Court battle. Liberty University has lost its second bid to persuade a federal appeals court to strike down Obamacare’s employer mandate. Lawyers for the Lynchburg, Va., school argued the provision of the healthcare law imposes costly burdens on employers and infringes on religious liberty, both in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Liberty’s case in 2011, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision. Earlier this year, the appellate court heard oral arguments and released its opinion Thursday. Although the Supreme Court last year ruled Obamacare’s individual mandate did not violate the Constitution, the justices did not consider whether the employer mandate did so. The 4th Circuit ruled the employer mandate was just another example of Congress’ ability to regulate employee compensation. Liberty hopes to take the case again to the Supreme Court.
Cabinet resignation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation today and revealed plans to take over the presidency of the University of California (UC) system. Although an academic has traditionally held the college post, UC officials hope to tap Napolitano’s experience with large agencies to help the system manage its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas. Before joining the Obama administration, Napolitano was governor of Arizona. But her new job likely will be her highest paying gig. For her work for the federal government, Napolitano makes about $200,000 a year. Current UC President Mark Yudof pulls in around $591,000.
No regrets, no passport. Edward Snowden, the former CIA analyst who leaked classified documents about U.S. electronic surveillance programs to two newspapers, announced today he wants to seek asylum in Russia until he can secure passage to one of the South American countries offering him refuge. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden would only be welcome if he stops revealing American secrets. Snowden has been stuck in Moscow’s international airport for weeks after flying there from Hong Kong. U.S. officials have revoked his passport, giving him few options for traveling on. During a meeting with Russian officials and international human rights organizations, Snowden said he didn’t regret what he’d done: “That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.” But he also said he had no plans to further harm the United States, which could clear the way for him to venture outside of the airport and into the city.
Safe drinking? The Food and Drug Administration announced today it would lower the limits on arsenic allowed in apple juice, bowing to public pressure and a furor whipped up by a popular daytime talk show host. During a September 2011 segment of The Dr. Oz Show, host Mehmet Oz told viewers several apple juice brands tested by the show contained high levels of the poison. Federal regulators initially chided the show for not distinguishing between organic and inorganic sources of arsenic, insisting only the inorganic compound is known to cause cancer. But after Consumer Reports published its own test results, which showed several apple juice brands contained high levels of the toxic substance, the government agreed to step up its regulatory oversight. The new limits for arsenic in apple juice match the amounts allowed in drinking water.