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Hurricane Gustav takes aim at Haiti

Miami - Hurricane Gustav barreled toward vulnerable Haiti on Tuesday and appeared set to become a "major" storm later in the week as it neared the Gulf of Mexico where the United States produces a large amount of oil and gas.

Hurricane Gustav
Hurricane Gustav is seen in a satellite image taken August 26, 2008.

The 7th storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season had top sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (140 km per hour) by 5 a.m. EDT, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Gustav was likely to become a Category 2 storm before striking the southwestern peninsula of impoverished Haiti later on Tuesday and then move westward south of Cuba over deep warm waters that provide tropical cyclones with fuel.


Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.

©iStockphoto/Robert Deal
Capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience, new evidence suggests.

Empathy in seeing the pleasure of another's fortune is thought to be the impetus for sharing, a trait this study shows transcends primate species.

Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Kristi Leimgruber, research specialist, led a team of researchers who exchanged tokens for food with eight adult female capuchins. Each capuchin was paired with a relative, an unrelated familiar female from her own social group or a stranger (a female from a different group).

The capuchins then were given the choice of two tokens: the selfish option, which rewarded that capuchin alone with an apple slice; or the prosocial option, which rewarded both capuchins with an apple slice. The monkeys predominantly selected the prosocial token when paired with a relative or familiar individual but not when paired with a stranger.


Polar Bears Found Swimming Miles From Alaskan Coast

An aerial survey by government scientists in Alaska's Chukchi Sea has recently found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water - with one at least 60 miles from shore - raising concern among wildlife experts about their survival.

polar bears
©iStockphoto/Frederic Audet
Polar bear. An aerial survey by government scientists in Alaska's Chukchi Sea has recently found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water -- with one at least 60 miles from shore -- raising concern among wildlife experts about their survival.

Geoff York, the polar bear coordinator for WWF's Arctic Programme, said that when polar bears swim so far from land, they could have difficulty making it safely to shore and are at risk of drowning, particularly if a storm arises.

"To find so many polar bears at sea at one time is extremely worrisome because it could be an indication that as the sea ice on which they live and hunt continues to melt, many more bears may be out there facing similar risk," he said.

"As climate change continues to dramatically disrupt the Arctic, polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat."

Scientists say the Arctic is changing more rapidly and acutely than anywhere on the planet, noting that 2007 witnessed the lowest sea ice coverage in recorded history.


Cows seem to know which way is north

WASHINGTON - Talk about animal magnetism, cows seem to have a built-in compass. No bull: Somehow, cattle seem to know how to find north and south, say researchers who studied satellite photos of thousands of cows around the world.

Black Cat

Scientist says cat owners threatening fish supplies


Cat owners who feed their pets with fish are contributing to overfishing, which is threatening fish stocks worldwide, a scientist at an Australian university said.

Dr Giovanni Turchini of Deakin University said the global cat food industry each consumes 2.48 million metric tons of forage fish - small, rapidly breeding fish that are eaten by larger fish - each year.


Scotland declares war on urban seagulls

The Scottish government has declared war on increasingly aggressive urban seagulls.

The initial battle will be joined in the southwestern town of Dumfries during next spring's breeding season when a special anti-gull "task force" will seek to destroy nests and drive out the birds.

Magic Wand

Quake-hit Chinese province sees surge in giant panda births


A total of 19 giant panda cubs have been born in captivity in southwest China's Sichuan Province since the May 12 earthquake, state news agency Xinhua cited researchers as saying.

Zhang Zhihe, a leading national panda expert, said nine pandas were born in the devastated region of Wolong and 10 in the provincial capital, Chengdu. The cubs, including eight sets of twins, were born from July onwards.

Giant panda Guo Guo gave birth to twins in mid-July, becoming the first giant panda to give birth since the disaster, the agency said.


Lightning charged storms start fires

First came a deafening bang and an unnerving rattle, followed moments later by the distinctive smell of smoke.

Two homeowners in the Fishers area described identical experiences today hours after lightning strikes peppered property throughout the region.

©John Tuohy / The Star
Michael Marcum, who lives in Fishers' Spyglass Falls neighborhood, examines a 5-by-5 foot hole today in his 15-year-old son's bedroom after firefighters extinguished a lightning-sparked fire at his home.


Earthquake shakes central Philippines

Manila -- A 5.7-magnitude earthquake jolted parts of the Visayas and northern Mindanao of the Philippines on Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake strikes Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

A strong earthquake, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, has shaken the Hawke's Bay region.

GeoNet Science reports the quake, which struck at 11.25pm and was centred 10km southwest of Hastings could be felt over a large area.