Massive Sewage Spill Contaminates Famed Waikiki Beach
Aug29

Massive Sewage Spill Contaminates Famed Waikiki Beach

World-famous Waikiki Beach and surrounding areas of Honolulu’s coastline remained closed Aug. 26 after heavy rainstorms caused 500,000 gallons of sewage to spill out from manholes and into storm sewers leading to the ocean. “All I can do is apologize to the public,” Lori Kahikina, director of environmental services for Honolulu, said at a news conference. “This is unheard of. It’s unprecedented.” Rainstorms, combined with worn-out sewer systems, are common culprits when it comes to sewage backing up into homes — one of the reasons home sewer connections need to be replaced every 40 years or so. But the city supposedly has systems in place to prevent overflow. Tourists were warned to stay away from the water, since it could be contaminated with pathogens and therefore constitute a serious risk of illness or infection — though not all complied. Local news station KHON reported Aug. 25 that a communication breakdown may have contributed to the spill; apparently, one of the pumping stations located at Ala Moana, a short stretch down the coast from Waikiki, was offline at the time of the spill. City Councilman Trevor Ozawa, who represents the district, told the station that he hadn’t coordinated with the Department of Design and Construction to ensure the pump was in working order. “We were all aware that the rain was coming … but we didn’t look at some of the glaring obvious things that we could have done,” Ozawa admitted. The closures — unfortunately timed in the middle of the busiest season for the island — have had a serious impact on Waikiki businesses, many of which rely on tourists wanting to try ocean-based activities (though it’s possible businesses in other areas of the island may benefit from the displaced tourists). Dave Carvalho, owner of Big Wave Dave surfing school, told local TV broadcast Hawaii News Now that they’ve been informing tourists of the situation but allowing them to make their own choices as to the risk. The brown-water warning did, however, delay prominent events scheduled as part of Duke’s OceanFest, an ocean sports festival timed around the birthday of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. Aug. 24 marked the 125th anniversary of his birth, and the festival was slated to involve more than 2,500 athletes and thousands more spectators. The city has promised to lift warnings as soon as water testing has been...

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Protesters Get Nude at UC Berkeley to Save the Eucalyptus Trees
Aug09

Protesters Get Nude at UC Berkeley to Save the Eucalyptus Trees

The tree hugging hippie is alive and well in Berkeley, California. Earlier this month, UC Berkeley announced that they would be moving forward with a tree clearing program that plans to clear a grove of eucalyptus trees from the University’s campus. On July 18, 50 protesters responded to the tree clearing announcement by arriving at the grove, stripping down to their birthday suits, and posing naked with the eucalyptus trees. Standing by was their leader, Jack Gescheidt, who photographed the protesters’ intimate encounters with the trees. The photographs are set to be apart of a series called “The Spirit Project”, a photography project that aims to show environmental awareness for eucalyptus trees through the juxtaposition of naked bodies and trees. According to Campus Reform, Gescheidt felt that trees were being treated like ‘monsters’ rather than the longest living organisms on earth. He adds, “We need to tell more people and get them involved and put a stop to this nonsense.” The protesters also made clear that the glyphosate, the chemical used to treat the trees, is in fact toxic and poses a threat to the safety of the community. The initiative to remove the eucalyptus trees was put in motion by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA) as a response to the rampant wildfires previously caused by eucalyptus groves in the past. Eucalyptus trees are also considered an invasive species. Eucalyptus trees use a great deal of water to grow, and their rapid growth poses a threat to biological diversity in the Bay Area. Despite all of these very real concerns, Gescheidt and his protesters feel that the claims made against eucalyptus trees are completely untrue. He feels that the trees are not, in fact, an invasive species, and that “all living trees and forests are fire resistant”. Considering the rampant wildfires rampaging across Washington States only states over, Gescheidt’s statement is a bold one. FEMA plans to set the tree clearing initiative in motion in late August. Will the protesters’ naked bodies be enough to keep the trees out of harm’s way? Only time will...

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You’ll Never Guess What This Thief Got Caught Stealing on a Surveillance Video
Aug04

You’ll Never Guess What This Thief Got Caught Stealing on a Surveillance Video

Residents of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, thought that deer were responsible for removing the flowers planted alongside the city’s covered bridge. But when police watched surveillance video taken at the scene, they found something even more shocking. It turns out the missing flowers were taken deliberately by 63-year-old Deborah Stottlemire, who wanted the flowers to plant in her own yard. When police arrived at Stottlemire’s home, they saw that the stolen goods were planted right in her front garden. Locals were upset by the petty theft, too, which resulted in a $269 fine for the culprit. Lovette Malatarich, another Sheffield Lake resident, said that the flowers had been planted by elementary school-age Girl Scouts. “My daughter is a Brownie and the day they planted flowers for the area that they were going to meet in, they were so excited. Not that it made any difference that Brownies planted it, but it’s just nice to walk here and see the flowers,” Malatarich told Fox8 in Cleveland. Maybe next time, the thief should just visit a local garden supply shop or find a florist online — she has 36,613 of the latter to choose from here in the United States! Perhaps even more baffling is that Stottlemire returned to the scene just days later, this time trying to replant the flowers that she’d stolen and display an apology sign. Police told her and the man accompanying her to move along, and make her restitution in court instead. When reached for comment, however, Stottlemire did say that she felt badly about the incident. The 63-year-old told police that she hadn’t had the money to buy flowers, which had motivated her to steal them, topsoil and all. But Sheffield Lake Police Chief Tony Campo said this isn’t the first time Stottlemire’s been in trouble with the law. “We had a previous incident with her in December of last year over a petty theft at a local store,” Campo said. Stottlemire is due to appear in Mayor’s Court on Aug....

