PND News

Obama signs order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors

July 21, 2014
posted by

Los Angeles Times    

"President Obama signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees and prohibiting discrimination against federal workers who identify as transgender. ... Obama's two-part directive will amend an existing executive order that was issued by President Johnson in 1965 preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The new order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to this list." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mbwtzqx  

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Economy’s fate could be set by next two weeks’ earnings

July 21, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"A long hoped for improvement in the economy appears to be manifesting itself in second-quarter U.S. earnings, but the next two weeks could be the real test. Companies such as General Electric Co and Intel Corp have reported solid results. In addition, GE believes now is a ripe moment to spin off its private label credit card division in the hopes growing consumer demand will make it more attractive. Intel declared that personal computer sales have stabilized, while it forecast third-quarter revenue above Wall Street's expectations." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k7k5o7n  

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Iran nuclear talks: Comprehensive deal still on the table?

July 21, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"Though diplomats from Iran and six world powers are talking up the 'substantial progress' that led to an extension of nuclear talks until November, crucial differences still threaten a final deal to ensure Iran can never produce a bomb. And it is not clear yet if the gap can be bridged over the scale of Iran’s future uranium enrichment given the insistence by both Washington and Tehran that the other side must make 'hard choices' to clinch a deal. Across Iran’s political spectrum there is wide support for the nuclear program -- and for a comprehensive nuclear deal that removes sanctions from its struggling economy." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q3l4pk7  

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Hot mic catches Kerry slamming Israel’s Gaza operation

July 21, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"Secretary of State John Kerry had an awkward exchange Sunday morning when Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace confronted him with an 'extraordinary' hot mic moment apparently discussing ongoing conflict in Gaza. 'While you were on camera and while you were on microphone, you just spoke to one of your top aides in between the interviews about the situation in Israel and the fact that 14 Israelis have either been shot or killed in an operation. We want to play a clip of that conversation because it's an extraordinary moment of diplomacy,' Wallace said." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ozv8m6t  

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NY: Gun range in business for 73 years forced to close

July 21, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"A New York gun range has been forced to close its doors after more than 70 years in business, following a bitter dispute with its neighbors over noise and safety issues. The Westchester Police Revolver and Rifle League, in Greenburgh, a nonprofit open-air range dating to the 1940s, was targeted by neighbors who wanted the facility closed, CBS New York reported. The fight between the range, which is nestled into an old rock quarry, and local residents moved from the neighborhood to town hall last week, when both sides had their say on the matter." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oae3xf8  

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NYC pain doc convicted of manslaughter for illegal prescriptions

July 21, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"A New York City pain management doctor was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and other charges for selling narcotics prescriptions to 20 patients, including two who fatally overdosed. A jury in Manhattan Supreme Court found Stan Li, 60, guilty on nearly 200 criminal counts, including manslaughter, grand larceny and drug trafficking, the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, said in a statement. Authorities in November 2011 arrested Li, who worked as a physician in New Jersey and ran a weekend pain clinic in Queens, following a three-and-a-half-year investigation sparked by complaints about his prescribing practices by his patients’ families and the community." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p3ycbf7  

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Feds move to reduce sentences of 46,000 drug war prisoners

July 20, 2014
posted by

Los Angeles Times    

"The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Friday to slash the sentences of 46,000 inmates serving time for drug offenses, the latest move by federal officials to ease decades-old policies that have clogged the nation's prisons. If the decision is not blocked by Congress, nearly half of federal prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes will be eligible for sentence reductions averaging more than two years. It would take effect Nov. 1, 2015." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ol7mqlh  

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IL: Quinn OKs cannabis use for kids with epilepsy

July 20, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"Minors with epilepsy would be allowed to use medical marijuana under a measure Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Sunday. The measure adds seizures to the list of treatable conditions in the state's medical cannabis program and allows children with seizures from epilepsy to consume oil from the marijuana plant with a parent's consent. It was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Iris Martinez of Chicago and Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, and passed the Legislature in the spring. The original medical marijuana law had allowed only Illinois residents 18 years and older to use the drug in a four-year pilot program." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkb2b26  

