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News in Brief: Obama to Freeze Federal Worker Pay, and More

Obama to Freeze Federal Worker Pay

Obama to Freeze Federal Worker Pay

President Obama is set to announce a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers in an effort to curb an increasing deficit, The New York Times reported. Obama’s proposal will eliminate plans for a 1.4 percent raise in 2011 for 2.1 million civilian federal government employees, including those working at the Department of Defense. The freeze would not apply to uniformed military personnel. Officials said the freeze would save more than $60 billion over the next ten years.

Department of Justice Wants to Broaden Patriot Act

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is urging Congress to expand a provision of the Patriot Act that allows US judges to freeze assets linked to international crimes, The Wall Street Journal said. Recent cases in New York and Washington, DC ended with rulings against DOJ. Federal judges in both courts said that the department may seek to have assets frozen after a judgment from a foreign court, but not on allegations alone. DOJ asked Congress to approve legislation that would allow the U.S. to freeze assets after a foreign government requests legal assistance, even if it is prior to a judgment.

Scientists See Progress in Stem Cell Transformation

According to The Huffington Post, scientists are reporting success at transforming specialized stem cells from one identity into another, which may provide transplant tissue for Parkinson’s or diabetes patients in the future. This newest success comes three years after researchers discovered the process by converting skin cells into embryonic stem cells. Earlier this month, scientists also successfully transformed skin cells into early stage blood cells.

Haiti’s Elections Hurt by Protests and Fraud Allegations

Thousands of people rallied in the streets of Haiti on Sunday evening to protest alleged fraud in the presidential election, The Miami Herald reports. Voters believed that widespread efforts to rig the election included the submission of pre-stuffed ballots and thousands of names missing from voter rolls. Protestors set fire to voting stations and demanded the election be voided, while several of the presidential candidates themselves urged for peaceful protests against “massive fraud” in the country’s races.