Republicans and Democrats are starting to agree on the Confederate flag. It's about time.

Hey, look! Congress did something kind of bipartisan for a change.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.


Perhaps even more surprisingly, Congress did something positive.

Under a newly passed amendment to a larger bill, the Confederate flag will no longer be welcome at many veterans' cemeteries.

A Confederate veterans' cemetery. If the law takes effect, the ban would only apply to cemeteries administered by the V.A. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

The outcome of the vote was reported by The Associated Press:

"The House voted Thursday to ban the display of the Confederate flag on flagpoles at Veterans Administration cemeteries.

The 265-159 vote would block descendants and others seeking to commemorate veterans of the Confederate States of America from flying the Confederate Battle Flag over mass graves, even on days that flag displays are permitted."

This kind of vote might not have been possible just a few years ago.

For decades, the Confederate flag, a symbol of slavery and Jim Crow, flew on public property all over the South.

As late as 2000, the flag was still flying over the South Carolina state capitol. A highly contentious debate that year ended with the flag's removal from the building itself, but lawmakers — in an attempt to accommodate (mostly) white Southerners who claimed the flag was simply a marker of their regional identity and heritage — allowed it to remain on public grounds near the statehouse.

Last year's tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine black men and women were murdered in their own church, finally got lawmakers on both sides of the aisle rethinking the place the flag has in public life.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

After an investigation into shooter Dylann Roof revealed dozens of images detailing his worship of the Confederate flag, its place as a racist symbol became impossible to ignore.

Lawmakers in South Carolina voted to finally and completely remove the flag from the area in front of the statehouse (even before lawmakers acted, courageous activist Bree Newsome took it down on her own).

It's regrettable that it took a tragedy of such terrible magnitude to force this much-needed change.

The Confederate flag is lowered at the South Carolina statehouse. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Thankfully, that change is finally coming to Washington — and, with this vote, becoming the rare issue where Democrats and at least some Republicans, are coming closer to agreement rather than drifting farther apart.

For now, at least, the Confederate flag debate is finally moving in the right direction.

A South Carolina police officer puts away the Confederate flag that had been flying at the statehouse. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Down, instead of up.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

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A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

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The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

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