Former Republican Governor’s bodyguard files suit as whistleblower

Then-governor Susana Martinez addressing 2016 Republican Convention
AP Photo/J Scott Applewhite

❝ A bodyguard for former Gov. Susana Martinez says in a new lawsuit that state police officials retaliated against him for raising concerns about misconduct by another member of her security detail, including concerns about the misspending of campaign funds.

New Mexico State Police Officer Tony Fetty claims officials around the governor instead sought to protect her ex-bodyguard, Ruben Maynes, and alleges the two had a personal relationship.

❝ The lawsuit adds to questions other state law enforcement officials have already raised in recent months about why Maynes received a $200,000 out-of-court settlement from the New Mexico government after leaving the governor’s security detail and what relationship, if any, he had with the state’s top elected official and her family…

❝ Fetty says in his lawsuit that colleagues told him Maynes was “protected” — that is, untouchable for political reasons.

The officer says: “Because of the overlapping of Agent Maynes’ personal life and frequency of non-professional concerns expressed by Gov. Martinez about Maynes, it became clear … that there was a personal relationship between Gov. Martinez and Agent Maynes.”

Surely, you didn’t think salacious tales of sex and corruption were limited to federal officials in Washington, DC.

Doctors more likely to misdiagnose patients who are jerks

Going to see the doctor can bring out the worst in people. Being sick and fitting an appointment into an overcrowded schedule can be stressful. So can a long sit in the colorless cube of a waiting room.

But if you’ve ever given a doctor attitude, next time you might want to think twice — or risk being misdiagnosed.

That’s the implication of two new studies published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety. Separately, the authors demonstrated that clinicians are more likely to make errors of judgment when they’re treating frustrating and difficult patients…

The researchers suspected physicians’ mental resources are so taxed from thinking about how to deal with tricky patients that their ability to process medical information becomes impaired. “If resource depletion affects simpler, everyday problems,” they wrote, “it is not surprising that these highly complex cognitive processes are impaired if a substantial proportion of mental resources is seized by the confrontation with emotional experiences triggered by patients’ troublesome behaviors…”

From the patient perspective, leaving any attitude outside the doctor’s office is probably a good idea, lest you risk being misdiagnosed.

I’ll second that emotion.

RTFA for an outline of the two studies. Actually, the suggestion is useful in many a context. I’d suggest you treat your doctor like a friendly, professional; but, overworked copper. And vice versa.

Politeness counts.

The internet is good for the planet – and let’s keep it that way

Is the net effect of the internet on the Earth’s environment positive or negative?

That’s the million dollar question that a group of about 100 people, including Vice President Al Gore and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, tackled at a Google event this week. It’s also the question that I’ve spent about six years thinking about as I’ve written about the evolution of cleantech innovation and how digital technologies can drive efficiency.

The rub of the internet is that it is a collection of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that weave across continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices; all of these things need energy to operate. The disturbing part is that the energy consumption of the internet will only grow as the population hits 9 billion in 2050, and all of these people get connected to the internet.

But on the flip side of that energy suck is the idea that the internet can make processes and systems significantly more energy efficient, from transportation to shopping to the electricity network itself. Sustainability wonks call that dematerialization, or replacing atoms with bits. A study called Climate 2020 found that information and communications technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors of the economy, below business-as-usual growth, by 15 percent.

Other than that seminal report, there’s been a trickle of research that has reached conclusions along the lines of the notion that buying digital music online is a lot more energy efficient than driving to the store and buying a CD. Data center energy guru Jonathan Koomey, who’s a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and Stanford University, has led a bunch of this research, particularly around how the trend toward cloud computing has increased the energy efficiency of the internet. The web sharing economy is another much talked about trend that is indirectly making the use of goods (like cars and apartments) more efficient…

Then there’s the soft effects of the internet on the planet that don’t have to do with energy consumption at all. The high level visionary speakers — both Gore and Schmidt — focused more on the internet’s ability to open up access to information and organize people, which could be used for environmental, and climate-fighting, causes. Gore said that the digital revolution and the explosion of data are some of the most powerful tools that can be used to help solve the climate crisis. It’s hard to quantify such soft effects, but they could still be very powerful.

