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April 20 2017


Suspected meningitis epidemic kills 745 in Nigeria

Abuja (AFP) April 19, 2017
A meningitis outbreak in Nigeria has killed 745 people, an increase of more than 50 percent in barely a week, officials said Wednesday, sounding the alarm over the feared epidemic. "We need all hands on deck," said Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the federal government announced the latest toll from the outbreak, which has mostly affected children.

At least 16 killed in Colombia floods: government

Bogota (AFP) April 20, 2017
Flooding and mudslides in central Colombia have killed at least 16 people, government disaster relief authorities said Wednesday, causing alarm in a country still recovering from recent mudslides that killed hundreds. At least seven people are missing after torrential rains lashed the city of Manizales, government officials said, raising fears the death toll could soar as it did earlier this

Haiti to rebuild National Palace toppled in 2010 quake

Port-Au-Prince (AFP) April 19, 2017
President Jovenel Moise launched Wednesday a project to rebuild Haiti's National Palace, a symbol of national pride destroyed by the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people. "My administration wants to offer the young generation the opportunity to make its mark on the country's history and to inscribe in stone its vision of a new Haiti," Moise declared from the tempo

At least 11 killed in Colombia floods: Red Cross

Bogota (AFP) April 19, 2017
Flooding and mudslides in central Colombia have killed at least 11 people, the Red Cross said Wednesday, causing alarm in a country still recovering from recent mudslides that killed hundreds. At least 20 people are missing after torrential rains lashed the city of Manizales, officials said, raising fears the death toll could soar as it did earlier this month in the southern city of Mocoa.

Moisture played a role in megafaunal extinctions

Fairbanks AK (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
A new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution reveals that increased moisture levels may have been a primary cause of death for giant herbivores approximately 10,000 years ago. "The mass extinctions of mega-herbivores across the globe have been an ongoing puzzle for scientists," said professor Matthew Wooller, director of the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility at the Univer

Endangered Galapagos tortoises saved from suspected traffickers

Quito (AFP) April 20, 2017
Nearly three dozen Galapagos tortoises considered vulnerable to extinction will return to Ecuador after being rescued in Peru from alleged traffickers, the Galapagos National Park said Wednesday. Peruvian wildlife authorities found 29 small tortoises - two of them dead - in a cardboard box on a bus on its way from northern Peru to Lima. Officials made the discovery while working to ide

Early dinosaur 'cousin' discovered - and it's not like scientists thought it'd be

Chicago IL (SPX) Apr 17, 2017
If you asked paleontologists what the earliest ancestors of dinosaurs were like, most would put their money on the animals resembling miniature dinosaurs: small, meat-eating animals that walked on two legs. But in a paper published in Nature scientists describe the earliest known dinosaur relative: a six-foot-long lizard-like carnivore called Teleocrater rhadinus. "Teleocrater has unexpect

How polar bears find their prey

Edmonton, Canada (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Alberta have demystified the way that polar bears search for their typical prey of ringed seals. The answer, it turns out, is simple: they follow their nose using the power of wind. Using satellite telemetry data collected from 123 adult polar bears in Canada's Hudson Bay over 11 years, the researchers merged the movements of polar bears with wind patterns

Why don't fish freeze to death in icy water

Sapporo, Japan (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
In the microgravity experiments at the International Space Station (ISS), scientists revealed that supercooled water containing antifreeze glycoproteins accelerates and oscillates its ice crystal growth rate. This seemingly contradictory result may lead to a better understanding of the mysterious antifreeze effect in living organisms. Fish can survive even in subzero environments, such as

A better way to manage phosphorus?

Washington DC (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
All living things - from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals - need phosphorus. But extra phosphorus in the wrong place can harm the environment. For example, when too much phosphorus enters a lake or stream, it can lead to excessive weed growth and algal blooms. Low-oxygen dead zones can form. Runoff from agricultural sites can be an important source of phosphorus pollution. To help

New membranes can remove viruses from drinking water

Sede Boqer, Israel (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed novel ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the virus-removal process from treated municipal wastewater used for drinking in water-scarce cities. Current membrane filtration methods require intensive energy to adequately remove pathogenic viruses

Busy harvest time in China's bamboo forests

Linan, China (AFP) April 20, 2017
It's springtime in the bamboo-forested hills surrounding eastern China's Lin'an city, and that means busy mornings of harvesting, packing and selling tonnes of the edible bamboo shoots that the region is famous for. Lin'an is in an area of eastern Zhejiang province whose rich forests are estimated to supply up to two-thirds of China's bamboo shoots, plus a range of other products derived fro

Sri Lanka ends search for garbage survivors as toll hits 32

Colombo (AFP) April 19, 2017
Sri Lanka on Wednesday ended the grim search for survivors five days after a huge garbage mountain collapsed onto a slum, killing 32 people and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Another 11 people were injured when the 300-foot (90-metre) dump partially collapsed on Friday as Sri Lankans celebrated their traditional new year. "We are still carrying out clearing operations,"

Croatian rivers face hydroelectric peril

Karlovac, Croatia (AFP) April 19, 2017
Swans glide peacefully over green river waters in the central Croatian area of Karlovac, a tranquil spot popular with fishermen and swimmers that environmentalists fear could be devastated by hydropower projects. Croatia faces a dilemma as it produces no more than 75 percent of the electricity it needs for its 4.3 million people each year, half of which comes from its dense network of rivers

Neuroscientists measure 'higher' state of consciousness

Washington (UPI) Apr 19, 2017
Psychedelics may trigger a "higher" level of consciousness. Neuroscientists at the University of Sussex recorded an increase in neural signal diversity in the brains of people using psychedelic drugs. Previous studies have documented the increase in neural signal diversity levels in "aware and awake" brains, as compared to levels in sleeping brains - confirming the index as usef
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