Monday, July 29

● More fries, less fat ● Americans warily approve NSA spying ● Contraception benefit rule prevails ● IRS union fights ObamaCare ● FDA sets rule for imported food ● FAA OKs drones for U.S. skies

More fries, less fat
An Agricultural Research Service scientist discovered how to reduce by about one-third the amount of fat that is absorbed by potatoes in the deep-fryer, producing a healthier French fry that tastes just as good. Prepping the raw potatoes for three minutes with infrared heat before they are dunked in the fryer produces the less fatty fries, and a panel of 77 volunteer tasters said they couldn’t discern a difference between them and conventionally prepared fries.

Americans warily approve of NSA spying
A survey by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press found that 56% of Americans believe the federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts. And, an even more robust 70% believes the government uses the data for other purposes. Even so, the poll found that 50% of the 1,480 adults who were surveyed said they approved the government’s efforts.

Contraception benefit rule prevails
In a case watched by dozens of religious, medical and abortion groups, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s refusal to delay regulations which require employers to provide birth control services for employees. The court said the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., whose Mennonite owners claim the rule violates their First Amendment religious freedom rights, is not likely to succeed. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s “corporations are people” decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the appeals court said “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise.”

IRS union fights ObamaCare
The National Treasury Employees Union is asking members, including those at the IRS, to flood Congress with computer-generated form letters against legislation to require government workers to use the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges. “It’s good for thee but not for me: that’s the message now coming from labor unions, who, in spite of being some of the biggest supporters of the president’s health care legislation, are now bemoaning its ill effects on their own insurance and are asking to be exempted from the law,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Matt Patterson.

FDA sets rule for imported food
The Food and Drug Administration issued two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act to ensure that foods imported from overseas meets the same safety standards that apply to food produced in the U.S. Food comes to the U.S. from 150 countries and accounts for 15% of the country’s food supply, including 50% of fresh fruits and 20% of fresh vegetables.

FAA OKs drones for U.S. skies
The Federal Aviation Administration issued certificates for two unmanned aircraft systems—the Scan Eagle X200 and the PUMA—which will lead to the nation’s first approved commercial uses of drones later this summer. A major energy company plans to use the Scan Eagle to monitor ice floes and migrating whales in international waters off the Alaska coast, and the PUMA will support oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea.

Bosnia war criminal faces U.S. charges
A 54-year-old man living in Burlington, Vt., was charged with obtaining naturalized citizenship by lying about crimes and his persecution of Bosnian Serbs during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Department of Justice said. According to an indictment, Edin Sakoč kidnapped and raped a Bosnian Serb woman and aided and abetted the murder of her elderly mother and aunt. Sakoč was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Transplant drug might prevent alcoholism
A drug used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs might also be useful for lessening cravings that lead reformed alcoholics back to the bottle. Research using laboratory rats, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, suggests that rapamycin plays a role in the brain’s memory process and can disrupt memories of alcohol cues—and thus diminish alcohol relapses in rats that were trained to binge drink.

For Immediate Release is a daily compilation of press releases found on more than 1,000 websites that are maintained by the federal government and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

Click for access to an archive of past For Immediate Release reports.

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Obama Signs Bill Banning Iranian Diplomat From U.S.

Hamid Abutalebi was involved in the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran where Americans were held for more than a year.

Homs, Syria A “Theatre Of Death And Destruction”: UN Envoy

Recent fighting in the city has cut its residents off from urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid, the opposition Syrian National Coalition said.

Crimea Will Be Ours Again: Ukraine PM

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine is ready to fight to hold onto the annexed region, but will concentrate on working with the international community.

Review On Keystone Pipeline Delayed, Again

The delayed review of the pipeline now likely takes the issue off the table for the upcoming November elections.

White House: Antisemitic Flyers Disturbing, But Origins Unclear

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Friday told TRNS he wasn’t sure who was behind antisemitic flyers in eastern Ukraine.

Experts: Despite Little Progress, ‘Pivot To Asia’ Not Yet Dead

Senior Administration Officials

A talk hosted by The Brookings Institution looked at how the Obama administration can still make it’s ‘pivot to Asia’ work despite lost time.