🐤 All in the family

One side of the family tree owned slaves, and the other side was responsible for Black History Month --- here's how they make it work.

Monday | February 20th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Monday, chirpers! As we cautiously move into a post-pandemic world, certain aspects of life are starting to return to normal — including the joys of watching a movie on the cinema’s big screen.

As in previous years, 2023 is starting with a superhero flick taking an early lead in box office earnings. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” has proven to be a lucrative movie after its first weekend in theaters, exceeding expectations by bringing in $104 million in ticket sales.

It’s the latest evidence of a theory I’ve been working on since I first saw “Clueless”: Paul Rudd can do no wrong.

-Chris Agee

-$68.56 (-0.58%)
Dow Jones
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S&P 500
-$11.32 (-0.28%)
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-$319.62 (-1.30%)
$2.73 (15.33%)
*Market data for this issue is from February 19th, 2023 at 8:50pm EST

🏦 Markets: Coming off of Friday’s mixed results and a generally losing week on Wall Street, investors are hoping for a turning point. The industry has been hit with some curveballs in recent months and the next few days will include several more economic reports that could shift the market up or down.

In addition to corporate earnings data from firms like Walmart and Home Depot, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its latest meeting on Wednesday. Later in the week, the consumption expenditure price index will drop, providing even more inflation rate info.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

🇺🇸 Presidential legacy: At 98 years old, Jimmy Carter is the oldest living former U.S. president in the nation’s history. While he has been battling health issues in recent years, he has remained fairly active in the political realm as well as with the Habitat for Humanity organization until recently. A series of setbacks — including a serious fall in 2019 — have combined to result in his current situation. According to a statement, he “decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention.” President Joe Biden reacted to the news with a statement on Sunday offering prayers for the Carter family and expressing admiration for the 39th president’s “strength and humility” over the course of decades spent in the public eye.

🛤️ Off the rails: The Biden administration has received bipartisan criticism for its seemingly muted response to a train derailment that exposed East Palestine, Ohio, and surrounding communities to a leak of toxic chemicals. For its part, however, the White House continues to insist that federal agencies have provided the right combination of assistance and support to those immediately impacted by the environmental disaster. Citing a “robust, multi-agency effort” including personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency and other entities, the Biden administration sought to reassure locals that the situation is under control. As White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre advised: “When these incidents happen, you need to let the emergency response take place. We did take action and folks were on the ground.”

📞 Under the radar: While there are multiple resources available to individuals experiencing domestic violence, some people in such situations are reticent to reach out due to fear that an abuser could find out. The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to address this issue, however, by proposing a change that would require phone service providers to omit hotlines designed to assist victims of violence or abuse from “consumer-facing call and text message logs.” Furthermore, the proposal would include financial help for individuals who need such services but cannot afford a phone plan. Anyone in need of support can text START to 88788, call a toll-free hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or send an online message by visiting thehotline.org.

🏀 It’s a slam dunk: He might not be quite the household name that LeBron James is, but Mac McClung is making his skills known in the NBA. He previously played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls — though those contracts amounted to a total of just two games. He’s now under contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, and his future in the league is looking brighter than ever. After gaining a serious following on YouTube by showcasing his outrageous slam-dunk abilities, he completely dominated the recent all-star slam-dunk contest. A panel of basketball legends served as the judges who gave him multiple perfect scores, leaving McClung to ruminate about his long-time underdog status. As he explained: “Being from a small town … of 1,600 people, and now we’re on this stage — it was just unbelievable.”

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How One Family Reconciles Its Complicated Racial History

Two sides of the same family were able to find common ground despite the odds.

Courtesy of Craig Woodson

As Americans continue to celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to not only celebrate achievements but to confront the atrocities dating back to before the nation’s founding.

For one family, it’s possible to do both by searching no further than their own ancestry.

Two distinct lineages

The Woodson family has a particularly complex tree that includes some of America’s first white slave owners as well as the black man who established what would go on to become Black History Month.

