Another Republican walks away from Congress and Trump


Francis Rooney [R-Florida]Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

❝ Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) announced his retirement on Saturday, the Washington Post reports — one day after saying he was “still thinking about” whether he considers President Trump’s conduct in Syria impeachable.

❝ “What’s he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it’s just what it is. … There’s a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it. I want to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”

Then — Fix it, brother! Leave sparks behind on your way out the door. Someone’s got to start the fire!

Floriduh – under the GOP thumb – sells your info to data brokers


Republican GOD in Floriduh’s handsSharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

❝ An investigation by ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida has found that the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is selling the personal details of Florida drivers to outside companies–and they’re making millions doing it.

❝ WFTS obtained records showing the Florida DMV sold information on Florida drivers and ID cardholders to over 30 private companies, including bill collectors, data brokers, marketing firms, and insurance companies. Data brokers then generally go on to resell the information they’ve bought. WFTS says the records show that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made more than $77 million for driver and ID cardholder information sales in fiscal 2017…

❝ …the FHSMV can legally sell driver and ID cardholder data to third parties, those parties are not allowed to use that information for marketing. WFTS further found out that some of these third-party companies were buying data on Florida residents for as little as one penny a person. And the worst news? A state spokesperson told WFTS there’s no way for Florida residents to opt out if they don’t want their personal information sold.

Anyone surprised? Greed is nothing special or new to American politics; but, you have to admit that today’s Republican Party adds that special venality of hypocrisy – every chance they get.

Floriduh man gets 41 days in slammer for heroin detergent trafficking

❝ For nearly six full weeks, 29-year-old Matt Crull said he sat inside a Florida jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

The charge was trafficking heroin, according to CBS12. It came with a steep potential punishment and bond, which frightened Crull, who said an officer mistook laundry detergent for heroin…

❝ Crull was arrested by Martin County Sheriff’s deputy Steven O’Leary on Dec. 5, according to WPTV. Sheriff William Snyder says the officer has been fired after an investigation uncovered that at least 11 people he put in jail for drug charges were found innocent, the TV station reported.

❝ “He showed me a picture of the field test kit that he supposedly conducted, on his phone,” Crull told CBS12. “He never actually showed me the real test kit.”…

“I just looked at him baffled and confused,” he told WPTV, “because I had no idea as to where 92 grams of heroin came from inside my van.”

I think I understand now why some folks call that state “Floriduh”…

Actually not too funny to me. I had the same thing happen landing in Glasgow in 1971. Start of a walking trip across Europe. Everything to fit in the backpack; so, usual tricks to save weight.

Always used Woolite powder for washing any clothing when living rough – threw away the box and carried it in a plastic bag. Immigration copper was certain it was smack. I told him what it was; but, he had to try a tiny snort for a field test. Dude had bubbles coming out of his nose for 5 minutes while his mates laughed.

Prick stamped my passport to be out of the country within the month. Just because he embarrassed himself.

Throw Away The Key — Found Guilty for 96 Million Robocalls

A Miami man accused of flooding consumers with 96 million phone calls touting fake travel deals faces a record proposed $120 million fine from federal regulators, who said he operated the worst robocall spoofing effort they had seen.

Adrian Abramovich tried to trick consumers into answering and listening to his advertising messages, the Federal Communications Commission said in a news release Thursday. The pace of calls works out to an average of more than 1 million per day…

Calls appeared to come from local numbers, but those who answered were prompted to “Press 1” to hear about vacation deals, according to the FCC. If they did, consumers were connected to call centers not affiliated with companies mentioned in messages, such as Expedia Inc., TripAdvisor Inc., Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings…

Consumers who did “press 1″…ultimately connected Americans to call centers in Mexico that usually attempted to fleece innocent consumers out of their hard-earned money by promising too-good-to-be-true vacation deals,” Adam Medros, a senior vice president at TripAdvisor, said in an emailed statement. The company said it worked closely with the FCC to investigate after its customers called to complain.

Like the headline says, THROW AWAY THE KEY – after you take back all the money he stole plus penalties.

Florida city employee rang up $93K on city credit cards to get butt lift – among other frauds

❝ An investigative report…shows a former city of Gainesville employee, accused of stealing more than $93,000 from the city, spent some of it on a Brazilian butt lift.

The report found that former city staff specialist Natwaina Clark, 33, charged her city-issued credit card 136 times for roughly $61,000 in unauthorized charges, used her bosses’ cards at least 36 more times for an additional $31,000, and spent nearly $900 on a coworker’s card five times between November 2015 and March 2017.

The report also finds department heads acted negligently, allowing city funds to be misspent.

