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U.S. survey ties biofuels to high food costs, hunger

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Six in 10 Americans believe the use of corn to make ethanol has raised food prices and caused more people to go hungry, the latest evidence of a growing global backlash against alternative "green" fuels.

The Hormel Hunger Survey released on Monday also showed 53 percent of Americans polled believe government subsidies for ethanol production will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but nearly as many -- 47 percent -- oppose the subsidies because they increase food prices.

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Lawyers' group urges death penalty moratorium

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.

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German carmakers blast motorway speed limit idea

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Imposing a standard speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on German motorways would have scant impact on the environment and only hurt domestic carmakers, the country's VDA auto industry group said on Monday.

"Such fixed speed limits would be an ecological zero-sum game and would damage the German auto sector," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement to Reuters.

Germany is unusual in that stretches of its motorways still have no speed limit, and the country's influential car industry has lobbied hard against any national rules.

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Spain to demolish illegal coastal homes: report

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain plans to demolish illegally built homes and hotels along an eighth of its coastline to halt rapid destruction of its Mediterranean and Canary Island beaches, the El Pais newspaper reported on Monday.

The 5-billion-euro ($7-billion) plan aims to reclaim 482 miles of coastline and put an end to illegal urban development that threatens Spain's tourism industry, one of the country's biggest sources of foreign cash, El Pais reported.

The Socialist government will present the plan to regional authorities on Wednesday and promote it as a means to attract wealthy tourists who seek natural beauty rather than concrete resorts, the newspaper said.

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Pollutants Implicated in Births of More Girls Than Boys

A recent study found that residents of Canadian communities who were exposed to emissions from polluting industries such as oil refineries, metal smelters, and pulp mills gave birth to more females than males, a reversal of the normal sex ratio. This is likely due to high levels of common air pollutants called dioxins and is not a surprising finding, according to James Argo, a medical geographer with the IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health, who conducted the study. “There is a very strong association [in the scientific literature] between chronic exposure to dioxins and an inverted sex ratio,” he said. >> Read the Full Article

New study shows smoking increases risk of psoriasis

Another disease can be added to the list of smoking-related disorders -- psoriasis. Researchers have found that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, heavier smoking increases the risk further, and the risk decreases only slowly after quitting. Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, all in Boston, USA, and Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada, have published the results in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. >> Read the Full Article

California Wildfires Destroy Animal Habitats : USFWS

Los Angeles - Wildfires that began last week and continue to burn in southern California have destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation and habitat on Hopper Mountain and San Diego National Wildlife Refuges, forced the temporary closure of the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, and spurred deployment of more than 40 Service firefighters to the region.

As of Wednesday, more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed by wildfires in five southern California counties. Property damage is estimated at $1 Billion in San Diego County alone. All Service employees in the affected areas are accounted for and no employees' homes have been damaged by fire.

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Solar Power for New Moroccan Rail Line.

Aside from walking or bicycling or perhaps traveling by electric car, taking the train is often considered the most energy efficient and low emission way to get around. But, determining exactly how efficient or how emission free is a difficult calculation - many questions need to be answered first. >> Read the Full Article

NASA ponders space station power problem

Two spacewalking astronauts on Sunday found metal shavings inside a huge gear that spins a pair of the International Space Station's solar wing panels, raising concerns about power supplies and the long-term health of the orbital outpost. The inspection of one of the $100 billion space station's two solar panel rotary joints was added to the second of five spacewalks planned during the space shuttle Discovery's ongoing construction and servicing mission to the station.

 

 

 

 

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Croc hunter Irwin believed he'd die young: wife

Quirky crocodile hunter Steve Irwin had a sixth sense that he would die young, his American-born wife Terri said on Monday.

More than a year after the Khaki-clad naturalist died from a stingray's barb that pierced his heart, Terri Irwin told Australian television she had always tried to deflect her 44-year old husband's darker moments.

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