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Bummer
March 30, 2014
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Compelled to respond to a petition requesting that Opening Day be made a national holiday, the White House this weekend announced that there would be no joy in Mudville. More specifically, the administration said it would take no action because the petition was "outside our strike zone."

"Creating permanent federal holidays is traditionally the purview of Congress," White House spokesman Josh Earnest wrote. "So, it's up to the men and women on Capitol Hill to decide whether to swing at this pitch."

The petition, backed by Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and Budweiser, attracted more than 100,000 signatures earlier this month. The White House is supposed to respond to any petition that broaches that threshold. Jon Terbush

Olympics
12:27 p.m. ET

The World Health Organization asked the International Olympic Committee to conduct tests for viruses on the water in Rio de Janeiro, the site of 2016's summer games, The Associated Press reports. The move comes days after an AP investigation found high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage in the city's water, where open-water swimming and boating events will be held for 1,400 athletes.

The international Sailing Federation will also run independent tests for viruses in the water. One unique feature of Rio playing host to the Olympics is that the boating events are set to be contested unusually close to the rest of the action, offering good publicity to those sports and their athletes. But the venue could change if the waters are deemed unsafe. Julie Kliegman

Science!
11:27 a.m. ET
Johns Hopkins University

Amazon employees aren't the only people aiming to ship things quickly via drone. Doctors are testing out the technology, too.

A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One reports early findings that it might be possible for doctors to send blood samples to laboratories from remote clinics up to 30 miles away. They ran 56 blood samples from healthy patients through common tests doctors order and found that the drone samples were preserved just as well as the ones that hadn't been airborne, Pacific Standard reports.

The Johns Hopkins University researchers say the next step could be testing the practice in remote regions of Africa. They'll also need to ensure drone flights perform equally well with blood from sick patients. Julie Kliegman

Let's talk about sex
10:46 a.m. ET
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Image

Rite Aid and Food Lion don't want minors in their store learning "25 Ways to Kiss a Naked Man," apparently. That is, you guessed it, a run-of-the-mill Cosmopolitan headline. The pharmacy and grocery chains announced Wednesday they'll shield minors from the horrors of sexual content by putting blinders on the magazine's cover, The New York Times reports.

The blinders will hide the cover's headlines, but not the magazine title or model. So not to worry, your kid can still gaze at barely naked women — he just can't read about them.

The move comes in response to a campaign against Hearst by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, ironically started by William Randolph Hearst's own granddaughter, who does not have an official title at the company.

There's no word yet if other magazine-selling chain stores will follow suit. Meanwhile, the Times points out even racier covers routinely go unguarded. Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, anyone? Julie Kliegman

Free trade
9:31 a.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The 12 Pacific Rim countries working in Hawaii to establish the biggest free trade deal in history failed to reach an agreement Friday, the end of their latest round of talks. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would cover 40 percent of the global economy.

Negotiators say significant progress was made, according to CNN, but there's no date set yet for the next round of talks. An agreement would lower trade barriers between the nations and encourage economic growth.

President Obama had all but ensured a deal would cruise through Congress, but with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, if a deal is reached down the road, its fate would be less clear. Julie Kliegman

Fires
8:24 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hundreds of people are fleeing their homes as more than a dozen large wildfires burned across drought-stricken Northern California on Saturday. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday.

About 8,000 firefighters are working to contain the fires, many caused by lightning strikes, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Most of the fires are at least 60 percent contained, but they have damaged tens of thousands of acres so far, CNN reports. One firefighter died Thursday battling the blazes.

The four-year drought has "turned much of the state into a tinderbox," Brown said. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
7:53 a.m. ET
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

New Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor purportedly promised to continue the group's 14-year insurgency in audio released to journalists Saturday by a Taliban spokesman, The Associated Press reports.

"We should keep our unity, we must be united, our enemy will be happy in our separation," Mansoor purportedly said. "This is a big responsibly on us. This is not the work of one, two or three people. This is all our responsibility to carry on jihad until we establish the Islamic state."

The Afghan government announced Wednesday that the group's previous leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been dead since April 2013. Julie Kliegman

E-disarmament
July 31, 2015

Does the right to bear arms apply to emoji arms? It's actually a somewhat serious question; activist nonprofit New Yorkers Against Gun Violence aims (excuse the pun) to disarm the iPhone by pressuring Apple's CEO to remove the gun icon from its emoji catalog.

"The iPhone is ubiquitous. [Guns are] on the iPhone as an option," the executive director of NYAGV, Leah Barrett, told Fast Company. "We thought this was a way to bring attention to the issue [of gun violence]."

The activists encourage people to tweet at Apple's CEO and ask for the gun emoji to be removed, using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone. However, Fast Company cautions, "If a company like Apple removes words from that language, even if they’re technically pictures, isn't it censorship? How far does this linguistic adjustment go? If we type the letters G-U-N should they be autocorrected to S-U-N, P-U-N, or F-U-N?" Well? Jeva Lange

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