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Volume 13, Issue 38 ~ September 22 - September 28, 2005
Way Downstream

In Annapolis, state Agriculture Department officials say they are working “cooperatively” to bring the last and toughest one-quarter of Maryland farms into compliance with rules to protect waterways from runoff of fertilizers and animal wastes. The department said this week that anti-pollution plans are already in effect on three-fourths of Maryland’s farmland, comprising 115 million acres …

In Maryland, among a minority of states with no paper trail in electronic voting, many cheered a report from a commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and ex-secretary of state James A. Baker III this week calling for verifiable paper voting records. Afterward, director Linda Schade asserted: “It is now nearly impossible to refuse Maryland voters the paper ballot they have been calling for”…
Katrina Update: Maryland is doing its part to reduce suffering. As of this week, 3,433 evacuees — from 1,420 families — had registered with Red Cross chapters in Maryland. Maryland has nearly 400 official volunteers deployed in Louisiana and Mississippi in duties ranging from law enforcement to transportation to chaplain services …

In Washington, believe it or not, the Justice Department appears to be gathering evidence trying to blame environmental advocates for flooding in New Orleans after levees breached. The Jackson Clarion Ledger broke the story of a department e-mail to U.S. attorneys asking: “Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the corps’ work on the levees protecting New Orleans?” …

Our Creature Feature comes from South Africa, where scientists have discovered a gentler side of the giant python. The discovery unfolded after farmers reported to biologist Graham Alexander that baby snakes and their mothers were hanging out a lot together.

It was generally believed that egg-laying snakes let their offspring fend for themselves. But when Alexander began observing female rock pythons — which grow to 15 feet in length — he was astonished to find that they spend up to two weeks with their offspring. But there’s also room for, shall we say, some snake-like behavior. “When a human approaches, the mother disappears down a hole, abandoning her young,” Alexander told Reuters.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.