In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Misogyny; abduction; abuse; terrorism] Two years ago today, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from the Chibok Government Secondary School in Nigeria. Some of them were able to escape, but 219 remain missing. Of the ones who remain missing, it is almost a certainty that some of them have been killed, by being forced to participate in acts of violent terror or by other means. Many, or all, of the survivors have been subjected to unfathomable tortures and abuse. I feel utterly helpless to do anything meaningful, except to continue to write about this, and the ongoing abductions that Boko Haram continues to orchestrate. I take up space in solidarity with the girls who are missing, and with their families, who desperately want them home.

[CN: Earthquake] Oh no: "A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 has knocked over houses in southern Japan, and police said people could be trapped underneath the rubble. The Japanese Red Cross Kumamoto hospital said it had admitted or treated 45 people on Thursday, including five with serious injuries. The quake struck at 9.26pm (12.26pm GMT) near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu. There was no risk of a tsunami. ...Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference that the damage was being assessed, but there were no abnormalities at nearby nuclear facilities. The epicentre was 74 miles (120km) north-east of the Sendai nuclear plant, the only one operating in the country." I hope there are no fatalities. Still, there is a lot of damage, and, as of right now, the most profoundly affected areas have no water access. UPDATE: I see the linked story has been updated to reflect that two people have died. My condolences to their loved ones.

[CN: Guns; death] Wow: "In a major blow to gun companies, a judge in Connecticut on Thursday decided the lawsuit brought by 10 families affected by the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School against the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the shooting will continue. At issue is the 2005 federal law that provides gun businesses immunity from civil lawsuits, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), or PLCAA for short. Connecticut State Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday rejected the gun companies' motion to dismiss the case."

[CN: Carcerality; racism] "From Ferguson to Chicago to Newark, communities across the country are being called out for growing local justice systems planted in racist soil. Now, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation aims to help make over those systems. Today (April 13), the foundation announced that it will support justice system reform to the tune of $25 million as part of a larger $75 million commitment to transforming how America uses jails. It is issuing 11 grants of $1.5 to $3.5 million to 11 jurisdictions, plus another nine grants of $150,000 each. The money is earmarked to address racial and ethnic disparities and reduce jail populations. Each grantee had to submit a proposal that outlined a project that is meant to not only function locally, but act as a model for other locales. The projects cover everything from implicit bias training for law enforcement to community-based substance abuse treatment programs to alternatives to incarceration, and each emphasizes community engagement and collaboration."

This is very good news: "Small-time crime and arrest records will be sealed automatically for thousands of people [in Pennsylvania] under new legislation, dubbed the Clean Slate initiative, introduced by a large bipartisan group of lawmakers in Harrisburg. The Clean Slate initiative is the first of its kind in the nation. Several states from Ohio to Mississippi to California have reformed their recordkeeping laws in recent years as activists called attention to the lingering harms that even a simple arrest with no criminal charge can inflict. But Pennsylvania will be the first to automate the process, a significant step forward for people who don’t have the resources to petition the court for the kind of relief other states have made available." Good job, Pennsylvania!

[CN: Transphobia; homophobia] Of course: "Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel, who served as lawyers for Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, are behind more than 20 anti-LGBT 'bathroom bills' around the nation, CBS News reports: ''It is only about being free to pursue your faith,' said Mathew Staver. 'We have no interest in discriminating against anyone.' Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which has affiliated attorneys in all 50 states—drafting bills, advising lawmakers and defending clients in what they believe to be the great cultural clash of our time…Lately, Liberty Counsel has been helping to draft legislation for conservative lawmakers in at least 20 states. 'There's certainly a thread of information that is similar and the same,' Staver said. 'They all have the same intent and that is to protect religious freedom.' But opponents say Liberty's handiwork actually protects those who, for religious reasons, decline to employ or serve gays, lesbians, or transgender people.'" Just because someone uses religion to try to justify their bigotry doesn't actually make their reason "religious."

[CN: Rape culture; victim-blaming] Rage seethe boil: "Brigham Young University students who are victims of sex crimes say they are investigated by the school and sometimes disciplined after reporting their abuse, a consequence that critics say silences victims and emboldens offenders. At colleges nationwide, student victims are encouraged to report sexual assaults to schools' Title IX officers, charged with enforcing a federal law that guarantees students don't face hostility on campus based on their gender. But multiple students say that at BYU—a private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Title IX staff routinely alert the Honor Code Office. ...In a statement, BYU said a student 'will never be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault,' and that its Honor Code proceedings are 'independent and separate' from Title IX investigations. But multiple BYU students investigated by the school's Honor Code Office disagree, saying they were scrutinized as a result of reporting a sex crime. In some cases described by past and current students, Honor Code investigations were launched even when the accused assailants were not BYU students—the alleged victim being the sole possible target."

[CN: War on agency] Guess those assurances that Donald Trump is just "playing a role" and doesn't believe all the heinous shit he's saying aren't valid! What a shock! "Donald Trump's charitable giving includes donations to anti-choice organizations, along with a crisis pregnancy center (CPC), according to his charity's tax returns and a document provided by the Trump campaign and published by the Washington Post. In 2013, tax filings show the Donald J. Trump Foundation gave $25,000 to Justice for All, an anti-choice group targeting college campuses."

[CN: Nuclear war] Hillary Clinton has penned an op-ed excoriating Trump for his irresponsible rhetoric on nuclear proliferation and warfare: "Keeping America safe is the most solemn responsibility of any President. So when Donald Trump says 'we need unpredictability' when it comes to nuclear weapons, when he talks casually about actually using these weapons, and when he says he sees no problem in letting more countries develop nuclear weapons, he's not just wrong. This kind of loose talk is dangerous. These may be the most reckless statements on national security by any major presidential candidate in modern history. ...Our national security is too important to entrust to someone who hasn't thought long and hard about how to keep us safe. And remember: Loose cannons tend to misfire. That's a risk we just can't take."

[CN: Splaining; Christian Supremacy] John Kasich is still flying under the radar, but never forget that he is also extremely terrible: "Kasich's travels in New York brought him yesterday to a Jewish bookstore, where he met students of the Talmud. Having thus met people who spend their entire day scrutinizing religious texts, Kasich's reaction was to ask them if they were aware of facts about those texts that they probably knew as very small children. 'They sold [Joseph] into slavery, and that's how the Jews got to Egypt. Right? Did you know that?' For those who never attended Sunday school, this is a bit like visiting MIT, wandering into a physics lab, and asking people if they ever heard of this guy named Isaac Newton." There's video at the link.

No thank you! "AMC, the biggest movie theater chain in the United States, has a new CEO in Adam Aron, and he's up for some changes to the moviegoing experience. Granted, there are plenty of things that could be improved about theaters, but 'allowing texting in theaters' isn't one of them—despite his willingness to try it. This is it. This is the hill my youth dies on. I guess I'm glad it's a movie theater-shaped hill, anyway." LOL.

And finally! All the blubs forever: "A dog and kitten who lost their home were reunited in a heart-warming encounter caught on video at a California animal center recently. And there's more good news! Ami the dog and Mikaela the kitten have both been adopted by a loving family." ♥

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