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Aggregating and archiving news from both sides of the aisle.

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Stock futures fall after another losing week on Wall Street

Preview: Stock futures were lower on Tuesday morning after the major averages finished another losing week.

Andy Jassy just wrapped up a rocky first year after succeeding Bezos as Amazon CEO

Preview: Jassy's first year was marked by challenges ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic and record inflation, to unionization efforts and a plunge in the stock price.

Crypto lender Nexo offers to buy embattled rival Vauld as market consolidates

Preview: Vauld on Monday paused operations and said it was exploring restructuring options due to "financial challenges."

Euro slides to 20-year low against the dollar as recession fears build

Preview: The euro fell to its lowest level in two decades on Tuesday, sliding more than 1%.

Russia is set to switch off the gas for work on a key pipeline — and Germany fears the worst

Preview: Russia is poised to temporarily shut down the European Union's single biggest piece of gas import infrastructure.

74% of consumers are concerned about a recession: 5 steps you can take now to prepare

Preview: Recessions are part of the normal economic cycle. Whether one is in the near future or further out, here's what you can do to get ready.

What Cramer is watching Tuesday — Q3 stumble, crypto gutted, Tesla trepidation

Preview: Another down day from another down quarter? Dollar way too strong. The Federal Reserve winning everywhere?

Finland and Sweden move a step closer to NATO membership with accession sign-off

Preview: Finland and Sweden got one step closer to becoming full members of NATO on Tuesday, in what's been the fastest accession process in the defense alliance's history so far.

The world's most powerful tidal turbine just got a major funding boost

Preview: While there is excitement about the potential of marine energy, the overall size of tidal stream and wave projects remains small compared with other renewables.

These 5 metros have the most million-dollar homes: If you're selling, here's what to know about the tax consequences

Preview: A report finds million-dollar homes are most likely to be in metropolitan areas on the coasts. Here's what to know when selling a high-value property.

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Analysis: America's latest mass shooting has an additional dimension of horror

Preview: America's latest mass shooting turned a cherished July Fourth parade from a scene of patriotic joy into one of fear and death.

July 4: Celebrations in Highland Park end in terror

Preview: A day of national celebration turned to tragedy Monday when a gunman killed six people and injured dozens of others at a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois -- leaving the nation grieving yet another mass shooting.

Watch: Suspect taken into custody

Preview: Robert E. Crimo III, identified by police as the person suspected of shooting and killing six people and wounding dozens of others at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, has been arrested, authorities said. CNN's Josh Campbell has more on the investigation.

Reaction: 'Mrs. Maisel' star 'sick' over hometown shooting

Preview: Actress Rachel Brosnahan is expressing her grief over the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on Monday that has left at least six people dead and dozens more injured.

Opinion: The surprising solution to gun violence

Preview: In 1973, two psychologists came up with a clever experiment. They took a group of Princeton Theological Seminary students and asked them to walk across campus to give a lecture on the parable of the "Good Samaritan." Along their route, the psychologists positioned someone in a doorway, not moving, eyes closed, coughing and groaning as the study subjects went by -- someone, in other words, clearly in need of a Good Samaritan's help.

Video shows gunshots ringing out as people flee the scene

Preview: • 'People just falling and falling': Witnesses describe the horror • Doctor who treated victims at parade shooting says the dead had 'wartime injuries' • America's struggle with mass shootings has changed how these people live their lives

Loophole may allow DeSantis to use his reelection war chest in a presidential race

Preview: • Opinion: Newsom shows Democrats how to fight back

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NASA Satellite Off To The Moon After Breaking Free From Earth’s Orbit

Preview: Just days after its launch, a satellite roughly the size of a microwave oven has broken away from its orbit around Earth and is now headed directly toward the moon. But don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan. The satellite — dubbed CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) — was ...

‘Transform Our View Of The World’: Scientists Find Origins Of World’s Minerals, May Offer Path To Find Extraterrestrial Life

Preview: Scientists who found a new way  to ascertain the origins of Earth’s minerals and their diverse formations may have offered a path to discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. Doctors Robert Hazen and Shaunna Morrison from the Carnegie Institute of Science authored a study offering a new approach to the origins of minerals. ...

‘Americans Need To Know … Communist China Has Their Information’: Blackburn Demands TikTok Testify Before Congress

Preview: After TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote a letter to nine GOP senators who had questioned whether TikTok employees had access to data from U.S. users. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) demanded that TikTok testify before Congress. The letter from the GOP senators was prompted by a Buzzfeed report centered on leaked audio from internal TikTok ...

Video Shows Crowd Panic, Flee As Shooter Disrupts Philadelphia Fireworks, Hits Two Officers

Preview: Crowds scattered on Monday night as an active shooter disrupted Philadelphia’s July Fourth celebration, Party on the Parkway, injuring two police officers. According to news reports, the shooting happened just after the fireworks display got underway, around 10 p.m. local time. Witnesses say the shots came from the area in front of the Art Museum, ...

U.S. Navy Launches Rewards Program For Non-Citizens Who Leak Intel To Sailors For Counterterrorism Operations In Middle East

Preview: With tensions rising over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s arming of Houthi rebels in Yemen, the U.S. Navy said individuals who voluntarily leak intel to sailors for counterterrorism operations and illicit shipments in the Middle East could receive up to $100,000 payout in a new rewards program. The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said those ...

Steven Crowder Asked Americans If They’re Proud Of Their Country — Here’s What They Said

Preview: Conservative comedian and political commentator Steven Crowder took to the streets of Dallas to ask Americans how they feel about their country for his newest episode of “Talking With The People” released on Independence Day. What Crowder heard from the people on the streets suggests that Americans have more pride in their country than what ...

Here’s What We Know About The Alleged Highland Park Parade Shooter

Preview: An Independence Day celebration turned into a deadly mass shooting on Monday in Highland Park, Illinois, which left at least six people dead and 30 others hospitalized, leading to authorities identifying and arresting a 22-year-old suspect. Previous articles included the suspect’s name because he was still at large, but due to The Daily Wire’s policy ...

Macy Gray Pokes The Hornet’s Nest: ‘Just Because You Go Change Your Parts Doesn’t Make You A Woman, Sorry’

Preview: Singer Macy Gray poked the hornet’s nest — saying that changing one’s “parts” did not make them women — during an interview on with Piers Morgan that aired on Monday. Gray predicted during her appearance on “Piers Morgan Uncensored” that she would probably face backlash for voicing her opinion, and as soon as previews of ...

NPR Puts July 4th On The Woke-Wagon, Scraps Annual Reading Of The Declaration Of Independence

Preview: NPR’s Steve Inskeep scrapped his traditional 4th of July reading of the Declaration of Independence on Monday after more than three decades, and instead opted to devote the segment to a discussion on equality. After a bit of a false start in 2021 — when the hosts read the Declaration but drew attention to what ...

‘Gentleminions’: Movie Theaters Frazzled As Mobs Of High School Boys Don Suits To Watch ‘Despicable Me’ Sequel

Preview: Mobs of high school boys are dressing to the nines and flooding movie theaters to watch the latest flick in the “Despicable Me” franchise, leading some theaters to turn away the dapper young gentlemen. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” — which centers upon the antics of an 11-year-old version of hero Felonious Gru and his ...

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JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade...

Preview: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... (Top headline, 1st story, link) Related stories: Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

Shooter on store roof...

Preview: Shooter on store roof... (Top headline, 2nd story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

'I know what I have to do'...

Preview: 'I know what I have to do'... (Top headline, 3rd story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

Disturbing social media posts...

Preview: Disturbing social media posts... (Top headline, 4th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

Filmed Self on Parade Route...

Preview: Filmed Self on Parade Route... (Top headline, 5th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

Known to law enforcement...

Preview: Known to law enforcement... (Top headline, 6th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'...

Preview: As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... (Top headline, 7th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... At least 13 shot across NYC...

Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park...

Preview: Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park... (Top headline, 8th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... At least 13 shot across NYC...

At least 13 shot across NYC...

Preview: At least 13 shot across NYC... (Top headline, 9th story, link) Related stories: JULY 4TH RAMPAGE: 6 dead, 30 hospitalized at parade... Shooter on store roof... 'I know what I have to do'... Disturbing social media posts... Filmed Self on Parade Route... Known to law enforcement... As gunfire explodes in Chicago suburb, 'nowhere safe'... Witnesses recount horror in Highland Park...

AMERICAN MADNESS

Preview: AMERICAN MADNESS (Main headline, 1st story, link) Related stories: NATION'S 309TH MASS SHOOTING THIS YEAR Drudge Report Feed needs your support!   Become a Patron

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Chicago suburb warehouse temporary employee charged after allegedly fatally shooting 1, injuring 2 others

Preview: A temporary employee at a WeatherTech warehouse in a Chicago suburb on Saturday is being charged after allegedly opening fire on his own co-workers.

Virginia firefighter, mother of two dies while teaching swift water rescue course

Preview: Alicia Monahan, a 41-year-old Virginia firefighter and mother of two boys, died while instructing a swift water rescue course in North Carolina on Saturday.

Georgia siblings, including a 3-year-old, drown in lake on the same day

Preview: Three siblings drowned Thursday during a boating outing in the Amity Recreation Area on Clark Hills Lake, the same area where two friends drowned last year.

Los Angeles 29-year-old trans woman beats 13-year-old girl to first place in NYC women's skateboarding contest

Preview: Ricci Tres, 29, a biological male who identifies as a trans woman, took the top title from a 13-year-old girl in a skateboarding tournament in New York City.

Mother of Good Samaritan who shot cop killer and was mistakenly killed by police files lawsuit

Preview: A Colorado mother filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday after her Good Samaritan son was shot and killed by police after an officer mistakenly thought he was an active shooter.

Washington man arrested after reportedly making social media threat to blow up elementary school

Preview: Local Washington police served a high-risk search warrant and arrested a man who reportedly threatened to blow up a grade school on social media.

Georgia woman charged with murder after 4 children die in house fire

Preview: A woman was arrested and charged with murder after 4 children died in a house fire under her watch Friday night. Four other children were also found in the home.

Baby formula shipment arrives from overseas in Houston, enough for 1.5M bottles

Preview: A cargo plane carrying more than 150,000 pounds of baby formula from overseas landed at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston early Sunday, according to a local report.

LAPD officer killed in mob 'training' with other cops, mother says

Preview: The mother of slain LAPD officer Houston Tipping filed a wrongful death complaint against the city, saying her son was killed in a reckless training exercise.

NYC prosecutors flee in droves amid soft-on-crime policies, burdensome state reforms

Preview: Prosecutors in New York City are resigning in large numbers amid soft-on-crime policies from district attorneys and controversial state criminal justice reforms.

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Fourth of July rooftop shooter kills six in Chicago suburb - Reuters.com

Preview: Fourth of July rooftop shooter kills six in Chicago suburb  Reuters.com Highland Park shooting person of interest Robert Crimo captured after manhunt  Fox News Police name person of interest in July 4 parade shooting  CNN The Fourth of July celebration that ended before it began  Evanston RoundTable Trump-backed Illinois candidate says ‘let’s move on’ just hours after parade shooting  The Independent View Full Coverage on Google News

Russia-Ukraine War: Live Updates - The New York Times

Preview: Russia-Ukraine War: Live Updates  The New York Times Ukraine war: Putin presses on after Lysychansk capture  BBC Ukraine 'forced to withdraw' from critical city  CNN Ukrainian Armed Forces repel Russian offensives in Bilohorivka and near Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant General Staff report  Yahoo News Zelensky vows to win back Luhansk from Russia - BBC News  BBC News View Full Coverage on Google News

Akron protesters gather at justice center, eventually disperse around 9 p.m. curfew - Akron Beacon Journal

Preview: Akron protesters gather at justice center, eventually disperse around 9 p.m. curfew  Akron Beacon Journal Jayland Walker bodycam footage: Policing experts say shooting video raises more questions  Yahoo What we know about the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker  CNN Akron mayor imposes curfew, cancels July 4 fireworks displays amid protests over police killing of Jayland Wa  cleveland.com America is traumatizing for Black people  TheGrio View Full Coverage on Google News

'I'm terrified I might be here forever': Brittney Griner pens handwritten letter to Biden - CNN

Preview: 'I'm terrified I might be here forever': Brittney Griner pens handwritten letter to Biden  CNN 'Please don't forget about me': Brittney Griner writes open letter to Biden as her trial begins | FO  FOX 7 Austin Brittney Griner calls on White House to bring her, other Americans detained in Russia home: 'I miss my family'  Fox News Brittney Griner's wife calls for White House to do more to free WNBA star held in Russia  CBS Mornings View Full Coverage on Google News

Will the Abortion Debate Keep Moderate Women in the Democrats’ Camp? - The New York Times

Preview: Will the Abortion Debate Keep Moderate Women in the Democrats’ Camp?  The New York Times Women lean into the fight over abortion rights  The Hill View Full Coverage on Google News

2 law enforcement officers shot during a July Fourth festival in Philadelphia - CNN

Preview: 2 law enforcement officers shot during a July Fourth festival in Philadelphia  CNN Philadelphia shooting: Democrat mayor rips Second Amendment, says only the police should have guns  Fox News Philadelphia Police Searching For Gunman After 2 Officers Shot During Fireworks Show Near Ben Frankl  CBS Philly Philadelphia July 4th Shooting: 2 police officers injured during Ben Franklin Parkway shooting released from hospital  WPVI-TV Philadelphia shooting: 2 police officers shot during Fourth of July celebration  Fox News View Full Coverage on Google News

Boy dies in Mount Vernon fireworks incident - WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland

Preview: Boy dies in Mount Vernon fireworks incident  WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland 11-year-old killed in fireworks accident  ABC News Child killed in Mount Vernon fireworks incident  FOX59 News 11-year-old boy dies from fireworks in Indiana  ABC News View Full Coverage on Google News

California Gov. Gavin Newsom launches ads urging Floridians to leave state - New York Post

Preview: California Gov. Gavin Newsom launches ads urging Floridians to leave state  New York Post Gov. Newsom urges Floridians to move to California where they 'believe in freedom'  Fox Business California Gov. Gavin Newsom ads suggest Floridians leave the state  USA TODAY ‘Join us in California’: Gov. Newsom targets GOP in Florida ad  The Mercury News View Full Coverage on Google News

Finland and Sweden move a step closer to NATO membership with accession sign-off - CNBC

Preview: Finland and Sweden move a step closer to NATO membership with accession sign-off  CNBC NATO nations sign accession protocols for Sweden, Finland  ABC News NATO poised to sign accession protocols for Sweden, Finland  New York Post Sweden, Finland Advance to Final Stage of NATO Application  Business Insider Nordic deal increases Turkish power in NATO, but pitfalls ahead  Al Jazeera English View Full Coverage on Google News

Rep. Lauren Boebert's Terrible Take On Denmark Shooting Slammed As 'Deadly' Stupid - Yahoo News

Preview: Rep. Lauren Boebert's Terrible Take On Denmark Shooting Slammed As 'Deadly' Stupid  Yahoo News Copenhagen shopping mall shooting leaves three dead - BBC News  BBC News Denmark theaters closed in honor of mall shooting victims  The Washington Post Copenhagen shooting suspect held in psych ward  Reuters Harry Styles Nixes Copenhagen Concert After Deadly Shooting at Nearby Mall  The Daily Beast View Full Coverage on Google News

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This is the wrong time to cut environmental protection

Preview: Close the gaps in EPA’s ability to protect the environment.

