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  1. emergency in space Int'l Space Station Cooling Fails Paolo Nespoli/NASA, via AP

    1. Int'l Space Station Cooling Fails

    Just try not to think about Gravity. The International Space Station's cooling system failed Wednesday evening, according to NASA. The situation was described as urgent, but not an emergency, as the station focused on conserving power and routing the cooling system through one working loop after a second stopped working. The issue may require a space walk, NASA said, which allows the six on-board astronauts to exit the station.

    December 11, 2013 5:57 PM

  2. money matters Teen Who Killed 4 Avoids Jail News 8 abc

    2. Teen Who Killed 4 Avoids Jail

    A 16-year-old who killed four people in a drunk driving incident this summer was spared jail and sentenced to 10 years probation after his attorneys argued he suffered from "affluenza," a psychological condition due to his parents never teaching him right from wrong. Ethan Couch had a blood alcohol level of .24—triple the legal driving limit for an adult—and was on Valium when he lost control of his pick-up truck and crashed into a broken-down car on a rural road in Texas. Along with the four who died, 11 were injured and one remains paralyzed. In the trial, a psychologist argued Couch had "freedoms no young person should have," and he was estimated to have the emotional age of a 12-year-old.

    December 12, 2013 10:00 AM

  3. warning signs Top Rebel Commander Flees Syria Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

    3. Top Rebel Commander Flees Syria

    As Syria's Islamist groups strengthen, the highest-ranking Western-backed rebel commander, Gen. Salim Idris of the Free Syrian Army, apparently fled to Turkey on Wednesday. His escape comes after the Islamic Front, a recent merger of the largest Islamist groups excluding those with al Qaeda links, seized warehouses of military gear, offices, and a border crossing over the weekend. The move prompted the U.S. and Britain to immediately freeze nonlethal military aid to Syria. American officials are trying to coax him back to Syria and are holding direct talks with the Islamic Front before the Jan. 22 peace talks in Geneva.

    In this episode of The Daily Beast’s ‘Darkroom,’ a Free Syrian Army fighter rests in the old city of Aleppo, a snapshot of humanity in the midst of a savage civil war.

    December 11, 2013 11:06 PM

  4. all-clear American University Lockdown Lifts American University/Facebook

    4. American University Lockdown Lifts

    Reports of a gunman on campus led to the lockdown of American University in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night turned out to be an off-duty police officer, according to Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes. Officers were alerted about a suspected man with a gun before 8 p.m., and the school's Twitter account advised students to "shelter in place," and released a photo of two suspects with a warning not to approach them. The lockdown was lifted before 9:30, and the suspect was reported to be an off-duty officer with a concealed weapon.

    December 11, 2013 9:32 PM

  5. sliding in MLB Bans Home Plate Collisions Brian Garfinkel/Getty

    5. MLB Bans Home Plate Collisions

    Well this is no fun. On Wednesday, the Major League Baseball Rules Committee voted to eliminate collisions at home plate during baseball games. The decision is now up to the players, and if they vote it down it won't go into effect until 2015. The rule, which is not yet written, stipulates that catchers cannot block home plate, while runners cannot initiate contact with catchers and must slide into home plate. Recent injures and research into concussions sparked this change.

    December 11, 2013 9:59 PM

  6. You Need Me On That Wall NSA Chief: “Threats Are Growing” Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

    6. NSA Chief: “Threats Are Growing”

    Gen. Keith Alexander told Congress Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone and Internet records is essential to protect America. “The threats are growing,” he said. Then Alexander likened metadata collection to an old-school library’s index card system. “Metadata is a way of knowing where those books are in the library … and where are the bad books.” As for stopping the next Edward Snowden, the general said no one person will be allowed to do the leaker’s old job alone. Finally, he told skeptical lawmakers: “This agency in every case reports on itself, tells you what we did wrong and does everything we can to correct it.” 

    December 11, 2013 4:22 PM

  7. free again Zimmerman Charges Dropped Joe Burbank/AP

    7. Zimmerman Charges Dropped

    Can you get lucky more than three times? On Wednesday, domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman were dropped after his girlfriend said in a court filing that she wished to recant allegations he pointed a shotgun at her face. According to the state attorney, the woman's decision not to cooperate along with a lack of evidence from the November event in Florida made any prosecution improbable. Zimmerman was acquitted of killing teenager Trayvon Martin this past summer, and was later arrested when his wife police during an allegedly violent outburst.

