VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
AMERICANS ARE BECOMING WEATHER WIMPS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- We've become weather wimps.
As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped much of the nation this week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. An Associated Press analysis of the daily national winter temperature shows that cold extremes have happened about once every four years since 1900.
When computer models estimated that the national average daily temperature for the Lower 48 states dropped to 17.9 degrees on Monday, it was the first deep freeze of that magnitude in 17 years, according to Greg Carbin, warning meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That is by far the longest the U.S. has gone without the national average plunging below 18 degrees, according to a database of daytime winter temperatures spanning from Jan. 13, 1997 to Monday.
In the past 115 years, there have been 58 days when the national average temperature dropped below 18. Carbin said those occurrences often happen in periods that last several days so it makes more sense to talk about cold outbreaks instead of cold days, and there have been 27 distinct cold snaps.
Between 1970 and 1989, a dozen such events occurred, but there were only two in the 1990s and then none until Monday.
DOCTORS SAY CUTTING FOOD STAMPS COULD BACKFIRE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills. Maybe not immediately, they say, but over time if the poor wind up in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result.
Among the health risks of hunger are spiked rates of diabetes and developmental problems for young children down the road.
The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans.
Food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago. Conservatives say the program spiraled out of control as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable. They say the neediest people will not go hungry.
The health and financial risks of hunger have not played a major role in the debate. But the medical community says cutting food aid could backfire through higher Medicaid and Medicare costs.
IBM'S WATSON GETS ITS OWN BUSINESS
NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the most famous "Jeopardy!" champs of all time is moving to Manhattan.
No, it's not Ken Jennings.
IBM announced Thursday that it's investing more than $1 billion to give its Watson cloud computing system its own business division and a new home in New York City.
The Armonk, N.Y.-based computing company said the new business unit will be dedicated to the development and commercialization of the project that first gained fame by defeating a pair of "Jeopardy!" champions, including 74-time winner Jennings, in 2011.
In the years since Watson's TV appearance, IBM has been developing the computing system for more practical purposes and changed it to a cloud-based service. While still in the development phase, Watson's massive analytical capabilities are currently being used in industries ranging from health care to banking.
IBM is building a new headquarters for the business on the edge of New York City's East Village near New York University and other technology companies. In addition to its marketing and engineering capabilities, the new headquarters also will provide a place for IBM to collaborate with clients and startup companies that are building apps for Watson. IBM will invest about $100 million in various startup companies working on Watson projects.
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