New York City

Does Obama’s New York trip offer a glimpse into his post-White House life?

President Obama will be headed to Lehman College in New York to launch the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new nonprofit that could keep him busy when he leaves the White House. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

THE WASHINGTON POST

He still has almost two years left in office, but the outlines of President Obama’s post-White House life might be starting to take shape.

On Monday, the president will speak at the New York City launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit that is spinning off a White House initiative that his administration began in 2014. The trip to Lehman College in the Bronx is the latest in a series of hints from the White House about the president’s future plans. Last week, word leaked that Obama’s  presidential library is headed for the South Side of Chicago. In recent months there have been signs that his elder daughter, Malia, is looking at colleges in New York City.

The president and first lady still have a while to figure out where they will settle post-presidency; although in the past, they’ve suggested that they may stay in Washington long enough to let their daughter Sasha graduate from Sidwell Friends School.

Regardless of where they land, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance seems certain to play a large part in Obama’s post-White House life. The program began as a public-private partnership designed to help men of color who are struggling to finish high school or develop the skills to find jobs. The effort sprang, in part, from the frustration that followed the 2012  shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, lethal interactions between police and black men and boys in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Cleveland and North Charleston have sparked demonstrations, outrage and riots.

The latest riots in Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, prompted the president to call last week for some collective“soul searching” on the part of the country.

“If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could,” Obama said. “It’s just it would require everybody saying, ‘This is important, this is significant,’ and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is one element of the president’s long-term solution to the problem’s faced by minority youth and urban communities struggling with poverty and a lack of jobs. The program has attracted $300 million in funding for an effort that the president has said will continue long after he has left the White House. The alliance is similar in its broad outlines to the Clinton Global Initiative, started by former president Bill Clinton in 2005, in that it serve as a magnet for corporate and individual donations.

The alliance will focus on everything from preparations for preschool to job-training and employment programs. “Persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation,” wrote Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.

According the White House, closing the gap between young men of color and their peers could boost the U.S.  gross domestic product by as much as $2.1 trillion.

Greg Jaffe

10 things you need to know today: February 18, 2015

The Week

1.Ukraine pulls out of key town claimed by pro-Russian rebels
Ukrainian soldiers began withdrawing from the strategically important town of Debaltseve, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saidWednesday. Street-to-street fighting there had continued despite a new cease-fire. Pro-Russian separatists had declared that the rail hub linking two rebel-contolled areas is on their turf, not the front lines, and was not covered under the peace deal. Hundreds of Ukrainian troops are still believed to be trapped in the contested town.

Source: Sky News

2.White House says administration will appeal blocking of Obama immigration orders
President Obama on Tuesday said he would abide by a judge’s decision to block an executive order delaying the deportations of as many as five million undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said the ruling was necessary to give 26 states time to challenge Obama’s executive action. The White House said Obama’s measures were “well within his legal authority,” and the ruling “wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect.” The administration plans to appeal.

Source: CNN

3.Miss P the beagle wins best in show at Westminster dog show
Miss P, a 15-inch beagle, won Best in Show at the 139th Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday night at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. She is the second beagle to take the title of top dog, and the grandniece of the first winning beagle, Uno, 2008’s champion. “She’s hungry and I’m overwhelmed,” said handler Will Alexander of Miss P and himself. Miss P, at least, will get a nice steak at Sardi’s on Wednesday.

Source: The New York Times

4.Ray of hope in Greece boosts stocks into record territory
The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index shook off early losses to rise into record territory, closing above 2100 for the first time. The gains were fueled by optimism over news that Greece’s new anti-austerity government would ask European creditors to extend the country’s bailout. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell six points short of a record, closing up 0.2 percent at 18,047.58.

Source: USA Today

5.Texas probate judge calls gay-marriage ban unconstitutional
A Travis County, Texas, probate judge ruled on Tuesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Judge Guy Herman, in a decision on an estate case, said the ban violates the guarantee of due process and equal protection under the law spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir praised the ruling as “a great step toward marriage equality” but said she had not yet been ordered to make the change, so she would not yet start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Source: Los Angeles Times

6.Florida high court halts execution pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Florida’s Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the execution of Jerry William Correll, who killed four people in Orlando 30 years ago, pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the administration of one of the drugs the state uses in its lethal injections. The high court is considering the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s use of a sedative that Florida also administers in the first step of its three-step process. Critics say the drug, Midazolam, does not work and subjects condemned inmates to pain.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

7.Haiti cancels third and final day of carnival after deadly float accident
Haiti canceled the last day of its three-day annual carnival celebration and announced three days of mourning after a power line fell on a hip-hop band’s float, resulting in at least 16 deaths and 78 injuries. Most of the casualties came as the panicked crowd tried to run away. Witnesses said a singer who goes by the name Fantom hit his head on the high-voltage line, then somebody used a pole to lift it so the float could pass underneath.

Source: Reuters

8.Woman killed after road rage incident had gone looking for other driver
The case of a Las Vegas woman killed last week in front of her home after a road-rage incident went searching for the other driver after the initial confrontation, police said Tuesday. She was accompanied by her 22-year-old son, who had a gun. Initially, investigators said the woman — Tammy Meyers, 44 — and her 15-year-old daughter had gone home and were calling for help when someone pulled up in a car and shot Meyers. She and her son had spotted the other car but decided to return home.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Alabama governor apologizes to India for police force against grandfather
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has written a letter to the Indian government, apologizing for the actions of two police officers who seriously injured a man visiting from the country. “I deeply regret the unfortunate use of excessive force… and for the injuries sustained by Mr. Patel,” Bentley wrote to India’s consul general in Atlanta. On Feb. 6, two police officers threw Patel, 57, to the ground, leaving him partially paralyzed. The Indian citizen was in Alabama to care of his young grandson.