    December 11, 2013 4:27 PM

  8. Disgusting Sen. Aide Arrested for Child Porn J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    8. Sen. Aide Arrested for Child Porn

    The chief of staff for Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander was arrested this afternoon by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service based on probable cause for possession and distribution of child pornography charges. He has been put on leave without pay, Sen. Alexander’s office announced on Wednesday. According to the statement, law enforcement agents searched the home of Ryan Loskarn, hired by Alexander in 2011. “I am stunned, surprised, and disappointed by what I have learned,” Alexander (pictured at left) said in the statement. Alexander’s office said it is “cooperating fully” with the investigation. Loskarn is in custody pending a hearing tomorrow.

    December 11, 2013 11:57 AM

  9. protests Gitmo Blocks Hunger Strike Updates Joe Raedle/Getty

    9. Gitmo Blocks Hunger Strike Updates

    The public will no longer be privy to information about the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay after a wave of media attention prompted detention camp officials to implement a media blackout. Military officials stopped releasing figures on the number of prisoners partaking in the hunger strike, which grew to around 100 in June, and will refuse journalist requests. “It’s (the strikers') desire to draw attention to themselves, and so we’re not going to help them do that,” Cmdr. John Filostrat said, the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo's director of public affairs. Last week, a British prisoner claimed the hunger strike had been reinstated and 29 were participating.

    December 11, 2013 3:50 PM

  10. heartbreak Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel Split Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Entertainment

    10. Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel Split

    Is this up there with the tragic Amy Poehler-Will Arnett divorce? On Wednesday, Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs announced they have separated after 10 years of marriage. The two actors met in the '90s as costars in Rent, and wed in 2003. The couple had a son, Walker, in 2009, and their representatives have asked for privacy for his sake. Earlier this year, Menzel told People that their marriage wasn't always easy. "We work at it," she said. "I'm not going to glamorize it or glorify it—we go through tough times like everybody else, but we love each other very much."

    December 11, 2013 8:21 PM

  11. It's Alive! Obamacare Enrollment Doubles Joe Raedle

    11. Obamacare Enrollment Doubles

    Health insurance is so hot this holiday season. Some 250,000 people selected plans through state and federal online exchanges in November—twice as many than did during Healthcare.gov’s glitchy first month, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. But the total is way below the White House's goal of 3.3 million enrollees by December 31, although administration officials insisted they could still reach their goal of seven million enrollees by March. Additionally, more than 800,000 people have realized they are eligible for Medicaid.

    December 11, 2013 11:00 AM

  12. AWFUL India: Gay Sex Illegal Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty

    12. India: Gay Sex Illegal

    Well this is depressing. The Indian Supreme Court on Wednesday declared homosexual sex illegal, bringing back a law that had been on the books since the colonial era but had been overturned four years ago. India’s high court has now overturned that ruling, declaring the penal code was constitutionally valid. National Crimes Record Bureau chief statistical officer Akhilesh Kumar said Wednesday that India will be maintaining a central database of those prosecuted under the law. “Henceforth, we will be compiling crimes committed under this relevant section,” Kumar said. “Maybe from the next year.” New York-based Human Rights Watch called the ruling a “setback to human dignity, and the basic right of nondiscrimination.”

    December 11, 2013 6:55 AM

  13. TRAGEDY U.S. Lobotomized 2,000 Veterans

    13. U.S. Lobotomized 2,000 Veterans

    Both during and after World War II, the U.S. government lobotomized around 2,000 troops deemed mentally ill. Those operated on were diagnosed as depressive, psychotic, schizophrenic, and sometimes homosexual. The operations took place in VA hospitals across the country, including Oregon, Massachusetts, Alabama, and South Dakota. Knowledge of the widespread practice by the VA has faded with time, and the department says it currently has no record how the policy was started and how big the program became. While some were helped by the surgery, more often it left the patients with terrible side-effects, with some even dying.

    December 11, 2013 3:40 PM

  14. WOAH! Oldest Human Footprint Found Getty

    14. Oldest Human Footprint Found

    Talk about leaving a mark! The oldest known human footprints in North America have been tested and dated to be about 10,550 years old. The footprints, which were taken from the Chihuahan Desert in northern Mexico in 1961, come from a region that was home to nomadic hunter-gatherers known as Coahuiltecans. While the footprints are the oldest known in North America, the oldest known prints in the Americas as a whole are from Chile, which date to 13,000 years ago.

