5 Things To Know Today

Legal Loophole Could Keep $1M Dorner Reward From Being Paid

A legal loophole could prevent good Samaritans, instrumental in ending the manhunt for a fugitive ex-cop accused of killing four people, from claiming more than $1 million in reward money because Christopher Dorner died and was not captured. Last weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged $1 million, sourced from private individuals, companies and unions, “for information that will lead to Mr. Dorner’s capture.” The L.A. City Council followed up with its own promise of a $100,000 reward, for information “leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of Christopher Dorner.” But Dorner, accused of killing four people and threatening the lives of several dozen more, was never captured, apprehended or convicted. Instead, he died following a standoff with police near Big Bear, Calif., when the cabin in which he was barricaded burned down with him inside. The mayor’s office has not yet determined if the reward could still be paid out given Dorner died.

Federal Agency Strengthens Oversight Of Buses

Citing two deadly bus crashes in the past three months, the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a nationwide crackdown on interstate bus companies it suspects present a “high risk” to the public. The Department of Transportation agency is training many of its 400 inspectors, auditors and investigators to work with state police on the effort. In March, they will begin a two-month blitz of investigations, targeting 150 to 200 interstate operators that have had safety lapses similar to those involved in recent crashes. The agency now will have two investigators, rather than one, conducting reviews. Bus drivers and employees will be interviewed, as well a company’s owner. The reviews will include thorough equipment and bus inspections, lasting 45 minutes to an hour, often in partnership with state police, she said. FMCSA inspectors already conduct standard compliance and safety-management reviews that are cross-checked by roadside inspections when a bus is stopped en route to a destination. Those inspections will be more extensive.

U.S. A Step Closer To Wide Domestic Use Of Drones

A future in which unmanned drones are as common in U.S. skies as helicopters and airliners has moved a step closer to reality with a government request for proposals to create six drone test sites around the country. The Federal Aviation Administration made the request Thursday, kicking off what is anticipated to be an intense competition among states hoping to win one of the sites. The FAA also posted online a draft plan for protecting people’s privacy from the eyes in the sky. The plan would require each test site to follow federal and state laws and make a privacy policy publicly available. Privacy advocates worry that a proliferation of drones will lead to a “surveillance society” in which the movements of Americans are routinely monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by authorities. 

U.S. Agriculture Wary As Monsanto Heads To Supreme Court

A 75-year-old Indiana grain farmer will take on global seed giant Monsanto Co at the U.S. Supreme Court next week in a patent battle that could have ramifications for the biotechnology industry and possibly the future of food production. The highest court in the United States will hear arguments on Tuesday in the dispute, which started when soybean farmer Vernon Bowman bought and planted a mix of unmarked grain typically used for animal feed. The plants that grew turned out to contain the popular herbicide-resistant genetic trait known as Roundup Ready that Monsanto guards closely with patents. The St. Louis, Mo.-based biotech giant accused Bowman of infringing its patents by growing plants that contained its genetics. But Bowman, who grows wheat and corn along with soybeans on about 300 acres inherited from his father, argued that he used second-generation grain and not the original seeds covered by Monsanto’s patents. A central issue for the court is the extent that a patent holder, or the developer of a genetically modified seed, can control its use through multiple generations of seed.The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the dispute has sparked broad concerns in the biotech industry as a range of companies fear it will result in limits placed on their own patents of self-replicating technologies.

New York Counties Call For Repeal of NY SAFE Act

Oswego county joins Madison and Herkimer counties in passing resolutions to repeal the NY SAFE Act. The Post-Standard reports New York’s new gun law, which was hastily passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., includes requirements for criminal background checks on the sale of ammunition, renewal of pistol permits every five years and updates to mental health reporting requirements. The resolution quotes from the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and takes issue with the government infringing on the Second Amendment rights of its citizens. It also criticizes the speed and lack of public comment with which the legislation was passed, and decries many arbitrary restrictions in the law.


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