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Friday
Sep042015

Three New Crewmembers Arrive at International Space Station with New Technology

An international crew of nine from the U.S.. Russia, Japan, Denmark and Kazakhstan will work together on the orbital laboratory until Sept. 11. Credit: NASA TV(NEW YORK) -- A Soyuz vehicle docked with the International Space Station early Friday morning, bringing three new crewmembers and new technology to those aboard.

The new equipment is to be used in research investigations, NASA says. One such item, the European Space Agency's "Skinsuit" aims to help counter back problems experienced in low-gravity situations by constricting the body from shoulders to feet to simulate Earth's gravitational forces.

Also on board the Soyuz craft were three new crewmembers, bringing the number of people now aboard the space station to nine, at least temporarily. The last time nine or more people were aboard the orbiting laboratory was in 2013.

Two of the newly arrived crewmembers and one other space station resident are scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 11.

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Thursday
Sep032015

Four US Military Peackeeepers in Sinai Injured in IED Blasts

iStock/Thinkstock(MOUNT SINAI, Egypt) --  According to the Pentagon, four U.S. military service members serving as peacekeepers in the Sinai Peninsula were injured in two roadside bomb explosions.

The Pentagon said their injuries were not life threatening.

The Americans are part of the observer force that has been in the Sinai for decades to support the Camp David Treaty between Israel and Egypt, a rotating mission typically carried out by a U.S. Army unit.

The two blasts injured four U.S. observers and two other Multinational Force Observers. The MFO evacuated the soldiers to a medical facility where they are receiving treatment.

"We wish all the wounded soldiers a speedy recovery," said Director of Press Operations Capt. Jeff Davis. "The safety and security of U.S. forces remains our top priority and we are committed to taking necessary steps for their protection. The United States continues to support the role of the Multinational Force and Observers in supporting the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt.

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Thursday
Sep032015

The Number of Trees on Earth May Surprise You

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How many trees are there on Earth? It's the ultimate estimation game, but a group of Yale researchers believe they have arrived at the most precise answer yet.

There are 3.04 trillion trees on Earth -- nearly eight times as many as was previously thought, according to the study, which was released in the journal Nature. Scientists who worked on the study relied on satellite imagery, forest inventories and supercomputers to help map the number of trees on Earth down to the square-kilometer level.

"Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution," Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The latest count shatters a previous estimate of 400 billion trees worldwide, a number that was arrived at using satellite imagery and estimates of forest area but with no ground-level information.

While Crowther and his team said they were surprised to be dealing with a number in the trillions, it wasn't all good news for Earth's ecosystems. The team estimated the total number of trees has declined 46 percent since the dawn of human civilization, with an estimated 15 billion trees being cut down each year.

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Thursday
Sep032015

Two Bellydancers Given Jail Time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two bellydancers in Egypt have been sentenced to half a year in jail, according to the BBC.

The two bellydancers were arrested for inciting debauchery by their performance in a video.

BBC News reports that lawyers claimed the dancers were harming the image of Egyptian women and public morality.

The two dancers, Suha Mohammed Ali and Dalia Kamal Youssef will each serve six months in jail.

The cameraman was also sentenced to six months in jail.

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Thursday
Sep032015

The New Zealand Fabric That’s Revolutionizing Performance Athletic Wear

ABC News(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- When most people think of wool, itchy blankets and sweaters might come to mind.

But a unique breed of sheep is redefining how consumers think of wool and revolutionizing the world of performance athletic wear.

At a farm in the southern Alps of New Zealand, Tom Rowley is a third generation sheep farmer raising merino sheep. While normal wool can be itchy and uncomfortable, merino wool is much finer which is why it's soft against your skin.

“The softness makes you understand you can wear this against your skin because the fibers are so fine and soft. The prickly feeling you usually have with wool is because of the thickness of the fiber,” Rowley told ABC News’ Nightline.

Rob Fyfe is the CEO of the New Zealand clothing company IceBreaker, which specializes in merino products, and has promoted items made of the super soft wool.

"Because these sheep live in such a tough environment and altitude, the wool that they’ve developed is unique from any other sheep,” Fyfe told Nightline. “It’s so soft. It’s so gorgeous against the skin, a real silky feel.”

Though it’s known for the feel and as fabric for cold weather clothing, Fyfe says merino wool is much more than that.

“The functional properties are what really make it different,” Fyfe said. “It breathes. It doesn't smell, doesn't hold odor. It's great for wicking moisture.”

