Volume XI, Issue 31 ~ July 31 - August 6, 2003

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Dock of the Bay

Crackin’ Crabs for a Cause
Help Annapolis Rotary raise its second million for charity’s sake

“Service above self,” says the Rotary Club motto. But the first Friday in August, it’s crabs above all for a good cause at the 58th annual Rotary Club of Annapolis crab feast, billed as the city’s biggest summer event.

This Friday, some 2,400 deprived crab fans will tuck into 360 bushels of steamed crabs under the bleachers at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The only change in the all-you-can-eat affair in recent thin crab times is a bow to resource conservation: “Eat all you take, or share with a neighbor,” suggest Rotarians, who will be cooking up not only crabs but also 75 gallons of Maryland vegetable crab soup, 3,600 ears of sweet Maryland corn and creamy cole slaw. Thanks to donations by Adams the Place for Ribs, 150 pounds of beef barbecue for sandwiches and 1,800 hot dogs will round out the all-you-can-eat menu. There’s also all you can drink of draft beer and soda.

Much good comes from all this summer feasting at the Rotary Club’s largest annual fundraiser. One hundred percent of profits are donated to local charities.

“Every year we’ve doled out every penny of the proceeds to deserving local organizations,” says Dick Royer, Rotary grants committee chair and past president.

Last year, $29,000 in crab profits benefited local charities and non-profit groups, including Salvation Army, Hospice of the Chesapeake, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, We Care and Friends, Boys and Girls Club, Friends of Clay Street Children, First Night Annapolis, The Red House, Alcoholics Anonymous, Recreation Needs for Special Needs, Annapolis Chorale, the Eastport Wooden Boat Program and many more.

“This year’s grant promised to the Salvation Army is the third installment of our pledge to give a total of $25,000 over three years for their new computer room,” says Royer.

Since the first Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast in 1946, more than $1 million has been invested in the community.

Satisfy your craving for crabs, share the defining summer feast for Annapolitans and many other Marylanders, and you’ll help the Annapolis Rotary Club continue its long-term support for deserving local organizations.

Organizers say the event will include a “huge” silent auction and raffles with cash prizes. On sale are souvenir T-shirts and the Rotary’s own Crab Feast Mania: A Cookbook for Crab Lovers, featuring a Marion Warren color crab photo on its cover.

See 8 Days a Week to join in.

— M.L. Faunce

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Liquefied Natural Gas Returns to Chesapeake Bay
22 million gallons dock at Cove Point

The huge red ship slipping up Chesapeake Bay last week was expected for quite some time. Its historic voyage from Trinidad was preceded by packed public hearings and political bruhahas as Chesapeake Bay citizens, politicians and experts warned that natural disasters or terrorist attacks could devastate not only Dominion’s Cove Point LNG Terminal, where the tanker was heading, but also the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant up the shoreline.

Over the objections of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who fought to ensure that federal officials understood the dangers before the first ship ever made it this far, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved activation of the plant on October 11, 2001. After Mikulski unsuccessfully petitioned the commission to rescind the order, the U.S. Coast Guard and Maryland and Virginia lawmakers formalized security measures that opened the Bay for this first ship.

Now, as it slowly approaches Cove Point under the bluest of skies, the LNG ship Norman Lady allows three tugboats to push it to its berth. The ship, about 825 feet long, contains nearly 22 million gallons of imported liquefied natural gas.

With Norman Lady’s arrival, Chesapeake Bay becomes home to the biggest of the United States’ four LNG facilities, with an output capacity of one billion cubic feet of gas a day.

This is good news for the Bush administration, which forecasts a real shortage of home heating fuel this winter. It’s also good news for Calvert County because it commissions another huge corporate taxpayer, second only to the nuclear power plant.

It’s less good news for charter boat captains, for whom the reopening of the docks closes a favorite fishing ground.

The security rules protecting the ships and their flammable cargo affect all boaters on the Bay. Commercial and pleasure captains alike now have to watch out for the huge LNG ships, which have distinctive humps of storage tanks jutting out of the decks.

Watching out means staying at least 500 yards away from the ships at all times; those who fail to do so will be warned off by the Coast Guard, be boarded or worse.

“Security zone violations are taken very seriously,” says Cmdr. Gordon Loebl, chief prevention officer for the Port of Baltimore. “I can’t say what will happen in each and every case. However, any person who violates a security zone … is subject to their vessel being seized and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.”

