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Plenum set to decide Zhou Yongkang’s fate but don’t expect details

<!– google_ad_section_start –> As the Communist Party elite converge on Beijing tomorrow to discuss rule of law, few specifics are likely to emerge of the case of former law and order chief Zhou Yongkang. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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UN chief: 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day

He told the U.N. observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty that at least 700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010

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UN’s anti-Ebola trust fund massively short of its US$1 billion goal

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The UN trust fund for Ebola has barely US$100,000 in cash – just 0.01 per cent of what the world body says it needs to fight the worst outbreak on record – reports said on Friday. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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China sends Ebola drug to Africa, eyes clinical trials

Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd has sent an experimental Ebola drug to Africa for use by Chinese aid workers and is planning clinical trials there

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German student shot by police in Mexican state of Guerrero

The incident took place in Guerrero, the same state where authorities suspect police in league with gang members abducted and massacred a group of trainee teachers

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CDC calls for U.S. hospitals to ready Ebola protocols

Health-care staff must be diligent with protection, CDC director says, after Dallas-area nurse infected after contact with patient

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‘Voiceprints’ increasingly replace passwords as new security standard

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Ebola the most severe health emergency in modern world: WHO

The World Health Organization says economic disruptions caused by the outbreak can be curbed if people are adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection

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Myanmar leader asks Thai PM for ‘fair’ investigation into tourist murders

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Thailand’s visiting premier has been asked by Myanmar’s president to ensure a “clean and fair” investigation for a pair of Myanmar nationals charged with murdering two British tourists, an official said on Friday. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Anti-European Union party Ukip wins first seat in British parliament

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The British anti-EU UK Independence Party (Ukip) won its first elected seat in parliament in a resounding victory on Friday that will rattle the Conservative-led government seven months away from a general election. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Will climate change make men extinct?

