Dispensing with dignity. Vermont is expected to become the fourth state to legalize euthanasia later today when Gov. Peter Shumlin signs an assisted-suicide bill into law. Assisted suicide advocates began championing the legislation in the mid 1990s but didn’t have enough support to get it through both houses of the state legislature until now. The bill passed 75 to 65 in the House and 17 to 13 in the Senate. Once Shumlin gives the bill it’s final authorization, Vermont will become the first state to approve euthanasia through the legislature. Oregon and Washington adopted their statues through a public vote, while Montana courts instituted its law. Although polls reportedly show widespread support for the measure in Vermont, the state doesn’t allow for popular referendums, so supporters had to push the law through the legislature.
Spy games. Russian officials have detained a mid-level U.S. diplomat and accused him of trying to recruit a member of the Russian intelligence agency to work as a spy. The Russians claim they caught Ryan C. Fogle, the third secretary in the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, with money, technical equipment, and a poorly written recruitment note. A photograph released by the Federal Security Service, shows a man they claim is Fogle pinned to the ground, hands cuffed behind his back. The man is wearing what looks like a wig. The Russians returned Fogle to U.S. diplomats. His alleged recruitment attempt could complicate U.S. attempts to forge stronger ties with Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry recently traveled to Moscow in hopes of persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin to back U.S. attempts to end the civil war in Syria. The incident is embarrassing in more ways than one. If Fogle really was a CIA recruiter, he obviously wasn’t very good at his job.
Defense furloughs. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will announce plans today to furlough his department’s civilian employees for 11 days between now and the end of September. About 800,000 Defense Department employees will take the unpaid leave. Hagel predicted in March he would have to institute a 14-day furlough to help cut $46 billion from his department’s budget before Sept. 30. The cuts are part of the budget cuts implemented as part of the sequester, which went into effect earlier this year. Although less common now, furloughs became a mainstay for many private companies during the economic downturn that began in 2008. Companies often chose to give employees unpaid time off rather than laying them off.
Drastic measures. Actress Angelina Jolie’s body made headlines today, but not for the reasons celebrities usually get attention. In an op-ed piece published today in The New York Times, Jolie announced she chose to have a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing breast cancer. Jolie carries the BRCA1 gene, which is linked with higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Her mother died at age 56, and Jolie said she didn’t want her children to worry they would lose her too.