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Sunday, Nov 23rd

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Polar bear population in parts of Alaska, Canada down by 40 percent

polar bearThe population of polar bears in parts of Alaska and northwestern Canada has declined by about 40 percent in the first decade of the 2000s, a new study says.

The number of polar bears found near the southern Beaufort Sea dropped to 900 from 2000 to 2010, most drastically between 2004 and 2006. The population recovered in 2007 and began stabilizing in 2009, the study, conducted by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, found.

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Ricky Jackson to leave prison 39 years after a boy's lie helped put him behind bars

Rickly Jackson freedRicky Jackson is headed for freedom, 39 years after a boy lied to authorities and said Jackson and two other men killed a money-order collector at a Cleveland grocery store.

The lie helped a jury convict Jackson in 1975. He has been in prison until Tuesday, when Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty told Judge Richard McMonagle that the case against Jackson had fallen apart – based on the recantation of Eddie Vernon, who, at 12, helped build the case against Jackson. Prosecutors dismissed the case.

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UN: World not close to avoiding dangerous warming

Climate changeThe world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.

The report looks at the gap between what countries promise to do about carbon pollution and what scientists say needs to be done to prevent temperatures rising another two degrees. That two-degree level is a goal that world leaders set in 2009.

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Senate blocks NSA phone records measure

NSA data collectionThe Senate on Tuesday blocked a bill to end bulk collection of Americans' phone records by the National Security Agency, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's primary proposal to rein in domestic surveillance.

The 58-42 vote was two short of the 60 needed to proceed with debate under Senate procedural rules. Voting was largely along party lines, with most Democrats supporting the bill and most Republicans voting against it. The Republican-controlled House had previously passed its own NSA bill.

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Senate defeats Keystone XL pipeline

Senate defeats pipeline billThe Democrat-controlled Senate failed to gather the 60 votes it needed to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate's 59-41 vote Tuesday night was a nail-biter to the end.

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been at the center of a major political debate since 2008 when TransCanda applied for permission to construct the 1,179-mile-long pipeline.

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Fracking to be allowed in largest national forest on US east coast

fracking to be allowedOver the objection of environmental groups and Virginia’s governor, a federal management plan released on Tuesday will allow a form of natural gas drilling known as fracking to occur in parts of the largest national forest on the east coast.

The US Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1m-acre George Washington National Forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest.

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Eating trans fat may damage memory

transfatYet another reason to cut back on cookies: A new study shows that eating trans fat – used for decades in margarine and to increase the shelf life of packaged cookies and crackers – may damage memory.

Of 690 young and middle-aged men tested, those who reported eating the most trans fat, also called partially hydrogenated oil, remembered 11 fewer words out of 104 than those who ate the least, according to the study presented today at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.

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Climate science provokes textbook battle in Texas

Climate change dispute in TexasSeveral textbook publishers have withdrawn passages from social studies textbooks that could have lead middle school students to think that climate change is not caused by human activity, an advocacy group said Monday.

The move comes a day before elected Texas school officials vote on whether to approve the books.

The decisions of the Texas State Board of Education could have national impact because the state is the second-largest textbook market behind California, so textbooks written for its market tend to end up in other parts of the country as well.

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White-out conditions, bitter cold blast North, East

White ot conditions cover most of eastPlummeting temperatures and lake-effect snow brought weather havoc to much of the North and East on Tuesday, with some areas battling snow measured in feet and white-out highway conditions.

Tuesday, the U.S. awoke to its coldest November morning since 1976 , reported WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue. "More than 85% of the surface area of the Lower 48 reached or fell below freezing Tuesday morning," he said.

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