Friday News Bites: #Ferguson Updates, Terry Pratchett + More

It is Friday once again, friends, and lots has happened. Click on through for Ferguson updates, some science news, obituaries, and more.

Ferguson News:

Michael Brown’s family has decided to file a civil suit against both the city of Ferguson and Officer Darren Brown. This announcement came the day after the Department of Justice declined to file charges.

However, both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have openly criticized the Ferguson Police Department as “abusive” and “oppressive.” The president’s comments came during a town hall meeting in South Carolina on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Selma protests.

(Speaking of Selma, the GOP were conspicuously absent during all the events and commemoration that occurred on the anniversary. We’re not surprised, are we?)

The Ferguson City Council decided to remove John Shaw at City Manager on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the city’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, resigned.

A story about a Ferguson judge, Ronald Brockmeyer, also came out this week: Known for “fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.”

And then early Thursday morning, two police officers were shot during a protest. Both have since been released from the hospital.

In Other News:

Here’s an interesting story about what it’s like working for the Daily Mail Online. In case you needed further evidence that they are awful.

The Justice Department plans to bring criminal corruption charges against Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). He is accused of using his office to accept gifts from high dollar donors in exchange for assisting with specific business interests.

Oklahoma continues to be… problematic: The state ranks as one of the worst for women, and then there was the whole racist fraternity story we heard lots about this week.

Also, the UN has found “alarmingly high levels” of violence against women worldwide, based on their current analysis.

Ireland accidentally legalized ecstasy, ketamine, and various other drugs for about 24 hours. Also, they maybe outlawed heterosexual marriage. So it’s been a full week for them.

The U.S. Department of Labor has extended medical leave benefits to same-sex couples, even if the couple lives in a state that has yet to legalize same-sex marriage.

Also, the Obama Administration has told the Supreme Court that they think same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. High-five, Mr. President!


A new study suggests that psychedelic drugs like LSD and mushrooms can help treat depression. The team behind the study plans to continue their research.

Apparently the DNA of sperm from ex-partners can linger in female flies, later influencing the genetics of their off-spring. No word yet if that’s possible with mammals. This story is not new, but I just saw it, so… try not to imagine the possibilities in accordance to your past!

The oldest known sponge in the world is apparently 600 million years old.

Sorry, hippie friends: Homeopathic drugs don’t really work.


Sir Terry Pratchett died on Thursday from Alzheimer’s. He was 66. Here’s what longtime friend and fellow writer Neil Gaiman had to say.

Documentarian Albert Maysles also died this week, age 88.

Actor Windell D. Middlebrooks, best known for his Miller High Life commercials, died on Monday at age 36. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Simpsons creative force Sam Simon died from colon cancer on Sunday. He was 59.

In Entertainment:

Further investigation is going into whether or not Harper Lee is mentally competent enough to approve the release of her “newly discovered” novelGo Set a Watchman.

And although I don’t necessarily buy that this case met the standard for plagiarism, it’s still somewhat satisfying to know that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams now owe Marvin Gaye’s estate $7.4 million. But that’s just because “Blurred Lines” is a terrible song.

Also, the court case gave us this amusing rendering of Robin Thicke:

Robin Thicke courtroom drawing

See you next time, friends.

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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