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While You Were Sleeping 

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Eating organic food doesn’t mean you’re not eating corporate food. Many of the country’s largest food corporations are behind popular organic brands. Kraft, the number one food processor in the country, produces Boca Foods (makers of Boca Burgers) and Back to Nature. Odwalla juice is produced by Coca-Cola. Heinz, the 27th-largest food company, produces the most organic foods, including Earth’s Best, Tofutown, and Health Valley brands.

A study published in the April issue of Science found that the closest living relatives of the Tyrannosaurus rex are modern birds. T. Rexes are more closely related to ostriches and chickens than living reptiles.

Cott Corp., maker of private-label sodas, is bringing the health and wellness craze to canines, producing a line of vitamin-infused beverages for dogs. The company does have some competition with retailer Pet Smart, which is producing a nutrition tablet that can be added to dog water. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association expects Americans to spend about $43.4 billion on their pets in 2008.

In a six-to-three vote, the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law on April 28. Indiana’s Democratic Party and community groups had sued the state, claiming the law placed thousands of eligible voters who did not have driver’s licenses at a disadvantage. “The onus of the Indiana law is illegitimate just because it correlates with no state interest so well as it does with the object of deterring poorer residents from exercising the franchise,” wrote Justice David H. Souter in a dissenting opinion. Many voting experts believe the law will lead to more litigation, legislation, and complications.

Fifty American service members were killed in Iraq in April, a seven-month high. The Iraqi government reported that civilian casualties reached a high of 969 that month. Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group says the increase in the number of deaths is due to fighting between Shiite militiamen and US forces in Sadr City. Violence has been steadily increasing since January, according to US military figures.

Members of the House of Representatives can lease a car at taxpayers’ expense. With few restrictions on what kind of cars members can choose, there is no limit on how much they can spend. Gas, insurance, general maintenance, registration fees, and excess mileage all get paid for by taxpayers. About 125 members of the House take advantage of this benefit, which has been in place since the 1980s. The Senate does not allow its members to lease cars with public money.

One in five vehicles sold in the US was a compact or subcompact car during the month of April. Sales of pick up trucks, sport utility vehicles, and vehicles with six-cylinder engines have sharply declined.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved 2,370 warrants to spy on suspected terrorists last year. The figure is a nine-percent increase from 2006. A recent study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that the number of terrorism and national security prosecutions initiated by the Justice Department in 2007 was more than 50 percent below 2002 levels.

Black men are nearly 12 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The report, as well as one done by the Sentencing Project in Washington, shows that there was an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, which could be linked to the disproportionate rates.

Sources: Good Magazine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times


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Tuesdays, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24 — Middle Schoolers! Have you always dreamed of writing a novel? National Novel...

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