Searing news
May 14, 2014

Here in America, we've had a relatively cold winter. April's temperature measurements were only about average. However, if you look worldwide, it turns out April 2014 was the second-hottest April ever recorded, according to preliminary measurements. This discrepancy is because while some places were only average or below-average in temperature, more places were above-average, some ludicrously so. This fact is brought home in the latest temperature anomaly world map from NASA:

Check out that chunk of planet in eastern Asia. Roughly speaking, eastern Russia, Mongolia, and northeast China were getting absolutely fried last month, pegging the chart's maximum over an area about the size of the whole U.S. Remember that next time someone pulls the old "it's cold where I can see, how about that global warming?!" routine. Ryan Cooper

This just in
8:13 a.m. ET

Israeli fighter jets launched four airstrikes in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, marking the first air strikes since a ceasefire between Gaza militants and Israel went into effect. The ceasefire followed last summer's 50-day war.

The Israeli airstrikes came after a rocket, which Israel's defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, says was sent by the Islamic Jihad group, was fired at southern Israel on Tuesday night. Yaalon told The Associated Press that the Israeli airstrikes were aimed at Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip, as well as at Hamas sites. No Palestinian group, however, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told AP the airstrikes targeted "four terror infrastructures" in the Gaza Strip. "The reality that Hamas' territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel is unacceptable and intolerable and will bear consequences," Lerner told AP. "Israelis cannot be expected to live in the perpetual fear of rocket attacks. The IDF will continue to operate in order to seek out those that wish to undermine Israeli sovereignty with acts of terrorism."

No casualties were reported in the Israeli airstrikes. Meghan DeMaria

Law And Order
7:03 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, Mexican police arrested Henry Solis, a 27-year-old former Los Angeles Police Department officer, in Ciudad Juarez, ending a two-month manhunt. Late Tuesday, Solis was handed over to U.S. federal agents in El Paso, Texas, where he will be held on California murder charges for the shooting death of Salome Rodriguez Jr. outside a bar on March 13. Mexican authorities say Solis resisted arrest, but that no shots were fired.

Solis is accused of shooting Rodriguez, 23, after some dispute at a bar in Pomona, California, when he was off-duty. The LAPD fired him a few days later, and his father was later arrested for lying to federal investigators after driving Solis to El Paso and, according to security footage, helping him walk across the border to Juarez. You can watch an Associated Press report on the arrest below. —Peter Weber

6:04 a.m. ET
Overheard with Evan Smith

One of the biggest and most consequential shifts in the push for gay rights was when corporate America joined the fray, recently siding with LGTB advocates against "religious freedom" laws Indiana and Arkansas. In an interview with Evan Smith, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called the business community "a critical block" in the gay-rights fight.

"It's very good to win an issue because you have morality on your side, but it helps in America if the profit motive weighs in," Frank said on the PBS show Overheard. "And essentially what you now have is the business community saying to the bigots, 'Will you please knock it off, you are interfering with our ability to ruin the economy and make money.'" Big Business is doing the right thing, he added, but not exactly for altruistic reasons:

It's interesting what they're saying, and they're saying this: Do not give us the right to discriminate — you are giving me something I didn't ask for. Because if a business has the legal and moral obligation to serve everybody, no controversy. But if you say to them, OK, you can pick and choose, then once they start picking and choosing, somebody's going to be mad at them. Either they'll be too kind to gay people or not kind enough. [Barney Frank]

You can watch Frank's comments at the Overheard site (they broach the topic at about the 12-minute mark), but the entire 25-minute interview is worth a listen. Among other things, Frank talks about how the left's penchant for marching is counterproductive, why the GOP may secretly want the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage, Hillary Clinton's record on gay rights, and why he thinks Clinton should win the Democratic nomination without too much of a fight. Peter Weber

The beautiful game
5:32 a.m. ET

Hours after arresting six FIFA officials at a luxury hotel in Zurich, based on U.S. criminal corruption charges, Swiss federal prosecutors announced their own investigation into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. The Swiss prosecutors' office said police had seized "electronic data and documents" from FIFA's Swiss world headquarters, and will question 10 members of the soccer governing body's executive committee who took part in the controversial 2010 votes crowning the 2018 and 2022 hosts.

Switzerland's investigation is not related to the U.S. one, Swiss authorities say, but U.S. and Swiss officials are working together. In the video below, New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo tells BBC News what he and his colleagues know so far, and how soccer "has never seen anything quite like this." —Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:41 a.m. ET

Last Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stood on the Senate floor for 10.5 hours, staging a quasi-filibuster to protest the USA Patriot Act. Almost all of his GOP colleagues rolled their eyes at him — literally, sometimes — but if the Senate doesn't act, the Patriot Act will expire on June 1. Good, said Jon Stewart on Tuesday's Daily Show. It was always meant to expire, "and why should we allow the U.S. government to continue to infringe on liberty?"

The Republican answer is that the law, and the NSA mass surveillance it didn't quite authorize, are important tools to prevent terrorism. "I guess the lesson here is that saving American lives is sometimes more important than civil liberties and government overreach," Stewart summarized — "you know, unless you're, obviously, trying to save those lives by providing health insurance." NSA surveillance and ObamaCare, connected. One statistic — that 45,000 people die every year because they lack health insurance, per a 2009 Harvard study — blew Stewart's mind: "How do we make that the thing the government cares about? Do we have to rename Type 2 diabetes 'Osama bin unable to process insulin'?" Well, it's a thought. —Peter Weber

Watch this
3:18 a.m. ET

"In recent years, a stunning breakthrough has been made in our concept of what the universe is for," Bill Nye (the Science Guy) said on Tuesday's Inside Amy Schumer. If you're expecting a science lesson, though, remember what you're watching. Nye, without grimacing, laid out the joke: "We now know the universe is essentially a force sending cosmic guidance to white women in their 20s," a "giant dream board on which women pin their wishes."

Many young white women, the show suggests, have turned "the Universe" into a mashup of God and a Magic 8 Ball, with perhaps a smidgen of instant karma — see How I Met Your Mother for slightly more subtle usage. Nye can only take so much, and there is definitely NSFW language from both Schumer and Nye. If that doesn't bother you, watch below. —Peter Weber

death penalty
2:53 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) vetoed a bill that would abolish capital punishment in the Cornhusker State, arguing that his executive negation was "a matter of public safety" and "also a matter of making sure the public prosecutors have the tools they need to put these dangerous hardened criminals behind bars." Legislators scheduled a vote for Wednesday afternoon to override Ricketts' veto; it's expected to be a close vote.

In the last of three votes to pass the death penalty ban, 32 members of the unicameral legislature voted yes and 15 voted no. That's two votes more than needed to overturn the veto, but at least one yes vote has since publicly changed his mind. Ricketts has been trying to get other lawmakers to switch to no, also. If the bipartisan coalition succeeds, Nebraska will be the first conservative state to abolish the death penalty in decades, joining 18 states and Washington, D.C. Peter Weber

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