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Why Americans Throw Party on Fourth of July

If you could channel John Adams, he would be very pleased to see that the nation still celebrated this event

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Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments It was founding father John Adams who first suggested that Americans should throw an annual party. VOA

It was founding father John Adams who first suggested that Americans should throw an annual party — a “great anniversary festival” —  to celebrate the nation’s independence from England.

In a July 3, 1776, letter to his beloved wife Abigail, America’s second president wrote, “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

“If you could channel John Adams, he would be very pleased to see that the nation still celebrated this event which he thought should be marked forever,” says Mary Beth Norton, a recently retired professor of history at Cornell University and author of a forthcoming book, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. “Even though they’re not doing it on the day that he thought they would.”

Adams thought the nation’s independence should be celebrated on July 2. That’s when the Continental Congress, the body of delegates that governed the American colonies, actually voted for independence from England.

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Artist John Trumbull titled this painting, “The Declaration of Independence,” but it depicts a scene that never took place because the signers of the declaration never gathered in one place at the same time to sign the document. VOA

The written Declaration of Independence, the nation’s founding document, was dated July 4, 1776. However, the document wasn’t actually signed until August 2. Fifty-six delegates eventually signed, although not all at once and not all on August 2.

“People were in and out, and when they had the opportunity they came and signed it,” says Norton. “But there was no scene…of all of them sort of standing around waiting to sign a declaration.”’

The Declaration of Independence famously states that all men are created equal and that they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The founding fathers saw women’s education as critical to the future of the fledgling republic and insisted that women, as well as men, be educated after the Revolution.

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“They basically said, ‘We need every citizen of the Republic, including women,’ even though they couldn’t vote at that point and were not going to vote for another more than 100 years, ‘we need them to be active participants in the nation. They need to know the national history because they need to teach their children,’” Norton says.

Today, the ways in which Americans celebrate the Fourth of July differ. Many will host or attend cookouts. The three most popular foods that’ll be consumed are hamburgers, barbecued meats and hotdogs, according to a recent survey conducted by TopCashBack.com.

Attending a fireworks celebration is also high on many people’s lists.

Whatever they do, 86 percent of Americans say they plan to actively celebrate Independence Day.

 

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FILE — About 60% of Americans planned to have or attend a cookout on Independence Day 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. VOA

Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, believes widespread enthusiasm for the holiday stems from the fact that Independence Day honors all Americans.

“It’s celebrating democratic institutions, principles of freedom, principles of equality,” he says. “We can all get behind that. It’s not a single religion. It’s not a single group. It honors all Americans for their participation in civic culture, beginning with a group of Americans who gathered to declare the nation to be independent based upon a set of principles that are very admirable.”

One of the most memorable Fourth of July speeches was given by Frederick Douglass, a social reformer and writer who’d escaped slavery in Maryland.

He highlighted the hypocrisy of the ideals of freedom in a country where enslaved people remained in bondage. Speaking at an Independence Day celebration on July 5, 1852, Douglass famously asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

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“He basically says, ‘Yeah, this is about freedom and that doesn’t pertain to us in this country,’” says Grossman, adding that Douglass pointed out, “the distance between the principles enunciated in America’s founding documents and the ways in which American politics and social order had played out since the 1770s.”

Norton believes Americans should take the time this Fourth of July to reflect upon their role in ensuring America remains a republic based on the notion that people can govern themselves.

 

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An undated photo of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. VOA

“For me, it’s a day to reflect on everybody’s responsibilities to the nation, which goes far beyond the military’s responsibilities to the nation,” Norton says. “I think it’s everyone’s mutual responsibility to maintain the republic… this was something that very much concerned Adams and the other leaders of the revolution. They knew the history of the Roman Republic and how it had turned into a dictatorship.” (VOA)

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Tech Giant Google Secretly Gathering Health Information of Millions of US Citizens

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Google is reportedly gathering health information of millions of US citizens — without informing them or their doctors — to design an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software, the media reported.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, “Google is engaged with one of the US’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states” and at least 150 Google staffers may have access to the data.

St. Louis-based faith-based healthcare organisation Ascension is sharing lab results, diagnoses and hospitalisation records — as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth — with Google, the report claimed.

“The initiative, code-named ‘Project Nightingale,’ appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients medical data,” the report said.

The crunching of health data is the next big frontier for tech giants as Apple to Amazon and Microsoft are aiming big to infuse data findings into their devices and solutions in the burgeoning healthcare space.

The New York Times later wrote that “dozens of Google employees” may have access to sensitive patient data and some may have downloaded that data too.

As part of “Project Nightingale”, Ascension uploaded patient data to Google’s Cloud servers.

In a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension.

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FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” said Tariq Shaukat, President, Industry Products and Solutions, Google Cloud.

Google said it has a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care.

“To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data,” said the company.

Ascension also issued a statement, saying it is working with Google to optimise the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients and clinical providers across the continuum of care.

“All work related to Ascension’s engagement with Google is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant and underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling,” said the healthcare company.

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According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing.

“This is one of the reasons we used a code name for the work — in this case, Nightingale,” it added.

However, neither Google nor Ascension directly replied to the WSJ report.

In 2017, Google partnered with the University of Chicago Medical Centre to develop machine learning tools capable of “accurately predicting medical events — such as whether patients will be hospitalised, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating despite treatment for conditions such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or heart failure.” (IANS)