There’s reason for such security.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to avoid the kind of attack that rocked the seas off the coast of Yemen last October, when a small boat loaded with TNT rammed a French oil tanker while it was taking on a Yemeni pilot. The Limburg, filled with nearly 400,000 barrels of crude oil, caught fire and spilled its cargo.

Dominion says that LNG is neither flammable nor explosive in liquid form; the fuel will burn only when it returns to its gaseous state and is mixed with air.

LNG doesn’t explode, but it fuels a big, fast fire. The fire chief of Boston, where there’s another LNG terminal, warned of a fireball exploding from a ship in the harbor and rolling ashore. For months following 9/11, the Coast Guard banned LNG shipments to Boston Harbor.

Here at Cove Point, the LNG facility closed in 1983 after gas ignited and killed one worker.

Still, a repeat of the Limburg disaster is unlikely in Chesapeake Bay.

Local pilots will bring each ship up the Bay, and the Coast Guard will board the tankers near Cape Charles and check the names of the crew against the manifest and the U.S. terrorism watch list.

When the Norman Lady, its red deck now a segmented five-section tank, is abeam of the half-mile long LNG docks, the tugboats line up on her other side and throttle forward. The pilot powers the engines to help maneuver toward the dock. A group dockside — known as a line party — stands ready to catch the lines thrown from the LNG crew.

Dominion also vouches for the safety of its operations. In terms of Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Dominion’s spokesman Dan Donovan says, “We have had meetings with them and they have toured our facility. We do have a hotline that we test regularly, but there have been no drills.”

The Norman Lady gently bumps up against the large fenders on the LNG dock as lines are cast to the handlers on the dock. Secured to the moorings, the ship is ready to begin unloading.

Because natural gas is so dense, it is liquefied at the point of origin — Trinidad, Brazil or possibly Algeria. In its liquid state, 600 cubic feet of natural gas takes up one cubic feet of space, making it more economical to ship.

The Norman Lady’s load was used to prime and start up Dominion’s processing machinery. LNG ships with bigger loads will begin arriving in early August, with several arriving each week once the operation is running at full capacity.

Reporters aren’t allowed to witness unloading, but in theory a pumping arm is inserted into the ship’s holding tank. LNG gas is pumped under the Bay to shore, where it is stored in the white, above-ground tanks that are landmarks to boaters. From there, it is vaporized and piped to Loudon County, Va., and to other regions on the East Coast.
— John L. Guerra

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Take a Bite to Feed Cancer Research
Celebrate life at Rod ’n’ Reel’s 22nd annual gala

With every bite of sweet Maine lobster and sesame-encrusted scallop, and every swallow of stuffed shrimp and crab dumpling ... ka-ching, ka-ching. With every bite of seared Ahi tuna and each roll of tongue around juicy barbecue ribs ... ka-ching, ka-ching. With every euphoria-inducing spoonful of decadent dessert and every let-your-hair-down sip of cocktail ... ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.

It doesn’t matter whether you notice that ka-ching sound or whether you’re too busy enjoying yourself at Rod ’n’ Reel’s 22nd Annual Celebration of Life Cancer Gala on August 7.

It doesn’t matter whether you hear it, because with every bite you’re adding to the American Cancer Society’s pot of gold. Each ka-ching funds nationwide cancer researchers whose efforts since the Cancer Society grants program began in 1946 have helped more and more cancer sufferers continue to celebrate life.

Many of these lifesaving men and women work in our own backyards. Of the more than $100 million the Cancer Society raises annually across the nation, almost $12 million fuels Maryland researchers.

David Weber, native Marylander and cancer researcher at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, hopes to design “patient-specific drugs that will control uncontrolled cell growth” with his Cancer Society grant of $375,000.

Weber looks at two key human proteins — both associated with cell growth — involved with many cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, cervix, breast and mouth.

The first protein, p53, is a tumor suppressor that puts the brakes on uncontrolled cell growth. “If you don’t have that stop-mechanism, then tumors grow uncontrolled,” says Weber, referring to p53’s ability to control growing cells.

The second protein, S100B, turns p53 off, allowing cells to grow.

“Some people have too much of S100B, and so the protein’s actually contributing to their cancer,” explains Weber. Too much S100B, in many cases, translates into uncontrolled cell growth.

Now, Weber is close to discovering how to manipulate the molecular interaction between the two proteins.

“We’re excited because we’ve developed an inhibitor of S100B that protects p53 from this protein, and we’ve seen it work in primary malignant melanoma cells,” says Weber. “What we can do is plug up S100B with a drug that we design to fit into that site so that p53 can no longer bind. Then we have a drug that works.”

