April 16, 2013

    Photo: Paul from www.Castaways.com.au/F

Ship of Endangered Anteater Meat Runs Aground

22 tons of the meat hits a protected reef

A Chinese vessel that ran aground on a protected Philippine coral reef was found to contain more than 20,000 pounds of meat from the scaly anteater, a protected species prized for its supposed medicinal qualities. 

The ship hit an atoll on April 8 on Palawan Island, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. An additional search of the boat Sunday revealed 400 boxes, each containing between 25 to 30 kilograms of frozen anteaters. An international ban on trading scaly anteaters took effect in 2002, but illegal trade continues as the meat and scales of the animals are valued at over a hundred dollars per kilogram in China.

"It is bad enough that the Chinese have illegally entered our seas, navigated without boat papers and crashed recklessly into a national marine park and World Heritage Site," said World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines chief executive officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan. "It is simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife."

The ship's 12 crewmen are detained on charges of poaching and attempted bribery, with additional charges to come. They face up to 12 years imprisonment and fines of $300,000 for the poaching alone. 


Two women run the popular London Marathon     Photo: Annie Mole/Flickr

London Marathon Will Go Forward

Scotland Yard to review security plan

The London Marathon will go on as planned this Sunday despite yesterday's bombings in Boston, British sports officials said.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said he was "absolutely confident" that the race, which runs from Blackheath in southeast London to the city's center, could be held safely. "I think this is one of those incidents where the best way to show solidarity with Boston is to continue and send a very clear message to those responsible," he said.

With over 37,000 runners and 500,000 spectators expected to attend this year, including Olympic gold medalists Mo Farah and Stephen Kiprotich, London is one of the largest races of the marathon season, a fact that makes conducting security for it a challenge. According to The Guardian, the head of security for the event said that Scotland Yard would review its contingency plans as it received more information from U.S. law enforcement about suspects and the construction of the bombs.

Besides providing protection at Sunday's race, London police will be coordinating security at former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday.


    Photo: Grayson Schaffer

UCI Quashed Armstrong's Positive Test Results

Corticosteroids found in four samples

Four of Lance Armstrong's doping controls from the 1999 Tour de France tested positive for corticosteroids, according to an internal UCI document obtained by Het Nieuwsblad. Until now, only one positive result had been leaked to the press. 

At the time, Armstrong's team doctor, Luis Garcia Del Moral, prepared a back-dated therapeutic use exemption (TUE), claiming the cortisone was legally used to treat a saddle sore. Armstrong wasn't sanctioned by the UCI and went on to win the 1999 Tour de France. But in his doping confession, he admitted to having illegally used the substance.  

According to the UCI memo prepared by UCI attorney Philippe Verbiest, the quantities of the drug found in Armstrong's sample were minimal, unlikely to be administered purposefully as a performance enhancer:

The test results were seen and still can be seen as showing that no systemic use took place. If the corticosteroids had been injected then Del Moral must have known that the substance was likely to show up regularly during the Tour. He then could have delivered a prescription or a certificate that LA had been administered an intra-articular injection for corticosteroids, which is not forbidden either.

Verbiest goes on to say that the status of corticosteroids at the 1999 Tour was ambitious and Armstrong's team "didn’t know how to deal with the requirement of the list on how the use of corticosteroids was to be justified."


    Photo: Roman Sigaev via Shutterstock

The Joy of Beer

Brain releases dopamine after just a taste

Maybe we need to give beer more credit. A new study indicates that, at least for men, alcohol isn't the only thing that makes it so fun to drink: simply tasting beer could make you crave more.

Researchers observed the brain activity of 49 men as they sipped 0.5 ounces of beer over 15 minutes, and saw a significant release of the pleasure chemical dopamine.  More surprisingly, the dopamine effect of beer was stronger for those who reported a family history of alcoholism. This could indicate a potential genetic link.

As a comparison, researchers also asked the men to drink Gatorade. This had a much less pronounced effect on their brains' reward centers. The men also overwhelmingly reported that they wanted more beer after tasting it, but had little desire for more of the sports drink after a sip. Sorry, Gatorade.


San Gabriel Watershed and Mountain National Recreation Area Map

San Gabriel Watershed and Mountain National Recreation Area Map     Photo: National Park Service

Park Service Proposes L.A. Expansion

Plan angers original supporters

A new proposal to increase National Park Service land around Los Angeles has many original supporters upset. In July, 2003, the San Gabriel River Watershed Study Act authorized the National Park Service to study and propose a plan for protecting and managing land within a 1,000-mile area covering parts of the San Gabriel River and San Gabriel Mountains.

Politicians and supporters of the original plan have expressed dismay that a larger, simpler conservation plan was not adopted. They had hoped more resources and protections would have been provided for the popular Angeles National Forest. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The National Park Service spent nearly a decade researching alternatives, conducting public hearings, developing a 316-page report and evaluating 12,000 public comments that led to Wednesday's announcement. More than 95% of public comments supported an alternative that recommended creating a National Recreation Area spanning the entire area, including the national forest land.

Doing so would have emphasized recreational use and brought new environmental protections to a region now designated as a national forest charged with managing multiple uses including mining, hunting, logging and other activities. The 655,000-acre portion of the Angeles National Forest suffers from illegal campfires, crime and pollution.

Others worry that existing National Park Service resources in Los Angeles will be stretched thin. "I am concerned that creating a separate and noncontiguous unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for this region will create logistical and administrative challenges," Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff wrote.

Congress would need to approve the plan to make National Park Services proposal official. Representative Chu said she will hold meetings to see where the public stands on the decision.