BruNews: Wednesday, February 26

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The European Parliament approved the first regulations on electronic cigarettes today, including a ban on electronic cigarette advertising in 28 EU nations beginning in mid-2016. The European Parliament also enacted significantly stricter anti-smoking legislation today. Picture health warnings will have to appear on the front and back of all packaging. In addition, flavored cigarettes, such as menthol, will be banned. Per year, approximately 700,000 premature deaths in the EU are caused by smoking.

Texas became the latest state to strike down a same-sex marriage ban today after Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in favor of two gay couples challenging a Texas state constitutional amendment.

More than half of U.S. states are considering decriminalizing marijuana or legalizing it for medical and/or recreational use. The two states most likely to legalize marijuana next are Oregon (a blue state) and Alaska (a red state), demonstrating how the subject may be shifting to become a nonpartisan issue.

Kepler astronomers announced today that they had verified the existence of 715 more planets orbiting other stars. The total of exoplanets has reached 1,700.

Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the outgoing chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, released the Republican tax reform plan today. The new tax plan would condense the existing seven individual income tax rates (ranging from 10% to 39.6%) to three brackets: 10%, 25% and 35%.

Over 80% of Democrats say they want Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll released today. The poll did not provide conclusive results among Republican voters in regards to their preferred candidate.

Pope Francis pleads for “end to violence” in Venezuela today, urging Venezuelans “to promote reconciliation through mutual forgiveness and sincere dialogue.”

U.S. home sales increased 9.6 percent in January, the fastest pace since July 2008.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain condition associated with sports such as football and boxing, was found posthumously in a 29-year-old former soccer player’s brain, indicating that the degenerative brain disease isn’t limited to violent sports.

The FDA is in the process of deciding whether to approve trials of an in vitro fertilization technique using DNA from three people. The technique has the potential to prevent muscular dystrophy and respiratory problems, but faces ethical questions regarding genetic engineering for some.

The U.S. plans to loan cash-strapped Ukraine $1 billion, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. He said it was urgent for Ukraine’s interim government to enact reform, curb corruption, and foster free and fair elections.

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