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FL: Jury hits tobacco company RJ Reynolds with $23 billion verdict

July 20, 2014
posted by

USA Today    

"A Florida jury has returned one of the largest verdicts ever against a tobacco company. The jury in the case Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sided Friday night with Robinson, the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, to award her more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages. ... Reynolds'[s] vice president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, called the damages in Robinson's case 'grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.'" (07/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nl32nu4  

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AZ: Federal appeals court halts scheduled state killing

July 20, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"A U.S. appeals court on Saturday ordered the scheduled execution of an Arizona man condemned for killing of his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989 be put on hold until the state provides more details about the lethal injection procedure he faces. Joseph Wood, 55, had been slated to be put to death on Wednesday at the state prison complex in Florence, about 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Phoenix. But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the death row inmate was entitled to more information about the drugs that will be used to end his life and the qualifications of the executioners." (07/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l5awfk3  

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US Senate votes to extend terrorism insurance backstop

July 18, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to reauthorize a federal terrorism risk insurance program that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senators voted 93-4 in favor of a bill that gives the federal insurance backstop seven more years. Businesses, owners of sports stadiums and other groups that insure against the risk of terrorist acts have urged lawmakers to renew the program before it expires at the end of the year." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/la4max7  

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US House votes to “allow” marijuana-related banking

July 18, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"The House voted Wednesday in support of making it easier for banks to do business with legal pot shops and providers of medical marijuana. The 236-186 vote rejected a move by Rep. John Fleming [R-LA] to block the Treasury Department from implementing guidance it issued in February telling banks how to report on their dealings with marijuana-related businesses without running afoul of federal money-laundering laws. Marijuana dealing is still against federal law, so banks who do business with marijuana dispensaries could be accused of helping them launder their money. Federal money laundering convictions can mean decades in prison. The Treasury guidance was intended to give banks confidence that they can deal with marijuana businesses in states where they're legal. Many banks are still reluctant to do so." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mmmq6go  

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MA: State moves on abortion clinic bill

July 18, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"Massachusetts lawmakers are moving quickly on new legislation to protect access to abortion clinics in the wake of the US Supreme Court striking down the state’s 35-foot buffer zones. If the bill passes, only time will tell whether it can survive another free speech challenge. But advocates for abortion rights say it’s responsive to the McCullen v. Coakley decision and could even become a model for other states. The bill allows police to order individuals to withdraw if they substantially impede access to a reproductive healthcare facility. Those individuals would have to stay outside a 25-foot boundary for a maximum of eight hours." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lwaprda  

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Canada: Senator faces fraud charges

July 18, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"Canadian authorities have laid 31 charges including bribery and fraud against a senator, the latest turn in an ongoing housing expenses scandal. Senator Mike Duffy is accused of misusing funds from consulting contracts and accepting a payment from an aide to PM Stephen Harper. He was suspended from the Conservative caucus last fall. Authorities say he improperly claimed expenses related to a home in Ottawa, where the Senate sits. The charges include fraud, breach of trust, bribery of a judicial official and frauds on the government." [editor's note: I know, this happens in the U.S. Congress so often it is no longer news - SAT] (07/17/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28355091  

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NY: Transit strike averted, tentative deal reached

July 17, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"A threatened strike on New York's Long Island Rail Road was averted on Thursday when the transit authority and labor unions reached a tentative contract agreement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. 'It is my pleasure to announce today that we have settled a four-year dispute,' Cuomo said at a news conference, flanked by leaders from the eight unions representing about 5,400 workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the region's public transit. " (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kxzn652  

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CA: Despite drought, some homeowners warned about “brown lawns”

July 17, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"Some homeowners following the state's new drought-conscious motto that brown is the new green are being warned by local governments that they could be slapped with fines because of those dried up lawns. In an attempt to get Californians to take the drought seriously, the state water board voted this week for mandatory outdoor watering restrictions that carry the threat of $500 fines. 'Having a dirty car and a brown lawn should be a badge of honor because it shows you care about your community,' said Felicia Marcus, the board's chairwoman." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m5zqbcc  

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FL: Judge rules against marriage apartheid in Keys; anti-family pols to appeal

