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New Paper Revives Debate Over Whether 1991 Gulf War Soldiers Were Harmed by Nerve Gas

Scientists say chemicals released by bombing Iraqi chemical weapons depots could have blown back on U.S. troops. A paper published in the journal Neuroepidemiology tries to rebut the longstanding Pentagon position that neurotoxins, particularly sarin gas, could not have carried far enough to sicken U.S. forces. For the new paper, the authors assembled data from meteorological and…


Big Tobacco Takes Aim at Africa, Its Last Frontier

While tobacco use declines in the developed world, it is increasingly common in Africa. In many African countries, 20 percent to 30 percent of men smoke, more than half of them younger than 35, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report. In South Africa, 35 percent of men smoke, one of the highest rates in…

Bowing to Pressure, Fireplace Makers Will Provide Protective Screens to Prevent Severe Burns to Toddlers FairWarining Reports

Bowing to Pressure, Fireplace Makers Will Provide Protective Screens to Prevent Severe Burns to Toddlers

Many toddlers have suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns from touching the unprotected glass of gas fireplaces, which get hot enough to melt skin. To prevent these injuries—and stave off lawsuits and federal regulation–fireplace makers have agreed to provide protective screens as a standard feature of new gas fireplaces.


Safety Board Urges All States to Require Devices to Lock Out Drunk Drivers

Advisory group seeks nationwide use of interlocks to prevent repeat drunk driving offenses. The nonbinding recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board would apply to all people convicted of drunk driving and is aimed at the 33 states that don’t currently require interlock devices for such offenders. Interlocks are typically mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard, and require motorists…

Some Peace Corps Volunteers Face Injury Overseas, Indifference at Home FairWarining Investigates

Some Peace Corps Volunteers Face Injury Overseas, Indifference at Home

Peace Corps volunteers who serve in impoverished, dangerous countries all too often endure sexual assaults, psychological trauma and physical injuries, as well as exotic diseases. Yet former volunteers-turned-activists say the government workers’ compensation program that is supposed to provide medical care and disability payments for the injured is rife with troubles.


U.S. Regulators Allow Energy and Mining Companies to Pollute Aquifers at More Than 1,500 Sites

Investigation finds widespread “aquifer exemptions” in Western states now increasingly desperate for water. The exemptions granted since the 1980s by the Environmental Protection Agency have released toxic material into reservoirs that help supply more than half the nation’s drinking water. EPA records show that exemptions often have been issued to energy and mining companies in apparent conflict…


Environmental Activists Despair Over Scant Progress in UN Climate Change Talks

Critics question whether Doha conference made climate threat worse by providing cover to take no meaningful action. The conference agreed to extend the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which would have run out within weeks. But Canada, Russia and Japan abandoned the pact. What’s more, the U.S. never ratified the pact, and it excludes developing countries where emissions are growing quickly. Delegates flew…


Panel Finds Conflict of Interest in Research That Declared Fracking Safe

Head of University of Texas Energy Institute quits after review find flaws in fracking study. The review panel said the study, which found no link between fracking and water contamination, was tainted by an undisclosed conflict of interest — the lead investigator, Charles “Chip” Groat, was on the board of a drilling company. Groat has retired from…


Possible Supreme Court Showdown Looms Over Proposed Cigarette Pack Warning Labels

U.S. appeals court reaffirms decision that proposed graphic warnings would violate tobacco companies’ free-speech rights. The court voted 2-1 to deny the Food and Drug Administration’s request to reconsider a ruling earlier this year that blocked, on First Amendment grounds, requiring the images. The next  step for the Obama administration could be a Supreme Court appeal,…


Environmental Group Pushing for Carbon Dioxide Emissions Limits on Existing Power Plants

Natural Resources Defense Council makes emissions controls for existing power plants its top priority. The group’s proposal would offer ways to limit the regulation’s economic impact by letting states use different routes to meet federal standards, including credits for utilities that adopt major energy efficiency programs. While the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed emissions limits on…