“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States.
“Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.”
Happy May Day!
The same law that threatens to end legal abortion in Mississippi has swept across southern states, leaving women there with waning alternatives. Unless the federal courts step in, access may be decimated in a vast swath of the country, potentially closing three-quarters of the abortion clinics in states where 21 million women live. And so far, those courts have been decidedly divided on the constitutionality of such laws.
The Mississippi law in question sounds innocuous. It requires that abortions be provided by doctors who are board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists, and that they have admitting privileges at local hospitals. But in Mississippi and elsewhere, local hospitals have refused to provide those privileges, which the medical establishment say aren’t medically necessary. Indeed, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have said such laws are worse than unnecessary: They “impose[s] government regulation on abortion care that jeopardizes the health of women.”
Mississippi politicians have hardly hid the intentions behind the law. Before he signed the law, Governor Phil Bryant said he would “work to make Mississippi abortion-free.”
This Year at True/False…
A short by Erick Stoll created at 2014’s True/False Film Festival.
"Don’t talk to me about politics," the colonel would tell him. "Our business is selling little fishes."
RIP Gabriel García Márquez
The people of Yemen can hear destruction before it arrives. In cities, towns and villages across this country the air buzzes with the sound of American drones flying overhead. The sound is a constant and terrible reminder: a robot plane, acting on secret intelligence, may calculate that the man across from you at the coffee shop, or the acquaintance with whom you’ve shared a passing word on the street, is an Al Qaeda operative. This intelligence may be accurate or it may not, but it doesn’t matter. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the chaotic buzzing above sharpens into the death-herald of an incoming missile.
Such quite literal existential uncertainty is coming at a deep psychological cost for the Yemeni people. For Americans, this military campaign is an abstraction. The drone strikes don’t require U.S. troops on the ground, and thus are easy to keep out of sight and out of mind. Over half of Yemen’s 24.8 million citizens – militants and civilians alike – are impacted every day. A war is happening, and one of the unforeseen casualties is the Yemeni mind.
There once was a remote village deep in the rainforest that had no contact with the outside world. And in this small village there were only three village elders who had the ability to speak. So they were in charge. And they’d have arguments. One would say, “I support a woman’s right to choose.” Another would say, “I oppose a woman’s right to choose.” And then the third would say, “A real debate here on a woman’s right to choose. When we come back, Justin Bieber arrested!”
Now if you were one of the many villagers who didn’t have a way to speak, you just hoped that one of the three elders who could speak would make the argument you wanted to make. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. And it was okay, but it bothered you that these three voices didn’t really speak for everybody. They were, after all, pretty rich and all one color. (Green. These were green people.) And they didn’t really understand what it was like to be aqua or purple or gay or poor like you were. You’re a gay poor purple person. They tried to cover the whole world, but generally they focused on what was on the minds of green people from the big cities who watched Mad Men and went to Middlebury.
And even as the elders spoke with confidence and seriousness, it felt like they kept getting it wrong. They invaded neighboring villages, occasionally the wrong village altogether. They trusted the CEOs of the village banks even after they plunged the village into a Great Village Recession and then went right back to village business as usual as if it never happened. They built a massive village prison system that punished non-violent village offenders at higher rates than anywhere else in the rainforest. They rigged the village economy against the interests of ordinary villagers in favor of those with close ties to the three elders, those who had donated money to their village campaigns, lobbied their village offices.
Then one day you found this rock and you realized that you could use the rock to write on a leaf. And so you developed a written language and taught it to everyone. And at the big village meetings, when the three elders at the front would have their arguments, villagers could participate. People would write things like, “I agree with you and appreciate your position.” Or “I hope you get cancer and die.” Or “Here’s a picture of what I ate for lunch.” Or “Please stop drawing pictures of food, no one cares what you ate for lunch.” Or “Check out this cat in a shoebox because adorable.”
But it turned out by the time we finally had this great way to communicate in our hands, we were already so angry and suspicious that the rock and leaf became a way to vent our frustrations not just at the elders but at each other.
Bill says, “I support single-payer village healthcare.”
And then Mary writes, “Bill is a faggot communist.”
And then Ted says, “I won’t shop at Mary’s boutique until Mary apologizes to Bill.”
Then Angela says, “Stand with Mary against the assault on her freedom of speech!”
And then Bill says, “Angela is a racist.”
And Jeff says, “Anyone who shops at Mary’s boutique is a racist.”
And Ted says, “Check your privilege.”
And Mary says, “I don’t remember who I am in this story but I’m furious.”
And then someone writes, “FUCKK YOU TED!!1!” in all caps with a bunch of typos.
What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse.