Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Alabama prosecutors drop charges against Marshae Jones, Facebook will ban anti-voting ads, and the Oscars may be getting a little less white.
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Ellen DeGeneres poses for a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with (clockwise from L-R) Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, Peter Nyong'o Jr., and Bradley Cooper during the 86th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 2nd, 2014.

Ellen DeGeneres poses for a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with (clockwise from L-R) Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, Peter Nyong'o Jr., and Bradley Cooper during the 86th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 2nd, 2014.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on what's going wrong with the federal summer lunch program, what would happen if the government provided health care to undocumented immigrants, and what landmarking has to do with gentrification.

Even with the Fourth of July holiday pleasantly shortening the week, there are plenty of other news developments on our radar. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Marshae Jones

Last week, a grand jury in Alabama charged 27-year-old Marshae Jones with manslaughter. Jones had miscarried after allegedly starting a fight that ended with another woman shooting her in the stomach. As Francie Diep reported for Pacific Standard, such a charge is unusual, but not unprecedented: There is a long history of penalizing pregnant people for harm to their fetuses—and poor women of color are disproportionately affected.

Now, officials in Alabama have dismissed the charges against Jones, AL.com reports. At a press conference on Wednesday, Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington said she had "determined that it is not in the best interest of justice to pursue prosecution" against Jones. "I am a black woman in black skin," Jones, who was the first African-American woman elected district attorney in the state, told the audience. "So, don't tell me how I don't appreciate the sensitivity of a woman and the rights of women."

Facebook Will Ban Ads That Discourage Voting

According to Facebook's annual civil rights audit, the company has pledged to implement a policy banning ads that tell people not to vote. The move to remove "do not vote" ads, which is set to begin in the fall, is part of the social network's broader effort to circumvent schemes to influence elections.

"We focused on ads because there is a targeted component in them," Neil Potts, Facebook's public policy director, told Reuters. "We recognize it as a political tactic, which is much more in line with voter suppression."

The Academy Invites a More Diverse Class of New Members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week announced the membership of its 2019 class. The organization says that 50 percent of the 842 newly invited members are female, and 29 percent are people of color. (The previous class was just 32 percent women and 16 percent people of color.)

The Academy has been working to become more inclusive since the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag went viral in 2015. But the organization still has a long way to go: Even if all those invited accept, NPR reports, it will only move total membership from 28 percent to 31 percent female, and from 13 percent to 16 percent people of color.

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