Politics in the U.S. and abroad

EPA’s Top Leaders Stymied Research Unit, Report Finds

An Environmental Protection Agency research unit tasked with evaluating chemicals’ health risks has had its work hindered by the agency’s top leadership, according to a government watchdog. The unit, known as the Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, is responsible for identifying dangers from chemicals in products such as paint and pesticides, and releasing assessments of their potential threats to human health.

ICE Drafts Guidelines With Fewer Restrictions on Restraining Pregnant Women

Congress was close to passing a comprehensive deal on immigration reform at the beginning of the year. Then it fell apart. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib takes a look at key elements of the bill and whether lawmakers could revive it next year. Photo: Getty WASHINGTON—The U.S. is weighing looser standards for some immigration detention centers, including scrapping certain guidelines governing the restraint of pregnant women and ensuring children can visit detained parents.

EPA Chief Calls for Narrowing Scope of Clean-Water Rule

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal Tuesday that reduces the number of federally protected bodies of water compared with an Obama-era rule it seeks to replace. EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the rule will give states needed flexibility in managing their streams and wetlands and provides greater certainty to Americans about when permits are needed, while reining in what he described as the overreach of the Obama administration.

Infant-Sleep Deaths in Focus in Fight Over Role of Consumer-Safety Agency

WASHINGTON—Earlier this year, a parent in New York filed a complaint with the government’s consumer-product watchdog about a controversial type of baby bed. A napping six-month-old sleeping in it had rolled over, stopped breathing and died. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received reports of at least 30 deaths and more than 700 injuries since 2005 in connection with these inclined sleepers, which angle a baby so its head is elevated. More than half the reported deaths—16—occurred sin

U.S. Manufacturers Push FTC to Crack Down on False ‘Made in America’ Labels

WASHINGTON—Manufacturers of U.S.-made products, hoping to capitalize on President Trump’s aggressive stance on China, are calling for tougher action against companies that make bogus “Made in the USA” claims. The Alliance for American Manufacturing wants the Federal Trade Commission to get companies to pay restitution, or at least admit fault, the first time they falsely label products as American-made. The FTC’s longstanding policy has been to only seek money after a second violation.

Global Postal System Fast-Tracks Rate Review Following U.S. Gripe

WASHINGTON—A Trump administration threat to pull out of a global mail system over its discounted shipping rates from China could spur a change in those rates as early as April, the head of the United Nations agency that oversees the system said. The U.S. last week started a yearlong process to withdraw from the 144-year-old Universal Postal Union because it had failed to eliminate international discounts. Those discounts, aimed at helping developing countries, have continued to apply to China e

No More Mail Privilege for China as U.S. to End Deep Discounts on Packages

WASHINGTON—The U.S. opened a new front in its mounting economic conflict with China, starting a process to withdraw from a 144-year-old international postal body whose discounts allow Chinese merchants to ship small packages to U.S. customers at sharply lower rates. In announcing the move by the State Department, senior White House officials said Wednesday that the U.S. will go ahead with a threat to set its own “self-declared” rates for packages from abroad.

Chemical-Safety Board Is Cutting Back Under Trump

WASHINGTON—Three days after a Sunoco pipeline in Texas caught fire during welding work in 2016, a tiny government agency called the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board dispatched a team to investigate. But its findings about the incident—in which seven workers suffered severe burns—are shaping up differently under President Trump than under President Obama, according to people familiar with the agency under both administrations. The team originally drafted a report recommending

In a Twist, Marijuana Group Wants More Rules

Industry rarely calls out for more regulation, but a new marijuana startup sees creating nationally standardized rules as key to the future of the pot business. The National Association of Cannabis Businesses wants to help its members—numbering about 30 so far—navigate balkanized rules from states, counties and cities by providing the closest thing it can to unified national regulation, even as pot remains illegal at the federal level.

New Law Targets Sex Trafficking. It Could Also Hit Online Dating

WASHINGTON—The booming business of online dating faces new risks from a law designed to prevent sex trafficking and prostitution. The law, which holds digital platforms responsible for encouraging such illicit behavior, is creating uncertainty about liability across social media. At least six sites known to be regularly used by prostitutes have shut down in the U.S. since the law went into effect, and some worry that could drive the pay-for-sex market to legitimate dating platforms.

EPA Wants New Rules to Rely Solely on Public Data

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency plans to restrict research used in developing regulations, the agency said Tuesday, a change that could affect rules governing everything from household products to power-plant emissions. The proposal follows years of complaints by conservatives that regulations such as emissions restrictions under the Obama administration sometimes went beyond what science could prove. The new proposal would exclude the many research studies that don’t make their

Amazon, Despite Trump Criticism, Really Delivers for the Postal Service

WASHINGTON—A presidential tweet Thursday suggested Amazon Inc. is exploiting the public mail system for its own gain. The company has benefited from the U.S. Postal Service’s cheap and vast delivery network, but the online retail giant also has bolstered the agency’s struggling operations. The Trump administration and Congress have also been slow to fill senior leadership positions at the Postal Service and to push forward with legislation that could address the service’s financial difficulties

Artificial Intelligence Rules More of Your Life. Who Rules AI?

WASHINGTON—Technology companies are racing to get ahead of regulators to shape the future of artificial intelligence as it moves deeper into our daily lives. Companies are already working artificial intelligence, or AI, into their business models, but the technology remains controversial. So IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and associations representing Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit are seeking to set ethical standards, or a sort of code of conduct, through alliances with futurists, civil-rights activists and social scientists.

U.S. Companies Brace for Wider Scrutiny of Chinese Deals

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers are moving to stanch the flow of U.S. technology to foreign investors, creating potential problems for a number of American companies that have bet big on partnering with China. The Senate and House, with the backing of the White House, are working on bipartisan legislation to broaden the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a multi-agency body that has oversight of deals that could lead to the transfer of sensitive technology to rival countries. Th
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