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SCOTUS rejects challenge to abortion pill for lack of standing

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Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medication abortion, are seen at the Women's Reproductive Clinic, which provides legal medication abortion services, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 17, 2022.

Enlarge / Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medication abortion, are seen at the Women's Reproductive Clinic, which provides legal medication abortion services, in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, on June 17, 2022. (credit: Getty | Robyn Beck)

The US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a case that threatened to remove or at least restrict access to mifepristone, a pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medication abortions and used in miscarriage care. The drug has been used for decades, racking up a remarkably good safety record in that time. It is currently used in the majority of abortions in the US.

The high court found that the anti-abortion medical groups that legally challenged the FDA's decision to approve the drug in 2000 and then ease usage restrictions in 2016 and 2021 simply lacked standing to challenge any of those decisions. That is, the groups failed to demonstrate that they were harmed by the FDA's decision and therefore had no grounds to legally challenge the government agency's actions. The ruling tracks closely with comments and questions the justices raised during oral arguments in March.

"Plaintiffs are pro-life, oppose elective abortion, and have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to mifepristone being prescribed and used by others," the Supreme Court noted in its opinion, which included the emphasis on "by others." The court summarized that the groups offered "complicated causation theories to connect FDA’s actions to the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries in fact," and the court found that "none of these theories suffices" to prove harm.

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francisga
19 hours ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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Changes to public notice law could spell end of Lafayette’s oldest news source

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Exterior of old Daily Advertiser building on Bertrand Drive

Changes to Louisiana’s decades-old public notice laws pushed by Lafayette Parish state Rep. Josh Carlson could redefine local news in parishes around the state and particularly in Lafayette. 

State law requires local governments to publish notices of their meetings, public bids and other activities in their parish’s “official journal” at costs that can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. For smaller newspapers in rural towns and parishes, that revenue can be a crucial aspect of their survival as revenue from advertisers and readers has dwindled in recent decades

Carlson’s bill initially sought to let state and local government bodies instead publish public notices on government websites, moving that revenue away from newspapers around the state. But that idea went through a major transformation in Baton Rouge at the insistence of the Louisiana Press Association, which advocates for the interests of news organizations around the state. 

The law’s final form, which takes effect Aug. 1, aims to open up competition for public notice contracts by shortening the state’s parish registration requirements and lowering physical publication quotas, giving smaller outlets a chance to vie for critical revenue by becoming their town, city or parish’s official journal. 

“It opens this up to more papers in more places, not just one in most places, but two, three, four, five in some of the bigger cities,” says Carlson, a former Lafayette Parish councilman. “And then also cost, which I think is more of a slower win, but if there’s more competition, then some of these smaller papers can come and say, ‘We’re not going to do this for what the standard rate is. That’s the maximum rate, [but] we’ll do it for 5 cents per character less.’” 

But the change also addresses a Lafayette-centric issue Carlson ran into on the Parish Council with the rise of The Acadiana Advocate’s presence in Lafayette and the decline of The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette’s long-standing paper of record. 

[Editor’s Note: Reporter Andrew Capps previously worked for The Daily Advertiser, and his partner works for The Acadiana Advocate. The Current also partners with The Acadiana Advocate to fund a fellowship position for Health Reporter Alena Maschke.]

Carlson and other members of Lafayette’s City and Parish councils previously pushed to make The Acadiana Advocate Lafayette’s official journal, citing its more comprehensive coverage of state and local issues. But state law required papers to be registered with the U.S. Postal Service in a specific parish for five years before they could qualify to be that parish’s official journal, which repeatedly prevented the Advocate from unseating the Advertiser and winning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s $100,000 annual public notice contract. 

Carlson’s law dropped that requirement to two years, which will allow the Advocate to compete with the Advertiser next year to be the parish’s official journal. That designation means collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue from local government bodies all over the parish, like the sheriff’s office and the school system, as well as from legal notices for private matters, including lawsuits and successions. All of this could make losing its role as official journal a potential death knell for the parish’s oldest newspaper. 

“It is sad, and I don’t want to see that happen … but [the Advertiser] could come in and compete,” says Carlson. “They could go in and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna save LCG a little bit of money compared to what the Advocate would do.’”

Councilman Josh Carlson sits at a public meeting
Former Lafayette Parish Councilman Josh Carlson, now a state representative, pushed for changes to Louisiana’s decades-old public notice laws.

The fight over being Lafayette’s public notice contractor could be a life or death battle for the Advertiser, but it wouldn’t be the Advocate’s first attempt to relegate the Lafayette mainstay to the pages of history. 

In 2019, the Advocate jumped on the retirement of Advertiser Editor James Flachsenhaar to hire away many of the paper’s most tenured staffers, greatly expanding its Lafayette newsroom in the process and leaving the Advertiser scrambling to fill their roles with new hires [like this reporter]. And in the years since, the Advocate has continued to nab employees leaving the Advertiser for greener pastures, like Executive Editor Barbara Leader, Breaking News Reporter Ashley White and LSU Sports Reporter Koki Riley.

In fact, all but one of the local news reporters still listed on the Advertiser’s website Tuesday left the publication months or even years ago [including this reporter]. The Current confirmed that the paper’s only remaining reporter in Lafayette, Jakori Madison, was hired by The Acadiana Advocate this week, leaving the mainstay of Lafayette news effectively unmanned. The Advertiser’s parent company Gannett did not respond to a request for comment from The Current.

