Archive for May 6, 2008

Apologies to Any Caught in the Spam Net…..

But, damn! I have 111 spams to look through and the first 20 or so are for health insurance (do I look sick?), life insurance (uh oh, maybe I’m terminal) or car insurance (oh, so now I’m a sick AND uninsured motorist).

So, I looked through several of the spams and deleted everything.

When I first started the blog (in quavering, ancient voice) a few months ago, I never checked the spam filter until people wrote me indignantly about why I was censoring them.

Oops. It was quite unintentional and probably still is. I just don’t always have the time to wade through all of the spam comments that come in. Sorry.

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Risk of Bird Flu Pandemic Probably Growing

GENEVA (Reuters) – The risk of a human influenza pandemic remains real and is probably growing as the bird flu virus becomes entrenched in poultry in more countries, health officials warned on Tuesday.

Some 150 experts are attending a meeting hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to update its guidance to countries on how to boost their defences against a deadly global epidemic.

The H5N1 avian flu virus has infected flocks in much of Asia, Africa and parts of Europe. Experts fear it could mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person, sparking an influenza pandemic that could kill millions.

“The risk of a pandemic remains and is probably expanding,” said Dr. Supamit Chunsuttiwat, a disease control expert at Thailand’s health ministry who is chairing the four-day meeting.

Supamit noted the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus persisted on three continents and had caused human cases in Indonesia, Egypt and China this year.

“We are concerned that the spread through migratory birds hasn’t stopped. Once the virus is established in birds, it is difficult to get rid of the virus and the risk (to humans) remains unless countries develop good control of transmission in birds,” he told Reuters.

The avian flu virus rarely infects people, but there have been 382 human cases worldwide since 2003, 241 of them fatal, according to the WHO, a United Nations agency.

Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of WHO’s global influenza program, told the talks: “We can’t delude ourselves about the threat of pandemic influenza — it has not diminished.”

Read the rest here:

Indeed, the more flocks and countries are infected, the more human/virus interaction, the more chances for mutations that would make it easier to pass between humans. We have been extremely fortunate in that the times that human-to-human transmission of the virus has occurred, there was something unique in the genetic makeup of the individuals that were susceptible to the virus that allowed passage between family members but not to others.

Our run of good luck can end at any time.

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Vermont Offers Special Summer Deal to Floridians

Every winter, the chilled masses of New England flee to Florida, as if drawn by a magnetic force. Vermont is hoping to spark a reverse-migration this year, enticing residents of the Sunshine State with one thing they do not have – a cool summer.

more stories like this”We want to get the Floridians up here, and out of the heat,” said Steve Cook, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

To that end, some inns and hotels across Vermont are planning to offer Florida residents special package deals – ranging from discounted room rates to complimentary cheese farm tours to gift baskets full to bursting with maple syrup and other locally produced goods.

The effort to lure the so-called sunbirds – a twist on the New England snowbirds who flock to Florida’s beaches in the wintertime – is not Vermont’s only marketing effort this summer.

A coming advertising blitz will promote Vermont in TV ads across the country as gas prices soar and tourism officials everywhere worry about the impact on summer travel.

But special attention is being paid to Floridians.

“This is to let another state know that we are paying attention to them and appreciate them,” Cook said.

Florida already is a key market for Vermont, tourism officials said. More residents from Florida make visits to Vermont than from any other non-Northeast state, with the exception of Texas.

In 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, Vermont had an estimated 68,560 visitors from Florida and 71,120 from Texas.

State officials say the nexus between Vermont and Florida is natural since so many New Englanders move to Florida and remain fond of their former region.

The state is touting deals for Floridians on its website and has launched a media campaign, hoping newspapers and websites will publicize the deals.

Florida tourism officials said they have never targeted Vermont tourists, or those from any other state.

“Our goal is to get visitors from across the nation and around the world,” said Jay Schleuning, a spokesman for Visit Florida. “Our deals are all-inclusive, open to anyone who wants to take advantage of them.”

Florida has that luxury. The state had 83.6 million visitors in 2005. That year, Vermont had 13.4 million visitors.

The Florida resident promotions come with one rule: To qualify, you must show a Florida driver’s license or other proof of residency.

