Ecuadoreans can try to collect a more than $9 billion environmental judgment from Chevron's subsidiary in Canada, the Supreme Court there ruled Friday. 

     Two men who plotted to blow up a police station during the Ferguson protests were sentenced Thursday to seven years in federal prison.

     Discriminatory housing grant practices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has kept tens of thousands of black homeowners from rebuilding their ruined homes, a class action claims. 

     We've become an autistic country.
     I was reading "An Anthropologist on Mars" when Oliver Sacks died. Its last two chapters are on idiots savants and autism.
     Idiots savants are prodigies with peculiar talents - memory, math, music - talents far beyond those possessed even by gifted "normal" people. But the idiot savant is crippled, often hopelessly retarded, in what we call normal life: social tasks most of us take for granted. Making friends, understanding what friendship is, caring what other people think, having the slightest clue that the person in front of us, the rest of the world, may not be fascinated with what consumes us: prime numbers, what day of the week Jan. 14 was in 1323.
     Most idiots savants are autistic, and only a small percentage of autistic people are what's known as "high performing": possessed of a peculiar talent, such as the ability to multiply 19-digit numbers in their head.
     Dr. Sacks was interested in what autism and idiots savants can teach us about the way the brain works. We know that certain sections of the brain are devoted to specific tasks: memory, language, sight, and that large areas of the brain can be damaged, or removed, without affecting our abilities at all.
     It's also understood that what we call sight is not a single task, that separate areas of the brain detect color, outline, motion, distance, and the brain assembles it all so deftly and rapidly we are not even aware so many operations are involved.
     What's different, Sacks wondered, in the brain of a mathematical or musical genius who in the rest of his life is an idiot, and the brains of geniuses who are not idiots?
     The normal brain does not function like a bunch of highly sophisticated, tiny building blocks stacked together: the sight blocks, the sound blocks, the social interaction blocks, and so on. Without something integrating them, an underlying or overarching something making sense of what's inside us and what's outside us, we're just idiot savants, or just idiots.
     That's why I say we've become an autistic country. We make great movies. Great computers. Good cars. Terrific guns. Lots of cool, shiny objects. But socially, we just stand in our corners and chatter.
     If there is an integrating force in the United States - an underlying or overarching understanding that what fascinates us at the moment, that what we want right now is not the most important thing in the world, that there are other people out there who are just as important as we are - that integrating force should be Congress.
     Need I say: Har har har.
     Congress, and many of our state legislatures, act like a bunch of retarded, autistic idiots.
     We regulate hairdressers and the paint on toys, but not guns.
     We slash taxes to less than a third of the level under Eisenhower, when we built our interstate highways, then find ourselves even to fix potholes, and we say: How did that happen?
     We create idiotic, racist systems to pay for schools, giving rich folks lower tax rates but more money than poor families, depriving poor kids of books, paper and pencils; we prohibit poor families from taxing themselves a few pennies more to buy their children textbooks, then we say: What's wrong with our schools?
     Faced with all this, and worse, millions of people scream about abortion, about guns, about the Jews, about liberals, about Mexicans, about the evils of medical care, about lawyers, about unions.
     And above it all sits an autistic Congress, unable to perform the simple social functions we once took for granted, chattering with echolalia: pro-life ... Second Amendment ... tyranny ... freedom ... evildoers ... God told me to do it.


     Most of the 97 e-cigarette and vaping products it tested produce high-levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health said in a new report.

     Dollar General fired a man convicted of possessing graphic child pornography, only to have Wisconsin officials upbraid it for discrimination, the store claims in court. 

     A researcher seeking budget records for intelligence support the CIA gave Israel told a federal judge that the agency is improperly claiming ignorance of its own policy. 

     A Virginia man who edits a newspaper here about Palestine claims in Federal Court that immigration officials have improperly blacklisted him as a national-security concern. 

     An investigator for Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority claims his supervisors repeatedly ordered him to reverse his findings of police misconduct, then fired him when he refused. 

     A security officer sued the University of Oregon, claiming it fired him for complaining about his bosses' "Bowl of Dicks List," which included Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson and the ACLU. 

     A special investigator working on behalf of the state of Ohio abused his authority by issuing a wide-ranging subpoena for information related to the state's growing pro-pot movement, a lawsuit claims. 

     A University of Mary Washington student claims in a federal lawsuit that she was denied a spot on the school's basketball team because she is black 

     Arizona miners, farmers and business groups sued the United States for expanding the definition of federal waters to include desert areas where a storm can set a stream running after centuries of dry sand. 

     Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's attempt to strip state courts of funding if any Kansas court struck his budget bill as unconstitutional failed this week, when a state judge did just that. 


     Washington state sued the Department of Energy and its prime contractor for exposing workers to radioactive fumes during the enormous cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

     Police showed "commendable restraint" while jury nullifiers shouted obscenities at them and tried to provoke violence outside a Denver courthouse, a federal judge ruled Thursday, refusing protesters' demands to sanction the police chief. 

     A Texan who mistakenly cut down trees on a wealthy attorney's property sued State Farm Insurance for $375,000 - half of the cost of settling the attorney's lawsuit. 

     Dallas soccer legend Tatu (Antonio Pecorari) claims the Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer club owes him $109,000 for coaching and promoting the team. 

     Former Oklahoma State University basketball player Stevie Clark sued his school, claiming he was forced to take psychotropic drugs against his will after complaining about hazing by teammates. 

     Washington state's highest court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional late Friday, overturning a citizens' initiative authorizing the publicly funded private schools. 

     Detroit Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon is entitled to the grand jury testimony of the woman accusing him of rape, a federal judge ruled Friday. 


     Claiming insurers refused to cover its defense costs in the Miramonte sex-abuse scandal, the Los Angeles Unified School District sued for $200 million.


     Upholding a $20.5 million verdict for a man brutalized outside a Jack in the Box, a Missouri appeals court noted the restaurant's reputation for attracting "weirdos." 

     Animal rights activists challenging the California State Fair's treatment of pregnant pigs relied on a doomed strategy to pursue their claims, a state appeals court ruled. 

     Wisconsin's former chief justice, removed from her post in April after an email vote by her coleagues, is taking her fight to regain her position to a federal appeals court. 

     A biotech company that was fined for bribing foreign governments last year asked a judge to dismiss a former vice president's lawsuit claiming the company fired him for reporting misconduct.

     The Los Angeles Unified School District has drastically improved its handling of teacher misconduct allegations and its efficiency in settling lawsuits, according to a state audit released Thursday.


     The 11th Circuit revived Miami's claims that Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup made predatory loans to black and Hispanic borrowers for a decade. 

     Though federal authorities have flayed Cleveland police for their pattern of excessive force, a union for those officers have gone to court to keep hold of their new recruits. 

     A Confederate flag-toting former prison warden cannot dodge a lawsuit from a Latino inmate tossed into long-term solitary confinement in 1999, the Second Circuit ruled Thursday. 

     A Williamsburg mural featuring a pink elephant appeared in an advertisement for a boombox-shaped speaker dock, the artist claims in Federal Court. 


     An audio engineer claims sportscaster Al Bernstein knocked him off a platform during a Showtime Networks boxing match at an Cabazon Indian casino, in an $800,000 demand in Superior Court.

     The ACLU says the Justice Department should deny federal funds for the LAPD's body-camera program because of a policy that allows officials to review and withhold footage. 

     A different judge should decide whether Nevada made voter registration more difficult, the Ninth Circuit ruled, finding too many errors in earlier proceedings. 

     A law meant to flush day laborers out of a New York City suburb in Nassau County is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled. 

     Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez will be tried for second degree murder in the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle on San Francisco's Pier 14.


     A California Farm Bureau sued the United States, claiming its refusal to delist the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat prevents people from protecting their land from wildfires. 

     A group upset at a grand jury's failure to indict the police officer who killed an unarmed Eric Garner has asked a judge to intervene. 


     Oklahoma is making a final effort to save the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, with a new religious freedom defense.

     The federal health agency will propose a sweeping healthcare rule next week to reduce discrimination based on gender, gender identity, disability and language.

     A federal judge gave final approval to a $3.75 million settlement for eBay workers affected by an alleged handshake agreement between eBay and Intuit not to recruit each other's employees. 

     A federal grand jury added money laundering and tax evasion to the list of charges Washington state auditor Troy Kelley faces in a scheme prosecutors say continued even after he was elected. 

     A New York couple whose son drowned in Costa Rica as part of a program run by Duke University chose the wrong venue for their lawsuit, a federal judge ruled. 

     A federal judge dismissed a sexual harassment case against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals after the parties settled for an undisclosed sum. 

     The CFTC told a federal judge it is making progress in its analysis of the costs of imposing a reporting obligation for foreign derivative swaps. 

     Appistry claims Amazon violates its patent on "fabric computing," in Federal Court.  

     The Ninth Circuit refused Friday to revive labor claims Menlo Park firefighters and emergency medical personnel brought over the time spent "donning and doffing" gear.