April 18, 2013

Sir Chris Hoy     Photo: DancesWithLight

Olympic Champ Chris Hoy to Retire

British cyclist won't return for the Commonwealth Games

Six-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy announced his retirement on Thursday, putting an end to the career of one of Britain's most successful international athletes. Hoy, 37, said he felt he had expended "every last ounce of energy and effort" at last year's London Olympics, and that he wanted to leave the sport at his peak.

"It's a decision that I didn't take lightly and I thought about it very hard," Hoy said at a news conference. "In sport at the highest level you are dealing in the smallest margins and you can tell when you are good but not good enough."

With seven Olympic medals to his name, Hoy shares the record for most decorated British athlete with fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins. He also has 25 medals, eleven of those gold, from cycling's world championships. His announcement puts an end to hopes that he would return to competition next year to race for the Commonwealth Games, the track cycling events that will be held in Glasgow's Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Via BBC

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    Photo: Daniel P Davis/Flickr

Flood Could Push Carp Into Lake Michigan

Des Plaines river expected to crest on Friday

Flooding in the Des Plaines river could wash invasive Asian carp into Lake Michigan. In a blog post on Weather Underground, meteorologist Jeff Masters said that the river was set to experience a record flood crest on Friday, likely providing a pathway for the fish to bypass the Des Plaines River barricade, a 13-mile-long concrete barrier designed to keep them out of the lake.

Environmentalists and scientists are concerned that the carp, an omnivore with a ravenous appetite, could establish a breeding population in the lake. A study published by a team from Notre Dame earlier this month suggested that invasive carp have already reached the Lake Michigan area, though they haven't yet established a viable population.


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Tim DeChristopher     Photo: Dave Newkirk/George Spade (Big Stock)

Tim DeChristopher to Leave Custody

Activist will hold big event on Earth Day

On Sunday April 21, after 21 months in federal custody, activist Tim DeChristopher will walk out of a Salt Lake City halfway house and begin three years of probation. His first full day out of custody will be Earth Day, on which he's organized an event to livestream answers to supporters' questions after a screening of the movie "Bidder 70."

In December 2008, DeChristopher acquired the name "Bidder 70" after he entered a Utah BLM land auction and made his claim to 22,500 acres of wilderness worth $1.8 million dollars. He couldn't pay for the land. In March, 2011, he was convicted on felony counts of making false statements and violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. Prosecutors looked to sentence DeChristopher to up to seven years in prison, but a federal judge ordered a two-year stay, a three-year probation, and a $10,000 fine.

Prior to his sentencing, DeChristopher read a 35-minute statement to the court. “The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged by anything that happens today,” he said. “And, frankly, neither will I. ... You have authority over my life but not my principles.”

This fall, DeChristopher will attend Harvard Divinity School in hopes of becoming a Unitarian minister.

For more, read "The Trials of Bidder 70" and "Activist Tim DeChristopher to Be Freed After 21 Months in Custody."

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Nyad in Cuba suiting up for her 2012 bid     Photo: AP

Swim with Diana Nyad

During a 24-hour event this weekend

Adventurer of the Year Diana Nyad will once again take to the water this weekend in Palm Springs, swimming 24 hours straight in preparation for an upcoming 48-hour charity event for Hurricane Sandy victims. And if you happen to be in the area, you can jump in the lane next to her at the Palm Springs Swim Center to share a few laps.

The first and last hours of the swim will be dedicated to the victims of Monday's Boston Marathon explosions

Her 48-hour swim will take place in the middle of Times Square at the end of May. The public will also have the opportunity to join her there, in a pool currently being custom-made in Italy. 

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Black rhino     Photo: Mike Meyers

Thieves Steal Rhino Heads From Museum

Horns valued at $650,000

Four rhinoceros heads valued at $650,000 were stolen from the National Museum of Ireland Wednesday night.

In a statement released today, museum officials said four raiders overpowered and tied up a security guard during the robbery. The guard, who was uninjured, later broke free and raised the alarm.

"We've never had to deal with something like that in our history, as far as I’m aware," said Nigel Monaghan, a keeper in the natural history division of the museum.

The heads were about 100 years old, trophies dating back to the early 1900s. They included three black rhinos and one white rhino, all from Africa. Rhino horns are worth more than their weight in gold, and museum officials had placed them in storage last year to protect them from thieves. 

“The stolen rhinoceros heads have a total of eight horns that have probably been taken to supply the illegal trade in powdered horn that is used in traditional medicines in the Far East,” the museum said. “Their price is based on weight.”

Earlier this month, officials at South Africa's national parks said they were under siege from rhino poachers and that animals faced the prospect of extinction. 

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    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Nepal Woman Accused of Witchcraft Killed

Two shamans arrested

Dhegani Mahato, a 40-year-old mother of two, was burned alive in Nepal after being declared a witch. The attack occurred Friday in Bagauda, 50 miles south of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. According to police, Mahato was attacked by family members and other residents after a shaman accused her of casting a spell to make a relative sick. She had just finished cleaning a cowshed when she was beaten with sticks, doused with kerosene and set on fire. Her 9-year-old daughter witnessed the attack.

Police have arrested 10 people in connection with the crime: two shamans, five women, and a young boy. "Those arrested have confessed to their crime and will be charged with murder," said officer Hira Mani Baral. The government has already announced 1 million Nepalese rupees in compensation for Mahato’s family.

Witch hunters in Nepal are said to attack hundreds of women each year.

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