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Don’t Touch That Thermostat: 2014 Was Hottest On Record by Bryson Hull
If you thought it was hot in 2014, it wasn’t just you. Last year was the hottest on earth since the beginning of record-keeping in 1880. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its annual global climate report published today, confirmed an initial forecast based on data from January through October.

Closing Off The Courtroom: Latest from the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial by the WhoWhatWhy Team
Judge George O’Toole Jr. excluded the press from what’s supposed to be a public trial, in a case that’s already been swathed in secrecy. The latest on the trial of Boston Marathon Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

WHO

At Fort Bliss, Hagel Cautions Against US Military Overreach
Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave a much-overlooked farewell address at Ft. Bliss in Texas. Although not quite as stark as President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the Military-Industrial Complex, Hagel’s pointed remarks about the perils of over-reach touched on the “blunders” that come from erroneously thinking that the U.S. military can “fix” any and all “problems” in other nations…often against the wishes of the people living in those countries.

‘Man Has Gone Too Far’: Pope Francis Says We Are Primarily Responsible For Climate Change
The pontiff took time out of his Asian tour to comment on climate change. He laid the blame and onus for solving it squarely on the shoulders of mankind. While en route to the typhoon-battered Philippines, Pope Francis called on the world to take a courageous stand at the upcoming Paris climate talks and said “We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth.”

Condoleezza Rice Testifies On Urging The Times To Not Run Article
While testifying in the leak trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, Condi offered a unique look into the backchannel pressure government officials often apply to mainstream media outlets. In this case, it involved successfully convincing the New York Times‘ editors to pull the plug on “an article about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program” written by reporter James Risen. Unbowed, Risen wrote about the botched operation in his 2006 book ‘State of War’ and, until just this week, was threatened with prosecution for refusing to reveal confidential sources.

Holder Limits Seized-Asset Sharing Process That Split Billions With Local, State Police
In a bold move, Attorney General Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. stopped a controversial program that allowed local and state police to “seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred.” Since 2008, the so-called “civil asset forfeiture” empowered thousands of local and state police agencies to make “more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion.” Although it looks like the “easy-to-use” federal gravy train has reached its final destination, police can still take private property wherever state law allows it.

WHAT

One Thing Gangs Smuggling Latin Migrants Over the Border Can’t Do Without: Big U.S. Banks
Bloomberg investigates the role played by major U.S. banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America in human trafficking by “coyotes”—the smugglers who charge illegal migrants copious fees to transport them across the border. Until recently, coyotes have freely used accounts in major banks as payment points for people seeking passage. Although there is scant evidence of collusion, banks have been mostly unwilling to monitor suspicious transaction patterns as required by law. These revelations come on the heels of the hefty fines paid by banks to settle charges of money laundering for criminal drug operations.

WHY

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism
Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman look at the latest “thwarted plot” by a “homegrown terrorist.” This time, milquetoast momma’s boy-turned-jihadi Christopher Cornell was plotting a massacre on Capitol Hill, according to the FBI. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) suggested that the NSA’s data collection program helped uncover the plot. However, it looks more like the FBI replicated a now-familiar pattern whereby it “does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.”

The Sentiment On Sharing Is Shifting
Brooks Rainwater and Nicole DuPuis of the National League of Cities discuss the results of a new study on “The Sharing Economy.” It reveals a growing comfort with and market for “sharing services” like Uber, Lyft and various other un- or under-regulated sharing businesses currently popping up in urban areas. Meanwhile, cities and states are starting to move to create new regulatory structures for this booming market.

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