Week of August 20, 2007

Computer Tip of the Week
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Computer Tip of the Week

Check the health of your hard drive

Hard drives don't last forever in fact they fail more often than you might think. If your hard drive has ever crashed, you know the hassle it can cause.

 

But you may be able to get early warning because many hard drives feature S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. On its own, S.M.A.R.T. won't help you. But software can use this information to keep you updated on your hard drive's health.

 

HD Tune will warn you of errors that could signal the end of

your hard drive. And it will help you keep an eye on your drive's temperature.  An early warning is nice. But don't rely solely on this software. You should still perform regular backups of your data.

 

 There may be signs, though. If you hear a popping or a cat-like sound, your drive may be failing. Problems starting Windows may also be caused by a failing drive. Programs are available to monitor the health of hard drives. They use the drive's self-monitoring tools. HDD Health and HD Tune are two such utilities. They're free.  www.hdtune.com/


National

Barrier Funding Update

The US House on August 1st approved the WRDA bill that came out of conference with a $20 Billion tab by a veto-proof 381-40 vote. You’ll recall WRDA contains language that would upgrade the status of the electronic barrier, to a federal project and include the completion of Barrier II, and upgrade Barrier I to a permanent status. The House accomplished this after the

president had threatened to veto the bill but before they recessed for the summer. The US Senate wasn’t as proficient and won’t take up the bill until after they return in September.

 

Lets hope the U.S. Senate is as concerned about invasive species movement into the Great Lakes and also approves the $20 billion Bill with a veto proof margin.


Migratory birds spread Lyme disease to every state

Includes urban areas not usually associated with the disease

 For years U.S. scientists have blamed the Lyme epidemic on deer, but birds spread it farther and wider. Now migratory birds transmit Lyme disease's spirochetes to every city, state, country and corner of the globe, say researchers, putting everyone at risk, even people who live in big cities. This flies in the face of the "party line" Americans have heard from federal authorities and officials for decades.


The USFWS is mandated by law to protect migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and have been reticent to admit their birds carry any responsibility for spreading any diseases.

 

We've been told Lyme was "isolated" and could only spread as far as ticks and their preferred hosts, white-tailed deer, range through the wood and field. City dwellers considered themselves to be immune. Even rural folk in areas not populated by deer thought of Lyme disease as something "people in Connecticut get."

 

But migratory birds fly everywhere, now, as stunning research proves, taking Lyme with them. And if you don't think ticks hitch rides on birds, you're misinformed. Researchers in Sweden and Finland - where Lyme is common - say birds are especially prone to Borrelia-infected ticks during their autumn

and spring migrations.  The bacteria may also persist for

several months in the birds and it may then be reactivated in response to migration, the same experts have learned.

 

Borrelia spirochetes and the role of birds as global transmitters of the bacteria have been investigated by a Swedish research group led by Professor Sven Bergstrom. The group is part of a Finnish-Swedish research consortium included in the Microbes and Man Research Program,, which is co-funded by the Academy of Finland and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.

 

"The fact that the same type of Lyme disease exists in both the northern and the southern hemisphere shows that birds participate in the natural circulation of Borrelia spirochetes by carrying them all across the globe," Bergstrom said.

 

Previously, it was thought that only mammals such as the white-tailed deer and white-eared mouse could function as reservoir hosts for Borrelia infected ticks. The research results of the Bergstrom group show that Borrelia-infected ticks thrive on birds as well – without a mammal reservoir. Lyme Borreliosis is an infectious disease caused by the Borrelia bacterium.  It can cause eczemas, arthritis and, at the worst, different kinds of neurological disorders. In Finland, thousands of people are infected by the disease each year.

 

The National Lyme Report contributed to this article


Eating Fish: Good for Heart, Bad for Environment?

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters)  -- Doctors recommend a good dose of salmon or tuna in the diet because of its benefits to the heart. But is it good for the environment? Surging demand for salmon in particular has been spurred in part by numerous studies touting the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in some kinds of fish.

 

A study published in June in the American Heart Association journal Circulation said a diet with liberal servings of fish, nuts and seeds rich in such nutrients can help lower a person's blood pressure. Other studies have shown benefits to eye and brain development and preventing heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and eye disorders.

 

However, environmentalists worry that health trends could add pressure to already vulnerable fisheries.  "Over-fishing has predated the interest in omega-3 and healthy eating. But now there are places where it is certainly going to accentuate it," said Jason Clay, vice president of markets at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "The FAO (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates that by 2030 average annual per capita global consumption of fish will increase by 1.5 kgs (3.4 lbs) and some of it will be driven by health-related demand," he said.

