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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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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: 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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More than 4,200 rescued in a single day in Sicily

By (PNA/Xinhua) Rome– More than 4,200 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean were brought to Sicily on Monday, Italian authorities said. At least 17 bodies were also recovered and brought to land, three of which were children, according to medical staff in the regional capital of Palermo. Overall, some 4,292 rescued migrants and refugees reached various ports across the Sicilian region, including Palermo, Trapani, Messina, and Pozzallo. These were the latest arrivals of people saved in the last two days, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Another 6,500 people were recovered last week, including at least 14 bodies. On Saturday, some 2,400 migrants were picked up from overcrowded boats during 20 sea operations, according to the coast guard. "Italy is doing its part in this migrant crisis, but of course it cannot do it alone," Italian Foreign …

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Interest in F1 waning in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Formula One could be on its way out of Malaysia after the country’s sports minister said “we should stop hosting” the grand prix and the chief of the Sepang International Circuit inferred the dominance of Mercedes had stripped the sport of its excitement. There is a contract to hold an F1 race at Sepang through 2018 but the prospects of continuing beyond that are diminishing. An early exit could possibly be negotiated as F1’s new ownership seeks to expand its presence in the United States without extending the season schedule. Amid falling ticket sales and television viewership, SIC chief executive Razlan Razali told local media that “maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break” from hosting F1.”The product (F1) is no longer exciting. It’s …

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Egypt exhibits seized antiquities

By  (PNA/Xinhua)  Cairo –  The Egyptian Museum in Cairo exhibited on Monday over 400 archaeological objects local authorities seized before they were smuggled abroad. “The pieces showcased today are a small part of objects retrieved by the ministry over the past 30 years,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany told Xinhua at the exhibition. This is the first exhibition of its kind to show antiquities seized at Egyptian ports by Central Administration for Archaeological Units, which works under the umbrella of the antiquities ministry. Since it was created in 1986, the administration, which has units at the country’s sea, land and air ports, has seized some 50, 000 artifacts.

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60 dead in attack at police academy

Quetta, Pakistan— Heavily-armed Islamist militants wearing suicide vests stormed a Pakistani police academy, killing at least 60 people and wounding dozens more, officials said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest extremist attacks this year. Three gunmen from a Pakistani Taliban-linked group burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters that are home to some 700 recruits, sending terrified young men fleeing. ''I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs,'' one cadet told reporters. ''They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall.'' The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres east of provincial capital Quetta, began at around 11:10 pm Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours. Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Balochistan province, told reporters …

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Obama reads ‘mean’ tweets in Kimmel show

Los Angeles –  President Barack Obama entertained Jimmy Kimmel's audience with some of the mean tweets sent his way, beginning with one sent by Donald Trump in August when he said “President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States.'' Obama's reply: “Really? Well, (at) realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president.'' The president appeared on ABC's “Jimmy Kimmel Live'' during the middle of his three-day visit to Nevada and California, where he is campaigning and raising money for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates.  The segment contained a mix of humor and serious talk about the current election. Kimmel routinely has celebrities read some of the mean tweets sent their way. Another person asked: “Barack Obama, bro do you …

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