- - Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Thief burns down city’s Christmas tree

BIRMINGHAM — Talk about a Grinch: Police say someone trying to steal copper wire burned down the city of Birmingham’s 35-foot-tall Christmas tree.

Officers say someone stripped electrical wires off the Norwegian spruce at Linn Park about 4 a.m. Wednesday, then started a fire. Police believe thieves were attempting to separate the copper wire from the plastic insulation on Christmas decorations.

But the fire spread to the tree, engulfing it in flames. Public works crews later used heavy machinery to remove the blackened limbs and trunk.

Parks director Melvin Miller said the tree wouldn’t be replaced, but a radio station donated a new one within hours.


Antarctic winds blamed for ice loss

LOS ANGELES — West Antarctica has been losing ice, and scientists now think they know why.

New satellite images and airborne data point to wind and water as the main culprits. Stronger winds lift warmer water onto the ice shelf, leading to the acceleration of ice loss.

Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, says the phenomenon has led to major ice thinning in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Pine Island Glacier, the biggest of the western glaciers.

Understanding what’s driving the Antarctic ice loss will help scientists better predict future sea-level rise. The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.


Man sentenced in JFK fuel-tank plot

NEW YORK — A former member of Guyana’s parliament was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for plotting to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport after insisting he was wrongly convicted.

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