In the Know: March 28, 2014

“I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak with him about the responsibilities that we all share to care for the least of these, the poor, the excluded. And I was extremely moved by his insights about the importance of us all having a moral perspective on world problems and not simply thinking in terms of our own narrow self-interests.” President Obama, on his first-ever meeting with Pope Francis on March 27, 2014

A massive landslide ripped through Washington’s Cascade Mountains taking with it homes, roads, and lives. Groundwater saturation tied to heavy rain over the past month was the cause of the deadly slide on March 22, and covered roughly a square mile. The death toll had reached 25 as of Thursday, with roughly 90 more people missing. Our thoughts are with all those affected.   

Commuter train barrels through the end-stop at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The driver was asleep at the controls, but two backup systems should have saved the train when it crashed at 2:52 a.m. on Monday. Thankfully, only 32 people were injured and none seriously.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 still unrecovered, but debris is being cited as possible evidence in the southern Indian Ocean. Satellite data revealed hundreds of objects that may be wreckage, but bad weather on Thursday cut short the chance to investigate further. More clues, nothing concrete. Family members are not happy, with good reason.

Russia is out of the Group of 8, and the UN General Assembly says it’s annexation of Crimea is illegal. The U.S. and its allies kicked Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized democracies on Monday in an effort to punish President Vladimir Putin, and the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on countries not to recognize the redrawing of Ukraine’s borders. Basically, everyone is still pretty mad.

Northwestern football players are employees and can unionize. Really? Maybe. The National Labor Relations Board in Chicago made the ruling, but Northwestern University has said it will appeal because it’s players are students only. Stay tuned, this has potential to change the landscape of college athletics and the NCAA.

Political motivations drove allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to create a massive traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge last year. No surprise there. The internal report released on Wednesday was commissioned by Christie and cleared him of any wrong doing. The closures are still under investigation by federal prosecutors and state lawmakers.

The Fed put 30 big banks through their annual stress test, and five of them didn’t make it. The good news is that the rest of the banks seem to be getting stronger, and the Fed has made its tests tougher in recent years, so the rate of failure isn’t quite such a surprise.

The Supreme Court is divided on contraception, and all eyes are on Justice Kennedy, who could be the deciding vote. Obamacare says employers have to cover contraception, but some companies feel that violates their right to religious freedom. The Supreme Court debated the issue on Tuesday and while an unfavorable decision won’t exactly take down the Affordable Care Act, it could be another big blow.

The number of U.S. children with autism surges to 1 in 68 the CDC reports. This is a 30 percent increase from when the agency reported it was 1 in 88 just two years ago. “It could be that doctors are getting better at identifying these children, there could be a growing number of children with high intelligence [who are autistic], or it could be both,” Coleen Boyle, a CDC director, said.

Women’s Affairs
For the first time ever, Oxford and Cambridge women’s rowing teams will compete on equal terms with men’s. When the teams face off on Sunday, it will be the last time they will compete on a different day and on an easier course. From here on out, the women will race just before the men on the championship course on the Tideway. Well deserved.

Momentum is building for a national women’s history museum. Finally. A declaration of support from the House majority leader and the ascension of women to key committee posts has raised the question once more: why isn’t there a museum dedicated to the overall contribution of women to the world, one that chronicles our achievements? Let’s build it!


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