Press: Time for media to stop promoting Donald Trump

Preview: Donald Trump is a political figure. But, more than anything else, Trump is a creation of the media. And it’s time for us in the media – whether print, TV, radio or online – to admit that, like Victor Frankenstein, we have created a monster. Let’s face it: Trump wouldn’t be where he is today without the attention he’s always received from the media. It started...

Have sanctions against Russia boomeranged?

Preview: Sanctions historically have produced unintended and undesirable consequences, yet they have become the policy tool of choice for the United States.

Chicago White Sox pitcher on July Fourth shooting: 'Something needs to be done'

Preview: White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said “something needs to be done” after a shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill. left six people dead on Monday  “[I]n this day and age, it's becoming all too commonplace. I think the access to the weaponry that is being kind of used in these things is...

California reparations task force should tackle root of housing crisis

Preview: A house divided cannot stand, and at today’s prices, it can’t be afforded either. That is especially true in California, where the dream of homeownership has failed to materialize for individuals of all backgrounds. Home prices are undeniably prohibitive for many Golden State residents; California has the second-highest median home price and one of the...

Republicans scoff as Dems try to close Gitmo again

Preview: Democrats are reviving their efforts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but the push faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans are already writing it off as doomed. In the past month, House Democrats have advanced legislation seeking to close the facility in Cuba as part of a larger annual defense spending...

Battle over Big Tech bills goes down to the wire

Preview: Lobbying both for and against legislation to crack down on U.S. tech giants is intensifying as the Senate enters a critical month for the antitrust bills. All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who will need to decide whether to prioritize measures to regulate Google, Apple, Amazon and Meta over other key...

Seven close races that could decide control of the House

Preview: The battle for control of the House is heating up as more and more general election matchups are set. Republicans are favored to win back the majority in the lower chamber given both the national mood and historical precedent of a first-term president’s party losing seats in the administration’s first midterm election. However, a Morning...

Trump troubles open path for Senate GOP White House hopefuls

Preview: The political damage suffered by Donald Trump during the Jan. 6 hearings, which journalist Bob Woodward says has written the former president’s "political obituary," is giving Senate Republicans eyeing the White House new hope for 2024. Presidential hopefuls including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have largely steered clear...

Federal judge rules in favor of pharmaceutical companies in West Virginia opioid case

Preview: A federal judge ruled in favor of three drug companies on Monday in a lawsuit accusing them of being responsible for the opioid epidemic in certain communities in West Virginia.  Judge David Faber rejected arguments from the city of Huntington, W.Va., and the Cabel County Commission that AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson...

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British Embassy Delightfully Teases U.S. With Fourth Of July Playlist

Preview: U.K. diplomats honored America's birthday with a song on repeat.

These Are The Victims Of The July 4 Highland Park, Illinois, Shooting

Preview: At least six people were killed and others, including several children, were taken to the hospital.

Michael Moore Writes Own Declaration Of Independence And It's Peak Patriotism

Preview: The activist filmmaker sparkled on the Fourth of July with a manifesto backing women and Black people while opposing "every single Republican" in office.

U.S. Judge Rules In Favor Of 3 Drug Distributors In West Virginia Opioid Lawsuit

Preview: The Cabell-Huntington lawsuit was the first time allegations involving opioid distribution ended up at federal trial.

Americans Flee Another Shooting As July 4th Fireworks Burst Behind Them

Preview: “The weather was beautiful, the concert was beautiful, but we live in America," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said after the shooting that wounded two police officers.

Rep. Lauren Boebert's Terrible Take On Denmark Shooting Slammed As 'Deadly' Stupid

Preview: The U.S. has had more mass shootings in the past weekend than Denmark has had in a decade.

‘Minions: The Rise Of Gru’ Woos Families Back To Theaters, Sets Box Office On Fire

Preview: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” brought in an estimated $108.5 million in ticket sales this weekend.

‘That’s Stupid’: MLB All-Star Liam Hendriks Rips 'Idiot' U.S. Gun Policies

Preview: White Sox pitcher says "something needs to change" after mass shooting at Fourth of July parade outside Chicago.

Walmart Employee Takes Home Kitten She Found Inside Vending Machine

Preview: Here's what to do if a vending machine meows at you.

Bette Midler Sparks Backlash For Tweet Attacking Trans-Inclusive Language

Preview: The actor, often celebrated as a gay icon, disappointed fans with her take arguing that inclusive language erases women.

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Market Extra: With prices skirting a 17-month low, Dr Copper’s prognosis about the global economy is downbeat

Preview: The Nymex copper contract flirted with sub-$3.50 per pound, its cheapest since February 2021.

Market Extra: Ray Dalio attacks U.S. populists and warns Russia may be ‘lesser loser’ in Ukraine war

Preview: The founder of Bridgewater Associates took to Linkedin on the U.S. Independence Day holiday to deliver an update on forces he believes are shaping the world.

The Tell: Euro to reach parity against the U.S. dollar unless natural-gas crisis ends, Citi strategists warn

Preview: The euro is set to keep sliding until it reaches parity against the dollar, according to strategists at Citi, unless the surge in natural gas prices bought about by Russia's invasion of Ukraine ends.

: ‘Deleting this app right now!’ Are period-tracking apps safe to use in a post-Roe world?

Preview: Period-tracking apps are rushing to revisit their privacy settings and caution users about court orders for information in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling

Market Snapshot: Dow futures drop over 300 points after long weekend as dollar rallies to 19-year high

Preview: Traders appear reluctant to make bullish bets ahead of Fed minutes, jobs data and corporate earnings season.

Metals Stocks: Gold weakens as dollar climbs to 22-year high vs. euro

Preview: Technical indicators in recent trade for both gold and silver are now 'fully bearish'

Bond Report: Treasury yield curve flattens on U.S. growth fears

Preview: The U.S. yield curve flattened Tuesday as investors mulled how far the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates as the U.S. economy slows.

Futures Movers: Oil lower as dollar soars, investors weigh recessionary fears

Preview: Oil trades lower, under pressure as concerns over the global economic outlook spurred uncertainty about the demand outlook for crude while the dollar surged.

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Police: Person of interest taken into custody after Illinois parade shooting

Preview: Police say the person of interest Robert E. Crimo, III has been taken into custody in connection with the Highland Park parade shooting.

How this Supreme Court is setting back disability rights — without even trying

Preview: Her majority opinion in Olmstead v. L.C. may have been Ruth Bader Ginsburg's finest hour.

Republicans have their eye on a much bigger prize than just reversing Roe

Preview: Would Republicans really pursue a national abortion ban? Many advocates for abortion rights believe so.

One America is thriving; the other is stagnating. How long can this go on?

Preview: Americans will always be united by geography — but we all no longer share the same creed.

Uvalde schools police chief sends letter to resign from City Council seat

Preview: Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo sent in his resignation letter to step down from the Uvalde City Council. Arredondo has faced criticism for waiting to confront the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.

Jan. 6 panel could make multiple criminal referrals to DOJ, says Rep. Cheney

Preview: Jan. 6 Committee member, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., says the committee could make multiple criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. Also, NBC News confirms former aide to Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, received a message before her hearing before the Jan. 6 Committee.

Is Trump World paying for Jan. 6 committee witnesses’ lawyers?

Preview: Is Trump World paying Jan. 6 committee witnesses' lawyers? There's plenty of evidence to consider, and the answer is more than just a political curiosity.

Martin's Famous Potato Rolls are bankrolling a Trump fanatic

Preview: Doug Mastriano, who believes the wildest 2020 election conspiracies, could break democracy if he wins.

Watch: Full Jan. 6 committee hearing - Day 1

Preview: Watch MSNBC coverage of the first public January 6th House committee hearing investigating the Capitol riot.

Watch: Full Jan. 6 committee hearing - Day 2

Preview: Watch MSNBC coverage of the second public January 6th House committee hearing investigating the Capitol riot.

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‘Only Murders in the Building’ is a Love Letter to the Upper West Side

Preview: The hit Hulu show celebrates the UWS in all its iconic idiosyncrasies.

12 #FoundItonAmazon fashion pieces loved by influencers and bloggers

Preview: #FoundItOnAmazon is where to shop to look fabulous as ever this summer.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ review: Christian Bale amazes in MCU film

Preview: The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best shot at Oscar glory has arrived.

Scary optical illusion will ‘make you hallucinate’ and shrink the room around you

Preview: A shocking optical illusion makes the room around you look like it’s shrinking.

Costco limiting gasoline sales to members only in New Jersey

Preview: Costco has begin limiting gas sales in New Jersey to those who pay membership fees to the big-box retailer. Starting on Tuesday, motorists in the Garden State who aren’t Costco members won’t be able to fill up their tanks at one of the store’s gas stations. Costco, which normally sells gasoline at slightly below-market value,...

Robert Crimo’s dad liked Second Amendment tweet days after Uvalde massacre

Preview: Robert Crimo, the deli owner dad of Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, 22, the person of interest in the Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting, liked a pro-gun tweet just hours after the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, on May 27.

How Travis Barker spent Fourth of July with Kourtney after hospitalization

Preview: The Blink-182 rocker was released from the hospital after suffering from "life-threatening pancreatitis," spending the Fourth of July with his wife.

Minus a first-round draft pick, the Rangers need to be better at uncovering late-round gems

Preview: A look at the club’s choices later than the first round from 2015-2018 provides an explanation for why the Rangers are lacking players in their mid-20s.

Highland Park shooting survivor shares bloody images after massacre

Preview: A young woman who was hit in the face during the Highland Park mass shooting has shared graphic, bloody images of her injuries -- while bluntly calling the suspect a "c--t who killed and injured innocent people."

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Will the Abortion Debate Keep Moderate Women in the Democrats’ Camp?

Preview: Worried about inflation and dissatisfied with President Biden, many moderate women have been drifting away from Democrats. Now the party hopes the fight for abortion rights will drive them back.

Where the Risks of Pregnancy Meet Abortion Laws and Health Care

Preview: Even before the wave of abortion bans, medical treatment and advice for pregnancy has largely focused on fetal safety over the mother’s.

What We Know About the Highland Park Shooting

Preview: Police detained a person of interest after a manhunt across the Chicago area. The shooting, in which six people were killed, sent a chill across the suburb.

Chicago’s Weekend of Gun Violence Doesn’t Stop at Highland Park

Preview: As of early Monday morning, at least 57 people had been shot in Chicago alone over the Fourth of July weekend, nine of them fatally.

Highland Park Victim Was a Grandfather Who Hadn’t Wanted to Attend the Parade

Preview: Nicolas Toledo was sitting in his wheelchair along the parade route, between his son and a nephew, when the bullets started flying.

‘Get the Stretcher!’ Life and Death on Ukraine’s Front Line

Preview: On another day of scorched-earth artillery barrages in the east, a team of Ukrainian medics did their best to stabilize and assure the survivors, with the din of war all around.

Russia Advances Behind Brutal Barrage, but Will Its Strategy Keep Working?

Preview: The Russian and Ukrainian armies have both been badly mauled, raising questions about how long they can keep fighting as they have, particularly the outgunned Ukrainians.

Brittney Griner Writes Letter to Biden Pleading for Release

Preview: Griner, the W.N.B.A. star, sent a letter to President Biden on Monday, asking him to help free her from prison in Russia. She has been in custody since February.

On Conservative Radio, Misleading Message Is Clear: ‘Democrats Cheat’

Preview: Election fraud claims from 2020 are widespread on talk radio, contributing to the belief that the midterm results cannot be trusted.

Demaryius Thomas Diagnosed With C.T.E., Family Reckons With His Death

Preview: Demaryius Thomas had C.T.E. when he died in December at 33, but the posthumous diagnosis alone does not explain what role football had in the charismatic N.F.L. star’s quick decline.

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Abortion Bans Are Going to Make Stalkerware Even More Dangerous

Preview: Abusers will use intimate data obtained from stalkerware to terrorize, manipulate, control, and—yes—incriminate victims.

I’ve Never Had an Orgasm. How Can I Fix This?

Preview: It starts with taking the pressure off of yourself.

