Archive for April, 2008

Another Big F***ing Waste of our Money in Florida

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate gave final approval to a massive energy bill Wednesday, bringing new energy efficient building codes, renewable fuel standards and a host of other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce the state’s dependence on foreign oil.

The bill, which was approved by the House Tuesday, passed on a 39-1 vote. It now heads to Gov. Charlie Crist, who has indicated he will sign it.

While the bill has its shortcomings and could be stronger, it puts Florida at the forefront of the nation’s climate change movement, its sponsors said.

”These are major steps forward . . . and something you can all be proud of,” said Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs. Constantine referenced several concerns of local government, saying certain measures may need to be revisited, such as a prohibition against regulating plastic bags.

The Senate adopted the House version of legislation, which contained several new measures, including a requirement the Legislature approve any plans by a state agency to adopt California’s stringent auto emission standards.

Critics of the measure, including some environmental groups, said waiting for ratification would slow Florida’s efforts to aggressively curb greenhouse gas emissions, as mandated in executive orders signed by Crist at a climate change summit last summer in Miami Beach. Crist called on the state to adopt California’s standards, which require a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2016.

”This really weakens what we were attempting to do in our legislation,” said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise.

Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, the Senate bill’s sponsor, countered the measure was not “the end of the story in terms of vehicle emissions.”

”This is an issue the Legislature will be debating down the road,” Saunders said.

The amendment was one of the final touches to the roughly 200-page omnibus bill, which brings to Florida everything from telecommuting by state employees to energy efficient building codes. It contains several compromise measures that businesses, consumer advocates and environmentalists said they could accept in order to further a mutual goal of protecting the environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels in Florida.

Utilities will be able to more easily recover costs from rate payers for making efficiency upgrades, building nuclear transmission lines and plants and investing in renewable fuel sources.

The Legislature, rather than state agencies, will get to approve climate change goals that lead to rate hikes. Environmentalists will see the implementation of several aggressive goals — including a renewable portfolio standard for utilities and a cap-and-trade program leading to reduced carbon pollution.


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Local High School Puts on Program Against Drunk Driving

Prom time approaches and with it come concerns about accidents involving drunken driving and the possibility that the evening will end in a lifetime of sorrow for the surviving family members.

In order to try to get the students to think of the possible consequences before they drink and drive, Nassau County emergency services personnel staged an auto accident scene with a “body” ejected onto the “road” (the track), had the firemen and policemen on site providing first aid, a Life Flight helicopter (Trauma 1) landed on the field to whisk the most seriously injured “accident victim” away by helicopter, an ambulance took away a less seriously injured victim, the police “arrested” the drunken driver, and the coroner arrived to pick up the body, and the news was given to the “parents” of the victim.

The firefighter representative explained to the students about “the golden hour” to treat accident victims and explained that in the rural area where we live, we’re at least 45 minutes to an hour away from a hospital, and it may take a half hour or more for county emergency personnel to even get to the accident site.

The helicopter returned, landed, and the flight surgeon took the microphone and told the students that he wanted them all to pretend they did not have hands or arms. He told them to sit on their hands, their hands did not exist, for five minutes. Of course, not many could keep still without using their hands even for five minutes on a lovely spring day. He then explained that a spinal cord injury at the C6 cervical vertebra may leave them without hand control and no lower body function for life.

The police then had the quarterback throw a couple of passes back and forth to a friend on the football team, then put on glasses that mimicked the effect on vision of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and then had them do the same thing again. The ball didn’t go anywhere near the intended recipient that time.

The kids then were released to examine the helicopter, talk with the EMTs/firefighters and policemen, and try on the glasses.

With the prom and graduation parties that are going to be going on county wide, we will probably lose some of our young men and women to automobile accidents. Will the program help? I can only hope so. I know that the emergency services people do not want to get the call dispatching them to an automobile accident with fatalities and have to be the ones notifying the parents that their beloved child has been killed in a tragic and preventable accident.

But I also remember when I graduated from high school. I was one of the “smart” kids that knew better, but it didn’t keep me from making bad choices, perhaps because my parents did not know or care who my friends were.

Parents, know who your children’s friends are. Know the families of your children’s friends. Too many parents are afraid to provide adult supervision and want to be their child’s “friend”. The kid has plenty of friends; what he/she needs are parents.

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Bird Flu Vaccines Get Thumbs Up in Australia

Two bird flu vaccines have won the first nod from a government committee for registration to protect Australians against an avian flu pandemic.

The vaccines, called Pandemrix and Panvex, have become the first to reach the final step towards registration in Australia, the pharmaceutical bulletin Pharma in Focus says.

The Australian Drug Evaluation Committee has recommended the formulas, which both protect against the H5N1 strain of bird flu responsible for outbreaks of avian flu in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The committee said Pandemrix, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, would be used for “prophylaxis of influenza in an officially declared pandemic situation”.

