December 9, 2013

Tilikum, SeaWorld's largest orca at 12,000 pounds, has killed at least two people.     Photo: milan.boers/Flickr

Artists Opt Out of SeaWorld Shows

Amid "Blackfish" controversy, Heart, Willie Nelson, and the Barenaked Ladies cancel performances.

The Wilson sisters of the American rock band Heart, have a big place in their own hearts for killer whales. Last Friday, they joined country singer Willie Nelson and the Barenaked Ladies in opting not to perform at SeaWorld. 

The band declined its planned gig at the marine and zoological park next February in response to several online petitions urging musicians not to perform at SeaWorld following the release of CNN’s documentary Blackfish in October.

The film, which has millions protesting the captivity of SeaWorld's animals, details the events leading up to the killing of trainer Dawn Brancheau (and others) by SeaWorld's largest killer whale, Tilikum, a six-ton, 22-foot male orca.

Guitarist Nancy Wilson, who once hosted a nature documentary called Baby Wild about orcas (listen to the song, “The Killer Whale People” here) tweeted last Friday:

“The SeaWorld show was planned long ago as an Orlando show. Had we known, we'd have said no then. We said no today ... I am a big Orca fan...I'm happy to stand w/all (with all) of u to protect our animals."

"While we're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld by Heart, Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson, we respect the bands' decisions," SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told CNN on Sunday.

Gollattscheck also said folk singer, Nelson couldn't participate in this year's Bands, Brew & BBQ events due to "scheduling conflicts."

But Nelson put it more bluntly. "I don't agree with the way they treat their animals," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "It wasn't that hard a deal for me."

 

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Aron Ralston in a red jacket at sunset, in the mountains of Central Colorado, near Independence Pass (Aspen, Colorado).     Photo: Collection of Aron Ralston/Wikimedia

Aron Ralston Jailed in Denver (Updates)

Faces domestic violence charges

 

12 p.m.

Aron Ralston, the hiker who amputated his own forearm to escape from a dislodged boulder in 2003, was arrested Saturday night on domestic violences charges in Denver, Colorado.

 

According to a Denver Post report, the 38-year-old was jailed on charges of assault and wrongs to minors at the home of Vita Shannon, his 38-year-old girlfriend and mother of their infant son. Shannon was also arrested on a charge of wrongs to minors.

Under Colorado law, domestic violence suspects cannot be granted bail before appearing before a judge; Ralston's hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Denver County Court.

Ralston's memior on his near-death experience, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was adapted into the 2010 film 127 Hours, which starred James Franco as Ralston.

ALSO: "Trapped" by Aron Ralston

Update: 2:30 p.m.

At the request of the Denver city attorney, charges of domestic violence against Aron Ralston were dismissed this afternoon.

"There apparently was some type of heated argument, police got involved, charges and counter charges were filed. This is just two people trying to work out a difficult relationships," his father Larry Ralston told The Denver Post.

Shannon was also charged with assault, one count of wrongs to minors, and an aditional charge of disturbing the peace that was added at her hearing this afternoon. She pleaded not guilt and is scheduled to reappear in court on Friday.

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Eating healthy will cost you roughly $1.50 more per day.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Study: Healthy Eating Costs $1.50 More Per Day

Researchers review 27 food cost studies in ten countries

 A study by the Harvard School of public health has determined that healthy eating will cost you roughly $1.50 more per day. "That’s less than we might have expected,” says lead study author Mayuree Rao, whose findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

“Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it’s never been clear if that’s actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost,” Rao says.

She and her colleagues reviewed 27 different food cost studies and looked at food patterns in ten different countries, comparing healthy and unhealthy options, and adjusting for international currencies and inflations. Prices were evaluated based on a given food's price per serving and price per 200 calories.

“Our aim was not to evaluate whether one specific product costs more than another, but whether healthier foods in a broad class of foods cost more, on average, than less healthy foods in the same broad class,” the study reads. Some food groups had higher differentials between healthy and unhealthy options. At the top of the list was meat, with healthier options costing 29 cents more on average.

$1.50 might not sound like a lot but, according to Rao, it adds up about $550 a year per person. Still, that's cheaper than medical coverage for heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term illnesses associated with poor eating.

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Fishy food chain.     Photo: KaeArt/Thinkstock

Humans Topped by Pigs on the Food Chain

But still above anchovies.

A new study places humans smack in the middle of the global food chain, right between pigs and anchovies. We often consider ourselves top predators, yet a new study focusing on human trophic levels demonstrates quite the opposite, according to NPR. 

Humans are in fact becoming more carnivorous, but even today 80 percent of our calories come from fruits, veggies, and grains. The new study essentially ranks species based on their diet composition, favoring top predators such as polar bears, who share the top spot with orca whales. 

As humans, "we are closer to herbivore than carnivore," Sylvain Bonhommeau, lead author of the study, told Nature. That said, the difference in diet around the world ranges dramatically. Some communities in Africa get more than 95 percent of their calories from plants, whereas countries such as Sweden and Mongolia eat almost 50 percent meat and fish, according to reports from NPR.

During the past 50 years, humans are climbing the food chain due to increased meat, fish, and poultry consumption, reports Nature. Interestingly, much of the growth stems from China and India’s emerging economies, which has allowed major populations to eat meats instead of the basic grains like rice. 

"If we all increase our trophic level, we’ll start to have a bigger impact on ecosystems," says Bonhommeau.

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A snowy owl     Photo: ChristianProhaska/Thinkstock

Snowy Owls Shot Down at Airport

Pose "threat" to planes

UPDATE: Following media reports on the killing of snowy owls at JFK Airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has tweeted that they are working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation in order to "relocate #snowyowls that pose threat to #JFK & [LaGuardia] aircraft." David Karopkin, founder of Goose Watch NYC, responded to the incident, saying, “You’re not going to the heart of the issue. You’re not addressing what’s attracting the birds around the airport," according to CBS News New York.

Port Authority workers shot two snowy owls at John F. Kennedy Airport with a shotgun on Saturday, following an order to kill any owls spotted there to ensure none flies into a jet's engine, NBC 4 New York reports.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued the order after an owl flew into a plane's engine last week while the plane was on a Kennedy tarmac. Bird interception by engines can destabilize an aircraft's flight—as in 2009, when a Canada goose caused a commercial airplane to land in the Hudson River. Bird strikes can also cost an airline millions of dollars annually, according to a report by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The risks are higher this year, as an influx of snowy owls has flown into the northeastern United States from the Arctic, says CBS Boston, possibly because of a shortage in food.

A wildlife specialist working for the Port Authority reportedly spent 45 minutes chasing down one of the two snowy owls at Kennedy Airport before shooting it down.

Boston's Logan Airport is handling the irruption of owls differently: by trapping and releasing them. New York Daily News reports that Norman Smith, of the Massachussetts Audobon Society, has been trapping owls for Logan Airport since 1981, and has already caught and released 20 this season.

"A snowy owl might take out a jet engine, but it’s not like a flock of geese that is going to take out more than one engine and possibly bring down a plane," Smith writes. "And the snowy owls also make other bird species disappear from the airfield."

The Port Authority caught and gassed more than 1,000 geese in the New York metropolitan area in 2009 after the "Miracle on the Hudson" incident, making the shoot-to-kill response fairly conventional for the agency.

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