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U.S. astronauts somber as shuttle era comes to an end

The Atlantis roars back to Earth this week ending America’s vaunted space shuttle program and frustrating a generation of astronauts who see their chance to soar into the cosmos sharply limited. US astronauts bound for space will now have to hitch a ride on the Russian Soyuz rocket, at more…

Community of rare gibbons found in Vietnam

The lively morning calls of a rare species of gibbon has led to the discovery of the only known “viable” community of the talkative primates in remote Vietnamese forests, conservationists said Monday. A “substantial” population of 455 critically endangered northern white-cheeked crested gibbons were found living at high altitudes and…

China plans carbon-trading pilot scheme

China will introduce a pilot scheme for carbon emissions trading and gradually develop a national market as the world’s largest polluter seeks to reduce emissions and save energy, state media said. China will promote the market’s development through “punitive” electricity tariffs on power-intensive industries and other new policies, Xie Zhenhua,…

Japan scare grows over radiation-tainted beef

A scare over radiation-tainted beef in Japan spread on Monday as more cows from seven farms in the Fukushima region were found to have been trucked across the country after eating contaminated straw. The 411 cattle, from the same prefecture as the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, were sent to…

New Mexico ‘spaceport’ in the works

No stranger to offbeat space-related news, businesspeople in New Mexico have plans to make the country’s first “spaceport,” an airport for privately owned spacecraft, NPR reported. Under the authority of the newly created New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Spaceport America, plans for the new space are set for a site…

NASA spacecraft to enter orbit of large asteroid

WASHINGTON — After its nearly four-year trek, NASA engineers are expected to confirm this weekend that the US spacecraft Dawn has entered the orbit of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system. Mission leaders estimate that Dawn was pulled into Vesta’s orbit around 0500 GMT Saturday and…

Indian company produces flat-pack, $700 houses

The Indian company that launched the world’s cheapest car has unveiled its latest product for the fast-growing nation: a flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week. The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a…

Teen girls’ brains hit hard by binge-drinking: study

WASHINGTON — Binge-drinking can have a long-lasting negative effect on the brains of teenaged girls, hitting them harder than it does young boys, a study released Friday shows. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Stanford University found that girls who binge-drink — defined as having four…

Horn of Africa drought ‘set to worsen’: UN

The plight of millions of drought-stricken people across the Horn of Africa is set to worsen, with rains expected only later in the year and harvests months away, a top UN official warned Saturday. Scanty or failed rainfall in the region over the past two years has already forced thousands…

Deadly horse virus spreads in Australia

An Australian veterinary surgery was placed under lockdown on Saturday following two fresh outbreaks of the Hendra virus that can be fatal if contracted by humans. Two horses were put down after showing signs of the bat-borne virus in separate cases in Brisbane and in Hervey Bay, 300 kilometres (186…

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