July 27, 2011
Tim DeChristopher

Tim DeChristopher     Photo: linh.m.do/Flickr

DeChristopher Gets Two Years

Judge gives climate activist jail time

A federal judge in Salt Lake City has sentenced climate activist Tim DeChristopher to two years in prison for placing false bids in an oil and gas lease auction during the final days of the Bush administration in 2008. On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Dee Benson read the sentence, which includes three years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine, to cries of outrage from DeChristopher's supporters. One woman shouted "This judge is a spineless bastard!" DeChristopher, 30, was then escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs. Defense attorney Ron Yengich had asked for probation instead of jail, arguing that DeChristopher's "crimes were not committed to harm anyone." Prosecutors, citing his lack of remorse, called for a harsher sentence, though they stopped short of asking for the maximum ten-year term. As news of the ruling trickled out, supporters from DeChristopher's organization Peaceful Uprising began protesting outside the courthouse, blocking its entrance and chanting "Justice is not found here." A group of about 30 activists staged a sit-in in the intersection of Main and 400 South Street in downtown Salt Lake City. DeChristopher is now being held in the Davis County Jail in Farmington, Utah, while Bureau of Prisons officials decide where he will serve his sentence.

Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune


The Andrea Doria

The Andrea Doria sinking after colliding with the Stockholm in 1965.     Photo: Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Andrea Doria Wreck Claims Diver's Life

L.A. man 16th to die exploring sunken ship

A Los Angeles man died Sunday while diving the wreck of the Andrea Doria, a sunken ocean liner off Nantucket, Massachusetts. Michael LaPrade disappeared suddenly at a depth of about 225 feet while descending an anchor line between his dive boat and the Doria. Thinking he might have surfaced, two other divers ascended, only to find him missing. After notifying the Coast Guard, another dive team recovered LaPrade's body on the ocean floor at a depth of more than 300 feet. The cause of death has not yet been determined. Sometimes called the "Everest of wreck diving," the Andrea Doria has been a sought-after objective for divers and salvage crews since it sunk in 1956. The ships deep resting place and corroded wreckage have combined with cold water and strong currents to make the dive unusually dangerous. LaPrade is the 16th diver, and the first since 2008, to lose his life on the wreck.

Read more at The Boston Globe


Sea Lions

Sea Lions     Photo: Mike Baird/Flickr

Agency Halts Sea-Lion Killings

Salmon-protecting culling to end

The National Marine Fisheries Service has rescinded a policy that allowed officials from Oregon and Washington to kill sea lions preying upon endangered salmon. In 2008, the Fisheries Service granted state officials in Oregon and Washington the authority to trap, relocate, or kill sea lions found eating salmon on the Columbia River. Activists and Humane Society officials have contested the policy ever since. The sea lions—which are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act—migrate to the river from California during the spring salmon run. The Fisheries Service decision, announced Tuesday, came in response to a Humane Society lawsuit contending that sea lions, compared to fishing and hydroelectric power, have a negligible effect on salmon populations.

Read more at Reuters



Skull     Photo: Gonzo Carles/Flickr

Near Arctic, Humans Evolved Big Brains

Visual cortex biggest in low-light areas

People who live farthest from the equator appear to have evolved large eyes and brains to see better in low-light environments, according to new research from Oxford University. Larger eyes, which afford polar dwellers better vision in the dark, require bigger visual cortexes. Researchers at Oxford measured eye-socket size and brain volume in 55 skulls representing 12 populations, then plotted the measurements against the latitude of the skull's country of origin. Brain volume does not reflect intelligence, but rather a larger visual processing area. The study also notes, however, that large eyes do not enhance vision in normal daylight, supporting the researchers' claim that larger eyes and brains are needed to compensate in low-light conditions. The full study was published online Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters.

Read more at Oxford University Media


Jeret Speedy Peterson

Jeret Speedy Peterson     Photo: Duncan Rawlinson/Flickr

Olympic Skier Speedy Peterson Dies

In Utah, medal-winning aerialist takes life

Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, a three-time Olympic aerialist who won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver games, died Monday night in what Utah police believe was an act of suicide. Peterson, 29, had publicly battled alcohol addiction and depression, and briefly made headlines over the weekend when he was charged with drunk driving in Idaho on Friday night. Peterson picked up the nickname Speedy, for Speed Racer, as an 11 year old training in Lake Placid, New York. In 2004, he pioneered a complicated, five-rotation jump called the Hurricane, the same maneuver that would later net him the Olympic silver in Vancouver. Peterson was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, and had witnessed a close friend commit suicide in 2005. He called Utah police around 9 P.M. on Monday to inform them of his location and intent to take his life. Authorities later found Peterson dead from an apparent gunshot wound off Interstate 80. Peterson's achievements, said United State Olympic Committee chief Scott Blackmum, "were an inspiration to people all over the world."

Read more at CNN