National briefs: Methane leaks found greater where oil and gas production concentrated

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NEW YORK -- Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane due to human activity were roughly 1.5 times greater in the United States in the middle of the past decade than prevailing estimates, according to a new analysis by 15 climate scientists published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis also said methane discharges in Texas and Oklahoma, where oil and gas production was concentrated at the time, were 2.7 times greater than conventional estimates. Emissions from oil and gas activity alone could be five times greater than the prevailing estimate, the report said.

Its conclusions are sharply at odds with the two most comprehensive estimates of methane emissions, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an alliance of the Netherlands and the European Commission.

Contractor's murder case

PHILADELPHIA -- A cut-rate building contractor will face murder charges for a botched demolition in downtown Philadelphia that killed six people inside an adjacent store, officials announced Monday.

Prosecutors called Griffin Campbell "the center of culpability" for the June collapse, and said he ignored his client's warning the night before that disaster was imminent.

WikiLeaks charges unlikely

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.

The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been taken, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against Mr. Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top secret military and diplomatic documents.

Winner declared in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. -- The state Board of Elections on Monday certified Democrat Mark Herring as the winner of the Nov. 5 election for Virginia attorney general, even as the board chairman raised questions about the "integrity" of the vote tallies.

Mr. Herring, a state senator, beat Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain by 165 votes out of more than 2 million cast.

SpaceX launch postponed

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the rocket maker led by Elon Musk, said it postponed the launch of its Falcon 9 spacecraft that had been scheduled for Monday.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company plans to try again at 5:38 p.m. EST Thursday, SpaceX said in a posting on Twitter. SpaceX had sought to launch a satellite for SES SA with the Falcon 9, according to the Luxembourg-based telecommunications company.

Diabetes drug cleared

WASHINGTON -- Avandia, a diabetes drug that was thought to increase patients' risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, has been cleared for widespread use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Federal regulators said Monday that the drug was no more dangerous than other diabetes medications and that it should be available to all patients without its current restrictions.


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