Panvax, by CSL, would be used for the “prevention of influenza caused by a pandemic strain of influenza virus,” the bulletin said.

Both vaccines contain the H5N1 virus, which has killed 236 people and millions of animals in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Laos, Egypt, Romania, Turkey and Russia.

Australian experts have warned there is no guarantee the H5N1 is the most likely to mutate and spread, with other strains of influenza A like H7 and H9 also posing a potential threat.

Dr Peter Daniels of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory recently warned that managing a potential outbreak with vaccines was becoming increasingly problematic.

New strains of avian flu collected in field surveys in Indonesia were recently used to test the efficacy of existing poultry vaccines, and many did not provide the necessary protection against the latest strains, Dr Daniels said.

And while donors were standing by with millions of US dollars to put into proven vaccines, the quest to develop ones that could deal with the most recent strains continued, he said.


Yep, that’s the complicated part. With Indonesia periodically refusing to share the latest viral samples for study, the possibility exists that vaccines developed may not be efficacious against the latest H5N1 variation and, as pointed out, another avian flu virus may make the jump to humans instead of/before H5N1, and the vaccine companies would have to start all over again.

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High Gas Prices Force Georgia Troopers to Reduce Patrols

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Patrol is feeling the pinch from high gasoline prices.

Trooper Larry Schnall, a spokesman for the agency, said troopers are being asked to reduce the amount of time spent on the road by 25 percent.

Schnall said the troopers are being asked to perform more discretionary patrols, road checks, sobriety check points, license check points and possibly operate laser and radar more often.

Schnall said motorists should not notice any difference and that patrols still will be visible.

“We just may not be on rolling patrols for the entire eight hours of our shift,” Schnall said.

The change comes as gas topped $3.60 a gallon in the Atlanta area.


I’m trying to figure out if this is good or bad for those that habitually violate the speed limit.

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The Pacific Decadal Oscillation Has Switched to Cool Phase

Thanks to Watts Up With That? for reminding me of this news item regarding the PDO.

How significant is this? Well, it’s coming at a time when fuel prices are hitting new highs daily, food prices are shooting up thanks in part to commodities speculators and fuel transportation costs, China and India are becoming wealthier and their energy demand is up, and energy companies have been prohibited from exploiting known oilfields due to “environmental” concerns. The timing sucks in terms of more costly food production and transportation simultaneously hitting countries whose harvests will be adversely affected by cold and/or drought, for countries reeling under the devastation of the poultry industry by the H5N1 virus and rice shortages, and for the people that are going to have to deal with colder winters for years to come.

Per Watts Up with That:

Here is a short history of PDO phase shifts:

In 1905, PDO switched to a warm phase.
In 1946, PDO switched to a cool phase.
In 1977, PDO switched to a warm phase.

California agriculture has ridden a wave of success on that PDO warm phase since 1977, experiencing unprecedented growth. Now that PDO is shifting to a cooler phase, areas that supported crops during the warm phase may no longer be able to do so.

Cheap imported/transported foods are not going to be as inexpensive anymore. This could be a business opportunity for somebody with some unused land and the ability to grow food that did not do so previously because he/she was priced out of the market by lower-priced foods from across the nation as well as internationally.

So, what is a person to do? Shrug. Nothing, if you worship at the Church of Man-Made Global Warming with the Reverend Al Gore. Your mind is already made up.

For everybody else, I’d investigate to see what the weather in my area was like during the previous cold oscillation and prepare accordingly. Even though I live in Florida, my insulation ain’t all that it could be, and new energy efficient windows would probably be a good idea, particularly with electricity costs going up.

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Sharks May Migrate to First Coast

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL — Beachgoers may soon start noticing company in the water with a lot of sharp teeth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the sharks spotted in the New Smyrna Beach area, where there’s been three bites in three days, are migrating north to the First Coast.

A NOAA shark expert says the sharks, black tips and hammerheads, will bite, even if unprovoked.

The expert says usually bites happen when the shark mistakes you for food.

Thomas Wright, with the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps, says there are some things you can do to avoid a bite, which are usually minor.

“Swim in front of the lifeguard, don’t go too far out, don’t wear shiny clothing or jewelry, and don’t swim too close to the pier,” said Wright.

He says the shiny clothes can look like the scales of fish.

He says there’s a lot of bait near the pier, which draw the type of fish sharks prey on.

Wright says while a shark can bite you just as easily in shallow water as in deep water, the farther out you swim, the farther help needs to travel to get to you.


IOW, not dressing like a fishing lure is probably a good thing here. Avoiding swimming near bait and where people are cleaning fish and throwing the guts back into the water is a good thing, too. Try not to accidentally step on or kick sharks. They don’t like that and don’t accept apologies, no matter how sincere. And don’t go out any further than you can swim back from with a missing limb, or that people can hear you scream for help.

