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Volume 15, Issue 48 ~ November 29 - December 5, 2007

Way Downstream

In Calvert County, friends of Lee Travers, who operates the upscale Westlawn Inn in North Beach, were startled on Thanksgiving eve to receive emails from Travers saying that he was in a bad way in Nigeria after losing his money and passport and visiting a good friend in the hospital.

Of course, Travers was in North Beach, not West Africa, and his only problem was that he had become a victim of email scammers in a new variation of the old Nigerian advanced-fee fraud scheme. Only this time it wasn’t the son of a slain government official who had buried a cache of diamonds or a princess with millions in the bank needing an American pal (and a little cash for her efforts).

It was somebody, quite possibly in Nigeria, cyber-crime capital of the world, who had somehow gotten Travers’ email list. Nobody bit, as far as he knows, although one friend was on the verge of wiring some money.

“I have no idea how they got it,” Travers told Bay Weekly. “I’m just hoping that it’s a dead-end street” …

In Annapolis, it seemed fitting given our soaring electricity bills that the General Assembly’s special session tax included a fat property tax increase on power plants. Unfortunately, those increases will sock it to the green energy folks — like solar and wind — trying to get off the ground. Look for a move in the new session to exempt renewables from property taxes …

In Anne Arundel County, Executive John Leopold is getting double use out of his sign welcoming Mideast Peace Summit negotiators to Anne Arundel County. The sign, reading Smooth Sailing to Peace, will stand outside Arundel Center until New Year’s Day to remind us all we’re in the season dedicated to peace on earth …

In Chesapeake Country, your old cell phone can have a patriotic new life. Cypress Creek Therapy Associates are pairing up with local doctors and Cell Phones for Soldiers to help connect military men and women with their families. Donated phones will be refurbished and shipped overseas for soldiers. Drop off your donations at these local sites:

• Annapolis: Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, 108 Forbes St.

• Edgewater: Cypress Creek Therapy: 3168 Braverton St. #200; and South River Primary Care #330

• Millersville: Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, 8638 Veteran’s Hwy., 1st floor

• Severna Park: Cypress Creek Therapy: 645 Balt./Annap. Blvd., #111 …

In rural Maryland, farms worked by the same family for 100 years are sought by Maryland Department of Agriculture to join the 134 centurion family farms of the Maryland Century Farm Program:

Around Maryland, organic farmers get a boost from two new grants. In the first, a $38,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant will help organic farmers improve their management, conservation and marketing skills. A second smaller USDA grant helps farmers pay to certify their farm as organic.

Some 97 producers and 24 handlers have been certified as organic in Maryland. Statewide, we grow more than 2,000 acres of certified organic grain and 2,500 acres of certified organic forage (hay and pasture). Find out more at …

Our Creature Feature comes from Germany, where a recent find in a quarry suggests that swimming 250 million years ago was dangerous. In the journal Biology Letters, British researchers report finding the fossilized claw of an ancient sea scorpion that was believed to have been eight feet long, the largest arthropod ever discovered.

“We knew the sea scorpions were among the largest creepy-crawlies ever, but we didn’t realize just how big they could get,” paleontologist Simon J. Braddy of the University of Bristol told the Los Angeles Times.

What would a scorpion this big have eaten? Armored fish and anything it wanted, given that it was the dominant predator in its environment, Braddy said

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