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.

Dumb crook of the day

Authorities say an 18-year-old man drove a stolen car to police headquarters to pick up court papers about a previous auto theft he was involved in — documents that were found in yet another stolen car.

Carnell Eugene Butler now faces charges in three stolen car cases.

St. Petersburg police say officers found a stolen Infiniti on Sunday. Inside, they found Butler’s documents related to a June auto theft arrest.

Detectives contacted Butler, who arranged to pick them up. When he arrived at police headquarters, a detective arrested Butler and found keys to a Hyundai Sonata in his pocket. The car was located a block away.

It, too, had been reported stolen.

Butler is being held without bond

Cripes! They got the kid on a three-fer.

Let’s frack the Everglades — Whoopee!

Renewed hunts for oil in sensitive Florida ecosystems have environmental groups raising questions about the state’s regulation of the oil and gas industry.

A Miami company, Kanter Real Estate LLC, has submitted a permit application to drill an exploratory oil well on the eastern edge of the Everglades.

Meanwhile, federal approval is pending for a seismic survey meant to locate new areas for drilling in the Big Cypress National Preserve, a freshwater swamp whose health is vital to the neighboring Everglades and to native wildlife, including the endangered Florida panther.

The state recently issued a wetlands activity permit to Fort Worth, Texas-based Burnett Oil Co. Inc. for the survey that would cover 110 square miles within the preserve. Florida and the National Park Service are requiring a number of steps to ensure minimal harm to wildlife and the environment, but the proposal worries critics who have complained that lax oversight of previous drilling operations left ecologically sensitive areas vulnerable to contamination…

Environmental groups argue that Florida’s regulations currently only cover conventional drilling methods, not the “acid stimulation” that prompted last year’s violations or other advanced extraction techniques.

“We’ve learned that Florida’s oil and gas laws are extremely antiquated and rudimentary and don’t address new techniques such as fracking,” said Jennifer Hecker, director of natural resource policy for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida…

The state has gone on record opposing some methods of seismic testing, but it has not objected to the Burnett project.

In a statement, John Kanter said the application is “one of the first steps in a long-term plan that includes proposed mining, as well as water storage and water quality improvement components that have the potential for assisting with Everglades Restoration…”

Environmental groups and some local elected officials say any drilling expansion threatens the region’s water supply and Everglades restoration plans.

If the potential for profit exists, the state, any industry involved, will work as hard as possible to come down on the side of the folks turning a profit. Ain’t nothing new. Just happens a lot more often in states with citizens dull enough to prefer the political party least interested in human beings – between the two we’re allowed.

Don’t let Armadillos spit on you in Florida!


Click to enlargeGetty Images

For once…Florida citizens are not the focus of a news story. Instead, Florida armadillos are in the spotlight.

Local health officials are warning Floridians to stay away from the animals after nine people were infected with leprosy after coming into contact with the leathery armored creatures.

Typically, Florida sees just 10 cases of leprosy in a year. The centuries-old bacterial infection, also known as Hansen’s disease, causes nerve damage and disfigurement and was once a considered a sentence to death or life in isolation. Thanks to antibiotics, the disease is now treatable and only rarely spreads from person to person in the U.S., typically via coughing or sneezing.

A 2011 genetic study found that armadillos naturally harbor the bacteria that causes the illness in humans, and they may be responsible for some infections, though it is far less common for leprosy to be spread that way.

But that’s what seems to be happening in Florida.

“New homes are being developed, and we are tearing down armadillos’ homes in the process,” said Dr. Sunil Joshi…of the Duval County Medical Society. “Now these creatures are coming out in the daytime, and the people who are getting exposed are those working outside.”

Armadillos aren’t native to Florida, but the cat-sized mammals are now common throughout the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission…“Especially if they’re trying to get out of a cage they can spit on you,” said Florida wildlife trapper Kyle Waltz.

The bacteria that causes leprosy can lie dormant for years, according to the CDC, and it may take up to a decade for symptoms to appear. Most of the human population isn’t susceptible to the disease, and fewer than 300 new cases were reported in the U.S. in 2010…As many as 2 million people have been permanently disabled by the disease worldwide.

One of the instances where you don’t want to be the exception that proves the rule.

Flesh-eating bacteria invades Florida


Yum!

A terrifying deadly flesh-eating bacteria that lives in the warm waters off the coast of Florida has killed two people and infected seven so far this year.

Vibrio vulnificus is found naturally in warm marine waters and it poses a grave risk to beachgoers and consumers of shellfish that they may not be even aware of. A total of 32 cases of the bacteria were reported in 2014 in Florida, with about 85 percent of the infections happening during the summer months and into the fall when beaches become packed, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported by Fox News.

Eating raw shellfish is the most common way to contract the bacteria, according to Florida Health Department spokeswoman Mara Burger in a statement. If you ingest the bacteria, you will experience vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. If you suspect you have it, get treatment immediately because it can result in death…

The best way to avoid getting it is to avoid raw shellfish and to thoroughly cook any shellfish you intend to consume, and eat it quickly after consuming it. Also, be careful to avoid cross-contamination of raw shellfish with cooked foods.

