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.
Too many Halloween treats prompt health warnings
October 29, 2007 11:27 PM - Reuters
TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - While adults may relish the gore of Halloween, most children enjoy the night for another reason -- the vast amount of candy they receive which is prompting warnings to parents.
With concern growing about rising childhood obesity rates, medical experts advised parents to limit how much candy they allow their children to eat.
"I don't think the indiscretion of a single day or a couple of days around Halloween would have any measurable impact on that child's health," said Dr Michael Kramer, a child health and development expert at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Brain scans of obese show hunger hormone at work
October 29, 2007 11:19 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Giving the body's natural appetite suppressant to morbidly obese volunteers de-activated their brain's response to tasty food -- and the new brain activity lasted for as long as the hormone was delivered, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.
They said their imaging tests show some of the brain circuits activated by leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite, and may lead to new and better treatments for obesity, the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"While they were off leptin they got really hungry when they saw pictures of high-calorie food, and that was associated with high activation in a part of the brain that is related to food craving," said Edythe London of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study.
GE says smart panel to cut power bills
October 29, 2007 11:06 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co said it is developing a control panel that should allow homeowners to trim rising utility bills by helping manage power and water consumption.
The "eco-dashboard" will be available in December in new home developments in southern and western U.S. states, areas where power and water supplies are particularly stressed, Juan de Bedout, a renewable energy specialist at GE's global research center in Niskayuna, New York said late last week.
New York may join crackdown on plastic bags
October 29, 2007 10:57 PM - Edith Honan, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City may follow an international trend and crack down on plastic shopping bags, seeking to cut their use with a plan officials hope will be a model for other cities.
A proposal introduced on Monday requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to set up an in-store recycling program and sell reusable bags.
Some 700 food stores plus large retailers such as Target and Home Depot would have to collect used bags and provide a system for turning them over to a manufacturer or to third-party recycling firms.
Weight-loss scams top form of fraud: FTC
October 29, 2007 10:50 PM -
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Weight-loss scams, foreign lottery offers and buyers clubs were the top ways that scam artists separated 30 million Americans from their money in one year, a U.S. agency said on Monday.
Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to fall victim to scam artists than whites, the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement discussing its most recent survey on fraud. Twenty percent of blacks and 18 percent of Hispanics reported being defrauded, compared to 12 percent of whites.
Overall, 13.5 percent of U.S. adults fell victim to fraud, the FTC said.
Double-digit California home price drop seen
October 29, 2007 10:23 PM - Peter Henderson, Reuters
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California faces a double-digit fall in housing prices over the next year and a half, a major builder, a lender and the state treasurer said on Monday in a discussion of how long the subprime mortgage crisis would drag on the Golden State.
As attendees at a conference voted on how bad they thought the housing market could get in the most populous U.S. state, panelists Jeffrey Mezger, chief executive of home builder KB Home; Angelo Mozilo, CEO of lender Countrywide Financial; and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer discussed the question in comments picked up by a microphone and audible in the audience.
U.S. consumer group flags more toys with lead
October 29, 2007 07:23 PM -
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dishes, toys, jewelry and backpacks that have not yet been recalled all carry "worrisome" levels of lead, the nonprofit Consumers Union said on Monday.
The group's Consumer Reports magazine staff recommended that people immediately stop using some of the products tested.
"Our lab tests detected lead at widely varying levels in samples of dishware, jewelry, glue stick caps, vinyl backpacks, children's ceramic tea sets and other toys and items not on any federal recall list," the group wrote in a magazine report.
Lawyers' group urges death penalty moratorium
October 29, 2007 11:34 AM - James Vicini, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Bar Association said on Monday it was renewing its call for a nationwide moratorium on executions, based on a three-year study of death penalty systems in eight states that found unfairness and other flaws.
The lawyers' group said its study identified key problems, such as major racial disparities, incompetent defense services for poor defendants and irregular clemency review processes, making those death penalty systems operate unfairly.
The American Bar Association in 2001 launched its Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project as the next step toward a nationwide moratorium on executions. The study was part of that project.