Stories
On This Day

July 9, 1819

The man who invented the sewing machine was born.

His idea was revered, rejected and finally embraced, changing the world forever.

On This Day

Elias Howe

  • Born in Massachusetts.
  • He created the concept while working in a machinist shop; demonstrated & patented the sewing machine in 1846 but he couldn’t gain momentum.
  • Howe traveled to England to promote his invention to no avail.
  • Meanwhile, several U.S. companies started making sewing machines.
  • Howe, near broke, sued for illegal use of his patent and won.

 

On This Day

“The mechanical sewing machine was one in a series of technological innovations that transformed the nature of work over the course of the nineteenth century…By 1900, most Americans employed in manufacturing no longer worked at home with their hands but in centralized factories with powered machinery.”

The Library of Congress noting women & children started entering the workforce.
On This Day

One of America's largest retailers Wal-Mart, said demand for sewing machines and do-it-yourself projects have increased during the pandemic. Interesting to Note: Howe's legal victories made him a millionaire. He supported a regiment of Union troops during the Civil War, serving himself.

view sources

Read
Politics

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

In the wake of this week’s historic Supreme Court decision, here’s a look at the uniquely American institution that shapes how the U.S. elects a president.

Politics

How It Works:

  • When you vote this November, you won’t *really* vote for president and VP. You’ll vote for a slate of electors.
  • Electoral College members pledge to vote for the candidates that win the popular vote in your state.
  • The Electoral College has 538 electors. It takes 270 to win the presidency. If there’s a tie, the House of Representatives decides winner.
Politics

Origins & Evolution

  • Deciding how America would vote for pres. & vice pres. was tough for the U.S. founders who considered many options – some wanted Congress to decide, some wanted a popular vote. The compromise: the Electoral College at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
  • The only constitutional requirement – electors can’t serve in federal gov’t.
  • Did You Know? Until 1804, electors only voted for pres. and runner-up got VP.
Politics

Electoral College Today

  • Every state receives the # of electors equal to its # of representatives (based on population) & senators (two). D.C., which has 0 votes in Congress, has 3.
  • State laws govern who can serve and state political parties nominate electors.
  • In most states, electors make a pledge that they’ll vote for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.
Politics

This Week’s Case

  • Most states, but not all, legally require electors to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote.
  • Some of those states impose penalties, or disqualify those who don’t vote as pledged – a.k.a “faithless electors.”
  • The Supreme Court heard challenges to two state laws penalizing “faithless electors” from Colorado & Washington who voted OPPOSITE the popular vote of their state during the 2016 election.
Politics

“The Constitution’s text and the Nation’s history both support allowing a State to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee—and the state voters’ choice—for President.”

Justice Elena Kagan, writing the court's unanimous opinion, which held that states may require electors to vote for the candidate they pledged to support and penalize those "faithless electors" who don't. The decision notes that "faithless electors" have never impacted the outcome of an election.
Politics

Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College was not perfect, but "excellent." Many disagreed then & many still do. A Supreme Court ruling allowing electors to go "rogue" could have strengthened the argument for those who want to abolish the Electoral College for the popular vote (which would require a constitutional amendment).

view sources

Read
Now You Know

While Americans celebrated Independence Day at home, two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups sailed together in the South China Sea — in the name of “freedom.”

What To Know

Now You Know

What Happened?

Two U.S. aircraft carriers – the USS Nimitz & USS Ronald Reagan – and their supporting ships/aircrafts conducted military exercises on July 4th in the South China Sea.

Days earlier, the Chinese Navy held its own military exercises.

Both sides accuse the other of disrupting peace and security in the region.

Now You Know

“These efforts support enduring U.S. commitments to stand up for the right of all nations to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”

U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force 70 / Carrier Strike Group 5 Public Affairs, on the military exercises by the carrier strike groups. The last time two aircraft carriers were in this region at the same time was 4 years ago to show support for America's allies, as China claims this strategically-important and disputed waterway.
Now You Know

“…the U.S. deliberately dispatched massive forces to conduct large-scale military exercises in the relevant waters of the South China Sea to flex its military muscle.”

