In terms of weather, 2011 has made it into the record books. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that during this year, there have been 12 different weather disasters that cost more than $1 billion. The previous record was nine in 2008.
A few more facts from NOAA:
-- "These twelve disasters alone resulted in the tragic loss of 646 lives, with the National Weather Service reporting over 1,000 deaths across all weather categories for the year."
A couple of years ago, NPR's Robert Siegel had a 5-year-old kid moment.
He was in the new wing of a hospital watching a workman put up drywall and, as drywall installers are wont to do, the workman reached the top of the wall by walking on stilts.
The 5-year-old inside the radio host was suddenly enchanted by the thought of stilts, so Siegel set out to learn more; first through Google, then from Joe Bowen, who walked more than 3,000 miles across the country on stilts in 1980.
Greece fudged its budget numbers to enter the euro club, and its reputation as a source of accurate financial figures never really improved. As the country's financial crisis has worsened, the joke about its suspect fiscal numbers comes with the punch line, "lies, damn lies ... and Greek statistics."
The country sought to improve its standing last year when it created a new and independent statistical service, the Hellenic Statistical Authority.
The new and ever-changing world of social networking has blurred the lines between private and public, work and personal, friend and stranger. It's becoming a particular challenge for teachers who can quickly rile students and parents by posting comments or photos online.
In some cases, teachers have been fired for statements they've made on Facebook, which is raising free speech issues.
A suspension of all executions in Kentucky was the recommendation in a report released today by the American Bar Association. A special panel spent two years reviewing capital punishment in the Commonwealth and uncovered a number of concerns. The 400-plus page report has been handed over to the governor and attorney general for review.
Occupy protestors, labor groups and unemployed people from across the U-S took their message to Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell this week. Hundreds of demonstrators descended on Capitol Hill asking Republicans to stop blocking bills intended to help who they call the nation’s “neediest citizens,” like extending unemployment benefits and the president’s jobs bill. Ashley Howard, who's an unemployed mother of two, spent Tuesday sitting in McConnell’s personal office with about twenty other protesters.
Forty Lexington fire department employees are expected to retire by the end of the year. That’s double the number which was anticipated just a few months ago. The news prompted some tense discussion Tuesday at city hall.
During a press conference Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took jabs at a fellow GOP lawmaker for introducing a bill that raises taxes on wealthy Americans to extend the payroll tax cuts. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Susan Collins, R-Me., and would put higher taxes on millionaires and oil companies while renewing the two percent cut for workers. Anticipating that her fellow Republicans would continue to argue that any revenue increase would hurt small businesses, Collins highlighted the bill also extends a 2 percent cut to employers on their first $10 million of payroll.
Government officials in Kentucky are facing mounting pressure to consider a moratorium on the state's death penalty. An American Bar Association report calling for a halt to executions now has the backing of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.