The drug will work because p53, free from S100B, can now suppress tumors.
S100B is but one of about 20 members in the S100 protein family. Weber’s “long-term goal is to have specific drugs for specific S100 proteins and then match them to specific cancers.”

The result: Patient-specific cancer drugs.

A few miles east and into Baltimore City, at Johns Hopkins University, another Cancer Society researcher burns the midnight oil.

Richard Roden, with his $774,000 Cancer Society grant, strives to help develop a vaccine for human papillomavirus, known as HPV, that would prevent most cases of cervical cancer.

“HPV is the primary causative agent for cervical cancer and is also strongly associated with several other genital cancers. If you can interrupt this infection, then you can prevent those cancers,” says Roden.

“While the majority of people who have HPV don’t go on to get cancer, 99.5% of cervical cancers have HPV,” explains Roden.

Roden is interested in how the virus infects cells. Of the eight proteins the virus makes, Roden studies L2. “Since L2 is required for infection,” he says, “it’s a good target for interrupting the infection.”

Roden sees promise in a vaccine using the L2 protein. “If you vaccinate an animal with L2 of one HPV type, you can get these antibodies that neutralize several different HPV viruses. The idea is to develop a single vaccine that would protect against all of the oncogenic HPV viruses.”

Roden’s Cancer Society grant is not to develop the vaccine, but to study the biology of the HPV virus to help other researchers create the vaccine.

Fellow Johns Hopkins University cancer researcher Denise Montell works with tiny insects that offer big promise.

Montell — who has received more than $1 million from the Cancer Society since 1988 — studies the movement of cells in the fruit fly ovary to better understand the movement of human cells and how cancer cells move when they spread through the body during metastasis. Her goal is to identify the genes that convert stationary epithelial cells, which do not invade other tissues in the body, to invasive cells, which lead to metastatic cancer.

When, Montell says, “We discover a molecule that controls cell movement in the fruit fly, then we look in human cancer cells to find if that same molecule functions to control movement there.”

Montell says her “fantasy is to discover genes in the fruit fly that control cell migration and then discover that they also control the ability of human cancer cells to move and metastasize. Then we would develop a drug that would lead to a form of treatment.”

Even if her fantasy doesn’t come true, Montell’s research will “help us better understand the underlying mechanisms of cell movement, which will contribute more knowledge and indirectly lead someone to a new idea about how to treat cancer.”

Because she’s an independent faculty member, Montell is no longer eligible for Cancer Society support once her grant runs out in December 2004. However, she will continue researching with funds from the National Institutes of Health, which has supported her since 1990.

Rod ’n’ Reel owner and Chesapeake Beach Mayor Gerald Donovan — who organized the first Cancer Gala 22 years ago — hopes his brainchild will raise $250,000 this year to surpass the $241,465 raised at last year’s celebration.

“I’m overwhelmed and amazed at how it has grown and at people’s generosity and the progress we’ve made,” says Donovan, of the almost $2 million the Gala has collected since the first ka-chings sounded in 1982.

This year’s honorary chair, Bill Chambers, accepted Donovan’s invitation to chair the event as his mother was undergoing chemotherapy for colorectal cancer.

“We’re so fortunate here in Maryland because we have three of the most prominent research institutions in the country,” Chambers says: “Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland in Baltimore and the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center.”

Fortunate we are.

Because at this year’s gala, which according to Chambers, “will have a different atmosphere and flavor,” our every bite feeds cancer research across the country. And in our own back yard.

See 8 Days a Week to join in.

— Lauren Silver

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Way Downstream …

On the Eastern Shore, Oxford will be the location of a dramatic film about watermen, tentatively called Swimmers. It is being made by writer-director Doug Sadler, who was raised in Easton and who scored nationally with his first major film, Riders, praised by the L.A. Weekly as “beautifully crafted”…

In London, the news is that Beatles and chickens don’t mix. That’s our take after hearing that Paul McCartney, a vegetarian, has joined with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to denounce the treatment of chickens by the fast-food chain KFC

Our Creature Feature is a tale of new animal fashion from India — elephant butt protectors. We reported recently on Mexican beach horses wearing diapers. Now Indian elephants are having reflectors roped to their howdahs (hind ends) in hopes of reducing the frequency of wrecks with automobiles.

Elephants are common in India, deployed in heavy work, festivals and tourism. The Wildlife Trust of India developed the protectors after a truck killed an elephant in December. “You could see tears streaming from its eyes as it lay in pain,” the Trust’s Aniruddha Mookerjee told Reuters.

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Last updated July 31, 2003 @ 2:45am