Archive for May 17, 2008

China Earthquake: Struggle to Cope with Biblical Devastation

The true horror of Monday’s earthquake is only just emerging and David Eimer has travelled to Beichuan, 60 miles from the epicentre, to find a town in ruins and a people engulfed in grief.

Read the rest in The Telegraph.

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Tough Times for Shrimpers in Mayport

MAYPORT, FL — Shrimp nets have been hauling in their catch off off the coast of Mayport for generations.

But, tough times are ahead for the guys who bring you the catch of the day.

It’s been done here for generations by people like Capt. George Williams.

He has fished for shrimp for nearly 40 years through good times and bad.

“The hook broke,” said Williams.

Lately it’s been bad and Williams doesn’t know how much longer he can hold on.

“This used to be a real good job. You could make good money, a real decent living at it. My two sons quit. One of ’em joined the Army,” he said.

There are still plenty of shrimp to catch. However, the price has plummeted, and the cost of fuel has shot up.

Dragging nets through the water burns lots of fuel. A day in the water can easily cost over a $1,000 in diesel.

Shrimpers refer to this as trading shrimp for fuel. Some months its better business not to go on the water.

“The fuel’s what stopping us now. I mean really, right now if we catch 700 pounds a day the boat will just break even,” said Williams.

Williams’ shrimp boat has been in dry dock for three months, waiting for the height of the season to jumpstart their fortunes.

By the new math of their industry, good is no longer good enough.

Just how bad is it? One first mate came back after spending three weeks out on a shrimp boat. His captain came to him and said “We didn’t make any money on this trip. You owe me $200 for your meals.”

Source: First Coast News

I hadn’t thought about how expensive it is for shrimpers to fuel up their boats in order to fish the ocean. I know that the truckers that own their own rigs are having a tough time so I should have thought of it, but didn’t.

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Carjacker Takes Car With Daughter; Mom Jumps in Back

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville mother and her young daughter are happy to be together and safe after they were carjacked at a gas station in the Mandarin area.

The Su family planned on vacuuming out their two cars at the gas station; but while they were working on cleaning the cars, a criminal struck.

Danielle Su said her husband, Anthony Su, was inside the store getting change when a strange man jumped behind the wheel of one of their cars.

The carjacking took place in the 10000 block of Old St. Augustine Road while the couple’s 2-year-old daughter Laila was still inside the car.

“My handprints are still on the car from where I tried to get hold and I tried to get in,” Danielle Su said.

She told Channel 4 she was able to hop into the back seat just in time to try to save her daughter.

“I don’t care if you take the car, but you’re not taking her. The police were like, ‘Most of the time when they take a kid with the car, they’ll just dump them anywhere — a trash can, the side of the road, they don’t care,’” Danielle Su said.

The carjacker drove erratically for a few blocks before crashing the car at a nearby apartment complex. That where Danielle Su said the man hopped out of her wrecked car and then stole another car.

Anthony Su said after he walked out of the store to see what was happening he tried running after the stolen car, but soon realized he needed to hop in their other car if he was going to catch up with the carjacker that had his family.

“I saw my wife in the backseat, and I see the dude. He was looking dead at me,” Anthony Su said. “Just seeing my wife and daughter in the backseat and the guy in the front seat, it was just like, ‘What do I do? What do I do next?’”

Although the Su family is left with a car that has a few dings in it, they said that doesn’t matter because their daughter is safe.

“That’s a car. I can replace that, but that’s my wife and daughter, and I love them so much. I can’t replace that,” Anthony Su said.

Source: News4Jax

It’s sad when you have to have one person standing guard over your vehicle with a weapon while the other one is vacuuming out the car.

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Harkin Says McCain is “Too Military”

Washington, D.C. — Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, “and he has a hard time thinking beyond that,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday.

“I think he’s trapped in that,” Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”

Harkin said that “it’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up.”

A McCain spokesman said Harkin’s remarks were offensive and showed that Democrats are out of touch with Americans’ values.

“Senator Harkin’s comments are an affront to the many thousands of Iowans who have served our country so valiantly for generations,” said spokesman Jeff Sadosky. “This sort of attack shows just how out of touch Democratic leadership has become with the values that have made our country so great.”

This is not the first time Harkin has commented about McCain. In April, Harkin said McCain’s temper was “scary,” and Harkin questioned whether “flying off the handle” might affect McCain’s judgment in the Oval Office.

McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958 and served in the U.S. Navy as a pilot.

He was shot down in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam from then until 1973. McCain continued to serve in the Navy until 1981, when he retired and successfully ran for election to the U.S. House in 1982.

He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and currently serves as the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.


I’m glad to see that McCain’s life experiences as a civilian since 1982 apparently do not count. Twenty six years was enough time for my daughter to grow up, marry, and present me with two lovely grandsons, so surely it should be enough time for John McCain to learn how to function as a civilian.

Obviously there’s something very flawed about John McCain anyway because he didn’t spend his youth doing drugs, burning flags, and misspelling protest signs like Democratic youth. After all, what sort of a flawed individual isn’t out for number one and instead is prepared to sacrifice everything for duty, honor, and country?

“Senator Harkin” must be a euphemism for dipshit.

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Quake Destroys Water Facilities in Sichuan, 3.62 Million People Affected

CHENGDU, May 17 (Xinhua) — The water conservancy facilities in southwest China’s Sichuan Province were seriously damaged in the magnitude 7.8 quake and the losses were estimated at 5.2 billion yuan (about 740 million U.S. dollars).

As of 11:00 a.m. Saturday, 88,615 water source facilities had been destroyed, affecting 3.62 million people in the province, according to statistics of the provincial water resources department.

