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Thursday, Oct 23rd

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California Becomes First State To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Ban the bagGov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, driven to action by a buildup of litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

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Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn under Vatican investigation

Bishop Robert FinnA Canadian archbishop visited the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese last week on behalf of the Vatican to investigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn, the first Catholic prelate to be found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Ottawa, Ontario, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast visited the Midwestern diocese for several days last week, interviewing more than a dozen people about Finn's leadership, several of those interviewed told NCR.

According to those who spoke with Prendergast, the main question he asked was: "Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?"

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9,800 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan

US troops in AfghanistanAlmost 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after this year as part of a long-delayed security agreement with the country.

White House Senior Adviser John Podesta said on Monday the agreement between the two countries will be signed on Tuesday.

Podesta reported the agreement after attending the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in Kabul.

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Obama goal of Gitmo closure stalled at Pentagon

GitmoThe transfer of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay has ground to a halt amid a slow Pentagon approval process, causing deep frustration within the administration and raising doubts that President Barack Obama will be able to fulfill his campaign promise to close the offshore prison for terrorism suspects.

A detainee sent back to his native Algeria in March is the only prisoner to have moved out this year, beyond the controversial exchange of five Taliban members in return for long-held captive U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

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Australia's 2013 heat waves linked to human-caused climate change, studies conclude

australia heat linked to climate changeAustralia has suffered through two back-to-back sweltering summers, with a record-setting heat wave sweeping across the country at the end of 2013 and into 2014. Now, five separate studies published today conclude that the blazing summer was linked to human-caused climate change.

The papers are part of a larger report, Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). It includes 22 separate studies focusing on 16 different extreme weather events that occurred last year. And while researchers concluded that human activity had increased the likelihood and severity of Australia’s heat wave, they reported that it was hard to see any direct link between climate change and other extreme events last year—including the last 2 years of California drought and Colorado’s extreme rains.

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Which Deaths Matter? How the media covers the people behind today's grim statistics

Media coverage of worldwide deathsThe past several months have been scarred by international crisis and turmoil, from strife in Gaza to the downing of Flight MH17 and the gruesome murders of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

News is so grim that The Washington Post recently published an accounting of what it called “the hideous carnage wreaked” between June and early September: an untold number killed in Syria (where the civil war’s death toll may now exceed 200,000, though the UN has stopped counting); more than 5,500 killed in Iraq; over 1,500 killed in Ukraine; and nearly 2,000 killed by Ebola in West Africa. An estimated 550,000 to 1.4 million people could be infected with Ebola by January in a worst-case scenario.

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White House Fence Jumper Got Farther Than Previously Thought, Sources Say

jumper got deep into White HouseThe man who broke into the White House two weeks ago was able to make his way far into the property before being tackled in the East Room -- the room where President Obama and many other presidents have made some of their most important announcements, a law enforcement official confirmed today to ABC News.

The development calls into question the narrative originally released by the Secret Service, which had suggested that Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Texas, had been taken into custody near the front doors of the White House after jumping the fence and running more the 100 yards into the national landmark.

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Causes of California drought linked to climate change

california drought due to climate changeThe atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are "very likely" linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper.

In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

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A divided Supreme Court delays early voting in Ohio

SC stops early votingThe Supreme Court delayed the start of early voting in Ohio Monday, a day before it was scheduled to begin, temporarily blocking a victory won by voting rights groups in lower courts.

The decision has potential implications for other states, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas and Arkansas, where state efforts to tighten up voting procedures are opposed by civil rights groups who say they disproportionately affect minorities.

Ohio's was the first of those cases to reach the high court, and the conservative majority blocked lower court rulings that would have jump-started early voting Tuesday.

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