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The Supreme Court on Monday allowed affirmative action to survive in college admissions but imposed a tough legal standard, ruling that schools must prove there are “no workable race-neutral alternatives” to achieve diversity on campus.
While the ruling was not a sweeping pronouncement on the future of affirmative action, it amounts to a warning to colleges nationwide that the courts will treat race-conscious admissions policies with a high degree of skepticism.
The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white woman who applied to the university in 2008 and was denied, and claimed that her constitutional rights and federal civil rights laws were violated.By a 7-1 vote, with one justice recusing herself, the court sent a case about the University of Texas admissions policy back to a federal appeals court for review, and directed the appeals court to apply an exacting legal standard known as strict scrutiny.
One of the Supreme Court's most anticipated cases of its current term — a challenge to the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions process — has ended with a ruling that does not revisit the fundamental issue of whether such programs discriminate against whites.
In a 7-1 ruling, the high court "vacated and remanded" an earlier decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which had upheld the university's program. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because when she was a lawyer at the Justice Department she had been involved in the case.)
New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether President Obama violated the Constitution last year when he bypassed the Senate in making three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
The court will review a January decision from a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in Washington that ruled against the administration on very broad grounds, calling into question the constitutionality of many recess appointments by presidents of both parties.
The three appeals court judges agreed that presidents may avoid the usual Senate confirmation process only during the recesses between formal sessions of Congress, which generally happen once a year. Two of the judges went further and said that presidents may fill only vacancies that arose during that same recess.
Monday was a great day for sexual harassers and for bosses who retaliate against workers claiming discrimination. The rest of us did not fare so well in the Supreme Court. While most Court watchers will likely focus on the narrower-than-expected decision in the Fisher affirmative action case, the most lasting impact of today’s decisions likely will be the twin blows struck against women and minorities in the workplace. Taking advantage of employees just became a whole lot easier.
The first case, which we previously labeled the “scariest pending Supreme Court case that you’ve probably never heard of” made it significantly easier for many people’s bosses to racially or sexually harass them and get away with it. Though the law provides fairly robust protection to workers harassed by their supervisor, the Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State University defined the term “supervisor” very narrowly. Under today’s decision, your boss is only your “supervisor” if they have the power to make a “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”
The Internal Revenue Service used the terms “progressive,” “Israel” and “occupy” on internal documents that helped employees screen groups’ applications for tax-exempt status, according to documents.
The disclosure adds a dimension to the controversy surrounding the IRS’s scrutiny of groups’ applications for tax exemptions. The agency revealed May 10 that it had given extra attention to Tea Party groups and other small-government advocates.
Now, documents obtained by Bloomberg News show that “progressive,” “Israel” and “occupy” appeared on versions of the “be-on-the-lookout” lists used by employees in the office that reviewed tax-exempt applications in an effort to coordinate similar issues. Danny Werfel, the interim leader of the IRS, said today that he was suspending the use of such lists.
Edward Snowden said he accepted a job at contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to gain access to details of the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs, according to the South China Morning Post.
Snowden, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for roughly three months at an NSA facility in Hawaii, is now the subject of an international manhunt after leaking highly classified documents to the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper.
He told the South China Morning Post on June 12 that he gained the job as a systems administrator because of the access it afforded him. The Post's article was published on Monday.
"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked," Snowden said, according to the article. "That is why I accepted that position about three months ago."
His murder trial is already two weeks old, but the case against a Florida neighbourhood watch leader George Zimmerman over the death of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin gets under way in earnest on Monday when prosecutors and defence lawyers deliver their long-awaited opening statements.
Nine days of jury selection, interspersed with aggressive legal debate over the admissibility of certain expert testimony, has provided a glimpse of the passionate arguments expected inside a Sanford courtroom over the next two to four weeks.
The state's prosecution team, led by assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda, will attempt to portray Zimmerman, 29, as an overzealous, self-appointed custodian of his gated community who pursued, confronted, then shot a black youth in a hoodie whom he assumed was up to no good.
Their case was buoyed by a number of pre-trial rulings by judge Debra Nelson that excluded evidence about 17-year-old Martin's drugs use and suspension from school but allow de la Rionda to use phrases such as "wannabe cop" and "vigilante" to describe Zimmerman in his opening statement.
