Global output of CO2 sees ‘monster’ increase in 2010

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

“The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing,” said John Reilly, co-director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That’s an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and India, the world’s top producers of greenhouse gases.

It is a “monster” increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past.


Jury to start deliberations in case against Jackson doctor

The case against the doctor accused of killing Michael Jackson has gone to the jury, with deliberations set to begin today.

The seven-man, five-woman panel got the case Thursday after spirited, daylong closing arguments by a prosecutor and defense attorney.

Prosecutor David Walgren urged the group to convict Dr. Conrad Murray, arguing the Houston-based cardiologist was reckless with Jackson’s life and left the entertainer’s children without a father when he gave him an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff countered that Jackson injected himself with the fatal dose and prosecutors were trying to convict Murray for the actions of Jackson.


Latest prescription-drug collection nets 188.5 tons

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people turned in more than 188.5 tons of unwanted or expired prescription medications in the agency’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 29.

The DEA initiative that began 13 months ago has resulted in almost 500 tons of medications being taken out of circulation, with assistance from state, local and tribal law enforcement partners as well as community groups.

For the most recent collection day, 5,327 sites were set up around the country.


Cleric al-Sadr blasts U.S. for ‘partial’ troop withdrawal

U.S. plans to station troops across the Mideast after withdrawing from Iraq amount to occupying other Islamic countries, Iraq’s most outspoken anti-American cleric said in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he’s not satisfied with President Barack Obama’s pledge to pull all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, calling it a partial withdrawal because of the thousands of diplomats and security guards who will stay behind.

“The American occupation will stay in Iraq under different names,” al-Sadr told Al-Arabiya TV in his first interview since Obama announced the troop pullout last month.

The Pentagon is preparing to boost the number of U.S. forces just across the Iraqi border in Kuwait and across the region to prevent a power vacuum when U.S. forces who have served in Iraq are gone.

There are currently 33,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.


Dozens die as gunmen swarm into neighborhoods

Spiraling sectarian violence killed dozens of people Thursday in the troubled Syrian city of Homs, casting into doubt prospects that an Arab League peace plan would succeed in tamping down conflict between pro- and anti-government forces.

Residents and activists described a city descending into war as gunmen on both sides of the divide swarmed into each other’s neighborhoods, abducting and shooting civilians and heralding a worrying twist to the eight-month uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Many of those killed belonged to Assad’s minority Alawite sect, which dominates most of the senior positions in the security forces, according to Homs residents and activists.

There were also reports that members of the majority Sunni sect had been shot down in retaliatory killings by pro-government gunmen circulating in vehicles in Sunni neighborhoods and opening fire at random on civilians.


Fossil of tiny mammal may shed light on survival tactics

Fossils of a tiny and previously unknown saber-toothed, squirrel-like creature have been discovered in Argentina, providing new clues to how small mammals lived among dinosaurs more than 93 million years ago, scientists said Thursday.

Cronopio dentiacutus had extremely long teeth, a narrow snout and large eye sockets, meaning it probably moved around at night to be able to survive among huge carnivorous beasts in the late Cretaceous period, according to the team that discovered the fossil in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro.

The two partial skulls and jaws bridge a 60 million-year gap in the mammalian fossil record, said Sebastian Apesteguia, Leandro Gaetano and Guillermo Rougier, who described their find in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.