Friday News Bites: Obamacare Lives On, Confederate Flag Not So Much

Greetings, Unicorns. This week we have an update on the Freddie Gray case, SCOTUS decisions, and the Confederate Flag on its way out from public display. This and more, so let’s get started:

While conservatives (who are sooooo not racist) fell all over themselves trying to explain away the motivations of Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, a manifesto from Roof surfaced online that confirms his crimes were racially motivated.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds and said that “if lawmakers don’t deal with the flag issue in coming weeks, she will use her authority as governor to call them back to the statehouse for a special session.”

In Mississippi, House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state flag:

“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn, a leader in his local Baptist church, said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley also had the flag removed from Capitol grounds in Birmingham. And in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe is phasing out the flag’s depiction on specialty license plates.

Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and Sears are among retailers who are now no longer going to sell the flag. Man, between agreeing with a Walmart decision and agreeing with Mitt Romney about removing the flag, I think a bunch of us liberal types are feeling mighty odd at the moment. Stay strong, whoever is in charge of dealing with those companies’ social media accounts.

Mike Huckabee continues to be gross about all this, by the way: He is among those who think the victims would have been better off if they’d carried weapons.

Did you know he once delivered a videotaped address to a white nationalist group cited by Dylann Roof as an influence? This invitation to speak was in 1993, so take that information as you will.

In Other News:

After news broke that the school was going to close, alumnae from Sweet Briar College “had raised pledges of more than $1 million, quickly upped to more than $3 million in a matter of weeks,” and now the 114-year-old college will remain open.

Green Party member Jill Stein announced she is running for President. While I support her various platforms, unfortunately for this country, I think voting for a third party ensures a Republican will win the election.

The Supreme Court is ruling on all sorts of cases before their session ends next week. I was hoping I’d be able to report on their decision regarding marriage equality, but as of writing this post, no word yet.

However, SCOTUS did uphold the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) in a 6-3 decision.

In Kimble vs. Marvel Entertainment, Justice Elena Kagan had some fun making Spider-Man references in her majority opinion on the patent case.

Spiderman: "Don't Act Like You're Not Impressed"
Ladyboners for SCOTUS Justice, man.

Here’s an interesting profile on Kristin Beck, a transgender former Navy SEAL who is running for Congress in Maryland.

The NALSAR University of Law has awarded its first certificate with a gender neutral prefix to ‘Mx.’ Anindita Mukherjee.

The autopsy results for Freddie Gray have been obtained by the Baltimore Sun, which indicate Gray died from “a single ‘high-energy injury’ to his neck and spine — most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated.” [auto-playing video]

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has apologized for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, as he was sentenced to six death sentences, 20 sentences of life in prison and four more sentences of seven to 25 years. His lawyers plan to appeal some of the charges.

President Obama shut down the outburst from a transgender woman who interrupted his speech on same-sex marriage at the White House. Jennicet Gutiérrez shouted at the President to “release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations.”

While I sympathize with the woman’s issue, there is a time and a place. I dunno. It’s complicated, I know, and protest takes many forms, but I also find it dismissive that people are referring to her as a “heckler.”

Here’s an interesting study: Apparently up to 46% of women in Japan are uninterested in sex.

More SCIENCE! We’re in the middle of another mass extinction. Well done, everyone. </sarcasm>

Cuba has expanded its wi-fi availability, and usage costs are going down as well.


Don Featherstone, creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, died this week. He was 79.

Transgender military advocate and Air Force veteran Jess Shipp committed suicide on Tuesday. She was 31.

Composer James Horner, best known for his Titanic and Braveheart film scores, died in a plane crash on Monday. He was 61.

In Entertainment:

While many sites are enthusiastically reporting that Selma director Ava DuVernay will direct the upcoming Black Panther adaptation, to be released in 2018, it hasn’t actually been decided yet. Fingers crossed that the rumor mill forces their hand!

Cue the Tumblr and Twitter uprising! NBC has cancelled Hannibal, but the show could be picked up again. The show’s first two seasons are already available for free through Amazon Prime.

Remember that video of the cat who saved a boy from a dog attack? That cat has won the “Hero Cat” Award from the the Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles. Normally, the award goes to a dog, but Tara the Cat was an easy exception.

And finally… do you maybe need a break from all this madness in the news? Here’s a meditation app simply called “Calm.”

See you next time, friends.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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