2012 ranked 10th warmest worldwide
The United States was ravaged by extreme heat and drought last year, but even across the globe, record temperatures led to what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center is calling the 10th warmest year since 1880. It was also the warmest year for the contiguous United States at an average of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the previous record set in 1998 by one degree. Since 2001, all twelve years have ranked among the top 14 warmest in record-keeping history. Last year also saw weather disasters amounting to over $1 billion in damages, including a drought across the Midwest that is expected to lead to rising food prices and Hurricane Sandy, which killed nearly 200 people and caused $80 billion in damages in New York and New Jersey alone.
21 arrested in unemployment scheme
Earlier this week, 21 people were charged with collecting fraudelent unemployment and disability benefits in a scheme amounting to over $5 million. After selling fake pay stubs to report false wages to the government, a California family is the center of the crime. The acting fake employees would subsequently be "laid off" in order to collect unemployment benefits and/or disability insurance in what is called a fictitious employer scheme. The scheme was set up as a farm labor company employing hundreds of agricultural workers, but when the fake employees were interviewed, many did not know the name of their employer and often cited wages which exceeded median pay in the industry. While the current charges are still just allegations, the Employment Development Department said any sign of a company taking advantage of the system "will not be tolerated." In the 2011 fiscal year, the U.S. Labor Department reported about 11 percent of jobless benefits paid out were determined to be mistakes, most attributed to fraud.
Horse DNA found in European hamburgers
On Tuesday, the Food Safety Authority out of Ireland reported that 10 out of 27 hamburger products analyzed contained horse DNA, and 23 tested positive for pig DNA. The hamburger meat, which had reached several supermarkets, originated in two Irish and one British meat processing plants. Nine out of the 10 burger samples featured horse DNA at very low levels, while Britain's largest retailer, Tesco, sold meat made up of 29 percent horse meat. While representatives at Tesco acknowledged customers' concerns about the quality of their food, the Food Safety Authority claimed the horse meat was not a threat to public health. Despite being safe, executives with the authority expressed puzzlement over the presence of horse meat. While pig meat is processed in the same facility as the burger meat, horse meat cannot plausibly be accounted for in the meat processing plants.