Saturday, April 23, 2005

It's Santorum

A certain senator whose name has become a happy synonym for post-sex anal leakage (thank you, Dan Savage) is up to his usual, this time suggesting that you should have to pay for what your taxes already pay for, namely, information from the National Weather Service:

Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.

But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.

Supporters say the bill wouldn't hamper the weather service or the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards — in fact, it exempts forecasts meant to protect "life and property."

But critics say the bill's wording is so vague they can't tell exactly what it would ban.

"I believe I've paid for that data once. ... I don't want to have to pay for it again," said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard University.

He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather data would be forced offline.

"The National Weather Service Web site would have to go away," Bradner said. "What would be permitted under this bill is not clear — it doesn't say. Even including hurricanes."

Yes, the Repugs are batshit crazy. What isn't covered here is the fact that this is part of a long running Repug war to kill off the NOAA completely, along with the NWS and all of its world-famous research and prediction labs - the Storm Prediction Center, the Hurricane Center, and on and on. Hell, last year Dubya tried to kill off the Space Weather Center, and he's trying again this year. They don't care who dies, as long as their friends make money off your dead body.

Other blogs commenting: here, here, and here (via Atrios). Welcome to faith-based weather! It reminds me of a video I saw last Friday at the Ohio State University's Severe Weather Symposium, of some bible-puncher taping the Van Wert tornado and preaching at the tornado to go away. Didn't work. But well-organized emergency preparedness and early NWS warnings saved dozens of lives.

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