Friday News Bites: Umpqua Shooting, Waters of Mars + More

Greetings, everyone. It’s Friday once again, so let us take a look at some of the things happening over the past week.

Thursday afternoon, a male gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Rosewood, Oregon. Nine people died, and seven were injured.

In Georgia, Kelly Renee Gissendaner was executed for “orchestrating” her husband’s murder in 1997. She was not, however, the person who committed the murder:

The man who carried out the murder, Gregory Owen, Ms. Gissendaner’s boyfriend, was sentenced to life imprisonment in a plea agreement. Ms. Gissendaner, who rejected an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life imprisonment with the eventual possibility of parole, was convicted in 1998.

But in Oklahoma, death row inmate Richard Glossip was granted a 37-day stay of execution by the governor, after prison officials tried to go forward with the wrong lethal injection drug. Glossip was also convicted for his role in a 1997 murder, though he was not the murderer himself.

And speaking of abortion… One of the women who started the #ShoutYourAbortion tag on Twitter, Amelia Bonow, has had to go into hiding, after receiving death threats and her home address was revealed online.

Bill Nye had a great moment this week, using actual SCIENCE! to talk about abortion.

And author Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket) and his wife, author Lisa Brown, donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testified before the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Somewhat predictably, some Congresspeople had a loose grasp of the facts.

In Other News:

Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he is resigning from Congress, effective October 31st. There’s some speculation that he was run out by the more conservative members of his party, which is really saying something, considering Boehner’s track record.

However, the GOP’s efforts to send the government towards shutdown were temporarily waylaid when the Senate passed a bill that funds the country through December. Obama signed off on it Wednesday evening.

Starting in 2016, drivers licenses from four states — New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and also the American Samoa —  will no longer be sufficient identification for domestic flights. Passengers will need passports instead.

The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered “noncompliant” with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five places, getting a license doesn’t require proof of citizenship or residency.

In Germany, parents will now be allowed to leave the gender on birth certificates blank, in the case of intersex babies.

Netflix and Facebook are now among the companies who cover gender confirmation surgery in their employee health benefits packages.

NASA confirmed on Monday that they had found evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars. Maybe, uh… don’t drink the water, if you find any.

Doctor Who: Waters of Mars screenshot
(You know me, always got to work in a Doctor Who joke when I get the chance.)

In Entertainment:

Speaking of Doctor Who, the show is getting a new spin-off show called Class, the BBC announced on Thursday. It’s a YA series set at Coal Hill School. Interesting.

You can read excerpts from the Most Banned Books of 2015 here.

We heard all at about “Peeple” this week, a new app (supposedly) launching later this year, that’s supposed to be like “Yelp for people.” Which is probably as terrible as it sounds.

Matt Damon continues sounding tone deaf about marginalized groups: Speaking with The Guardian, he suggests that it might be better for not-straight actors to stay in the closet. In an interview with a big ol’ picture of him and his wife, where he mentions his four kids, he says the following:

“I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly. But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”

Uh huh.

But this is my favorite story of the week: Stubborn goat refuses to leave Saskatoon Tim Horton’s.


Until 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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