We're pleased to bring you "While You Were Out"—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Roe v. Wade is overturned
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sending abortion laws back to the states. On Friday morning, the high court released its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It held, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and [Plannned Parenthood v. Casey] are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” This ends what Roe determined in 1973 to be a constitutional right to abortion.
In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan wrote in their dissent, “Roe held, and Casey reaffirmed, that the Constitution safeguards a woman’s right to decide for herself whether to bear a child.”
Alito’s language reflected that of a draft majority opinion leaked last month, revealing that the court planned to rule in favor of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturn Roe. In the leadup to the court’s decision, many conservative states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Idaho, passed abortion restrictions, while California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced his plan to make the state a “sanctuary” for abortion. Thirteen states have trigger laws that will ban abortion now that Roe has been overruled. —Madeline Fry Schultz
Pornhub parent company’s leadership resign after explosive New Yorker article
The CEO and COO of MindGeek, the company that owns Pornhub, resigned this week following controversy over Pornhub’s failure to moderate its content.
Earlier this month, the New Yorker published an 8,000-word investigative piece on how nonconsensual sexual content and videos of minors have proliferated on the pornographic site. MindGeek says it vets its material to ensure that it’s legal, but several women recounted to the New Yorker that they spent months trying to get nonconsensual content taken down.
A MindGeek representative alleged that the resignations had nothing to do with the New Yorker article, according to the Washington Post. A company statement also accused the article of peddling “the same gross mischaracterizations that anti-porn extremists have spewed for decades.” The New Yorker, though, is quite liberal when it comes to topics of commercial sex. And the New York Times also recently investigated Pornhub, detailing how videos of sexual assault and girls as young as 14 have appeared on the site.
Despite MindGeek’s claims to the contrary, Pornhub’s policies make content moderation and reparations for women incredibly difficult. “Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal,” columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote for the New York Times. “Unlike YouTube, Pornhub allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.”
Pornhub’s owners may hope to burnish its image with new leadership, but without a massive overhaul—one that would likely cost them—the likelihood of abuse through Pornhub will remain. Which is why many are calling for Pornhub to be shut down altogether. —MFS
Dartmouth eliminates student loans, offering more scholarship money instead
As President Joe Biden weighs “canceling” student debt for millions of Americans, some colleges are taking the student loan crisis into their own hands. Dartmouth announced this week that instead of supplementing students’ tuition through federal or private loans, it will be offering further scholarship funds instead.
The move will affect students immediately, and the college predicts it will save the average middle-income student $22 thousand for a four-year degree.
“Eliminating loans from financial aid packages will allow Dartmouth undergraduates to seek their purpose and passion in the broadest possible range of career possibilities,” Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said in a statement.
Dartmouth already offered financial aid packages without loans to families with an income under $125 thousand. This move will expand its offerings to include need-based packages for families making more.
The college will pull scholarship money from its $388 million financial aid funds. By June next year, Dartmouth is hoping to have raised $500 million.
Other Ivy Leagues, such as Brown and Princeton, already offer financial aid packages without loans.
College tuition costs have skyrocketed in recent years, saddling graduates with mountains of debt and contributing to the student debt crisis. Student loan forgiveness won’t solve the problem, but colleges tapping into their endowments to offer aid rather than loans to students is one good step in the right direction. —MFS
Thousands of flight cancellations threaten summer travel
With gas prices averaging nearly $5/gallon, flying might seem like a good way to reach your summer vacation destinations. But if you know anyone who’s traveled in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard harrowing stories of long lines and flight cancellations. Lots of flight cancellations.
At the beginning of the week, airlines canceled almost 1,200 flights in the United States, and it doesn’t look like the situation will get better anytime soon. Airlines have not been able to recover from staffing shortages caused by layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic. Running low on pilots, flight attendants, and cleaning crews, airlines are struggling to keep up with a travel boom. Add any complications such as technical issues or bad weather, and travelers are in trouble.
Citing a pilot shortage, American Airlines cut service to four cities. United Airlines is cutting 12 percent of its flights from Newark, New Jersey.
Aviation consultant Kit Darby told CBS MoneyWatch that things may get worse toward the end of the month as pilots reach the maximum number of hours they can legally fly. “Toward the end of the month, and as we transition into the next month, is when it’s the worst,” Darby said. “The 4th of July is not looking good.”
There is hope that airlines will adapt to the current situation by later this summer, though. Hopper Lead Economist Hayley Berg told Yahoo Finance that airlines have started to reduce their schedules to prevent cancellations. “So our hope,” she said, “is that we'll start to see these really big numbers, about a third of flights being delayed, about 4 percent being canceled, come down in the next couple of weeks as schedules have a little bit more room for airlines to move in.” —MFS
Afghanistan is hit with deadliest earthquake in decades
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Afghanistan experienced its deadliest earthquake in two decades, killing over a thousand people and wounding countless others. The magnitude 5.9 earthquake impacted eastern Afghanistan and part of western Pakistan.