❝ Documents attached to the report show Clark, who was hired in August 2015, funneled roughly $41,000 to her personal PayPal account, linked to her bank account, and that $8,500 of it went toward a Brazilian butt lift. The cosmetic surgery procedure uses fat from one part of the body to augment one’s buttocks…

Clark, whose salary was $33,500, was fired from the city March 21, while on a cruise-ship vacation, the report said. She was arrested March 28 and charged with larceny and scheme to defraud, both felonies…

❝ The city report found the city’s human resources department failed to properly execute the city’s employee background screening and didn’t advise the hiring department about concerns in Clark’s history, allowing her to be hired.

Har. Turns out the HR Department didn’t really do their homework about Clark being busted for similar crimes in another county. Didn’t tell folks in the department where she was hired of any concerns.

Researchers find more new invasive tropical mosquitoes in Florida

❝ Two more tropical disease-carrying mosquitoes have been found on the U.S. mainland for the first time, caught in traps near Florida’s Everglades.

The scientists involved say this could raise the risk of mosquito-borne viruses reaching people and birds, but health officials say it’s too early to sound an alarm.

Think they’d keep their jobs if they raised an alarm with a thug like Scott as governor?

❝ The new arrivals from Latin America and the Caribbean — Culex panocossa and Aedeomyia squamipennis — were trapped in October in rural areas bordering Everglades National Park by University of Florida…entomologist Nathan Burkett-Cadena and…researcher Erik Blosser…

❝ In the traps, they discovered that native species were crowded out by thousands of Culex panocossa mosquitoes and hundreds of Aedeomyia squamipennis mosquitoes.

Both species can be found on a few Caribbean islands as well as from Mexico into South America. They lay their eggs on water lettuce — invasive weeds that float in the canals, drainage ditches and other waterways crisscrossing Florida neighborhoods.

“‘Hundreds’ is substantial, particularly when you get a hundred from a single trap. This is not a single specimen that blew in from a storm — this is a reproducing species,” Burkett-Cadena said.

❝ About 15 invasive mosquitoes now live in Florida, including nine that have arrived in the last decade. One, Aedes aegypti, is blamed for spreading the Zika virus, along with dengue fever and chikungunya.

The new arrivals are another sign that climate change, along with increased tourism and global trade, has made Florida more hospitable to exotic species, Burkett-Cadena said.

Populistus teabagocrap isn’t an exotic species in any of the Old Confederate states. Top it off with a governor from the latest generation of neo-con Republican and you won’t find any attention paid to potential disasters which reflect climate change. Rick Scott made a career from profiteering from the sick and poor. Then, he turned to politics and didn’t change a beat in his anti-science bongo solos.

This Burmese Python was caught with remains of 3 deer in its gut – not in Burma; but, Florida

bobby-hill-and-friend
Click to enlargeWater District agent, Bobby Hill, with that 14 foot python

❝ Normally, what a snake eats for breakfast isn’t worth a headline. But this is no normal snake. And this was no normal meal.

The Burmese python is a massive snake native to Southeast Asia that arrived in South Florida in the 1980s, possibly released into the wild by careless pet owners. There are now as many as 300,000 of these invasive creatures slithering through the state, and they’ve been known to eat alligators, bobcats, rabbits, and birds.

❝ Now scientists have discovered that Burmese pythons — which can reach 18 feet in length and swallow a bobcat whole — are even more ravenous than they realized. In a new paper in Bioinvasions Records, a team of researchers describe slitting open the intestine of a dead 14-foot python and finding the remains of three different white-tailed deer. The snake appears to have gobbled them up, an adult and two fawns, in just 90 days.

❝ The implications are disturbing. “If this was just one snake that ate three deer in isolation, that’d be one thing” says Scott Boback, a biologist at Dickinson College and lead author of the study. But the incident comes alongside growing evidence that the Burmese pythons are ravaging native wildlife in South Florida’s Everglades. “When you put that all together, you’ve got to say, okay, something serious is going on here.”…

❝ However it happened, the notion that pythons may be gobbling up lots and lots of white-tailed deer is troubling. For one, deer are a major revenue source in South Florida, thanks to the sale of hunting licenses. There are also ecological implications — the elimination of deer could rearrange the region’s ecosystem in unpredictable ways.

But what’s even more worrisome, says Boback, is that it suggests there’s little limit to what pythons can devour. “They’re eating pretty much every vertebrate in the Everglades,” he says. “They’re basically taking all that diverse biomass and replacing it with python biomass. And we’ve seen this story before.”

