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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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DEA settles suit alleging government lie-detector abuses

DEA settles lie detector law suitThe Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay 14 contractors $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that accuses the agency of illegally requiring them to undergo highly intrusive lie detector tests to keep their jobs as translators.

The settlement appears to be the first time that a federal government agency has settled allegations involving contractors’ lie detector tests since a 1988 law banned the use of polygraph screening for most private employees, said a lawyer for the group.

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Strong earthquake of 6.4 magnitude hits Mexico

Mexico earthquakeAn earthquake of 6.4 magnitude has shaken parts of Mexico, causing buildings to sway in the capital.

The US Geological Survey said it was centred near the town of Tecpan de Galeana in southern Guerrero state, about 190 miles (300km) south-west of Mexico City.

It was also felt in the resort city of Acapulco, the Associated Press says. There are no reports of any damage or injuries but frightened office workers ran into the streets in the capital.
Tremors

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White House to provide lawmakers access to drone memo authorizing killing of American

David BarronThe White House pledged Tuesday to give lawmakers expanded access to memos on the legality of killing American citizens in drone strikes, a concession aimed at heading off Senate opposition to a judicial nominee involved in drafting those secret documents.

The move was designed to salvage the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st District and address growing frustration among lawmakers over the secrecy that continues to surround the administration’s counterterrorism operations a year after President Obama vowed greater transparency.

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The Next Frontier In The GOP War Over Science

National science foundationThe Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.

Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014," the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can't be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.

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Emails reveal close Google relationship with NSA

GoogleEmail exchanges between National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt suggest a far cozier working relationship between some tech firms and the U.S. government than was implied by Silicon Valley brass after last year’s revelations about NSA spying.

Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s vast capability for spying on Americans’ electronic communications prompted a number of tech executives whose firms cooperated with the government to insist they had done so only when compelled by a court of law.

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New Report Documents Chemical Disasters and Environmental Injustice in the U.S.

Chemical toxicity studyAmericans who face the greatest threat from potential toxic chemical disasters are predominantly from low income and minority communities, a new report released by the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance asserts.

In a first-of-its-kind study, the report, Who’s in Danger? A Demographic Analysis of Chemical Disaster Vulnerability Zones, documents the high-risk factors of living within the vicinity of chemical facilities—including water and wastewater treatment facilities, power plants, bleach production facilities, petroleum refineries and paper mills. The report dubs these hotspots “vulnerability zones,” or “fenceline zones.”

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Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden

SnowdenThe US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

“It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.”

Snowden made his comments in a short video that was played before a debate on the proposition that surveillance today is a euphemism for mass surveillance, in Toronto, Canada. The former US National Security Agency contractor is living in Russia, having been granted temporary asylum there in June 2013.

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