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Author: Leslie Eastman

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Leslie Eastman

I am an Environmental Health and Safety Professional, as well as a science/technical writer for a variety of news and professional publications. I have been a citizen activist since 2009, and am one of the co-founders of the San Diego-based group, Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition.

We reported that an unexpected strain of the flu was hitting Americans hard this season. But our pets are becoming ill at alarmingly high rates with a new strain of a flu that impacts them.
An outbreak of canine influenza is reaching epidemic proportions, CBS Chicago reports. Veterinarians say the illness has sickened hundreds of dogs in the Chicago area, and the infection can be deadly. Veterinarian Natalie Marks of Blum Animal Hospital says in the last week alone, more than 70 dogs have been diagnosed with canine influenza, a much more serious illness than the common "kennel cough." And it's not just a Chicago problem. "It's everywhere," Marks says. "There have been a few fatalities."
More information about the illness is available in this eHow video:

About thee months have passed since I first reported that the latest attraction offered at Disneyland, "the happiest place on Earth", was measles. It appears that particular infection has burnt itself out.
The measles outbreak that affected more than 130 Californians since December is over, the California Department of Public Health declared Friday. It has been 42 days since the last known case of B3 strain of measles, the equivalent of two successive incubation periods, said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the health department. The department said in its latest update that 131 people came down with the B3 strain, and five who had a different genotype than the outbreak strain. Of the 131 cases, the state was able to obtain the vaccination status for 81 patients. Of the 81, 70% were unvaccinated.
I will stress that 30% of those infections were among those who had received MMR immunizations, so I will urge Legal Insurrection readers to review their vaccination profiles with their health care providers to determine if booster shots are necessary.

Since we "celebrated" Tax Day with an analysis on the difficulties of cutting down the tax code, now seems like a good time to review the topic that is the only other certainty in life -- death. California's politicians, not content with messing around with our water flow, are looking to OK physician-assisted suicide rules.
A controversial bill to bring physician-assisted death to California passed its first hurdle Wednesday after hundreds of people lined up to voice support and opposition to the legislation. Senators approved the legislation in a packed committee hearing in the state Capitol. “We are pleased to see it pass,” said Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, one of the authors of SB128, which would allow a mentally competent terminally ill adult to receive a lethal prescription to hasten death. The Senate Health Committee voted 6-2 along party lines to pass the legislation, with Sen. Richard Pan, a Democrat from Sacramento who is also a doctor, abstaining from the vote. “This vote reflects the changing sentiment in California,” Monning said.

I reported that California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled the state's first water restrictions in response to the "mega-drought". As I foresaw, the rules have turned out to be more about revenue generation than resource protection. What I did not predict is that my teen son and his lengthy showers would make him the latest environmental villain.
Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) said Californians will face heavy fines for taking long showers. Brown said, “This executive order is done under emergency power. It has the force of law. Very unusual. It’s requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border. It affects lawns. It affects people’s — how long they stay in the shower. How businesses use water.” Brown said to enforce his order, “Each water district that actually delivers waters — water to homes and businesses, they carry it out. We have a state water board that overseas the relationships with the districts. Hundreds of them. If they don’t comply, people can be fined $500 a day. Districts can go to court to get a cease and desist order. The enforcement mechanism is powerful. In a drought of this magnitude, you have to change that behavior and you have to change it substantially.”
It looks like I am going to have to work harder to pay for my son than I originally thought.

One has to ask, what exactly is going on at the US State Department? We have been following the deterioration of Yemen for months. Despite the obvious dangers to American citizens within this country, I guess our bureaucrats decided they really didn't need an evacuation plan. Fortunately, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government seem to be more on top of the situation.
The US, besides economically developed France, Germany and Sweden, besides 22 nations have sought India's assistance to evacuate its citizens from violence hit Yemen. An US government travel advisory for Yemen pointed out that India would offer its assistance to evacuate American citizens from Sanna to Djibouti. The US citizens have been advised to contact Indian diplomats in Embassy at Sanna for assistance for evacuation either by boat or air. This is significant considering the fact that the US has strong naval presence as well as deployment of its Air Force in West Asia. France also has presence of its Navy in the region to counter piracy. ​

On this Easter Sunday, I wanted to share some thoughts I had during these past days about the most recent butchery of my fellow Christians in Kenya. Following the news as closely as I do, I thought I had become accustomed to graphic images of terror that ISIS has spawned. Then, I saw this tweet: I was punched in the gut. Perhaps it is because I recall my step-daughter, whose graduation I attended just a few short years ago? She was so vibrant, and fulled with life and prospects for a happy, healthy and successful future.

This Holy Week, we reported that Islamic fanatics made a dawn raid of a Christian university in Kenya. Currently, the death toll is 147 and looks like it will increase. The event, as well as the massacre of the Coptic Christians in Libya, were the focus of an address Pope Francis gave during his Good Friday service.
Pope Francis has condemned the "complicit silence" about the killing of Christians during a Good Friday service in Rome. Tens of thousands of pilgrims joined him for the Way of the Cross ceremony, recalling Jesus' crucifixion. Among the cross bearers were Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and Nigerians who had escaped Boko Haram persecution.

