Friday News Bites: Teenage Brains! Supersized Saturn! Lady Ghostbusters!

Happy Friday, everyone! In addition to all the sciencin’ and entertainment news, we have some politics-related stories to cover, so let’s get started:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died last Friday, “believed to be” 90 years old. While the U.S. government and various other oil-dependent countries did their usual dance of respect, let’s not forget how awful the dude actually was, and how far Saudi Arabia has to go in its treatment of women and political protests.

Back in the U.S.: Indiana Governor Mike Pence became one of the few Republican governors to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The program will run a bit differently than some other states, but enrollment starts immediately.

In other governmental changes of heart: Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) announced that he now supports abortion rights, and that he came to this decision after speaking to women. Imagine that, speaking to a woman before legislating her uterus.

A judge has denied former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s motion to dismiss a felony abuse-of-power charge. His legal team immediately filed an appeal.

Seattle becomes one of the first cities to fine homeowners for not properly sorting their trash, including the waste of otherwise compostable food items. (Oh how I long to even have curbside recycling where I live…)

The Dropkick Murphys have asked anti-union Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to stop using their music at political events, saying, “We literally hate you.”

In LGBTQ News:

Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry are among the people calling upon the British government to officially pardon all the men who were once charged under discriminatory anti-homosexuality laws. Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in the new film The Imitation Game, about the WWII computer genius who was prosecuted under those laws and wasn’t pardoned until long after his death.

Don’t get too impressed that the Latter-Day Saints church is backing a non-discrimination ordinance in Utah. This sort of “compromise” does nothing to combat the intolerance within the church, and it protects their “right” to discriminate in sort of a backdoor way.

In Alabama, openly gay Rep. Patricia Todd (D) says that if her colleagues continue to bang on about “family values,” she feels like the public should know all about their extramarital affairs. High-five, Patricia.

In Other News:

Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, two former Vanderbilt football players, have been found guilty of multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. Good.

We knew this anecdotally, but here’s the science behind why teenagers are moody, impulsive, and prone to addiction.

You’ve likely heard about the measles outbreak in Disneyland, and around 70 cases have been reported in six states and Mexico since mid-December. Here’s a graph depicting just how harmful the anti-vaccine movement has been this past year.

University of Rochester’s Eric Mamajek says he has discovered a supersize ring system, similar to Saturn, located 430 million light-years away:

What he’s found is a giant ring system, sort of like Saturn’s, but some 200 times bigger, circling what may be an exoplanet between ten and 40 times the size of Jupiter. If you put these rings in our own Solar System, they’d stretch all the way from the Earth to the Sun, a distance of 93 million miles (150 km).

The Humans of New York blog has raised over $1,000,000 to send sixth graders from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to Harvard University as part of an annual trip to inspire the pursuit of higher education.

In Entertainment:

The new Ghostbusters are amazing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Among other phrases, Taylor Swift has trademarked “This Sick Beat” in an effort to control profits from merchandise.

Sports Illustrated has laid off all of their staff photographers and has gone to a freelance model.

Ernie Banks, known as “Mr. Cub,” died last Friday at age 83. Banks was the Chicago Cubs first African-American player in 1953, and was also an 11-time All-Star and two-time National League Most Valuable Player (1958-59).

Also, author Colleen McCullough died on Thursday, age 77. Best known for her book The Thorn Birds, she wrote 25 novels over her career.

Human unicorn and P-Mag favorite David Tennant will be part of the upcoming Netflix show Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones. Hooray!


And finally, there will be a Bob’s Burgers cookbook coming soon. Do tell me your favorite burger-puns you hope to see included.

Until next time!

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