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English bulldog is top dog in surf contest

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Tillman winning waveThe Brits haven't been traditionally known for their surfing prowess, but at least one pooch is doing a pretty good job changing that reputation.

Tillman, the skateboarding/snowboarding/skimboarding English bulldog, won the large-dog category in this past weekend's surfing contest in San Diego co-sponsored by luxury hotelier Loews Hotels and Petco.

Tillman was one of 43 dogs to compete at the Imperial Beach, Calif., contest, taking off on waves as large as 4 feet to take the prize. An Australian kelpie named Abbie Girl won the small dog category, while Hanzo the boxer and Kalani the golden retriever won the tandem category, proving, that, yes, boxers and goldies can, in fact, get along.

The contest raised thousands of dollars for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while allowing for the Humane Society of San Diego to get a few puppies adopted. No word on whether those dog will learn to surf.  

— Danny King 

In Venice, protests against big ships

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The movement to push large cruise ships away from the Giudecca Canal in Venice may be gaining momentum, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal

The WSJ said officials in Venice have opened talks with cruise lines about redeploying ships over 40,000 gross tons away from the route that takes them past St. Mark's Square, the city's most recognized landmark.

Protestors gathering under the banner "No Big Ships" hope to make the Serene Republic a little more serene, but many merchants object, the story says.

About 1.8 million cruise tourists passed through Venice on 650 ships last year, leaving millions of euros in their wake.

The WSJ reports that officials want alternatives by July 25 to present to a government panel in Rome. The Venetian port authority's preferred option, to dredge a new approach to the passenger terminals in Venice, would take about a year and cost 120 million euros, the paper said.

Following the Costa Concordia disaster, the Italian government banned cruise ships from coming too close to the coast but made an exception for Venice. Cruise operators say they already take extra precautions when navigating near the venerable city.

— Tom Stieghorst

Popo goes off

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Mexico's huge Popocatepetl volcano, affectionately known as Popo, blew its top on June 18.

Popo, 43 miles southeast of Mexico City, started rumbling and grumbling in mid-May, began seeping gas and ash in early June and finally exploded in plumes of grey smoke, belching steam, gas and incandescent rocks more than two miles high that shook the clouds and raced down its slopes.

The explosion was dramatic but short-lived and Popo settled down soon afterwards, according to Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center.

However, volcanic ash that was blown into the air could shift due to wind currents and fall on nearby Puebla or even Mexico City. The explosion has not affected flights so far.

In December 2000, the volcano registered one of its largest eruptions in recent history, prompting the mass evacuation of the surrounding countryside.

The name Popocatepetl originates from the native Mexican Nahuatl language and means "smoking mountain."

— Gay Nagle Myers
 

   

A proposal for a luxury hotel, underwater

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Deep seaKevin Costner’s epic film “Water World” may have been panned upon its 1995 release, but at least one Poland-based developer appears to think the man was onto something.

Deep Ocean Technology, which is headed by a deep-sea technology expert at Poland’s Gdansk University, is proposing the build-out of partially submerged hotels in Dubai and the Maldives.

Water Discus Hotels would be designed as two “discs” — one above the water’s surface, one submerged — that would be attached to the seabed via five “legs” and connected by a shaft that would contain an elevator and stairway.

The luxury hotels would total about 11,000 square feet each, with the submerged disc containing 21 rooms that would be as many as 100 feet underwater.

Each hotel would include air-filled “huts” and emergency breathing stations, of course, and would feature activities such as diving and rentals of “three-passenger submersibles,” Deep Sea Technology says on its website. The properties would be designed to handle a “fairly high” tsunami without damage.

The company is working with Gdansk University of Technology and Stogda Ship Design & Engineering at further developing the concept, though it hasn’t specified proposed build-out dates or costs.

— Danny King

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