12:29am

Mon December 31, 2012
Environment

A Busy And Head-Scratching 2012 Hurricane Season

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 2:46 am

This satellite image from Oct. 28 shows Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic Ocean before making landfall.
NASA via Getty Images

Superstorm Sandy is what most people will remember from the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. But Sandy was just one of 10 hurricanes this year — a hurricane season that was both busy and strange.

Late summer is when the hurricane season usually gets busy. But Greg Jenkins, a professor of atmospheric science at Howard University, says this year was different.

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12:29am

Mon December 31, 2012
The Salt

Cheap Bubbly Or Expensive Sparkling Wine? Look To The Bubbles For Clues

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 7:03 am

The bubbles in champagne tickle the tongue and transfer wonderful aromas to the nose.
iStockphoto.com

There's nothing like the distinctive "pop" of the uncorking of a bottle of bubbly to create a sense of celebration. Whether it's Dom Perignon or a $10 sparkling wine, bubbles add pizazz.

Sparkling-wine lovers sometimes point to the glittering streams of tiny bubbles as an important attribute. Why? Well, tiny bubbles are a sign of age, explains French chemist Gerard Liger-Belair, author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne.

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8:32pm

Sun December 30, 2012
Minds Over Matter

Minds Over Matter 12/30/12

This week's panelists:  author Gerry Nachman and SF Chronicle music critic Joshua Kosman with moderator Dana Rodriguez.

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2:32pm

Sun December 30, 2012
Environment

2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:55 pm

Cracks form in the bed of a dried lake in Waterloo, Neb. The drought withered crops and dried out lakes across the nation's midsection in 2012.
Nati Harnik AP

This year's extreme weather was one for the record books; 2012 is slated to be the hottest summer on record.

The worst drought in 50 years struck the South and Midwest, devastating the U.S. agriculture industry. Deadly floods and superstorms paralyzed the northeast and other parts of the country.

While the public is in shock by extreme weather events that have taken place, environmentalist Bill McKibben and other members of the science community say it is a result of climate change.

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2:05pm

Sun December 30, 2012
Politics

A Look Foward: Immigration Reform In 2013

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 3:39 pm

Arizona DREAM Act Coalition staff members, other advocacy group representatives and young immigrants line up in Phoenix last August for guidance about the federal program called Deferred Action, that would help illegal immigrants avoid deportation.
Ross D. Franklin AP

This year we saw a great divide in the nation on the issue of immigration reform.

Much of the concern surrounds the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country — the majority of whom are from Mexico and Latin American countries, and about 10 percent from Asia.

President Obama won office again with 71 percent of the Latino vote. He has called pledge to reform current immigration law.

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1:50pm

Sun December 30, 2012
Around the Nation

A Tough Year For Unions, With Few Bright Spots Ahead

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:55 pm

Despite huge protests at Michigan's state capitol building in Lansing, Republican lawmakers in the state made the union stronghold the 24th right-to-work state in the country.
Rebecca Cook Reuters via Landov

This year was a tough one for organized labor.

In June, Scott Walker — the Wisconsin governor who banned collective bargaining for public employee unions — survived a recall election.

And, despite huge protests in Michigan, the union stronghold became the 24th right-to-work state, banning unions from requiring workers to sign up. That came just 10 months after Indiana passed a similar law.

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12:48pm

Sun December 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Fiscal Cliff Debate: Why The (Very) Few Rule The Many In Congress

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 3:15 pm

In the final hours of the latest budget crisis in Washington, several salient facts are increasingly clear.

First, the leaders of the two parties in the Senate might still put together a negotiated deal that would avert the combination of tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. The leaders would start with President Obama's top priorities, modify them to accommodate Republican preferences, throw in some measures that are GOP priorities and take the package to the floor.

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12:37pm

Sun December 30, 2012
It's All Politics

McConnell Appeals To Biden To Break Through Fiscal Cliff Logjam

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 4:36 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walks to a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats at the Capitol on Sunday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Senate negotiators failed to reach a deal Sunday on averting the "fiscal cliff," with the chamber adjourning for the night and only one day remaining before a package of spending cuts and tax increases automatically kicks in.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will go back in session at 11 a.m. ET Monday. It's at least theoretically possible that negotiators might reach a deal and the Senate will have a package to vote on when it reconvenes Monday, meaning the measure could go to the House — where it may or may not come to the floor for a vote.

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8:23am

Sun December 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama 'Modestly Optimistic' On Cliff Deal; 'He Won,' Says Graham

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 9:48 am

President Obama returned early from his holiday in Hawaii on Thursday for discussions on the "fiscal cliff."
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama went on the air to levy pressure on Congress Sunday as Senate leaders worked to negotiate a deal to avert the tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff."

"I was modestly optimistic yesterday, but we don't yet see an agreement," Obama said in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press taped on Saturday. "Now the pressure's on Congress to produce."

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4:50am

Sun December 30, 2012
Kee Facts: A Few Things You Didn't Know

Close The Year Out With Some Best-Selling Last Words

Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 2:27 pm

iStockphoto.com

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They're your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I'm especially fond of:

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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