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Rival Koreas agree to form first unified Olympic team
17 January 2018 - The rival Koreas agreed Wednesday (17 January) to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade together for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremony of next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, officials said. The agreements still require approval from the International Olympic Committee. But they are the most prominent steps toward rapprochement achieved by the Koreas since they recently began exploring cooperation during the Olympics following a year of heightened tension over the North's nuclear weapons program. (more)

French startup launches hydrogen-powered bicyles
17 January 2018 - A French start-up has become the first company to start factory production of hydrogen-powered bicycles for use in corporate or municipal fleets. Pragma Industries, which is based in Biarritz, France and makes fuel cells for military use, has sold some 60 hydrogen-powered bikes to French municipalities including Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery, and Bayonne. (more)

London's January air quality 'best in 10 years'
17 January 2018 - London's air quality is within legal limits in mid-January for the first time in 10 years, City Hall has said. Mayor Sadiq Khan attributes the cleaner air in part to the introduction of Low Emission Bus Zones and the T-Charge for dirtier cars in central London. (more)

UK: Most new cars must be electric by 2030, ministers told
17 January 2018 - Three-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 to meet greenhouse gas targets, ministers have been warned. Homes also need to be built to a higher standard, the Committee on Climate Change -- the official watchdog -- says. The government says the UK is cutting emissions faster than any other G7 nation -- and the committee agrees there has been a big shift under [Prime Minister] Theresa May. (more)

US: Hidden cameras help scientists study elusive wildlife
17 January 2018 - Some charismatic critters caught by motion-detecting wildlife cameras seem to know how to strike a pose. But it's not just show business. As these devices get ever smaller, cheaper, and more reliable, scientists across the U.S. are using them to document elusive creatures like never before. 'There's no doubt -- it is an incredible tool to acquire data on wildlife,' said Grant Harris, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (more)

Hubble scores unique close-up view of distant galaxy
16 January 2018 - The Hubble telescope has bagged an unprecedented close-up view of one of the Universe's oldest known galaxies. Astronomers were lucky when the orbiting observatory captured the image of a galaxy that existed just 500 million years after the Big Bang. The image was stretched and amplified by the natural phenomenon of gravitational lensing, unlocking unprecedented detail. (more)

Singing 'speeds up' recovery from post-natal depression
16 January 2018 - Singing could help mothers recover from post-natal depression more quickly, a study suggests. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 134 mothers with post-natal depression. Early recovery is seen to be crucial to limit effects on mother and baby. Previous studies have indicated singing can help improve the mental health of older people and those with dementia, but this is the first controlled study of its effect on post-natal depression. (more)

Singapore: NUS researchers pioneer water-based, eco-friendly and energy-saving air-conditioner
15 January 2018 - All-weather friendly cooling technology works without mechanical compressors or chemical refrigerants, and generates drinking water. A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has pioneered a new water-based air-conditioning system that cools air to as low as 18 degrees Celsius without the use of energy-intensive compressors and environmentally harmful chemical refrigerants. This game-changing technology could potentially replace the century-old air-cooling principle that is still being used in our modern-day air-conditioners. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the novel system is portable and it can also be customised for all types of weather conditions. (more)

Six nations that consistently rank highest
15 January 2018 - From Canada to Botswana, these six nations consistently rank highest for their progressive social policies, trust in government, and effective justice system. What makes a country well-run? Whether minimizing corruption or spearheading educational and medical initiatives, governments around the world use different policies to facilitate a high-functioning society. To quantify the effectiveness of these policies, indexes like the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index, the World Bank's Governance Index, and the Social Progress Index survey residents, compile publicly available statistics and rank countries based on their performance across different categories. While each index varies in their precise ranking, certain patterns emerge across all three . . . (more)

Ancient statues looted in Lebanese war returned decades later
12 January 2018 - A marble bull's head made 2,400 years ago for a Phoenician temple and looted during Lebanon's civil war arrived in Beirut on Friday (12 January) after American officials found it in the United States and sent it home. Located on the east coast of the Mediterranean, Lebanon was an important part of the classical world, home to the Phoenician civilization ... (more)

US: Michigan State University effort to help low-income science students
12 January 2018 - Michigan State University says it's rolling out scholarships over the next several years for low-income students who studied natural science at community colleges. The East Lansing school says it aims to boost the quantity and quality of such students studying science, technology, engineering, and math, and completing four-year degrees. Program officials say it is 'essential' to broaden participation in the STEM fields and diversify the workforce. Money for the scholarships comes from a $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation. (more)

Solar steam powers homes - and new jobs - in South Africa
11 January 2018 - South Africa may still get most of its energy from coal, but in the country's sunny Northern Cape province, a different electricity source is taking hold: solar steam. A Spanish renewable energy company has opened three thermal solar plants -- which use the sun's heat to turn water into steam -- in the province. The steam is then used to drive turbines to produce electricity -- enough to provide electrical power to just short of a million people, or almost the province's entire population, according its operators. (more)

