NBC News: The US will require insurers to cover mental health and addiction the same as they do physical illness, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday.
"This is the largest expansion of behavioral health coverage in a generation," Sebelius said. "The rule is a reality in part because of the leadership of President Obama, who was committed to getting this done this year."
(Photo: Benjamin Faske / U.S. Air Force via Reuters)
The United States’ first national monument to a soldier’s best friend, recognizing the sacrifices of dogs in combat, was dedicated by the U.S. military on Monday.
Berea College, offering full scholarships to students living in poverty—for over 150 years
Berea College is a liberal arts work college in Berea (south of Lexington), in the U.S. state of Kentucky, founded in 1855. Current full-time enrollment is 1,514 students. Berea College is distinctive among post-secondary institutions for providing free education to students and for having been the first college in the Southern United States to be coeducational and racially integrated. Berea College charges no tuition; every admitted student is provided the equivalent of a four-year, full-tuition scholarship (currently worth $102,000; $25,500 per year).
Berea offers undergraduate academic programs in 28 different fields. Berea College has a full-participation work-study program where students are required to work at least 10 hours per week in campus and service jobs in over 130 departments. Berea’s primary service region is Southern Appalachia, but students come from all states in the United States and more than 60 other countries. Approximately one in three students represents an ethnic minority.
U.S. and Cuba talk about resuming direct mail service
The United States and Cuba concluded on Monday their second round of talks aimed at re-establishing direct mail service between the two countries after a 50-year ban, but left for later the most sensitive issue - Cuban planes landing on U.S. soil.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry said both sides had agreed to continue the talks in the near future and that it had emphasized, “working out the transportation of mail by regular direct routes in both directions,” was key to their successful conclusion.
The State Department said something very similar in a statement: “The goal of the talks is for the United States and Cuba to work out the details for a pilot program to directly transport mail between the two countries.”
2 eagles have returned to their nest at Berry College, and viewers can get an intimate look at the birds and watch them live.
(Photo: Pete Souza / The White House)
The conversation came after a whirlwind ten days, beginning with President Rouhani sitting down with NBC News’ Ann Curry in Tehran prior to a series of key diplomatic meetings.
U.S. bike-sharing fleet more than doubles in 2013
Today’s opening of the San Francisco Bay Area bikeshare brings the combined fleet of shared bikes in the United States above 18,000, more than a doubling since the start of the year. The United States is now home to 34 modern bike-sharing programs that allow riders to easily make short trips on two wheels without having to own a bicycle. With a number of new programs in the works and planned expansions of existing programs, the U.S. fleet is set to double again by the end of 2014, at which point nearly 37,000 publicly shared bicycles will roll the streets.
Endangered sea turtles are rebounding ‘dramatically’ along the Southeastern U.S. coast, federal officials say, but they’re still at risk from pollution and climate change.
5 US institutions to share meteorite pieces
Five U.S. institutions will share parts of a rare meteorite that exploded in a fireball over California last year, The Field Museum said Wednesday.
The meteor dates to the early formation of the solar system 4 to 5 billion years ago. It was probably about the size of a minivan when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere on April 22, 2012 with a loud boom. It was seen from Sacramento, Calif., to Las Vegas and parts of northern Nevada.
Field Museum curator Philipp Heck said the institution will preserve the meteorite for “future generations of scientists who will be armed with analytical tools which we can only dream of today.”
The Smithsonian cut the 205 gram meteorite into five sections that will go to five institutions: The Field Museum in Chicago; the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.; and the University of California-Davis.
Scientists plan to use the pieces for research. They used a CT scan to determine the meteor’s age and chemical composition.
Private collector Robert Haag owned the meteorite and contacted Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies. She contacted the other institutions to discuss sharing the piece.
After the explosion it was possible that bits of the meteor were strewn over an area as long as 10 miles, most likely stretching west from Coloma, where James W. Marshall first discovered gold in California, at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. [x]
PICTURED ABOVE: The MeerkKAT 7 array, a precursor to the SKA project, north of Carnarvon. [Bram Lammers]
SA, U.S Sign Radio Astronomy Pact
South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project has struck an agreement with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) of the United States that is set to foster high-level science collaboration between the two countries.
The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, which is to be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia.
SKA South Africa said in a statement last week that the two institutions had agreed to “continue their collaboration across a broad front to advance cutting-edge radio astronomy projects in both countries over the next five years”.
The agreement, signed in Cape Town on 5 August, paves the way for SKA South Africa and the NRAO to pool resources and expertise in high-level projects related to the development and implementation of software, data processing and archiving, and state-of-the-art receiving systems.
