Nearly 60 law professors urge Congress to pass legislation banning SLAPP lawsuits, or lawsuits designed to stifle free speech that might embarrass someone. Bills that would curb SLAPP lawsuits do attract bipartisan support, yet they just don't attract the fervor that bills curbing class-action lawsuits do. I wonder why. And please understand that by "I wonder why" I mean "because curbing class-action lawsuits pleases Congressfolks' corporate paymasters, whereas curbing SLAPP lawsuits would only help people."
EPA orders Volkswagen to recall almost half a million cars after Volkswagen installed software that induced certain of its models to reduce emissions only during emissions tests, meaning these cars have been polluting the atmosphere for years. Right-wingers who use this incident to claim that GUBMINT RULEZ DOEZN'T WORKZ!!!!! should note that a) all the cars involved are diesel cars, which hardly comprise a majority of cars on the road, or even Volkswagens on the road and b) Volkswagen got caught. In any case, someone had better go to jail over this.
Sens. Heller (R-NV) and Heinrich (D-NM) introduce bill repealing the "Cadillac" tax in the Affordable Care Act. Repealing the Medical Device Tax and the various Medicare taxes affecting only high-income earners would be dumb ideas, but repealing the "Cadillac tax," which affects high-end health insurance plans starting in 2018, would not be, because the folks with better health care plans aren't necessarily the most well-off individuals. Of course, you wouldn't have to jump through hoops like this if we just had a single-payer health care plan like Canada's.
Ho hum, Irving, Texas police also violated Ahmed Mohamed's rights by keeping him from contacting his parents while being fingerprinted and questioned. Let me say that racism and Islamophobia aren't the only factors compelling school officials and local police to act like utter circus clowns throughout this incident -- I think "zero tolerance" and "tough-on-crime" mindsets are as much to blame. But if Ahmed Mohamed lost all trust in adults for the next few years, I wouldn't blame him.
Liz Stinson at Wired describes a "Smog-Free Tower" in Rotterdam that stands close to 23 feet tall and purifies one million cubic feet of air per hour. That may be less impressive than it sounds -- Ms. Stinson tells us that would purify the equivalent of a Madison Square Garden every 10 hours, but most cities are much larger than that, and polluters keep on polluting, as you know. Still, if it can be scaled up, it might be quite the revolutionary device.
Finally, in case you missed Ice-T's livetweeting of last week's Republican Presidential debate, Factcheck runs down the lowlights. Key moments: Mr. Trump apparently making up a figure to describe the economic burden undocumented immigrants supposedly cause, Ms. Fiorina conflating several disparate bits of "testimony" in the Planned Parenthood videos into an image that doesn't actually exist therein, and Sen. Rubio assuring us that doing something about climate change would be "absolutely" useless as if doing the right thing and polluting less is ever useless. As a bonus, we get more vaccine-related stupidity ("anecdotes ARE TOO science!" from Mr. Trump, and "even if the science tells me I'm wrong, I still have the right to do my children harm, because freedom!" from Mr. Paul, who is still not his father.)