A Fight to Put Abortion on Arizona’s Ballot

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Evil, God Helmet, and Trademark Law

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Political Momentum Slippery Slopes

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Sensitivity Readers Are the New Literary Gatekeepers

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Brickbat: Driving Them Crazy

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Thoughts on the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution

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Inside Ukraine’s lobbying blitz in Washington

Preview: A ground staff directs a MIG-29 fighter jet of the Ukrainian Air Force after a training flight at a military airbase in Vasylkiv village, some 30 kilometers from Kiev, Ukraine, on November 23, 2016.  | Danil Shamkin/NurPhoto via Getty Images Meet the Ukrainian fighter jet pilots hobnobbing with Washington influencers. At a white-tablecloth dinner on the second floor of an Italian bistro in Dupont Circle, two Ukrainian fighter pilots took a break from the battlefield to describe facing off with Russian jets above Kyiv to a rapt group of reporters. The four journalists chimed in with questions. Do the Ukrainians really want MIGs, the outdated Soviet-designed fighter jets? What was their message for an American audience more concerned with high oil prices than Russian threats, one that might even blame gas prices on US support for Ukraine? “Um, this is a tricky one,” an American PR executive interjected, “but answer carefully.” “You tell me if it’s off the record,” one of the pilots said, to laughs. “It’s just that Russia is a really big threat,” he continued. “If it’s not stopped right now, right here in Ukraine, on the ground, and with the sanction pressure, the rest of this democratic world could find themselves in a much, much worse situation.” “Well said, bravo,” the PR executive said. Ukraine has unleashed an incredible influence campaign in Washington. There’s a lag to the filing of lobbying disclosures. But even in the lead-up to the war last year, Ukraine’s lobbyists made more than 10,000 contacts with Congress, think tanks, and journalists. That’s higher than the well-funded lobbyists of Saudi Arabia, and experts on foreign lobbying told Vox they expect that this year’s number will grow much higher. This spring, I’ve been invited to an elegant dinner with a parliamentary delegation and morning briefings (no breakfast, just coffee) at think tanks with Ukraine’s chief negotiator with Russia. Foreign policy reporters in DC have been inundated with requests. A journalist from another outlet, who asked for anonymity to be blunt, concurred: It’s been “a nonstop cycle” of Ukrainian visitors in Washington, they told me, “And think tanks that have basically become lobbyists but with a nonprofit status.” Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington and other parliamentarians pop up at foreign policy events. Their express purpose has been amplifying support for bigger weapons packages for Ukraine. The requests are very specific and have evolved as the war goes on: Right now, Kyiv wants F-16s and drones, more artillery and armored vehicles. The messages conveyed by Ukrainian politicians and members of the armed forces are remarkably disciplined. Visiting officials and meals with journalists are part of how Washington works, and there’s an ecosystem of experienced power brokers operating largely within — but sometimes in the gray zone — of US laws regulating foreign influence. And Ukraine, of course, is under siege and has mobilized its most eloquent advocates to speak with Washington influencers. But the sheer intensity and coordination of the effort reveal how Ukraine views the US as an active participant in the war, and at times pushes the legal boundaries around foreign lobbying. In the case of the Italian dinner, a public affairs firm called Ridgely Walsh hosted and paid for the event and assembled the journalist guest list. The fighter pilots, who go by their call signs, Juice and Moonfish, to protect themselves and their families, had also met with members of the House and the Senate, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State. The two pilots were quoted widely in news media, and appeared on CNN alongside actor Sean Penn, before returning to their units the following Monday. According to the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), anyone working for a foreign entity must register, whether or not they’re being paid. Indeed, there’s been a major trend of PR and lobbying firms doing pro bono work for Ukrainians. In part because it is good PR. Ridgely Walsh, according to Department of Justice filings, had not registered, and in response to Vox’s inquiry, the firm said it would change its status. “As a prudential matter, we’re gonna go ahead and register immediately to represent the Government of Ukraine on a pro bono basis,” Juleanna Glover, the founder and CEO of the firm, told me. FARA is a peculiar law that requires voluntary disclosure, and it wasn’t all that well understood or enforced until the Trump era when some of then-President Donald Trump’s inner circle got caught without registering — Michael Flynn working for Turkey, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates lobbying for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine, and Tom Barrack allegedly acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates. “The very small group of FARA lawyers who have been doing this for a long time were shouting from the rooftops to everyone: beware,” Joshua Rosenstein, a lawyer at Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, told me, “because FARA is more broad than you think.” To understand the scale of Ukraine’s lobbying, it’s useful to review the history of a law that was meant to bring transparency to international activities at a time when, according to some metrics, there are more foreign agents registered than ever. FARA: From obscurity to the front page FARA was enacted in 1938 to combat Nazi propaganda and Soviet influence. It doesn’t regulate or censor speech as such, whether an individual represents the best of regimes or the worst of them. It’s just registering and disclosing those interests, but any “informational materials” disseminated — like articles — must include a conspicuous statement of that work. The scholar Daniel Rice, who has registered to advise the Ukrainian president on a pro bono basis, is legally bound to add something like this to his articles: “This material is distributed by Daniel Rice on behalf of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Additional information is available at the US Department of Justice, Washington, DC.” The 50 years before 2016 saw only seven criminal prosecutions for FARA violations. But during the Trump years, the once-obscure area of law became a front-page story. “Before that, you know, we were probably a little naive,” says Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “You start seeing how foreign government interests and other foreign entities are trying to influence US policy.” David Laufman is a partner at Wiggin and Dana who oversaw FARA enforcement at the Department of Justice from 2014 to 2018. “It quickly became apparent to me, by as early as early 2015, that we were not fully meeting our enforcement responsibilities under FARA,” he told me. “So I set about energizing enforcement of FARA, and it has built upon itself steadily since then.” The Justice Department now is likely paying more attention to unfriendly governments and potentially unregistered lobbying, according to Rosenstein. “I would imagine that doing lobbying work, for example, on behalf of, say, a Chinese entity is given more scrutiny than lobbying work on behalf of a Canadian company,” he said. The FARA unit has grown to five attorneys, five analysts, two support staffers, an intern, and an FBI agent detailed to it, but it still has “finite resources,” a Department of Justice official familiar with its workings, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me. “Certainly, the scope of the potential national security threat is always going to drive our choices.” It’s not yet clear what renewed enforcement of FARA will mean for the army of Ukrainian lobbyists in Washington, especially since the DOJ likely doesn’t see Ukraine as a “potential national security threat.” But the US government does have the power to make sure readers and viewers have clarity about foreign interests. “One of the beautiful things about FARA and how we run things is everything goes online. So you’re seeing what we’re seeing,” another DOJ official said. How Ukraine lobbies The number of firms registered to lobby on behalf of Ukrainian clients has exploded this summer. Six new firms registered in June alone, bringing the total to 24 firms or individuals now registered to lobby on behalf of Ukrainian clients, up from 11 registered to work for Ukraine last year. Ben Freeman, a researcher at the nonpartisan Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, says that current Ukrainian efforts rank among the most active foreign government lobby he has ever analyzed. He is particularly surprised that major lobbying and comms shops in DC are giving their services away. “That’s just unheard of in the foreign lobbying space,” says Freeman, who authored the book The Foreign Policy Auction. “There’s no such thing as a free lobbyist in DC.” That’s because there may be a business motive behind gratis lobbying. Take, for example, Mercury Public Affairs, a prominent consulting and PR group based in Washington. It’s now doing pro bono work for GloBee International Agency for Regional Development for Ukraine. Prior to that, Mercury worked for Russian firms. In January of this year, Sovcombank, one of Russia’s largest banks, hired Mercury for $90,000 monthly in the hope of preventing new sanctions against it. On February 25, a day after Russia’s invasion, Mercury dropped Sovcombank as a client. Qorvis, another powerhouse communications firm, is now working for Ukrainian aid relief groups after years representing Russian interests in Washington. “In a matter of months, they’re sort of switching sides on who they’re representing in this lobbying fight,” Freeman said. Shai Franklin is a lobbyist at Your Global Strategy who worked closely with Ukrainian groups before the Russian invasion in February. He registered as a pro bono lobbyist for Ukraine and has been connecting Ukrainian mayors with American mayors, and has also been working for GloBee. “The first week I was doing the work, I realized I better file,” he told me. “And that brought its own publicity, which was great, because it shows that Washington people are standing up for Ukraine.” The negative association with registering as a foreign agent has perhaps made some less interested in registering. The American Bar Association recently recommended changes to the law, including replacing the phrase “‘agent of a foreign principal’ with a term that elicits less stigma.” As Franklin put it, “I tell foreign clients that there’s no shame in filing under FARA, but some of them are still pretty spooked by it, because of what happened over the last few years, because FARA has been associated with a crime.” Even working for those who seem like heroes requires registration. “When it comes to foreign governments lobbying or lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, people have to realize that whether it’s a foreign interest we see as a good guy or a bad guy or an ugly guy, that’s not the US interest,” said Freeman. There is a narrow humanitarian carveout that exempts some from registering, and those lobbying on behalf of foreign companies register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The Ukrainians were savvy to send fighter pilots to a country that made the film Top Gun twice. Over risotto drizzled with asparagus puree and saffron fondue, they talked about flying low over the country on risky missions last month, making eye contact with Ukrainian farmers on tractors in the fields of grain and waving to agricultural producers who they see as also fighting on the front lines. But the purpose of their trip was not merely to raise awareness about the plight of Ukrainian farmers amid an emerging global food crisis. “Our main goal is self-explanatory,” Moonfish said. “We’re meeting media and lawmakers in order to push the weapon flow to Ukraine.”

The fight against inflation starts at sea

Preview: A US Coast Guard vessel patrols near a container ship on June 10 in Los Angeles, California. | Mario Tama/Getty Images Biden is cracking down on the ocean shipping industry. Everything from children’s toys and furniture to guacamole has gotten more expensive, so it’s not surprising that inflation is top of mind for many Americans. But with the midterm elections drawing closer — and Republicans hammering the White House about rising consumer prices — President Joe Biden thinks voters should direct their frustrations elsewhere. He says they should be angrier at a critical, but often forgotten, part of the US economy: the ocean shipping industry. “There are nine — nine — major ocean line shipping companies that ship from Asia to the United States. Nine. They form three consortia. These companies have raised their prices by as much as 1,000 percent,” Biden declared in a speech at the Port of Los Angeles, the country’s largest port, in June. “There’s no better place to start it than right here in the port, and letting those nine foreign shippers understand the rip-off is over.” Right now, the cost of sending goods across the Pacific is still more expensive than it was before the pandemic. This price surge is a product of not only the delays and bottlenecks in the supply chain created by Covid-19 but also the huge increase in demand for consumer goods that followed. This demand was far greater than what shipping companies or American ports could handle. As a result, the price of shipping went up, creating increases in costs for importers and retailers within the United States. Those costs have now been passed on to consumers, which is partly why many everyday items are more expensive lately. (Surging gas prices, the war in Ukraine, and pandemic-era financial policies may also be driving inflation.) Experts told Recode it’s unlikely that Biden’s crackdown on the shipping industry will significantly reduce the cost of products, even if it will make some meaningful improvements to operations at America’s ports. The small group of companies that dominate the shipping industry remain extremely powerful: They still benefit from longtime exemptions from antitrust laws and continue to wield enormous power. The situation serves as a reminder that, while specific segments like the ocean shipping industry can play a massive role in influencing the prices of everyday goods, they’re also participating in the much larger economic system of supply and demand. This system involves everyone from the companies that build ocean vessels that shipping companies use to parents desperately trying to buy Barbie Dreamhouses for their kids. This complexity can make price increases extremely hard to rein in, even if you’re the president. Ocean shipping, explained By design, the shipping industry isn’t supposed to have a significant impact on the price of everyday goods. Many companies make their products outside the United States, in places where manufacturing is cheaper. This approach only makes economic sense if these companies know they can ship finished goods to their customers at a low cost. This is where the major ocean carriers come in: Nine companies, including firms like Maersk, Cosco, and Hapag-Lloyd, handle the vast majority of shipping across the Pacific Ocean. These companies have been granted limited immunity from certain antitrust laws, and form powerful shipping alliances that coordinate on routes and even share their vessels. A single ship can stretch hundreds of meters long, and some can carry more than 20,000 shipping containers. These ships may travel between ports in several countries, picking up raw materials, parts, supplies, and finished products throughout their route on behalf of different carriers. To make sure these ships are filled to the brim, carriers play their own version of Tetris. Because carriers share their vessels, several companies can sell transportation services on the same ship. Companies have to figure out which shipping containers should go where, based on where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Once cargo arrives at its destination, powerful cranes lift these containers from ships so they can be loaded onto trucks and trains traveling inland, and quickly fill the open space on the ship with a new container. Normally, this makes international freight shipping a skillfully choreographed operation, one that has made sending an item across the Pacific a negligible part of the cost of many products we buy every day. But then came the pandemic. Factories, understandably, closed because of Covid-19, and that created manufacturing delays, threw schedules off course, and ultimately led to shortages of all sorts of products. The pandemic also meant that people spent more time at home, stopped buying services, and cut back on travel. As a result, they started to spend a lot more on consumer goods, goods that typically needed to be shipped to the US from abroad, primarily from countries in Asia. Shipping became harder to provide and much more in demand — which sent shipping prices skyrocketing. Now these shipping companies are facing a lot more scrutiny as well as growing concern that they’ve used their longtime antitrust immunity to profit during a crisis. Before the pandemic, these carriers had an average operating margin of just under 4 percent, but during the third quarter of last year, that margin grew to more than 50 percent. This has made importing goods in the US much more expensive: At the end of June, it costs nearly $7,600 to rent a 40-foot shipping container traveling across the Pacific compared to about $1,300 in early 2020, according to one shipping industry index. “Today, the top nine companies control 85 percent of the trade. Go back 15 years ago, the top 10 companies controlled 50 percent of the trade. They basically ran companies out of business and bottom up,” Sal Mercogliano, a maritime history professor at Campbell University, said. “They were in a pretty vicious rate war, and then all of a sudden Covid happens and rates go through the roof.” Importers and exporters have also accused these shipping companies of taking advantage of supply chain chaos, which has left them paying exorbitant detention and demurrage fees — fines charged to shippers that don’t pick up and drop off containers on time. Normally, these fees act as an important incentive to make sure shipping stays on schedule, but some logistics companies and importers say that the ocean carriers have made it almost impossible for them to pick up and drop off cargo on time. And ultimately, the cost associated with paying the fees gets passed on to customers. The cost of shipping is coming down Inflation isn’t something the president directly controls, and it’s not something that can easily be fixed. Meanwhile, most Americans say the top problem facing the country is rising consumer prices, which means it’s all but certain to become a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections. These elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of the House and the Senate, and will shape what Biden will be able to accomplish in the second half of his presidential term. With voters acutely aware of the issue, the president is looking to cast the blame for inflation on entities far away from the White House. In this case, he’s pointing a finger at the small but powerful group of international companies that control shipping in the Pacific. Biden also wants to appear to be taking action on the problem, especially since it’s one that consumers notice in their everyday purchases. “We have socks and plastic buckets, and things like that, being shipped around the world because it costs next to nothing to ship them,” Marc Levinson, a historian of the container shipping industry, explained. “Now, if the cost of shipping for a pair of shoes has gone up from 10 cents to 50 cents, that can actually be significant because there will be a further markup at every stage along the supply chain.” Enter the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which the president claims will lower costs and help fight inflation. The law, which was signed by Biden in June, empowers the Federal Maritime Commission, the agency that regulates shipping into the US, to investigate carriers’ practices and help craft new rules. The government will also create a more formalized way to track chassis, the metal frames that are used to carry shipping containers at the ports, and expand the commission’s powers when the ports are extremely congested. Finally, the law targets the increasingly common practice of ocean carriers transporting empty containers back across the Pacific instead of waiting to fill their cargo with American exports, including agricultural products that American farmers have sold to customers in Asia. While all of these measures sound like progress, there’s no guarantee they will do much to lower prices overall. Again, many other factors are also driving inflation. “It’s not like furniture is suddenly going to be cheaper overnight, right away. That’s not the way the system works, and frankly, it’s not the way the economy works,” Daniel Maffei, the chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, said. “Everybody would like a silver bullet to inflation.” The Ocean Shipping Reform Act does set the groundwork for addressing growing concerns that carriers are engaging in harmful, anti-competitive behavior. (A recent investigation by one of the agency’s commissioners found no evidence of illegal behavior or collusion that had contributed to high shipping prices.) The legislation comes as the FMC ramps up its efforts to investigate carriers, including a push to crack down on unfair fees that the commission began last year, and a new partnership with the Justice Department announced in February. But the law, which was not as aggressive as another proposal in the House, doesn’t change the fact that shipping is still dominated by just three alliances, despite mounting calls to curtail their power. Nor does it give the FMC the ability to set the price of shipping. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t deal with one of the primary issues that drove the high cost of shipping: surging demand for products that need to be shipped. Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told Recode that whether the legislation would help lower prices is “to be determined.” “Declining demand will help,” Willy Shih, a management professor at Harvard Business School, said. “If we go into a recession, then demand will drop and then that’ll give everybody time to catch up, and even things out more.” The global supply chain is made up of many different countries, companies, and people, which means that the price of a single good is influenced by myriad factors that are incredibly hard to control. That means that, for now, you shouldn’t expect Joe Biden’s mounting effort to regulate the shipping industry to have an immediate impact on the price of the stuff you buy. In reality, the best way to lower the cost of shipping is for people to stop buying so many things that need to be shipped. Given that the economy doesn’t seem to be in a great place right now, that just might happen sooner rather than later. For what it’s worth, imports to the US seem to be declining, and American consumers appear to be returning to their pre-Covid spending habits.

