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Access, limits on criminal records in Mass.

The state’s new online system for criminal background checks provides easier access for employers, but limit their searches of criminal history to 10 years back.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/05/07/BostonGlobe.com/Foreign/Images/07francepic.jpg Socialist Francois Hollande elected in France

Hollande’s presidential victory will be seen as a challenge to the German-dominated vision of economic austerity.

Blue Cross plan targets abuse of painkillers

Amid a rising sea of addictions to prescription painkillers, Massachusetts’ largest health insurer is launching a policy to curb abuse by significantly limiting the amount of pain medications most patients can receive without prior approval. The program by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, scheduled to start July 1, will allow patients to fill an initial 15-day prescription and one additional 15-day supply of the most common opioid drugs before the insurer hits the pause button.

Claire McCaskill is an incumbent in Missouri.

Associated Press/File

Female candidates key to Democratic Senate

From Massachusetts to Hawaii, Democrats are leaning heavily on their party’s women to retain control of the Senate, which Democrats now control by a razor-thin margin. A record number of Democratic women, including six incumbents, are running for Senate seats - eclipsing by one the 10 that ran in 1992’s “Year of the Woman.’’ The contests come as the political chasm on key social and economic issues widen, and Democrats hope the stark divides will motivate women to go to the polls in droves in November.

Most of the employees at FreeCause, a Boston technology company, wear headphones at work.

Firms debate headphone use at the office

There is a growing debate on whether plugging in to your own personal soundtrack increases workplace productivity or undermines communication.