IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE: The US Airways plane that crashed into the Hudson River this afternoon may have become disabled after it hit a flock of geese, according to eyewitnesses. All 155 passengers survived, and there were no reports of major injuries. Birds are a serious concern in the airline industry, but detection systems and "bird sweeps" have made such incidents less common. (Sources: The Associated Press, The New Yorker)
INTERIORITY COMPLEX: The U.S. Department of the Interior has suffered ample embarrassment in recent years, something its secretary-designate promised today he would fix if confirmed. "I want to clean up the mess that exists in the Department of the Interior," Ken Salazar told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stressing that, in addition to weeding out corruption, he would help expand renewable energy and promote the "wise use" of traditional energy sources. He dodged some questions involving topics such as protection of gray wolves and the relationship between global warming and the Endangered Species Act. (Sources: AP, The Los Angeles Times)
"INEPT AND INCAPABLE": Lisa Jackson, Obama's pick for EPA administrator, denounced the United States' response to Hurricane Katrina at her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, saying she almost left the public arena out of disgust. Jackson is a New Orleans native and was in the Crescent City at the time, caring for her ill mother, and rode out the storm there. (Source: The New Orleans Times Picayune)
A MINE IS A TERRIBLE THING FOR WASTE: As crews scrape up the billion gallons of coal sludge caked on 300 acres of East Tennessee, environmental groups are worried what the TVA is going to do with it. Dumping coal ash into abandoned coal mines has been a common practice in the past, but has poisoned groundwater across the country, according to a report from Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project. A TVA spokesman says the agency's storing the ash at the plant for now and hasn't decided what to do with it in the long run. (Source: The Knoxville News Sentinel)
FECES SAVE THE SEAS: Humans may be helping make the oceans more acidic, but at least fish give a crap about the environment: Scientists have discovered that calcium carbonate in fish feces helps mitigate the rising acidity caused by carbon dioxide absorption. Bony fish, which constitute 90 percent of marine species, ingest too much calcium in seawater, which then forms crystals in their guts and is excreted in chalky solids that balance out the acid. (Sources: AP, Reuters)
GIT 'ER DUNG: A count of elephant dung in a Malaysian national park revealed more endangered elephants there than experts thought, rare good news for the beleaguered beasts. Asian elephants are struggling across that continent, losing habitat to development and their lives to poachers, but the count suggests more than 600 elephants live in the "Green Heart" rainforest in Malaysia, which is about the size of Utah's Great Salt Lake. (Source: AP)
CASH FOR CLUNKERS: Drivers of old, gas-guzzling "clunkers" could get up to $4,500 vouchers for scrapping them under a bill introduced in Congress this week. The bill aims to retire 1 million vehicles a year, saving up to 80,000 barrels of gasoline by the end of its four-year span. Drivers would be eligible for reimbursement of new vehicles that meet certain fuel-efficiency standards, and could also turn in their old cars for train or bus vouchers. (Source: AP)
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