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Anti-abortion protester Mary McLaurin calls out to a patient at the Jackson Women's Health Organization in 2013. (AP)

Court Rejects Law Threatening Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic

by Alan Greenblatt
Jul 29, 2014

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A federal appeals court has rejected a Mississippi law that would have forced the state's only abortion clinic to close.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday turned aside arguments that women seeking to have an abortion could have the procedure done in a neighboring state.

Closing the clinic in Jackson would place an "undue burden" on women, the court found.

"Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion," Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote for the majority. "Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state."

The Mississippi law, enacted in 2012, requires abortion providers to have on staff doctors with admitting privileges at neighboring hospitals. Physicians at the Jackson clinic applied for privileges at area hospitals, but were unable to obtain them.

Other states have passed similar requirements, which has led to the closure of numerous clinics in states such as Texas and Ohio.

In March, a 5th Circuit panel upheld the Texas law, finding that it did not endanger women's health. The number of abortion clinics operating in Texas has dropped by half over the past year.

With today's ruling, the judges signaled that while closing many clinics is OK, a law that forces the closure of a state's very last clinic is not.

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A fisherman pulls a basket filled with anchovies aboard a fishing boat off of Peru's northern port of Chimbote, in 2012. Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply. (Reuters/Landov)

Want To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Choose Mackerel Over Shrimp

by April Fulton
Jul 29, 2014

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Small fatty fish like mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies are high in omega-3s, vitamin D and low on the food chain.

Those shining attributes have earned them plenty of nods from doctors and environmentalists alike, as we've reported. They're not among the most popular seafoods in the U.S., though, partly because of their fishy taste.

But if you knew that eating these fish would mean shrinking your carbon footprint a wee bit, would that convince you to buy them over say, that bag of frozen shrimp you just mindlessly threw into your grocery cart?

Robert Parker is betting that if you care about eating greener, you'll want to know about how much fuel it takes to catch your favorite fish. He's a Ph.D. candidate from Nova Scotia, studying the fishing industry at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

Parker and Peter Tyedmers, who directs the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, recently published an analysis of a fishing industry fuel use database Tyedmers developed. Their analysis finds that fisheries producing the small fish - sardines, mackerel, and anchovies — are "among the most energy and carbon-efficient forms of protein production." The paper appeared in the journal Fish and Fisheries on July 4.

They also found that fishing for shrimp and lobster are almost as fuel-intensive as raising livestock. As we've reported, raising livestock has more of an impact on the environment than any other food we eat.

For example, Parker says, to catch a metric ton (about 2,200 pounds) of sardines or anchovies, it takes about 5 gallons of fuel.

In contrast, to get the same amount of lobster or shrimp, you'd burn an average of 2,100 to 2,600 gallons of fuel.

Now, U.S. and Canadian lobster outfits "are a bit more efficient because of the higher lobster biomass in the ocean," he says. But they are still burning close to 264 gallons of fuel to catch those 2,200 pounds of crustacean.

So why is all this fuel getting burned? As the fishing industry has evolved in the last century from throwing out a few lines over the local dock to industrialized operations, we've been able to fish in more parts of the ocean and freeze our catch right on the boats.

But "a consequence of many of these advancements has been the increased reliance of fisheries on larger vessels, the motorization of fishing fleets with more powerful engines and the increased demand by fisheries for fossil fuels to power everything from propulsion and gear operation to on-board processing, refrigeration and ancillary services such as navigational aids," the paper says.

And the boats - not the packing plants or trucks transporting fish to the store — are where the bulk of the burn comes from, Parker says. The energy needed to get fish to the dock accounts for 60 to 90 percent of the fishing industry's total energy use and emissions.

"Fuel is the second biggest cost" in fish production, says Parker, and labor is first, so to encourage more efficient fisheries - and fewer greenhouse gas emissions — we should be "implementing measures shown to decrease fuel consumption."

And what people do with the fish is inefficient, too. Much of the mackerel, sardines and anchovies get turned to livestock and aquaculture feed, rather than going right to hungry humans. So we're "taking an efficient system and making it part of an average or inefficient system," he says.

But getting more people to eat these fish is a tough sell, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Parker himself admits that he wasn't always a herring fan, but on a trip to Denmark, that's what was served at the hotel breakfast, so he gave it a try.

Now, he's a believer. "If you have pickled herring, it's one of the most delicious things," he says.

