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1 in 4,700,000,000

One in nearly 5 billion - this is the chance of giving birth to sextuplets (6 babies). A Texas woman delivered two sets of twin boys and one set of twin girls on March 15th at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, where reportedly more babies are delivered than any other hospital in the state.
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The babies, weighing just under two lbs to nearly three lbs, remain in the neonatal intensive care unit in stable condition. How rare are sextuplets? According to the most recent data, only 31 babies were born in the US in 2017 in sets of quintuplets or higher.

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Let The Light Shine In

The U.S. Attorney General shares key pieces of the confidential Special Counsel report. He says:
No Collusion. No Obstruction.

However, there’s a catch.

What we know & what’s ahead.

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NO COLLUSION

“The Investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with members of the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Excerpt from the confidential Special Counsel investigation report. The investigation *did* find Russia used hacking & disinformation campaigns to try to influence the 2016 election.
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NO OBSTRUCTION

“while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Excerpt from the Special Counsel report. AG Barr says the Special Counsel “sets out evidence” for both sides of the argument and doesn’t draw a single conclusion. The AG says his team determined no obstruction of justice charges.
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Why It Matters

  • The Dept. of Justice says there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest the President directly tried to impact the investigation (obstruction of justice).
  • While the Special Counsel didn’t make a recommendation & DOJ says no obstruction, Congress may feel differently. Congress has the power to investigate & impeach a President.
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Context: Pres. Bill Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice. The House, which has oversight & investigative authority, voted to impeach him for obstruction & lying under oath. The Senate, which has the power to remove a President from office, voted against it.

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HONOR THE FALLEN

 

 

 

Two Army soldiers, both husbands & fathers, killed in action in Afghanistan.

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What We Know

  • Both soldiers killed Friday, March 22 in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan.
  • While the U.S. military did not release details, NATO says American & Afghan forces engaged the Taliban Friday & Saturday near the city of Kunduz for “30 hours” – the Taliban reportedly used civilians to hide.
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“He wrote about 30 love letters and hid them in random places around the house for me to find, which I found most of them. So last night, it was really comforting sitting down, reading through those, because it’s almost like he was preparing for this exact scenario.”

Caela Collette, wife of Spc. Joseph "Joey" Collette. She says her 29-year-old husband knew he wanted to join the Army "...as soon as 9/11 happened, when we were kids..."
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“Will was one of the best in our formation, with more than a decade of service in the Regiment at all levels of noncommissioned officer leadership.”

Col. Lawrence Ferguson speaking about Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay, survived by his wife and 4 daughters.
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Why It Matters

  • Kunduz is the site of tough fighting with the Taliban in recent years. The Taliban have attempted, and at times succeeded, taking over territory, including Kunduz City.
  • The U.S. & the Taliban are actively negotiating a “peace settlement.” While negotiators cite progress, fierce fighting between the two sides continues.
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More than 2,400 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001 - More than 20,000 others wounded - fighting America's longest war. The Taliban control more area in Afghanistan now than any other time during the war.

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HISTORIC MEETING

Iran’s President visited Iraq for the first time ever Monday … only months after the U.S. closed its consulate due to Iranian violence.

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What’s Going On:

  • Iran’s president made his first official state visit to Iraq – a highly symbolic meeting between the 2 countries.
  • Iran & Iraq share a Shiite Muslim (sect of Islam) based gov’t.
  • Iran: president under public pressure at home due to bad economy.
  • Iraq: gov’t under pressure by Iraqis who protest Iran’s influence.
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“Relations between Iran and Iraq are special. In the recent years, the people of Iran have passed a test with pride, and that is wherever the peoples of the region faced a problem and asked for the help of the Iranian nation and government, we rushed to help them.”

Iranian Pres. Hassan Rouhani before leaving for Iraq. Iran and Iraq fought an 8-year war in the 1980s; 1M people died.
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Why It Matters:

  • U.S. State Dept designates Iran as a state sponsor of terror (since 1984) for financing terror groups around the world; important to watch Iran’s expanding influence.
  • Iran promotes anti-American rhetoric; says U.S. is evil.
  • U.S. evacuated its consulate in Basra (West Iraq) last Sept. due to rocket fire from Iran. Iran blames America for sowing local dissent.
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“We are determined to secure the release of all U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees, and will not rest until they are home.”

