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Politics No Problem, Say U.S. and Russian Spacefarers

U.S.-Russian ties may have returned to Cold War levels, but an astronaut and a cosmonaut gearing up for the longest flight on the International Space Station said Thursday politics would not disrupt their work of helping a future trip to Mars.

NASA's Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are to launch to the ISS in 2015 for a year-long stay designed to be a test-bed for a future trip to Mars.

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Warming Leads to More Run-Ins with Polar Bears

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

Children were whisked indoors. Hunters armed with rifles set out from Kuujjuarapik on snowmobiles in a blizzard to kill the intruders, before the bears could get close enough to take a bite out of any of the town's 1,500 residents.

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Japanese Scientist Resigns over Stem Cell Scandal

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on stem cells.

Haruko Obokata said she was dismayed that new laboratory tests have not been able to repeat her experiments, which she had claimed showed the successful conversion of an adult cell into a stem cell-like state.

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New York State Bans Fracking

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

The announcement extends a de facto New York ban on the practice, which offers the potential to unlock vast quantities of natural gas but which has come under intense scrutiny from environmentalists.

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India Launches Biggest Ever Rocket into Space

India successfully launched its biggest ever rocket on Thursday, including an unmanned capsule which could one day send astronauts into space, as the country ramps up its ambitious space program.

The rocket, designed to carry heavier communication and other satellites into higher orbit, blasted off from Sriharikota in the southeast state of Andhra Pradesh.

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Reports: Japan Lab Cannot Repeat Ground-Breaking Cell Finding

Some of Japan's top scientists have been unable to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking stem cell study, but which spiraled into a scandal that included a respected researcher's suicide, reports said Thursday.

The government-backed Riken Institute will announce Friday that so-called "STAP" cells cannot be reproduced, writing the embarrassing final chapter of a study published in the journal Nature but later withdrawn, according to national broadcaster NHK.

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Sea Shepherd Confronts Illegal Antarctic Poaching Vessel

Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd said Thursday it confronted a ship known for poaching Patagonian toothfish and other rare species in the Antarctic, part of its efforts to target illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.

Though the Nigerian-flagged boat, the Thunder, managed to speed away, Sea Shepherd said it remained in pursuit, threatening "to directly intervene in order to obstruct their continued illegal activities" if they did not report to Australian authorities.

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Spike Seen in Methane on Mars, but Source Unknown

Methane, a gas that on Earth comes mainly from living organisms, has been measured for the first time making a sudden spike on Mars, leaving scientists puzzled about its origin.

The latest findings from NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since it landed in 2012, were published in the U.S. journal Science on Tuesday and raise the question, could microbes be the source of the methane? And what caused the levels to soar and dissipate again in a matter of weeks?

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Former Guatemala Gum Growers Live off Sustainable Jungle

Waving his hands as if conducting an invisible orchestra, Juan Trujillo sings an old song known to Carmelita settlers living deep in northern Guatemala's Mayan jungle.

He walks through the hundred-year-old community, whose roots are deeply intertwined with that of the sapodilla tree, whose chicle resin was once widely used in chewing gum.

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Greenpeace Fined over Spain Nuclear Protest

A Spanish court Tuesday fined Greenpeace and 16 of its activists 20,000 euros ($25,000) for damage caused during a protest at a nuclear plant but acquitted them of other, more serious charges.

The court in the eastern city of Valencia also cleared all charges against a photographer who accompanied the activists during the protest in February 2011, it said in a written ruling.

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