California’s special election to fill Katie Hill’s House seat, explained

A special election to fill the US House of Representatives seat left vacant by former California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation is being held Tuesday, May 12.

The race, considered a toss-up by Cook Political Report, is being closely watched in part because of the circumstances that led to Hill’s leaving Congress and in part because the race is widely seen as previewing how the coronavirus pandemic will affect November’s elections. It also represents an opportunity for the Republican Party to retake one of the seats Democrats successfully flipped in the 2018 midterms.

Whoever wins the race — either …

Fauci’s Senate testimony debunked a number of Trump’s favorite coronavirus lies

Dr. Anthony Fauci was careful not to directly rebuke President Donald Trump during Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic. Even so, the totality of his testimony undermined talking points Trump has used to downplay the pandemic while pushing for the premature opening of businesses and schools.

Fauci — who as director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is the government’s top infectious disease expert — made clear that he thinks states should pump the breaks on reopening until the number of new cases per day starts going down. And with one notable exception, senators — even …

Why Elon Musk disobeyed government orders and reopened a Tesla factory

Elon Musk has reopened Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, pushing back against local public health officials who declined to give the company authorization to resume production. After previously doubting the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, threatening to move Tesla’s headquarters out of California, and even filing a federal lawsuit, Musk has now volunteered to be the first one arrested for defying the county’s order, though that’s yet to happen.

“I will be on the line with everyone else,” the Tesla CEO tweeted on Monday afternoon. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

On Monday, a local …

Aimee Stephens, who brought the first major trans rights case to the Supreme Court, has died

Aimee Stephens, the trans woman at the center of the first trans rights case to be fully heard by the US Supreme Court, died Tuesday while in hospice care at home, according to her brother-in-law John Pedit. She was 59 years old.

“Aimee is an inspiration. She has given so many hope for the future of equality for LGBTQ people in our country, and she has rewritten history,” Stephens’s wife, Donna Stephens, said in a statement. ”The outpouring of love and support is our strength and inspiration now.”

Stephens was fired from her job in 2013 when she told …

Our environmental practices make pandemics like the coronavirus more likely

President Trump likes to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” and in so doing he’s popularizing an image of the pandemic as a foreign invasion. He’s not the only one.

Although we are (hopefully) not using a racist term to refer to this virus, many of us have unwittingly bought into a particular paradigm for understanding pandemics. Call it the paradigm of invasion: the idea that we’re being attacked by an onslaught of foreign pathogens that come from animals, and we’re just passive victims.

But what if we, the humans, are the ones staging the onslaught? What if …

Alison Roman and Chrissy Teigen’s feud is about more than selling out

Two weeks ago, I spoke with Alison Roman about how everything that people love on the internet is five seconds away from being destroyed. And today I’m writing about how that theory now applies to Roman herself.

Roman, the New York Times food columnist whose recipes have caught proverbial fire, found herself in the crosshairs of a social media backlash this weekend after an interview was published in which Roman dissed fellow famous domestic mavens Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen for selling out.

“[T]he idea that when Marie Kondo decided to capitalize on her fame and make stuff that you …