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NASA’s Kepler suggests 17 billion Earth-sized planets in Milky Way

The Milky Way contains at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth, and likely many more, according to a study that raises the chances of discovering a sister planet to ours. Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft found that about 17 percent of stars in our galaxy have a planet…

Boeing Dreamliner catches fire in Boston

A smoky fire broke out aboard an empty Japan Airlines 787 Dreamliner in Boston, officials said, in the latest trouble to hit the fuel-efficient Boeing passenger aircraft. The plane was being readied at a gate for a noon departure after arriving at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts from Tokyo at…

Fire breaks out at Australian nuclear facility

A fire broke out at a nuclear research reactor in Sydney, but authorities said the blaze was brought under control and there appeared to be no damage to the reactors. The fire broke out as the city sweltered through a heatwave which has triggered dozens of bushfires, but the Australian…

Aurora shooting suspect ‘was out of it’ after arrest, police officer tells court

The man accused of shooting dead 12 people inside a Colorado cinema was relaxed but “out of it” in the moments after the massacre, a court has heard . James Holmes, who is alleged to have sprayed the audience of a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with bullets,…

Environmentalists urge Obama to block Keystone XL and act on climate change

More than 70 environmental groups called on Barack Obama to take the lead on climate change on Monday, urging him to shut down ageing power plants and block a controversial tar sands pipeline project. In an open letter (PDF), environmental groups reminded Obama of his promise to act on climate…

Brennan: A counterterrorism expert set to lead CIA

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the CIA, is a 25-year agency veteran who has passionately defended the US campaign of unmanned drone attacks against Al-Qaeda militants. Brennan, who has spent the last four years devising counterterrorism strategy in Obama’s White House, is an Arabic-speaking Middle East expert…

Tunisia frees suspect in Benghazi attack on U.S. consulate

A court in Tunis on Monday ordered the release of Ali Hamzi, a Tunisian suspected of involvement in the deadly attack on the US consulate in Libya last September, his lawyer Abdelbasset Ben Mbarek said. The ruling came after Hamzi, 26, was interrogated by four FBI agents and a translator…

Clinton returns to applause and a football helmet

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a standing ovation from her staff and an American football helmet to protect her from Washington’s hard knocks as she returned to work after a health scare. A month to the day since she was last seen on official duties when she flew back…

Pentagon nominee Chuck Hagel vows ‘total support’ for Israel

Chuck Hagel, bracing for a bruising Senate confirmation as the next US defense secretary, pledged Monday “total support” for Israel after lawmakers criticized his views on the Middle East. There is “not one shred of evidence that I’m anti-Israeli, not one vote (of mine) that matters that hurt Israel,” the…

William Shatner and George Takei chat with International Space Station crew

Fact and fiction blurred this week when a real-life astronaut boldly went where no man has gone before and conversed from orbit via Twitter with the crew of television’s “Star Trek: Enterprise.” It started with a message from actor William Shatner, who starred as Captain Kirk in the cult sci-fi…

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