August 4, 2011
HTC cyclist Danny Pate

HTC cyclist Danny Pate     Photo: PB85/Wikimedia

HTC-Highroad Can't Find Sponsor

One of cycling's top teams collapses

Bob Stapelton, owner and director of pro cycling team HTC-Highroad, announced Thursday that he was unable to find appropriate sponsorship and would release HTC's 27 riders from their contracts, effectively killing on of the sport's best teams. Among the riders looking for new squads will be Mark Cavendish, who won five stages and secured the green jersey at last month's Tour de France. Stapelton's three-year contract with the troubled electronics maker HTC is set to expire in late 2011. Rather than rush to maintain the team with a skeleton budget, or merge with another team, Stapelton said he felt compelled to release the riders. “It is in their best interest to go forward with their career options,” he told journalists Thursday.

Read more at Bicycling


Orca at SeaWorld

Orca performing at SeaWorld San Diego     Photo: http2007/Flickr

Judge Blocks Orca Export

Rescued whale won't go to marine park

A Dutch judge has blocked a Seaworld-affiliated marine park from exporting a rescued juvenile orca currently being held in a Netherlands aquarium. The whale, called Morgan, will instead be moved to a larger tank with a group of dolphins at the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands while scientists explore the possibility of reintroducing her to the wild. Morgan had been slated to go to the Loro Parque marine park in Spain's Canary Islands. "This is the first time in history that the export of an orca has been blocked by a judge," Wietse van der Wert of the Orca Coalition of Holland told the Associated Press. "It exposes the international trade among dolphinariums as a very lucrative industry." Researchers working with the advocacy group have said that Morgan, who has only been in captivity a year, is a prime candidate for reintroduction, while scientists arguing for the marine park say that she would not likely survive in the wild.

Read more at Newser


Bark Scorpion

Striped Bark Scorpion     Photo: Wyatt Berka/Flickr

First Scorpion Antivenin Approved

FDA green-lights bark scorpion drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an antivenin used to treat bark scorpion stings on Wednesday, the first drug of its kind on the U.S. market. Also known as the Centruroides scorpion, the bark scorpion is the country’s most common scorpion, and its most venomous. The antivenin, Ansacorp, is an injectable drug made in Mexico in the same manner as snake antivenom; a horse is injected with venom and immunized plasma is extracted. Bark scorpion stings are rarely life threatening to adults, but can be dangerous for children and infants. About 11,000 people are stung annually in Arizona, where the scorpion is most common. Reactions can include breathing problems, slurred speech, neurological problems, and numbness or burning in the area of the sting. The FDA approved the antivenin after a study showed neurological improvements in children who had been stung. There are no other drugs approved for scorpion stings.

Read more at The Arizona Republic


Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf     Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr

Feds, Wyoming Reach Wolf Agreement

Shooting wolves now legal outside park

Federal officials in Wyoming reached an agreement on Wednesday that will allow hunters to kill gray wolves and turns management of the animals over to state wildlife officials. In a separate decision, a judge in Montana denied an appeal challenging a congressional law that removed wolves from the U.S. endangered species list in April. Wednesday's agreement between U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Wyoming governor Matt Mead gives Wyoming the authority to manage wolf populations and classifies the animals as predators, allowing hunters to shoot on sight. A population of wolves, currently numbering 110, will remain protected in and around Yellowstone national park. The state must also maintain a non-park population of no fewer than 100 animals. Approximately 340 wolves live in Wyoming today. "The agreement we've reached with Wyoming recognizes the success of this iconic species and will ensure the long-term conservation of gray wolves," Salazar said. The gray wolf was removed from the Endangered Species list in April as part of a congressional budget agreement. Environmental groups had challenged Congress's authority to rule on the act, which judge Donald Molloy upheld yesterday.

Read more at the Associated Press


Oil pipeline, Alaska

Oil pipeline, Alaska     Photo: Arthur Chapman?Flickr

Chamber Supports Oil-Sands Plan

Political climate shifts in favor of oil

A controversial plan to construct a pipeline linking Canadian oil fields to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico got a critical boost last week from the U.S Chamber of Commerce, which launched a lobbying effort dubbed the Partnership to Fuel America. The group will seek to build political support for the pipeline, a project that is widely opposed on environmental grounds. The Chamber of Commerce initiative arrives amid both a broader push to grant approval for the pipeline and a perceived softening by the Obama administration in favor of major oil projects. Earlier this week, a man associated with a former Nebraska senator set up more than a dozen fake twitter accounts linking back to pro-pipeline websites. And on Thursday, the Department of the Interior issued a decision that advances Royal Dutch Shell's plans to drill off the coast of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea. Anti-drilling groups will likely oppose those plans amid concerns that the rough, often stormy waters could invite a catastrophic spill in the event of an accident. The proposed pipeline from Canada would connect oil-sands fields near Calgary with refineries along the Gulf coast. Oil-sands, a thick petroleum, are hazardous and expensive to mine.