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Friday, Apr 18th

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China Admits That One-Fifth Of Its Farmland Is Contaminated

China's toxic farmlandUnbridled industrialization with almost no environmental regulation has resulted in the toxic contamination of one-fifth of China's farmland, the Communist Party has acknowledged for the first time.

The report, issued by the ministries of Environmental Protection and Land and Resources, says 16.1 percent of the country's soil in general and 19.4 percent of its farmland is polluted with toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic. It was based on a soil survey of more than 2.4 million square miles of land across China, spanning a period from April 2005 until December 2013. It excluded special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

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Apartheid Abuse Cases Against Ford, IBM Go Ahead

FordA federal judge on Thursday declined to toss out decade-old lawsuits that accuse IBM Corp. and Ford Motor Co. of supporting apartheid by letting their subsidiaries sell computers and cars to the South African government.

The three lawsuits seek to hold IBM and Ford responsible for race-based injustices including rape, torture and murder under apartheid, a system of race-based segregation and discrimination against nonwhites that ended 20 years ago.

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Keystone XL decision to be delayed

Keystone XL pipeline decisoin delayedThe Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the Keystone XL pipeline, perhaps pushing back a final decision on the disputed project until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections.

The State Department announced that it is adding 90 days to an environmental review period, in part to assess how a pending lawsuit in Nebraska might affect the pipeline route.

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SC Mayor Who Fired Lesbian Police Chief Caught On Tape In Homophobic Tirade

SC lesbian police chief firedThe mayor of a tiny South Carolina town has triggered protests, prayer vigils and even a city council vote to weaken his powers after firing longtime police chief Crystal Moore, who is a lesbian and who some believe is a target of the mayor's homophobia.

The controversy over Moore's firing comes at a time when many in Congress are pushing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal to fire or harass someone at work for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

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In a cloning first, scientists create stem cells from adults

cloned stem cellScientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men.

The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease.

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Great Lakes are still almost half frozen, potentially causing long-term effects

Great Lakes frozenEnvironmental scientists are concerned that since 37.1 percent of the Great Lakes are still frozen, it could negatively affect the regional environment.

The still-frozen waters are causing the fish in the lakes to delay spawning, and the ducks to die at an alarming rate due to the inability to dive in the water for food. The shores are also seeing large amounts of ice pile up, as large chunks are pushed onto them by high winds.

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7.5 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico City

Mexico soity earthquakeA powerful earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey calculated its magnitude at 7.5 and said it was centered near the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

An Associated Press reporter said it was felt strongly in the resort city but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

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At least 12 killed in avalanche on Mount Everest

Mt. EverestAt least 12 Sherpa guides were killed and three seriously wounded Friday in the single deadliest avalanche on Mount Everest.

Nearly a 100 Sherpas and climbers are now trapped above the avalanche site, which is above base camp but just below “Camp 2″. The avalanche which came crashing down the slopes, along a particularly hazardous route, swept away 25 people. Authorities have rescued eight people and are still looking for five missing Sherpas.

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Robert Parry: Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass

east ukraineThe acting president of the coup regime in Kiev announces that he is ordering an “anti-terrorist” operation against pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, while his national security chief says he has dispatched right-wing ultranationalist fighters who spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

On Tuesday, Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, went on Twitter to declare, “Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.” Parubiy was referring to the neo-Nazi militias that provided the organized muscle that overthrew Yanukovych, forcing him to flee for his life. Some of these militias have since been incorporated into security forces as “National Guard.”

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