These same properties have helped the merino wool business boom. Manufacturers like Smartwool, Lululemon, Patagonia and The North Face have all touted the durability, breathability, anti-bacterial and odor-reducing qualities of their merino products.

Fyfe said his company originally worked hard to convince people to use merino wool over synthetic fabric, but eventually with their success, competitors are now using merino wool in some of their products.

“It’s a lot more expensive than a synthetic fiber, so it took a while for people to get hold of the benefits,” Fyfe said.

With the increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products, Fyfe said the benefits go beyond how the clothing performs.

“It’s about born in nature and worn in nature, so we’re about connecting people back with the land, not covering yourself up in synthetics and plastics,” Fyfe said.

“Being able to stitch that whole ecosystem together and make it both commercially sustainable and delivering to the world an environmentally sustainable product and a whole new twist on what wool can be and how you can wear wool -- it’s special.”


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Thursday
Sep032015

Lost Australian Sheep Gets Nearly 90 Pounds of Wool Sheared Off

iStock/Thinkstock(CANBERRA, Australia) -- A major haircut took place in Australia Wednesday after a sheep with nearly five years worth of wool on him was found wandering outside of Canberra.

The sheep, who has been nicknamed “Chris," was rescued Wednesday by RSPCA Australia officials after someone spotted him wandering with a much bigger-than-average mass of wool.

RSPCA officials immediately put out a plea for a shearer who could handle the difficult task, given that the sheep was thought to be in grave danger from the stress of his predicament.

“While he could barely walk or fit through our paddock doors, our biggest fear was that he might have serious infections under that mass of wool,” the RSPCA wrote on its website. “…We were also unsure if he could live through this ordeal as he was clearly stressed and could die easily of shock.”

The RSPCA and its CEO, Tammy Ven Dange, live tweeted much of the sheering once it took place.

In the end, officials said 40.45 kilograms, or roughly 89 pounds, of wool was removed from the sheep, an amount the RSPCA called a “new unofficial world record.”

The RSPCA says the sheep is “looking like a new man” and will remain under observation for a few days before being put up for adoption.

The nickname "Chris," according to the RSCPA, was given to the sheep by the person who found him, and they are letting it stick.

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Thursday
Sep032015

Canadian Woman Reunited with Dog 5 Years After He Was Stolen

Giovanna Carabella(ALBERTA, Canada) -- Years of heartache turned to joy Monday night when a dog owner was happily reunited with her pet pug after unknown assailants snatched him off his leash in front of a supermarket five years ago.

"When we could see her coming down the escalator, I said, 'Is that your Mommy?'" said Giovanna Carabella, who brought the pair together again. "His tail started wagging and he started squealing. He couldn’t wait to get out of my arms.

"She held him and he started licking her face and she was crying. It was just amazing.

Carabella, a private investigator who helps with animals, told ABC News a man found Tyson the pug roaming the streets Aug. 19 and brought him to her the next day.

"The man, who didn’t want to be named, brought him to me because he knows I do pug rescue," she said. "I didn’t realize he belonged to someone. I called the authorities and took him to the vet to see if he had a microchip or a tattoo."

Carabella said veterinarian technicians in Alberta, Canada, discovered a tattoo inside Tyson's ear, which revealed the information of his rightful family, who lived in Ontario, almost five hours away.

Through her own investigations, she soon realized that the dog had been stolen from his owner, Justine Holmlund, in October 2010.

Holmlund said, "I tied him up outside of a Safeway [supermarket] for a few minutes while I ran into use the ATM machine. After his abduction, I had posted posters throughout the city with a $3,000 reward. He meant the world to me."

Afrer Tyson's abduction, Holmlund said, she never lost hope, putting all her energy into trying to track him down.

"I also got a hold of the Safeway security department, which I watched the surveillance video of him being stolen," she added.

The video, Carabella said, revealed two males and a female exiting a van.

They were then seen in the footage petting the dog before removing him off his collar and driving away with him.

Five years later, Holmlund received a Facebook message from Carabella, whom she'd never met before, informing her that Tyson had been found.

"On August 24, 2015 the Airdrie RCMP detachment officers were made aware of a found dog in the Crossfield area, north of Calgary, Alberta, Canada," the Royal Canadian Mountain Police said in a statement. "The dog had been reported stolen in Calgary in 2010. It was retrieved and is now with its original owner.

"The Airdrie RCMP is working with the Calgary Police Services and this matter remains under investigation."

Carabella and Holmlund met at the Calgary Airport Monday night where Tyson was reunited with his beloved owner.