China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian. The U.S. Navy has held military exercises in this region before, including only a week prior. Chinese officials reportedly warned such actions by the U.S. "...could very easily spark an unforeseen incident."
Now You Know

Overview: South China Sea

  • South China Sea is a major strategic waterway for both global trade AND defense.
  • *At least* 5 countries claim parts of the South China Sea (including Philippines & Vietnam).
  • China has not only claimed and aggressively patrolled this area, but also built islands for military installations in what the U.S. and others consider international waters.
Now You Know

Why It Matters:

International waters are generally considered anything beyond 12 nautical miles off the coast of a nation.

This insures freedom of the navigation as no single nation “owns” the sea.

China’s claim to territory far off their coastline conflicts with internationally-accepted norms, and reflects a more aggressive military posture.

Now You Know

The U.S. is one of the few nations in the world with aircraft carriers in its fleet, with a total of 12 -- more than any other nation. China has two in operation and is working on bringing others into its fleet. READ MORE about a near collision at sea between the two countries:

view sources

Read
Quote of the Day

“Live your life.”

Quote of the Day

After 3 mos. battling COVID-19 Broadway performer Nick Cordero, 41, passed away. His wife, Amanda, updated & inspired many with her positive, faith-filled posts (w/their infant son Elvis) & #WakeUpNick movement of supporters singing Nick's song "Live your life." CDC: The median age for U.S. COVID-19 cases is 48.

view sources

Read
Now You Know

Why we celebrate America’s independence on July 4 INSTEAD of July 2, August 2 or September 3

Now You Know

Why July 4?

Independence Day celebrates the *adoption* of the Declaration of Independence — not its signing.

During the summer of 1776. the Second Continental Congress was busy at work:

  • voted for independence on July 2
  • adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4
  • signed the document on August 2
Now You Know

July 2, 1776

  • The Second Continental Congress (delegates from the 13 colonies) met in Philadelphia and voted to approve the resolution for independence on July 2, 1776, declaring freedom from Great Britain. John Hancock later signed first.
  • Fun Fact: John Adams made it clear he thought July 2 should be the celebratory day, writing in a July 3, 1776 letter that it will become “the most memorable” day in America’s history.
Now You Know

August 2, 1776

  • The Declaration (dated July 4) did not became official until it was signed by most of the the Second Continental Congress on August 2, 1776.
  • Why It Matters: In addition to proclaiming that “all men are created equal” endowed with rights including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the Declaration allowed the 13 colonies to secure assistance from France in the Revolutionary War.
Now You Know

September 3, 1783

  • Although 4th of July festivities are recorded dating back to 1777, and other nations acknowledged America’s independence, Great Britain did not officially recognize our independence until a September 3, 1783 treaty.
  • Big Picture: Even after the Declaration of Independence was signed, colonists continued to fight for 7+ years for Great Britain to acknowledge their autonomy.
Now You Know

DID YOU KNOW? Although July 4th has long been one of America's most-celebrated secular holidays, it's only been a federal holiday for 150 years. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill into law establishing the first federal holidays - including New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Christmas Day - on June 28, 1870.

view sources

Read
Current Events

The Longest War

Reports of “bounties” for the killing of U.S. soldiers serving in America’s longest war.

What To Know

Current Events

Big Picture: Afghanistan

  • The Taliban controls more territory in Afghanistan now than at any other time in America’s longest war.
  • In February, the U.S. signed a “peace deal” with the Taliban based on certain conditions that *could* lead to the withdrawal of American forces.
  • A recent State Dept. assessment says the Taliban and other al-Qaeda-linked groups continue violent attacks despite the deal’s terms.
Current Events

Reports: What To Know

  • Several media outlets recently released stories about a Russian military agency paying “Taliban-linked” militants to kill American soldiers.
  • All reports *cite anonymous sources.*
  • Reports: U.S. intel identified money flowing from Russian military to Taliban accounts “most likely” connected to bounties.
  • Reports: A car bomb that killed 3 Marines last year suspected to be part of bounty.

 

Current Events

“There was not a consensus among the intelligence community. And, in fact, there were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany during an afternoon briefing Monday. The White House continues to call the reports "unverified."
Current Events

“I do not understand for a moment why the president is not saying this to the American people right now and is relying on ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I haven’t heard,’ ‘I haven’t been briefed.’ That is just not excusable.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Ca) as reports, referencing the anonymous officials, cite the President heard of these reports in February.
Current Events

“We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting, and we will brief the president and congressional leaders at the appropriate time. This is the analytic process working the way it should. Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.”

Dir. of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe
Current Events

The Politics

The President’s critics point to the story as highlighting further evidence that the President isn’t tough enough on Russia.

