Associated Press

Scientists: Vibrant US marine reserve now a coral graveyard

WASHINGTON (AP) — El Nino’s super warm
water has turned what had been one of the world’s
most lush and isolated tropical marine reserve into a
coral graveyard, federal scientists said Wednesday.

Researchers finishing an emergency undersea expedition
found 95 percent of the coral dead around Jarvis
Island in the Pacific Remote Island Marine National

In November, much of the coral had bleached white
but was alive.

“There’s hardly anything left on the bottom in
terms of the coral. It basically looks like a graveyard,” said the expedition chief scientist Bernardo

Urine test could simplify Zika virus detection

NEW YORK (AP) -- A urine-based test for Zika virus infection has shown to be more effective than the common blood-based one for many patients, a development that could make testing for the infection easier.

The test could potentially aid efforts to control Zika, which is mainly carried by mosquitoes, as it is expected to spread further into North America in the coming months.

"The timing is excellent," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.

Caymans to deploy gen-mod mosquitoes

MIAMI (AP) -- British biotech company Oxitec and the Cayman Islands government announced plans Thursday to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in the fight against a species that spreads Zika and other diseases.

Deployment of the mosquitoes against the Aedes aegypti species in the Cayman Islands is a major advance for Oxitec, which has promoted the method heavily as an environmentally safe way to combat the vectors of mosquito-borne illnesses while confronting public concerns about the technology.

Study: Football concussions and resuming play vary by age

CHICAGO (AP) -- Younger football players are more likely to return to the field less than a day after suffering concussions than those in high school and college, according to a new study.

No more ties? Spelling Bee to get harder words

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After two straight years of ties, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is adding more sting: The championship rounds will last longer, and the words will be harder.

The bee, now televised in prime time by ESPN, has exploded in popularity over the past two decades. And the spellers have gotten increasingly savvy. So instead of sticking to a list of 25 "championship words" selected weeks earlier, the final rounds could have as many as 75 words. And the organizers can choose harder words on the fly if the spellers don't appear to be struggling.

Sushi alert: Grim outlook for bluefin tuna

TOKYO (AP) -- The latest scientific assessment paints a likely bleak future for the Pacific bluefin tuna, a sushi lovers' favorite whose population has dropped by more than 97 percent from its historic levels.

A draft summary of a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean seen by The Associated Press shows the current population of bluefin tuna is estimated at 2.6 percent of its "unfished" size. A previous assessment put the population at an already dire 4.2 percent.

WHO: Diabetes rises fourfold over last quarter-century

GENEVA (AP) -- Excessive weight, obesity, aging and population growth drove a nearly four-fold increase in worldwide cases of diabetes over the last quarter-century, affecting 422 million people in 2014, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday.

Panama Papers could add to outrage in US prez race

The revelations in the Panama Papers could add to the populist outrage in the U.S. presidential race by confirming many of the fears of Bernie Sanders supporters on the left and contributing to the distrust that drives people to Donald Trump on the right.
So far, the 11.5 million leaked documents have shed light mostly on foreign figures such as the prime minister of Iceland, who resigned Tuesday after the public learned that he used a shell company to shelter large sums of money while his country's economy foundered. The reaction in the U.S. has been relatively muted.

Scientists blame El Nino, warming for 'gruesome' coral death

The coral on the South Pacific sea floor around Kiritimati (more commonly known as Christmas Island) looked like a boneyard in November - stark, white and lifeless. But there was still some hope.

In April, color returned with fuzzy reds and browns, but that's not good news. Algae has overtaken the lifeless coral on what had been some of the most pristine coral reefs on the planet, said University of Victoria coral reef scientist Julia Baum said after dozens of dives in the past week. Maybe 5 percent will survive, she estimated.

How to protect your data and avoid being hacked

NEW YORK (AP) -- The government hack of an iPhone used by a San Bernardino killer serves as a reminder that phones and other electronic devices aren't impenetrable vaults.

While most people aren't targets of the NSA, FBI or a foreign government, hackers are looking to steal the financial and personal information of ordinary people. Your phone stores more than just selfies. Your email account on the phone, for instance, is a gateway to resetting banking and other sensitive passwords.

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