California's "mega-drought" has been caused more by water mismanagement than "global warming." As I have foreseen, the state's drought cycle is the pad for Governor Jerry Brown to launch new rules. This time, Brown is issuing the state's first set of water restrictions.
Brown ordered the California Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water usage by 25%. The water savings are expected to amount to 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. Other elements of Brown's order would: --Require golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscaped spaces to reduce water consumption. --Replace 50 million square feet of lawn statewide with drought-tolerant landscaping as part of a partnership with local governments.

As a California Democrat, I really have only one wish for November 2016: That I am not forced to choose between the "lesser of two evils" and the ""evilest of two lessers." While most of my good friends at Legal Insurrection are keeping track of the Republican contenders for the presidency, I have vowed to stay on top of the Democratic race. Let me assure you that Hillary Clinton is as far from inevitable as we are from the Philae Lander. In fact, 54% of the Democrats asked in a Rasmussen poll said they want a "fresh face." Marlyland's former governor, Martin O'Malley, has been receiving standing ovations and drawn comparisons to John F. Kennedy simply by being a credible candidate. Several of the Democrats I correspond with about politics concur with his most recent statement about the 2016 race:
“The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families,” Mr. O’Malley said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Another potential who seems to be passing the "fresh face" test and is inspiring actual enthusiasm among those I talk to is Jim Webb, former Senator from Virginia, who has been a combat Marine, a counsel in the Congress, and an assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy. The following video was prepared in response to inquiries if he was going to run.

I invite Legal Insurrection readers to pour an ice cold brew and celebrate "Human Achievement Hour", slated to start today at 8:30 pm local time. The event is promoted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute; its website offers the background on today's festivities:
  • Human Achievement Hour is the counter argument to Earth Hour, which is an event where participants symbolically renounce the environmental impacts of modern technology by turning off their lights for an hour...
  • Symbolically or not, Earth Hour does little to protect the environment and is a misguided effort that completely ignores how modern technology allows societies around the world to develop new and more sustainable practices that help humans be more eco-friendly and better conserve our natural resources.
  • Instead of looking to the “dark ages,” as Earth Hour might suggest, Human Achievement Hour promotes the idea that we should be looking to technology and innovation to help solve environmental problems..
CEI would like supporters to share their favorite human achievements on Twitter using @ceidotorg and #HAH2015. There is also a Facebook page for the event.

I have a late entry for the annual “Egregious 8″ tournament, which pits wasteful government programs against each other. It turns out that blogging can be fun and profitable...for those websites on the government dole!
Since Politico, a politics-focused website and newspaper, launched its subscription-based news service Politico Pro in 2011, government agencies have increasingly turned to the service to keep abreast of the latest developments in their spheres of policy. Government records show fiscal year 2011 contracts with the owner of Politico, Capitol News Company, totaling $41,900. By fiscal year 2014, there were no fewer than twenty-eight contracts with sixteen different departments and agencies, including the Executive Office of the President, totaling $431,800. A chart from the website illustrates the trend (including the first five and a half months of fiscal year 2015) LI #15 Money to Politico The first five and a half months of fiscal 2015 have seen fifteen contracts for $198,188, although at least one agency, the FCC, appears not to have renewed a $50,000 fiscal 2014 contract in 2015.
Who knew such riches awaited!

It looks like the "luck of the Irish" continues today. Last week, I reported the US House of Representatives was poised to vote on H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015. The purpose of this legislation is “to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.” The measure passed, along with another one that would put an additional check on the EPA:
The House has passed two Republican-backed bills that would place new restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency. A bill approved Wednesday would require the EPA to disclose scientific data behind proposed regulations, while a measure passed Tuesday would prohibit the agency from appointing registered lobbyists to the EPA's Science Advisory Board. Both were approved largely along party lines. The scientific data bill was approved 241-175, while the advisory board measure was approved 236-181. Republicans said the bills would increase transparency at the EPA and make it more accountable to the public. "Right now, the EPA is trying to impose harmful regulations based on scientific studies that no one can check — not the public, not independent scientists, not even the United States Congress,' said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "It's called 'secret science' and it's wrong." If the EPA or any other agency proposes a rule that adds costs to businesses or infringes on private property, "the people have every right to know why," McCarthy said.

The California "mega-drought" has officially gained the attention of the regulatory community. Recently, a NASA administrator pushed the panic button hard... by saying the Golden State had less than a year of water in its reserves and that it needs to start water rationing now!
California will run out of water in 12 months, according to a NASA scientist. The state only has one year of supply left in its reservoirs due to persistent drought and is also running out of backup groundwater, Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote. The drought means that total water storage in California, which has been in decline since 2002, has been sapped by the need to use the resource for farming, he said in the Los Angeles Times. ...Famiglietti suggested immediate water-rationing measures, which are being considered in southern California, across the state.
Color me skeptical, in a nice golden brown shade. The last time a NASA scientist chimed in on the climate, it turns out the temperatures used to tout the "hottest year ever" were chalk full of errors. Why should I trust any government scientist's interpretation about climate policy matters when there are money and regulations to be made? In fact, following the money in this instance is the most logical step to take! It turns out that our state's legislators are mulling over water rate hikes.