The President’s allies say this story lacks evidence and serves as another attempt to hurt the President by tying him to false allegations of Russian collusion.

Current Events

America entered Afghanistan because the Taliban provided al-Qaeda a safe harbor to organize, train, and plot September 11th terror attacks. A shooting on a Navy base in Florida last year was recently tied to al-Qaeda. Read more on our source page.

view sources

Read
Quote of the Day

“Enjoy the good times, and walk away from the bumps. That’s it. Even failures can turn into something positive if you just keep going.”

Quote of the Day

The Hollywood pioneer who said laughter was his "first priority" died at 98. The legendary writer, director, producer, & actor was known for his various comedic roles & creations, including The Dick Van Dyke Show & The Ocean's 11 series. Read more on who helped him live his "best life."

view sources

Read
On This Day

June 30, 1864

During the height of the Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln turns his gaze west, granting Yosemite Valley to California, with the specific orders to preserve it for future generations of Americans.

On This Day

“I have seen persons of emotional temperament stand with tearful eyes, spellbound and dumb with awe, as they got their first view of the Valley from Inspiration Point, overwhelmed in the sudden presence of the unspeakable, stupendous grandeur.”

The first guardian of the Yosemite Grant, Galen Clark helped oversee the land known later as Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was the name of the local Native American tribe in the area.
On This Day

The Early Years

  • The Gold Rush led to conflict between settlers and Native American tribes.
  • A “Yosemite Board of Commissioners” was named to both preserve the land and make it accessible for recreation.
  • 1865: The man responsible for designing NYC’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, filed a report on Yosemite valley & nearby “Big Tree Grove” of ancient sequoia trees, raising concerns about how visitors impacting the area.
On This Day

“Nearly all the park is a profound solitude. Yet it is full of charming company, full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur and eager enthusiastic action, a new song, a place of beginnings abounding in first lessons on life, mountain-building, eternal, invincible, unbreakable order; with sermons in stones, storms, trees, flowers, and animals brimful of humanity.”

Naturalist John Muir
On This Day

By the 1870s, there were already concerns about too many visitors impacting Yosemite. Muir was one of the many voices who argued (successfully) for Yosemite to become a National Park in 1890 - the third in the nation after Yellowstone and Sequoia.

view sources

Read
Current Events

America’s high court weighs in on one of the most significant abortion law challenges in recent years.

Current Events

What To Know

  • U.S. Abortion Laws Vary By State
  • 1973: Supreme Court legalized abortion with limits; a woman’s right to an abortion is *not* absolute. Abortion is legal in first trimester, but states can regulate and even outlaw at certain points in pregnancy, *unless* there is a threat to the health/life of mother.
  • 1992: Supreme Court ruled states can’t impose an “undue burden” on the right of a woman to obtain an abortion.
Current Events

The 2020 Abortion Case

  • A 2014 Louisiana law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital w/in 30 miles of abortion site. It never took effect b/c of lawsuits.
  • The Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical Texas law in 2016, finding it imposed an “undue burden.”
  • Supporters of the law said it was meant to protect women.
  • Opponents of the law said it was meant to limit access to abortion.
Current Events

Why The Case Matters

  • Although the facts of the case were similar to the 2016 Texas case, this was the first abortion case for the Court with Trump appointees on the bench.
  • The ruling comes just months before Americans passionate about the issue will vote for President (the person who appoints Supreme Court justices).
  • States like Arkansas, Alabama & Indiana were waiting on the ruling before acting on further laws restricting abortion.
Current Events

“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the Court's liberal wing, on why he voted to block the law. Notably, he voted *in favor* of upholding the Texas law in 2016, but said he was bound by the legal doctrine of stare decisis - which requires judges to treat like cases alike, absent special circumstances.
Current Events

We're watching several existing challenges to state abortion laws, like Alabama, but none have yet reached the Supreme Court for the next term starting in the fall.

view sources

Read
Now You Know

The Latest From the CDC on COVID-19

A media briefing provides important perspective on the pandemic, from preexisting conditions to pregnancy.

