Category: News

When Birth Control Pills Fail to Prevent Pregnancy

woman_holding_birth_controlOf the 177 women who took contraceptive pills made by the manufacturers of Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, 113 still got pregnant with 94 of these women deciding to deliver their child. Qualitest and its manufacturers committed the mistake of having the pills packed in a reversed order, causing the women who used them to take placebo pills during the week instead of the hormone pills.

Due to damages, which include loss of income, medical expenses and cost of raising a child to age 18 (these children being born from unplanned pregnancies), Qualitest Pharmaceuticals, which is a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and other companies which either made or distributed the pills under different brand names, now face lawsuits that can amount to millions of dollars.

The contraceptives, sold under the brand names Tri-Previfem, Previfem, Orsythia, Gildess, Emoquette and Cyclafem, each had 28 days’ worth of pills; 21 of these pills contained hormones that are supposed to prevent pregnancy, while the other seven are placebos. The pills should be taken in order – this means not mixing the placebos with the active pills.

It was found out by a US District Judge, however, that of the half-million packs of pills that were recalled, about 53 packs had the order of the pills reversed. The recalls, which were made in September 2011 by Qualitest, included eight birth-control pills brands.

The head of the National Women’s Health Network knows that the lawsuit filed by the affected women will be a tough battle to fight (part of this is proving that they got pregnant due to the packaging mistake). She believes, though, that it should be the duty of the company, which made the mistake, to do the right thing, which is to compensate those who suffered damages and losses.

Controversial Anti-Terror Law May Be Passed Soon in China

Controversial anti-terrorism law in China Anti-Terror-Buttonmay be passed into fruition within the month, a report from Reuters says.

U.S. President Barack Obama has raised concern over this matter himself with Chinese Presiden, Xi Jinping as the proposed law speaks of “backdoors” to be a legal requirement for technology firms. These backdoors would serve as an alternate means for sensitive information, such as classified encrypted keys to the government, to be acquired in the event of a national emergency.

The law has been drafted and proposed in order to combat recent events that have been growing more and more alarming as of late as extremist groups grow bolder and more brutal with every attack. However, those opposed to the law have stated that the requirement would put “unfair regulatory pressure” on other companies, should the law come to pass, the report from Reuters states.

Xinhua, a state news agency in China, has said officials have called that the draft for the law is already at a stage of maturation and that it has been “suggested to be put forward for approval”. The increasingly growing threat of violence at the Western regions of Xinjiang due to violence caused by militants and separatists, which makes officials more and more adamant for the anti-terrorism law, though China denies abuse of rights in Xinjiang.

Domestic and foreign technologies would have to adhere to the protocols demanded by the anti-terrorism law, should it be passed.

Volkswagen to give out cash cards to calm down car owners

vw_grille

In light of an emission scandal that profoundly impacted Volkswagen sales and credibility, reports say the German automaker giant is planning to give out prepaid cards to quell the increasing displeasure among those who have bought the company’s newer line of diesel cars.

According to a report by the NY Times, the company is looking to offer up to $1,250 worth of cash cards to those involved in the emission issue. The first prepaid card, which is worth $500, could be spent for anything. The second prepaid card, valuing between $500 and $750, could only be spent on Volkswagen dealerships. However, it is still unclear whether accepting the cash cards would mean waiving the right to take legal action.

The move came as more and more discontented car owners are filing lawsuit against the company. The plaintiffs are asking for compensation after a significant decrease in the resale value of the affected cars.

Volkswagen is currently under intense criticism after the U.S. Environment Protection Agency announced that the company intentionally equipped its diesel units with a device that could cheat standard emission tests. The automaker says it will set aside $6.7 billion for the recall of the affected cars, hurting its third quarter revenue with a 1.83 billion loss.

Ashley Madison faces $500 million in lawsuits following hacker attack

The Ashley Madison hack has dominated headlines for more than a week now. Since a group of hackers identifying themselves as “The Impact Team” first released personal information of the site’s users last August 18, many news outlets, websites, and blogs have given their two cents regarding the situation.

Security Breach

A few of the pieces that came out about the Ashley Madison hack focused on the high-profile users that have been discovered through the hack, while others focused on the astounding number of fake accounts and the fraudulent use of the email addresses of individuals that haven’t used the site at all. Now, Wired adds a new angle to the news about the hack, reporting that at least four lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against the infamous cheating website.

At present, two lawsuits have been filed in California, a third in Texas, and another one was filed in Missouri last July when the Impact Team initially threatened Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media. Wired also reports that another suit has been filed in Canada, where operations of Avid Life Media are currently based.

According to Wired, the four lawsuits filed in U.S. are all battling for recognition as class action status. The lawsuits were also filed by anonymous plaintiffs seeking damages due to “breach of contract”, “negligence in protecting customer data,” and “violation of various state privacy laws.” One of the plaintiffs is alleged to be seeking over $500 million in compensation. The lawsuits all assert that Avid Life Media have failed to appropriately protect the personal information of their clients despite knowledge of vulnerabilities in their systems.

