Lettuce Think About It
March 25, 2022
This week, we shared a story about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requesting that his country be accepted into NATO, saying that the war with Russia wouldn’t have happened if they had been accepted sooner. We thought we’d ask our readers what they thought. Please fill out this survey and tell us if you think Ukraine should be admitted into NATO. Feel free to share the link with your family and friends! We’ll share the results next week.
“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.” – Amelia Earhart
Get A Move On
The Census Bureau released new data on Thursday revealing some interesting migration patterns caused, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. The nation’s biggest and most populous cities saw mostly the same pattern between July 2020 and July 2021 – a mass exodus of folks who couldn’t see the need to stay and pay city prices. The draw of walkability and nearby activities was gone with bars, restaurants, venues, and at some points other essential services shut down for months at a time. Coupled with the move to remote work, cities saw tens of thousands leaving for more rural areas.
New York lost almost 330,000 people, even with births outpacing deaths in the area. Los Angeles lost 176,000 residents, San Francisco lost about 116,000, and Chicago lost over 90,000. Migration patterns saw people moving South and West, especially into different parts of Texas and Arizona. Dallas and Houston added 97,000 and 69,000 residents, respectively, though their growth was more of a combination of people moving and a high birth rate. Phoenix, on the other hand, almost hit 80,000 new residents, most of whom were movers. “Micro areas,” which the Census Bureau defines as having less than 50,000 residents, also saw a boom, even though deaths often outpaced births in these areas.
The pandemic itself played a role, with the virus claiming hundreds of thousands of lives between July of 2020 and July of 2021, but rising housing costs, falling birth rates, and low immigration numbers all added to the losses for cities as well. The 10 fastest-growing cities accounted for almost 80% of the nation’s total growth, which means it’s actually the slow growth in the rest of the country that’s changing the face of it – the nation’s population only grew by 0.1% in 2021. However, Demographer William Frey thinks the growth of micro areas, and the shrinking of metropolitan areas, is temporary. He says, “We’re at one of the lowest levels of immigration in a long, long time, and that affects big metros like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. That is going to come back. With the natural decrease, we will go back to normal.” (AP, NYT, $)
Plant Believe Your Eyes
- Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, opened the continent’s largest fertilizer plant this week in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has threatened to cause a global food crisis. Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of urea, potash, and phosphate – all key components of fertilizers – and are also major suppliers of wheat and other grains.
- African countries desperately need to grow food and feed their people, as parts of the continent could be plunged into hunger in as little as three months if Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on, says Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.
- “In the short term, between now and three months, the conflict will affect food supply primarily from a pricing perspective,” Sihlobo told CNN. The plant’s opening comes at a critical time, with projections that it could produce 3 million metric tons of urea yearly, which may help offset the projections of a global food crisis. (CNN)
Taking A Learn For The Worse
- On Wednesday, the Taliban announced that they would be rescinding their promise to allow Afghan girls to attend secondary school. Afghanistan’s new rulers reopened schools for boys and for girls up to the sixth grade when they took power in August, but have denied entry to secondary school for girls.
- Despite stating that girls could attend classes at the secondary education level starting Wednesday, Taliban officials took back their offer and sent girls back home when the day came. “There is no issue of banning girls from schools,” said Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s permanent ambassador-designate to the United Nations. “It is only a technical issue of deciding on form of school uniform for girls. We hope the uniform issue is resolved and finalized as soon as possible.”
- Western countries have criticized the move, reminding the government that girls returning to school was a key condition for restarting financial aid to the country. “I deeply regret today’s announcement by Taliban authorities in Afghanistan that girls’ education from the sixth grade has been suspended until further notice,” said the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Russia’s stock market reopens after month-long closure (CNN)
- UK’s Sunak under fire over response to cost of living crisis (Reuters)
- Jamaica’s Prime Minister Tells Prince William: ‘We’re Moving on’: ‘We Intend to Become an Independent Country’ (People)
- US, France, Italy, Germany and Britain disappointed over Kosovo’s rejection of Serbian voting plan (Reuters)
- Singapore to end quarantine for vaccinated arrivals (Al Jazeera)
- Sweden to provide Ukraine with 5,000 more anti-tank weapons (Reuters)
Striking A Blow
- On Wednesday, roughly 2,800 Sacramento Unified School District teachers went on strike over disagreements between the teachers’ union and school district regarding increases to long-term pay and health benefits. Despite nearly $200 billion being spent on public education relief during the pandemic, the nation still faces budget and staffing issues from coast to coast.