Sec. of State Pompeo marking the 12 year anniversary this weekend (March 9) of FBI agent Bob Levinson's disappearance in Iran. He's believed to be the longest held prisoner in American history. 5 other Americans remain in Iranian prisons. The U.S. & Iran have no diplomatic relations and remain at odds over America's withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
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Pres. Trump has said U.S. troops may stay in Iraq to "watch Iran" and counter Iranian influence. More than 4,400 U.S. troops died since beginning of the Iraq war; more than 31,000 wounded. Iran supported militants who fought against U.S. soldiers

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Spring Forward!

Daylight Savings Time.

We lose an hour of sleep…

But we gain an hour of sunshine.

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The Backstory

More daylight hours used as a way to save energy.

  • Federal gov’t enacted to save coal in Spring of 1918 during WWI.
  • Re-established during WWII.
  • 1966: national law under Uniform Time Act (states can opt out).
  • 2007: expanded to encompass 65% of the year (about 8 months).
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More Sunshine All Year?

  • 3 Florida lawmaker (Senators Marco Rubio, Rick Scott & Rep. Vern Buchanan) introduced the “Sunshine Protection Act” this past week in Congress to make Daylight Savings year round.
  • FL state lawmakers passed a bill last year for year-round Daylight Savings Time in their state However, it will take an act of Congress to make the change.
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“Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is why Florida’s legislature overwhelmingly voted to make it permanent last year.”

Sen. Marco Rubio on the Sunshine Protection Act that would apply to ALL states that like Florida follow Daylight Savings Time, citing decreased car accidents & decreased robberies both reasons behind the fight for more light.
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Could The Clock Change Be Bad for Your Health?

  • IVF success rates drop in March
  • Heart attacks spike
  • Stroke rates rise
  • Fatigue & decreased productivity

HEALTH Magazine

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Arizona, Hawaii & US Territories like Puerto Rico: don't follow DST. By the way, there's a lot of confusion between "Daylight Savings Time" & "Daylight Saving" Time. ...We went with the law: Daylight Savings Time but its written differently everywhere!

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Cohen On The Capitol

 

Before he heads to prison, President Trump’s former attorney heads back to Capitol Hill for a fourth day of testimony.

Here’s a look at the most notable takeaways so far and why they may (or may not) matter.

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WHY COHEN MATTERS

  • Cohen worked with Pres. Trump for more than a decade.
  • One-time defender of Pres. Trump, he later agreed to work with investigators & now, under oath, has accused the Pres. of potentially breaking the law.
  • Sentenced to 3 years in prison for lying to congress, tax fraud, campaign finance violations, etc.
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Russian Business

Cohen testified Trump business dealings w/ Russia continued through election, raising questions about conflict of interest.

Why It Matters: After Cohen’s testimony, House Intelligence Cmte reopened its investigation into Russian interference in the election. 3 other cmtes are seeking info re: Pres. Trump / Putin communications.

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The Names

Cohen named numerous people who he says can back up his claims about Russian interactions, payments, bank & tax documents.

Why It Matters: After Cohen’s testimony, the House Judiciary Cmte. started investigating “corruption, obstruction, and abuses of power”, requesting documents from 81 Trump associates.

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The Checks

Cohen provided checks signed by Pres. Trump he says were meant to repay him for payments he made to Stormy Daniels – part of the basis of Cohen’s campaign finance plea.

Why It Matters: Checks could be used to support a campaign finance violation charge against Pres. Trump. House cmtes are investigating.

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Republican Response

Congress: Once a liar, always a liar. Pointing to Cohen’s conviction for lying to Congress, Republicans argue nothing Cohen says now can be believed.

Pres. Trump: Cohen lied about everything when he testified before Congress *EXCEPT* no Russian collusion. Cohen said under oath he has no direct evidence of collusion.

 

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WHAT'S NEXT FOR COHEN? On May 6, Cohen will head to federal prison to begin serving his three-year sentence. The impact of his testimony and contributions to the Special Counsel investigation remains TBD.

