Archive for January 19, 2008

8-Year-Old Indonesian Boy Dead from Bird Flu

JAKARTA: An Indonesian boy has died of bird flu, bringing the country’s death toll from the disease to 97, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The 8-year-old boy from the town of Tangerang died early on Friday after being treated at the Sulianti Saroso Hospital for Infectious Disease in the capital, Jakarta, said Sunan Raja, an official at the ministry’s bird flu center.

He said the boy had been admitted to a local hospital on Wednesday, nine days after he developed symptoms of fever and cough.

Raja said laboratory results confirmed that the boy had the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

The boy lived near a poultry slaughterhouse in the Cipondoh neighborhood in the western outskirts of Jakarta, Raja said.

Indonesia has recorded human bird flu deaths regularly since 2003, when the virus began ravaging poultry stocks across Asia.

Scientists have warned that Indonesia, which has millions of backyard chickens and poor medical facilities, is a potential hot spot for a global bird flu pandemic.



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Man Finds Ballast From Spanish Treasure Ship at Flea Market

Albuquerque, NM — A New Mexico man believes he’s struck gold at an Albuquerque flea market. Collector Marcus Hudson paid $300 for what at first glance appears to be an old rock.

It’s actually a copper ballast from a Spanish ship, the “Nuestra Senora de Atocha,” that sank in 1622. The ship had a treasure on board that would be worth as much as $400 million today, and some of it may be hidden inside Marcus Hudson’s ballast.

Treasure was often hidden in the ship’s ballasts to avoid paying tariffs in the 1600s. Hudson and a local museum are working to have the ballast examined to see if anything is inside. Even if the ballast is empty it is still worth tens of thousands of dollars.

What I would like to know is, how did he know?  If I were to stub my toe on a priceless Spanish ballast on the beach, I would jump around cussing and limp off.  I would never be able to identify it as something valuable.

Guess that’s why I don’t soar with the buzzards or something.

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More Water Restrictions for South Florida

South Florida Records Two Driest Back-to-Back Years

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, January 8, 2008 (ENS) – The past two years have been the driest back-to-back calendar years in South Florida since rainfall recordkeeping began in 1932, meteorologists at the South Florida Water Management District confirmed today.

The 2006-2007 rainfall total of 83.63 inches district-wide displaces by nearly an inch the previous low of 84.59 inches that fell 50 years ago in 1955-56.

Last year was the ninth-driest year in the 76-year record with rainfall of just 42.88 inches, across the district, 82 percent of the historical average,

It followed rainfall of only 40.75 inches in 2006, the sixth-driest year on record.

The combined two-year total is nearly two feet less than the historical district-wide average of 104.5 inches for a typical two-year period.

“The district’s rainfall data confirms that South Florida is still in the grips of a severe regional drought, which has led to a multi-year water shortage the likes of which we have never experienced,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Eric Buermann.

“South Florida residents – as well as water managers – must live with limited water supplies this dry season, and we all must practice conservation and follow the one-day-a-week restrictions if we are to successfully minimize the impacts of this water shortage,” he said.

All during 2007, the district imposed one new water restriction after another in an effort to conserve scant water supplies.

Now, the most restrictive rules ever imposed in South Florida take effect next week.

In December and for the first time in the agency’s history, the district declared an extreme water shortage, and established a one-day-a-week watering schedule for residential landscape irrigation.

Water management is easier when plants with similar water needs are grouped together, advises the South Florida Water Management District. (Photo courtesy SFWMD)

Landscape irrigation accounts for up to half of all household water consumption in the state of Florida and totals more than seven billion gallons per day nationwide.

The new restrictions become effective Tuesday, January 15. Enforcement, including issuing of of civil fines and notices of violation will begin on that date. For information on watering days and times, as well as restrictions on specific use classes, visit


In checking the rain gauge, I found that we had a hair over 7″ of that elusive wet stuff in my little area of NE Florida this week. 

If you read the article, you will find that Lake Okechobee is at very low levels and you may infer that this is due to the drought, which is not entirely correct.  The level was reduced to make room for the record number of hurricanes (and heavy rainfall) predicted for the summer hurricane season (which never materialized) as there were concerns with whether or not the dike would hold.

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