12/05/17 Human Interest
Today would have been Walt Disney's 116th birthday.
Even today, it's difficult to escape the draw of his movies, the lure of his theme parks and the morals laid into some of the films he helped produce.
So, in honor of what would have been his birthday, here are seven facts about him. Seven, because the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated movie he produced. Unless otherwise noted, the facts come from Richard Foglesong's book, Married to the Mouse. ...
Iguanas are commonly found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. In 2017, you could add "Florida toilets" to that list.
So far this year, news stories reported that iguanas have turned up in Florida commodes at least five times — although there's reason to believe it's happened more often than that.
What are they doing in the toilet? Besides the backstroke, that is? Trying to get out....
ST. PETERSBURG — Despite the way Hurricane Irma battered Florida's beaches, green sea turtles set a record for the number of nests on those beaches in 2017, according to preliminary statewide figures released last week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The state agency was so delighted by the numbers that it put out a news release touting the record. Biologists counted 39,000 green sea turtle nests full of eggs — up from 10,000 in 2010. That's a marked increase from 20 years ago, when state biologists counted only 464 green sea turtle nests....
11/22/17 Global Warming
At age 10, Levi Draheim hates math and loves reading Harry Potter books. He plays the violin but dislikes practicing. What he really enjoys is paddling a kayak or going swimming. It helps that he lives just a five-minute walk from the beach in the town of Indialantic on Florida's east coast.
"I'm the kind of kid who likes to be outside," he said.
He's also one of 21 children across America who are suing the federal government for its failure to combat climate change....
Oh, Florida! We should all be thankful for the lady accused of shoplifting while dressed as a turkey11/17/17Perspective
The other day, I had a lovely chat with a lady who was arrested on charges of shoplifting ... while she was dressed as a turkey.
I guess you could say that she's been accused of doing the wrong kind of stuffing.
The lady's name is Irene Leonhard and she lives in The Villages, the largest gated over-55 community in the world, a place where everyone rides around in golf carts, even people in turkey outfits....
500 FEET ABOVE THE BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE — Biologist Darrell Land holds his left hand out flat, as if he's playing paper in a rock-paper-scissors game, then tilts it to the right. Pilot Don Graham banks the Cessna Skyhawk at a 45-degree angle and begins circling a clump of cypress trees.
As the plane circles, Land, 58, listens on his headphones for the radio signal that tells him where in those trees a Florida panther is hiding. Once he's located the endangered cat, he signals to Graham to level off. As Land types the data into his laptop, they zoom off to search for the next target....
Hurricane Irma didn't hurt the endangered Key deer, but it may have all but wiped out the most endangered butterfly in Florida.
Since the storm passed through in September, only a single Miami blue butterfly, another resident of the Keys, has been spotted there, according to Marc C. Minno, co-author of the book Butterflies of the Florida Keys.
Even if a couple more turn up there, Minno said, "they're doomed. They're found only on these isolated islands in areas that take the full brunt of hurricanes and sea level rise."...
Let me tell you a ghost story.
No, I'm not talking about some ectoplasmic special effect from Disney's Haunted Mansion. I'm talking about a real ghost story. A Florida ghost story.
You wouldn't think a place that's this bright and sunny would be a hangout for sinister shades, but it is. You find them all over Florida, from the haunted Pensacola Lighthouse up in the Panhandle to the infamous "Robert the Doll" on display in Key West, also known as "the original Chucky." ...
OVIEDO — In a small town about five miles from the University of Central Florida there stands a two-story yellow house built in the 1920s. A modest sign mounted on the wall next to the front door says, "Chelonian Research Institute."
Step inside that door and you'll find the largest private collection of turtle and tortoise specimens in the world — 13,000 individual pieces from 100 different countries, hanging on every inch of the walls and lining every table and shelf. Live ones crawl slowly around enclosures or swim in ponds around back....
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mayoral candidate Rick Baker took his campaign to Bethel Community Baptist Church on Sunday. It's not uncommon for politicians from both parties to stop in at the church and speak to the congregation -- Gov. Rick Scott visited in 2014..
Baker entered shortly after the service had started, and brought with him his wife and a group of supporters: former Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter president Sevell Brown, former assistant police chief Cedric Gordon, reitred police sergeant Al White.and retired major Donnie Williams. ...
Rainfall from Hurricane Irma has pushed the water level in Lake Okeechobee to its highest point since 2005. Now, with more wet weather in the forecast, nearby residents fear a collapse of the 80-year-old dike around the lake.
As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping large volumes of lake water out into coastal estuaries — exactly as it did last year, when those releases caused a massive toxic algae bloom that closed Atlantic coast beaches over the Fourth of July weekend....
A first-of-its-kind scientific study has determined that the dispersant BP sprayed at the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 harmed human health.
The symptoms — coughing, wheezing, skin irritations and burning eyes — tended to last only a little while for most of the people who were cleaning up the spill, said Dr. Dale Sandler, who's leading the study for the National Institutes of Health....
I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.
We also saw heartwarming images of courage and kindness. We saw a nun with a chainsaw cutting up downed trees after learning about chainsaws on Google, and a man who gave up the last generator so that someone who needed it more could have it....
Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.
Nobody could believe it. As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Tampa Bay suddenly went dry. People hopped down onto the bay bottom, now a vast sandy expanse, and walked around, stunned.
There are different terms for what happened: "a negative surge," "a blowout tide," a "water level set-down." Whatever you call it, what occurred in Tampa Bay was one of the five biggest ones ever, according to Texas storm surge expert Hal Needham....