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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Surrogate-mom housecat gives birth to endangered kitten

This kitten, born in 2011, is an endangered black-footed cat, one of the first black-footed kittens born to a surrogate mother, using frozen embryos and in vitro fertilization. Now he and his littermate have a sister, Crystal, with the same genetic parents, but a different surrogate mom -- a plain old housecat.

The African black-footed cat is one of the world's smallest felines, and the cats are tiny but fierce hunters -- they can kill hares that outweigh them. They can also range far from water, finding hydration from their prey and dew they lick off of grass. But none of this general feline badassery has kept the species from becoming severely endangered -- there are only 40 in captivity worldwide.

Read more: Animals

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Man braves radiation exposure to care for Fukushima’s abandoned animals

Naoto Matsumura's Facebook page.

Meet the modern-day, post-apocalyptic Dr. Doolittle. Naoto Matsumura lives right inside the Fukushima evacuation zone in the town of Tomioka, just 10 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The reason he’s stayed in the poisoned region post-nuclear meltdown is so that he can take care of all the abandoned cows, pigs, dogs, and cats.

By all accounts, Tomioka is the apocalypse now: deserted, layered in radioactive dust, buried debris. But the devastation is most evident in Matsumura’s gruesome descriptions of what he’s encountered since -- and what he continues to discover. Dogs and cats left to die slowly and agonizingly of starvation. Caged birds with withered feathers. An emaciated cow and her calf, crying weakly in a corner of a barn.

Read more: Animals, Living, Nuclear

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Florida Republican thinks we should sell off national parks

Legislators are always looking for ways to pull America out of its bajillion-dollar deficit. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) came up with his own master plan that is totally not crazy at all -- sell off America’s national parks one by one.

At a February town hall meeting, Stearns (who, BTW, is also a birther and a major figure in the attacks on Solyndra) spouted off about how America doesn’t need any new national parks -- and, in fact, we’ve got too many and should be hawking the ones we do have. He said:

I got attacked in a previous town meeting for not supporting another national park in this country, a 200-mile trailway. And I told the man that we don’t need more national parks in this country, we need to actually sell off some of our national parks, and try and do what a normal family would do is — they wouldn’t ask Uncle Joe for a loan, they would sell their Cadillac, or they would take their kids out of private schools and put them into public schools to save to money instead of asking for their credit card to increase their debt ceiling.

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: Oil sands carbon footprint revised upwards; new frog discovered in NYC

Oil sands have an even higher carbon footprint than previously thought: No one was counting carbon released when the drilling operations destroy peatlands.

In 2011, solar installers put in twice as many solar panels as they did in 2010.

The transportation bill now includes a natural gas amendment that fulfills energy magnate T. Boone Pickens' wildest dreams.

New York does have nature! It just takes a few scientists from Jersey to find it. A Rutgers doctoral candidate identified a new species of leopard frog that lives in and around New York City. He first heard its croak on a jaunt to Staten Island.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Trans fats linked to acting like a jerk

Photo by Shalaco.

When New York City banned trans fats from local restaurants in 2006, it was trying to make its citizens healthier. Trans fatty acids -- which, you'll recall, are a type of unsaturated fat almost exclusively found in processed food -- have a number of proven health effects, including raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol simultaneously. But, unbeknownst to municipal government, the ban may have also helped crime rates (and taken the edge off New Yorkers' legendary surliness). According to a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, trans fats are connected with aggressive behavior.

Read more: Food

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Anheuser-Busch turns beer leftovers into usable products

Now you can feel good after knocking back a few brewskis -- and not just because you’re tipsy. Beermaker Anheuser-Busch has found a way to turn its waste grain into an array of products, from clothes to cosmetics to biogas.

The beer behemoth has partnered with a company called Blue Marble Bio, which plans to set up large-scale biorefineries at Anheuser-Busch breweries that will use naturally occurring bacteria to break down spent grains using proprietary “polyculture fermentation technology.” That process will create both biogas, which can be used to generate electricity, and chemical compounds called carboxylic acids that are used to make everything from nylon to soap to food additives to floor polish.

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Shell hires dogs to detect oil spills in Arctic

Photo by Arnout Grootveld.

Some of Shell’s newest employees are decidedly cuddlier than the middle-aged white dudes we typically associate with the oil behemoth. That’s because they’re a dachshund and two border collies.

New information reveals that the company has experimented with using three dogs -- Jippi, Blues, and Tara -- as a cheap and effective way to detect oil spills in the Arctic.

The dogs' ability to sniff out oil spills beneath snow and ice has been tested and paid for by Shell -- and other oil companies and government research organizations -- in preparation for the industry's entry into the forbidding Arctic terrain. The company hopes to begin drilling for oil off the northwest coast of Alaska in June.

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video

This red panda is STUPID cute

Here's your gobsmack of cuteness for today:

Read more: Animals

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In New York City, stealing a bike is easy

If a bike gets stolen in the middle of New York City, does it make it a sound?

With his own bike, a bunch of doomed locks, and a variety of tools, Casey Neistat (who you may remember from this video) proves that nope, it basically doesn’t.

The film above is a 2005 version of this experiment. On a busy Tuesday, at well-trafficked locations like Union Square, Astor Place, and 14th Street, Casey and brother Van steal their own bike using a bolt cutter, hack saw, power tools, and a hammer and spike. They act as suspicious as possible. Sometimes, passersby turn their heads and watch. But no one bothers the "thief."

Read more: Biking

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Meet the worst Senate amendment that ever lived

It’s ba-aack -- the Keystone XL pipeline, that is. The Senate is set to vote tomorrow on an amendment created by Big Oil wearing a Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) mask. The amendment would revive everyone’s favorite pipeline -- and, while it was at it, greenlight all the other oil-hungry environmental ruination that Republicans go in for.

The Senate defeated Keystone yet again last week, but Sen. Roberts included the pipeline in amendment #1826 of the Senate transportation bill (S. 1813). And that’s not the only Big Oil party favor he stuck in this grab bag of evil:

It would mandate drilling off of every coast in our nation and in the Arctic Refuge, allow oil shale development on millions of acres in America’s west, and allow the already-rejected Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.