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Sunday, Feb 14th

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Tap water runs brown in impoverished northeast Louisiana

Brown water in Louisiana“I’m scared to take a bath,” said Ethel Strum, who lives in St. Joseph, a community of barely 1,000 people in northeast Louisiana.

She turned on the tap in the bathroom sink of her tidy one-story home and the water flowed clear for a second before fading to a milky brown. In her kitchen, a few cases of bottled water, which she uses for everything from brushing her teeth to cooking, are stacked on the table.

“I drive to Newellton to shower. It’s a 20-minute drive but I can do it in 12,” she laughed.

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65,000% Spike In Reported Radioactivity After Tritium Leaks At Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Tritium spike at Indian Point ground waterTwo years after being fined for falsifying safety records, nine months after a transformer exploded at the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor just 37 miles from midtown Manhattan, and two months after Entergy - the plant's operator - shut down the Unit 2 reactor after a major power outage cut power to several control rods (when the company assured that no radioactivity was released into the environment), this afternoon NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said he learned that "radioactive tritium-contaminated water" had leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility in Westchester County.

Cuomo, in a letter Saturday to the state Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation, called for the probe into the Indian Point NPP after he said Entergy, the plant's owner, reported "alarming levels of radioactivity" at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent.

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North Korea fires long-range rocket despite warnings

N. korea fires rocketNorth Korea has fired a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.

The country had notified UN agencies in advance that it intended to put an earth observation satellite into orbit.
Both South Korea's military and a US defence official speaking to Reuters news agency confirmed the launch.

It appears that the rocket was fired from a missile base in the north-west of the country and passed over Japan's southern Okinawa islands.

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NY Gov. Cuomo announces regulations to prevent gay 'conversion therapy'

Andrew CuomoNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced regulations to prevent "conversion therapy," a practice aimed at changing an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, in the Empire State.

Conversion therapy aims to transform gays and lesbians into heterosexuals. It has been denounced by several leading medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, which says efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy have "serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder."

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Critic of Vatican leaves its sexual abuse commission

Vatican critic leaves commission on sexA prominent British member of a papal advisory commission on sexual abuse by the clergy who has been outspokenly critical of the Vatican has left the group, the Vatican said on Saturday.

A statement said that at a commission meeting "it was decided" that Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence. Saunders, head of Britain's National Association for People Abused in Childhood, would now "consider how he might best support the commission's work".

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Alex Baer: Good 'n' Plenty

good 'n plentyThis way to the time machine:  Back when one had to fight pterodactyls in the schoolyard at recess, in order to keep hold of one's snacks, there was a terrible candy called Good & Plenty.  It was white and day-glow, neon pink, before there was day-glow anything, and only just as neon was itself being tamed to do electrical tricks.

It was terrible junk -- a chalky outer shell with a hard, black licorice center -- but, it was dirt cheap.  It was also pay dirt for the non-discriminating 5-year-old on a budget.

Yes, the downside was that it was horrible, but the upside was that there was a lot of it.  Somehow, the combination worked.  Such is youth.

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Utah legislators back plan to declare porn a health crisis

Sen. Todd Weiler of UtahUtahns castigated the adult entertainment industry in a legislative hearing Friday on a proposed resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis.

Jenny Brown, a member of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography board, said many are scared of the industry because of the "fierce" way it goes after people in court. Brown said it's time for children's rights to be acknowledged and that no one has a right to harm another person.

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Federal court invalidates maps of two NC congressional districts

Federal vourt invalidates gerrymandaring in NCA federal court panel ruled late Friday that two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts were racially gerrymandered and must be redrawn within two weeks, sparking uncertainty about whether the March primary elections can proceed as planned.

An order from a three-judge panel bars elections in North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts until new maps are approved.

Challengers of North Carolina’s 2011 redistricting plan quickly praised the ruling, while legislators who helped design the maps said they were disappointed and promised a quick appeal.

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UN calls for Zika-hit countries to loosen abortion restrictions

Zika virusThe United Nations human rights agency on Friday called on Zika-affected countries in Latin and South America to loosen any tough laws that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion.

"We are asking those governments to go back and change those laws,” said Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. "Because how can they ask those women [exposed to Zika] not to become pregnant but also not offer them … the possibility to stop their pregnancies if they wish?"

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