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With an eye to Japan, world pledges cash for Chernobyl

KIEV (Reuters) – The world community, spurred by the nuclear crisis in Japan, on Tuesday pledged 550 million euros ($780 million) extra cash to help build a new containment shell at the site of the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Ukraine had hoped for 740 million euros from world governments and international organizations at a conference…

Pregnant mothers’ diet linked to child obesity: study

WELLINGTON (AFP) – An expectant mother’s diet during pregnancy can alter her baby’s DNA in the womb, increasing its risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in later life, an international study has found. Researchers said the study provided the first scientific evidence linking pregnant women’s diet to childhood obesity,…

Japan eyes sales tax rise to pay for post-quake rebuild

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese consumers may have to help foot the reconstruction bill after last month’s earthquake and tsunami caused $300 billion of damage, further burdening the hugely indebted economy, a newspaper said on Tuesday. It would be the first increase since 1997, though a sales tax hike had been…

NASA awards $270 million in spaceship contracts

WASHINGTON — NASA on Monday announced it has awarded nearly 270 million dollars to four companies, including Boeing and SpaceX, to help their pursuit of making a spacecraft to replace the US space shuttle. The Houston, Texas-based aviation giant Boeing received the biggest contract — $92.3 million — as part…

Cursing makes you feel better when hurt: study

Ever hear someone scolded for their curse-laden language when they hurt themselves? Those finger-waggers who say cursing doesn’t help now should bite their tongues, then perhaps cuss to make it better. Researchers at Keele University released findings showing that letting loose a string of expletives actually has the effect of…

Unicorn-like animal protected in Vietnam reserve

HANOI (AFP) – The establishment of a nature reserve in Vietnam has brought new hope for the survival of a mysterious twin-horned creature “on the brink of extinction”, conservation group WWF said. Authorities in the central Quang Nam province agreed last week to set up the reserve dedicated to the…

Robots to gauge radiation in Japan’s quake-hit plant

TOKYO (AFP) – The operator of Japan’s stricken nuclear plant said Sunday it will send two remote-controlled robots into a reactor building damaged by a hydrogen explosion to gauge radiation and temperature levels. Emergency workers battling to stabilise the plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems…

Israel becomes CERN nuclear group member

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s cabinet on Sunday announced it had approved the country’s membership in the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, becoming the research group’s first non-European delegation. “Israel is joining an exclusive club, which provides unusual visibility, exposure, prestige and international status,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in announcing…

25 years on, Chernobyl fallout still an eco-hazard

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine (AFP) – Fallout from Chernobyl remains a poorly-investigated hazard for the environment a quarter of a century after the disaster, say experts. According to anecdotal evidence, animals such as beavers, deer, wild horses, hawks and eagles have returned in abundance to Chernobyl’s 30-kilometre (18-mile) exclusion zone since humans…

‘Royal star’ was a supernova, astronomers say

LONDON (AFP) – One of the abiding legends of Britain’s royal family is that a noon-day star appeared at the birth in 1630 of King Charles II, who was to restore the English monarchy after the execution of his father. “The Most Glorious Star… shining most brightly in a Miraculous…

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