NM Senator offers bill to see who flies south for the winter with Trump


One month of Trump’s R&R cost taxpayers more than a year of Obama

❝ New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall just introduced an important bill with a funny name: the MAR-A-LAGO Act, or the, Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act.

❝ Mar-A-Lago is President Trump’s self-described “Winter White House,” and it’s been the focus of a lot of attention since Trump took office. His weekly trips cost taxpayers $3 million each weekend he attends and he’s not just going alone. Trump infamously held an open air situation room meeting in front of his club members and the press as he monitored a North Korea missile test while dining on the patio…

So…Sen. Tom Udall, along with other members of Congress, introduced the well-named MAR-A-LAGO Act to require Trump’s White House to disclose who is meeting with Trump behind the closed doors of Trump’s secretive Winter White House.

❝ “It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president and who has leverage over this administration,” said Udall.

No doubt True Believers in Trumpism will maintain their habit of ignorance, following every statement, every order as direction from a primitive god. The rest of us – the majority of those who voted, the majority of the whole nation IMHO, want to know what is going on? Especially since we’re picking up the tab.

Outbreak of extremely dangerous strain of E. coli linked to SoyNut butters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 23 people in nine states had been infected as of March 21 with a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli linked to I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butters and Granola products. Twenty of the reported victims are younger than 18, and 10 have been hospitalized. Seven have developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome…

According to the company’s announcement, which is posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website, I.M. Healthy products from SoyNut Butter Co. in Glenview, Illinois, were distributed to child care centers and schools in multiple states. The CDC reports that four of those sickened attended centers where the products were served.

This outbreak is particularly alarming as young children exposed to E. coli are more likely to develop severe illness and HUS than are healthy adults, who can often recover relatively quickly. Children have less-developed immune systems with a limited ability to fight infections. In addition, children’s lower body weight reduces the amount of a pathogen needed to cause illness. There are many short-and long-term health consequences that can develop from infection with E. coli…and even death.

Please be careful out there, folks.

A Giant Step Forward in the Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis

From Rhea Suh, President NRDC


Unless you’re a Republican, nowadays

❝ For once, I am excited to report that there is good news on the Flint water crisis front. The pipes at the heart of the disaster are going to be replaced. For the first time in the three years since this Michigan city’s water was turned to poison, Flint’s citizens have a guarantee that the resources are in place to replace its estimated 18,000 lead pipes. And for the first time, they know when the pipes will be gone.

Let’s be clear, Flint is not fixed. But things are going to get better.

❝ This did not happen because of the city, state, or federal governments that failed them. It happened because brave people in Flint stood up for their neighbors. They went to court. One of the genius parts of American environmental protections are the citizen suit provisions in our major environmental laws. When the government fails to protect its citizens, we are all empowered to go to court and force the government to do its job.

❝ That happened in Flint. After the city and state trashed the drinking water infrastructure through a series of mistakes and errors, we joined with the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays to petition the federal government to use its emergency powers to help the beleaguered city. They refused. So, along with ACLU Michigan, we sued the city and state. The Safe Drinking Water Act also has provisions for citizens to enforce drinking water rules. Though there have only been a handful of these kinds of cases filed under the act, we all thought Flint seemed like a textbook situation for this type of case…

And today, that suit comes to the end with a settlement that guarantees that in three years, the lead pipes will be replaced. It guarantees that the state kicks in $67 million to help fix the mistakes, along with tens of millions more from federal sources…

❝ …But for today, let’s just celebrate good news for Flint. A city that deserves far more of it in the years to come.

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for more details, past and present. Rhea Suh is too politely politic to trash-talk the conservatives, mostly in the Republican Party – and some Democrats deserve their share of condemnation for foot-dragging.

Too many folks hold elective office who consider budgets and balance sheets more important than the lives of the human beings they represent.

Feds Drop a Child Porn Case Rather Than Give Up a Hack


FBI Headquarters

❝ The Department of Justice filed a motion in Washington State federal court…to dismiss its indictment against a child porn site. It wasn’t for lack of evidence; it was because the FBI didn’t want to disclose details of a hacking tool to the defense as part of discovery. Evidence in United States v. Jay Michaud hinged at least in part on information federal investigators had gathered by exploiting a vulnerability in the Tor anonymity network.