But that’s not the only way the bacteria can get in your bloodstream. If you are swimming and you get a puncture wound from a stingray or tilapia, the bacteria can make its way into your bloodstream, which can be very serious and may require amputation.

So, enjoy summertime in Florida.

Dancing on police cars stops vampire ritual human sacrifice — Huh? Wha?

Authorities in Florida shared video of a man dancing on a marked sheriff’s office sport-utility vehicle in an incident he blamed on vampires.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office shared video on YouTube and Facebook showing Christian Radecki climbing atop a marked sheriff’s office SUV and performing a dance routine to songs including Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” and Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger.”

Radecki, who was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace and criminal mischief, told deputies a “woman with fangs” came to his door and told him a human sacrifice involving vampires was imminent.

“Therefore, Radecki made the conscious decision to get the Sheriff of Nottingham to help him stop the slaughter of small children,” the Cape Coral police report of the April 7 incident states.

Radecki told officers he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident and he has not been diagnosed with any mental health conditions.

Of course, the doctor who told him he didn’t have any mental health conditions – was probably one of the vampires.

Saving avocado trees with drones and dogs

In Florida, a devastating disease threatens the nation’s nearly half-a-billion dollar avocado industry. That’s leading researchers to use extreme measures: drones and dogs…

The hunt for the deadly fungus begins in the air. A drone scans a seemingly healthy avocado grove and in just minutes, its multi-spectral camera spots trees in trouble.

Trees indicated in yellow or red may be infected by a fungus, carried by the microscopic ambrosia beetle that causes laurel wilt…

Once the drone has narrowed the search area, the dogs set to work. The fungus spreads through a tree’s interior and is invisible to the human eye, but the smell is inescapable to the sensitive noses of these trained dogs. They check every tree at risk and sit when the disease is detected…

Laurel wilt has killed an estimated 6,000 avocado trees in Florida in the last few years. The state is the second-largest avocado producer in the nation, and a $64 million industry is now at risk…

Scientists hope to stop the disease in Florida. One of their biggest fears is that it will spread to California, the country’s largest producer of avocados. For now, growers in Florida are hoping to get through this season, as they start harvesting groves in June.

Scary enough for me. I generally have an avocado every day.

In this neck of the prairie, I’m probably eating one from Mexico or California. In fact, we’ve already had some from California already.

Hostage uses smartphone pizza app to summon 911 help

Florida-woman-uses-Pizza-Hut-app-to-request-911-assistance

A Florida woman being held hostage with her children used a Pizza Hut ordering app to ask store employees to call 911 on her behalf.

The Pizza Hut in Avon Park received an online order about 3:40 p.m. Monday from regular customer Cheryl Treadway and Chef Alonia Hawk noticed the comments section for the order of a small hand-tossed classic pizza with pepperoni read, “Please help! Get 911 to me,” and “911 hostage help.”

Manager Candy Hamilton printed the order and contacted police…

Police said Treadway and her children were being held in their home at knife-point by the woman’s boyfriend, Ethan Earl Nickerson, 26.

A Highlands County Sheriff’s Office negotiator arrived on the scene and Treadway came out of the home with one of the children, but two others remained inside with Nickerson.

“She comes running toward us but two kids are still in the house with a person who’s on narcotics and you don’t know how their mindset with a knife, and we need to get them out,” the negotiator, Lt. Curtis Ludden, told WTSP-TV.

Nickerson was arrested without incident about 20 minutes later, police said. Treadway and her children were not injured.

Treadway told police she and Nickerson had been arguing and he had taken her phone away after threatening her with the knife. Treadway said she convinced Nickerson to let her use the phone to order pizza and he took the phone back after the order.

Quick thinking, Ms. Treadway. You deserve a reward for saving your kids. A super geek solution.

Sleazy hospital of the week


They haven’t a leg to stand on in their defense. Har!

A south Florida man is suing a hospital for emotional distress, saying his leg was amputated and thrown in the garbage with his name tag still on it.

John Timiriasieff, 56, had his right leg amputated below the knee in October at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables.

“Rather than properly disposing of the plaintiff’s limb as expected and as required by Florida law, Doctors Hospital threw the Plaintiff’s amputated limb into the garbage, with tags indicating it belonged to the Plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit filed…in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

A month later, Timiriasieff said his family was contacted by homicide detectives investigating if he had been the victim of foul play…

Doctors Hospital Inc, part of the Baptist Health South Florida Inc, said it could not discuss the incident in detail because of patient privacy considerations…

Normally, amputated limbs are incinerated by hospitals, said Clay Roberts, a lawyer for Timiriasieff…

The leg was discovered at a waste management facility and reported to police.

The medical-industrial complex has attitudes as disgusting and anti-human as the military-industrial complex.