Kentucky Clerk’s Refusal to Grant Licenses Causes Discussion

Kim DavisKim Davis, a clerk from Rowan County, was released on the 8th of September after having been sentenced to jail for her refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis cited that issuing licenses to same-sex couples would be against her religious beliefs and that it would be against her conscience. She has stated to say that it would be against her beliefs to grant same-sex couples with a license for she is of the belief system that marriage should only be between what she would constitute as a “man” and a “woman”.

It came to light in other reports that Davis had previously granted the marriage license to a couple between a transgender man and a cis female who identifies as pansexual. (In accordance with the beliefs of her religion, the transgender man in question would be, to them, a woman thereby proving that Davis has already, technically, issued a marriage license between a same-sex couple.)

The clerk had served 6 days in prison for her discriminatory defiance though thousands from all over the country went in support of her religious convictions. She has been charged with contempt of the law for her actions and has been told to cease from issuing any further marriage licenses. However, Davis’ camp has stated that she has every intention to keep issuing licenses despite the warnings of US District Judge, David Bunning.

Several others have claimed to contest the legalization of same-sex marriage due on religious grounds. Clark’s defiance is the first openly contemptuous act against the legalization.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in all fifty states of America on the 26th of June 2015.

Gay couples still face legal issues when getting married

shutterstock_290917601Weeks after the Supreme Court removed the ban on gay marriage across the United States legalizing it in all states, gay couples are still facing legal issues, as some county clerks across many states are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples citing religious reasons.  This has become an issue across many of the Southern states and is sparking a debate over the legality of this.

Four Kentucky couples are suing a county clerk after she not only turned away two same sex couples, but two heterosexual couples.  The clerk is refusing to issue any marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruling, claiming that her religious beliefs kept her from issuing them to any couple.  However, she is not the only clerk denying marriage licenses.  Similar instances have been seen in Texas and Tennessee.  Clerks are not only facing lawsuits from a number of couples, but face serious legal issues.  Under national laws, clerks are not allowed to refuse marriage licenses based on religious beliefs as it violates the first amendment.  Many are calling for stricter penalties to end these actions and new laws to protect same sex couples from being denied marriage licenses.  However, clerks are arguing for their actions, citing it is their right to turn down a same sex couple.

The lawsuits against clerks who refused marriage licenses have resulted in some couples later having the licenses being given to them.  Despite this, other couples are still facing problems receiving them and legal battles still continue.

Nebraska moves to abolish death penalty

shutterstock_253321300Nebraska’s legislative branch has taken another step moving them closer to abolishing death penalty. NPR reports that the lawmakers recently voted on the approval of a measure that would repeal capital punishment in the state. With votes tallying 32-15 on this third round, the legislative branch was able to overrule the possibility of a veto from Governor Pete Ricketts, who is known to be a strong supporter of capital punishment.

The movement to abolish death penalty in Nebraska has had a long history, with a failed previous attempt in 1979. It also comes from all sides of the political spectrum. Aside from opposition from Democrats and Independents, Republican lawmakers are also against death penalty on religious and fiscal grounds.

According to NPR, the state of Nebraska has not executed a prisoner for about 20 years. However, Gov. Ricketts has made concrete actions to ensure that the practice continues on. The governor was also noted to have called the two decade gap in the state’s death penalty rulings as a “management problem.” On his website, Gov. Ricketts called for Nebraska residents to express to the senate their “[deep concerns] about the repeal of the death penalty and attempts…to give more lenient sentences to hardened criminals.”

At present, there are 32 states across America where capital punishment is legal. Several states have repealed capital punishment in recent years, including Maryland in 2013 and Connecticut in 2012.

A Closer Look: Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Law

shutterstock_176595017In an op-ed published by The Washington Post, Tim Cook recently spoke out against religious freedom laws currently being introduced in several states across the country. The Apple chief executive criticized the role these laws could play in the wide-spread discrimination against the LGBT community. In particular, he cited concerns about the new religious freedom law passed in Indiana that would allow people to “cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.”

After it takes effect on July 1, Indiana’s religious freedom law will prohibit other state laws that could “substantially burden” a person’s ability to exercise his or her religious beliefs. Ideally, the law is meant to prevent government intervention and allow individuals, institutions, businesses, and other associations the freedom to express and exercise their religious beliefs. However, several Indiana-based companies and businesses are echoing Tim Cook’s opinion about the law’s possible discriminatory nature.

The backlash against Indiana’s religious freedom law has been swift. USA Today reported that business leaders in Indiana are most concerned about how the law could impede their ability to recruit fresh talent because job seekers might fear discrimination. Several corporate leaders from Indiana’s top companies also released a one-page opposition of the law addressed to Governor Mike Pence and state legislative leaders.

