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  • Americans Wary of Future Science Designed to “Enhance” Human Species

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    A new survey shows a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. Pew asked about three techniques that might emerge in the future: using gene editing to protect babies from disease, implanting chips in the brain to improve people’s ability to think, and transfusing synthetic blood that would enhance performance by increasing speed, strength and endurance. The public was unenthusiastic on all counts, even about protecting babies from disease.   read more
  • Arkansas Secrecy Law Hinders Pfizer Effort to Curtail Use of Its Drug for State Executions

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    The sale of the vecuronium bromide by an unknown third party may show how difficult it could be for manufacturers to prevent such sales in states such as Arkansas that have execution secrecy laws. Reprieve's Maya Foa defended Pfizer and Hospira, saying no pharmaceutical company wants its drugs used in executions. In a bid to resume executions, the Republican-led Legislature passed the execution secrecy law last year. It requires the state to keep the details about its execution drugs secret.   read more
  • Labor Dept. Orders $1 Million Back Pay for Underpaid U.S. Senate Cafeteria Workers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "Workers in the restaurant industry are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy," said David Weil. "They shouldn't have to deal with paychecks that don't accurately reflect their hard work." Said Sen. Harry Reid: "The actions taken by Restaurant Associates are despicable and their contract should be terminated. The Senate must refuse to do business with any unscrupulous vendors who flout the law and put profits above the rights and economic security of their employees."   read more
  • As Nominee, Trump Employs Code Words to Fuel Racial Animosity, Say Observers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says 'we and us,' he's only talking about whites in the U.S.," said Sandoval. Some point out that Trump's slogan "America First" was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose goal was to keep the U.S. from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. They opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.   read more
  • Obama Vetoes Bill Limiting Ex-Presidents’ Allowance

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    Obama said he supports the bill's goal, but he sent the measure back to Congress because it would immediately end salaries and benefits to staffers carrying out the official duties of former presidents. He says the measure doesn't provide enough time for these employees to be moved to another payroll. Obama says the bill would also interfere with the Secret Service's ability to protect ex-presidents.   read more
  • FCC Puts U.S. Cell Phone Routing System in Hands of European Firm despite Security Warnings

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Intelligence officials have expressed concern that handing the contract to a foreign-owned company could leave the system more vulnerable to an attack. Evidence emerged several months ago that Telcordia had improperly used a number of foreign nationals, including a Chinese citizen, to do computer coding for early work on the system. Only “vetted U.S. citizens” were supposed to work on the project. As a result, the FCC forced the firm to scrap the work it had done and start over.   read more
  • EPA Targets Airplane Emissions

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    In February, the U.N. proposed new emissions standards for international flights that would require an average 4% reduction in fuel consumption during the cruising phase of flight. This was met with criticism from environmentalists who felt the standards did not go far enough. They have also debated findings from studies cited by the U.N. and the EPA, which state that aviation accounts for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Activists have argued that it's actually about 5%.   read more
  • Former Tennessee Dam Workers Claim Toxic Coal Ash Caused Illnesses

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    His vision grew dull, his head dizzy. Within months, he experienced a cough so persistent that it left him gasping for breath. By 2012, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung ailment. When he began coughing up blood, he suspected a connection to his work. Now, workers are stepping forward and filing lawsuits targeting specific ash sites. More than a half-dozen such cases have surfaced around the country in the past three years.   read more
  • Guantánamo Judge Accused of Secretly Allowing Destruction of CIA “Black Site” Prison Evidence

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Allegations of evidence destruction have swirled around the case since May. The defense team believes the government removed some fixtures from a room in the CIA prison used for torture, but did not entirely destroy the structure. The prosecution has offered photographs and diagrams as a substitute for the top secret evidence, the report said, noting that prosecutors have apparently not revealed the identity of the nation housing the prison to preserve foreign relations.   read more
  • Republican and Democratic Lawmakers Speak in Different Languages

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Perhaps what the researchers found is evidence of a technological advance in political communication, of both parties exerting more partisan discipline in keeping all their members using the same language. But even if it’s just communications strategy that’s driving the polarization of language, it still matters. In a world of complex challenges, it’s hard to come up with constructive solutions when the decision-makers can’t even agree on what words to use in talking about them.   read more
  • Payday Loan Regulation May Leave Some in the Lurch

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is poised to adopt strict new national rules that will curtail payday lending. These will limit the number of loans that can be taken in quick succession and will force companies to check that their borrowers have the means to repay them. But lenders — and even some consumer advocates who favor stronger regulation — are grappling with the uncomfortable question of what will happen to customers if a financial lifeline that they rely on is cut off.   read more
  • Illinois Puts Restrictions on Use of Cell Phone Trackers

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    A new Illinois law limits how police can use devices that cast a wide net in gathering cellphone data and are at the center of a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. The technology, a cell site simulator, is perhaps best known by the brand name Stingray. It gathers phone-usage data on targets of criminal investigations, but it also gathers data on other cellphones — hundreds or even thousands of them — in the area.   read more
  • Virginia Court Overrules Felons’ Restoration of Voting Rights

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    A divided Virginia Supreme Court on Friday set aside Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 felons, siding with the GOP lawmakers who argued the governor’s action was unconstitutional. In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Virginia ordered the state to cancel the registrations of the more than 11,000 felons who have signed up to vote since McAuliffe issued his executive order in April.   read more
  • Government Scientists Want Volunteers to Submit Genetic, Lifestyle Information

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    Government scientists are seeking 1 million volunteers willing to share the innermost secrets of their genes and daily lives as part of an ambitious 10-year research project to understand the causes and cures of disease. Those selected will be asked to provide a detailed medical history and blood samples so researchers can extract DNA. They will also be asked to report information about themselves — including their age, race, income, education, sexual orientation and gender identity.   read more
  • Federal Regulators Don’t Release Information on Many Health Provider Breaches

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    Thousands of times a year, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services resolves complaints about possible violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) quietly, outside public view. It sends letters reminding providers of their legal obligations, advising them on how to fix purported problems, and, sometimes, prodding them to make voluntary changes. Case closed.   read more
  • Pentagon Revises Rules on Dealing With Journalists

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    The Pentagon has revised its Law of War guidelines to remove wording that could permit U.S. military commanders to treat war correspondents as “unprivileged belligerents” if they think the journalists are sympathizing or cooperating with enemy forces. The amended manual, published on Friday, also drops wording that equated journalism with spying. These and other changes were made in response to complaints by news organizations.   read more
  • Guantánamo Defense Attorney Wants Tribunal Site Tested for Toxic Chemicals

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    A 9/11 defender told a military judge Thursday he can find no other example that mirrors the Guantánamo war court — an abandoned airfield tainted by fuel spills and toxic chemicals transformed into a court. “This is weird,” Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz, the senior defense attorney for suspected 9/11 plotter Walid bin Attash, said of his request for the court to fund a toxicology expert to determine if the court is safe to work in.   read more
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