Source: Time

10.Alex Rodriguez apologizes to fans for suspension
New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on Tuesday issued a handwritten apology to fans his for yearlong suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-boosting drug policy. The three-time MVP missed out on the entire 2014 season. He was the biggest name among 14 players stained by their association with the now shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic. Rodriquez has maintained that he never used performance-enhancing drugs, calling the MLB investigation a “witch hunt.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

10 things you need to know today 1-27-2015

The Week

1. Blizzard slams into the Northeast

A massive winter storm hit the Northeast on Monday, shutting down roads and transportation systems in New York City and Boston, and dumping more than a foot of snow on parts of New England. The National Weather Service had warned as much as 30 inches of snow in New York, but the city appeared to have been spared the worst, with eight inches falling overnight at LaGuardia Airport. The National Weather Service said hours more of heavy snow were coming Tuesday, repeating the warning that, “This is a serious life-threatening storm!” [The Boston Globe, NY1]
2. Kurds regain control of Kobani

Kurdish fighters claimed on Monday that they had driven Islamic State militants out of the contested Syrian border town of Kobani. The Kurds, aided by U.S. airstrikes, fought ISIS in the streets for months to regain full control of the town. On the Turkish side of the border, thousands of Kurdish refugees who fled fearing an ISIS takeover celebrated the news. Kobani is in ruins, but the defeat marked a major setback for ISIS, which seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria last year. [Bloomberg]
3. Ex-CIA officer convicted of disclosing secret information

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted Monday on charges that he leaked details of a covert operation to New York Times reporter James Risen. The case became the focus of intense debate about the Obama administration’s prosecution of alleged leakers after federal prosecutors subpoenaed Risen in an attempt to force him to say who told him about the top secret operation to disrupt Iran’s controversial nuclear program, which he described in a book. Risen refused to disclose his source. [CNN]
4. Obama visits Saudi Arabia after king’s death

President Obama headed to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to lead a U.S. delegation offering condolences to the oil-rich country’s royal family following the death of 90-year-old King Abdullah. Obama, who just finished a three-day visit to India, will meet with Abdullah’s successor, King Salman. The high-powered delegation will include high-ranking Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), as well as other high-ranking Obama administration officials — an indication of the importance Washington places on Saudi Arabia, a key oil supplier and counterterrorism ally. [The New York Times]
5. At least 10 killed when jet crashes during NATO training in Spain

A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed during NATO training at a base in southeastern Spain on Monday, killing at least 10 people. The jet lost power during take-off and hit other aircraft that were parked on the ground, sending flames and smoke into the air. Eight of the people killed were French military personnel. Two were Greek. At least 21 other service members, including 11 Italians and 10 French, were injured. [The Associated Press]
6. Federal worker says he was controlling drone that crashed near White House

A federal employee came forward Monday and said he was responsible for the two-foot wide quadcopter drone that crashed on White House grounds hours earlier. The man, who does not work at the White House, said he was flying the remote-controlled quadcopter for fun around 3 a.m. when he lost control of it, not meaning for it to go near the White House. The Secret Service briefly locked down the White House when the drone was discovered. The Secret Service said the man appeared to be telling the truth. [The New York Times]
7. Koch brothers reportedly plan to spend $889 million on 2016 election

A conservative advocacy network backed by the billionaire Koch brothers intends to spend $889 million on the 2016 election. The plan was announced at an annual meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, a tax-exempt business lobby at the heart of Charles and David Koch’s political operations, according to a person who attended. The money would go toward field operations, technology, and other resources. Together, the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are expected to spend about $1 billion. [The Washington Post]
8. CBO says deficit falling to lowest of Obama’s presidency

The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the budget deficit should shrink this year to its lowest level as a percentage of the economy since 2007. The nonpartisan agency said the deficit for the fiscal year, which ends in September, will be $468 billion, down a tick from last year’s $483 billion mark. In addition, the CBO said there were 19 million fewer uninsured Americans this year compared to the year before thanks to changes implemented under ObamaCare. [The Associated Press]
9. Survivors mark 70th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

About 300 Auschwitz survivors gathered Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation the former Nazi concentration camp by Russian troops. The presidents of Poland, Germany, France, and Ukraine will be among the dignitaries who will be present for the commemoration at the site of the camp, in southern Poland, where 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, were killed during World War II. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the anniversary should serve as a reminder of the world’s responsibility to continue to “expose those who promote prejudices.” [Reuters]
10. Kobe Bryant to have season-ending shoulder surgery

Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant has decided to follow his doctor’s advice and have shoulder surgery that is expected to end his season, according to a statement released by the basketball team on Monday. Bryant tore his right rotator cuff last week. He has been having one of the worst seasons of his career, and with the Lakers at the bottom of the standings had little reason to hurry back and risk further injury. [USA Today]

10 things you need to know today – 1/26/2015

AP WHITE HOUSE LOCKDOWN A USA DC

Secret Service Officers search south grounds of the White House on January 26, 2015 | (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP)

 The Week

(Via my email.  There is no longer access to the online version without a subscription.)

