March 17, 2014

In Other News, March 17

Obama administration cites ‘national security’ more than ever to censor, deny records

The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press. — The Huffington Post

A plunge in U.S. preschool obesity? Not so fast, experts say

If news last month that the prevalence of obesity among American preschoolers had plunged 43 percent in a decade sounded too good to be true, that’s because it probably was, researchers say. — Reuters

Kane shut down sting that snared Philadelphia officials

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office ran an undercover sting operation over three years that captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four members of the city’s state House delegation, on tape accepting money, The Inquirer has learned. Yet no one was charged with a crime. —

Oklahoma can’t find drugs for planned executions

Oklahoma officials revealed in court papers on Monday that the state has not been able to find two of the drugs it needs to carry out executions in the coming days. — NBC News

Lawmaker: Missing airliner may have landed in southeast Asia, for use as ‘weapon’

The theory that the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was hijacked and diverted — possibly to Indonesia — to be used as a “weapon” in a future attack gained traction Monday from the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. — Fox News

4.4-magnitude earthquake hits Los Angeles area

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Los Angeles area on Monday morning, jolting some people awake just before sunrise but bringing no immediate reports of serious damage. — CNN

The dark history of green food on St. Patrick’s Day

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick’s Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation’s darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy. The reason, Kinealy explains, is the Irish potato famine of the 1840s in which people were so deprived of food they resorted to eating grass. — NPR

Westboro Baptist Church founder on deathbed, sons says

The estranged son of the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church said his father is “on the edge of death.” Fred Phelps Sr. became famous for organizing picket lines of brightly-colored signs carrying hateful messages against tolerance during the funerals of military personnel and famous figures. His actions led to at least two federal and several state laws restricting protests during military funerals. — CBS News

Marine creature may offer ‘reef relief’ for chronic pain

The slow and steady cone snail may hold the secret to safe and reliable management of chronic nerve pain. Unlike acute pain that is triggered by a specific injury, neuropathic pain kicks in when the nervous system itself is damaged. Often associated with diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis, it’s a chronic condition that can last for years or even decades. — ABC News

Report: Many Americans intend to stay without health insurance

A third of Americans without health insurance intend to stay that way, according to a new report. Although the most common reason for doing without coverage is the expense, 70 percent of those planning to stay uninsured did not know about the subsidies afforded under Obamacare that reduce the cost. — CBS News

Rules that bar feds from trolling Facebook, Twitter could have weeded out Snowden

Most businesses regularly “Google” job applicants to see whether any red flags appear, but federal agencies generally shun checking social media websites — giving up a tool, analysts say, that could be helpful in weeding out everything from disability and immigration fraud to unsavory people trying to gain top-secret security clearance. — The Washington Times