❝ One huge worry is that the Everglades will see a repeat of what happened in Guam…

During World War II, heavy ship traffic brought the non-native brown tree snake to the island. There had never been a snake species on that island before, and the local birds had no idea how to evade it. In the decades since, 12 native bird species have gone extinct.

❝ …South Florida is struggling to figure out how to respond…The biggest challenge…is that Everglades National Park is so vast, stretching hundreds of miles across, and the pythons can easily hide in the park’s endless sea of grass. The snakes are rarely ever spotted unless they happen to cross over roads. “Roads are really the only place we can reliably detect them,” says Boback.

Back to the conventional wisdom that people are either ignorant or stupid. In the case of any invasive species everyone always pleads ignorant about what might happen when they release their old pet who got too big for apartment living. Not looking around for information in the age of the Internet – is stupid.

Sinkhole sucks millions of gallons of fertilizer wastewater into Florida drinking water


Click to enlargeJim Damaske/AP

The hole in the middle of that now-empty pond is 45 feet in diameter

❝ More than 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater from a fertilizer plant in central Florida leaked into one of the state’s main underground sources of drinking water after a huge sinkhole opened up beneath a storage pond…

Mosaic, the world’s largest supplier of phosphate, said the hole opened up beneath a pile of waste material called a “gypsum stack”. The 215 million gallon storage pond sat atop the waste mineral pile…

“Groundwater moves very slowly,” said David Jellerson, Mosaic’s senior director for environmental and phosphate projects. “There’s absolutely nobody at risk.”…

Does that mean he’s drinking water from a local source — every day?

❝ The sinkhole, discovered by a worker on 27 August, is believed to reach down to the Floridan aquifer, the company said in a news release…

The Floridan aquifer is a major source of drinking water in the state. One of the highest-producing aquifers in the world, it underlies all of Florida and extends into southern Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

According to the University of Florida, it’s the principal source of groundwater for much of the state, and the cities of Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, and St Petersburg all rely on it. The aquifer also supplies water to thousands of domestic, industrial and irrigation wells throughout the state…

❝ The incident comes less than a year after Mosaic, one of the world’s largest fertilizer makers, settled a vast federal environmental lawsuit with the US Environmental Protection Agency in which the company agreed to nearly $2 billion in fixes, improvements and cleanups at its plants…

The usual lies will continue from free market politicians and libertarians who hold that voluntary policing, self-regulation is all that corporate exploiters ever need. That lawsuit after lawsuit is required on an annual basis to acquire any level of environmental safety and sanity doesn’t seem to dent the myths that insulate conservative brains from reality.

Tiny rocket company targets 100 launches a year

Preparing for launch
Preparing for launch

Alone in the Mojave desert, the tiny rocket stood barely as tall as a basketball goal backboard. Launch control was a laptop inside a nearby bunker, and the small gathering of aerospace engineers and investors seemed almost like a rocket hobby club as it watched the vehicle soar to about 5,000 feet before parachuting back to Earth. But this scene may have represented something much more than that. With its small-scale test Saturday, the company Vector Space Systems took another step toward upending the rapidly expanding small satellite launch market.

…Within about five years Vector intends to launch as many as 100 of its 13-meter-tall Wolverine vehicles annually, with a capability to put a 50kg satellite into low-Earth orbit. The company aims to fill a niche below the current generation of launchers being developed by companies such as RocketLab and Virgin Galactic, with rockets capable of delivering 200 to 250kg satellites to low-Earth orbit.

So far, it seems like a good bet. On Tuesday morning, Vector announced that it has acquired its first customer, Finnish-based Iceye, to conduct 21 launches of the company’s commercial synthetic aperture radar satellite constellation. “Getting your satellite into orbit is one of the biggest challenges for new-space companies, but there just isn’t the launch capacity right now,” Iceye Chief Executive Rafal Modrzewski said in a news release.

The two companies are already working together. According to Jim Cantrell, chief executive of Vector Space Systems, Saturday’s test flight in Mojave, California, carried a prototype of an Iceye microsatellite core computing and communications systems to see if it would survive launch conditions (it did). Vector’s sub-scale launcher, named the P-20, also tested some prototype upper stage engines…

Vector remains on track for its first orbital launch in 2018, Cantrell said, and the company aims to increase the launch cadence to about 100 vehicles per year by 2020 or 2021. Perhaps the biggest issue is range constraints — making sure the company has clearance from launch site officials. While Vector may do some launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, it will primarily operate from Alaska, which has a much less crowded range. That works out well, Cantrell said, because many of the polar orbits desired by customers are easier to reach from northern latitude launch sites.

Good luck, gang. No need to rely on being the biggest to be profitable.