But news staffers aren’t the only gains by the Advocate in recent years, as print subscribers have left the Advertiser in droves, dropping its circulation from more than 10,000 Sunday papers in 2019 to just under 4,000 in 2022 and putting it nearly even with the Advocate’s circulation in Lafayette. Still, the Advocate’s statewide President and Publisher Judi Terzotis, who previously led the Advertiser, says she hopes the longtime daily responds to the increased competition by investing more resources in Lafayette instead of bowing out of the local news market. 

“I never want our success to be to the detriment of any competitor,” Terzotis says. “The more reporters you have in a community, the stronger the community is … Their business model is so different from ours, and you can see it in terms of [where] they put their resources, so I hope them much success, and I actually would love it if they would invest in more reporters in that community.”

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francisga
2 days ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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To pee or not to pee? That is a question for the bladder—and the brain

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Cut view of man covering urine with hands. He has some pain and problem. Isolated on striped and blue background

Enlarge (credit: Estradaanton/Getty Images)

You’re driving somewhere, eyes on the road, when you start to feel a tingling sensation in your lower abdomen. That extra-large Coke you drank an hour ago has made its way through your kidneys into your bladder. “Time to pull over,” you think, scanning for an exit ramp.

To most people, pulling into a highway rest stop is a profoundly mundane experience. But not to neuroscientist Rita Valentino, who has studied how the brain senses, interprets, and acts on the bladder’s signals. She’s fascinated by the brain’s ability to take in sensations from the bladder, combine them with signals from outside of the body, like the sights and sounds of the road, then use that information to act—in this scenario, to find a safe, socially appropriate place to pee. “To me, it’s really an example of one of the beautiful things that the brain does,” she says.

Scientists used to think that our bladders were ruled by a relatively straightforward reflex—an “on-off” switch between storing urine and letting it go. “Now we realize it’s much more complex than that,” says Valentino, now director of the division of neuroscience and behavior at the National Institute of Drug Abuse. An intricate network of brain regions that contribute to functions like decision-making, social interactions, and awareness of our body’s internal state, also called interoception, participates in making the call.

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francisga
6 days ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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As a potentially historic hurricane season looms, can AI forecast models help?

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AI weather models are arriving just in time for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.

Enlarge / AI weather models are arriving just in time for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Much like the invigorating passage of a strong cold front, major changes are afoot in the weather forecasting community. And the end game is nothing short of revolutionary: an entirely new way to forecast weather based on artificial intelligence that can run on a desktop computer.

Today's artificial intelligence systems require one resource more than any other to operate—data. For example, large language models such as ChatGPT voraciously consume data to improve answers to queries. The more and higher quality data, the better their training, and the sharper the results.

However, there is a finite limit to quality data, even on the Internet. These large language models have hoovered up so much data that they're being sued widely for copyright infringement. And as they're running out of data, the operators of these AI models are turning to ideas such as synthetic data to keep feeding the beast and produce ever more capable results for users.

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francisga
6 days ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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Brushed

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A hippie woman wearing tie-dyed dress has a broad paint brush for a head. Her husband, covered in paint spatters, has a well-used fine pain brush for a head. She says to him: "Please just be happy for him" as their son walks toward a campus labeled "School of Dentistry". Their son, formally dressed, has a tooth brush for a head.

The post Brushed appeared first on The Perry Bible Fellowship.

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francisga
10 days ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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jlvanderzwan
10 days ago
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Little Shop of Horrors, anyone?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoWom0CCRKM

In Loco Parentis

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Avdi Grimm sent out an email to one of his lists this week. After describing his daily domestic tasks, which are many, he segues to professional life. I am not a software consultant, but this sounded familiar:

I telepresence into my client team, who I will sit with all day. My title might as well be "mom" here as well; 20% of my contributions leverage my software development career, and the rest of the time I am a source of gentle direction, executive function, organization, and little nudges to stay on target.

There are days when the biggest contribution I make to my students' progress consist of gentle direction and little nudges that have little to do with Racket, programming languages concepts, or compilers. Often what they need most is help staying focused on a given task. Error messages can distract them to the point that they start working on a different problem, when all they really need to do is to figure out what the message means in their specific context. Or encountering an error makes them doubt that they are on the right path, and they start looking for alternative paths, which will only take them farther from a solution.

I don't sit virtually with any students all day, but I do have a few who like to camp out in my office during office hours. They find comfort in having someone there to help them make sense of the feedback they get as they work on code. My function is one part second brain for executive function and one part emotional support. My goal as educator in these encounters is to help them build up their confidence and their thinking habits to the point that they are comfortable working on their own.

I have had colleagues in the past who thought that this kind of work is outside of the role that profs should play. I think, though, that playing this role is one way that we can reach a group of students who might not otherwise succeed in CS at the university level. Almost all of them can learn the material, and eventually they can develop the confidence and thinking habits they need to succeed independently.

So, if being dad or mom for a while helps, I am up for the attempt. I'm glad to know that industry pros like Avdi also find themselves playing this role and are willing to help their clients grow in this way.

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francisga
12 days ago
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Lafayette, LA, USA
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