Nation briefs: Blaze kills N.Y. firefighter

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NEW YORK -- A New York City firefighter died late Saturday after he became trapped during a search for residents in a blaze at a Brooklyn high-rise building, the first city firefighter to die in the line of duty in more than two years, the authorities said.

The firefighter, Lt. Gordon Matthew Ambelas, was looking for residents in an apartment on the 19th floor when the fire "flashed over" and trapped him in a bedroom, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said in a statement Sunday morning. Other firefighters found him unconscious and, along with other emergency workers, tried to resuscitate him.

Lt. Ambelas, a 14-year veteran of the Fire Department, was taken in critical condition to Woodhull Medical Center, where he later died. Four other people, including two other firefighters, suffered minor injuries in the blaze.

Researchers question study

WASHINGTON -- Facebook's news-feed study isn't just controversial among Internet users and academics, it turns out. Now, even the journal that published Facebook's research says it has reservations about having done so.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the top scientific journals in the country, said Thursday it was publishing an editorial expression of concern regarding Facebook's study.

Although Facebook didn't technically break any rules on human-subject research, the journal said, Facebook's research "may have involved practices that were not fully consistent with the principles of obtaining informed consent and allowing participants to opt out."

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has apologized for having "poorly communicated" the study to Facebook users, but did not apologize for having conducted the study itself.

Berkeley weighs soda tax

WASHINGTON -- Berkeley, Calif., could become the first U.S. city to tax sugary drinks.

The Berkeley City Council unanimously decided last week to put the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the ballot this November. Approving the tax would mean a major defeat for the soda industry, which has spent millions to crush the effort nationwide.

More than a dozen local groups, from the NAACP to the Berkeley Dental Society, have pledged support for the "Berkeley vs. Big Soda" campaign, which legislators have pitched as a public health and social justice issue.

Some researchers say they have found evidence that the soda tax could work.

A study published last month by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that a 6-cent tax on a 12-ounce can of Coke or Pepsi would mean an average reduction of 5,800 calories per person every year.

But the American Beverage Association has cast doubt that the tax would affect the country's obesity epidemic. "Taxes don't make people healthy," the association's public affairs director, Chris Gindlesperger, told reporters.

Bankruptcy plan up for vote

DETROIT -- The most anticipated vote in Detroit this summer isn't for a city office.

Instead, ballots due by Friday from city retirees could determine how quickly Detroit exits its historic bankruptcy and how much of the financial weight pensioners will bear.

Non-uniformed retirees are being asked to take a 4.5 percent pension cut and no cost-of-living allowances.

Police and fire retirees are faced with reduced cost-of-living payments.

Their pension boards have joined Gov. Rick Snyder and state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr in seeking "yes" votes on the plan.

Voting "no" could result in deeper cuts for the city's 32,000 retirees and current and former city workers.

All classes of creditors, including banks and bond insurers, also must vote by Friday on the aspects of Mr. Orr's debt restructuring plan that affects them.

Also in the nation ...

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will not allow cell phones or other electronic devices on U.S.-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged up, the agency said on Sunday... Smoke detectors were installed last year inside a Philadelphia row home where four young children died in a fast-moving blaze that engulfed at least 10 residences, fire officials said.

-- Compiled from news services


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