Tourists and business owners forced to flee a popular summer retreat in the southwestern Colorado mountains resigned themselves to a long wait as fire officials declined to speculate when they might be able to reign in an unprecedented and erratic blaze raging through the Rio Grande national forest.
The fire more than doubled in size over the weekend, growing to an estimated 117 sq miles, authorities said.
And heavy winds fanning drought-stricken, beetle-killed forest showed no signs of relenting before Tuesday, fire officials said.
"They just said they had no idea how long it would be before we could back in South Fork," said Mike Duffy, who owns the South Fork Lodge.
Duffy said he and his wife, Mary, were able to get their personal possessions before fleeing fast-advancing flames that officials on Friday feared would overtake the town. But with the fire still within three miles of South Fork, they are worried about the long-term impact of a prolong evacuation and news reports about the massive blaze threatening the tourism-dependent town.
Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insist that gun control legislation is not dead — they say they're strategizing on how to bring the issue back to the Senate floor.
Even if it does return, one proposal unlikely to survive is an assault weapons ban. Military-style assault rifles now form a nearly $1 billion industry supported by gun owners who spend thousands of dollars collecting these firearms.
And while the gun-rights lobby keeps invoking the right of "self-defense" to defend Americans' right to buy these guns, home protection is low on the list of reasons gun enthusiasts keep buying military-style weapons.
The Republican Party’s efforts to rebrand itself are running into roadblocks on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are pressing restrictions on abortion rights, immigration and voter registration that defy the goal of reaching out to women, minority voters, and young people.
The actions threaten to undercut what was otherwise seen as a promising start at reorienting the party in the Senate, where progress on a bipartisan measure to revise immigration law holds the potential for Republicans to mend fences with Hispanic voters who spurned them in the 2012 presidential election.
“Do you turn the Titanic around in 10 seconds? No, maybe it takes more time than that,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said in an interview. “As long as voters see Republicans only tapping the brake pedal, they won’t trust them with the steering wheel.”
At least 27 people were killed in bomb attacks targeting mainly Shi'ite Muslim areas of the Iraqi capital on Monday, police and medical sources said.
In the deadliest of the attacks, a car bomb killed eight people in northern Baghdad.
A Milan court sentenced Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday to seven years in prison after convicting him of paying for sex with a minor but he will not have to serve any jail time before he has exhausted appeals.
With two appeals possible, it could be years before a verdict is final and Berlusconi lawyers announced they would file an appeal against what his counsel Niccolo Ghedini called a "completely illogical" verdict.
The verdict against the flamboyant 76-year-old media tycoon added to the complications facing Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose fragile left-right coalition is supported by Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.
Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with former teenage nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known under her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer", during alleged "bunga bunga" sex parties at his palatial home near Milan.
Soldiers recovered more bodies as they cleared debris in villages flattened by landslides and monsoon floods in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, bringing the death toll from torrential rains above 1,000, the home minister said on Monday.
Army officials suspended rescue operations after bad weather early Monday reduced visibility in the mountainous area. Army troops are attempting to rescue more than 10,000 stranded people, many in the temple town of Badrinath.
Two landslides early on Monday blocked roads that had been cleared by soldiers only a few days earlier.
"We are just waiting for the weather to clear up and visibility to improve before the aircraft can take off," said R.S. Brar, an air force official in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand.
Meteorological officials predicted more heavy rain in Uttarakhand over the next few days.
The first thing a visitor sees after passing through passport control in Istanbul is a monument to cosmopolitanism, consumption and the pleasures of drinking: a giant display shelf, 25 meters (80 feet) long, containing gin, vodka and whiskey, as well as wines from France, Italy and the US. Sales at the duty-free mall in Istanbul's Atatürk Airport are among the highest in Europe.
This would have pleased the man for whom the airport was named. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, known as Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, liked to drink Raki, the Turkish anise-flavored brandy, even on Muslim holidays.
Just when it seemed as though German politicians were going to completely forget to campaign ahead of September elections, Angela Merkel has finally showed signs that she hopes to be re-elected this fall. Following months of essentially ignoring her political opponents, the chancellor on Monday presented her party's campaign program and even deigned to launch what might be construed as an attack on her challengers.
