It Doesn't Look So Bad In The First Image, But By The End I'm Sure This Is A Really Bad Idea

It's like watching some kind of bizarre growth.

What you're seeing: The Athabasca tar sands are a humungous (almost 55,000 square miles) deposit of oil-coated sand lying just under the boreal forests and peat bogs of Alberta, Canada. Mining companies extract the oil by digging up the sand in open-pit mines, and then rinsing it with hot water to separate the oil. The sand and wastewater are stored in ponds(smooth tan or green surfaces in satellite images). As of September 2011, roughly 256square miles of land had been dug up.


Companies arerequired to restore the land after they have finished mining. But although themining companies have planted grasses on the site (see "reclaimed pond," 2011), the imagesdon't show much greening up, do they?

Zoom 1: Pit mines can grow to more than 260 feet deep as massive trucks remove up to 720,000 tons of sand every day. It takes two tons of sand (and a heckof a lot of hot water) to produce one barrel of crude oil. The first minesopened in 1967, but growth was slow until 2000 because the global cost of a oilwas too low to make oil sands profitable. With higher oil prices, the mines areexpanding and are likely to continue to do so for decades.

Zoom 2: The mines pull water from the Athabasca River. In 1997, Suncor mining company admitted that their tailing ponds had been leaking 1,600 cubic meters of toxic water into the Athabasca a day. River water tested downstream of the mine contains naphthenic acid, metals such as mercury, and other nastiness.

Zoom 3: The oil sands lie under traditional territories of First Nations people including the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation. While some First Nations people have jobs in the mining industry, many members protest the environmental devastation caused by tar sands oil extraction, especially the contamination of wildlife that traditional communities rely on for food.

Heroes
via KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Travelling during the holiday season can be a hectic experience. Airports are busy, people tend to be bogged down by extra extra luggage filled with gifts, and the weather is terrible so flight delays are common.

People can be stuck for hours in a terminal waiting for their flights, many of them alone as they travel to see family or make an end-of-the-year-business trip.

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via TK2LDCNews / Twitter

For the first time since the annual holiday production began in 1954, the lead role of Marie in The New York City Ballet's production of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," is a black ballerina.

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres, whose mother's family is from Trinidad and father's is from the Philippines, is a student at the School of American Ballet.

The leading role of the young heroine is known as Marie in the New York City Ballet's production, in others the young girl who dreams The Nutcracker to live is called Clara.

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Despite controversial-but-compelling evidence that homework takes time away from families with little to no appreciable benefit for students, kids continue to slog through hours of school work outside the time they spend in the classroom. And despite evidence that small acts of kindness can infect a community like a positive virus, far too many kids are on either the giving or receiving end of unkind bullying on a regular basis.

Perhaps that's why an elementary school in Ireland has decided to do something radical—ditch all homework for the month of December and assign kids "acts of kindness" instead.

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Brace yourselves, folks, because this is almost too friggin' adorable to handle.

A 911 call can be a scary thing, and an emergency call from a dad having chest pains and trouble breathing is no exception. But thankfully, an exchange between that dad's 5-year-old daughter and 911 dispatcher Jason Bonham turned out to be more humor than horror. If you missed hearing the recording that has repeatedly gone viral since 2010, you have to hear it now. It's perfectly timeless.

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