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2014: a warm year for the US and the warmest yet worldwide

2014 warmest yearOn a day when much of the US struggled with bone-chilling cold, federal meteorologists said America’s weather in 2014 wasn’t really that bad.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Thursday that the US average temperature in 2014 was half a degree warmer than normal and that weather was less disastrous and drought-struck than in previous years. While 2014 was warmer than 2013 in the lower 48 states, it was still only the 34th warmest on record.


26 Earthquakes Later, Fracking’s Smoking Gun Is in Texas

fracking earthquakes in TexasThere’s a monster lurking under Texas, beneath the sand and oil and cowboy bones, and it’s getting a little restless after a 15 million year nap. Shaking things up in the city of Irving, just slightly west of Dallas, where no less than ten earthquakes yesterday and today bring the total tremors to 26 since October in that town alone. Over 100 quakes have been registered in the North Texas region since 2008, a staggering uptick from just a single one prior that year.

The Balcones Fault Zone divides the Lone Star State in half, loosely following the route of Interstate 35 and passing under Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, and San Antonio. And it’s not just a huge amount of human populations that sit on top of it. There are also thousands of fracking wells boring down in to the earth’s crust, pumping millions of gallons of water down with the direct intent of breaking apart what lay beneath.


Pentagon to close 15 bases in Europe

15 european bases to closeThe Pentagon announced that 15 U.S. military bases in Europe will close as part of a planned consolidation effort.

"In the end, this transformation of our infrastructure will help maximize capabilities in Europe and help strengthen our important military partnerships, so that we can best support our NATO allies and partners in the region," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement released Thursday.


Honda Fined $70 Million For Not Reporting Death Complaints

Honda finedThe Obama administration said Thursday it is fining Honda $70 million — the largest civil penalty levied against an automaker — for not reporting to regulators some 1,729 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries, and for not reporting warranty claims.

The Japanese automaker acknowledged in November that it failed to report the death and injury complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over an 11-year period beginning in 2003. The company admitted it learned of the omissions in 2011 but had waited three years to take action.


Grand jury investigating loans to Kansas governor's campaign

Sam BrownbeckA federal grand jury is looking into loans made to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's re-election campaign and has ordered the state's ethics chief to testify next week as part of its investigation, according to a subpoena obtained by The Associated Press.

Carol Williams, the executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, was summoned to appear before the grand jury Wednesday in Topeka, according to documents the AP obtained through an open records request. She also was ordered to provide documents pertaining to loans Brownback's campaign received in 2013 and 2014.


Extended Tamir Rice shooting video shows officers restrained sister

Tamir RiceCleveland police officers forced Tamir Rice's 14-year-old sister to the ground, handcuffed her and placed in the back of a Cleveland police car steps away from her wounded 12-year-old brother.

The scene plays out within the first two minutes of the 30 minute video taken from the Cudell Recreation Center surveillance camera that captured the shooting. The additional video was obtained by Northeast Ohio Media Group after protracted talks with city officials, who initially refused to release it.


Muslim Targets Attacked in France

Muslims targeted in FranceMuslim places of worship in two French towns were fired upon overnight, leaving no casualties, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Three blank grenades were thrown at a mosque shortly after midnight in the city of Le Mans, west of Paris. A bullet hole was also found in a window of the mosque.

In the Port-la-Nouvelle district near Narbonne in southern France, several shots were fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers. The hall was empty, the local prosecutor said.

In the Port-la-Nouvelle district near Narbonne in southern France, several shots were fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers. The hall was empty, the local prosecutor said.


Mexican police officers detained after journalist disappears

Mexico police questioned Thirteen police officers in Medellin, Mexico, have been detained in an investigation of the Jan. 2 kidnapping of a newspaper journalist.

Gunmen abducted Moises Sanchez, a social activist known for his coverage of drug-related violence for a Medellin newspaper, from his home. Over 30 people, the town's entire police force, was questioned about the disappearance. Sanchez was threatened by the mayor, his brother Juan Carlos Sanchez claims, although Mayor Omar Cruz denies the accusation.


Neil deGrasse Tyson to host first ever National Geographic talk show

De Grasse TysonNeil deGrasse Tyson is coming to late night television.

The famed astrophysicist has inked a deal with National Geographic to host the channel's first ever late-night talk show, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The show will be based on Tyson's Star Talk podcast -- where "science, pop culture and comedy collide" -- and will feature interviews with celebrities and science commentary from the likes of Bill Nye, among others.


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