2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

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  • 10 Things to Know for Today
    10 Things to Know for Today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

  • Risk of asteroid hitting Earth higher than thought, study shows

    By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The chance of a city-killing asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed, a non-profit group building an asteroid-hunting telescope said on Tuesday. A global network that listens for nuclear weapons detonations detected 26 asteroids that exploded in Earth's atmosphere from 2000 to 2013, data collected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization shows. "There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare ... that's incorrect," said former astronaut Ed Lu, who now heads the California-based B612 Foundation. The foundation on Tuesday released a video visualization of the asteroid strikes in an attempt to raise public awareness of the threat.

  • Australia boosts air power with $11.6 bln purchase of 58 F-35s
    Australia boosts air power with $11.6 bln purchase of 58 F-35s

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Wednesday the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters costing Aus$12.4 billion ($11.6 billion) in a major defence upgrade to maintain Australia's regional edge. The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72, with the first due to arrive in 2018 and enter service in 2020. The deal with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin includes an option to buy a further 18 planes and is additional to the purchase of 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009. Abbott said the planes would cost about $90 million each but noted that one of the largest defence purchases Australia has ever made was budgeted for.

  • John Paul saint-maker: Pope not involved in Legion
    John Paul saint-maker: Pope not involved in Legion

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Polish priest who has spearheaded the case to make Pope John Paul II a saint said Tuesday that no documentation exists linking the pontiff personally to the scandal of the Legion of Christ religious order.

  • U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action
    U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action

    By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities. The 6-2 vote and the four opinions issued by justices in the majority revealed divisions on the court as to the legal rationale in rejecting civil rights groups' challenge to the ban. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the sole dissenting opinion, read excerpts from the bench, calling the decision a blow to "historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights." The court emphasized that it was not deciding the larger and divisive question of whether affirmative action admission policies can be lawful. But the decision made it clear that voter-approved affirmative action bans can withstand legal challenges.

  • Australia, Malaysia vow to keep searching to solve plane mystery

    By Byron Kaye PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - Australia and Malaysia vowed on Wednesday to keep searching for a missing Malaysian plane despite no sign of wreckage after almost seven weeks, and as bad weather again grounded aircraft and an undersea drone neared the end of its first full mission. But Australian authorities said unidentified material washed up on the coast of Western Australia was being investigated for possible links to missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had earlier acknowledged that the search strategy could change if seabed scans taken by the U.S. Navy drone failed to turn up a trace of the plane, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board. The finding of unspecified material on the southern tip of Western Australia was the first report of suspected debris in weeks and the first since the detection of what were believed to be signals on April 4.

  • New Idaho Business Provides Venue for Customers to Break Stuff
    New Idaho Business Provides Venue for Customers to Break Stuff

    Das Breakroom is a new business in Boise, Idaho, that opened on Tax Day. The premise behind the establishment is certainly unique but relatively simple. "Our sole purpose is to provide a place for people to engage in recreational destruction," business owner Tom Farrenkopf told KBOI TV in Boise. "What we mean by that is, come in and break stuff."

  • Pentagon scientists show off life-size robot
    Pentagon scientists show off life-size robot

    US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got a first-hand look at a life-size robot that resembles Hollywood's "Terminator," the latest experiment by the Pentagon's hi-tech researchers. But unlike the cinematic version, the hulking Atlas robot is designed not as a warrior but as a humanitarian machine that would rescue victims in the rubble of a natural disaster, officials said on Tuesday. The 6-foot-2-inch (187 centimeters) Atlas is one of the entrants in a contest designed to produce a man-like life-saver machine, the brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm known for futuristic projects often evoking science fiction, showed off the Atlas robot to Hagel, but except for LED lighting, the humanoid was apparently switched off on a "static" display.

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