National Briefs: U.S. warmer since 1984

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WASHINGTON -- The United States is warming fastest at two of its corners, in the Northeast and the Southwest, an analysis of federal temperature records shows.

Northeastern states -- led by Maine and Vermont -- have gotten the hottest in the last 30 years in annual temperature, gaining 2.5 degrees on average. But Southwestern states have heated up the most in the hottest months: The average New Mexico summer is 3.4 degrees warmer now than in 1984; in Texas, the dog days are 2.8 degrees hotter.

The contiguous United States' annual average temperature has warmed by 1.2 degrees since 1984, with summers getting 1.6 degrees hotter. But that doesn't really tell you how hot it's gotten for most Americans. While man-made greenhouse gases warm the world as a whole, weather is supremely local. Some areas have gotten hotter than others because of atmospheric factors and randomness, climate scientists say.

Runoff in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. -- Forced into a Mississippi runoff, challenger Chris McDaniel and veteran Sen. Thad Cochran plunged into a three-week campaign Wednesday to pick a Republican candidate for the fall and settle the Tea Party's last, best attempt of the year to topple a pillar of the establishment.

Results from 99 percent of the state's precincts showed Mr. McDaniel with 155,040 votes, or 49.5 percent. Mr. Cochran, 76 and seeking a seventh term, had 153,654, or 49 percent. Tom Carey had 4,789 votes, or 1.5 percent, a sliver of support but enough to prevent either of the two better-funded rivals from reaching the needed majority.

Obesity and food stamps

WASHINGTON -- Prohibiting the use of federal food stamps to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages and subsidizing the purchase of fruits and vegetables with the coupons would improve nutrition, foster weight loss and drive down rates of Type 2 diabetes among the program's 47.6 million recipients, according to a new study.

In so doing, the $79.8-billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) might also reap taxpayers untold future savings for the federally funded care of diabetes and other obesity-related ills among Medicaid recipients.

The study was published this week in the journal Health Affairs. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research Program.

Crackdown on NYC gangs

NEW YORK -- Police swooped through parts of Harlem arresting dozens of members of three gangs locked in a violent turf war in what officials Wednesday described as the largest such indictment of gang associates in the city's history.

In all, 103 people from three gangs -- 3Staccs, Make It Happen Boys and Money Avenue -- face conspiracy, attempted murder, gang assault and weapons charges in connection with two homicides and 50 other shootings, officials said.

Major highway closed

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A major north-south highway through Wilmington, Del., connecting Philadelphia suburbs to Baltimore, has been indefinitely shut down because a tilting span of bridge could have fallen 50 feet under a full traffic load.

Four out of 37 pairs of columns support a nearly mile-long bridge over land and a river. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the columns have begun to tilt as much as 4 percent out of alignment.

NRA explains criticism

DALLAS -- After chastising some of its Texas supporters for bringing long guns to fast-food outlets to demonstrate their commitment to gun rights, the National Rifle Association has been forced to apologize and say its criticism was a mistake.

During an appearance on an NRA-hosted radio show, Chris Cox, the executive director of the group's lobbying arm, said the original criticism was written by a staffer who was expressing his personal opinion.

-- Compiled from news services



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