FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO: The swine flu continues spreading around the world, but so are indications that it's not as bad as initially feared. The growth of confirmed cases slowed Tuesday, according to the World Health Organization, and the New York Times reports today that U.S. public health officials are easing up on the extremity of their warnings, even suggesting that it may not be necessary to close an entire school when a student falls ill. Mexico, the epicenter of the virus, is slowly returning to normalcy on Cince de Mayo, and even showing an admirable sense of humor about its ordeal during the past two weeks. But the storm still isn't over: Reuters reports that swine flu could now spread to the Southern Hemisphere as that part of the world moves into winter, and Time magazine examines how improved livestock testing could prevent the next major swine flu outbreak. (Sources: WHO, NY Times, CNNToronto Globe and Mail, Reuters, Time)

LOOK WHOSE TOXIN: The U.S. Supreme Court set a precedent Monday that will make it harder for the government to recoup money for environmental cleanups from companies that weren't entirely responsible for the mess, the NY Times reports. Shell Oil had been under the gun for long-term leakage of a pesticide it sold to a California company, Brown & Bryant, which has since ceased operations. But the SCOTUS ruled in an 8-1 decision that Shell couldn't be held responsible for the hazardous waste because it didn't qualify under the relevant part of the Superfund law, which applies to companies that "arranged for disposal" of toxic chemicals. (Source: NY Times)

PRINCE OF LEAVES: Prince Charles of Wales, a longtime advocate for environmental causes, has hired the Web development team that pushed President Obama into the White House for his own campaign to stop deforestation in the world's rain forests. Time reports on the 90-second film he produced — crammed with stars such as Joss Stone, Harrison Ford, the Dalai Lama and Kermit the Frog — and the grassroots movement he hopes to spur. (Source: Time)

GOING AGAINST THE FLOW: The Obama administration has asked for a delay of up to two months so it can re-examine a Bush-era plan for managing the needs of both salmon and people in the Columbia River Basin. A federal judge and many environmentalists have criticized the Bush administration's plan for doing too little to protect salmon, whose populations have plummeted since a series of dams were built on the Pacific Northwest river. Federal officials in the past have acknowledged that the dams threaten salmon's survival, but have said removing the massive structures isn't necessary to solve the problem. The two-month delay was requested by the Justice Department so administration officials could familiarize themselves with the complex case. (Source: Associated Press)

ON THE CHOPPER BLOCK: The California Legislature is considering whether to require motorcycles in the state follow the same smog rules as cars and trucks, but it's revving up anger among some in the biker community. Proponents say motorcycles represent a significant, albeit small, chunk of the state's tailpipe emissions; critics say it'll further damage already-low motorcycle sales, although the law wouldn't go into effect until 2012. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

SITTIN' ON THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD: Ice People, a new documentary by director Anne Aghion, airs tonight at 10 on the Sundance Channel, and USA Today's Doyle Rice offers a sneak peek at the film's bleak Antarctic scenes. Aghion follows a handful of researchers as they ply the lifeless landscape of Antarctica's Dry Valleys, and conveys the desolation by eschewing narration, background music, and helpful maps and graphics. "I wanted to convey the sense of what it's like to be down there and to do that kind of science," Aghion tells Rice. (Source: USA Today)

UNBEARABLE: Thousands of Asiatic black bears — aka moon bears — are suffering nightmarish conditions throughout parts of China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries so humans can harvest their bile, which is used in tradition Chinese medicine. The bears spend years trapped in "crush cages" that keep them from moving, while farmers "milk" their gall bladders for bile using catheters, hypodermic needles or permanently open wounds. New Scientist reports on the shameful situation, but also a glimmer of hope: Animals Asia, a rescue group founded in 1993 after its founder visited a bear farm, has saved 260 moon bears and houses 175 at its rescue center, where some of the animals are reportedly making miraculous recoveries. (Source: New Scientist)

GOATSCAPING: April showers bring more than just May flowers: They bring May grass and weeds, too, leaving yards across the country looking overgrown and grubby. Eco-conscious and recession-savvy lawn owners know that "goatscaping" — letting goats graze on your yard instead of using a lawn mower — saves energy and gasoline, and now they have the blessing of the often-wacky PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Huffington Post Green highlights a PETA executive's thumbs-up for goatscapers — as long as their money-saving ways don't turn into, as HuffPo puts it, "goatsploitation." (Source: Huffington Post)

Russell McLendon

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.