The world is warming. The beasts are dying en masse. The oceans are rising. The deserts are roasting. It’s the survival of the fittest out there, guys. Who’s going to win, evolutionarily speaking? Men or women? It turns out that warming temperatures may have a surprising gender bias — in favor of women. That’s the conclusion of a team of Japanese researchers who have discovered a “statistically significant” association between climate change — including rising temperatures and extreme weather events — and the birth rates of boys and girls in Japan. Warmer temperatures have accompanied an increased proportion of female babies in the population, and a decline in males. The findings, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility — reveal that the proportion of male Japanese newborns has steadily declined since the 1970s. At the same time, the number of male “fetal deaths” during that general period — those that were spontaneously miscarried after 12 weeks of pregnancy — has increased. The researchers see a clear link to Japan’s temperature fluctuations. Fertility and Sterility, 2014This chart shows yearly mean temperature differences in Celsius compared to the male-female ratio of “spontaneous fetal deaths” (after 12 weeks of pregnancy); and the male-female ratio of newborns from 1968 to 2012 in Japan.The team also picked out one very hot summer in 2010 — Japan’s warmest since 1898 — and one very cold winter in 2011, and found similar trends linked to climactic extremes: more fetal deaths followed by a lower ratio of male to female newborns. It’s not an open and shut case. The researchers point out that climate change certainly isn’t the only factor affecting the newborn gender ratio — and they stop short of arguing that there’s a causal relationship between increased temperatures and more female offspring. In general, the birth ratio is fairly constant around the world, with sightly more males born than females. And while the science is far from settled, female fetuses appear to be the tougher of the two when presented with outside stresses. At a population level, the gender mix at birth is thought to be influenced by external factors such as air pollution, chemical exposure, and “extraordinary stresses” like war and economic hardship. The Japanese researchers argue that male fetuses appear “especially vulnerable” to these factors, “including climate changes.” Their hypotheses are supported by other studies. “The results regarding the association between the increase in annual temperature and the change in sex ratio seem fairly robust,” says Claudia Valeggia, a professor of biological anthropology at Yale University, who did not work on the study, but reviewed the findings at my request. “There seems to be now very strong evidence suggesting that male fetuses are more vulnerable, in general, to sub-optimal conditions — for example maternal malnutrition or stressful situations.” A study published in The Lancet in 1997, for example, documented a decline in the proportion of male newborns in Denmark between 1951 and 1995, possibly due to environmental hazards. Another study looking at China’s famine during the tumultuous Great Leap Forward — a failed economic program to rapidly modernize the countryside — from 1959 through 1961 and found that women during that period were more likely to give birth to girls. A more recent Swedish study showed that the temperature shifts expected from climate change could influence which fetuses — male or female — would be more likely to survive pregnancy and succeed in a more extreme world. Natural selection, they argue, tends to favor female babies during times of temperature upheaval, with mothers’ bodies evolutionarily programmed to give birth to girls. “When you are not 100 percent in top shape, it’s more advantageous, evolutionarily speaking, to carry on with a female fetus pregnancy,” Valeggia says; that’s because women are more stable producers of offspring, so it’s better to have more of them around when times are tough. And yet similar studies using data sets from Finland and New Zealand failed to produce any compelling connections between temperature and male-to-female sex ratios. The Japanese researchers, led by Dr. Misao Fukuda, of the M&K Health Institute in Ako, acknowledge the discrepancy, but point out that Finland and New Zealand don’t experience the same enormous shifts in temperature between summer and winter as Japan does. Japan has also warmed at a greater rate than the global average over the last century, which might account for the differences in the results. Valleggia is less convinced on this point. “I would like to see this repeated in other latitudes, with variations in temperatures in different parts of the world,” she says. Another aspect unaccounted for in the Japanese study, she notes, is that in Japan “most of the population must have some kind of access to shelter from these wide swings in temperature,” due to air-conditioning and central heating. “I would like to have more data on populations in which this is not the case, like developing countries, where you don’t have this kind of manmade shelter from temperature changes.” So will climate change give rise to a female super-race? No — these birth fluctuations are small ones. Vallegia cautions that this is a study of demographics at a population level, not a study of impacts on individual pregnancies. That is, pregnant women should not take it to mean they should avoid warmer temperatures. So you’re free to enjoy the beach.Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Living

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Ebola victim’s visit to U.S. was culmination of decades of effort

Thomas Eric Duncan wanted to attend the high-school graduation of his son, who was born in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast

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Indian and Pakistani forces trade heavy gunfire, killing five civilians

Each side has accused the other of targeting civilians and unprovoked violations of a border truce that has largely held since 2003

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Scotland Yard could probe claim Bahraini prince tortured prisoners

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Scotland Yard is to be asked to investigate allegations that a Sandhurst-educated Bahraini prince should be prosecuted for torture. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Hong Kong protests thin out as territory’s government agrees to talk with student leaders

Just a couple days after tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the city’s streets over the weekend, only a few dozen students remained

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Eight questions set forth to unify Communist Party

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The Communist Party must find a solution for the ideological contradictions that are building a gap among factions internally, party scholars say before a key meeting this month. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Thai king has gall bladder removed

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has had his gall bladder removed, the palace said yesterday, two days after the 86-year-old was rushed to hospital, sparking fears for his health in the politically turbulent nation. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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StealthGenie ‘stalker app’ maker arrested over its alleged privacy violation

<!– google_ad_section_start –> US federal officials have announced the arrest of the maker of a smartphone app marketed as a tool for catching cheating spouses by eavesdropping on their calls and tracking their locations, a system that critics have dubbed “stalker apps”. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Five new cadres assigned to Shanxi, all from outside the province

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Communist Party headquarters in Beijing has assigned five cadres to Shanxi to fill the vacancies in its top leadership after an extensive anti-graft campaign swept across the resource-rich province. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Sudden eruption of Japanese volcano a rare phenomenon, says French vulcanologist

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The suddenness of the eruption of Japan’s Mount Ontake volcano is an extremely rare phenomenon which makes it impossible to take precautionary measures, according to a French specialist. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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