the U.S. presidential election. The personal finance expert, advises followers to pay down debt. One side effect of the pandemic? Data shows Americans have saved more, paid debt and improved their credit ratings.

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