WHITE HOUSE CALL: Obama wants journalist and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta to be the next surgeon general, many sources are reporting today. The longtime Atlanta doctor and medical correspondent for CBS and CNN, who recently co-hosted the latter network's "Planet in Peril" environmental documentary, met with Obama in November and apparently impressed the president-elect. Gupta has become well-known during eight years with CNN, where his two careers sometimes merged: While reporting from Iraq during the 2003 U.S. invasion, he also performed brain surgery on several injured Iraqis and Americans. Gupta more recently drew attention for a heated debate with filmmaker Michael Moore over statistics used in Moore's 2007 health-care documentary, Sicko. An official announcement of Gupta as Obama's pick may come within days. (Sources: CNN, CBS News, The New York Times, The Washington Post)
ON THIN ICE: Record-low sea ice in the Arctic is hindering polar bears' hunts for food, according to a team of Canadian scientists. More bears are going longer without food than they did 20 years ago, a trend that correlates with rising temperatures and melting sea ice there. Aside from the obvious threat this poses to the bears, large, starving predators are bad news for humans, too. Especially when they're the largest land predators on the planet, and are pretty good at cartoonish foot chases. (Sources: The Edmonton Journal, The Daily Mail)
GLACIAL REASONING: News today from the other pole isn't much happier: Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier and its 7.9 trillion gallons of water are melting much faster than the rest of western Antarctica, and researchers don't know why. They suspect unusual melting at the glacier's base, where it's sliding into the ocean, but that could be caused by anything from global warming to an underwater volcano. British scientists are about to send a robotic submarine to investigate. (Source: The Daily Telegraph)
PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND STOKE IT: Wind power doesn't have a monopoly on turbines, as the U.K. has highlighted this week. First came news of Welsh undersea turbines that will employ battleship-propeller designs to withstand rough tides, and today The Guardian reports on mini-turbines that a U.K. company will soon begin installing in existing natural-gas pipelines. The pressurized gas already coursing though the pipes will churn up the turbines, generating electricity. Other countries, including the United States, have tried out the idea before and found it cost-prohibitive, but the U.K. company says it's made the installations more affordable. (Source: The Guardian)
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