Portland Public School Teachers Reach Tentative Deal After More Than Three Weeks Of Striking 

Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers have reached a tentative deal to end the teachers strike that’s been occurring for over three weeks, keeping schools in the area closed since November 1st. This week, more than 40,000 students were able to return to the classroom. 

According to the Portland Public Schools letter sent out to families last weekend, union members will have to ratify the terms of the agreement, and the school board will also need to approve the full contract, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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“We are relieved to have our students returning to school and know that being out of school for the last three weeks — missing classmates, teachers, and learning — has been hard for everyone,” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and the PPS school board said.

“We thank our students, families, and community for your patience and perseverance through these protracted negotiations. We also want to express our deep appreciation for our educators, who are the backbone of our district, and who enrich the lives of our students.”

The Portland Association of Teachers said “educators are ending the strike, securing a historic tentative agreement with key wins for student mental health support, class size, protected planning time, building health and safety protections, and cost-of-living increases.”

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The district’s statement said the “agreement includes processes for resolving class size concerns that involve impacted educators, school leaders, and parents.” The teachers union suggested parents would be more than simply involved, describing the new structure as “shared decision-making committees involving educators and parents.”

Portland Association of Teachers president Angela Bonilla stated that parents would not gain access to private student information, and further discussions will be about identifying necessary support for class sizes that are growing too large. 

“That might look like saying, ‘Hey, this class is in the small classroom on the second floor now that they have an extra student, we gotta move them to the big classroom. But we know that the best solutions to problems that we have in our schools come from the folks who actually attend them, who work at them and who send their students to those places,” Bonilla said. 

As outlined in statements from PAT and PPS, “the contract also increases dedicated planning time, access to mental health support teams for students throughout the district, and funding to address building conditions, among other things.”

“This contract is a watershed moment for Portland students, families and educators. Educators walked picket lines alongside families, students and allies — and because of that, our schools are getting the added investment they need,” Bonilla said.


President Biden Issues Executive Order for AI Oversight

On Monday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order covering a wide range of topics related to artificial intelligence, paving the way for new government regulations and funding.

The 111-page order covers multiple facets of AI and areas of concern or development, including civil rights, cybersecurity, discrimination, global competition, and a push for establishing federal AI jobs.

A senior White House official, who wished to remain anonymous, reportedly told NBC News that the potential uses of AI are so vast that effective regulations must cover a lot of ground. He also underscored the need for “significant bipartisan legislation.”

“AI policy is like running into a decathlon, and there’s 10 different events here, and we don’t have the luxury of just picking ‘we’re just going to do safety’ or ‘we’re just going to do equity’ or ‘we’re just going to do privacy.’ You have to do all of these things.”

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The order expands on a July nonbinding agreement between seven of the most prominent U.S. technology companies developing AI. The agreement required the companies to hire outside experts to identify weaknesses in their systems. The government can legally require companies to disclose the results of those safety tests under the Defense Production Act.

The Department of Commerce will also be required to develop guidelines for properly “watermarking” AI content, such as “deepfake” videos and ChatGPT-generated essays.

In an interview with NBC News, the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence co-director Fei-Fei Li stressed the importance of government funding for AI to solve society’s pressing issues.

“The public sector holds a unique opportunity in terms of data and interdisciplinary talent to cure cancer, cure rare diseases, to map out biodiversity at a global scale, to understand and predict wildfires, to find climate solutions, to supercharge our teachers. There’s so much the public sector can do, but all of this is right now starved because we are severely lacking in resources.”

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Some of the other topics covered in the order are geared toward anticipating and mitigating real-world problems that may arise from the widespread implementation of AI.

For instance, it asks the Department of Labor to address the potential for AI to cause job losses; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development to address how AI may exacerbate discrimination in banking and housing sectors; and the Office of Management and Budget, and others, to determine how the government can use AI without jeopardizing privacy rights.

The AI Now Institute managing director, Sarah Myers West, praised President Biden for including ethical concerns in the executive order. The nonprofit focuses on the societal implications of artificial intelligence use.

“It’s great to see the White House set the tone on the issues that matter most to the public: labor, civil rights, protecting privacy, promoting competition. This underscores you can’t deal with the future risks of AI without adequately dealing with the present. The key to looking forward will be to ensure strong enforcement as companies attempt to set a self-regulatory tone: industry cannot be left to lead the conversation on how to adequately address the effects of AI on the broader public.”


Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Abortion Law Challenging, Upholding Six-Week Ban

In a ruling from Georgia’s State Supreme Court this week, the state upheld their banning of abortions past the six-week mark. 

The ruling also reverses a lower court’s decision to get rid of certain sections of the LIFE Act; which bans abortion when early cardiac activity is detected. The lower court wanted to void certain aspects of the LIFE Act because it was enacted prior to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. 

According to CNN, the ruling made on Tuesday stated that “the trial court erred in relying on overruled decisions of the United States Supreme Court to conclude that portions of the LIFE Act violated the United States Constitution when enacted in 2019. 

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The same United States Constitution governs today as when the LIFE Act was enacted, and Georgia courts are required to look to the United States Supreme Court’s now-controlling interpretation of the United States Constitution when determining whether a statutory law violates that Constitution. 

We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to defend the constitutionality of Georgia’s LIFE Act,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.

Monica Simpson, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and also a plaintiff in case, responded to the decision made by the courts this week: 

“Today’s devastating decision means that our people will continue to face the horrible reality that they are in today where Georgians are suffering because they cannot access abortion care.”

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“This abortion ban has forced Georgians to travel across state lines at great expense or continue the life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth against their wills,” she stated. 

Lauren Eden, advocate for the Abortion Survivors network, told CNN, “I am thrilled. It’s going to protect so many innocent lives like mine. This will not only protect the lives of unborn babies, but also the lives of the mothers who we know suffer so much pain after an abortion procedure.”

Georgia House Democrats, spoke out against the decision in a statement, “This harmful decision leaves in place a deadly restriction on reproductive rights and criminalizes doctors who are seeking to provide life saving healthcare to patients across the state.”

The Georgia State Supreme Court plaintiffs said the ban “violates the due-process, equal-protection, and/or inherent-rights provisions of the Georgia Constitution.”


US Senate Unanimously Passes Formal Dress Code 

The US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution that formalizes business attire as the proper dress code for the floor of the chamber, according to reports. 

This move came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer decided to stop enforcing the unwritten requirement. Democratic Senator John Fetterman’s casual dressing has also become a big talking point in the media and the Capitol. 

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The bill from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney now requires that Senate members abide by an actual written out dress code, rather than an unwritten custom. 

The new resolution stated that when members are on the Senate floor, men must wear a coat, tie, and slacks. The resolution didn’t list any specifics for business attire for women on the Senate floor. 

“Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,” Schumer said. 

“I deeply appreciate Senator Fetterman working with me to come to an agreement that we all find acceptable, and of course I appreciate Sen. Manchin and Sen. Romney’s leadership on this issue.”

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Before the measure was officially passed, Fetterman told CNN that he would wear business attire when presiding over the Senate floor. 

Following the passing, Fetterman’s office released a brief statement that included a current viral meme image of actor Kevin James from the hit TV series, “King Of Queens.”

Back in 2017, Paul Ryan, the then-House speaker, relaxed the rules regarding dress codes after dozens of congresswomen objected to a prohibition on displaying bare arms. 

In 2019, the attire for women in the Senate was relaxed after then-Senate Rules Committee chair, Amy Klobuchar, worked to make a change so women could wear sleeveless dresses.


Post 9/11 First Responder Deaths Nearly Equals The Number Of Firefighters Who Died In 2001

The amount of first responders who unfortunately passed away due to illnesses relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has almost reached the number of first responders who died on the actual day, 22 years ago.

343 New York firefighters died during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Today, a total of 341 New York City Fire Department firefighters, civilian support staff, and paramedics have died from post-9/11 illnesses.

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The 341 first responders who passed away within the past two decades have been memorialized at the FDNY World Trade Center Memorial Wall, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

According to a news release from Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, reported by CNN, the fire department added 43 names to the memorial on September 6.

“As we approach the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the FDNY continues to feel the impact of that day. Each year, this memorial wall grows as we honor those who gave their lives in service of others.”

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“These brave men and women showed up that day, and in the days and months following the attacks to participate in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. We will never forget them.”

The heightened risk of cardiovascular disease among the firefighters has been tied to the intense exposure of dust from the towers collapsing. Respiratory disease and thousands of cancer diagnoses have also been linked to the pollutants that were released during the attacks.

