You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2008.

Here in the United States, we take clean drinking water for granted.  But in other areas of the world, over 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water.  And 2.6 billion have inadequate sanitation facilities.  Water-related illnesses still kill almost 6,000 people every day.

Water for People supports the development of sustainable water resources in developing countries, while improving sanitation facilities and setting up health education programs. 

On August 14 – 19th, 2008 two Bolivian-American brothers, Alex and Christoper Jahn, will attempt to summit Bolivia’s tallest mountain–Mount Sajama–in the driest conditions on the planet.  The 21,457-foot tall extinct volcano lies at the edge of the Atacama Desert, where less than 1 mm of rain falls each year.

The brothers are making the trek to raise their goal of $10,000 for Water for People projects.  Requested donations range from the Base Camp Level of $5 to the Summit Level of $500.

The Florida Section of American Water Works Association challenges their members to help the cause.  If any of you could help with a Base Camp Level contribution, that would be great, too. 

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The Demon in the Freezer:  A True Story is exactly that–a true story–which makes it especially terrifying.  Author Richard Preston, who also wrote The Hot Zone and a novel calledThe Cobra Event could not have written a scarier tale if he was trying to pen a horror story.

The story begins in Boca Raton, where a man named Robert Stevens began feeling ill on October 2, 2001–and died of inhalation anthrax on October 5th.  As it turns out, this was the beginning of the anthrax threat that was never solved.  The anthrax was military grade . . . weapons grade material.

The tale turns to the smallpox virus, variola, eradicated in December, 1979.  Though smallpox no longer existed in nature, it still lived in freezers at two locations–the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, and in Vector, Siberia’s Maximum Containment Laboratory

Preston is not only an excellent writer, but he does his homework.  The Demon in the Freezer is based on numerous interviews with health experts, researchers, and U.S. Intelligence agents.  Frighteningly, variola was brought back to life on both continents–in the U.S., to develop improved vaccines, and in Russia, to develop a biological weapon. 

Contention rages among scientists, some of whom believe smallpox should be eliminated from the face of the earth and others who believe we need to keep some on hand for vaccine development and research. 

Smallpox is the most dreadful disease, making even ebola look like a walk in the park.  To think the virus could get in the wrong hands . . . let’s just not think about it. 

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