CAMBRIDGE, Mass.

Caffeine offered in a lipstick-sized tube for inhaling

Move over coffee and Red Bull. A Harvard professor thinks the next big thing will be people inhaling their caffeine from a lipstick-sized tube. Critics say the novel product is not without its risks.

The product, called AeroShot, went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and is also available in France. A single unit costs $2.99 at convenience, mom-and-pop, liquor and online stores.

Biomedical engineering professor David Edwards said AeroShot is safe and does not contain common additives, like taurine, used to amplify the caffeine effect in common energy drinks. Each gray-and-yellow plastic canister contains 100 milligrams of caffeine powder, about the amount in a large cup of coffee, plus B vitamins.

But Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review AeroShot, saying he fears it will be used as a club drug so that young people can drink until they drop.

OLYMPIA, Wash.

Washington seventh state to approve gay marriage

Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage Wednesday, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The action comes a day after a federal appeals court declared California’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote. Supporters in the public viewing galleries stood and cheered as many on the Democratic side of the House floor hugged after the vote.

The state Senate approved the measure last week, and the bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law next week.

SAN DIEGO

Court rejects claim whales at SeaWorld were in slavery

An effort to free whales from SeaWorld by claiming they were enslaved made a splash in the news but flopped in court Wednesday.

A federal judge in San Diego dismissed an unprecedented lawsuit seeking to grant constitutional protection against slavery to a group of orcas that perform at SeaWorld parks, saying the 13th amendment applies only to humans.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller stopped the case from proceeding two days after he became the first judge in U.S. history to listen to arguments in court over the possibility of granting constitutional rights for members of an animal species.

“As ‘slavery’ and ‘involuntary servitude’ are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the Thirteenth Amendment as applying to non-humans,” Miller wrote in his ruling.

SANTIAGO, Chile

Firm estimates available oil, gas in basin at 23 billion barrels

Repsol YPF on Wednesday raised the estimate for potentially recoverable oil and gas in its part of Argentina’s “Vaca Muerta” (Dead Cow) basin to the equivalent of nearly 23 billion barrels, indicating a total shale deposit big enough to enable Argentina to challenge the United States in non-conventional petroleum production.

But it cautioned that exploiting the formation would need a huge expansion in Argentina’s oil and gas industry, requiring thousands of wells, hundreds of drilling rigs and a national push to attract the necessary talent, equipment and investment at a time when other countries are competing to increase energy resources.

BEIRUT

EU looking to impose harsher sanctions on Syria

The European Union will impose harsher sanctions on Syria, a senior EU official said Wednesday, as Russia tried to broker talks between the vice president and the opposition to calm violence. Activists reported at least 50 killed in the regime’s siege of the restive city of Homs.

Russia, a close ally of Syria, and the West are pushing down starkly different paths in trying to deal with Syria’s nearly 11 months of bloodshed. After blocking a Western and Arab attempt to bring U.N. pressure on President Bashar Assad to step down, Russia has launched a bid to show it can resolve the turmoil.

Moscow is calling for a combination of reforms by the regime and negotiations, without calling for Assad to go. Its provisions are so far finding no traction with the opposition, which dismisses promises of reform as empty gestures, refuses any negotiations while violence continues and says Assad’s removal is the only option in the crisis.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said outside forces should let Syrians settle their conflict “independently.” 

– From news service reports


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