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California Gov. Gavin Newsom Signs Contract Workers Bill

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Watch Video California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill requiring companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees.Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 into law on Wednesday after state legislators  passed the bill  last week.  The bill  would redefine employer-worker relationships in the state. It requires workers to be recognized as employees instead of contractors if a company controls how they perform their work or if their work is part of a company's regular business. Short-term contract workers, like drivers for ride-sharing companies, currently either don't qualify for or are not guaranteed the same rights as employees. Those rights include minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and sick leave. The law is set to take effect on Jan. 1.The bill's author, California Rep. Lorena Gonzalez,  said in a statement  Wednesday, "As one of the strongest economies in the world, California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow."Both Uber and Lyft have adamantly opposed the legislation, arguing employee drivers would lose the flexibility that's key to their business models. A spokesperson for Lyft said the companies will continue trying to reach a compromise agreement with Newsom, but are also "prepared to take this issue to the voters." Both companies said last week they're considering bringing the issue up in a  statewide ballot measure in 2020 . The  Los Angeles Times  points out that if the companies manage to get enough signatures for a ballot referendum to overturn the employment law, it would be suspended until next November. Číst dále >>>

Federal Reserve Cuts Rates Amid Uncertain Global Outlook

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Watch Video On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve  slashed interest rates  for just the second time since the 2008 recession. The central bank set the new rate at between 1.75% and 2%. The move apparently  irked President Trump , who's pushed for deeper cuts to match rates elsewhere in the world.Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed acted to sustain an 11-year period of economic expansion amid weak investment, uncertain trade markets and slowed growth abroad. He said the Fed is not forecasting a recession and that the U.S. is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.The decision passed in a  7-3 vote  after a  two-day meeting , underscoring questions about whether it was necessary to lower the rate given such a positive outlook. The central bank has adjusted the benchmark  eight other times  since President Trump took office,  most recently in July . U.S. stocks fell  before and after the announcement, and the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee is reportedly divided over what to do next.Some Fed officials worry Wednesday's move could undermine confidence in the Fed as an independent entity. But supporters of Wednesday's decrease say it's meant to keep credit lines open, especially in the event of a global downturn.And that reasoning's not without merit. Recent months have seen several events that could seriously impact the global economy, including the U.S.'  ongoing trade war  with China, a  spike in oil prices  and the possibility of a  no-deal Brexit .This week, the central bank and New York Reserve injected $128 billion into the economy to  offset funding shortages .The U.S. economy is driven largely by consumer spending, which remains strong. And although President Trump has criticized the Fed for cutting rates too slowly, he certainly wants to keep markets strong and stable heading into the 2020 election. Číst dále >>>

Sanders Releases Plan To End Homelessness And Boost Housing

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Watch Video Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders  released his plan  to help fight homelessness and lower housing costs on Wednesday.The plan, as Sanders' camp has laid it out, is expensive — $2.5 trillion expensive. It's also pretty comprehensive, outlining 11 goals Sanders wants to achieve as president and how he plans to achieve them.Among those goals are creating 7.4 million "quality" affordable housing units over 10 years, ending homelessness and putting a cap on rent to make it more affordable. Sanders' plan doesn't specify how he'd pay for the programs and changes he put forward. The Hill reports the money would come from a wealth tax on the country's top income earners. Číst dále >>>

Michigan Becomes 2nd State To Officially Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

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Watch Video On Wednesday, Michigan became the second state to  officially ban e-cigarette products . The new rules prohibit any flavor "other than the taste or aroma of tobacco."The ban is effective immediately and lasts for 180 days, but it can be extended for another six months. The state's Department of Health and Human Services has filed a request to enforce permanent rules.MDHHS says retailers and resellers, including online sellers, will have two weeks to comply with the new rules. Retailers are prohibited from using terms like "safe," "clean," "healthy" or "harmless" to describe vape products. They are also limited in the advertisements they use for vaping. Violators could face misdemeanor charges, punishable by a $200 fine and up to six months in jail. Repeated violators could face daily fines. Retailers say the ban is a "catastrophe" and will do irreparable harm to their businesses. Several smoke shop owners told  the Detroit Free Press  flavored vaping products made up anywhere between 30% and 50% of their business. Some said that many of their customers who quit smoking do so using flavored e-cigarettes.Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first  announced  plans for the flavored e-cigarette ban on Sep. 4. Since then, other states have followed suit.Whitmer said: "I'm proud that Michigan has been a national leader in protecting our kids from the harmful effects of vaping. For too long, companies have gotten our kids hooked on nicotine by marketing candy-flavored vaping products as safe. That ends today. This bold action will protect our kids and our overall public health." New York  became the first state to officially enact a ban on Tuesday, but it doesn't include banning menthol flavor.  California  has also taken steps toward banning flavored e-cigarettes, but a ban would need legislative approval to take effect. The Trump administration  recently announced efforts  to block the sale of all non-tobacco-flavored vaping products.  Seven deaths  in the U.S. have been linked to vaping, and the  CDC says 380 cases  of vaping-related illnesses have been reported. Číst dále >>>

