August 1, 2012

Oak Ridge     Photo: Joelk75/Flickr

Nuclear Sites Proposed as National Parks

Los Alamos and Oak Ridge on the table

Congress is considering legislation that would give three historic nuclear sites National Park status. The Obama administration has expressed support for the bipartisan plan, which would draw tourism dollars and help preserve the atomic labs for posterity. The Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Handford, Washington, sites enriched plutonium and uranium, respectively, during World War II, while scientists and technicians in Los Alamos, New Mexico, assembled the materials into the bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "You can't deny the impact nuclear weapons have had," Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Micah Zenko said. While the Energy Department says the sites are safe to visit, all three are currently undergoing multi-billion-dollar cleanup initiatives or in the process of permanently storing nuclear waste.

Via The Seattle Times


Olympic badminton.     Photo: eviltomthai/Flickr

8 Badminton Players Kicked Out of Games

Accused of throwing matches

Four women's Badminton pairs were punted from the Olympic Games on Wednesday for throwing their preliminary matches in order to obtain an easier matchup in the quarterfinals. Two teams from South Korea, one from China, and one from Indonesia deliberately swatted the shuttlecock out of bounds and into the net in an attempt to lose their matches and change the outcome of the quarter-final draw. The poor play was so obvious that referees repeatedly warned the players, and spectators ultimately booed the teams off the court. The South Korean coach defended his players, whom he said were merely following China's lead; China maintained they were simply preserving their energy. After an investigation, the I.O.C. said the teams had violated their agreement upon entering the Olympics in “not using one’s best efforts to win a match.” I.O.C. Vice President Craig Reedie and former head of the International Badminton Federation, came out in support of the decision. "Sport is competitive," Reedie told the Associated Press. "If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense."

Via U.K. Press Association


    Photo: Matt From London/Flickr

Boris Johnson Gets Stuck on Zipline

London mayor and Olympic ringleader is okay

It’s not a day at the London Olympics without the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson, doing or saying something charmingly absurd. On its face, it is ridiculous for the mayor of a major city hosting the Olympics to get caught on a zipline at a rally during the Games—but less so when it’s Boris Johnson. And yes, that did happen. The "Mayor of the World," which he basically is for the next few weeks, slid down a zipline—while wearing a hard hat, dressed in a suit, waving two Union Jack flags—at an event in Victoria Park in the East End of London earlier today, but the apparatus got stuck halfway down the line, and Johnson was left hanging, helplessly, 20 feet above the onlooking crowd. Thankfully, after a few minutes, he was pulled down the remainder of the line by the operating crew and brought back to ground safely.



Whale fluke

Humpback Whale Fluke     Photo: Michael L. Baird/Flickr

Whale Found Dead in Sydney Pool

33-foot carcass washed over a barrier

High tides and rough seas washed a dead 30-ton humpback whale measuring 33 feet in length into a seaside pool in Sydney on Wednesday, leaving authorities bewildered as to how to dispose of the carcass. Wildlife officials said the young humpback likely died just a few days ago from a respiratory infection. Before any plan could be put into action, high tide floated the carcass back over the barrier and out to sea. The National Parks and Wildlife Service had considered cutting the whale into chunks and then removing them by truck. However, they decided to give the tide a chance because the dismembering would likely attract sharks to the beach. Officials will wait until Thursday morning to attempt to locate the carcass and reassess any removal effort.



Oil-sands refinery, Alberta

Oil-sands refinery, Alberta     Photo: sbamueller/Flickr

BP Posts $1.4 Billion Loss

Markets and shareholders shaken

On Tuesday, British Petroleum reported an unexpected $1.4 billion loss for the second quarter and a $4.8 billion loss on the value of its assets. The oil company's stock price is still down about 30 percent from what it was at the time of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. A court case to determine how much BP will pay in damages from the spill has been postponed until 2013, but low natural gas prices in the U.S. and an Alaska project halted due to environmental concerns decreased earnings. Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, the world's two biggest oil companies, also reported lower earnings due to lower oil and gas prices.

Via New York Times