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Florida Atlantic University Gets $8.75 Million for Ocean Energy Research

“We’re ecstatic,” said FAU lobbyist Tom Barlow. “The economy is not very strong and for the legislature to put this together shows they want to look at solutions to the energy problem.”

The $8.75 million is less than the $10 million that Gov. Charlie Crist had proposed giving FAU’s Ocean Energy Technology Center this year.

Still, researchers said the money will help further the center’s main projects, which include placing a turbine in the Gulf Stream to create energy, using deep ocean water as an air conditioner for coastal areas and generating energy from extreme temperature differences that naturally occur in the ocean.

Although harnessing ocean energy has been considered for more than a century, no system has been installed in the Gulf Stream for more than a few hours.

“We’re certainly honored that the governor and legislature see the potential in this program,” said Howard Hanson, FAU’s associate vice president for research.

FAU also was named to the proposed Florida Energy Systems Consortium, which is expected to generate collaboration between universities to increase energy conservation projects.

FAU’s ocean energy center, which is based in Dania Beach, was created in 2006 with $5 million in state “Centers of Excellence” funding.


Hope it works out. I’m really worried about our legislators wasting millions of our tax dollars on “green” energy alternatives while blocking things such as coal-fired generating stations that we know work.

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At What Point is it Time to Lock Somebody Up and Throw Away the Key?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL — Police now believe a man wanted for shooting his wife may be hiding in the part of the First Coast where he grew up.

Levert Stewart, 26, is accused of shooting his wife in front of their children at Jacksonville Beach Sunday, the same day of the Opening of the Beaches celebration.

Levonte Stewart is recovering from three gunshots at Shands Jacksonville.

Investigator say Mr. Stewart grew up in northwest Jacksonville.

“We’re in an active manhunt so he doesn’t hurt anyone else,” said Jacksonville Beach Police Sgt. Thomas Bingham.

Stewart’s rap sheet is 13 pages long.

It includes charges of kidnapping, drug possession, domestic violence, and, at the time of the shooting, an arrest warrant.

“We consider him a habitual offender, a very violent offender, based on the very serious and violent acts he committed on Sunday and also his past criminal history,” said Sgt. Bingham.

Police say Stewart is armed and dangerous.

And since he shot his wife in broad daylight, police say there’s no telling what he could do next.


This is a young man whose adult rap sheet is 13 pages long. He probably has an equally long list of offenses as a juvenile. There has been a massive failure somewhere along the way.

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Boy Accused of Attacking Mom with Hammer

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A 10-year-old boy was arrested on charges of domestic battery and aggravated assault on Monday after attacking his mother with a hammer and fighting with his older brother, according to St. Augustine police.

Officers responding to a report of a domestic dispute in the 8500 block of Josiah Street about 9:30 a.m. were told by the boy’s mother that the incident started when he refused to go to school and she grabbed his bicycle to stop him from riding away.

She said the boy tried to push her over his bike, then went in the house, got a hammer and starting swinging it around. He got in a physical altercation with his 13-year-old brother, then swung the hammer at his mother.

The mother said when she grabbed the hammer away from the boy, but he punched her in the back and sides, then went outside and took off on his bike.

Officers were there when he returned and took the boy into custody, booked, then turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice. His name is not being used because of his age.

According to the police report, the mother was not injured.

Source: News4Jax

Anybody want to bet on whether this will be his only brush with the law? Whether he will finish school?

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Three-Year-Old Indonesian Boy Died From Bird Flu

JAKARTA, April 29 (Reuters) – A three-year-old boy from Indonesia’s main island of Java has died from bird flu, pushing the country’s total confirmed human cases to 108, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.

Lily Sulistyowati, the ministry’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that the boy from Manyaran village, Central Java, died on April 23 after suffering from respiratory problems.

Several chickens had suddenly died in the neighbourhood where the boy lived, Sulistyowati said, adding the boy had had contact with the birds.

Contact with sick fowl is the most common way of contracting the H5N1 bird flu virus, which is endemic in bird population in most of Indonesia.

The national bird flu commission said the virus had infected poultry in 31 out of 33 provinces in Indonesia. It said five provinces had not reported new cases in the past six months.

Experts say the danger is the virus might mutate into a form that people easily catch and pass to one another, in which case the transmission rate would soar, causing a pandemic in which millions of people could die.

Since the virus resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, it has killed 240 people in a dozen countries, the World Health Organisation says. Indonesia has the highest toll of any nation. (Reporting by Mita Valina Liem; Editing by David Fogarty)

Source: Reuters

Meanwhile, new bird flu cases have been found in Japan and South Korea.

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