The Dark Backstory Behind Iceland’s Low Down Syndrome Numbers—and Other Notes from the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.
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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Three Dead and More Than a Dozen Injured Surrounding Charlottesville Act of Domestic Terrorism 

This past Saturday, tragedy struck Charlottesville, Virginia, when two men attending a white nationalist demonstration drove cars into counter-demonstrators, killing one woman and injuring many people. Two policemen also died when a helicopter patrolling the demonstrations from the air experienced a crash landing. The demonstration has spurred national uproar, in large part due to President Donald Trump’s responses to the event. On Saturday Trump drew outrage when he stated that there was “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” Trump clarified on Monday that “racism is evil” and decried the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups by name. But then in a Trump Tower press conference on Tuesday, Trump echoed his original statements, saying, “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

In response, CEOs have been resigning from manufacturing councils left and right, statues of Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee have been taken down, and social media feeds everywhere have been full of very polarizing views on the president’s behavior. From my vantage point, we all could learn more about how to return to civil discourse—while also acknowledging that bigotry and anti-Semitism are just plain wrong, and only one side is responsible for the murder that took place on Saturday. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Shonda Rhimes Is Your New Netflix and Chill

Picture the Grey’s Anatomy episode when Derek gets shot, or the episode of Scandal when Olivia jets off to the tropics leaving us wondering whether it will be Fitz or Jake waiting for her in paradise. Now imagine watching these cliffhangers and immediately hitting “play next episode.” Yes, Shonda fans, that’s right: We’ll soon be able to experience the heart-wrenching, action-packed stories of ABC’s prolific show creator on Netflix (as if we needed another reason to binge watch). According to People, Shonda Rhimes has worked closely with Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos to forge a creative deal in which Rhimes says she will be able to expand and reimagine what television can be. “Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television,” said Sarandos. Echoing his sentiment, Rhimes said of the new deal, “the future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.” No word yet as to when we can expect the first on-demand series. As for her current projects, Grey’s, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, For the People, and the Grey’s spinoff, those will still air on ABC. —Megan Madden

One Small Dollar for Woman; One Huge Gain for Womankind

This week Taylor Swift won her court case against DJ David Mueller, who lost his job in 2013 after Swift accused him of sexual assault. Mueller sued Swift for $3 million in damages; she counter-sued, standing her ground and maintaining her assault complaints. As the case concluded late last week and yesterday, the jury sided with Swift, and she was awarded her requested $1 in damages for assault and battery. In a statement, Swift said: “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.” Not only are Swift’s donations helping the cause against sexual assault, but I also believe her testimony in the case helps further public awareness of the nature of assault. —MRS

Controversy Surrounds the Eradication of Down Syndrome in Iceland

This week actress Patricia Heaton riled up Twitter with a spot-on reply to CBS, who tweeted on Sunday: "Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion. #CBSNOA learns more, tonight at 10pm ET/PT." Heaton’s reply? "Iceland isn't actually eliminating Down syndrome. They're just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.” While Heaton was correct in pointing out that this blurb glosses over the sad reality of Iceland’s selective abortions, the report itself, published on the CBS news page, covers the news more fully. CBS explains that, since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s and mandated to be available by the government, close to 100 percent of women who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.

Not everyone sees the near eradication of people with Down syndrome as a positive thing. Thordis Ingadottir hopes her 7-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Agusta, will find a place and be accepted in Icelandic society. “I will hope that she will be fully integrated on her own terms in this society. That's my dream," Ingadottir told CBS. "Isn't that the basic needs of life? What kind of society do you want to live in?" That, we think, is a very good question for all of us to consider. —Monica Gabriel Marshall

Aging Is Not Something to Be Anti

Allure magazine’s editor in chief has officially denounced use of the term “anti-aging” among its content. In the beauty book’s latest issue with Helen Mirren on the cover, Michelle Lee wrote an editor’s letter saying, “I hope we can all get to a point where we recognize that beauty is not something just for the young.” She says there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look (and feel!) your best as the years go by, and she acknowledges that with age comes certain unavoidable hardships, but mostly her message is about seeing the best in ourselves and each other. Rather than using phrases like, “she looks great . . . for her age,” Lee hopes that women will begin leaving the qualifiers off. After all, she says, “Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.” —MM

‘The Glass Castle’ Opened in Theaters

The Glass Castle, a film based on Jeannette Walls’ bestselling 2005 memoir of the same name, opened in theaters this week. Starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson, the film tells a heart-wrenching story of a woman raised in a neglectful home that was rich in wishful dreams and poor in real-world follow through. For Verily this week, Madeline Fry distills three things the story can teach the modern woman. —MRS

Where Will You Be for the Solar Eclipse Next Week?

On Monday, August 21, astrophysics nerds and solar system newbies alike will gather across North America to glimpse the first solar eclipse visible across the contiguous U.S. since 1979. Whether or not you’ll be in one of the fourteen states along the eclipse’s path of totality—where viewers will see a total solar eclipse—pick up your special solar viewing glasses from one of these retailers. Even those who witness only a partial solar eclipse will need to protect their peepers. Staring at the sun is harmful, sure, but if you can’t filter out some sunlight, you won’t see much of anything. For those not in one of the cities along the path of totality, NASA will be streaming it live here. —Krizia Liquido