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Oil Thieves Cause Pipeline Leak, Pollute Mexico River

Thieves who tapped an oil pipeline in northern Mexico caused a spill that contaminated the San Juan River, a key irrigation source for farmers, authorities said Thursday.

The crude from the Madero-Cadereyta pipeline polluted a 23-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of the river in Nuevo Leon state, said federal environmental protection agency Profepa.

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Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Change Risks

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble of this power plant echoes across the ancient steppe, and its acrid stench travels dozens of miles away.

This is the first of more than 60 coal-to-gas plants China wants to build, mostly in remote parts of the country where ethnic minorities have farmed and herded for centuries. Fired up in December, the multibillion-dollar plant bombards millions of tons of coal with water and heat to produce methane, which is piped to Beijing to generate electricity.

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Russia Holds Japan Whaling Research Vessel

A Japanese whaling vessel and its crew were being held in Russia on Friday after the ship entered Russian territorial waters without permission, Tokyo said.

The 712-tonne Shonan-maru No.2 was ordered into a Russian port on August 15 after sailing through the Sea of Okhotsk off Sakhalin island, an official from Japan's Fisheries Agency said.

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GPS Measures Western U.S. Drought, Finds Earth Rising

Scientists using GPS technology to study the extent of the western U.S. drought said Thursday the water shortage is causing parts of the Earth's crust to rise.

Some 62 trillion gallons -- equivalent to a six-inch (15-centimeter) layer of water -- have been lost since 2013, causing a slight upward lift across the region, according to the study in the journal Science.

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Almanac Predicts Colder Winter, Hotter Summer

The Old Farmer's Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation.

Published Wednesday, the New Hampshire-based almanac predicts a "super-cold" winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal.

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Humans, Neanderthals Shared Europe for Millennia

Neanderthals shared Europe with modern humans for as long as five millennia until they died out 40,000 years ago -- "ample time" for cultural exchanges and interbreeding, researchers said on Wednesday.

While there is no evidence that the two groups lived closely together, they did co-exist for anything from 25 to 250 generations, depending on the region, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

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Mysterious Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical Baffles NASA

A chemical used in dry cleaning and fire extinguishers may have been phased out in recent years but NASA said Wednesday that carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is still being spewed into the atmosphere from an unknown source.

The world agreed to stop using CC14 as part of the Vienna Convention on Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol, which attained universal ratification in 2009.

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Seals not Columbus Brought TB to Americas

Seals and sea lions probably brought tuberculosis to the Americas centuries before Christopher Columbus first set foot there, scientists said Wednesday.

A new study challenges the theory that Europeans introduced TB to the New World, where it killed millions of indigenous Americans along with other foreign diseases like whooping cough, chicken pox and flu.

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France Fights Back Asian Hornet Invader

They slipped into southwest France 10 years ago in a pottery shipment from China and have since invaded more than half the country, which is fighting back with drones, poisoned rods and even chickens.

The Asian hornet, or vespa velutina nigrithorax, is considered a "public enemy" in parts of France where it devours native bees and, experts say, threatens biodiversity.

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Octopus Inspires New Camouflage Material

The octopus's ability to camouflage itself has inspired a new kind of thin, flexible fabric that can automatically match patterns, U.S. researchers said Tuesday.

Creatures of the ocean known as cephalopods -- including cuttlefish, squid and octopuses -- are naturally equipped with sensors in their skin that help in some way to mimic the look of their surroundings.

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