The Download: Abortion clinic surveillance, and China’s economic slowdown

The Supreme Court will soon issue its decision on a challenge of Roe v. Wade. If the draft opinion is correct, it will end federal protection for abortion access in the US. It could have devastating consequences for millions.

One of these is that it could increase the likelihood that anti-abortion activists use surveillance and data collection in order to track and identify women seeking abortions and send authorities information that could lead them to criminal proceedings.

Abortion opponents already use methods such as license plate tracking, bodycam recordings, and Wi Fi networks to direct people to anti-abortion material. Anti-abortion activists could use this data to try and prosecute anyone who seeks abortions in states that criminalize them. Read the complete story .

–Abby Ohlheiser

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 How China’s obsession with zero-covid has crippled its economy
The country’s economic growth is threatening to fall behind that of the US following a series of savage lockdowns. (FT $)
Shanghai is poised to cautiously reopen from tomorrow. (Bloomberg $)

2 Electric vehicles’ biggest challenge? Charging stations
The roll-out of stations has been slow, partly because they don’t make gas stations money. (WSJ $)
Britain’s electric car industry is also suffering from a lack of battery plants. (Reuters)
Cargo e-bikes are becoming a more common sight on LA’s roads. (LA Times)

3 The US is in a free speech muddle over regulating social media
One of the pitfalls of being bound by a centuries-old constitution. (WP $)
Social media mocks women and trivializes their suffering. (New Statesman $)

4 China is preparing to send three astronauts to its new space station
Once it’s complete, it will be the only country to operate its own space station. (Bloomberg $)
A jamming device was recently discovered at the rocket’s launch center in Mongolia. (SCMP)
China’s surging private space industry is out to challenge the US. (MIT Technology Review)


5 The US is now the most powerful supercomputing nation
After regaining the title from Japan. (NYT $)
How two new supercomputers will improve weather forecasts. (MIT Technology Review)

6 Expectant mothers in India found solace in a mental health hotline
Now it’s shut down, they fear pregnant women will be forced to suffer in silence. (CNN)

7 Many Tongans are still without internet
Four long months after an underwater volcano severed the country’s connectivity cable. (Rest of World)
Here’s what it will take to get it reconnected. (MIT Technology Review)

8 How to save water while facing a megadrought
Shortages are forcing city planners to get innovative. (Slate $)
El Paso was “drought-proof.” Climate change is pushing its limits. (MIT Technology Review)

9 NFT lending is booming
And it’s even more risky than buying them. (Protocol)
Don’t bet on funding your retirement with bitcoin. (Reuters)
The mysterious founder of memecoin Shiba Inu has disappeared. (Coin Telegraph)
It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (MIT Technology Review)

10 How Discord became the unofficial home of music fandom
While users love the proximity to their idols the platform gives them, the same old issues with moderation remain. (Pitchfork)

Quote of the day

“My new nickname is ‘The Queen of the Metaverse. ‘”

–Paris Hilton tells CNN about her latest business forays into the world of tech.

The big story

The next pandemic is already upon us. Covid can show us how to combat it.

June 2021

The worldwide response to covid-19 shows what can be accomplished when focus, determination, and vast amounts of money are all directed at one target. The pandemic changed the way science was practiced, the pace of clinical trials and the willingness of governments for funding.

But while covid-19 drew our attention to the threat of viruses, microbiologists have long worried that we have forgotten the threat of bacterial epidemics, and the looming danger that bacteria will become resistant to the drugs we rely upon. Or, to put it another way: antimicrobial resistance must be treated as an emergency. It is already. Read the full story.

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