• AIDS vaccines experts confused and dismayed

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AIDS vaccine researchers are worried about the future of their field after learning an experimental HIV vaccine not only does not work, but just might make recipients more susceptible to infection with the AIDS virus.

    They are worried about their volunteers and the future of AIDS vaccines in general. And they are worried because they cannot understand how a vaccine would make a person more vulnerable.

    Researchers from Merck & Co. (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which makes the vaccine, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is helping develop it, said on Wednesday they believe a type of common cold virus used as the basis of the vaccine may somehow have made their volunteers more susceptible to HIV.

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  • U.N.'s Ban says global warming is "an emergency"

    EDUARDO FREI BASE, Antarctica (Reuters) - With prehistoric Antarctic ice sheets melting beneath his feet, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for urgent political action to tackle global warming.

    The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed faster than anywhere else on Earth in the last 50 years, making the continent a fitting destination for Ban, who has made climate change a priority since he took office earlier this year.

    "I need a political answer. This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action," he said during a visit to three scientific bases on the barren continent, where temperatures are their highest in about 1,800 years.

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  • Dieting hardest for emotional eaters: study

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - Emotional eaters -- people who eat when they are lonely or blue -- tend to lose the least amount of weight and have the hardest time keeping it off, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

    They said the study may explain why so many people who lose weight gain it all back. "We found that the more people report eating in response to thoughts and feelings, the less weight they lost," Heather Niemeier, an obesity researcher at The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said in a statement.

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  • Merck agrees to pay $4.85 billion in Vioxx settlement

    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.

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  • Tobacco deaths to reach 10 mln a year by 2030: group

    CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Tobacco-related deaths are expected to double to 10 million a year by 2030, with most fatalities in developing countries, a senior World Lung Foundation (WLF) official said on Friday.

    Judith Longstaff Mackay, the organization's global tobacco control program coordinator, said while cigarette markets were getting smaller in advanced economies, the opposite was true for developing states, where the number of smokers and the volume each consumes is growing.

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  • Climate change endangers Alaska's coastal villages

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - At risk from surging storm waves and floods, Alaska's coastal villagers are dealing with the immediate consequences of climate change -- threats to their health, safety and even their ancestors' graves.

    The rapid erosion of the state's coastline is blamed on the scarcity of sea ice and thawing of permafrost. Without solid ice to shield the land, and without hard-frozen conditions to keep it held fast, encroaching waves and floods easily carve large chunks from shorelines or riverbanks.

    "People are dying and getting injured as a result of trying to engage in traditional activities in much-changing conditions," said Deborah Williams, a former Interior Department official who heads an Alaska organization focused on climate change.

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  • Grooming goes green

    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.

     

     

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  • U.S. smoking rate stalled at 21 percent, CDC says

    Nearly 21 percent of Americans smoke, a number that has been stalled since 2004, federal researchers reported on Thursday in a study they said means governments must spend more to persuade people to kick the habit.

    More than 45 million Americans smoked in 2006, or 20.8 percent of the population, 80 percent of them daily smokers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

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  • San Francisco oil spill larger than thought

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Many beaches in the San Francisco area remained closed on Thursday as officials tried to clean up 58,000 gallons of fuel that spilled into the West Coast city's famous bay the day before.

    "This is a major spill," said Wil Bruhns, a division chief at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. "It certainly has the potential to cause damage to birds, fish and other wildlife."

    The Cosco Busan struck a tower of the Bay Bridge on Wednesday morning in dense fog, creating a long slash along the ship that allowed bunker fuel to spill into the water.

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  • FBI warns of possible shopping mall attacks

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI report warned al Qaeda may be planning to strike shopping malls in Chicago and Los Angeles during the Christmas season, but a bureau official said on Thursday there was no information it was a credible threat.

    ABC News first disclosed portions of the report that was based on intelligence received by the FBI in late September. The report said al Qaeda hoped to disrupt the U.S. economy and had been planning the attack for the past two years.

     

     

     

     

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