Sci/tech

Merck agrees to pay $4.85 billion in Vioxx settlement
November 9, 2007 12:49 PM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merck & Co has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle claims that its painkiller Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes in thousands of users, the drugmaker said on Friday.

The agreement covers lawsuits filed against the company in U.S. courts, resolving a major legal battle that has dogged the drugmaker since it pulled Vioxx off the market three years ago.

Merck recalled the popular painkiller, which had $2.5 billion in annual sales, in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking it for more than 18 months.

Politics of ethanol is to make more, Iowans agree
November 9, 2007 12:21 PM - By Andrew Stern

MUSCATINE, Iowa (Reuters) - For Iowans, ethanol is a home-grown success story few presidential candidates would dare sully in their search for votes as the harvest season ends and campaigns ramp up in earnest.

In stump speeches and position papers, Democratic and Republican hopefuls vying for Iowa's January 3 first-in-the-nation caucuses pay regular homage to the biofuels industry.

The industry has created tens of thousands of jobs in Iowa -- and more than 150,000 across the United States -- and is credited with lifting the prices paid to farmers for their crops, and even eased the pain at the gas pump.

UN climate panel to meet, add pressure for action
November 9, 2007 11:47 AM - By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - About 130 governments meet in Spain next week to agree a stark guide to the mounting risks of climate change that the United Nations says will leave no option but tougher action to fix the problem.

The U.N. climate panel, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will meet in Valencia from November 12-17 to condense 3,000 pages of already published science into a 20-page summary for policy makers.

 

 

 

 

Grooming goes green
November 9, 2007 10:51 AM - By Terri Coles

TORONTO (Reuters) -- Who ever thought that putting on your face in the morning might be dangerous. On the heels of massive recalls of lead-laced toys, a cosmetics safety campaign has found the offensive metal in several popular brands of lipstick. France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom all have standards in place for organic cosmetic products, though some are industry standards and not government regulations.

 

 

Cosmic rays believed to start in black holes
November 9, 2007 08:42 AM -

Ultra-high energy cosmic rays -- particles that pack the punch of a rifle shot -- make their way to Earth from massive black holes in nearby galaxies, scientists said on Thursday, in a finding that may solve a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades.

This sub-atomic matter, they believe, likely breaks free just before stars, gas and dust are gobbled up by the gravitational pull of black holes so dense that not even light can escape.

Rediscovering a Forgotten Landscape And Protecting A Rare Primate
November 8, 2007 05:22 PM - Kerry Bowman, PhD

Congo, Africa  - Using state-of-the-art geospacial technology, scientists are mapping one of the last uncharted wilderness regions on the planet, with an eye to protecting the ecosystem that supports the Bonobo chimpanzee, one of our closest evolutionary relatives ane scores of other animals.

Located in the remote south east Democratic Republic of Congo, the 56,000-square-kilometre tract of forest remains little known to outsiders. The biological importance of the region—called Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba, or TL2 — has been hinted at for more than four decades. But today inventories are being conducted within forest sectors, focusing on areas of interest to monitor the presence of the endangered bonobo chimpanzee, as well as a rich variety of monkey species, okapi, Congo peacock, large ungulates, elephants and much more.

 

 

 

 

Fuel Cells Gearing Up to Power Auto Industry
November 8, 2007 08:56 AM - , Green Progress

The average price for all types of gasoline is holding steady around $2_95 per gallon nationwide, but the pain at the pump might be short-lived as research from the University of Houston may eliminate one of the biggest hurdles to the wide-scale production of fuel cell-powered vehicles.

Australian Scientists Decode Whale Sounds
November 8, 2007 08:48 AM - Reuters

SYDNEY  - Australian scientists studying humpback whales sounds say they have begun to decode the whale's mysterious communication system, identifying male pick-up lines and motherly warnings.  Wops, thwops, grumbles and squeaks are part of the extensive whale repertoire recorded by scientists from the University of Queensland working on the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC) project.

Safety agency issues new batch of toy recalls
November 7, 2007 10:13 PM - By Karey Wutkowski, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More recalls of lead-tainted toys made in China were announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, including 380,000 toy cars sold at Dollar General stores.

Other warnings included smaller recalls of Dizzy Ducks music boxes, Winnie-the-Pooh spinning tops, "Big Red" wagons, Dragster and Funny Car toys, and Duck Family collectible wind-up toys, all because of paint with unsafe levels of lead.

Millions of similar toy recalls, most involving Chinese-made products, have alarmed American consumers in recent months. Lead is toxic and can pose serious health risks to children, including brain damage.

Exceptions prove rule of tropical importance in biodiversity
November 7, 2007 09:13 PM -

Even a group of shellfish that appear to violate the overarching pattern of global biodiversity actually follows the same biological rules as other marine organisms, confirming a general theory for the spread of life on Earth. The University of Chicago’s David Jablonski and his colleagues present this finding in the Nov. 7 advanced online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“There’s more of everything in the tropics. More genetic diversity, more diversity in form, more diversity of species,” said David Jablonski, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences at Chicago.

 

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