WASHINGTON — Vermonters take their maple syrup seriously.
So much so that the state’s U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would make it a federal felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to sell something labeled as maple syrup when it is not.
“Vermont iconic maple syrup — painstakingly produced, and prized across the nation and beyond — is one of our state’s fine, high-quality, natural products,” Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said in introducing the legislation. A growing number of people are claiming to sell genuine Vermont maple syrup when “they are in fact selling an inferior product that is not maple syrup at all,” he said.
“We are very proud of the high-quality maple syrup produced in Vermont,” independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a news release. “Some of us think it’s the best in the world. We think it is terribly wrong for people to produce a phony product and call it Vermont maple syrup.”
Under existing law, fraudulently representing something as maple syrup is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year behind bars.
Senators from maple-syrup-producing Maine and New York joined the Vermont senators in sponsoring the proposed Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement, or MAPLE, Act.
56 law enforcement officers slain last year
WASHINGTON — The FBI says 56 law enforcement officers were slain in the line of duty last year, 72 officers died in accidents and 53,469 officers were assaulted in the line of duty.
The 56 deaths rose by eight compared with the 2009 figure of 48 officers.
In the 56 slayings, 15 officers were ambushed, 14 were involved in arrests and eight were investigating suspects or suspicious circumstances at the time of their deaths.
Twenty-two of the slayings occurred in the South, 18 in the West, 10 in the Midwest, and three were in the Northeast. Three slayings took place in Puerto Rico.
U.S. to dismantle last 10,000-pound Cold War-era nuclear bomb
WASHINGTON — The United States will dismantle this week the last of its Cold War-era B53 nuclear bombs, the most destructive weapon in the country’s arsenal, the National Nuclear Safety Administration said Monday.
The 10,000-pound bomb is the size of a minivan and contains about 300 pounds of high explosive surrounding a uranium core. It was designed to be dropped from a B-52 bomber and produce an explosion 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, according to the Federation of American Scientists website.
Dismantling nuclear weapons is part of President Barack Obama’s goal to reduce the role of atomic weapons in U.S. national security, Thomas D’Agostino, Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in a statement.
The B53 bomb, which entered service in 1962, was designed by Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. The U.S. began to disassemble them starting in the 1980s.
Afghan, NATO forces kill or capture 200 militants
KABUL, Afghanistan — Tens of thousands of Afghan and NATO troops killed or captured 200 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan during two recent operations targeting the Haqqani network blamed for the majority of attacks in Kabul, the U.S.-led coalition said Monday.
At least 20 of the insurgents had ties to the Haqqani group, which is affiliated with al-Qaida and the Taliban, said German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a coalition spokesman in Afghanistan. The roughly 180 others were from the Taliban or other groups, though not all have been identified.
About half of the Haqqani fighters were identified as leaders and the other half were bomb makers or individuals who help militants in various ways, such as distributing weapons and supplies, running safe houses or preparing areas for attack.
Afghan and coalition forces have made gains in southern Afghanistan in the past two years, routing insurgents from their strongholds. They are now trying to hold that territory in the south while shifting resources to deal with insurgent hotspots in the east.
Judge blocks Fla.’s new welfare drug testing law
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida’s new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
Judge Mary Scriven ruled in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but refused to take the test. The judge said there was a good chance plaintiff Luis Lebron would succeed in his challenge to the law based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from being unfairly searched.
The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline.
Nearly 1,600 applicants have refused to take the test since testing began in mid-July, but they aren’t required to say why. Thirty-two applicants failed the test and more than 7,000 have passed, according to the Department of Children and Families. The majority of positives were for marijuana.