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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., had strong words for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Thursday regarding the VA's failure to compensate thousands of World War II veterans who were exposed to mustard gas.

A hole-in-one is a cause for celebration, even (especially?) when a robot does it.

LDRIC, a cleverly named golf robot, aced the par-3 16th hole at Arizona's TPC Scottsdale course earlier this week on just its fifth try.

Which beer goes with guacamole? And which brew adds a nice clean, crisp finish to spicy wings?

Those are burning questions for anyone who wants to take his snack game to the next level this Super Bowl weekend. And two craft beer experts who wrote the book on pairing have the answers.

OK, Google, Where Did I Put My Thinking Cap?

Feb 5, 2016

Take a look at this question: How do modern novels represent the characteristics of humanity?

If you were tasked with answering it, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts — or would you Google it?

Terry Heick, a former English teacher in Kentucky, had a surprising revelation when his eighth- and ninth-grade students quickly turned to Google.

"What they would do is they would start Googling the question, 'How does a novel represent humanity?' " Heick says. "That was a real eye-opener to me."

Last week, Mattel announced that Barbie is getting a makeover. A whole bunch of them, in fact. Now, 33 new Barbie dolls are available for purchase through the website, in three new body types — petite, tall and curvy — and seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 14 "face sculpts." We rounded up some sharp thoughts on this news, ranging from what this means for Mattel's bottom line to whether a widely hyped debut of Barbie's new looks is really a step forward.

There aren't a lot of people who have dined on meat from the Pleistocene, prehistoric humans notwithstanding. That's why accounts of the 1951 Annual Dinner of the Explorers Club, a society of scientific adventurers, all agree that the organizer of the night, Wendell Phillips Dodge, threw the dinner party of the century. Legend has it that Dodge served the meat of a woolly mammoth.

When the Carolina Panthers play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Panthers coach Ron Rivera will become the second Latino head coach in Super Bowl history. And he's one reason why many in Charlotte's Latino community have become so enthusiastic about American football.

New editions of textbooks in France will look a little different.

References to onions? You'll see the word ognon rather than oignon.

A tale about a centipede? The many-legged insect will be known as a millepattes, no longer a mille-pattes.

And most controversially, France is removing the hat-shaped accent known as a circumflex in some cases. For example: the word for "to train" will be spelled s'entraine, and not the circumflexed s'entraîner.

There are plenty of political punches being thrown around the GOP field these days. Christie knocks Bush. Bush knocks Trump. Trump knocks Cruz ... you get the point.

U.S. health experts cautioned Friday that the apparent discovery of the Zika virus in saliva and urine from people in Brazil does not necessarily mean the virus can be spread by more casual contact with infected people, such as through kissing.

"I think we need to be careful that don't we jump to any conclusions about transmissibility," Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview on NPR's Morning Edition.

The leaking gas storage well near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch might be capped earlier than originally anticipated, a state official told residents on Thursday.

Wade Crowfoot, an adviser to California Gov. Jerry Brown, said the utility that owns the well is expected to begin the final phase of the fix on Monday, The Associated Press reports. The Southern California Gas Co. is currently drilling a relief well to intercept the leaking well — and once it reaches its destination, workers should be able to seal up the leak in about five days.

The cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi can help people with specific genetic mutations breathe better, but treatment with the pill comes with a hefty sticker price — $259,000 a year.

Orkambi, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last July, is expected to take almost $36 million from California's general fund this fiscal year and next. That cost estimate doesn't include any discounts the state may receive from drug manufacturers.

The Zika virus has gone from an obscure disease to an international public health emergency.

Genetics researchers often discover certain snips and pieces of the human genome that are important for health and development, such as the genetic mutations that cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. And scientists noticed that genetic variants are more common in some races, which makes it seem like race is important in genetics research.

Occupiers Not Listed In Indictment Could Face Charges

Feb 5, 2016

A federal indictment released Thursday charges with conspiracy sixteen people involved with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But it doesn’t include dozens of people who were also part of the occupation. Many of them have scattered across the U.S., changed phone numbers or gone silent on social media.

“Most people aren’t going home after what happened,” said California resident Terri Linnell.

The decision by Hillary Clinton to use a private email server as secretary of state has spawned an FBI investigation, multiple congressional inquiries and dozens of private lawsuits that demand copies of her messages. It's also become an issue in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Republicans on the campaign trail have raised the prospect that Clinton could be charged with a crime — even as she downplays the FBI probe and asserts she wants voters to be able to see all of her messages from that time.