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FAR OUT

Even if space isn’t on your bucket list, what happened this weekend may change America’s pathway to traveling the universe for generations to come.

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“A new generation of space flight starts now with the arrival of @SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the @Space_Station. Congratulations to all for this historic achievement getting us closer to flying American Astronauts on American rockets.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. NASA stopped the space shuttle program (transporting Americans to space) in 2011. A major reason: It wasn't cost effective. NASA is now partnering with private companies, like SpaceX, for its next space travel steps.
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What Happened:

SpaceX “Dragon Capsule” launched early Saturday morning & docked at the International Space Station on Sunday.

If this mission is successful (reentry to Earth scheduled for Friday), two astronauts are expected to hitch a ride  in July – potentially the first time Americans will launch into space from U.S. soil in 8 years.

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Why It Matters:

  • America now depends on Russian rockets to get to space. Two U.S. astronauts will ride on a Russian rocket in mid-March.
  • Dragon Capsule = “streamlines” space travel. Transports up to 7 astronauts (same as shuttle). 30 buttons/touch screens vs. 2,000 switches in a shuttle cockpit. Potentially “safer” with emergency abort engines not on shuttle.
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Besides SpaceX, Boeing is working on spacecrafts that will potentially carry Americans to outer space from American soil. Whoever is successful first will earn the U.S. flag left in 2011 by the last U.S. space shuttle crew to travel to the International Space Station.

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Common Ground…
Over The Death Penalty?

 

 

As Texas readies to execute its second inmate in 2019, more states move to abolish the death penalty (with bipartisan support).

 

 

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WHY NOW?

CHANGING OPINION

  • Money: Eliminating death penalty limits state’s costly legal bills & liability.
  • Problems: Execution drug shortages & botched executions have increased significantly.
  • Morals: Both democrats & republicans (and juries). share a drop in death penalty support
Now You Know

“If you’re going to be pro-life, it means all lives.”

Chad McCoy, Republican state representative in Kentucky, who changed his mind about the death penalty. Kentucky is one of five GOP-controlled state legislatures (Kansas, Missouri, Montana & Wyoming) sponsoring anti-death penalty bills. The majority of Republicans have supported the death penalty in the past compared to democrats which is why it's notable these bills are in "red" states.
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“I look at this as justice. It has been on the books here since statehood.”

Bill Pownall, retired Sheriff & Republican state representative in Wyoming where a challenge to the death penalty was debated, but recently defeated.
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Does It Make Us Safer?

Does the death penalty deter crime? Is it a *fitting* punishment?

Hotly Debated

Something To Consider:

“One cannot study the impact of executions when they are hardly ever imposed…”

University of Pennsylvania

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BY THE NUMBERS

  • 1,492: Executions since 1976 (roughly 35 a year). In 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty doesn’t violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment)
  • 164: Death row exonerations since 1973 (all at the state level)
  • 30: States w/o death penalty
  • 20+DC: States w/ death penalty
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What Decline Looks Like:

  • Federal gov’t hasn’t executed anyone since 2003; U.S military hasn’t done so since 1961.
  • 2018: 8 death penalty states carried out 25 executions. In contrast, 11 other death penalty states haven’t done so in 10+ yrs.
  • From 2000 to 2017, the number of death row inmates declined 24%.
  • Context: 42 death sentences in 2018 vs. nearly 300 in 1998.
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More than half of last year's executions (13 of 25) took place in Texas - a state that typically exercised the death penalty more than any other state. In contrast, New Hampshire hasn't executed anyone since 1939 and is poised to repeal its death penalty this year.

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SmartHER News
Week Ahead





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Click "view sources" for the notable news events to kick off your week feeling #SmartHER. Watch SmartHERNews.com our social media feeds for updates on these stories all week long.

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IS SPACE TRAVEL SAFE?

On this day, 57 years ago, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, officially entering the U.S. in the space race.

Today, as NASA plans travel to the moon & beyond, we’re learning more about what happens to our bodies when we are
“out of this world.”

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First Of Its Kind Study

Identical twins & now-retired NASA astronauts Mark & Scott Kelly (54) have virtually the same genes.