British Prime Minister Theresa May proposes plastic-free supermarket aisles in green strategy
11 January 2018 - Theresa May has announced a war on plastic waste, with proposed policies including plastics-free aisles in supermarkets and a tax on takeaway containers. The Prime Minister set out her ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years in a speech on Thursday (11 January) in which she promised the UK would lead internationally on environmental issues. (more)

Time with grandparents may impact how kids view the elderly
11 January 2018 - Children and teens who spend a lot of time with their grandparents may be less likely than peers who don't to have negative and stereotypical ideas about the elderly, a recent study suggests. Researchers in Belgium asked 1,151 youth ranging in age from 7 to 16 years about the time they spent with grandparents as well as their opinions about aging and the elderly. Growing evidence also suggests that contact between grandchildren and grandparents can be good for both, said Dominic Abrams, a psychology researcher at the University of Kent, in the UK. 'More time that is enjoyable and positive really makes the biggest difference. I think there are several ways that this works,' Abrams, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. (more)

North Korea to join Olympics in South Korea as tensions ease
9 January 2018 - The rival Koreas took steps toward reducing their bitter animosity during rare talks Tuesday, as North Korea agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea and reopen a military hotline. (more)

A small uptick in inter-Korean ties follows a tense year
9 January 2018 - What a difference a year makes. North and South Korea sat down to talk Tuesday (9 January) after a year of mounting tensions ... The seemingly intractable differences suddenly eased over the past week -- though just a tad -- in a series of developments that followed a suggestion by North Korea's leader that he might send a delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. A look at the buildup and easing of tensions: (more)

Clean energy sources manage to cut electricity bill in Chile
9 January 2018 - A 75 per cent drop in electricity rates, thanks to a quadrupled clean generation capacity, is one of the legacies to be left in Chile by the administration of Michelle Bachelet, who steps down in March. The Atacama desert in northern Chile has the highest solar radiation on the planet, one of the country's advantages when it comes to developing solar energy. (more)

Plastic microbeads ban enters force in UK
9 January 2018 - Plastic microbeads can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect on Tuesday. The ban initially bars the manufacture of such products and a ban on sales will follow in July. Pressure is now mounting for action on plastic bottles. (more)

AP Explains: What to expect from North-South Korean talks
8 January 2018 - North Korea's recent abrupt push to improve ties with South Korea wasn't totally unexpected, as the country has a history of launching provocations and then pursuing dialogue with rivals Seoul and Washington in an attempt to win concessions. Still, Tuesday's planned talks between the Koreas, the first in about two years, have raised hopes of at least a temporary easing of tensions over North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests, which have ignited fears of a possible war. A look at how the Korean talks were arranged and what to expect from them: (more)

Apple investors urge action to curb child gadget addiction
8 January 2018 - Two major Apple investors have urged the iPhone maker to take action to curb growing smartphone addiction among children, highlighting growing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters. New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, or CalSTRS, said Monday [8 January] in open letter to Apple that the company must offer more choices and tools to help children fight addiction to its devices. 'Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,' the letter said. (more)

Regulations proposed to end use of asbestos in Canada
8 January 2018 - Activists in Sarnia, a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, deserve much of the credit for the federal government's long-awaited move to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada, says a veteran workplace health researcher. 'This is something so long overdue, it's not funny,' researcher Jim Brophy said about proposed regulations Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and other federal cabinet ministers announced recently to meet the government's promise to enact a ban by 2018. (more)

Northern Forest: Plan to plant 'ribbon of woodland' across England
7 January 2018 - Plans to create a new Northern Forest stretching from Liverpool to Hull have been kick-started by the government. It is providing 5.7m [British Pounds] to increase tree cover along a belt spanning Manchester, Leeds, and Bradford. ...The emphasis of the project will be to increase tree cover around major conurbations to 20 per cent. There will also be a focus on river valleys, where there are benefits for flood prevention and soil loss -- as well as wildlife. (more)

US: More women entering dairy industry in Wisconsin
6 January 2018 - America's dairy land is undergoing a bit of a revolution ... Increasingly, the folks caring for the cows, monitoring their health, and managing the herd are women, according to agriculture educators in west-central Wisconsin. The animal science management program at Chippewa Valley Technical College has seen female applicants climb from a minority four years ago to about three-quarters of the total for 2018-19, program director Adam Zwiefelhofer told the Leader-Telegram. The male-female ratio also has changed noticeably over the last few years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where women this year account for 91 percent of the 650 students in animal science, the largest program in the university's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Science, said Dale Gallenberg, dean of the college. (more)

AP Photos: World celebrates Epiphany - 12th night of Christmas, 'Day of the Magi'
6 January 2018 - Parades with camels, kings, and crowns. Presents for homeless children and admonishments to live a better life. All this took place Saturday as Christians around the world celebrated the holiday of Epiphany, the 12th night of Christmas, which recalls the three kings, or magi, who reportedly followed a star to find the baby Jesus. (more)

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