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7 things to know before dinner—What's on fire, what's leaking, what's banned, what Pele said to Richard Nixon, Earth's selfie

Photo by State Library Queensland via Flickr Creative Commons

1. Earth's selfie (NASA/JPL)

NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited the people of Earth to an interplanetary photo shoot last month as the Cassini spacecraft took a picture of our home planet from its orbit around Saturn.

Continents and individuals were not going to be visible in the portrait (Earth is a tiny blue dot), so humans around the world took it upon themselves to Memorex the moment, sharing via social media and email more than 1,400 images of "Saturn Wave" events. The mission assembled a collage.

2. Millennials are ditching cars and redefining the idea of 'ownership' (NPR)

According to a new study, "millennials" have a substantially different attitude toward car-buying than baby boomers and Gen Xers. Researchers say there is trend among millennials of giving up, putting off or just not buying cars. Even in L.A.

And it's not just owning cars that millennials are questioning. Jill Hennessy, clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University calls the group "optimistic," saying they are more likely to find value in experiences rather than things.

3. Fukushima's 80,000 gallons of toxic water is leaking into a 'serious incident' (KPCC)

Reports emerged this week that 80,000 gallons of toxic water leaking from a Fukushima storage tank is so contaminated that standing 18 inches away from it for an hour would expose you to five times the amount of radiation that the average nuclear workers gets in a year.

Japan has struggled to contain the fallout from the disaster that struck the plant after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.  The country's nuclear watchdog said Wednesday it plans to dramatically raise the leak rating to "serious incident."

4. 16,000 acres on fire near Yosemite (KPCC)

The "Rim Fire" near Yosemite National Park has forced evacuations and the closure of Highway 120, blocking a key entryway to the park. The wildfire has grown to 16,228 acres as it burns for a fifth day Wednesday.

The blaze was burning eastward threatening more than 2,000 structures, including homes, hotels and camp buildings. Firefighters had achieved only 5 percent containment.

5. White House dogs legislation that targets specific breeds (KPCC)

The White House has come out against legislation that singles out dogs based solely on their breed in response to an online petition seeking to ban such existing laws.

"Breed-specific laws" (BSL) — which target pit bulls, Rottweilers and others breeds for bans and mandatory spay/neuter programs — aim to cut down on dog attacks and lessen the number of unwanted animals euthanized at shelters.

6. Manhattan Beach bans styrofoam containers (KPCC)

Manhattan Beach banned the sale and distribution of styrofoam containers this week, including to-go cups and boxes. Polystyrene is an environmental hazard and a danger to local marine life that mistakes broken packages as bits of food.

Some businesses are worried about the expense of greenware. Others say the alternatives generate more greenhouse emissions and waste. The ordinance will be reviewed next month before taking effect.

7. Secret Nixon tapes released, Vietnam war intelligence declassified (Wall Street Journal)

The final batch of secretly recorded phone calls and meetings from President Richard Nixon’s White House have been released. The tapes (3,000 hours in total) end on July 12, 1973 — the day before a Senate committee heard about it.

An intelligence analysis of the Vietnam war and other declassified documents were among 140,000 pages also released. Wednesday’s tapes include conversations with three future presidents, Henry Kissinger, and soccer star Pele.