Vermont Senate passes GMO food labeling bill

DARPA producing sea-floor pods that can release attack drones on command

The Pentagon’s research arm, DARPA, is developing robot pods that can sit at the bottom of the ocean for long stretches of time, waiting to release airborne and water-based drones to the surface upon an attack command.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently called for bids to complete the final two phases of its Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) program. The UFP operation is an effort to position unmanned systems around far-flung regions of the sea floor. The housing pods would be left in place for years in anticipation of the US Navy’s need for non-lethal assistance.

The UFPs would come equipped with electronic and low-power laser attack capabilities, surveillance sensors, and airborne and aquatic drones that would have the ability to act as decoys or offer intelligence and targeting data, Ars Technica reported.

Alabama inmates plan strike against prison labor

Inmates in at least one Alabama correctional facility are planning a prison-wide work stoppage that threatens to bring production to a halt over pay and court conditions, according to an inmate who spoke to reporters from his cell.

The strike was organized inside St. Clair County Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama by members of the Free Alabama Movement. The group – loosely made up of inmates at St. Clair and other Alabama penitentiaries – alleges that prison jobs initially designed to help fill convicts’ days and give them a sense of pride behind bars have effectively been turned into a kind of slave labor for Alabama officials.

We decided that the only weapon or strategy…that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here,” Melvin Ray, a St. Clair inmate and the founder of the Free Alabama Movement, toldSalon. “They’ve incarcerated people for the free labor.”

Hawaii: Police having sex with prostitutes not OK

Woman claims discrimination against atheists in NJ license-plate lawsuit

A New Jersey woman is suing the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission for denying her attempt to keep God off her vanity license plate by proclaiming her atheism.

The defendant in the case, Shannon Morgan, attempted to purchase a vanity plate from the MVC website in November 2013, entering “8THEIST” as her desired personalization, according to the lawsuitfiled in federal court on Thursday. But the website denied her request, stating, “Requested plate text is considered objectionable.”

The complaint says that Morgan then decided to experiment with other, more religious requests.

Espionage fears delaying Israeli visa exemption – report

US politicians and members of their staff have admitted fears that, if Israel enters a specialized program that would admit more Israelis into the US, Israeli espionage against the US would increase, according to a new report.

The US Visa Waiver Program currently includes 38 nations whose citizens are allowed to visit the US and stay inside the country for 90 days without earning prior approval for a visa from a US consulate. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other longtime US allies are on the list, although American lawmakers have been slow to include Israel.

Explanations have varied; the most frequent excuse is that Israel does not meet the necessary rate of refusal for Israelis seeking US visas, that being no higher than three percent, according to RollCall.com. US leaders have also complained that Israel has failed to grant similar allowances for Americans visiting the Jewish state.

Turkey’s Erdogan challenges constitutional court that lifted social media ban

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan made a formal complaint with the country’s constitutional court on Friday, calling secret recordings spread on social media a violation of his family’s rights.

Erdogan is challenging the court’s decision to lift a ban on Twitter and YouTube after the premier’s government blocked the social media sites on March 21 - during the lead-up to local elections - for not blocking secret audio recordings featuring him, family members, and figures of his inner circle allegedly dealing in corruption.

The Twitter block was lifted in early April after the constitutional court ruled that it violated freedom of expression in Turkey. Erdogan has aggressively opposed the decision, saying the judiciary is stocked with political critics. YouTube is still blocked in the country.