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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Over the past 10 years, states have increasingly used large databases of information about criminals to identify dozens of risk factors associated with those who continue to commit crimes, like prior convictions, hostility to law enforcement and substance abuse. Those factors are then weighted and used to rank criminals as being a high, medium or low risk to offend again. Judges, corrections officials and parole officers in turn use those rankings to help determine how long a convict should spend in jail. Virtually every state has used such risk assessments to varying degrees over the past decade, and many have made them mandatory for sentencing and corrections as a way to reduce soaring prison populations, cut recidivism and save money. read more


CNET: One of the persistent challenges of manned space exploration is that pesky lack of oxygen throughout much of the universe. Here on Earth, trees and other plant life do us a real solid by taking in our bad breath and changing it back to clean, sweet O2. So what if we could take those biological oxygen factories into space with us, but without all the land, sun, water, soil, and gravity that forests tend to require? Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has created the first human-made, biologically functional leaf that takes in carbon dioxide, water, and light and releases oxygen. The leaf consists of chloroplasts --- the part of a plant cell where photosynthesis happens -- suspended in body made of silk protein. read more


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

But Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones predicted that insurers will ease up in the coming year to prevent California voters from approving tough new rate controls on the November statewide ballot as Proposition 45.

Insurers and opponents of Proposition 45 dismissed Jones' comments as misleading and politically motivated.

At a news conference Tuesday, Jones said individuals this year paid between 22% and 88% more for individual health insurance policies than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived.

read more


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Argentina faces a Wednesday deadline for more than $500 million in debt payments. It appears unlikely that bondholders will receive their money, bringing to a head a standoff with a separate group of creditors, the so-called "holdout" hedge funds that have refused the country's two debt-restructuring offers over the past decade.

At the center of the case is a 2012 U.S. District Court ruling that Argentina cannot pay bondholders who accepted the restructuring agreements until it pays the holdouts -- a decision that the government contends puts it in a costly legal bind.

Here's a primer on what might happen should Argentina miss the payments.

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The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Barack Obama to President Vladimir Putin in a letter on Monday. It is the most serious allegation of an arms control treaty violation that the Obama administration has leveled against Russia. At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War. read more


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