2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

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  • City Spiders Are Bigger, More Fertile Than Country Cousins
    City Spiders Are Bigger, More Fertile Than Country Cousins

    New research has found the humped golden orb-weaving spider grows larger and produces more eight-legged babies in urban areas. This spider (Nephila plumipes) is indigenous to the Australian countryside, but it's also commonly found in and around urban areas, like the city of Sydney, in southeast Australia. In urban environments, orb-weaving spiders grow to be larger than their counterparts in the country, the study found. The heightened ability to adapt to urban environments has earned this spider a reputation as an "urban exploiter," said lead researcher Lizzy Lowe, a doctoral candidate at the university's School of Biological Sciences.

  • Merkel jets into Kiev as tensions soar over Ukraine
    Merkel jets into Kiev as tensions soar over Ukraine

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Kiev Saturday for crisis talks with Ukraine's pro-Western leaders, as a controversial aid convoy from Moscow began crossing back from the war-torn east of the country to Russia. The West had demanded that Russia withdraw its disputed trucks after the Kremlin unilaterally sent them to the insurgent stronghold of Lugansk on Friday in a move Kiev decried as an "invasion". An observer for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the border told AFP that some of the white lorries had returned to Russia but could not specify how many were still inside Ukraine.

  • New study suggests treatment possibility for autism
    New study suggests treatment possibility for autism

    People with autism have too many synapses -- the connectors by which brain cells send and receive signals -- according to a new study that may point to a treatment for the complex disorder. Researchers at New York's University of Columbia were able to re-establish the brain's "pruning mechanism" in mice genetically modified to simulate autism. To do it, they used a drug called rapamycin to block a protein, mTOR, which in autistic patients goes hyperactive and blocks the brain's natural ability to cull synapses. "We were able to treat the mice after the disease had appeared," said Columbia University neurobiologist David Sulzer, lead author of the study.

  • NATO sees alarming build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine: Rasmussen
    NATO sees alarming build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine: Rasmussen

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday the alliance had observed an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine. "We have also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine," Rasmussen said in a statement. Rasmussen said Russia continued to escalate the crisis in eastern Ukraine and that this could lead to further isolation of Moscow. (Reporting by Martin Santa and Julia Fioretti; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

  • Airlines, cruise ships monitoring Caribbean system
    Airlines, cruise ships monitoring Caribbean system

    KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Airlines and cruise ship companies are monitoring the progress of a tropical disturbance approaching the Lesser Antilles at the eastern end of the Caribbean.

  • Police officer brands Ferguson protesters 'rabid dogs'
    Police officer brands Ferguson protesters 'rabid dogs'

    A police officer in Missouri was suspended Friday after he used Facebook to lash out at protesters condemning the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. A second officer in the Midwestern state was taken off the beat pending an internal review over a YouTube video in which he boasted about being a Jesus-loving "killer." Meanwhile, some 150 demonstrators returned to the streets of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson at sunset Friday to demand justice for the August 9 death of Michael Brown. Police kept a low profile, in sharp contrast to previous nights when tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding that Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, be charged with murder.

  • Egypt calls for open-ended Gaza cease-fire
    Egypt calls for open-ended Gaza cease-fire

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt on Saturday called for an open-ended cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, urging Israel and Hamas to return to indirect talks after seven weeks of fighting punctuated by a number of failed truce attempts.

  • Exclusive: Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling
    Exclusive: Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling

    By Reiji Murai TOKYO (Reuters) - Suppliers to Apple Inc are scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component disrupted panel production ahead of next month's expected launch, supply chain sources said. It's unclear whether the hiccup could delay the launch or limit the number of phones initially available to consumers, the sources said, as Apple readies larger-screen iPhones for the year-end shopping season amid market share loss to cheaper rivals. Cupertino, California-based Apple has scheduled a media event for Sept. 9, and many expect it to unveil the new iPhone 6 with both 4.7 inch (11.94 cm) and 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) screens - bigger than the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c. Two supply chain sources said display panel production suffered a setback after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be revised, putting screen assembly on hold for part of June and July.

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