Friday News Bites: Feminist Lawmaking, Iowa Caucuses, Olympic Athlete Firsts + More

Happy Friday, everyone. We’re catching up on two weeks’ worth of news stories today, so let’s get started, and you can get a nice, shiny sense of somewhat informed accomplishment.

Yes, there was quite a bit of snow up and down the Eastern Seaboard last week, but despite all the weather advisories, women (and only women) still showed up to work the Senate.

Bonus to the weather! We all got to see a T-Rex shoveling.

In other news for women: Texas’ attempt to indict Planned Parenthood for medical misconduct instead resulted in a grand jury indicting the creators of the “sting” videos for “tampering with a governmental record.” They did not find any illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood.


On a related “Water is Wet” note: When Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, a lot more babies were born to low-income women.

Also, the Supreme Court has struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law, the most restrictive in the country.

President Obama is taking action to close the gender pay gap. Last Friday, he “announced a new plan to require companies to include salary info based on gender, race, and ethnicity in a yearly report to the federal government.”

The President also issued an executive order than bans solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system.


In El Salvador, the government is strongly suggesting that women avoid becoming pregnant for the next two years, as cases of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus are on the rise. The illness can cause the babies to be born with brain damage.

A 24-year-long study has concluded that lesbian parents have a child abuse rate of 0% . However, let’s also note that this study only had 80 people.

On the 30th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, here’s an interesting (and heartbreaking) story from one of the engineers, who still blames himself.

How Meditation, Placebos And Virtual Reality Help Power ‘Mind Over Body’” — a fascinating article over at NPR.

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to stop the progression of ALS in mice. It is unknown yet if the treatment will work for humans, but the study continues.

Product Recall: Dole bagged salads have been pulled in Ohio after a listeria outbreak.

In Other News

Here’s an in-depth look at how the Flint Water Crisis has unfolded, starting two years ago.

Surprise, surprise: Flint officials knew about the water contamination, and started shipping themselves clean water before alerting the public.

Some shady, frustrating shit is happening in the state of Washington right now: A Senate panel has voted to reverse the new state law that allowing transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings consistent with their gender identity. The fight goes on.

Trans athletes can now compete in Olympic events consistent with their gender identity, without having had confirmation surgery, the International Olympic Committee announced in late January.

Ibtihaj Muhammad becomes the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, as she qualified for the fencing team last weekend.

This has some scary “1930s Germany” vibes to it: A large group of masked men attacked refugee children in Stockholm, January 29.  Four people have been arrested so far in connection to the attacks. [auto-playing video]

Facebook has banned the private sale of guns on both its site and Instagram (which it owns). Hooray! That’s one step in the right direction.

Primary season is upon us, and for the Democrats, Iowa was the tightest race in history, resulting in (essentially) a tie. However, the end credit went to Hillary.

This seems like a good time to share this excellent post from Courtney Enlow about how being against Hillary Clinton should not be rooted in misogyny, and that the Berniebros™ talking about “cankles” and calling her a shrew need to nope on out of the universe.


Actor Abe Vigoda has died at age 94. That’s a good run.

Concepcion Picciotto, the woman who held peace vigil behind the White House for over thirty years, has died. She was 80 years old, and the cause of death has yet to be determined. In all her time, not a single president met with her.

Legendary UK radio and TV presenter Terry Wogan has died from cancer. He was 77.

Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White died on Thursday from Parkinson’s disease complications. He was 74.

BMXer Dave Mirra also died on Thursday, from a self-inflicted gunshot. He was 41.

Yes, I’m still posting about David Bowie: Apparently, he prepared several records to be released after his death. The first is slated for release in 2017.

In Entertainment

Karishma covered some of this in her PoC News in America post yesterday, but here’s another look at the Oscars’ (and Hollywood’s) diversity problem.

A few older, white actors said some shit that made me shake my head:


Uh… to more foolishness, I guess: Gillian Anderson was actually offered half the pay of David Duchovny again for the current X-Files revival. WTF.

Here’s a really great chat with Gillian, over at Interview Magazine. (And some really, really, really great photos. Ahem.)

BROWN: Have there been any other characters whom you’ve wanted to play for such a long period of time?

ANDERSON: Maybe not such a long period of time. There are a couple more that I’m interested in. I always had a fantasy of doing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Philip Seymour Hoffman. That’s the play and the duo I’m interested in exploring at some point. I think that once you do something like Williams, and you work with that kind of text, it kind of ruins you for future projects. You can’t really backtrack after that. There’s a very narrow margin—there’s quite a lot of them, but it does focus your mind and you end up in the realm of classics and the rare occasion of a new play that is as powerful and momentous an experience as that.

Here are 50 films made by women that you can watch right now. Lots of gems!

Another useful list: 99 Ways to Spread the Word about a Book you Love.

Steven Moffatt will soon be leaving Doctor Who as showrunner (it’s time!), and DW-writer and Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall will take over the reins. Cindy Davis, over at Pajiba, has some suggestions for what direction the show could head.

Speaking of the BBC, they’ve taken away our Doctor Who on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime! There are rumblings that they are instead going to offer their own subscription service.  Welp, this is what a la carte cable looks like, people.

Welcome to Night Vale creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are going to be launching a new podcast, “Alice Isn’t Dead.” It exists in the same universe as WTNV, so I’m sure it will be as delightfully strange.

Starz announced that Ricky Whittle, who is currently on The 100, will star in their adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Gaiman supports the casting decision.

And finally, if you like adorable animals in your children’s books, Beatrix Potter has a new one coming out, 100 years after its creation. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be released this fall.

Kitty in Boots illustration by Beatrix Potter
The original Kitty in Boots, which Beatrix Potter illustrated herself. (Courtesy Frederick Warne Co. the VA Museum via Penguin and NPR)

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.

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