October 26th, 2004

Draconis Blackthorne, shadowgram, Dracomet

Pumpkins Pull Pollutants out of Contaminated Soil

Pumpkins become one of the most popular plants this week, with many people carving Jack-o-lanterns in honor of Halloween. But Canadian scientists have another purpose for the orange fruit in mind: cleaning up pollution. According to a recent study, pumpkins can cheaply remove DDT from contaminated soil.

Before it was banned in 1972, DDT was used widely as an insecticide. A type of persistant organic pollutant, its hydrophobic, or water-fearing, characteristics make it difficult to remove from soil. Often large swathes of land must be removed and either buried in a specially designed landfill or burned in a high-temperature incinerator. Ken Reimer of the Royal Military College of Canada and his colleagues studied a number of plant species to determine whether they are viable candidates for DDT phytoremediation (the use of vegetation for treating contaminated soils). The researchers grew zucchini, tall fescue, alfalfa, rye grass and pumpkins in a greenhouse using soil imported from the Canadian Artic that had been treated with DDT. “The cold temperatures meant that the contamination was virtually identical to the technical grade DDT mixture that had originally been used,” Reimer says. “We could therefore examine the ability of [the plants] to suck the DDT out of the soil that had been contaminated with DDT for several decades.”

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Draconis Blackthorne, shadowgram, Dracomet

Sex offenders banned from traditional Halloween activity

Local law enforcement officers have been compiling current lists of registered sex offenders to make sure that those who are not allowed to have children in their presence do not participate in Halloween activities.

Placing Halloween decorations that can be seen as a way to attract children to one's home is forbidden in some instances, according to Pasadena police Lt. M. P. Jackson. Pasadena police will be checking those residences to ensure the sex offenders are abiding by the terms of their sentence, Jackson said. Parents can also protect their children by learning where the sex offenders live in their neighborhoods and telling their children to avoid those homes all year long, Jackson said. Those with Internet service can look up registered sex offenders at the Texas Department of Safety Web site at https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/soSearch/default.cfm free of charge.

Those without Internet service can use Internet service free of charge at the public library, however there is a fee to print material from the Web site. The Web site includes information about sex offenders, such as the crime they were convicted of, the age of the victim and the length of their sentence. The Web site also includes pictures of some of the convicted sex offenders. The site also has a mapping section in which addresses can be entered. Sex offenders are shown as dots on the map with names listed next to the dots.

The dots are color coded to the risk level, with red being a high risk and black being unknown.

Jackson recommended that families make use of the free service for their children's protection.

The Pasadena Independent School District also has information about sex offenders; however Kirk Lewis, PISD spokesman, said that the information on the Web site may be more up to date.

Jackson issued a warning to registered sex offenders that if they are breaking the terms of their sentence there is a good chance they will be caught, because officers will be checking specific addresses.

South Houston Police Chief Herbert Gilbert said his officers will also check to make sure that registered sex offenders are abiding by their sentences in the city.

Jackson reminded parents that an adult should always be present when children are participating in Halloween activities.

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Draconis Blackthorne, shadowgram, Dracomet

Some school districts putting bans on Halloween festivities

Some states around the country have banned Halloween activities in schools, saying it takes time away from learning.

Other schools have banned the holiday festivities because some families do not celebrate it for religious reasons or because they cannot afford costumes.

In Utah, schools are finding different ways to recognize the holiday, allowing students to participate while not conflicting with religious values or losing classroom time.

At Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Provo, the faculty deals with similar concerns by having the children relate their costumes to characters in books.

"We do that because we have different religions that don't celebrate Halloween, but they are able to participate if it's literature or a storybook type of thing," Hansen said.

Many other elementary schools in Provo are continuing to have their traditional Halloween festivities.

The Provo School District has not made any official decision about the issue of whether or not schools should ban activities related to the holiday.

"It's not been something that's been brought up, that I have heard," said Sharon Richardson, who works for the Provo School District superintendent's office.

The rules at Amelia Earhart and other Provo schools include banning fake blood, fangs, sharp fingernails, masks or fake weapons.

"Even if you're a pirate, you can't bring a fake sword," Hansen said.

At Canyon Crest Elementary School they think Halloween is a great holiday for the kids and parents.

"They don't get into their Halloween costume until after lunch on the day of the parade," said Patti Sanderson, the school's secretary. "We have parties the very last hour of school."

Canyon Crest continues to have Halloween activities because it is a tradition.

At Joaquin Elementary, they have not had a costume parade for a couple of years.

"The little kids costumes are cute, but some of the older kids costumes were getting more and more gruesome every year," said Don Dowdle, the school's principal.

Wasatch Elementary School continues to have Halloween activities because of tradition and the parental support, said Betty Johnson, the school's secretary.

Deborah Schow, a resident of Orem and a parent to three children in elementary school, thinks the school's need to continue having Halloween parties.

"I think the kids need to have fun somewhere," Schow said. "They need to add some creativity with the educational process.

Related Stories: School District Bans Halloween | Halloween Banned in Russian Schools

{I have a feeling the principal is probably a covert Christian who used the excuse of offending weakans in order to ban childrens' costume fun, which would just make this one day at school that much more enjoyable while stimulating the imagination and self-expression. In regards to this issue being a religious one, it should be all or nothing. If Halloween is not recognized, then neither should other holidays; and/or parents should have the option to keep their children at home for that day. In regards to weakans, sad to day that many do actually resemble that depiction closer than they think. - comment on "School District Bans Halloween"}.

For a comprehensive study on the theory and applications of Witchcraft, read The Satanic Witch by Dr. LaVey.