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Monday, Apr 27th

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Fracking: Texas bill limiting bans on energy companies moves forward

Fracking bill in TexasA bill supported by energy companies that prevents cities and counties from banning the practice of fracking on their land has been passed by the first tier of state legislators in Texas and is on course to become law.

The proposed law would stop municipalities and other local authorities from enacting their own bans on the practice of hydraulic fracturing and drilling for crude oil and natural gas. The state would have the power to override any such efforts and give gas and oil companies the access they desire to extract resources, against the wishes of voters and politicians at local level if necessary.

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US soldiers banned from bars, clubs in Philippines

US troops banned Filipino barsThe U.S. Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial underway of a U.S. Marine accused of killing a transgender Filipina he met in a bar.

Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were set to kick off 10 days of annual joint military exercises Monday, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the U.S. forces.  But there will be strict controls on their free time.

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Portland torn over $500m terminal: could fracking creep into a 'green' city?

Portland frackingPortland’s claim to lead US cities in combating climate change is under threat from plans to build a $500m terminal to export gas pumped from fracking in Canada.

Amid fears that Portland’s progressive, environmentally conscious image could be badly dented, the city is divided over whether exporting natural gas is part of the problem or the solution, in reducing carbon emissions.

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World Bank Projects Leave Trail of Misery Around Globe

World Bank leaves trail of destructionIn developing countries around the globe, forest dwellers, poor villagers and other vulnerable populations claim the World Bank — the planet’s oldest and most powerful development lender — has left a trail of misery.

Dams, power plants, conservation programs and other projects sponsored by the World Bank have pushed millions of people out of their homes or off their lands or threatened their livelihoods. In some cases, governments supported by World Bank money have arrested, beaten and even killed people who objected to being forced from their homes, according to interviews and official complaints.

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Skeptics suspicious of sudden Walmart closures, claims of plumbing issues

Walmart protestMultiple Walmart stores across the United States caught employees and customers off-guard this week when the massive retail chain abruptly shut down some of its stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers.

Customers and employees showed up to a location in Pico Rivera, Calif. on Monday to find locked doors and a sign that read simply, "closed indefinitely." For the store's near 550 workers, it was quite a shock.

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Parting the brown sea: Sewage threatens Gaza's access to water

Gaza water hazardUntil very recently, Salameh Abu Kash earned his living as farmer. Abu Kash, a heavyset man with thick eyebrows and a clipped beard, lives in Wadi Gaza, a valley in the central Gaza Strip. The wetland here was known for its biodiversity, but after construction of a sewage treatment plant was delayed in 2011, excrement from nearby refugee camps and towns began to be diverted through the valley en route to the Mediterranean Sea.

“They brought sewage for us and for our children, and we can’t sleep anymore,” said Abu Kash in Arabic the following year. “Farming is ruined. The plants are diseased. There are flies, worms, and it is spreading.” Animals and birds were soon replaced by swamps of sewage, swarming flies and thriving bacteria. Residents began to suffer from an increase in allergies, inflammation, fevers and weakened immunity, Abu Kash said. Disease-ridden mosquitoes feasted on the community at night. The stench was overpowering.

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Afghan suicide bombing blamed on Islamic State kills 35

Afghan bombsA motorcycle-riding suicide bomber attacked a bank branch Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 35 people in a deadly attack the country's president said was claimed by the Islamic State group.

The attack marks a major escalation in the country's fight against an affiliate of the extremist group that now holds a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate. It also comes as Afghan security forces fight against the Taliban after U.S. and NATO forces ended their combat mission in the country at the start of the year, yet another challenge for the war-ravaged nation.

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Why The FDA Has Never Looked At Some Of The Additives In Our Food

food additivesCompanies have added thousands of ingredients to foods with little to no government oversight. That's thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law that allows them to deem an additive to be "generally recognized as safe" — or GRAS — without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing, or even its knowledge.

The loophole was originally intended to allow manufacturers of common ingredients like vinegar and table salt — when added to processed foods — to bypass the FDA's lengthy safety-review process. But over time, companies have found that it's far more efficient to take advantage of the exemption to get their products on shelves quickly.

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Alex Baer: Brainstorms, Lightning Rounds, Sparks, Shorts, and Mystery Melons

brain sparksIt's been a week now, and I'm starting to experiment with concepts a bit longer than "Guhh," "Yow!" and "Uhh, I'm sorry -- were we talking just now?"

A while ago, my brain decided to take out a loan on my leftover lung cancer account, slowly piddling itself away in administrative account fees, apparently, as approved by some corporate raider gene I never knew I had lurking in my genetic banking system. Those break-out, cancerous seed cells were used to find, and dam up, a slower-moving chunk of the real estate river and eddies in my head. Beaver-like, these cells were made into a cozy submarine-houseboat-lodge -- and jammed right against the part of my well-fatted head's control surfaces for my outer body's motor skills uses.

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