August 26, 2011

Sections of oil pipe, Canada     Photo: Loozrboy/Flickr

Pipeline Gets State Dept. Support

Report says Keystone XL isn't threat

The State Department issued a report on Friday endorsing the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, and saying that the project does is not a serious threat to the environment. State Department officials released the report as hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the pipeline have been arrested in front of the White House since Monday. Recent oil spills from pipelines in Montana and off the coast of Great Britain in the North Sea have galvanized environmental opposition. Activists say the Keystone XL pipeline would pose both immediate and long-term risks to the environment, including hazards from a leak or spill. Tar sands oil is also environmentally damaging to extract and pollutes more than other forms of oil when burned. The pipeline would span nearly 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to Texas. Pending legal challenges and final approval by the Obama administration, the pipeline could be complete as early as 2013.

Read more at The New York Times

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Levi Leipheimer     Photo: Petit Brun/Flickr

Levi Takes Back Pro Challenge Lead

Leipheimer wins uphill time trial

Levi Leipheimer rode back into the lead of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Thursday in Colorado, claiming a half-second victory in the 16.1-kilometer time trial and re-taking the leader's jersey by 11 seconds. Leipheimer was briefly in on top overall when he won the tour's first stage on Monday, then saw his lead slip away after dropping time to Colorado native and HTC Garmin rider Tejay van Garderen on a rainy descent into Aspen on Wednesday. The Stage 3 time trial climbed 1,800 feet from Vail Village to Vail Pass, at more than 10,000 feet elevation. Riding a time trial bike, Leipheimer saw a 17-second cushion over second-place rider Christian Vande Velde, who was on a road bike, shrink to less than a second by the finish. "That last kilometer really, really hurt," Leipheimer said. The race, so far, has been unkind to Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, who sits 1:18 back in seventh, and Frank and Andy Schleck, who are 2 and 7 minutes down, respectively. Should Leipheimer hang onto the lead through Sunday's finish in Denver, it would be his second stage-race victory this month after winning the Tour of Utah on August 14. Friday's Stage 4, a 138-kilometer ride from Avon to Steamboat Springs, features two major climbs.

Read more at Cyclingnews.com

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North Korea vs. U.S.     Photo: U.S. Army/Flickr

N. Korea Women Banned from World Cup

FIFA bans team for positive doping tests

FIFA has banned the North Korean women’s team from participating in the 2015 World Cup after five players tested positive for banned substances. FIFA tested the entire team after two defenders came up positive in a pregame check during the 2011 Women's World Cup, held this summer in Germany. After the tournament, an additional three players were caught with a type of steroid extracted from musk deer glands. Four of the North Koreans received an 18-month ban from any soccer-related activity, and the fifth was banned for 14 months. FIFA banned the team's doctor for six years. “We can really say with far-reaching confidence that these steroids were the result of this so-called Chinese traditional medicine,” said FIFA Chief Medical Officer Jiri Dvorak. The North Korea soccer federation received a fine of $400,000—the equivalent of the prize for their 13th place finish in this year’s competition.

Read more at Bloomberg.

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Amazon River     Photo: PearlyV/Flickr

Scientists Discover 'Underground Amazon'

Subterranean flow is up to 250 miles wide

Brazilian scientists have discovered a massive underground river nearly two and a half miles below the Amazon. The Rio Hamza, named for project leader Valiya Hamza of Brazil's National Observatory, ranges from 120 to 250 miles wide, and creeps along at less than a millimeter per hour. Researchers located the river using temperature data from 241 abandoned wells drilled in the Amazon basin by oil and gas company Petrobras. While the Rio Hamza actually moves less water than its above-ground cousin—about 138,000 cubic feet per second compared to the Amazon's 4,700,000—the river's existence could explain the low salinity of the water in the mouth of the Amazon. Hamza said the study was only the first evidence of the river's existence, and that his team planned to confirm it by the end of 2014.

Read more at The Guardian

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red-tailed hawk     Photo: devra/Flickr

Hawk Attacks Jogger

Kansas man bloodied after encounter

A 29-year-old Kansas man claims he was attacked by a hawk while jogging early Thursday morning. Brian Foster, an employee of a local television station, was nearing the end of his jog through the streets of Overland Park around 5 a.m. when he felt something hit the back of his head. Assuming it was another person attacking him, Foster turned around only to see a large bird flying away. Shortly thereafter he realized he was bleeding and returned home where he alerted animal control of the bird attack. Hawks had been spotted in the area, and residents had been warned a month earlier about hawks going after small pets. While hawk attacks aren't common, they aren't unheard of. This past April a Sarasota, Florida, man was attacked while waking through his neighborhood. The hawk took his hat and left a four-inch gash on his head. Last year in Alberta, Canada, a postal worker had to start wearing a helmet because of an aggressive hawk that was attacking him on his daily route. A red-tailed hawk is also blamed for five human attacks in March 2010 in Connecticut.

Read more at KMBC.com

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Feds Investigate Polar Bear Shooting

BP guard says he mixed up bullets

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the fatal shooting of a polar bear at an Alaskan oil field earlier this month. A guard at the BP field shot the bear on August 3 after it moved toward employee housing; the animal died several days later. After the incident, the guard called the killing an accident and said he thought he had nonlethal rubber bullets in his gun. The incident is only the second recorded death of a polar bear at an oil facility; in 2002, a federal biologist put down a starving bear that refused to leave a field despite efforts to scare it off. All oil operators in Alaska, including BP, have permission to use "nonlethal harrassment" to keep polar bears away from oil facilities. According to polar bear biologist Ian Stirling, loud noises, trained bear dogs, and nonlethal firearms such as 12-gauge plastic slugs and rubber bullets can all be used as deterrents.

Read more at Reuters

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