Science!
July 22, 2014
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Two new studies looking at the beef industry show that it might be better for the environment to try white meat instead.

A study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that in the United States, it takes 28 times as much land and 11 times as much water to raise cattle for beef than it does equivalent portions of pork and poultry. A cattle farm also produces at least five times as much gas into the atmosphere. "For people, the obvious answer is: whenever possible, replace beef with something else," Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist and lead author of the study, told the Los Angeles Times. "If you really need it to be from animal sources, that's still OK.... As long as it's not beef, you have always made a significant step forward, because beef is so much more intensive than the rest."

The beef industry disagrees. "The fact is the U.S. beef industry produces beef with lower greenhouse gas emissions than any other country," Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, director of sustainability research for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in a statement. That is true, according to a second study released Monday in the journal Climatic Change: Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock in developed countries (including the U.S.) have decreased 23 percent since 1970. Globally, however, those emissions have increased 51 percent, and have more than doubled in developing countries.

This study looked at livestock in 237 countries, and estimated that beef cattle produced more than 50 percent of methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Dairy cattle came in second, with 17 percent; sheep ranked third, with 9 percent; and buffalo were in fourth place, with 7 percent. Pigs only accounted for 5 percent, and goats, 4 percent. The largest increases were in the Congo, Oman, and the Central African Republic. "More and more of the developing world is adopting the bad habits of the developed world," Ken Caldeira, ecologist and co-author of the study, told the Times. Catherine Garcia

This just in
4:55 p.m. ET
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the most prolific scorer in NBA history, underwent successful quadruple-bypass surgery in Los Angeles, according to a statement released Friday by UCLA Health. Abdul-Jabbar had the procedure done Thursday at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after being admitted there with cardiovascular disease earlier this week.

Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and is most known for his 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era. In his 20 years in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar won six championships and was named league MVP six times. He is expected to make a full recovery. Kimberly Alters

Only in America
4:50 p.m. ET
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A San Diego man trying to board a bus in his wheelchair was stripped of his transit pass because he didn't have proper "proof" of his disability. A transit cop told Joey Canales, 31, that he wasn't carrying the proper paperwork and confiscated the pass. "My disability is not hidden," Canales told the officer, who also issued him a ticket. The Week Staff

2016 Watch
4:28 p.m. ET
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On Friday at 6 p.m., former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will appear on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, where he's expected to lay out details of his future announcement about whether he'll run for president. Baier has been interviewing potential candidates in his series The Presidential Contenders: 2016.

Speaking with reporters before heading to New Hampshire this weekend to join several fellow potential and confirmed GOP candidates, Huckabee was predictably cryptic. "I will at least give people an understanding of when there will be an announcement and where," he said.

In January, Huckabee ended his own show on Fox News to explore a second shot at the White House — he won the Iowa GOP caucuses in 2008. Earlier this week, he also stated his nationally broadcast radio show would end in May. Stephanie Talmadge

This just in
4:00 p.m. ET
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The merger between Comcast and Time Warner, America's first- and second-largest cable providers, may not be so inevitable after all. The Department of Justice's antitrust lawyers are reportedly considering blocking the merger, sources told Bloomberg, for fear that "consumers would be harmed" by Comcast's $45.2 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, which would create a nationwide cable giant. 

Officials at the FCC's antitrust division, who are also reviewing the deal, reportedly "aren't negotiating" with Comcast about ways to fix the deal to prevent it from falling apart.

In light of these details, Comcast issued a statement saying there is "no basis" for a federal lawsuit to stop the merger, and maintained that the acquisition would result in "significant consumer benefits," like faster internet speeds, better video quality, and cost savings. Meghan DeMaria

Numbers don't lie
2:50 p.m. ET

A new Labor Department report has revealed that most U.S. workers would have been better off in 1972.

The report found that weekly wages in 1972 for most U.S. employees were about $811 in today's dollars. This past March, U.S. workers averaged around $703 per week.

The Labor Department's report looked at average weekly earnings for production and "non-supervisory employees," which account for the majority of the U.S. workforce, The Wall Street Journal reports. For those workers, real average weekly earnings fell 0.4 percent from February to March.

Inflation-adjusted hourly and weekly earnings increased by 2.3 percent, compared with a year earlier, but the Journal notes that the recent spike in real average earnings is "largely due to low inflation, rather than surging paychecks." Meghan DeMaria

This just in
2:49 p.m. ET
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Iraqi forces have killed Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former deputy of Saddam Hussein, government officials reported to The Associated Press on Friday.

Al-Douri has been declared dead or captured before, but Reuters notes that Iraqi officials released images of a body with red hair like al-Douri's, and said they have begun DNA tests to confirm the death. Officials said they believe al-Douri was killed during a joint operation between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, which Iraq took back from Islamic State militants earlier in April.

Depicted as the "king of clubs" in a U.S.-issued deck of playing cards used to help troops identify key regime fugitives, al-Douri helped the Baath party plot its 1968 coup, and then served as vice president to Hussein until the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the regime, in 2003.  Sarah Eberspacher

For those who have everything
2:41 p.m. ET
(Courtesy Photo)

If you're the owner of multiple cats — and one's a food bully — the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder ($150) "will make you purr as loudly as the gadget's whirring motors," says Jonathan Margolis at How To Spend It. The cover won't open until a sensor detects the microchip that's embedded under the correct cat's skin or on a collar-worn tag. The cover closes automatically when the cat moves away, keeping food safe from flies, dogs, and greedier cats. Sure, "it takes a bit of time and patience" to train a cat not to be spooked by the movement, but the "excellent" manual "makes light work of it." The Week Staff

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