News Briefs

February 4th

Cyclone Yasi Batters Northeastern Australia

Cyclone Yasi tore through the northeastern Australian state of Queensland on Wednesday. The category five storm destroyed many coastal towns but there have been no reports of death or serious injury so far.

The storm hit Queensland with winds measuring up to 190 mph. The coastal towns of Tully, Mission Beach, and Cardwell are reportedly among the hardest hit areas. The extent of the damage is yet to be determined, as phone lines and power have been cut throughout the region.

Queensland officials have said that the storm hit as hard as they feared and that residents should not think they are out of the clear yet. The storm is currently at a category two and continues to make its way across northern Queensland. Flash flood reports have also been made throughout the state.

Queensland residents were warned about the storm on Monday. People had plenty of time to board up their homes or to seek refuge in evacuation centers where many will remain until the storm completely passes.

Gulf Of Mexico Expected To Recover By 2012

Recovery from last year's BP oil spill is expected to need until the end of 2012 to be completed. BP attorney Kenneth Feinberg expects a 30 percent recovery by the end of 2011. The gulf's important oyster harvesting industry will not fully recover until much longer.

Feinberg is also the administrator of BP's $20 billion payout fund for victims of the spill. He stated that all payout compensation would be based on the 2012 recovery prediction. This assessment was based on research by a Texas professor and an outside consulting firm.

Florida officials have questioned the assessment, claiming it is overly optimistic about future unknown environmental and economic conditions. Feinberg's administration of the payouts has also been criticized. Victims have complained about the timeliness and amount received as compensation for the spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has ordered Feinberg to disclose that he is acting on behalf of BP, not as an independent administrator.

The BP Deepwater Horizon spill was the worst in U.S. history. $3.3 billion has been paid out to 168,000 people so far.

Botanical Gardens Offers New Views Of Plants

On Wednesday, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens welcomed the addition of a new exhibit focusing on illuminating its variety of plants. The display, "Night Lights at the Gardens," can be seen in each of the Botanical Gardens greenhouses.

The idea for the change in lighting was first proposed to the Botanical Gardens by Doug Sitler, who had set up a well-lit mile long area of woods in Chautauqua County. His exhibit was called "Night Lights at the Heron."

The light show includes LED and floodlights, as well as globes and disco balls that are continually changing the lighting on the more than 20,000 plants that are housed in the Botanical Gardens. A new tranquil soundscape has also been included to add to the atmosphere.

The exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to appreciate the plants as never before. The new lighting and assortment of colors add to impressiveness of the rare and exotic plants.

"Night Lights at the Gardens" is open Thursdays through Sundays from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. The exhibit will be held until Feb. 19 and costs $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.