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First bipartisan gun control bill in a generation signed into law: 3 essential reads on what it means

President Joe Biden signed into law on June 25, 2022, a bipartisan bill that is the first significant change in federal gun legislation in nearly three decades. Known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the bill was written in response to the shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, and sped through a usually slow-moving Congress.
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'A revolutionary ruling – and not just for abortion’: A Supreme Court scholar explains the impact of Dobbs

The Supreme Court’s decision to reverse 50 years of constitutional protection for the right to get an abortion is more than 200 pages long. Morgan Marietta, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and editor of the annual SCOTUS series at Palgrave Macmillan, studies the ideas and ideology of the court. We asked him to illuminate the thinking that lies behind the momentous decision. What does this ruling mean? This is a revolutionary ruling. Not just for abortion, but for the ongoing debates over the nature of rights under the Constitution. The ruling signals a massive change in how we read...
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America’s religious communities are divided over the issue of abortion: 5 essential reads

Since the first indications that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, following a leaked draft opinion on May 2, 2022, religious leaders from many denominations have been working to preserve access to abortion care, even as others prayed for Roe to indeed be overruled. A minister in Texas was among those working on coordinating abortion care, including flying women to New Mexico to get abortions.

State courts from Oregon to Georgia will now decide who – if anyone – can get an abortion under 50 different state constitutions

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, state laws, rather than federal law, will now determine whether someone can legally get an abortion. It also means that state Supreme Courts will become much more important in deciding the validity of state laws on abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24 that there is no constitutional right to abortion. “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their...

Roe overturned: What you need to know about the Supreme Court abortion decision

After half a century, Americans’ constitutional right to get an abortion has been overturned by the Supreme Court. The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – handed down on June 24, 2022 – has far-reaching consequences. The Conversation asked Nicole Huberfeld and Linda C. McClain, health law and constitutional law experts at Boston University, to explain what just happened, and what happens next.

5 tips for parents of new kindergartners who are younger than their classmates

A good kindergarten experience sets kids up for success in school and into adulthood. Students in smaller kindergarten classes are more likely to go to college than students from larger classes. And by age 27, students who had more experienced kindergarten teachers were earning more money than their peers who had less-experienced teachers in kindergarten. One factor many parents consider is their child’s age when starting kindergarten, based on how close their age is to the cutoff date for enrollment. The ages at which kids are eligible to start kindergarten differ across the United States and in other countries. Most commonly...

Misinformation will be rampant when it comes to COVID-19 shots for young children – here's what you can do to counter it

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all children ages 6 months to 5 years on June 18, 2022, it opened the door for nearly 20 million children to get vaccinated. While this news comes as a relief to many parents who have been anxiously waiting to get their young children vaccinated, a May 2022 survey found that the majority of parents with children under 5 feel they don’t have enough information about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for this age group. About 40% also said that information from...

Google's powerful AI spotlights a human cognitive glitch: Mistaking fluent speech for fluent thought

When you read a sentence like this one, your past experience tells you that it’s written by a thinking, feeling human. And, in this case, there is indeed a human typing these words: [Hi, there!] But these days, some sentences that appear remarkably humanlike are actually generated by artificial intelligence systems trained on massive amounts of human text. People are so accustomed to assuming that fluent language comes from a thinking, feeling human that evidence to the contrary can be difficult to wrap your head around. How are people likely to navigate this relatively uncharted territory? Because of a persistent...

How do painkillers actually kill pain? From ibuprofen to fentanyl, it's about meeting the pain where it's at

Without the ability to feel pain, life is more dangerous. To avoid injury, pain tells us to use a hammer more gently, wait for the soup to cool or put on gloves in a snowball fight. Those with rare inherited disorders that leave them without the ability to feel pain are unable to protect themselves from environmental threats, leading to broken bones, damaged skin, infections and ultimately a shorter life span. In these contexts, pain is much more than a sensation: It is a protective call to action. But pain that is too intense or long-lasting can be debilitating. So how...

