Here is some stuff in the news today...
[Content Note: War on agency] Bad news in both Florida and Indiana: In Florida, the Republican-controlled state legislature has "passed an omnibus anti-choice bill that would include targeted regulation of abortion providers. HB 1411, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), would create restrictions on abortion clinics, ban organizations that provide abortion care from receiving state Medicaid funds, and redefine the trimesters of pregnancy." In Indiana, the Republican-controlled state legislature has "authorize[d] an entire menu of grotesquely unconstitutional anti-choice TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, as well as new forms of authoritarian, misogynistic devilry... [T]he new Indiana bill is in keeping with a series of laws that don't outright ban abortion, but which makes it really, really difficult to have a safe and legal abortion."
[CN: Antisemitism; Christian Supremacy] FUCK. THIS. "A North Carolina pastor warmed up the crowd at a Donald Trump rally by urging Sen. Bernie Sanders to become a Christian. Televangelist Mark Burns spoke to Trump supporters at a campaign event in Hickory ahead of Tuesday's North Carolina primary election, reported the Friendly Atheist blog. 'Bernie Sanders, who doesn't believe in God, how in the world (are) we going to let Bernie—I mean, really?' Burns said, as the crowd applauded. 'Bernie's got to get saved, Bernie's got to meet Jesus. He's got to have a coming to Jesus meeting.' Sanders describes himself as a secular Jew who is not 'particularly religious.'" This is inappropriate in half a dozen different ways, and I am really angry that anyone would talk about Sanders this way.
[CN: Bigotry] Sounds like Paul Krugman is reading Shakesville again! "Let's dispel with this fiction that the Trump phenomenon represents some kind of unpredictable intrusion into the normal course of Republican politics. On the contrary, the G.O.P. has spent decades encouraging and exploiting the very rage that is now carrying Mr. Trump to the nomination. That rage was bound to spin out of the establishment's control sooner or later. Donald Trump is not an accident. His party had it coming."
GOOD GRIEF THESE GUYS: "Dr. Ben Carson, who endorsed Donald Trump's presidential candidacy on Friday, appears less than enthusiastic about that decision. And the real reason the unsuccessful GOP presidential hopeful endorsed his former rival could be a violation of federal law. Carson told the conservative online site NewsMax TV on Monday that he backed Trump based on a practical calculus. 'I didn't see a path for [John] Kasich, who I like, or for [Marco] Rubio, who I like. As far as [Ted] Cruz is concerned, I don't think he's gonna be able to draw independents and Democrats unless has has some kind of miraculous change… Is there another scenario that I would have preferred? Yes. But that scenario isn't available.' Pressed to clarify, Carson said he meant he'd prefer to have backed one of the other candidates. Carson then said that Trump had promised him a role in his administration, 'certainly in an advisory capacity.'" Whoooooooops!
[CN: Rape culture; clergy abuse] "The Church of England is to make far-reaching changes to the way it deals with cases of sex abuse following a damning independent report that details how senior church figures failed to act upon repeated disclosures of a sadistic assault. The first independent review commissioned by the church into its handling of a sex abuse case highlights the 'deeply disturbing' failure of those in senior positions to record or take action on the survivor's disclosures over a period of almost four decades. The church acknowledged the report was 'embarrassing and uncomfortable.'" How terrible for them. Seethe.
[CN: Racism; class warfare] "Today (March 14) the U.S. Department of Justice charged state judges with the task of tossing out policies that effectively create debtors' prisons, filled with poor people who are unable to pay exorbitant fines for minor offenses. These policies are a major part of the government's lawsuit against Ferguson. 'The consequences of the criminalization of poverty are not only harmful—they are far-reaching,' Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. 'They not only affect an individual's ability to support their family, but also contribute to an erosion of our faith in government. One of my top priorities as Attorney General is to help repair community trust where it has frayed, and a key part of that effort includes ensuring that our legal system serves every American faithfully and fairly, regardless of their economic status.'"
Heads-up, gamers: "Xbox gamers will soon be able to play online against people using other systems such as PC and possibly even Playstation, Microsoft has announced. Currently gamers can only play together online if they use the same system. One of the first games to support cross-platform play will be Rocket League, which Xbox and PC gamers will be able to play together via Xbox Live. There is 'an open invitation' for other networks to collaborate, the tech giant said. ...'Cross-network play has been the number one most requested feature our community has asked for since Rocket League was first announced on Xbox One,' said Psyonix, the studio behind Rocket League. 'Today's announcement is a dream come true.'"
Neat! "The enigmatic circles of sand—burnt orange, almost impeccably round and rimmed by a fringe of tall grass—are spaced at surprisingly regular intervals across the otherwise barren landscape. Over the course of decades, they appear, expand and then fade, almost as if they had a life cycle of their own. And, viewed from above, they seem so perfect and improbable their existence can only be ascribed to something not of this world. ...It's not gods, scientists said on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it's not dragons or bugs. It's the plants themselves. They've self-organised."
And finally! Fluffy Cat is soooooooooo fluffy! Hooray for fluffy cats!