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Report says wall threatens species

Mexico on Monday called on the United States to alter a plan to expand border fences designed to stem illegal immigration, saying the barriers would threaten migratory species accustomed to roaming freely across the frontier.

Ways to minimize environmental damage from the fences could include the creation of cross-border bridge areas so that ecosystems remain connected and “green corridors” of wilderness without roads that would be less attractive to smugglers, according to a report released Monday and prepared for the Mexican government by experts and activists from both nations.

The report also proposed fences of cactuses, removable fencing and more permeable barriers to allow water, insects and pollen to cross the border.

Ecologists say species affected include Mexican jaguars, black bears and the endangered, antelope-like Sonora pronghorn.


N. Korea working with U.N. teams

North Korea has cooperated fully with a team U.N. nuclear experts who were monitoring the shutdown and sealing of the country’s sole plutonium-producing reactor, the leader of the team said today.

The 10-member International Atomic Energy Agency team went to North Korea on July 12 to supervise the closing of the Yongbyon reactor, the key component of the North’s nuclear program.

“We have a full cooperation with the DPRK authorities,” Adel Tolba told broadcaster APTN. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the formal name of North Korea.

“We finished what was planned. Assessment will be done in Vienna,” Tolba said on his departure from Pyongyang airport.

The IAEA confirmed last week that North Korea had shut down its sole functioning reactor at Yongbyon – the first tangible progress after years of negotiations involving the U.S. and other regional powers.

North Korea has begun receiving oil from South Korea as a reward for shutting down Yongbyon, which is located 60 miles north of Pyongyang.

VIENNA, Austria

Papal preview uses text messages

Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Austria next month are offering the faithful a foretaste: daily cell phone text messages with quotes from the pontiff.

The Archdiocese of Vienna said the service, which began Sunday and will continue through the pope’s Sept. 7-9 visit, will provide excerpts of his sermons, blessings and writings.

“Right through the summer vacation period, there will be carefully selected quotations for thinking about God, the Christian faith, human nature and the meaning of life,” organizers said Monday.

The archdiocese said there’s no extra charge apart from the usual cost to send messages.

From wire reports


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