Sacramento, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — A pair of handmade Nike track shoes from the 1972 Olympic trials has sold for $50,000.
Dave Russell, of Sacramento, sold the rare kicks last month to the Graduate Eugene hotel, a Nike-themed property in Eugene, Oregon.
"They wanted something that would say, 'This is Nike town,' " Russell said. "And here are these shoes that were a prototype before Nike was even a public shoe."
Russell was 25 when he qualified for the trials in the marathon in Eugene, where the shoe and the Nike brand debuted that year, he told KTXL-TV.
Known as "moon shoes" for their waffle-like bottom, the shoes were the first prototype designed by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.
"They were very unorthodox shoes. They were very exotic because the sole was completely different. It was made on a waffle iron. It was glued to the bottom of the shoe. The shoe was completely handmade," Russell said.
"Oh, I loved them, they fit like a glove."
The Oregon-based shoe company made only 12 pairs.
In 2016, a Malaysia collector paid $11,200 to a Minnesota man for a pair of the "moon shoes" that were stained and missing their laces.
Last month, an unworn pair fetched $437,500 in a Sotheby's online sale. Canadian investor Miles Nadal won the public auction for the pristine shoes, the only pair known to exist in unworn condition, according to Sotheby's.
Letsrun.com says Russell finished 55th in the trials, which were won by Frank Shorter, who went on to win the gold medal at the Olympics in Munich.
Fresno, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — A man died shortly after competing in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game in California, authorities said Wednesday.
Dana Hutchings, 41, of Fresno, died Tuesday night shortly after arriving at a hospital, Fresno Sheriff spokesman Tony Botti said.
An autopsy on Hutchings will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death, Botti said. It was not immediately known how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest.
Fresno Grizzlies spokesman Paul Braverman said in a statement that the team was "devastated to learn" of the fan's death and that the team would "work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested."
Tuesday night's competition came ahead of Saturday's World Taco Eating Championship to be held at Fresno's annual Taco Truck Throwdown. The team on Wednesday announced that it was canceling that taco-eating contest, though a "taco truck throwdown" featuring food trucks and musical entertainment would go ahead as planned.
Matthew Boylan, who watched Tuesday's taco eating contest from his seat in Section 105, told the Fresno Bee he quickly noticed Hutchings because "he was eating so fast compared to the other two (contestants)."
"It was like he'd never eaten before," Boylan said. "He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing."
He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground. The eating contest ended immediately.
During the 2018 Taco Eating Championship in Fresno, professional eater Geoffrey Esper downed 73 tacos in eight minutes, KFSN-TV reported.
Competitive-eating contests have become major attractions at festivals and other events. Among the most popular is the annual Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on New York's Coney Island, where Joey Chestnut this year's champion ate 71. Esper finished third.
Syracuse, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — Visitors may now get a look at two rare leopard cubs at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York.
Onondaga (ah-nahn-DAH'-gah) County Executive Ryan McMahon announced that the little Amur (ah-MOOR') leopards made their public debut Wednesday.
The male and female cubs gradually ventured out from private quarters into their exhibit. It's a temporary one while the zoo works toward a new, more complex $400,000 outdoor space for the leopard family.
The cubs were born June 19 to parents Tria and Rafferty.
The cubs don't yet have names. The zoo plans a vote soon.
Amur leopards are considered critically endangered. They are found in far eastern Russia, where an estimated 84 remain in the wild, up from about 30 in 2012.
About 250 Amur leopards live under human care.
Berlin, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — Scientists say they've found an abundance of tiny plastic particles in Arctic snow, indicating that so-called microplastics are being sucked into the atmosphere and carried long distances to some of the remotest corners of the planet.
The researchers examined snow collected from sites in the Arctic, northern Germany, the Bavarian and Swiss Alps and the North Sea island of Heligoland with a process specially designed to analyze their samples in a lab.
"While we did expect to find microplastics, the enormous concentrations surprised us," Melanie Bergmann, a researcher at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, said.
Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
Previous studies have found microplastics — which are created when man-made materials break apart and defined as pieces smaller than 5 millimeters — in the air of Paris, Tehran and Dongguan, China.
The research demonstrated the fragments may become airborne in a way similar to dust, pollen and fine particulate matter from vehicle exhausts.
While there's growing concern about the environmental impact of microplastics, scientists have yet to determine what effect, if any, the minute particles have on humans or wildlife.
Bergmann, who co-authored the study, said the highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the Bavarian Alps, with one sample having more than 150,000 particles per 1 liter (0.26 gallons.)
Although the Arctic samples were less contaminated, the third-highest concentration in the samples the researchers analyzed — 14,000 particles per liter — came from an ice floe in the Fram Strait off eastern Greenland, she said.
On average, the researchers found 1,800 particles per liter in the samples taken from that region.
Martin Wagner, a biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who wasn't involved with the study, said the extremely high concentrations could be partly attributed to the methods the researchers used, which allowed them to identify microplastics as small as 11 micrometers, or 0.011 millimeters — less than the width of a human hair.
"This is significant because most studies so far looked at much larger microplastics," he said. "Based on that, I would conclude that we very much underestimate the actual microplastics levels in the environment."
"Importantly, the study demonstrates that atmospheric transport is a relevant process moving microplastics around, potentially over long ranges and on a global scale," Wagner added. "Also, snow may be an important reservoir storing microplastics and releasing it during snow melt, something that has not been looked at before."
Bergmann said the microplastics detected in the study included varnish that may have been used to coat cars and ships, rubber found in tires and materials that could have originated in textiles or packaging.