1. Radical Greek anti-austerity party wins parliamentary election

Greece’s radical left Syriza party, which is vowing to end the country’s tough austerity program, moved quickly to form a government Monday, a day after winning a decisive victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Party leader Alexis Tsipras, at age 40 Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, said the vote gave the party a clear mandate to end “five years of humiliation and pain,” signaling a showdown with lenders over the terms of Greece’s $270 billion international bailout. Greek stocks fell by five percent early Monday. [The Washington Post]

2. New York and the rest of the Northeast brace for historic storm

Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights on Monday ahead of a potentially historic winter storm headed into the Northeast. New Yorkers were expecting as much as 30 inches of snow to begin falling in early afternoon. New York City has only experienced two blizzards packing 26 inches of snow, one in 1947 and one in 2006. “Don’t underestimate this storm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday. “My message for New Yorkers is prepare for something worse than we have ever seen before.” [ABC News, PBS Newshour]

3. Sixteen die in protests marking anniversary of Egypt’s uprising

At least 16 people were killed in Egypt over the weekend in clashes between police and protesters marking the fourth anniversary of the country’s revolution. At least 15 people, including three police cadets, were killed on Sunday. One woman, Shaimaa El-Sabbagh of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was killed — shot by police, colleagues said — as she marched with a group heading to Tahrir Square. Police deny firing the shots, saying they only used tear gas. [CNN, BBC News]

4. New York Assembly Speaker Silver agrees to temporarily step aside

Longtime New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed Sunday to step aside temporarily as he fights federal corruption charges. Silver was under increasing pressure from Democrats to give up his duties. One person familiar with the deal said Silver, who was arrested on Thursday, would “not specifically step down, but step back.” Democrats will hold a closed-door meeting on Monday afternoon to consider the plan. [The New York Times]

5. Small aerial drone found on White House grounds

A device believed to be a small aerial drone, was found on the grounds of the White House on Sunday. Obama administration officials said Monday that the device posed no threat. The discovery came as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are in India, although their daughters, Sasha and Malia, did not travel with them. The news came as the Secret Service has been trying to regroup after several security breaches, including one in September when a man with a knife scaled a fence and ran into the White House. [The Miami Herald]

6. Christie forms PAC ahead of possible presidential bid

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has formed a political action committee in what has been interpreted as an early step toward launching a bid for the presidency in 2016. The move made Christie the third high-profile Republican to consider launching a campaign, behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, the GOP’s nominee in 2012. Launching the PAC, Leadership Matters for America, will let Christie recruit the staff and fundraisers he would need to start a campaign. [The Wall Street Journal]

7. Obama moves to expand protections in Alaska wilderness

The White House announced on Sunday that President Obama will ask Congress to classify 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as wilderness. The designation would make it illegal to drill for oil and gas, or build roads on the land. The news was met with excitement from environmental groups and anger by Republican opponents, including Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who called the proposal “a stunning attack on our sovereignty.” [The New York Times]

8. Church of England consecrates its first female bishop

The Church of England is consecrating its first female bishop on Monday. The Reverend Libby Lane, 48, said her ordination as Bishop of Stockport is a “profound and remarkable moment,” as it ends an uninterrupted tradition of male-only leadership for the 500-year-old institution. The church announced Lane’s consecration last month after a divisive debate over whether to allow women to become bishops. Critics said Lane’s appointment was merely symbolic, but she said she may be “the first, but I won’t be the only.” [BBC News, The Associated Press]

9. Birdman takes top prize at SAG Awards

Birdman took the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, winning for outstanding ensemble in a motion picture. The prize boosted the film’s Oscar hopes, although its star, Michael Keaton, was upset by Eddie Redmayne, who took the best-actor award for his work in The Theory of Everything. Uzo Aduba took the prize for outstanding female actor for her role as “Crazy Eyes” in the Orange is the New Black. The series also won for best cast in a comedy. [CBS News, USA Today]

10. Duke’s Coach K gets his 1,000th win

The Duke men’s basketball team made a late-game comeback to beat St. Johns 77-68 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, giving the Blue Devils’ legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski, the 1,000th win of his 40-year coaching career. Duke trailed by 10 with just over eight minutes remaining, then went on a 28-9 tear. Krzyzewski was already the winningest coach in Division I college men’s basketball. He won that distinction three seasons ago in the same arena with his 903rd win, surpassing his mentor, former Indiana coach Bobby Knight. [Raleigh News & Observer, Sports Illustrated]

10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2014

Tensions between the mayor and the NYPD are running high.

Tensions between the mayor and the NYPD are running high. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Week

De Blasio urges a halt to protests after police officers’ murders, North Korea gets knocked offline, and more

1. De Blasio calls for a halt to protests out of respect for slain officers
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday urged New Yorkers to “put aside protests” against police tactics until after the funerals of two officers murdered in an ambush on Saturday. The killings of officers Rafel Ramos and Wenjian Liu deepened tensions between police and de Blasio, who had said that it was “painful” when a grand jury decided not to charge an officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. Protest organizers said they would go ahead with a march already planned for Tuesday evening. [New York Observer, Fox News]

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2. North Korea’s internet access cut off, then restored
North Korea’s already limited access to the internet was restored Tuesday after being mysteriously cut off on Monday, although it remained intermittent. The country has just four networks connecting to the web, all of them routed through neighboring China. The outages came days after U.S. officials blamed North Korea for a cyberattack on Sony Pictures over a film portraying an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. President Obama vowed a strong U.S. response, but North Korea said it did not know who was behind the hacking against Sony. [Bloomberg, CNN]

