President Obama’s Historic Climate Change Speech

The most fascinating news from around the web on June 25, 2013

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  1. The Coal, Hard Truth

    In a speech at Georgetown University, President Obama outlined his plan to cut greenhouse gases and renewed what promises to be a heated discussion on climate change. The speech was wide-ranging, but some of most memorable parts were actually focused on making it clear that climate change is happening: “The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics … have put that to rest. The planet is warming, and human activity is contributing to it … We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.” Here’s a video of the speech along with some of its key surprises.

    + Daniel Schrag, head of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment, narrowed things down to one key issue: “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

    + While we’re talking about weather, it’s worth noting that it was 94 degrees in the town of McGrath. In Alaska. A few weeks ago, it was 15 degrees. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we often need to drive at least ten minutes to see that kind of spread.

  2. Voting Rights Final Act?

    The Supreme Court essentially put an end to the Voting Rights Act by striking down Section 4 — the part of the Act that provides the formula for determining which states and counties have a history of trying to block minorities from voting and should therefore be required to get preclearance from Congress before changing any voting laws. The five justice majority argued that the formula was based on old data and is no longer as rational as it was in the 1960s. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote: “The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective … Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

    + If the Act was struck down essentially because it’s been effective, then it’s worth at least asking how effective it’s been? Here’s a chart that shows the answer: Very effective.

    + The Court’s decisions on two key gay marriage cases are expected on Wednesday. Here’s The New Yorker’s Richard Socarides on what’s at stake.

  3. Talk to the Hand(out)

    Propublica and NPR wanted to answer two key questions. First, they wanted to figure out which doctors were most likely to be heavy prescribers of certain brand-name drugs. Second, they wondered which doctors had been paid speaking fees by the companies that manufactured those drugs. In a disturbing number of cases, the answers were the same. Consider their findings when it comes to a blood pressure drug called Bystolic: “At least 17 of the top 20 Bystolic prescribers in Medicare’s prescription drug program in 2010 have been paid … to deliver promotional talks. In 2012, they together received $284,700 for speeches and more than $20,000 in meals.”

  4. You’re So Beta

    If you’re the type of person who likes to be among the first to test out new technologies, you might want to consider moving to New Zealand. Thanks to a variety of factors, many big tech companies see New Zealand as the perfect petri dish for new offerings.

  5. Seeking Greener Pastures

    “I think I’ve found it. We need to start a venture-capital firm in the cannabis space.” The New York Times Magazine’s Bruce Barcott explains: How to Invest in Dope. At least in this case, when the bubble bursts, we’ll all get a contact high.

  6. Hit and Mississippi

    For more than two decades, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been ranking the well-being of kids in every state. And for all of those years, Mississippi has been ranked 50th. Until now. Mississippi has finally surged to number 49. New Mexico has taken its place at the bottom of the list, while New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts were at the top.

    + Here’s a cool map of the most famous brands from each state. The map should be cause for some debate, especially in Florida.

    + Buzzfeed merged a couple of lists to find out which schools combine excellent athletics with high academic standards.

  7. The Bean Counter

    How do you spend your time? Sometimes it’s easier to answer questions like that with a visual aid. Ze Frank takes a close look at how we spend a majority of our lives, starting with 28,835 jelly beans. It’s definitely worth spending a fraction of bean watching this.

  8. This One Will Stick With You

    Syndicated from Kottke: Pascale Honore enjoyed watching her sons surf but couldn’t participate because she’s been a paraplegic for the past 18 years. But then Tyron Swan, a friend of her sons, duct taped her to his back and took her out on his board. Man, that smile is incredible. What a great video.

  9. To Be or Not to Rugby

    “The real challenges facing Pride players are the ones facing many D.C. teens: poverty, crime and street corner temptations. Even getting to and from school isn’t always easy.” WaPo’s Rick Maese shares the inspirational story of a coach’s painful farewell to a rugby program he built and the players he loves.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    In some markets, Taco Bell is rebranding its meat products as Protein Power. And the fact that there isn’t always that much meat in the stuff fast food joints call meat is only part of the reason.

    + I’m guessing mine wasn’t the only household where the kids got a Hershey bar yesterday. And we know at least one person will be getting a big gift basket from the company: Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Plus, the excellent Paul Ford shares a personal connection to the Mad Men season finale: “I went to that Hershey’s school for orphans. It really is special.”

    + The Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds to shock the Boston Bruins and take home hockey’s Stanley Cup. And from Mental Floss, here are 22 things you might not know about the Stanley Cup (I knew none).