Monday, March 26, 2012

Just the Facts?: Tsunami 'Ghost Ship' -- Banishing 'Le Nain Rouge' -- PA's Beaver Run Alligator



Tsunami 'ghost ship' reaches Canadian coast

As an eerie reminder of the tragedy that befell the Japanese people more than 12 months ago, a 150-foot Japanese fishing boat has been spotted on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, floating aimlessly off the coast of the Haida Gwaii islands, British Columbia.

In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011, up to 8 million tons of wreckage was washed out to sea -- 2 million of which is thought to still be floating on the surface.

The "ghost ship" has been traced back to a Hokkaido squid fishing company, which confirmed that no one was thought to have been onboard before the tsunami struck.

The ship was spotted by a patrol aircraft, and the Canadian transport ministry is keeping close tabs on the vessel, ensuring it doesn't become an obstruction to shipping lanes and isn't leaking pollution.

Oceanic researchers have been working hard to understand the extent to which the Japanese debris has affected the Pacific. By October 2011, debris had washed up on Hawaii beaches and by December 2011, tsunami flotsam had reached Washington state. NOAA models show that debris should have reached California by now.

These circulation models predict the tsunami debris will become part of the Pacific Garbage Patch Gyre as the California current and coastal winds blow it back out into the ocean.

This fishing vessel discovered off British Columbia is one of the larger examples of debris to arrive at the west coast of North America, a reminder of the disaster that continues to affect the lives of millions across the ocean. - discovery

**********

Bizarre Medical Myth Persists in Rural India

In India's remote and poverty-stricken areas, health resources and qualified doctors can be scarce. Many people still rely on faith-based healers, who sometimes promote outlandish theories about how the body works.

Shyamali Singh is a high school student in West Bengal's Midnapur district who holds a wild belief about dog bites.

He said getting bitten by a dog leads to the birth of puppies. The victim gets puppies inside his body and becomes like a mad dog.

So-called "puppy pregnancy syndrome" has a long history in the locality.

Psychiatrist Kumar Kanti Ghosh helped document the phenomenon for an article in the medical journal Lancet in 2003. His interest started when a nine-year-old boy came to his clinic about 10 days after being bitten by a domesticated dog.

"There was no issue of rabies," Ghosh said. "But he believed that he had developed a pregnancy with a puppy inside his abdomen. His parents said that sometimes he was barking like a dog and was crawling on his four feet.”

Farmer Gopal Singh is one of Singh's patients who was bitten by a dog about seven years ago. He said he went running to the faith healer- who explained that puppies would be born inside his stomach and he would become like a mad dog and die."

A June 19, 2011 photograph shows Mohammed Yousuf Roshangar, a Kashmiri Muslim faith healer, writing a taweez, a religious writing put inside amulets for protection and invoking blessing, in Srinagar, IndiaMedical doctor Sanjay Samui is frustrated by the tendency of villagers to cling to such beliefs.

He said they are uneducated village people - they still hold on to such superstitions. He said he tells everyone it is impossible - in no situation can a puppy be born inside a human body.

Doctors said it will probably take years to eradicate medical myths like puppy pregnancy syndrome among illiterate population. Because so many villagers distrust medical doctors, they say the media and local governments should help promote an accurate understanding of the body and what ails it. - voanews

**********

Banishing 'Le Nain Rouge'

Detroit's got the blues. Some think the solution is to chase a red dwarf.

Call it silly fun in serious times — organizers wouldn't disagree — but some 2,000 revelers on Sunday are expected to march down Cass Avenue on Sunday to banish a supposedly evil spirit whose curse on Detroit continues.

The source of the scourge: Le Nain Rouge, aka "the red dwarf of Detroit."

Legend has it the malevolent mite vexed the city when it met Detroit founder Antoine Cadillac some 300 years ago. The French adventurer didn't take kindly to the dwarf and whacked him with a cane.

The sprite responded by casting bad juju on the city.

So for the third year in a row, party people will hit the streets to banish the little devil.

A marching band will lead the 1 p.m. parade from Traffic Jam & Snug on Second and Canfield to the Masonic Temple.

Some will wear costumes. Cocktails also may be involved.

"It should just be one of those days that's fun and frivolous," said Amy Kahel, 30, of Detroit, who will DJ an after party. "I love the message of banishing this evil that presides over Detroit."

