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Now You Know

Mailing It In?

3 out of 4 eligible American voters may cast their ballot for president by mail on November 3rd.

What’s Changed &
Why It Matters

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Origins & Evolution

  • The concept of voting “in absentia” dates back to the Civil War – as a way for military members to cast ballots.
  • By the late 1800s, states began allowing non-military voters to use absentee mail-in ballots with a valid excuse (ex: sick). States started allowing absentee voting without an excuse in the 1980s.
  • Today “voting by mail” refers to both absentee voting and “universal vote-by-mail.”
Now You Know

Mail-In Voting

  • Every state allows registered voters to apply for absentee mail-in ballots; 16 require a specific excuse (ex: caregiver, vacation scheduled).
  • 34 states & DC allow any voter to apply for “no-excuse absentee” mail-in ballot.
  • 5 states have “universal vote-by-mail” meaning they conduct all elections by mail and automatically send everyone a mail-in ballot.
Now You Know

“No-Excuse Absentee”

  • The specific laws governing who can vote absentee (and how) vary by state.
  • Ballots are sent to registered voters’ official addresses per state records.
  • Voters apply for mail-in ballots during a specified time period, & must have their ballots postmarked by a given deadline.
  • Some states require election officials to check voters’ signatures. Others require mail-in ballots to be notarized.
Now You Know

What’s Changed

  • In response to COVID-19, 3 states (CA, NV, & VT) are mandating mail-in ballots be sent to all registered voters. All three have had absentee voting on the books for decades.
  • While California and Vermont have consistently voted Democrat, Nevada may be viewed as a swing state – making both parties concerned about safe, secure, reliable voting.
Now You Know

“Non-Traditional” Voting

  • “Traditional” voting has been on the decline as more states expand voting options in order to provide flexibility.
  • In 2016, about a quarter of presidential election votes were cast via mail (both absentee and universal vote-by-mail).
  • From 2008 to 2016, the share of voters who voted by mail in the presidential elections grew by about 4%.
Now You Know

And then there's early voting... 39 states & DC allow voters to vote in person on designated days anywhere from 4 to 45 days before Election Day. Early voting has also soared recently, more than doubling from 2004 to 2016 to about 24M. HOW WILL YOU VOTE IN NOVEMBER?

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How Safe Are You?

Depends on the statistic.

As the federal government expands law enforcement into major U.S. cities, here’s what one report says about violent crime in America in 2020.

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Backstory: The Data Gap

  • Crime statistics are voluntarily reported by localities to the federal government.
  • Cities may report crimes differently (or not at all) and at different times.
  • Lawmakers from both parties proposed legislation to encourage or mandate more comprehensive crime-reporting in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody. Legislation has stalled.
Now You Know

What To Know

The Dept. of Justice recently launched “Operation Legend” – sending resources, equipment & federal law enforcement to fight crime alongside local police. Some mayors don’t want the help.

In light of the difference in opinions and varying data, The Wall Street Journal did an independent analysis of violent crime statistics in the largest 50 U.S. cities.

Now You Know

What The Data Says:

  • Overall: Homicides, shootings up in top cities in 2020. Other violent crimes (such as robbery, rape) are down.
  • Homicides up across regions.
  • 1 in 8 homicides in America happening in the city of Chicago.

Important Context: Homicides increased but are not currently at historic levels. In other words: it’s not good, but it’s been worse.

 

Now You Know

“Everything that society does that might shape public safety was turned upside-down during the pandemic.”

