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Surfers or seals all the same prey to near-blind sharks



White, tiger and bull sharks are the usual suspects for the majority of attacks on humans

Sharks suffer such poor vision that they are unable to distinguish people surfing or swimming from animal prey like seals and walruses, according to a study published Wednesday. 

But a new study published by the Royal Society’s Interface review found that the sharks barely pick up colour and have a very poor ability to distinguish shapes.

Originally published as Surfers or seals all the same prey to near-blind sharks




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DNA confirms man is Sitting Bull’s great-grandson



Ernie LaPointe, pictured, believes that Sitting Bull’sones currently lie at a site in Mobridge, South Dakota, in a place that has no significant connection to Sitting Bull and the culture he represented

A man’s claim to be the great-grandson of Sitting Bull has been confirmed using DNA taken from the Native American leader’s scalp lock — billed as the first time genetic evidence has corroborated a family relationship between a historic figure and a living descendant.

The same methods can now be deployed for investigating other historical figures, from outlaw Jesse James to the Russian tsar’s family, if old DNA is available.

Originally published as DNA confirms man is Sitting Bull’s great-grandson




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Latest climate plans worlds away from 1.5C target: UN



The UN’s Environment Programme says national plans to cut carbon pollution amount to ‘weak promises, not yet delivered’

Countries’ latest climate plans will deliver just a tiny percentage of the emissions cuts needed to limit global heating to 1.5C, the United Nations said on Tuesday in a damning assessment ahead of the COP26 climate summit.

In its annual Emissions Gap assessment, UNEP calculates the gulf between the emissions set to be released by countries and the level needed to limit temperature rises to 1.5C — the most ambitious Paris Agreement goal.

Originally published as Latest climate plans worlds away from 1.5C target: UN




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Rescued from extinction, bison rediscover Romania mountains



Their reappearance in Romania has brought back a key component of the region’s ecosystem

Hoof prints in the mud, tree bark nibbled away: even if the newest residents of Romania’s Carpathian mountain forest shy away from visitors, their traces are there for those who know where to look.

“Birds collect discarded bits of fur to isolate their nests while frogs can use bison hoof prints to jump from one pond to another,” says Miculescu. mr/anb/jsk/jv

Originally published as Rescued from extinction, bison rediscover Romania mountains




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Greenhouse gas levels reach new record high: UN



Atmospheric concentrations of the major greenhouse gases, carbon dixoide, methane and nitrous oxide, are at record levels

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record levels last year, the United Nations said Monday in a stark warning ahead of the COP26 summit about worsening global warming.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

Originally published as Greenhouse gas levels reach new record high: UN




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Burning cargo ship spews toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast



In this photo taken by Gerald Graham and received by AFP on October 24, 2021, smoke is seen rising from the side of the container ship Zim Kingston off Canada’s Pacific coast

The Canadian coast guard has evacuated 16 people from a burning container ship that is expelling toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast, but there is “no safety risk” to those on shore, authorities said Sunday.

“The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas,” the Canadian coast guard said in a navigational warning on its website.

Originally published as Burning cargo ship spews toxic gas off Canada’s Pacific coast




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Peru surpasses 200,000 Covid deaths: officials



In this file photo taken on October 19, 2021, a health professional assists a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in northern Peru

Peru, which has the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate per capita, has surpassed 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the health ministry said on Friday.

The ministry announced 25 new deaths over the previous 24 hours, taking the South American country over the symbolic threshold with 200.003 deaths since the pandemic started in March 2020.

With 6,065 deaths per million population, Peru’s Covid mortality rate is the highest in the world, according to an AFP count based on official data.

“We’re maintaining a high level of control,” health minister Hernando Cevallos said recently.

The fall in infections has allowed the government to relax some healthcare measures and reactivate parts of the economy.

Peru’s number of deaths is only surpassed in Latin America by Brazil and Mexico, although those countries’ populations are almost seven and four times greater respectively.

“We need to get vaccinated so there is no more sadness in homes and no more orphans,” Mirtha Garcia Espinoza, a 39-year-old mother of two widowed by the pandemic, told AFP.

Last week that was down to 169, according to official figures.

The government hopes to vaccinate 70 percent of its population over 12 by the end of the year.

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Originally published as Peru surpasses 200,000 Covid deaths: officials




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US targeting Feb. 2022 to launch new lunar program Artemis



NASA achieved a major milestone when it stacked the Orion crew capsule atop its Space Launch System megarocket

NASA is aiming to launch its uncrewed lunar mission Artemis 1 in February next year, the space agency said Friday, the first step in America’s plan to return humans to the Moon.

The agency had initially hoped to launch the test flight by the end of this year, with astronauts set to walk on the Moon by 2024.

After further tests, it will be wheeled out to the launchpad for a “wet dress rehearsal” in January, with the first window for launch opening in February, officials told reporters on a call.

These potential launch periods are dependent on orbital mechanics and the relative position of the Earth with respect to the Moon. The mission duration is expected to be four to six weeks.

Artemis 2 is then scheduled for 2023 and Artemis 3 for the following year, when humans will walk on the Moon for the first time since 1972. Both missions are now likely to be pushed back, however.

The space agency is seeking to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon as well as use the lessons it learns to plan a crewed trip to Mars in the 2030s.

Orion first flew into space in 2014, launched by a Delta IV rocket, making two circumnavigations of Earth and testing its heat shield on re-entry into the atmosphere. 

Artemis 1 has several objectives: to demonstrate Orion’s ability to return from the Moon and operate in deep space where it is “much colder than in low Earth orbit,” and to successfully recover the spacecraft, he added.

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Originally published as US targeting Feb. 2022 to launch new lunar program Artemis




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