1. One year later, has Sandy Hook changed America's gun debate?
2. What's ahead in Knox murder trial
By Colleen Barry/AP
FLORENCE, Italy - Former American exchange student Amanda Knox spent four years in jail in Italy, from her arrest to her conviction in her first murder trial through her successful appeal. She's now facing a second appeals trial, along with her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Here's a road map to help understand where the Italian court system is going next:
FIRST TRIAL, SECOND TRIAL, THIRD TRIAL
Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of murdering British student Meredith Kercher, whose throat had been slashed the night of Nov. 1, 2007. Knox was sentenced to 26 years, including one year for a slander conviction for wrongly accusing a bar owner of the murder, while Sollecito received 25 years.
An appeals court overturned their murder verdicts, while confirming Knox's guilt on a slander charge and raising that sentence to three years. Knox, who had spent four years in jail during the investigation and the trials, was free to return to the United States, and she did.
In March, Italy's highest court vacated the appellate court in a scathing decision that blasted it for "deficiencies, contradictions and illogical" conclusions. It ordered the case back to appeal, noting specific weaknesses such as the failure to hear one witness or to test a minuscule trace of DNA on the handle of the presumed murder weapon.
The new appeals trial in Florence began in September.show more
3. Editorial: Rules for drones needed sooner rather than later
By Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald/Digital First Media
Farmer Robert Blair stands in front of his tractor holding an unmanned aircraft that he built in Kendrick, Idaho. Blair uses the home-made drone equipped with up to four cameras to "scout" his 1,500 acres of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa and cow pasture. Courtesy of Rhonda Blair/Associated Press
Maybe Amazon's drone-delivery project is mostly a publicity stunt. Maybe it's genuine. It is without a doubt, however, a stark reminder that we need to be prepared in this country for the swarming of the drones.
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was setting up drone test sites and said it was expecting up to 10,000 drones flying in American skies by 2020. The drones are expected to be used for law enforcement, news gathering and countless other tasks.
One of those other tasks was suggested recently when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that his company is working on a program in which drones could deliver retail items directly to shoppers' doorsteps half an hour after they click "buy" online.
Some observers were quick to list all the reasons they thought the program wouldn't work. Others noted that, under current rules, the program would be illegal. In fact, when Amazon shot a promo video for the program, it had to take the shoot out of the country because it would have violated FAA rules, according to news reports.
"The fact that Amazon had to leave the country to make the video underscores how slowly U.S. officials have embraced the policy challenge," wrote the Washington Post. "It also offers a concrete example of what the country stands to lose, as the market for civil drone use picks up globally."
The FAA doesn't expect small drones to be fully integrated into American skies until 2015 and commercial drones of the sort Amazon is researching will have a longer regulatory path to travel. It behooves the country to get the infrastructure and legal framework for drones off the ground as quickly as possible. Doing so will better ensure safety, privacy and economic benefit in a future society abuzz with drones.
4. Antibacterial soaps may do more harm than help
By Matthew Perrone/AP
The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks. Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo
WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks.
The agency said it is revisiting the safety of chemicals like triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting they can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
The government's preliminary ruling lends new credence to longstanding warnings from researchers who say the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.
Under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. If companies cannot demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, they would have to be reformulated, relabeled or possibly removed from the market. The agency will take comments on its proposal before finalizing it in coming months.
"Due to consumers' extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's drug center.show more
By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / Reformer Staff
The Robert H. Gibson River Garden, on Main Street in Brattleboro. (Reformer file photo) The Robert H. Gibson River Garden, on Main Street in Brattleboro. (Reformer file photo)
BRATTLEBORO -- In a way, the heifers have returned to the barn.
Strolling of the Heifers founder Orly Munzing says she has wanted some kind of a year-round presence on Main Street for a while now.
The very first year Munzing held the now internationally-known Strolling of the Heifers parade, the event was established under the umbrella organization Building a Better Brattleboro, which is the former owner of the Robert H. Gibson River Garden.
About six years ago Munzing spoke with then-BABB Executive Director Andrea Livermore about sharing space in the River Garden, but the idea never got off the ground.
Munzing did not know the Stroll would one day end up at the River Garden, but soon after BABB announced that it was going sell the River Garden, Munzing saw it as the perfect place to take Strolling of the Heifers to the next level.
"I always though Strolling of the Heifers needed a real home on Main Street," Munzing said Friday in the new office in the River Garden. "I feel like we were able to grow and be nourished at our last office in Cotton Mill, and now, like a teenager, we are now ready to leave home."
What started as a one-day parade, grew into a three-day event and is now a year-round organization that promotes local agriculture and food education.
The 2014 June weekend will be the 13th annual Strolling of the Heifers parade.show more