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China birth defects soar due to pollution: report

Birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40 percent since 2001, a government report said, and officials linked the rise to China's worsening environmental degradation.

The rate of defects had risen from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001, to 145.5 in 2006, affecting nearly one in 10 families, China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said in a report on its Web site (www.chinapop.gov.cn).

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California fire victims find long path to recovery

Sifting through the ash-covered rubble where her family's home stood one week ago, Nicole Booth combs the scorched remains of a life left behind in the wildfires that blanketed this Southern California town.

The blaze consumed the family home leaving only the concrete foundation to support the half-chewed appliances and melted metal frames. The trees and grass that once surrounded the home are now gone, replaced by barren brown fields.

 

 

 

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Asians seek out the sun despite cancer threats

HONG KONG (Reuters) - It's autumn in Hong Kong but the island's beaches are still crowded with sun worshippers desperate to catch the last rays of sunshine before winter.

"I love the bronze color," says sunbather Richard Tong.

A growing trend in East Asia to soak up the sun either on beaches or in tanning salons is worrying dermatologists in the region who say they are seeing a rise in skin cancer, which is caused by cumulative over-exposure to the sun.

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Edwards unveils plan to control drug advertising

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Sunday unveiled a plan to put controls on drug advertising, which he said were misleading patients and driving up health care costs.

The former North Carolina senator, who has attacked lobbyists and championed the concerns of the poor in his campaign, proposes delays on consumer advertising of new drugs and tougher Food and Drug Administration oversight over drug marketing.

"The excessive costs of prescription drugs are straining family budgets and contributing to runaway health care costs," Edwards said at the start of a seven-day campaign tour of the early-voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

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Australian country life riven by drought, isolation

CARAGABAL, Australia (Reuters) - In drought-hit lands of eastern Australia, the population of Caragabal is just 38, every shop is closed, water is trucked in, and a synthetic lawn at a bowling club is the last hope of survival for a dying town.

The town dam, which can store two years' supply, dried up years ago with the return of drought. As crops die for hundreds of miles around, the town's fate also seems doomed.

Last remaining locals have started to speak of the patch of plastic bowling green in reverential tones.

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Mortgage woes propel Calif. foreclosures to record

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mortgage lenders launched more than 70,000 foreclosure proceedings in California in the third quarter, marking a record for the state, where many housing markets are slumping amid mortgage market turmoil, according to a report released on Friday.

Mortgage lenders filed 72,571 notices of default against delinquent borrowers from July through September, up 34.5 percent from the prior quarter and 166.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the report by DataQuick Information Systems, a La Jolla, California-based real estate information service.

California's third-quarter default level topped the state's previous peak of 61,541 in the first quarter of 1996, reflecting a surge in mortgage borrowers failing to keep up with loan payments.

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Californians return to fire-scarred homes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Thousands of Californians forced from their neighborhoods by this week's wind-whipped wildfires returned home on Friday, some of them finding their property unscathed amid the destruction and others discovering nothing but blackened rubble.

In San Diego County, where an estimated 500,000 people fled the smoke and flames in the largest mass evacuation in modern California history, lines of cars streamed back into fire-scarred mountain communities that had been left ghost towns.

Traffic was jammed for miles as weary residents made their way one at a time past police checkpoints. In some neighborhoods the hop-scotching fires left a single home standing while burning everything else to the ground.

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Indonesia monitors 3 active volcanoes; raises alerts

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three volcanoes in Indonesia, including the one known as the "Child of Krakatau," are now under close watch following heightened activity, a senior volcano official said on Saturday.

Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised the alert on Mount Anak Krakatau to the second-highest level on Friday after it threw up showers of ash.

The volcano, which lies in the Sunda strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, is about 130 km west of the capital Jakarta. It gradually formed after the famous Krakatau volcano blew up in a massive eruption in 1883, triggering tsunamis and killing thousands of people.

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U.S. Air Force Turns to Alternative Fuel, Slashing CO2

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's most powerful air force is seeking to wean itself from foreign oil and nearly zero out its carbon dioxide output as part of a sweeping alternative energy drive, a senior Pentagon official said on Friday.

By early 2011, the U.S. Air Force aims to make sure its entire fleet of bombers, fighters, transports and other aircraft can use a domestically produced 50-50 blend of synthetic and petroleum-based fuel.

William Anderson, an assistant Air Force secretary, said the goal was to reduce energy demand, look for cleaner power sources and to reuse captured carbon commercially, for instance to enhance the growth of biofuels or improve oil well production.

"We can get ourselves very close to a zero carbon footprint," said Anderson ahead of talks on the issue with counterparts in Britain and France next month.

"Not today. Not tomorrow. But maybe a decade or so down the road," he told a briefing at the State Department's Foreign Press Center.

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Green Savings are in the Bag

GUILDFORD, England, October 26/PRNewswire/ -- An innovative new range of reusable supermarket shopping bags has been launched to help shoppers reduce their consumption of disposable plastic carrier bags, estimated to be 220 per year for every shopper. The launch comes as London considers a tax or even a complete ban on disposable plastic bags in the capital.

Geccobags.co.uk argue that small lifestyle changes by large numbers of people can have a major impact in reducing waste and the creation of carbon, the main cause of global warming. The Geccobag, which holds the equivalent of three plastic carrier bags, opens out to clip inside a supermarket trolley. This, say the makers, not only cuts the average shopper's consumption of plastic carrier bags, but also reduces customer checkout time by up to 20%, making for a less stressful shopping experience. "The majority of plastic carrier bags go straight to landfill. Although these make up only a small percentage of total plastic waste, tackling the issue will help raise people's awareness of wider issues surrounding our unsustainable 'throw away' society", says Geccobags managing director Georgina Tuson-Little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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