BEYOND THE (AHEM) GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
7 charged in opiod scheme that killed hundreds of Americans Time
> Prosecutors say defendants ran the Urgent Care & Surgery Center Enterprise, which distributed enough oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine to generate clinic revenue of at least $21 million.
> About 700 center patients are dead, prosecutors said. A Justice Department news release says a “significant percentage of those deaths, directly or indirectly, were the result of overdosing on narcotics” prescribed by the center. The scheme involved illegal kickbacks and money laundering, prosecutors said.
MESSAGE FOR TRUMP:
“… I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”
“And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger.”
— Sen. Tammy Duckworth
(via The Hill)
Marijuana money flows toward GOP USA Today
… survey found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees, with emphasis this year on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses.
China: US gov’t shutdown exposes “chaotic” system with “chronic flaws” Newsweek
“… what’s happening in the United States today will make more people worldwide reflect on the viability and legitimacy of such a chaotic political system.”
N. Carolina ordered to use Stanford prof’s redistricting map
Courthouse News Service
… less than 24 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a ruling in a separate North Carolina gerrymander case in which a different three-judge panel ruled the state’s 13 congressional districts are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
Supreme Court says OK to N. Carolina gerrymandering The Daily Beast
Amazon to open “no checkout line” store to public USA Today
The convenience store and its proprietary technology, made up of hundreds of cameras and sensors and requiring a new Amazon app, dangled the promise of solving a bedrock complaint for shoppers — long checkout lines.
Capetown, running out of water, verges on chaos CBS News
> Surrounded by beautiful stretches of ocean, it’s hard to believe Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water. Ominously named “day zero,” April 21 – 92 days from today – is when the taps will be turned off.
> At the Voëlvlei Dam, water levels are critically low, sitting at less than 20 percent, reports CBS News’ Debora Patta. It’s one of Cape Town’s main sources of water – a source that it is on the brink of running completely dry within a matter of weeks.
> Three years of successive drought have devastated the city’s water supplies. The local government has brought in severe restrictions forcing people to look for alternative supplies like a natural spring tapped for public use.
Cape Town’s four million residents are now only allowed 23 gallons of water per person per day. Next month that goes down to 13 gallons. Compare that to the average American who uses around 100 gallons daily.
Researchers: New blood tests will spot 8 kinds of cancer The Guardian
> “Liquid biopsy” – developed in the US – would be a game-changer in the fight against cancer, and hoped it could be widely available within a few years.
> … able to detect tumours about 70% of the time on average in more than 1,000 patients with early-stage cancer. Crucially, it did so before the cancers had spread, giving patients the best chance of beating the disease.
> … works by looking for mutated DNA that dying cells shed into the blood, and protein biomarkers associated with bowel, breast, liver, lung, oesophageal, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer.
Amazon’s 20-city lottery
” …picked cities in the North and South and East and West, even smaller ones in the Midwest to create the illusion we don’t know exactly where we want to go & to dupe clueless cities into forking over huge incentive dollars …”
— Richard Florida on Twitter
Many US freeways won’t be free for long NPR
> New toll roads or toll lanes are opening this year in Texas, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Oregon will be adding congestion pricing to highways to help manage congestion in and around Portland later this year.
> Austin, Texas, has two new toll road projects slated to open next year and the highway tunnel beneath Seattle begins charging tolls in 2019.
72 hours to chaos
Hackers targeting US electric grid, and it’s quite vulnerable
The grid’s enemies rely on expert hackersto carry out their attacks. Most of the utilities they target lack that same expertise, defending themselves with pencil-pushers rather than professionals. That’s because there aren’t enough tech-savvy hired guns to go around.
Inside CamperForce, Amazon’s legion of mobile retirees Wired
Many had seen their retirement savings vanish in the stock market or had lost homes to foreclosure. Others had watched businesses go under or grappled with unemployment and ageism. A larger number had become full-time RVers or vandwellers because they could no longer afford traditional housing—what they called “sticks and bricks.” They talked about how Social Security wasn’t enough to cover the basic necessities and about the yoke of debt from every imaginable source: medical bills, maxed-out credit cards, even student loans.
Porn sites numbers spike after Hawaii missile scare Vice News
Bare breast movement takes on Ocean City, MD Courthouse News Service
“Studies show children are not harmed by seeing female breasts,” the Jan. 16 complaint states. “Likewise, any claim that Ocean City might suffer financially if women are treated equally to men is not based in reality. Many other thriving tourist destinations, resorts and cities in the United States allow women to go bare-chested. Regardless, financial losses – real or perceived – do not justify violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Saratoga Springs, top horse racing town,
fears losing its immigrant labor
“I’m concerned that the enforcement actions will increase during the summer season. I’m concerned for the immigrants themselves and I’m concerned for the local economy.”