In the wake of the Ebola Czar stepping down and a presidential commission laying part of the blame for the spread of Ebola on this country, news comes that nearly a dozen Americans are heading home after potential exposure to the deadly virus.
At least 10 US citizens possibly exposed to the deadly Ebola virus were being flown to the US from Africa for observation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday. The individuals were set to be transported by non-commercial air transport, on their way to be housed near the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, or Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the CDC said. It said none of the individuals had been identified as having Ebola. A US healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola while in Sierra Leone arrived at the NIH on Friday and was in serious condition, the NIH said. CDC spokesman Thomas Skinner said 10 people who may have been exposed to the unidentified Ebola patient or who had a similar exposure to the virus as the patient were being flown to the US. But he said the investigation was continuing and there could be more Americans evacuated from Africa. A CDC statement said the individuals would follow the center’s recommended monitoring and movement guidelines during a 21-day incubation period.
One intrepid American headed to Honduras after a stay in an Ebola-striken area, and now that country is hosting a 21-day quarantine period:

I cannot begin to fathom the pain of a mother or father burying a child, especially when their son or daughter is senselessly murdered. There are circumstances surrounding the death of Jamiel Shaw that even compound that horror, especially in light of the very reasonable concerns Americans have about the type of immigrants being encouraged to cross our borders unimpeded. Shaw's father recently testified before Congress about the circumstances of his son's death, at the hands of a DREAM Act beneficiary.
“My son, Jamiel Andre Shaw II, was murdered by a DREAMer, a DACA recipient, a child brought to this country by no fault of his own,” Mr. Shaw told Representative Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) while testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee panel. Shaw was murdered in 2008, before the Obama created the DACA program in the run up to the 2012 election cycle, but — as a young person brought into the country as a child, Shaw’s eventual murderer would likely have qualified for DACA status. “The illegal alien dreamer that murdered my son only served four months of an eight month sentence for assault with a deadly weapon and battery on a police officer,” Shaw said. “He was released from the county jail the day before he executed my son. Why was this violent illegal alien allowed to walk the streets of America instead of being deported?” “Do black lives really matter or does it matter only if you are shot by a white person or a white policeman?” he added, before alluding to the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ saying that became popular following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. “My son was shot in the head by an illegal alien gang banger while he lay on his back with his hands up. he still shot him through his hand into his head and killed him.”

One of the earliest projects I took on as a citizen activist was promoting the work of former UCLA professor, Dr. James Enstrom, an epidemiologist who challenged the voodoo science used by the California Air Resources Board to pass stiff, new air emission regulations. David French of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) explained what subsequently happened to this heroic whistle-blower:
The facts of the case were astounding. As the environmentalist Left pushed new, job-killing regulations in the interests of “public health,” Dr. Enstrom took his own look at the data and determined that the health threat from diesel emissions was being wildly overstated. As he looked further, he discovered that the lead researcher pushing the new regulations actually possessed a fraudulent degree, purchased from “Thornhill University,” a shady, long-distance diploma mill. Moreover, members of the state’s “scientific review panel” tasked with evaluating the science had in some cases overstayed term limits by decades. At least one was a known ideological radical. (He was a member of the infamous “Chicago Seven.”) Dr. Enstrom did what a scientist should do. He exposed public corruption, called out fake scientific credentials, and worked to save California from onerous and unnecessary regulations. So UCLA fired him. After more than 30 years on the job.

The destruction of treasured world-heritage archeological sites by ISIS continues unchecked. This time, the terror group obliterated Hatra, a city in Northern Iraq that was made famous in the opening sequence of the blockbuster horror film, The Exorcist.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants bulldozed early Saturday the ancient city of Hatra founded 3rd or 2nd BC by the Seleucide Empire, activists and Kurdish media reported. Spokesman for the 14th branch of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in Ninveh province Saeed Mumuzini told Rudaw news website that “ISIS militants used buldozzers to destroy Hatra city.” “ISIS stole the ancient gold and silver coins, which were used by the Assyrian kings and were stored in the city,” Mumuzini added.
A small sequence from that movie will remind everyone of the stunning ancient masterpiece of architecture Hatra was.

From my point of view, the single best moment of the 2008 election season was Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican Party convention: Palin was so genuine, so impassioned, and so appealing -- despite lacking cherished Beltway connections and credentials -- that she instantly became a target. One of the most ridiculous attacks centered on her personal beauty, and terms such as "naughty librarian" were launched in a nuclear-scale War on One Woman. That Scott Walker has similar appeal is proven by the various attacks already being made, despite the fact that the first caucus vote has not been cast. However, the attack on good looks can't truly be launched against him directly. So, call the latest progressive response "naughty librarian by proxy".
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