Colorado gas field much bigger than thought
A reassessment of the Mancos Shale in Colorado’s Piceance Basin measured an estimated 66 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said, updating the 1.6 trillion cubic feet that was estimated in 2003. It is the second-largest assessment of gas resources that the USGS has ever conducted. The largest-ever assessment—84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—was estimated for the Marcellus Shale which is spread across eight Appalachian states: Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Church sign decision leads to child porn
In a bizarre twist of legal acrobatics, last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision that knocked out a town’s sign ordinance has led the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a case that tested the record-keeping regulation for pornography producers. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the high court held that the Arizona community’s sign ordinance was an impermissible content-based restriction of First Amendment rights for signs that announced the time and location of a church’s religious services. The decision emboldened the Free Speech Coalition to reopen a long legal battle against regulations that require porn producers to keep records to prove that actors in sexual videos are not children. The appeals court held that the record-keeping rules could be construed as the type of content-based restriction that deserves First Amendment protection, too, and ordered the trial judge to revisit the case.
Exotic dancers win labor dispute
Exotic dancers in Maryland strip clubs are not independent contractors and club owners must comply with the state’s wage and hour laws, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The strippers’ suit got a boost from the Obama administration when the Secretary of Labor filed a brief to support their position, and assigned an attorney to participate in the trial. The appeals court noted that the dancers signed a “Space/Lease Rental Agreement of Business Space” that explicitly categorized them as independent contractors, but it was a “too smart” legal dodge.
Optimism glows for dads
The National Retail Federation expects Father’s Day spending to set an all-time record of $14.3 billion, an amount that is roughly two-thirds of the $21.4 billion spent for this year’s Mother’s Day. According to the NRF’s annual survey, consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on dinners and sport outings, about $2 billion for clothing, about $2 billion for gift cards, and $1.7 billion for consumer electronics. Among 7,200 persons who were surveyed, 53% said they planned to buy gifts for their father or stepfather, 28% will shop for their husband, and 9% for their son.
Ohio lobbyist tripped by a red light camera
John Raphael, 61, of Columbus, Ohio, was given a 15-month federal prison sentence for a bribery scheme involving $70,000 he collected from his client, Redflex Holdings of South Melbourne, Australia, and passed along as campaign contributions to officials in Columbus and Cincinnati who supported a red light camera contract for Redflex, the Department of Justice said. The Australian company is implicated in a similar scandal involving $570,000 in improper payments to a City of Chicago transportation official who awarded contracts for installing and operating the city’s red light cameras.
Crime and incarceration: Killing two birds with one stone
A report from the Brennan Center for Justice concludes that crime rates decreased at a quicker pace in 27 states that reduced their prison populations than in the 23 states that didn’t. In the last 10 years, the national imprisonment rate dropped 7% while the crime rate dropped 23%. Today’s over-populated prisons are a legacy of the 1994 Crime Bill that was signed by President Bill Clinton, the Brennan Center noted. States that have reduced incarceration and experienced a concomitant drop in crime are led by California, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina and Texas.
Attn: News Desk is a daily compilation of press releases found on more than 1,000 websites that are maintained by the federal government and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.