While You Were Sleeping for November 2015 | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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While You Were Sleeping for November 2015 

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A US farm worker and a horticultural assistant have filed lawsuits claiming Monsanto's Roundup herbicide caused their cancers and Monsanto intentionally misled the public and regulators about the dangers of the herbicide. The lawsuits come six months after the World Health Organization's cancer research unit said it was classifying glyphosate, the active weed-killing ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, as "probably carcinogenic to humans." The lawsuits claim that Roundup was a "defective" product and "unreasonably dangerous" to consumers, and that Monsanto knew or should have known that glyphosate could cause cancer and other illnesses and injuries, failing to properly warn users of the risks.

Source: Reuters

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell in mid-October, matching the lowest level since 1973, strong evidence that employers remain confident enough in the economy to retain their staffs. Hiring has stumbled in the past two months, however, raising worries that employers have turned cautious about adding jobs. The US economy gained just 142,000 jobs in September and only 136,000 in August, below the average of nearly 229,000 in the previous 12 months. The economy is expected to expand just 1 percent to 1.5 percent in the third quarter, a sharp drop after 3.9 percent growth in the second quarter.

Source: New York Times

In early November, about 6,000 federal prison inmates are to receive early release due to changes implemented by the US Sentencing Commission. The early release program comes amid bipartisan support for changes to the criminal justice system, including reductions in the mandatory minimum sentences that land many offenders in jail for lengthy stints. Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. "

Source: Time Magazine

A debate team composed of three members of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that offers a collegiate experience to inmates at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch, won a debate against a team of students from Harvard University. The win follows a 2014 victory against the US Military Academy at West Point and another against the University of Vermont. The debate was organized as a means of demonstrating the value of offering educational opportunities to incarcerated men and women. While the national average for recidivism is around 68 percent, research indicates that the percentage falls to 22 percent when education is available. Fewer than 2 percent of Bard Prison Initiative students have returned to prison.

Source: Daily Kos

As a result of a drop in oil prices from slowing European and Chinese economies and a rise in alternative drilling techniques, Shell has abandoned its offshore drilling operations in Alaska. The decision has followed an industry trend of trimming costs while the worldwide demand of oil remains low. Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, explains, "When prices go down, the oil industry shortens their list of projects in development by removing the most expensive ones." Shell has released a statement acknowledging "the high costs associated with the project and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska." The president, Marvin E. Odum, said that although the withdrawal is a disappointment, the company still sees exploration potential. Environmentalists, such as the executive director of Greenpeace, Annie Leonard, considers Shell's departure to be a victory for sustaining the Arctic.

Source: New York Times

A new water-absorbent concrete may help cities hit hard by storms prevent flooding and save lives. Topmix Permeable, also known as "thirsty concrete," is a new pavement developed by Tarmac able to absorb 880 gallons of water per-minute, which allows water that would otherwise flood areas to be filtered and used for drinking, plumbing, or firefighting. In addition, Topmix Permeable could prevent car accidents on slick roads. Although Tarmac is the first company to create a surface strong enough for city streets, the system is unable to function in extreme cold because of the potential for water to freeze.

Source: Good Magazine

A study published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture found that, out of its 356 teenage subjects, 12 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys were "compulsive texters." (According to figures published in 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, texting is the primary means of communication by teenagers.) A compulsive texter is described as exhibiting behaviors common to compulsive gamblers, including loss of sleep, problems cutting back, and lying to cover up time spent on his or her habit. The study found that these behaviors put the girls at a higher risk for doing poorly in school. Dr. Kelly M. Lister-Landman, the paper's lead author, hypothesized that these girls' texts may be causing a distraction due to their "emotionally laden" content. Though not involved in the recent study, Kimberly Young, founder of the Center for Internet Addiction, says, "I don't think texting is causing academic problems—I think it's an attention-span issue."

Source: New York Times

Following the deaths of 10 people at at the hands of a gunman at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, President Obama called on news organizations to compare data on the number of gun related deaths with deaths resulting from acts of terrorism. CNN presented information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that between 2004 and 2013 deaths caused by firearms (including homicide, suicide, and accidents) totaled 316,545, while domestic terrorism caused 36. NBC reported that between 2001 and 2013, the data from the CDC put the number of gun-related homicides at 153,144. Vox's report included September 11, 2001, which brought the total number of deaths from terrorism to 3,000. The Washington Post reported that there have been 9,948 gun-related deaths in 2015. President Obama urged Americans to evaluate these numbers and requested support in changing the country's gun laws. "Each time this happens I'm going to bring this up," said Obama. "Each time this happens I'm going to say that we can actually do something about it but we're going to have to change our laws and this is not something I can do by myself."

Source: Good

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