In the age before Twitter, legislators had time to evaluate the facts at hand and adopt a position. But pressure from social media to pump out opinions quickly on a hot issue has dissolved that buffer. “What technology does is make the legislative process much more reactionary,” said former Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. “I don’t know how you can be a thoughtful legislator in 140 characters or less.”
2,123 tons [cumulative statistic]
Americans have continued to show nationwide support for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back program. Since initiating the program in 2010, the DEA has held two take-back days each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The eighth National Take-Back netted the largest haul of drugs in the history of the program—some 390 tons of unused prescription medications.
A Public Religion Research Institute poll released in June of this year finds that Americans overwhelmingly reject the notion that small-business owners should be allowed to refuse to provide services or goods to individuals based on color, religious belief or gender orientation, even if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Just 1 in 10 Americans say that business owners should be able to refuse service to African Americans on religious grounds, and less than 1 in 5 say owners should be permitted to refuse service on religious grounds to Jews, atheists or LGBT individuals.
Medicines and Electronics
The United Arab Emirates is introducing an electronic system to monitor the prescription and sale of medicines in the UAE to combat drug abuse. A collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Dubai Police, the system is designed to detect illegal prescribing practices by doctors, pharmacists and patients, and to curb this sector of drug abuse that has increased dramatically over the past decade.
First Native American Ambassador
When former U.S. Senator Keith Harper assumed his post as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this year, he became the first Native American to serve as a U.S. ambassador. “Keith’s confirmation is a great accomplishment for all of Indian Country,” said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly in a statement. Harper, a Cherokee Nation citizen, has experience that includes more than a decade as an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund.
To 100 and beyond
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a growing number of Americans are entering the triple digits, with the centenarian population jumping 65.8 percent over the last 30 years. How do they do it? “Work hard, and love what you do,” according to Besse Cooper of Monroe, Georgia, who lived to the age of 116.
In Defense of Human Rights
Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard of the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali, is the winner of the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award. The award recognizes a U.S. Chief of Mission who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to defending human rights and advancing democratic principles in his or her host country. According to the State Department, “Leonard skillfully guided the American community and U.S. policy through an extremely challenging African political, security, and humanitarian crisis in 2013.”
News Anchors, Robots Officially Merged
In a move sure to give human newscasters pause, a Japanese scientist has unveiled the world’s first news-reporting androids. A pair of robot “anchors” delivered news of an earthquake and an FBI raid to reporters in Tokyo. One android even exhibited a sense of humor. After an on-air stumble and a quick reboot, she commented, “I am a little bit nervous.” Following their debut, both androids were “hired” by Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. According to university professor and robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, the robots will be used for “examining the question of what is emotion, what is awareness and what is thinking,” as well as to collect data for studies into human interaction with machines.
Perhaps the biggest challenge may be telling the difference between robot anchors and their human counterparts. Then again, things have been heading in this direction for a while. Robots, after all, figure to demand far less for their annual salary.