Friday News Bites: More LGBTQ Progress, Notable Obits + More

Happy Friday, everyone. Lots to cover this week with everything from 2015 Emmy nominations to new birth control laws to Pluto finally getting its close-up. Let’s get started:

I admit I don’t know much about this recent agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear program, but seeing all the Republicans opposing it so vehemently makes me inclined to think it’s a good thing.

President Obama designated three new National Monuments last Friday: Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, the paleontological site Waco Mammoth in Texas, and the Basin and Range in Nevada.

The Obama administration has also found a workaround for businesses that try to refuse birth control coverage for their employees. New rules “allow women to receive contraceptive services without co-payments over the objections of their employer. The much-anticipated rules also expand the definition of businesses that can seek exemptions from the controversial ObamaCare mandate.”

Speaking of women’s healthcare, a conservative group is trying the same scare tactics they used in the ’90s, claiming that Planned Parenthood sells “fetal parts.” The heavily edited video is inaccurate (surprise, surprise), and here’s PPs response.

A new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, “a think tank based at the University of California, San Francisco,” shows that 95% of women do not regret having an abortion. The study tracked nearly 1,000 women, located in 21 different states, who terminated their pregnancies at varying stages.


NASA’s New Horizons probe reached Pluto this week, and right away, they discovered that the dwarf planet is bigger than they thought. It is roughly two-thirds the size of the moon, and it also contains a whole bunch of ice.

The journey to Pluto took three billion miles in nine and a half years, and scientists are discovering all sorts of things about the planet and its largest moon, Charon.

There are three cameras aboard New Horizons, and here’s an interesting interview with engineer Lisa Hardaway, responsible for the camera “Ralph.” Ralph detects visible and some infrared light.

(via NASA)

This is a Syfy movie in the making: Scientists have discovered sharks that live in a volcano. Sharkano!

The Pacific Northwest might want to work on their earthquake readiness because the whole area is in the middle of some major tectonic plate action.

In Other News:

Ellen Pao is out as Reddit’s CEO, coming shortly after the company fired AMA director Victoria Taylor.

Education activist Malala Yousafzai celebrated her eighteenth birthday by opening a school for Syrian girls.

I’ve only just seen this story, so I’m not sure what to say about it yet:

On July 9, 28-year-old Sandra Bland of Naperville, Ill., drove to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M. On July 10, police stopped Bland just outside the campus for allegedly failing to signal while changing lanes. Police claim that during the stop she became combative, was thrown to the ground, arrested and charged with “assault on a public servant.”

On July 13, around 9 a.m., before her family could bail her out, Bland was found dead inside a Waller County, Texas, jail cell. Police claim she died from “self-inflicted asphyxiation.” Her family and friends say that is impossible; that the woman they know, who fought strongly against police brutality and had just gotten a new job, would never have committed suicide.

Serena Williams won her sixth Wimbledon title and now holds all four grand slam titles simultaneously, and this isn’t the first time she has done so. In short, she’s amazing.

Novak Djokovic won the men’s championship at Wimbledon, beating Roger Federer in four sets.

TLC has finally decided to cancel 19 Kids and Counting, but their official statement about how they “and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward” is a little weird.


Roger Rees, an actor known from The West Wing, numerous Broadway plays, and more, died on July 10. He was 71.

At Pajiba, they have a lovely tribute to Rees’ career.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata died on July 11 due to complications with a bile duct growth. He was 55.

Claudia Alexander, leading NASA scientist, also died on July 11, from breast cancer. She was 56.

Barbara Park, author of the middle-grade Junie B. Jones book series, died at 66 from ovarian cancer.

Arthur Cave, the 15-year-old son of Nick Cave and wife Susie Bick, died on Tuesday after falling off a cliff in Brighton, England.

Legendary actor Omar Sharif died from a heart attack at age 83.


The Pentagon intends to lift the ban on transgender service members in all branches of the U.S. military. The review of their existing policies is expected to take six months.

Ireland has passed a law that allows transgender people to choose their legal gender with no state or medical intervention. Huzzah!

The Boy Scouts of America have done away with banning gay troop leaders. The new rule is effective immediately.

During the Comic-Con panel for the web-series Con-Man, visual effects artist Barry Bishop proposed to make-up artist Billy Brooks in front of the 7,000-person audience. Aww.

In Entertainment:

The 2015 Emmy Award nominations have been announced, and there’s a shedload of queer and black women up for awards.

New music is now going to be released on Fridays instead of Tuesdays (or in the UK, Monday). Interesting.

Here’s an look at what fictional currencies equal in U.S. dollars and British Pound Sterling.

The British Library is making 5,400 titles available online, mostly from a variety of journals and academic presses.

Ted Cruz is now banned from the New York Times Bestseller List after being busted for manipulating his book sales. Turns out this is a regular Republican practice.

The Osheaga Music Festival has joined the growing list of events that ban wearing Native headdresses as fashion.

And finally, here’s a story about a bear that will totally eat all your pie. And your sugar. And that bag of cocoa powder.

Until 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.

5 thoughts on “Friday News Bites: More LGBTQ Progress, Notable Obits + More”

  1. I am SO psyched about Waco Mammoth becoming a national monument. When I was a kid I took a summer archaeology class at Baylor and they took us to see the mammoths even though the site wasn’t open to the public. I haven’t gotten to go since it’s been a real park, but it was awesome even when they were still excavating.

    Also, the sharkcano story was amazing.

      1. In college geology we went to the nearby park that has dinosaur footprints, but the river was too high and we couldn’t actually see them. And then the TAs (who I’d befriended because I was the only geek who actually loved geology) told me about the time a bunch of the geology majors & grad students got kicked out of the Creationist museum next door at gunpoint. Oh, Texas.

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