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April 21, 2014

Advanced corn ethanol was once thought to be a viable energy alternative to filthy gasoline; a cleaner burning fuel that could someday enjoy wide-scale usage and help to mitigate climate change. Yet a new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that ethanol made from corn leftovers may actually be more harmful to the environment than the traditional fossil fuel.

The problem is that removing "corn residue" from fields to produce cellulosic ethanol reduces the soil's ability to trap carbon dioxide, according to the study. When extrapolated to account for mass production, the incidental emissions would be about 7 percent greater than the total emissions from gasoline.

That finding puts some hard numbers behind an interesting note in the U.N.'s latest climate change report, which said "indirect emissions" from biofuels "can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products."

That said, the EPA dismissed the study because it assumed all of a corn field's waste would be used for ethanol production, an assumption the EPA said was "an extremely unlikely scenario that is inconsistent with recommended agricultural practices." And the study did note that emissions could be offset by planting cover crops, so it's not guaranteed that cellulosic ethanol production using corn would have to be more harmful to the planet than gasoline. Jon Terbush

12:05 p.m. ET

If it weren't for the sage words of an unnamed "highly respected" Republican governor, Donald Trump would've been taking out all the people at the Democratic National Convention who said bad things about him. "The things that were said about me. I mean, should I go through some of the names," Trump said at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. "You know what? I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard."

Trump said he wanted to hit one person in particular — a "very little guy" — "so hard his head would spin, he wouldn't know what the hell happened." "They'd never recover," he said of all the Democrats he would've hit, before adding, "that's why I still don't have certain people endorsing me. They still haven't recovered."

Watch Trump's tough talk, below. Becca Stanek

11:35 a.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Another six Michigan state employees have joined the growing list of officials facing criminal charges over the Flint water crisis. On Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges including misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty, and various conspiracy counts against three employees from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and three from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, The Associated Press reported.

This marks the second round of charges Schuette has filed in connection to Flint's lead-contaminated water scandal. In April, two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees and one City of Flint official were hit with felony charges, including official misconduct and tampering with evidence.

Flint has been dealing with its drinking water being contaminated with dangerous levels of lead since 2014, when the local government, under a state-appointed emergency manager, switched the city's water sources. Becca Stanek

10:14 a.m. ET
LUIS ROBAYO/Stringer/Getty Images

Four cases of Zika virus infection in Florida have been confirmed to have been transmitted by local mosquitoes, a first in the continental United States since the global outbreak began, CNN reports. None of the four patients affected had traveled to a region outside of the U.S. that was known to have the Zika virus, nor had any of them had sexual contract with someone who had traveled to such a region, which leaves little doubt that the disease came from bites from local mosquitoes.

The patients, a woman and three men, live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that to date, no mosquitoes in the state have actually tested positive for the virus.

More than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the United States, but these are the first four cases to not be linked to someone traveling outside the U.S. More than 60 countries and territories have reported Zika.

In June, the World Health Organization advised that visitors to regions that have the Zika virus consider delaying pregnancy. Zika has been linked to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, as well as other severe brain defects. The WHO made its recommendation because there is no known treatment to keep pregnant women with Zika from transmitting the disease to their unborn babies. Jeva Lange

10:08 a.m. ET
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

If you've recently committed a felony and are now on the lam, here's a tip: Beware of rare Pokémon, as they might be a trap.

At least, they might be in Smithfield, Virginia, where the local police department is attempting to lure people with outstanding arrest warrants to the police station through Pokémon Go. The specific monster Smithfield police say is in their processing room, Ditto, is presently the subject of intense speculation, as no verified Ditto captures have yet occurred, and some believe Ditto is actually uncatchable at this time.

So far, Smithfield PD has been unsuccessful — but you've gotta catch 'em all, right? Bonnie Kristian

9:52 a.m. ET
KENA BETANCUR/Stringer/Getty Images

A police officer named Michael Kelley from Prairie View, Texas — the small town where Sandra Bland died last year under disputed circumstances — says he was forced to suppress evidence of departmental wrongdoing pertaining to Bland's death.

By Kelley's account, the top Waller County prosecutor refused to let him testify before a grand jury to share observations Kelley believes could have helped produce an indictment. In a recorded phone conversation, Kelley describes threats of retaliation including loss of his career should he speak out about having observed marks on Bland's forehead after the traffic stop as well as debates among fellow officers about how to charge Bland after she had already been arrested.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis categorically denied all Kelley's allegations. When the grand jury deliberations concluded last December, no one was indicted in connection with Bland's death. Meanwhile, Kelley himself is now suspended from the police department after he was caught on camera using a stun gun on a local city official who, like Bland, was African-American. Bonnie Kristian

9:45 a.m. ET

Not only have the Democrats squashed the Republicans in TV ratings, but it looks like they've taken the lead on Instagram, too. This photo, from Wednesday night at the Democratic convention, is not just Hillary Clinton's most-liked Instagram picture of all time, but the most-liked photograph of all of the candidates in the entire 2016 presidential race:

We love you back, President Obama.

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

It's easy to see why. Jeva Lange

9:42 a.m. ET
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton got massive applause Thursday night at the Democratic convention when she said this about her election rival, Donald Trump: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

Naturally, Trump responded Friday morning via Twitter by slamming Clinton's speech, claiming, "Crooked Hillary Clinton made up facts about me, and 'forgot' to mention the many problems of our country, in her very average scream!"

The Democratic convention's TV ratings were higher across the board than the viewership for the Republican gathering last week — sometimes by several million people — which prompted Trump on Thursday to implore his supporters not to watch Clinton's nomination acceptance speech. Jeva Lange

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