Helping Afghanistan after earthquake will be hard: 3 questions answered

Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in more than two decades took place on June 22, 2022, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring at least 1,600. The disaster struck a remote mountainous region and came at a time when millions of Afghans are experiencing severe poverty and hunger. Since the Taliban, which enforces strict Islamic laws, took over the government in 2021, other countries, humanitarian organizations and independent aid agencies have been reluctant to provide any assistance to the government because no country has officially recognized it. But the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, has called for “the international community and all...

Wealth of nations: Why some are rich, others are poor – and what it means for future prosperity

Why are some nations rich and others poor? Can the governments of poor nations do something to ensure that their nations become rich? These sorts of questions have long fascinated public officials and economists, at least since Adam Smith, the prominent Scottish economist whose famous 1776 book was titled “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.” Economic growth matters to a country because it can raise living standards and provide fiscal stability to its people. But getting the recipe consistently right has eluded both nations and economists for hundreds of years. As an economist who studies...

Supreme Court sweeps aside New York's limits on carrying a gun, raising Second Amendment rights to new heights

With its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen on June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court has announced that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right. The core argument of the decision is that gun rights are to be treated the same as other hallowed rights like the freedom of speech or freedom of religion recognized in the First Amendment. For most of the history of the court, Second Amendment rights have been seen as distinct, more dangerous and thus more open to regulation. Now, the majority of justices has invoked a major change, with implications for...

The Supreme Court tends to save the biggest rulings for last – a constitutional expert explains a few good reasons

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law on June 23, 2022 that had imposed strict limits on carrying a handgun in public. It was a much anticipated decision, as the court continues to issue opinions ahead of wrapping its term in the next week or two. But people were being kept waiting about when exactly the court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade, will be issued. The court announces what days it will release rulings and is only scheduled to announce more on June 24. No one outside the court...

Will closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ in gun legislation save lives? Here’s what the research says

The U.S. Congress has passed a bipartisan gun safety bill, representing the first federal gun safety legislation to be passed in a generation. The legislation, which will now be signed into law by President Joe Biden, is limited in scope. But among its provisions is the closing of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” which allows some people with a record of domestic violence to still buy firearms.

Would closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ in gun legislation save lives? Here’s what the research says

The U.S. Congress appears close to passing a bipartisan gun safety bill that would represent the first federal gun safety legislation to be passed in a generation. The proposed law is limited in scope, but among the provisions is a proposal to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” which allows some people with a record of domestic violence to still buy firearms.

Only about 1 in 5 engineering degrees go to women

Despite various efforts to encourage more women to study STEM fields in college, the percentage of engineering bachelor’s degrees earned by women in the United States hasn’t increased much in the 21st century. Specifically, it has risen from 18% in 1998 to 22% in 2018. Of all the fields in STEM – or science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the engineering workforce has the lowest proportion of women, at 14%. That low participation matters for several reasons. Women are not only being left out of some of the highest-paying jobs in STEM, but companies are losing out as well. Research shows...

Red flag laws saved 7,300 Americans from gun deaths in 2020 alone – and could have saved 11,400 more

Lawmakers in Congress are poised to pass the first gun control legislation in three decades. Among the elements in that legislation is support for states to pass what are called “red flag laws.” These laws, already in place in many states, let police take guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. The laws also seek to bar those people from buying guns. The proposal has emerged again in the wake of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, as well as others in recent weeks. The current draft of a Senate bill would make $750 million in federal funding...

Yes, fireworks prices are skyrocketing, but there should be plenty of bottle rockets and sparklers for you and your family this Fourth of July

If you’re looking forward to shooting off bottle rockets and Roman candles this Fourth of July, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad is that fireworks prices are soaring this year along with pretty much everything else. The good news, however, is that at least you don’t need to worry about a shortage - there should be plenty of rockets, fountains and sparklers to go around. I’m an economist who has been following the fireworks industry for years. Despite soaring wholesale prices, I believe the latest data suggests you may be able to beat inflation and snag some fireworks...