Friday News Bites: #SOTU15, Yemen + More

President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday had its fair share of highlights, and we’ve also got updates on the situation in Yemen, a found Mars lander, and much more. It’s time for Friday News Bites…

State of the Union Roundup:

Though it’s a little sad what we’re accepting as “progress,” it’s still wonderful to be recognized: This year’s speech marked the first time a President has used the words “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender” in a State of the Union.

Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia student who protested the non-expulsion of her rapist by carrying a mattress around campus, was a guest of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at the speech.

And the President’s ad-libbed “I know because I won both of them” line produced some Vine gems:

I’m sure you saw some good ones too.

Here’s the Washington Post‘s analysis of the whole speech, which is largely positive, whereas David Corn at Mother Jones wished for more criticism of the Republican party.

In Related News:

Last Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The decision should be made before their current term ends in June.

Federal charges are unlikely to be brought against Darren Wilson, who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Because of course.


A new report by the Southern Education Foundation shows that 51% of U.S. public school students qualify for free or reduced lunches. This is the highest rate in 50 years.

In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock (D) has introduced a proposal to expand Medicaid in the state. Adults making up to $16,105 a year and a family of four earning up to $32,913 would qualify under the guidelines. Montana is one of 23 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, which would assist families who cannot pay for the plans offered through the Affordable Care Act.

In Other News:

On Tuesday, members of a Yemeni militant group took control of the presidential palace in the country’s capital, Sana’a. Here’s an explanation of the situation, and what it means for the country’s current government.

The price of legal marijuana is dropping now that supply can keep up with demand. Some retailers in Washington report that the high taxes still make it difficult for them to turn a profit, but they are “slowly and surely” eliminating the black market.

SPAAAACE! NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found 2003’s “lost” Beagle 2 Mars Lander.

Pope Francis continues his “Are we sure this is the Pope?” media strategy: He recently said that he believes atheists can still go to heaven as long as they follow their conscience.

The Paris government intends to sue Fox News for claiming the French capital contained “no-go zones” for non-Muslims:

The lawsuit is most likely in French Court (which has a lower standard of proof for libel cases than US courts, and less restrained by Free Speech statutes like courts in the US are) and I also wouldn’t be surprised if a similar suit had been, or will be filed in European (EU) court (Which is actually more serious and a bigger deal because that ruling wouldn’t just be binding to France but to EU member states).

More than likely Fox’s ability report and operate (effectively) in France is what would be effected, with broader implications in the rest of Europe which is why they were so quick to come out with that apology last week—which you never EVER see them do in the US even when they’ve been proven patently wrong in their reporting by THEIR OWN news reporting, sometimes.

2014 was the hottest year on record across the globe. This is according to both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in case you need scientific ammo for the climate change deniers in your life.

An I-75 overpass collapsed in Cincinnati on Tuesday, killing one man. The reason for the bridge’s collapse is still being investigated.

Facebook is going to make it easier to keep the fake news stories off your news feed.  Theoretically, this will not affect sites like The Onion, but instead the sites that publish things like celebrity death hoaxes and inflammatory “news” content.

In Entertainment:

The GLAAD Media Award nominations are out, with the awards ceremony taking place March 21 in Los Angeles, and May 9 in New York.

Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride has died after a “short illness” at age 60. Kirkbride had starred on the famous soap since 1972.

Also, Dallas Taylor, drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died. He was 66, and his death comes a week after CSNY bassist Tim Drummond passed away at the age of 75.

Rest easy, BBC fans: Most of the shows on Netflix will be re-licensed before their February 1 expiration date. Best get on watching Fawlty Towers and The Catherine Tate Show though.

And finally… Do you want photos of the “players” in the 2015 Kitten Bowl? Of course you do.

Kitten Bowl - William The Litterbox Purry
via Hallmark Channel

See you next time, Unicorns.

By 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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