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March 5, 2014
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Sustain Condoms, a company created by the founder of Seventh Generation and his daughter, is preparing to debut socially conscious contraceptives in hopes that women will feel more comfortable purchasing them. The company advertises non-toxic, sustainable latex condoms made from rubber produced by a fair-trade plantation. While the premise has been generally well-received, some have pointed out the sexism in targeting women for their eco-conscious sensibilities, rather than both men and women who have equal stake in safe-sex and sustainable products.

As Holly Richmond from Grist notes, "Sustain thinks fair-trade condoms will primarily appeal to us ladies with our squishy bunny hearts, rather than men, who hate sustainability and only buy brands that sound like monster trucks." Monica Nickelsburg

3:55 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, a federal judge in Corpus Christi, Texas, ruled that a softened voter ID law Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had signed in June was still too onerous and discriminatory against black and Latino voters, and Texas vowed to appeal the ruling. Texas passed the nation's strictest voter ID law in 2011, allowing registered voters to cast ballots only if they showed a Texas driver's license or ID card, concealed handgun license, U.S. passport, U.S. citizenship certificate, or an election ID certificate. The new law keeps those requirements, but allows people to vote if they present a bill or other document showing name and address and sign an affidavit swearing they had a "reasonable impediment" to getting an approved ID, on penalty of jail.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos said the affidavit's harsh penalties "appear to be efforts at voter intimidation," and said the failure to expand the list of applicable forms of ID amounted to intentional discrimination. Gonzalez Ramos had first struck the voter ID law down in 2011, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that it disproportionately burdened minorities. On Wednesday, she held out the possibility she would once again require Texas to get federal pre-clearance for electoral laws under the Voting Rights Act, making it the first state put back under federal oversight since the Supreme Court significantly weakened the law in 2013.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) called Wednesday's ruling "outrageous" and pointed out that the Justice Department has sided with Texas since President Trump took office, after supporting civil rights groups challenging the law under former President Barack Obama. Senate Bill 5 was passed by the people's representatives and includes all the changes to the Texas voter ID law requested by the 5th Circuit," he wrote. Earlier this month, a separate federal court said that the voting districts Texas Republicans had drawn in 2011 were also racially discriminatory, ordering the state to redraw two gerrymandered districts before the 2018 election. Peter Weber

3:05 a.m. ET

President Trump's strange campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night "started with a bang," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show, but he was being sarcastic. It actually began with Vice President Mike Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, there to "luke-warm up the crowd." After treating his audience to a Ben Carson impersonation, Noah played some of Trump's "fire and fury," stopping at the part where Trump threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn't give him money for his Mexico border wall.

"What do you mean, the government's going to shut down?" he asked, indignantly. "Mexico pays for the wall! That's the only reason I watch the rallies, is to see the hits. You can't just change the words to your songs, Trump!"

"Now, although most of Trump's rally was an outstanding rejection of sanity," Noah said, "there was a key issue he had to address, and that was demanding justice for the real victim of Charlottesville: himself." Trump spent about 15 minutes reading parts of the evolving and devolving statements he gave after the violent Charlottesville white supremacist rally, and Noah played some of the video, shaking his head. "I'm so glad we didn't elect an irrational woman as president," he joked.

But of course, Trump carefully omitted the newsworthy parts of his statements. "You can't leave out 'on many sides,'" Noah protested. "That was the whole reason people were mad." In any case, Trump managed to divide America further, and the Trump side doesn't sound so bad, Noah said, playing part of an interview with a Trump supporter. "You know, in a way I envy these Trump supporters, because they're living in a state of bliss," he said. "For everyone else, Trump's presidency is a little more painful." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:05 a.m. ET
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Powerball officials say a sole ticket-buyer in Massachusetts has won the massive $758.7 million jackpot, the second-largest Powerball win in U.S. history, after correctly picking all six numbers for Wednesday night's drawing — 6, 7, 16, 23, 26, and Powerball 4. The lucky Bay Stater snapped a streak of 20 jackpot-less Powerball draws. There were also some lesser winners — two tickets sold in Florida matched the first five numbers, earning $1 million apiece, while four people won $200,000 and 24 players won $50,000. Powerball tickets — sold in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — cost $2, and the odds of winning the jackpot were about 1 in 292.2 million. The winner can take a lump sum of $480.5 million or opt for 30 payments over 29 years. Most winners choose the cash payout. Peter Weber

1:37 a.m. ET

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) declared a pre-emptive state of disaster for 30 counties and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) set up a crisis task force to prepare for Tropical Storm Harvey, expected to make landfall in Texas on Friday night or Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. The National Weather Service and state and local officials are especially worried about Harvey because it is slow-moving and expected to dump 10-15 inches of rain or more on Houston and surrounding areas over the weekend as it crawls northeastward. The National Weather Service issued its first-ever storm surge watch for Calhoun County, Texas, some 150 miles southwest of Houston, meaning that water could rise 4 to 6 feet above ground.

