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Volume 13, Issue 19 ~ May 12 - 18, 2005
Letters to the Editor
Bay Reflections
Earth Talk
Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener
Weekly Crab Forecast

Way Downstream

Bill Burton
Earth Journal
8 Days a Week

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Way Downstream

In Annapolis, Gov. Robert Ehrlich this week signed anti-lead poisoning legislation that might be the General Assembly’s most significant health legislation this year. The bill, supported by Ehrlich from its inception, takes aim at landlords slow in removing old lead paint by eliminating grace periods and lowering the burden of proof of harm to kids before property-owners can be collared …

In North Carolina, the danger of lead poisoning became clear when two-year-old Conner Jackson was diagnosed recently with lead poisoning, apparently from tap water in the town of Greenville. He was one of two children identified last week as having elevated levels of lead, which can cause learning disabilities and worse. Local officials have issued a lead advisory as they search for the cause …

In Baltimore and D.C., we’d better think about books on tape — or moving to Montana. That’s the logical reaction to a new study that rates both among the nation’s Top Ten for traffic jams — even worse than New York or Philadelphia. The report released this week by the Texas Transportation Institute ranked Washington the third most clogged and Baltimore sixth. Amanda Knittle spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the report “validates the daily frustration millions of Marylanders face each day” …

In Virginia, the Army Corps of Engineers flubbed its oyster-seeding plan a year ago by inadvertently feeding one million baby oysters to cow-nosed rays. Now, the Corps has miscalculated by failing to line up a sufficient number of disease-resistant oysters, setting back plans to plant 15 million in the Great Wicomico River this spring, the Times-Dispatch reports…

In Brussels, the 25-member European Union has had enough of dirty beaches and ordered beach clean-ups because of illness to swimmers. Unfortunately, countries have until 2011, and worse, politicians want to use smiley faces to denote beaches that pass muster …

In Australia, it’s standing room only at a new cemetery in the town of Darlington, where officials have approved a plan to bury people vertically and in body bags rather than horizontally in caskets. A spokesman for Palacom, which devised the plan, described the thinking behind stand-up burial. “When you die, you are returned to the earth with a minimum of fuss and with no paraphenalia that would affect the environment,” the Associated Press in Australia reported …

Our Creature Feature comes from San Francisco, where a mysterious outbreak of a human sexual disease is killing penguins at the city’s zoo. A zoo spokeswoman said last week that biologists are blaming the death of a dozen penguins on chlamydia, a bacteria infection that inflicts humans.

The spokeswoman said the illness on Penguin Island had not been sexually transmitted but could be somehow related to the droppings of seagulls. “But it could have been something else,” added Nancy Chan, who noted that 55 other penguins had survived the outbreak.

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