Florida just flushed its collective toilet onto the beaches


Water sample at Fort Myers beachCheryl Cagle Jones

Just in time for tourist season, both of Florida’s coasts are being flooded by dark, polluted water that’s killing ocean creatures and turning away would-be swimmers, fishermen, and other visitors.

Last month was South Florida’s wettest January since 1932. Because of the heavy rain, the water levels in Lake Okeechobee in central Florida rose to about a foot above what’s normal for this season. On top of that, water managers began to pump dirty water from flooded farms into the lake, adding more pollution to a body of water that already contains fertilizers and other chemicals from the state’s cattle and sugar industries.

At the same time, officials began to worry that the rising lake waters would put stress on its aging dike, so they decided to drain the lake toward the east and west coasts. Some 70,000 gallons per second flowed into the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River all the way through to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. And as the toxic runoff spreads, it’s threatening sea grasses and oyster beds and is adding to harmful algae growth.

Now the tourism industry and small businesses on the coasts are worried that they’re going to see their business slump as a result of the pollution. Local politicians are calling on Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency, and mayors are traveling to Washington, D.C. to demand action from Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers…

According to David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida branch of the environmental law group Earthjustice, the pollution is not going to end any time soon…The lake is basically a toilet,” Guest says. Florida’s powerful sugar industry has stood in the way of the state purchasing land south of the lake that could be used to build a waterway to direct dirty water to the Everglades, cleansing it along the way.

Enjoy your Spring Break, gang. Let us know how if the beaches in Florida smell as bad as the state politics.

We can put an end to AIDS

Since the first cases of AIDS were identified in 1983, we’ve come a long way. Today we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic. So what will it take to end AIDS? Well, we know nowadays that we identify all those that are infected, we get them into therapy. We get them to take their medications and get the virus suppressed. That is not only good for them but it’s also good for society because transmission from HIV essentially stops.

We also need to identify all those individuals who are at risk of developing HIV, who are acquiring HIV but have not yet been infected. And those individuals can be put on something called PrEP or preexposure prophylaxis. In other words, you can give them an anti-viral medication that will prevent them from catching HIV. Those two things, treatment as prevention and PrEP, are critical in stopping the HIV epidemic.

So is that simple? What will it take really to stop the HIV epidemic? Well, first and foremost, in order to do these two things, getting more people on therapy and implementing PrEP, additional resources are needed. At a time where global economies are not doing well and competing public health problems exist demanding resources be allocated, we will need to find ways to find more resources to dedicate, to get people on therapy for HIV.

The second challenge is obviously combating stigma and discrimination. Throughout the epidemic stigma and discrimination has been a major barrier for people to get tested, for people to enter care, for people to remain in care. And therefore we need to continue addressing stigma and discrimination.

Finally, we’re going to have to make better healthcare systems. We need to retool and reinvent better ways to deliver care. Today when somebody gets infected with HIV they need to get into care and they need to remain in care for the rest of their lives getting antiretroviral therapy. We know that this component retention in care, keeping people engaged in care throughout the long haul is really a major challenge. And even here in the U.S. over 50% of people diagnosed who initially enter care are not retained in care…

RTFA. Better – watch the video with Dr. del Rio at the top of the article. The medical community is capable and on the way to ending a scourge that affects the whole world.

Heard on the trail in South Carolina

Government by the people

❝ “Is Jeb Bush related to George W. Bush?”

The most-asked question about Jeb in South Carolina during the Republican debate, according to Google Trends…

Adviser of the week

❝ “I’m not an expert in a lot of things, but I’m pretty knowledgeable about what it takes to be a president, since I were one.”

George W. Bush backs Jeb! Fox News

The South will rise again

❝ “38% of Trump voters…wish the South had won the civil war to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure.”

Public Policy Polling in South Carolina.

Truther

❝ “It’s a horrible topic, but they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can’t give you an answer.”

Mr Trump considers whether Antonin Scalia was murdered. “The Savage Nation”

RTFA. There’s more.

Yes, the usual question applies: Are these people ignorant or stupid?

Thanks, Helen