New Mexico's Governor Announces Free Public College Tuition Plan

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Watch Video New Mexico's governor revealed a plan on Wednesday to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for in-state students.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship while speaking at a higher education summit. The program would make New Mexico the second state after New York to cover residents' full tuition at public two- and four-year universities.The Opportunity Scholarship, described as a "last dollar" program, would cover any tuition costs for in-state residents that haven't already been paid for by federal grants or the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship. Lujan Grisham said those programs typically leave an "unpaid tuition gap" of 25-40%.In a statement, the governor described the program as "an absolute game-changer." She said, "In the long run, we'll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents, a better trained and better compensated workforce."Public tuition costs have become a key talking point for Democratic candidates as the fight for the presidential nomination heats up. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both announced plans to eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities.If it's approved by the state's legislature, the Opportunity Scholarship could affect nearly 55,000 New Mexico students at 29 public institutions by fall semester 2020. Číst dále >>>

Report: Border Barrier Could Damage Archaeological Sites In Arizona

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Watch Video The construction of the border wall along the southwestern border could threaten nearly two dozen archaeological sites in Arizona, according to a new report. According to an internal report  by the National Park Service and  obtained by The Washington Post , up to 22 archaeological sites in Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument face being "wholly or partially destroyed by forthcoming border fence construction." It also says the administration’s plan to turn an existing 5-foot barrier in the area into a 30-foot steel wall could damage ancient artifacts, like stone tools and ceramics, that have yet to be discovered.The report notes that "human groups have been present" in the area for over 10,000 years, and at least a dozen Native American tribes claim connections to the lands within the Organ Pipe.  Despite the park being both a U.S. National Monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve, the Department of Homeland Security was able to  waive more than three dozen federal laws  to build the border wall, including the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the Endangered Species Act.Customs and Border Protection officials told the Post that the agency has been "working very closely" with the park service, but has not delayed construction plans to allow for more detailed excavations in the area. Číst dále >>>

India Issues Total Ban Of E-Cigarettes

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Watch Video India is completely banning e-cigarettes, saying it's a massive health risk, especially among young adults and children.The Cabinet approved the ban on Wednesday."It means production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, or sale or even distribution and storage and advertisement relating e-cigarettes are all banned," India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.  In a statement , India's government said the use of e-ciagrettes have "increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children." India's finance minister said e-cigarettes were initially promoted as a way to get people to quit smoking, but reports show people are becoming addicted to them.People who violate the ban the first time could face up to a year in prison, pay a fine of more than $1,300, or both.  Číst dále >>>

Report: Medication Abortions On The Rise. But, What Are They?

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Watch Video new study  by the Guttmacher Institute shows abortion rates in the U.S are at an all time low. But, among the key findings is the continued rise of what is known as medication abortion.Unlike surgical abortions, a medication abortion allows a patient to take two drugs to end a pregnancy within up to 10 weeks.  SEE MORE: U.S. Abortion Rate Drops To Its Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade Dr. Beverly Winikoff, President of Gynuity Health Projects a research organization dedicated to women’s reproductive health, told Newsy, “A pill means you don't need a sterilization of a hypodermic needle. You don't need a surgeon you don't need any kind of anesthesia.”  Medication abortion has been available in the U.S. since 2000, when the drug Mifeprex was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Winikoff added, “If you talk to the medical community that works in reproductive health there's a great deal of agreement that this is a very safe and effective method of abortion.”But approval came with restrictions that made accessing a medication abortion more difficult. For example, you can’t get this drug at a local pharmacy with a prescription and it can only be dispensed by certified health care providers. Opponents of medication abortion cite complications from the drug as reasons for the restrictions. Dr. Donna Harrison, Executive Director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetriciaons and Gynecologists, expressed her concerns. “There's kind of a a marketing spin that you pop this pill and poof the pregnancy is over but that's not the reality of a medication abortion,” Harrison said. “You could have serious hemorrhaging. You can you can have pain. And I'm concerned that women are not being told these risks.” According to  FDA data , more than 3.7 million patients have had a medication abortion. And since 2000, there have been 24 deaths associated with taking Mifeprex, although the FDA has not determined the drug caused the deaths.SEE MORE: FDA Changes Label On Abortion Pill, Increasing Options For Women In 2016, for the first time since approval, the FDA changed their guidelines on Mifeprex in part because of the drug’s safety record. It made the drug available from 7 weeks to up to 10 weeks, decreased the dosing and expanded the group type of health care providers who could dispense the drug.  The Guttmacher report  is the first count of abortion since the FDA changes. And since then there has been a significant increase in medication abortions from 29% in 2014 to 39% in 2017. Mifeprex remains one of the most regulated drugs on the market. And while the number of clinics providing abortion services continues to decrease, the report notes a growing number of clinics that only offer medication abortions. Číst dále >>>