 

When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, not all fish are equal.

Fatty fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel and Alaska pollock are rich in this crucial group of nutrients. Tuna are, too, but few wild tuna fisheries are regarded by conservationists as sustainable. Omega-3s are very high in wild salmon and the Alaskan salmon fishery is well-managed, admit environmentalists.  Alaska salmon are among the fisheries that have been certified as sustainable by the British-based Marine Stewardship Council. It uses stringent criteria for a fishery to get its seal of approval and the right to bear its eco-label.

 

According to the U.S. National Fisheries Institute, American per capita consumption of salmon has risen from 0.87 lbs per year in 1992 to 2.026 lbs in 2006. The species also went from being America's sixth most popular fish to eat to its third over the same period of time.

 

Much of the burgeoning demand for salmon is being met by the rapidly growing aquaculture industry, but experts say there are environmental concerns linked to that, too. WWF's Clay said fish being caught for fishmeal to feed the aquaculture industry include species such as anchovies, which are rich in omega-3s but which have questions over their sustainability. "One out of every three fish that is caught right now is used to make feed for other fish," he said.

 


New Passport Rules to Cost US $1 Billion

The nation's passport headaches may be easing a bit, but now comes the bill: almost $1 billion. New travel rules that

swamped passport offices and frustrated U.S. travelers this summer will cost the government an estimated $944 million.


Regional

Operation Channel Watch nabs illegals

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. - The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, conducted "Operation Channel Watch" during the past two days on Lake St. Clair.

 

The operation resulted in one fugitive taken into custody and turned over to St. Clair Shores Police Department. Another man was arrested as a criminal alien illegally in the United States.  The criminal alien is being detained by ICE and processed for removal from the United States.

 

This operation brought together law enforcement officers from nine different agencies to carry out joint patrols and improve
interoperability, maximize public service, and promote sharing of resources and collaborative intelligence gathering.  The operations included the USCG, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michigan State Police, Detroit Police Department, Macomb County Sheriff's Department, St. Clair County Sheriff Department and St. Clair Shores Police Department. 

 

"The Operation was successful in promoting safe boating and improving public service by furthering cooperation among multiple agencies from all levels of law enforcement," said Cmdr. Dave Beck, USCG Incident Commander.


USCG Marine Safety Unit Cleveland transfers command 

CLEVELAND - Cmdr. Joseph Gleason on August 10 transferred command of U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland to Lt. Cmdr. Linda Sturgis.  The ceremony was held at the Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, across from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Gleason departed to U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as the Exercise Coordinator at the newly commissioned USCG Deployable Operations Group. Lt. Cmdr. Sturgis is coming from U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.

 


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for August 17, 2007

Weather Conditions

Some areas in the Great Lakes basin received some very beneficial rainfall this week as a number of frontal systems tracked through the region.  Many locations across the region are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions due to the lack of rainfall this summer.  Cooler and drier air will settle in for the upcoming weekend.  Temperatures will struggle to reach 70 degrees in some northern cities.

 

Lake Level Conditions

Lake Superior is presently 11 inches below its level of a year ago, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 5 to 8 inches lower than last year’s levels.  Lake Superior is predicted to remain at around the same level over the next 30 days. Lake Michigan-Huron is projected to decline two inches, while Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are expected to drop 5 inches over the next month. Each lake is forecasted to be below their water levels of a year ago during the next few months.  

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflow from the St. Marys River is predicted to be well below average for August. Flows through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are also predicted to be lower than average this month. In addition, flows in the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers are

expected to be below average as well.

 

Alerts

Due to abnormally dry conditions on the Lake Superior basin over the last several months, | Lake Superior ’s water level is currently below chart datum and is expected to remain below datum over the next six months.  Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for Aug 4

600.4

577.4

573.7

571.2

245.1

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-8

-1

+17

+24

+22

Diff last month

0

-3

-2

-1

-5

Diff from last yr

-11

-5

-4

-4

-8


Canada

Cabela’s to Purchase Canadian Outdoor Retailer

SIDNEY, Neb. - Cabela’s on August 16 announced it has reached an agreement to purchase S.I.R. Warehouse Sports Store, a Winnipeg-based specialty retailer that for generations has supplied hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise to Canadian outdoorsmen and women.

 

S.I.R. was founded in 1924 by Sydney Isaac Robinson and has grown into one of Canada’s leading outdoor outfitters through its mail-order operation and 44,000-sq-ft retail store in the heart of Winnipeg’s busiest shopping district.

 

“S.I.R. has long been a tradition for many outdoor enthusiasts in Canada in much the same mold as Cabela’s,” said Dennis Highby, Cabela’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition will allow us to accelerate growth of our retail,

catalog and Internet business in Canada, and though we already have a loyal customer base in Canada, we expect significant growth in Canadian business as a result of this transaction.”