Scott Kelly spent 340 days in space, the longest period by any American.

By comparing their biology, NASA studied the impact of long-duration space travel on the body; some results released this past Friday.

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What We Learned

  • Space put Scott’s immune system on “high alert”, with genes becoming “hyperactive” – even after 6 mos back on Earth.
  • Scientists say those changes, while a surprise, may or may not be significant.
  • Overall, NASA says the results are good news with “no major new warnings signs” about health effects of long-term space travel.

 

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Why It Matters

  • NASA, on orders from Pres. Trump, has manned missions planned to the moon “as fast as possible” & to Mars by the 2030s.
  • Health effects of these longer-term missions are unknown.
  • New findings help show: long periods in space impact the body, but so far there’s no reason humans couldn’t survive the 2 1/2 year roundtrip to Mars.
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A manned mission to Mars does come with one major health concern: radiation. The levels, which are "a little bit over" NASA's safety standards, would be difficult to avoid on the way to/from the Red Planet. Despite that, retired astronaut Scott Kelly says he'd still like to go.

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The Passing of A Man Frozen In Time

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Set The Scene

  • New York City, Aug. 14, 1945
  • V-J Day (Victory over Japan)
  • Japan officially surrendered to the U.S. in WWII.

Important Context: World War II

  • 400,000+ U.S. troops died (57x more than Global War on Terror)
  • 600,000+ U.S. troops injured (12x more than Global War on Terror)
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The Man:
George Mendonsa

  • Fisherman from Rhode Island who enlisted in the Navy at age 19.
  • On leave, he happened to visit a girl, Rita, who lived in NYC, when they heard of the Japanese surrender.
  • He said he had a soft spot for nurses after watching them care for the battle wounded.
Now You Know

“Between the excitement of the whole works and probably a few drinks, but most importantly it was the uniform she had. If that girl did not have a nurse’s uniform on, I honestly believe that I never would have grabbed her.”

George Mendonsa later married Rita, who watched him kiss a stranger and stayed by his side for 70+ years.
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The Woman:
Greta Zimmer Friedman

  • Born in Austria, came to America at age 15.
  • She was not a war time nurse, but a dental assistant.
  • She went to Times Square to see if the news was true – the war was over.
  • She had no idea someone had taken her photo & rushed back to work.
Now You Know

“I felt he was very strong, he was just holding me tight, and I’m not sure I — about the kiss because, you know, it was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event. It was just an event of thank God the war is over kind of thing….”

Greta Zimmer Friedman, who married a veteran. She is buried next to him at Arlington National Cemetery.
Now You Know

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the photo of George & Greta. They met in person again in 1980 - the first time George saw the photo! His wife said when strangers found out he was the 'kissing sailor', "everyone gets a kiss." George died Sunday at 95.

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The Allegiance…and an arrest?

6th grader refuses to say Pledge of Allegiance and his arrest sparks controversy.

But it’s not what it seems.

A closer look at this story, our patriotic vow, and its history.

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What Happened?

  • 11-year-old student wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • A substitute, unaware students aren’t required to stand, confronted the student about why.
  • The student reportedly said the flag was racist & offensive to black people; the substitute, of Cuban descent, found this offensive and a conflict followed.
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What Happened Next?

  • The 11-year-old student was suspended for 3 days & arrested after making threats, creating disruptions and resisting more than 20 requests by two school officials, including the dean, to leave the classroom.
  • Police say student charged with 2 misdemeanors because of his behavior – NOT for refusing to stand for the Pledge.
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History Of The Pledge

  • 1892: Pledge printed in a kids magazine to celebrate 400 years since discovery of America
  • 1943: U.S. Supreme Court rules requiring a person to say the Pledge is unconstitutional under the Free Speech clause of the First amendment. The case came from a debate over requiring students to stand & say the Pledge in public schools.
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“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

U.S. Supreme Court in 1943
Now You Know

Free speech protects ALL Americans - young & old. Although The Pledge of Allegiance was written originally by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister, in 1892, it wasn't until 1954, that the words "under God" were added to the Pledge by Congress.

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