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3. Judge says Oklahoma can resume lethal injections with controversial drug
A federal judge on Monday ruled Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection procedure constitutional, clearing the way for the state to end a moratorium and proceed with four executions scheduled for early 2015. After the botched April execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney during a 43-minute execution the state tried to halt, 21 death row inmates sued, calling the use of the sedative midazolam unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Stephen Friot said the inmates’ lawyers failed to show they would suffer inhumanely. [The Associated Press]

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4. Court rejects North Carolina law requiring ultrasounds before abortions
A federal appeals court on Monday declared a North Carolina abortion law unconstitutional. The legislation, approved in 2011, requires women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion. The three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld a lower court’s ruling that the law, approved in 2011, violated free-speech by requiring doctors to describe the ultrasound image to the woman. “The First Amendment not only protects against prohibitions of speech, but also against regulations that compel speech,” the panel wrote. [The Washington Post]

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5. Messy weather threatens holiday travel delays in the East
Rain, gusting winds, and thunderstorms are expected to hit much of the East Coast on Tuesday and Wednesday, potentially disrupting Christmas travel for many. The chance of rain on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, is 70 percent or higher in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City. The messy weather could cause delays at major airports from Tampa to Charlotte to New York, and make driving treacherous along the I-95 corridor. Snow will complicate travel in Michigan, Illinois, eastern Missouri, and northwestern Indiana, too. [CNN, USA Today]

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6. Ukraine lawmakers drop their country’s non-aligned status
Ukraine’s parliament voted Tuesday to drop its non-aligned status, a historic first step forward in President Petro Poroshenko’s plan to apply for membership in NATO. Russian leaders pressured Ukraine to declare itself a neutral nation in 2010. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Tuesday’s change “counterproductive,” saying it would increase tensions. Poroshenko has said his country needed Western military protection as it battles pro-Russian rebels. [BBC News]

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7. U.N. Security Council votes to examine North Korea’s human rights record
The United Nations Security Council voted Monday to examine human rights abuses in North Korea. The move marked the first time a nation’s human rights record had been scheduled for ongoing Security Council debate, meaning it can be brought up at any time. “We have broken the council’s silence,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said. China and Russia protested the vote, saying it could escalate tensions, and North Korea refused to recognize the legitimacy of any discussion of its human rights record by the Security Council. [The Associated Press]

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8. Algerian army kills leader of Islamist group that beheaded French tourist
Algerian special forces have killed the leader of the Islamist group behind the September beheading of French tourist Herve Gourdel, Algerian army officials said Tuesday. The body of Abdelmalek Gouri, the leader of the Jund al-Khilafa militant organization, was positively identified after clashes about 50 miles outside Algiers. Two other members of Jund al-Khalifa, which has sworn allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, were also killed. Soldiers also seized a cache of guns and explosives. [France 24, BBC News]

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9. Rep. Grimm reportedly agrees to plead guilty to tax fraud
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) has agreed to plead guilty to one count of felony tax fraud, according to people with knowledge of the case. Grimm, a former Marine and FBI agent, was re-elected to a third term in November despite facing a 20-count indictment for allegedly underreporting wages at a Manhattan restaurant, Healthalicious, that he ran before his election. Grimm, who sold himself as a corruption fighter in his first campaign, has maintained his innocence, but one of his lawyers said a change-of-plea hearing was scheduled for Tuesday. [The New York Times, Politico]

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10. Joe Cocker dies at 70
British singer Joe Cocker died of lung cancer on Monday. He was 70. Cocker was known for many iconic hits, including the emotional ballad “You Are So Beautiful,” a top 10 hit in 1975. He also won a Grammy in 1983 for “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Jennifer Warnes that served as the theme song for the film An Officer and a Gentleman. He was perhaps best remembered for his energetic rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Paul McCartney, who wrote the song with John Lennon, said Cocker’s version was “just mind blowing.” [ABC News]

Police killings of unarmed blacks top story of 2014, poll shows

Grand jury decisions in Ferguson and in New York City have inflamed racial tensions across the US. Above, a demonstrator was arrested during a protest last month in NYC.

JOHN MINCHILLO/AP/FILE Grand jury decisions in Ferguson and in New York City have inflamed racial tensions across the US. Above, a demonstrator was arrested during a protest last month in NYC | JOHN MINCHILLO/AP/FILE

The Boston Globe

NEW YORK — The police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — and the investigations and tumultuous protests they inspired — was the top news story of 2014, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

In a year crowded with dramatic and often wrenching news developments around the world, the No. 2 story was the devastating outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, followed by the conflict in Iraq and Syria fueled by the brutal actions of Islamic State militants.

Among the 85 voters casting ballots, first-place votes were spread among 15 different stories. The Ferguson entry received 22 first-place votes, Ebola 11 and the Islamic State story 12.

The voting was conducted before the announcement that the United States and Cuba were re-establishing diplomatic relations and Sony Pictures’ decision to withdraw its film ‘‘The Interview’’ in the wake of computer hacking and threats.

Last year’s top story was the glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing. The continuing saga of ‘‘Obamacare’’ made this year’s Top 10 as well, coming in fifth.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain’s King Edward VIII.