According to reports, more than 71,000 individuals are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry. The Registry itself is a long-term study to better understand the physical and mental health impacts of the attacks.

Beyond the first responders who have been impacted by these ailments, workers of the World Trade Center, NYC citizens who were on the streets during the attacks, volunteers who were on Ground Zero after, and residents of surrounding buildings have also suffered lasting health impacts.


Hurricane Idalia Continues Tracks Through Southeastern Georgia After Pummeling Florida

Hurricane Idalia has already made history in some parts of Florida after making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph on Wednesday. It is the strongest hurricane to hit Florida’s Big Bend Area in over 125 years.

In 1896, an unnamed Category 3 hurricane struck the state’s gulf coast at sustained winds of 125 mph. Since then, no hurricane of Idalia’s strength has hit the region.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee issued two extreme wind warnings on Wednesday morning. The warnings are only issued when winds exceeding 115 mph are expected in the area, and there have only been 27 such warnings for extremely high winds in the contiguous United States prior to Hurricane Idalia. Most of these advisories were issued in Florida.

While moving over the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, Hurricane Idalia experienced a period of rapid intensification, drawing its energy from the heightened sea surface temperatures.

Any increase in wind speeds by more than 35 mph within 24 hours is classified as rapid intensification, and Hurricane Idalia’s winds strengthened by 55 mph over 24 hours.

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Scientists have long been concerned about warming ocean waters due to climate change. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern Florida reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this summer.

On Wednesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a White House briefing that storms have become more frequent and severe due to global warming.

“These storms are intensifying so fast that our local emergency management officials have less time to warn and evacuate and get people to safety.”

Recent measurements show that the surface waters in Idalia’s path had reached nearly 88 degrees Fahrenheit, an all-time high since the early 1980s.

A rare blue supermoon will likely make the storm worse, with its gravitational pull causing tides to rise further. Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina, told The Associated Press, “I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one.”

The supermoon is expected to exacerbate flooding not only in Florida but also in states such as Georgia and South Carolina. Some parts of Charleston, South Carolina, could be underwater by Wednesday night.

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According to CNN, on Wednesday morning, Idalia’s storm surge was record-breaking from Tampa to The Big Bend region, with surges of more than 8 feet in Cedar Key, Florida, around 6.8 feet above their normal tides. The measurement surpassed the previous high water level of 5.99 feet from Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Wednesday morning’s high tide in Tampa Bay was 4.5 feet, topping the 3.79-foot mark set by Tropical Storm Eta in 2020.

At 4.05 feet, the tide at Clearwater Beach was higher than it had been since the 1993 Storm of the Century, which had been recorded at 4.02 feet. The Steinhatchee River in Steinhatchee, Florida, saw a 9-foot rise in water levels in just two hours.

As of 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday,  Hurricane Idalia has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as it barrels through Southeastern Georgia, moving at 20 mph with maximum sustained winds of around 75 mph. It still remains an active threat to the Southeast.

FEMA Administrator Criswell also told reporters President Biden contacted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis “to let him know that the federal family continues to be there to support him.”

“The president reiterated that if anything is needed from the federal government, we will be able to support; and we have over 1,000 personnel currently deployed, prepared to support not just Florida, but all of our states that are in the path as needed.”


Thousands of Flights Canceled as Storms Sweep Across the East Coast

Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled in the wake of severe storms that pummeled the East Coast over the weekend. According to FlightAware, more than 330 flights were canceled, and another 1,400 were delayed as of Tuesday morning.

The figures reflect the ongoing travel disruptions caused by turbulent weather in the Eastern U.S. Midday on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tweeted that they were working to avoid delays and cancellations.

“The FAA is re-routing aircraft around the storms heading to the East Coast as much as possible. Soon we will likely have to pause departures in and out of East Coast airports, including NYC, Philly, DC, Charlotte and Atlanta. Monitor http://fly.faa.gov. #FAAWeatherSad

By the end of the day Monday, however, 8,200 flights were delayed, and 1,600 were canceled. On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines had to cancel 100 flights, consisting of around 3% of its total schedule, and another 226 were delayed. There were 20 flight cancellations and 22 flight delays at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Atlanta, Newark Liberty, and Boston Logan are a few of the other major airports experiencing a moderate number of cancellations and delays.

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The recent storms left nearly 400,000 homes and businesses without power in large regions along the East Coast. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail also led to the deaths of two people, damaged structures and homes, and left dozens of drivers stranded for hours.

