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Instead, the government would offer a new “shallow loss” program to aid farmers when revenues fall between 11 percent and 21 percent less than five-year moving averages and would put greater emphasis on subsidized crop insurance. Farmers’ regular crop insurance would pay for losses of more than 21 percent.

Corn and soybean growers, which are more subject to natural disasters and rely on crop insurance, welcome the change. Rice and peanut growers, more affected by price fluctuations, say that for them the new safety net is inadequate.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Bishops say government started birth-control fight

ATLANTA — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday promised steadfast opposition to President Obama’s mandate that birth control be covered by health insurance and thus subsidized by the church, calling it one of many threats to religious freedom in government.

Bishops insisted repeatedly that they had no partisan agenda. They said they were forced into action by state and federal policies that they say would require them to violate their beliefs in order to maintain the vast public-service network the church has built over a century or longer.

“It is not about parties, candidates or elections as others have suggested,” said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the bishops’ religious-liberty committee. “The government chose to pick a fight with us.”

The meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Atlanta is its first since dioceses, universities and Catholic charities filed a dozen federal lawsuits over the rule. The church teaches that contraception is always immoral and that supporting it financially, even under government order, also is wrong.

COURTS

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Guatemala STD study

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against U.S. officials by Guatemalans who had been subjected to sexually transmitted diseases by U.S. researchers in the 1940s.

The suit, on behalf of the victims and their heirs, came after revelations that Guatemalan prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and orphans had been deliberately infected without their consent. The researchers were studying the effects of penicillin.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton acknowledged that the study was a “deeply troubling chapter in our nation’s history.” But he ruled that federal law bars claims against the U.S. government based on injuries suffered in a foreign country.

Guatemalan officials said last year that they have found 2,082 people were involved in the experiments to infect subjects with syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. U.S. officials put the figure at 1,308 subjects.

PENTAGON

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