November 19, 2012

Three Cups of Tea     Photo: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea Coauthor Dies

Cause of death not released

David Oliver Relin, coauthor with Greg Mortenson of Three Cups of Tea, has died in Multnomah County, Oregon. Few details are available—Relin’s family has apparently asked that people close to Relin not discuss the situation with the media at this time—but a spokesman for the county medical examiner confirmed that Relin died on Thursday, November 15. There will be no autopsy, and the cause of death has not been made public.

Relin had been under public and legal scrutiny, along with Mortenson, since April 2011, when 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer aired and published reports showing that Three Cups of Tea contained numerous fabrications. Relin was named in a civil suit brought by plaintiffs who argued that the book’s fabrications amounted to actionable fraud. That suit was thrown out of a federal district court in Montana last April but is currently under appeal.

Relin was at work on a much anticipated nonfiction book about the Himalayan Cataract Project, an effort to treat preventable blindness through affordable cataract surgery, carried out in harsh and remote areas of the world. Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, a cofounder of the project, could not be reached for comment.

For more on Three Cups of Tea, read Greg Mortensen Speaks, Truth and Consequences, and The Trials of Greg Mortensen

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Wild horses in Colorado

Wild horses in Colorado     Photo: Dana Romanoff/Getty Images

How Many Animals Died in the Making of 'The Hobbit'?

Wranglers say as many as 27

Four animal wranglers involved in the making of The Hobbit movie trilogy told the Associated Press that as many as 27 animals—horses, goats, chickens, and sheep—died during the production of the Lord of the Rings prequel. The American Humane Association, which oversaw animal welfare during the making of the movies, says no animals were harmed during filming but that the allegations highlight a problem with the system. The AHA monitors film sets, but does not monitor facilities where animals are kept and trained. The wranglers blamed the deaths on "bluffs, sinkholes, and other 'death traps'" at the farm near Wellington, New Zealand, where about 150 animals were housed between takes.

"The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films," reads a joint statement released by director Peter Jackson in response to the AP report. "Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved." More than half of all sequences in the films that use animals, according to Jackson, are computer generated.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film in the planned $500 million trilogy, which is expected to be released over the next two years, will premiere across the United States in mid-December.

Via The Associated Press

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Crossfit Basel.     Photo: Big Titan/Flickr

CrossFit Avoids Corporate Buyout

Owner comes up with $16M

CrossFit dodged a corporate buy-out on Wednesday when founder Greg Glassman struck a deal to buy his estranged wife's share of the popular fitness brand. A divorce court in Arizona ruled earlier this month that Glassman had until November 15 to match Anthos Capital's offer for Lauren Glassman's half of CrossFit. At the last minute, growth equity firm Summit Partners loaned Greg Glassman slightly over $16 million to close the deal. "This was a harrowing experience that pulled critical staff from their normal duties for six months and cost millions of dollars in legal fees," Greg Glassman said in a post.

Via SBNation

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cambridge Scientists Cure Paralysis in Dogs

Hope for future use in humans

Scientists at Cambridge University have reversed paralysis in dogs, a breakthrough they hope will one day have human applications.

Twenty-three dogs with spinal injuries were treated with a therapy that involves injecting the injury site with olfactory ensheathing cells from the nose, the only place on the body where nerve fibers continue growing into adulthood.

Many of the subjects can now move their back legs again and are walking on a treadmill with the aid of a harness. "We're confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries,” said Professor Robin Franklin. “But that's a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function.”

While the subjects regained use of their legs, higher spinal cord functions, like bladder and temperature control, remained inactive.

Via BBC News

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dolphin Killings Escalate in the Gulf

NOAA puts enviro agencies on alert

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a “heads-up” directive to environmental agencies in the northern Gulf of Mexico after four dolphins were killed in the last two weeks. A team from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulport found the latest victim Friday on Ship Island with its jaw missing. Dead dolphins have also been found shot and stabbed in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi in recent weeks.

Agencies are now on the lookout for any potential human-interaction dolphin strandings. Attacking a dolphin is a federal offense under the Marine Mammal Protection act and violators can be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in prison.

IMMS director Moby Solangi is urging residents and commercial fishermen in the area to come forward with any information related to the killings. "I think we need our fishermen friends to find these guys," he said. "Our best allies are shrimpers."

Via The Sun Herald

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