People were trapped in their cars for up to five and a half hours in Westminster, Maryland. State police reported that severe weather on Monday caused power lines to fall onto vehicles. Crews worked for hours to de-energize the power lines so drivers could leave the scene.

On his way home from work, Jeffrey Campbell told CNN he was trapped for hours when a utility pole collapsed in front of his vehicle onto other cars, leaving exposed live wires on the ground on either side of his truck. A wire knocked his exterior mirror off the side of his car. “It’s just poles coming down one after the other,” Campbell said.

Authorities shared that no injuries were reported, but 33 adults and 14 children had to be rescued.

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Tom Tomovich, a resident of Hockessin, DE, told 6ABC-TV that the storms ripped the roof of his house off.

“We saw the clouds coming and could hear a rumbling in the distance. We went into the house, and we were on the first floor, and before we could blink an eye, the winds just came right through the back of our house.”

The size of hailstones from Monday night’s storms in Caroline County, VA, came close to breaking state records. One hailstone, measured at around 4.75 inches, is the third largest ever found in Virginia. The last time hail this size hit the state was in the 1960s.

The initial storms affecting Philadelphia to Atlanta on Monday have since calmed. However, in the Southeast and New England, millions of people may face severe weather on Tuesday.

In a Facebook live briefing, National Weather Service meteorologist Christ Strong said, “This does look to be one of the most impactful severe weather events across the mid-Atlantic that we have had in some time.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 220,000 homes and businesses still do not have power in five states, with around 125,000 customers residing in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.


Florida Just Recorded The Hottest Ocean Temperatures In History 

This summer has been breaking heat records all over the world. Most recently, Florida saw an ocean temperature reading of 101.1 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, and 100.2 degrees on Sunday. The previous world record for hottest ocean temperature was 99.7 degrees in Kuwait Bay, according to a study from 2020. 

“This is shocking, it’s unprecedented, it’s actually quite frightening.” Stefanie Sekich, of the Surfrider Foundation, an ocean-protection advocacy group, told Yahoo News.

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July as a whole has seen the record for the hottest average global temperature broken multiple times as a result of climate change which has caused a multitude of heat waves across the country. 

The oceans have absorbed 90% of the increased heat from climate change, leading to global ocean surface temperatures to reach the highest temperature ever in 174 years of data. 

“These ocean temperatures over the globe have been increasing for the past month. In the North Atlantic, parts of Europe have seen the ocean temperature increase of 7 degrees [Fahrenheit] more than it usually is at this time of year,” Sekich said

One of the negative impacts to the ocean’s many ecosystems is coral bleaching, in the US specifically, Florida has been experiencing severe bleaching events since July. Coral bleaching occurs when the corals release algae due to warmer temperatures, causing the coral to turn white. 

On July 20th, the Coral Restoration Foundation reported that Sombrero Reef, near the Florida Keys, experienced a coral bleaching event with a 100% mortality rate. 

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“On July 20th, CRF teams visited Sombrero Reef, a restoration site we’ve been working at for over a decade. What we found was unimaginable — 100% coral mortality. We have also lost almost all the corals in the Looe Key Nursery in the Lower Keys,” said Phanor Montoya-Maya, restoration program manager at Coral Restoration Foundation, in a statement

“Sea grasses are another vital ecosystem, they’re an essential fish habitat, they’re the primary food source for manatees, which have been plummeting in recent years. Sea grasses are very vulnerable to warmer waters,” Chris Robbins, associate director of science at Oceans Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group, told Yahoo News.

“The last time we saw a massive seagrass die-off resulting from high water temperatures, high salinities, low oxygen was during the El Nino event in 2015, and of course we’re now in an El Nino event in 2023,” said Robbins.

When it comes to what we can do in order to improve, Sekich explained that “obviously, we need to get off fossil fuels. If we keep putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere we’re going to keep seeing these effects of climate change.”

Robbins also explained how the state and federal governments need to take charge and implement policies and infrastructure investments to reduce pollution and decrease the use of fertilizer and upgrading wastewater systems.

If and when these things happen, we’ll potentially need to reduce other stressors on these systems,” Robbins said.


