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Blaze risks are higher in North

The risk of deaths and injuries from fire in Northern Ireland is higher than similar regions in England.

The performance of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is still below average compared with England, with the number of deliberate blazes also higher, an Audit Office document showed.

Levels of arson and hoax calls have fallen by around a fifth in recent years. In 2009/10 there were 27 casualties per 100,000 population -- more than three times higher than similar English regions.



Mercury rains down on Earth

Earth is being showered with mercury from the upper atmosphere that can land anywhere and enter the food chain, a study has shown.

The poisonous metal is released as a vapour by burning fuel before falling back to Earth in a form that is easily taken up by aquatic ecosystem -- the ecosystem in a body of water.

Thousands of tonnes of mercury vapour are pumped into the atmosphere each year. It can then be deposited back on Earth, either in rain or snow or after being carried on air currents.



Thalidomide



case victory

Members of an Australian class action lawsuit who blame a German pharmaceutical company's anti-morning sickness drug, Thalidomide, for causing birth defects have won the right to have their case heard in their own country.

German drug-maker Grunenthal had requested that the lawsuit be heard in Germany but the Victoria state Supreme Court dismissed Grunenthal's application.



DSK begins his comeback

Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has begun his return to public life with a speech at a business conference in Beijing after the scandal in New York over a sexual assault accusation.

Mr Strauss-Kahn spoke at a conference organised by Chinese internet company Netease. He did not mention his arrest in May or his resignation as IMF chief. The case against him collapsed in August amid question about the credibility of his accuser.


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