Week in Review

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Education Department modifies penalties against for-profit colleges, President Trump signs the McCain National Defense Authorization Act, and more…

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  • The U.S. Department of Education announced the overhaul of Obama-era rules penalizing for-profit colleges with a record of failing to prepare graduates for “gainful employment.” Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos said that the new rules should work “to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs.” U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) criticized the move, stating that the new gainful employment rule would “completely abandon” the ability to “hold predatory for-profit colleges and career training programs accountable for leaving students with extensive debt they cannot repay.”
  • President Donald J. Trump signed into law the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), allocating $716 billion for national defense funding. The NDAA authorized increases in troops and military equipment, raised military pay by 2.6 percent, and established the United States Space Command to develop U.S. “warfighting capabilities in space.” U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) stated that the bill “will help deliver our service members the resources they need.” Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute criticized the bill as “underfunding” the military and “imperiling the future health of the force.”
  • The baker at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case filed a new suit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Alleging religious persecution in violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights, the baker’s suit in the U.S. District Court for the District Colorado challenged the constitutionality of Colorado’s laws against discrimination in public accommodations. Specifically, Jack Phillips, the baker, requested a declaration by the court that the anti-discrimination law violates his constitutional rights if it prohibits him from refusing to bake a cake that communicates that “sex can be changed, that sex can be chosen, and that sex is determined by perceptions or feelings.”
  • FDA published new guidance for veterinarians who prescribe opioids for an animal’s pain management. The recommendations included following all state and federal regulations on prescribing opioids and reporting stolen medication, using alternatives to opioids for pain management when feasible, and educating pet owners on safe storage and disposal of medication. FDA also cautioned veterinarians about warning signs that pet owners may be seeking opioids “under the guise of treating their pets.”
  • Southwest Airlines announced that it would only allow dogs and cats on board their passenger aircraft as emotional support animals. This change came in the wake of major carriers, such as American Airlines, implementing similar policies. Southwest noted that its updated policy is “based on a careful review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent enforcement guidance and feedback we received from our Customers, Employees, and several advocacy groups and animal-related organizations.”
  • New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the prescription opioid OxyContin, for allegedly misleading regulators about the potential for abuse of the opioid. The state alleged that Purdue’s sales practices contributed to over-prescription and overuse of Purdue’s and other manufacturers’ branded and generic opioids. “Purdue lined its own pockets by deliberately exploiting our communities and fueling an opioid epidemic that’s destroyed families across the state,” Underwood said.
  • The Los Angeles City Council voted to increase efforts to ease the health impacts of air pollution for schools, day cares, and senior care centers located within 1,000 feet of a freeway. The council directed city staff to develop new regulations for construction design and land use near freeways, and to update the city’s building code with requirements for electric vehicle charging stations to encourage the use of electric vehicles in the city.
  • India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry will reconsider a leaked draft e-commerce regulation of companies like Amazon and Google. In a tweet, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu announced that the Ministry had received a “few concerns” about the draft regulation—which reportedly sought to advantage Indian companies—and that a new draft would be produced after “consultation with stakeholders.”
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the contraceptive mobile app Natural Cycles. The app contains an algorithm that calculates the days of the month a woman is most likely to be fertile, based mainly on body temperature. Terri Cornelison, assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, noted that the app “can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly,” but cautioned that “no form of contraception works perfectly.”