‘The Good Doctor’ Actor Hill Harper Announces Candidacy For Open US Senate Seat In Michigan 

Hill Harper, a Detroit native and actor best known for his TV roles on “CSI: NY” and “The Good Doctor,” announced on Monday that he intends to run as a Democrat for Michigan’s open US Senate seat in 2024. 

“We need leadership in the U.S. Senate. If we just keep electing the same folks, we’ll continue to see the results we’ve been seeing,” Harper, said to the Detroit Free Press.

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Harper has been known publicly for his roles in the recent seasons of “The Good Doctor” on ABC, as well as “CSI: NY.” He’s also an author, activist, and owner of Detroit’s Roasting Plant coffee shop. He moved to Detroit in 2016. 

On Monday, Harper’s campaign released a powerful video announcing his candidacy for the race, showcasing Harper speaking to his adopted son about why he decided to run. 

The seat that Harper is campaigning for will be left open by the retirement of current Democratic US Senator Debbie Stabenow, who announced earlier this year that she would not be running for a fifth 6-year term. Harper is set to go up against US Representative Elissa Slotkin in the race to the Senate. 

While this is Harper’s first official run in public office, his resume is extensive in experience with public speaking as well as a Harvard law degree; where it’s known that he used to play pickup basketball with former President Barack Obama. 

Slotkin has been a strong campaigner as well. Last year she won her third US House term, earning large amounts of funding for her campaign.

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Harper was initially born in Iowa with the name Francis Eugene Harper, and took the name Hill to honor his mother, who was one of the first Black anesthesiologists in the US. 

As an author, he wrote bestsellers like “Letters to a Younger Brother,” which was drawn from his own motivational speeches given to inner-city school students. He also wrote “The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place,” which discussed his battle with thyroid cancer as well as the need for people to build financial security for themselves. 

Harper stated that he initially moved to Michigan after working there as an actor during a time when the state provided tax incentives for movie makers filming in the state. 

“I met some of the greatest people in the world, [I want my kids] to be more like Michigan folks than Hollywood folks.” 

Harper mentioned to the Detroit Free Press that he intends to describe himself to voters during his campaign as a more progressive candidate than Slotkin. He’s made it clear that he supports a single universal health plan provided by the government, as well as supporting efforts from the Biden Administration to forgive up to $20,000 in federal debt owed on student loans. 

“I’m getting into a Democratic primary that has a number of candidates. But I can speak to exactly where I think there are differences,” Harper stated.


Sarah McBride Announces Run For US House Seat, Would Become First Trans Member Of Congress 

Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride announced her candidacy on Monday to become Delaware’s next sole congresswoman. Senator McBride is currently the nation’s highest-ranking transgender elected official, and if she’s elected for Congress, would make history becoming the first trans person elected into federal office. 

McBride would also make history as the youngest elected official Delaware has sent to Washington since US President Joe Biden’t US Senate win in 1972. 

“It’s clear that diversity in government is necessary for us to not just ensure we have a healthy democracy but also to truly deliver for people,” she said in an interview with Delaware Online.

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“I am certainly cognizant of the uniqueness of my candidacy, of the uniqueness that my voice would bring to the halls of Congress. But ultimately, I’m not running to be a trans member of Congress,” she stated

“I’m running to be Delaware’s member of Congress who’s focused on making progress on all of the issues that matter to Delawareans of every background.”

McBride’s candidacy announcement comes at a time in America where transgender rights are being threatened by a multitude of state legislation, including bans on gender-affirming care. In her state of Delaware, a Republican senator reintroduced a bill recently that would require students to only pay on sports teams that correspond with the sex they were given at birth. 

In the political sphere, McBride has been viewed as the frontrunner to replace US Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. McBride is also expected to be competing for the position with Eugene Young, the current director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. 

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McBride has received a lot of support with her announcement, including support of labor organizers and national organizations, as well as dozens of Delaware politicians, including Attorney General Kathy Jennings. 

Before her time in the state senate, McBride worked as the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign; the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group. 

One of her biggest achievements as state senator was aiding the passage of statewide family and medical leave. 

McBride describes her ideology as “a progressive who likes to get things done,” adding that her “role in paid family leave is a clear demonstration of the kind of leader” she will be in Congress. 

“I will be someone who recognizes that you can be both bold and build bridges at the same time. Indeed, that’s the only way you’re able to achieve lasting permanent change,” she stated

McBride has also spoken up about her desire to combat disinformation, expand reproductive rights, and implement green technologies.