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Thursday, Oct 02nd

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History’s largest trade agreements are being negotiated in secret

Secret trade agreementsIn August 2007, then–presidential candidate Barack Obama vowed that, if elected, he would “immediately” amend the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the U.S. signed with Mexico 13 years earlier.

“Our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street. It should also be good for Main Street,” he said, objecting to the influence of corporate lobbyists over labor unions and other groups in negotiating trade agreements.

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Dallas hospital diagnoses first patient with Ebola

Dallas hospitalThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola in a critically ill patient diagnosed in a U.S. hospital.

The patient — who has been isolated since his symptoms were recognized — is an unnamed man in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas.

Hospital workers noted his case because of his symptoms and recent travel history. It is not known whether he has infected others, although CDC officials are tracing his contacts.

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs California gun restriction

California gun lawCalifornia will become the first state that allows family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat, under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he had signed.

The bill was proposed by several Democrats and responds to a deadly rampage in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Report: Obama rode elevator with armed man

US Secret servicePresident Barack Obama rode an elevator this month with an armed security contractor who had three criminal convictions, a violation of Secret Service security protocols, according to published reports.

The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson on Tuesday took full responsibility for a Sept. 19 breach of security when a man carrying a knife got into the White House. The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post reported that the elevator incident took place during Obama's Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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NYC mayor signs order expanding living wage law

Di BlasioMayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order on Tuesday that expanded New York City's living wage law, increasing the hourly rate to $13.13 from $11.90 for workers who do not receive benefits.

The significant expansion, which will cover thousands of previously exempt New Yorkers, fulfilled a campaign promise made by de Blasio, who became the city's first Democratic mayor in a generation when he took office in January. It strengthened a law that was approved by the City Council in 2012.

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Frac Sand Rush Threatens American Towns, Advocates Warn

Frac sandVictoria Trinko hasn't opened the windows of her Wisconsin home in two years -- for fear of the dust clouds billowing from a frac sand mine a half-mile away.

"This blowing of silica sand has not abated since the inception of the mine in 2011," Trinko, a farmer and the town clerk for Cooks Valley, Wisconsin, said during a media call on Thursday highlighting an industry proliferating alongside horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Frac sand is an essential ingredient in the process of natural gas drilling.

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Police Want to Get Rid of Their Pentagon-Issued Combat Gear. Here's Why They Can't.

police can't return weaponsAn officer with the Chelan County Sheriff's Department in central Washington is offering me a tank. Three of them, actually.

"We really want to get rid of these," Undersheriff John Wisemore says. "We've been trying to get the military to take them back since 2004."

The tanks came from a vast Defense Department grant program that has furnished American police arsenals, at no charge, with $4.3 billion worth of combat equipment leftover from two foreign wars. The tanks are amphibious, capable of firing 107-mm mortars—and not remotely useful to Wisemore's rural police department. But the county can't seem to unload them. Back in June,

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Judge rules against White House on Affordable Care Act

Obamacare rulingA federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that Obamacare subsidies cannot go to residents of states that are not running their own insurance exchanges, a second blow to the Obama administration on a issue that threatens a key element of the health law’s coverage expansion.

Judge Ronald A. White said that the administration’s decision to allow subsidies to go through either a state-run health insurance exchange or the federal exchange is an improper and invalid reading of the Affordable Care Act and must be struck.

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European Activists Say They Don't Want Any U.S. 'Chlorine Chicken'

Europeans don't want chlorinated chickenMute Schimpf doesn't want to eat American chicken. That's because most U.S. poultry is chilled in antimicrobial baths that can include chlorine to keep salmonella and other bacteria in check. In Europe, chlorine treatment was banned in the 1990s out of fear that it could cause cancer.

"In Europe there is definitely a disgust about chlorinated chicken," says Schimpf, a food activist with Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental group.

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