Director of the University of Chicago's "Crime Lab" Jens Ludwig, on the WSJ data. Anecdotes point to different reasons for the rise in homicides -- from recession, pressure on police in connection with the pandemic and protests, & gangs gaining strength because of the closures of schools, churches and after-school programs.
Now You Know

Why It Matters:

U.S. cities have become increasingly safer over the last few decades. Here’s 3 questions we’re asking:

  • Is a rise in homicides reflecting a moment in time, or the beginning of a trend of an increase in crime overall?
  • What are the impacts of the pandemic and protests on local police?
  • What role does politics play in all of this, especially during an election year?
Now You Know

"Operation Legend" was named after a 4-year-old boy, LeGend, killed during a shooting in Kansas City, MO. It expanded last week from Kansas City, Chicago, & Albuquerque to include Detroit, Cleveland, & Milwaukee -- putting the Trump administration at odds with local lawmakers. Read more:

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“Lying In State”

Congressman John Lewis to “lie in state” at the U.S. Capitol.
Here’s a look at this unique honor.

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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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Shared 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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“In State” vs. “In Honor”

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

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

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

Now You Know

In 2005, civil rights activist Rosa Parks became the first (and only) woman to "lie in honor" in the U.S. Capitol. Congressman Lewis, who passed last week, is only the second African-American lawmaker to receive this honor after Congressman Elijah Cummings in October.

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STAYING WATER WISE THIS SUMMER

In the wake of a high-profile investigation into what police call an accidental drowning, a look at why you should be extra careful in the water at this time of year.

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“There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear typically in the afternoon. We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared, the idea being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub on recovering the body of Naya Rivera, who police believe died last week in an accidental drowning on a California lake.
Now You Know

WHAT TO KNOW:
Drowning

July: the deadliest month for drowning

  • Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental deaths in children ages 1 to 4.
  • For all ages, drowning is the #5 cause of accidental deaths.
  • Men & boys are more likely to drown; 80% of deaths are male.
  • Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of drowning deaths.
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WHAT TO KNOW:
Water-Associated Disease Outbreaks

Most common during July

  • CDC Study: From 2000 to 2014, there were 140 water-associated outbreaks linked to fresh / marine waters (lakes, rivers, oceans). 60% started in July.
  • Outbreaks caused nearly 5,000 illnesses & 2 fatalities.
Now You Know

Especially as we seek social distance activities outdoors due to COVID-19: P.A.U.S.E. BEFORE YOU DIP YOUR TOES IN: Pay attention to signs and caution warnings. Avoid night swimming. Use life jackets or flotation devices when possible. Swim with at least one other adult. Enjoy alcoholic beverages sparingly.

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“MAKING HISTORY!”

Lt j.g. Madeline Swegle is the first African-American woman to become a tactical aircraft pilot in the 100+ years of the U.S. Navy.

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Backstory

  • Lt j.g. Madeline Swegle graduated from the Naval Academy in 2017.
  • She completed tactical aircraft (“TACAIR”) training last week and will earn her “Wings of Gold” next month, recognizing her as a qualified Naval aviator.
  • Next, she’ll be assigned a “platform” – a tactical aircraft – to continue her training.
Now You Know

The platforms include  F-18E/F “Super Hornet" (fighter attack aircraft), E-18G “Growler" (an electronic attack aircraft), or F35 “Lightning” (a fighter aircraft). This means after successfully completing additional training, Swegle *could* indeed become a U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

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One of the most famous men in American history had private family scrapbooks you will soon see for yourself.

The amazing story of the Frederick Douglass collection.

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Frederick Douglass

  • Born into slavery 1818; escaped to Massachusetts as a young man.
  • Self-educated, he became a powerful writer, journalist, and speaker.
  • One of the most significant abolitionists in American history.
  • Publisher of “The North Star,” an anti-slavery newspaper published in New York and read around the world.
  • The most-photographed American of any race in the 19th century.
Now You Know

The Scrapbooks

  • 9 private family scrapbooks of articles, photographs, personal letters arranged by Douglass’ three sons in the years after the Civil War, referred to as “the most extraordinary private collection of Douglass manuscript material in the world.”
  • Yale University recently acquired the collection, says will put the contents online for all to see (and read) first-hand.
Now You Know

“Scholars, researchers, students and the world should have access to it.”

