• State sued for licensing detention center

    Grassroots Leadership, which opposes for-profit prisons, has sued the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for issuing a temporary child-care license to an immigration detention facility in Karnes City. Thenon-profit organization says the department has no authority to regulate detention centers or prisons, and is asking a Travis County District Court for a temporary injunction and restraining order to stop the licensing.

  • Fixing NYC’s aging infrastructure one engineering problem at a time

    How do you make sure aging bridges which are vital links in New York City’s transportation network are safe or keep the city’s sewer system from breaking down? These are among the questions that occupy Columbia University researchers, who have installed sensors to analyze vibration on some of the city’s bridges and in landmark buildings and museums, and have focused on the functioning of the city’s water system.

  • Calif. Muslim woman sues Long Beach police for forcibly removing her headscarf

    Kirsty Powell, an African American Muslim woman, has on Monday sued the police in California, charging that her headscarf, which she was wearing for religious reasons, was forcibly removed by officers after she was arrested on outstanding warrants. The suit states that Powell “suffered and continues to suffer extreme shame, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress” as a result of her experience at the police station.

  • El Paso doesn't want ID as "sanctuary city"

    An El Paso-based immigrant rights group could see its hopes for a municipal ID card dashed after leaders there determined that issuing the card might prompt immigration hardliners to label the town a “sanctuary city.”

  • Plum Island may be turned into a national park rather than sold to developers

    Members of the New York and Connecticut congressional delegations announced on Friday a plan to launch a study of Plum Island’s natural and historic resources, saying the plan is one step toward halting the sale of the island to developers. In 2009 DHS said the island would be sold to developers to help fund the new BioLab Level 4 on the campus of Kansas State University, which is set to open in 2022.

  • Three gun-safety laws in effect in some states could significantly reduce gun deaths

    A nationwide study which analyzes the impact of gun-control laws in the United States has found that just 9 of 25 state laws are effective in reducing firearm deaths. The research suggests that three laws implemented in some states could reduce gun deaths by more than 80 percent if they were implemented nationwide. Laws requiring firearm identification through ballistic imprinting or microstamping were found to reduce the projected mortality risk by 84 percent; ammunition background checks by 82 percent; and universal background checks for all gun purchases by 61 percent. Nineother states laws — such as the so-called “Stand your Ground” laws — were associated with increased mortality.

  • State-level immigration policies should be subject of cost-benefit analysis

    While immigration policy has been the purview of the U.S. federal government, nearly all states have taken a more-active role on the issue of unauthorized immigration in the past fifteen years through actions such as making drivers licenses available regardless of immigration status and requiring employers to verify eligibility to work, according to a new study. States, however, rarely examine the costs and benefits of such policies before enacting them, suggesting the need for a comprehensive tool to help state policymakers assess the full range of costs and benefits of immigration policies before they are adopted.

  • Calif. gas well blowout caused U.S. largest methane release, study finds

    The Aliso Canyon natural gas well blowout released more than 100,000 tons of the powerful greenhouse gas methane before the well was finally plugged 11 February, according to the first study of the event. The results confirm that it was the largest methane leak in U.S. history.

  • Florida declares state of emergency in four counties with Zika virus

    Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in four counties where nine residents have been diagnosed with the Zika virus. Miami-Dade in south Florida, Hillsborough in Tampa Bay, Lee County in southwest Florida, and Santa Rosa County in Florida Panhandle have all been affected under the executive order. Health officials believe, however, that the residents became sick outside the United States.

  • Anaheim police employed Stingray surveillance devices

    Police in Anaheim, California have been using Stingray surveillance devices, as well as employing the more intrusive cousin, “dirtboxes,” during active investigations, without the knowledge of residents. More than 400 new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the department has requested funds for the technology, and that it has been using the devices since at least 2009.

  • No immediate impact on Pennsylvania from DHS update to REAL ID deadlines

    The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said there would be no immediate impact to Pennsylvania citizens is expected based on the recent announcement by DHS regarding its schedule for implementing the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. The act deals with identification requirements for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

  • New York City settles Muslim surveillance lawsuits

    The NYPD has been agreed not to conduct surveillance based on religion, race, and ethnicity after charges that it had illegally monitoring Muslims in New York City. The city has agreed to settle two civil rights lawsuits for illegally monitoring its Muslim community following the September 11 attacks. As part of the settlement, in which the city does not admit to any wrongdoings, the city will appoint a civilian to monitor the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit.

  • Gov. Brown declares emergency in wake of massive L.A. natural gas leak

    California governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared an emergency in a Los Angeles neighborhood where a natural gas well has been spewing record amounts of stinking, global-warming methane gas. Energy experts said the breach at the natural gas storage reservoir, and the subsequent, ongoing release, are the largest known occurrence of its kind.

  • Texas sues to block resettlement of Syrian refugees

    The Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Wednesday filed suits in federal court against the U.S. State Department, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and other organizations as part of the state effort to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas.

  • “Iconic” El Niño may bring more than rain to California

    A few weeks ago in the hills north of Los Angeles, heavy rain set off widespread mudslides that blocked roads and covered highways, burying hundreds of vehicles and bringing much of Los Angeles’ infamous traffic to a standstill. For Californians, these mudslides are just one of many recent harbingers signaling the imminent arrival of a “monster” El Niño — an El Niño that started bubbling up from unusually warm temperatures in the tropical Pacific last summer. In Southern California, a strong El Niño usually signals rain, and given that California is now in the throes of a severe drought, it seems like that should be a good thing, even if it comes with risk of floods. But the reality of climate is more complex and counter-intuitive than it first appears, and Californians should be careful what they wish for.