Short Takes: News From All Over

Are Mobile Phones Wiping Out Our Bees?
By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross, The Independent
Bees are disappearing, and your cell phone may be the culprit. New research into the widespread ‘colony collapse’ disorder plaguing bee populations suggests that radiation from cell phones may be muddling the creatures’ navigation systems, disorienting the ‘famously homeloving species’ on their way back to the hive. Alarm over the disappearance of the bees is spreading: Some scientists have predicted ‘massive food shortages’ if commercially kept bees can’t make their way home to pollinate crops. — Evelyn Hampton

Science for Sale at UC Berkeley — Also Known As ‘UCBP’
By Al Meyerhoff, San Francisco Chronicle
The University of California, Berkeley might get funding for a new Energy Biosciences Institute from a suspicious source: the oil giant BP. Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Al Meyerhoff calls the proposed deal a blatant example of ‘science for sale.’ Under such partnerships, universities typically retain intellectual property rights to university findings. Under the Berkeley agreement, however, BP would co-own the publicly funded research and may even secure exclusive rights to it. — Natalie Hudson

Ingenious do-it-yourselfers take note: a new website will let you share your expertise on how to make air conditioners and banana beer. Using the wiki format popularized by Wikipedia, users are encouraged to improve upon other contributors’ how-to guides, and even create their own. The projects are then organized by theme, price, difficulty, and other categories, so it’s easy to find a how-to that’s right for you. — Bennett Gordon

Pet-Rescue Underground Railroad Won’t Leave a Dog Behind
By Brian Miller and Huan Hsu, Seattle Weekly
The mental health of deserted dogs can deteriorate quickly when they’re locked up in an animal shelter. And once dogs start acting up, they’re much more likely to be euthanized. To avoid such fates for unwanted hounds, canine lovers in Seattle have formed an under-and-above-ground doggie railroad where death row pooches can have a second chance at life. Some rescuers will drive across the state to pick up a dog, others manage pet-rescue websites, and some offer up their own homes to needy pups. Brian Miller and Huan Hsu write, ‘It’s a world where there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.’ — Mary O’Regan

The Schmaltz-Mobile Is Coming, One Chicken-Mile At A Time
By John Laumer, Treehugger
‘Why did the Tyson chicken cross the road?’ asks John Laumer. ‘To get to the refinery of course.’ A recent Wall Street Journal article announced that Tyson Foods Inc. and the oil company ConocoPhillips will team up to use pork, beef, and chicken fat to produce biodiesel. While Tyson already sells animal fat to cosmetics and pet food companies, the use of fat in diesel production might actually create environmental benefits, including cleaner air and less dependence on traditional petrol. — Chris Gehrke

Toxic Truth of Secretive Siberian City
By Richard Galpin, BBC News
The weather is consistently toxic in the remote Siberian city of Norilsk. The city is home to three smelting plants that produce palladium (a metal used in catalytic converters), nickel, copper, and a cocktail of pollutants that includes about two million tons of sulfur dioxide each year. The toxic cloud created by the smelting plants kills surrounding trees and causes breathing difficulties for locals. It also has led to acid rain, which scientists say has spread across an area the size of Germany. — Natalie Hudson

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