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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Traditional Chinese medicine contains endangered animals, carcinogens

Traditional Chinese medicine shop in Hong Kong. Photo by Mailer Diablo.

It’s probably best not to make all your meals out of pink slime and enriched HFCS, but a word to the wise: “Natural” doesn’t always mean safe. A new DNA analysis reveals that traditional Chinese medicine often contains carcinogens and other poisons not listed on the label.

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America’s best-known nuclear family gets mural at world’s best-known nuclear disaster

Street artists have started covering walls within the no-go zone of Chernobyl with advertising from the world's nuclear power companies -- and a portrait of America’s favorite family with a nuclear safety officer dad.

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Bike lanes make drivers less likely to be jerks, says study

A study of driving habits found that one in six motorists in Baltimore passed cyclists at an illegal distance, making them eligible to be shot to death under “stand your ground” laws, assuming we could somehow combine the laws of Maryland and Florida.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Against all odds, Los Angeles is getting a bikeshare

Photo by Colin Gordon.

Los Angeles! Despite your reputation as the most car-dependent city west of, uh, anything, you're totally trying to get in on the green transportation revolution, and we love it!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced over the weekend that the City of Cars will soon have a permanent bikeshare program. And if there were ever a city that should be bike-friendly, it's L.A. If people in Minneapolis can bike through the winter, the good people of Los Angeles can bike through their year-round climate of balmy beauty. (Seriously, you can do it, guys! We're rooting for you!)

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In Washington, prison inmates raise bees, frogs, and butterflies

When you think “prison,” you don’t usually think “idyllic bower of nature’s most rare and beautiful specimens.” But at the Washington State Department of Corrections, inmates can skip the license-plate making and spend their days cultivating endangered local animals, insects, and plants. Participants in the Sustainable Prisons Project raise Oregon spotted frogs, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies, native prairie plants, local birds, and bees. Its organizers are now looking to expand the project more widely.

The project, a partnership between the Department of Corrections and Evergreen State College, began in 2004, when inmates were recruited to help research moss farming -- they helped find an easily cultivated species that could serve as a replacement for moss unsustainably harvested from forests.

Read more: Animals

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Penguin lives the dream, bites Newt Gingrich

Photo by Kim Nowacki.

In the grand tradition of Jimmy Carter's swimming rabbit, Theodore Roosevelt's moose, and JFK's robot unicorn, Newt Gingrich has now had a run-in with wildlife: He was bitten on the finger by a penguin at the St. Louis zoo.

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Critical List: U.S. carbon emissions on the rise; Japan without nuclear power

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have started to rise again.

After May 5, Japan will be without nuclear power, at least until two idled reactors are started back up.

New forecasting technology means fewer people die in extreme weather.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Scientists discover ancient antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Okay, nobody panic, but scientists have found a stash of bacteria that have never had contact with humans, but are resistant to antibiotics anyway. If this happened in a movie, this would probably end with everyone becoming dead. But I'm sure it's fine!

Read more: Food Safety

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Walmart is bigger than Manhattan and richer than Norway

Image by Mother Jones.

Mother Jones has an investigation of Walmart in its March/April issue, and it comes with some pretty stark statistics. Among the facts on display in MoJo's chart: Walmart stores use five times as much electricity as the state of Vermont; Walmart's net sales exceed the GDP of Norway; Walmart stores' combined square footage dwarfs Manhattan; and Walmart stores emit more CO2 than the 50 lowest-emitting countries combined.

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Oil execs get monster raises after a ‘very strong’ 2011

How big was my raise? Thiiiiiis big.

How big was your raise last year? John Watson, the CEO of Chevron, got a 52 percent bump in his compensation. That's a nice chunk of change for anyone, and in Watson's case, it brought his total yearly take up to about $25 million.

Which is nothing to complain about, unless Watson is comparing his raise to the raise of his rival giganto oil company. In that case, he might be feeling a little bit short-changed.

Read more: Oil