The unconstitutional plan to stop women from traveling out of state for an abortion, explained

“a few jurisdictions in Texas are now breaking with this consensus. As the Washington Post reports, two Texas counties and two Texas cities have passed local ordinances making it illegal to transport someone through one of these counties or cities for the purpose of obtaining an out-of-state abortion.
Notably, this list of anti-abortion localities includes Mitchell County, Texas, a sparse community of about 9,000 people. This matters because Interstate 20, the route that many people traveling from Dallas to New Mexico to receive an abortion will take, passes through Mitchell County. Several other counties with major highways or airports are also considering similar laws.

These ordinances and proposed ordinances largely track model legislation, which anti-abortion activist Mark Lee Dickson shared on Twitter, that is itself modeled after SB 8 — the statewide anti-abortion law that allows private bounty hunters to sue abortion providers and collect bounties of $10,000 or more.

In fairness, Dickson’s model legislation does prohibit such bounty hunter suits from being filed against “the pregnant woman who seeks to abort her unborn child.” But the legislation would potentially allow abortion funds that help pay for abortion care, or anyone who drives a pregnant patient to an out-of-state abortion clinic, to be sued.

Ordinarily, Kavanaugh’s preemptive rejection of travel bans would be a clear sign that these laws will not survive judicial review. But, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), the Supreme Court effectively shut down federal lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws that are enforced solely by bounty hunters. And Kavanaugh joined the Court’s decision in Jackson.

The upshot is that these unconstitutional Texas ordinances may succeed, not because they are lawful but because the Supreme Court has largely immunized them from constitutional review.”

America has the world’s safest air travel but sucks so bad at car safety

“In the EU, car fatalities, already far lower than America’s, were down by 22 percent over the last decade. Car crashes are just behind guns as the second greatest killer of US children. Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans are disproportionately likely to be killed by a car. Merely taking a walk outside is becoming particularly dangerous: about 7,508 pedestrians were killed by cars last year, the highest number since 1981 and a massive increase over the last decade”

“there’s a lot we can learn from the aviation system’s approach to passenger safety.
The most obvious is that we shouldn’t accept carnage just because the activity seems inherently dangerous. If we can figure out how to make it exceptionally safe to hurtle through the sky at over 500 miles per hour, we can definitely figure out how to keep people alive on the ground, especially because other countries have done it already. The Netherlands is a famous example, but others, including Canada, with an urban geography much more similar to ours, have steadily decreased their death rates to levels far lower than ours.

A second lesson from the aviation sector is that safety is a systemic responsibility. “The [air] safety regime, with its built-in redundancies, is known in aviation circles as the Swiss cheese model: If a problem slips through a hole in one layer, it will be caught by another,” the New York Times explained, which has added up to a near-spotless safety record.

Compare that to the situation in car safety, where high death rates are accepted as a baseline part of how the system works rather than an institutional failure. Media coverage treats surges in crash deaths as if they are uncontrollable fluctuations in the weather and blames people driving recklessly for getting themselves killed. In the American traffic engineering bureaucracy, there’s a widely circulated myth that the vast majority of crashes are caused by “human error,” transportation writer David Zipper explained in the Atlantic in 2021.

Of course, individuals making unsafe choices — speeding, say, or driving drunk — matters. But these are distractions from what makes the American system of driving so unsafe in the first place: we have a proliferation of fundamentally unsafe roads, known among traffic safety advocates as “stroads,” that combine wide lanes and speeds higher than 25 miles per hour with frequent turns, stops at traffic lights, and shared traffic with cars, pedestrians, and bikes. With all these conflict points, it’s inevitable that collisions will happen.”

“A third lesson from aviation is that dangerous technology has to be adequately regulated. Empirical research increasingly shows that the rapid takeover of big cars — SUVs and pickup trucks — is a major factor behind our car safety backslide over the last decade. But US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has declined to call for policies to discourage the proliferation of these vehicles (like Washington, DC’s tax on oversized cars).”

