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Antarctic glacier thinning more rapidly than thought: study

A large glacier in West Antarctica lost up to half a kilometer in thickness in seven years, thinning more quickly than scientists thought possible, according to a study released Tuesday. The Smith Glacier, spilling into the Amundsen Sea, shed up to 70 meters (230 feet) per year between 2002 and 2009, according to the study, based on NASA data collected during aerial flyovers. "If I had been using data from only one instrument, I wouldn't have believed what I was looking at because the thinning was so large," said lead author Ala Khazendar, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ice-penetrating radar and laser altimetry both yielded the same results, he reported in Nature Communications. After 2009, Smith continued to shed mass, though at a slightly slower pace, Khazendar told AFP. Earlier studies using less …

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Autism study shows lasting benefits of early interaction

  A year-long training program to help parents communicate with their very young autistic children reduced symptoms of the disorder up to six years later, according to a follow-up analysis released Wednesday. Children were less impaired in their ability to communicate, and less likely to show repetitive behavior, one of the telltale signs of the disorder. They did not, however, show improvements in language skills or reduced anxiety, researchers reported in The Lancet, a leading medical journal. Autism is a complex disorder of brain development characterized, to varying degrees, by troubled social interactions, difficulty in communicating and repetitive actions or speech. It affects about one in 100 people. The findings -- praised by outside experts as a "remarkably positive" and a "major contribution" to autism research -- came as something of a surprise because the …

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Kerry: US, Vietnam committed to rule of law in South China Sea

WASHINGTON  — Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. and Vietnam share a commitment to rule of law in the disputed South China Sea. Kerry was speaking ahead of talks Tuesday with a top figure in Vietnam's ruling communist party, Executive Secretary Dinh The Huynh (din tay hwin). Vietnam is among governments claiming territory in the South China Sea, where China's assertive behavior and land reclamation has stirred tension. The meeting comes five months after President Barack Obama visited Vietnam and lifted restrictions on arms sales to the former U.S. enemy. It also takes place as longstanding U.S. ally in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, is strengthening its ties with China. Kerry said he and Huynh will also discuss human rights — still a sore point in U.S.-Vietnam relations.

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Former WWII comfort women ask Duterte to raise their plight with Japan’s Abe

By Xinhua MANILA -- Filipino "comfort women" urged President Rodrigo Duterte to raise their plight in his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "At least mention the comfort women," said Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, an organization of World War II comfort women. She lamented that the previous Philippine administrations have ignored the plight of the Filipino women who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II in talks with Japanese government. "Our previous leaders have failed us because they are all afraid of rumpling feathers of diplomacy with Japan. With President Duterte, who we believe is no pushover, we are hopeful that finally the issue will be placed in the agenda, at the very least," she said in a statement. Extremadura said Duterte, who is pursuing an …

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Ombudsman gets P7-M UK aid to continue anti-graft drive

The British government has extended anew its financial aid to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) to support the latter's anti-corruption drive to help spur the economic and social development of the country. British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) extending the assistance of Great Britain in the training OMB prosecutors in the gathering of evidence and prosecution of grafters in the government service. For this year, Ahmad said some P6.7 million in grant has been set aside for the OMB in a program dubbed as "Cultivating Accountability Toward National Growth and Empowerment Project." The British envoy said the project has been going on since 2011 and renewed every year to promote the rule of law and democracy, adding "no one is …

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Spinal muscles in astronauts shrink after months in space — study

WASHINGTON -- Astronauts on long space missions experience a weakening of the muscles supporting the spine, and they don't return to normal even after several weeks back on Earth, US researchers said Tuesday. The study, funded by the US space agency NASA and published in the research journal Spine, provided new insights into the elevated rates of back pain and spinal disc disease associated with prolonged spaceflight. Back pain is common during prolonged missions, with more than half of crew members reporting spinal pain. Astronauts are also at increased risk of spinal disc herniation in the months after returning from spaceflight -- about four times higher than in matched controls. Back issues in astronauts are accompanied by a roughly five-centimeter increase in body height, thought to result from spinal unloading and other body …

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Vatican tells Catholics not to scatter ashes of the dead

The Vatican on Tuesday urged Catholics not to scatter the ashes of the dead after cremation and instead to store them in places approved by the Church. The new guidelines published by the Church also say that the ashes of the dead should not be kept at home but should instead be kept at a cemetery or other sacred place. Doing so reduces "the risk of shielding the dead from prayers for them and the memory of their family and the Christian community", German cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the prefect of the doctrinal watchdog, told journalists. "We also avoid eventually forgetting (them) and the lack of respect which can happen, especially after the passing of the first generation," he said. "Conserving ashes in a home is not authorised," Mueller said. The Vatican first gave permission …

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Vatican: No more scattering of cremation ashes

The Vatican on Tuesday, October 25, published guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated, saying their remains cannot be scattered, divvied up or kept at home but rather stored in a sacred, church-approved place. The new instructions were released just in time for Halloween and “All Souls Day” on November 2, when the faithful are supposed to pray for and remember the dead. For most of its 2,000-year history, the Catholic Church only permitted burial, arguing that it best expressed the Christian hope in resurrection. But in 1963, the Vatican explicitly allowed cremation as long as it didn’t suggest a denial of faith about resurrection. The new document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a “brutal destruction” of the …

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Poll shows young Americans across racial lines going for Clinton

Washington, DC, United States – Young Americans across races and ethnicities are now more likely to support Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump for president, and to say the former secretary of state will help people like them, a new GenForward poll shows. Clinton’s largest advantage is among young African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, but the survey also shows a shift to her among young whites in the last month. GenForward is a survey of adults age 18 to 30 by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll is designed to pay special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation. The poll also shows that young people …

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Briones rejects donations sourced from gambling

 No to PAGCOR funds. This was the sentiment expressed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, declaring that money sourced from gambling is “anti-developmental.” Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) will no longer be accepting donations sourced from gambling and related activities to fund programs for public schools. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is among the biggest donors of DepEd– particularly in funding classroom construction for public schools nationwide. “I have always been against gambling as a source of funding for development, Briones, a public finance expert, said. She justified her position by declaring that while “you tell your people to be thrifty, to plan and to budget but you’re also telling them to take a chance.” Under her term, Briones said DepEd will no longer be accepting donations  from the state-run agency but will …

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