By Patricia Zengerle
Senator Joe Manchin became so emotional on Wednesday about the Newtown massacre and his push for background checks for gun buyers that parents whose children were killed at the Connecticut school in December were moved to comfort him.
“I’m a parent. … I’m a grandparent,” the West Virginia Democrat told reporters during a meeting in his office with eight Newtown family members on Wednesday, when asked what he thought it meant to have them visiting the U.S. Capitol.
“I can’t imagine this … to do something,” he tried to say, in tears, before giving up on his effort to answer.
IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant
￼by Declan McCullagh
The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.
Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy “generally no privacy” in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.
That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.
ens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied across the US in a mass call for citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
The co-ordinated protests were designed to press Congress to act as senators negotiate an immigration reform bill.
In Washington DC cheering crowds gathered outside the Capitol, and more than 1,000 demonstrated in Atlanta.
New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education
By Justin Gillis
Educators unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States – including, for the first time, a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school.
The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century, but one that still provokes a backlash among some religious conservatives.
The guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.
A man who lived like a hermit for decades in a makeshift camp in the woods and may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries for food and other staples has been caught in a surveillance trap at a camp he treated as a “Walmart,” authorities said Wednesday.
Christopher Knight, 47, was arrested last week when he tripped a surveillance sensor set up by a game warden while stealing food from a camp for people with special needs in Rome, a town of about 1,000 whose population swells with the arrival of summer residents.
Authorities on Tuesday found the campsite where they believed Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit in local lore, has lived for 27 years.
Obama Budget Includes $235 Million For Mental Health Care
By GILLIAN MOHNEY
President Obama is asking for $235 million as part of his new budget proposal to fund mental health initiatives. Of the funds, $130 million will be used to train teachers and others to identify signs of mental illness in students and provide them with access to treatment.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog on her agency’s website Tuesday that the funds include $205 million to help identify mental health problems, improve access to mental health services and support safer school environments. The plan would affect at least 8,000 schools according to Sebelius. Another $30 million will go toward public health research on gun violence.
“We cannot ignore the fact that 60 percent of people with mental health conditions and nearly 90 percent of people with substance use disorders don’t receive the care they need,” Sebelius said in the post.
Changing Rules of Conception With the First ‘Test Tube Baby’
By Robert G. Edwards
Robert G. Edwards, who opened a new era in medicine when he joined a colleague in developing in vitro fertilization, enabling millions of infertile couples to bring children into the world and women to have babies even in menopause, died on Wednesday at his home near Cambridge, England. Dr. Edwards, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough, was 87.
The University of Cambridge, where he worked for many years, announced his death. Dr. Edwards was known to have dementia and was said to have been unable to appreciate the tribute when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010.
Dr. Edwards, a flamboyant and colorful physiologist who courted the press and vigorously debated his critics, and with his colleague, Dr. Patrick Steptoe, essentially changed the rules for how people can come into the world. Conception was now possible outside the body – in a petri dish.
See-through brains promise to clear up mental mysteries
By Sharon Begley
If Dr Karl Deisseroth were an architect, he might be replacing stone or brick walls with floor-to-ceiling glass to build transparent houses. But since he is a neuroscientist at Stanford University, he has done the biological equivalent: invented a technique to make brains transparent, a breakthrough that should give researchers a truer picture of the pathways underlying both normal mental function and neurological illnesses from autism to Alzheimer’s. In fact, the first human brain the scientists clarified came from someone with autism.
Deisseroth and his colleagues reported in the online edition of the journal Nature on Wednesday that they had developed a way to replace the opaque tissue in brains (harvested from lab mice or donated by people for research) with “hydrogel,” a substance similar to that used for contact lenses.
The result is see-through brains, their innards revealed in a way no current technique can: Large structures such as the hippocampus show up with the clarity of organs in a transparent fish, and even neural circuits and individual cells are visible.
Love, heartbreak, patriotism, and partying have helped make country music the top-selling genre in the US. Segregation and slavery? Not so much.
That is what would seem to make “Accidental Racist,” the new offering by country artist Brad Paisley, so unusual. The song, which has been blasted by critics as a downplaying of racism, attempts to explore the thorny question of whether Southern whites are racist if they are proud of their Confederate heritage.
Yet “Accidental Racist” fits into a long tradition of Southern musicians trying in good faith to reflect on the region’s complicated past. Whether it was the “hillbilly” music marketed to whites from Appalachia and the Ozarks in the 1920s or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response to Neil Young in 1974’s “Sweet Home Alabama, Southern musicians have sought to address the outsider’s perspective that Southern pride is tied to the legacy of slavery and the Civil War.