Boy confesses to starting California fire
October 31, 2007 02:41 PM - Reuters
A boy playing with matches has confessed to starting a wildfire that destroyed 63 structures near Los Angeles, officials said on Tuesday. The unidentified youngster, believed to be a preteen, was questioned by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators on October 22, a day after the Buckweed fire started rampaging across 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area, 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
Pension fund urges more climate risk disclosure
October 31, 2007 02:33 PM - Rachelle Younglai, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Calpers, the biggest U.S. pension fund, said on Wednesday it could not assess companies thoroughly unless they detail potential exposure to climate change-related risks and benefits. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers) said it was not enough that some companies include climate risk in sustainability reports or general corporate responsibility reports. "The information that is voluntarily disclosed often lacks the material information required by a reasonable investor to properly assess companies' financial viability," Russell Read, Calpers's chief investment officer, said in prepared testimony for a Senate banking subcommittee hearing.
Pope and Saudi king to hold landmark meeting
October 31, 2007 02:01 PM -
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict will meet Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah next week for talks expected to centre on Christian-Islam relations, the Vatican said on Wednesday. The first talks between a Saudi monarch and a pope will take place on Tuesday. The king, currently in Britain, will be in Italy to meet government officials. The Vatican does not have formal diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and relations have been strained. The Vatican has often called for greater rights for the tiny Christian minority there.
Cemeteries not just for the dead, say architects
October 31, 2007 01:50 PM - Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - Cemeteries should not just be for the dead but could become places of relaxation and exploration, a British architects' lobby group said on Wednesday. CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, said cemeteries were originally intended as public open spaces and, in some towns and cities, cemeteries account for up to half of the green open spaces. "Cemeteries should not be considered solely as resting places for the dead, they should be designed with the living in mind too," said CABE director Sarah Gaventa.
Parrotfish on menu puts coral at risk
October 31, 2007 01:37 PM - Ben Hirschler, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - The delicate balance of the Caribbean's coral reefs is in jeopardy as more parrotfish end up on dinner plates, international scientists said on Wednesday. The colorful grazing fish, named for their parrot-like beaks which are used to scrape up algae, play a vital role in stopping seaweed from smothering coral. But their numbers are now being threatened by over-fishing. New research based on computer modeling shows parrotfish are a key defense in preventing the vulnerable Caribbean reefs from becoming a very different ecosystem -- one dominated not by living coral but by blooms of algae or seaweed.
Google phone could be tough sell to U.S. carriers
October 31, 2007 01:22 PM - Sinead Carew - Analysis
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc, which is used to dominating the Web search advertising business, may find negotiating its way into the cell phone market a tougher task. Dealing with America's largest mobile companies, which keep control of devices and features, could force the Web search leader to make concessions that cut into future revenue from wireless, an area Google has long said would be key to growth. So far no U.S. carrier has confirmed working with Google on a new mobile platform. No. 2 U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless is in active talks about putting Google applications on phones it offers, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Want to Stop Superbugs? Clean up Hospitals: Study
October 31, 2007 01:20 AM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hospitals seeking to keep patients from picking up infections should focus as much on cleaning up invisible germs as on removing the visible dirt, a British doctor argued on Tuesday.
Clean hands can only go so far in protecting patients from infection if doorknobs, bed rails and even sheets are covered with bacteria and viruses, Dr. Stephanie Dancer of South General Hospital in Glasgow writes in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
But other infection experts differed on whether clean equipment and telephones affect a patient's biggest risk of acquiring a "superbug" such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
Moderate earthquake hits Northern California
October 31, 2007 01:16 AM -
OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck in a rural area about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, California, Silicon Valley's biggest city, on Tuesday night, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The earthquake was felt across the San Francisco Bay Area just before 8:05 p.m. (11:05 p.m. EDT). There were no immediate reports of major damage but the San Jose Mercury News Web site reported phone service failed in a part of Palo Alto, home to Hewlett-Packard computer company and Stanford University.
It said the quake caused minor damage and residents poured out of apartments in downtown San Jose to survey the damage.
Solar energy boom may help world's poorest
October 31, 2007 01:06 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - A surge in investment in solar power is bringing down costs of the alternative energy source, but affordability problems still dog hopes for the 1.6 billion people worldwide without electricity.
The sun supplies only a tiny fraction -- less than one tenth of 1 percent -- of mankind's energy needs. But its supporters believe a solar era may be dawning, boosted by western funding to combat oil "addiction" and climate change.
Governments from Japan to Germany and the United States are helping the public wean themselves off fossil fuels.
Tropical Storm Noel drenches Cuba, Bahamas
October 30, 2007 05:12 PM - By Anthony Boadle, reuters
HAVANA (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Noel weakened as it moved across northeastern Cuba on Tuesday and the storm that killed more than a dozen people in the Dominican Republic was not expected to become a hurricane as it neared the Bahamas.
Torrential rains drenched eastern Cuba, where double the average rainfall in October had reservoirs already filled to the brim and authorities worried about flooding. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.
"There's lots of rain but no really strong winds like a hurricane," said Chantal Rivas, owner of a bed and breakfast in the port of Gibara, 470 miles east of Havana.