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Government-controlled Ally bank fails stress test

All but one of 18 top US banks passed tough stress tests aimed at seeing if the financial industry could weather a new deep crisis, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday. Government-controlled Ally, the rescued former finance arm of General Motors, was the only bank to fail the test of capital…

Obama won’t push Middle East peace initiative in Israel trip

President Barack Obama on Thursday signaled there would be no big Middle East peace initiative on the table when he arrives in Israel later this month for his first visit as US leader. Obama met American Jewish community leaders at the White House as he prepares for the trip, which…

Senator Carl Levin to retire in 2014

US Senator Carl Levin, a six-term Democrat and fierce advocate for military personnel and readiness, announced Thursday he will not seek re-election in 2014. The chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee said he would rather spend his final two years as a lawmaker unencumbered by “the distraction of…

Senate confirms John Brennan as next CIA director

The US Senate on Thursday confirmed counterterrorism expert John Brennan to be the next CIA director, filling a third crucial position on President Barack Obama’s national security team. The Senate voted 63-34 with several Republicans flocking to approve Brennan following a dramatic 13-hour filibuster the night before by Republican Rand…

Justice Department opens investigation into violation of deaf prisoner rights in Denver

By Susan Greene The federal Justice Department is investigating Denver for failing to provide sign-language interpreters for deaf prisoners. Investigators are seeking to determine whether Denver – which touts itself as “one of America’s most accessible cities” — is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a November 20, 2012, letter…

Facebook announces transforming its news feeds

Facebook on Thursday began transforming the stream of updates from friends at home pages into a “personalized newspaper” with news ranging from the personal to the global. The News Feed on home pages at the leading social network was revamped to get rid of clutter and present “bright, beautiful” stories…

Beached sperm whale in Spain dies after eating large amounts of plastic

A 4.5 tonne sperm whale that washed ashore in southern Spain died from ingesting large amounts of plastic sheets used in greenhouses on farms in the region, a scientist said Thursday. The whale, which came ashore last year on a beach in Andalusia, had over 17 kilogrammes (37 pounds) of…

Bees pollinate better when they’re buzzing on caffeine

Turns out that bees, too, get a buzz off caffeine. It boosts their memory and makes them better pollinators, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. Honeybees fed a sugar solution containing caffeine, which exists naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers, were three times…

The Earth is on track to to be the hottest it’s been in 11.3 millennia

The Earth is on track to becoming the hottest it has been at any time in the past 11.3 millennia, a period spanning the history of human civilization, a study published Thursday has found. Based on fossil samples and other data collected from 73 sites around the world, scientists have…

U.S. diplomat warns of global effort to curb Internet freedom

A number of countries are aggressively trying to control the Internet, a top US diplomat cautioned Thursday, insisting Washington would give no ground when it comes to curbing freedoms on the Web. “Many Middle Eastern countries, Russia, China and others are I believe going to take an increasingly aggressive stand…

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