• WASH. STATE CONSIDERS GENDER-NEUTRAL LANGUAGE BILL: OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — In Washington state, dairymen, freshmen and even penmanship could soon be things of the past.
Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing the language used in the state’s copious laws, including thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn’t a consideration.
That process is slated to draw to a close this year. So while the state has already welcomed “firefighters,” ‘’clergy” and “police officers” into its lexicon, “ombuds” (in place of ombudsman) and “security guards” (previously “watchmen,”) appear to be next, along with “dairy farmers,” ‘’first-year students” and “handwriting.”
About half of all U.S. states have moved toward such gender-neutral language at varying levels, from drafting bills to changing state constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
• GOV. PERRY: BOY SCOUTS SHOULD KEEP NO-GAY POLICY: AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry said emphatically Saturday that the Boy Scouts of America shouldn’t soften its strict no-gays membership policy, and dismissed the idea of bending the organization to the whims of “popular culture.”
Perry is an Eagle Scout and in 2008 he authored the book “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.” It detailed the governor’s deep love for the organization and explained why it should continue to embrace traditional, conservative values — including excluding openly gay members and Scout leaders.
• ENERGY INDUSTRY DEVELOPS NONTOXIC FRACKING FLUIDS: PITTSBURGH (AP) — The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking, but it’s not clear whether the new product will be widely embraced by drilling companies.
Houston-based energy giant Halliburton Inc. has developed a product called CleanStim, which uses only food-industry ingredients. Other companies have developed nontoxic fluids as well.
Environmental groups say they welcome the development but still have questions.
The chemicals in fracking fluids aren’t the only environmental concern, said George Jugovic, president of PennFuture. He said there is also concern about the large volumes of naturally occurring but exceptionally salty wastewater and air pollution.
• A LIVING, LURKING THREAT IN SANDY-HIT HOMES: MOLD: NEW YORK (AP) — Esther Tauscher stood outside her Staten Island home, leafing through boxes of family photos that had been steeped in storm water. She paused to point out life events — her honeymoon, holding her baby boy in a hospital bed.
The photos are just about all she has left. Behind her, the home where she and her family lived for 14 years was being dismantled by a masked volunteer crew that tossed out her possessions and ripped out floorboards and walls.
It was Tauscher’s only option. Her house and nearly everything in it was consumed by mold.
“If the water didn’t get it, the mold got it,” she said.
Three months after Superstorm Sandy, mold lurks in once-waterlogged buildings, hiding below subflooring, under foundations, and in door and window frames. Sometimes it mottles walls in plain sight. And it can make dwellers sick, another blow to people still recovering from the October storm that sent the Atlantic surging into homes in New Jersey and New York.
Mold is flourishing in homes that never completely dried out, where the owners may have waited to make repairs or could not access the house for weeks because of safety concerns. Other flooded homes remain vacant and unheated.
• EMPTY AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILS IN LA: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Transit officials say minor rail delays occurred after an Amtrak train carrying no passengers derailed in Los Angeles.
In a brief statement, Amtrak said nobody was hurt when the northbound Coast Starlight train jumped the tracks shortly after 10:30 a.m. about a quarter mile east of Union Station. Amtrak described the train as “empty.”
Metrolink spokeswoman Delana Gbenekama says two Metrolink trains to and from Los Angeles and Oceanside were delayed up to one hour.
Amtrak says its train to Oakland and Seattle scheduled to depart Union Station at 10:26 a.m. was running nearly two hours late.