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New Rules from U.S. FDA to Affect the Whole Tobacco Industry and the Nation’s 40 Million Smokers

E-Cigarette

In a number of U.S. states, Americans are banned from being sold e-cigarettes unless they can show a photo identification which will prove that they are above 18 years old. This new rule, which extends federal regulatory authority to e-cigarettes, comes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its adoption by all states will affect not only the tobacco industry but the nation’s 40 million smokers (including the estimated 9 million adult e-cigarette users ) as well.

There is currently no federal oversight or protection for American consumers in connection with the sale and use of E-cigarettes, which has grown into a multi-billion dollar business. E-cigarettes, which were introduced during the early part of the year 2000, are devices that deliver nicotine without the harmful cancer-causing tar and chemicals.

While British health experts see the use of e-cigarettes as an effective way of helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes, health experts in the U.S. are wary as to whether banning these devices to be sold to Americans below 18 will make them quit smoking or would only cause them to smoke cigarettes instead.

Smoking is a huge concern for American health experts, considering the fact that more than 480,000 tobacco-related deaths are reported in the U.S. every year. Though Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, welcomed the FDA’s new rules, which are take effect in 90 days, he says that the process of implementing the rules has brought about much difficulty.

One of the biggest effects of the FDA rule is the need for manufacturers of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to register with the FDA, disclose to the agency their manufacturing processes, and provide the agency with a detailed list of their products’ ingredients. All manufacturers will also be subjected to FDA inspections and will only be able to market their products as “mild,” or “light” after these have been approved and allowed by the FDA. No company will also be allowed to give out free sample products.

What does the Constitution Really Say about Gay Rights?

ConstitutionIt was a period of peace and relief for the LGBT people in Charlotte after this city outlawed LGBT discrimination last February (2016). That peace, however, was short-lived as North Carolina’s State governor and legislature passed and signed into law (just in one day) what many now consider as the most extreme anti-LGBT measure ever legalized in the country.

North Carolina’s new law has two parts: use of public restroom based on one’s biological gender (not on one’s preferred gender identity); and, prohibition on any local government to create any (new) anti-discrimination law (like the one Charlotte passed).

North Carolina is the third state (in the last five years) to prohibit local anti-discrimination laws. While many see this move as a counterattack in the latest battle over gay rights, it is this conservative State’s way of response to liberal cities that pass laws in protection of the LGBT people.

Can this move lead to questions about constitutionality?

Barely a week after North Carolina signed its new law, it has already been met with much criticism from various businesses and organizations. Besides a lawsuit filed by Equality North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Lambda Legal, wherein the State is accused of violating the US Constitution’s stipulations regarding equal treatment, as many as 120 company executives have also signed a letter which criticizes the law and seeks its repeal; the States of Connecticut, New York, Washington as well as other cities have also banned government-connected travels to North Carolina as an expression of their opposition to the law.

The law, however, is not without supporters. One of these is the Liberty Council, a Christian legal aid group, which has offered to defend the State against the lawsuit (Liberty Council represented the Kentucky court clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples the previous year).
Apparently, North Carolina’s law is testing the limits of the US Constitution. But while the 14th Amendment promises equal protection under the law, the Supreme Court remains vague with regard to what this promise means for the LGBT community.

Many legal professionals believe that the case against North Carolina will definitely be a tough one to litigate; however, many also believe that it may force the Supreme Court to answer what the Constitution really says about gay rights.

Recalls and very Huge Fines Faced by Volkswagen

Around the globe, more than 8 million Volkswagen cars may be recalled, while in the US, besides the close to half a million cars that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already ordered to be recalled, a Volkswagen fraud lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department (against Volkswagen) in behalf of the EPA may also result to about $90 billion in fines.

The investigation of emission scandal that Volkswagen is involved with, wherein German car manufacturer Volkswagen is accused of cheating emissions tests in the US, has now spread to many other countries, including parts of Europe, Canada and South Korea.

Since 2009, Volkswagen has sold at least 480,000 of its clean diesel cars in the US after passing emissions tests conducted by the EPA. It was later found out, however, that these vehicles were equipped with a defeat device, a type of computer software which allowed the German-made cars to detect testing scenarios. Consequently, the device put the car into safety mode, reducing its emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by making the vehicle’s engine run below its normal power – though fraudulent, it was definitely an impressive way of dishonestly making its way into the US car market. After tests have been conducted, as the vehicle goes back on the road and runs on normal power, it also goes back to emitting hazardous pollutants that are up to 40 times higher than the limit set by the Clean Air Act.

Diesel-power cars are slowly, but definitely, gaining a spot in the US car industry. This is why some wonder how other car manufacturers, like Chevrolet, have been able to change the image of diesel engines from slow, noisy and emitting lots of dirty smoke, to quiet and as clean as gasoline engines, while Volkswagen had to cheat in order to pass emissions tests. Since diesel engines also provide more torque and diesel itself ensures better fuel economy, it may only be a matter of time before cars with diesel engine start dominating US roads and highways too, but as regards those manufactured by Volkswagen, only time will tell.

Black Woman Cast as Beloved Childhood Character

Social media went aflame when it was announced that Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress, Noma Dumawezni, Harry Potter Platformwas cast as the adult Hermione Granger in the upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley were also cast as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, respectively. The play, adamantly stated as “not a prequel” to the septology, revolves around the hardships faced by overworked Ministry father and school-age son, Harry and Albus Severus.

Many people cited the films in justification for their vehemence against the casting of a black woman as Hermione Granger and even continually cites one line from the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (published in 1999), that supposedly states that the character in question was white.

Author of the series, J.K. Rowling, took to her own social media channels and went on to support the new casting. She said, “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione”. Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch (who played Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood in the films) have also expressed their support for Dumawezni. Emma Watson played the role for the film adaptations.

The play is set to premiere on the 30th of July 2016 at the West End’s Palace Theatre.

Ten years later: Obama visits New Orleans to remember ‘Katrina’

It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc to Louisiana, Florida, and other areas in the southeastern part of the United States. Leaving millions of people homeless and without livelihoods, the hurricane had since been known as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Now, President Obama asserts that the devastation caused by Katrina could have been avoided if not for government failure.

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In a visit to New Orleans—the state most hit hard by the disaster—last August 27, the president addressed a small crowd gathered to commemorate the 10th year since the hurricane first struck the area on August 29, 2005. According to a report by NPR’s Scott Neuman, Obama called Katrina a “man-made calamity,” saying that the devastating outcome it left in its wake is as much a result of structural economic inequalities as it was a result of the deadly forces of nature.

“New Orleans had long been plagued by structural inequality that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing…Too many kids grew up surrounded by violent crime, cycling through substandard schools where few had a shot to break out of poverty,” NPR quotes the president as saying.

In the years since Hurricane Katrina struck the nation, the White House has made plenty of efforts to help affected areas recover from the disaster. Aside from New Orleans and other surrounding areas in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi have all benefited from the billions spent in restoration efforts since Obama first took the presidency in 2009.

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