The extra step you’ll need to take before flying to Europe next year

“Travelers to Europe from many countries, including the US, will soon be required to apply for a travel authorization known as ETIAS, or the European Travel Information and Authorization System, to visit destinations like France, Italy, and Spain, as well as 27 other European countries.
For years, US citizens have been able to travel to many European countries for short visits without any prior travel authorization, but that will change when the new policy goes into effect — likely sometime in 2024. The EU has attempted for years to get some manner of travel authorization on the books for travelers from countries where a visa isn’t required to enter EU nations, without success.

The new system is best thought of as a database to track who’s authorized to enter European countries, rather than as a visa. The authorization, once given, is valid for three years and permits short trips — 90 days or fewer at a given time. Longer stays, like for school or work, already require visas.

Though it may seem like a major change for Americans and citizens of other countries that currently have visa-free entry to European countries, the US has its own authorization system, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA. Citizens and eligible residents of certain countries — mostly in Europe, but also including South Korea, Brunei, Chile, and Japan — don’t have to have a visa for shorter visits to the US, but they do need ESTA authorization. Visa holders don’t require ESTA authorization, because obtaining a visa requires much more information from travelers and an interview at a consulate.”

“ETIAS is aimed at reducing or preventing serious crimes, which according to EUROPOL include human trafficking, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling, as well as terrorist crimes.”

You Are Not Free to Move About the Country

“Rather than add to the complexity of domestic fare pricing with the threat of compelled cash payments, wouldn’t U.S. air travelers benefit more from having a wider array of airlines to choose among?
Given the authorization to do so, top global performers such as Singapore Airlines, the Dubai-based Emirates, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, and Australia’s Qantas could enter the U.S. market to challenge American legacy carriers on the high-revenue routes that link dynamic American regions.”

“At the other end of the market, budget carriers such as Ireland’s Ryanair, Britain’s EasyJet, and Malaysia’s AirAsia provide no-frills travel that could put downward pressure on economy-class fares within the U.S. and give travelers more choice and market power.”

Joe Biden, Travel Agent in Chief

“These are the sorts of proposals that sound good in theory—who wouldn’t want to pay less in junk fees? But some of these fees exist for good reasons. (Late fees, for instance, encourage people to pay their bills on time, which is good for both credit card companies and for users, who will otherwise rack up more interest to pay back.) And in any event, companies aren’t simply going to say, “OK, we’ll just make less money.”
Hotels may respond by raising base room rates or charging new fees for typical amenities. Airlines that can’t charge for choosing your seat may raise base ticket prices, baggage fees, or other costs. Banks that can’t fine people for overdrawing their accounts may raise rates for opening an account, require higher minimum balances, or deny more people bank accounts to begin with. Credit card companies that can’t charge late fees may deny more lines of credit or charge higher interest rates. And so on.

All the Biden administration is really doing is shifting people’s costs around.”

48 hours of border chaos: Inside a CBP crackdown on Iranian Americans

“Hours after a U.S. military drone killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran, the head of field operations for the border in Washington state gathered her senior staff on an emergency conference call.

It was the first Friday in 2020 — still a holiday for many — and director Adele Fasano spoke from home about the email she’d just received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters advising “heightened vigilance” following the airstrike.

She instructed assistant directors of field operations and area port directors to institute “heightened security measures.” When the call ended, the Seattle CBP office circulated a “high threat alert” memo among management outlining new criteria for enhanced vetting of cross-border travelers.

The message to rank-and-file agents was clear: Target travelers with ties to Iran, Lebanon and Palestine.

During the next 48 hours, 277 people — dozens of them American citizens or legal permanent residents — would be stopped and held for secondary screenings as they tried to cross into the U.S. from Canada. Many said they were held for more than six hours. Some were denied access to medicine or questioned about their relatives. Most had no idea why they were stopped, though they had their suspicions.

One Iranian American, held for six hours overnight at the Pacific Highway crossing, likened the scene to “a modern-day version of Japanese internment camps.””