5SR - April 3, 2024

Hitha on carbon capture, constrained healthcare, and two kinds of girls

A quick refresher - I’m Hitha Palepu, the founder of #5SmartReads. If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere, I’m most active on Instagram and write a weekly newsletter about smart, random things (check out the most recent issue). Looking forward to connecting there!

When we talk about reproductive healthcare, it’s often the care (procedures, medication, etc) we focus on. We don’t talk enough about the health systems where care is delivered - or denied.

We need to start talking about it.

16% of all hospital births in the United States occur in Catholic-run hospitals. These hospitals operate under ethical and religious directives, allowing them to deny pregnancy termination when the fetus is not viable. These directives can also deny access to birth control, end of life care, and supportive care for the LGBTQ+ community (which Kimmery Martin writes about in her novel The Antidote for Everything).

Most Americans are constrained by their hospital choices due to insurance coverage, location, and where an ambulance transports you in a medical emergency - it’s not really a choice. Which makes this tale of two levels of care so heartbreaking. It simply doesn’t need to be this way.

For as long as there has been influencers, there have been influencer snark pages.

Eliza McLamb unpacks this corner of the Internet so well. Unlike other analyses of snark pages, she dares to offer an alternative - and it’s one I certainly can get behind.

“Who would we go after if not the influencer? The Koch Brothers? Jeff Bezos? Well, we can’t do that. They’re too big, too powerful, too responsible. If we pick a fight we could actually win, solve a problem that actually exists, then we wouldn’t be able to fight anymore. And that’s the best part — the fighting — especially when everything feels futile. At least you can hold a sword while the world burns.

I might be flying off the handle at this point, but imagine if these snarkers could utilize their skills effectively. These girls have research chops, and I really mean it. Imagine if they tracked political stock trades, snarked on the most recent anti-aging campaign from a billion dollar cosmetics company and made them change their branding, or organized a labor strike. It doesn’t have the same schadenfreudal rewards as the other stuff, sure, but we need to direct this energy somewhere.”

…and it could become a significant source of renewable energy in the Phoenix area.

The proposed lake (really, a new dam that would flood part of the desert) could 10x the current hydropower storage capacity in the region, and would supplement the nighttime needs in the predominantly solar-powered region.

This project isn’t without risks (there are environmental concerns about flooding the protected land) and approvals from the local community and federal and state agencies.

Should it happen, however, it’d be a significant step for renewable energy around the clock.

If there’s anyone who knows a thing (or many) about dressing on the campaign trail, it’s Elizabeth Holmes.

Before she was the authority on the royal family and wrote her NYT bestselling book, she was on the campaign beat for the Wall Street Journal (and met her husband on the trail).

There is no better person to write about the fashion of my new favorite show, The Girls on the Bus (streaming on Max). The show follows four women journalists on the campaign bus during the presidential primary, and is inspired by fellow journalist Amy Chozick’s own book Chasing Hillary.

It’s such a smart piece about a smart show - I highly recommend you read this first, then start streaming it.

Checks and balances are critical in a healthy democracy. When they’re eroded, so is democracy itself.

And that appears to be what’s happening in India, and specifically in the decline of the opposition groups against the government’s BJP majority.

“Political experts say the key reason behind the decline in India’s opposition is that many of the important institutions essential to the functioning of democracy—such as independent media or the judiciary—have been captured by those in power…

…but over the last decade, India’s mainstream media has largely come under the control of large corporations whose CEOs often rub shoulders with the prime minister. “Since mainstream media is effectively an echo chamber celebrating the Modi government, it is unsurprising that the opposition struggles,” says Maya Tudor, an associate professor at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.”

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