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2020, in many ways, will go down in history as a notorious year in the same way that 1968 did.

Both years were marked by tumult and huge protests. In 1968, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Apollo 8 orbited the moon.

In 2020, the COVID pandemic killed 345,737 people. An agonizing recording of a policeman suffocating George Floyd upended our notions of justice. An American President tried to invalidate an election that saw historic levels of participation from every demographic. …


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From left to right, starting at the top: Sabrina Siddiqui, National Politics Reporter, Wall Street Journal; Tyler Pager, National Political Reporter, Bloomberg News, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief and columnist, Chicago Sun-Times, Elena Schneider, POLITICO and Nikole Killion, Correspondent, CBS News

I attended a virtual presentation on the 2020 presidential election results last Tuesday night, which was organized by my alma mater Northwestern. I took some notes and thought I’d (belatedly) share.

Donald Trump will maintain an iron grip on Republicans, and perhaps by extension, Washington

Almost 10 million more* people voted for Donald Trump in 2020 than in 2016.

“What that has done is, it’s put the Republican party in a position where if there were any illusions that maybe this was just going to be an aberration, and they could move on if he lost the election, that he’s now out the door. He’s very much here to stay,” said Sabrina Siddiqui, national…


It’s possible to cast a vote, but registering and obtaining a ballot can be trickier without a residence

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Tina Harvey, originally from San Pablo, lives in Oakland’s Wood Street encampment. Photo: Sarah Lai Stirland

One of the biggest issues in California is homelessness. But can someone actually experiencing the crisis of homelessness — someone without a fixed address in the state — cast their vote?

Yes, they can. But it’s not easy.

When it comes to voting by mail, especially popular this year during the pandemic, homeless people face difficulty. That’s because if you are going to vote by mail, you need an address where the registrar of voters can send your ballot.

People living in California with no street address can ask a service organization, such as a homeless shelter, to receive mail…


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Joan Cole and her partner Martin. Joan is 90, and is a founding member of Ashby Village, a non-profit in Berkeley whose goal is to enable people to stay in their homes and stay active as they reach their elder years.

When California Governor Gavin Newsom said that we had to shelter in place, he said seniors need to stay home alone.

So I decided to check in with a variety of seniors across the Bay Area to see how, and what, they’re doing. I created a story for KALW, but I talked to many more people than I could fit into the story that I ended up doing.

So here are some of their voices. It’s how they talk about their lives in their own voices that I find interesting, so I urge you to listen.

They are: Joan Cole…


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All eyes are on California now in the Democratic presidential nomination process, where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is projected to win.

However, the math regarding delegates is a little more complex, and former Vice President Joe Biden could still remain viable if he just manages to capture some top 15 percent of the votes on Super Tuesday.

I can’t cover the whole state, but I did venture out in my own back yard in Silicon Valley to hear what’s on the mind of my fellow citizens in the past couple of weeks for KALW public radio (that’s 91.7 …


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A big data art workshop at Fisher Middle School in Los Gatos. The spirals illustrate how each student spends their time during the day. Each spiral represents a student’s time. The different colors represent different activities, with the favorite activity in the center, and other activities in descending order spiraling out. The number of dots for each activity represent the proportion of time they spend on the activity. The students were by turns fascinated or jealous at the amount of time their peers got to do certain things — especially how much time their peers got from their parents for “screen time.”

These multi-colored spirals lined up on a giant sheet of white paper might look as mysterious as Egyptian hieroglyphics to the uninitiated, but they’re actually representations of how a class of sixth graders spend their time at Los Gatos’ Raymond J. Fisher Middle School.

The spirals form a “data portrait” inspired by the Austin, Texas-based Laurie Frick, an artist who “explores the bumpy future of data captured about us.”

Each spiral pictured here represents the hours spent in a typical sixth grader’s day: The colored dots at the center of a spiral represent a child’s favorite category of activity, with…


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Photo by: Travis Dove of Our State magazine

When Tommy Tomlinson rode the New York City subway, he would grip the pole near the doors as tightly as possible. The six foot one, 460 pound man was terrified that he would smother a fellow transit rider if he fell over after a sudden move by the subway car.

Growing up, he once reduced a wooden chair to splinters when it disintegrated under his weight after he sat down.

When the Southern sports journalist was a child, he never climbed a tree, or learned to swim. “When I was in my twenties, I never took a girl home from…


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Photo of brain neurofibrillary tangles (the white blobs) by Gabriel Luna of the Kosik Lab at UC Santa Barbara.

A new study published mid-February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that adrenaline boosts the body’s processes for getting rid of garbage proteins from our cells. And that, in turn, has positive implications in the body’s fight against diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s.

Well, of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Nevertheless, that was the one insight from a paper on the impact of exercise and fasting on our cells that piqued my interest. The paper was from researchers at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School.

It caught my eye because I’ve…


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Photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr

U.S. rules on work and travel are changing on a daily basis these days, as President Trump speeds onwards to fulfill his campaign promises.

The New York Times reported late Thursday, for example, that the U.S. is following through on Trump’s campaign promise of “extreme vetting” by creating more onerous requirements for obtaining a visa. This means that visitors from non-visa waiver countries will have to answer more questions both on their visa applications and in in-person interviews with U.S. officials.

Travel for U.S. citizens to the Middle East and Africa is going to change as well. Earlier in the…


Bessie Carmichael Elementary Rehearsal

It’s an early fall evening at the American Conservatory Theater (“A.C.T.”)’s jazzy new performance space in the Tenderloin, and 22 Bessie Carmichael Elementary School students are singing on the theater’s main stage.

The kids’ first piece, created by their musical theater teacher Peter Sroka, is a ditty welcoming audience members to the new theater; the other two are about the Philippines. Sroka has worked with these kids once per week for about a month to get them to where they are this evening. The performance tonight is an opening act for “Monstress,” a two-act A.C.T. play…

Sarah

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