Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.  (More)

Energy Dept. Launches Rare Earths Center To Avoid Shortage

The U.S. Department of Energy is hoping to secure the future supply of the rare earth elements that are critical to making the nation’s most popular pieces of technology, from hybrid cars to smartphones, tablets and computers.

Rick Scott Under Fire For Inflating Cost Of Health Law’s Medicaid Expansion

Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott has rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. And now he’s in hot water for apparently inflating the cost of the expansion to Floridians in order to justify his decision.

Feeling Miserable? You’re Not Alone, And The Flu Epidemic Has Yet To Peak

If you haven’t caught the flu yet or don’t know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You’re one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, “from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms.” More than 40 states report “widespread” outbreaks. The flu’s been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

After 50 Years, Cuba Drops Unpopular Travel Restriction

For the first time in five decades, Cubans will no longer need an “exit permit” to travel. The change, which takes effect Monday, is part of a broader immigration reform by President Raul Castro making it easier for Cubans to go abroad — and also to return.

France will respond to Mali rebel advance, Hollande warns

France is prepared to intervene in Mali as fighting continues between army forces and Islamist rebels who are battling for control over the north of the country.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be investigated by US authorities

Boeing‘s troubled 787 Dreamliner is to face a full review of its design and manufacture by the US government after two more safety glitches were reported – making five incidents in five days for the model that promised to revolutionise flying.

Stranded killer whales break free from Hudson Bay ice

A dozen killer whalestrapped and facing near-certain death in the frozen expanse of Canada’s Hudson Bay, broke free on Thursday morning, to the vast relief of locals and many thousands monitoring their plight online.

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