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Friday, Apr 25th

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Alex Baer: A Bad Case of the -shuns

Bad case of shunsThere are still plenty of ripping, searing, wrenching, and devastating problems on this singular space ship which we call home, and equally important challenges all among its incredibly motley, and sometimes endearing, crew, too.  I get that.  This stuff is absolutely not news to me.  I learned to read quite a while back, using newspapers that -- dare I say it, even in irony? -- Adam and Eve used to cave-break their pet dinosaurs.

No, I have not slipped away in the night.  I have not yet been allowed to sublease my apartment at the Sanity Arms.  I have not yet checked out of the Human Hotel.  I am, by the way, still dawdling around here at the By-and-By B and B, hoping that someone will present a final statement and then, hang around long enough to help me make some sense out of the thing.

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Why American Apples Just Got Banned in Europe

American apples banned in europeBack in 2008, European Food Safety Authority began pressing the chemical industry to provide safety information on a substance called diphenylamine, or DPA. Widely applied to apples after harvest, DPA prevents "storage scald"—brown spots that "becomes a concern when fruit is stored for several months," according to Washington State University, reporting from the heartland of industrial-scale apple production.

DPA isn't believed to be harmful on its own. But it has the potential to break down into a family of carcinogens called nitrosamines—not something you want to find on your daily apple. And that's why European food safety regulators wanted more information on it.

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US journalist released by pro-Russian gunmen in Ukraine, Vice confirms

US journalist freedPro-Russian armed gunmen in Ukraine have released an American journalist held hostage since Tuesday, his news organisation has confirmed.

Simon Ostrovsky, a correspondent for Vice News, had been covering the region's unfolding crisis for several weeks and had recently followed the activities of masked gunmen as they seized government buildings in Ukraine.

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The Usual Suspects Aim to Spoil Iran Nuclear Deal

NetanyahuAs the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program proceed -- apparently with steady progress toward a comprehensive agreement -- and Iran demonstrates to the world it is abiding by the interim agreement signed last fall, the usual suspects who hope to derail this progress have been relatively quiet. But we can expect the calm to end soon. That's the longtime pattern of the U.S.-Iran relationship: spoilers never go away, they just regroup and try to despoil again and again.

The attempt by the Israel Lobby in particular to scuttle the negotiations at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu failed earlier this year. The gambit was to intimidate Congress into passing crippling conditions on the talks and indeed new sanctions, even as Iran was complying with the interim deal. The most powerful pro-sanctions group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, finally backed off, seeing that several Democratic leaders in the Senate were not going to be coerced.

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Nonconsensual sex: How U.S. colleges rebranded rape

Lura DunnAround 15 years ago, Brett Sokolow was touring universities and advising them on how to deal with sexual assault on their campuses. On these visits, he noticed something strange. The schools had policies about rape, and recognized that rape happened. But when it came down to it, they just didn’t want to believe their own students actually raped.

“I trained hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hearing boards, and [listened] to them get squeamish about it,” Sokolow said. “The hearing board would say, ‘We’re not willing to label this guy a rapist.’”

Sokolow, the CEO of the consulting and law firm the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, decided colleges needed another word. But on the issue of sexual violence, almost every word is loaded.

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Reports: FCC Poised For Changes To Net Neutrality Policy

FCCThe Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to propose new rules when it comes to net neutrality, and are reporting based on unnamed sources.

Late Wednesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called the reports of a turnaround "."

According to the Times and the Journal, the FCC is planning to allow Internet service providers to sell a faster pipe into people's homes to content companies willing to pay for it. In other words, content providers could pay for preferential treatment into American homes.

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A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list

Veterans on secret waiting listAt least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

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Mississippi sets 20-week limit on abortions

pro choiceMississippi will ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy from July, joining other conservative U.S. states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 but the practice still polarizes U.S. society.

A handful of states have in recent years enacted laws that place restrictions on the procedure, especially on late-term abortions, citing hotly debated medical research that a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks of gestation, halfway through a full-term pregnancy. The Mississippi bill referred to that research.

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3,000 types of bacteria found on U.S. $1 bills

one dollar bill bacteriaResearchers at the New York University's Dirty Money Project analyzed DNA on $1 bills and found some 3,000 types of bacteria -- many times more than studies using a microscope found.

Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology told the Wall Street Journal: "It was quite amazing to us. We actually found that microbes grow on money."

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