"She was so thankful she was in tears to get Tyson," Carabella said. “She was very, very grateful. Five years later, who knew that this pup would come across my direction. I picked him up, not sure who he belonged to, and I was going to do whatever I could to find the owner."

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Thursday
Sep032015

Father Who Lost Two Sons, Wife Off Turkish Beach Describes Their Perilous Journey

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- The Syrian father whose two young sons died after falling off an overcrowded boat headed to Turkey was captured in a photo on Thursday, crying as he left the morgue.

The heartbreaking deaths of the two boys, 3-year-old Alan and 5-year-old Galip, are not the only ones that their father Abdullah Kurdi is dealing with right now.

His wife was on board the boat and also died during the crossing.

A series of photos of Alan lying drowned on a Turkish beach has prompted outrage over the lack of help refugees are being given in Europe.

The Kurdi family was fleeing from Kobani in Syria, reportedly headed for Canada where Abdullah's sister Tima Kurdi lives.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada noted on Thursday that there was no record the agency received an application for Abdullah Kurdi and his family. But the agency did receive an application for his brother, Mohammad Kurdi, and Mohammad Kurdi's family "but was returned as it was incomplete as it did not meet regulatory requirements for proof of refugee status recognition."

Tima Kurdi spoke to the press in Canada on Thursday, telling how on the night the family set off from Turkey, her brother Abdullah had texted her at 2:30 a.m. local time to say they were leaving and asking her to pray for them. She called her father in Syria to tell him the family was leaving. Despite it being just a 30 minute crossing, she said she did not hear from them for two days. At 5 a.m. Wednesday, she woke to find 100 missed calls from Syria and Turkey.

"I don't want people to die any more. The world has to wake up," she said.

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Thursday
Sep032015

Heartbreaking Photo of Drowned Migrant Child Prompts Outcry

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A series of photos of a young boy who drowned on a Turkish beach has prompted outrage over the lack of help refugees are being given in Europe.

Local reports state that the 3-year-old boy and his 5-year-old brother died as they were fleeing to Europe after leaving their Syrian hometown of Kobani.

The photo was used on the front pages of newspapers around the globe, from the Wall Street Journal to the Guardian.

People shared the photos online, including one where he is lying face down in the sand, leading to a debate over whether it was right to share such a graphic image.

Peter Bouckaert, the director of Human Rights Watch, wrote a post about how he thought "long and hard" before deciding to share one of the photos.

"Some say the picture is too offensive to share online or print in our newspapers. But what I find offensive is that drowned children are washing up on our shorelines, when more could have been done to prevent their deaths," he wrote.

"It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child. But I care about these children as much as my own. Maybe if Europe's leaders did too, they would try to stem this ghastly spectacle," Bouckaert added.

Cartoonists also weighed in by interpreting the scene and sharing drawings where the boy has angel wings or is being lifted up from the water by heavenly beings.

Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing the violence in their country and headed to Europe in recent weeks, overwhelming authorities in Hungary, where chaos ensued after the main train station in Budapest was closed because of the crowds.

Many of the migrants were in Budapest on a stop towards their intended destination of Germany.

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Thursday
Sep032015

NASA Probes How Mars Became the Red Planet

NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona(NEW YORK) — NASA is sifting through new clues that could yield insights about how ancient Mars went from a planet with surface water to the dry, Red Planet it is today.

It is believed ancient Mars had a thicker atmosphere, allowing water on its surface to not immediately evaporate while the Martian atmosphere of modern times is inhospitable to surface water.

Scientists analyzed the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars to determine what may have happened to cause the shift in the planet's atmosphere. While scientists don't have a definitive answer, they found the ancient atmosphere may have lost much of its carbon dioxide by the time valleys began to form on the Martian surface.

Carbon dioxide makes up the bulk of the atmosphere on the so-called Red Planet and can be pulled into the ground where it can have chemical reactions with rocks to form carbonate mineral deposits. While scientists initially expected to find evidence of carbon from much of the planet's original atmosphere in the deposits, they instead found only a few concentrated areas.

"The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere," Bethany Ehlmann, one of the scientists working on the study, said in a statement. "Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface."

While the analysis didn't provide a definitive answer, it did raise the possibility the top of Mars' atmosphere could have been lost to outer space instead of having it pulled into the ground.

The Curiosity rover has also found evidence validating the top of atmosphere loss, but NASA is now looking to its MAVEN orbiter, which has been studying the Martian outer atmosphere, to help provide some clarity about the Red Planet's mysterious history.

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