"On Sept. 22, we must decide what direction we should take as a country," she told supporters in Berlin during the presentation of the 127-page platform. At issue, she said, is whether the country continues down its current path of success, "or whether things go downhill" under a Social Democrat-Green Party governing coalition.
The British government has promised that two existing probes would investigate claims that undercover police spied on
the family of the victim of Britain's most notorious racist murder in a bid to smear them.
Home Secretary Theresa May also told parliament on Monday there should be a "ruthless" purge of corruption from police ranks.
The Guardian newspaper reported that a former undercover officer had told them he was part of an operation to spy on relatives of teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death at a London bus stop on April 22, 1993.
Campaigners who were helping the family to push for a wider investigation were also targeted, the report said.
Stephen's father Neville dismissed as "completely unsatisfactory" May's announcement that two ongoing probes - one into police corruption and one into undercover police operations in the 1980s and 1990s - would look into the allegations.
Children often get sinus infections after they've had a cold.
It can be hard for parents and doctors to tell when those infections need treatment with antibiotics, and when they should be left to get better on their own.
The nation's pediatricians are trying to make that call a bit easier. In new guidelines released today, they say that it's OK to wait a while longer to see if a child gets better before treating a sinus infection with antibiotics. Now parents should wait and see what happens for 13 days instead of 10 days, the pediatricians recommend.
National Geographic Daily News
A possibly record-breaking, New Jersey-size dead zone may put a chokehold on the Gulf of Mexico (map) this summer, according to a forecast released this week.
Unusually robust spring floods in the U.S. Midwest are flushing agricultural runoff—namely, nitrogen and phosphorus—into the Gulf and spurring giant algal blooms, which lead to dead zones, or areas devoid of oxygen that occur in the summer.
The forecast, developed by the University of Michigan and Louisiana State University with support from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estimates a Gulf dead zone of between 7,286 and 8,561 square miles (18,870 and 22,172 square kilometers). The largest ever reported in the Gulf, 8,481 square miles (21,965 square kilometers), occurred in 2002.
On the flip side, the Chesapeake Bay—the country's biggest estuary—will likely experience a smaller-than-average dead zone this summer.
The forecasts are made using computer models, which are based on U.S. Geological Survey data of nutrient runoff in U.S. rivers and streams.
National Geographic talked to forecast contributor Donald Scavia, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Michigan, about dead zones—and why we should care about them.
So I got an email from a publicist asking me if I was interested in what has become a tremendously popular story on BuzzFeed titled "8 Foods We Eat In The US That Are Banned In Other Countries."
Curious, I clicked, as have more than 4 million other readers.
What's my beef? Well, one of the eight bad boys of the U.S. food supply, according to the author, is arsenic.
And I get it: No one would choose to eat a toxic chemical. But the claims made by the author — based on a book by Dr. Jayson Calton and Mira Calton called Rich Food, Poor Food — are out of date and misleading.
The article concludes that arsenic is used in chicken feed to "make meat appear pinker and fresher." And for more information, BuzzFeed linked to an article that I wrote (the site has since pulled the link; see below).
But if anyone at BuzzFeed had actually read my story, they would have learned that, while the poultry industry once used an arsenic-based drug called Roxarsone to stave off infections in chickens, it was pulled from the market by its manufacturer in 2011. And the National Chicken Council says that broiler chicken producers are no longer using arsenic-based drugs.
Some homeowners living near shale gas wells appear to be at higher risk of drinking water contamination from stray gases, according to a new Duke University-led study.
The scientists analyzed 141 drinking water samples from private water wells across northeastern Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale basin.
They found that, on average, methane concentrations were six times higher and ethane concentrations were 23 times higher at homes within a kilometer of a shale gas well. Propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometer of drilling.
Apple on Monday released the second beta of iOS 7, exactly two weeks after the first iteration of the software was doled out to developers.
The new version promises only to fix bugs and contains other undocumented "improvements."
But the big new thing in this release is a version of the software for iPads -- both the regular and Mini models. The first version of the software only came for iPhones and iPod Touches, with Apple promising to add support for other devices as time went on.
The software requires developers to sign a privacy agreement, but that hasn't stopped numerous developers and some blogs from posting extensive hands-on previews of the new OS.