The two institutions will exchange staff and students, hold joint workshops, and work on plans to establish joint research and development activities.
U.S. says visas from gay spouses will get equal treatment
Reuters: The United States will immediately begin considering visa applications of gay and lesbian spouses in the same manner as heterosexual couples, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.
Kerry made the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in London.
"When same-sex couples apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it considers the application of opposite sex spouses," Kerry said shortly after his arrival in London.
Gay rights campaigners drive a bus past Britain’s Houses of Parliament (Andrew Cowie / AFP - Getty Images)
Americans continue to use more renewable energy sources
Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the most recent U.S. energy charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Each year, the Laboratory releases energy flow charts that track the nation’s consumption of energy resources.
Natural gas use is up particularly in the electricity generation sector, where it has basically substituted directly for coal, while sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector, according to A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst.
The rise in renewables is tied to both prices (the underlying cost of solar panels and wind turbines has gone down) and policy (government incentives to installers of equipment or renewable energy targets in various states), Simon said.
Overall, Americans used 2.2 quadrillion BTU, or quads, less in 2012 than the previous year (BTU or British Thermal Unit is a unit of measurement for energy; 3,400 BTU is equivalent to about 1 kW-hr).
Once again, wind power saw the highest percentage gains, going from 1.17 quads produced in 2011 up to 1.36 quads in 2012. New wind farms continue to come on line with bigger, more efficient turbines that have been developed in response to government-sponsored incentives to invest in renewable energy.
Solar also jumped from 0.158 quads in 2011 to 0.235 quads in 2012. Extraordinary declines in prices of photovoltaic panels, due to global oversupply, drove this shift.
This is the first year in at least a decade where there has been a measurable decrease in nuclear energy.
"It is likely to be a permanent cut as four nuclear reactors recently went offline (two units at San Onofre in California as well as the power stations at Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Crystal River in Florida)," Simon said. "There are a couple of nuclear plants under construction, but they won’t come on for another few years."
Coal and oil use dropped in 2012 while natural gas use jumped to 26 quads from 24.9 quads the previous year. There is a direct correlation between a drop in coal electricity generation and the jump in electricity production from natural gas.
The majority of energy use in 2012 was used for electricity generation (38.1 quads), followed by transportation, industrial, residential and consumption. However, energy use in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors decreased while industrial energy use increased slightly. [x]
PICTURED ABOVE: In this Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, Cubans wait to enter the U.S. Interests Section to apply for U.S. visas in Havana, Cuba.
Cuban, US diplomats increasingly allowed to travel
For decades, Cuban and U.S. diplomats have faced strict limits on their travel within the Cold War enemy countries.
Cuban diplomats at the United Nations in New York cannot go 25 miles beyond Columbus Circle in Manhattan or past the Beltway loop circling Washington without the permission of the U.S. State Department.
U.S. Interests Section workers, meanwhile, must submit detailed itineraries to Cuban officials if they want to travel outside Havana.
Recently, however, Cuban and U.S. diplomats have been increasingly, and more easily, stepping outside the once nearly insurmountable fences.
US, India renew efforts to boost bilateral ties
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in the Indian capital Tuesday as part of a renewed effort to strengthen ties between the two countries.
The meeting came just weeks after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to India to lead a strategic dialogue between the nations. The pair of high-profile meetings signal increasing efforts to upgrade bilateral relations as the U.S. lays out its plans to rebalance its foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific.
Biden’s trip will also lay the groundwork for a summit meeting between Singh and President Barack Obama in Washington in September.
Indian officials said the two discussed a raft of issues, including ways to boost trade and ease bottlenecks preventing American companies from investing in the Indian market.
They also talked about the hurdles in implementing a landmark civil nuclear agreement that the countries ratified in 2008.
India has said foreign nuclear companies operating in the country should assume nearly unlimited liability for accidents, a stringent condition that makes it all but impossible for foreign nuclear firms to set up nuclear power plants in India.
Regional security, especially in war-torn Afghanistan, and New Delhi’s concerns about the possibility of the Taliban returning to power in Kabul post-2014, were also discussed during the 75-minute meeting.
The U.S. increasingly views India as a partner in developing Afghanistan, where New Delhi has provided $2 billion in assistance. Washington wants India to play a more active role in training Afghan security forces as the U.S. and its NATO allies withdraw combat forces by 2014.
Later Tuesday, Biden will attend a banquet in his honor hosted by his Indian counterpart before leaving for Mumbai, India’s financial hub. [x]
If your idea of summer perfection involves roller coasters, funnel cakes, and Whac-A-Mole, here are 19 little pieces of honky-tonk heaven — from Jersey to Cali —just waiting for you to pay a visit.