America’s unique, enduring gun problem, explained

Preview: First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill. | Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images The factors that lead to tragedies like those in Highland Park, Tulsa and Uvalde are deeply ingrained in US politics, culture, and law. At least six people were killed in a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, on Monday, and more than 20 others were injured in the latest outbreak of mass gun violence in the US. The shooter is still at large, according to police. The shooting in a Chicago suburb — which some attending the parade initially mistook for fireworks, according to the New York Times — has brought American exceptionalism on gun violence into stark relief as it marks its most patriotic holiday. No other high-income country has suffered such a high death toll from gun violence. Every day, more than 110 Americans die at the end of a gun, including suicides and homicides, an average of 40,620 per year. Since 2009, there has been an annual average of 19 mass shootings, when defined as shootings in which at least four people are killed. The US gun homicide rate is as much as 26 times that of other high-income countries; its gun suicide rate is nearly 12 times higher. Gun control opponents have typically framed the gun violence epidemic in the US as a symptom of a broader mental health crisis. But every country has people with mental health issues and extremists; those problems aren’t unique. What is unique is the US’s expansive view of civilian gun ownership, ingrained in politics, in culture, and in the law since the nation’s founding, and a national political process that has so far proved incapable of changing that norm. “America is unique in that guns have always been present, there is wide civilian ownership, and the government hasn’t claimed more of a monopoly on them,” said David Yamane, a professor at Wake Forest University who studies American gun culture. Congress recently reached a deal on limited gun reforms for the first time in nearly 30 years. But the shooting in Highland Park shows just how embedded gun violence is in the US. The US has a lot of guns, and more guns means more gun deaths It’s hard to estimate the number of privately owned guns in America since there is no countrywide database where people register whether they own guns, and there is a thriving black market for them in the absence of strong federal gun trafficking laws. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-GHnG7");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-GHnG7");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() One estimate from the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based research project, found that there were approximately 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018, or about 120.5 firearms per 100 residents. That number has likely climbed in the years since, given that one in five households purchased a gun during the pandemic. But even without accounting for that increase, US gun ownership is still well above any other country: Yemen, which has the world’s second-highest level of gun ownership, has only 52.8 guns per 100 residents; in Iceland, it’s 31.7. American guns are concentrated in a tiny minority of households: just 3 percent own about half the nation’s guns, according to a 2016 Harvard and Northeastern University study. They’re called “super owners” who have an average of 17 guns each. Gallup, using a different methodology, found that 42 percent of American households overall owned guns in 2021. Researchers have found a clear link between gun ownership in the US and gun violence, and some argue that it’s causal. One 2013 Boston University-led study, for instance, found that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership at the household level, the state firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent. And states with weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun-related homicides and suicides, according to a January study by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. The link between gun deaths and gun ownership is much stronger than the link between violence and mental health issues. If it were possible to cure all schizophrenia, bipolar, and depressive disorders, violent crime in the US would fall by only 4 percent, according to a study from Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, who examines policies to reduce gun violence. There’s still a pervasive idea, pushed by gun manufacturers and gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association, that further arming America is the answer to preventing gun violence — the “good guy with a gun” theory. But a 2021 study from Hamline University and Metropolitan State University found that the rate of deaths in 133 mass school shootings between 1980 and 2019 was 2.83 times greater in cases where there was an armed guard present. “The idea that the solution to mass shootings is that we need more guns in the hands of more people in more places so that we’ll be able to protect ourselves — there’s no evidence that that’s true,” Swanson said. Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images Church members after a Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, one day after a gunman in body armor killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. The prevalence of the self-defense narrative is part of what sets apart the gun rights movement in the US from similar movements in places like Canada and Australia, according to Robert Spitzer, a professor at SUNY Cortland who studies the politics of gun control. Self-defense has become by far the most prominent reason for gun ownership in the US today, eclipsing hunting, recreation, or owning guns because they’re antiques, heirlooms, or work-related. That’s also reflected in ballooning handgun sales, since the primary purpose of those guns isn’t recreational, but self-defense. American gun culture “brings together the hunting-sporting tradition with the militia-frontier tradition, but in modern times the hunting element has been eclipsed by a heavily politicized notion that gun carrying is an expression of freedom, individuality, hostility to government, and personal self-protection,” Spitzer said. That culture of gun ownership in the US has made it all the more difficult to explore serious policy solutions to gun violence after mass shootings. In high-income countries lacking that culture, mass shootings have historically galvanized public support behind gun control measures that would seem extreme by US standards. Canada banned military-style assault weapons two weeks after a 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. In 2019, less than a month after the Christchurch massacre, New Zealand lawmakers passed a gun buyback scheme, as well as restrictions on AR-15s and other semiautomatic weapons, and they later established a firearms registry. The 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Australia spurred the government to buy back 650,000 firearms within a year, and murders and suicides plummeted as a result. By contrast, nearly a decade passed after the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before Congress passed a new gun control law. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the law passed in June 2022, was relatively limited: it did not ban any types of weapons, instead incentivizing states to enact new measures meant to limit who can access guns. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images People gather at Sacred Heart Catholic Church to pray for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25. “Other countries look at this problem and say, ‘People walking around in the community with handguns is just way too dangerous, so we’re going to broadly limit legal access to that and make exceptions on the margins for people who might have a good reason to have a gun,’” Swanson said. “Here we do just the opposite: We say that, because of the way that the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment, everybody has the right to a gun for personal protection, and then we tried to make exceptions for really dangerous people, but we can’t figure out who they are.” While the majority of Americans support more gun control restrictions, including universal background checks, a vocal Republican minority unequivocally opposes such laws — and is willing to put pressure on GOP lawmakers to do the same. Alongside the NRA, and a well-funded gun lobby, this contingent of voters sees gun control as a deciding issue, and one that could warrant a primary challenge for a lawmaker who votes for it. The gun lobby has the advantage of enthusiasm. “​​Despite being outnumbered, Americans who oppose gun control are more likely to contact public officials about it and to base their votes on it,” Barnard College’s Matthew Lacombe explained in 2020. “As a result, many politicians believe that supporting gun regulation is more likely to lose them votes than to gain them votes.” Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images American flags are seen at half-staff surrounding the Washington Monument, in front of the US Capitol, on May 25. President Joe Biden ordered flags at the White House, federal buildings, and military posts to be flown at half-staff for the victims of the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Congress in June passed a bipartisan gun safety bill for the first time since the 1990s. But the new law — which incentivized states to pass red flag laws, enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21, and closed the “boyfriend loophole” which allowed some people with domestic violence convictions to purchase guns — is not sufficient to fully address the causes of mass shootings. Certain studies suggest that even truly universal background checks may have limited effects on gun violence. The Supreme Court has made it impossible to cure America’s gun violence epidemic In 2008, the Supreme Court effectively wrote NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s “good guy with a gun” theory into the Constitution. The Court’s 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) was the first Supreme Court decision in American history to hold that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm. But it also went much further than that. Heller held that one of the primary purposes of the Second Amendment is to protect the right of individuals — good guys with a gun, in LaPierre’s framework — to use firearms to stop bad guys with guns. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in Heller, an “inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right.” As a matter of textual interpretation, this holding makes no sense. The Second Amendment provides that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” We don’t need to guess why the Second Amendment protects a right to firearms because it is right there in the Constitution. The Second Amendment’s purpose is to preserve “a well-regulated Militia,” not to allow individuals to use their weapons for personal self-defense. For many years, the Supreme Court took the first 13 words of the Second Amendment seriously. As the Court said in United States v. Miller (1939), the “obvious purpose” of the Second Amendment was to “render possible the effectiveness” of militias. And thus the amendment must be “interpreted and applied with that end in view.” Heller abandoned that approach. Heller also reached another important policy conclusion. Handguns, according to Scalia, are “overwhelmingly chosen” by gun owners who wish to carry a firearm for self-defense. For this reason, he wrote, handguns enjoy a kind of super-legal status. Lawmakers are not allowed to ban what Scalia described as “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family.” This declaration regarding handguns matters because this easily concealed weapon is responsible for far more deaths than any other weapon in the United States — and it isn’t close. In 2019, for example, a total of 13,927 people were murdered in the US, according to the FBI. Of these murder victims, at least 6,368 — just over 45 percent — were killed by handguns. Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images A woman holds a photo of Nevaeh Bravo, who was killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, during a vigil for the victims in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25. The Supreme Court recently made it even harder for federal and state lawmakers to combat gun violence. In its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, it massively expanded the scope of the Second Amendment, abandons more than a decade of case law governing which gun laws are permitted by the Constitution, and replaces this case law with a new legal framework that, as Justice Stephen Breyer writes in dissent, “imposes a task on the lower courts that judges cannot easily accomplish.” The immediate impact of Bruen is that handguns — which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of gun murders in the United States — could proliferate on many American streets. That’s because Bruen strikes the types of laws that limit who can legally carry handguns in public, holding that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” One silver lining for proponents of gun regulation is that the majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, embraces language that first appeared in Heller, which permits some gun laws such as prohibitions on “dangerous and unusual weapons.” Nevertheless, it placed an emphasis on historical analogies that could endanger many laws that enjoy broad bipartisan support. The future of firearm regulation looks grim for anyone who believes that the government should help protect us from gun violence. Update, July 4, 3 pm: Updated with details on the Highland Park, Illinois, shooting, and recent gun safety developments at the Supreme Court.

Otters are thriving in … Iowa?

