In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

President Obama has announced a new climate change initiative that will require existing power plants to cut emissions by 30%, although the companies don't have to submit plans on how they're going to accomplish this until 2016 at the earliest. (Which means if the next president is a Republican, this requirement could be unwound before any meaningful reductions ever happen.) At the Plum Line, Greg Sargent has a lot of good info about the politics of this announcement.

(My aforementioned pessimism on climate change has not been alleviated, but I would never be so happy to be wrong if it really isn't far too late in the game to significantly delay climate change.)

This is very good news: "The Obama administration on Friday ended a 33-year ban on Medicare coverage for gender reassignment surgery—a major victory for transgender rights and a decision that is likely to put pressure on more insurers to provide coverage for such services. ...The blanket Medicare ban was put in place in 1981 when such surgeries were considered experimental. But now most medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, consider it a safe option... On Friday, the independent [Department of Health and Human Services] board, whose decisions are binding on HHS, said that medical studies published over the past three decades showed that the grounds for exclusion of coverage are 'not reasonable' anymore and lifted the ban." Woot!

[Content Note: War on agency] This is very bad news: "Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill on Wednesday that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. HB 1848 also requires the Oklahoma Board of Health to establish standards around equipment and supplies that may be necessary if a medical emergency occurs. ...These laws and the resulting closures of clinics leave many women without access to vital abortion services. Some already have to drive hundreds of miles or across state lines to get to the nearest clinic, but if multiple states continue to pass these laws, even those limited options may disappear." By any reasonable definition, this is creating an undue burden on abortion-seeking people. There is no way they should pass legal muster. But this is what happens when fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them.

[CN: Misogynoir] This is how to do feminist male ally work right: "Posted here is the Letter of 200 Concerned Black Men Calling for the Inclusion of Women and Girls to the President's 'My Brother's Keeper' Initiative. The open letter questions how attempts to address the challenges facing males of color, without integrating a comparable focus on the complex lives of girls and women who live and struggle together in the same families, homes, schools, and neighborhoods, advances the interests of the community as a whole." I strongly encourage you to read the whole letter. It is extremely powerful and moving, and not only advocates for the inclusion of women and girls, but pushes back on the president's rhetoric of respectability politics and bootstraps.

[CN: Terrorism; violence; death] Another bomb blast, most likely the responsibility once again of Boko Haram, has killed at least 14 people and wounded 12 in Nigeria. Meanwhile, Boko Haram continues to hold hostage more than 200 girls they abducted in April.

[CN: Surveillance] Welp: "NSA Collecting Millions of Faces from Web Images."

Spain's King Juan Carlos "is abdicating after almost 40 years on the throne and his son Prince Felipe will succeed him, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday in a surprise announcement. ...Once popular Juan Carlos, who helped smooth Spain's transition to democracy in the 1970s after the Francisco Franco dictatorship, has lost public support in recent years due to corruption scandals and gaffes. A poll published in Spanish newspaper El Mundo in January showed that almost two-thirds of Spaniards wanted Juan Carlos to abdicate. Younger Spaniards, who were not alive during the Franco years, were overwhelmingly in favor of abdication, the poll showed."

[CN: Transphobia] Whoooooooops your bigotry and colossal failure to impose it! "[Republican Maryland State Delegate Neil Parrott]'s attempt to force a referendum on a recently signed state transgender law banning discrimination was stymied after he collected less than one-third of the signatures needed to be placed on the November ballot. ...The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity with regard to public accommodations, housing, and employment and by specified licensed or regulated persons, was signed into law by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 15, 2014." Fuck off, Parrott.

Ian Millhiser examines "Seven Big Cases the Supreme Court Will Decide in June That Could Change America." Depressing, considering the way most of these will probably go with this court.

Oh goody! Herman Cain says he might run for president again.

RIP Ann B. Davis, whom most of us knew as Alice on The Brady Bunch.

And finally: If you love the movie Pitch Perfect, and you love Flula, then you are going to be VERY HAPPY to hear that Flula has just joined the cast of Pitch Perfect 2. Huzzah!

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