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U.N.: Urgent Action Needed to Tackle Sahel's Lack of Rainfal

A dearth of rainfall in the Sahel could have "severe consequences" for food and agriculture across the region, a U.N. official said Tuesday, urging urgent action to tackle droughts.

"The countries in the Sahel in general are suffering from a lack of rain this winter, the consequences of which could be severe," Coumba Mar Gadio, Mauritania's U.N. representative, warned at a meeting of regional environment ministers in Nouakchott.

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Tide Turns for Shark Fin in China

A sprawling market floor in Guangzhou was once a prime location for shark fin, one of China's most expensive delicacies. But now it lies deserted, thanks to a ban from official banquet tables and a celebrity-driven ad campaign.

One shopkeeper at the Shanhaicheng center quietly ate his lunch at a desk, flanked by four glum-looking colleagues and giant white sacks overflowing with thousands of dollars' worth of unsold grey stock.

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Mexico Loses 80 Schools after Chemical Leak

Authorities in Mexico said Monday they have closed about 80 schools after sulfuric acid leaked from a copper mine in the country's northwest and contaminated the Sonora River.

"About 5,000 students from around 80 schools will not have classes this week because of a lack of water and in some locations their proximity to the river," said the director of the Sonora state civil protection agency, Jesus Arias.

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Less Shake from Artificial Quakes, Fed Study Says

Man-made earthquakes, a side effect of some high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking and in general are about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude, a new federal study found.

People feeling the ground move from induced quakes — those that are not natural, but triggered by injections of wastewater deep underground— report significantly less shaking than those who experience more normal earthquakes of the same magnitude, according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough.

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Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'Fish Listener'

One hand clinging to his boat's gunwale, Harun Muhammad submerges himself, eyes and ears wide open underwater as he "listens" for fish sounds emanating from the blue depths.

Harun is one of Malaysia's last "fish listeners," and he and his apprentice son Zuraini are believed to be the only active practitioners of this mysterious and dying local art.

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Elephant Killings in Africa Outpace Births

More elephants in Africa are being killed by poachers than are born each year, and the problem may be worse than previously understood, according to the most detailed assessment yet.

Using a newly refined approach to estimate elephant deaths, developed at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve, researchers said Africa's elephant population is declining at a rate of about two percent annually.

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Orbital Cargo Ship Makes Planned Re-Entry to Earth

Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship disintegrated as planned Sunday as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere after a month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft had been released from the orbiting lab on Friday at 6:40 am (1040 GMT), and then stayed in independent orbit for two days, before firing its engines and pushing into Earth's atmosphere.

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Dig at Colonial Battleground Turns Up Artifacts

An archaeological dig at a Colonial military site in the southern Adirondacks of New York has turned up thousands of artifacts, from butchered animal bones to uniform buttons, along with a lime kiln used to make mortar for a British fort that was never completed.

The six-week project that ended Friday at the Lake George Battlefield Park also uncovered a section of a stone foundation and brick floor of a small building likely constructed alongside a barracks in 1759, during the French and Indian War.

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Orbital Cargo Ship Departs Space Station

Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship left the International Space Station Friday on its way to a fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

The spacecraft was released from the orbiting lab at 6:40 am (1040 GMT), NASA said in a live broadcast of the event.

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Mexico Acid Leak Leaves Orange River, Toxic Water

Ramona Yesenia stood in her town square with two empty jugs, waiting for water to replace the municipal supply contaminated by a chemical spill that turned Mexico's Sonora river orange.

Yesenia is one of 20,000 people left without water since a massive sulfuric acid leak last week at the Buenavista copper mine in northwestern Mexico, one of the largest in the world.

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