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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House Approves Continuing Resolution

The Continuing Resolution was sponsored by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who said on the House Floor that that it was “our best, most clear path forward to keep the lights of the federal government on until years end.”

House Gives Obama Authority To Arm/Train Syrian Rebels To Fight ISIS

The amendment is part of the Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded. It now goes to the Senate for approval.

LISTEN: The Day Ahead – September 18, 2014

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Chinese President Xi Jinping continues his tour of India, John Kerry testifies before the House, and the US energy secretary visits his Canadian counterpart.

House Democrats Attempt To Force Vote On ENDA

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ENDA would outlaw the practice of discriminating against Americans when applying for jobs based on sexual orientation or personal gender identification.

LISTEN: The World in 2:00 – September 17, 2014

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Scotland braces for Thursday’s critical independence referendum. Comedian Eddie Izzard and rockers Franz Ferdinand weigh in.

House Dems Slam Republicans On Education

The following is from the office of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.