    December 11, 2013 4:30 PM

  15. AWKWARD

    15. Romania TV Airs Anti-Semitic Carol

    A Romanian public broadcaster for rural communities aired a Christmas carol on December 5 which featured extremely offensive lyrics about Jews. The song, sung by the Dor Transilvan ensemble, had lyrics including, “The kikes, damn kikes, Holy God would not leave the kike alive, neither in heaven nor on earth, only in the chimney as smoke, this is what the kike is good for, to make kike smoke through the chimney on the street.” TVR3, Romania’s public broadcaster called the carol, “an uninspired choice,” and said it did not select the carol, placing blame on the Cluj County Council.

    December 11, 2013 5:39 PM

  16. PEOPLE’S POPE Person of the Year: Pope Francis Alessandra Tarantino/AP

    16. Person of the Year: Pope Francis

    It’s no Miley Cyrus, but we’ll take it. Time magazine on Wednesday named Pope Francis the Person of the Year, beating out other runners-up such as Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Ted Cruz. “What makes this pope so important is the speed at which he’s captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all,” writes Time. The magazine praises him for being a “canny operator,” such as his “masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office.” Once a nightclub bouncer, Francis already broke with tradition by being the first non-European pope in 1,200 years—and the first Jesuit pope. Time also offers some advice to the pope, telling him to “ease up on hot-button issues.”

    December 11, 2013 8:42 AM

  17. Uneasy Allies U.S. Freezes Non-Lethal Syria Aid Mohammed Al-Khatieb/AFP/Getty

    17. U.S. Suspends Some Aid to Syria

    The United States has suspended all non-lethal aid to Syria after the hardline Islamic Front seized control of the headquarters of the U.S.-friendly Supreme Military Council, a U.S. spokesman in Ankara said. According to the U.S. armed forces code, non-lethal aid generally consists of communications equipment, medical supplies, intelligence assistance, and body armor. The Islamic Front, a union of six rebel groups, also took control of the Free Syrian Army bases at Bab al-Hawa near Syria’s border with Turkey on Friday. Turkey closed its border crossing at the Hatay province after reports of increased clashes on the Syrian side.

    In this episode of The Daily Beast’s ‘Darkroom,’ a Free Syrian Army fighter rests in the old city of Aleppo, a snapshot of humanity in the midst of a savage civil war.

    December 11, 2013 7:38 AM

  18. RIDICULOUS Mandela Memorial Interpreter Fake Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

    18. Mandela Memorial Interpreter Fake

    We can think of a couple hand gestures for him. The sign language interpreter at Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela was apparently a fake, according to a South African official. The man, who worked alongside world leaders including President Obama, "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for,” says Bruno Druchen, the director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa. The AP reported that three sign language experts said the interpreter was not signing in either South African or American sign languages. Throughout the service, deaf users of Twitter took to the social networking site to call out the fraud, including Wilma Newhoudt, a deaf member of South Africa’s parliament tweeting, “the so-called interpreter on the stage with Cde Cyril is not signing. He's just making up.”

    December 11, 2013 10:49 AM

  19. HEALTH FDA Warns on Animal Antibiotics John Moore/Getty

    19. FDA Warns on Animal Antibiotics

    The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday took its first steps to roll out a plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock for food production. The move, which is a voluntary plan in conjunction with industry, was widely criticized by food-safety advocates who wanted a more forceful plan to address what they see as a growing crisis. The fear is that the wide use of antibiotics in animals, which is to help them gain weight faster and on less food, is leading to anti-biotic resistant “superbugs.” The FDA’s new recommendations to pharmaceutical companies ask them to voluntarily change labeling and directions to curb usage for animal weight gain. Critics argue that the companies will just switch from using them for weight gain, to so-called disease prevention.

    December 11, 2013 1:08 PM

  20. READY FOR OSCARS? SAG Nominations Announced Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight/AP

    20. SAG Nominations Announced

    Get ready for the pre-Oscar buzz. The 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced on Wednesday, with 12 Years a Slave and The Butler leading the pack. The critically-acclaimed 12 Years a Slave received four nominations, including for best ensemble cast, lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and supporting actors Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o. The Butler, meanwhile, earned three SAG nominations. James Gandolfini received a nod for best actor in a supporting role for his second-to-last performance in Enough Said. MIA was Robert Redford, who won the New York Film Critics Circle award for his performance in All Is Lost. Over in TV land, Breaking Bad took home four nominations, including for best ensemble drama, leading male actor (Bryan Cranston), leading actress (Anna Gunn), and best stunt ensemble.