In other words, the feds are letting an alleged child pornographer free so that officials can potentially catch other dark-web using criminals in the future…

❝ For years now, federal investigators have used hacking tools to undermine the Tor anonymity network and identify suspects attempting to conceal their identities and actions. These Tor exploits help federal law enforcement agencies investigate serious crimes, particularly child porn rings on the dark web, that would otherwise be difficult to prosecute. But the DOJ will apparently go to extreme lengths to protect the disclosure of those exploits, raising new questions about the boundaries of investigative hacking…

❝ All that’s certain is that the feds have dropped a case against an alleged child pornographer, with some unknowable trade-off down the road.

Actually a tough question for law enforcement. Beyond the boundaries of the usual prosecutor. Interesting to see where this leads. If anywhere.

This beautiful new cloud – Asperitas – now officially in the International Cloud Atlas


Click to enlargeInternational Cloud Atlas/Kairo Kiitsak

❝ Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the London-based president of the Cloud Appreciation Society, first saw the unusual cloud in 2006. A member of the amateur cloud-spotting group in Cedar Creeks, Iowa emailed a photo of an oddly wavy cloud, and asked how it would be classified…

Its shape was similar to what the World Meteorological Organization would categorize as an undulatus formation, but was “more intense, more chaotic.” The WMO’s International Cloud Atlas, first published in 1896, didn’t include anything like it.

❝ Every six months or so, a similar image would arrive, maybe from Scotland, or Australia. The president and others began to feel that a new label was needed to fit the unfamiliar cloud. In 2008, the amateur cloud-spotting group proposed the name asperitas, Latin for “roughness,” and submitted the idea to the WMO.

Nearly 10 years after they floated the idea, the society’s efforts paid off: the WMO has added the asperitas to the updated International Cloud Atlas, released online earlier this week…

❝ Naming clouds, says Pretor-Pinney, builds a deeper connection to what’s visible in our atmosphere, “which also makes us care more about what we’re doing to it.”

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for details on cloud-naming in disciplined scientific fashion. An enjoyable read. Lovely photographs.

Our Travel Industry Worries Over a ‘Lost Decade’ Under Trump


Click to enlargeAnadolu Agency/Getty Images

Keeping an eye on peaceful protestors, American style

❝ Like many Washington lobby groups, the U.S. Travel Association was quick to congratulate the new president on his victory last November…

But almost immediately, things started to go sideways. A steady drumbeat of news and policy proclamations seemed likely to damage America’s $250-billion travel industry and its roughly 15 million U.S. employees.

❝ Initial contacts between Trump and leaders of Australia, Germany, Mexico, and China didn’t go well, resulting in negative publicity in countries that send lots of travelers to America. Then came the majority Muslim nation travel bans, with protests and news coverage that made for a global public relations disaster…

Meanwhile, the White House has instituted an airline cabin restriction on electronic devices for people flying from airports in eight nations. And last week, a U.S. State Department policy was revealed that mandates extra vetting of visa applicants in nations where U.S.-bound travelers must apply for one. This includes inspection of social media accounts for some and is likely to make it more difficult for millions of people to travel to America…

❝ So for the USTA’s chief executive officer, Roger Dow, and the industry he represents, what looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship became in just two months something bordering on adversarial. Even America’s closest ally and next-door neighbor is wavering on sending its kids across the border for a field trip…

The new visa rules may have been the last straw for the USTA. Last week, Dow’s group issued an almost plaintive statement: “Mr. President, please tell the world that while we’re closed to terror, we’re open for business. Imbalanced communication is especially susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’ — so let’s work together to inform our friends and neighbors, who could benefit from reassurance, not just who is no longer welcome here, but who remains invited.”

RTFA for a deeper understanding of the mediocrity and ignorance delivered upon businesses other than real estate developers by our new so-called president.

Mentally-Disturbed Copper Sheds Light On His Problem

An NYPD detective was arrested Sunday for fondling himself in front of the windows of Long Island homes…

Detective Robert Francis was arrested after one homeowner in Rockville Centre called 911 to report that a man was standing in the back yard masturbating…

Francis allegedly entered the back yards of more than one home and shined a flashlight inside until he got someone’s attention. Then, as the person was looking at him, Francis shined the light on himself to show he was fondling himself…

Police arrested Francis around 2:30 a.m. and charged him with public lewdness, endangering the welfare of a child and trespassing. It was not clear how many homes he allegedly targeted.

Whatever Detective Francis’ problem may be – hopefully he gets some treatment now. But, yes, I admit that – especially since no one was injured – it makes for a weird news item.