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HOMECOMING…

at The United Nations

Once a year, 193 nations meet under one roof, where each country has one seat & one vote, for one big face-to-face “dance”.

Why the UN General Assembly matters (and why it doesn’t).

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“WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights…”

The UN's founding Charter signed in 1945. Pres. Roosevelt believed an international body would help prevent future world wars; Congress agreed & approved America's membership.
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General Assembly: General Debate

  • Tuesday: One huge meeting where every leader gets to speak.
  • Brazil gave first speech in 1947 & that tradition continues. USA, the host country, speaks second.
  • In reality, very little substantial decisions happen during this time, BUT it allows for informal conversations between leaders that can have a lasting impact.
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What To Watch For:

  • Pres. Trump’s speech on Tues. In the last year, the U.S. arranged a historic summit w/North Korea & withdrew from Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • S. Korea will reportedly deliver a secret msg. to U.S. from NoKo: a condition of nuclear disarmament.
  • Pres. Trump will chair UN Security Council meeting Wednesday. Topic of discussion? Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
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Something To Consider:

  • America pays for 20% of the UN’s total budget. Last year: $1.2B
  • We pay more because of a formula in the UN charter tied to country size and wealth.
  • Critics say the UN doesn’t achieve its goal aimed at bringing world peace and actually works against America’s interests; Gallup poll = majority of Americans agree the UN is not helping solve problems.
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On Tuesday, Pres. Trump and the First Lady will host a cocktail party for current & future members of the UN Security Council. *Permanent* member nations include Russia, China, U.K., France and the U.S. - 10 additional countries serve 2 year terms.

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PRICELESS CULTURE

What do Van Gogh, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, &
a WWII aircraft carrier have in common? 

Well, typically, not very much… but this Saturday is the exception.

 

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MUSEUM DAY

Saturday, September 22nd

  • 1,500 museums & zoos in all 50 states will offer FREE admission.
  • Sponsored by Smithsonian magazine to encourage free entry as its DC-based museums do.
  • Visitors must download one ticket per email address that’s worth free admission for two people.
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How Much Should It Cost?

  • About one-third of America’s 35,000+ museums are free.
  • But with funding under pressure, museums struggle with how much to charge.
  • Ticket prices are crucial: Admissions represent 7% of museum’s financial support, behind endowments (22%) & museum store purchases (8%).
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This year's Museum Day theme is “Women Making History" recognizing female trailblazers in arts, sciences, innovation, and culture. Click to find participating museums in your area.

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To A Certain Degree

About 33% of adults over 25 have a Bachelor’s degree.

Why the future of college education may be ditching the traditional campus.

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The Future of Learning?

  • Univ. of Pennsylvania (Penn) will offer an online bachelor’s degree next year through its College of Prof. & Liberal Arts Studies.
  • First Ivy League college to offer online bachelor’s degree.
  • 2 paths to admission: general application *or* “prove your way” in 4 foundation courses.
  • Costs 30% less than on-campus.
  • Visit campus twice before degree.
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“When you’re working and raising a family or you’re part of the sandwich generation, it really makes it very difficult to get through the 30 to 36 courses needed to get an undergraduate degree. And it’s not terribly affordable.”

Nora E. Lewis, vice dean of professional and liberal education at the University of Pennsylvania
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Why It Matters

  • Higher education without the higher cost.
  • Increasing demand for less expensive degrees from top-tier schools
  • Penn sees more colleges offering online bachelor’s.
  • National unemployment rate for those with college degree (2.1%) about 1/2 what it is for those with only a high school degree (4.3%).
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Several Ivy League universities offer online degrees at the graduate degree level, including Penn, but its undergraduate offer is a first. Approx. 80% of online-only students are over age 25, unknown if younger students will be interested.

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Trade Faceoff Heats Up

Handbags, fish sticks, blow torches and copper – just a few items on the list of Chinese goods getting hit with a new tariff or tax.

The White House says Americans won’t feel the pinch; others say Christmas shopping just got more expensive.

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“Because it’s spread over thousands and thousands of products, nobody is actually going to notice it at the end of the day.”

Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross responding to a question about how the new round of 10% tariffs on $200B of Chinese imports this week will impact the American consumer. If the White House doesn't see a change from China by January the tariff jumps to 25%.
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“Every time this trade war escalates, the risk to U.S. consumers grows. With these latest tariffs, many hardworking Americans will soon wonder why their shopping bills are higher and their budgets feel stretched.”

Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. Other experts agree and say as Chinese imports cost more, these higher prices will start hitting consumers around the holidays.
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Why Now?

  • America is China’s #1 customer; China is a HUGE market for American companies.
  • WH says China doesn’t trade fair: makes it difficult for U.S. biz to enter their market, requires companies to share research, & uses cyber espionage to steal our intellectual property.
  • China is retaliating with tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion.
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This is the second round of tariffs the White House has levied on China to force a change in their trade policy. Currently, there are no talks scheduled between the two countries. U.S. has the strength of low unemployment & a record high stock market.

