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Texas Border Patrol agent fires at armed militia member

border patrolA Border Patrol agent pursuing a group of migrants in a wooded area near the Texas-Mexico border on Friday fired several shots at an armed man who later identified himself as a militia member.

Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said agents had been chasing a group of migrants east of Brownsville Friday afternoon when an agent saw a man holding a gun near the Rio Grande. The agent fired four shots, but did not hit the man. The man then dropped his gun and identified himself as a member of a militia. Zamora said no other details were immediately available.

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Japan mercury poisoning survivors boost Canadian First Nation's compensation push

First Natio mercury caseMercury poisoning survivors and experts from Minamata, Japan — the site of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters — have arrived in Ontario to help assess the impact of a similar contamination on First Nation people there, a month after a hunger-striking chief prompted the provincial government to re-examine its compensation policy.

Steve Fobister, an elder and former head of the Grassy Narrows band located in a remote area of northwestern Ontario, began his action on July 29 over perceived government inaction over demands that aboriginal people receive full recompense from the Canadian government and companies responsible for pollution on their land.

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California lawmakers pass first U.S. plastic bag ban

plastic bag ban in CALawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would make California the first to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.  SB270 cleared the Senate on a 22-15 vote Friday. It was approved by the Assembly a day earlier.

Senators who had previously opposed the bill, including incoming Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, this time supported the measure after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers.

The bill would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

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Southwest U.S. could face 35-year 'megadrought'

southwest megadroughtMuch of the Southwest United States, the next century could feature a drought that lasts several decades -- or what climate scientists call a megadrought, one that lasts 35 years. By comparison, the Dust Bowl, which decimated farms in the 1930s, lasted less than eight years.

According to a new study, there is at least a 50 percent chance that most of the Southwest will face a decade-long drought at some point in the next 100 years. And the chance that states like Arizona, California and New Mexico will suffer a megadrought, researchers say, lies somewhere between 20 to 50 percent. For some portions of the region, the chance of a decade-long drought is as high as 90 percent.

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Mitch McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, resigns

jesse BentonSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, announced his resignation late Friday, citing potential distractions over renewed attention to a scandal from the Iowa 2012 caucuses.

A longtime associate of Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Benton was the surprise choice to run the McConnell campaign in Sept. 2012 — even before the current election cycle began. Benton’s departure comes days after a former Iowa GOP state lawmaker pleaded guilty to charges of accepting money to change his endorsement in 2012 from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. Benton was the chairman of Paul’s 2012 campaign and has been mentioned in documents surrounding the case. He has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case.

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U.S. judge halts major part of Texas law restricting abortions

Texas abortion lawA U.S. judge struck down parts of a law seen as restricting abortions in Texas, saying in a decision on Friday that a provision requiring clinics to have certain hospital-like settings for surgeries was unconstitutional.

"The act's ambulatory-surgical center requirement places an unconstitutional undue burden on women throughout Texas," U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said in his decision.

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The Disaster That No One Is Talking About

Maryland sinkingThree millimeters, about one-eighth of an inch, may not sound like much. But when it’s the height water is steadily rising outside your doorstep every year, it may as well be three feet if it’s anything at all.

On the eastern shores of Maryland, ocean levels are climbing by at least this much — nearly two times the global historic average, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources — and those waters are pushing several small fishing communities to the brink of extinction. Photographer Greg Kahn set out to capture what it’s like for these sinking towns in his new series “3 Millimeters.”

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Hawaii's GMO Battle: Federal Judge Strikes Down Kauai's Pesticide Regulations

Hawaii judge strikes down pesticide banA federal judge in Hawaii has struck down a local ordinance that would have regulated pesticide use at farms on the island of Kauai, where four of the world's largest agrichemical companies take advantage of long growing seasons to develop genetically engineered crops seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

On August 23, US Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in favor of Syngenta, BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics, an affiliate of Dow Chemical in their challenge of Kauai County's Ordinance 960, arguing that the local ordinance illegally pre-empted state laws regulating pesticides.

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Utah grapples with toxic water from oil and gas industry

Utah - toxic waterA massive stream of wastewater tainted with hydrocarbons has been flowing into Utah from oil and gas mining on Colorado’s West Slope.

Evaporation ponds used to process the contaminated water in Grand County have released tons of toxic chemicals into the air since April 2008.

But the Colorado company running the 14-pond facility operated without a Utah air-quality permit for more than six years, public documents show, while providing officials faulty data that underreported its emissions and exaggerated the efficiency of its emission-control equipment.

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