The authors suggested that the airborne distribution of microscopic plastic particles has so far been neglected as a source of contamination and should be monitored in standard air pollution monitoring schemes.
"We really need to know what effects microplastics have on humans, especially if inhaled with the air that we breathe," Bergmann said.
Indonesia, Aug 13 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of tourists, many of them young Westerners, sat on gray stone steps atop the world's largest Buddhist temple, occasionally checking cellphones or whispering to each other as they waited for daylight.
Sunrise wasn't spectacular on that recent summer day. But even an ordinary dawn at Borobudur Temple — nine stone tiers stacked like a wedding cake and adorned with hundreds of Buddha statues and relief panels — provided a memorable experience.
The 9th century temple is in the center of Indonesia's Java island, a densely populated region with stunning vistas. Other highlights include the towering Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, like Borobudur a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mount Merapi, the country's most active volcano, whose lava-covered slopes are accessible by jeep.
While the two temples draw many visitors, other foreigners head to the relaxing beaches of Bali, just east of Java and by far the most popular tourist destination in a nation of thousands of islands and almost 270 million people. More than 6 million tourists visited Bali last year, or about 40 percent of 15.8 million visitors to Indonesia overall, according to official figures.
Recently reelected President Joko Widodo wants to change this dynamic by pushing ahead with "10 new Balis," an ambitious plan to boost tourism and diversify Southeast Asia's largest economy.
Key to the plan is to upgrade provincial airports and improve access to outlying destinations, such as Lake Toba on Sumatra island, more than 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from Jakarta, the capital. Yogyakarta, the provincial city from where visitors head to Borobudur and Prambanan, is getting a second airport, expected to be fully operational later this year.
Widodo has been promoting his plan in meetings with foreign leaders and in recent interviews, including with The Associated Press, in hopes of encouraging foreign investment. The president of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation told the AP in late July that as part of his push, he would like to see more business ties with the Middle East.
"For investment and tourism, we would like to invite investors from the Middle East as much as possible because ... we have many tourism locations in Indonesia, not only one or two or four, but many," said Widodo. He did not give specifics.
Muslim tourists, including from the Middle East, might also be an easier fit for some of the more conservative areas earmarked for tourism development. Tourism officials have played down the possibility of cultural friction that might accompany the influx of more non-Muslim visitors, arguing that Indonesia's brand of tolerant Islam can accommodate everyone.
"Maybe there are some particular locations that are very strict (religiously)," said Hiramsyah Thaib, who heads the "10 New Balis" initiative. "We believe we won't have any problems. Sometimes we have problems in the media, but not in reality."
Yet Islamic hard-liners have become more assertive in recent years, potentially spooking investors by undermining Indonesia's image as a moderate nation. Thaib said he believes investor confidence rose "significantly" after Widodo defeated former special forces general Prabowo Subianto in April's presidential election. Subianto had been backed by Muslim groups favoring Shariah law.
The tourism plan remains key to Widodo's final five-year term, though at least one target — 20 million visitors this year — appears to have been too ambitious. The 2019 visitor tally is expected to be 18 million, based on current growth figures, said Thaib.
Still, the Indonesian tourism sector grew by 7.8 percent in 2018, or twice the global average, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
One of the 10 sites earmarked for development is the Borobudur Temple area and nearby Yogyakarta, a city of several hundred thousand people that is embedded in a large metro area. The city is a center of Javanese culture and a seat of royal dynasties going back centuries.
In 2017, former President Barack Obama and his family visited the city, where his late mother, Ann Dunham, spent years doing anthropological research. Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a child, toured Borodbudur and Prambanan during the nostalgic trip.
But while the Obamas got around with relative ease, including private jet travel, ordinary visitors struggle with congested streets packed with motorbikes weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic.
Travelers hoping to be in place at Borobudur just before sunrise need at least 90 minutes to get there from Yogyakarta, a journey of 40 kilometers (24 miles). A 230-kilometer (140-mile) round trip to the Dieng highlands, with terraced fields, small temples and a colorful volcanic lake, requires a full day of travel, some of it on bumpy back roads.
Anton McLaughlin, a 55-year-old visitor from York, England, said he was astounded by the number of motorbikes in the streets. Speaking during a jeep tour of the slopes of Mount Merapi, he said he's become more aware of the natural disasters Indonesians endure regularly. Indonesia straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Merapi's last major eruption in 2010 killed 347 people, and the ruins of one destroyed hamlet were part of the tour.
"People just seem to crack on with life," McLaughlin said.
Just a day after his tour, the volcano shot out hot clouds and lava that flowed 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) down its slopes. No casualties or damage were reported.
Jan Tenbrinke, 37, from Zwolle in the Netherlands, said Bali is the next stop for his family of four, but that he hoped to get a better sense of Indonesian culture in Yogyakarta.
In the city, tourists can visit workshops for Batik textiles, silver jewelry and Kopi Luwak — coffee made from partially digested coffee cherries that were eaten and defecated by wild tree cats, or civets. Billed as the "world's most expensive coffee," Kopi Luwak became known to a wider audience in the 2007 Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman movie "The Bucket List."
Local museums, including two royal palaces and a former Dutch fort, pose a challenge for foreign visitors eager to learn more about local history and culture because they mostly lack easily accessible explanations in English.
Thaib, the tourism official, acknowledged that there is room for improvement. He said Indonesia is determined to catch up to other Asian nations, including Thailand, which he said began developing their tourism industries much sooner.
"There is still a lot of work," he said of his nation's efforts. "We believe we are on the right track."