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Briefs

North Korea condemns US hostility

– A North Korean minister lashed out at the United States on Monday, saying its “hostile” policy has left the Korean peninsula a spark away from a nuclear war.

Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon told the U.N. General Assembly that “the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tension is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean peninsula, which has become the world’s most dangerous hotspot where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war.”

Nation

White House repels computer attack

The White House is acknowledging an attempt to infiltrate its computer system, but says it thwarted the effort and that no classified networks were threatened.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the White House is equipped with mitigation measures that identified the attack, isolated it and prevented its spread. He said there was no indication that data were removed.

20 aboard Amtrak hurt in truck crash

At least 20 passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries Monday when a tractor-trailer rig collided with a southbound Amtrak train in California’s Central Valley, authorities said.

The crash occurred when the driver of the rig failed to yield and hit the train, pushing at least one passenger car off the tracks south of Hanford, authorities said.

The injuries were described as bumps, bruises, scrapes and possibly broken bones. The train carrying about 170 passengers and four crew members was on its way from Oakland to Bakersfield.

Orlando VA summits fuel auditors’ wrath

Federal investigators estimated Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs wastefully spent about $762,000 at two employee conferences last year in Orlando, Fla., and that senior leadership failed to provide proper oversight in planning and executing the events.

The inspector general for the VA said 11 of the department’s employees also accepted improper gifts from contractors seeking to do business with the government. The VA said it agreed that “the actions cited in the report represent serious lapses in oversight, judgment, and stewardship.”

Fraudulent science on rise, study says

A study finds that fraud in scientific research is growing at a troubling rate.

A review of retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals finds the percentage of studies that had to be withdrawn because of scientific misconduct has jumped several-fold since the mid-1970s. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says fraud or suspected fraud is by far the biggest reason for retractions, outweighing errors and plagiarism.

Fraud is detected only a handful of times for every 100,000 studies published.

Farmer apparently eaten by his hogs

Oregon authorities are investigating how a farmer was eaten by his hogs.

The Coos County district attorney’s office said 70-year-old Terry Vance Garner never returned after he set out to feed his animals Wednesday on his farm near the Oregon coast. A family member later found Garner’s dentures and pieces of his body in the hog enclosure, but most of his remains had been consumed.

World

Coral collapse seen at Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The loss has been spurred hurricanes, coral-eating starfish and coral bleaching.

Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that reef cover fell from 28 percent to 13.8 percent over the past 27 years.

Tailless calf born in altered-milk test

Scientists from New Zealand have altered the genes of a dairy cow to produce milk that’s rich in casein, a protein used in numerous food products, and lacking in beta-lactoglobulin, a component that causes allergies in humans.

The female calf was born without a tail, according to the report Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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