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While You Were Sleeping

The gist of what you may have missed

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Teenagers are moving away from the cigarette, but on to the e-cigarette. The New York State Health Department ran a study on high school students and found that the "smoking rate in 2016 was the lowest on record at 4.3 percent, down from 27 percent in 2000." The survey also showed a 10-percent rise in students' use of e-cigarettes (up to 21 percent, compared to 11 percent in 2015). Health officials have also warned that the use of e-cigarettes is a gateway to use of other tobacco products; with most e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Congress and local governments have been slowly trying to limit the use of e-cigarettes. First move: to prohibit their use indoors.

Source: Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin

Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota knew for years that Takata airbags were dangerous and could rupture, but continued to use those airbags in production of their vehicles. After 14 people were killed and more than 100 had been injured by Takata's airbags, the automotive industry saw its largest safety recall in history with 70 million airbags in 42 million vehicles. The file indicating the four automakers were aware of the defects in the airbags also shows that they were made aware years before any recalls. As a result of the trial, Takata pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud for providing the false data and fabricating test data, resulting in them paying a fine of $1 billion. Victims of the faulty airbags filed a class-action lawsuit against the automakers in late February for civil damages.

Source: New York Times

After retweeting, "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies" from story on the Voice of Europe website about the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Iowa representative Steve King has been accused of echoing the principles of white supremacy. Miriam Amer, the executive director of the Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, "This racist tweet crosses the line from dog-whistle politics to straight-up white supremacist advocacy." The tweet by King was one in a number of racist actions he has taken since being elected in 2002. King is on record with CNN saying: "[He] meant exactly what [he] said," in his tweet and stands behind his belief that "culture and demographics are our destiny."

Source: New York Times

Jonathan Freeman, a psychology professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, conducted a study on behalf of an airline with its staff and found "that 98 percent of us consider ourselves to be among the nicest 50 percent of the population." The disconnect comes when people are asked to rate their own niceness. Another study conducted by the University of Chicago and University of Virginia found that "we flatter—and deceive—ourselves in other ways." Part of the study asked participants to judge two photos of themselves and pick the unaltered one, however people tended to pick the enhanced version of themselves. When asked to do the same task for a stranger's photo, participants would correctly pick the un-enhanced photo, speaking to people "unconsciously deceiving [themselves] so that [they] can gain confidence without knowingly lying."

Source: The Guardian (UK)

Overturning the federal Stream Protection Rule made sense to Representative John Faso (NY-19), who said the rule, "would have regulated the coal industry out of business and eliminated tens of thousands of jobs." The rule was just one of numerous, far-reaching regulatory mandates from the Obama administration, made as he was leaving office. However, other officials, like Rebecca Hammer, staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Water Program, felt the rule was needed to keep forests from being destroyed. Faso simply said that Hammer other officials were "dead wrong;" he also pointed out that a number of states were left out of the process to create the rule, despite their being in some of the regions that would have been affected.

Source: Daily Freeman

After years of war, drought, and forest clearcutting for heating and illegal timber sales, Afghanistan is faced with a severe deforestation problem. In response, Hibatullah Akhundzada, leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, released a statement in March calling upon civilians and fighters to plant trees "for the beautification of Earth and the benefit of almighty Allah's creations." A report carried by the Afghan Taliban Voice of Jihad website quoted Akhundzada: "Tree plantation plays an important role in environmental protection, economic development, and the beautification of Earth."

Source: BBC News

The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) reported that the "EPA's Office of Science and Technology no longer lists 'science' in the paragraph describing what it does." Gretchen Gehrke, who works on the EDGI website team said, "removing 'science' from the Office of Science and Technology's mission and replacing it with 'technologically achievable' means the EPA is moving toward more technology-based standards, where polluters just have to install certain types of technology." This is a major change for the EPA, with "the administration [seeming] to view their job as being a support for business as opposed to safeguarding public health."

Source: New Republic

Aid agencies wanted clarification from the South Sudanese government after it signaled to raise the cost of work permits for foreign aid workers in March, days after the country declared a famine. Aid groups spoke to the move by the "labor ministry to increase the cost of permits from $100 to up to $10,000 [as] "terrible timing" in a country where 100,000 people are starving and a further 1 million are on the brink of starvation." However, Human Rights Watch came back, saying that the famine was the man-made result of "conflict, warring parties blocking access for aid workers, and large-scale human rights violations."

Source: The Guardian (UK)

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