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Study: Coral reefs decimated by Chinese economic boom

China’s economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, according to a joint Australian study, with researchers describing “grim” levels of damage and loss. Scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South…

Nicaraguan farmers stay put as volcano continues to rumble

Some 1,500 farmers living on the slopes of the San Cristobal volcano refused to leave, despite being ordered to evacuate as the volcano spewed gas, sand and ash. “People have not evacuated because we do not want to go and leave the area abandoned,” Maria Pereira told AFP. Pereira lives…

Massive finback whale beached in New York City

A massive whale, some 60 feet (18 meters) long, beached itself on Wednesday morning in New York City, where, despite rescue efforts, it seemed to have little chance of survival. Experts said the ailing whale was a finback, the second biggest animal species in the world after blue whales, and…

U.N. pulls staff out of Central African Republic as rebels attack

The United Nations on Wednesday ordered more than 200 non-essential staff and families of other workers to leave Central African Republic because of a rebel offensive against the government. Rebel coalition troops have stopped short of the capital, but UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said “their contradictory messages and their continued…

Toyota reaches $1.1 billion deal with US owners over recalls

Toyota has agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit launched by US vehicle owners affected by a series of mass recalls, the Japanese automaker said Wednesday. The deal will cover the cost of installing a free brake override system in millions of vehicles affected by…

Pakistan prepares to mark five years since PM Bhutto’s murder

Pakistan Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, with her son expected to launch his political career with a speech in the family’s ancestral home town. Bhutto, twice elected prime minister, was killed in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally…

Unusually harsh winter hits Morocco’s mountain region

In a country on the doorstep of western Europe and popular for sunshine holidays, an unusually bitter winter has hit isolated mountain villages, causing hardship not usually associated with Morocco. On an icy morning in December, Salem Said trudges with his son along a snow-swept road to the only school…

Oil prices jump ahead of renewed ‘fiscal cliff’ talks

Oil prices jumped Wednesday as President Barack Obama headed back to Washington for a last-ditch attempt to secure a “fiscal cliff” deal with Republicans ahead of a year-end deadline. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery, gained $2.37 to settle at $90.98 a barrel, its highest…

Massive winter storm leaves 7 dead as it heads to northeast

A massive winter storm system that whipped up tornadoes, ice and snow from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes on Christmas Day, killing at least seven people, headed for the northeastern US Wednesday. The storm snarled holiday travel as 1,500 flights were cancelled and people were warned to…

Netflix blames Christmas Eve outage that affected 27 million users on Amazon

Netflix on Wednesday was blaming Amazon for an embarrassing outage that left millions of people unable to snuggle up with the online film streaming service on Christmas Eve. More than 27 million Netflix members in the Americas may have been unable to access shows or films online due to a…

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