Government

Feds May Ban Emotional Support Animals From Planes

Roll Call reports: Snakes on a plane? Probably not — at least in the cabin. The U.S. Department of Transportation Wednesday released a proposed rule that would let airlines ban most “emotional support” animals in airplane cabins and board only specially trained service dogs to assist people with disabilities. Directed as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the …

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Dems To SCOTUS: Rule On Obamacare Before Election

Politico reports: A coalition of Democratic-led states is asking the Supreme Court to immediately take up a challenge to Obamacare, calling on the justices to decide the law’s fate well ahead of November’s elections. Attorneys general from 20 states in a legal brief argued the high court needed to quickly take up the case, contending that prolonged uncertainty over the …

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Bill Gates: Yes, The Wealthy Should Pay Higher Taxes

From a post on Bill Gates’ personal blog: I start with the understanding that the U.S. government simply does not bring in enough money to meet its obligations. This isn’t a value judgment; it’s just a fact. The government collects about 20 percent of GDP in taxes while spending about 24 percent. And the cost of commitments is going up. …

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WV Governor Fires All “Nazi Salute” Prison Guards

CBS News reports: West Virginia’s governor fired a group of recently graduated corrections officers Monday, after they made a gesture resembling a Nazi salute in their class photo. Governor Jim Justice also fired a staffer Monday at the state’s corrections officer academy, the third staffer terminated in the scandal, and suspended four instructors without pay for failing to report the …

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FDA: The New Smoking Age Of 21 Is Now In Effect

As of today, the new smoking age is in effect: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially raised the legal age to buy tobacco products in the United States from 18 to 21. The move applies to all tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges, and comes after President Trump last week signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that included …

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Congress Votes To Raise National Smoking Age To 21

Agence France-Press reports: The US Congress voted Thursday to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 across the country, a move intended to stem the rising tide of youth vaping. Passed by the Senate as part of a wider budgetary bill, it will take effect next year and will mean that tobacco and e-cigarettes …

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Court Strikes Down Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

Axios reports: A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, but ordered a lower court to take a fresh look at how much of the rest of the law should fall along with it. This decision will likely keep the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions in legal limbo well past the 2020 …

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Mexican Prez Fights Move To Weaken Church/State Line

The Associated Press reports: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday he does not support a proposal to further relax Mexico’s strict legal separation of church and state, throwing cold water on a bill that would upend longstanding political doctrine in the country. The proposal would modify the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship to eliminate historic language enshrining …

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US Ambassador To Ukraine To Step Down In Weeks

ABC News reports: The veteran U.S. diplomat who was a key witness in impeachment hearings is departing his post in Ukraine, according to two State Department sources. Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv who was recruited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fill in after President Donald Trump abruptly recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, will depart in early …

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GEORGIA: Court Says State Can Purge 309K Voters

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: About 309,000 names were set to be erased from Georgia’s list of registered voters Monday night, a mass cancellation that a federal judge allowed to move forward. By Tuesday morning, the number of registered voters in Georgia was set to shrink from 7.4 million to 7.1 million. A voting rights group, Fair Fight Action, said in …

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FAA Forced Boeing Into Halting Max Production

The Associated Press reports: The message to Boeing Co. from the Federal Aviation Administration was clear: The grounded 737 Max won’t get approval to fly again anytime soon. So the company had little choice but to idle the giant factory where the plane is made. Boeing announced Monday that it will suspend production of the Max starting sometime in January, …

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Spending Deal Allocates $425M For Election Security

The Hill reports: The spending deal agreed upon by House and Senate negotiators includes $425 million for states to improve their election security, a congressional source confirmed to The Hill on Monday. Election security has been a major issue on Capitol Hill over the past few years, particularly after Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies, former …

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Estonia Sorry For Mocking Finland’s “Sales Girl” PM

Reuters reports: Estonia apologized to Finland on Monday after Estonia’s interior minister mocked Finland’s new prime minister — the world’s youngest-serving government leader — as “a sales girl” and questioned her ability to run the Nordic country. Mart Helme, 70, Estonian interior minister and leader of the populist far-right party Ekre, on Sunday ridiculed Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 34, …

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Congress To Raise National Smoking Age To 21

Politico reports: Congress is on the verge of a sweeping health care reform: Federally prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people under 21. The legislation significantly raising the age cap on cigarettes and e-cigarettes is increasingly likely to be included in the year-end spending deal, the result of support from a diverse coalition of lawmakers, according to four people …

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Feds Drop Usage Of “Survey Foot” Measurement

The Associated Press reports: Change is afoot for the official measuring stick used to size up big places in America. The reason? There are actually two different definitions of the 12-inch measurement known as a foot. Some land surveyors use what’s known as the U.S. survey foot. Others use the definition that’s more accepted by the broader world: the international …

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FCC To Establish 3-Digit National Suicide Hotline

The Associated Press reports: The Federal Communications Commission is setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline. Once it’s implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help, similar to calling 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed …

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New Kentucky Gov Vows Voting Rights For Ex-Felons

The New York Times reports: A fast-growing movement among states to return voting rights to former felons is scheduled on Thursday to add a prominent convert: Kentucky, one of only two states that still strip all former felons of the right to cast a ballot. The state’s newly elected Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, promised in his inauguration speech on Tuesday …

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Trump Celebrates Senate Confirmation Of Former Hate Group Staffer Lawrence VanDyke To Ninth Circuit Court

Via press release from Lambda Legal: Lawrence VanDyke’s confirmation represents the latest affront to the LGBT community by an administration that appears to revel in its disdain for LGBT people and our families. As outlined in our letter of opposition, Mr. VanDyke’s long history of working to diminish the civil rights of the LGBT community renders it wholly implausible that …

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House Approves Bill Establishing Space Force

The New York Times reports: The House on Wednesday passed a $738 billion military policy bill that would authorize the creation of the Space Force and secure paid parental leave for more than two million federal workers. The 377-to-48 vote reflected broad bipartisan support for the compromise package, one of the nation’s most expensive military policy bills to date. It …

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GOP NYC Councilman Seeks Staten Island Secession

Gothamist reports: A failed attempt to secede is still well-regarded in some quarters of the South, a century-and-a-half after the Civil War. And the failed attempt to secede is apparently still well-regarded in some quarters of New York’s southern-most corner, a generation-and-a-half after the last breakaway attempt failed. So says Staten Island City Councilman Joe Borelli. “Secession is wildly popular …

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