Preview: A river otter near the campground at George Wyth State Park in Black Hawk County, Iowa, in October 2021. | Steven Niewoehner My home state seemed far from a natural paradise. Then I found an otter. A few years ago, a friend said he had spotted river otters just outside of Fairfield, a small town in southeast Iowa where I grew up. This was big news to me. For most of my life, I thought Iowa was boring. It’s the land of cornfields and hog farms. One of the state’s only claims to fame is that it’s home to the world’s largest truck stop (with 900 truck parking spots, 24 private showers, and an onsite chiropractor and dentist). And while my hometown is something of a spiritual paradise — it’s a hub for disciples of the late Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — Iowa is far from a natural paradise. Over the last two centuries, the state has lost more than 99 percent of its tall-grass prairie and 90 percent of its wetlands. Yet there were apparently otters. Smart, mischievous, painfully cute, hand-holding otters. I had to see one. As a kid, I’d catch snakes and frogs but only dreamed of glimpsing something as exciting as a river otter. I thought of them as exotic animals you’d see in zoos or on TV. Steven Niewoehner River otters at Fisher Lake in George Wyth State Park in Black Hawk County, Iowa, in February 2018. But my search for otters was about more than fulfilling a childhood dream. I wanted to understand how they were surviving in Iowa, one of the most ecologically transformed places in the country. If otters can live here, maybe there’s hope for wildlife in the nation’s countless other damaged landscapes. So in late May, when I traveled to Fairfield for a wedding, I tacked on some extra time to look for one. It paid off. How Iowa got its otters back A few miles from Fairfield’s town square, meandering creeks crisscross vast fields of corn and soybeans. That’s where my friend said he had spotted otters and where my journey began. It’s remarkable that there are otters in Iowa at all. By the late 1800s, North American river otters — one of 13 species of otters worldwide — were extinct throughout most of state, following decades of fur trapping and severe habitat loss. But in the 1980s, Iowa wildlife officials saw an opportunity to bring them back. At the time, state officials in Kentucky were looking to stock up on wild turkeys, which Iowa had plenty of to trade. In return, Kentucky officials turned to an otter supplier in Louisiana named Lee Roy Sevin, who was selling the mammals for a few hundred dollars each. The two state struck up a deal: Kentucky would buy otters from Sevin and then give them to Iowa in exchange for wild turkeys. Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife officials release otters at Lake Red Rock in Iowa in 1985. It was a good deal for Iowa, said Ron Andrews, a former Iowa state biologist. “It was easier to turn those turkeys into cash,” he said, than to pay for the otters with state funds. “We gave them two turkeys for every otter.” (Leroy Sevin was quite a character. He had been trapping otters since 1957 and keeping hundreds at his home along a canal in the Mississippi Delta. “He was the otter man,” Pat Schlarbaum, another former state biologist, told me. Sevin was among the only people in the country who knew how to keep and breed otters, which he’d sell to zoos and state wildlife agencies.) The deal went through, and in 1985, a truck full of river otters arrived in Iowa. State wildlife officials released them at a large lake not far from Des Moines, kicking off what would become a 20-year reintroduction campaign. (The state later bought otters outright, partly with donations from fur trappers.) Ultimately, more than 300 of Sevin’s otters were released in streams and wetlands across the state, including a lake about 30 minutes from Fairfield. It didn’t take long for them to spread. While otters were likely still rare around Fairfield when I was growing up, there were roughly 4,000 of them in Iowa by the turn of the last century. By 2006, there were as many as 12,000, and the state opened up a trapping season (the very activity that drove them toward extinction in the first place). Now there are likely even more. “All indications are that the otters are doing very well in Iowa,” said Vince Evelsizer, a state biologist who oversees the management of otters, beavers, and other fur-bearing animals Benji Jones Vince Evelsizer, a state biologist in Iowa, looks for otter tracks in the mud. They’re so abundant, in fact, that the state wildlife agency receives several calls a year from farmers who complain that otters have emptied their ponds of fish. “Ponds are like cereal bowls for otters,” Andrews said. But to me this meant one thing: I shouldn’t have a problem finding one. Otters are sneaky River otters are most active around sunrise and sunset — the technical term for this is “crepuscular.” I call it inconvenient. Over several warm days in late May, I walked the streams and wetlands near Fairfield at dawn and dusk. Wearing cheap rain boots and a heavy coat of bug spray, I’d wade through fields of tall grass and murky water. There were snakes everywhere. Each night I’d come home with lots of ticks and no otter spottings. Then I got a promising lead. While grabbing coffee at a cafe in town, I bumped into an old friend who’d heard there were otters at a pair of small lakes on the outskirts of Fairfield. We drove there that evening and hopped in a couple of borrowed kayaks. More snakes; no otters. Benji Jones Bridie Nixon, a doctoral researcher at Iowa State University, looks through binoculars near Lake Rathbun. I needed to bring in an expert. One evening in early June, I met up with Bridie Nixon, a doctoral student at Iowa State University who’s studying river otters, at a big lake about an hour and half west of Fairfield. Nixon had previously tracked the animals here as part of her research into how otters move across the landscape. We spent the evening walking down windy streams and creeping around the lake’s edge, looking for otter tracks and mud ramps that they use to slide into the water. Otters are famously playful creatures. “If you want to learn how to have fun, just follow the practice of a river otter,” Andrews later told me. “They’re nature’s clowns.” As another otterless night wore on, I wondered aloud: If otters have recovered in such large numbers, why are they so hard to find? “They’re curious about human activity but are definitely smart enough to avoid us most of the time,” Nixon said. It doesn’t help that otters can also hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes. The following night, I went out with another professional: Evelsizer, the state biologist. I met him at a big park near Waterloo when there was still plenty of light in the sky. We sat by a large beaver dam as the sun began to set, listening to the chorus of frogs and insects. It seemed as loud as any jungle (I included a short recording below). When it was nearly dark, Evelsizer sat up and fixed his binoculars at something moving through the water. A young beaver. There was so much to see on these excursions: that adorable beaver, a water snake snatching a fish, deer — so many deer — grazing in the distance. Benji Jones A common water snake tries to swallow a fish in a stream near Fairfield, Iowa. Benji Jones An American bullfrog hiding among duckweed in a wetland in Fairfield, Iowa. Benji Jones A female red-winged blackbird perches on a cattail in a wetland in Fairfield, Iowa. Benji Jones A muskrat cleans itself at Lake Sugema in southeast Iowa. By sitting still and paying attention, you can peer into the daily lives of wild animals and start to understand the complex ecosystems they inhabit. The best part? You can do that pretty much anywhere, even in a state that has lost most of its natural land. You don’t have to travel to some distant place to see nature come alive. But to be clear, I still wanted to see an otter. Caught on camera When Evelsizer and I finally ended our search, it was dark and I was exhausted. I decided to spend the night at a cheap hotel and come back, alone, at sunrise. I set my alarm for 4:30 am. When I arrived, the park was quiet and cold, and a thin layer of mist blanketed the lake. A large family of geese swam by in single file in almost complete silence. I sat and waited, fixing my gaze on the water’s surface. Half an hour passed. Then there was a splash and a small otter popped its head out of the water. I held my breath. The otter was long and sleek and slightly larger than a house cat, and it was ripping apart some kind of animal — maybe a fish or a crawdad. When it climbed onto a dead tree jutting out into the water, I snapped the shot below. Benji Jones After days of searching, I finally spotted this otter at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo, Iowa. For 20 minutes I sat there, stuck in a trance. I watched the otter go through what I suspect was its morning routine. Dive. Catch something. Eat it. Repeat. Each time it dipped below the surface I thought I had lost it, but then it would reappear, often with a cap of algae. My search was done. I had finally found an otter. Where there are otters, there is hope If you spot an otter, there’s a good chance it’ll be eating. These animals are voracious carnivores and need a steady supply of fish, frogs, and other critters to sustain their muscly bodies. So in a way, to see an otter is to see a much broader ecosystem at work. Are Iowa’s ecosystems working? In the last few decades, Iowa has restored thousands of acres of wetlands and grasslands through initiatives like the Conservation Reserve Program, which essentially pays farmers to leave some of their land out of production. Water quality in the state may be improving, too. But Iowa is still, by and large, a degraded landscape. Much of my time searching for otters was spent driving down roads that bisected barren fields. From an airplane — the only way some people see the state — Iowa is a neat, human-made patchwork of monochrome greens and browns with only the occasional messy clump of trees. The same is true for much of the country. By the 1980s, the US had already lost more than half of its wetlands, and much of its grasslands and forests. Yet even in these transformed environments, many animals have found a way to survive, including river otters. They’ve now returned to at least 90 percent of their historic range in the country. So perhaps seeing an otter says less about the quality of ecosystems and more about the resiliency of wildlife. If you just give animals a place to live and don’t hunt them all down, they’ll often do just fine. “You always think of river otters being in pristine, clear, cool mountain streams,” Andrews, the former state biologist, said. “Fortunately, they adapt.” I went out one more time before leaving Iowa to a lake about 30 minutes from Fairfield where otters had been released. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t see any there. But it was far from boring. Frogs launched from the mud like missiles as I crept along the shore. A muskrat surfaced and started cleaning its fur. Iowa still might be known for its corn, for its utterly transformed agricultural landscape. But you can find delightful surprises if you take the time to look and to listen.

How to date when it feels like everyone forgot how to date 

Preview: Shanée Benjamin for Vox The pandemic ruined romance. It doesn’t have to be this way. Nothing makes me want to date less than listening to my friends talk about how dating is going. There’s my friend who has gone on four dates with someone who still can’t pronounce his name. Or there’s my dear pal who was on a blind date with someone who didn’t know they were on a blind date. There’s also the buddy who went on a date with a man who “has never eaten soup.” This was so mordantly intriguing that I had to follow up and ask whether it was a dislike of the concept of a watery meal or if the man had never encountered soup — I was told it was more aversion than lack of access. This all raises the question: Why is seemingly everyone so off their game? To figure it out, I spoke with relationship experts and social psychologists. They point to — what else? — the pandemic as a major culprit. By way of stunting social interactions and limiting experiences, the pandemic has made dating even more awkward and unpleasant for people. That’s a problem. As studies point out, the pandemic has increased loneliness all around the world. Loneliness and bad dates, in turn, become a cursed loop. The experts I spoke to unfortunately could not give me a foolproof plan to ensure the best dates. They did, however, have good advice about how to be a better person on the dating scene — methods that we can all employ. And if we’re all better people to go on dates with, maybe eventually some of those dates will get better too. Check in with yourself The very first step in being a dateable person in the world begins even before filling out a profile. Before you do anything else, you should check in with yourself and determine what you’re ready for. You need to ask yourself some pretty basic questions: Am I ready to date? Do I know what I want? Am I looking for something long-term or casual? You might find that the answer to the first two questions is a pretty all-encompassing “no,” and that’s completely okay. Experts I spoke to said that given what we’ve all been through in the past two years, not feeling up to going on dates is a valid response. If you’re not sure of what you want, it’s a good thing to take some time and figure that out. It’s really important to be clear with ourselves about our own objectives. If you are ready to date, the answers to these types of questions can help avoid future negative experiences. They can help set expectations. They can also help guide what kind of dates we’re going on, and make sure the person we’re going on dates with has similar intentions. “What tends to differentiate ... emotional types of outcomes is what the person’s aim was going in” Bad experiences, as Nicole McNichols explained to me, usually happen when we’re confused about what we want. McNichols works in the psychology department at the University of Washington, where she teaches a course called “Diversity of Human Sexuality.” She says the lack of clarity can send us barking up the wrong trees. A date between someone looking for a relationship and someone looking to hook up isn’t ideal. In that scenario, if one person sees sex as the pathway to a relationship and the other does not, that can lead to a lot of not-great feelings. “We know from the research, for example, that hookups can lead to some very positive experiences, people can feel happy and satisfy a sense of sexual adventure, but they can often lead to a lot of misery and anger and feelings of shame and humiliation,” McNichols tells me. McNichols reiterates that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or shameful with anyone wanting casual sexual relationships. “What tends to differentiate those two emotional types of outcomes is what the person’s aim was going in,” she adds, explaining that it’s when those wires are crossed that relationships turn sour. Of course, interpersonal romantic relationships aren’t a solo endeavor (more on this in a bit), but working out the emotions on our own end and being honest with ourselves is something we can and have the power to do. Be communicative about what you want Being clear and honest with the people you would like to date is fundamental to being a good dater. Humans tend to hurt each other when they aren’t clear. And unfortunately, we’re not always cognizant of what and how we’re communicating. “Something that I’ve been working on or talking about for many years is the low accountability dating climate,” says Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist who teaches at Northwestern and specializes in relationships. What she means when she refers to the “low accountability dating climate” is when people treat dating as more of a transaction than a genuine attempt at human connection. And when people see other people as “transactions” that cease to provide a benefit anymore, they’re more likely to abandon them and move on. This mindset means minimal effort and minimal responsibility, especially when it comes to communication. Solomon and other experts I spoke to explain that the lack of care in how we talk to one another is, in large part, due to the many ways we stay in touch today. The idea of waiting for a phone call is now a relic of ancient times. It has been replaced by waiting to see if someone texts or DMs, whether they viewed your Instagram story, and whether that person has posted (on social media) since you last spoke. “It hurts in the moment, but people would rather be rejected. Ghosting can hurt more.” Essentially, there are more ways than ever to check in with someone. But those ways can be as mindless and checked out as watching Stories on Instagram while not paying attention to a TV show. We’ve leaned on low-effort social media even more during a pandemic that cut off many of our in-person, face-to-face interactions in the first year. Being a better communicator to the people you’re dating means personally acknowledging how difficult it is to communicate in culture today — recognizing, for instance, that not responding to someone’s DMs can make them feel rejected. Knowing those pitfalls and then working to not be unresponsive or ambiguous over text, DM, apps, or maybe even a phone call (god forbid), is integral to being a better human who dates. Clarity also means just being honest about what you want out of your connections. That could mean letting someone know very clearly that you’re looking for a relationship or getting in touch to say that the date you went on didn’t work out. Those kinds of talks can feel uncomfortably intimate or maybe too earnest, but they help avoid the hurt and shame that result from miscommunication. Granted, telling someone that you no longer want to see them can feel especially bad given the circumstances that we’re living in. Ghosting, maybe more than ever, seems like the tempting option. But as Logan Ury, a behavior scientist-turned-dating coach and the director of relationship science at the dating app Hinge, explains, skirting outright rejections isn’t actually sparing anyone’s feelings. “If you don’t tell me what’s going on, then I might be holding out hope for you,” says Ury. In Ury’s dating taxonomy, ghosting happens when two people go on at least one date and there’s unanswered follow-up. Ury concedes that everyone’s definition of ghosting is different, but the general idea is that one person is investing emotions into another who has already moved on. She doesn’t consider it ghosting when someone you’ve never met goes quiet on the apps, or if there’s a date and no follow-up from either party. “We’ve done research on this. It hurts in the moment, but people would rather be rejected. Ghosting can hurt more because it makes people feel like they’re swimming in ambiguity,” she says. “I think we have to start normalizing just being clear with ourselves and upfront about what it is that we want, because I don’t think people are intentionally misleading each other,” McNichols says. “I think we have to start normalizing just being clear with ourselves and upfront about what it is that we want” This, obviously, is a problem that predates the pandemic and likely will be perpetrated until the end of time. But since the pandemic has, for many of us, made us worse communicators, there’s no better time to be better. Remember that we’re still re-learning how to be social The pandemic completely changed our social lives. The interactions we had at work or school or even the gym or our grocery stores were all affected by Covid-19. Some of those social interactions are maybe just now getting back to pre-pandemic rhythms, or maybe they’re not close at all. Multiple experts mentioned that young people, especially those who graduated from high school or college over the last two years, didn’t have the same kind of social experiences that adults before them had. The pandemic changed how these people made friends, how they kept up with existing friendships, and may even have altered how they bonded with new coworkers at their first jobs. “Young adults especially have maybe missed out on a couple of really developmentally important years in terms of learning to navigate courtship and romantic relationships and sex,” McNichols tells Vox, and explains that those experiences are integral to how we interact. She also says that, to some degree, it’s reasonable for any adult living through the past two years to feel like some of their in-person communication skills might be a little clunky — dating included. “Even though we’re slowly entering back into a more normal world than we’ve been living in for the last two years, I think everyone’s just a little out of practice,” McNichols says. “Everyone kind of became less comfortable and less used to speaking with other people live and, you know, actually being out and meeting new people.” The takeaway here is not to be hard on yourself for being nervous or awkward or not saying the right things. Keep in mind that the person or people you’re going on dates with probably have the same feelings; extending yourself the grace you give other people is really crucial. Treat people with grace and compassion Perhaps the best thing daters can do is remember that the people they want to date are human beings. “I want people who are dating to lead with tenderness and compassion. And expect the same in return,” Solomon, the psychologist based at Northwestern, tells me. Solomon explains that dating, for the last decade or so, has shifted toward being something like a consumer mindset. That’s in large part due to apps that have framed dating as more like a game in which “matching” feels like a win or maybe even a dopamine rush. The more matches you have, the more desirable you might feel. The more someone ticks off certain boxes, the more appealing they seem. The people who don’t stack up, then, are perceived as disposable. Seeing and treating people as means to an end rather than actual humans with human emotions isn’t good (even if that end is a relationship). Negative feelings will occur. But coupled with the circumstances of the pandemic, i.e., long stretches of isolation, and the gamification of online dating, our tendency to forget that others are as real as we are gets even worse. So what does treating someone with compassion and kindness mean? “It means keeping in mind, from the very first swipe, that there’s a human being on the other end of the app,” Solomon says, explaining that it means being clear about intentions, honest about your feelings, and treating everyone with kindness, regardless of whether you’d like to see them again. “You’re interacting with a human being — a human being who’s possibly been through some heavy stuff over the last two years.” The “stuff,” as Solomon points out, can be just the daily emotional toll of living through Covid-19, or even something more serious like the death of a loved one or PTSD from working the front lines. People were already lonely before the pandemic, and the isolation it caused for singles couldn’t have helped. There’s that saying about how we don’t know what personal battles people are going through. Treating someone with grace and dignity — especially as they look for a romantic connection — is crucial in this moment. You also deserve to be treated with kindness — and it’s best if you treat yourself with kindness too. “I think perhaps the pandemic has created a sense of urgency about life being fragile” To be clear, compassion and kindness are not interchangeable with being a doormat or putting up with someone awful. If someone is belligerent or offensive, being compassionate does not mean sitting through or toughing out a date. It’s also worth noting that you could feel like you’re ready to date, get there, and realize pretty quickly that it doesn’t feel right. That’s perfectly normal too. There are no deadlines on how we should feel and how soon. “I think perhaps the pandemic has created a sense of urgency about life being fragile. I think that can make people feel like, ‘I have to go out there. I have to try to find somebody right now,’” Solomon, the psychologist at Northwestern, says. That kind of pressure isn’t helpful. It may only lead to more anxiety and undercut the connections someone makes. As real as that urgency can feel, the key here is to trust ourselves and what feels right for us in this moment and time. “We also should keep in mind that people have really different on-ramps when it comes to getting there,” Solomon says. “We don’t need to be pressuring ourselves on top of all the rebuilding that we’re already doing in our lives.”

