There's Not a Missing-Teen Epidemic in D.C.—Just Confirmation of the Sad Status Quo
Two black members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to look into a spate of missing-child reports in the Washington, D.C. area. In a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.’s nonvoting delegate) asked the agencies to “determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”
The Associated Press reports that 501 predominately black and Latino minors have gone missing in D.C. since the start of 2017; as of Wednesday, 22 of the cases were still open. Many of the cases have been getting a surge of attention in the past week on social media, where users are using the hashtag #missingdcgirls to demand results from the D.C. police force and condemn news outlets for not giving due notice to the story.
To some, the social media push has made it seem like there’s been an alarming spike in black teen girls gone missing in D.C., leading them to wonder about a sudden failure of city services to keep girls safe. Celebrities, including Ava DuVernay, Sophia Bush, LL Cool J, and Zendaya, are tweeting about the missing girls. Others, like Michael Flynn Jr.—the son of Donald Trump’s disgraced ex–national security advisor Michael Flynn—are using the story to accuse D.C. law enforcement of ignoring conspiracy theories about a child-trafficking ring at a pizza place.
But D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department insists that there has been no increase in missing-person reports lately—in fact, the rate of reports is lower than usual. WUSA9 cites MPD statistics that say an average of 200 missing-person reports have been filed each month over the past five years, 99 percent of which have been closed. In 2017, an average of 190 cases have been opened each month.
Lying Doctors, the Right to Marry, and “Prenatal Nondiscrimination”: This Week in Women’s Rights
Republicans in Congress were très busy this week trying to make a health care bill comprised of as little actual health care as possible. A Quinnipiac poll found that 13 percent of women support the bill, no doubt persuaded by the room full of entirely white, male legislators working on it. While they were occupied making a deal with the White House to axe maternity care from the list of essential health benefits all insurers must cover, state legislators had their hands full with other bills restricting women’s health care.
Thirteen Percent of Women Support the AHCA. What Do They Know That We Don’t?
According to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday, just 13 percent of American women support the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s “repeal and replace” proposal for Obamacare, compared to 22 percent of men. 56 percent of men and the same proportion of women disapprove of the bill, with the rest undecided.
It’s fair to say this is a massively unpopular bill, even among Republican legislators. They were supposed to hold a vote on the bill on Thursday, but postponed it in part due to lagging support from the far right. So I have to ask—what’s so reassuring to that not-insignificant sliver of women ready to throw down for the AHCA? What have they heard about this bummer of a bill that makes them say “yes, sign me up, I support this?”
New Emoji, Including Many Genders of Magical Humanoids, Are Coming
New emoji are coming to phones this summer, offering texters the means to compose ever more specific missives through tiny images their parents can’t see. Emojipedia revealed mockups of the several dozen candidates on its website—and the mind positively spins with potential storylines the new emoji might create.
Donald and Melania Trump Reportedly Sleep in Separate Bedrooms. How Should We Feel?
There are a few appropriate responses to the news, broken by US Weekly on Wednesday, that Donald and Melania Trump allegedly sleep in separate bedrooms. One is anger: How dare this magazine make me think about the president of the United States in the snoring, bedheaded, pajamaed state of slumber or in any proximity to conjugal activity?
Codes of Conduct Around Inclusion and Harassment Are a Sadly Necessary Trend
Within the last few years, “codes of conduct” have become such standard practice in tech settings that a conference or community without one is considered suspicious. Many open-source projects abide by a “contributor covenant” that forbids behavior like harassment and unwelcome sexual attention, for example. At Microsoft’s upcoming Build 2017 conference, the code states in part, “We do not tolerate harassing or disruptive behavior, messages, images, or interactions.” For Facebook’s annual developer conference next month, organizers have issued detailed community guidelines that includes a list of specific “conduct that is not OK,” including:
- Derogatory or insensitive jokes, pranks, or comments
- Slurs or epithets
- Harassing photography or recording
- Displaying or sharing images that are derogatory or sexually-oriented
- Making offensive comments about people’s bodies or appearance
Recently, the March for Science became the latest STEM-related entity to clarify in writing that it does not tolerate harassment or bigotry. What many of these communities have in common is that are supposedly neutral, meritocratic spaces that in reality can be incredibly hostile to anyone not part of the majority culture. The protest, which takes place Apr. 22 in Washington, is intended to rally scientists and “science enthusiasts” to “support and safeguard the scientific community” in the context of the Trump administration’s confusing and alarming approach to science policy. But issues related to diversity and harassment have been a problem for the event from the start. Stat News reported Tuesday that “plans for the march are plagued by infighting among organizers, attacks from outside scientists who don’t feel their interests are fairly represented, and operational disputes.”
The AHCA Would Force New Moms on Medicaid to Find Work 60 Days After Labor
On Monday night, Paul Ryan attempted to lure more of his far-right Republican compadres on board with the GOP’s proposed health care plan with a set of changes to the bill. The so-called “manager’s amendment” makes the American Health Care Act a significantly more conservative proposal that would mean severe cuts to coverage for the poorest Americans.
The AHCA, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, already represented a sweeping rollback of women’s health care coverage—it effectively dismantles all insurance coverage for abortion; eliminates requirements of essential services to be covered under Medicaid; and defunds Planned Parenthood, a move 75 percent of Americans oppose. Monday’s amendment goes even further to restrict women’s access to lifesaving care, particularly if they’re unemployed. Health Affairs has a good, detailed description of how the amendment slashes coverage standards for people on Medicaid in general and children in particular, who make up a disproportionate chunk of Medicaid enrollees.
A Night Among the Witches Fighting the Trump Administration
Donald Trump’s approval ratings recently hit a record low. Among young people, college graduates, nonwhite people, and women, the disapproval ratings are especially high. Here’s one more constituency to add to that list: witches.
The Trump administration has awakened all sorts of people’s political consciousnesses. It’s only natural that witches would be among them, and more and more, they’re gaining attention for their actions. Witches were in the news a few weeks ago when a Facebook post calling for a mass Trump binding ritual went viral. And on Sunday night, a new group called Witches Against Fascist Totalitarianism threw its first event in New York.
The U.S. Infant Mortality Rate Is Falling, But Still Worse Than Peer Nations
The U.S.’s relatively high infant mortality rate is one of the darkest stains on the nation’s public-health record. Compared to babies in other wealthy nations, infants in the U.S. are far less likely to make it to their first birthdays—in 2010, a U.S. baby was more than twice as likely to die in its first year than a baby in Norway, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Japan.
Lindsey Graham Used Neil Gorsuch’s Confirmation Hearing to Plug His 20-Week Abortion Ban
It’s day two of confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the current Supreme Court vacancy, and the spectacle is already telling us a lot more about Gorsuch’s interlocutors than about the mild-mannered judge himself. Around noon on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham engaged in a nice bit of grandstanding to promote a 20-week abortion ban he’s been pushing in the Senate for years.