Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022


Skid Roe

It was inevitable. Those are the first three words of one of the most notable openings in literature from Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. The same three words would make a decent opening to any article on the leaked draft that indicates the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v Wade. It was inevitable because that's precisely what this Court was designed to do. While, until recently, the majority of Americans assumed the fight for choice was over, another group of Americans have been working for decades to remake the courts in their image; and with the help of the Federalist Society's unwavering focus, Mitch McConnell's nomination blockades and Donald Trump's transactional nature, they've achieved the goal. Several of today's justices were "shepherded toward nomination and confirmation with the support of the conservative Federalist Society and its influential vice president, Leonard Leo. It was Leo's list of potential justices that Trump drew from time and again during his presidency. 'No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo' ...The idea that any of Leo's picks for the Supreme Court would be averse to decimating, if not eliminating, abortion rights has always been delusional." Politico with the leaked draft: Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows. One of the lessons of this decision, and of many other instances of America's backtracking on rights and norms you thought were long settled is that, in a democracy like ours, the fight is never over. It's an ongoing journey. We opened this paragraph with the first line of Love in the Time of Cholera. Let's close it with the last line, as it also applies to the fight for the America most of us want: "'And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?' he asked. Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights. ‘Forever,' he said."

Let's assume the draft holds, or at least that we'll get to this point in the very near future. What's next? Abortion will be illegal immediately in 13 states, and soon thereafter, it will become illegal in about half of American states. Like in the pre-Roe days, this burden will be felt primarily by the poor (the wealthy can travel for medical procedures). This will be the new state of affairs, regardless of the fact that a majority of Americans are pro-choice and that there is not a single state where support for a federal ban on abortion has more than 30% support. That's one bit of today's news that can be exploited by Democrats. What was a legal issue just became a get out the vote issue.

Removing the right to abortions would not only put America at odds with its own population, it would also go against a very clear international move towards choice. America "will instead join a small cadre of increasingly authoritarian countries that have become more restrictive on abortion in recent years," such as Hungary, Poland, and Brazil. Mary Fitzgerald in the NYT: The World Is Lifting Abortion Restrictions. Why Is the U.S. Moving Against the Tide? (If the tide is towards a more liberal democracy, the U.S. is caught in the undertow.)

For many women, the Court's ruling won't necessarily change much. This is just the latest clampdown on women's rights. "For many Americans, Roe already feels meaningless. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties lack a clinic that offers abortions." Jessica Bruder in The Atlantic: The Future of Abortion in a Post-Roe America. Critically, the suppression of rights is unlikely to stop with abortion. "The implications for the law of overruling Roe will be enormous. Justice Alito's draft opinion for the Court says that Roe was 'egregiously wrong' because it protects a right that was not included in the text of the Constitution, was not protected by the original meaning of the Constitution, and was not traditionally safeguarded as a constitutional right. But by that reasoning, countless other Supreme Court decisions protecting basic aspects of privacy and autonomy were wrongly decided as well." Time: The Enormous Consequences of Overruling Roe v. Wade.

+ The other big part of this story is the leak. The original Roe v. Wade ruling was leaked, too. But not like this. In fact, nothing in the Court has really been leaked quite like this. Slate's Jeremy Stahl with some theories on who Leaked Samuel Alito's draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade—and why? (Prediction: We'll know who leaked it by the end of the week.)

+ "Collins discovered she may have been sold a bill of goods by the man who "likes beer," as well as Justice Neil Gorsuch, another Trump appointee who claimed he would protect Roe at all costs." ‘Completely Inconsistent': Susan Collins Seems Shocked Kavanaugh Might've Lied to Her. (I'm ending with Collins' reaction because they say laughter is the best medicine.)


Oil Rigging

In a couple recent editions, I suggested that we keep our eye on the quarterly reports from oil and gas companies that have been raising worldwide prices at the pump (supposedly) because of inflation and Russia's invasion. Well, some numbers are in. BP's profits for the first three months of this year have more than doubled after oil and gas prices soared.



"Many have urged Germany to join the United States in boycotting Russian energy, saying the purchases are tantamount to supporting 'Putin's war machine.' But Merkel's successor, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has refused, saying such a ban would be disastrous for the German economy. This is one of the costs of nuclear fear: depending on a dictator to keep your lights on." There are others as well. But people are afraid of nuclear energy, especially in a post Fukushima world. In WaPo, Harry Stevens asks: Who's Afraid of Nuclear Elemental Power? "Fear of nuclear energy has made it harder to stand up to dictators and slow down global warming. Is it time for a rebrand?" (Great minds...)


The Fix Is In

"This year's honorees are a reminder that, every single day, countless indefatigable problem solvers are addressing the world's most urgent challenges. They are devising new ways to improve healthcare, to cultivate food, and to fight misinformation." Very inspiring list of FastCo's 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards.


Extra, Extra

Meth Lab: "For decades, the country has been a global hub for opium production, estimated to supply 80 percent of the world's opiate users. Now its meth industry is growing at breakneck speed, stoking fears among Western experts and officials that, under the Taliban, Afghanistan could become a major supplier as demand rises globally." WaPo: The drug trade now flourishing in Afghanistan: Meth.

+ Crossing the Century Mark: "A punishing heat wave has pushed temperatures past 120F (50C) in some areas. Some schools have closed early for the summer. Dozens of people have people have died of heat stroke. The region is already hard-hit by climate change. Extreme heat is common in May. But not in April and March, both of which were the hottest across much of India for more than a century." Meanwhile, in America, as the water dries up, we're finding bodies. Body found in barrel in Lake Mead may date back to 1980s.

+ Self Control: "Ferdinand Marcos Jr., along with his mother Imelda, has long tried to thwart efforts to recover billions of dollars plundered during his father's autocratic rule. If he becomes president in elections on May 9, he will have the authority to appoint the head of the agency set up to recover the family's riches."

+ Cup Runneth Under: "In Costa Rica, if farmers apply just ⅓ less fertilizer, coffee yields could drop 15%." I'm a big fan of Costa Rica coffee, so that's enough to scare me. But there are plenty of other ways the fertilizer shortage puts us all up sh-t creek without a paddle.

+ A Screw Loose: "Working to reduce the need for regular inspections of large structures, researchers from the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT have created a smart self-powered screw that leverages IoT tricks to automatically send out alerts when it detects that it's become looser than it was on the day it was installed." Smart Screws That Can Detect When They're Loose Could Help Save America's Bridges.


Bottom of the News

"Raptors and Leafs stock up at the Cheese Boutique during homestands. Drake dispatches members of his entourage when he has a craving. Dustin Hoffman once spent $10,000 there on gifts for his friends." The Ministers of Cheese.