In response, Gov. Pence has assured the public that he is actively working with legislators to clarify and make amends to the law. As he told The Indianapolis Star, “I support religious liberty, and I support this law… But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

Ebola Outbreak: U.S. Labs Implicated

shutterstock_210544051Conspiracy theorists always like to point the finger at the U.S. government, usually using farfetched, schizophrenic lines of reasoning that just makes you go, huh? But there are times when the theories sound uncomfortably plausible.

That is the case with the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in west Africa which is already spreading to other parts of the world. After the initial alarm that sent people scurrying to set up their defenses had died down, they began to wonder how it got there in the first place. The Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 in the Congo, nearly 3,500 miles away from the site of the recent outbreak in Liberia.

The first tentative suggestions that perhaps the biowarfare research labs the U.S. had in Liberia and Sierra Leone had a hand in the spread began in September 2014 when it was suggested by a professor of plant pathology in an article published in the Daily Observer. It hardened into suspicion as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrated a lack of preparedness for such a contingency that seemed strange for a country that has spent billions of dollars in biowarfare defenses.

There are already nearly 4,000 dead from this Ebola outbreak, and the World Health Organization warns that it could climb to much higher numbers if the virus is not contained.

The Issue of Marijuana Legalization

marijuanaMaryland is one of the 23 states (and the District of Columbia) that have most recently relaxed their laws regarding the possession of marijuana, and although Pennsylvania still holds to the old statutes, it is now decriminalized in Philadelphia at least. In other words, you can no longer be arrested for having a certain amount of marijuana i.e. less than 10 grams in Maryland and less than an ounce in Philadelphia. Instead, you are levied a fine i.e. $100 in Maryland and $25 in Philadelphia.

However, the issue of marijuana legalization is still a hot topic among legislators, many of whom believe that decriminalization of the substance creates more issues than it lays to rest. For example, it would require law enforcers to make judgment calls about whether the amount of marijuana they find warrants an arrest or not. It also brings up the specter of racial disparities in doing searches for suspected illegal possession of marijuana.

State law enforcement has a reason to be nervous. Making an unwarranted arrest can cost the state a bundle in lawsuits, especially there seems to be an overrepresentation of a racial group in the books. It may just be safer (and less expensive) to simply look the other way.

Supreme Court Neutral on Gay Marriage

supreme courtThe issue of same-sex marriage has been raging on ever since the first application for a marriage license was denied by a clerk in Hennepin County, Minnesota because the applicants were both male. However, this week the Supreme Court chose to take a neutral attitude towards the issue of gay marriage, allowing the rulings of lower courts to stand.

The states immediately affected by this decision are Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma, which had appealed the lifting of the state bans on same-sex marriages by federal appeal courts. Six other states that are awaiting the ruling of the federal appeals court for the same issue may very well get the same treatment from the Supreme Court.

As of the time of this decision, there are 19 states plus the District of Columbia in which same-sex marriage is legalized. This decision could jumpstart the movement to make same-sex marriages recognized in other states, bringing the total number of states that recognize gay marriage to 30. Nine other states, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, are also in line for denials by federal appeals court, which means that there could soon be 39 states in which same-sex marriage is legal or in which the state ban lifted.

This decision is considered a victory for the gay rights movement, but some advocates criticize the Supreme Court for staying on the sidelines when a definitive ruling would have made the process of nationalizing the legality of same-sex marriages much faster.

Uzi Death at Arizona Gun Range

UziIn a bizarre twist of fate, an Arizona gun instructor was killed by a 9-year-old girl wielding, of all things, a 9-mm submachine gun, popularly known as an Uzi.

The gun range, Bullets and Burgers, catered to tourists who made the one-hour trip from Las Vegas to try out high-powered weapons. There are no age restrictions for discharging a weapon in Arizona when it is done under proper supervision in a gun range. This is supposed to prevent injury to the shooter and bystanders, but in this case the supervisor, Charles Vacca, was killed.

Gun experts criticized the fact that the young girl was allowed to hold the powerful weapon in the first place; the recoil is just too much for even some adults to handle, let alone an inexperienced child. Based on a video tape of the events leading up to the incident, short of the actual shooting, gun instructors speculate that Vacca may have made the fatal mistake of standing to the left of the weapon which effectively put him in the line of fire when the child inevitably loses control. Furthermore, they questioned why the Uzi had a full clip, when it is standard to only load three bullets to restrict the burst of gunfire from the semi-automatic weapon.

No charges are expected to be filed against the girl or her parents, who were present at the time of the shooting. It is so far being considered a workplace accident being investigated by the appropriate state agencies. However, there may be a personal injury case in the offing against the gun range for psychological and emotional damages to the child resulting from the traumatic event.