Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 11, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

An Historic Election

Last week’s election headlines were dominated by the election of a new U.S. president, Joe Biden, and the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice president, Kamala Harris. But the 2020 election made history for other reasons as well. In Wisconsin, Francesca Hong won her race in the 76th District to become Wisconsin’s first Asian American state representative. And in the 48th District, Ald. Samba Baldeh won his race to become Wisconsin’s first Muslim representative.

Historic wins were not limited to Wisconsin.

  • In Missouri, nurse and Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush became the first African American woman to represent the state in Congress.
  • In Delaware, Sarah McBride became the first openly trans state senator in U.S. history. In New York, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones are the first openly gay African American men in Congress.
  • In Washington, Marilyn Strickland won her race for the 10th District to become the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Lawyer and human rights activist Ana Irma Rivera Lassen is now the first openly gay African American woman to serve in elected office in Puerto Rico.
  • Mauree Turner is now both Oklahoma’s first Muslim lawmaker, and the nation’s first openly non-binary state legislator.
  • Stephanie Byers of Kansas has become the first openly trans person of color ever elected to a state legislature.
  • And New Mexico has made history as the first U.S. state to elect only women of color to Congress: Democrat Deb Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe; Democrat and Latina Teresa Leger Fernandez; and Republican Yvette Herrell, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to learn more about one of the candidates listed above. Write a short paragraph about what you discover.

Pandemic Impacts Latina Workforce

Being a working mother during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t easy. While both men and women have had their lives impacted greatly, more often than not it is mothers who are put in charge of their children’s “distance learning,” or who must struggle to find childcare while schools are closed. This has taken a dramatic toll on the rates of women in the workplace, and this is especially true for Latina women. In September, Latina women left the workforce in large rates: nearly three times the rate of white women, and more than four times the rate of African American women.

Why is this happening? Every household is different, and every woman’s reasons for her career choices are different, but analysts have pointed to a few possible factors. A disproportionate number of Latinas work in service jobs and other industries that have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic. When children are struggling with distance learning or need full-time childcare at home, some Latina women will take on the responsibility to leave their jobs to support their families in this way.

Experts say that the longer the pandemic lasts, the more difficult it will be for these women to re-enter the workforce if they choose to do so. That has potential impacts on everything from household budgets to the health of the economy as a whole.

What Do You Think? How have the adults in your household adjusted their work-life balance in order to accommodate the new circumstances of the pandemic? Write a paragraph describing your household’s experiences.

U.S. Officially Withdraws From Paris Accords

In 2017, President Trump announced that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord, the 2015 global agreement to limit climate change. However, due to the complex rules of the agreement, the withdrawal didn’t take effect officially until last week–the day after the 2020 election. Now, the United States has become the only country to ever pull out of the Paris climate agreement. The Trump administration didn’t support the Paris Accord because they believed that the agreement allowed other nations, such as China and India, to continue using fossil fuels while the U.S. was forced to cut back its use of those energy sources.

The impact of the U.S. pulling out of the agreement is serious. The United States is the biggest economy in the world and is responsible for about 15 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The refusal to participate makes the climate agreement less effective. This is disappointing both for Americans who are concerned about climate change as a global threat, and for other world leaders who had hoped that all nations would eventually sign on to the agreement.

Joe Biden has already said that he will reinstate the United States in the Paris agreement as soon as possible when he enters the White House next January. According to the rules of the agreement, the U.S. only has to give a month’s notice in order to be reinstated. Upon learning of Biden’s victory over Trump in last week’s presidential election, the mayor of Paris tweeted, “Welcome back, America!”

Dig Deeper What was the Kyoto Protocol? How does it relate to the Paris Accord? If you’re not sure, use Internet resources to help you determine your answer.

Water on the Moon

Scientists already knew about the presence of ice on the moon. But now, NASA has made an exciting discovery: there’s water on the moon as well.

NASA scientists used a modified airplane called Strategic Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to hoist a huge telescope high up into the Earth’s atmosphere. From that vantage point beyond the clouds, scientists can get a much clearer look at objects in space. They used a special infrared camera to get an even closer look at the lunar surface. And what they saw were water molecules in the moon’s Clavius crater, which is in the moon’s southern hemisphere.

But don’t pack your swimsuit for a trip to the moon just yet–the amount of water detected would just about fit into a twelve-ounce bottle, and it’s spread out over a cubic meter of surface soil. In other words, it’s not even a puddle. The molecules are so spread out that they don’t even form actual liquid water (or ice). But it’s the first time that water molecules have been discovered anywhere outside of the moon’s poles and other dark, cold places. And despite the lack of an atmosphere, it hasn’t just evaporated into space the way it should.

So how did it get there? What is creating it? Scientists think that maybe the molecules were brought to the moon by tiny meteorites crashing into the surface.

Dig Deeper How much total ice has been discovered so far on the moon? Use Internet resources to help you determine your answer.