Here is some stuff in the news today...
[Content Note: Racism; police misconduct] The U.S. Department of Justice and Ferguson, Missouri, officials have reached an agreement that is poised to overhaul the city's entire justice system. [January 27] marked the end of negotiations sparked by the Justice Department's 2015 investigation, which concluded that the city's policing methods violated the rights of its Black citizens on the streets and in the courtrooms, all in the interest of filling the city's coffers. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the agreement, called a consent decree, will go through three rounds of public hearings before the city council votes on its adoption on February 9. If it rejects the agreement, the Justice Department will move forward with a suit against the city. Key points of the 131-page agreement include: Community policing and engagement, policies and training, eliminating bias, stop and search procedure, first Amendment activity, force, and municipal code reform."
[CN: War on agency] "Ohio's GOP-held state senate voted this week for the second time on a bill that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood. This time state senators were met with protesters offering testimonies, wearing patient smocks, and asking where the GOP lawmakers expected them to access health care." The protesters are so brave and amazing, but fuck if I'm not angry they are obliged to do this.
Potentially good news for marriage equality advocates in Australia: "Support for marriage equality in Australia's parliament has reached critical mass in both houses for the first time ever, according to the Sydney Morning Herald: 'According to the key lobby group leading the charge for a broadened definition of marriage in the Marriage Act, Australian Marriage Equality, there is now a slim majority of pro-change MPs in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate.'"
Taiwan has elected its first female president: "In a landslide victory, the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen won the country's presidential election, becoming the first woman in Taiwan's history to hold the position. ...A scholar with advanced degrees in law from Cornell University and the London School of Economics, Tsai served previously as chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Office, a government office that mediates interactions between Taiwan and Beijing. In 2004, Tsai joined the DPP, stepping in as the party's chairwoman just four years later. Despite a failed presidential bid in 2012, Tsai persevered, guiding her party to victories in regional elections. Tsai also emerged as a vocal advocate of women's and LGBT rights, advocating publicly for equal employment opportunities for women and marriage equality, respectively."
(If there are less flattering things to be said about Tsai or her platform, I'm not deliberately concealing them; I'm just not super familiar with Taiwanese politics.)
"The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter a year ago, official figures show. The rate of growth marks a sharp slowdown from the 2% growth recorded in the previous quarter. The US Commerce department said one reason for the slower growth was a slowdown in consumer spending." Here's an idea: Let's pay people livable wages and then see if they have more money to spend!
Okay! "Friday marks seven years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, the first bill he signed, aimed at helping women combat the gender wage gap by giving them more time to bring lawsuits. But in that time, the gender wage gap—which means that American women working full-time, year round make 79 percent of what men make, a gap that's much larger for women of color—has only narrowed by two cents, not a statistically significant change. So to mark the anniversary, Obama will announce executive action on Friday to institute a new requirement that companies with 100 or more employees report what workers are paid broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)."
Octavia Butler's personal journal is everything. Wow.
"Octopuses are social animals that change colors to resolve disputes and even throw debris at each other, video footage of a group of the feisty sea creatures in Jervis Bay has shown." They are forever fascinating creatures.
[CN: Fat stigma; disordered eating] Oprah Winfrey, who recently bought a huge stake in Weight Watchers and has been doing the most dreadful commercials for them, said in an interview, "I actually was traveling the other day and opened a 5 oz. bag of crinkle cut, black pepper potato chips and I counted out 10 chips. And I ate the 10 and I savored every one. And I put the bag away. Of all the accomplishments that [I] made in the world, all the red carpets, and the awards and those things that I've done. The fact that I could close the bag and not take another chip—it's major for me." I understand that Winfrey is dealing with disordered eating, but her stated goal is explicitly thinness. And the fact that she regards not eating chips as one of her major accomplishments is just fucking depressing as hell.
And finally! Baby hummingbirds! Squeeeeee!