Wednesday, May 15th, 2019


Choice Cuts

"Alabama lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban virtually all abortions in the state — including for victims of rape and incest — sending the strictest law in the nation to the state's Republican governor, who is expected to sign it." The Alabama law is just one element in a large scale, long running battle to ultimately overturn Roe v Wade. And that battle is approaching a fevered pitch. From WaPo: Alabama Senate passes nation's most restrictive abortion ban.

+ CBS News: "The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood just filed a lawsuit challenging the Ohio 'heartbeat' bill, an abortion ban that would prohibit the procedure about five to six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women know that they're pregnant."

+ The bills intended to restrict (or completely stop) abortion are spread out geographically, but they all have the same target destination: The Supreme Court. In The New Yorker, a reporter who has covered the Court for decades reflects on the latest laws and the state of the challenge. "I don't think these laws per se are challenges to Roe because they're so extreme. I actually think the challenge to Roe will come with ostensibly milder measures that will let the courts find cover in seeming not to be extreme even though these laws can have the extreme effect of destroying the abortion infrastructure and cutting off access for most women."


Defacing Public Property

The epicenter of the tech industry just said no to technology. From the SF Chronicle: "San Francisco became the first city in the country to ban city use of facial recognition surveillance technology ... a groundbreaking move that privacy advocates applaud, but others say may go too far." (It's hard to capture our faces using publicly mounted cameras, anyway. We're always looking down at our phones.)

+ "Supporters of facial recognition technology say that it has the capability to help police departments more efficiently identify and arrest criminal suspects, but critics point to examples of misuses that they say prove it can do more harm than good." Vox: San Francisco's facial recognition technology ban, explained.


Assad State of Affairs

"Syrian security officers hung Muhannad Ghabbash from his wrists for hours, beat him bloody, shocked him with electricity and stuck a gun in his mouth. Mr. Ghabbash, a law student from Aleppo, repeatedly confessed his actual offense: organizing peaceful antigovernment protests. But the torture continued for 12 days, until he wrote a fictional confession to planning a bombing. That, he said, was just the beginning." Anne Barnard in the NYT: Inside Syria's Secret Torture Prisons: How Bashar al-Assad Crushed Dissent. (And got away with it...)


All Too Familiar

"Politically motivated crime in general continued to fall after a peak in 2016, and the number of violent offenses was down. The crimes that are still rising, however, paint a disturbing picture of Germany's resurgent far right, which the report found to be responsible for around 90 percent of the anti-Semitic offenses." NYT: Anti-Semitic Crime Rises in Germany, and Far Right Is Blamed.


Lag the Dog

"The US state department has ordered the departure of 'non-emergency employees' from Iraq, amid rising tensions between the US and Iraq's neighbour Iran." But has anything on the ground there (or anywhere) really changed enough to account for the rising tensions? US allies are skeptical. The United States meant to isolate Iran. It looks increasingly isolated itself.

+ "If you pull back and look objectively at the assets the United States is putting into the region—one carrier that was kind of supposed to be going there anyway, one Patriot missile battery after we moved four out, four bombers—the U.S. is not going to war with Iran with that. But it's all the hype around it, and the Bolton statement is really what set this off." The Atlantic: The Knowns and Unknowns of What's Happening With Iran.


Freedom Fries

"Staff at the fast-food chain has special access to a 24-hour hotline to the U.S. embassy, meaning that Americans in need can get in touch with the embassy and pick up a Big Mac while they wait." FastCo: McDonald's locations to double as U.S. embassies in the most American thing that ever happened.


A Measley Sum

"As America enters the worst measles outbreak since the disease was declared eradicated two decades ago, it is worth examining this rarely talked about element of vaccination requirements. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has long percolated at the heart of misinformation and misunderstanding. It also raises questions about where large sums of tax money are flowing." James Hamblin in The Atlantic: Why the Government Pays Billions to People Who Claim Injury by Vaccines.


An Orderly Progression

"Can a restaurant be a restaurant if you take away the cashiers, tables and diners?" In the age when everything is delivered, why would it matter? Bloomberg: Food Delivery Boom Means Sandwiches Don't Come From Restaurants Now.


Steel Resolve

Glamour attempts to answer the question: How the Hell Has Danielle Steel Managed to Write 179 Books? (And all on a typewriter). "Steel releases seven new novels a year—her latest, Blessing in Disguise, is out this week—and she's at work on five to six new titles at all times. In 1989 Steel was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times best-seller list for the most consecutive weeks of any author—381, to be exact. To pull it off, she works 20 to 22 hours a day. (A few times a month, when she feels the crunch, she spends a full 24 hours at her desk.)" I have a similar work schedule, and yet my output usually only amounts to a few tweets a day...


Bottom of the News

"For the first time in N.B.A. history, brothers — Stephen and Seth Curry — are up against each other in a conference finals. This is tricky — for their parents." NYT: Sonya and Dell Curry Mastered Cheering for Their Sons. But Not at the Same Time. (It's not even easy deciding who wears what to the game.)

+ Buzzfeed: Behind Twitter's Plan To Get People To Stop Yelling At One Another. (Simple, just bait us all into yelling at Twitter instead...)

+ A billboard worker fell while working on a billboard advertising personal injury lawyers.