Chernobyl, Cage-Free Fast Foods, Rare Leopard: What’s Spiking (Thursday)

The weekday report for the topics and people that are trending on Yahoo! and across the Web for Thursday April 26, 2012.

Research by Search editor Liz Streng

An anniversary of a nuclear plant meltdown brought countries together to help rebuild its shelter, but a coincident act of nature panicked citizens distrustful of the government that tried to hide the disaster. In animal news, a fast-food eatery may change the way we eat, or at least treat our food source, by pledging a more humane take-out. And a glimmer of hope is sparked by photos of a rare feline.

Below, what readers have been tracking online.


Chernobyl: Countries commemorated the 26th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine at last began building a new shelter, which will weigh 20,000 tons and be finished in 2015, to replace the decaying “sarcophagus” that housed the nuclear power plant. President Viktor Yanukovych thanked countries who donated to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund.

Meanwhile, in a case of unfortunate timing, a massive cloud of birch pollen hovered over Moscow—600 miles from the plant—and led Russian citizens to fear and tweet that another nuclear mishap had occurred. Government officials tried to assuage fears, but since the Soviet government had hid the news of the first blast, some were not convinced, including a blogger who declared, “Pollen is just an excuse. It might as well be the beginning of the apocalypse!”

Cage-Free Promise: Burger King may only be the second-biggest fast food chain, but it’ll be the first major one to pledge that its pigs and chickens would be from cage-free environments. The Associated Press reported that living standards for chickens were so-called battery cages, “roughly the same space as a sheet of standard notebook paper,” while sows are housed in crates when they’re pregnant. The shift would be complete by 2017. As of now, 9 percent of its eggs and 20 percent of pork are cage-free. The chain follows the move of eateries like Chipotle, which took advantage of a Grammy spot to announce its focus on humane treatment of food source.

Rare Amur Leopard: Its population was thought to be around 30, but recently cameras set up from the Hunchun Amur Tiger National Nature Reserve snapped photographs of these felines, as well as the Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers. Leopards in general aren’t found in cold or high-elevation climates. The World Wildlife Federations describes the mammals—which have also been called Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard, or the Korean leopard—as nocturnal and solitary, although reportedly the males do stay with females after mating and help raise their young.

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Amur Leopard

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Amur Tiger


  • Charles Taylor Verdict: In a rare show of justice over accused dictators, the former Liberian lead was convicted of arming rebels responsible for the deaths and mutilations of thousands in Sierra Leone.
  • Hackleburg Alabama: One year ago Friday, a deadly tornado blew through the tiny town of Hackleburg, Alabama, killing 18 people and destroying all but one of the town’s commercial buildings. Today, the little town that could is has rebuilt City Hall, and final plans have been set for a new police and fire station.
  • Undulated: German analysts asserted that the North Korean missiles were fake because the “undulated” metal wouldn’t hold up in flight. The adjective spurred a rash of readers to search for the definition on Yahoo!: In this context, it means wavy.
  • Al Qaida: A CIA drone killed Mohammed Saeed al-Umda, the fourth-most wanted al Qaeda leader in Yemen, over the weekend.The Yemeni embassy confirmed the death Tuesday.
  • Aparecida Ferreira: Yet another lady of the evening has emerged in another embarrassing government scandal: A former Brazilian prostitute-turned-pet-shop owner might sue the United States embassy and five employees. She claimed a van, picking up three marines and a civilian staffer from a strip club, ran over her in 2011. She had a broken collarbone, punctured lung, and other injuries. The embassy offered her compensation, but no agreement has been reached.
  • Amy Senser: Her husband, former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser, and stepdaughter Brittani Spenser testified against her in a Minneapolis courthouse in a fatal hit-and-run case of Anousone Phanthavong. Both detailed how they had to confront her and threaten to go to the police before she would turn herself in.
  • Child Bride Marriage Annulled: Laxmi Sargara was one-year-old when she married three-year-old Rakesh, from another Indian village in the Jodphur district of Rajasthan. Seventeen years later, her brother and a social worker helped the couple annul their marriage arrangement.
  • Dutch Burqa Ban: After the collapse of the Dutch center-right government, the Netherlands may drop some of its most “eye-popping proposals aimed at Muslims” including the ban against women wearing burqas.
  • In Vitro Fertilization: A Catholic school fired teacher Emily Herx for undergoing the treatment. She filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and St. Vincent de Paul school for discrimination and claimed the pastor called her a “grave, immoral sinner.”
  • Isabel Celis: The parents of the missing Tucson girl made their first public statement to ask for their daughter’s safe return. The six-year-old has been missing since Saturday, where she was last seen in her bedroom.
  • Marco Rubio: An upcoming biography of the Florida senator, a rumored veep contender for Romney, reveals that his grandfather was ordered deported from the U.S. after flying in from Cuba without a visa. Related search: marco rubio grandfather
  • Utah Booby Traps: The U.S. Forest Service officer on routine patrol had been a bomb-disposal technician in Iraq for 12 years, so he was trained to spot the fishing line at a trail in Utah. The traps included a 20-pound spiked boulder and a bed of sharpened wooden stakes. Two men were arrested after someone saw Facebook comments and the traps. Because no one actually fell into the traps and was injured, the maximum charge is misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
  • Puppy on Runway: Birds on the runway, snakes on a plane, a Byrdie on the tarmac. The Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Byrdie figured out how to escape her crate on her fifth flight. She evaded Port Authority for 10 minutes, delaying flights, until her owner was asked to come out and retrieve her.


