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  North Korea Bars International Inspectors From Nuclear FacilitySeptember 24, 2008 09:40 George Bush fails again...

North Korea has barred international inspectors from a nuclear reprocessing plant that produces weapons-grade material and intends to restart activity there in a week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

The decision by North Korea comes as the Vienna-based nuclear agency also announced it had completed on Wednesday the removal of all seals and surveillance cameras from the reprocessing plant, one of several sites at its vast Yongbyon nuclear complex. The removal was carried out following a formal request to the agency by the North two days ago.

As world leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the decision by the North was a serious setback both for the Bush administration and for an international nuclear disarmament agreement that was aimed at dismantling North Korea's long-standing nuclear weapons program.

The move comes amid growing uncertainty about the country following reports that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, has been seriously ill.

 
  German Scientists Discover 120 Million Year-Old AntSeptember 16, 2008 09:51 German biologists have discovered a new species of ant they believe is the oldest on the planet, dating back around 120 million years.

Researchers from Karlsruhe's Natural History Museum found the 3-millimetre-long (0.118 inch) insect in the Amazon rainforest in 2007, and hope it will shed light on the early evolution of ants.

"It's by far the most spectacular find of my 26-year career," said museum biologist Manfred Verhaagh on Tuesday.

Scientists from Karlsruhe originally found an unidentified species of ant of a similar type in the Brazilian rainforest in 2003. However, due to an accident in the laboratory, the insect dried up, making further research impossible, Verhaagh said.
  Oil 'Could Hit $200 Within Years'September 10, 2008 20:51 A serious oil supply crisis is looming, which could push prices above $200 a barrel, a think tank has warned.

A "supply crunch" will affect the world market within the next five to 10 years, the Chatham House report said.

While there is plenty of oil in the ground, companies and governments were failing to invest enough to ensure production, it added.

Only a collapse in demand can stave off the looming crisis, report author Professor Paul Stevens said.

"In reality, the only possibility of avoiding such a crunch appears to be if a major recession reduces demand - and even then such an outcome may only postpone the problem," he said in The Coming Oil Supply Crunch.

 
  CERN Fires Up New Atom Smasher To Near Big BangSeptember 07, 2008 11:28 It has been called an Alice in Wonderland investigation into the makeup of the universe — or dangerous tampering with nature that could spell doomsday.

Whatever the case, the most powerful atom-smasher ever built comes online Wednesday, eagerly anticipated by scientists worldwide who have awaited this moment for two decades.

The multibillion-dollar Large Hadron Collider will explore the tiniest particles and come ever closer to re-enacting the big bang, the theory that a colossal explosion created the universe.

The machine at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, promises scientists a closer look at the makeup of matter, filling in gaps in knowledge or possibly reshaping theories.

The first beams of protons will be fired around the 17-mile tunnel to test the controlling strength of the world's largest superconducting magnets. It will still be about a month before beams traveling in opposite directions are brought together in collisions that some skeptics fear could create micro "black holes" and endanger the planet.

The project has attracted researchers of 80 nationalities, some 1,200 of them from the United States, which contributed $531 million of the project's price tag of nearly $4 billion.

 
  Massive Arctic Ice Shelf Breaks AwaySeptember 03, 2008 14:51 A huge 19 square mile (55 square km) ice shelf in Canada's northern Arctic broke away last month and the remaining shelves have shrunk at a "massive and disturbing" rate, the latest sign of accelerating climate change in the remote region, scientists said on Tuesday.

They said the Markham Ice Shelf, one of just five remaining ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic, split away from Ellesmere Island in early August. They also said two large chunks totaling 47 square miles had broken off the nearby Serson Ice Shelf, reducing it in size by 60 percent.

"The changes ... were massive and disturbing," said Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec.

Temperatures in large parts of the Arctic have risen far faster than the global average in recent decades, a development that experts say is linked to global warming.

"These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario.

"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," he said in an e-mailed statement from the research team sent late on Tuesday.

Mueller said the total amount of ice lost from the shelves along Ellesmere Island this summer totaled 83 square miles -- more than three times the area of Manhattan island.