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Friday, December 19, 2014

NORAD Santa Tracker/ Oregon Earthquake/ Anthrax Investigation/ Nuclear Attack Preparedness

Missoulian: GAO says FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed
Agency Approaches to Validation and Statistical Analyses Could Be Improved
“After the 2001 Anthrax attacks, the genetic tests that were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) four contractors were generally scientifically verified and validated, and met the FBI's criteria. However, GAO found that the FBI lacked a comprehensive approach—or framework—that could have ensured standardization of the testing process. As a result, each of the contractors developed their tests differently, and one contractor did not conduct verification testing, a key step in determining whether a test will meet a user's requirements, such as for sensitivity or accuracy. Also, GAO found that the contractors did not develop the level of statistical confidence for interpreting the testing results for the validation tests they performed. Responses to future incidents could be improved by using a standardized framework for achieving minimum performance standards during verification and validation, and by incorporating statistical analyses when interpreting validation testing results.”

Missoulian: US not fully prepared for nuclear terrorist attack
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Interagency Assessments and Accountability for Closing Capability Gaps
“Second, FEMA leads interagency efforts to identify and propose actions to address capability gaps in the nation's preparedness to respond to improvised nuclear device (IND) attacks, but its implementation plan lacks key program management details. Specifically, FEMA's March 2012 IND Implementation Plan proposed over 300 recommended actions to help close gaps identified in the April 2010 DHS IND Strategy. The September 2013 annual revision to the plan contained summary information on the status of some of the recommended actions, but did not contain detailed program management information—such as specific timeframes, milestones, and estimated resources required to close any given capability gap—which is needed to better enable ongoing management oversight of gap closure efforts.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Asphalt Company Fined/ Annual Bird Count

Missoulian: Corvallis asphalt company fined for workplace fatality
US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Montana asphalt company for failing to provide fall protection following a worker's death
An employee checking asphalt levels from the top of a tank at the M.R. Asphalt facility north of Hamilton, Mont., fell 15 feet, hitting his head on a concrete structure supporting the tank. A willful violation was cited for failing to provide a guardrail or fall protection on the working surface. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Missoulian: Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge site of bird walk
Missoulian: 50th annual Stevensville Christmas Bird Count is Dec. 27
It is the 115th Christmas Bird Count!
“This one-day early winter survey provides data that scientists use to identify areas and habitats that are important to birds in the winter. Audubon scientists also used data from Christmas Bird Counts to identify 177 birds, including the American Robin, who are wintering farther north in response to warming temperatures.
This year the Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between December 14 and January 5".

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sage Grouse/ Geyser App/ Coal Terminal/ Alan Gross and Cuba

Missoulian: App for Yellowstone geysers now available
Yellowstone Geyser Eruption Predictions Now Available On Your Smartphone and Tablet
“You can now discover the natural wonder of the most famous geyser of all, Old Faithful, and other geysers with a free app that you can use during your visit to the park and at home. The new app will help you find out when Old Faithful and five other predictable geysers could erupt.

The app also features a link to a webcam so that you can view live eruptions of Old Faithful and other nearby geysers. The FAQ section provides answers to several of the frequently asked questions that explain how a few geysers can be predicted and other fascinating details about Yellowstone’s geysers.”

President Obama Delivered a Statement on Cuba
“Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bighorn Sheep and Pneumonia

image of bighorn sheep from the Montana Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy, 2010

Missoulian: Bighorn sheep dying of pneumonia near Gardiner
Pneumonia Detected in Gardiner Area Bighorn Sheep
“Historically, pneumonia affects bighorn sheep herds differently. According to FWP Wildlife Veterinarian Jennifer Ramsey, “Sometimes we’ll see a large scale, all age die-off in which most of the population dies, and that population never really rebounds. Yet in other herds we seem to see a low-level mortality year after year.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Supreme Court Opinions: Traffic stops, Class Action Suits, Abortion/ Climate Change

Missoulian: Court: Traffic stop OK despite mistake of law
Heien v. North Carolina
Following a suspicious vehicle, Sergeant Matt Darisse noticed that only one of the vehicle’s brake lights  was working and pulled the driver  over. While issuing a warning tick et for the broken brake light, Darisse became suspicious of the actions of the two occupants and their answers to his questions. Petitioner Nicholas Brady Heien, the car’s owner, gave Darisse consent to search the vehicle. Darisse found cocaine, and Heien was arrested and charged with attempted trafficking. The trial court denied Heien’s motion to suppress the seized evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, concluding that the vehicle’s faulty brake light gave Darisse reasonable suspicion to initiate the  stop.
Missoulian: Court rules for energy firm in class-action suit Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens
“This Court concludes that no jurisdictional barrier impedes settlement of the question presented: whether evidence supporting the amount in controversy must be included in a notice of removal. The case was “in” the Tenth Circuit because of Dart’s application for leave to appeal, and the Court has jurisdiction to review what the Court of Appeals did with that application.”
Missoulian: Justices reject Arizona bid over abortion drugs
Isaacson v. Horne - Court of Appeals - 9th Circuit
“The panel held that under controlling Supreme Court precedent, Arizona may not deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at any point prior to viability . The panel held that Arizona House B ill 2036, enacted in April 2012, effects such a deprivation by prohibiting abortion from twenty weeks gestational ag e through fetal viability . The panel held that the twenty -week law is therefore unconstitutional under a n unbroken stream of Supreme Court authority , beg inning with Roe v. Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and e n d i n g with Gonzales v. Carhart , 550 U.S. 124 (2007).” 

“This paper uses annual variation in temperature and precipitation over the past 50 years to examine the impact of climatic changes on economic activity throughout the world. We find three primary results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries but have little effect in rich countries. Second, higher temperatures appear to reduce growth rates in poor countries, rather than just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects in poor nations, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and aggregate investment, and increasing political instability. Analysis of decade or longer climate shifts also shows substantial negative effects on growth in poor countries. Should future impacts of climate change mirror these historical effects, the negative impact on poor countries may be substantial.”