    December 11, 2013 11:01 AM

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  22. RATS!

    21. Bubonic Plague Strikes Madagascar

    An outbreak of the bubonic plague has killed 20 villagers in Madagascar, health officials confirmed on Wednesday. The outbreak, which is one of the worst in years, took place in the town of Mandritsara. Experts are worried the disease could spread, both because living standards in the country have plummeted and because it occurred outside the country’s normal plague season. Last year, an estimated 60 people died in Madagascar from bubonic plague, the largest number in the world. The disease is caused by bites from black rat fleas.

    December 11, 2013 1:12 PM

  23. Fear While Flying Asiana Pilot Stressed Before Crash Ezra Shaw/Getty

    22. Asiana Pilot Stressed Before Crash

    The captain of Asiana Flight 214 blamed no runway lights at San Francisco International Airport for a “very stressful” approach that became a crash, according to a federal reported released on Wednesday. Pilot Lee Kang Kuk also told the National Transportation Safety Board that he mistakenly thought the automatic throttle was engaged when it was not, which led to the plane being 34 knots under its required landing velocity when it crashed. While the report sheds light on the pilot’s frame of mind, the NTSB has not made formal conclusions about the cause of the crash.  Boeing representatives said safety is ultimately the responsibility of pilots, not automated flight systems. The crash left three dead and more than 180 injured.

    December 11, 2013 12:48 PM

  24. DISNEY GIRL Lovato Admits Cocaine Addiction Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    23. Lovato Admits Cocaine Addiction

    It hasn’t been a good week for Disney kids. Demi Lovato said Tuesday she once “couldn’t go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine” and that she hit rock bottom at age 19. “I would bring it on airplanes,” the former Disney star said. She admitted she would smuggle it to avoid detection—even though she was traveling with a “sober companion.” Lovato said she realized she had a problem when she was drinking out of a Sprite bottle filled with vodka at 9 a.m. Lovato and her mother both admitted to having eating disorders, and the actress said she began binge eating and throwing up afterward as early as age 8.

    December 11, 2013 7:33 AM

  25. sold on pot Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana © Andres Stapff / Reuters

    24. Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana

    Uruguay sees the Netherlands' coffee shops and raises it an industry. On Tuesday, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the entire marijuana market, after a senate vote approved a government-backed bill. The new regulation of the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of the drug is an effort to take business from the nation's criminal markets. The law will go into effect in April, and forbids the sale of marijuana to those under 18, limits monthly purchases to 1.4 ounces, and will implement a drug control board to set standards and prices.

    December 10, 2013 8:11 PM

  26. WELCOME George H.W. Bush Joins Twitter Carolyn Kaster/AP

    25. George H.W. Bush Joins Twitter

    George H.W. Bush has officially entered the 21st century. The former president started tweeting Tuesday, with his first message honoring Nelson Mandela. Within 12 hours of his first tweet, he had picked up more than 41,000 followers, but he was only following eight accounts—his foundations, his library, his sons Neil and Jeb (W. doesn’t have a Twitter account yet), and his wife. That’s nice and all, but the Internet will be sorely disappointed if Bush doesn’t start tweeting about his socks soon. Or if he doesn’t start humblebragging about W.’s artworks.

    December 11, 2013 7:16 AM

  27. DISGUSTING Revenge Porn Suspect Arrested Damian Dovarganes/AP

    26. Revenge Porn Suspect Arrested

    A San Diego man suspected of operating a revenge porn website was arrested Tuesday and charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft, and extortion. Kevin Christopher Bollaert allegedly also charged women up to $350 to have their nude and sexually explicit photos removed from the site. Bollaert allegedly created the website in December 2012, and prosecutors say more than 10,000 photos were posted. As if that isn’t disturbing enough, the site also insisted all posters provide the subject’s name, age, location, and Facebook profile. Bollaert would then allegedly contact the subject and seek as much as $350 to have their photo removed. He told investigators he made up to $900 a month, and officials say his PayPal account indicates he received tens of thousands of dollars from people seeking to have their images removed.

