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Thursday, Aug 27th

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McDonalds may get pinched by labor ruling

NLRB rulingA major ruling handed down on Thursday by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board could give unions greater bargaining power by enabling them to negotiate directly with large parent companies like McDonald’s that rely heavily on franchisees and contractors.

The board in a 3-2 decision ruled that an existing standard that said companies only qualify as “joint employers” of workers hired by another business if they had “direct and immediate” control over employment matters was outdated and did not reflect the realities of the 21st century workforce.

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Georgia County Admits To Illegally Disenfranchising Voters

Georgia admits stopping votersFulton County, Georgia admitted to illegally disenfranchising and misleading voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections in a settlement this month. For more than two dozen violations of state law — including improperly rejecting eligible ballots and sending voters to the wrong precincts — the county will pay a fine of $180,000. To make sure the problems do not continue in the future, the county has promised to spend an additional $200,000 on new training software for their poll workers.

Voting rights advocates who focus on the region, including Julie Houk with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, praised the Secretary of State for investigating the violations but questioned whether the punishment fits the crime.

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Extreme Arctic sea ice melt forces thousands of walruses ashore in Alaska

walruses forced on shoreThe extreme loss of Arctic sea ice due to climate change is forcing thousands of walruses to crowd ashore on a remote barrier island off Alaska, and threatening their survival.

Barack Obama will be the first US president to visit the Alaskan Arctic on 31 August on a three-day tour to draw attention to the drastic consequences of climate change for the Arctic, such as warming winters and the rapid retreat of sea ice.

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Obama in New Orleans recalls 'natural disaster that became a manmade one'

Obama in New OrleansCalling hurricane Katrina a disaster “that laid bare a deeper tragedy,” President Barack Obama made his ninth visit to New Orleans as president on Thursday, to mark the 10th anniversary of the historic storm.

In a speech in the Lower Ninth Ward, Obama said the city “had long been plagued by structural inequalities that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable healthcare or decent housing.”

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Virginia will seek to prosecute officer who killed teenager

william chapmanA state prosecutor in Virginia will seek to prosecute a police officer who shot dead an unarmed black 18-year-old outside a supermarket in the city of Portsmouth earlier this year, it was announced on Thursday.

Stephanie Morales, the commonwealth’s attorney for Portsmouth, will request an indictment against the officer who fatally shot William Chapman, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor said in a statement. The officer has been identified by the Guardian as Stephen Rankin.

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Radioactive waste found in St. Louis residential area

St. Louis radiationThe Army Corps of Engineers has found radioactive nuclear weapon waste in residential lots along a St. Louis County creek.

Coldwater Creek runs some 20 miles through St. Louis’ northern suburbs and was contaminated in the decades after the Manhattan Project’s activities in the region. The creek has flooded residential areas many times over the past seven decades, but the floodplain had never been tested for radioactive waste until now.

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Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds

Planned parenthood videos alteredPlanned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its clinics an analysis it commissioned concluding that “manipulation” of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry.

“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” said the analysis of a private research company.

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65 Pounds of Diamonds Vanish in Russia

diamonds vanish in russiaRough diamonds worth millions of dollars have reportedly disappeared from Russia's supposedly impenetrable repository created by the Bolsheviks to store the tsar's jewels.

The state-owned Severalmaz company handed diamonds weighing a combined 150,000 carats — or 66 pounds — to the Gokhran repository for inventory purposes, according to respected business daily Kommersant.

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Same-sex couple cheers gay marriage ruling in Kentucky

same sex marriage ruling KentuckyApril Miller and Karen Roberts hugged as the news flashed across their television screen, and their hug turned into a brief slow dance across the living room rug.

A federal appeals court had just upheld a ruling ordering the clerk in their rural Kentucky county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

For two months since the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses, citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom. On Thursday, her office refused to issue a marriage license to another couple, William Smith Jr. and James Yates. It was their third attempt to get a license.

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