July 26, 2012

Paul Watson     Photo: guano/Flickr

Paul Watson Skips Bail, Flees Germany

Sea Shepherd founder feared extradition

Anti-whaling activist and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson has fled Germany, where authorities were shortly to decide whether or not to extradite him to Costa Rica. The 61-year-old conservationist had been arrested while changing planes in Frankfurt in May and released on a $320,000 bond. The courts had just two more weeks to decide whether to accede to a 2002 international arrest warrant issued for endangering a fishing vessel. Watson maintains that the Costa Rican crew was engaged in illegal shark-finning off Guatemala and that the ship was never in any danger. Sea Shepherd's administrative director confirmed that the group feared Japan would then seek extradition from Costa Rica to prosecute Watson for endangering Japanese crews while attempting to combat illegal whaling. Watson had asked Germany to block his extradition on the grounds that he would not be safe in Costa Rica.

Via The Guardian

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Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump on March 15, 2012     Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull

Baumgartner Completes Test Jump

Hits 536 mph in 18-mile skydive

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner safely completed a jump from more than 18 miles over southern New Mexico on Wednesday. Baumgartner reached speeds of about 536 miles per hour during the training jump for Stratos, a Red Bull-sponsored project with the aim of besting the world record for highest skydive. The current record, set by Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger in 1960, stands at 102,800 feet, or nearly 19.5 miles. Baumgartner's team is now looking for a three-day weather window in August to make their final, 22-mile leap. The project is the latest of several extreme stunts for the Austrian, who has also flown across the English Channel on a carbon wing and BASE-jumped into a cave.

Read more at L.A. Times

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    Photo: anja_johnson/Flickr

North Korean Soccer Team Refuses to Play After Flag Mix-Up

South Korean flag accidentally displayed

South Korea is not North Korea, which is something Olympic officials re-learned yesterday. The North Korean women’s soccer team refused to play for over an hour—and even considered withdrawing from the tournament—after a South Korean flag was accidentally displayed on a stadium scoreboard before their opening match with Colombia. (South Korea and North Korea are, technically, still at war.) The North Koreans eventually relented and won the game 2-0. “Winning the game can’t compensate for the mistake,” North Korea coach Sin Ui Gun said. “I just want to stress once again that our players’ images and names can’t be shown alongside the South Korea flag.” This is the same North Korean team that complained of being hit by lightning before the 2011 World Cup and is banned from the 2015 World Cup for “deer gland doping.” Their next match is scheduled for July 28 against France.

Via Washington Post

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Wojdan Shahrkhani's Olympic bid is in jeopardy     Photo: West Point Public Affairs/Flickr

Saudi Judoka Barred From Wearing Hijab

Olympic participation in doubt

The president of the International Judo Federation said Thursday that one of Saudi Arabia's first female athletes ever selected for the Olympics will have to compete without a headscarf. The federation ruled that judo competitor Wojdan Shahrkhani's hijab would pose a safety risk and not be in accordance with the principles and spirit of the sport. Saudi Arabia had agreed to send its first female competitors to the Olympic Games on the condition that they wear “suitable clothing that complies with sharia,” according to Prince Nawaf bin Faisal. The Saudi Arabian Olympic Committe has yet to respond to the ruling, and it’s unclear if Shahrkhani will compete. Beyond the headscarf issue, Shahrkhani’s participation remains contentious because she’s been involved in the sport for only two years and is not yet a black belt. Shahrkhani was invited to compete at the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee despite not qualifying to compete. Saudi Arabia does not permit women to participate in its 150 official sports clubs.

Via AFP

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Ski lift     Photo: Cassi G/Flickr

Californians Ski for Free at Utah Resort

Publicity stunt also offers free Thursdays

A Utah ski area will offer free, unlimited skiing to California residents all winter long. Eagle Point Resort, located 18 miles east of Beaver in the Tushar mountains, says its Free Days initiative will also include free access to lifts and slopes for every visitor on Thursdays in January. The resort was closed for eight years before the managers of a New York hedge fund bought it in 2010 and pumped millions of dollars into improvements. The owners say they modeled the free skiing offer on Las Vegas casinos. "By owning or controlling all of the restaurants, services and rental properties around the resort and maintaining low overhead, we have the same advantage as the Vegas resorts," CEO Shand Gadbaw said in a statement. Eagle Point averages 450 inches of snow per year and is schedule to open on December 21. 

Via Sacramento Bee

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