That naturally caused some rifts, but they’ve been able to look beyond the past to create a unifying future.

Craig Woodson can trace his heritage back to some of the first settlers at Jamestown as well as Carter G. Woodson, who established Negro History Week nearly a century ago.

That line of descendants includes relatives like 20-year-old Brett Woodson Bailey. As the white and black sides of this family learned more about each other, it would have been easy for them to put up a wall between them — instead, both sides worked to build a bridge.

A quest for the truth

When Craig first learned that his ancestors were among the continent’s first white slave owners, he was upset that no one had told him about this chapter of their family history. He’d always been a bit of a rebel and studied ethnomusicology, which gave him a deep understanding of African drums and the drum-making process.

Still, these academic pursuits were no substitute for dealing with the skeletons in the Woodson family’s closet.

I didn’t want to face that,” he said. “And that’s what ultimately brought me to say, ‘I’ve got to face it.’”

It started with an apology that led to years of engagement with the black side of his family — and now he’s been accepted into the fold.

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Avian Flu: It’s Not Just For The Birds Anymore

Humans might not be at immediate risk, but it's still a serious problem.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The cost of eggs has skyrocketed in recent months, in part due to the rampant spread of avian influenza. This highly communicable disease has been around for a while, but several regions are now in the grips of their first battle against bird flu.

The most notable impact

As its name implies, avian flu is most prevalent among birds. Here are a few stats that will put its impact into perspective:

  • 10 South American nations, most notably Peru, are being inundated with cases for the first time.
  • Argentina and Uruguay recently declared national health emergencies related to the disease.
  • In the United States, a staggering 43 million hens died from bird flu or were preemptively killed last year as the disease spread far and wide.
  • This is the worst animal disease in U.S. history and the biggest poultry outbreak ever for several other countries.

Is it a threat to humans?

Bird flu is nothing new, and there have been concerns in the past that it could lead to an epidemic in humans. Since an initial outbreak more than 25 years ago infected 18 people and killed six, there have been nearly 900 confirmed human transmissions with a mortality rate of more than 50%.

Even without directly infecting people, however, the threat of avian flu is serious. It has spread to several other animal species, most likely by eating infected chicken carcasses. Nearly 52,000 minks were killed on a farm in Spain following an outbreak last year.

Experts recommend focusing on vaccinations and biosecurity measures — as well as cutting down on chicken consumption.

Political economist Jan Dutkiewicz offered this analogy: “We would never have a debate about preventing cancer from tobacco products without talking about stopping smoking.”

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Shattering The Glass Ceiling With A Thunderstorm Advisory

For the first time, a woman made the call.

Nick Oxford/The New York Times

People who live in storm-prone regions of the United States have grown accustomed to warnings about thunder, tornadoes, hail, and other forms of harsh weather. But did you know that these advisories have come exclusively from men — until this week?

That’s right, it wasn’t until Elizabeth Leitman of the Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch on Wednesday that a woman’s name was associated with such a forecast.

A male-dominated industry

While women have unquestionably made great leaps in fostering more equality across many industries in recent generations, many workplaces are trailing behind.

Leitman, who has been associated with Oklahoma’s Storm Prediction Center for more than a dozen years, is currently one of just two women on its staff. There are 10 times as many men.

“As far as I know, there’s been five of us,” she said of female forecasters throughout the seven decades that the facility has been in operation.

Until Leitman, none of those women had attained the position of lead forecaster. By doing the research needed to issue a tornado watch on Wednesday, she became the first female to do so.

A close-knit community

Although she is one of just a handful of women in the center’s history, Leitman feels like an integral part of the team.

“When people come to SPC, they don’t tend to leave,” she said, noting that the longevity of employees means that the current crop of forecasters is “not that far removed from individuals who were here in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

There are currently only five lead forecasters — and as the first woman to earn that title, Leitman is afforded some serious street cred.

Chief of Forecast Operations Bill Bunting, who leads the entire operation, explained: “These are national experts. They are the best of the best.”

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
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