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As with blood, several types of human gut

PARIS — The human digestive tract, host to an ecosystem teaming with trillions of living bacteria, comes in three variations as distinct as blood groups, according to a study released Wednesday. These so-called “enterotypes” are found in populations worldwide and exist independent of race, country of origin, diet, age or…

Attractive men have long ring fingers: study

PARIS — The longer a man’s fourth or ring finger is compared to his index finger, the more likely he is to be judged attractive by women, according to a study released Wednesday. The results, published in the British Royal Society’s journal Biological Sciences, unveil intricate links between foetal exposure…

Obama blames speculators for rising U.S. fuel prices

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday blamed speculators for driving gasoline prices higher and straining American consumers, saying there was enough oil in world markets to meet demand. Speaking at a community college in suburban Virginia, Obama said increasing production of U.S. oil and creating a market for fuel-efficient cars would…

NASA sets April 29 launch for Endeavour shuttle

WASHINGTON — The US space agency on Tuesday confirmed plans to launch the shuttle Endeavour on its final mission to the International Space Station on April 29. NASA’s confirmation came following a flight readiness review meeting at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 14-day mission, known as STS-134, will include…

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…

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