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Large ice deposits found on planet nearest the sun: NASA

WASHINGTON — Scientists Thursday announced new evidence that Mercury, the planet orbiting nearest the Sun, hosts massive caches of ice and revealed new information on how water reached our solar system’s inner planets. “The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury’s polar regions, if spread over an area the…

Fiscal cliff negotiations stall as Republicans refuse to budge on tax rates

WASHINGTON — US Democrats and Republicans bickered on Thursday over whether to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, as crunch negotiations on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff stalled. Republican speaker John Boehner met Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, after a Wednesday phone call with President Barack Obama, but warned there had…

UN elevates Palestine to a ‘nonmember observer state’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinians fired in the air, whistled and embraced each other in the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday after the General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. As the votes were cast, there was silence among the thousands gathered in the West Bank…

Virginia official sorry for calling atheist group ‘terrorists’

Ken Reid of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors gave a halfhearted apology on Wednesday for referring to an atheist group as “terrorists.” “Yeah, I guess so,” Reid said when asked if he should apologize. “But I still think they’re fanatical.” Reid was upset that the group American Atheists had…

Watch: Zebra and pony run free in Staten Island

A zebra and Shetland pony stunned onlookers Wednesday morning as they trotted down a boulevard in New York’s Staten Island. Their confusion was amplified after two men in black suits carrying lassos chased down the 14-year-old pony and 4-month-old zebra. “Is this actually happening to me, am I finally losing…

Living Social group deal company cuts 400 jobs

Online deals firm Living Social said Thursday it was cutting 400 jobs, or 10 percent of its staff, in a retrenchment which follows big losses for the company. Company spokesman Andrew Weinstein said in an email that most of the jobs were US-based by that “a couple dozen” positions were…

Definitive study links polar ice cap melting to climate change

The melting of polar ice caps raised sea levels by nearly half an inch (11 millimeters) over the last two decades, scientists said Thursday, calling it the most definitive measure yet of the impact of climate change. There have been more than 30 previous estimates of whether and how much…

Senate committee passes email privacy bill

A US Senate panel approved a bill to boost email privacy protections in a vote Thursday that followed widespread uproar over the FBI probe that toppled CIA director David Petraeus. The measure, which if enacted would require police to obtain a warrant in most cases to access email accounts, drew…

Study: CA decriminalization caused youth pot arrests to plunge 61 percent in one year

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) might have left his state’s fiscal house in utter disarray, but a study released Thursday finds that he also did California’s young people a huge favor by signing a bill decriminalizing marijuana. In its October 2012 research brief (PDF), The Center on Juvenile &…

Fox News analyst panics over same sex marriage licenses: ‘What will happen to heterosexual marriage?’

Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. is terrified that society as we know will change “forever” if Washington state moves forward with creating gender-neutral marriage certificates. At a hearing on Wednesday, officials with the Washington State Department of Health said that soon after the law legalizing same sex marriages…

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