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Greenpeace Protesters Create an Aerial Barricade Against Shell Arctic Icebreaker
Jul30

Greenpeace Protesters Create an Aerial Barricade Against Shell Arctic Icebreaker

Preventing a major oil corporation from drilling in the Arctic is no small feat, but Greenpeace protesters are proving that, with a little bit of creativity, anything is possible. On July 29, 13 Greenpeace protesters set up camp on the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. According to local news station KATU, the protesters suspended themselves on the edge of the bridge in an “aerial blockade” in order to prevent a Shell oil ship from passing through. It was around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning when the protesters rappelled over Portland’s tallest bridge, which stretches over the Willamette River. Thirteen additional protesters have remained stationed on the bridge as lookouts for those dangling over the river. According to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, the protesters have enough food and water to remain suspended over the river for about a week. Their harnesses allow the protesters to raise themselves to let other ships pass through, but for Shell oil, they’re saying #ShellNo. The ship, named the Fennica, is an icebreaker and is part of the Shell Oil Arctic fleet which received presidential approval earlier this year from the Obama administration to begin exploring Arctic drilling off the coast of Alaska. The Fennica had been damaged earlier in July, according to TIME, when the hull collided with an underwater object in the Aleutian Islands. The icebreaker arrived in Portland last week for repairs and was scheduled to depart on Wednesday but was forced to remain docked indefinitely in the Swan Island port, which is an important location for ships, like the Fennica, that need repairs in order to transport around 95% of the world’s cargo. As the Washington Post reported, the Fennica is transporting critical cargo for Shell’s operations in the north; without the safety equipment aboard the icebreaker, Shell workers do not have emergency response equipment that would be necessary in the event of a spill. No charges have been filed against the protesters yet, but local law enforcement agents have stated that criminal charges might be filed if...

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Californians Cut Their Water Use By an Incredible 29% This May
Jul21

Californians Cut Their Water Use By an Incredible 29% This May

The latest figures from the California drought are in — and throughout the month of May, California residents successfully cut their water consumption by an incredible 29%, officials with the State Water Resources Control Board announced. According to the LA Times, the news offers hope that the state’s residents may be able to meet the unprecedented conservation requirements imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the drought crisis. This reduction in residential water use also suggests the state’s aggressive campaign to encourage lifestyle changes — such as taking shorter showers, replacing grass with drought-tolerant plants and investing in water-efficient appliances — is finally starting to see success. “My first response is almost disbelief,” Mark Gold, of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said. “These results are beyond encouraging; they’re heartening. They make you realize that as a whole, people in urban areas are making the sacrifices necessary to get through this unprecedented drought.” The State Water Resources Control Board found that urban residents cut their water consumption by 28.9% in May, a significant improvement over April’s 13.6% reduction. In California’s first-ever mandatory water rationing, Gov. Brown is requiring all urban areas to cut water use by 25%. The news arrives at the start of California’s peak lawn-watering season; during the summer months, lawn irrigation makes up a stunning 80% of residential water use. In an effort to meet Gov. Brown’s stringent water restrictions, state officials have urged residents to let their lawns fade from green to gold with slogans like “Let it go” and “Turn it off.” While the typical American family of four consumes approximately 400 gallons of water per day, California residents aren’t afforded the same luxury. The state has been in a state of severe drought for more than four years, with no visible end in sight. As a result, California’s residents can’t afford to be liberal with their water usage. However, May’s water reduction statistics offer hope that Californians are resilient enough to withstand the challenges of living through a drought. “The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said in a statement. “That said, we need all Californians to step up — and keep it up — as if we don’t know when it will rain and snow again, because we...

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Family Camping Vacation Tips That Will Make Your Trip Perfect
Jul20

Family Camping Vacation Tips That Will Make Your Trip Perfect

It’s high summer in the U.S., which means one thing — camping season. Family camping trips are one of the most popular choices for American families, with camping days spent together totaling 534.9 million in the year 2011 alone. However, camping with kids requires some special planning, so read on for some recommendations for having the best camping vacation ever with your family. Know Your Needs Will your family enjoy tent camping or should you look at cabins? Do you need flush toilets and hot showers or can you handle a campground with outhouses, in order to get even closer to nature? Buy Gear Slowly According to this tip from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Don’t invest heavily in gear until you know camping is a good fit for your family. Borrow what you can, troll garage sales and invest in necessities.” Above all, keep your packing as simple as possible to save time. Pack for the environment If you are camping somewhere that gets cold at night, plan on layers of clothing. You want your bottom layer to wick moisture from the skin, a warm layer, and then a water repelling layer on top of that. If you are going somewhere warmer, try to remember battery powered fans and sport towels. Don’t forget the bug repellent! Pre-pack Prep as much food as possible at home, and keep quick snacks on hand like nuts and dried fruit to keep everyone’s energy up. Have a box designated for camp cooking supplies only, so you can just grab it and pack it when you leave. Plan, Test, Modify Keep a running list of what you take camping that you can adjust as your family takes more trips. According to one article on Summit Daily, “To prepare for a camping trip, consider testing out your gear beforehand, making sure the batteries in the battery-operated lantern and glowsticks are still functional and practicing putting up the tent, including how to put on the rainfly.” Make your first night easy Set realistic expectations on how long it will take to get your campsite set up and everyone settled in. Plan on simple meals your first night so you don’t make more work for yourself — sandwiches or hot dogs, for example, are quick and easy. Challenge the Kids Have activity ideas on hand, which can be as easy as an impromptu scavenger hunt or hike. Participating in planned activities such as junior ranger programs can be very interesting and educational for the little ones. Smartphones can help you identify plants, wildlife, and constellations when you’re bored — if you have a connection. Be Flexible, Not...

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