15-billion-dollar train endangers Maya treasures, the wild theories of Meghan ‘truthers,’ US activists want ban on abortion meds
If you thought there wasn’t an Infodemic angle to the Harry and Meghan documentary, you were wrong. The campaign to target Meghan interests me because it has all the hallmarks of a coordinated disinformation campaign, complete with thousands of seemingly fake bot accounts. There’s even some frankly bizarre conspiracy theories about Meghan that have gained huge traction online. Meghan “truthers” claim that she was never pregnant and that Archie and Lilibet aren’t real. “They make QAnon look sane in comparison,” one of my readers wrote to me this morning. They buy up fake Twitter accounts to promote their cause and make YouTube videos that gain millions of views. It’s a lucrative business: one of the most prominent anti-Meghan YouTubers earned around $44,000 last year. Christopher Bouzy, a disinformation analyst who has been following the campaign against Meghan and who features in the latest installment of the Harry & Meghan Netflix series, calls this a “hate-for-profit” movement, and says it’s worth millions of dollars. I spoke to him ahead of the documentary’s release, and you can read more about that here.
Opponents of abortion in the U.S. have filed a lawsuit with the FDA intending to ban all abortion medication. The medication, mifepristone, has become a popular alternative in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade’s reversal, allowing people to remain at home and order pills by mail without having to go through the added trauma of confronting protestors or traveling hundreds of miles to obtain an in-clinic procedure. Should the FDA follow through on removing its approval of the medication currently prescribed by healthcare providers for medical abortions, it will affect even those seeking abortions in states in which abortions are legal.
German law enforcement has launched a nationwide crackdown on climate activists calling themselves the “The Last Generation.” Like Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion in the U.K., the group has become known for its headline-making protests, like throwing soup — or in one case, mashed potatoes — on famous paintings and blocking traffic. Homes belonging to members affiliated with the group have been searched due to an investigation over disruptions at an oil refinery in eastern Germany. After recent protests at a Munich airport where people glued themselves to a runway, the city temporarily banned similar styles of protest. Another activist speaking out in support of the Last Generation over recent measures said that “the fight against climate protectionists is pushed forward so much more energetically than the fight against the climate crisis.”
Mexican archaeologists are sounding the alarm about a $15 billion tourist train slated to slice through the heart of the ancient Maya civilization. The railway, a flagship infrastructure project of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will snake through more than 900 miles of jungle in the Yucatán. There are huge environmental concerns here — activists are worried the construction will trigger the collapse of cenotes and caverns along the route, destroying habitats and water access for animals living there. And it’s not just environmentalists that are worried. Archeologists are saying the train is endangering untold numbers of undiscovered Mayan treasures tucked beneath the thick rainforest canopy, including thousands of ancient sites. So they’re now trying to staunch the impending destruction by feverishly excavating as many ancient artifacts as possible ahead of the tracks’ construction.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- The Texas attorney general has attempted to compile a record of every transgender person in the state who has had their gender changed on their driver’s license, reveals this chilling investigation from the Washington Post.
- I’m still recovering from reading my colleague Erica Hellerstein’s remarkable piece for Coda and Noema Magazine about grappling with climate grief in California as the land is ravaged year after year by wildfires. It’s a story about nostalgia, about letting go of the past, the painful process of coming to terms with the charred present and facing up to the future of climate breakdown. Through in-depth reporting and intensely personal storytelling, Erica writes how we live in an era of magical thinking, and refuse, like children, to accept the severity of our own predicament. What would happen if we let go of the denial and opened ourselves up to climate mourning? If you read one thing this weekend, make it this.