Legislation Aims To Increase Abortion Access On College Campuses

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Watch Video While so much of the public discourse around abortion lately has been on complete bans, legislation in some states is pushing for expansion on a different front: college campuses.  A first-of-its-kind bill in California  that would provide "medication abortions," commonly known as abortion pills, at some college campuses is making headlines. While California waits to see if Gov. Gavin Newsom  will sign it a similar bill  is being debated …. in Massachusetts. And lawmakers there are paying attention to what happens in California. Massachusetts Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, who introduced the bill, told Newsy: "This legislation would ensure that thousands of students have easier access to basic health care, and Massachusetts will certainly be looking at the California model as we work on passing this legislation here."Bills like these are the result of  student  activism and research that college students have to travel off campus to get abortion access.  One study in California  put the average distance of public university campuses to clinics at six miles. Another concern is that off-campus clinics may not accept insurance plans. The Massachusetts bill was introduced to the state legislature in January. If it passes, health centers at public universities would start offering medication abortions to students starting in 2022. Lawmakers estimate this could increase access to at least 75,000 students in Massachusetts. The costs would be covered by a private fund. Universities would be expected to report costs and number of medication abortions provided to the state government. Medication abortions can be used for up to the  first 10 weeks  of pregnancy. Patients would go to a provider, where a doctor would explain the process and do an ultrasound or other method to confirm the pregnancy date. Then a pregnant patient would receive two types of pills that  block progesterone and cause  early pregnancy to end. We reached out to several prominent pro-life organizations in Massachusetts for comment, but have yet to hear back. Opposition to a bill like this is not based solely on party lines or personal convictions. Let's go back to the example in California, because it's actually the state's second time getting this legislation to the governor's desk.The first time, last year, there was a different governor in office: Jerry Brown. Despite being a vocal pro-choice advocate,  he vetoed the bill  because he didn't think the distance of six miles was "unreasonable," and the bill was therefore "unnecessary."As for Massachusetts, its bill is currently in the joint committee. The next hearing has yet to be announced.  Číst dále >>>

How Did The U.S.'s Most Influential Judicial Body Come To Be?

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Watch Video The U.S. Supreme Court is, without a doubt, the country's most important and influential judicial body. It's had a say in  countless landmark cases , making decisions that have helped shape the country for over 200 years. It all started on Sept. 24, 1789. President George Washington signed the  Judiciary Act of 1789  into law. It established a Supreme Court, created the structure and jurisdiction of the federal court system, and set up the position of attorney general of the United States. Of course, the legislation has been amended over the many, many years, but the basic outline of the federal court system has largely survived. The highest court in the land was created as a tribunal of six justices, who were to serve the country until they retired or died. Article 3 of the  U.S. Constitution  gave the U.S. Supreme Court jurisdiction over all U.S. laws, especially in cases that involve laws' constitutionality.President George Washington tapped John Jay as the first ever  chief justice , with John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson serving as associate justices. The  first-ever session  of the Supreme Court was held in New York City's Merchants Exchange Building in early 1790. New York was the nation's capital at the time. And the court  handed down  its first opinion in the later half of 1791. As specified in the Constitution, Congress chooses how many justices serve on the court. It fluctuated over the years, changing five times until settling on the current total of nine justices in 1869. The Supreme Court operates in what's called " The Term of Court " — which starts on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. In recent years, 7,000-8,000 new cases are filed each term. The justices grant about 80 of them a full, or  plenary , review, with oral arguments by attorneys.   The ultimate responsibility of the Supreme Court is written above the building's main entrance in Washington, D.C.: "Equal justice under law." Číst dále >>>

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