Now You Know

Preexisting Conditions

  • The CDC expanded the list of preexisting conditions that make you more vulnerable to COVID-19, emphasizing that THESE, not necessarily age (though the elderly are more prone to preexisting conditions) are crucial factors in severe cases.
  • 60% of Americans have at least one preexisting condition.
  • Obesity is among the most prevalent – 40% of Americans are obese.
Now You Know

Pregnancy

  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, and require a ventilator than women who are not pregnant.
  • However, right now, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of death.
  • Information on the lingering impacts of COVID-19 on the unborn remain unknown. The CDC says after 5 mos of the pandemic, they simply don’t have information on full-term pregnancies.
Now You Know

Prevalence

The CDC says research shows an estimated 10 additional cases for each *known* case of COVID-19 in America,

Consequently, the CDC estimates a small portion of the entire nation – under 8% – have been exposed to COVID-19.

CDC Dir. Dr. Redfield says estimates for asymptomatic spread are btwn 20-80%.

Now You Know

Dr. Redfield says in March, about 27% or 1 in 4 deaths in America were attributed to a pneumonia, flu or COVID-19; now the percentage is more "normal," around 7%. Still he says this latest "significant increase" of cases is important and still part of the "first wave" of this pandemic in America.

view sources

Read
On This Day

June 25, 1924

The Real-Life Rosie the Riveter is born.

Rosalind Walter *first* inspired female patriotism during WWII (and beyond).

On This Day

Rosalind “Roz” Walter

Born in 1924, grew up in Long Island & Connecticut attending prep schools.

At 19, she began working as a riveter (drilling fasteners) on WWII fighter planes at a factory.

In 1942, two men wrote a song called “Rosie the Riveter” after an article highlighting her work was published.

On This Day

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine,
She’s a part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory,
Rosie the Riveter.
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage,
Sitting up there on the fuselage.
That little girl will do more than a male will do.”

From the 1942 song "Rosie the Riveter.”
On This Day

Why It Matters

  • In 1942, *many* attempted to depict “Rosie The Riveter” as a way to recruit American women to traditionally male jobs due to a wartime labor shortage. Norman Rockwell painted one particularly famous version.
  • The image we *now* associate with “Rosie the Riveter” (1943 “We Can Do It!” poster) was NOT inspired by Roz, but by another woman supporting the war effort by working in factory.
On This Day

The wartime image of Rosie The Riveter was only used for several weeks by a private company in 1942 but gained popularity in the 1980s. A lifelong philanthropist, when Roz passed away at 95 in March, she was the largest individual supporter of NYC's local PBS station.

view sources

Read
Now You Know

Happy Father’s Day

A beloved single dad inspired it.

A president made it official.

Now You Know

BACKSTORY

  • William Jackson Smart: Civil War vet. His wife died in childbirth & he raised 6 children alone.
  • His daughter Sonora felt inspired to honor him after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon (1909) and rallied local support.
  • First Father’s Day: Spokane, WA, June 19, 1910. The date was inspired by William’s birthday on June 5th.
Now You Know

Interesting To Note

  • While Mother’s Day became official in 1914, Father’s Day did not become *official* until 1972.
  • That said, Father’s Day was observed in various ways around the country in the decades in between.
  • Pres. Johnson proclaimed the 3rd Sunday in June Father’s Day.
  • Pres. Nixon signed legislation making Father’s Day a national holiday in 1972.
Now You Know

Flowers For Fathers?

Original Fathers Day Gift

  • 1910, children gifted red roses to living fathers; white roses honored deceased.
  • Americans expect to spend $148 on average on Father’s Day – an increase of about $10 dollars from last year’s record number despite the pandemic. Americans were expected to spend $205 for Mother’s Day.

 

Now You Know

"To have a father - to be a father - is to come very near the heart of life itself." Pres. Richard Nixon, 1972, in his proclamation making Father's Day a permanent national holiday. Sonora Dodd who had lobbied for the day since 1910 was alive to see it happen. She passed away in 1978. Read Pres. Nixon's by clicking on the source page.

view sources

Read
Our Commitment

SmartHER News #GetSmartHER

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WASTE TIME filtering through headlines searching for the facts. That's when we realized the need for a quick, trustworthy news source that makes staying up-to-date easy and interesting.

OUR GOAL IS TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER. We're committed to providing non-partisan news, in small servings, available wherever you are, whenever you want it.

AND FOR THE RECORD: WE BELIEVE YOU'RE ALREADY SMART. We don't need to tell you what to think or how to feel or what to believe. We just want to equip you with clear facts so you're prepared for any conversation, any vote, any choice and never feel like you're falling behind.

Bullet Points Without The Bias ~ We're bringing you #SmartHERNews.