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Wednesday, Nov 26th

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Climate Change to Cause More Lightning

lightning to increaseBy now we're familiar with some of the scarier potential impacts of climate change: Floods, fires, stronger hurricanes, violent conflicts. Well, here's a new one to add to your nightmares.

Lightning strikes in the continental United States will increase roughly 12 percent for every degree Celsius of global warming, a study published today in Science finds. If warming continues unchecked, that could translate into a 50 percent increase in lightning by the end of the century—three strikes then for every two strikes now. (On average, there are currently about 25 million strikes per year.)

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U.S. House passes Keystone XL pipeline bill... again

Keystone pipelineThe Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, but a similar measure struggled to get enough support in the Senate and President Barack Obama indicated he might use his veto if the bill does get through Congress.

The legislation, approved by 252 votes to 161, circumvents the need for approval of TransCanada Corp's (TRP.TO) $8 billion project by the Obama administration, which has been considering it for more than six years. No Republicans voted against the measure, while 31 Democrats voted for the bill.

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Walmart workers at over 1,600 locations plan Black Friday strike

Walmart workersWalmart workers around the country are reportedly planning the largest strike in company history as employees at 1,600 locations plan to picket on Black Friday for $15 an hour and improved working conditions.

"There have been many times my family can't even afford the gas to get me back and forth to work, so my husband had to wait in the car to take me home after work," Barbara Gertz, an employee at a Denver Walmart, told reporters Friday.

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Trace amounts of Fukushima radiation detected along U.S. West Coast

radiation from FukushimaAs scientists have been predicting for months, trace amounts of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have finally arrived on the shores of the United States.

"Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean," the research organization confirmed in a press release.

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As controversial EPA water rule looms, GOP prepares an assault

Clean Water ActWhile the politics of climate change were at the top of the president’s agenda this week, a different environmental proposal is heading to a showdown between Republicans and the White House, in part due to strong pressure from Kentucky farm interests and lawmakers.

The issue is the proposed “ Waters of the United States” rule, which was announced earlier this year in an attempt to simplify and clarify which waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act and which ones aren’t.

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US bishops may tighten restrictions on Catholic hospital mergers

Catholic hopsital mergersU.S. bishops may soon ramp up efforts to restrict reproductive health care, including women’s access to abortions, at facilities where Catholic hospitals have merged or partnered with their secular counterparts.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this week voted almost unanimously — in a 213-2 vote — to review its policy on “forming new partnerships with health care organizations” to address a directive issued in February from the Vatican’s conservative Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith that, in essence, prohibits Catholic hospitals from merging with secular hospitals that do not uphold the same values.

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Voter purges alter US political map

political map changed because of purgesInterstate Crosscheck is a computerized system meant to identify fraudulent voters. While Crosscheck’s list of nearly 7 million names of “potential” double voters has yet to unearth, as of this writing, a single illegal vote this year, it did help Republican elections officials scrub voters from registries, enough, it appears, to have swung several important state and national elections in favor of the GOP.

There is good reason to believe that Crosscheck-related voter purges helped propel Republican candidates to slim victories in Senate races in Colorado and North Carolina, as well a tight gubernatorial race in Kansas.

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Hagel orders top-to-bottom changes in nuke force

Nuke admin changedDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered top-to-bottom changes in the management of the nation's nuclear arsenal Friday, saying a lack of sustained attention and investment in the force caused it to "slowly back downhill."

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, he said the Defense Department will boost spending on the nuclear forces by about 10 percent a year for the next five years -- an increase of nearly $10 billion -- adding there is no problem on this issue the Pentagon can't fix.

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Former CEO indicted in 2010 mine disaster

west virginia coal disasterMore than four years after an underground explosion killed 29 mine workers, a federal grand jury Thursday indicted the top executive of the West Virginia coal company that ran the mine, charging him with fraud and conspiracy to violate safety laws.

Don Blankenship, who was CEO of Massey Energy, becomes the highest-ranking executive to face charges in the deadly blast at the Upper Big Branchttp://tvnewslies.org/tvnl/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&task=addh Mine, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.

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