Brexit: UK Tories propose changing thousands of laws in secret, without Parliamentary oversight

Much of the UK's system of laws and "unwritten constitution" derives from EU law, so with Brexit inexorably advancing, the UK has to pass a whole raft of parallel legislation that will replace the EU laws with UK versions, lest there be a "legal black hole" the day after Brexit. Read the rest

No, Italy isn't banning the iPhone

On June 23rd, 2017, a lot of noise was made by an Italian newspaper that said that our new Senate Act 2484 had the potential to "ban the iPhone in Italy" (here's an English article). That's just wrong. This is a "device neutrality" bill, protecting a principle every bit as important as net neutrality, and it won't ban the iPhone, but it will protect and benefit Italians.

One professor's nightmare renting her house through the sharing economy

SabbaticalHomes.com is like Airbnb for academics looking to rent their homes during sabbaticals. Sounds genteel, but many states allow long-term guests to establish tenancy, often after 30 days. Mother Jones has an infuriating and cautionary tale about the homestay marketplace: the sharing economy can intersect with tenant rights, and the people who know how to work that system might decide not to pay rent or leave until evicted. Read the rest

The pros and cons of irradiated food

Irradiating food doesn't make it radioactive, and it does kill dangerous bacteria, like the E.coli that killed many Europeans this summer. But it's also not a panacea against food poisoning and it's definitely not the most popular idea ever thought up. In a column in the New York Times, Mark Bittman examines the evidence behind irradiation, and how that evidence does and doesn't get considered in the choices we make about food.

When it comes to irradiation, you might need a primer. (I did.) Simply put, irradiation — first approved by the FDA in 1963 to control insects in wheat and flour — kills pathogens in food by passing radiation through it. It doesn’t make the food radioactive any more than passing X-rays through your body makes you radioactive; it just causes changes in the food. Proponents say those changes are beneficial: like killing E. coli or salmonella bacteria. Opponents say they’re harmful: like destroying nutrients or creating damaging free radicals.

Many people are virulently for or against. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says that irradiation “could do for food what pasteurization has done for milk.” (The main difference between irradiation and pasteurization is the source of the energy used to kill microbes.) Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch — which calls irradiation “a gross failure” — told me it was “expensive and impractical, a band-aid on the real problems with our food system.”

There are a few people in the middle.

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