A pregnancy turns deadly in an anti-abortion state. What happens next?

Preview: Inside an abortion clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 23, the day before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. | Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Why medical emergency exceptions for abortions aren’t enough. Even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, stripping Americans of their right to an abortion, the United States had an abysmally high maternal mortality rate, ranking last in a survey of 10 similarly wealthy countries. For doctors in states implementing restrictive abortion bans, the ruling is a crisis of care: In many cases, the only way to treat life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancies is with medical or surgical termination. The fear among many physicians is that the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will make mortality rates creep even higher. States that are enacting the most stringent abortion bans — like Missouri, where a “trigger law” went into effect the day of the ruling — do make exceptions for medical emergencies. But huge questions remain: How might someone in a medical emergency get a lifesaving abortion in a state with no, or few, providers? And who gets to decide what counts as a “lifesaving” emergency? Nobody seems to know for sure. But one thing is clear: The ruling raises far more questions than it answers. And while the answers are deliberated, patients around the country stand to suffer unnecessary, debilitating pain or death. “We’re venturing into unknown territory,” said Lori Freedman, a sociologist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco. There are a few big categories of unknowns here: how doctors will act if they fear prosecution for providing care, how hospital lawyers will interpret state laws, and who will provide abortions in cases when they are legally allowed to save the life of the pregnant person. Maternal health care in America is at an inflection point. And with every unknown there is danger. Fear of prosecution could alter medical decision-making A pregnancy can be dangerous even in the best of circumstances. “Carrying a pregnancy is more dangerous than not carrying a pregnancy. Birth is riskier than an abortion,” said Jody Steinauer, a physician and director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco. Pregnancy causes a panoply of physiological changes to a person’s body, and problems can arise throughout the process. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends early abortions for patients with some heart conditions, while patients with diabetes whose fetuses will develop severe anomalies can spend time focusing on controlling their diabetes before trying to get pregnant again. Some complications are apparent far before they begin to affect the vital signs of a pregnant person, Steinauer said. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes are at a higher risk of having fetal anomalies, for example, and patients with mental health issues or cardiac disease can be in serious danger if they carry a pregnancy to term. The Dobbs ruling will make responding to those problems more difficult. One major source of uncertainty lies in how physicians will respond to the threat of prosecution for performing abortions, even in cases where their patient’s life is in danger. That fear of criminalization could lead doctors to put off care for longer than they would otherwise. For doctors, a big component of that fear is that determining what’s “lifesaving” isn’t perfectly cut and dried. “At what point do we say that danger has been triggered?” asked Carmel Shachar, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Policy Law, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. “That’s really unclear, and it’s very hard for providers because they want to provide timely medical care.” What constitutes danger, and when, varies patient by patient. If a patient has a missed miscarriage, for example, where the fetus has stopped developing but the pregnant person hasn’t experienced any symptoms such as bleeding, they can develop sepsis, which is when their body starts damaging itself as an extreme response to an infection. The treatment for a missed miscarriage is removing the fetal tissue — in other words, an abortion — and is best done as early as possible. But without the protections of Roe, doctors may be forced to wait to take action until their patient’s condition deteriorates. “Do you need to wait for the patient to become septic before you can act?” Shachar asked. As Anna North wrote for Vox in 2019, some abortion opponents argue that complications like missed miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies should be left to “resolve on their own.” Doctors in states with abortion bans may feel they have no choice but to stand back and wait. “What’s really important and sad is that you really can’t keep the patient’s best interest in mind,” said Freedman. “Her suffering is not accounted for at all. Even if they can keep her from having long-term harm, she’s still going to have worse care. She’s still going to be stalled and scared for longer.” Do doctors get to make the call, or do lawyers? Even before the Dobbs ruling, deciding whether to perform an abortion, especially in states with restrictive abortion laws, would often become a discussion that went beyond the physician and patient to include a hospital’s legal team and sometimes even a department chair or board of administrators. But those discussions happened with the knowledge that, fundamentally, Roe v. Wade guaranteed that patients had a right to an abortion and doctors faced minimal risk of prosecution for performing them in response to a medical emergency. Now hospitals will be left on their own to interpret the laws of their states, which could lead to even more confusion. Physicians and hospital lawyers have a difficult job ahead in figuring out how to comply with the law, partly because the language used in the abortion debate and the laws that come out of it have little basis in medical science, said Louise Perkins King, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and director of reproductive bioethics at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics. When lawmakers talk about heartbeats and fetal viability, for example, they do so in a way that is totally different from how physicians use those words. Texas law, for example, mentions the “dead, unborn child,” but “that’s a word that means nothing to me as an obstetrician, because I deal in the words of ‘embryo,’ ‘fetus,’ and perhaps ‘neonate,’” King said. That disconnect between medical science and policy means that without clarification from state attorneys general, hospital lawyers will have to make case-by-case decisions on whether their physicians can provide abortions — and they’ll probably err on the side of extreme caution, delaying or denying patients the care they need. Many of these debates may simply come down to a matter of personality: If a hospital has a director who strongly supports abortion rights, for example, they could be more permissive. This is, of course, ludicrous — a patient’s right to care should not depend on the whims of hospital management. Even if there is legal clarity, there may not be ethical clarity. “It may be that in your state, what is legal is in direct conflict with providing the best health outcomes for your patients,” said Shachar. “I think it’s going to be really complicated and really hard for providers to work through what happens when they know what the standard of care is, but they’re legally not able to provide it.” Where will abortions even occur? Before the Dobbs ruling, doctors at hospitals with restrictive abortion policies had the option to send their patients to other facilities, like abortion clinics or different hospitals, that could perform emergency abortions instead. That’s what would happen at Catholic hospitals, said Freedman, who has extensively studied abortion policies in Catholic hospital systems. “But that was a very different context,” she said. Before June 24, those doctors were protected by Roe; even if they ran the risk of losing their jobs, they were never at risk of being criminally prosecuted for doing their jobs. That has changed. Some doctors have already indicated they’re willing to provide abortions to their patients, even if it means they risk being prosecuted, said King. But that could present even more problems: If a doctor is charged with a crime, their license will be suspended, which means their patients — even those who might not need abortions — won’t get the care they need. Steinauer is also concerned about what will happen if and when freestanding abortion clinics are forced to close. “Many communities have these great independent abortion clinics that are providing wonderful care for our patients, and the local hospital does not necessarily need to be involved, especially in earlier abortion care,” Steinauer said. In the past, those clinics would often handle abortion care in the first trimester of pregnancy, including cases where patients had to get abortions for conditions like cardiac disease, while hospitals and academic institutions would usually take patients in their second or third trimesters. Without those clinics providing support, hospitals might become overloaded with patients they aren’t used to seeing. Care for those patients could then be delayed or even denied, based on the decisions a hospital’s legal team comes to. The Food and Drug Administration has approved drugs that can be used to induce an abortion, and it may be possible to continue receiving them via telehealth across state lines even if states pass sweeping bans on surgical abortions (an ongoing federal lawsuit may provide more clarity on this soon). US Attorney General Merrick Garland has promised to protect Americans’ access to these medications, which means it could remain a good option for many patients and may help reduce the burden of those clinics closing, but it’s still not a perfect solution. Abortion pills can cause complications in rare circumstances, and King worries patients may choose to delay care or be afraid to tell their doctors about what medicines they took. That’s going to disproportionately affect people of color, who already face medical bias. “My biggest fear is that somebody’s going to take those meds at home because they don’t have any other choice and then have a hemorrhage and be too scared to come in,” said King. It’s likely many of these questions will only be answered once they make their way back to the Supreme Court, which Shachar says is an inevitability. But that will take months, if not years. It’s hard to predict what kind of damage will be done in the meantime. “It’s hard to imagine Americans will tolerate women dying,” said Freedman. “I feel like doctors will get loud if it’s truly causing deaths. But there’s so much we don’t know. We never thought we would see this day.”

