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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

United Nations: Chemical giants 'ignored human rights' in NC

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Friday, April 26, 2024   

United Nations experts are raising concerns about chemical giants DuPont and Chemours, saying they've violated human rights in North Carolina.

At a virtual news conference this week, a UN representative said these companies have been releasing harmful PFAS chemicals into the environment near the lower Cape Fear River.

Emily Donovan, co-founder of the group Clean Cape Fear, said more than 300 different chemicals in their water led them to seek help from the UN. She said getting clean and safe drinking water has been an issue for decades, and local residents continue to suffer the consequences.

"The amount of sicknesses and illnesses happening in our region is incredibly depressing and hurtful," said Donovan.

Last fall, she said, the UN wrote to the companies expressing concern. In their responses, DuPont denied responsibility for a Fayetteville Works Plant, a suspected contamination source, and Chemours claimed it has reduced its PFAS releases and exposure.

Donovan said they're still figuring out how widespread the pollution is. They know it affects eight counties, about a half-million people and around 10,000 wells. With Chemours planning an expansion and perhaps even importing international waste, she said the situation is becoming dire for local communities.

"We are tired of being a sacrifice zone," she added.

Dr. Marcos Orellana, special rapporteur on toxics and human rights for the United Nations, warns that PFAS chemicals are a danger worldwide. He criticized companies that refuse to acknowledge the potential dangers and don't do more to protect residents.

"The concerns in regards to Cape Fear and the Fayetteville Works are extremely concerning," he said, "because of disinformation spread by companies, because of the dumping and pollution, inadequate controls that have affected people's access to clean drinking water."

The letter called on the companies to take action to prevent PFAS exposure and protect local residents. The UN has also contacted state and federal regulators, demanding that they seek greater accountability from polluters. Orellana said the U.S. government has yet to respond.


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