May 31, 2012
Captive killer whale

Captive killer whale     Photo: PicsByZuzanna/Flickr

Verdict Blocks SeaWorld Orca Shows

Trainers not allowed close contact

A decision made by Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Welsch yesterday in an Orlando courtroom will fundamentally change SeaWorld's killer whale shows. In a landmark case, Judge Welsch ruled in favor of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), concluding that the only way to keep Seaworld trainers safe is to either keep them away from close contact with the killer whales (which means no waterwork in the pools with them during shows), or to use physical barriers or other safety modifications to provide the same level of protection. The ruling comes in response to several Orca trainer deaths.

Read Tim Zimmermann's coverage of the verdict at Outside.


    Photo: Sashkin/Shutterstock

New York City Plans Broad Soda Ban

Obesity campaign is a first

In an effort to combat rising obesity, New York City plans to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants and entertainment venues, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday. A policy first, the ban would prohibit vendors from selling sweetened drinks larger than 16 fluid ounces, but wouldn't include diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, or alcoholic beverages. Food service establishments, movie theaters, street carts, and sports venues would all be subject to the new policy, which could take effect as soon as March of next year. Grocery stores would not have to abide by the ban. The city's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, said sweetened drinks, particularly sodas, have increased obesity rates in the city over the last 30 years.

Read more at The New York Times


Homebuilt plane

Homebuilt plane     Photo: Justin Henry/Flickr

One Dead in Self-Built Plane Crash

Father dead, daughter injured in Colorado

A self-built airplane crashed in Colorado on Tuesday, instantly killing the pilot and injuring the only passenger. Richard Tackabury, 65, built the twin-engine Air Cam experimental plane in December. He was flying it for the third time Tuesday when he crashed into the grass between two runways during landing. Tackabury died on impact, and his 42-year-old daughter was airlifted to the hospital, where she is now reported to be in fair condition. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but witnesses say it appears Tackabury lost control of the plane during his landing attempt.

Read more at The Daily Mail


Near Springville, California

Near Springville, California     Photo: Oliver Renck/Getty

Sequoia NP Awarded Worst Air Pollution

Park tops the AP's list for smog and ozone

On Monday, the Associated Press named California's Sequoia National Park as having the worst air pollution of any national park in the country. With startlingly high smog levels and an ozone reading that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers "unhealthy for everyone," conservation officials are raising concerns that the air is unsafe for visitors and the park's iconic trees. “Ozone levels here are comparable to urban settings such as L.A.,” said Emily Schrepf of the non-profit advocacy group the National Park Conservation Association. “It’s just not right.” The AP named ozone as responsible for the deaths of ponderosa pines and young redwood seedlings. This year, the level of ozone in the park has already exceeded federal health standards.

Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle