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  • U.S. Abortion Rights Reaffirmed as Supreme Court Calls Texas Clinic Closings Illegal

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    Monday’s 5-3 ruling, striking down strict regulations on Texas abortion clinic, is the court’s most significant abortion ruling in more than 20 years and likely to reverberate well beyond the state’s borders. Justice Breyer rejected arguments that the Texas law was needed to safeguard women, saying the state had “no significant health-related [abortion] problem for the new law to cure.” He added that states may not unduly burden the ability of women to exercise their rights under Roe.   read more
  • Lawsuit against U.S. Health Agency Alleges Religious Charities it Funds Deny Health Options to Raped Refugee Girls

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    Religious charities get millions of dollars of federal money to detain young, unaccompanied immigrants but deny them health services even if they have been raped, and punish them for asking for reproductive health care, claims the ACLU. The lawsuit tells of four young pregnant women, two of whom were raped on their journey to the U.S.. They were unable to get contraception or abortion through their detainers and had to be transferred to different states, away from the few friends they had.   read more
  • Should Prices of Low-Cost Vaccines Be Raised to Prevent Shortages?

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    A $30,000 price tag for cancer drug therapy that extends life only a few weeks is understandably alarming. But a $2,000 price tag for all childhood vaccines — credited with eradicating smallpox, preventing a million or more cases of other diseases and averting thousands of deaths each year — is a bargain. In fact, the price of childhood vaccines may be too low for our own good because it contributes to shortages.   read more
  • Judge Behind Louisiana “Debtor’s Prison” Agrees to 75-Day Break from Harsh Rulings against Poor Defendants

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    The organization filed a lawsuit accusing Black of sending poor defendants to jail when they can't pay fines and charging them a questionable "extension fee" to avoid jail time. It's the latest of a series of legal challenges across the country to a system that opponents say criminalizes being poor. For the next 75 days, the judge has agreed to stop charging the $50 extension fee the group had objected to as well as some other fees and to stop jailing people who can't pay fines and fees.   read more
  • Syrian Refugee Welcomed to Germany Finds $166,000 in Cupboard and Turns it in to Police

    Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    — Police in the German town of Minden say a 25-year-old man who arrived last year as a refugee is their "hero of the day" after he found some 150,000 euros ($166,095) — and handed it to authorities. The unidentified Syrian man discovered the money in a cupboard he had been given by a charitable organization.   read more
  • C.I.A. Weapons used to Kill Americans in Jordan

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades. The theft and resale of the arms have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. A disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals.   read more
  • Central American Refugees’ Lives Put at Risk by U.S.-Financed Program for their Interception and Deportation by Mexico

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    Obama and Peña Nieto have cooperated to intercept desperate Central American refugees in Mexico before they can reach the U.S. border. These refugees are then typically deported to their home countries — which can be a death sentence. In effect, we have pressured and bribed Mexico to do our dirty work, detaining and deporting people fleeing gangs in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This solved a political crisis that Obama faced, but it betrays some of the world’s most vulnerable people.   read more
  • Agriculture Dept. Broke the Law by Discreetly Allowing Organic Farmers to Use Compost with Synthetic Chemicals

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    Environmental groups accused the USDA of violating the law by issuing a rule change to its organic standard that allowed organic farmers to use compost with synthetic chemicals without notifying the public. Before the rule change was issued, national organic food regulations banned synthetic substances in compost unless they were on an approved list. "It was more than a slap on the wrist to have [it] remanded," said CFS's Van Saun. "Now it remains to be seen what USDA will do with this."   read more
  • Are College SAT Tests Gender-Biased Against Females?

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    The concerns are fueling a debate in the industry over whether the test items were sufficiently vetted for gender bias, and whether the exam was unfair to female students. The two item posed what some test-prep experts considered a textbook example of “stereotype threat.” When people are reminded during a test of a negative stereotype about their race or sex, psychologists say, it creates a kind of test anxiety that leads them to underperform.   read more
  • Pentagon to Lift Ban on Transgender People in Military

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016
    Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called the regulation outdated and harmful to the military. A year ago, he directed officials from all the military branches to determine what changes would be needed to lift the ban. A study found that letting transgender members openly serve would cost little and would have no significant impact on unit readiness. It estimated that 2,450 active-duty members of the military were transgender.   read more
  • Another Federal Judge Urges an End to America’s “Madness of Mass Incarceration”

    Monday, June 27, 2016
    “Why this love affair in this country with lengthy incarceration, to our great embarrassment as a civilized nation?” he asked. He confessed to wanting to “scream out in frustration, sadness and anger” at being forced by Congress to impose mandatory sentences on many defendants. He said most criminals are “not evil incarnate” but rather act out of “weakness, need, sometimes desperation. So many...are without schooling, skills, hope or direction, and no term of years is going to change that.”   read more
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban, Not Terrorists, Are Now Main Target of Heavy U.S. Drone Strikes

    Monday, June 27, 2016
    The investigation revealed that more than 200 strikes, most by drones, have been conducted to defend ground forces battling a rising insurgency, despite the fact that combat missions came to an end in 2014. These strikes represent more than 60% of all US airstrikes in the country. This suggests the US has been drawn quietly yet significantly into fighting the Taliban-led insurgency. Washington has appeared to make its airwar against the Taliban official by relaxing its rules in Afghanistan.   read more
  • Supreme Court Affirms Race as Factor in College Admissions

    Monday, June 27, 2016
    What was encouraging about the court decision, experts said, was that in affirming the value of diversity, the court recognized there was not one, immutable way of defining and achieving it. “I think today’s decision is about deference,"said ACE VP Peter McDonough. "It’s not about dictating. I think it’s about the continuing recognition that our country’s campuses are laboratories for experimentation and that the formula for diversity does remain elusive. It changes over time.”   read more
  • GMO Food Labeling Advocates Attack Bipartisan Senate Deal on Industry-Backed Labeling Rules

    Monday, June 27, 2016
    The industry lobbying group is backing the senators' deal. It opposes mandatory labeling but advocates for electronic labels. Labeling advocates frown on digital labels, saying they discriminate against those without smartphones or computers. "This proposal falls short of what consumers rightly expect — a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package," said Hirshberg. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he'd do "everything I can" to defeat it. "People have a right to know what is in the food they eat."   read more
  • Call for Scrutiny of Federal Pain Advisory Panel’s Ties to Big Pharma

    Monday, June 27, 2016
    "I'm going to continue to demand accountability to ensure the manufacturers of these powerful prescription drugs aren't having an undue influence on policies designed to reduce their usage," said Wyden. Two panelists work for a non-profit which receives funding from drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue, which donated $100,000 to the organization in 2013. One panelist holds a chair at the center and the other received more than $8,660 in fees and accomodations from pain drugmakers.   read more
  • When Profit-Making takes over Emergency Services, Tragedy can Follow

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long that one worker took a cigarette break. A man watched a fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he didn't pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered. This approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.   read more
  • New York Appeals Court Calls for End to Police Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Two New York City police unions failed to convince a state appellate court that a law prohibiting controversial stop-and-frisk tactics is at odds with longstanding criminal procedure rules. A law prohibited law enforcement officers from engaging in racial or ethnic profiling — i.e. basing police action on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Yet the law didn't provide any enforcement mechanism, like a cause of action against individual officers.   read more
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