 

“S.I.R.’s facilities will become the headquarters for our Canadian operations,” Highby said. “And S.I.R.’s employees, who we expect to retain, will become our first Canadian employees.”

 

The purchase, which Cabela’s expects to close in 30 to 60 days, will be Cabela’s second announced venture in Canada. The Sidney, Neb., -based company plans to build one of its trademark destination retail stores at the proposed Lac Mirabel development in Montreal.


General

Another Record Year in Rimfire Sporter

200 shooters gathered on Viale Range at Camp Perry on Sunday, 22 July to participate in the 6th National Rimfire Sporter Match. Last year 169 shooters competed in this fast-growing National Matches event. Match participants were especially lucky this year; the weather was absolutely gorgeous! With the sun shining and a gentle breeze, the day was just that, a breeze. Scores and the spirits of competitors and match staff were high. It was a fantastic day to be at Camp Perry.

 


Number of U.S. gun dealers plunges

Federally licensed sellers of firearms have declined 79%

WASHINGTON - Tougher laws and stricter enforcement cost nearly 200,000 U.S. gun dealers their licenses since the mid-1990s, a new study indicates.

 

Led by remarkably sharp declines in states including California, Florida and Washington, the number of federally licensed firearms dealers fell 79 % nationwide since 1994. In that year, Congress adopted gun-control measures that still spark fiery debate. In 1994, 245,628 U.S. residents held federal licenses allowing them to sell firearms. In California alone, the nation's most populous state, there were 20,148 license holders.

 

Now, there are 50,630 of the so-called Type 1 federal firearms licenses nationwide. In California, the number of licenses fell to 2,120 this year. The number of firearms licenses likewise 

fell more than 80 percent since 1994 in Florida, Washington, Louisiana and Georgia, among other states. Even the state with the smallest reduction in licensed dealers - Montana - saw a 68 % decline.  The number of Arizona's licensed dealers declined 75 % to 1,059 in 2007 from 4,178 in 1994.

 

The decline in licenses began after Congress approved in 1993 the Brady Bill, named for former White House press secretary James Brady, who was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan. The 1993 law, and a subsequent 1994 anti-crime law, imposed new restrictions.

 

The firearms licenses that once cost $10 a year now cost $200 a year for the first three years. License applicants now must submit photographs and fingerprints and inform local police of their plans.


Michigan

Wildfires in the UP

Dry weather, winds and underbrush are feeding an 18,000 acre forest fire near Sleeper Lake in Luce County, 6.5 miles north of Newberry. The two week old blaze is in danger of breaking out with continued dry weather and winds. Five additional fires have been spotted in the state's Upper Peninsula the last few days, but firefighters were able to contain these fires quickly and continue to monitor them. 

 

Extreme caution is advised with a HIGH fire danger alert posted throughout the state. Campers, hikers and all outdoorsmen are asked to be extremely careful with open flame. The state's DNR resources are already stretched thin battling this wildfire. There are concerns about the weather forecast, which is calling for strong winds in Luce County, which will make it challenging for fire crews to hold the line in some places on this fire, given the amount of spot fire activity we are seeing.

 

This fire is 50 % contained, but that does not mean it is 50% extinguished. Firefighters have a great deal of work left to do

before this fire is controlled or extinguished.

 

Current resources on the fire include numerous dozers, water units, 5 hand crews, helicopters from the National Guard, marsh masters, and approximately 205 fire personnel.  The cooperating agencies include the Michigan DNR, Michigan Department of Transportation, Wisconsin DNR, Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, State of Connecticut Environmental Protection, Michigan National Guard, Air Guard, Michigan State Police, Luce County Sheriff’s Department, National Weather Service, The Nature Conservancy, numerous Volunteer Fire Departments, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and keymen firefighters working for Michigan DNR.

 

Air Support includes helicopters from the National Guard in Camp Grayling as well as Michigan DNR detection aircraft.

 

Information about the Sleeper Lake Fire is regularly posted on the DNR website: www.michigan.gov/dnr .


Federal Court Upholds Michigan's Ballast Law

Throws out shipping lawsuit

 DETROIT, MI - A federal court judge has dismissed a shipping industry lawsuit that attempted to overturn a Michigan law to stop invasive species introductions into the Great Lakes.

 

A shipping coalition had sued in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claiming the law — which took effect this year — was unconstitutional. But Judge John Feikens on Wednesday, August 15 granted the state's motion to dismiss the suit. "We were successful in defending Michigan's law that protects the Great Lakes from even more of an invasion by these aquatic nuisance species," Rusty Hills, spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said Thursday.

