In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

The Guttmacher Institute, which I will say once again is truly a national treasure, has published a new report on insurance coverage of abortion through the plans available via the Affordable Care Act. This is a must-read.

[Content Note: War on agency] In Tennessee: "A bill is currently moving through the Tennessee legislature that would make pregnant [people] criminally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies. According to National Advocates for Pregnant Women, HB 1519 would 'create a gender-specific set of crimes that would make [people] criminally liable for an undefined and indefinable range of acts and omissions that may be perceived by outsiders as affecting pregnancy outcomes.'" Jesus fucking Jones. At any point will our ostensibly pro-choice President give a dedicated address to the erosion of access to abortion and the attendant erosion of agency?!

[CN: War on agency] In South Dakota: "This week, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) approved an unnecessary abortion restriction that reinforces racial stereotypes about the Asian American community. House Bill 1162 bans abortions based on a fetus' sex, and makes it a felony for doctors to perform this type of 'sex-selective' procedure—based on the misperception that Asian women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy if they find out the fetus is a girl."

Over to Michigan for some good news: "Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday extended federal recognition to the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place in Michigan before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold. Holder's action will enable the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to the Michigan couples who married Saturday, which means they can file federal taxes jointly, get Social Security benefits for spouses and request legal immigration status for partners, among other benefits." His action will also make it even more difficult for the state to claim there's no equal protections violations in denying the same rights to other same-sex couples.

[CN: Homophobia] A Mississippi news anchor says that the LGBTQI community has "been in the news too much lately. Maybe they should take a short break. Go on gaycation." The station for which he works has condemned his homophobic outburst. What a fucking dirtbag.

The ACLU has filed "a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, and several other agencies asking for information about a surveillance technique known as a 'cell tower dump.' If you’re wondering what that is or why we're worried about it, a story from a few years back might help to illustrate. In 2010, the FBI was looking for a pair of bank robbers known as the 'high country bandits.' Security footage from the banks wasn't very revealing, so the Bureau turned to cell phone companies for help. To find out who was consistently near the banks when these robberies took place, they asked for the number of every single phone that was connected to cell towers near the robbed banks around the time the crimes occurred. In response, they got back over 150,000 numbers. This is a cell tower dump: the practice of demanding an enormous amount of cell phone location information—anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of data points—in an effort to identify just a few suspects. ...Cell tower dumps aren't rare. A congressional inquiry found that companies received at least 9,000 tower dump requests in 2012, and in 2013 Verizon alone reported receiving 3,200 such requests."

Here is a blub-inducing video of 39-year-old Joanne Milne hearing for the first time after receiving a cochlear implant. The technician reads her the days of the week and the months of the year, and Milne is overwhelmed with emotion. She tells the tech that her voice sounds very high-pitched, and the tech explains to her that her brain will adjust the tones over time; it won't always sound that way. And there is a lovely story, in text form at the link, about Milne's friend preparing music for her, at her request.

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