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Beijing Factories Shut amid Smog Nightmare

Beijing ordered hundreds of factories to shut and allowed children to skip school as choking smog reached over 25 times safe levels on Tuesday, casting a cloud over China's participation in Paris climate talks.

A thick grey haze shrouded the capital with concentrations of PM 2.5, harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs, as high as 634 micrograms per cubic metre.

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China 'Clone Factory' Scientist Eyes Human Replication

The Chinese scientist behind the world's biggest cloning factory has technology advanced enough to replicate humans, he told Agence France Presse, and is only holding off for fear of the public reaction.

Boyalife Group and its partners are building the giant plant in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, where it is due to go into production within the next seven months and aims for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020.

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Japan to Resume 'Research' Whaling in Antarctic

Japan will resume "research" whaling in the Antarctic by the end of March next year, local media reported Saturday, despite a call by global regulators for more evidence that the expeditions have a scientific purpose.

The move came after a one-season suspension of its hunting in the ocean as the United Nations' top legal body judged last year that Japan's whaling there was a fig leaf for a commercial hunt.

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China Dreams of Electric Sheep at Robot Conference

In a martial artist's white silk pajamas, a man practiced tai-chi in harmony with a motorized arm at a Beijing exhibition showcasing a vision of robots with Chinese characteristics.

Vehicles with automated gun turrets sat alongside drink-serving karaoke machines at the World Robot Conference, as manufacturers sought new buyers for their "jiqiren" -- "machine people" in Chinese.

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From Dung to BMWs at Green Energy Plant in South Africa

Forty minutes east of South Africa's capital Pretoria, amid the lowing of thousands of cows and the strong stink of dung, a small factory has taken on the challenge of turning manure into energy.

"Every day, 120 tonnes of manure and 66 tonnes of recycled paper are mixed in one of these tanks," Bio2Watt project manager Steven Roux said in the shadow of a looming 9,000 cubic meter vat.

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Water Bears are Huge DNA Thieves, Finds Study

The minuscule but nearly indestructible tardigrade gets a huge chunk of its genome from the DNA of foreign organisms, which scientists say may hold the key to its survival.

Also known as water bears, or moss piglets due to their morphology, these micro animals live all across the world.

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Rare White Rhino Dies in U.S.

A northern white rhinoceros -- one of just four remaining worldwide -- died Sunday at the San Diego Zoo, officials said.

The 41-year-old female known as Nola saw her health take a quick turn for the worse.

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U.N.: Second Thoughts? Countries Delay Leap Second Decision until 2023

In fact, countries are at such odds over whether to do away with the "leap second" -- an extra second periodically added to compensate for irregularities in the earth's rotation around the sun -- that they have put off deciding the matter until 2023, the United Nations announced Thursday.

Country representatives gathered for a conference in Geneva hosted by the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have been haggling over the issue since the beginning of the month without reaching agreement.

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Cattle Dying in South Africa as Drought Deepens

In the middle of a desiccated lake bed in South Africa's North West province, a seven-month-old calf is too weak to get up. It is doomed to die from thirst and hunger.

A devastating drought is claiming thousands of livestock in Africa's most developed economy and prompting many to fear famine.

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Fear and Beauty at Foot of Ecuador's Cotopaxi Volcano

Since it awoke in August from a 138-year slumber, Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano has become one of the most-watched in the world, holding wary locals and fascinated scientists in thrall.

Cotopaxi, whose snowy peak rises majestically from the patchwork quilt of central Ecuador's high plains, rumbled to life on August 14, belching a column of ash in its first major eruption since 1877.

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