Biden Backs Gaza Ceasefire, Supreme Court To Hear Abortion Case, DHS Capitol Riot Failures

Published May 18, 2021 at 8:00 AM EDT
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a six-story building which was destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes on what it said were militant targets in Gaza, leveling a six-story building in downtown Gaza City, and Palestinian militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel early Tuesday, the latest in the fourth war between the two sides, now in its second week. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Khalil Hamra/AP
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a six-story building which was destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Good morning.

Here are the major stories we're following for you on Morning Edition. Rachel Treisman, Emily Alfin Johnson and William Jones are leading our coverage.

  • President Biden backed a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a phone call with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But the fighting continues, with Israel carrying out another round of strikes on targets in Gaza this morning and Hamas firing dozens of rockets into Israel, according to the Israeli military
  • The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging Mississippi’s bans on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If the majority-conservative court, upholds the law, there’s no reason why other states couldn’t pass similar abortion restrictions.
  • A report obtained by NPR finds that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis didn’t offer a threat assessment ahead of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. There were warnings from intelligence agencies and social media, but the office didn't analyze them. .

🎧 Catch up while you get ready, listen to today's Up First


Meet The Man Who Sounded The Alarm On the AIDS Epidemic

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40 years ago today Dr. Lawrence Mass published an article in a paper called the New York Native. The headline was “Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded.”

At the time gay men were just starting to show up in hospitals with a mysterious illness that seemed to be a result of compromised immune systems. That illness would become to be known as AIDS.

Some months back I had the opportunity to work on an interview about a television show about the AIDS crisis called It’s a Sin. After that interview aired, I still found myself thinking about what it must’ve been like to be a newly-out gay man as such a devastating disease took hold. That’s when I first came across Dr. Mass.

MASS - Larry Mass and Vito Russo 40th birthdays 1986.jpg
Dr. Lawrence Mass
Dr. Mass and gay activist and author Vito Russo, who died of AIDS in 1990

Mass was a co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis with legendary AIDS activist Larry Kramer. I was surprised to see that his contributions were nowhere near as widely known as Kramer's. Mass had not only been an early pioneer in fighting anti-gay stigma in Psychiatry but he made history by writing the first news report about AIDS in a U.S. publication.

I wanted to find out more about how Dr. Mass got the lead on that story four decades ago. So we connected with him recently and he remembers getting a call from a friend who worked in an emergency room.

She was very concerned and she said there's gay men in New York City, intensive care units.
Dr. Lawrence Mass

Dr. Mass wrote the piece and it was published well before anyone knew what was causing the disease that disproportionately impacted gay men.

It took three years from then for the origins of AIDS to be discovered. During that time, denialism of its origins mushroomed among some people in the medical field and some government leaders.

Michael Spector is a reporter for the New Yorker and he’s covered the global AIDS epidemic for years. He believes the impact of this particular denialism is profound.

I think the legacy of AIDS denialism is that it raised doubts in a lot of people's minds about whether the consensus that had been arrived at by 99.6% of all scientists was necessarily something they had to listen to.
Michael Spector, New Yorker Reporter

I wanted to examine how this denialism came to be and how it’s carried over into the mistrust of science today. You can hear my reporting with Noel King on today’s Morning Edition.