Iran bans surgical birth control
Men in Iran wanting to get vasectomies will be out of luck now that parliament has approved a ban on surgical, permanent forms of birth control. Violators will be punished as having committed a crime, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The bill also bans similar procedures for women but includes an exemption for cases in which the surgery "is urgently needed for health," IRNA reported. Why pass such legislation? In two words: declining birthrates. IRNA reports that the country's birthrate is 1.8 children per woman. That's below the 2.1 birthrate needed to replace the population as people die.
Maryland weapons ban is upheld
A federal judge on Tuesday upheld a Maryland ban on 45 assault weapons and a limit on gun magazines to 10 rounds, two key parts of a sweeping gun-control law that were challenged shortly before the law went into effect last year. Maryland lawmakers approved the measure in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six educators. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake concluded in a 47-page ruling that the law serves the government's interest in protecting public safety without significantly burdening what the Supreme Court has explained is the core Second Amendment right of "law abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home."
German artists claim flag stunt
Two German artists have claimed responsibility for replacing American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with faded white versions last month in New York City. Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke of Berlin said Tuesday that they hoisted the hand-sewn white flags onto the 131-year-old bridge's neo-gothic stone towers as a celebration of public art. They said they switched the flags early on July 22 to commemorate the 145th anniversary of German-born Brooklyn Bridge architect John August Roebling's death. In a statement, they said they "were careful to treat the bridge and the flags with respect," but they didn't address potential criminal liability.