Stories
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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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On This Day

June 19, 1865

JUNETEENTH

Why today marks the end of U.S. slavery, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

On This Day

Historical Context

  • 1619: Commonly marked as the start of the African slave trade in the colonies.
  • By 1690, slaves existed in every colony.
  • By 1804, all the Northern states voted to abolish slavery, but slavery persisted in the North well into the 19th century since many laws took a gradual approach.
  • In 1861, the Civil War began.
On This Day

Emancipation Proclamation

Sept. 1862:  Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which states “all persons held as slaves… henceforward shall be free.”

  • Declared slaves free *in rebelling Confederate states* & allowed them to join the U.S. military, effective Jan. 1863.
  • The 10 states weren’t under Union control, so it couldn’t be enforced.
On This Day

13th Amendment

Jan. 1865: Congress passed the 13th Amendment, which states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States.”

  • Officially abolished slavery in the U.S.
  • Adopted in Dec. 1865 after the required three-fourths of the states ratified it.
  • Did You Know? Due to a clerical error, Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th Amendment until 2013.
On This Day

June 19, 1865

  • Two months after the end of the Civil War, a Union general & troops arrived in Galveston, TX to notify slaves of the end of slavery and the Civil War.
  • Although it was 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery persisted in Texas & other Southern states.
  • Slavery in the U.S. didn’t end swiftly, but June 19 is observed as its official end, also known as “Emancipation Day.”
On This Day

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer & hired labor…”

Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger (June 19, 1865)
On This Day

From Texas & Beyond

  • African-Americans began celebrating Emancipation Day on June 19, 1866.
  • In 1980, Texas became the first state to celebrate Juneteenth as a state holiday.
  • Today it is not a federal holiday, but at least 45 states & DC observe it. It’s a paid holiday for NY state workers.
  • Many businesses are also celebrating this year. Ex: Twitter, Nike and the NFL are giving their employees a paid holiday, and Chase will close early.
On This Day

Juneteenth has risen in national prominence this year amid a reignited conversation about race in America that has sparked both fervent civil discourse and unrest. Pres. Trump rescheduled a June 19 campaign rally in Tulsa, OK (the site of a historic 1921 race massacre) to June 20 because the rally fell on Juneteenth.

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On This Day

Lady Liberty Arrives

June 19, 1885

 

The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor. Although 12M+ immigrants passed under her gaze, she was delivered (and constructed) years before Ellis Island opened.

On This Day

How Did Liberty Arrive?

  • 350 separate pieces; 214 crates.
  • A decade late. France wanted to gift “Liberty Enlightening the World” for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence (1776). Lack of funds held back production.
  • Eventually both USA/FR raised enough $$ through charity, lottery, & donation to bring “Lady Liberty” to life.
Click Here: Newspaper
On This Day

Liberty & Immigration

  • Statue of Liberty fully constructed in 1886; immigration wasn’t sole focus of statue, but celebration of American democracy overall.
  • Ellis Island Immigration Station opened in 1892.
  • Famous Lazarus poem “Give me your tired, your poor” written in 1883 to raise funds for the statue; engraved on base 20 years later in 1903.
On This Day

"Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/ A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/ Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/ Mother of Exiles ..." READ FULL POEM:

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