The quake also destroyed 7,635 kilometers of irrigation canals, affecting crops on nearly 224,000 hectares of farmland. The damaged power transmission lines in the rural areas added up to 1,978 km, affecting 1.16 million people.


A large earthquake such as the San Andreas and New Madrid fault is capable of could create havoc here just as easily.

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China Quake Damages Crops

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) — The earthquake in southwest China has seriously affected agricultural production in Sichuan and other disaster-hit regions, said a senior official from the Ministry of Agriculture on Saturday.

The quake, which triggered landslides in the mountainous province, damaged 33,333 hectares of farmland, including more than10,000 hectares of wheat and rape and more than 20,000 hectares of vegetables, in the 13 worst-hit cities and counties, said Wei Chaoan, Vice Agriculture Minister.

As the disaster also destroyed irritation systems in some areas, up to 100,000 hectares of rice paddies might have to be used to grow alternative crops, he said.

“A large amount of farming facilities, including more than 20,000 farm machines, were damaged,” Wei said. He admitted the repair work would be “very difficult”.

As the country’s leading agricultural province, Sichuan provided 6 percent of the nation’s total grain output, including 5percent of the national total summer grains, 8 percent of the total oil crops and 5 percent of the total vegetable production, said Wei.

He said the 12.5 million head of livestock killed in the quake were mostly poultry. The poultry losses were a small fraction of the 1.5 billion birds that the province aimed to produce in 2008.

Wei said the quake had limited impact on farm production nationwide, adding he had “full confidence” in the steady national supply of grain and other major products and to keep the prices stable.

He said the ministry compensate for the agricultural losses by stepping up production in other areas and closely monitor farm produce supplies in the affected areas.

Zhang Yuxiang, an official in charge of the ministry’s market and economic division, said farm produce prices nationwide remain almost the same as before the quake.

The supply of vegetables was adequate as farmers nationwide had planted more after the severe winter weather in January, she said.

The death toll from the earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale on Monday, rose to 28,881 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Saturday, while 198,347 people were injured, according to the Information Office of the State Council.


I’m glad that Ministry of Agriculture feels that China can make up for the damaged/destroyed crops in other agricultural regions.

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Slim Whitman: A Living Legend on the First Coast

JACKSONVILLE, FL — A living legend on the First Coast has been living among us for more than 50 years, and we have to stress the word “living.”

Recently Slim Whitman had to remind his fans that he was still alive after rumors began to spread that he had died around the time of his 85th birthday.

“I had gotten calls from all over the country asking if I was dead, and I told them ‘If I could still sing, then I couldn’t be dead, and I could still sing'”, explains Whitman with a smile.

And, this wasn’t the first time rumors like this were started.
11 years ago, Jay Leno on the Tonight Show made a joke about Slim Whitman and Fats Domino and made reference to them both being dead.

Slim Whitman had to return a lot of phone calls back then too.

To help him set the record straight again, I decided to catch up with this amazing man to learn more about his life on the First Coast and his impressive career.

We met at the McDonald’s in Middleburg, where there are pictures of him and his son hanging in a special place of honor.

He brought with him old newspaper clippings, two of his gold albums, one platinum and a replica of his star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“My star is one of the first 18,” says Whitman.

But one of the most treasured items Whitman showed me was an article about his wife and how she helped his career get started.

“She was the woman behind the man,” says Whitman.

He goes on the explain, “Along in that time, if someone pointed a finger at me, I couldn’t talk. I would stutter. And for each song, she’d say ‘Here he is’.”

Whitmans’ wife Gerry would introduce him before he performed on his radio show in Tampa.

Eventually, Whitman was able to go on stage and perform without stuttering.

And, it was during one of those radio shows that Colonel Tom Parker heard Whitman.

Colonel Parker helped Slim Whitman sign his first record deal.

Later Col. Parker discovered Elvis; and Elvis used to open the shows for Slim.

Slim remembers the time he let Elvis borrow on of his trademark white rhinestone jackets on stage, ” And, he came back and said ‘How did I do?’ and I said you did good.

They thought I came back,” joked Slim.

Slim Whitman has been called a country crooner and “American’s Favorite Folk Singer.”

He has a vocal range of 3 octaves and is known for his yodeling.

“But, I had no idea that the yodeling, that I was doing then would turn into something that I could really show off without really showing off,” remembers Slim.

His fame reached record proportions in the United Kingdom, where he sold more albums than he Beatles, and held the number one spot on the record chart for 11 weeks.

A record that lasted for 36 years for his song “Rosemarie.”

And, in 1997, it was Slim Whitman’s voice that Tim Burton chose to knock the aliens out of the sky in the re-make of “Mars Attacks.”

Although, he’s traveled all over the world, Slim Whitman’s life is deeply rooted in Florida.

He was born Ottis Dew Whitman in 1923 in Tampa.

He met his wife Geradine “Gerry” Crist when he was just 15.

They married a few years later, and they’ve lived on her family’s farm in Middleburg for the past 53 years.

In June, Slim Whitman and his wife will have been married 67 years.

They have two children, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

He and his son Byron used to tour together.

He made 103 albums, and sold more than 70 million records world-wide.

He was in the navy and used to play baseball with the Plant City Berries, a Class C team in the Orange Belt League.

Before wrapping up my interview with Mr. Whitman, some fans
who had been waiting, finally were able to come forward and give him a big hug.

They talked for a while and remembered some of their favorite songs.

Slim Whitman looked at me and said…”See, the music still lives on today.”

And despite the rumors, so does Slim Whitman.

Source: First Coast News

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