  • Cera Fearing: The Illinois woman donated her kidney to her brother Ray, but his body rejected the organ. So, in a medical first reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, surgeons re-transplanted it into a second patient, Dr. Erwin Gomez of Indiana. Dr. Gomez seems to be doing fine, and 27-year-old Ray Fearing is back on dialysis.
  • Ice Guessing Game: Anchorage hosts the Nenana Ice Classic, in which people bet good money when the ice goes out on the Tanana River in tiny Nenana. Besides cold hard cash, the games get residents eager to see the end of those brutal Alaska winters.
  • Minivan-Sized Meteor: “Tiny meteorites found in the Sierra foothills of northern California were part of a giant fireball that exploded over the weekend with about one-third the explosive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.”
  • Salton Sea: The California body of water just northeast of San Diego is shrinking, but the California Supreme Court upheld a massive water transfer system, the Quantification Settlement Agreement, which will cut off the agricultural runoff that replenishes the lake. It should run dry in a matter of years.


  • Chrysler Earnings: Chrysler announced its best earnings in 13 years, with a quarterly profit at $473 million.
  • Exxon Dividend: Exxon raised its quarterly dividend 21 percent, beating out AT&T as the top corporate dividend payer.
  • CISPA: Dismissing White House objections of invading privacy and a presidential veto threat, House Republicans are pursuing a vote on cybsecurity legislation that would “encourage” companies to share Internet information with the government.
  • Mini-Madoff: Four associates of the convicted Nicholas Cosmo have been arrested for allegedly participating in fraud and earning $38 million in the process.
  • Rupert Murdoch: The media mogul admitted the phone-hacking cover-up at his British tabloid. The wide-ranging scandal has taken down high-level newspaper executives and Scotland Yard brass and stymied his son’s move into digital.
  • WWDC: Apple Worldwide Developers Conference sold out in two hours.
  • Donald Trump Scotland: The real estate tycoon stood before Scotland’s parliament and called a planned offshore wind farm ugly, noisy, and dangerous. The farm would be in view of his new $1.2-billion golf resort. The Donald even pulled the I-word, “If Scotland does this, Scotland will be in serious trouble and will lose tourism to places like Ireland, and they are laughing at us.”



  • Arnel Pineda: The singer’s YouTube covers of Journey led to an audition, his role as lead singer, and now a documentary, “Don’t Stop Believin” at the Tribeca Film Festival.
  • Bobby Brown Plea: The singer has been sentenced to three years’ probation after he pleaded no contest Wednesday to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.
  • Carlina Duran: A secret husband undid the crown of the Miss Dominic Republic Carlina Duran. Contestants must be single.
  • Colin Firth: The Oscar-winning actor British actor, known for his environmental works, helped to launch a major drive by Survival International to save “Earth’s most threatened tribe,” the Awa of the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Levon Helm: A public memorial for The Band drummer Levon Helm was held Thursday at the Woodstock barn where he held Midnight Ramble concerts.
  • Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes: This week marks the 10th anniversary of the sudden death of TLC singer. Surviving members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas will tour and show footage of the late rapper.
  • Thomas Kinkade: The late painter’s girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, has received a restraining order. His company, Windermere Holdings, claimed she broke confidentiality agreement by talking to reporters, and that she threatened to reveal business and private information.
  • Topher Grace: “That ’70s Show” actor goes off Broadway as the lead in “Lonely, I’m Not” at Second Stage Theatre in New York.


HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WEB What’s popular on Yahoo!, Twitter, Google Trends, CNN, BBC, Hollywood Reporter, and other sources.

Yahoo! News (sampling of the popular)
George Zimmerman: Prelude to a shooting
Analysts Say North Korean Missiles Are Fakes
First Hispanic Supreme Court justice takes prominent role
Time-Lapse Video Shows One World Trade Construction
US rate on 30-year mortgage dips to 3.88 percent

Arizona Republic