Here are 2014’s top 10 stories, in order:

POLICE KILLINGS: Some witnesses said 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender, others said he was making a charge. But there was no dispute he was unarmed and shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson. In New York City, another unarmed black, Eric Garner, was killed after a white officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest for unauthorized cigarette sales. After grand juries opted not to indict the officers, protests erupted across the country, punctuated by chants of ‘‘Hands up, don’t shoot’’ and ‘‘I can’t breathe.’’ In both cases, federal officials launched investigations.

EBOLA OUTBREAK: The first wave of Ebola deaths, early in the year, attracted little notice. By March, the World Health Organization was monitoring the outbreak. By midsummer, it was the worst Ebola epidemic on record, with a death toll now approaching 7,000, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A Liberian man with the disease died at a Dallas hospital, followed by a few other cases involving U.S. health workers, sparking worries about the readiness of the U.S. health system.

ISLAMIC STATE: Militant fighters from the Islamic State group startled the world with rapid, brutal seizures of territory in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and its allies responded with air strikes, hoping that Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground could retake captured areas. Revulsion toward Islamic State intensified as it broadcast videos of its beheadings of several Western hostages.

US ELECTIONS: For months, political oddsmakers sought to calculate if Republicans had a chance to gain control of the U.S. Senate. It turned out there was no suspense — the GOP won 54 of the Senate’s 100 seats, expanded its already strong majority in the House of Representatives, and gained at the state level, where Republicans now hold 31 governorships.

OBAMACARE: Millions more Americans signed up to be covered under President Obama’s health care initiative, but controversy about ‘‘Obamacare’’ raged on. Criticism from Republicans in Congress was relentless, many GOP-governed states balked at participation, and opinion polls suggested most Americans remained skeptical about the program.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES MYSTERY: En route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. In the weeks that followed, aircraft, ships and searchers from two-dozen countries mobilized to look in vain for the wreckage on the Indian Ocean floor. To date, there’s no consensus as to why the plane vanished.

IMMIGRATION: Frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions in November to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. GOP leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president’s moves. Prospects for reform legislation were dimmed earlier in the year by the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the U.S. border, causing shelter overloads and case backlogs.

TURMOIL IN UKRAINE: A sometimes bloody revolt that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February triggered a chain of events that continued to roil Ukraine as the year drew to a close. Russia, worried that Ukraine would tilt increasingly toward the West, annexed the Crimean peninsula in March and backed an armed separatist insurgency in coal-rich eastern regions of Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies responded with sanctions against Russia.

GAY MARRIAGE: Due to a wave of federal court rulings, 19 more U.S. states began allowing same-sex marriages, raising the total to 35 states encompassing about 64 percent of the population. Given that one U.S. court of appeals bucked the trend by upholding state bans on gay marriage, there was widespread expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue and make a national ruling.

VA SCANDAL: The Department of Veterans Affairs became embroiled in a nationwide scandal over allegations of misconduct and cover-ups. Several senior officials were fired or forced to resign, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. At the heart of the scandal was the VA hospital in Phoenix; allegations surfaced that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment there.

10 things you need to know today: December 22, 2014

New York City police officers leave flowers at a memorial for the two officers kills Saturday.

New York City police officers leave flowers at a memorial for the two officers kills Saturday |(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Week

New York increases precautions for patrols after officers’ murder, gas prices hit their lowest level since 2009, and more

1. New York steps up precautions for patrols after police killings
New York City police leaders ordered new precautions for the city’s patrol force after two officers — Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40 — were shot dead in their patrol car, apparently targeted by a gunmen aiming to murder police officers. Officers in the city’s 35,000-member force — the nation’s largest — will work only in pairs when on foot patrol, and sentries are being posted at station houses. The killings deepened a rift between police and Mayor Bill de Blasio after weeks of protests over police tactics. [The New York Times]

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2. Gas prices fall to their lowest level since mid-2009
The average price of regular gasoline continued its months-long plunge over the last two weeks, falling nearly 25 cents to $2.47 per gallon, according to a Lundberg Survey released Sunday. Prices are now at their lowest level since May 15, 2009, and 79 cents lower than they were a year ago. The decline came as crude oil prices fell for a fourth straight week. The Energy Information Administration estimates slumping pump prices will save the average American household $550 in 2015. [Bloomberg]

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3. Pakistan arrests suspects linked to Taliban attack that killed 132 students
Pakistani authorities arrested several people on Sunday in connection with last week’s deadly Taliban attack on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The seven insurgents killed 148 people, including 132 schoolchildren. “Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said. The Taliban said the attack was retaliation for an army operation that has killed more than 1,200 militants in North Waziristan since June. [CBC]

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4. Essebsi declares victory in Tunisia’s landmark presidential run-off
Secular politician Beji Caid Essebsi declared victory in Tunisia’s Sunday presidential run-off vote. Essebsi, 88, served as parliament speaker under Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the autocratic leader overthrown in the country’s 2011 Arab Spring revolt. Official results for the election are due on Monday, and interim president Moncef Marzouki, the favorite of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, rejected Essebsi’s victory claim, saying he would emerge the winner of the vote seen as the country’s final step in a transition to full democracy. [Reuters]

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5. Bail revoked for partner of Sydney siege gunman
An Australian court on Monday revoked the bail of Amirah Droudis, the partner of Sydney cafe-siege gunman Man Haron Monis, on charges that she murdered Monis’ ex-wife, who was stabbed and set on fire in April 2013. Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson said he did not think the magistrate who granted Droudis bail a year ago knew she was awaiting sentencing for Monis’ plot to send letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers. Henson said Droudis posed an “unacceptable risk” to the community. [The Guardian]

