While you were sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed early morning of Oct 20

Germany says Ukraine rebels downed MH17 with seized missiles: report

German intelligence has accused pro-Russian rebels of shooting down a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine using missiles captured from government forces, a media report said on Sunday.

Kiev and the West have previously charged that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was blown out of the sky in July by separatist fighters using a BUK surface-to-air system supplied by Russia, charges denied by Moscow.

But the head of Germany’s BND foreign spy agency Gerhard Schindler said intelligence indicated the rebels had captured a BUK system from a Ukrainian base and fired a missile that exploded directly next to the plane, Spiegel magazine reported.

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ISIS takes heavy losses in battle for Syria’s Kobane

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group was taking heavy losses in the Syrian battleground of Kobane as Iraqi forces fought the extremists buoyed by United States backing for top government security appointments.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said overnight that the appointment of defence and interior ministers after weeks of delay was a “very positive step forward” in the fightback against ISIS in Iraq, and has suffered heavy losses in Kobane, which has become a key prize as it is being fought under the gaze of the world’s press massed just over the border in Turkey.

Over the weekend, at least 31 militants died in the battle, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Comet Siding Spring whizzes past Mars

A comet the size of a small mountain whizzed past Mars on Monday, dazzling space enthusiasts with the once-in-a-million-years encounter.

The comet, known as Siding Spring (C/2013 A1), made its closest encounter with Mars on Monday at 2:27 am Singapore time, racing past the Red Planet at a breakneck 203,000 kilometres per hour, passing at its closest 139,500 kilometres from Mars – less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.

Scientists said the comet’s passing offered a unique chance to study its impact on Mars’s atmosphere.

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Sex? It all started 385 million years ago with a kind of square-dancing fish

Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armoured fishes, called placoderms, about 385 million years ago in Scotland.

In an important discovery in the evolutionary history of sexual reproduction, the scientists found that male fossils of the Microbrachius dicki, which belong to a placoderm group, developed bony L-shaped genital limbs called claspers to transfer sperm to females. Females, for their part, developed small paired bones to lock the male organs in place for mating.

John Long, a palaeontologist at Flinders University in South Australia who led the research says the position looked, well, rather weird: “With their arms interlocked, these fish looked more like they are square-dancing the do-se-do rather than mating.”.

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Asian foods are hot in capital of haute cuisine

Forget about escargot. Anyone for kimchi?

Some of the hottest food is not the haute cuisine of France but dishes from Asia and other continents at the International Food Fair that just opened in Paris. Some 105 countries boasting 400,000 products are present at the fair, which runs until Thursday, offering a window into the future of food, from traditional know-how that could make its way onto modern plates, to high-tech inventions.

“The market is going to explode with nine billion humans to feed in the next 30, 40 years. You need to position yourself now,” said Nicolas Trentesaux, president of the exhibition. “Especially with the explosion of the middle class in Asia and even Africa who all want access to diversity in their food.

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