Harvey "could become the first major natural disaster of the Trump presidency," warns Eric Holthaus at Grist. "This is the kind of storm you drop everything to pay attention to." It has already been a wet August for the Texas Gulf Coast, and so the ground is saturated and primed to flood, while Houston is especially vulnerable to devastating floods because of poor city planning and lots of pavement, he notes, and the worst models have 20 to 40 inches of rain dumping on parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Then there's the warming climate, Holthaus says:

Floods like the one in the worst Harvey forecasts have come at an increasingly frequent pace. Since the 1950s, the Houston area has seen a 167 percent increase in heavy downpours. At least four rainstorms so severe they would occur only once in 100 years under normal conditions have hit the area since May 2015. With a warmer climate comes faster evaporation and a greater capacity for thunderstorms to produce epic deluges. ... If Harvey's rains hit the coast with anywhere near the force of the most alarming predictions, we'd be in for disaster. And judging by how New Orleans and Houston have handled recent rains, coupled with the state of federal disaster relief, we're not ready for it. [Grist]

You can read more about Harvey's dangers as Grist. Peter Weber

1:34 a.m. ET

For their first wedding anniversary, Susan Landis gave her husband, Sam, a gift that changed his life: A DNA kit that connected him to the family he'd spent decades wondering about.

Sam Landis was adopted in 1974 by a couple in Cincinnati. He was six months old at the time, and because it was a closed adoption, he was never able to find any of his biological relatives. After Susan gave him the DNA kit, they waited for the results and ultimately connected with a cousin, leading Landis to his birth father, Greg Baker. "I don't have any regrets and I know he doesn't either, and the time was just right for us to meet," Landis told WLWT. "It was God's timing."

Landis and his wife flew to Orlando, where they met Baker, his mother, and his wife; Landis also found out that his birth mother died in 1997 and that he has a half-sister. "When I saw him and he looked just like me, there's no doubt," he said. "A DNA test wasn't even needed. I can't even explain the joy that I felt and then when I got to hold him and hug him. I felt that we belonged together." Baker told WLWT he always wanted to search for his son, but respected the fact it was a closed adoption. "I always thought about him, always prayed for him," he said. Catherine Garcia

12:21 a.m. ET

They didn't speak the same language, but it didn't matter — two young baseball players at the Little League World Series used technology to communicate.

Former ESPN anchor Bob Holtzman was at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Sunday when he stumbled upon a familiar scene: Two boys glued to their phones. But it turned out they weren't focusing on a game or surfing the internet — the players, one from South Dakota and the other from the Dominican Republic, were using Google Translate to talk to each another. Holtzman tweeted that watching these kids form a new friendship was the "coolest thing" he saw that day. Catherine Garcia

12:03 a.m. ET

One of the peculiarities of baseball is that in some of the most memorable games, very little happens. So it was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill pitched eight perfect innings, until Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer got to base on an error in the bottom of the ninth. Hill still had a no-hitter when the 0-0 game went into extra innings, and then Josh Harrison stepped up to plate in the bottom of the 10th.

Harrison's leadoff homer ended the game and Hill's (9-5) no-hitter, giving Pittsburgh the win and Hill the loss.

According to ESPN's statisticians, Hill still walked away with a record of sorts, albeit one he probably didn't want.

The last perfect game — where a pitcher doesn't allow any runner to reach base — in the major leagues was in 2012, when Seattle's Felix Hernandez shut out Tampa Bay. Los Angeles could have retired Hill after nine innings, but according to The Associated Press, "to get official credit for a no-hitter under Major League Baseball rules, a pitcher must complete the game — going nine innings isn't enough if it goes into extras." Still, cold comfort though it may be, Hill isn't alone in coming close and losing it all, AP notes: "Back in 1959, a Pirates pitcher had perhaps the most famous near-miss of all when Harvey Haddix lost his perfect game and the game itself in the 13th at Milwaukee." Peter Weber

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