Now Any Florida Resident Can Challenge What Is Taught In Public Florida Schools

New submitter zantafio shares a report from Orlando Sentinel: Any resident in Florida can now challenge what kids learn in public schools, thanks to a new law that science education advocates worry will make it harder to teach evolution and climate change. The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) last week and went into effect Saturday, requires school boards to hire an “unbiased hearing officer” who will handle complaints about instructional materials, such as movies, textbooks and novels, that are used in local schools. Any parent or county resident can file a complaint, regardless of whether they have a student in the school system. If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question. The statute includes general guidelines about what counts as grounds for removal: belief that the material is “pornographic” or “is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, or is inappropriate for the grade level and age group.”

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Court Blocks EPA Effort To Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule

Michael Biesecker reports via PBS: A federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks. In a split decision, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move forward with the Obama-era requirement that aims to reduce planet-warming emissions from oil and gas operations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in April that he would delay by 90 days the deadline for oil and gas companies to follow the new rule, so that the agency could reconsider the measure. Last month, Pruitt announced he intended to extend the 90-day stay for two years. In a detailed 31-page ruling, the court disagreed with Pruitt’s contention that industry groups had not had sufficient opportunity to comment before the 2016 rule was enacted. The judges also said Pruitt lacked the legal authority to delay the rule from taking effect.

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Men Are Affected By the Biological Clock As Well, Researchers Find

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A new study reveals that a couple’s chances of having a baby fall with the man’s age, to the point that it can have a substantial impact on their ability to start a family. Laura Dodge, who led the research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that couples should bear the findings in mind when planning a family. “When making this decision, they should also be considering the man’s age,” she said. Scientists have long known that a woman’s chances of conceiving naturally drop sharply from the age of 35, but fertility research has focused so much on women that male factors are less well understood. To investigate the impact of a man’s age on a couple’s chances of having a baby, Dodge and her colleagues studied records of nearly 19,000 IVF treatment cycles in the Boston area between 2000 and 2014. The women were divided into four age bands: those under 30, 30-35 year-olds, 35-40 year-olds, and those aged 40-42. The men were divided into the same age brackets with an extra band for the over 42s. Some of the couples had received up to six cycles of IVF. Dodge then looked at how age affected couples’ chances of having a live birth. As expected, women in the 40-42 age bracket had the lowest birth rates, and for these women the male partner’s age had no impact. But for younger women the man’s age mattered. Women aged under 30 with a male partner aged 30 to 35 had a 73% chance of a live birth after IVF. But that impressive success rate fell to 46% when the man was aged 40 to 42. Whether they can hear it or not, the biological clock ticks for men too.

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Researchers Build American Eels an 'Eelevator'

randomErr writes: Bad pun aside, Cornell researchers have built a solution to help migrating eels bypass dams on their journey upstream. They call their solution the “eelevator.” “Dams are one of the main impediments to the recovery of American eels,” reports UPI. “The removal of old dams has proven a boon to the endangered species, but many dams remain and not all can be demolished. […] Eel ladders have been installed along a number of dams, but the newest device is liftable and works with the assistance of human volunteers. Eels looking to move upstream can climb a ramp of netting, kept wet by hoses, into a holding tank of circulating water. Twice a week, volunteers can check to see if eels have arrived. The tank can be raised, like an elevator, and the water deposited into the river above the dam.” This is similar to a concept implemented by the Isle of Wight’s Island Roads, Environment Agency, Arc Consulting, and Artecology back in May.

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Forced Arbitration Isn't 'Forced' Because No One Has To Buy Service, Says AT&T

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is denying that its contracts include “forced arbitration” clauses, even though customers must agree to the clauses in order to obtain Internet or TV service. “At the outset, no AT&T customer is ever ‘forced’ to agree to arbitration,” AT&T Executive VP Tim McKone wrote in a letter to U.S. senators. “Customers accept their contracts with AT&T freely and voluntarily; no one ‘forces’ them to obtain AT&T wireless service, DirecTV programming, or other products and services.” AT&T was responding to concerns raised by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who previously alleged that AT&T’s use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. While AT&T is correct that no one is forced to sign up for AT&T service, there are numerous areas of the country where AT&T is the only viable option for wired home Internet service. Even in wireless, where there’s more competition, AT&T rivals Verizon and Sprint use mandatory arbitration clauses, so signing up with another carrier won’t necessarily let customers avoid arbitration. One exception is T-Mobile, which offers a way to opt out of arbitration. The terms of service for AT&T Internet and DirecTV require customers to “agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims” against AT&T. Class actions and trials by jury are prohibited, although individual cases in small claims courts are allowed. AT&T doesn’t offer any way to opt out of the arbitration/small claims provision, so the only other option is not buying service from AT&T.

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