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6. Jordan ends an eight-year moratorium on capital punishment
Jordan on Sunday executed 11 men convicted of murder, ending an eight-year moratorium on the death penalty. Jordanian authorities gave no reason for the move, although Interior Minister Hussein Majali recently said many Jordanians blamed the moratorium for an increase in violent crime. Before the Sunday hangings, Jordan’s last execution was in June 2006. Since then 122 people have been sentenced to death in the country. [BBC News]

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7. Muhammad Ali hospitalized with pneumonia
Muhammad Ali, whom many consider the greatest boxer ever, has entered a hospital to be treated for a mild case of pneumonia, according to news reports on Sunday. His prognosis is believed to be good. Ali, 72, has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for decades. In a 61-fight professional boxing career, he posted a 56-5 record with 37 knockouts, and won the heavyweight championship three times. [Sports Illustrated]

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8. Judge orders Spain’s Princess Cristina tried on fraud charges
A Spanish judge on Monday ordered Princess Cristina — the sister of King Felipe VI — to face trial on tax fraud charges, along with her husband. She will be the first member of the royal family to face court charges since the monarchy’s 1975 restoration. A prosecutor recommended on Dec. 9 that Cristina be fined but not tried. The case centers on charges that Cristina’s husband, businessman and former Olympic handball medalist Inaki Urdangarin, tried to embezzle $7.4 million in public contracts. [The Associated Press]

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9. China says there is no proof North Korea hacked Sony Pictures
China on Monday condemned all forms of cyberattacks, but said there was no proof that North Korea was behind the recent hacking of Sony Pictures. Threats by the hackers prompted Sony to cancel the Christmas Day release of The Interview, a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and U.S. officials blame the hacking attack on North Korea. Pyongyangdenies it was responsible, and Chinese foreign ministry officials said an investigation was necessary “before making any conclusions” regarding any cyberattack. [Reuters]

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10. Winter solstice arrives
Winter officially began at 6:03 p.m. on Sunday, the day of the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest of the year in the Northern Hemisphere — the day when the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon at midday. It will now begin rising slowly each day, making each day last a little longer from now until the summer solstice on June 21, the longest day of 2015. [Slate]

10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2014

Protesters took to the streets across the country.

Protesters took to the streets across the country | (David McNew/Getty Images)

The Week

Protests erupt after officer cleared in Eric Garner’s death, 17 states sue Obama over immigration, and more

1. New Yorkers protest decision not to charge officer for chokehold death
Protests broke out in New York City on Wednesday after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Demonstrators chanted, “Black lives matter,” and, “I can’t breathe” — one of the last things Garner said. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has said he didn’t mean to hurt Garner. Attorney General Eric Holder promised an investigation into whether Garner’s civil rights were violated. [NBC News, The New York Times]

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2. States sue over Obama’s executive order on immigration
Seventeen states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Wednesday over President Obama’s executive order on immigration deferring the deportation of up to 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, most of them parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents. The states, led by Texas, said Obama was exceeding his authority and violating his constitutional duty to enforce the nation’s laws. The White House says Obama has legal authority for the move under his right to set priorities in enforcing federal laws. [Reuters]

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3. American teacher murdered in Abu Dhabi shopping mall
An American kindergarten teacher was stabbed to death in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall, apparently by an attacker seen in a surveillance video wearing a black robe and veil, police in the United Arab Emirates said Wednesday. The victim of the Monday attack was identified as Ibolya Ryan, 47, the mother of 11-year-old twins. The murder came weeks after U.S. embassies in the Middle East were warned of a posting on an Islamist terrorist website calling for attacks on American teachers in the Middle East. [USA Today]

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4. Iran launches airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq
Iranian jets recently started carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq, U.S. and Iranian officials confirmed Wednesday. Iran’s Shiite Muslim leadership, which publicly denied the bombing campaign recently, has been taking on an increasingly public role in helping Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government fight ISIS, a Sunni extremist group. Tehran and Washington, which haven’t had diplomatic relations since 1979, deny they are coordinating their battles against ISIS. [The New York Times]

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5. Court halts execution of mentally ill man in Texas
A federal appeals court on Wednesday halted the controversial planned execution of a Texas man, Scott Panetti, so the judges can determine whether he is too mentally ill to receive the death penalty. Panetti’s lawyers have argued that he suffers from schizophrenia and does not understand why he was sentenced to death, so executing him would be unconstitutional. Panetti was convicted in 1992 of shooting and killing his estranged wife’s parents. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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6. Terrorists threaten to kill American hostage in Yemen
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has released a video threatening to kill Luke Somers, a 33-year-old photojournalist kidnapped last year, unless the U.S. meets an unspecified list of demands, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist organizations, said on Thursday. Somers is believed to be one of the hostages U.S. special forces tried to rescue last month in a rare joint operation with Yemeni troops. The mission freed eight captives, but Somers and four others had been moved by their captors days before the raid. [The Associated Press]

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7. Appeals court clears path for gay marriages to begin in Florida next year
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that it would lift a stay on a ruling overturning the state’s gay-marriage ban in one month. The decision by a three-judge panel cleared the way for same-sex couples in Florida to get married as early as Jan. 6, the day after the stay expires. State officials had asked the court to extend the stay until the appeals are exhausted. Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said the ruling found that “the harm is being done to the people, not the state.” [The Miami Herald]

