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With cool fanfare, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday that a whopper, 3.3-inch hailstone fell July 16 in Vermont — deemed an official state record and adding, perhaps, another wrinkle to the global warming argument.

The hailstone conveniently fell in the backyard of one Chuck McGill, a NOAA meteorologist, who whisked it to the office for measurement and photographs. But now what? The hailstone sat for weeks in the NOAA freezer. Is it a has-been?

Not to worry. NOAA’s got it covered.

“Chuck’s taken it home again and put it in his own freezer,” chief meteorologist Andy Nash tells Beltway. “These things can just sublimate to nothing. You know, evaporate. Chuck’s determined to keep that hailstone alive.”

LOCKED AND LOADED

The Second Amendment Foundation has accused MSNBC of “demonizing” gunowners, says Alan Gottlieb, the Bellevue, Wash.-based group’s founder. The segment shows a figure toting an AR-15 rifle outside the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where President Obama spoke earlier this week.

“There are Second Amendment rights, for sure, but also there are questions about whether this has a racial overtone. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waist,” anchor Contessa Brewer says in the report.

“What MSNBC purposely did not reveal with the deliberately doctored video is that the man carrying that sport-utility rifle was an African-American,” says Mr. Gottlieb. “Yet all they showed in a brief film clip was a close-up of the rifle against the man’s neatly-pressed dress shirt. It was impossible to tell the man’s race. This is a detestable attempt to manipulate public sentiment.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 30 percent of Americans overall say health care reform will create “death panels.”

• 47 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Fox News viewers agree.

• 20 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of MSNBC viewers agree.

• 28 percent of Americans overall say the press is not critical enough of President Obama.

• 52 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism survey of 1,003 adults conducted Aug. 14-17.

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