1:23pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Environment

At Climate Talks, Frustration And Interruptions

The U.S. climate change envoy Todd Stern delivers a speech on Dec. 8 in Durban, South Africa, during the U.N. Climate Change Conference. The climate talks entered their second week entangled in a thick mesh of issues with no guarantee that negotiators and their ministers will be able to sort them out.
Stephane De Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

United Nations climate talks, like many negotiations, are a blend of dead seriousness and theater. Today at the talks in Durban, South Africa, an American college student provided a moment of theater by shouting out a short, unauthorized speech during the main session of the talks. Her interruption encapsulated frustration with the pace of the talks in general, and the United States' role in particular.

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1:15pm

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Russia's President: Alleged Vote Fraud Will Be Investigated

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 1:18 pm

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stands in front of a giant picture of Tsar Michael of Russia.
Michal Cizek AFP/Getty Images

Reacting to widespread protests, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said alleged vote fraud of parliamentary elections will be investigated.

The AP reports:

Medvedev told reporters Thursday — after meeting Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus — that the law may have been violated during Sunday's vote, because "our electoral law is not ideal."

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1:12pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Around the Nation

Black Atlantans Struggle To Stay In The Middle Class

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 11:28 am

Foster Smith (left) and his best friend, Mark Ballard (right), met when they were 12 years old. After losing his job, and his ability to make rent, Smith moved into a room in Ballard's College Park, Ga., home.
Courtesy of Foster Smith

There's no question that the Great Recession has meant hard times all around, but from 2007 to 2009, it sent black America into an economic tailspin.

According to the Pew Research Center, the median net worth — that's assets minus debts — of black households decreased by more than 50 percent from 2005 to 2009.

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12:57pm

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

AP: Black Site Where CIA Held Al-Qaida Operatives Was In Plain View

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 12:59 pm

An exterior view of the Office of the National Register for Secret State Information, or ORNISS, which stores confidential information and ensures only authorised people gain access to it, taken in Bucharest on December 8.
AFP/Getty Images

That the Central Intelligence Agency had a so-called "black site" in Romania was well known. It was known that it was in one of those secret prisons that intelligence officials conducted harsh interrogations with major Al-Qaida operatives, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad.

Today, the result of a joint investigation with German public television, the AP reports it has found the site where Mohammad was held and interrogated. And it's not where you would think it is. The AP reports on the prison in Bucharest known as "Bright Light":

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12:55pm

Thu December 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Professor Gingrich And The Lessons (And Lecture Notes) Of History

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Newt Gingrich used these lecture notes and similar pamphlets as part of the 1994 college course that became central to a later House ethics investigation.

Newt Gingrich once called himself "the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson."

But that was 1995, and the "Contract with America" co-author had just helped to propel Republicans into power in the House for the first time in 40 years, and Gingrich himself into the speaker's role. Even the rarely modest Gingrich had reason to gloat.

Just two years later, of course, he had become the first speaker ever punished by the House for ethics violations, and the end was in sight for both his leadership and congressional career.

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12:48pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Animals

Cagebreak! Rats Will Work To Free A Trapped Pal

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 8:35 am

Science/AAAS

Calling someone a "rat" is no compliment, but a new study shows that rats actually are empathetic and will altruistically lend a helping paw to a cage mate who is stuck in a trap.

Not only will rats frantically work to free their trapped cage mate; they will do so even when there's a tempting little pile of chocolate chips nearby, the study reveals. Instead of leaving their pal in the trap and selfishly gobbling the candy all by themselves, rats will free their cage mate and share the chocolate.

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12:42pm

Thu December 8, 2011
U.S.

Fast And Furious Questions For U.S. Attorney General

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 8:08 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces tough questions about the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-control program.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder got a bruising reception from the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee that put the Justice Department on the defensive.

Holder answered questions about the botched gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious" in which federal agents tried to build cases against drug cartels. Instead, they lost track of hundreds of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border.

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12:42pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Humans

Grass Mattress Was A Stone Age Bed And Breakfast

Christopher Miller samples sediments from an excavation site in South Africa. Archaeologists found layers upon layers of burned bedding material, indicating that the hunter-gatherers who lived here 77,000 years ago stayed for a long time.
Courtesy of Lyn Wadley

In archaeology, you get special bragging rights when you can lay claim to the oldest specimen of something.

Scientists in South Africa may now qualify for what they say is the world's oldest bed. Well, not a bed exactly, but more like a mattress made of grass.

What Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of Witswatersrand, found were mats of grass and sedge piled half an inch thick on the floor of a cavelike rock shelter in South Africa.

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11:06am

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Virginia Tech On Alert After Report Of Shots

Virginia Tech has advised everyone on campus to "seek shelter or stay where you are" because of reports about shots being fired there.

It adds that:

"[A] suspect described as white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backback" was seen "on foot towards McComas" — the university's athletics facility.

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10:56am

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Under Fire For Mishandled Sex-Crime Cases

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 1:51 pm

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses the latest in the document release on his office's handling of many sexual assault cases over the years in El Mirage, Ariz., during a news conference Monday.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under fire. The sheriff is known for his aggressive stance on immigration and his tough treatment of inmates.

Yesterday, two state lawmakers called for his ouster, but Arpaio stood his ground during a press conference.

The lawmakers were reacting to an AP report from Sunday that found his office had botched a series of sex-crime cases. Here's part of that AP report:

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