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Republicans slammed for ‘assault’ on environment

WASHINGTON — A leading voice in America’s environmental movement slammed Republicans for their “assault” on the country’s public lands and water. Bruce Babbitt, who served as interior secretary from 1993 to 2001 under then president Bill Clinton, on Wednesday also chastised President Barack Obama for failing to “take up the…

Greenpeace accuses Barbie of being a forest vandal

JAKARTA (AFP) – Greenpeace on Wednesday accused Mattel, the US maker of Barbie dolls, of contributing to the wanton destruction of carbon-rich Indonesian forests and habitats of endangered species like Sumatran tigers. The environmental group said packaging used in Barbie and Ken boxes contained timber products from Asia Pulp and…

Iran to triple capacity to enrich 20% uranium

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran plans to triple its capacity to purify uranium later this year when it transfers the work from the central city of Natanz to the Fordo site, the country’s nuclear chief said on Wednesday. The announcement brought immediate condemnation from France which termed Iran’s plans a “provocation”,…

Chile volcano ash carpets roads, rivers, runways

ENTRE LAGOS, Chile (AFP) – A vast cloud of ash spewing from a Chilean volcano disrupted air travel Wednesday across much of South America, as heavy rains around the eruption site prompted fears of mudslides. Air traffic was sharply curtailed on the continent as the ash cloud drifted over Argentina,…

Japan’s next gizmo: brainwave-controlled cat ears

TOKYO (AFP) – A team of Japanese inventors have come with a new device that blends the country’s fascination with cuteness and its penchant for experimental high-tech — brainwave-controlled cat ears. The fluffy headwear reads users’ brain activity, meaning the ears perk up when they concentrate and then flop down…

Divided OPEC begins critical oil output meeting

VIENNA (AFP) – OPEC began a tense output meeting here on Wednesday amid uncertainty over the outcome, with clear divisions over whether the cartel should boost production to help revive flagging growth. The grouping of 12 member nations pumping 40 percent of global oil supplies, faces a crucial decision on…

Progress too slow on saving tropical forests: report

PARIS — All but seven percent of the world’s tropical forests are “managed poorly or not at all” despite efforts to boost sustainability, according to a major report released Tuesday. Forces driving forest destruction across four continents — including rising food and fuel prices, and growing demand for timber —…

NASA: Huge solar flare may disrupt power and communications

WASHINGTON — An unusual solar flare observed by a NASA space observatory on Tuesday could cause some disruptions to satellite communications and power on Earth over the next day or so, officials said. The potent blast from the Sun unleashed a firestorm of radiation on a level not witnessed since…

Food prices to stay high into 2012: UN agency

ROME (AFP) – Food prices are to remain high and volatile into 2012, presenting a “threat” to poor countries that will have to spend up to a third more on food imports this year, the UN food agency said on Tuesday. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said its…

U.N. study: $40 billion annual investment needed for global carbon reduction

NAIROBI (AFP) – Investing $40 billion annually in the forest sector is needed for the world to transition into a low carbon, resource-efficient green economy, according to a UN report released here Sunday. The additional investment “could halve deforestation rates by 2030, increase rates of tree planting by around 140…

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