 

"The court's message was loud and clear: States have the right to defend their waters and their citizens against shipping pollution including invasive species."

 

Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester praised the court decision to dismiss a lawsuit saying: "Judge Feikens’ ruling came on the same day that lawmakers in Ohio introduced legislation that would follow Michigan’s lead in requiring shippers treat any ballast water before it is discharged in their ports. We welcome the efforts from our neighbors in Ohio, and encourage all of our Great Lakes’ partners to join with us and ensure the Great Lakes are protected for generations to come,” said Chester.

Shipping companies say they're making progress on technology to sterilize ballast tanks in ways that would kill

foreign creatures but need more time. They argued the state law makes unreasonable demands and was an unconstitutional restraint on commerce.  They also said it made little sense for one state to impose a ballast policy when the Great Lakes network includes eight states and two Canadian provinces.

 

But supporters of the Michigan law said they were tired of waiting for the federal government to devise a ballast standard for U.S. waters. A new invasive species is believed to arrive in the Great Lakes on average every eight months.

 

The decision throws out a lawsuit filed by nine shipping interests to overturn a Michigan law which went into effect this year requiring ocean-going vessels to get a permit to discharge ballast water-the No. 1 pathway non-native aquatic species enter the Great Lakes.

 

Comprehensive federal legislation to stop the introduction of invasive species has languished in the U.S. Congress, leading the state of Michigan to pass in 2005 a law requiring oceangoing vessels to obtain a permit to discharge ballast water.

 

Court Order:  www.mied.uscourts.gov/eGov/feikenspdf/fednav%20opinion.pdf


Wildlife Chief accepts position with Safari Club Int'l

The Michigan DNR last week announced that DNR Wildlife Division Chief William E. Moritz has accepted a position with Safari Club International as its director of conservation. Moritz will begin his new career on Sept. 15.

 

Safari Club International is considered as one of the leaders

in protecting the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide.  The organization works to shape

policies and legislation that protects the freedom to hunt locally, nationally and internationally. SCI works to promote a positive image of hunters and portrays them as responsible citizens who fund wildlife conservation, education and other programs that benefit the community.


Minnesota

Youth Waterfowl Day Sept 15       

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day in Minnesota will be held Saturday, Sept. 15.

 

Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a non-hunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required). Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from one half-hour before sunrise to

4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken, except in the Metro, Southeast and Northwest goose zones and Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Swan Lake area, where the bag limit is one.

 

There are no license requirements, except hunters age 13 to 15 must have a firearms safety certificate in their possession. All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.


State increases limit for upcoming waterfowl season

With continental populations of many species of ducks at or near record highs, the DNR has established a 60-day duck season and increased the daily bag limit to six ducks. The mallard bag limit will remain unchanged from last year, including only one hen, and the canvasback daily limit will be increased to two.

 

The bag limits will continue to protect local breeding mallard populations and will provide more opportunity for Minnesota hunters to benefit from high continental waterfowl populations if weather and migration patterns result in a good fall flight through the state.

 

Based on an increase in breeding waterfowl populations and

pond numbers across Canada and the northern plains, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota, a 60-day season that could include a six-duck limit with two hen mallards. To protect local breeding mallards, Minnesota will keep a daily bag limit of one hen mallard.

 

Based on record high numbers of canvasbacks in the continental breeding duck survey, the daily bag limit for canvasbacks will be increased to two for the first time in Minnesota since 1966.  Bag limits for all other species will be the same as last season.

 

The regular waterfowl season will open Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. and continue through Tuesday, Nov. 27.


Ohio

Ohio Sportsman makes bequest to ODNR

Gift is largest donation in the division’s history , will be directed toward land acquisition

COLUMBUS, OH – A central Ohio conservationist has opted to “pay forward” with a gift to be directed towards wildlife conservation, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

 

The late Wallace “Wally” O’Dowd of Powell left a bequest to the Division of Wildlife to acquire land for the purpose of wildlife conservation, propagation and habitat management.  The bequest is the single largest donation in the history of the Division of Wildlife. The future acquisition will be named the

Wallace H. O’Dowd Wildlife Area.

 

As stipulated in the O’Dowd will, any lands purchased with this bequest will be open to hunting, fishing, and trapping. Wally requested that the property acquisition be a contiguous block of land in southeastern Ohio. The division hopes to buy about 5,000 acres with the donation.

 

O’Dowd was an avid sportsman who traveled the world following his passion for hunting and fishing. A veteran of the Korean War, Wally was also an entrepreneur who had established his own manufacturing business.


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