February 16, 2012
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls     Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr

Tightrope Walker Can Cross Niagara Falls

Canada parks officials approve stunt

Canada's Niagara Parks Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow daredevil Nik Wallenda to tightrope-walk across Niagara Falls later this year. The vote reversed an earlier decision by the commission in December that stated such an event would violate the park's policy against stunting, but the commission also passed a motion yesterday to limit such stunts to no more than once every 20 years. Approval by Canada's board was Wallenda's last legal step after he received support from the American side last fall. "I'm thrilled to death," Wallenda said. The stunt has been a dream since he was 6 years old. "I've done walks farther and higher. This will be the most iconic." If successful, the attempt will make Wallenda the first person ever to cross directly over the falls.

Read more at The Toronto Star


Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon     Photo: Steve Dunleavy/Flickr

Man on Trial for Forcing Grandkids to Hike

Boys marched for miles in Grand Canyon

On Wednesday, an Indianapolis man pleaded not guilty to six counts of felony child abuse for allegedly forcing his grandsons to hike the Grand Canyon in August with little food or water. Prosecutors say Christopher Carlson, 45, withheld water in 108-degree weather, and pushed, choked and kicked his grandsons—who were 12, 9, and 8 years old at the time—during a 19-mile hike. A ranger saw the group hiking and gave the boys water after one of them exhibited signs of heat stroke. Investigators say the boys had cuts, bruises, blisters, and scars that supported their story. Carlson said the boys were overweight and that he thought hiking the Grand Canyon would get them into shape.

Read more at the Arizona Daily Star


Tim DeChristopher

Tim DeChristopher     Photo: Daphne Hougard

Company Accused of Swindling Non-Profits

DeChristopher's Peaceful Uprising affected

The executive director of a company that managed administration for 200 small non-profits has been accused of disappearing with more than $800,000 in donor money. Steve Sugarman ran the International Humanities Center, which helped small, budget- and staff-constrained non-profits organize tax returns and keep track of donations. Clients including Peaceful Uprising, the group founded by environmental activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher gained prominence in 2008 for disrupting a government oil- and gas-lease auction and was jailed in July. "The more time goes on, the more I lose hope we'll ever see any of that money again," said Peaceful Uprising's Dylan Rose Schneider. Sugarman closed IHC in mid January and is accused of misappropriating $877,000 in donations. California's attorney general office has opened an investigation.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times


Glacier calving

Glacier calving     Photo: Spencer T.

Heartland Institute Internal Docs Leaked

Papers show conservative climate plans

The conservative think-tank Heartland Institute said on Wednesday that it was the victim of theft and forgery after an environmental blog posted documents that may detail the institute's climate strategy. One set of documents, which Heartland says are forged, detail a $100,000 scheme to pay a former U.S. Department of Energy employee to rewrite the K-12 school curriculum with a bias against global warming. Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely said that a staff member mistakenly sent a number of documents to a person claiming to be a board member, but that at least one of the documents posted is a "total fake." The Heartland Institute receives donations from prominent groups, including Charles and David Koch, Microsoft, and RJR Tobacco. The institute said Thursday that it may sue journalists who publish or quote from the documents.

Read more at the New York Times


Snowmobilers near Togwotee Pass

Snowmobilers near Togwotee Pass     Photo: Wyoming's Wind River Country

Two Dead After WY. Rescue Accident

Snowmobiler, avalanche dog specialist die

A veteran search and rescue team member from Jackson Hole died on Wednesday in a helicopter crash in western Wyoming. Ray Shriver and two members of Teton County Search and Rescue were responding to a report of a snowmobile accident near Togwotee Pass, near the Wyoming-Idaho border, around 2 P.M. on Wednesday when their helicopter crashed. Shriver, 63, an avalanche rescue specialist, died at the scene. Pilot Ken Johnson and a third volunteer were injured. The snowmobiler, Steven Anderson, 53, of Morris, Minnesota, was not in the helicopter but also died. Agents from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Read more at the Morris Sun Tribune