The main issue now will be as internet access grows, mobile phones connected to the web proliferate and internet companies build ever more data centers, how does the industry maintain sustainable growth so that the equation doesn’t flip, and so that the internet doesn’t start to have a negative effect on the environment? There’s going to be 9 billion people on the planet by 2050 that could have a handful of connected devices each, and some of them will be spending their lives immersed in digital data 24/7…

Going forward, I’d like to see a hub grow at a university or research center that can act as a collection point to draw together this type of research, and also to help validate it. I’d also like to see more mainstream attention on this topic of the intersection of the Internet and the environment. At the Google event, it was invite-only and had about 100 people that had been thinking about these topics for years. This topic is important enough that is needs more mainstream attention and discussion.

This is why Katie Fehrenbacher is one of the core attractions at GigaOm. Though best known as an analyst and writer on subjects environmental, she has sufficient command of social and scientific matters to bring all the pieces together.

Or in this case, ask the right questions about how to bring them together.

Israel arrests nuclear whistleblower Vanunu – again!

Life as a free man in Israel
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Israeli police said on Tuesday they had arrested nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu for violating a ban on contact with foreigners.

His lawyer said he was detained over a romance…”Vanunu was arrested (for) a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen,” attorney Avigdor Feldman told reporters…

Vanunu was jailed as a traitor in 1986 and served an 18-year sentence after discussing his work as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor with a British newspaper, an interview that led experts to conclude the facility had produced fissile material for as many as 200 atomic warheads.

Over all those years, how much breast-beating and demand for sanctions have you witnessed from “peaceloving” Western governments directed against Israel for building nuclear weapons? Zilch!

After his release from jail in 2004, Israeli defense authorities barred Vanunu from traveling abroad or speaking with foreigners, alleging he has more details on the Dimona atomic reactor to divulge…

In court on Tuesday, Vanunu — who refuses in protest against Israel to speak Hebrew publicly — addressed reporters in English:

This Jewish state has 200 atomic … hydrogen bombs, atomic weapons, neutron bombs,” he said.

Even Reuters takes the time to whimper about Vanunu’s religious beliefs as if that alters the fact of Israel’s atomic imperialism.

It is the height of hypocrisy to condemn Pakistan or India for doing what gets unmitigated approval when done by Israel. Only full-blown sophistry rails about Iran possibly developing a nuclear capacity of any kind – when the largest hoard of nuclear weapons in the region is guarded in Israel.

Recommendation for the job? Sleeping with a Senator?

Why is this man smiling?
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Finance Committee, nominated his girlfriend to serve as a federal prosecutor earlier this year, the Democratic lawmaker’s spokesman said on Saturday.

Baucus recommended Melodee Hanes, who served on his staff at the time and has an ongoing romantic relationship with the divorced senator, and two others for the post of U.S. attorney in his home state of Montana, Baucus spokesman Tyler Matsdorf said.

Matsdorf said Baucus chose to nominate Hanes for the job because of her “extensive background as a prosecutor and extensive legal experience.” Hanes worked for Baucus from 2003 until earlier this year, and now holds a post at the U.S. Justice Department.

“While her personal relationship with Senator Baucus should in no way be either a qualifier or a disqualifier for the position, during the nomination process and after much reflection, both Senator Baucus and Ms. Hanes agreed that she should withdraw her name from consideration because they wanted to live together in Washington, D.C.,” Matsdorf said…

“Senator Baucus is currently in a mature and happy relationship with Melodee Hanes. They are both divorced, and in no way was their relationship the cause of their respective divorces,” Matsdorf said.

A few cheeky Congressional Republicans want an ethics investigation. As long as it only checks up on Democrats.

BTW, Baucus’ wife didn’t divorce him until just this spring.

Are we going to need a love vaccine?

In the new issue of Nature, the neuroscientist Larry Young offers a grand unified theory of love. After analyzing the brain chemistry of mammalian pair bonding – and, not incidentally, explaining humans’ peculiar erotic fascination with breasts – Young predicts that it won’t be long before an unscrupulous suitor could sneak a pharmaceutical love potion into your drink.

That’s the bad news. The not-so-bad news is that you may enjoy this potion if you took it knowingly with the right person. But the really good news, as I see it, is that we might reverse-engineer an anti-love potion, a vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself. Although this love vaccine isn’t mentioned in Young’s essay, when I raised the prospect he agreed it could also be in the offing.

Could any discovery be more welcome? This is what humans have sought ever since Odysseus ordered his crew to tie him to the mast while sailing past the Sirens. Long before scientists identified neuroreceptors, long before Britney Spears’s quickie Vegas wedding or any of Larry King’s seven marriages, it was clear that love was a dangerous disease.

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