Parker acknowledges that his fuel and fishing study has some limitations. For starters, its largely built from fisheries data from Europe and Australia, where the best records are kept, as well as some from North America. The database does not have much data on fuel use and fishing in the developing world — yet.

Also, he notes, fisheries are not generally giant offenders when it comes to the food system's carbon emissions. "Fisheries in general have a relatively low carbon footprint when it comes to food ... they don't have [the] methane associated with cows, and feed costs," he says.

But they hope their work goes beyond emissions. "We're looking at all the different factors now - we need to feed people, we need to support rural communities, we need to provide healthy and high quality food to people - one niche issue is the role of fisheries in fuel consumption."

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A fisherman pulls a basket filled with anchovies aboard a fishing boat off of Peru's northern port of Chimbote, in 2012. Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply. (Reuters/Landov)

OkCupid Sometimes Messes A Bit With Love, In The Name Of Science

Jul 29, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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OkCupid, the online dating site, disclosed Monday that they sometimes manipulate their users' profiles for experiments. Christian Rudder, co-founder and president of OkCupid, tells Audie Cornish that these experiments help the site improve how it works.

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A fisherman pulls a basket filled with anchovies aboard a fishing boat off of Peru's northern port of Chimbote, in 2012. Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply. (Reuters/Landov)

Y'all Keep Talking: Lab Scratches 'Southern Accent Reduction' Course

Jul 29, 2014

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Government scientists can speak Southern after all.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced that in response to complaints from staff, it's canceling plans to hold a six-week "Southern Accent Reduction" course, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Officials at the scientific complex in east Tennessee said they had only been responding to an employee request. They've now responded to the anger of offended workers.

"Given the way that it came across, they decided to cancel it," lab spokesman David Keim told the News Sentinel. "It probably wasn't presented in the right way and made it look like ORNL had some problem with having a Southern accent, which of course we don't. That was not the intent at all."

Oak Ridge had distributed a notice announcing instruction would be available from "a nationally certified speech pathologist and accent reduction trainer."

"Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neutral American accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it," the notice promised.

The lab is not the first entity to suggest that a Southern drawl sounds ignorant to some listeners. "Studies have shown that whether you are from the North or South, a Southern twang pegs the speaker as comparatively dimwitted, but also likely to be a nicer person than folks who speak like a Yankee," Scientific American noted in 2012.

But bear in mind, a survey last fall by a dating site found that Southern accents are widely considered the nation's sexiest.

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When "Cowboy" Jack Clement died in August 2013, he'd just completed what would be his final album, For Once and for All. (Courtesy of the artist)

A Fond Farewell From An Old Memphis Maverick

by Meredith Ochs
Jul 29, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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The late musician Jack Clement's nickname, "Cowboy," came from a radio show he was part of in the early 1960s. It had nothing to do with horses or boots, but it happened to fit his maverick approach to work.

Clement did what he wanted: songwriting, producing, running his own recording studios, even making movies. He was a visionary and a catalyst who always knew how to match artists with the right material. He famously arranged the distinctive mariachi horn section in Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," and when he gave "Just a Girl I Used to Know" to George Jones in 1962, it was a hit.

In a career that spanned six decades, the Tennessee native and onetime Marine worked with everyone from Charley Pride to U2. Yet in all that time, Clement only recorded three albums of his own. He'd just completed his final project, For Once and for All, when he died last year at age 82.

Clement was humbly philosophical and deeply funny. He embraced traditional country themes like trains and love gone wrong, but he also wrote songs like "Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart," "Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog" and one ostensibly about a home appliance, but really about the magic you might find in the world if you let go of a modern convenience for a while: "The Air Conditioner Song."

He wrote hundreds of songs, and they've been recorded by hundreds of artists who worked with Clement or were inspired by him. So it's fitting that on For Once and for All, he revisits material he wrote decades ago and calls in a host of friends to play along. In "Got Leaving on Her Mind," country singer Dierks Bentley and The Secret Sisters harmonize, Duane Eddy plays guitar and Leon Russell adds piano. It's a beautiful convergence of the generations touched by Clement's work.

The space left behind by an intrepid spirit like "Cowboy" Jack Clement can never be filled. For Once and for All evokes a wistful feeling about his loss, but like the trains he loved and chronicled, Clement's place in history is secured in song.

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