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With fires waning, California assesses the damage

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four burned bodies found in the path of California's fierce wildfires raised the death toll to at least 12 people, even as firefighters won the upper hand and officials turned on Friday toward assessing the damage.

Though more than 20 fires raged across Southern California into a sixth day, some 8,000 firefighters had brought most of them under control and no more homes were in imminent danger.

Some lost everything to the flames but most of the 500,000 people forced to flee in California's largest evacuation were expected to be back in their homes by the weekend.

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World Series Goes Solar

The 103rd World Series is here, the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies both swinging at a shot to become the next world champs. So what does this have to do with green business? >> Read the Full Article

A Carbon Neutral Olympic Torch?

Officials for the 2012 Olympics made an eyebrow raising announcement today when they declared the London Olympic flame will be carbon neutral. Previous games have used high-carbon fuels such as paraffin to fuel the torch so that the flame was more visible. Organizers plan to abandon this, and French company EDF, a major London 2012 sponsor, is assisting the games organizers in finding a low-carbon fuel for the torch. >> Read the Full Article

Oil hits new record above $92

Oil rallied to a fresh record high above $92 a barrel on Friday as the dollar tumbled to a record low, Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran and gunmen shut more oil production in Nigeria.

Oil's bullish momentum has pulled in increasing amounts of speculative investment and waves of technical buying have been triggered as U.S. oil pierced successive lines of resistance.

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More Cars or More Transportation Alternatives: What Will the World Choose?

As Tata Motors, one of Asia’s leading automakers, prepares to tap into India’s middle-class market by releasing the “world’s cheapest car” in 2008, other countries with a long history of car dependence are grappling with ways to limit the social, health, and environmental costs of motorized transport. One alternative is so-called bus rapid transit (BRT), which operates like rail transport but offers more flexibility in routes. The systems are gaining popularity in cities in the automobile-loving United States as well as in rapidly developing nations in Asia and Latin America. >> Read the Full Article

Monkeys, apes teeter on brink of extinction: report

Mankind's closest relatives are teetering on the brink of their first extinctions in more than a century, hunted by humans for food and medicine and squeezed from forest homes, a report on endangered primates said on Friday.

There are just a few dozen of the most threatened gibbons and langurs left, and one colobus may already have gone the way of the dodo, warned the report on the 25 most vulnerable primates.

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Canada sets largest freshwater conservation area

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The largest freshwater marine protected area in the world is being set up off the northern shores of Lake Superior, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Thursday.

The national marine conservation area will encompass more than 10,000 sq. km (3,900 sq. miles) of Lake Superior, the biggest of the Great Lakes, including lake bed, islands and north shorelands.

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Toyota to Halve Hybrid Price, Size for Next Prius

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will slash the price and size of its hybrid system by around half for the next-generation Prius model, and use a nickel-metal hydride battery instead of lithium-ion, a top executive said.

"When we went from the first-generation Prius to the second-generation, we did the same thing," Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto, in charge of Toyota's research and development, told reporters in Tokyo.

Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, has not publicly disclosed a timeframe for the introduction of the third-generation Prius model. Some media reports have speculated the planned late-2008 launch would be delayed because of concerns over the safety of lithium-ion batteries.

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Sarkozy promises a green revolution for France

PARIS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy promised a green revolution on Thursday, unveiling a mix of tax measures and investment pledges that he said would put France in the vanguard of the war against global warming.

"France isn't late but France wants now to be in the lead," he said in a speech wrapping up a special environmental policy conference seeking ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help change attitudes to the environment.

The congress was one of the highest profile green initiatives ever launched in France and fulfilled an election campaign promise by Sarkozy, who has said his government will emphasize sustainable development.

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U.N. says world in dire straits

LONDON (Reuters) - Two decades after a landmark report sounded alarm bells about the state of the planet and called for urgent action to change direction, the world is still in dire straits, a U.N. agency said on Thursday.

While the U.N. Environment Program's fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) says action has been successfully taken in some regions and on some problems, the overall picture is one of sloth and neglect.

"The global trends on climate, on ozone, on indeed ecosystem degradation, fisheries, in the oceans, water supplies ... are still pointing downwards," UNEP head Achim Steiner said in a short film accompanying the report's release.

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