The number of casualties is expected to rise as families dig through the rubble looking for loved ones and as aid slowly makes its way into the country, hindered by geographical challenges, sanctions and a hesitancy to deal with the Taliban-run government. The country is already facing an economic and hunger crisis, and the magnitude of the disaster has only exasperated the issue.
Thousands have been left homeless, and the United Nations has warned of the risk of a cholera outbreak. The remote location of most affected areas makes it difficult for aid to reach those in need in a timely manner and difficult to evacuate the injured. —Gabriella Patti
Swim coach rescues swimmer who fainted mid-competition
While wrapping up her routine in the women’s solo free event during the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, 25-year-old artistic U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez lost consciousness and began sinking to the bottom of the pool.
Coach Andrea Fuentes immediately sprang into action, and dove in after Alvarez, pulling her to the surface. Fainting is not uncommon in the sport, Fuentes explained, as swimmers are required to hold their breath for extended periods. This is the second time that Fuentes has rescued Alvarez after she has lost consciousness during a routine.
Although Alvarez had been doing well in the competition, Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist, noticed that Alvarez’s feet were pale, putting Fuente’s on high alert for the swimmer’s safety.
"I was already paying attention, and then I saw her going down," Fuentes said. "I didn't even ask myself if I should go or not, I just thought that I was not going to wait."
Alvarez has since been cleared by a medical team and was approved to compete again on Friday. Alvarez has competed in the Olympics twice and was named the USA's 2021 Artistic Swimming Athlete of the Year.
"We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country . . . we all have seen images where some athletes don't make it to the finish line and others help them to get there," Fuentes said. "Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, we push through limits, and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now, and the doctors also say she is okay." —GP
Beyoncé drops first single from new album ‘Renaissance’
After announcing last week the upcoming July 29th release of her new album Renaissance, Beyoncé dropped its first single, titled “Break My Soul.” The track was released on her husband, rapper, and producer Jay-Z’s streaming company, Tidal on June 20.
The surprise album announcement already had fans in a tizzy, as this will be Beyoncé’s first album in six years. Now fans are celebrating her return to the beat of this new electronic pop dance track. In addition to a repeated chorus in which the singer declares, “you won’t break my soul,” the track has allegedly inspired people to quit jobs with her lyrics: "I'm gonna find new drive . . . they work me so damn hard / Work by nine / Then off past five / And they work my nerves, that's why I cannot sleep at night."
FDA bans sale of Juul e-cigarettes
The FDA banned the sale of Juul e-cigarettes following a two-year-long review of data by the company. The FDA said that Juul must halt all sales, and remove all products from the market.
The FDA said that the application submitted by the company, which has been linked to an increase in teen vaping lacked “sufficient evidence” to prove that the product would be appropriate for the protection of public health. Some of the data findings raised red flags with conflicting data and insufficient evidence.
"We respectfully disagree with the FDA's findings . . . intend to seek a stay and are exploring all of our options under the FDA's regulations and the law, including appealing the decision and engaging with our regulator," said Joe Murillo, the chief regulatory officer at Juul.
To stay on the market, the company would have to prove to the FDA that their products benefit public health—namely, that the use of e-cigarettes will cause adult smokers to reduce or quit smoking and that teens won’t get hooked on them.
According to a Reuter’s report of a federal survey, “Teenage use of e-cigarettes surged with the rise in popularity of Juul in 2017 and 2018. Its use among high school students grew to 27.5 percent in 2019 from 11.7 percent in 2017, but fell to 11.3 percent in 2021.” In December 2019, the federal minimum age for smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes was raised to 21. —GP
Ukraine is announced as a candidate for European Union membership
The European Union announced that Ukraine is officially a candidate for EU membership amid the ongoing war in Ukraine that began when Russian troops invaded the sovereign country in February this year.
This announcement signifies a fast-tracking of the application process for the war-torn country. Ukraine applied for membership less than a week after Russian troops invaded. The EU is usually slow to expand but moved with more haste given the war.
“Ukraine’s future is within the EU,” tweeted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In another post on Instagram, he wrote, “It’s a victory. We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” referencing the length of the ongoing war and the decades since Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union. —GP
Good News of the Week
A woman was rescued from a hostage situation in the Bronx, Sunday, after writing a note in her Grubhub food delivery order, in the “additional instructions” section.
"Please call the police his going to call me when u delivered come with the cones please don't make it obvious," the woman wrote in her early morning order to The Chipper Truck Cafe in Yonkers, a longtime neighborhood establishment that is open 24 hours a day.
After employees reported the slightly incoherent note to the owner, he instructed them to call the police. The police arrived on the scene by 6:20 am and arrested the suspect Kemoy Royal, on charges of rape, strangulation, criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment, menacing, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and sexual abuse. Royal has also been charged in another rape that occurred on June 15. The victim has since been taken to the hospital.
"People normally put notes like, 'Can you leave it in my driveway? Can I have extra syrup in my order? Can I have an extra soda?" But never something like this," employee Alicia Berme said of the incident. —GP
Watch of the Week
Enjoy the lyric video for Beyoncé's “Break My Soul,” officially the catchiest song to start off your summer, reminding you that when we are “searching for love,” we're “looking for something that lives inside” us.