Anna

It turns out that most of us have the history of reproductive health in America all wrong (thanks in large part to anti-abortion crusaders’ persistent, strategic revisionism). Here’s a great piece from Center for American Progress that sets the record straight, including this surprising information:

Abortion was not just legal—it was a safe, condoned, and practiced procedure in colonial America and common enough to appear in the legal and medical records of the period. Official abortion laws did not appear on the books in the United States until 1821, and abortion before quickening did not become illegal until the 1860s. If a woman living in New England in the 17th or 18th centuries wanted an abortion, no legal, social, or religious force would have stopped her.

If you haven’t already, listen to Thomas Linzey, executive director and chief legal counsel for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, on the backward status quo of US environmental law. He explains how corporate personhood along with the commerce-prioritizing nature of our Constitution—and thus our legal system—more often than not puts the rights of corporations above the rights of people, making it exceedingly difficulty, say, for a community to fight a coal export terminal. Linzey is leading the charge to turn this around, helping communities across the country regain control of their local fates in the face of a long-standing “tradition” of corporate authority. (This first aired a while back, but I just heard it Wednesday night and it’s worth a listen.)

Finally, is the US Tea Party movement starting to brew some green tea?

Alan

If you want to build a temple in praise of your God, you’re legally obligated to devote much more space to parking than to the sanctuary. Notre-Dame de Paris? Illegal in every American city. The latest from parking-infographic-hero Seth Goodman.

My kids watched The O.C., so I only had the most limited exposure to it. But I enjoyed this WaPo dialogue about it being the definitive treatment of the 2000s economy.

Eric

As the NFL preseason heats up, so does the pressure on the Washington DC franchise to change its team’s name to something less overtly racist. Look, some of my best friends are Redskins fans (really), but the name is just wrong. And it is with some measure of Cascadian pride that I note that the Seattle Seahawks are the only pro sports team I can think of that makes a respectful gesture toward Native history with its totem-inspired logo, which was especially apparent the in pre-2002 iteration.

In a new video, Greenpeace draws a stark comparison between President Obama’s lofty rhetoric on climate change with his administration’s aggressive leasing of coal on public lands.

At Seattle Transit Blog, Kyle Rowe has a genuinely fascinating analysis that seems to show marked economic improvement in neighborhood business districts that have installed bicycle infrastructure. To my mind, we don’t yet have near enough data to draw firm conclusions, but Rowe’s initial results seem strong enough to warrant serious inquiry by economic development agencies and bicycle advocates alike.

A study finds that tougher economic conditions lead to harsher parenting by moms. Fascinating. And I can’t even begin to explain how much I hate the fact that studies like this attend only to mothers, not fathers.

Speaking of mothers, at the Wall Street Journal Emily Oster engages in the nine billionth debunking of the pregnant-women-should-never-touch-alcohol myth. Oster’s smackdown is worth reading because she’s particularly skilled at explaining research findings to puncture the witch doctor-like beliefs that cling to certain aspects of pregnancy and neonatal care. If you haven’t already been down this road before, you may be interested to learn that the available research shows that, on average, women who drink moderately during pregnancy actually have children with higher IQs and a lower propensity for behavioral problems than women who abstain. (By contrast, snorting cocaine or repeatedly binge drinking while pregnant turn out to be not so great for babies, but you probably don’t need to read What To Be Afraid of While You’re Expecting to figure that one out.)

  • If you’re getting too much sleep and you’d like something to keep you awake at night, I recommend perusing Michael Klare’s piece, How to Fry a Planet.

    I grinned all the way through The 15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years and the obligatory follow up piece, Quit Defending the Eagles, They’re Simply Terrible. I even found myself grinning through the feature-length and surprisingly affectionate article about what was my favorite band for a year or three back in the day:

    Are Rush the most hated band of all time? The answer is simple: yes… Rush are easily, beyond any rational dispute, the most intensely despised rock band who ever existed. Women famously hate Rush, but most men have hated them just a little less fervently. In a way, that hatred is as impressive as the loyalty of their fans.

    If you were (or are) into Rush, you really should read it.

    Serena

    Hack the stratosphere to save the planet? Dr. David Keith, a Harvard environmental scientist, thinks this may be a necessary next step in the fight to stabilize our climate.

    A New Yorker piece on the appalling practice of civil forfeiture had me audibly scoffing and frequently bug-eyed on my morning bus rides this week as I made my way through the article. How, how, how is this still taking place?

    In August, 2007, Tenaha police pulled [James] Morrow over for “driving too close to the white line,” and took thirty-nine hundred dollars from him. Morrow told Guillory that he was on his way to get dental work done at a Houston mall. (The arresting officers said that his “stories of travel” were inconsistent, as was his account of how much money he had; they also said they detected the “odor of burned marijuana,” although no contraband was found in the car.) Morrow, who is black, was taken to jail, where he pleaded with authorities to call his bank to see proof of his recent cash withdrawal. They declined.

    “They impounded my car, and they impounded me, too,” Morrow told me, recalling the night he spent in jail. When he finally agreed to sign away his property, he was released on the side of the road with no money, no vehicle, and no phone. “I had to go to Wal-Mart and borrow someone’s phone to call my mama,” he recounted. “She had to take out a rental car to come pick me up.” For weeks, Morrow said he felt “crippled,” unsure of what to do. He says that a Tenaha officer told him, “Don’t even bother getting a lawyer. The money always stays here.”

    Anyone need a good reason to visit Bellingham next month? Here you go. And you can warm up your locavore tastebuds with the Institute for Applied Ecology’s second annual invasive species cook-off—a.k.a. Eradication by Mastication—in Philomath, OR, next weekend.

    Finally, could you ever put a price on how much you love your child? Well, the USDA can. How about almost a cool quarter-million dollars? Oh, and that doesn’t include college tuition (obviously).