Pollen sneaks in early with warmer weather

Published January 24, 2007

Another sign of the unseasonably warm winter we're having: unseasonably high pollen. St. Petersburg allergist Stephen Klemawesch, who has tracked pollen levels for two decades, said he already has detected oak pollen, which didn't hit until Feb. 6 last year. Pine pollen counts are double what he detected at this time in 2006. And Tuesday pollen.com listed Tampa among "today's worst cities." Klemawesch said it's possible this year's pollen season will simply be earlier than normal, not more severe. He recommends some simple steps to avoid sneezing: keep the house closed, leave shoes outside, bathe at night to get pollen out of your hair, drink plenty of fluids.

No testimony = No release and no deportation Former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian expected to get out of prison in April and be deported, but now he could stay another 21 months. A federal judge in Virginia found Al-Arian in contempt for a second time Monday when Al-Arian again refused to testify before a grand jury. After he was found not guilty on several counts by a Tampa jury in December 2005, Al-Arian pleaded guilty in May to one of the remaining counts of helping the Palestinian Islamic Jihad with nonviolent activities. He was sentenced to 57 months in prison, most of which he served awaiting trial. Al-Arian could be imprisoned until late 2008 - unless he testifies.

Before nuking it, wet the sponge It's a small detail but an important one: Make sure the sponge is wet. A University of Florida announcement that appeared in this space Tuesday said UF researchers found that two minutes in a microwave will sterilize sponges. A few St. Petersburg Times readers who tried it with dry sponges Tuesday morning were soon dousing flames. UF got similar calls and issued a clarification: thoroughly wet the sponge before nuking it, and make sure it has no metallic content. And one more thing: be careful. After a couple of minutes in the microwave, the sponge will be hot.

Performance pay gets close look

The state's new teacher's performance pay program STAR may soon implode into a black hole as the Legislature trains its sights on it. 4B


About 15,000 Florida students this week will take the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. A story Tuesday gave an incorrect date.