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Predicting Hurricanes

Every minute, of every day, forecasters scan for hurricanes.

How new technology works to save American families.

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How We Forecast Hurricanes

  • Satellites, aircraft use radar to constantly scan the oceans for areas of high wind.
  • Wind causes the sea level to rise, which can lead to a deadly effect of a hurricane: storm surge.
  • Bottom line: The worlds’ oceans are massive. We don’t have the technology to cover the whole surface constantly.
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What we CAN do…

New tools of the
National Weather Service:

  • Supercomputer: processes prediction models faster.
  • GOES-16: new satellite helps us see storms develop in real time.
  • GOES-17: new satellite enables us to see storms & lightning that can spark forest fires.
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“I can’t stress this enough. Models and observations are the base infrastructure that allows human forecasters to do better forecasts.”

David Novak, Director of the National Weather Service's Prediction Center, speaking in 2017 to CNBC. Technology helps forecasts, he says, but the human analysis remains important.
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Once winds hit 74 mph a storm gets a new name: "Hurricane". Anything below 74 mph considered a "tropical storm." After Florence, the next "named" storms in the Atlantic are: Issac, Joyce & Helene.

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What’s In A Name?

Two hurricanes bare down on America at the exact peak of hurricane season:
“Florence” & “Olivia”

Why do we name storms?

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Who Names The Storms?

  • Naming handled by World Meteorological Organization.
  • List of names set every 6 years.
  • Assigned alphabetically, alternating men vs. women. Every season starts on “A” & rarely goes through entire alphabet.
  • You’ll never hear of another “Hurricane Katrina” because names of infamous deadly and destructive storms are retired.
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History of Naming

Why name? Easy to remember & communicate.

Hurricanes used to be named after saints.

Storm names mainly female in the 1900s; a tradition w/o an origin.

Beginning in 1979, both male & female names officially used.

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2018 hurricane season peaked on Sept 10. It started roughly in beginning of June and will end in early November. Watch for Florence heading for the Carolinas & Olivia heading for Hawaii.

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Think The Hottest Debate In America Is Political?

 

Think again.

The fascinating (& heated) fight over who can call what “milk.”

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“An almond doesn’t lactate.”

Commissioner Scott Gottleib addressing food labels and the term "milk" - which he says refers to a product from a lactating animal. The FDA is reviewing the "public health consequences" of labeling different products "milk" when originally the term referred to only cow's milk.
Click: Watch
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Why This Matters

  • Big Picture: Americans drinking less dairy milk, while consumption of “alternative” milks (almond, coconut, oat, etc.) on the rise.
  • The dairy industry says use of the term “milk” for other products misleads the public into believing alternatives provide the same nutritional value as cow milk, when they don’t; they want a new law “protecting” the milk label.
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“No one owns the English language, and we’re not backing down.”

Michele Simon, Exec. Dir, Plant Based Foods Association, who wants to resolve this conflict in a "peaceful manner." The FDA has shown signs of empathy for the dairy industry, but enforcing any change to the language remains questionable.
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Laws DO exist to protect certain products, such as "bourbon" (whiskey produced in the United States in a particular way). Will that extend to cow's milk? Should it?

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High Court Hearings

Judge Brett Kavanaugh

91% of U.S. likely voters agree Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions impact everyday life, yet 65% can’t name Pres. Trump’s 2nd SCOTUS nominee, according to a recent C-SPAN survey.

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Why Have Hearings?

  • President has power to nominate, but Senate must confirm.
  • During the hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee will ask Kavanaugh about his judicial philosophy to get an idea of how he *might* rule in the future.
  • Expect to hear about big issues: abortion, presidential powers, etc.
click: THE ISSUES
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HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

  • A total of 112 justices have served on the Supreme Court.
  • Justices serve for life. Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment, mandated by the constitution.
  • Kavanaugh: the 163rd nominee since SCOTUS was established in 1789; not all nominees became justices incl. Merrick Garland in 2016.
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KAVANAUGH’S CHANCES?

  • In 2017, the Senate changed its rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority (51 of 100) instead of needing 60 votes.
  • GOP will have a 51-49 majority going into the confirmation vote; Kavanaugh may get “Yes” votes from Democrats as well.
Click: What's Next?
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How long will Kavanaugh's hearing last? Last year, hearings for Neil Gorsuch lasted four days. Since 1946, hearing last on average 4 or more days.

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No More Doggy In The Window?

 

 

England moves to ban all puppy & kitten sales in pet stores, as advocates fight for the same in America.