Some 24 inns and hotels are offering the deals for Floridians, but Vermont tourism officials said they are hoping many more of the state’s 1,424 lodging establishments will join the effort.

Dora Foschi of the Woodstocker Inn in Woodstock is among the inn owners participating in the promotion.

Florida residents who book a king-bed room for a visit between June 1 and Aug. 31, with prices starting at $175 per night, will be treated to a complimentary package of locally produced goods, including organic soap, bath oil, maple syrup, cheese, and apples.

“This is something special for the Floridians,” said Foschi, who said the bulk of her business tends to come from visitors who live in locales within driving range, such as Massachusetts.

She said she has not had any takers on the Florida resident offer.

But she said the promotion is only a week old.

Source: Florida Trend

I think I might have to pass on that deal, attractive as it is. I’m not sure that they have grits or greens. And I’d likely need to hire an interpretor. Plus, I like the heat and humidity.

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15-Year-Old Amber Alert Girl and Ex-Con Boyfriend Both Charged with Murder

PALATKA, Fla. — Three days after a 15-year-old girl at the center of a nationwide Amber Alert and her 22-year-old boyfriend were picked up in Texas, Putnam County Sheriff Dean Kelly announced that both are charged with murder in the death of a 66-year-old Melrose man last week.

Morgan Leppert and Toby Lowry were picked up in El Paso just after 4 p.m. Saturday when a motorist recognized the couple from seeing a national news report and called 911.

Lowry and Leppert remain in El Paso, Texas, where Leppert was being held on charges of car theft, interference with custody of a child and panhandling while Putnam County investigators interviewed the couple. Leppert was not charged in Texas, but was being held in protective custody by juvenile authorities.

Kelly announced that Lowry and Leppert were both being charged with first-degree murder and would be returned to Florida as soon as possible.

Kelly said that Stewart was beaten with two metal rods, stabbed several times and suffocated with a plastic bag over his head. The details of the killing were withheld from the public until after investigators had a chance to interview Lowry and Leppert.

Investigators said there was no prior relationship between the couple and Stewart, who was partially disabled and hard of hearing.

“They were looking, basically, something to get into, for a way to get out of the county,” Kelly said. “They just cased the area looking for an easy mark.”

Investigators said Leppert knocked on Stewart’s door, said her car had broken down and asked to use the phone. That call was made to her own cell phone — the connection between her disappearance and the homicide that led Putnam County to issue the Amber Alert.

“Of course, there are always suspicions, but until we had more facts, we had to error on the side of caution and treat her as an endangered missing child,” Kelly said.

Kelly praised the national news media for getting out the Amber Alert information, which resulted in the capture of two people now charged with murder.

Leppert, Lowry and a third person who officers believe was a hitchhiker from Florida were panhandling just off Interstate 10 when a man who saw the Amber Alert coverage that morning on the Fox News Channel.

The stolen 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup they allegedly stole after killing Stewart was found nearby.  Putnam County investigators had searched for the San Mateo teenager since her mother reported her missing on April 22, but the case was elevated to an Amber Alert when deputies made the connection to the homicide.

Lowry has a lengthy criminal history, with arrests in both Putnam and Clay counties. He was released last summer after serving a 20-month sentence for burglary and criminal mischief.

Deputies received three reports of the stolen vehicle headed west on I-10, the most recent was early Thursday morning near Houston.

By noon Sunday, three Putnam County investigators were in Texas interviewing Lowry, Leppert and the hitchhiker, Robert Brucker, 43. Investigators said the couple picked up Brucker in Valdosta and had no connection to the slayings.

Source:  News4Jax

This sounds like a death penalty case to me, certainly for the young man, and rightfully so.  This unfortunate handicapped man was chosen and brutally murdered for his vehicle, and they could have targeted anybody.

I doubt the young woman will get the death penalty but will be facing the prospect of life in prison.  I certainly don’t think that she should be allowed into society again for a long, long time, if ever.

My question is why are young people so willing to commit murder and so casual about doing so?  And stupid enough to think that going to another state in the murder victim’s vehicle is going to protect them from a Florida murder charge?

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