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8. Officer who shot 12-year-old had “dismal” record before Cleveland hired him
The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland had been deemed unfit for duty by a suburban police department, but Cleveland police said Wednesday that they had never reviewed his old personnel file. The officer, Tim Loehmann, had “dismal” handgun performance during firearms qualification training, and “could not follow simple directions,” Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police wrote. No amount of training will “correct the deficiencies,” Polak said. Cleveland police are investigating the Nov. 22 shooting. [Cleveland.com]

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9. Denver police injured in accident
A driver who was experiencing a medical emergency on Wednesday hit four Denver police officers on bicycles who were monitoring students protesting a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white Ferguson, Missouri, officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August. One of the officers was hospitalized in critical condition. The other officers were treated and released. The driver was in stable condition. Police said the accident appeared unrelated to the protests. [Colorado Springs Gazette]

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10. Military sexual assaults drop but reported cases rise
A new report due to be released Thursday found that the number of sexual assaults in the military dropped to about 19,000 this year from 26,000 two years ago, officials told The Associated Press. The victims included 10,500 men and 8,500 women, according to the anonymous survey. Despite the trend, the number of sexual assaults reported to military authorities rose by 8 percent, from 5,500 last year to 6,000 in 2014, as the number of victims filing reports increased from 1 in 10 in 2012 to 1 in 4 this year. [The Associated Press]

10 things you need to know today: November 28, 2014

A boy waits outside a Toys R Us in New York City.

A boy waits outside a Toys R Us in New York City. (Getty/Andrew Burton)

The Week

Oil prices dive, millions shop for deals on Thanksgiving to beat Black Friday crowds, and more

1. OPEC rejects pressure to reduce production, sending oil prices plummeting
Oil prices dropped by 7 percent to $69 per barrel on Thursday, the lowest level since May 2010. The dive came after OPEC announced that it was leaving production levels unchanged, dashing expectations that the group of leading oil exporters would slash production to boost prices. Saudi Arabia pushed to keep production levels steady despite pressure from Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela, which need higher prices to bolster their economies. [CNN]

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2. More than 25 million hit stores before Black Friday
Millions of Americans hit the stores before Thanksgiving was over, not waiting until Black Friday to hunt for deals as the holiday shopping season began. Retailers offered deep discounts on TVs, mobile devices, computers, and other items. Online sales were up 14 percent on Thanksgiving, and 96 million people are expected to go shopping on Black Friday. Roughly 140 million are expected to shop in stores or online at some point over the Black Friday weekend. [The Chicago Tribune]

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3. Ferguson tensions ease on Thanksgiving
Protests calmed in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Thursday, with no signs of the sporadic violence and looting that have prevailed in the three nights since a grand jury announced it would not charge white police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. In New York City, at least seven protesters were arrested for incidents during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In Los Angeles, authorities released 90 protesters arrested Tuesday and Wednesday so they could go home for Thanksgiving dinner. [Reuters]

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4. Storm leaves 344,000 New England customers without power
The first major winter storm of the year left 344,000 customers in northern New England without power on Thanksgiving, after disrupting holiday travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Record snowfall piled up across the region, snapping tree branches and downing power lines. Officials said it could take several days to restore all power. “This is not something you should try to wait out in your house,” said Michael Todd, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety. [The Associated Press]

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5. 40 killed in Nigeria bus station bombing
A bomb blast demolished a bus station in northeast Nigeria on Thursday, killing 40 people. A witness said the explosion beside a busy crossroads set several buses on fire. “There were bodies everywhere on the ground,” the witness, mechanic Abubakar Adamu, said. The bombing took place about 20 miles west of a town called Mubi, near the Cameroon border, that was seized by members of the Islamist group Boko Haram last month. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. [Reuters]

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6. Gunmen targets public buildings in Austin
Police in Austin, Texas, shot and killed a man suspected of opening fire on three downtown public buildings — the Mexican consulate, the federal courthouse, and police headquarters — early Friday. Police said that the suspected attacker was killed near his car, and that a bomb squad was investigating suspicions that the vehicle had an improvised explosive device inside. Officers also are checking the man’s residence for explosives. [USA Today]

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7. Mexican president, under pressure, proposes sweeping policing reforms
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed broad policing reforms on Thursday after two months of criticism over the kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 student-teachers. Witnesses blamed local police for the abductions, and the mayor of Iguala, in Guerrero state, and his wife have been accused of masterminding the crime along with gang members. Pena Nieto proposed putting the 1,800 municipal police forces under state control, giving the federal government power to dissolve corrupt local governments, and establishing a national 911 system. [The New York Times]

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8. Boys rescued two hours after being buried by snowplow
Two boys were rescued Thursday two hours after they were buried in a snow bank by a snowplow operator who did not see them as he cleared a parking lot in Newburgh, New York. The boys had been building a snow fort when the plow operator pushed snow over them. The boys, one 11 years old and the other 9, were taken to a hospital. Searchers, alerted by the boys’ parents after they failed to go home, found the boys around 2 a.m. after seeing a half-buried shovel. [The Associated Press]

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9. Bloodhound named Nathan wins Best in Show at National Dog Show
Nathan the bloodhound won Best in Show at the 2014 National Dog Show on Thursday. The playful, 4-year-old crowd favorite won the hound category, then outdid the winners of the other groups, including Freda the French bulldog and Bogey the samoyed, to take the top honor. “He just came out and shined today,” owner-handler Heather Helmer said. “Kissing the judge, stretching and scratching — he always pulls those antics and he knows I think it’s funny, that’s why he does it.” [NBC Sports]

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10. Author P.D. James dies at 94
British crime novelist P.D. James died Thursday at her home in Oxford, England. She was 94. James began her literary career at 42, and became known for her cerebral murder mysteries featuring memorable characters such as Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh and private investigator Cordelia Gray. Her stories often included gruesome details. “Let those who want pleasant murders read Agatha Christie,” James once said. “Murder isn’t pleasant. It’s an ugly thing and a cruel thing.” [The Washington Post]

10 things you need to know today: November 26, 2014

Protesters gathered in New York City's Times Square on Tuesday night. 

