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Arctic Sea Ice Melting Faster, A Study Finds

Climate scientists may have significantly underestimated the power of global warming from human-generated heat-trapping gases to shrink the cap of sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean, according to a new study of polar trends.

The study, published online Tuesdayin Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that an open-water Arctic in summers could be more likely in this century than had been estimated in the latest international review of climate research released in February by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“There are huge changes going on,” said Julienne Stroeve, a lead author of the new study and a researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. “Just with warm waters entering the Arctic, combined with warming air temperatures, this is wreaking havoc on the sea ice, really.”

The intergovernmental panel concluded that if emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide were not significantly reduced, the region could be end up bereft of floating ice in summers sometime between 2050 and the early decades of the next century.

U.S. Says Raids Killed Taliban; Afghans Say Civilians Died

U.S. Special Forces said they killed more than 130 Taliban in two recent days of heavy fighting in a valley in western Afghanistan, but hundreds of angry villagers protested in nearby Shindand on Monday, saying dozens of civilians had been killed when the Americans called in airstrikes.

The protesters sacked and burned government buildings, said Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police. He said none of the demonstrators were injured, but news reports said a number of protesters were hurt as the police and the army moved in to subdue the crowd.

The American military said the fighting against the Taliban occurred Friday and Sunday in the Zerkoh Valley, near the Iranian border about 30 miles south of the city of Herat, and that the Special Forces called in airstrikes on at least two occasions. An American soldier was killed in the fighting Friday, the military said, but there were no other reported casualties on the coalition side.

Forty-nine Taliban fighters, including two leaders of the group, were killed in the first bombardment Friday, and 87 militants were killed in bombing during a second battle Sunday that raged for 14 hours, the military said in a statement from the U.S.-led coalition headquarters at the Bagram air base.

34 Duke Business Students Face Discipline For Cheating

Thirty-four first-year business graduate students at Duke University cheated on a take-home final exam, a judicial board has found, in what officials called the most widespread cheating episode in the business school’s history.

The final was an open-book test in a required course in March, with students told to take the exam on their own. But many students collaborated, in violation of the school’s honor code, according to a ruling last week by the judicial board of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke.

School officials declined to identify the course, the professor or the students, citing confidentiality in judicial board matters. But they indicated that the professor had noticed similarities in the answers by the students, who are candidates for a master’s degree in business administration.

Nine of the students face expulsion, according to the ruling, which was distributed within the business school on Friday. Fifteen students were suspended for a year and given a failing grade in the course, nine were given a failing grade in the course, and one got a failing grade on the exam. Four students accused of cheating were exonerated.

The students are likely to appeal and are permitted to attend classes while awaiting decisions, which are expected over the next month.

In general, fewer than 10 students a year at the business school are found guilty of cheating, and in some years no accusations are brought to the judicial board, said Michael Hemmerich, associate dean for marketing and communications at the business school.

Washington Wants to Know: Who’s on the Madam’s List?

The woman who faces charges of running a prostitution ring in Washington that serviced the prominent and powerful said Monday that she intended to force many of those clients to testify in her behalf.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey is offering a simple defense to government charges that the escort service she ran for 13 years by telephone from her home in California was actually a straightforward prostitution business.

Although she promoted her business as a legal “high-end erotic fantasy service,” she said it was not intended as an exchange of sex for money. She told reporters Monday that her former clients, reported to include a Bush administration economics official and the head of a conservative research group, among others, should confirm that when they are called to testify.

If any sexual activity occurred, she said, it was not authorized or intended by her but undertaken independently by her female subcontractors and male clients “who disobeyed my directives, their signed contracts and participated in illegal behavior.”

In other words, she is stunned at allegations that sexual activity had taken place between the women who worked for her and the men who paid them about $300 for 90 minutes of whatever.