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England’s Proposed Ban

  • What: Ban sales of puppies & kittens younger than 6 months old by anyone EXCEPT breeders.
  • Why: Crackdown on puppy mills & poor treatment of animals.
  • Interesting: England doesn’t track puppy sales – no clear idea of how many puppies are actually being sold through pet stores; estimates upwards of 80,000.
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Puppy Probs: Stateside

  • Americans spending more $$ on their pet’s care & comfort: est. $70B this year.
  • CA passed a law banning the sale of puppies in pet stores by 2019.
  • MD passed a similar law this year.
  • Why keep pets in pet stores? Some argue pushing all sales to breeders will push puppy sales “underground” and same mistreatment to occur.
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The Benefit Of A Ban

(Bans) protect consumers who may unwittingly purchase sometimes sick or genetically compromised puppy mill puppies from pet stores. They promote the acquisition of shelter/rescue dogs instead of commercially bred dogs …. Nationally, they pressure the commercial pet industry to clean up its act.”

Humane Society
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The proposed ban of puppy and kitten sales in English pet stores opened for public commentary in late August and will close in mid-September before it goes before Parliament; a ban to stop sales of pets younger than 8 weeks old starts on Oct. 1.

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“Lying In State”

 

Sen. John McCain will be the 31st American honored by having his remains “lay in state” at the U.S. Capitol.

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Pres. Lincoln’s “Support”

  • Catafalque: a frame that supports a coffin (cat-e-falk).
  • Pres. Lincoln’s catafalque from 1865 has held most of the coffins that have lain in state.
  • The catafalque has had minor restorations since 1865 (retrofitted to hold larger coffins, drapery replaced), but for the most part, it remains like the original.
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What It Means &
Why It Matters

  • Royal tradition adopted in the U.S. Started with Sec. of State Henry Clay in 1852. Today, the decision to bestow the honor is made by Congress.
  • 11 U.S Presidents have lain in state: Ford, Reagan, Johnson, Eisenhower, Hoover, Kennedy, Taft, Harding, McKinley, Garfield, & Lincoln.
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“In State” vs. “In Honor”

Average citizens cannot “lay in state” as that honor is reserved for gov’t & military officials.

However, eminent private citizens may “lay in honor.” 

To date, only four have received the honor, including Rev. Billy Graham & two police officers killed during an attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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In 2005, civil rights activist Rosa Parks became the first (and only) woman to "lay in honor" in the U.S. Capitol.

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Is The Cost of Constant Connection…Feeling Disconnected?

 

 

New studies reveal whether our digital connections are draining our connections to each other & the world around us.

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Decades of research on happiness tell us that engaging positively with others is critical for our well-being. Modern technology may be wonderful, but it can … take away from the special moments we have with friends and family in person.”

Ryan Dwyer of the University of British Columbia on his study of smartphone distraction at the dinner table.
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Why It Matters

  • One recent study asked adult participants to either place their phone on vibrate or separate from them completely while at their dinner tables.
  • Participants who had their phones easily accessible had more trouble staying present in the moment, reported feeling more distracted, & enjoyed the experience less.
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The Next Generation

Another new study analyzed data from annual survey of 12th graders

  • In 2016, the average 12th grader spent about 6 hours/day online, texting, and on social media.
  • In 2016, nearly a third of 12th graders hadn’t read a book for pleasure in a year. In the 1970s, 60% of 12th graders read a book or magazine almost every day.
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In 2018, 45% of teens say they're "online almost constantly," according to Pew Research Center - that's up nearly 50% from 2014-2015.

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GO FUND MY
(fill in the blank)

 

GoFundMe (GFM), the globe’s largest crowdfunding website hosts 10,000 new campaigns every day and has raised more than $5 billion bucks since it launched in 2010.

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GoFundMe

  • Who: Users create a campaign & solicit donations from the public.
  • What: Funds are raised for anything from memorials to charities, parties, and more.        #1 CAUSE: Medical bills. 
  • How: In 2017, GFM stopped taking a 5% fee for personal funds.  There is still a 2.9% processing fee & a 30 cent fee for every donation. Users may also tip.
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Top Three Large$t GoFundMe Campaigns

$21.9 million: Time’s Up Legal (sexual assault / harassment) Defense Fund

$11.8 million: 2017 Las Vegas Shooting Victims Fund

$7.8 million: 2016 Pulse Nightclub Shooting Victims Fund

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“The biggest surprise is how much positivity there is in the world. News cycles and the social web often present a barrage of negativity. Yet I’ve been surprised by just how much people are compassionate, sympathetic, and empathetic – they genuinely want to help.”

GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon
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The GoFundMe page for newly fired FBI agent Peter Strzok has raised more than $380K+ since it launched on Monday. Although GoFundMe campaigns cannot be used anonymously, sometimes it is difficult to know exactly who is behind a campaign.

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