August 23, 2012
Mosquito

Mosquito     Photo: Enrique Dans/Flickr

West Nile Outbreak 'Worst Ever' in U.S.

Texas has already declared a state of emergency

Federal officials announced Wednesday that the outbreak of West Nile virus is likely to worsen in the coming weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, despite having already hit peak mosquito season, new cases are likely to be reported as the disease develops. The CDC has received reports of as many as 1,100 new human cases and 41 deaths. Scientists say that hot, dry conditions have contributed to the severity of the outbreak: small pools of brackish water are the perfect breeding ground for mosquito larvae, and birds that transmit the disease are also likely to be found around the same pools. Aerial spraying will continue across Dallas County, Texas, through Friday, despite concerns about the pesticide's toxicity. Residents are urged to stay indoors.

Via Washington Post

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Lance Armstrong Adelaide

Lance Armstrong racing in the 2010 Cancer Council Hotline Classic in Adelaide     Photo: PoweriPics

Lance Armstrong Gives Up Fight, Will Likely Be Banned for Life

Says he'll stop contesting doping charges

One of the greatest cyclists in the history of the sport could soon be stripped of his titles, including seven Tour de France wins. On Thursday night, Lance Armstrong, who officially retired just last year, said that he has grown tired of fighting doping charges leveled against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and that he won't enter into an arbitration process that he considers improper and unfair. "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" he said in a statement released to the Associated Press. "For me, that time is now." It's expected that USADA, which maintains that Armstrong, 40, has been using illegal substances for more than 15 years, will take the statement as an admission of guilt and consider imposing a lifetime ban.

UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: On Thursday night, Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, confirmed that, on Friday, Armstrong will receive a lifetime ban and be stripped of all titles. The International Cycling Union, the sport's governing body, has not yet released a statement.

Via Associated Press

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Grand Tetons     Photo: Dgrilla/Flickr

Grand Teton Speed Record Falls Again

Ranger breaks Jornet's 11-day-old time

A climbing ranger from Rocky Mountain National Park broke Kilian Jornet's Grand Teton speed record on Wednesday, just 11 days after the Spanish ultrarunner smashed the 30-year-old record. Andy Anderson ran the Owen-Spalding route in just 2:53:02, beating Jornet's mark by 59 seconds. Unlike Jornet, who reportedly took shortcuts, Anderson stayed on the trail the entire way up. Jenny Lake climbing rangers had posted a pointed message after Jornet's speed ascent, reminding park visitors that shortcuts are not kosher: "Remember that shortcutting not only causes erosion and significant resource damage, but may be cause for citation by a backcountry ranger. Please remain on the well traveled and marked trails in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park."

Anderson's feat was just one of two records set on the Grand this week, as 51-year-old climber Nancy Stevens made the second blind ascent of the peak on Wednesday, and the first by a woman. Stevens, of Bend, Oregon, took a total of 26.5 hours to ascend and descend the peak, along with three friends and three Exum guides.

Via Outerlocal.com

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A U.N. meeting in session.     Photo: Lily/Wikimedia Commons

U.N. Green Climate Fund Holds First Meeting

Global drought makes fund distribution urgent

After months of delays, board members of the U.N. Green Climate Fund, designed to help impoverished countries cope with global climate change, will hold their first meeting in Geneva. In 2011, developed nations agreed to pledge $100 billion toward climate change aid. However, a lack of funding and disagreement over which country should host the fund has led to delays. “The timing really couldn’t be more urgent. In the U.S. alone, we’ve heard all these stories about droughts and massive crop damage and rampant wildfires this summer with concerns over rising food prices,” said Brandon Wu, a senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA. “The effects are even more severe in developing countries, where vulnerable smallholder farmers don’t have the protection of things that we have here like crop insurance and social safety nets.” Currently, only $30 billion of funding is available, part of a separate agreement at the 2009 Copenhagen talks. The $100 billion pledged in 2011 has yet to be collected, leaving a funding gap at the end of this year.

Via The Washington Post

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    Photo: cumulius/Flickr

Hippo Stuck in Swimming Pool

Solace in a soak after being chased by his herd

Hippos are the worst. After being bullied by his herd, a South African hippopotamus has found sanctuary in an eight-foot-deep swimming pool at the Monate Conservation Lodge. One problem: there are no steps, so the four-year-old beast is stuck. Officials have been feeding him and say that he's seemed relatively relaxed since escaping the more dominant males. The pool was deep enough for the animal to have a swim, but the lodge staff has had to slowly drain the water as it’s become murky with hippo poop. Officials plan on sedating the hippo and then lifting him out of the pool with a crane on Friday. He will then be moved to another animal sanctuary since he’s no longer welcome with his herd. I hope you’re happy with yourselves, other hippos.

Via The Guardian

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