Rehabilitated vulture to be returned to China
The next time you take a Thai Airways flight to China, a passenger with a wingspan of 9.2 feet and a taste for rotting carcasses may also be on board.
The country's national carrier announced this week that it will transport a juvenile cinereous vulture to Beijing on March 21 to help return the rare bird to its natural environment in Mongolia.
The vulture has been nursed back to health by veterinarians at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, after apparently getting lost in late December and ending up dehydrated and near death in Chanthaburi Province.
The year-old bird - more than 3 feet tall with thick, brown feathers and an imposing black and white beak - will be transported in a cage that normally holds large dogs and has plenty of cushioning for the four-hour flight, officials said.
After that, it will be put on a China Airlines plane to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and then driven about 125 miles into a wilderness area near Erdenesant where it will be released, said Gawin Chutima, chairman of the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, which is helping with the bird's return.
The World Conservation Union says the bird has a near-threatened status in Asia, where its numbers have steadily declined because of a loss of habitat, shortage of food and increased cases of poisoning.
Kids who have sex young often get into trouble later
Teens who lose their virginity earlier than their peers are more likely to steal, destroy property, shoplift or sell drugs than their virgin counterparts, according to one of the first studies to look at what happens to teens in the years after they start having sex.
The study, reported in last month's Journal of Youth and Adolescence, found that those who had sex early were 26 percent more likely to be in trouble than those who waited, even years after their sexual debut and well into early adulthood.
The average age of sexual initiation varies widely - between 11 and 17 depending on the school, with an average age of about 15, according to federal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Researchers from Ohio State University looked at national survey data for about 7,300 teens from grades seven to 12, and compared the students' sexual behavior with that of teens within their own schools.
Those who had sex later had delinquency scores 20 percent lower than their "on-time" peers. "Sex in and of itself is not out of the ordinary," said sociologist Stacy Armour of Ohio State University, co-author of the study. "On a superficial level, [the study] says, 'Act like your friends do.' Kids go off on a different trajectory if they're having sex early."
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Exercising smokers are less likely to get serious ailment
Smokers who cannot give up the habit can still help themselves through exercise.
Those who exercise, a new study finds, are less likely to develop a serious lung ailment common to smokers: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The article appears in the March issue of The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
For the study, Dr. Judith Garcia-Aymerich of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain, and her colleagues followed the health of almost 6,800 people, smokers and nonsmokers, over 11 years. Of these, 928 developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which killed more than 100,000 Americans in 2003, the researchers said.
The study found that among the smokers, the disease occurred about 20 percent less in those who reported moderate or high levels of exercise.
"It is plausible that regular physical activity could counteract the smoking effects through an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant mechanism," the study said.
NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE