July 21, 2019

A new law in Oregon championed by teen activists lets students take mental health days like they would sick days.

Previously, schools only had to excuse absences due to physical illnesses. The teenagers wanted schools to treat mental and physical health equally, and erase the stigma that can go along with mental health treatment. Activist Haily Hardcastle, 18, said she was inspired by the students in Parkland, Florida, who campaigned for gun control following the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Those teenagers "showed us that young people can totally change the political conversation," Hardcastle told The Associated Press. "Just like those movements, this bill is something completely coming from the youth." She is hopeful this will "encourage kids to admit when they're struggling" and seek help. Jason Wilson of Eugene, whose 14-year-old daughter Chloe died by suicide in 2018, told AP this is a major step, as "we need to do everything we can to open up that dialogue between parents and children when it comes to mental health." Catherine Garcia

12:45 a.m.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi has won the 2019 National Book Award for fiction, while Sarah M. Broom's memoir The Yellow House received the prize for nonfiction.

Trust Exercise is Choi's fifth book, and touches on sexual consent. The judges called the story "timely, mesmerizing, and in the end, unsettling." During Choi's acceptance speech, she said she finds it "an astonishing privilege that this is what I get to do for a living." Her novel American Woman was a 2004 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The Yellow House centers around Broom's home in New Orleans, and how Hurricane Katrina forced her large family to split up. In her acceptance speech, Broom said her mother "was always wolfing down words, insatiable. Which is how I learned the way words were a kind of sustenance."

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is one of the country's most prestigious literary prizes. This year's ceremony was hosted by actor and longtime Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton. Catherine Garcia

12:41 a.m.

President Trump made his seventh trip to Texas this year on Wednesday afternoon to tour a Flextronics plant in Austin where Apple assembles Mac Pro computers. After a 90-minute tour of the facility led by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Trump praised Apple and said "we're seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant." He later tweeted: "Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America."

That isn't what happened.

In his remarks, Cook noted that before Trump's arrival he had broken ground on Apple's new $1 billion corporate campus less than a mile from it's current Austin campus, and that new facility will vastly expand Apple's non-manufacturing footprint in the area. But the Flextronics plant that has been making Mac Pros since 2013 employs about 500 people and hasn't announced any plans to expand. Trump apparently has a history of claiming credit for the creation of existing manufacturing facilities.

Apple's dominant product is still the iPhone, whose production is centered in China. In the latest quarter, Apple's iPhone sales were about five times as high as revenue for all Macs, including laptops. Peter Weber

November 20, 2019

After Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) accused South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of being woefully inexperienced when it comes to national security and foreign policy, Buttigieg fired back by saying he would never have met a "murderous dictator" like she did.

In 2017, six years after the start of the Syrian Civil War, Gabbard traveled to the country to meet with its leader, Bashar al-Assad. The United States considers him a war criminal who killed his own citizens, and facing criticism for her trip back home, Gabbard refused to denounce Assad or apologize for the meeting.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) brought this up earlier in the debate, mentioning Gabbard's reluctance to call Assad a war criminal. After Gabbard accused Buttigieg of having no experience and making a "careless statement" saying he would "be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels," Buttigieg picked up where Harris left off. He first accused Gabbard of taking the remarks out of context, telling her it was preposterous to think he proposed invading Mexico.

"If your question is about experience, let's also talk about judgment," Buttigieg said. "One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar al-Assad. I have in my experience, such as it is whether you think it counts or not since it wasn't accumulated in Washington, enough judgment that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that." Gabbard told Buttigieg this was proof he "would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends," and brought up Franklin Roosevelt meeting with Josef Stalin and John F. Kennedy convening with Nikita Khrushchev. Buttigieg interrupted to bring up another dynamic duo: "Like Donald Trump met with Kim [Jong Un]," he said. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2019

Andrew Yang didn't get much speaking time at Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, but he made memorable use of the time he got. Near the end of the debate, Yang was asked what he would say, if elected, in his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Well, first I'd say I'm sorry I beat your guy," he said. "Or not sorry," he added, after a pause for applause. "And second, I'd say the days of meddling in American elections are over, and we will take any undermining of our democratic processes as an act of hostility and aggression."

Yang continued with a substantive answer, though he got a little in the weeds of mixed metaphors with his proposal for a "new World Data Organization, like a WTO for data, because right now, unfortunately, we're living in a world where data is the new oil and we don't have our arms around it." Peter Weber

November 20, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has a wake- and bake-up call for former Vice President Joe Biden.

A few days ago, Biden set himself apart from the rest of the top 2020 Democrats by calling marijuana a "gateway drug" and saying "legalization is a mistake." Booker brought that comment up in Wednesday's Democratic primary debate, saying while he has "a lot of respect" for Biden, when he heard that remark, he "thought you might have been high when you said it."

After his well-timed zing, Booker explained why he had a problem with Biden's remark. "Marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people," he said, pointing out how black and brown people are disproportionately hurt by current drug policies.

Biden immediately got heated — and slipped into a string of slips of the tongue. He clarified that he does support decriminalizing marijuana as part of his presidential platform, and that no one should be in jail for pot possession. And then he pivoted to how that ties to his support from black voters, saying he "come[s] out of the black community" before quickly adding "in terms of my support." And then he declared he had the endorsement of the "the only African American woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate" — with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) standing just a few feet away. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 20, 2019

With eight women — four candidates and four moderators — participating, this is the first time in history that women make up the majority on a presidential primary debate stage, the Democratic National Committee says.

Wednesday night's debate — featuring candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — is being moderated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News' Kristen Welker, and The Washington Post's Ashley Parker.

NPR notes that women also dominated the speaking time during the first half of the debate, with Warren talking for 6 minutes, 35 seconds and Klobuchar for 5 minutes, 49 seconds. Klobuchar used some of her time to discuss what it's like for women in politics, saying they are "held to a higher standard. Otherwise we could play a game called 'Name Your Favorite Woman President,' which we can't do because it has all been men, including all vice presidents being men." She also took a swing at President Trump, declaring that "if you think a woman can't beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day." Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2019

As Democratic presidential candidates addressed a national audience at the fifth 2020 primary debate, one candidate couldn't even find a single person to talk to.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick made a late entry into the 2020 race last week after expressing some dissatisfaction with the current field. But as his empty visit to Morehouse College on Wednesday showed, not everyone believes it's his time.

Patrick was supposed to make one of his first campaign stops at the historically black college in Atlanta on Wednesday, not far from where the upper echelons of the Democratic field were debating. But as CNN reports, once Patrick got there and found out he wouldn't have much of an audience, he canceled the talk.

Patrick has said he's aware his late run is like a "Hail Mary from two stadiums over," and he's apparently decided there's no point in even leaving the locker room if no one's there to watch. Kathryn Krawczyk

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