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Friday, Jul 25th

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White House to provide lawmakers access to drone memo authorizing killing of American

David BarronThe White House pledged Tuesday to give lawmakers expanded access to memos on the legality of killing American citizens in drone strikes, a concession aimed at heading off Senate opposition to a judicial nominee involved in drafting those secret documents.

The move was designed to salvage the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st District and address growing frustration among lawmakers over the secrecy that continues to surround the administration’s counterterrorism operations a year after President Obama vowed greater transparency.

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The Next Frontier In The GOP War Over Science

National science foundationThe Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.

Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014," the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can't be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.

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Emails reveal close Google relationship with NSA

GoogleEmail exchanges between National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt suggest a far cozier working relationship between some tech firms and the U.S. government than was implied by Silicon Valley brass after last year’s revelations about NSA spying.

Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s vast capability for spying on Americans’ electronic communications prompted a number of tech executives whose firms cooperated with the government to insist they had done so only when compelled by a court of law.

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New Report Documents Chemical Disasters and Environmental Injustice in the U.S.

Chemical toxicity studyAmericans who face the greatest threat from potential toxic chemical disasters are predominantly from low income and minority communities, a new report released by the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance asserts.

In a first-of-its-kind study, the report, Who’s in Danger? A Demographic Analysis of Chemical Disaster Vulnerability Zones, documents the high-risk factors of living within the vicinity of chemical facilities—including water and wastewater treatment facilities, power plants, bleach production facilities, petroleum refineries and paper mills. The report dubs these hotspots “vulnerability zones,” or “fenceline zones.”

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Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden

SnowdenThe US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

“It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.”

Snowden made his comments in a short video that was played before a debate on the proposition that surveillance today is a euphemism for mass surveillance, in Toronto, Canada. The former US National Security Agency contractor is living in Russia, having been granted temporary asylum there in June 2013.

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This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant. Then the Government Made His Family's Life Hell.

Naji MansourIt was after 10 p.m. on July 8, 2009, when Sandra Mansour answered her cellphone to the panicked voice of her daughter-in-law, Nasreen. A week earlier, Nasreen and her husband, Naji Mansour, had been detained in the southern Sudanese city of Juba by agents of the country's internal security bureau. In the days since, Sandra had been desperately trying to find out where the couple was being held.

Now Nasreen was calling to say that she'd been released—driven straight to the airport and booked on a flight to her native Kenya—but Naji remained in custody. He was being held in a dark, squalid basement cell, with a bucket for a bathroom and a dense swarm of mosquitoes that attacked his body as he slept. "You have to get him out of there," Nasreen said. But she was unfamiliar with Juba and could only offer the barest details about where they'd been held. "He's in a blue building. You've seen it. It's not far from your hotel."

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Texas: When fracking comes to town

Texas frackingFor northern Texans who live near gas wells, fracking'€™s promise of cleaner energy is overshadowed by drilling, pollution and fears for their health. Some residents have started to fight back.

Alyse and Lance Ogletree moved to the Meadows at Hickory Creek, a subdivision of modest houses in this fast-growing city 40 miles north of Dallas, in the fall of 2011. They found the home prices attractive and thought the well-regarded school district would be a good fit for their son, Kyle, who had suffered brain damage after contracting encephalitis when he was 8 months old.

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