Organizer Peter Van Dyke promised Le Nain will appear on stage during opening ceremonies.

"You have to show up to know exactly what is going on — I think it's better to be a bit surprised," Van Dyke said. "Come with the expectations of shenanigans. ... (The Nain) is the impetus of all the bad things that happen in Detroit from the fires of the 1800s to Kwame Kilpatrick and everything in between."

Not everyone is so eager to lift the curse. Supporters of the angry fellow have formed a group called "Friends of the Nain Rouge" that's at least a dozen-people strong.

The group jokingly contends that banishing the Nain would simply be another form of gentrification in a city that has lost a third of its residents in 10 years.

"At this point, why would we banish anyone from Detroit? We need people moving in, not out," said member Jim Griffioen, 35, of Detroit. - detroitnews

Nain Rouge

**********

Has the Beaver Run Gator survived winter in western Pennsylvania reservoir?

The Beaver Run Alligator might still be alive.

Experts expected that the alligator, which workers at Beaver Run Reservoir spotted in the fall, wouldn't survive the usually harsh temperatures of a Western Pennsylvania winter.

But Mother Nature might have given it a break.

"This is the mildest winter I can remember," said Henry Kacprzyk, curator of reptiles at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. "In order for it to die, you would have to have some sustained cold weather.

"I would say there's a possibility it survived."

According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature this winter was 34.6 degrees — about 4.2 degrees higher than normal.

Zoo officials believe the alligator was dropped off at the reservoir by someone who had kept it as a pet and couldn't take care of it anymore.

The fate of the "Beaver Run Gator" caused a stir last fall when officials at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County said they would let it die during the winter.

After public outcry and a Facebook page supporting the alligator, municipal officials allowed Pittsburgh zoo workers onto reservoir property in hopes of capturing the alligator and sending it to a sanctuary in Florida. The reservoir usually is closed to the public.

Multiple attempts to capture the gator were unsuccessful. Some observers said the animal was 5 feet long, but zoo officials said people tend to overestimate size.

Kacprzyk said the only way to know if the alligator made it through the winter is if someone spots it. That hasn't happened yet, said Gina Cerilli, spokeswoman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

"We always have security looking over our property," she said. "None of our employees have seen the alligator."

Judy Lindberg, a retired Penn State New Kensington professor who lives less than four miles from the reservoir, in Washington Township, said the alligator has become the subject of local lore.

"People call it the Loch Ness Monster," she said. "Most people around here think it was cruel to just let it die during the winter, so we hope it survived."

Could the alligator still be lurking in the 25-mile-long reservoir?

"Until someone sees it, we don't really know," Kacprzyk said. - pittsburghlive

**********

STUNNING Daytime ORB Footage From San Antonio

This was forwarded by Rick Phillips:

Okay folks - I feel really privileged to bring you some nearly AMAZING `ORB' FOOTAGE - from P. Garcia (Openureyes10 on YouTube) - currently, one of the most active `Orb Callers/Videoers', who is occasionally sharing here captures with UDCC and it's readership. Today's `footage', uploaded on Thursday, was shot on March 20th and March 17th and has under 55 views as of this feature posting (about 5 of them mine). Go to STUNNING Daytime ORB Footage From San Antonio for the video.

**********

Keys Battle Cat-Sized Rats' Invasion

The Florida Keys' battle with an invasive species of giant rats isn't over yet.

On Grassy Key, a glut of Gambian giant pouched rats — originally bred and released by a local — have been foiling conservation officials' efforts to eradicate them, KeysNet reported Sunday.

Officials worry that if the hungry cat-sized rats make it to the mainland, they could wipe out some crops and upset delicate ecological balance.

"We thought we had them whipped as of 2009," said Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

About 20 of the creatures, which grow to nine pounds and are often mistaken for possums, were trapped on the island during a trio of commission efforts last year, Hardin said.

"I would not imagine there's more than another couple of dozen at most. We've caught them all within a half-mile of each other," he said.

"We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced," he added.

Plans are in place to begin another round of trapping of the vermin in July or August.

The massive rodents first appeared on the island over ten years ago after a local exotic pets breeder let some escape, and they've proved plenty pesky since.

For years, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been trying to kill off the remaining rats with poison-laced bait.

The primary kinds of bait used, said Hardin: cantaloupe and peanut butter. - nbcnewyork