U.S. officials say there's no need for alarm over reports from Brazil out Friday that active Zika virus has been found in saliva and urine samples. Mosquitoes remain the primary source of Zika, and there's no proof that saliva and urine can transmit the virus, even if it is present there. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talks with Mary Louise Kelly about how the Zika virus may spread.

BMX rider Dave Mirra, who for years dominated his sport even as he helped others embrace it, has died at age 41. Police in Greenville, N.C., say they found Mirra "sitting in a truck with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound."

Police found Mirra in a parked vehicle shortly after he had visited friends in Greenville, where he had lived for years as an active member of the community. Mirra is survived by his wife and two daughters.

The New York City Fire Department says a crane collapse early Friday in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood killed at least one person, seriously injured two others and left another with minor injuries.

The Associated Press reported that the person killed was a Wall Street worker sitting in a parked car.

Fire officials tweeted that they sent more than 140 fire and emergency medical services personnel from more than 40 units to the scene at the intersection of Worth Street and West Broadway.

Before they got down to debating the big issues Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wrangled over one big word: progressivism.

Which of them was the true progressive? Was Clinton a progressive at all?

Sanders has long billed himself as a progressive, also describing himself as a "democratic socialist." He has not been known for flirting with the term "moderate." But Clinton has at times willingly chosen the latter label.

The U.S. economy added just 151,000 jobs in January while unemployment dropped slightly, to 4.9 percent, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists had expected to see about 190,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate, which has held steady at 5 percent the past few months, dropped slightly to 4.9 percent. It's the first time unemployment has fallen below 5 percent since the recession.

The pope and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet next week in Cuba for a two-hour session that the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate say would be "the first in history" — the churches split in the Great Schism of 1054.

The historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill is set for Feb. 12. It's the result of an "intersection of the itineraries" as both leaders will be visiting Latin America next week, the Russian Orthodox Church says.

The fifth debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was their first appearance as a duet, and that helped to highlight some of their harmony – even as it heightened their crescendos of dissonance.

With Martin O'Malley having suspended his campaign earlier in the week, the two remaining rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination met in New Hampshire on Thursday night — on stage together for nearly two hours.

"I happen to respect the secretary very much; I hope it's mutual," said Sanders.

And Clinton reciprocated:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" by Sweden and the U.K., a U.N. panel has ruled, adding that Assange should be freed and compensated for his treatment.

Sunday's Super Bowl 50 — Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos — could mark the end of an era.

Peyton Manning's last game.

The veteran Broncos quarterback turns 40 next month. After a season plagued by injury and poor play, many suggested it was time to retire. Manning fueled speculation about his future after Denver won the AFC Championship game and microphones heard him tell New England head coach Bill Belichick, "This may be my last rodeo."

Ebrahim Pourfaraj wants to build the biggest hotel in all of Iran.

He's already started his project in the far north Tehran, a wealthy zone where the city climbs up the slopes of the snow-capped Alborz Mountains.

You get out of the car, carefully stepping over the little mountain stream that flows in a channel beside the curb. After stepping through a construction trailer, you emerge on a steel-mesh platform looking over the edge of an enormous hole.

According to the Washington Department of Licensing, 380,000 drivers have suspended licenses. Many of them are low-income and lost their license because they failed to pay traffic tickets. They often have unpaid tickets from several jurisdictions and they’re likely to drive even without a license.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would close what some activists call a "loophole" in the state's criminal background check law. It allows gun sales to go through if a background check isn't completed by the end of the next business day.

Florida is one of several U.S. states now reporting a few isolated cases of people infected with the Zika virus. In response, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in five counties in hopes of getting ahead of the virus's spread.

So far, just 12 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported to health authorities in Florida, all of them among travelers who contracted the disease outside the U.S. But Scott figures it's only a matter of time before the virus starts showing up among mosquitoes in some regions of the state, too.

More than a year ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in a police shooting roiled the small town of Ferguson, Mo., and sparked nationwide protests. Recovery and negotiations have been going on since then, but residents have different ideas about how the city should move forward.

Next week, a negotiated settlement between the city and the Justice Department overhauling the department's practices will come up for a city council vote.

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