In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Earthquake; death.] Absolutely awful: "Rescuers pulled survivors from rubble Sunday after the strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades flattened buildings and buckled highways along its Pacific coast. Officials said the quake killed at least 350 people and injured more than 1,500. The magnitude-7.8 quake, the strongest to hit the country since 1979, was centered on Ecuador's sparsely populated fishing ports and tourist beaches, 105 miles (170 kilometers) northwest of Quito, the capital. Vice President Jorge Glas said at a somber news conference that the death toll was likely to rise. Much of the damage occurred in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo, and Guayaquil—all several hundred kilometers (miles) from the center of the quake, which struck shortly after nightfall Saturday. In Pedernales, a town of 40,000 near the quake's epicenter, dozens of frightened residents prepared to sleep in the streets for a second straight night as power cables were strewn across streets with no prospect of electricity being restored soon. 'We're trying to do the most we can, but there's almost nothing we can do,' said Pedernales Mayor Gabriel Alcivar. ...'This wasn't just a house that collapsed. It was an entire town,' he said." At Bustle, Alex Gladu has compiled some suggestions for how to help.

[CN: War; terrorism] "The US is to send 200 extra troops to Iraq to help fight so-called Islamic State (IS), officials say. The deployment will increase the number of US personnel in Iraq to about 4,100. Alongside the additional troops, Apache attack helicopters will be deployed for the first time against IS in Iraq. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement during an unannounced visit to Baghdad, where he met with US military officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The US also plans to give Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which are fighting IS on the ground, more than $400m (£280m; €350m) in assistance. ...Most of the additional 200 US troops will be special forces, according to the Associated Press. The remainder will include trainers, security forces for the advisers, and maintenance crews for the Apaches. The Apaches would help Iraqi forces to recapture the country's second city of Mosul from IS, Mr Carter said."

[CN: Anti-immigrationism next two paragraphs] Today, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments "in a case that could determine the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants hoping for relief from the looming threat of deportation. At stake are two of President Obama's executive actions—the Deferred Action for Parents and Americans (DAPA) and its sister initiative, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+)—that sought to improve the situation for unauthorized immigrants in the absence of congressional action on the issue. DAPA and DACA+ would give immigrants with deep ties to the country more options to stay and work in the United States."

It's likely the decision will come down to the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts, whose "record suggests that he may avoid taking a position on such a divisive and partisan issue, focusing instead on the more technical question of whether the states challenging the Obama administration's immigration plan have suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gives them standing to sue. That jurisprudential off-ramp would avoid a deadlock or a grand pronouncement from a short-handed court on a politically charged issue in a presidential election year. And that may prove attractive to a chief justice who has said he does not want the Supreme Court to be viewed as a forum where 'partisan matters would be worked out.'"

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia] Here is yet another reminder that John Kasich is no moderate and is also a real jerk: "When asked on CNN whether he'd stop states from passing [anti-LGBT] laws, Kasich responded as follows: "And what I like to say is, just relax. If you don't like what somebody's doing pray for them, and if you feel as though somebody is doing something wrong against you, can you just for a second get over it? You know?" Can he just for a second shut up? You know?

[CN: Homophobia] Not to be outdone in aggressive indecency, Ted Cruz, in response to a question about same-sex marriage, says the Constitution protects all of us, but then said the states should have decided same-sex marriage, so that some states could outlaw it. Well, which the fuck it is, Ted? Does the Constitution protect all of us, or only the ones who happen to live in states where bigotry doesn't decide the law?

[CN: Violence] Chilling but accurate: "Trump has turned this election cycle into the most terrifying reality TV show in recent memory and Cleveland is slated to be the victim of his season finale."

[CN: Domestic violence; guns] Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced in June for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, a court in South Africa has confirmed. The former Paralympian's culpable homicide conviction—and its five-year prison sentence—was overturned by the supreme court in December 2015, when appeal judges instead found him guilty of murder. On Monday, Pistorius was in court in Pretoria as Judge Aubrey Ledwaba, who presided over an earlier bail hearing, told him he would face a fresh sentencing hearing from 13-17 June. Pistorius spoke only to confirm that he understood the judge's decision."

[CN: White supremacy; eliminationism; guns] "A South Carolina judge announced yesterday (April 13) that the trial for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof will be moved from July 2016 to January of 2017. Roof faces nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder for shooting parishioners during Bible study at Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. He faces an additional 33 federal charges, including hate crimes. His U.S. District Court trial has also been delayed while the Justice Department decides if it will seek the death penalty. According to Reuters, Judge J.C. Nicholson announced the delay during a court hearing attended by several victims' relatives. Roof waived his right to appear."

[CN: Lead poisoning; moving GIF at link] If you didn't see John Oliver's segment on lead poisoning and remediation on his show last night, Sean Mandell has the clip plus commentary. Great stuff on a terrible subject.

Welp, this is pretty damn cool! "NASA Successfully Attaches Inflatable Room to International Space Station."

[CN: Moving GIF at link] And finally! Sweaters for baby goats! I MEAN.

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