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Monday, Jul 28th

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Exposing Monsanto: Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects - the Vitamin A Connection

MonsantoMonsanto's herbicide Roundup, with glyphosate as the primary ingredient, has recently been linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic ravaging parts of Central America, India and Sri Lanka. A leading theory hypothesizes that complexes of glyphosate and heavy metals poison the kidney tubules.

El Salvador and Sri Lanka have adopted the precautionary principle and taken action to ban the herbicide. In the United States, glyphosate is coming up for review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 2014. Monsanto claims a low risk to human health, but the research is showing something very different. Will these health concerns be enough for the EPA to put restrictions on the herbicide - or to ban it altogether?

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Obama to 'unlock' cellphone rights: How free will you be?

lockinh cellphoneA bill passed by Congress and waiting to be signed by President Obama represents a big win for consumers, who have long sought ability to "unlock" cellphones – allowing them to be used on any carrier's plan. But it does not mark the end of the battle and could be only a temporary victory.

The issue may seem obvious on its face: If consumers buy phones, why should a telecom giant be able to tell them how to use it? But the Library of Congress backed the patent office in 2012, saying that most unlocking amounted to illegal tampering according to US copyright law.

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Appeals Court Strikes Down Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

Virginia gay marriageThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled Monday that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The 2-1 ruling upheld a previous decision issued earlier this year by a Virginia district court, which struck down the state's ban on gay marriages.

"Virginia has failed to advance a compelling state interest justifying its definition of marriage as between only a man and a woman," reads the ruling. "Virginia's laws declining to recognize same-sex marriage infringe the fundamental right to marriage and are therefore unconstitutional."

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Palestinians Say Strikes Hit Gaza Hospital, Park

Gaza hospital hitThe Gaza police operations room and a Palestinian health official say separate Israeli airstrikes hit the compound of Gaza City's main hospital and a nearby park, causing casualties.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Camera crews were prevented from filming the area of impact at Shifa Hospital. Health official Ayman Sahabani says several people were wounded in the strikes.

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UK to accept bids for oil and gas exploration after fracking caused earthquakes

UK to allow frackingThe British government said Monday that energy companies will be able to bid for licenses to explore onshore oil and gas, a move aimed at speeding up shale exploration.

The move comes three years after the shale drilling process caused seismic tremors, which led the government to suspend operations.

Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said shale gas has the potential to increase the country's energy supply but stressed national parks will be protected.

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Immunity lets bad judges off hook for bad behavior

bad judges immune from lawsuitsWade McCree Jr. lost his job, but he won't lose his shirt.

The disgraced judge — who once texted a shirtless photo of himself to a female court bailiff — had an affair with a woman while overseeing her child custody case, had sex with her in his chambers and sexted her from the bench.

But he can't be sued for money damages over any of that because judges are immune from civil lawsuits — a well-established doctrine that has many in the legal profession demanding change, arguing the McCree case highlights a pervasive problem in the justice system: judges getting away with bad behavior on immunity grounds.

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House, Senate appear to have deal on VA care

Vet bill passes CongressTop lawmakers appear to have reached a deal on a bipartisan bill that would allow veterans to seek private care if they face long wait lines at Veterans Affairs' facilities.

An aide close to the negotiations said the compromise addresses both the short- and long-term needs of VA. The aide sought anonymity so as not to pre-empt a formal announcement panned for Monday afternoon.

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U.N. Security Council calls for 'immediate and unconditional' Mideast cease-fire

UN calls for cease fireFollowing an emergency midnight session, the United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement early Monday calling for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in order for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza.

Rwanda's Ambassador to the U.N. and current UNSC President Eugene Richard Gassan posted on Twitter that the 15-member Council:

-- "expresses grave concern regarding deterioration in situation as a result of crisis related to Gaza and loss of civilians and casualties;

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Coal-exporting town of Norfolk, Va. fights rising seas

Norfolk rising seaNorfolk is trapped between the causes and consequences of global warming.

The region exports more coal — and the heat-trapping pollution that comes with it — than any place in the U.S. At the same time, Norfolk is already experiencing one of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the country.

Flood walls protect downtown from rising waters. Residents raise houses to escape floods. Yet an endless procession of trains filled with Appalachian coal rumbles into Norfolk every year. They're bound for ships that will take the coal to foreign power plants and factories to be burned.

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