How Dobbs is affecting abortion care, one week on

Preview: Abortion rights advocates demonstrate at the Texas Capitol ahead of the state’s supreme court ruling reinstating an abortion ban. | Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images Court battles, new laws, and confusion over abortion policy have left politicians, providers, and patients in a state of flux. The last few days have seen a flurry of activity amid states reckoning with the Supreme Court decision negating the constitutional right to abortion. Courtroom battles over abortion access have been ramping up: judges recently postponed the implementation of abortion bans in some states, and allowed others to go into effect. Meanwhile, red state leaders have pushed new restrictions, as some blue states enacted fresh protections for abortion providers. And the Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is already having dire effects, causing clinic closures and forcing people to travel to obtain abortions. Several states’ trigger laws banning or severely restricting abortion access have gone into effect since Roe was overturned on June 24; other states’ bans will go into effect imminently. Variation in when these bans will be enacted, as well as the volume of court challenges seeking to stay and overturn them, are causing confusion and distress for providers, advocates, and patients alike, as some people are unable to get abortion care in their state even in dire circumstances. While Dobbs determined that states can regulate abortions before fetal viability, not every state that is likely to enact limits has yet. Indiana’s governor, for example, has called a special session of the legislature to enact new abortion bans “in short order,” though abortions are legal in the state for now. Trigger laws in some states, like Idaho and North Dakota, haven’t yet gone into effect. In the meantime, providers in these states are already making plans for what happens next — whether that means shutting their doors, seeing as many patients as possible, or planning to move across state lines. In other instances, providers’ ability to perform legal abortions can change from day to day as legal challenges to trigger laws from abortion rights advocates change the status of abortion access. In Kentucky, for example, the state’s two abortion providers suspended abortion services immediately after the Dobbs decision came down, but they were able to resume abortion care by Friday after abortion-rights groups sought a temporary restraining order against the state’s trigger law and a further law banning abortions after six weeks. And adding to the complexity is the fact that in states like Texas, Idaho, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Arizona, the Associated Press’s Rebecca Boone and Claire Rush report, older bans are conflicting with newer legislation, creating broad confusion about what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to abortion care. Essentially, the first week following the overturn of Roe has been a chaotic one that’s often left immediate access in a state of uncertainty and long-term access under new attack in many red states. And it’s also been one that’s seen states under Democratic control scramble to expand access through new legislation. Bans are taking effect, but how and when is still unclear On Friday, abortion rights advocates in Texas and Ohio experienced defeats in their efforts to suspend the bans those states have enacted, days after a South Carolina law criminalizing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) cheered a decision by the state’s Supreme Court to issue a stay on a lower court decision that allowed abortions in the state to continue while a lawsuit against the state’s ban proceeds. Pro-life victory! Thanks to my appeal, SCOTX has slapped down the abortion providers and the district court carrying their water. Our state’s pre-Roe statutes banning abortion in Texas are 100% good law. Litigation continues, but I’ll keep winning for Texas’s unborn babies. pic.twitter.com/xgQuDtEXQu — Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) July 2, 2022 The law at the center of the lawsuit dates from 1925; it both bans abortion and allows providers convicted of performing abortions to be punished with at least two years’ prison time. The law was never repealed even after Roe v. Wade, and it’s separate from two abortion laws Texas enacted in 2021: one criminalizing abortions except in extremely limited circumstances, and another allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and those who assist people trying to obtain an abortion. After a brief reprieve in which Texas clinics were allowed to perform abortion procedures, Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Texas announced Saturday their four clinics in the state would no longer provide abortion care. “With the pre-Roe ban reinstated, Whole Woman’s Health is forced to cease providing abortion in our 4 Texas clinics,” the group wrote on Instagram. “This morning, our clinic staff embarked on the heartbreaking conversations with the patients whose appointments must be cancelled, and our clinics have started the wind down process.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Whole Woman's Health (@wholewomans) The lower court order allowed clinics to perform abortions until at least July 12 — when the next arguments in the case will be heard, offering a brief window until the state’s trigger law takes effect, 30 days after the Dobbs decision. Texas clinics were able to perform some abortions before the Supreme Court’s decision. The Washington Post’s Caroline Kitchener and Meryl Kornfeld reported that an Austin-area clinic performed 10 abortions Tuesday, calling patients who had just had to cancel their appointments and make alternate arrangements and urging them to come in “as soon as you can.” That reprieve is over, at least for now. Also on Friday, Ohio’s Supreme Court decided it won’t block that state’s six-week abortion ban, a trigger law passed in 2019, as lawsuits challenging it move through the courts. That law has no provisions for abortion care in the case of rape or incest, and this month that meant a 10-year-old victim of sexual abuse was unable to get an abortion, according to the Indianapolis Star. The child reportedly had to travel to Indiana to receive care. One Indiana abortion provider told Star reporters Shari Rudavsky and Rachel Fradette that her clinic was receiving “an insane amount of requests” for abortion care from people in nearby Kentucky and Ohio, both states where trigger laws went into effect after the Dobbs decision, though Kentucky’s law is blocked by a court order for now. Though Kentucky’s abortion rights are safe for the moment, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron has attempted to strike down the restraining order keeping the state’s trigger law and six-week abortion ban from going into effect; its citizens will vote on the constitutional right to abortion in November. It’s not just Texas and Ohio — legal challenges to abortion restrictions abound Laws in several other states are facing legal challenges as well. A Utah judge, for example, granted a 14-day restraining order blocking the state’s trigger laws from taking effect after the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued on the grounds that the law violates multiple rights granted by Utah’s constitution, including equal protection rights. In Idaho, where around three dozen sometimes conflicting anti-abortion laws are on the books, Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, which operates a clinic in the state, sued to keep Idaho’s trigger law from being enacted, arguing that it violates Idahoans’ right to privacy under the state constitution. Similarly, a challenge to Mississippi’s trigger law claims abortion is protected in Mississippi’s constitution under its right to privacy. Meanwhile, an Oklahoma lawsuit seeks to block two separate pieces of anti-abortion legislation there, saying both laws — including a law allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers who perform abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and a law originally enacted in 1910 — violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s guarantee of individual liberty. A lawsuit in their state has Floridians in uncertainty about what’s legal. Thursday, a judge suspended Florida’s 15-week abortion ban; the ban’s opponents argue that it violates the state’s constitution. The law went into effect Friday, however, because that judge has yet to sign an injunction formally putting its implementation on hold. That means abortions are now banned after 15 weeks in Florida, but soon won’t be, at least temporarily. Legislatively, abortion policy is in flux as well: While Indiana is currently serving as an oasis for its neighbors, abortion providers are by no means safe themselves; the state legislature will meet July 25 to discuss the state’s abortion policy. In Arizona, state leaders are battling over which draconian law will determine abortion policy in the state — a ban from 1901, before Arizona was a state, or another passed in March of this year which outlaws abortions after 15 weeks. Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), who is running for the US Senate, claims that the 1901 law is enforceable and the law of the land, which conflicts with Gov. Doug Ducey’s claim that the March law overrides the pre-statehood ban. However, the bill’s authors say a provision allows for the 1901 law to take effect until the 15-week ban is enacted in September. Some states are rushing to enact stronger protections As restrictions intensify, progressive states like New York and California are acting to legally enshrine the right to abortion, whether by ballot measure or legislative process. Both of New York’s legislative chambers passed the Equal Rights Amendment on Friday, which would provide far-ranging protections against discrimination based on many characteristics including sex. If the amendment is fully enacted, it will protect pregnant people and their access to abortion and contraception, the New York Times’ Grace Ashford reports. The bill passed during an extraordinary session of the legislature convened by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to address the US Supreme Court’s new restrictions on gun laws, and come after the state passed a package of bills to protect abortion access anticipating the Dobbs decision. Despite New York’s liberal reputation and Hochul’s support for the measure, it still faces an uphill battle before it’s enshrined into law as an amendment to the state constitution. Any amendment must pass two separate legislatures and then go to the voters as a referendum, which New York Democrats hope to accomplish in 2024, according to the Times. Though the legislature tried to pass the amendment during the regular legislative session, religious groups foiled that effort over concern that religion wasn’t written into the amendment as a protected class. New York already has strong abortion protections written into law; in 2019, legislators codified the protections granted under Roe into state law, in addition to the further measures approved during the 2022 session. However, a constitutional amendment would be much more difficult to overturn should future leadership seek to do so. As Vox’s Nicole Narea reports, both Vermont and California will also give voters the chance to enact constitutional amendments protecting abortion access this November, and abortion rights advocates in Michigan and Arizona are attempting to do the same by gathering enough signatures to petition to put such measures on the ballot in those states. But even in states where there is broad and historical support for abortion rights, Dobbs showed it’s not safe to assume that settled law is, in fact settled. That’s why, in addition to laws protecting abortion access, whether already on the books or recently passed, states are moving quickly to to ensure constitutional protections. Some Democratic states are also pursuing a quicker route to abortion protections. Friday, both Connecticut and New Jersey advanced laws meant to protect abortion providers. Connecticut’s law, which the state’s Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has promised to sign, greatly expands the list of practitioners who can become abortion providers and tries to shield providers from the potential legal risks that come with giving abortion care to patients who’ve traveled from states where abortion is illegal. It bars state law enforcement from cooperating with their counterparts in states that have banned abortion, and creates a countersuit protocol for providers to follow if they’re sued for providing care. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed two abortion rights bills into law Friday, one banning provider extradition, and another that restricts access to abortion patients’ medical data and that prohibits state agencies, including state law enforcement, from cooperating with states trying to punish their residents for traveling for abortion care. The new laws arrived on Murphy’s desk just days after he approved a state budget that set aside money meant to help the state’s abortion providers prepare for an influx of out-of-state patients. The post-Dobbs era is likely to be chaotic legally The legal landscape surrounding abortion following the Dobbs decision will only become more complex if states enacting bans try to enforce them even where abortion remains legal, as legal scholars David Cohen, Greer Donley, and Rachel Rebouché write in “The New Abortion Battleground,” a forthcoming research paper in the Columbia Law Review. “The interjurisdictional abortion wars are coming,” the paper’s introduction warns, meaning that as states begin enacting their post-Dobbs abortion laws, challenges over which court and what state has jurisdiction over things like traveling to obtain an abortion or purchasing mifepristone and misoprostol (commonly known as the abortion pill) to end an early pregnancy. “Instead of creating stability and certainty,” the authors argue, the Dobbs decision ”will lead to profound confusion because advocates on all sides of the abortion controversy will not stop at state borders in their efforts to apply their policies as broadly as possible.”

A record number of abortion measures are on the ballot in 2022

Preview: A voter marks her ballot in the 2018 midterm elections in Redlands, California. | Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Digital First Media/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images Ballot measures could shore up — or obliterate — abortion rights in five states. Abortion rights are literally on the ballot in both red and blue states this year following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Voters in California and Vermont will consider ballot measures that would enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions. Meanwhile, Kansas and Kentucky are weighing their own measures to clarify that their state constitutions do not establish a right to an abortion, and Montana is considering whether to provide personhood protections to infants born alive after attempted abortions. It’s the highest number of abortion-related ballot measures that have been considered in a single year to date. There have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures since 1970. Here’s a rundown of what states are considering. States voting to codify abortion rights Vermont and California, both heavily Democratic states that have sought to become abortion safe havens, are voting this November on constitutional amendments to even further secure abortion access. Vermont — which allows abortions at any stage of pregnancy and has already enacted a state law codifying abortion rights — has certified a ballot measure, Proposal 5, that recognizes that the “right to reproductive liberty is central to the exercise of personal autonomy and involves decisions people should be able to make free from compulsion of the State.” It says that codifying that right in the state constitution is “critical to ensuring equal protection and treatment under the law and upholding the right of all people to health, dignity, independence, and freedom.” It’s likely to pass, given that about 70 percent of voters in the state support legal abortion in all or most cases. In California, where abortion is legal up to the point of fetal viability, the state legislature voted on June 27 with overwhelming support in both chambers to put a similar proposal, Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 10, on the ballot. It would “prohibit the state from denying or interfering with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.” It is designed to protect the state constitutional right to privacy and equal protection under the laws, it reads. It’s also likely to pass, given that a poll last year by the Public Policy Institute of California found that roughly four out of five voters in the state oppose the overturning of Roe. Though Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approval isn’t needed for it to go into effect, he has vowed to “fight like hell” to protect abortion access. States voting to curb abortion rights Kansas will be the first state to consider a post-Roe ballot measure on abortion during its August 2 primaries. The measure, known as the “Value Them Both Amendment,” would “affirm there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion or to require the government funding of abortion.” It would also codify the state legislature’s power to pass laws that regulate abortion, including in cases of rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother. It’s not clear why Kansas legislators are putting the measure on the primary ballot as opposed to the general election ballot in November. Turnout in primaries is typically lower than in general elections, though election officials are predicting double the turnout in the last primary election as a result of the abortion ballot measure. Kentucky will consider a similar measure that would amend the state constitution to say, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Kentucky is one of 13 states that enacted a “trigger law” in anticipation of the end of Roe that allowed abortions only to save the life of the pregnant person or to prevent disabling injury, with no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or disabling fetal anomalies. That law briefly went into effect following the Supreme Court’s ruling but has been temporarily blocked by a state court for now, allowing abortions until 15 weeks of pregnancy to resume. In a near-party-line vote last year, Montana legislators referred a measure known as the “Medical Care Requirements for Born-Alive Infants Measure” to go on the ballot in November. It would declare that infants born alive at any stage of development are “legal persons” and would require that medical care be provided to them following induced labor, cesarean section, and attempted abortion. It would also set a $50,000 fine and a maximum 20-year prison sentence for violators. Of those measures, the one that is most likely to pass is Kentucky’s, given that a majority of voters in the state say that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. It’s less clear whether the Kansas and Montana measures will pass. Kansas voters are evenly split on whether abortion should be legal or not, and a majority of Montana voters say it should be legal in all or most cases. Other states could still certify additional abortion-related ballot measures Other states have yet to certify abortion-related measures to go on the ballot this year, but some are still attempting to do so. The New York Senate voted Friday in support of an “Equal Rights Amendment” to the state constitution. The state assembly is expected to also approve it, and then it would go to voters this November. It would affirm the right to an abortion and to access contraception in the state Constitution, as well as bar the government from discriminating against anyone based on race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and pregnancy. Abortion advocates in Arizona and Michigan are also racing to meet deadlines to gather enough signatures to put state constitutional amendments affirming abortion rights on the ballot this year. In Arizona, they need at least 356,467 signatures by July 7. And in Michigan, they need at least 425,059 signatures by July 11.

“How do you go through the world and not be bitter and angry?”

