August 14, 2019

California is the largest user of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and on Wednesday, the state's Environmental Protection Agency moved to ban it.

Exposure to the chemical has been linked to developmental disorders and neurological damage in people and animals, with children hit especially hard. Unless an opposing party calls for an administrative hearing, the ban will take effect in 15 days. Environmentalists have been calling on the federal EPA to ban the pesticide, and during the Obama administration, the agency produced scientific studies showing the harm chlorpyrifos can cause. Last month, the federal EPA announced it would not ban the pesticide, claiming there was not enough data to show that an unsafe amount of residue is left on treated foods.

California's EPA head, Jared Blumenfeld, said the state went with a full ban because there was no way to keep the public safe and have the chemical still be effective. The federal EPA has "that same science, they have that same legal basis, and yet, based on what appears from the outside to just be politics, they've been foot-dragging — and in fact worse than that, not taking their regulatory role seriously," Blumenfeld told the Los Angeles Times. "We have to step into the void and take action where the federal government has failed to do so."

State data shows that in 2017, more than 900,000 pounds of pesticide treated a wide range of crops, including grapes, citrus, and alfalfa. Blumenfeld said farmers were made aware a ban would happen one day, as the state has been enacting more and more restrictions. There is a working group now trying to identify alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Catherine Garcia

May 8, 2019

Walmart is cracking down on tobacco sales to minors.

Walmart is hiking the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21 and will stop selling fruit and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes, CNBC reported Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration threatened to slap the mega-retailer with fines last month for illegally selling tobacco products to minors, reports CNBC. In April, the FDA warned Walmart, Family Dollar, and Kroger that the retailers needed to curb their rates of illegal sales.

Walmart had a 17 percent violation rate, writes CNBC. In a letter to the companies last month, the FDA said this "violative history is disturbing" and "cannot possibly come as a surprise to corporate leadership."

“We unequivocally acknowledge that even a single sale of tobacco product to a minor is one too many," John Scudder, Walmart’s U.S. chief ethics and compliance officer, wrote in a letter to the FDA on Wednesday.

Walmart hopes discontinuing flavored e-cigarettes will lead to fewer violations among teenagers, who are vaping at alarming rates, public officials said. The retailer's new policy is slated for rollout in July. Tatyana Bellamy-Walker

August 15, 2018

Buying a house in New Zealand is expensive, and lawmakers hope that they've found a way to get prices down.

On Wednesday, Parliament passed a law that prohibits nonresident foreigners from buying houses and residential land. The law exempts foreigners with New Zealand residency and nationals from nearby Australia and Singapore. "If you've got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you've got the right to buy here," said Minister for Economic Development and Trade David Parker. "But otherwise it's not a right, it's a privilege. We believe it's the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes in New Zealand in a market that is shaped by New Zealand buyers, not by international price pressures."

So far this year, about 3 percent of home transfers have involved buyers from overseas, not including property purchased through trusts. In 2017, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said housing prices in Auckland had jumped nearly 70 percent in only five years, NPR reports, and last year, the percentage of New Zealanders living in their own homes hit its lowest point in 66 years. Catherine Garcia

April 20, 2017

On Thursday, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses are an "extremist" organization and banned the group from the country.

The state-run news agency Tass reports that all of the Christian denomination's assets in Russia, including its headquarters in St. Petersburg, will become state property. "We are greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity," Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, told Reuters. "We will appeal this decision, and we hope that our legal rights and protections as a peaceful religious group will be fully restored as soon as possible."

Previously, literature passed out by the group has been banned and some members have been arrested or had their property seized, NPR reports. There are about 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses in the world, with 170,000 followers in Russia. Catherine Garcia

December 26, 2014

Citing historical falsehoods and a pro-Zionist view, Egypt's culture minister reportedly said on Friday that Exodus: Gods and Kings will not be shown in the country, The New York Times reports.

"(Exodus) gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies, and that's why we have decided to ban it," Gaber Asfour was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

Morocco has also reportedly banned the film, which stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. Variety reports that the film has already grossed $46 million in the U.S., along with another $62 million in 39 international markets, since its release in mid-December. Sarah Eberspacher

December 12, 2014

The Mexican legislature has passed a bill that would ban the use of animals in circuses. But President Enrique Pena Nieto hasn't announced whether he'll sign the bill into a law.

Mexico's lower chamber voted 267-66 to ban circus animals on Thursday, following an earlier Senate vote. The bill hopes to fight animal cruelty in circus shows, and would let zoos have their pick of the animals already being used as performers.

The bill comes six months after Mexico City, as well as six states, first banned circus animals. Meghan DeMaria

December 10, 2014

Hyderabad, India, banned the Uber cab service on Wednesday. The announcement comes two days after New Delhi's municipal government banned Uber.

T. Raghunath, Hyderabad's joint transport commissioner, told The Times of India that Uber's services in the city were illegal, as they were in Delhi. Raghunath noted that Uber apparently didn't have permission from the Regional Transport Authority to operate in the city.

Uber isn't doing so well in the U.S., either: On Tuesday, prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles sued Uber for making "false and misleading statements" about background checks for drivers. Spain and Thailand also ordered Uber to cease operating this week. Meghan DeMaria

August 22, 2014

Miley Cyrus' twerking isn't welcome in in the Dominican Republic.

Cyrus was supposed to hold a concert there on Sept. 13, but the Dominican Republic's government commission, which handles public performances, is banning the event.

The commission stated that Cyrus "undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law." Meghan DeMaria

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