    December 11, 2013 7:20 AM

  28. CLASH Ukraine Riot Police Retreat Sergei Chuzavkov/AP

    27. Ukraine Riot Police Retreat

    Riot police in Kiev retreated Wednesday after storming its occupied city hall and nearby Independence Square. Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko insisted in a statement Wednesday that no force will be used. “I want everybody to calm down,” Zakharchenko said, hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “disgust” over the government’s response to the protests, saying “This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.” Riot police and interior ministry forces had dismantled the barricades and tents overnight, leading to violence, with KyivPost reporting police had clubbed protesters.

    A protester clashes with police. Take a closer look at the Ukraine uprising through this stark photo.

    December 11, 2013 7:02 AM

  29. WATCH THAT GOOGLE NSA Uses Cookies to Find Targets Mark Lennihan/AP

    28. NSA Uses Cookies to Find Targets

    If you have the cookies enabled on your computer, this is a pretty good reminder to change that. The National Security Agency apparently uses advertising “cookies” to pinpoint targets for their widespread spying program, according to documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden. Cookies are commercial tracking devices on ads, and while they don’t reveal any personal information (such as your name or Social Security number), they identify which browser is being used. For years, cookies have been targeted by privacy advocates as being invasive, making Wednesday’s revelations even more disturbing. Oh and there’s more: NSA is also using information gathered from commercial sites to find mobile device users around the world.

    December 11, 2013 6:58 AM

  30. THAT’S NOT MY BOY Forbes: Sandler Most Overpaid Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

    29. Forbes: Sandler Most Overpaid

    Looks like the editors of Forbes weren’t big Jack & Jill fans. (But then again, who was?) The magazine named Adam Sandler the most overpaid actor of 2013, followed closely by Katherine Heigl and Reese Witherspoon. Forbes called out Sandler’s recent string of box-office bombs, such as Jack & Jill and That’s My Boy, which helped contribute to Sandler making studios an average of just $3.40 per ticket. Yikes. The list included films from the past three years to this past June 1, and calculated a return on investment number for each star and then averaged those numbers to get the overall return. Heigl closely followed Sandler, with an average return of $3.50, followed by Witherspoon, who brought home a surprising $3.90 per ticket. At least they have their millions to make them feel better.

    December 11, 2013 7:30 AM

  31. second time's a charm House, Senate Strike Budget Deal J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    30. House, Senate Strike Budget Deal

    Just in time for a nice, long holiday break, Congress avoided a January 15 government shutdown and shook hands on a bipartisan budget deal. At a press conference Tuesday, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray announced that automatic spending cuts known as the sequester would be reduced by $63 billion in the next two years—replaced by airline fees and cuts to federal and military pensions—along with $23 billion of deficit reduction. The overall budget for the Pentagon and other federal agencies is set at $1.012 trillion for fiscal 2014. "This deal makes sure we don't jump from crisis to crisis," Ryan said. Congress must approve the plan, but House Speaker John Boehner has already thrown his support behind it.

    December 10, 2013 6:29 PM

  32. HEIST Signed Hirst Paintings Stolen Metropolitan Police/AP

    31. Signed Hirst Paintings Stolen

    Like a real-life sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair, two signed Damien Hirst paintings were stolen Monday from a London gallery, Scotland Yard confirmed  Wednesday. The stolen works, called Pyronin Y and Oleoylsarcosine, are valued at $54,000 (£33,000). A spokesman said one person carried out the theft—but there may have been a getaway car, since it would be difficult to carry the paintings out on foot. Both paintings feature Hirst’s signature mutlicolored dots. Police are asking any witnesses to come forward.

    December 11, 2013 7:08 AM

  33. BACKSTORY Photog: I Took Obama Selfie Pic Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty

    32. Photog: I Took Obama Selfie Pic

    How did an image of President Obama, Denmark's prime minister, and Britain's David Cameron become one of the most famous selfies of all time when none of them actually fulfilled the definition of a selfie (i.e., posting it on social media)? They have AFP photographer Robert Schmidt to, um, thank for that. Schmidt came clean about taking the photo on AFP’s Behind the News blog, writing that he had been following Obama after his speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial. “I captured the scene almost reflexively,” Schmidt writes. He said the atmosphere at that time at the memorial was “totally relaxed” and the smiling photo was not out of place. Enter the Internet, which is always outraged at something. Schmidt writes that he and his fellow photographers took almost 500 photos on Tuesday, but “it’s a little sad” that this one became arguably the most famous.

    December 11, 2013 7:49 AM