Wednesday

Online Gun Sales May Be Biggest Loophole for Buyers Dodging Background Checks

Thousands of firearms are for sale online, and many buyers shop there to avoid scrutiny, a study finds. Researchers for Third Way, a centrist think tank with Obama administration ties, analyzed listings on Armslist.com, a site for private sales of guns and ammunition. In 10 states where U.S. senators this spring voted against expanding background checks for firearms sales, researchers found that at any given time there were more than 15,000 guns for sale, including more than 5,000 semi-automatic weapons. Background checks are mandatory under federal law for guns sold at stores, but not for gun shows or private sales between individuals, including transactions between individuals online. The online sales are “the biggest loophole in the background check system,” a Third Way official said. The Washington Post

U.N. should take responsibility for Haiti cholera outbreak, report says. Yale University researchers say there is ample evidence that United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal inadvertently brought cholera to Haiti in 2010, sparking an outbreak that killed more than 7,500 and sickened 578,409 others. But the U.N. has yet to take responsibility, saying it enjoys legal immunity. The U.N. rejected an earlier effort by a human rights group seeking compensation for cholera victims who blamed peacekeepers for the outbreak. By denying victims a forum for redress, the researchers said, the U.N. “violates the very principles of accountability and respect for the law that it promotes worldwide.” The U.N. in December announced a $2.27 billion project to eradicate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but the plan remains largely unfunded. The Associated Press

Federal government sues New York county over alleged failure to adequately treat drinking water. A Justice Department lawsuit charges that a Westchester County water district failed to target the parasite cryptosporidium, a microbe that can cause a potentially fatal gastrointestinal illness for which there is no known treatment. A 2006 rule ordered public water systems that, like Westchester County, draw from unfiltered surface water, to install ultraviolet disinfectant systems by April 2012 to combat the microbe. But federal officials said the county’s Water District 1, which provides drinking water to 175,000 people in five communities including White Plains and Yonkers, did not comply. The Journal News (White Plains, N.Y.)Bloomberg

Coal mine collapse kills one worker and injures two others in Eastern Kentucky. The three men were trapped and hit with debris when a coal pillar — a large block of coal left in place to hold the roof up — broke at a Harlan County mine operated by Lone Mountain Processing, a subsidiary of Arch Coal. Miners often remove much of the coal from pillars as they finish work nearby but, while early reports say the workers were operating machinery, it was not clear whether they were removing coal from the pillars. The accident was the second mining-related fatality in Kentucky this year. In January, a miner was killed in a welding accident. Operations at the mine have been temporarily suspended while federal safety officials investigate. Times News (Kingport, Tenn.)LEX18 (Lexington, Ky.)The Associated Press

Accidents point to hazards of shallow-water drilling. While the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill highlighted the risks of deep water drilling, far more people work at operations on the shallower continental shelf using decades-old pipes and platforms. Unlike deep-water drilling, which is dominated by larger concerns, thousands of smaller companies operate in shallower water. One expert said the most skilled workers and top technology tend to be steered to deep-water operations. Recent incidents underscore the risk in shallower waters of the Gulf, including a November platform explosion that killed three workers. While 2,790 production platforms draw oil and gas from the Gulf’s shallow areas, only 73 work in deep water. FuelFix.com

Complied by Bridget Huber

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