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Scientists discover 12 new frog species

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Years of combing tropical mountain forests, shining flashlights under rocks and listening for croaks in the night have paid off for a team of Indian scientists that has discovered 12 new frog species plus three others thought to have been extinct.

It's a discovery the team hopes will bring attention to India's amphibians and their role in gauging the health of the environment.

Worldwide, 32 percent of the world's known amphibian species are threatened with extinction, largely because of habitat loss or pollution, according to the group Global Wildlife Conservation.

The 12 new species include the meowing night frog, whose croak sounds more like a cat's call; the jog night frog, unique in that both the males and females watch over the eggs; and the Wayanad night frog, which grows to about the size of a baseball. "It's almost like a monster in the forest floor, a huge animal for a frog, leaping from one rock to another," said lead study scientist Sathyabhama Das Biju of the University of Delhi.


Premier cancels trip to U.S. over crisis

ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's prime minister canceled his trip to the United States because of the gravity of his country's financial crisis, officials said Saturday.

George Papandreou, who had left for London en route to New York, was returning to Greece on Saturday night, officials said.

Papandreou had been scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly and then the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, where he was to meet Managing Director Christine Lagarde and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

"The prime minister decided to postpone his scheduled visit to the U.S. because the coming week is especially critical for the implementation of the eurozone's decision of July 21 and the initiatives (Greece) must undertake," according to a statement released by Papandreou's office.

On July 21, eurozone leaders and the International Monetary Fund agreed to grant debt-ridden Greece a new bailout worth $150 billion to keep its finances afloat. The bailout would come on top of a similar package agreed to in May 2010.


Leader's foes demand inquiry into plane's use

ROME (AP) -- Opposition leaders demanded an inquiry Saturday to see if Italian government aircraft flew a bevy of young escorts to Premier Silvio Berlusconi's private parties.

Concern was also growing in Italy over whether the billionaire media mogul premier who allegedly boasted in an intercepted phone conversation that he "did only eight" women in one night can concentrate on rescuing Italy from its severe economic woes.

Italian newspapers were filled with transcripts of intercepted phone conversations of a jailed southern businessman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, who is being investigated for allegedly arranging and paying for women to prostitute themselves with the premier at parties at Berlusconi's private residences in Rome, the Sardinia seacoast, and near Milan. Berlusconi, who turns 75 later this month, has denied ever paying for sex. But he has boasted of his weakness for young, beautiful women.

Prostitution is not a crime in Italy, but exploiting prostitutes -- as Tarantini is alleged to have done to try to curry favors with Berlusconi to win state contracts -- is.

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