In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

RIP Harper Lee. "Harper Lee, whose 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird became a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American deep south, has died at the age of 89. ...Within minutes of the announcement of the novelist's death, encomiums began to flow. Her literary agent Andrew Nurnberg said in a statement: 'We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.' He added: 'Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege.'" My condolences to everyone who knew and loved her and/or her work.

[Content Note: War; terrorism; child abuse; death] Fucking hell: "Islamic State has been dispatching children and teenagers into battle and sending them as [redacted] bombers at an unprecedented rate, analysis by US researchers has found. Examining Isis death notices of 89 children and youths on Twitter and the encrypted communications app Telegram, a study by Georgia State University found that the minors came from at least 14 nationalities, with just under two-thirds aged between 12 and 16. According to the analysis, which ran from the start of 2015 until the end of January this year, the death rate has doubled for those aged 18 and under being used by Isis. Overall, 39% of them were used to drive cars or trucks laden with explosives at the enemy. A further 33% died as foot soldiers. ...'The Islamic State has so heavily championed the mobilisation of children—on a scale rarely associated even with violent extremist organisations—that it suggests organisational concerns that far outweigh short-term propaganda benefits,' the report said."

[CN: War on agency] Damn: "A clinic that has provided abortion services in New Orleans for nearly four decades closed its doors this week after its primary physician retired, according to advocates, leaving pregnant people in the state with one less option for reproductive health care. ...A Planned Parenthood facility that will provide surgical abortion care has been under construction in New Orleans, but it is unknown when that clinic will open. There are three other clinics that provide abortion services in the state, located in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Bossier City." This is another way that anti-choicers are eroding abortion access: By intimidating doctors so that there are fewer and fewer of them who are willing and able to provide abortions.

[CN: Homophobia] This girl is so brave and tenacious, although I deeply resent that she was obliged to be by homophobia: "Taylor Victor will now be allowed to wear a T-shirt that identifies her as a lesbian, after reaching a settlement with her school district that resulted in an update to the student dress code. Last fall, Victor wore a shirt to her Northern California school that read, 'Nobody knows I'm a lesbian.' She said she wore it ironically because she is open about her sexuality. The administration reprimanded her and gave a slew of defenses for that decision, saying the T-shirt was 'disruptive' an 'open invitation to sex,' could be 'gang-related,' and that students couldn't wear shirts that stated their 'personal choices and beliefs.' In response, Victor sued two administration officials with the representation of the ACLU. The Manteca Unified School District reached a settlement with the ACLU this week. Although the school district denied wrongdoing, it agreed to change its dress code to make it clear that students can wear clothes that support either their own identities on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, and other identities, or support their classmates identities, without retribution from the administration."

Wow: "It's time to add another item to the list of Black firsts: Yesterday (February 17), ABC announced that Channing Dungey is the television network's new entertainment president. Variety reports that she is the first Black person to control programming for a major broadcast network. You might not know Dungey's name, but you know the shows she developed during her tenure as senior vice president of drama development. They include Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico and American Crime."

YES: "Scalia was not a great judge: he was a bad one. And his badness consisted precisely in his contempt for the rule of law, if by 'the rule of law' one means the consistent application of legal principles, without regard to the political consequences of applying those principles in a consistent way. One of Scalia's many obnoxious qualities as a jurist was his remarkably pompous, pedantic, and obsessive insistence that the legal principles he (supposedly) preferred—textualism in statutory interpretation, originalism when reading the Constitution, and judicial restraint when dealing with democratically-enacted legal rules—were not merely his preferences, but simply 'the law.' ...[T]he truth is that, far more than the average judge, Scalia had no real fidelity to the legal principles he claimed were synonymous with a faithful interpretation of the law. Over and over during Scalia's three decades on the Supreme Court, if one of his cherished interpretive principles got in the way of his political preferences, that principle got thrown overboard in a New York minute."

"Bush machine running on fumes." I guess that means if we all stop farting at him, he'll have nothing left.

Neat! "The Hubble Space Telescope has given scientists their sharpest-ever look at a known galaxy containing an enormous black hole. The supermassive black hole is in a galaxy called NGC 4889, one of several in the Coma Cluster, officials said Thursday. ...Even though NGC 4889's black hole measures 130 billion kilometers in diameter, you can't see it in the picture. Black holes are invisible because light can't escape their gravitational pull, according to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). But scientists were able to measure NGC 4889's black hole by using the velocity of the stars moving around it and found it to be one of the largest known black holes."

Aww precious wee beastie: "Also known as Limacina helicina, the sea butterfly navigates cold ocean waters in the northern Atlantic and Pacific. Its shell measures about 1 to 4 millimeters (0.04 to 0.16 inches) in diameter, and it swims using a pair of winglike appendages. It can retract these into its shell when threatened. Many types of zooplankton, tiny ocean animals, have structures like the sea butterfly's, which they use as paddles to propel themselves through the water. But when researchers conducted the first-ever analysis of how the sea butterfly's appendages move, the scientists found that the creature swam in a completely unexpected way. ...'The more we looked into it, the more we found that the sea butterfly is an honorary insect,' said study co-author David Murphy, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 'We looked at the wing kinematics—how it moves its wings in a figure-eight pattern—and it's very similar to how a fruit fly beats its wings.'"

[CN: Moving GIF at link] And finally! "You'll Never Be as Chill as These Lizards Truly Living Their Best Life." LOL!

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