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Space & Astronomy : Spacecraft Set to Reach Milestone, Reports Technical Glitches

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Information about the builders of two instruments has been addded in the last paragraph.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft this month is set to surpass the record for the most science data returned by any Mars spacecraft. While the mission continues to produce data at record levels, engineers are examining why two instruments are intermittently not performing entirely as planned. All other spacecraft instruments are operating normally and continue to return science data.

Since beginning its primary science phase in November 2006, the orbiter has returned enough data to fill nearly 1,000 CD-ROMs. This ties the record for Mars data sent back between 1997 and 2006 by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor mission.


Geography & Geology : After historic ratification, European countries meet for the first time to improve water management and curb water-related diseases

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On 17 January 2007, the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes are meeting in Geneva for the first time. Their goal is to translate into action the Protocol’s provisions for the coming three years. The meeting is expected to launch ambitious programmes to prevent, control and reduce water-related diseases.

“This meeting of the Protocol Parties represents a key step of a process intended to increase the number of European citizens with access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation,” says Dr. Roberto Bertollini, Director of the Special Programme for Health and Environment of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. “Access to safe water is a basic human right ensuring the physical and social well-being of populations, but it is still not attained in today’s Europe. How can we accept to lose 37 of our children to diarrhoea each day for lack of access to safe water? We therefore call on all countries to be bold in the adoption of an Action Plan that will significantly reduce the current water-related disease burden.”


Space & Astronomy : Integral catches a new erupting black hole

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Integral catches a new erupting black hole

27 November 2006

ESA's gamma-ray observatory, Integral, has spotted a rare kind of gamma-ray outburst. The vast explosion of energy allowed astronomers to pinpoint a possible black hole in our Galaxy.

The outburst was discovered on 17 September 2006 by staff at the Integral Science Data Centre (ISDC), Versoix, Switzerland. Inside the ISDC, astronomers constantly monitor the data coming down from Integral because they know the sky at gamma-ray wavelengths can be a swiftly changing place.



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The UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme on Monday appealed for the rapid restoration of order in volatile eastern Chad following weekend unrest in which mobs looted warehouses storing vital aid supplies for hundreds of thousands of Darfurian refugees and Chadians.

Both agencies reported that their main warehouses in the eastern Chad town of Abeche, the hub for relief efforts for 218,000 refugees from Sudan's neighbouring Darfur region and some 90,000 internally displaced Chadians, had been pillaged, reportedly by local residents, during the turmoil on Saturday and Sunday. Abeche was occupied by rebel forces on Saturday, then re-taken by government troops on Sunday.


Notice Prints : Acces to Safe Water and sanitation in Europe Stagnating for over 15 years

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Note for the press EURO/20/06 Copenhagen, Rome, Szentendre, 27 November 2006

Sections of the European population are still struggling with "traditional" environmental health problems, poor water and sanitation being one of the most urgent. The 22nd meeting of the European Environment and Health Committee (EEHC) will take place in Szentendre, Hungary, on 27-28 November 2006. It was in Hungary in 2004 that European ministers committed to protecting children's health from a harmful environment (see below). The EEHC meeting, hosted by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, will assess progress in the European Region in reducing water-related disease among children.


Aboard shrimp trawlers, a quiet revolution

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FAO-run project reduces environmental impacts - effort featured in BBC documentary

23 November 2006, Rome - Shrimp -- a small animal with a giant-sized footprint.

It is the world's most sought-after seafood commodity: some 3.5 million tons of the many-legged delicacy are pulled from the ocean's waters each year, with another 2.4 million tons raised on aquatic farms.

The popular seafood is a gold mine for poor countries feeding avid consumers in northern markets. Developing nations supply some 90% of the shrimp consumed in developed countries, to the tune of US$8 billion a year. As a result, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world depend on shrimp.

But the sector is also one of the world's most wasteful fisheries.


Notice Prints : WHO and UNICEF call for safe access of polio vaccinators in Afghanistan’s Southern Region

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Joint News Release WHO/Rotary International/CDC/UNICEF/71 22 November 2006

Kabul - The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, concerned about the health of all people in Afghanistan, especially the health of children, today called for the safe access of local health workers and vaccinators during polio immunization campaigns and other health activities all over Afghanistan, but particularly in the Southern Region. The latest nationwide polio campaign was launched on 19 November, with further district-level immunization activities planned for the rest of this year and throughout 2007.


Geography & Geology : NASA Technology Captures Massive Hurricane Waves

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A hurricane's fury can be relentless, from frightening winds, to torrential rains and flooding. These storms also create enormous ocean waves that are hazardous to ships. And through storm surges of up to 30 feet the storms can demolish shoreline structures, erode beaches and wash out coastal roads.

As part of its activities to better understand Earth’s dynamic climate, NASA research is helping to increase knowledge about the behavior of hurricane waves. The NASA Scanning Radar Altimeter (SRA), designed to take measurements of the changing wave height and structure in and around hurricanes, flew through many storms on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) WP-3D aircraft from 1998-2005. It captured unprecedented details on wave behavior that are helping improve sea height forecasts. Strong storms like Hurricane Bonnie in August 1998 - the first to be monitored by SRA - were found to produce severe ocean waves and dramatic changes in wave height and complexity over small distances.


Medicine : Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers

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Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers

National Cancer Institute
U.S. National Institutes of Health
Reviewed: 06/08/2006

1. What are human papillomaviruses, and how are they transmitted?
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a group of more than 100 viruses. They are called papillomaviruses because certain types may cause warts, or papillomas, which are benign (noncancerous) tumors. The HPVs that cause the common warts which grow on hands and feet are different from those that cause growths in the throat or genital area. Some types of HPV are associated with certain types of cancer (1). These are called “high-risk” oncogenic or carcinogenic HPVs.
Of the more than 100 types of HPV, over 30 types can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Although HPVs are usually transmitted sexually, doctors cannot say for certain when infection occurred. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms and go away without any treatment over the course of a few years. However, HPV infection sometimes persists for many years, with or without causing cell abnormalities. 


Medicine : Vaccine Protects Against Virus Linked to Half of All Cervical Cancers

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Vaccine Protects Against Virus Linked to Half of All Cervical Cancers

National Cancer Institute
U.S. National Institutes of Health
Posted: 11/26/2002 Reviewed: 02/08/2005

Key Words: cervical cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV), prevention, vaccine. (Definitions of many terms related to cancer can be found in the Dictionary.)

An experimental vaccine prevented women from becoming persistently infected with a virus that is associated with half of all cervical cancers, researchers reported in the November 21, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (see the journal abstract of the study). 


Medicine : Cervical Cancer

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The National Women’s Health Information Center
U.S. Depertment of Health and Human Services
Office on Women’s Health

Cervical Cancer
June 2006

What is cervical cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which certain body cells don't function right, divide very fast, and produce too much tissue that forms a tumor. Cervical cancer is cancer in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during a woman's pregnancy. The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina (birth canal), which leads to the outside of the body.

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