- Sacramento USD offers included a 2% salary increase for teachers and fully paid-for healthcare for those opting into HMO plans, but teachers are asking for inflation-based raises similar to those offered to district superintendents.
- As Sacramento teachers began their protests over pay issues and staffing shortages, teachers in Minneapolis entered their 12th day of strikes for similar reasons. Minneapolis’s school district has offered minimum teacher salaries of $50,000 and class size caps, among other things, but the union continues to hold out. (WSJ, $)
She’s Scott The Right Idea
- Billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott has donated $275 million to national healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, the largest donation in the organization’s history. Following the donation, Planned Parenthood stated: “This funding will support our efforts to advance health equity by eliminating racial and structural barriers for our patients in the communities where Planned Parenthood works.”
- Scott’s donation comes as the Supreme Court is set to tackle constitutional protections for abortion this spring, with expectations being that the right-leaning court will likely reduce the time period in which abortions are legal. The court has made known its willingness to reinstate a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Mississippi, significantly less than the 24-week period that Roe v. Wade allows.
- On Tuesday, Habitat for Humanity also announced that it had received $436 million from the philanthropist. Scott, who divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, is one of the richest women in the U.S. and one of the biggest philanthropists in the world, giving away billions of dollars to charities quietly over the past 3 years. Her current net worth is roughly $49 billion. (Reuters)
Additional USA News
- Trump committed ‘numerous’ felonies, said resigning New York prosecutor – report (Guardian)
- South Dakota governor signs law further restricting access to medication abortions (CNN)
- As Covid-19 Flares Anew in Britain, the US Watches for Possible New Surge (WSJ, $)
- White House moves to oust Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker from presidential advisory panel (NBC)
- Judge rules that a dozen Virginia students can ask for mask mandates — but no more (WaPo, $)
- Fellow member of Congress on trial is ‘honest,’ California lawmaker testifies (Politico)
- COVID testing and treatment for uninsured ends (Axios)
Lettuce Think About It
- NASA’s current projections say we have nearly a decade before astronauts set foot on Mars, and the trip there will take months of exposure to microgravity. That puts travelers at risk of bone density loss. But on Tuesday, at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists presented what may serve as a solution.
- On Earth, in normal gravity, our bodies (ideally) break down bones at the same rate our bodies replenish them, but in microgravity, bones break down faster than our bodies can repair them. In the past, astronauts have relied on exercise to try to counteract the loss of bone density, but evidence hasn’t proven that this is enough of a solution.
- Meet: transgenic lettuce. It’s lettuce still, but genetically modified to prevent bone loss, and is capable of growing in space. Karen McDonald, one of the researchers and a chemist at UC Davis, said it’s “a very simple and cost-effective way to make a therapeutic.” The question that now remains is, how much ranch dressing can a spaceship carry? (CNET)
- Uber Partners With Yellow Taxi Companies in NYC (NYT, $)
- USPS is doubling its initial order of electric mail delivery trucks (The Verge)
- Driver, 59, dies after hitting 11-foot alligator on Florida roadway, deputies say (NBC)
- Supreme Court weighs in on ‘cancel culture’ with community college case (Politico)
- CSU officially drops SAT and ACT from admissions process in major move (LAT, $)
- Mysterious ‘odd radio circles’ seen in space, new image shows (CNN)
- Life’s Preference for Symmetry Is Like ‘A New Law of Nature’ (NYT, $)
Our assistant editor, Tim Hsia (West Point class of 2004), recently co-interviewed General Stan McChrystal (West Point class of 1976) for the West Point’s Association of Graduates On Point podcast. During this podcast, McChrystal shared the following insights and advice:
- West Point success is not necessarily an accurate prediction of success in the Army and afterwards. McChrystal had a rough first two years at West Point.
- If a setback happens (like resigning from a four star position), then don’t marinate on the bitterness and be aggrieved. It takes the same amount of energy being bitter as it does to move forward. Get your mind right and focus on the future and don’t dwell on the past.
- Strong foundations compound. Especially when those foundations are built on strong relationships
- It’s critical to prioritize in order to achieve one’s goals. If you want a happy family, then prioritize it. If you want to do more push-ups, then you need to prioritize it.
- Don’t regret not doing enough for others.
Click here to read a few more takeaways that Tim had from the interview.
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