INTERIOR SECRETARY KEN SALAZAR APOLOGIZES FOR THREATENING TO PUNCH OUT REPORTER
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has apologized to Colorado Springs newspaper reporter Dave Philipps after ridiculing and physically threatening him during an encounter earlier this month at a campaign event for President Obama. Salazar threatened to go all Russell Crowe on his Fourth Estate butt after being questioned by Philipps about the alleged sale of hundreds of federally protected wild horses for slaughter and whether additional safeguards are needed. Salazar was calm at first but then spit the dummy. “You know what, never do that. This is a — this is the Obama — you know what, if you do that to me again, I’m going to punch you out. Okay?” Phillips argued that previous inquiries through the department’s press office had not been answered. The fact that Philipps recently published an investigative report for ProPublica that examined ties between Salazar and a Colorado businessman who allegedly sold protected horses for slaughter likely got under the Secretary’s skin — just a guess. Salazar’s office has issued an apology for the threat to Phillips. Via ABC News.
RARE MOUNTAIN GORILLA POPULATION UP 12 PERCENT
There still aren’t many mountain gorillas left in their forest homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, but World Wildlife Fund reports that a new tally from the Uganda Wildlife Authority shows that there are now 880 mountain gorillas, up from 786 two years ago when the last census was taken. 400 mountain gorillas now live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with 480 in the Virunga Massif. WWF says there are still dangers to the gorillas, however, including entanglement in hunting snares, disease transfer from humans, and habitat loss. The prospect of oil exploration in Congo’s Virunga National Park is also cause for concern. Industrial activity would compromise the integrity of the park, Africa’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. An influx of workers and heavy equipment could greatly threaten the park’s prized biodiversity, which also includes elephants, hippos, and the rare okapi antelope. Via Treehugger.
24-YEAR-OLD ALPINE MEADOWS EMPLOYEE KILLED IN SKI ACCIDENT
Annalise Kjolhede died after an accident Saturday while backcountry skiing. She sustained serious trauma to her head and neck and died of the injuries Tuesday night. Alpine Meadows wasn’t open yet (it opens December 7), but because the ski area operates on Forest Service land it is nearly always open for public use. Kjolhede was skiing with friends near Wolverine Bowl when she hit a rock beneath the snow — a genuine hazard when snowpack is light. She was wearing a helmet but still suffered a traumatic brain injury. Via RJG.com.
CALIFORNIA UTILITY CAN’T CONDUCT POTENTIALLY HARMFUL SONIC TESTING
The California Coastal Commission, concerned about harm to fish and marine mammals, scuttled Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to conduct seismic surveys with underwater air cannons offshore of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The 10-0 vote was a huge victory for the Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club, which argued that the sonic blasts would harm wildlife near scenic Morro Bay on the Central California coast. Concerns were raised specifically about local whales, sea otters, and 2,000 harbor porpoises. PG&E had requested a Coastal Commission permit to begin the high-energy surveys with the goal of producing three-dimensional images of fault lines to better understand the seismic safety of the plant. Diablo Canyon generates enough energy to meet the needs of more than three million Northern and Central Californians, but opponents, including commission chair Mary Shallenberger, said the state Lands Commission and the state Public Utilities Commission “should be investing money instead on how to get nuclear power plants off the coast,” not in figuring out just how much danger they’re putting the public in by having them anywhere where they can be threatened by seismic activity. Via L.A. Times.