Preview: A statue of Marcus Aurelius, in Rome, Italy. | Universal Images Group via Getty Images Stoicism, explained. Stoicism is having a bit of a moment. Wherever you look — books, podcasts, newsletters, YouTube videos — you’ll find plenty of content about how the Stoics can help us live better lives today. Which is somewhat odd, since Stoicism is a school of thought that dates all the way back to Zeno of Citium in ancient Greece. It’s a philosophy that preached detachment from the passions and a belief in the supremacy of our rational mind. If I had to boil it down, I’d say the Stoics were mostly searching for ways to master themselves through the control of their emotions. And the goal wasn’t merely to live a good or virtuous life, it was also to be happy in a truly sustainable way. It was a very practical way of seeing the world and as the philosophy spread from Greece to Rome in the first and second centuries, it became an extremely influential worldview for Roman elites and politicians, like Cato and Seneca and perhaps most famously for the emperor Marcus Aurelius. But why is Stoicism making a comeback? I reached out to Ryan Holiday for a recent episode of Vox Conversations to get some answers and talk about what the Stoics actually believed. Holiday is a prolific author (most recently of Courage is Calling) and the host of The Daily Stoic podcast. Among other things, we discuss the Stoic conception of happiness, what’s worth giving a shit about and what isn’t, and how Stoicism can address our modern anxieties. Below is an excerpt, edited for length and clarity. As always, there’s much more in the full podcast, so listen and follow Vox Conversations on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Sean Illing I know you think of Stoicism as a public philosophy aimed at ordinary people and everyday life, which I think is true, but one of the recurring criticisms is that it’s largely an elite obsession. What do you make of that? Ryan Holiday I think Stoicism is somewhat a victim of its own recent success. It’s popular with people in Silicon Valley. It’s popular with people who are professional athletes. It’s popular with CEOs. It’s popular in elite circles today, not because I think it only works for the elites, or only the elites have the ability to understand it, but because Stoicism is a philosophy that is designed for stress and leadership and dealing with distractions and temptations and that tends to lend itself well to a particular group. The other way you could see it is that most of the Stoics throughout history were men, because only men were allowed to be involved in those things. But I would guess 40 to 50 percent of the readers of my books and the people I hear from on my platform are women, because now women are dealing with those same issues and are like, “Well, nobody prepared me for this. What is the framework or philosophy I need to navigate the boardroom or the locker room or entrepreneurship or whatever?” As a philosophy, one of the things I love about Stoicism is the dichotomy you’ve talked about, which is the two most famous practitioners of Stoicism are Epictetus — who was born a slave in Greece and comes to be owned by one of the secretaries of Nero — and Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome. Epictetus was tortured and he spent 30 years of his life in slavery. But eventually he becomes a philosopher. He doesn’t write anything down, but his lectures survive to us. One of the attendees of his lectures is the Emperor Hadrian. And then as it happens, Hadrian’s successor Marcus Aurelius is given a copy of Epictetus’s lectures by his philosophy teacher. And there’s no philosopher that Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome, quotes more than Epictetus. To me, the proof of the philosophy and its universality is that back to back, its two most influential thinkers are someone of extreme privilege and someone of extreme powerlessness. I think it works for both in that the central tenet of the philosophy is: Focus on what you control, focus on the response to the things that are outside of your control. Do the best you can in the world within which you exist. Obviously the Roman world was a more stratified, hierarchical, and less meritocratic world than we live in now. But I find that it helps me just as much as when I was a poor college student as it does now. Sean Illing There’s a plasticity to Stoicism that is hard for me to wrap my hands around. Sometimes it feels a little Zen, sometimes it feels self-helpy, sometimes it’s pitched as a “how to be manly” handbook for alt-right types, and sometimes it’s a modern life hack philosophy for Silicon Valley. Beyond what you just said, is there something about the nature of Stoicism that makes it so malleable? Ryan Holiday I think so. First off, there’s no singular book or a singular statement of principles or ideas. What survives to us, like the Zen tradition, is kind of a collection of fragments and personal attempts to apply the philosophy to one’s life. So to go back to Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius — Epictetus is a teacher of Stoicism, but all that survives to us is a collection of notes from one of his students, right? His student Arrian. So we have only a set of fragments from Epictetus. Like, he was asked these following questions, and these were his answers. It’s by no means conclusive. That influences Marcus Aurelius. What survives to us from Marcus Aurelius? It’s just the journal of the most powerful man in the world, writing notes to himself. And then the other most prolific and famous Stoic is Seneca. And all that survives to us from Seneca is Seneca’s handful of essays. And then Seneca’s letters to his friend Lucilius. So part of why I think Stoicism works for us today is because of all that was lost, what’s left to us is a set of fragments and ideas that I think allow us to adapt and apply it to today’s life, in a way that if it was something as thick as the Bible or whatever, the specificity would make it harder to adapt it to our own purposes. Sean Illing What would you say the Stoics were most concerned with? Ryan Holiday How do you just wake up and deal with a world filled with difficult people? And how do you stay true to what you believe, to what you think, to your duties and obligations, when people can feel like obstructions or disincentives to what you should be doing? And I just love that the Stoics were not just practical in terms of how do we get stuff done, but they’re like, how do you go through the world and not be bitter and angry? Sean Illing One way to do that is to continually ask yourself what’s worth giving a shit about and what isn’t. What’s the Stoic guidance here? Ryan Holiday So Epictetus actually says that this is the primary question of life: “Is this up to me?” The test isn’t should I give a shit about it. It’s more a statement. Only give a shit about things that you can influence or control. And so for the Stoics, it’s a radical narrowing of your interests, your intentions, your moods, your reactions toward things that you have control over. This is also the root of the idea of the serenity prayer, right? To know what’s in your control, to focus on the things that are in your control, and then to have the wisdom to let those other things go. Does this mean the Stoics are not concerned with social change or action? No, I don’t think so, and we can get into the specifics of that. But it’s a radical notion to say, “Hey, a lot of the things that upset people, that they spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to get, are not up to them.” As an author, I think about this all the time. The book that I write is largely in my control. How it’s received by other people, the number of copies it sells, the critical reception — that is largely out of my control. And to make this distinction and to say, “I’m going to focus the vast majority of my time and energy and efforts toward the product itself and not hoping, yearning, praying, and setting myself up for disappointment by emoting about these other things” — that’s a hugely important resource-allocation choice. Sean Illing I’m glad you alluded to this criticism that Stoicism is too removed from the world of others. I guess the fear is that the emphasis on acceptance obscures this imperative that we all have to confront and remake the world, right? Epictetus says to not spend our feelings on things beyond our power. Okay, but what’s in our power, not as individuals, but as a community, as a collective? That’s less clear. I can see the appeal of Stoicism in a moment in which people feel powerless. Or when inequalities are growing. And maybe if you’re looking for a political philosophy or a philosophy that will inspire collective action, maybe Stoicism isn’t where you should look. But I suspect you may disagree with that— Ryan Holiday Yeah, I do disagree with that. I see the temptation and I certainly see the history where that may have been the case. I’ll give you an example here. There’s an interesting passage in Meditations at the beginning where Marcus Aurelius says he’s thanking a man named Severus. He says, from Severus I learned to love my family, truth, and justice. It was through him that I encountered Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, and Brutus. These are members of the Stoic opposition who conceived of a society of equal laws governed by equality of status and of speech, and of rulers who respect the liberty of their subjects above all else. So I think politically the Stoics had a conception, not unlike the Founders, of a world that was better than the one they were in. The trouble has always been getting from theory to practice. And how do we get from theory to practice? By being involved, by putting oneself out there. I think the Stoics don’t ever speak of the idea of collective action. But they were military leaders. They were politicians, some were in the republic, some were in the empire. They clearly understood that human beings had a power when they came together and did things together. They just don’t speak about it enough. Sean Illing There’s this Stoic idea that we shouldn’t look to material conditions to judge whether someone’s happy, which, of course, is an easy thing to say when you’re eating at a well-fed table. Obviously material conditions matter, but what does it mean to be truly happy for the Stoics? If it’s not primarily about power or wealth or whatever, what is it? Ryan Holiday I think the Stoics don’t do a great job saying, here’s what happiness is. They don’t do a great job defining their terms, but sometimes when you hear something, you’re like, that’s it. One of the great expressions from Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, is what he calls “the smooth flow of life.” And to me, that’s a great way of describing happiness. Where it’s not that you have necessarily eliminated all external disturbances, but you are in a place where you’re adaptable and flexible. This is where I think acceptance comes in as an important component of happiness. The Stoics talk about the smooth flow of life that comes when one lives with virtue and in accordance with nature. So I don’t know, when I think of moments that I’m happy, it’s usually when I’m doing my job well, or when I feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the world, or when I’m with people I love, or when I’m outside. It’s also when I’ve eliminated the inessential things from life, right? It’s when I’m not caring about what other people think, not worried about pointless obligations or trivia or gossip or anger. I realize I’m not giving you the perfect one-sentence definition. But I think there is something about a natural life, a life focused on what is essential. A life built around duty and ethics. And then ultimately adapting and finding a way to get close to that. Sean Illing Do the Stoics offer a simple definition of success? Ryan Holiday I think it would be playing the role that life has handed to you well. Epictetus says that we’re all actors in a play. We’re not the director. So can you play that role well? I think Epictetus does impossibly well as a slave-turned-freeman. Marcus Aurelius does incredibly well as emperor. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever circumstances have led up to where you are in life, I think success is something like: Did you do that as well as it could be done? Sean Illing Do you ever feel like the Stoics almost ask too much of us? Most of us, most of the time, aren’t able to deal with the world with such equanimity— Ryan Holiday I would say that every philosophical school or religious tradition demands more of us than we are capable of. Christianity demands that we turn the other cheek. Zen Buddhism demands that we find meaning in our suffering, that we follow the eightfold path. Like it’s all impossible, right? And this is why there’s like a handful of figures who have even conceivably claimed to have reached some form of enlightenment. Epictetus says that we should not abandon our principles for despair of reaching them. Basically, that we don’t give up just because it’s impossible. But, in fact, we accept that it’s impossible, and we just try to approach it. We just try to get close. To hear the rest of the conversation, click here, and be sure to subscribe to Vox Conversations on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The best $79 I ever spent: Paint for my very own bedroom walls

Preview: Choosing a color for my room felt like there was a little girl sitting with me, who did not grow up with the space she needed, helping me make a choice to sustain us both. | Dana Rodriguez for Vox The idea that I could help myself recover was unknown to me. Then I decided to paint my room. Begin. In the middle of a pandemic. Buy three buckets of paint. One 5-liter bucket of white paint for the ceiling and two 10-liters of paint for the walls. Choose a color you would paint a room to symbolize a new beginning. As many coats of cream white paint as needed to silence dirty baby blue walls. Paint. Hang a framed black-and-white photographic portrait. Purchase new sheets. Discover the womb of your healing. Create the space to love yourself. Start again. I was raised by my unemployed, widowed mother in our three-bedroom home in a small suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa. There was only one bedroom for both my younger sister and me. It had two single beds and an antique chest of drawers that housed our underwear, socks, and pajamas between mulberry-painted walls. While I have reverence for the room for providing a safe space for my sister and me to share secrets since I was about 9 years old, sharing a very intimate space with someone else meant having no intimate moments alone. It was dreadful having to wait until my face was facing the wall right before I fell asleep to be able to cry. There was nowhere for me to feel anything that demanded to be felt, because I had to think of my younger sister’s feelings before I could even welcome my own. I was incredibly lonely because I am an awkward, quirky Black girl and the eldest daughter, who was often barred from excitedly telling others about how happy her hobbies made her. Maybe I struggled to, because it all deviated from what is defined and accepted as culturally Black, or African. So I sat alone in the library and read fiction. I was isolated, with hundreds of thoughts, judging and belittling me for being me. I never learned to ask for help — not even from myself. My family never looked to objects and spaces that our hands can dismantle as easily as they can build them; when you were struggling, you had to remember to pray. The idea that I could help myself recover was unknown. I was so alone that when my brother passed down his bedroom to me, just before I turned 18 years old, all I had was a double bed on its base between the four dirty baby blue walls that bore his exhaustion. I was okay with the bed and nothing more for about two years. The state of the bedroom itself was crying for a functional body. The space was crowded and seeing unwashed cups heightened that feeling. I had to do something about the clothes that lay on the floor for days — the first thing I saw in the morning, the sight overwhelming me — and start asking myself for help. So much of me needed so much more than a bed that only provided physical rest So much of me needed so much more than a bed that only provided physical rest. So much of me needed mending. So much of me needed to do more, to be more in the process of mending myself. I wonder why I occupied the bedroom and did not play Alessia Cara’s debut album out loud? Why did I not bring in a desk and a chair to write? I had to stop yearning and seeking for what I desperately needed by spending hours elsewhere, when the sacredness of the mundane in my daily life could bring joy. My grandmother and mother may have had prayer only to rely on, but while struggling to pray I had to ask myself what I had. At the time I did not know that learning to take care of myself would begin with routinely sweeping the floor. I looked around for a fresh start in what I had — something many of the women before me never had, a bedroom of their own. I started over with Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir on her search for everything she required while in Italy, India, and Indonesia. My relationship with her search continually saves me. I fell in love with her memoir through the film one early evening on Netflix. There is a scene where Gilbert travels Italy and has intense, intimate moments with food. I do not know how many times I have rewatched that part of the film and had the strongest desire to feel that kind of intimacy. I found myself crouching over a shelf in a bookshop to take a hard copy of the memoir home to read right before the pandemic. Gilbert taught me the importance of stillness in starting over. She listened to God when He told her to go to bed, she listened to those who understand silence, and most importantly, she listened to herself wholeheartedly. I allowed her to guide me when I read: “It was vital to my survival to have a one bedroom of my own. I saw the apartment almost as a sanatorium, a hospice clinic for my own recovery. I painted the walls in the warmest colors I could find and bought myself flowers every week, as if I were visiting myself in the hospital.” And it was not until I read this that I realized that I never offered the exhausted and wounded girl within me the opportunity to rest here, with me, at home, because I did not feel safe alone. The sun suddenly started greeting me every morning and bidding farewell every afternoon, without hiding herself, because the cream white paint let her come in to see me Recovery and happiness cannot be bought, but I do believe that it is crucial to allow financial freedom to mend us. I did not grow up in a home with abundant financial freedom. When I earned my first salary, I remembered that while the women in my family prioritized necessities, they still managed to put aside a little from the small amount that they earn to spoil themselves. Therefore, I took a little bit of the $387 I earned from my first full-time job ever as a content writer working in the heartbeat of Johannesburg, sometimes in a sunlit office and other times in the dining room. I did not want to spoil myself, though. I wanted to take care of myself, so I asked my mother to paint my bedroom. When she agreed, I spent weeks on Pinterest choosing a color that would silence the remnants of my brother’s voice on the walls. Choosing a color felt like there was a little girl sitting with me, who did not grow up with a space she needed, helping me make a choice that would sustain us both. When the bank notification came in telling me that I just spent $79 on three buckets of paint for a room of my own and we started painting, exhaling immediately stopped feeling like a task. The sun suddenly started greeting me every morning and bidding farewell every afternoon, without hiding herself, because the cream white paint let her come in to see me. I never knew that the sun could do that until the walls were carrying me. The walls are carrying me in the black-and-white photograph of myself that I hung on my bedroom wall. It is a reminder that I am a story worth documenting and deserving of being kept alive. I learned this from Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” an essay on her liberating search of what kept our mothers alive daily. I continue to return to the highlighted hard copy when I need a reminder of my role as a writer. Like countless Black women, I come from women who spent many of their days cooking for others before thinking of feeding themselves and learning others’ names without ever learning to spell their own. Black women were refused the time to use their gifts freely for centuries. Walker taught me that Black women died with their gifts, because their genius was denied its necessary power. If I carry my ancestors’ trauma, it is therefore my responsibility to mend them through me. This room — with cream white walls and a dandelion yellow satin duvet cover set, the first of my own — is my antidote. I have the women who raised me and women who write to themselves, for themselves — my ancestors who write through me, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Alice Walker — to thank for allowing me to bow at my own feet, for starting over. Tshedza Mashamba is a BA law student and writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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