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UN says natural disasters have cost $2.5 trillion since 2000

he cost of natural disasters has hit $2.5 trillion so far this century, far higher than previously estimated, a UN report said Wednesday, urging companies to face up to the risks. The study by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said the figure, representing only direct losses,…

Russian climber Alex Bolotov dies on Mount Everest

A 50-year-old Russian climber died Wednesday attempting to scale Mount Everest in this season’s fourth death on the world’s highest peak, a government official said. Alex Bolotov was found dead on Wednesday morning at Khumbu Icefall at 5,600 metres (18,372 feet), the official told AFP by telephone from Everest base…

Delhi gang-rape defendant vomiting blood and in critical condition after jail attack

A defendant on trial over a fatal gang-rape in New Delhi last December is critically ill after being attacked in prison, his lawyer said Wednesday, weeks after the main accused died in the same jail. Vinay Sharma was rushed to the state-run Lok Nayak Hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday…

‘Wigged CIA spy’ Ryan C. Fogle was reportedly seeking information on Boston bombings

Russia and the United States on Wednesday sought to limit the damage to already troubled ties from a new spy scandal that erupted when Moscow caught a blonde-wigged alleged CIA agent who was reportedly seeking information on the Boston bombings. The suspected agent, who Moscow says was caught with a…

Hydropower projects depend on rainforest conservation: study

Large hydropower projects are the bedrock of clean energy production, by virtue of their sheer size and reliance upon natural rainfall. However, new research recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a necessary part of increasing the electricity…  …

Studies show that online brain games can rehab ‘chemo brain’

Did you know that playing video games is not only good for you, but that they can make you a better person? No, this is not a plug for Steven Johnson’s 2005 book “Everything Bad is Good For You,” although if you haven’t read it, you should. There’s ample…  …

China’s central bank ‘looking into’ Bloomberg News scandal

China’s central bank, which manages the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, is looking into a growing scandal over the access journalists at Bloomberg News had to potentially sensitive data, reports said Wednesday. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is the latest major financial organisation to examine the controversy involving the…

Hong Kong cries fowl as giant rubber duck deflates

The giant inflatable rubber duck which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it sailed into Hong Kong two weeks ago was reduced to a sad deflated disc on Wednesday in the city’s harbour. Duck mania has gripped Hong Kong since its arrival, with locals and tourists flocking to…

North Korea has ‘no nuclear warhead’ to fit on a missile: U.S. official

North Korea has yet to develop a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile, a senior US official said on Wednesday, contradicting a recent US military intelligence report. The North claimed its third atomic test staged in February involved a “miniaturised and lighter” warhead, prompting speculation that it…

U.S. ambassador asked to explain presence of alleged undercover CIA agent working in Russia

US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Wednesday met officials at the foreign ministry after being summoned to explain the presence of an alleged CIA agent working undercover at the embassy who was detained this week. Russia on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of the alleged US agent, identified as Ryan…

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