Protesters gathered in New York City’s Times Square on Tuesday night. |Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Week

Ferguson protests spread across America, Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy leaders, and more

1. Ferguson protests spread across the U.S.
Mostly peaceful protests spread from Ferguson, Missouri, across the country on Tuesday following the announcement that a grand jury had decided not to charge Darren Wilson, a white police officer, with the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Americans, calling the case a symbol of racial injustice, held at least 170 separate demonstrations, blocking bridges and highways. Protesters filled New York City’s Times Square, holding their hands up and chanting, “Don’t shoot.” [CNN]

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2. Hong Kong protest leaders arrested
Hong Kong police cleared barricades from the main pro-democracy protest camp and arrested key student leaders on Wednesday. It was the second day of a crackdown on the demonstrators’ three protest zones that has threatened the future of the two-month-old movement. Among the dozens arrested on Wednesday were protest leaders Joshua Wong, 18, head of the Scholarism group, and Lester Shum of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. “After the clearance operation we don’t have a leader,” said protester Ken Lee, 19. [The Associated Press]

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3. Judges rule Arkansas and Mississippi gay marriage bans unconstitutional
Federal judges on Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans in Mississippi and Arkansas. Judges Kristine Baker in Little Rock, and Carlton Reeves in Jackson, Mississippi, ruled that the bans — both approved a decade ago — violated same-sex couples’ right to the equal protection under the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The decisions, coming in two conservative Southern states, marked the latest in a series of court victories for gay-marriage advocates, but both judges put their rulings on hold pending expected appeals. [Reuters]

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4. Winter storm hits the East Coast as Thanksgiving travel rush begins
A powerful winter storm began dumping rain from northern Florida to Maryland early Wednesday, and was forecast to disrupt Thanksgiving travel as it pushed up the East Coast. The nor’easter could bring up to a foot of snow to some parts of the Northeast, with the heaviest snowfall expected from the Poconos to Maine. Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth said the storm would be “nothing too much out of the ordinary” normally, but it could create chaos at airports and on highways since it’s hitting on one of the busiest travel days of the year. [NBC News]

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5. New EPA rules aim to reduce ozone pollution
The Obama administration is expected to release controversial regulations on ozone emissions on Wednesday. The sweeping new Environmental Protection Agency rules would lower the allowable threshold for the pollutant, which causes smog and has been linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature death, coming from power plants and factories. Environmentalists and public health advocates applauded the move. Republicans and industry officials said the rules would hurt the economy without benefiting public health. [The New York Times]

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6. German politicians set a quota to get more women on corporate boards
Germany’s three-party ruling coalition agreed late Tuesday to require that 30 percent of all positions on corporate boards go to women. The quota will take effect in 2016, and it will apply to at least 108 listed German companies. The accord was initially negotiated last year but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats balked at formally establishing legal quotas. Women currently hold seven percent of board seats at the 30 biggest companies in Germany’s DAX blue-chip index. [Deutsche Welle]

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7. Female suicide bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria
Two teenage girls wearing belts laden with explosives blew themselves up in a Nigerian market on Tuesday, killing more than 40 others. The suicide bombings were the latest deadly attacks on civilians in a region in northern Nigeria that has been terrorized by Islamist militants. A day earlier, insurgents disguised as traders indiscriminately gunned down people at another market, and a day before that, another group of militants killed 48 fish traders near Lake Chad. [Los Angeles Times]

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8. Health workers killed by gunmen in Pakistan
Three Pakistani women polio workers and their driver were shot and killed on Wednesday. Teams vaccinating children have been targeted frequently by Taliban militants who sometimes claim the health workers are Western spies. This was the deadliest such attack in two years. The victims were shot by two men on a motorcycle as they were on their way to meet a police escort. Polio cases have spiked to a 15-year high of 265 in Pakistan as unvaccinated children fleeing fighting near the Afghan border spread out across the country. [Reuters]

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9. Cosby biographer apologizes for excluding rape allegations
Author Mark Whitaker apologized this week for not addressing sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby in his recently published biography of the comedian, Cosby: His Life and Times. New York Times media critic David Carr wrote a column this week scolding journalists, including himself, for not being more aggressive in looking into the allegations — which Cosby’s lawyer has refuted. After the column came out, Whitaker, a former journalist, tweeted that he should have dealt with the rape allegations: “If true the stories are shocking and horrible.” [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

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10. Astronauts test 3D printer in space
NASA’s 3D printer on the International Space Station this week successfully produced the first object ever printed in orbit — a faceplate for the printer itself with the logos of NASA and Made in Space, the company that made the printer. Next astronauts will print parts and tools that will be tested back on Earth to see how they stack up against objects made by an identical printer on the ground. The idea is to manufacture parts and tools in space to save time and make the space station more self-sufficient. [CNET]