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Congress begins hearing on Flint water crisis & more news headlines

It’s hump day, which means you just have to get to lunch and you’re on the back half of the week. Kill a few minutes with a cup of coffee and these news headlines. 

1. Blame game

Today is a Congressional hearing into the Flint water crisis. Expect a lot of finger-pointing as state and federal officials try to place blame anywhere but on themselves. Prepared testimony has already been released: The director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has said the state should have required the city to do more, but that the city didn’t even follow the advice of the consultants it hired, and that the feds didn’t really indicate that this was a Code Red kind of situation. Basically, no one thinks they’re to blame. Maybe their punishment should be to drink the water. — NBC News

2. Beer goggles and beer IUDs

U.S. health officials are urging all women of childbearing age to abstain from alcohol unless they are using a reliable form of birth control. The CDC announced its new recommendations yesterday in an attempt to reduce the number of infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The report noted that even when women stop using contraception in the hopes of getting pregnant, three out of four continue to drink. For those of us who like a glass of wine or two, it seems like an IUD might be a good idea. And then prayers for a swift, and, er, totally sober conception. — USA Today

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3. Women in the trenches

The Army and Marine Corps chiefs testified yesterday that women as well as men should have to register for the draft as the Pentagon recently has opened all combat jobs in the military to women. Currently young men must register for the Selective Service upon turning 18, including young men who are not citizens, like refugees. — The Washington Post

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4. Probably, wear a condom

Now there are even more ways for us to catch the Zika virus. That virus, which can cause brain defects in developing fetuses, has appeared in Texas and has apparently been transmitted via sexual contact, not an insect. (Health officials stressed there is no fetus for us to be worried about here.) The CDC soon will issue information and guidelines on protecting oneself from sexually transmitted Zika. — CNN

5. Neck and neck

A win by a nose is still a win: Iowa’s state Democratic Party announced that Hillary Clinton is the winner, by the slimmest of margins, of the Iowa caucuses. The photo finish means that there is no clear Dem front-runner, and as Sanders has a strong lead in New Hampshire, we may have to wait a few more weeks to see how things shake out. — CNN

6. Cleared

A report out today from the National Registry of Exonerations indicates that a record number of innocent people were exonerated in 2015: Last year, 149 people who’d spent an average of 15 years in prison were freed. Of the people serving time for homicide, more than two-thirds were minorities. — NBC News

7. Trauma

The great Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E.), researchers announced today. Stabler died last July of colon cancer, though his mind had “seemed to slip” in his last years. He had asked for an autopsy and to have his brain examined for clues. The autopsy revealed Stage 3 C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease that is caused by repeated blows to the head. Football players are particularly vulnerable. — The New York Times

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