July 17, 2014
posted by

USA Today    

"A judge in the Florida Keys overturned the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday after a legal challenge by gay couples said it effectively made them second-class citizens. The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. ... Attorney General Pam Bondi and ban supporters argued that the referendum vote should be respected and that Florida [is not subject to the US Constitution's 'full faith and credit' and 'equal protection' clauses]." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lsuofc8  

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Sweden: Court upholds Assange arrest warrant

July 17, 2014
posted by

Wikileaks Ars Technica    

"A Swedish judge has upheld the arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. ... The Australian remains wanted in Sweden for questioning relating to alleged sex offenses dating back to 2010—however, Assange has not yet been formally charged with a crime. ... Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012. ... He refuses to go to Sweden over fears that he will be extradited to the United States to face further potential charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified material." ()7/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q7kboku  

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Giant hole in Siberia: UFOs, meteors … or “climate change”?

July 17, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"A mysterious giant hole has appeared in northern Siberia, prompting wild speculation about meteors, UFOs, and underground cities. The likely explanation is less supernatural, scientists say, but no less extraordinary. The Siberian Times reported the hole (more than 260 feet across and of unknown depth) was spotted from helicopters flying over the gas-rich Yamal Peninsula. A team of Russian scientists is on its way to investigate the crater, which is apparently large enough for several Mi-8 helicopters to fly into -- although none have." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/na4xrjn  

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Federal judge: California death penalty unconstitutional

July 17, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"A federal judge declared California's death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, saying delays of 25 years or more in deciding appeals and carrying out occasional executions have created an arbitrary and irrational system that serves no legitimate purpose. For most of the 748 current Death Row inmates, 'systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature cold ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death,' said U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of Santa Ana." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/no4fxmz  

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CA: Drought-hit state to fine water wasters

July 17, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"Officials in California have approved fines of up to $500 (£292) a day for residents who waste water, as the state faces its worst drought in nearly four decades. The measures have been introduced to stop water being wasted on lawns, landscaping and car washing. Water consumption rose by 1% in the year up to May, despite an appeal for people to make a 20% reduction. About 75% of water used in California is for agricultural purposes." (07/16/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28323539  

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Report: Military ramps up use of underwater drones

July 17, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"They can range from a svelte 100 pounds to several thousand. They can be snub-nosed, bullet shaped brutes that can dive six miles deep or buoyancy-propelled machines that can gracefully glide for several months at a time. And they can perform a myriad of tasks ranging from tracking pollution to mapping terrain for oil and gas exploration. They are autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), the aquatic answer to the airborne drones that track terrorists in Yemen and, if Amazon has its way, could be delivering DVDs and dog food to your back patio." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/muudob8  

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CDC chief pressured over “dangerous pattern” of lapses

July 16, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday faulted a 'dangerous pattern' of safety lapses at government laboratories handling deadly pathogens such as anthrax and avian flu, calling for an overhaul of controls at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Members of a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee cited new information on breaches previously unreported by CDC, which is under scrutiny for the potential exposure of more than 80 lab workers to live anthrax bacteria in June. No one has fallen sick due to the lapses." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mhkk56g  

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SC: Recruiting candy from KKK?

July 16, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"Some residents in northwestern South Carolina say they found bags of candy on their street containing a piece of paper asking them to join the Ku Klux Klan. Residents in an Oconee County subdivision found the bags Saturday night or Sunday morning. The paper said 'Save Our Land, Join the Klan.' It had a phone number that led to an automated message discussing KKK efforts against illegal immigration." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qce4gp9  

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TN: Memphis task force set to bust Uber & Lyft drivers

July 16, 2014
posted by

Ben Swann    

"The popular rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have been forced to do battle for the right to do business against overzealous bureaucrats and antiquated livery regulations in cities, counties, and states across the US. ... However, WREG-TV is reporting that Memphis city officials, responding to complaints by local taxi drivers, are focusing their energies on enforcing out-of-date livery regulations that were designed long before the innovative technology behind Uber and Lyft existed, rather than trimming regulations to fit with modern business models." (07/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n2zzv59  

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