Dr. Walter Evans, a retired surgeon, is a leading private collector of African-American art, writing, and artifacts. He owned the collection before Yale and says of Douglass: "You can't just say he was an editor or just an abolitionist or just a politician because he was just so much more than that." Douglass inspired many with his personal story, but also became a leading activist before, during & after the Civil War.
Now You Know

A historian describes Douglass' famous July 5, 1852 speech on American independence: “He rips the throats out of his audience, before lifting them up at the end. He says ‘It’s not quite too late. Your nation is still young, still malleable. It’s still possible to save yourselves.’” -- Read it:

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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.
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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.

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

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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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The Latest From the CDC on COVID-19

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

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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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Happy Father’s Day

A beloved single dad inspired it.

A president made it official.

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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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Is America Happy?

A snapshot on how Americans feel in 2020.

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What To Know:

  • The New Research: Survey facilitated by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago & focused on how Americans feel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The analysis pulls from previous research, asking similar questions, collected over the past five decades.
  • Nearly 2,300 American adults, representing every state & D.C., answered questions, mostly online.
Now You Know

Historical Context

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t necessarily made us more sad (historically speaking) but perhaps more hot under the collar.

“…fewer Americans report crying or feeling dazed than after either the Kennedy assassination in 1963 or the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, but more report having lost their temper or feeling bored during the pandemic.”

Now You Know

HAPPINESS

  • The survey asks: are you very happy? pretty happy? or not too happy? 
  • Over the past 50 years, the majority of Americans have never described themselves as “very happy” but the response has consistently hovered around 30%.
  • The number of Americans *now* reporting as “very happy” dropped to a historic low of 14% – the lowest since the survey began in 1972.
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Money Doesn’t Buy You Happiness (Or Optimism)

“More Americans than in previous decades are unhappy and pessimistic about the future, and at the same time, more are relatively satisfied financially.”

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THE FUTURE

In 2018, nearly 6 out of 10 Americans believed their children would exceed their current standard of living.

Today, about 4 in 10 Americans feel their children will exceed their current standard of living.

That’s the lowest percentage since the question was first added to the survey in 1994.

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This survey concluded days before the death of George Floyd in police custody. Consequently, the answers do not include any reflection of the last several weeks of civil unrest in America. How do you think that impacts the results?

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What We’ve Learned

The CDC’s latest report compiles what we’ve learned about COVID-19 in America from the very first case in January through the end of May.

Here’s what you should know.

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BIG PICTURE

January 22: First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Washington State. The patient was a man who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China – the site of the first outbreak.

~ just over 4 months later ~

May 30: 1.7M+ confirmed cases.
*The CDC has *some* demographic information on an est. 1.3M cases.

 

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BASICS

“…pandemic continues to be severe.”

  • While your risk of exposure differs on your specific community, nationwide incidents of COVID-19 is 403 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Women and men have roughly equal incidents of COVID-19.
  • However, men are more likely to have “severe outcomes” – i.e. higher rates of hospitalizations and death.
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YOUR BODY

Those with pre-existing conditions were 6x more likely to require hospitalizations and 12x more likely to die than those without pre-existing conditions.

The most common pre-existing conditions: heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

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AGE

Median age: 48 years

*NEW DATA*: Incidents of COVID-19 HIGHER among 40-59 year-olds (and specifically among 50-59-year-olds) than those 60-79 years old.

Overall: Highest incidents among those older than 80 and lowest in children younger than 9.

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Symptoms / No Symptoms

Most common symptoms: 70% reported fever, cough or shortness of breath.

  • Those with no symptoms of COVID-19 = 4% of cases.
  • The CDC theorizes one of the reasons why those under 19 have dramatically lower known rates of infection may be because of unreported, “undiagnosed milder or asymptomatic illnesses.”
Now You Know

Pre-existing conditions remain a major factor for serious cases of COVID-19. Data continues to show Hispanic and Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the new coronavirus. Limits on data (less than half of all cases included info on race, fewer on health conditions) inhibit CDC's explanation as to why.

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