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Chevron ordered on appeal to pay Ecuador $9.51 billion for environmental damage

An Ecuadoran court upheld a ruling that US oil giant Chevron was liable for environmental damage in its Amazon basin region by sister company Texaco, but ordered it to pay a reduced $9.51 billion. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a 2012 ruling against Texaco, which operated in the South…

WWII veteran nursed to health in Philippines returns the gesture 70 years later

As a merchant mariner in the Philippines near the end of World War II, Edward Sorock suffered a serious leg injury when a boom collapsed aboard the S.S. Frederick Bouchard, the Liberty ship he served on carrying ammunition to U.S. troops…  …

Abandoned puppy rescued from Indian trash dump becomes ‘first dog’ to tackle Mount Everest

An abandoned puppy rescued from a rubbish dump in India has trekked to Everest Base Camp, becoming what is believed to be the first dog to tackle the peak, his owner said Wednesday. Former professional golfer Joanne Lefson told AFP she adopted the 11-month-old dog, called Rupee, in the mountainous…

American ballerina accuses Russia’s Bolshoi in ‘cash for solos’ scam

Russia’s legendary Bolshoi ballet was embroiled in a new scandal Wednesday after an American ballerina accused the theatre of demanding $10,000 to allow her to dance solos. Texan Joy Womack, 19, a young dancer hired last year after graduating from Bolshoi’s dancing school, said in an interview with the Izvestia…

Big cats’ oldest ancestor Panthera blytheae discovered in Tibetan Himalayas

The fossil skull of the Panthera blytheae, the precursor to all modern lions, tigers and leopards was found in the Himalayas Scientists have found in the Tibetan Himalayas the fossil skull of the oldest known big cat, the precursor to all modern lions, tigers and leopards, pushing back the fossil…

‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ says UN must stop development of weapons that engage targets without human intervention

An international coalition of disarmament and human rights groups has said that UN-sponsored talks in Geneva this week must seize the opportunity to ban the development of fully autonomous weapons, dubbed “killer robots”. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said that such weapons, once activated, would select and engage targets…

Afghanistan’s poppy farmers plant record-breaking opium crop in 2013

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2013 as farmers seek to “insure” themselves ahead of NATO forces’ withdrawal next year, the United Nations said Wednesday. The area under cultivation rose by 36 percent in 2013, the UN drugs agency UNODC said in its annual report on…

Francis Bacon painting sold for a record $142.4 million

A work by British painter Francis Bacon was sold for $142.4 million in New York, smashing the world record for the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned. “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by the 20th century figurative artist, who lived from 1909 to 1992, was sold by Christie’s on…

Aussie PM Abbott vows to repeal tax on industrial polluters

Australia’s new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott Wednesday moved to abolish a carbon tax designed to combat climate change as his first major economic reform since taking office. Abbott said the September 7 election which he won decisively had been a referendum on the future of the tax which was…

Researchers: Cooler climate helped penguins’ march through evolution

Penguins waddled into the book of life around 20 million years ago and diversified thanks to global cooling which opened up Antarctica for habitation, a study said on Wednesday. Scientists led by Sankar Subramanian of Griffith University in Australia sequenced telltale signatures of DNA from the genome of 11 penguin…

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