Obama Administration issues moratorium on new coal leases, and promises overhaul of how our government manages leasing programs. Federal coal leasing is fraught with problems, as you know, not least among them a fee-assessment system riddled with loopholes; the Obama Administration also promises that coal leasing will, in the future, take climate change emissions into account. A new President could scuttle the whole program, but (as we learned, sadly, when Mr. Bush embraced climate change denialism) when the President does something, people start listening.
Iran releases four prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, in a prisoner-swap deal with the United States. You may recall some far-right Senators whining that the Iran nuclear deal didn't include Mr. Rezaian's release, but apparently our government is not compelled by laws of physics to negotiate one deal with one foreign government at one time. Kudos to you if you demanded that the Iranian government release Mr. Rezaian, because you helped get results, which is more than a lot of politicians do.
Federal dietary guidelines now suggest that less than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake should come from added sugars. That means no more than 200 calories from added sugars if you're eating 2,000 calories; that's 50 grams of sugar (or 12 1/2 teaspoons), which jibes with most contemporary science about the matter. Of course, far-rightists will squeal ZOMG TEH GUBMINT TELLZ US WHAT TO EATZ!!!!!, and without FDA-mandated food labeling concerning added sugar, most folks won't know exactly how much added sugar they're eating. (Hint: if the food doesn't contain fruit, milk, or sweet vegetables, it's more likely to have added sugar.)
Ted Cruz failed to disclose a loan of $1 million from his wife's employer, Goldman Sachs, in advance of his 2012 run for Senate. The big story isn't necessarily that he may have broken the law despite assurances from his campaign that the donation got disclosed somewhere, or that it blows apart the narrative that the Cruz clan sank all its savings into his Senate run -- but that Ted Cruz frequently rails against banksters and bailouts while taking bankster bailout money. Such hypocrisy should finish his campaign -- at least, it would, in a sane and healthy society.
Finally, Santa Fe, NM restaurant workers suggest a way to defend workers' rights without forming a union. The way includes filing National Labor Relations Board complaints and hitting the employer with the Big Stick of Bad PR, but the "Somos Model" (so named for Somos un Pueblo Unido, the local worker rights center), contains other good advice, too -- like don't talk the employer alone, or sign anything alone. Turns out, in some cases, that forming a union might actually be an "extra step" -- something the SEIU clearly believes, given its efforts to get a $15/hour minimum wage for folks who aren't SEIU members.