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Saturday, Dec 20th

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Hyundai, Kia Fined $100 Million Over Misleading Gas Mileage Figures

EPA chief McCarthyIn a settlement the Justice Department is calling "unprecedented," Korean car makers Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay a $100 million civil penalty for overstating the gas mileage on 1.2 million vehicles.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the settlement is the largest in Clean Air Act history.

"Greenhouse gas emission laws protect the public from the dangers of climate change, and today's action reinforces EPA's commitment to see those laws through," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a press release.

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7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)

Free UniversitiesSince 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they've done the opposite.

The country's universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens -- and even of foreigners.

Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."

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Jehovah's Witnesses ordered to pay $13.5m to victim of sexual abuse

Jehovah's witnessesA Californian judge has ordered the Jehovah’s Witnesses to pay $13.5m to a man who was sexually abused in the 1980s by a church leader, the attorney for the victim said on Friday.

Church elders had assigned a man to work with Jose Lopez on Bible studies, even though they knew he had admitted to molesting another boy in 1982, because they felt he was “repentant”, Lopez’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, said.

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Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges

Erik PrinceJust as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries.

Prince now has a new company, Frontier Services Group, which he founded with substantial investment from Chinese enterprises and which focuses on opportunities in Africa. Prince recently suggested that his forces at Blackwater could have confronted Ebola and ISIS. “If the administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” he wrote.

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Pope says evolution, Big Bang are real

Pope says evolution realPope Francis has waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but even required it.

The pope was addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which gathered Monday at the Vatican to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."

"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.

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Report: CIA Protected 1,000 Ex-Nazis It Hired As Cold War Spies

CIA, FBI hired NazisThe CIA and other U.S. agencies hired at least 1,000 ex-Nazis to serve as spies during the Cold War and took pains to conceal the suspected war crimes of those informants living in America, according to a New York Times report published Monday.

From the report, which was adapted from author Eric Lichtblau's forthcoming book "The Nazis Next Door: How America Became A Safe Haven For Hitler's Men:"

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Feds confused, investors panicked over Takata airbags

air bag recallsU.S. safety regulators today dramatically boosted, to at least 7.78 million, the number of U.S. vehicles in danger because of faulty Takata air bags, and told owners "with urgency" to get their previously recalled vehicles fixed at once.

That amounts to very strong language from the usually reserved National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And it was a corrected count, down from 8.47 million NHTSA said overnight. And those were corrections from the 4.74 million the agency had publicized Monday.

On the Tokyo exchange Tuesday, shares of the Japanese supplier plunged 23%, biggest drop ever, as investors panicked over a dire situation that seems to be spreading like an oil slick. Takata supplies bags to multiple automakers globally and the deadly defect has trigger the recall of some 16 million vehicles globally over the past months.

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