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July 12, 2005

I, Moron: The Katherine Harris Story

I know she's one of ours, but... but... but...

Come on!

Four years ago, as the state labored to eradicate citrus canker by destroying trees, officials rejected other disease-fighting techniques, saying unproven methods would waste precious time and resources.

But for more than six months, the state, at the behest of then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris, did pursue one alternative method -- a very alternative method.

Researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test "Celestial Drops," promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its "improved fractal design," "infinite levels of order" and "high energy and low entropy."

But the cure proved useless against canker. That's because it was water -- possibly, mystically blessed water.

The "product is a hoax and not based on any credible known science," the state's chief of entomology, nematology and plant pathology wrote to agriculture officials and fellow scientists after testing Celestial Drops in October 2001.

Really? But they used words like "fractal" and "entropy." Sounds like science to me!

In the same letter, Wayne Dixon recommended that the state break off its relationship with the promoters of Celestial Drops.

"We have expended considerable effort in trying to responsibly deal with this group and their products," he stated. "I wish to maintain our standing in the scientific community and not allow these individuals to use our hard-earned credibility for further name-dropping."

Dixon's sentiments were not a surprise to other scientists.

"The presentation of Celestial Drops as a citrus canker treatment was . . . largely unintelligible," according to a memo written more than a year earlier by one of the state's chief plant pathologists. "In general, the proposal comes across as unscientific and not worth pursuing."

Oh, these dumb scientists probably just were intimidated by "fractal" and "entropy."

So why did Florida spend months discussing and developing test protocols for Celestial Drops?

The initial push came from Harris, now a U.S. House representative and candidate for U.S. Senate. Harris, the granddaughter of legendary citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr., said she was introduced to one of the product's promoters, New York Rabbi Abe Hardoon, in 2000.

Hardoon did not want to discuss Celestial Drops when contacted by the Orlando Sentinel.

But Harris said Hardoon told her he was working with Israeli scientists who had developed a compound that made plants resistant to canker. Harris acted as intermediary and urged state agriculture officials to work with Hardoon and his associates.

"I met with those [Israeli] scientists," Harris said Friday. "They were confident they had a cure for canker."

Harris said she then stepped back and allowed Hardoon and the state to work out the details. Agriculture Department officials insist she applied no political pressure.

"She just wanted to make sure it was brought to our attention," said agriculture spokesman Terence McElroy.

State records, however, suggest Harris had a keen interest in the project.

She was repeatedly sent copies of the letters and memos bouncing between Florida canker officials and Hardoon. In August 2001, Harris herself jotted a note to Hardoon.

"I would love to see this work," it says.

Still unknown: Whether Phantasmagoric Essences were utilized in keeping Al Gore's chads a-danglin'.

Moron.

Thanks to LauraW.

Loose Shit: Wrote this as I was out the door to do something. Realized on my way: It's not Kathleen, you retard.

Too late.


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posted by Ace at 05:23 PM

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